Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Information, Entropy, and the End of the Universe

One of the first readings for my survey class was a review of James Gleick's The Information:  A History, a Theory, a Flood.  It's a fun read and I highly recommend it, touching as it does on a lot of the main points in the history of information theory, putting everything from Claude Shannon to Wikipedia into context.  What's more, it does what any good book review ought to do:  it makes me want to read the book.

But then the reviewer went and said a dumb thing:
The explosive growth of information in our human society is a part of the slower growth of ordered structures in the evolution of life as a whole.  Life has for billions of years been evolving with organisms and ecosystems embodying increasing amounts of information.  The evolution of life is a part of the evolution of the universe, which also evolves with increasing amounts of information embodied in ordered structures, galaxies and stars and planetary systems.  In the living and the nonliving world, we see a growth of order, starting from the featureless and uniform gas of the early universe and producing the magnificent diversity of weird objects that we see in the sky and in the rain forest.  Everywhere around us, wherever we look, we see evidence of increasing order and increasing information.  The technology arising from Shannon's discoveries is only a local acceleration of the natural growth of information.
There are a few things wrong with this.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

*Ahem* Um, hi. Been a while.

I swear I didn't mean to fall off the face of the internet!  I just... well, hit a little bit of a wall, fell off the ball, then kinda just laid there on the ground.  Staring.  The ball rolled off into the sunset.  I went to visit my folks for a while, went up to Canada for a bit, had a lot of fun times.

At some point along the way, I just got way too embarrassed to say anything, and I rationalized my continued absence by saying, "Oh, screw it, I'm gonna start grad school soon anyway."

So I started grad school and things are going great... but then... well, Freeman Dyson of all people went and said something dumb.  Well, maybe not "dumb" so much as "inaccurate."  But... look, I'm gonna work up a post on it, because I can't not write about this.  But somehow, picking a fight with an astrophysicist on the finer points of astrophysics just seems a little bit beyond the scope of the library science classroom.  Then I thought, "Oh, that can just go here on my own little internet soapbox."  And then I remembered that I kinda just left things hanging...

So I'm at least fixing that.  I have a couple ideas.  Don't know what else is gonna come up.  But at least now, I'm actually saying that things may be a bit sporadic for the foreseeable future.  And sooner or later I'm going to hit a point where I'm just going to feel compelled to write more Tooth and Claw.  This is hiatus, not quitting.

So yeah.  Kinda-sorta back for now.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tooth and Claw: One Damn Thing After Another

Monday, July 9th, 2012

                Jones Kelly awakens to the sound of her phone buzzing.  It’s a text message from headquarters, instructing her to check her email.  She rolls blearily out of bed and stumbles across the hotel room to where her laptop sits open on the table.  Jiggling the tiny mouse to rouse the machine from its own slumber, she enters her password and brings up her inbox.  Sure enough, one new message awaits:
                Agent Kelly,
                Excellent work.  Postpone follow-up until resolution of next case.
                Terse and to the point, with a congratulatory flourish.  Some dozen attachments lurk beneath – she clicks “Download All” and heads for the shower.
                The hot jets both relax and invigorate.  She breathes deep of the steamy air and works the stiffness out of her joints.  Yesterday had been her recovery day, her time to rest and eat while composing and filing her report.  Her grafts were marvelous things, improving her performance in nearly every area – but damn if they didn’t work up an appetite.  Whether running, healing, or simply perceiving beyond the bounds of her mundane senses, everything had a calorie count attached, and the price was steep.  Yesterday’s dull ache had faded to a languorous stiffness by the time she bedded down, belly full at last.  As always, the stiffness seemed to have tightened its grip on her overnight, but it would be gone in a couple hours as long as she stretched.
                She turns off the shower, dries off, brushes her teeth, and performs her stretching ritual to work out the last few kinks.  She then dresses and heads to the lobby for coffee – whatever it is, it can wait until she’s fully awake.  She checks the time as she heads down the hallway:  a quarter past noon.  At least she’d been able to sleep in.
                Two cups of decent-for-free coffee later, a third in hand, Jones is back in her room and perusing the attachments:  dossiers on five hunters in Las Vegas, just like she’d received for her current case, as well as some intercepted network chatter and a load of photos.  She sets up a new case file and starts working her way through the mass of information.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Into the Bramble, part five

Whew!  Finally finished this part.  For whatever reason, Blogger is giving all my text this white background.  Not quite sure what I have to do to fix it, but for now, you get "slightly off-color text background that was as close as I could match it to how it's supposed to look."  Of course, if I ever change my background, it'll be totally screwed up... but that's something I'm willing to ignore for now.

Sunday, July 8th, 2012


                “All right,” Samantha says as they close the last dozen yards, “here we are.  This could be anywhere, but it’s where the Sandstorm Hourglass was first made.  Well, and between two doors, and at night.  Probably more low-key than our last few dealings.  But pay attention, and you might learn a thing or two.”  She smiles and pushes at the handle – the door budges, but does not open.  Sam looks to the door’s edge at her left and sees hinges, then pulls, and it opens as she chuckles at herself.
                On the other side, a man in a black robe sits at a large desk, writing with a quill pen upon a broad sheet of parchment.  He pays no mind to the women entering his quarters.  On a simple table to her right, Della spots the Sandstorm Hourglass:  its wood is a little brighter, its glass is a little clearer, but it looks otherwise identical to the magical timepiece she remembers.
                The door shuts behind them, and Della sees another to her right, past the hourglass.  They are in a corner room of some apparently circular building, perhaps a large tower, the wall to Della’s left curving around to join the straight wall to her right with the straight wall at her back.  A floor-to-ceiling window gives a view of the night sky, resplendent with stars in the dim candlelight from the man’s desk, clouds billowing just beneath them and a gibbous moon shining brightly above.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Into the Bramble, part four

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

                “Whew,” Samantha says, pausing to calm her nerves.  Della is more overcome by confusion than anything else, but the fear is visible on the bramblekin’s face.
                “The Hell was that about,” Della asks.
                “Those were gods,” Samantha says.  “Or at least extremely powerful fae.  Either way, bad news.”
                “Why’s that,” Della asks as they forge on down the path.
                “Gods,” Samantha begins, “or fae in general, are really only interested in two things:  their domain, which is the part of the world they have power over, and garnering worship from mortals, which is how they get power aside from the influence their domain has in the world.”
                “Is that why the seven seals are there,” Della asks.
                Samantha looks sidelong at Della and says, “My, you have been doing your homework.  In a word, yes.  The gods, from what I understand, proved to be more trouble than they were worth.  So they were banished to another side of the Coil behind seven seals.  And yeah, from the looks of things, I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that la mujerta succeeds in breaking them.  So now we just have to figure out how she does it.”
                “So we talk to whoever made it,” Della says, “and see if they can shed any light on how it’s done.”
                “That’s the plan,” Samantha confirms.  “I’m not quite sure what good it will do, though.  Que será, será, or whatever.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Through the Bramble, part three


