Rainbow Snippets Takes a Nap! “Skid and T’amec in Slumberland” by Jeff Baker, February 11, 2023.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Pexels.com

Every week we post six lines from a work of ours, a work-in-progress or published or a recommendation of someone else’s work with at least one LGBT character. Posted at Rainbow Snippets here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/963484217054974 This snippet may be appropriate for Valentine’s day.

Remember Skid and T’amec? The two twenty-something guys with the budding relationship who work in the Food Garden Court restaurant in a magical mall in a magical world? https://rommanticreads.wordpress.com/2022/11/11/jeff-baker-all-the-pleasures-prove/ This unpublished vignette came to me while I was dozing off one night; in it T’amec is showing Skid his cramped new apartment after work one evening. Think of this as a snippet of a snippet:

“I figure this whole apartment was probably the kitchen for a bigger apartment, then they partitioned it off into smaller apartments, or something,” T’amec said.

“Yeah,” Skid said, edging by T’amec to look out the small back window. They brushed together and stopped for a moment, looking into each other’s eyes.

“Hang on, here’s the fridge,” T’amec said opening the door. “Not much in there.”

“Yeah, anybody could tell you work in a restaurant,” Skid said.

Here’s a few more lines from “Skid and T’amec in Slumberland.”

Skid followed him out of the kitchen to the darkened doorway to one side. T’amec flipped on the light revealing a medium-sized bed and a small nightstand that largely filled the small room. There was a small space between the bed and the wall and Skid noted a pair of shoes sticking out from under part of what he assumed were T’amec’s dirty clothes.

“This is the, uh, bedroom.” T’amec said.

“Yeah, I noticed,” Skid said. “Nice bed.”

Let’s leave them to happily snooze. The whole thing will probably never see print unless I write a few more full-fledged stories and put them together as a novel. Until then and until next week, pleasant dreams! —–jeff

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Food Garden Court, LGBT, Rainbow Snippets | 6 Comments

“The Grackle and the Sun” by Jeff Baker. Flash Fiction Draw Challenge Story for February 2023.

The Grackle and the Sun

by Mike Mayak

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The draws for the February 2023 Flash Fiction Draw challenge were an Aesop’s Fable, set on or near the Sun, involving a vintage T.V. set.

There once was a Grackle who made his home in an old console television set that was sitting abandoned in an overgrown lot outside of town. He lived in the base of the old wooden cabinet where he had built his nest and from time to time would hop to the top shelf where the old tubes had been but now there was just an empty space with the big glass screen on one side. The birds and other little animals who frequented the lot could see him through the screen and of course got the wrong ides.

“He’s a wonder!” said a squirrel.

“He’s a king!” said a mouse.

“He’s a god!” said a pigeon. “For he sits in the same temple the people in the houses gather around to listen to the Oracle tell the future. Saying ‘Here are some exciting scenes from next week!’”

The Grackle knew he was just another bird. Nonetheless, he told the other animals to bring him seeds and berries and place them by the opening in the console.

Now one day, a parrot flew into the lot. He had recently escaped the pet store and had heard a flock of wrens discussing the Oracle.

“Where have you come from, strange green bird?” asked a rabbit.

“From the Sun,” said the Parrot, who had lived in the well-lit pet shop. “Where it is daylight and warm and never cold all year round. And where there is always food. And where you can see more of the world than even from the temple of the Oracle here.”

This interested the Grackle, who waited until the Sun was high in the sky and then flew upward, heading for the Sun, flying higher than he ever had before.

To his amazement, instead of getting warmer, he was getting colder. Soon his wings began to ice over and the air became thin and he fell back to earth, cushioned by a bramble bush which did not protect him from stray cats.

The other animals spent so much time gathering berries and seeds to place in front of the temple of the Oracle they forgot to eat and soon wasted away.

The moral is: it does not always pay to get too close to a star.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: And I am proud that I made it through this without once referencing the old T. V. cartoon.

You mean, like titling this “Aesop and Sun?”


