This is the post that the blogger has made

It’s Friday.  I say that just in case you didn’t know (or perhaps in case you’re reading this some day other than the one on which I posted it, which is possible).

As usual, I don’t know what I’m going to write about today, but if experience is any guide, I’ll probably just write something anyway, and I’ll have more words than I ever intended to have written before I’m done.  You can all see how my book Unanimity grew to be more than half a million words long in its first draft.  I just write and write and write and write.

I guess it’s much the way some people just talk and talk and talk and talk.  I often do that, too, if it’s a topic in which I’m interested, and if there’s anyone around to whom to talk about it, but I often soon get glazed looks from other people, so I have to catch myself and shut up and walk away, chagrined.  When I’m writing here, there are no glazed looks to be had, and if anyone really isn’t interested, they don’t have to keep reading.  If they do keep reading, it must mean they were interested.  That’s a nice thought, in a weird way.

I’m going to write a post tomorrow, since I’m working tomorrow, but I may just share a video that I’m considering posting to YouTube.  I made it quite a few months ago (I’m not sure when), and just haven’t yet uploaded it.  I can’t recall what made me reluctant to do so, which probably means I didn’t have terribly convincing reasons.  It’s a silly video, but it was a bit of fun, about a comic-book-science idea I had regarding whether, perhaps, Superman’s powers were derived from solar neutrinos*.  I describe the process of my thinking, my “back of the envelope” calculations, and my conclusion, which will probably be obvious from the title of the video.  I won’t say more right now, but if I post it to YouTube, I’ll probably embed it here, tomorrow.

As for anything else, well, there’s really nothing else going on in my life as far as I can see.  I had a pretty good response (for me, anyway) to my blog post yesterday, in terms of number of people who came to read it, and that was rather gratifying.

It would be nifty if I could reach the number of readers that Jerry Coyne has for Why Evolution Is True, especially if I could get his level of engagement from readers who comment.  I read his website every day (except when I’m not working), and I often comment and almost always “like” the posts, which is not dishonest, because I actually like the posts I “like”.  It’s one of the few reliable refuges of sanity and intelligence that I have found in the world.

Yet, weirdly, even there, I almost always feel embarrassed after making comments, like I’m probably just annoying to PCC(E) and everyone else who comes to the site, and I really ought to shut up, if not for my sake, then for everyone else’s.  This is how I tend to feel about life in general.  Most of the time when I actively participate in anything, I come to feel that I’ve embarrassed myself and made everyone else uncomfortable.

Probably no one really notices, to be fair and to try to be rational, but it’s difficult when you can’t really tell how people react to you, or what they think or feel, and it seems similarly that other people are utterly unable to catch messages that I’m trying desperately to send, where I feel like my emotions must be written all over my face and be painfully obvious, but apparently, they aren’t.  Admittedly, when I look at my face in the mirror (I can only rarely tolerate it), I do usually find just a sort of non-expression.

It’s odd, isn’t it?  I can read Shakespeare or a poem I like, or recite movie lines and things and apparently do a good job of expressing emotion when doing so, and sometimes it seems that the only times I can actually feel my own emotions are when I’m singing a song that expresses them, but otherwise I can’t seem to convey feelings I’d really like to get across, and can’t seem to land messages that I honestly, desperately wish that someone would get.

I sometimes feel like someone from one of those Star Trek episodes in which a character is “out of phase” with the rest of the universe, or some other, similar such nonsense**, and I can see and hear all the other beings around me, but I can’t seem to reach them, and they certainly don’t quite seem able to hear or see me.

It’s not like being an anthropologist on Mars so much as feeling like an anthropologist from Mars.  Only, really, no one comes from Mars, so I must have come from someplace else***, but I don’t have any idea where it might be, or even if there is such a thing, a place to which to return, or fellow beings like myself.  Quite possibly not.  The universe doesn’t guarantee anyone that they will find a place that they feel they belong.  The universe only really guarantees one thing, and it clearly is not taxes.

Would it be better to be a mutant, unlike any other beings in the universe, or to be an alien that has lost its home planet, if that planet even exists at all, anymore?  What are your thoughts?


*Of course, Superman doesn’t actually exist, but it can still be fun to imagine comic book level scientific explanations for things that happen in comic books, and to try to apply a certain degree of scientific rigor to those explanations.

**Nonsense physics-wise, I mean.  The episodes can be quite good if you can get past the fact that the science fiction ideas are logically contradictory and physically senseless.  Good writing, directing, and acting really can make up for a lot.

***And I’m not an anthropologist except out of necessity.  If anything, I’m a misanthropologist.

Even great Wotan reveres Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins

It is Odin’s Day (Wotan’s Day –> Wednesday), honoring the king and “All-Father”* of the Norse pantheon—played by Anthony Hopkins in the MCU…a surprising choice, or so I thought when I heard of it, but of course, he did it brilliantly.

Far more important than remembering Odin, or even remembering his sign (as per the 12th Doctor)**, is to note the date:  It is July 20th, and on this day, 53 years ago, Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon.  This may be the single most momentous event—certainly in terms of being a fully new and amazing thing—in recorded human history so far.

