Sunday Shorts – “Drusten”

Sometimes, technology is not our friend. I had that truism refreshed last week when I found out that one of the author mini-interviews for New Lit Salon Press‘s wonderful science fiction anthology Startling Sci-Fi: New Tales of the Beyond got eaten by my e-mail. It wasn’t in my spam folder or my deleted e-mails – it was just gone.

This was doubly vexing since the story in question – “Drusten,” by Marcus S. Robin – was one of my favourites of the collection, but also because this was Marcus S. Robin’s first published work and in my opinion one of the main jobs of an author is to help awesome new authors gain exposure and noise. I felt like I’d failed thanks to an e-mail glitch.

So, today I’m going to fix that mistake.

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Marcus S. Robin

Marcus Robin is a Fraud Analyst residing in the Mile High City of Denver, CO where some believe its unusually high occurrence of UFO sightings is attributable to its elevation, while others believe it’s due to its recreational marijuana. He’s okay with either theory. His story in Startling Sci-Fi: New Tales of the Beyond is called “Drusten” and takes the notion of off-shore drilling and makes it off-world drilling – and the result is science fiction in the best classical sense: humanity learning that things are not as they seem, and the price of those assumptions can be very steep.

NB: Your story in Startling Sci-Fi was one of my favourites; I love the mix of sociological commentary and individual character development you balanced. I might be over-reading into the story, but how purposeful was what I perceived to be a really great commentary on non-renewables?

MR: I’m originally from south Louisiana where the petroleum industry is huge. The repercussions of first Hurricane Katrina and then the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster are still being felt almost 10 years later. Not that anyone expected a swift recovery, but the needle is swinging the other way even faster. Shrimpers and fishermen in other seafood industries in the Gulf of Mexico are still struggling against new reports of mutant seafood (how’s that for science fiction!), while BP slips silently back into the gulf after what was effectively just a slap on the wrist. Not to mention the eroding coastline. All while hundreds of thousands of offshore oilfield workers have to rely on this diabolical industry to provide for their families. So yeah, the commentary was deliberate. I felt that with “Drusten” I could help achieve what Casey was trying to accomplish with this anthology by showcasing how SF as a genre isn’t necessarily the sum of its alien parts and is instead sometimes very much a literary vehicle for informing and warning society of where it could be headed.

NB: And you did so with aplomb. About your alien – where did the idea come from?

MR: The idea sort of sprung out of a particular fascination I had at the time with kudzu. I may have been toying around with the idea of a worldwide plague that wasn’t necessarily a virus or contagion or anything like that, but a particular kind of natural disaster wherein the entire planet was consumed by a life form that couldn’t be beaten back. Maybe I was feeling a little overwhelmed with work at the time? Clearly the culprit changed as did much of the story when it made it to the final product, but so it goes when you allow your mind to consider all the possibilities in this universe. This is why I love science fiction and fantasy, and as a writer in the genre, why I value it so much above all other literature: the sheer creativity involved is monumental. And to be creative is a wonderfully human thing.

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Major thank-yous (and mea culpas) to Marcus for taking part in the wee mini-interviews. The only upside to this error was that I got to talk one more time about a great anthology that I really do think all fans of science fiction should check out. That link at the start of this chat goes right to the buying page.

In the meantime, don’t trust your technology, and keep it short…

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