Sunday, July 8th, 2012

                Della’s mind races with the possibilities.  The revenant, asking for her help?  She had thought that being a bloodkin would give her that sense of the extraordinary she had been seeking, but it was turning out to be a colossal disappointment.  Sure, she saw things and knew things that would have flabbergasted her in mortal life, but this was another thing entirely.  If the revenant was looking to turn the very world on its head – well, Della wanted to be there to see it.  And she wanted to be on the side doing the turning.  Look for the ravens, she recalls, glancing at her watch.  It was something Jamie had gotten for her, after her cell phone was taken for the faking of her death.  The watch took its time and date from cell phone towers, so it should tell her the date.  It was clear that the bramble path she had been walking with Samantha took them not only through space, but through time as well.  Sure enough, the watch told her it was the 19th of July, 2012.  Less than two weeks into the future.
                Lots of things could change in two weeks.  She thought of her brief romance with Edward, of her martial arts training with Jamie, of their confrontation with the Hunters that had gone from “casual night out” to “cat and mouse” to “face-stomping hunt” in the space of a single night.  She had options upon options, and even if this raven thing turned out to be a bust, she at least had some intel to share with Thomas while still keeping the best parts to herself.
                However things ultimately turned out, tonight everything was coming up Della.  She smiles at the thought as she jogs back to Sam across the catwalk.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Into the Bramble, part two


Sunday, July 8th, 2012

                As Della approaches the door, she sees a darkness through it that is most certainly not her bathroom.  She follows Samantha, uncertain but excited, then feels the world turn inside-out around her.  She’s been drunk a couple of times, hung over once, and the sensation as she steps through is remarkably like the whole process compressed into a single second that seems to last forever – except without all the partying and peeing and wishing you were dead.  She goes dizzy, loses her sense of space and time, feels like she’s been hit in the back of the head with a brick – then she sets her foot down, and she’s through.
                “So this is my place,” Samantha says warmly, gesturing at the open living room as she flips on the light switch.  Bookshelves dot the walls, every one of them filled with volumes of varying height and thickness, their spines perfectly aligned except for the odd gap.  A dining table, the kitchen counter, two coffee tables, and a desk are all covered with books and papers, manila folders piled and arranged here and there.  A few filing cabinets stand stoically in a corner.
                “You sure seem to keep busy,” Della says.
                “Yeah,” Sam says, cocking an eyebrow.  “I don’t eat or sleep.  Made of wood, you know.  So I read and do some, um, ‘filing’ for Jennie.  She’s sure bright, but she can be a bit flighty at times, so I help her keep things in order.”
                “I see,” Della says, taking in the scene.  “So, what do we need?”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Into the Bramble, part one

I'm eight pages into this "vignette," but still haven't finished it.  So here's a chunk, more to come.  :)

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

                She was made of wood.
                That was the first thing to hit Della, and the thing she kept coming back to.  Thomas had summoned her to his office just after she’d had her nightly pint, and inside had been him at his desk, Herman standing to the side, and what looked for all the world like a six foot wooden doll.
                “Della,” Thomas greeted her as she entered.  “This is Samantha Rose.  Miss Rose, Della Swain.”
                “Pleased to meet you,” Sam says, rising to her feet to shake Della’s hand.  She was a rich brown, like mahogany, a shade or two darker than Della’s own skin had been when she’d had a tan a month and a half ago.  Her joints were held together by fine brass springs where tendons would normally be, and she was bound and fastened with brass pins and wires.  When she spoke, her jaw moved up and down like that of a ventriloquist’s dummy; her teeth and tongue were carved and painted, her green eyes made of glass.  Her hair was a dark lustrous brown that shone golden when it caught the light just right, and all her movements were accompanied by the hum of metallic tension.  She wore a red camisole, blue jean shorts, and leather sandals, so Della could see that she was covered from the crown of her forehead to her toes in a tangle of deep and ragged gouges, like stylized thorns in relief, that had been inlaid with gold almost – almost – flush with the surface.  When she turned to sit down, Della saw that her right shoulder was painted with a single rose blossom, untouched by the glimmering tattoos.
                “Please, Della,” Thomas says after a moment, “have a seat.”  She realizes that she has been staring, and clears her throat as she composes herself and sits down in the remaining leather chair.  “Samantha is here from Miami to assist us in locating the Sandstorm Hourglass.  She has a knack for finding things that have been lost or stolen, Alice assures me.”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Enter the Monkeysphere!

Working on Tooth and Claw some more, I'm across the 60K mark now and I just want to get this vignette all out before I decide whether to divide it up into parts or not.  But in the meantime!  I was talking with a friend about the monkeysphere, a term I've been tossing about as a casual way of referring to Dunbar's number, the sciencey term with which I'm more familiar (but which doesn't quite capture the oomph in its phrasing).

Tonight, I just found out that the term "monkeysphere" was coined by David Wong, senior editor of Cracked.com and the author of John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders (the reading of which convinced me, incidentally, that the supernatural weirdness and big-brain ideas of Tooth and Claw might actually be able to achieve some manner of commercial success... if I just write the fucker).