Posted in Fable, Fantasy, Fiction, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Short-Stories | Leave a comment

Early Valentine’s Story by Jeff Baker on RoMMantic Reads. February 10th, 2023.

My new story “The Night in Question” is up at RoMMantic Reads.” Just in time for Valentine’s Day. https://rommanticreads.wordpress.com/2023/02/10/jeff-baker-the-night-in-question/

Special thanks to Fiona Glass and Brent Silveria, who kindly lent me the use of his last name!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted in Anniversary, Brent Silveria, Fantasy, Fiction, Ghost Story, LGBT, Paranormal, RoM/Mantic Reads, Romance, Short-Stories | Leave a comment

Travel “The Road to Nowhere” with Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker. (February 10, 2023.)

young man reads the map and looks for the destination driving his car. Travel and trip concept

On the Road to Nowhere

by Jeff Baker

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to Kaje Harper for providing the picture that inspired this week’s story! —jeff

Greg Gerber held tight to the steering wheel and let the breeze from the open window wash over him as the car raced down the desert highway. It made him feel cooler for the first time that day and he felt his sweaty t-shirt drying out.

Greg turned his leg a bit and adjusted his stiff knee. How long had his foot been on the gas pedal?

He glanced over at Rich McAllister, sitting in the passenger seat, staring out the window, probably enjoying the breeze.

“You doin’ okay?” Greg asked,

“As well as I can,” Rich said glancing over at Greg. “At least the Sun’s going down, kinda. Not as hot as it was.”

“Yeah. Wish we had A.C.” Greg said. “Or a radio. I’d settle for a radio.”

“Me too.” Rich said. He cleared his throat. “Look, I’ve been, well, checking you out the last few miles.”

“Yeah?” Greg said with a grin.

“Yeah.” Rich said. “I guessed you noticed. You look, well, real good with the sunlight hitting your tan like that.”

“Thanks.” Greg said. “You’re nice too.”

They drove on for a while. Then Rich spoke up again.

“Look, I’d help you with the driving if I could,” Rich said.

“Yeah, thanks.” Greg said. “I don’t think we’re supposed to have any kind of help.”

“Yeah,” Rich said. “Hey, do you remember anything else? I mean, besides our names and that we knew each other? I mean, right before we found ourselves in this car? On this road?”

“Not really,” Greg said. “Just this vague…impression. That we went after some guy. In this car. That we hit him.”

“And we hit him in this car.” Rich said. “I remember some of it. “And there was money. And that this was his muscle car.”

“Yeah,” Greg said. He stared back at the road and didn’t look at Rich as he spoke. “You think this is the road to Hell?” Rich shook his head.

“I think we may be there already,” Rich said, his throat feeling very dry.

After a few minutes, Greg sighed again.

“This is just driving me crazy. The heat, the boredom. The fucking uncertainty of this.”

“Yeah.” Rich said. “I’d almost settle for driving through big iron gates and seeing the guys with pitchforks. I could deal with pitchforks.”

“The boredom is probably the idea,” Greg said. “The pitchforks might be easy to handle. The boredom isn’t. I’ve tried to run off the road a hundred times and can’t even cross the center line.”

“I wish there was a motel and we could stop there for a few hours,” Rich said. “I’d settle for a cold burger, a soda, a place to pee and, and…”

“And a room where we could be alone for a couple of hours.” Greg finished.

“How long have we been here anyway?” Rich asked.

‘Check the odometer.” Greg said, squeezing the wheel tighter.

Rich looked at the dashboard. “Six-Hundred-Fifteen?” He looked up. “Miles?”

“Years. I think.” Greg said in a low voice.

Rich sagged into his seat and tried not to think.

They turned a curve and the sun was directly overhead and the breeze blew hot. Again.

“Look,” Rich said. “I can’t you know, reach over there or move over there but I think I can do this. Lean over this way as far as you can.”