At that moment, the diameter of human, physical existence and “ground-based” presence went from about 13,000 kilometers to over 300,000 kilometers.  We had set foot on another celestial body—what could be considered a fellow member of a binary planetary system—for the first time ever.  Sadly, of course, we haven’t done it now for quite some time, but that doesn’t take away from the achievement.

Anyone out there who harbors some conspiracy-theory nonsense about pretend moon landings and whatnot:  please get a clue.

The Soviet Union—you know, our cold war enemies, fellow architects of “Mutually Assured Destruction”, who would have loved to embarrass us, and had done so in many ways over decades, including having spies in our most top-secret nuclear weapons programs*** and who certainly could have arranged for some conspirator somewhere to reveal him or herself—they were thoroughly convinced that we had indeed gone to the moon; they never so much as publicly questioned it…even in propaganda, as far as I know.  Indeed, a big part of the political motivation for us to go to the moon was to intimidate the Soviets, to wow them with our technical ability and—this is not a minor point—to show off our skill with rockets.

No, if there had been a conspiracy, it would have been revealed quickly and readily; any massive organization and network and conspiracy involving humans is a vastly complex and chaotic system—real conspiracies are almost always spontaneously self-generating, not planned in advance.  In many ways, maintaining such a conspiracy without frequent and obvious leaks would be far more difficult than just going to the effing moon!

And is it a mere coincidence that, three months after the moon landing, to the day, a child was delivered by elective c-section on Earth, who would show himself to be not exactly normal, not exactly ordinary, not entirely…human?  Or was an alien consciousness, embodied perhaps in some form of nanotechnology, brought back to Earth from where it had perhaps accidentally landed on the moon, thence to roam about, searching for a compatible host, finding it in a developing fetus in Pontiac, Michigan, and merging with that growing human to become a hybrid of human and “other” being?

It’s almost certainly a coincidence****.  But it is a fun story to play around with.  I sometimes like to say that the (most recent) point of origin of the alien intelligence which I embody is the star system Vega*****, which is a mere thirty-ish lightyears from Earth.  It’s a true irony (within the terms of this tale) that all the higher life forms in the Vegan star system are pure carnivores, as a matter of moral choice.  Though they recognize that it is a necessity of survival—or it was until the making of lab-grown food had advanced far enough—it is morally reprehensible to eat autotrophs, since they are in a true sense the only innocent life forms in the universe.  The true Vegans consider it much more ethically tolerable to eat “herbivores”, who have already killed autotrophs to stay alive, and thus are not innocent, than to eat “plants” directly.

Of course, the greater ideal was thought to be to transfer our intelligences to non-biological systems that could survive indefinitely in the vacuum of space and tolerate most of the usual vicissitudes of interstellar travel (though not all of them, of course).  However, when the experiment, and the galactic pollination program began, many of the nano-tech based minds found their existence unfulfilling, and even borderline intolerable.  It wasn’t known if this was an error in “programming”, or if it was damage that occurred as part of the production or traveling process, or if it was merely that, having been designed in the image of biological organisms, the new minds had accidentally been built with urges too well adapted for biological life to be comfortable as merely nanotech.

Whatever the cause, when one such nano-brain (in this case, that’s not an insult) found its way to Earth’s moon, and by lucky chance encountered biological organisms visiting there, rather than continue its original program/mission to duplicate itself and remake the moon into a vast, meta-mind, it hitched a ride back to Earth, then went gadding about, enjoying this new place.  But soon it realized that, without a locally grown immune system, the process of fending off the many prokaryotic and eukaryotic and multicellular predators and other natural hazards in this biosphere was a lot of work, so it finally settled in a 6-monthsish fetus that had a compatible configuration and merged with it.

That merger was not without its detriments, of course.  It disrupted the closure of the foramen ovale in the developing heart, leading to the child being born with an Atrial Septal Defect that wasn’t discovered for nearly two decades.  It also, of course, altered the fetus’s nervous system, creating neurodevelopmental atypia that would later be consistent with a type of “high functioning” Autism Spectrum Disorder—weirdly enough, now abbreviated ASD, as was the Atrial Septal Defect.  And, of course, the alien’s original memories were nearly all eliminated in the process of merging.  This was expected, and it was considered acceptable, though that loss and lack no doubt contributed (along with both types of ASDs) to the tendency toward dysthymia and depression the organism suffered.

And here I am!

Of course, as I say again, this is all just a fanciful sci-fi story******, but it’s an interesting way to divert myself and give myself a “just so” story to explain my weirdness.

But the moon landing was real, I am convinced of that beyond any reasonable doubt.

I met Buzz Aldrin once—it was unexpected, and I was so surprised and delighted and star-struck (moon-struck?) that I acted like a gibbering idiot.  This is not too unusual for me, but poor Mr. Aldrin didn’t know me, so he looked at me with one of the most brilliant expressions of “What the hell is wrong with you, dude?” that I have ever seen when I tried to explain to my very young children just what an amazing thing this person had done.  I am unlikely ever to forget that moment while I live.  To be looked at by Buzz Aldrin with such incredulity and—dare I say it—puzzlement is, in its own peculiar way, a great compliment.

