Ken Poyner is at it again. No spineless neurotics or lovable sitcom divorcés found here.

I like Ken Poyner’s work because he writes about men who don’t apologize. His characters don’t have bad relationships or mommy issues. There aren’t any quasi-metros or neurotics. They aren’t spineless twots, or sitcom divorcés “with a heart of gold.”

From The May, 2014 issue, Ken Poyner’s story, “Snake Oil Rights,” has a salesman who sizes up a synthetic human–a female form, his own design:

“…the thunder of her spiked heel nearly touches the floorboard as one blue sensuous snake of a thigh slithers carefully over the other, the lip of her mini-dress folding just a little back. I turn to look over the whole of her, and it takes commitment to this trip’s firm schedule not to stop the truck. But I need to get to wherever this place is. I am the new novelty, straight from the complicated cities. I am bringing progress, modernity, the life folks only see on their quaint hand-held view screens.”

He writes beefy characters so that actors like Gene Hackman, Charlton Heston, Eli Wallach, George Kennedy could have played them.

From Poyner’s latest coming in October, “Establishment”, an android barkeep eyeballs two customers engaged in discourse:

“You hate to see them waste their money on access when they could be wasting their money on maintenance, but I can’t control the bone and protein crowd. I’ve yet to figure out their programming, and I stay out of the mathematics of it when two of them are dealing.”

There it is, from both sides. The first, he’s acknowledging one of the base motivations for improving technology. The second, from the opposite viewpoint, is a unique combination of man/machine sensibility with genuine AI cynicism on what it is to be a man. He’s comfortable in both places.

© Getty Images His characterizations are perfect raw material for classic actors of the sixties and seventies who played some great sonsabitches who didn’t give a shit whether they got the girl or just who their ex-wife was tumbling now.

Ken’s very low-key about all this and prefers a discussion of “personhood”  but as far as I am concerned his voice is clear. And we don’t see enough of this kind of work.

Check out Ken Poyner in the “May, 2014” issue. And get ready to welcome him back in October.

-CTG

Advertisements

July Stories Released~! “The Girl in the Glass Case” and Other Stories

July Stories Released~!

                    

    www.bdlit.com

Til Death Do Us Party
Kelly Schrock
Bucky died hand-cuffed to a chair, trying to escape. Face brutalized almost beyond the point of recognition. Wrists oozing. When I show up, he’s still cuffed down. I think he spends the whole night that way. We’re all too afraid to touch him. What if he finds out he’s dead? How could you digest that kind of end? He looks like shit. The whole idea of getting your perfect body back when you die is bullshit. Read more…

Black Denim Lit #6: The Girl in the Glass Case
Call for Help
Zack Miller
She waited. As soon as Jenny was certain her caller had bled out, she stood up, put the rough rope noose over her head, and let her legs fall out from under her. She twitched against the rope for a good two minutes before her legs went limp. But, Spencer helped her to her feet and removed the noose from around her neck, almost falling over backwards in the process. She gasped for breath. He said, “We can’t have our top performer taking early retirement.” Read more…

Unfinished Things
Ethan Fast
“They put me down here,” Fell says, “to punish the ones they wanted to put down here later. Because they knew I couldn’t control it. They send down the others, and it’s terrible for everyone concerned.” Fell sighs. “You see I need you, to keep me living. It’s really quite simple.”  Read more…

What Pavel Found
Geoffrey W. Cole
The dead Turk’s mustache held its curl despite the early November downpour. Pavel pushed it aside, gripped the soldier’s false tooth with his pliers, and gave a tug. The wine-bottle pop was the sound of him becoming a richer man. With the tooth and the spoils he liberated from the other soldiers who littered the battlefield, he’d make enough. 1912 might not be such a wretched year after all. Read more…

The Girl in the Glass Case
Matthew Di Paoli
Fred stared into the glass case, wishing he could hold her. Her skin glowed even in the darkness, and the shadows of her lips moved slightly as if speaking, though he heard nothing. He figured she probably had a name of her own. She was slender. They were all made slender unless you special ordered. Short, shorter than he was. She had no belly button. He wondered if living in a glass case all your life gave you a different perspective on the human condition.  Read more…

Uncanny Valley
M.T. O’Byrne
The next day was Sunday. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. It wasn’t just that it was the robots’ day off, nor even that it was the day for some of them to go to dance class, it was the sound of the word: Sun-day. They all had decided (based on hours of philosophical discussion) that the word ‘Sunday’ was a happy word, at least in English. In Russian — voskresenye — it sounded like a day of praxis and prayer. And in German — Sonntag — it sounded like a day for calisthenics and self-criticism. Read more…

The Teachers Connection
T.D. Edge
At the end of a table, on her own, someone new, obvious by her gaze flicking constantly from her plate to the other people, hoping but also dreading someone more experienced in here would sit with her. He nearly didn’t, for her large green, curious eyes, long black hair and the challenge of her youth triggered his habit of not wanting to try. But this time… “Do you mind if I join you?” he said. Read more…

Local News
Benjamin Schachtman
He supposed he could get hit again, beaten, raped, maybe tossed in the back of … of a what? A Camaro, of course. He tried to picture a Camaro trunk full of drag-queens. It had become surprisingly easy not to take his life seriously, almost reflexively natural to dismiss threats, even legitimate ones. He was aware that this was dangerous, like fighting drunk where you couldn’t feel the injuries you were sustaining. He knew that free-fall and flight have the same strange feeling of stillness… Read more…

Review ] Previous Issue | More Stories ]