The following compilation illuminates the literary history of the desert city of Silver Cliffs. Located on the Arizona-California border, Silver Cliffs is technically twin cities separated by the Colorado River. Known colloquially as SCCA and SCAZ, the twin cities were born in the mid-19th century as a number of smaller settlements. An unusual combination of commerce, religion, utopianism, and corruption united the disparate communities under a common name. Unfortunately, Silver Cliffs has languished in obscurity for most of the 20th century, due to geographic isolation and the fierce independence of its citizens.
-Bryan Edenfield and the Wordless Dictionary Society
When Titus was young, his uncle took him out to the orchard to shoot apples with a gun. One tree bore unpalatable and deformed fruit: apples that gravity warped into the shape of dew drops, two-headed apples with a feeble core that fell apart like dry leaves in a clenched fist, strangled baby apples with little bulging bumps like arms reaching out towards mother tree. His uncle took aim at one crying apple. The boy couldn’t bear to watch.
-H.J. Highsmith, Loom Orchard, 1958, Parlor House Press
I know what you’re thinking. Well, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I have an idea. Here we go, another story about fancy people and their problems. But hold on there, I think you’ll like this one. These fancy people were weird man. Like, eat a burger with a fork weird or walk up to a clerk at a store and stare at them until they say something weird. Like maybe they’re in a cult but probably they just do yoga. That kind of weird. You’ll see.
-Sasha Allawar, The Dinner Party and Other Stories, 2017, PG Press
It is past time we face the illegitimacy of the paramilitary force manned from without our community and built with the implicit purpose of subjugating the black and brown men and women of our city. Conceived under the pretext of protection, this armed and extralegal militia is in actuality the weaponized arm of our oppressors. Community protection now and always falls under our purview; we will no longer let the police terrorize our community. Consider this a Declaration of Independence and of War.
-David Cleveland, The 2nd SCAZ Black Panther Manifesto, 1968, Herrera House
Forgive my antiquated dialect. I grew up in a farming community under the glass domes of ‘Hia, so long isolated from the rest of the world that we became invisible. These ‘Hia farmers are traditionalists and thus follow strict behavioral guidelines. We have spoken the same way since our inception decades before Dajjal. Despite my world travels, this upbringing still scars my diction, my thoughts. I am kin of a different era: an alien, a relic. I hope this barrier is not insurmountable for you, if there are any of you left.
-Dawn Dresden, Terra Fantasma, 1999, Imaginary Science
When the Word became Flesh, Flesh became Holy. To live in our house is to feed from our table and sleep in our bed. Christ the Lord walked the streets with Man and Woman and was one with Man and with Woman. The material body became a spirited Flesh; the touch of God, made tangible, imparted an ecstasy that transcends the trivial desires for which we are accustomed. Imagine the joy when touched by the Lord made Flesh. Imagine not the ethereal joy we speak of when we say we are touched by the Divine, but the visceral sensation of God’s fingers across your cheek. Imagine His bodily embrace, His lips, His grip. Imagine Him inside of you, not as Holy Ghost, but as a Man.
-Gideon of San Jose, The Flesh of Christ: A Sexual Awakening, 1913, Western Order of the Golden Dawn
The closer you examine any story, the more you see that it cannot hold, that it does not make sense, that it is built on illusions. History is a fiction with which we build ourselves and our society, and thus not dissimilar from the myths that, despite their resonance, cannot have happened in this world as experienced. Science is not immune from such illusion. Pursue the story of the universe to the quantum level and what happens? Reality falls apart.
-Heinrich Adams, After Herodotus: The Historiography of Deception, 1976, SCTech
Heinrich Adams (1930-2018)
A professor of history and economics at SCTech, Adams grew up in New York City, the sun of Dutch and English immigrants. He moved to Silver Cliffs to attend SCTech, received his PhD in 1960, and became a tenured professor in ‘62 upon publication of his first book, Agrarian Economics and the Mercantile Market. Adams briefly left SCTech to work as an advisor for mayor Simon Milner, from 1973-75. He returned in ‘76 with his second book, After Herodotus: the Historiography of Deception. His third book, Asphyxiation: the Death of the Marketplace as Commons, published in 1985, called for the dismantling of capitalism and the creation of a new economic model dubbed, “Agoranomics.” From 1992-94, he advised Democratic candidate and then mayor, James Hernandez, and in ‘95 he retired from SCTech to work full time as economic adviser to Hernandez. Adams retired from politics in 2000; after, he lived with his second wife on a small farm until his death.
