These Aren’t Concentration Camps (Yet)—But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Good

I strongly urge you to watch this video:

and read this article (“Inside the Former Walmart That Is Now a Shelter for Almost 1,500 Migrant Children” ) all the way through, then call your reps.

My point here: This is not a “concentration camp” by any modern conventional standard (in that “concentration camp” connotes harsh conditions, overcrowding, and general neglect if not outright abuse). Here’s a New York Times description at what they saw at this specific migrant internment center:

Most of the boys are from Central America. Many of them smiled, waved at or shook the hands of the reporters touring the site. They were asked by the reporters and Southwest Key executives, in Spanish, “How are you?”

The constant reply was “Bien, bien,” meaning “OK, OK.” The media was not allowed to interview the children.

Some were leaning back, getting a shampoo at the sinks in the shelter’s barbershop, where a striped lit-up barber’s pole spun outside the door. They lined up in the cafeteria for dinner — chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables. Some played pool, or joined a tai chi session in the rec room. One teenager sat at a cafeteria table with his head bowed and hands clasped, praying silently. Another told the cafeteria worker who served him dinner, “Gracias, Miss.”

Everywhere, some of the shelter’s more than 1,000 employees hovered nearby — they sat at the ends of the cafeteria tables while the boys ate dinner, watched “Moana” with the children in the old loading docks and escorted lines of boys in the hallways.

The vast majority, Southwest Key officials said, crossed the border unaccompanied.

That said, these certainly fit within the broad dictionary denotation of “concentration camp”—in that they are “a camp where persons (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained or confined”.  (And we have no idea if other such centers are better, worse, or about the same).

Still, calling these “concentration camps” runs the risk of continuing to erode the general American understanding of the heinous magnitude of suffering endured by  the Jews and others interned and enslaved by the Third Reich, or the Americans of Japanese descent imprisoned by the U.S. government, or the countless others who have been confined, reeducated, absorbed, and exterminated by the smooth-grinding wheels of governments.

On top of that, calling these “concentration camps” is a disservice to progress and to these specific children.

That said, saying that “these aren’t concentration camps” is in no way meant to suggest that what’s happening here is good; it’s getting overcrowded, it’s unsustainable, they’re starting to set up tent villages (in Texas, in the summer—lack of rigid shelter and HVAC is a huge drop in livability outside El Paso). This is precariously close to starting the inevitable slide into what we all would recognize as concentration camps.

But, goddamit, right now we are very close to doing the Right Thing here: Most of these kids are showing up at the border without parents or guardians; it is right and good to shelter them, feed them, protect them, show them Moana. That’s what a country dedicated to the huddled masses yearning to be free should be doing.  With proper action, there is an opportunity here for these centers to level up to being well-run refugee centers.

We should call our reps, and say as much: I want unaccompanied minors to be sheltered and fed.  I want those who’ve been abused, or whose home places have been made unlivable by gangs or failed governments, to have access to asylum.  Kids who have braved the elements and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, they’ve got True Grit; I want to know how they can become my neighbors and fellow citizens.🇺🇸

Don’t Know Much About Anglerfish?

Well, then, you’re in good company: We know next to nothing about these freaky mofos.  Wanna get started?  Watch this video, then google around the phrase “polyandrous sexual parasitism“, then recall the existence of the Human Centipede film franchise, then embrace the gibbering madness as it engulfs you and absorbs you into its grand, æternal, sleeplessly dreaming circulatory system—Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

RECOMMEND LISTEN/READ: PseudoPod 592: “Free Balloons for All Good Children”🎈

In almost all regards—from title through execution, in the fears it tries (and fails) to exorcise, right down to its final graff—this is the 100% perfect short story for me.  (And it’s likely no coincidence that it’s just about a perfect fit for my favored story formula, the 45/45/10 Three-Act.)

PseudoPod 592: “Free Balloons for All Good Children

Recommended Read: Dale Bailey’s “The End of the End of Everything”

In many ways, this story is the exact opposite of the last Dale Bailey story I recommended—which, in a way, almost makes them philosophical book ends.  That said, the real philosophical counterpart (counterpoint?) to Bailey’s “The End of the End of Everything” is Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death“; please read them back to back and decide where you stand. That’s what stories are for.

eBooks! eBooks! FreeBooks!!! New horror and sci-fi from Dave-o!