“Lean over?” Greg said. “I’m driving. What happens if I lose control of the car…”

“And we get killed?” Rich said with a bitter half-laugh. “We passed that a while back. Okay, lean over, just try.”

Greg couldn’t take his hand too far from the wheel but he was able to lean towards the passenger seat just a bit. He realized what Rich was getting at. And he managed to bend his right elbow until it started to feel stiff.

Rich leaned to the left as much as he could, maybe a few inches and tried to raise his left arm. It felt stiff away from the area above his passenger seat.

Then the tip of Greg’s elbow touched Rich’s biceps, just below the shirt sleeve.

It was warm. Body warmth not desert heat. It felt good. They held the position as long as they could.

The car sped down the long and endless road.


Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, Friday Flash Fictions, Horror, Kaje Harper, LGBT, Short-Stories | Leave a comment

The Best of Ballantine’s “Best of…” by Jeff Baker.

The Best of the Best of Ballantine’s The Best of…

Compiled by Jeff Baker

From about 1974 through at least the late 80s, Ballantine Books published a series of over 22 (paperback and hardcover) “Best of” collections of the work of science-fiction writers, many from the “Golden Age” in the 30s and 40s. At the best they offer a representative sampling of the work of some masters, some of whom were still around and writing at the time the books were released.

They were pretty popular and were also issued in Science Fiction Book Club editions. And I must note that both paperback and hardcover had different covers, excellent in my opinion. Most of the books feature an introduction by an author who knew or was very familiar with the author or his/her works and an afterward by the author in question when they were still around. These intro/outros were usually insightful, informative and often provided a personal glimpse into the reality of the author’s world.

They are a little harder to find in the used stores today but when I was starting to really read and study science fiction and fantasy short stories I scooped them up and they were an introduction to some names I hadn’t heard before. There influence on my own work cannot be underestimated, and I feel their influence even today.

So, here is one story from each one of the books I read through, stories that I think would make a fine collection today.

“A Martian Odyssey,” by Stanley G. Weinbaum.

This is the story that Isaac Asimov said burst on the scene like a nova. It is among the first really alien extraterrestrials of fiction that still comes off as a real character with emotions and even pathos.

“The Movie People” by Robert Bloch.

Something of an anomaly in that many of the best stories in the Bloch collection are fantasy or horror. Bloch wrote a lot of science fiction but he is best remembered for his creepy stories with a twist in the tale. But “The Movie People” is Bloch’s love letter to the silent movies; sweet, sentimental and a little spooky. Oh, and the movie theater he describes was a real place.

I would have selected his treatment of a then well-worn science-fiction theme “It Happened Tomorrow” but this ostensible sci-fi story was simply not included in the book!

“Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell.

Had to go with this famous classic by the great editor who shaped magazine science fiction for decades. The story was the source for the movie “The Thing” and its remakes. Oh, and in recent years there has been a successful effort to tar Campbell as an anti-Semite to the extent of renaming the John W. Campbell Award. Writers who were Jewish (such as Asimov) debunked this notion during Campbell’s lifetime. Campbell loved to argue on all sides of an issue and he remains controversial, which probably explains some of the hostility towards him.

“He That Hath Wings” by Edmond Hamilton. This perfect collection by Hamilton dovetails nicely with the collection by Leigh Brackett (to whom he was married.) The story soars with its tragic romance.

“The Jewel of Bas” by Leigh Brackett. One of Leigh Brackett’s (Mrs. Edmond Hamilton’s) fine, pulpy adventure stories set on a Burroughs-type Mars back when it was plausible that these worlds would have an atmosphere, inhabitants and tons of adventure. They literally don’t write ‘em like that anymore. Oh, and if you have the Best of Brackett and Hamilton books don’t fail to read their introductions. Sweet and funny and written by two people still in love.

(Brackett edited an anthology “The Best of Planet Stories,” collected from the pulp magazine that was one of her regular markets. It was billed as Volume One but did not sell well and there was no second volume even though a table of contents can be found online.)

