Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The Purpose of Reality: Solar by Steve Simpson


Release date: September 6, 2022
Subgenre: Short fiction collection

About The Purpose of Reality: Solar:


Steve Simpson’s mesmerizing collection of short fiction and illustrations is surreal and wildly imaginative, with touches of playfulness throughout. Here is a selection of the beings within:

At Claire’s school, the walls were cardboard, and her chain-smoking math teacher never allowed numbers to be mentioned. He used a drawing of a press to flatten slices of air into tissue paper for kites, and he was Claire’s favorite, because all the other teachers were ghosts. One day, with a little pasta and a little mambo, everything changed.

The negentropy wars didn’t end the world, there were survivors, and in Santarém, the gringo electrician needed medicine to save his daughter’s life. To get it, he had to cross the Amazon River, where the Negentropy Horizon divided Brazil. The locals believed you could look across the river and see directly into hell. The electrician wasn’t superstitious, but he decided netting was a good idea, to keep the insects off.

Aldona worked in the Damasco Auto scrapyard, and when the electromagnet on the crane burned out and dropped the blue Passat, no one saw the electric-winged shape that had been trapped by the magnet. After all, there was nothing to be concerned about: the alien space fleet had been driven away by the earth’s nuclear defenses.



Lighter Than Claire


“We were scaly. We scurried through the undergrowth.”

Claire nodded. She remembered a jagged light, exploding into brightness. “We hatched from eggs, we cracked our shells.”

“Do you remember flying? We swooped and soared.”

Long ago, she and Magda had flown, but Claire didn’t understand. “We flew before we ran. Were we birds once?”

Magda shook her head, not in denial but not knowing.

Claire wondered out loud, “Does a fish swim?”

“I suppose it does.”

“I don’t think so. We swim. But for a fish, the ocean is air. She flies on her silver fins.”




The crystal bell chimed. It wasn’t loud but it carried everywhere because the school was made of cardboard and it had no windows or doors.

It was time for special studies class. Claire and Magda sat in the front row because the teacher wasn’t like the others—he let them ask questions.

Claire remembered their first class, when he still shaved and didn’t fall asleep halfway through.




“I have no name but I have a rule. Numbers are not permitted in my classroom. Once you start with numbers and counting you never stop. You reach infinity before you know it.”

He took a piece of purple chalk from his pocket and wrote “Special Studies” on the wall.

“This class is about . . .”

He lit a cigarette. Even back then he was a heavy smoker.

“Well. It’s self-explanatory isn’t it? Everything that is, is special.”

He contemplated the purple letters. “Perhaps it will explain itself more tomorrow. Does anyone have a question?”

Magda put her hand up. “Sir, why doesn’t the school have windows? The rain comes in.”

“Glass is a sharp liquid. It would damage the walls.”

Claire was next. “Sir, why are the walls made of cardboard anyway?”

“They’re metaphors.”

“Metaphors are just ideas. They’re not real.”

“Let’s not be too clever.”

Later, Claire understood that when he said that, it was a signal to not keep asking, but in the first class she didn’t know.

“Why not?”

“The more you know, the more you have to forget. What’s your name?”


“Does anyone who isn’t Claire have a question?”

Eduardo raised his hand. “Sir, you’re different from the other teachers. They’re all ghost people and they never let us ask anything. You’re the first teacher who’s let us ask questions.”

He was startled, and he dropped his cigarette.

“The rule. You’ve forgotten the rule.” He shrugged. “I suppose you’ll get used to it soon enough.” He picked up the cigarette stub and brushed it off. “The ghost people are just projections. They teach you what you already know. I’m the counterpoint, the antidote to all their pointless truth.”

Claire had a thousand questions on the tip of her tongue in that first lesson, but she wasn’t allowed to ask them.




“It’s almost the end of semester so we’re going on an excursion—a bus trip to Forget Me Park. We’ll visit Soleil Station where the trains arrive.”

There was a buzz of chatter in the classroom. A change was coming, the end of their school days.

“Sir, what powers the trains?”

“Hasn’t the science teacher explained where our power comes from?”

Claire shook her head, and he seemed smug. “The school bus, the trains, everything is solar powered. We’re at the sun’s eastern terminus, the sun is all around us.”

“But if the sun is—”

“I’m sorry Claire, no more time for questions now. We’re going to make kites.” 


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About Steve Simpson: 

Steve Simpson lives in Sydney, and he’s never been able to work out exactly what he does, although he would probably feed the cat if he had one. His poetry and short stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and in the visual arts, works created with his image evolution software have been shown at several exhibitions. In the sciences, he’s published over 200 research papers, most recently in clinical neurology, where he’s developed a unique system for visualising mental states via EEG. Awards include the Peter Doherty Innovation Prize, for technology to make vehicles safer. 


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting an excerpt from my book. 🧡 I will link via instagram.