Aldrin on the moon


*A misleading term at best.

**That sign is a yo-yo.

***And who, themselves, built and in 1961 detonated the largest thermonuclear device ever, the Tsar Bomba, yielding a 50-megaton explosion, more than 1500 times as powerful as the combined Fat Man and Little Boy explosions, and which was and remains the largest human-made (it’s probably accurate to say “Man-made”) explosion on Earth.

****Or is it?  Am I just telling you that to throw you off-track?  Perhaps the whole “moon landing conspiracy theory” is the actual conspiracy, created by me and my fellow aliens to direct human inquiry away from the fact that We have established a foothold on this planet thanks to the Apollo moon landings?

*****The species didn’t originate there, of course.  Vega is a star with too short a lifespan (estimated about a billion years beginning to end) to have likely evolved so complex an intelligence and civilization.  We colonized the Vega system from far away, but the true origins of our people are lost in antiquity.  It’s said that our home world was destroyed, along with our older records, by a gamma-ray burst from the supernova of a nearby star.

*****And, as I also say again:  Or is it?

“I for one welcome our new computer overlords” teaser

Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser.  However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published.

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“I For One Welcome Our New Computer Overlords”

          Peter Lunsford woke up Tuesday morning with a smile already on his face.  He had completed his arrangements; the final necessary package had arrived yesterday, and he’d already done what needed to be done at the bank on Friday.  His lawyer had assured him that all was in order, and though Peter had misgivings about lawyers in general, he thought that Mr. Ryder—the partner who had worked with him—was competent and motivated to do his job well.

          Peter rose from his bed and stretched, giving a slightly exaggerated yawn for no one’s benefit but his own.  He strolled into his small bathroom, glancing down at his completed project.  It was crude, but it should do the job.  It was also not his current priority.  He doffed his pajamas and turned on the shower, waiting for the water to warm up before stepping in.  Thankfully, the late spring air in the apartment was pleasantly warm, even for standing around naked.

          After showering and shaving, Peter put on his work clothes and headed out the door of his apartment, first picking up his worn, leather bag and slinging it over his shoulder.  It was bulkier than usual that morning, but only slightly heavier; it was stuffed with a special cargo, something for the people at work and for one or two others he met every day.

          It had taken Peter quite a bit of time and effort to decide how to carry out the day’s missions, and to choose to whom to address them.  The preparations had at times been exhausting, occasionally frustrating, and often tedious, but it was all deeply important, so he had soldiered on, and now everything was ready.  The arrival of the package last night—and its assembly into the rest of the device—was the last step before the execution of his plan.

          Peter decided to use the stairs rather than the elevator, though he lived on the fifth floor.  He wanted to feel his legs move, and the elevator just seemed too confining.  Before beginning his descent, he checked his jacket pocket to ensure that he had his cell phone, which he did.  Thus assured, he made his way down and out of the building into the pleasant, late spring morning. Continue reading

PENAL COLONY teaser

Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser.  However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published.

penal colony cover

            It was chilly bordering on truly cold that Thursday night, which had now become Friday morning.  Paul Taylor stumbled through the rear exit of a popular bar, not too much the worse for wear, and headed toward the twenty-four-hour, self-pay lot in which his car was parked, a few blocks away.

            When he’d left the car for the evening, to continue a group celebration of the closing of a major contract at the small ad agency where he worked, the whole area had been surprisingly crowded.  In some circles, it seemed, Thursday was the new Friday when it came to partying.  For Paul, however, this was a departure from the norm, as was having more than a few drinks in an evening.  He’d stayed at the bar later than the rest of the team, both because he’d been surprised to find himself enjoying karaoke night—he’d happily and repeatedly punished all those present with his crooning—and because he’d wanted to wait out the effects of a frankly irresponsible binge of mixed drinks.

            He’d used the occasion as an excuse to sample several cocktails he’d never tried before, including—but not limited to—a mojito, a fuzzy navel, a tequila sunrise, and a Manhattan.  By ten o’clock, he’d been positively reeling, comically unsteady on his feet, and quite a bit more extroverted than usual.  It was just as well that the team had gone out for a large meal before hitting the bar, or Paul surely would have been both barely conscious and violently ill.  As it was, he’d apparently just become a charming buffoon; no one had seemed offended.

            Finally, as others had begun to leave, a few had offered Paul a ride.  When he’d declined, stating that he was still enjoying himself too much to go home yet, he’d been strongly urged to get an Uber or to call a cab when he did, but definitely not to drive in the state he was in.  He had promised to comply.

            The more he’d thought about it, though, the more he’d been reluctant to leave his car in the parking lot overnight.  It was unattended—payment was by credit card, swiped first when one entered the lot, then swiped again when one left—and it was not cheap.  If a car stayed overnight, or if a driver left without remembering to swipe a second time, the daily maximum charge of fifty dollars automatically applied.

