I’m thrilled to announce that my 2,100-word short story “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” is published in Translunar Travelers Lounge! It features the Hindu trinity of deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who (try to) work like an Agile software team to iteratively perfect the universe. But Vishnu keeps going off-process with all his avatar hot-fixes.
I wrote the 750-word seed of this story for the Codex Writers “Weekend Warrior” flash fiction contest. The writing prompt was “What life lesson do you fear you’ll never learn? What mistake do you keep making over and over?” My Hindu-raised, Marvel-fan, software engineer brain went straight to cyclical time, multiverses, and iterative development processes. Which is, frankly, a lot for 750 words.
It’s a lot for the 2,100 words of the published story too. I wanted to avoid over-explaining the premise, because nothing falls harder than an explained joke. Many stories bootstrap on familiarity with Western myths and legends (Greek mythology, Aurthurian stories), and I tried to do the same with my own cultural canon. Maybe do a little Neil Gaiman riff on Hindu mythology. This story relies on familiarity with the Hindu “Trimurti” (Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva as personified aspects of creation/nurturing/destruction) and the 10 Avatars of Vishnu. My potential readers are primarily American, and don’t necessarily have Hindu mythology as a cultural touchstone. But I went for it anyway. Hinduism’s cyclic cosmology, put into terms of iterative software development, and presented as a listicle of Vishnu’s ten incarnations on Earth, is probably a very niche joke, but hey, I’m writing to amuse myself. I’m grateful that Aimee and Bennett from Translunar Travelers Lounge were also amused enough to give this story an outlet.
This was a story where “write what you know” turned out to be a useful maxim. Thanks to my mother, grandmothers, stacks of Amar Chithra Katha comic books, and a couple of college courses, I know Hindu mythology. Thanks to my career, I know about Agile software development processes, and where theory and practice can diverge. Thanks to Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, I think a lot about existence as endless iterations (a notion borrowed from Hinduism and Buddhism). And thanks to my nature, I know how the perfect can become the enemy of the good. Putting that all together into a short, light story was great fun for me.