“Exit the Professor” by Henry Kuttner. Kuttner was a master of blending humor and horror and the emphasis is on the funny in this tale of a backwoods family who are also super powered mutants from Atlantis. It’s one of a series of four and I scoured bookstores looking for the other stories. (“Cold War” is included in “The Best of Henry Kuttner.”) many of Kuttner’s stories count as science-fantasy and nobody really did it better. Kuttner, of course, was married to writer Catherine L. Moore who wrote as C.L. Moore and from the late 1930s on much of their work was in collaboration. To what extent who wrote what even they weren’t sure!

“No Woman Born” by C. L. Moore. Moore has been described as a master of mood and atmosphere in a story and “The Best of C. L. Moore” proves that. While the Kuttners generally collaborated (as they explained, they were writing for a living!) this and most of the stories in the book are hers alone. Written in 1944, “No Woman Born” is mature, dramatic and anticipates much of the science fiction of later years.

“The Power” by Murray Leinster. I love stories told in the form of letters or diaries and this one is loads of fun as the present-day letter writer comments on a very old manuscript. Leinster (William F. Jenkins) was a pulp master and (along with Kuttner) he could be very funny. (He was also writing about the internet in 1945!) In the early 2000s Baen Books put out several collections of Leinster’s stories including his Med Ship series.

“A Pail of Air” by Fritz Leiber. A science-fiction, apocalypse, Y. A. story by a pulp author whose career extended into the 1990s the story quickly crafts a world after disaster, characters and a situation that seems near-inescapable. Leiber is best known for his fantasy and horror, as well as not only coining the term “Sword and Sorcery” but writing some of its best stories. “A Pail of Air” has justifiably been anthologized all over the place.

“The Game of Rat and Dragon” by Cordwainer Smith. Many writers have created their own Future History (Heinlein most famously) none quite like Smith’s “Instrumentality of Mankind” universe. Dr. Paul Leinbarger was literally an expert on East Asia and psychological warfare and kept the fact that he was Smith a secret until his sudden death at 53. “Lyrical” is a word that is deservedly used to describe his prose.

Just a further note on Smith here: Ballantine put out a companion anthology to the Best of for Smith: “The Instrumentality of Mankind” which includes a timeline for his future history.

“Day Million” by Frederik Pohl. Pohl started publishing in the late 1930s and kept on through 2010 when he was in his nineties. He was not only a prolific writer but an editor who bought some of Cordwainer Smith’s stories. Pohl was also a friend and frequent collaborator with C. M. Kornbluth.

“The Little Black Bag” by C. M. Kornbluth was adapted for an episode of “Night Gallery” over fifty years ago. It hasn’t aged, and Kornbluth’s stories are still topical and trenchant.

“Jay Score” by Eric Frank Russell. An interstellar ship, a multi-ethnic crew and alien crew members. All treated sympathetically. No, not “Star Trek,” Russell’s stories predate the Enterprise by about 25 years.

“With Folded Hands” by Jack Williamson. Another Sci-Fi master who kept writing from the pulp days (1920s) to the early 2000s. The cover of the paperback illustrates the story and is perfect!

That’s probably enough for one collection!

I picked up the bulk of these anthologies for between fifty cents and three dollars. I got a bargain.

I know (I mean personally!) writers who are doing their best to embrace the cutting edge of contemporary writing. Me? I am still and always will be a retro writer happily ensconced in the moods and styles of the pulps and the Golden Age.

Posted in Books, C. L. Moore, Fantasy, Henry Kuttner, Reading, Reviews, Science Fiction, Short-Stories | Leave a comment

Flash Fiction Draw Challenge for February 2023. Going to the Sun with Aesop! —Jeff Baker, February 6, 2023.

First, here’s the prompts for the February 2023 Flash Fiction Draw Challenge. Then my usual long-winded explanation:

An Aesop’s Fable

Involving a Vintage T.V. Set

Set On, Around or near The Sun

Now, on to the details.