Sasha Allawar (1990-)
Born and raised in Silver Cliffs to Pakistani immigrants, her father a programmer in the SCCA’s booming “Saline Basin,” Sasha abandoned the tech industry and joined the Smoke School in 2008, and soon thereafter, the Cave People, a self described “anarchist luddite cult.” Over the next decade, she made a name for herself within the literary scene, first as a fixture at open mic nights, then as a featured reader throughout town. The Dinner Party and Other Stories is her first major publication. The title story gently satirizes the pretensions of the local art scene; other stories examine our fraught relationship with technology and the wilderness. As of 2019, she makes money working at an animal shelter, volunteers at a community garden, and lives in a house with six other humans, three cats, two dogs, and a wayward mouse.
David Cleveland (1938-1991)
A member of the SCAZ Black Panther Party, Cleveland led the organization, from its inception in 1967, until his historic win in the mayoral election of ‘69. The first black mayor of SCAZ, Cleveland pushed for extensive police reform. Allied with the Panthers and other progressive organizations, Cleveland recruited new officers from troubled neighborhoods, worked with communities to create systems of self-policing, decriminalized most non-violent offenses, and coordinated with health professionals to create a “reformation, not incarceration” system. Demonized by the media and conservative ideologies, the public turned against Cleveland after four years of turmoil and elected moderate Democrat Simon Milner in 1974. Emotionally exhausted from his controversial term, Cleveland left the public sphere. Cleveland died of lung cancer on his daughter’s tenth birthday.
Dawn Dresden (ca. AA05-AA59)
A pseudonym for science fiction and fantasy author Mariana Villaseñor, Dawn Dresden is a fictional character that appears in many of Villaseñor’s writings. Born on a futuristic, post-apocalyptic earth, she flees her relatively safe but isolated community after being accused of witchcraft. Journeying the ravaged world, Dresden collects viruses and turns them into recreational narcotics that she sells to the desperate citizens Calypso, the last great metropolis. Little is known about Villaseñor.
Gideon of San Jose (1876-1919)
Born Charles Gideon Baker in San Jose, he spent his early years struggling for work. Homeless, Baker suffered a heat stroke in 1906; the hallucinations led him to the mysterious Church of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Drawn to their leader and the lascivious nature of the organization, he joined in ‘07 and was rechristened, Gideon of San Jose. The Church ended in 1910 when the leader and many followers died of influenza, but Baker survived and retained his new name. He continued to preach and write about the faith. In ‘12, Gideon gained employment renovating the Parlor Hotel. There, he met Edgar Lang, a member of the Western Order of the Golden Dawn. Interested in his esoteric preachings, the organization published Gideon’s writings in ‘13; Gideon received no financial compensation. He then perished during construction when a scaffolding collapsed; the accident killed six workers in total.
H.J. Highsmith (1919-1961)
A distant relative to one of the founders of Silver Cliffs, Harriet Cole was born to a wealthy family and took to writing in her early 20s. Forbidden from working or earning money by her domineering father, she wrote secretly under a pseudonym until her unfortunate death from breast cancer. Despite her father’s attempts, she refused to marry and thus lived her entire life with her parents. In their large estate, she absorbed hundreds of books and listened intently to the numerous well-to-do guests that came and went, often interrogating them for more information. In this manner she collected the raw materials for her stories, though her sources were frequently unreliable and inaccurate. Highsmith embellished, often exuberantly, thus resulting in work closer to fiction or urban legend than history.
About the Editors
Bryan Edenfield was born in 1982 in Mesa, Arizona. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington. There, he acts as the Official Spokesperson for the Wordless Dictionary Society, Cascadian Division. While he has never lived in Silver Cliffs, Edenfield visited frequently as a teenager and in his early twenties.
Wordless Dictionary Society
Started in 1823 as an anarchist-artist collective, the Society’s stated goal is the total annihilation of language. In what is now the Southwestern United States, they founded Flower City, a radical experiment in utopianism. Flower City was eventually swallowed up by nearby settlements but exists to this day as the Flower District, a neighborhood in SCCA. A notoriously secretive group, the Society’s only direct contact with the outside world is through the Official Spokesperson. While headquartered in Silver Cliffs, they have outfits all over the world, including Dublin, Louisville, Mexico City, Seattle, and Sana’a. Their Excerpts from the Wordless Dictionary, 23rd Edition is due to be published sometime in 2023.
Bryan Edenfield was born in Arizona but lives in Seattle, Washington. His writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Sporklet, A) Glimpse) Of), Meekling Review, and Plinth. In 2018 he received the Jack Straw Writers Fellowship and currently he hosts and produces of the Hollow Earth Radio program, Glossophonics.