Anyway, his original article, What Is the Monkeysphere?, is fascinating reading.  You should check it out right now.  :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Tail of the Scorpion, part three

Prologue, Tail of the Scorpion, part two

Saturday, July 6th, 2012


                “This’ll go a lot smoother if you stash your pieces,” Carter says, head high and eyes narrowed.
                “I hope so,” Jones says as she thumbs her safety back on and holsters her pistol.  At her nod, the other Hunters follow suit – Vernon and Patricia share a knowing look and a pointed delay, but they ultimately comply.
                “All right,” Carter says with a respectful nod.  “You want to talk.  So talk.”
                Vernon blurts out, “Do you confess to using shape-changing magic and consorting with spirits?”
                The moonkin look sidelong at each other and suppress their laughter, as Jones snaps at him, “Can it!”
                “So, OK,” Carter says after composing himself.  “No stupid questions, right?  But I think we all know you could be asking some more productive things right now.”
                “No shit,” Jones agrees.  “For starters, what exactly are you doing here?”
                “We’re cleaning up a mess,” Carter answers.  “A big, ugly, bloody mess.”
                “That’s a little vague,” Jones says.
                “That it is.  So how about you tell me how you spotted us?  A little quid pro quo, eh?”
                Jones straightens her back, looks Carter over as though sizing him up for the first time.  “Quid pro quo.  I can handle that.  But I believe I asked for some specifics up front.  So:  you tell me what you know, I’ll tell you how I see.” 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Tail of the Scorpion, part two

Prologue, Tail of the Scorpion, part one

Saturday, July 6th, 2012

                Vernon Christopher leans against an electric ATV past the Winslow city limits, gazing out into the desert for any sign of activity.  The dogs had just run out a couple of minutes ago, as the Sun was setting; the Hunters had learned that wherever this criminal force had struck, they were soon to follow.  So the Hunters had set up two watch points just outside of town, on little hills where they could survey most of the surroundings through binoculars.  Vernon would have liked a tighter perimeter, but Patricia only had the two ATVs, and waiting for two others to catch up on foot from even a few short miles away would force them to choose between letting the trail grow cold and stringing themselves out.
                Patricia opens up the compartment beneath the vehicle’s seat to double-check their supplies:  extra magazines, bottles of water, a first aid kit, and a small bag of tools.  Vernon doesn’t turn around, but can hear her rummaging; he knows there’s no point, the kits were checked and double-checked before they headed out, but he understands that she’s restless and needs something to do.  Fine.  It would be nice if her “something to do” involved keeping a lookout, though.  David and Michelle would only be a few minutes, anyway.  It wasn’t the end of the world.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Tail of the Scorpion, part one

Prologue, Three Pair of Eyes, part three

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

                Tonight’s the night.  Elias can feel it in his bones as his very own moon shines down on him.  They have been hunting the fugue in the desert, closing in around it like a noose, for over two weeks – but tonight, it all comes to an end.
                For its part, the fugue has led them on quite a chase.  When the moonkin found that it was coming from the West, the fugue would change its route into town, striking at the outskirts from unexpected directions.  It knew it was both predator and prey, and the inchoate streams of fused consciousness all agreed that this was the way to strike back at the invading dragon and its bastard half-breed children:  corrupt their own flock, raise a small army, and bring them to the crater to finish what was started under the eclipse.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grr, argh...

Had some shit, but didn't like it.  Tried revising, didn't work.  Writing from the fugue's "perspective" is neither as easy, nor as fun, nor as... intelligible as I'd like it to be.  Though I suppose I expected that last one.  It is the fused consciousness of several distinct and dissimilar spirits who only banded together as a last-ditch effort to not die while trying to drive out an eons-old alien from their territory, after all.

I know I said I was gonna try to get over this hang-up I have about writing things out of order.  But it just bugs me that Whispers at the Window and Showdown in the Desert are... well... they're out of order.  So that whole roll I was on is just fragments of scene ideas, plot elements, a few snappy lines, and hastily-scribbled notes... which, I mean, really helps with the whole "plunge headlong into insanity" aesthetic I've got going on, especially with the coffee stains on my zodiac chart & everything.  But I can't post that and have it make sense, dammit.  At least, not until I post a couple intervening things, first.

Ooh!  I do have this, though, looking through my "ramblings of a crazy person" notes.  I won't end up using it after all, as it's from back when Ferraille was a much different character - she wasn't even named "Ferraille" back then, and though I updated the note to reflect that, it never got updated to reflect her newer personality, and now I think this bit's just not a good fit any more.  I guess now is as good a point in time to share it as any, as it was one of the earlier bits I wrote for this book.  Like, before I even picked it back up again, meaning this is about a year old here (I know it was after reading this, published 6/12/2012, but not long after, as the document containing this fragment was created 6/5/2012).  So yeah, below the cut is half a page of actual deleted scenery that's definitely for the cutting room floor, though I wish it would've worked out somehow.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

50K!

Just looked at my word count, and last night I crossed the 50K mark!  Woo-hoo!  At this point in TQM, I was looking to wrap things up, as I was on a rather tight-ish deadline... come to think of it, pretty much everything in that book was tight.

This one is a bit more complicated (as I'm sure you've seen, Dear Reader).  I mean, it's not "a thousand years and two galaxies" complicated, but there are more characters, more relationships to establish, and with Three Pair of Eyes, I'm really just getting started on the action.  TQM was very much an executive summary fairy tale, more about the big ideas than the little details (I once described it as "reverse-Candide, but with superpowers"); T&C is shaping up to be the opposite in many ways, especially considering that there aren't really any white hats.

I had some other things I wanted to write this weekend... but dammit, I'm just getting on a roll and I wanna strike while the iron's hot.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Three Pair of Eyes, part three


OK, this is the last bit of this vignette.  These three will probably be their own chapter all together, I have them as one continuous bit on the .doc file.  But it's complicated, and each PoV has to be coordinated with the other two!  :)  Anyway, this one's considerably shorter, but it's got a sweet little game-changer at the end, and I hope you enjoy.

This was partly written because of a situation I'd frequently run into with my Pen & Paper gaming group:  some event would crop up where players J and K knew what was going on, but couldn't inform player L until after things had settled down.  So player L would obviously want to arrive on the scene as soon as possible, right?  So the storyteller, usually Jack, would react to L's "I rush to the scene" declaration with, "OK, it takes you twenty minutes to get there."  Player L then says, "Well, I'd try to weave in and out of traffic."  Replies the storyteller, "Do you break traffic laws?"  "No," L says, "I get there as fast as possible without attracting police attention."  "OK," the ST responds, "It takes you twenty minutes."  "Ugh," player L would sigh/grunt at this point, "Fine.  Can I make a 'driving' skill check?"  "Sure," the storyteller replies, waiting out the die roll, then replying regardless, "It takes you twenty minutes."

Unless, of course, a critical success was rolled.  Then it would only take fifteen minutes.  But I'm assuming that, because it literally never happened.  So here you have what player L should have done the whole time.