Hi! I’m Mike Mayak, I also write as Jeff Baker and I’m the current moderator for the monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, which was started by ‘Nathan Burgoine a few years ago and carried on by Cait Gordon and Jeffrey Ricker. It’s a monthly writing challenge mainly for stress-free fun that anyone can play.

Here’s how it works: the first Monday of every month I draw three cards; a heart, a diamond and a club. These correspond to a list naming a genre, a setting and an object that must appear in the story. Participants write up a flash fiction story, 1,000 words or less, post it to their website and link it here in the comments. I’ll post the results (and hopefully have one of my own written!) the week of February 13th, 2023.

As I’m no good making videos I did the drawing offstage and the results were the Ace of Hearts (An Aesop’s Fable), the Seven of Clubs (a Vintage T.V. Set), and the Queen of Diamonds (The Sun.)

So we will write an Aesop’s Fable involving a vintage T.V. set, set on or around The Sun. And I’ve got to be crazy listing not only another writer’s style as the genre but the Sun as a possible location!

So, get to writing and I’ll post the results next week!

Thanks for playing, and I’ll see you next week!


Posted in Mike Mayak, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge | 2 Comments

Rainbow Snippets Goes “To The Ends of the Earth” by Jeff Baker. February 5, 2023.

Photo by Ju00c9SHOOTS on Pexels.com

Every week we post six lines from a work of ours, a work-in-progress or published or a recommendation of someone else’s work with at least one LGBT character. Posted at Rainbow Snippets here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/963484217054974

I promised you a love story for this week, one that might not have existed if I had read a submissions call more closely! “To The Ends of the Earth” was written for an online anthology (“Seat 14-C”) whose deadline was just a few days after I discovered it! I started writing the story before I double-checked! Here’s our first snippet:

It isn’t even like “The Jetsons.”

No moving sidewalks, no flying cars, no robots everywhere. I got a big payment (we all did) after “The Incident” (as they call it) that slipped Flight 008 into the year 2037. The card they gave us to access any cash we had left in our savings accounts (assuming we hadn’t been declared dead when the plane disappeared from radar back in 2017) was pretty much worthless to me as I’d spent everything following Kyle to Japan and then back to the U.S. when I heard he’d left.

If only we’d gotten on the same plane.

I’m pushing the buzzer on Kyle’s apartment, going over the speech I’ve been rehearsing in my head.

Okay, here’s the second snippet:

I lucked out finding his apartment; it was unlisted but I found out there are ways around that. It helped that the airline was bending over backwards for me, for all the passengers.

The woman who answered the door proved to me that women still wore hair curlers and kept cats in the year 2038. I asked if she knew a Kyle Carruthers, as I was thinking: please don’t be his wife, please don’t be his wife, please don’t be his wife.

She wasn’t. She said she didn’t know Kyle and she slammed the door in my face even as I was showing her the month-old plane ticket I’d bought twenty years earlier in 2018.

I’d written a few stories with romance in them, but this was my first real full-blown full-length romance story. Of course, I never finished the full-length version as I was too late for the deadline and the narrow theme precluded my submitting the story anywhere else. So, I wrote up this condensed version. Check out the link https://authorjeffbaker.com/2018/05/03/to-the-ends-of-the-earth-by-jeff-baker-friday-flash-fics-for-may-4-2018/ to find if our unnamed narrator finds Kyle and if they have a Happily Ever After! —–jeff

Posted in Fiction, LGBT, Rainbow Snippets, Science Fiction | 2 Comments

A Reading of My Story “All The Pleasures Prove” by Angel Martinez! Jeff Baker, February 3rd, 2023.

Angel Martinez does another fine reading of one of my stories, this time “All the Pleasures Prove,” which first appeared on RoMMantic Reads here: https://rommanticreads.wordpress.com/2022/11/11/jeff-baker-all-the-pleasures-prove/

Here’s Angel’s fine reading! Thanks, Angel! Enjoy! https://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/from-angels-cave/friday-reading-day-all-the-pleasures-prove

Posted in Angel Martinez, Fantasy, Fiction, Food Garden Court, LGBT, RoM/Mantic Reads, Short-Stories | Leave a comment

“Get a Horse.” Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker, February 3, 2023.