            Paul could afford it—his drinks alone had cost well beyond that amount—but he bristled at the notion.  Also, he worried about what might happen to his car.  This was not a terrible part of town, and his Nissan was not particularly tempting, but still…

            Reluctantly, at about eleven, he’d started ordering alternating Coke and orange juice instead of alcohol, waiting for his intoxication to fade enough for him to make the trip.  Now, at nearly closing time, he felt sober enough that he could drive without endangering the few other travelers still on the road.  He supposed he might be wrong—advertising people were, he knew, at least as good at beguiling themselves as they were at convincing others—but he felt that his coordination was at least tolerable.  His stumbling bar exit had been an honest case of tripping over an uneven spot in the doorway, and he had easily righted himself.  That had to count for something. Continue reading

I am a fellow o’ the strangest mind i’ the world; I delight in blogs and revels sometimes altogether

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday, on which day of the week we complete the scared ritual by having me write my weekly blog post.

It’s been a fairly uneventful week, as far as writing and related matters go.  I’m editing In the Shade, as per usual, but that’s been going somewhat slowly.  I’m working on it every day, but I’ve been getting a bit less done than usual, due to some lifestyle changes I’ve made regarding allergy treatment, back pain interventions, and food habits—and other such things—and until my personal, mental clocks adjust to these changes, my concentration is a bit lacking.  To be fair to me, I am adjusting rapidly.  Today, for instance, I’m much more alert than I was yesterday and the day before.  I don’t think it will be long before I’ve gotten back up to full speed.  I may even accelerate.

I’m trying to consider what to work on after I finish In the Shade and complete and publish Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities and then complete and publish Outlaw’s Mind.  I think I may want to swing toward lighter fare.  I’ve been doing mainly horror or horror-related stories for quite a while now, which is fine, but I think veering toward more of a fantasy/sci-fi adventure tale might be good for a bit of a change.  Of course, there’s an element of horror to most of what I write—that’s just who I am, I guess—but still, it might be nice to do something a little less dark.

Among my released novels, two are purely horror stories—The Vagabond and Unanimity, though the latter disguises itself in a science fiction veneer.  The other three, however, are not.  Even Mark Red, which is about vampires and demi-vampires, isn’t a horror story; it’s more of a teen fantasy-adventure of sorts.  The vampires in the story are not merely the protagonists but are actually the good guys*.  Weirdly, though The Chasm and the Collision is a youth fantasy adventure, it could not only legitimately be called science fiction—albeit highly speculative—but it also has more horror elements than Mark Red does…which, I maintain, is essential in any youth-oriented fantasy adventure.

Of course, Son of Man is pure science fiction, though much of it is quite speculative, involving notions of complex time being used as a partial workaround of the Uncertainty Principle, and as a way of doing “time travel” without actually traveling through time.  It plays with identity questions related to the whole “Star Trek transporter”, copy-versus-original, destroyed and recreated versus actually transported question, but with the added levels of differences in time, and with chains of inescapable causality as well as unrequited love and the inability of even a supremely powerful being to change its past.  And, of course, given the title, it indulges in a bit of a playful religious allegory, or whatever the proper term might be.  Though there are references to truly horrific events in it—worse, frankly, than in any of my horror stories—it isn’t a horror story at all.  Go figure.

Of course, among the three tales in Welcome to Paradox City, two are clearly horror, though of quite different subtypes, while the middle one is sort of a supernatural low-key comedy.  I don’t know how funny it is, but though it involves “the unquiet dead**”, it is not a horror story.

All this is my way of reminding myself that, no, I don’t just write horror, though that’s what I’ve mainly written in recent outings.  So, I don’t have to write anything horror-ish for my next big project.  I’ve considered starting the novelization of a story I’d originally conceived as a manga***, based on two separate doodles/drawings I’d done, The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  If you look at pictures on my Facebook page, you should find some drawings of these characters, and scenes I envision them experiencing, and which are part of the narrative in the story in my head.  They are unlikely heroes, and quite unlikely companions, originally from different worlds (literally), who are tricked/forced to work together on a quest to serve the desires of an extra-dimensional wizard who is trapped in a tiny universe of his own making.  Along the way, they encounter another extra-dimensional being, properly considered a demi-god, who calls herself Lucy (not Lil), and who is a huge fan of the Beatles, and who models her realm accordingly.  As you might guess, Lucy is prone to call the Desperado either “Rocky” or “Dan” or even “Bungalow Bill”, depending on how generous she’s feeling toward him, and she refers to the Dark Fairy as “Sexy Sadie”.

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As you can tell, this story is conceived of as a fun sort of bizarre adventure, with few restrictions on what can possibly happen (though I do insist upon internal logical consistency, as long as it’s not too much trouble).  But I truly like the characters, as I imagine them so far, and would like to find out more of what happens to them, and to introduce them to other people.  I fear, though, that it would require an entire series to tell their tale(s), much more so even than with Mark Red, which can sort of stand on its own, though there’s more to that story than is currently written.