Z, you may or may not be happy to know that I originally wrote that as "players X, Y, and Z," but then I realized that you never pulled this shit.  One player L most certainly did, though... so I rearranged a bunch of variables to exonerate you and incriminate the guilty.  :)
Friday, July 6th, 2012

                Evan Lawrence lays on his back beneath his car, pulls the plug free of the oil pan, and starts to twist his filter counterclockwise.  His phone buzzes on the workbench, and Evan nearly bangs his head on his car’s undercarriage out of a conditioned reflex to immediately respond, but he gets himself under control.  Whatever it is, it can wait – he’s not going anywhere until his oil is changed, anyway.
                After the oil has drained and his filter has been replaced, Evan replaces the oil plug and tightens it with a torque wrench, slides out from beneath the vehicle, and wipes his hands on a rag.  His phone has buzzed regular reminders to him during the intervening minutes, but he’s put it out of mind; his focus is on the task at hand, and whatever’s going down can damn well wait until he’s got his vehicle back in driving condition.  Five quarts of oil glug-glug-glug their way into the engine, replacing what has been removed.  After screwing the cap back on, Evan starts his car, and checks his transmission fluid:  nominal.  He shuts off the ignition and clips his keys back to his belt, then checks the oil level:  right on.  He takes a sip from a can of cola on his bench.
                Buzz.
                Oh, right – Evan looks at his phone:  Facebook has pushed a notification.  “Jim Reynolds posted to Gravediggers Poker Club.”  Evan presses the “View” button as he takes another pull from his soda.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Three Pair of Eyes, part two

Prologue, Three Pair of Eyes, part one

Friday, July 6th, 2012


                Jim Reynolds sits at his table, morosely pulling at his beer.  It wasn’t… fair?  No, fair isn’t the right word.  Life isn’t fair.  Just?  Nahh, same thing.
                It didn’t make any goddamned sense, fairness and justice be damned.
                He and his fellow Hunters had just started to get a solid trail on this bloodsucker, Cochran.  He’s moving in on a high-schooler, which was depraved even by bloodsucker standards.  They tended to avoid anyone under the quarter-century mark, probably (Jim supposed) because missing minors tend to be a lot more noticeable in the media than full-fledged adults.  Then, on an odd Tuesday, they both fall off the face of the map.  What, did they fuckin’ elope or something?
                He had seen straights get turned before.  Night owls, shut-ins, overnight workers – pickings were easy in Las Vegas, the party never stops and normal people tend not to notice when their mostly-nocturnal friend becomes entirely nocturnal.  Friends are understanding like that.  Loners tend to be missed even less.  Whenever Reynolds and his crew managed to bring down one of those pests, it seemed that three more would spring up in its place.  Hopefully there were other Hunters in the area “raising the stakes,” so to speak.  But if there were, they sure weren’t part of Jim’s Poker club.
                It was pretty rare in Jim’s experience for a vampire to turn a mortal and then just disappear, though.  “Rare,” as in, “never happened once.”  Vampires were territorial to a fault, and while Jim had heard stories of them being driven out by rival clans, that sort of thing only happened out in the sticks.
                Then there was the faked death.  While it wrapped up the girl’s disappearance into a neat little package, the deception was more than obvious to an experienced Hunter like him:  the body wasn’t exsanguinated, the time of death was in the wee hours rather than the early night, and the cause of death was pretty clearly exhaustion rather than anything more immediate.  While mortals could die like that any day of the week, it didn’t make sense for a bloodsucker to go to such lengths to make a kill – there was clearly something else going on.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Three Pair of Eyes, part one

Prologue, Alice Takes a Road Trip

Friday, July 6th, 2012

                “So how much does a fake ID cost,” Della asks Jamie as they stroll East along Sahara Avenue.
                “Depends on how many you need,” Jamie answers with a shrug of her shoulders.
                “What do you mean?”
                “Well, if you just need the one, you’ll have to pay someone to do it for you.  You probably won’t know that person very well, so you’ll pay a premium for that.  But if you’ve got contacts in that line of work, you’ll probably need it pretty regular.  That drives the price down.”
                “I see,” Della says, thinking on the matter.  “And for us?”
                “Psh, when you need that kind of thing regular as we do, you score your own gear and do it all in-house.”

Friday, April 5, 2013

Random things and stuff!

My new computer, which wasn't "supposed" to show up until the 16th, actually got delivered today.  Hooray!  But now I'm moving everything over, which is gonna take for-god-damned-ever.  It's easy, thanks to the aptly named Easy Transfer, which more or less amounts to a magic spell:  I wave my hands around and say, "You!  New 'puter!  Be just like my old 'puter!  Go!"  But Christ on a bike, this spell has a long-ass casting time!  I'm gonna be watching the progress on my sweet fuckin' 23" monitor until the wee hours, and until then I'm instructed, "Do not use this computer during the transfer."  Huh.  I sure hope blogging and blasting mp3s doesn't count as "using this computer."  :\

Anyway, I'm not up to any super-creative writing.  I'd meant to write another vignette for Tooth & Claw, I have it all planned out (more or less), but I just can't stop wanting my new 'puter to be ready.  So here are a few neat tidbits with no central organization.  First, scientists are hard at work decoding the visual experience of dreams from brain scans.  Here's a link to one article, focusing mainly on Japanese research.  And here's another one from Gizmodo, focusing mainly on what's been done at UC Berkeley (with video!).  An important note is that the constructed video is not a reading of the visual cortex, but actually a composite constructed from pre-existing video clips.  I caught the headline over lunch in USA Today (I think).  Those articles above are just what I was able to dig up in two minutes, but I have some more to say below the cut.

Second, here is a cool little infographic submitted to me by Allison on the visual IQ of Americans, showing how well (or poorly) we can identify certain people, symbols, and geographic regions on sight.

I was able to identify Boehner purely based on hatred of him as a person,
pick out the Euro, the Star of David, and the Twitter logo.  That... was it.

Third, Amina Tyler recently went missing after posting topless photos of herself on the internet in order to show that her body was hers to do with as she chooses.  The going speculation seems to be that her family kidnapped her, in direct contravention to Tyler's thesis, out of some bass-ackward idea of honor where "tits is bad" and it's somehow less embarrassing to abduct a member of your family than to let her do her own fuckin' thing.  Because Tyler's disappearance is probably going to be tragic, but it might not necessarily be just yet, (NSFW photos!) FEMEN recently organized a load of topless protests at a bunch of European mosques in order to say, "You think photos on the internet are bad?  Wait'll you see this all up in your fuckin' streets!"  OK, I was paraphrasing there, but here is an actual quote:  "We're free, we're naked, it's our right, it's our body, it's our rules, and nobody can use religion, and some other holy things, to abuse women, to oppress them... And we'll fight against them, and our boobs will be stronger than their stones."