Get a Horse

by Jeff Baker

“What do you mean the car’s gone?” Roddy asked.

“Gone.” Alec said. “Not here. I went into the Old Courthouse or about thirty minutes and the car was, well gone when I got here.”

“You don’t have a car alarm in that piece of junk do you?” Roddy asked.

“No. I chained the car to this old horse hitch, this ring still in the pavement on the curb.” Alec said.

“Chained it?” Roddy asked “Didn’t you lock it?”

“I haven’t fixed the locks yet, so I padlocked the chain to the bumper.” Alec said.

“The car doesn’t lock? Where did you get this? How much did it cost?” Roddy asked.

“From an estate sale.” Alec said. “You know that old guy who said he was a wizard? His family wanted to get rid of all his stuff cheap. Real cheap.”

“Better call the police. Hey, was that a horse I heard?” Roddy asked.

“Haven’t been horses in this part of the city in a hundred years or so.” Alec said.

“What on earth is this?” Grover said.

“An automobile, I think.” Dillard said. “I saw an engraving in Leslie’s Illustrated a few months ago. Wheels, metal.” Dillard tapped the windshield of the dingy green Nova out of place in the brick streets of the still-new city.” “Still, I’ve never seen one like this.”

The two men stopped to tip their hats to the lady in the hoop skirt who walked past, barely acknowledging them.

“When did you find this…thing?” Grover said.

“I stepped into the courthouse on business and I admit I lingered a bit to take in the brand-new building.” Dillard said. “When I stepped out, to ride home, my horse was gone and this was chained in its place!”

“You left your horse hitched here?” Thorne asked, kicking the ring sticking out of the curb.

“As I always do.” Dillard said. “But it was gone, the rope was gone and in it’s place this…this…”

“My Uncle saw an automobile in Paris.” Thorne said. “He called it a fire-breathing monstrosity.” Thorne sighed and shook his head. “He told me it would never replace the horse.”


Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, Friday Flash Fictions, Short-Stories | 2 Comments

“The Adventures of the Puzzle Club” by Queen and Pachter. Reviewed by Jeff Baker (February 1st, 2023.)

Adventures of the Puzzle Club by Ellery Queen and Josh Pachter

Reviewed by Jeff Baker

“The Adventures of the Puzzle Club,” the latest in publisher Crippen and Landru’s fine series of mystery short-story collections features two (or rather, three!) mystery masters and brings together the complete series of Puzzle Club mysteries begun by Ellery Queen (Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee, in case you don’t know!) and continued in recent years by contemporary master Josh Pachter who sold his first mystery to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (edited by Dannay by the way!) when he was sixteen years old!

The Puzzle Club is a group of mystery lovers who get together and propose a mystery scenario which one of their members (usually the fictional version of Ellery Queen himself!) must solve. The puzzles are fairly-clued and the interactions between the club members are half the fun!

The initial five stories were written by Queen and published in the 1960s and 70s and include references to other mystery writers, quotes from the Sherlock Holmes stories and even a line from “Mission Impossible!” There is no discernible change in style or tone in Pachter’s continuation of the series, but the final story “Their Last Bow” has the club facing a real-life mystery with a “dying clue” of the type Ellery Queen specialized in.

Wrapping up the book are four mysteries about the Griffen family by Pachter (written mostly when he was a teenager!) concluding with the recent “50” which is a follow up of sorts to Pachter’s first story.

(And while Ellery Queen is the detective most often invoked, Pachter’s “Sam Buried Caesar” is a Nero Wolfe pastiche with grade school kids acting like kids in a perfect and grim puzzle plot.)

Altogether, a fine collection. Highly recommended!

Posted in Books, Crippen and Landru, Fiction, Mystery, Reading, Reviews, Short-Stories | Leave a comment