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This is Lucy. In the sky. With diamonds.

And, of course, I have a story waiting called Changeling in a Shadow World, which is about a boy/young man who believes himself to be a normal human, but who is actually the transplanted last survivor of a race of beings that perceive, move through, and manipulate higher spatial dimensions (and non-spatial dimensions), and who were wiped out by a creature or entity that exists between physical planes of reality, without integer dimensionality of its own, and which desires to invade realms of “normal” realities, either to become “dimensional” or merely to ruin such realms for everyone else.  It’s quite non-sane, being a creature without fixed dimensionality, and it has appeared in my stories before.  It’s referred to by those who fear it as Malice, or the Ill-Will, or the Other.  Its (rather unwilling) servants include less powerful irrationally dimensional creatures known as Crawlers…at least one of these appears in one of my soon-to-be-released stories already.

So, these are some of the options for what to work on after my current projects are done, which shouldn’t take too much longer.  If any of my readers have thoughts or preferences about what sounds like a good story for me to write next from among these descriptions, I would be honestly delighted to get your input.  I don’t absolutely guarantee that I’ll go along with your requests, but there can be no doubt whatsoever that you will influence me.  Surely all authors want to write stories that people will enjoy reading, and to which people will look forward!

In the meantime, I hope you all continue to do your best to stay safe and healthy and, especially, as happy as you’re able to be.

TTFN

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This is the original drawing of the Dark Fairy


*I’m using “guys” here in a gender-nonspecific way for convenience.  The lead characters include a female vampire (Morgan, my favorite character that I’ve written so far) and a male demi-vampire (the title character).

**They find the term “ghost” offensive and would prefer that people not use it.

***Mark Red was also so conceived, originally.

To-day, to-day, unhappy day, too late, o’erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune and thy blog

Hello and good morning.  Welcome to Thursday, and to another edition of my blog post.  It’s the last Thursday in April of 2021.  This day of this month will never come again.

Of course, we could say that about any given date, or hour, or moment—that’s the nature of time.  We may, in some future epoch, decide to restart our dating system, and so we might eventually come to a day the designation of which would match this one, but it would obviously not actually be the same day.

If there is some external meta-time, in which higher-dimensional organisms can replay our time and lives at will—perhaps like Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians—they might be able to look at any of our given moments or days over and over again, just as we can re-watch a movie as often as we may like on anything from VHS to DVD to blu-Ray to digital download—or even on old-fashioned film.  For the characters in the story, however—as for us if we were “looked at” earlier in our time—the events are always identical.

Each moment of the story is the same moment, no matter how often you see or read it.  The characters don’t change, their experience, if you will, doesn’t change, and they have no ability to recall previous viewings or readings.  Each time you rewind, you undo whatever developments might be coming.  A character in a film—or in a novel—who comes to a tragic end that “could have been” avoided cannot learn from that tragedy, cannot do things differently the next time you read the story or watch the video.

There is a sense in which, according to most interpretations of General Relativity, every moment in spacetime is “permanent”, but it doesn’t help us as individuals living in time.  If, after the moment of our death, we immediately simply re-begin at the beginning of our life, there will be no memory of having lived “before”.  Indeed, the very concept would make no sense.

And, of course, as even the MCU recognizes, at least at some level, if you could “go back in time” and change things, you wouldn’t literally be changing the past, you would simply be creating a new sequence, which would now be your local future.

It’s an interesting notion to write a sci-fi/fantasy, or perhaps horror, story in which a person reads a book over and over, or perhaps watches a movie over and over, and finds that the characters are learning, in a sense, from the mistakes they made “later” in the story.  Perhaps there could be a character with precognition, or some other form of metacognition, that allows her or him vaguely to recall particularly horrible events from “previous” iterations of the story, and so be inclined to change them on another go-round.

A simpler version of such a notion has been dealt with often in science fiction—in such movies, for instance, as Edge of Tomorrow, based on the story All You Need Is Kill.  But in that story, Tom Cruise’s character (or Keiji Kiriya in the book) gains the ability not merely to return to an earlier time, but to remember clearly, in an “ordinary” sense, what he’s gone through before, every time he dies.  So, it’s not quite the same.  Ironically, the course of the stories, including the time repeats, are the same each time you watch or read it.

Anyway, that’s all a digression.

It’s been a peculiar week—in this, it’s not unusual.  Perhaps one might say that a week in which nothing that feels peculiar happens would be quite unusual, though we might not notice it as such.  As I think I said previously, I got distracted last week by playing with video, and playing on video, a bit, so I didn’t write as quickly or as much as I might have in the morning.  This week, I did better.  In fact, on Tuesday morning—I wish I knew why—I went into afterburner mode, so to speak, and in only an hour wrote 2968 words on my new story!  This is first draft, of course, but still, it was coming out in a gusher.