Actions such as this were described as "evacuating" protesters.  Boy, those men
with truncheons sure evacuated the living daylights out of those half-naked protesters.

Fourth, some scientists seem to believe that they're on the cusp of experimentally confirming the existence of dark matter, which would quite frankly be rad as Hell.  What gives me pause for thought, however, is that they're looking at positrons in space - and positrons are antimatter.  The difference, briefly, is that antimatter is normal matter with its polarity reversed (protons become antiprotons, same mass but opposite charge; electrons become antielectrons or positrons, same mass but opposite charge).  We use antimatter in routine medical procedures - the "PET" in PET scan stands for "positron emission tomography."  Dark matter, on the other hand, is simply stuff that has mass and takes up space, but "doesn't shine" in the way that everything else in the Universe does - it's there, it exerts gravitational forces upon whatever's around, but we just can't detect it since it's not shiny like "normal" matter.  However, this positron/dark matter connection gives me faint and tenuous hope that Douglas' exclamation that dark matter (rather than antimatter) cancels out regular matter is actually oddly prophetic rather than a stupid fuckin' typo on my part.  Whatever, I'll probably change it anyway because I also have a few other infelicities to remedy for the next edition.  They're the scientists, I'll trust 'em until I hear better.  :)

OK, by way of wrapping up, here are some of my thoughts on the decoding of the visual elements of dreams.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thoughts on Virtual Worlds

So Guild Wars 2 recently released a fake April Fool's joke:  the Super Adventure Box.  I need to stress that this is a fake April Fool's joke, by which I mean that it looks like an April Fool's joke, but is actually entirely real.  I promise I am not making this up.

For the month of April, players will be able to use Moto's Super Adventure Box, a training device for young children learning to make their way in the world which uses games as a form of educating with entertainment - edutainment!  Of course, it's only "for young children" in the game world of Guild Wars 2; for players in the real world, it's a nostalgic romp through a neo-retro mashup of old video games united with a decidedly Minecraftian aesthetic.  Fuckin'... sign me up!  Why am I writing this and not playing right now?!


Look, they even made an 80s-tastic commercial for it!

Oh, right, because I thought about it for two seconds.  And now I have to write those thoughts down, or pretty soon they'll pile up and my head will explode (yes, this is actually why I write).  Then I can play.

And what will I be playing?  I'll be playing a game... which will be about my character playing another game.  I suppose this is just another mini-game in a way, but what got me thinking was considering it as not "just another mini-game."  Yes, yes, there are plenty of games with mini-games wherein the character you play then plays another game (a game within a game), and this is nothing special.  What's special about this is that I'm entering a virtual world, and in that virtual world, my character enters another virtual world.

It's not just a game within a game, this time; it's The Matrix within The Matrix.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Just gonna slip this under the door here...

Wow!  A lot happened last month, some good and some bad, and I wanna share some of it before returning to the subject of this evening's symposium.  Let's just dive right in, shall we?

First:  I got accepted into grad school!  Yippee!

So I'll be doing that in the fall, and then we'll see where that goes.  Suuuuuper excited!  Like, I can't write text that is me jumping up and down and whooping and giggling and pumping my fist in the air - but rest assured that I actually did that for a while when I found out.  :)

I'm also applying for assistantships, because I'm poor & stuff, and need to support myself as I work my way through.  I was doing that, and then I finished, and I was like, "Wow, I'm tired.  OK, bedtime.  Hmm... it feels like I'm forgetting something, though... what could it be?"

The second thing is that I discovered I have a hidden talent.  Well, it was hidden, and now it's not any more. You see, I can't dance.  I'm not merely bad at dancing, I mean that I physically can't do it.  I really don't know what it is, but in my more defensive moments, I claim that it's because I've taken martial arts since the second grade and I've been so thoroughly trained to break and interrupt rhythms that I can't really get into them.  But of course, that's not really true:  I do rhythmic things all the time, like sing, or play Rock Band, or go running.  For some reason, though, dancing has just never clicked with me, and it's not fun, so I don't do it.

Well, I was at an equinox party this weekend, and it turns out that I actually can dance - I just need a stick that's on fire at both ends.  My friend tried to hand it to me, and I was like, "No way, I'ma light my ass on fire," because I was in an altered state of consciousness.  He replied, "Just try it, I've seen you wave a stick around before, I think you'd be good at it."  I countered, "Yeah, but that stick wasn't on fire."  So I picked up a not-on-fire stick and went and waved it around for a while in the dark, and when I was satisfied that I could do that without clocking myself in the face, I tried it on fire.  And it worked out awesomely!  I can't wait to do it again!

So I guess if the goal is just "move to the music," well, I can't really do that.  But if the goal is "keep the fire moving and don't get burned by the fire," I can rock out!

This last one... is not so good.  It's behind a cut for absurd levels of racism.  Oh, also:  TRIGGER WARNING for racist slurs.  I'm not censoring it, because first, they're not my words and I'm simply reporting them; second, I kinda want you to get the "full impact" if you decide to read, which will help drive home the overarching point.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hiatus, Schmiatus!


Yeah, I know what I said.  And I'll be back on point come the first.  No foolin'.  But in the meantime, one of my heroes actually engaged in some man-splainin' a faux-pas*, like, I don't even fuckin' know how.  Well, I mean, I do.  I spotted it.  And, to his fully-deserved credit, he seems to have caught on and everything is looking great.  But I had some other things to say to our new friend, Austin Green, so I'm going to say them here on my own soapbox.  Here we go!  :)

* - EDIT:  Goddammit, I kicked myself over this all day.  On the way to work this morning, I realized that this wasn't actually man-splaining.  Man-splaining is when a man "explains" something to a woman (who often already knows what's being explained) in a condescending way.  That's not what this was.  The pointing out of man-splanation will often result in backpedaling, digging oneself deeper, getting defensive, and so on... some of which I saw, and then I went and affirmed the damned consequent because it looked kinda the same coming out the back-end.  So yeah.  Yoy my bad.  Sorry, Adam!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hiatus

I wanted to do something, some kind of pun with like "HI-YAH!" or whatever, but it just didn't work out.  Too much of a stretch.  Those words sure look alike, but they don't sound very much alike at all.

