Despite living in the same general area (southern California), I've never actually met Robin Dunn. As is true for a lot of relationships, there's often a number of events where there are near misses, readings one of us forgot to attend, friends of friends that relay sightings of each other. It's too bad, since it seems like we'd get on famously - you can find his extensive resume of sci-fi and dark fiction at http://robindunn.com/. One day I'll capture an image of Robin Dunn, maybe strolling through his natural habitat, but a little too out of focus for the skeptics to throw any of their weight behind. Here's the story he gave us for Issue #13, a sci-fi tale that paints itself in a nightmarish watercolor, echoing Chambers or maybe Jules Verne in the grips of some feverish hallucination.
The Venusian Artist Residency
The yellow here is my least favorite color; it cascades over the plexiglass like piss. Quantum piss, perhaps, since the storm stretches all matter into the craziest of shapes.
Artist residencies are not unlike religious retreats; I am the Stylite, behold, atop my Venusian tower, blind as a bat and closer to God than ever . . .
Hogwash, but it sells books. It moves paintings. Puts fresh pressed records into the teeny boppers’ hot little hands, and I am popular now, so popular, so goddamned popular, in my box, on Venus, like a surfer drop shipped onto a five hundred foot wave, alone in the universe and broadcast live . . .
My room is artfully arranged, comfortable. A bear rug. A fake but convincing fireplace. They wouldn’t give me any video games; I am here, after all, to create.
The yellow is my least favorite; I feel ill for hours after one of the yellow-light storms.
The blue-green are beautiful, though, like ancient Neptune angry but subdued, behind glass, I’m on the Disneyland ride, 10,000 leagues and twenty atmospheric pressures under, an MFA graduate, loneliest man in the solar system . . .
In the east another one is coming; I wish I were Turner, but I am a modernist. If I were Turner I could capture its fluid beauty, storm on storm like two Mississippis meeting, the outflow fractally specific and luminous, light fomenting change and death and the cruelest of all imaginable summers, hot pink fuchsia eglantine waves ravaging brown outcropping jags, this planet is a drug I cannot seem to acclimatize to—
Of course our moods are prisoners of the weather, of course they are, but our moods were designed for terrestrial rain, not Venusian—
The result is like lacing the coffee addict’s morning cup with crack; acid in the eggs.
I wonder how it is being edited. Whether my pounding on the glass and my tears and my “revolutionary” turd in the middle of my room (even though I’m the one who has to smell it) made it onto the screens of the average Earthling, or whether they even use my face at all. Perhaps that’s it; a queer reversal of the old Fake Apollo Moon Landing conspiracy theory; I am actually on Venus but they fake it back on Earth anyway, because it makes for better camera angles, and a more handsome face . . .
When I return I will no longer be the same. True for any journey of course but for me, this one, it feels as I imagine the political prisoner might, at last released from the torture chamber . . .
Yellow is the color of madness; I fear it has taken me with it. My next canvas will be a thousand yellows, and I will paint it with my face . . .