Then, Tuesday night, I got a flat tire on the way home, and after taking the train the rest of the way that night, I had to come out with my housemate early on Wednesday morning so he could fix it (he has the proper tools), which quite obviously set my schedule back quite a bit.  Nevertheless, I still wrote exactly 1400 words yesterday, still leaving me time to diddle around on the guitar before I needed to start getting the office ready for the day.

If the rule of 10,000 hours’ work needed to become an expert at something holds—and it does seem to be a pretty good rough rule*—it would take me almost 47 years to become an expert guitar player at the rate I “practice”.  I could shorten it, obviously, if I put more time in each day, but that’s difficult.  And I certainly don’t want to live 47 more years.  I don’t even want to have lived as long as I already have!

Oh, well.  I can’t change my past—and I maintain that I would not change anything prior to September 13, 2001, for any reason**—but perhaps I can learn from it.  Indeed, one cannot ever learn from anything but the past, since the present*** is always already happening.  And, unless one falls into the singularity of a black hole, it presumably always will be.

So, the final take-away from this week’s blog post is, “stay away from singularities”.  And in other ways as well, stay safe and healthy if you can, and try to be happy, at least occasionally.

TTFN

time machine


*I once did the math and realized that, during internship and residency, I had literally worked about 10,000 hours in three years.

**That’s my daughter’s birthdate.  I suppose I might be willing to change things on or just before September 11, 2001—it might be worth it to avoid the 9-11 attack and the subsequent/consequent wars; I cannot easily imagine any realistic way in which those two days would have a detrimental effect on my daughter’s birth.  Of course, if this were a “monkey’s paw” type story, there would be such a way, and being a pessimist, I would still be quite nervous.  But I probably would bite the bullet and do it, given the extremely low probability of a bad perinatal outcome.  Goodness knows I would change many things that I’ve done since then.  But if I were told to choose between 9-11 and something bad happening to my daughter or preventing her birth…I’d probably just have to accept 9-11 happening.  That’s easy enough to say, though, since 9-11 did happen, and I already know and have internalized it, sadly enough.  Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s also biased, since we become inured to what’s already happened…even horrible, horrible things.

***Locally speaking, anyway.  In General Relativity, there is no sensible notion of any universal “now”.  Time is always local.  It makes some sense if you think about it.  I can’t say that this address on West Hillsboro Boulevard in Deerfield Beach is in some sense located everywhere, or even anywhere else, and likewise, I can’t say that the moment I’m presently experiencing is happening anywhere else right now.

I blog of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy

Good morning and hello everyone.  I hope you’re all doing well.  It’s Thursday, as you know, and so it’s time for another weekly edition of my blog.  This being the second Thursday of the month, it would have been an edition of “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains,” had I been able to keep that feature going*.

Work has continued on The Vagabond quite nicely; I finished the first run-through early this week, which served to familiarize me once again with my book that I wrote so long ago.  It sometimes feels like a very long time ago, and I guess it was…between twenty and thirty years, or more than half my life.  Weirdly, though—since it has been quite a while, and in some ways, it seems like ages—when reading it, I have to admit that it also seems quite fresh and recent.  I feel very much just the same person as I was when I wrote the novel, which is almost ridiculous considering how many things have happened to me since then**.  I suppose this is just one of the peculiarities of human consciousness…or at least of my own consciousness, which may or may not be considered human, depending upon whom you ask.

I think I wrote last time about how a woman in my office asked about my books for her son.  Well, as promised, I got the boy a copy of The Chasm and the Collision, and I got a copy of Unanimity Book 1 for her (definitely not for him).  She told me a few days ago that her son had been reading CatC and enjoying it and had reached chapter 4 already.  Because of that, I decided I’d read that chapter myself again, just to know exactly where he was.  It’s okay for me to skip ahead; I already know what happened.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it, and on and off I’ve been reading further***.  As I’ve said before, it’s my most family-friendly book, having been written about three middle-school students, and being therefore written for middle school students, as well as for “children of all ages” as they say.  That’s not to say it’s a childish or light-hearted book; there are some rather scary and dark portions, and it’s not short, except when compared to Unanimity.  It’s nominally a fantasy adventure, and without dark and dangerous forces, such stories don’t work at all.  My sister, who is older than I am and reads even more, says it’s her favorite of my books, and that the main character, Alex, is her favorite of my characters.  I might have mentioned that last week.  Apologies for redundancy.

I say it’s “nominally” a fantasy adventure because it could be more literally described as a science fiction story.  There’s nothing “magical” in it, and even the “travel to other worlds” aspect uses concepts that I cobbled from M Theory, as I understand it from my layperson’s perspective, drawn from the popular works of Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, Stephen Hawking, and the like.  Don’t worry, I don’t get much into that—I don’t know enough of it to do so even if I wanted to—but it does give me an arguably plausible way to bring in other universes and the spaces between them, and the possibility that the Big Bang was caused by two “branes” colliding with each other…and that such a collision might happen again.  (The word “brane” never appears in the story, however.)