Anyway.

I need a break.  I've been working at this book since, like, late September.  I'm just not feeling it right now.  I get home, and it's like, "Well, I could just bang something out," but I don't want to "just bang something out."  Batteries need to recharge.  Plus, locksmithing is hard, and when I get home, I don't want to think, I just wanna fuckin' veg out.

So I'm taking March off.  Writers go on sabbaticals all the time, right?  Right.  I'll see y'all the first of April.  No foolin'.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Ray of Sunshine

Long couple of days at work.  Brain full of lock stuff.  Not feeling the "writing" vibe tonight.

Instead, I give you something my little sister CJ wrote:
Is it just me or does anybody else hate those posts that are like "LIKE, SHARE AND COMMENT IF YOU LOVE JESUS!...if you ignore though u will die a slow, painful and miserable death. Also the devil will take your soul and you will go to hell...YES hell!" Isn't life about being kind and giving to the community, not liking someones status.
I copied & pasted that directly.  Her words, exactly as they appear.  She is eleven years old.

I could not be prouder.  :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

101 Interesting Things, part fifty-three: Resettable locks!

Yesterday at work, I had an interesting and exciting opportunity come up.  During my downtime, I read trade magazines and practice picking locks (by the way, I think it's so cool that I get to play around picking locks when we have no customers!), and one of the articles in this month's Locksmith Ledger (or whatever the magazine was called) was on opening & servicing safe deposit locks.  It included instructions and pictures on various kinds of safe deposit locks, including resettable locks, which I didn't know existed.

Lo and behold, just a couple hours later that day, a customer brought in a lock that he had no key for.  It turned out to be a Sargent & Greenleaf resettable safe deposit lock (though it only had the one keyway).  So, because I'm all excited about that now, I'm going to give y'all a crash course on locks (using information that is freely available elsewhere on the internet, just so's I know I'm not giving away any trade secrets).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What would I tell teenagers about sex? A response to Forward Thinking.

I read over on Daylight Atheism (note to self:  update sidebar link!) that there's a new blog carnival on the 'tubes called Forward Thinking.  This month's prompt is, "What would you tell teenagers about sex?"

My first thought on the subject was, "Shit, I am the last person who should be advising teenagers about sex."  My second thought was, "Wait, I have a fourteen-year-old brother and an eleven-year-old sister.  I will probably be talking to them about sex at some point."  So I decided to get some thoughts together in some semblance of order, and here they are.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jesus and Gender

I was totally planning on writing some Tooth and Claw tonight.  But as I lay in bed this morning, drifting in and out of sleep among interminable Snoozes with NPR talking at me, I had something of a dream.  I was in an academic setting, probably informed by whatever was on NPR, and I realized at some point that I wasn't actually going to be able to talk to people about this in an academic setting.  At least, not right then.  So I'ma talk about it here.

In my dream - and maybe, possibly on NPR, I was half-asleep and I'm not sure - they/we were talking about societal happiness and well-being.  In my head, regardless of the scenario, I rifled through a pile of half-remembered statistics and surveys, as well as multiple pieces of writing on the two subjects and how they seem to maybe be the same thing but really aren't.  I mean, to a certain point, happiness and well-being are correlated.  If you're in a truly shitty situation, nothing going your way, everything flushing down the tubes, you're not going to be happy.  And if you're on a hot streak, yeah, you're probably going to be happy about that.

It's the middle thing that's kind of the problem here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

OK, this is a little much. Even for me.

I'm trying to make Tooth and Claw be Like Reality Unless Noted, because that will make filming on location easier when I get a movie deal for it.  Ha!  Ha!  No, seriously, it's because the mood is best served by setting it in a world that's just like ours, only slightly off-kilter.  Tee-hee, still lying.  It's actually something of a behind-the-scenes homage to the playstyle of my gaming group, where we'd take real details from the real world (culled from our knowledge of the town or Google Maps) and then just overlay our campaign on top of it.  Jeez, I need to stop this.

OK, so all of those are partially true (or at least, in the case of the movie deal, earnest wishful thinking).  But the reason that actually gets ink on the paper, as it were, is that I am lazy and know nothing; and "the internet exists" means that a bit of on-the-spot research makes stealing details from reality way the fuck easier than inventing plausible details from whole cloth.

But sometimes, reality is a bit... shall we say, "generous."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Excuses!

I should probably mention that I'm on a road trip this weekend.  So there won't be an update until Tuesday at the earliest.  Y'all have a great one!  :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Alice Takes a Road Trip

Prologue, Words and Shadows, part two

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

                Alice sits at her desk, smoking a long black cigarette.  It had been a few days before she had been able to reach out to Jennie; something of an emergency had come up, trouble in the dreams of some of her fellow mages.  It was one of those things that seems to be nothing, then suddenly blows up in your face.  The Maestro had put her on the case, and it was shortly determined that there was a lesser demon trying to work its way into the world.  Life and spirit were Alice’s main concentrations, and she was something of a dabbler in fate magic as well, so she had been rather well-suited to tackle the problem.  Having put out that fire, she returned to the matter of Thomas’ missing hourglass, and put out a call to Fae Jennie.
                That was eight days ago, a week and a day, and Alice had a feeling that Jennie would be calling her today.  Her calendar was clear – her head, not so much.  It was brimming with questions and possibilities, slowly bubbling away on the backburner these past few days, and she hoped to have them answered soon.  Knowing Jennie, maybe not so soon, but there would at least be another bread crumb on the trail.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A True Work Conversation

My coworkers are a pretty bright bunch.  Generally.  I mean, it's hard to work on locks for a living, with all the mechanical and electrical work that it involves, while being dumb as a sack of hammers.  Some of my predecessors have been dumb as a sack of hammers.  They did not last long.

So when I hear someone say some shit, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  "Oh, that's probably just how he was raised," I tell myself.  "Oh, she's from another generation," I think with a mental wave of my hand.  "Oh, I don't feel like getting fired for not being able to keep my mouth shut," is what's usually behind all that.  But sometimes... just... no.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Words and Shadows, part two

Prologue, Words and Shadows, part one

                She spots Vernon after disembarking and turns in his direction without breaking her brisk stride.  Vernon spots her easily:  despite her black suit, she walks with the casual assurance of an experienced martial artist.
                “Vernon Christopher,” he says as she approaches, extending his hand.
                “Jones Kelly,” she replies, taking his hand and shaking it.
                “Any baggage to claim,” he asks.
                “No,” she says, adjusting the carry-on hanging from her shoulder.

