Welcome, literary family and friends, to January 2014’s issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine! We invite you to pull up a chair and a mug of ale or tea, and take a cup o’ kindness with your fellow creative souls.
This month’s theme is Scouting Parties, about the little personal expeditions we take to learn about our world. How we cope with not knowing everything, where we go to discover our world, each other, and ourselves, and then what we do afterwards with the information we have gathered.
Fran Laniado reviews Adam Brown’s Astral Dawn, where a young man finds himself on a surprise journey, wandering into a fantasy realm, which he must use his strength and insight to protect. As Laniado points out, one of the novel’s strengths is the development of the main character. He’s neither tragic nor perfect, and he has goals and strengths, although like many real-life young people, he isn’t sure how to achieve them.
W. Jack Savage shares a lengthy piece, “The Beginning,” where love gradually develops between a couple in an unusual arrangement, when they work through their problems, including their lack of knowledge about each other.
Roger Charlin, idealistic journalist at the heart of Daniel Jacobs’ The Eyes of Abel, as reviewed by Elizabeth Hughes, also means well, but faces a lack of knowledge. He must decide what to do when what he sees appears to contradict what he has come to believe over the years.
Hopefully, as people re-think their preconceived notions, our world will overcome prejudice, imperialism, racism and the desire to control others. Then, the Jews, Muslims, Christians and others in the Middle East, and elsewhere, will be able to coexist in peace.
Bruce Roberts discusses such a coexistence in his review of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)? Written by Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald, and John K. Alvarez, this play, performed at the Town Hall Theater in Lafayette, California, presents a mishmash of classic holiday stories, including Dickens’ Christmas Carol and the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
Christopher Bernard reviews the play Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness, by Berkeley’s Shotgun Players, that also illustrates in a fun way how our minds work to combine and synthesize narratives and information. As in Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)?, characters make sense of interspersed, overlapping stories from various genres.
Some contributors describe physical journeys and explorations. Laurette Tanner shares vignettes from her time in San Francisco, and Berkshire, Massachusetts. Full of sensory details, her writing encourages readers to learn about and notice the details of their city and wilderness environments. ‘Enjoying nature’ becomes a lot more interesting when one knows what to look for.
Emily Burns, of the Save the Redwoods League, offers a portrait of California’s coastal redwood ecosystem, affected in various complex ways by climate change. As described by Cristina Deptula, her talk at Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center also focuses in on the ways nature can act as a storyteller, reflecting past events and broader changes through tree rings, geology, and the changing distributions of different plants and animals over time.
Mitchell Grabois presents poetry about a trip to France, where his narrator gets jolted by thoughts and encounters with people he’s met, along with the river rapids. Jeff Rasley’s travel essay about visiting Basa Village, Nepal also explores cultural dislocation, but in a gentler way by a narrator who desired a change of scene.
In poet John Grey’s work, the characters blend with the rough landscape, eking out existence amidst the rocky paths, crackling ice and coyotes. There’s a sense of isolation in Grey’s writing, of thoughts and desires unspoken, just out of reach.
Emma Bernstein’s lush piece about the light and sound of dawn, the natural environment, offers personal sanctuary and solace.
Artist Tim Davis turns in another direction in his quest for creative escape and inspiration, presenting work inspired by a video game.
It has been said that we should not turn to nature and imagination just to escape reality, but to create it. Hopefully, this month’s contributors will inspire a new and heightened world of enlightenment and beauty.
Happy New Year and enjoy the issue!
**San Francisco Bay Area folks** We have a get-together scheduled for the evening of Thursday January 23rd, 6-9 pm drop-in at San Francisco’s Cafe Enchante, 6175 Geary St. near the corner of 25th Ave. All welcome, please feel free to bring writing and art to share! Facebook event page coming soon, RSVP appreciated but not required.