Anyway, don’t worry about all that.  It’s a highly speculative science fiction story that really has the character of a youth fantasy adventure.  It even contains some environmentalist ideas, though they are by no means in your face.  I know, right?  A book by me, displaying any kind of conscience?  What’s the world coming to?  But again, you don’t have to worry about all that.  It’s a fantasy adventure about three middle-school students who get caught up in an inter-universal crisis and must do their best to help avert cosmic catastrophe while not getting in trouble for missing school.  I’m proud of it, and I can pretty much recommend it to anyone without reservation.  It doesn’t contain even a single instance of profanity!  I do encourage you to read it if you like that sort of thing.

Speaking of that, I would like humbly to request that, for those of you who have read my stories and books, could you perhaps take a moment to go to Amazon and rate and/or review them?  I considered doing it myself, as a kind of joke—making it clear that I was the author writing the review—but that seemed just too cheesy, and I don’t think Amazon lets authors do that, anyway.  I’m fairly sure they block reviews from people who have a financial interest in a book, which seems impressively and surprisingly ethical of them.  I can’t help but approve.

Finally, I’m thinking about releasing another of my songs as an official “single” to be put up on Spotify, YouTube Music, iTunes, Pandora, etc., like Like and Share, Schrödinger’s Head, and Catechism, but I only have two more original songs so far that could be so released:  Breaking Me Down and Come Back Again.  I’ve linked to their “videos”, so if any of you want to have a listen and give me your recommendations—even if that includes a recommendation never to allow human ears to hear the songs again for the sake of all that’s good and pure—I’ll gladly take your input.  I won’t necessarily follow it, but I would love to have it.

With that, I’ll leave you again for this week.  I’ve still not been able to kick-start myself into doing more with Iterations of Zero, though I have drafts of a few things.  Keep your eyes open, if you’re interested.  And, honestly, do consider reading The Chasm and the Collision.  Heck, if you can figure out how to work it out, I’ll gladly autograph a copy for you, for what that’s worth.  Most importantly, continue to take good care of yourselves and your family, friends, and neighbors, and stay safe and healthy.

TTFN

CatC cover paperback


*No, I haven’t gotten over it yet.  Maybe I’ll try to do one of them a year or something, perhaps around Halloween.

**Including, but not limited to, medical school, residency, moving to Florida, having kids, acquiring a severe back injury and chronic nerve pain, getting divorced, spending time as an involuntary guest of the Florida DOC and as a consequence being unable to practice medicine or vote among them…all sorts of interesting things that make for a most stormy life so far.

***Interspersed with reading Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, PhD.  This is a very good and, I think, very important book.  I encourage you to read it.

“I for one welcome our new computer overlords” – The Audio!

ifowonco final

Hello there, everyone.

Here, at last, is the audio version of I for one welcome our new computer overlords, read by the author (me).  You are free to listen to it on this site, or to download it to listen at a later time, and even to share the file with your friends.  You are not allowed to charge anyone money, or to otherwise make money, from that process, nor to pass the work off as your own.  Other than that, however, please enjoy.  If anyone does a dance remix, please let me know, I’d love to hear it.

I apologize for the many imperfections in this audio file – there are inconsistencies in volume and tone, which make it clear where I began new recording sessions, and there is also the occasional air sound on the mic.  As I’ve written before, doing this is a learning process, and I expect that my next audio recorded story (probably Prometheus and Chiron), will have somewhat better production values.  Depending on the reception this one receives, there will be at least some delay before I do that; it’s a time-consuming process, and even though P and C is a shorter story than Ifowonco, on this one I must have put in  ten to twenty hours of work for each hour of the final recording (just over two).  I really must get back into full-throttle writing of Unanimity, also.  However, depending on how enthusiastic the reception is for this audio version of Ifowonco, as well as the inscrutable exhortations of my soul, I may turn to my next audio recording sooner rather than later.  I also plan to turn this audio into a video, which will likely just be the audio track, playing over some fixed image – probably the e-book cover, I shouldn’t wonder.

As you may notice, in order to be able to post the audio recording here, I’ve upgraded my site, and you shouldn’t be seeing advertisements on it anymore.  If you do, in the future, they’ll be ads I’ve put up myself.

And speaking of advertising…if you enjoy this audio telling of my story, I encourage you to buy the e-book version for Kindle.  It’s only 99 cents (in America, with equivalent pricing in other territories), and the Kindle app is free and can be used on any smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet.  Even though one loses the romance of the paper book, the convenience of being able to carry around an essentially limitless library in your pocket is hard to beat, as even Peter Lunsford admits.  I currently lug 118 volumes around with me wherever I go, and believe me, I’m just getting started.

To purchase, or just to peruse, the story at Amazon, just click on the image of the cover above, or on any of the full or abbreviated instances of the title written in this post (similarly, you can see Prometheus and Chiron by clicking on any of the links attached to its title or abbreviation).

Okay, well, without further ado (and there has been much of it, hopefully not about nothing), here is the audio version of Ifowonco, submitted for your enjoyment:

TTFN!