                The Hunters leave the airport in Vernon’s car, a dark gray Lincoln.  Vernon takes an instant disliking to his new partner – something he can’t quite place about her eyes.  He studies her in small glimpses while looking this way and that as he navigates through the traffic.  Then he spots it:  as Jones tucks a lock of her shoulder-length black hair behind her ear, he sees a thin silvery scar encircling her left wrist.  As she folds her hands back in her lap, the scar is hidden by the cuff of her sleeve.  But now that he knows what to look for, it is unmistakable:  her hands don’t quite match.  Her left hand is the tiniest shade paler, the fingers a little more bony.  It’s a very good match, but not perfect.
                Vernon had heard of this before, but today was the first time he had seen it with his own eyes.  Hunters were garden variety homo sapiens, driven by vengeance or principle to war against the supernatural forces that threatened human civilization.  But the Hunters had one crippling disadvantage, which was that they had not gained dark powers by sacrificing their humanity.  Some seriously misguided Hunters (by Vernon’s judgment) had taken it upon themselves to even the odds by sacrificing their humanity in bits and pieces, to gain small amounts of the very tainting power they fought against.  Vernon found this to be the very height of hypocrisy and self-delusion – one does not extinguish the enemy by becoming the enemy.  Act like the enemy, when necessary; think like the enemy, when planning; infiltrate the enemy, when possible; but to become the enemy was to lose sight of why you were fighting in the first place.  It was worse, in a way, than simply joining the enemy outright.  At least the bloodsuckers and the dogs and the rest of them had the honest conviction to go all-out.  These monstrous abominations, no matter their technical proficiency, try to straddle the fence and just end up getting crushed in the middle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Words and Shadows, part one

Prologue, Whispers at the Window

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

                Vernon Christopher stands in the Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport arrivals terminal, holding a placard that simply reads, JONES.  He had needed to think about this decision quite a lot more than he would have liked.
                Last night, he had received a terse note in his mailbox, hastily written:  KELLY, JONES.  W-L RGNL, UAL f718.  So he had to pick up KELLY, JONES at the airport; but KELLY, JONES would doubtless have no more idea how to identify him than he would have of how to identify KELLY, JONES.  So he decided to stand with a sign, as he’d seen done in movies.  He’d be wearing a suit, after all, and wouldn’t look out of place.
                But what to write on it?  Just KELLY might draw attention from all the Kellys who might be excited to get surprise limo service; just JONES could do the same for all the Joneses; KELLY, JONES would perhaps be indiscreet.  And how would he recognize this KELLY, JONES, anyway?  Was she a woman named Kelly Jones who had a mix-up in her personnel file?  Or a man, for that matter?  Or was this person actually named Jones Kelly – as someone with a given name easily switched with his surname himself, Vernon Christopher was sympathetic to the plight of this KELLY, JONES, whoever he or she was. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What I Believe, part two.

When I started this blog, I made a post attempting to condense my philosophical views on things.  It has proven useful in debates, and provoked comments, and I'm more or less proud of it.  However, it has also been a work in progress, and I have updated it several times since then.  Here is another update, taken from my responses to the 30-question philpapers.org survey.  If you'd like to take the survey as well, just go to the site and register - it will ask for your name and email and other stuff, and you can just answer questions and opine from there.  The issues are all Google-able, though you may or may not need to do hours upon hours of research to answer a question you're unfamiliar with.  For my part, I was able to identify all but a few of those questions, and say, "I am insufficiently educated on the subject," which means that I don't want to spend two weeks reading what everyone has to say before I make up my mind.  :)

Interestingly, they provide a multiplicity of options for answering each question:  you can agree with a side, or say that there's insufficient information to decide the matter, or admit that you're insufficiently educated to answer the question (which I had to do a few times).  I know, right?  Leave it to philosophers to provide weasel options on a multiple-choice test.

Anyway, my answers (and their corresponding elaborations) are below the cut.  I will probably integrate them into my introductory post in the coming week.  Either that, or I'll just forget about it all and write about how the Hunters are trying to recruit Stephen (Willy's preferred initiate for the Winslow pack) for their purposes.  Have a great one!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I do not think that correlation suggests what you think it suggests...

TL;DR version:
Kevin Drum:  Wow!  When you add in a 23-year time lag, atmospheric lead levels correlate wicked close with violent crime rates - in every nation on the planet where we've measured these.
Jim Manzi:  Hang on a second!  One correlation is hardly conclusive, and there are all kinds of finicky fudge factors at work here; this is sure interesting, but there's almost certainly more going on here than what we're seeing.
Kevin Drum:  Dude, you just kinda made my point for me - I'm saying that atmospheric lead is one of those background factors that we've been missing.

Kevin Drum wrote an article in the latest issue of Mother Jones, opening with Giuliani's running for mayor in 1993 on the promise that he'd get tough on crime.  True to his word in a kinda-sorta way, crime dropped.  There were about three flies in this ointment, though:  first, crime actually had been dropping before Giuliani took office, peaking in 1990 and falling from there; second, a foretold rise in crime due to a demographic boom of prime candidates for thievin' and murderin' simply failed to materialize; third, crime wasn't only dropping dramatically in New York City - it was dropping everywhere, because the nation was one giant dubstep show and crime was its bass line.

On the one hand, I feel kinda iffy about that one; on the other hand, I use metaphors to keep my posters rolled up when I move.  I think I'll stick with it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Maintenance!

I spent the weekend ironing out the timeline in Tooth and Claw, which I thought would be easy but was complicated by noob mistakes.  Like, y'know, having Virgil watch Bad Ass with his friends on Friday night, then having Keira call DHS from work the next day.  Rock star accountants don't work Saturdays.  Oh, and I also gave no indication of the ten-day time jump between then and Della's confrontation with Ferraille, to stick to examples from the same chapter.

Gosh, it's almost like I'm making this up as I go, or something...