Three offerings today—and you can get ’em all for less than a Subway sub:

  1. My most recent novella, There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House is now available as a standalone ebook. Read the horror tinged “Non-Euclidian architectural petty-crime adventure” that’s racking up kudos and five-star reviews at a humbling clip.  (If you want backstory on the story, here’s an interview I did with F&SF about it.)
  2. Price drop on my novelette “The Traveling Salesman Solution.” A time portal story, and also a grim moral koan. If I’ve ever written a story I think everyone in America should read, it’s this one. For a limited time this lil fella—my first sale to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and only true hard-SF tale—is just 99-cents!
  3. FREEBIE ALERT!!! From now until Monday my time-travel novelette “There Was No Sound of Thunder” is free on Amazon! This is the story that introduced the Parable of Too Many Hitlers. Read the story Locus magazine’s Lois Tilton called “Stoopid” (although, in all fairness, it was also a finalist for that year’s Asimov’s Award so maybe check it out and make the call for yourself?)

I know a goodly portion of you have already read one or more of these stories; all are woeful shy on Amazon/Goodread reviews.  If you wanted to swing by and leave your thoughts, it’d be much appreciated. Thanks in advance for helping nudge the wheel!

Goodreads links:

  1. There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House (coming soon?!)
  2. The Traveling Salesman Solution
  3. There Was No Sound of Thunder

  

I’m the YEAR’S BEST, mofos!

(Probably more accurate to say “I’m [the author of one of several works counted among] the YEAR’S BEST [stories within the horror genre], [my esteemed] mofos!“, but, whatevs, right?)

YearsBestHorror10-cover-llciikicdniigigoI keep forgetting to crow about this: The last story I sold to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction–“Whatever Comes After Calcutta” (link to my interview about it)–has been selected for Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year (Vol. 10).

The full table of contents is good company, and the cover art kicks ass! Keep an eye peeled in your local bookstore this summer.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Better You Believe                              Carole Johnstone       
  • Liquid Air                                           Inna Effress                
  • Holiday Romance                               Mark Morris                         
  • Furtherest                                           Kaaron Warren                      
  • Where’s the Harm?                             Rebecca Lloyd                     
  • Whatever Comes After Calcutta        David Erik Nelson           
  • A Human Stain                                   Kelly Robson                         
  • The Stories We Tell about Ghosts     A. C. Wise                            
  • Endosketal                                         Sarah Read                              
  • West of Matamoros, North of Hell    Brian Hodge                      
  • Alligator Point                                   S. P. Miskowski                     
  • Dark Warm Heart                               Rich Larson
  • There and Back Again                       Carmen Machado               
  • Shepherd’s Business                           Stephen Gallagher             
  • You Can Stay All Day                        Mira Grant                             
  • Harvest Song, Gathering Song            A. C. Wise
  • The Granfalloon                                  Orrin Grey                             
  • Fail-Safe                                              Philip Fracassi                       
  • The Starry Crown                               Marc E. Fitch                         
  • Eqalussuaq                                          Tim Major                 
  • Lost in the Dark                                  John Langan                         

Incidentally, I immediately spent the money I got for this reprint on a bunch of “folk metal” and “hauntology” music.  The former is probably self-explanatory (metal music heavily influenced by folk music of various regions—this article is a good place to start, if you’re curious).  The latter is apparently a British thing, where folks make fake soundtracks to non-existent low-budget 1980s horror films and British paranormal TV series.  My current heavy rotation faves are:

  • Blood of the Black Owl (Pacific Northwest folk metal—big Americana and Native American influences, neat soundscapes)
  • Zuriaake (Chinese folk metal)
  • Klaus Morlock/The Unseen (pretty straight hauntology—i.e., fake soundtracks for non-existent 1980s horror films/paranormal UK TV shows)
  • Thorsten Schmidt (more hauntology)   
  • Nubiferous (I’m not sure what this is–it’s like folk metal without the metal, or hauntology without the pretense.  It’s from Russia)

Recommended Read: “The Donner Party” in @FandSF (updated)

“The Donner Party” is mos def my fave story in the last issue of F&SF. It seems like an obvious gag straight through to the untangle—at which time it becomes bone chilling. Downright perfect dismount, in my humble. Recommended.

See also: Interview: Dale Bailey on “The Donner Party” : The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

UPDATE: If you’re look to read something by Bailey right this second, he has a story up at Tor.com: “The Ghoul Heads West

Continue reading “Recommended Read: “The Donner Party” in @FandSF (updated)”