ECOTONES, First Contact

ECOTONES, First Contact

And now for something completely different. A guest post. Normally, you would not get its kind here, but since we’re all one happy family over at, and we have another anthology coming out soonish, we have a blog tour, and we’re sharing each other stories. Only yesterday, Andrew Leon Hudson hosted mine. Today, I am happy to introduce Kurt Hunt, contributing author in Ecotones. He’s here to tell us why he submitted his world shattering story to’s fourth anthology.

The Pit
Image taken from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

As a child, I had little use for the niceties of the suburbs. Fences were good only for jumping. Blanket forts were better than playgrounds. Sidewalks were neither pathways nor boundaries, but  points of departure.

In that transitional part my life – only half grown and half civilized, the universe still half-science and half-magic – I spent as many hours as possible in an abandoned gravel pit at the edge of the neighborhood, jumping down sand dunes, examining layers of sedimentary rocks, digging up fossils … just existing, in the way that kids do but adults have forgotten.

I didn’t understand, then, the strange dichotomies of the Pit. I’d never heard words like “ecotone” or “liminal,” but, like all kids, I had an instinctive understanding of the concept, and I knew that this was a special place. A unique place that somehow united the past and the present, the tame and the wild. I found deer carcasses down there, and clusters of brachiopod fossils, and pornographic catalogs stashed in the rotting glove compartments of rusted-out cars overgrown with ivy, hundreds of yards from the nearest road.

The Pit was serene, but created by violence. It was a manmade scar in the earth, but nature had reclaimed it. And for an eight-year-old, it marked the edge of civilization. The suburban frontier. That is the allure of ecotones. Whether environmental, cultural, or temporal, they mark unique points of transition. Both fascinating coexistence and unavoidable conflict. In short, they’re where things get interesting. Sometimes beautiful – like lakesides and sunsets; sometimes terrible – like the spread of colonialism or the “reeducation” of American Indians. They are places ripe for exploration, fictional or otherwise.

My story, “Paolo, Friend Paolo,” might be best described as a first contact story … and what is a first contact story but a story of ecotones? It’s intended to evoke that feeling of exploration I had as a child – that moment when, descending the steep sides of the Pit, through waist-high tangles of chicory and toward the pond that marked its lowest point, I entered a different world.

In those places – in those moments – we finally pay attention and we learn about ourselves and the environment around us. And so my story seizes hold of Paolo and his unfortunate friend (also named Paolo), at a time of great discovery and transition, and it forces them to pay attention.

And it poses questions. What do you do when the world is about to end? What do we do when we meet something new, but, whether through miscommunication or incompatibility, we cannot seem to coexist? How do we conduct ourselves when none of the old rules apply?

Who are we, really? And who do we want to become?

Back in my hometown, the Pit is still there. But it’s not the Pit I remember. Like me, like all things, it has changed.

The steep grade – sometimes almost vertical – has been made more gradual, and the grasses and wildflowers are routinely trimmed to be more presentable. The old, narrow footpaths have been replaced by a black, curving road. But the biggest change, fitting for a place so defined by transformation and transition: there, at the bottom of the abandoned gravel pit in which I forged my childhood, they built a hospice.

Scene. Anyhow, want to read Kurt’s end-of-the-world story? Want 13 other great, ecotoned stories from professional and amatuer writers from around the globe?

Then look no further and go back our Kickstarter campaign!

We’re over 80% funded! Help us get to 100% by before the end of the weekend. You’ll get Kurt’s story and much more.

Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card by posting a link to this post on Twitter or Facebook. Remember to use the hashtag #Ecotones and come back here to let us know you promoted our anthology (provide link). The winner will be contacted via the email address used to comment. And we’ll announce the winner at the end of the blog tour (December 2nd, 2015).

If you are curious, check out what other contributors have to say on this Ecotour:

View from the Soapbox – hosted by Andrew Leon Hudson

Ecotour guest blog: Inundated – hosted by Daniel Ausema

Meaning of Place – hosted by Rebecca Schwarz

Ecotones – A Guest Post – hosted by Victor Espinosa

Why Ecotones? – hosted by Jon Laidlow

Ecotour – hosted by N. E. White

Ecotones Anthology – The Mary Sue

Ecotones Pro-Am Anthology –

Climate Fiction Update, It’s now Eco-Fiction – Claude Nougat


Thanks for all the fish – and reading!