Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh! I read the best story this morning out of “Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology.” It’s called, and I’m not kidding you on this title, “Exhibit H: Torn Pages Discovered in the Vest Pocket of an Unidentified Tourist – (Note the blood-red discoloration in the lower left corner.) – An Excerpt from Hoegbotton’s Comprehensive Travel Guide to the Southern City of Ambergris – Chapter 77: An In-depth Explanation For the City’s Apparent Lack of Sanitation Workers (And Why Tourists Should Not Be Afraid)”.
Does that leave you exhausted, or does it pique your interest? It piqued mine, especially in how Jeff VanderMeer tells the story in the form of a travelogue. It is about the “mushroom dwellers” in the town of Ambergris and how people rarely ever see them, so not much is known about their habits. The “mushroom dwellers,” however, do leave behind tiny red flags and keep the streets of Ambergris spotless of all litter. The travelogue format comes complete with references to check other chapters and footnotes, including this one:
“3 Sometimes referred to as “mushies” by the locals when drunk, but never when sober; indeed, if the mischievous traveler wishes to provoke a full-scale riot, he simply need shout into a crowded tavern or church, “You’re all a load of stupid ‘mushies’!”” (pg. 117-118)
Isn’t this great? This story has my mind churning about how I could turn something as dry as a procedures & policy manual into an interesting piece of fiction. Sometimes slipstream is about changing up a format in an unexpected way, rather than merely serving up a strange story.