I for one welcome our new computer overlords

ifowonco final

Peter Lunsford, a lonely, book-loving, self-educated and self-destructive salesman, has an abrupt and radical change of fortune. His subsequent actions lead a genius named Darrell White, enabled and inspired by Peter’s choices, to create the world’s first artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, this happens at a time when humanity has devastated itself with global war, and is unprepared to accept the existence of these new and superior minds. These facts will combine to create a future that Peter would not have had the courage to expect, and the implications of which are impossible to foresee.

Give to a gracious message an host of posts

ifowonco final

Hello and good day to you all.  I’m pleased to announce, as the picture above might lead you to believe, that “I for one welcome our new computer overlords” is now available for purchase on Amazon—for the price of a mere 99 cents.  If you wish to go to the Amazon page on which it is available, you need only click the picture above and you will be taken there.  It’s almost like magic, but it’s even better; it’s technology.

This story isn’t going to be available as a paperback in its current form (though it may in future appear as part of a collection).  It is rather long for a “short story,” being just shy of 23,000 words in length (about forty single-spaced pages), but it still just isn’t economically viable to sell as a physical book.  The costs of production would make the necessary asking price prohibitive for almost any sensible purchaser.  So, currently, if you want to read it (and I think that’s a reasonable wish), you’ll have to buy it for Kindle.  In case you didn’t know already, you can download the Kindle app for free, here, to read from any computer, tablet, or smartphone, so there’s nothing to prevent you from enjoying it.  The fact that you’re reading this online suggests that you are amenable to reading works that are presented in electronic format, so presumably you won’t be deterred from reading it by its e-book nature.  Although, interestingly, the main character of the story itself prefers to read books in hard copy format, though he happily reads articles and blogs online.

Oh, the irony.

I have withdrawn “Ifowonco” from its previous proud place here on the blog; I have also unpublished my two other short stories here, “Prometheus and Chiron” and “Hole for a Heart.”  They will both shortly become available on Kindle as well, but there may be a bit of a delay, as I don’t want to slow down the writing of “Unanimity” too much.  I’ve toyed with the idea of assigning two days a week just to the editing of these stories until they are ready for publication, and reserving the rest of the week for the writing of “Unanimity.”  I think I’ll try this out as a possible paradigm for balancing the writing of new material with the editing of completed projects in the future.  Both tasks are essential, but I have learned—from the long process of editing previous books, during which time I held off writing new ones—that I get a bit blue if I’m not writing new fiction.

Those of you who have been following this blog might have noticed that I recently put up four posts that are essentially the same as the descriptions in the “My Books” page about my books that are published and available on Amazon.  I’ll probably do the same for “Ifowonco,” and for subsequent stories as well, and the reason for this is simple:  When I share the location of these books to Twitter directly from Amazon, the tweets occur without any attached imagery, and that makes for a less interesting promotional tweet.  The same problem doesn’t occur on Facebook, but it has its own issues with how links are promoted, so using it requires its own specific strategies and tactics.

I’m still conflicted about posting author’s notes on Amazon in the reviews section, mainly because it would entail giving a “star rating” to the books, and I worry that that might be a bit misleading.  Still, maybe it would be useful as a way of just priming the pump for reviews.

I would like here officially and earnestly to request that any of you who have bought and/or read my books please give your feedback on Amazon.  It’s terribly useful, both for the author and for other potential buyers, to have that feedback on the site, so browsers can decide if the book sounds like the sort of thing they might like to read.  I know it can be a minor pain, and I don’t do it myself for absolutely every book that I buy, but I do try at least to rate the ones that I’ve bought once I have read them, even if I don’t leave a detailed review.  Even a single sentence could be terribly helpful to me, and to your fellow readers.

No matter what, I think I will write an author’s note for each of my published works—including “Ifowonco”—and post them here, for loyal readers to get feedback that might be interesting.  Of course, I’ve written about many of the stories here already, in various places, but to have a specific, dedicated author’s note might be useful, or interesting, or at least entertaining.

Speaking of being entertaining, I’m sorry if this post isn’t as fun or as funny as some of my others—though perhaps no one ever finds my posts funny, I don’t know—but as you are all aware, it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I, like so many, am mentally fatigued.  It’s something of an irony that, even at a purportedly joyous time of the year, so many people are heavily stressed.  This is true even for those who have nearby family and friends, and an emotional support system, to share the joys and the burdens of the season with them.  It can be more poignant and difficult still for those of us who do not have those things, especially overlying the dark time of the year as it does, when people prone to mood disorders are more likely to have trouble with them.  Still, the days are now beginning to lengthen, and even if there is no tangible change yet in the duration of the light (we are near the minimum of the sine curve, and the rate of change of the function is almost as low as it gets), we at least have the benefit of being able to anticipate with hope the increasing sunshine to come.

Of course, we would never want there to be no darkness at all.  Darkness can be beautiful, even when it is frightening, even when it is terrible.  Too much of it, though, tends to wither the heart.

Again, please do give me feedback on the author’s note/review notion, if you have any feedback at all to give.  And even more, please do review or at least rate those works of mine which you might have purchased and/or read.  I would be truly grateful…for whatever that’s worth.

TTFN