Anyway, most of it was pretty minor, though I couldn't resist amending the occasional infelicity.  But chapter eight seven (yes, I failed at counting - no, I can't change the URL now) wound up with significant differences at the end, so I edited it to include the changes.  And since I also moved around the end of chapter six, I'm fixing that, too.  The rest is staying as-is, because that's what first drafts are for - what's on here needs to make sense, but it's still very much a first draft.  I did, however, add links to every section (to the prologue, what came last, and what comes next), since navigation is otherwise a hopeless endeavor on this tangled knot of words.  There are also some weird formatting issues on Blogger's end - pasting the last paragraph in a totally different font (and then not letting me change it, grr!), adding a superfluous carriage return at the start of the entry (but only after I post, so I have to immediately go and edit it, grr!), and inconsistent jump spacing (so I have to trial-and-error it every time, grr!).  But I'm not sure how to fix those, and it's nothing to do with the book per se, just "how the first draft shows up on the internet," which is unimportant enough to let it slide (but relevant enough to make me go grr again).

Also, I think I probably need Scrivener.  My pile of notes is getting steadily messier (one page is dedicated just to tracking the time loops I'm gonna have, and holy shit, if I ever lose that sheet of paper...), and stained from its double duty as a coaster.  On the plus side, it's starting to get that sketchy supernatural conspiracy vibe, so maybe that's not such a bad thing, after all.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Whispers at the Window

Prologue, Showdown in the Desert

Thursday, June 21st, 2012
                Elias runs across the desert, taking care not to stare down the setting Sun as he settles into his runner’s trance.  He parked his truck at the rest stop on highway 40, just past the end of Red Gap Ranch Road.  He keeps the railroad tracks in sight to his right; it’s just over five miles to Canyon Diablo.  He can’t run all the way from Winslow yet, not at one go, but he’s able to run great distances (by his own standards) with sufficient breaks to rest.
                After his first mile, he takes a swig from his water bottle and splashes a little on his face.  His beard is definitely a beard, though a somewhat scraggly one.  He’s found that he can trim it without affecting his fur too much when he changes (which he does rarely).  He thinks of his pack.
                Carter and Willy, such opposites – but like two sides of the same coin.  They took such vastly different approaches, but always with the same goal in mind.  Uma, the shaman’s apprentice – tuned in, but off-key.  Maybe that, though, was due again to his standards.  She lived off the grid, like Tajo, like people would live if they had only themselves to rely on.  Of course, she still had to pass as a standard garden-variety civilian, which involved certain concessions to the surrounding culture.  No wonder she seemed ill at ease among what he thought of as the comforts of civilization.
                Then there was Tajo.  Even Carter deferred to Tajo’s judgment, whenever the shaman so much as voiced disagreement.  Carter was the alpha, unquestionably – but Tajo was the man behind the man.  He was aged, that was clear; but he moved with determination and vigor, and so did not seem old.
                And here Elias was among them, fresh young Midwest transplant from the trail business, don’t you know we take people on hikes in the desert?  Yeah.  He was gonna fit in just fine.
                Elias took no notice of his second mile, and ran on, slowing only to drink freely from his water bottle once he’d set foot on Hell Street.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tooth and Claw: Showdown in the Desert

Prologue, Chapter Seven

Monday, June 25th, 2012
                It was just as Father Dragon had said:  Death was coming from the West, smelling of rose petals and citron, bearing an hourglass.  She had the wind at her back, and so the pack caught her scent on the air before she came into sight.  Beneath the fruity floral scent, there was also the unmistakable smell of decay – blunted by the perfume, but their keen noses would not be deceived.  The straights wouldn’t register it on a conscious level, and were too polite to pay attention to their instincts; they’d just judge everything a bit more harshly around her without even realizing it.
                So that’s how the dead walk among the living, Willy thinks.  His heartbeat kicks up; the others remain calmly alert.  They are crouched on the roof of the Barringer Crater museum, Willy in the lead.  Carter is at his right shoulder, with Uma and Tajo flanking and Elias at the rear.  Willy stares into the night, but he can’t see anything beyond the glare of the sodium vapor lamps below.  They are shielded from sight by a low safety wall at the roof’s edge, and in exchange their own sight is limited.  Loose gravel crunches under Elias’ shoes as he shifts in the electric darkness, the buzz of the lights carrying on beneath the drone of the air conditioners.  They had chosen to wait on the very Southwest corner of the building, as far as they could be from the parking lot lights and rooftop machinery while still being on the roof itself.  To their left was the crater, where Father Dragon watched in the Wild with doubtless equal anticipation.  To their right, the audiovisual cacophony of civilization, electric torches blazing against the night while machines grind against the silence.  And above, the crescent moon waxes, as much Tajo’s moon as it is Uma’s tonight.
                A long silence passed in tension, the pack’s hackles raised, waiting for their quarry to arrive.  There was a tactical advisability to it:  to wait and watch when facing an unknown foe.  Let her do her business and then, then, when she has passed from the eyes of civilization – then you may chase.  But until then, watch.  Wait.  It went against all their instincts.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Legend of Falconheart, Chapter Three

                Cooper sits in the night, alone with his thoughts despite the Southbound sky elf walking beside him.  He is cross-legged, his chin hovering over his steepled fingers, elbows resting upon his knees.
                If she were going to kill us, she could have done it already – and easily at that.  She might not have killed me so swiftly, as an ape magus is of unknown social standing to her.  Yet she would not have hesitated, had she known I am exiled:  an exile and a lone wandering goblin are unlikely to be missed.  Yet there is the goblin again – whether her aims were malicious or merely mischievous, she’d be best-served eliminating us as soon as possible.  I cannot guess at why she might not do so, except that she is telling the truth when she says she aims for redemption.
                In any event, she has not yet killed us, and I need sleep to be alert as I am able.  We are headed South into the crescent of the blighted desert, and unlikely to run into anyone overnight.  Tomorrow we turn Eastward, and by nightfall we shall be upon the scrub plain, making either for the Southern jungle or the central plains.  From there, we are much more likely to be in either ape or goblin territory – and if not, we shall enter the gods-forsaken warzone between.  Whatever the glyphed knight’s aims, the danger shall only increase down the road, and I shall need rest upon our journey together.
                “Our” journey.  So it is.  Whatever she’s up to, I had better keep an eye on her.  If her aims are noble, I must aid her; if her aims are foul, I must – what?  Stop her?  I could no more stop the world from turning.  Unless I could persuade her, somehow.  Or at least warn others of her coming – and if so, I must know where she is coming from, and would be better served knowing whatever it was that tipped the scales toward disaster.  No, it’s settled:  my place is here.
                And so I must sleep.
                “Will you walk on through the night, then,” Cooper asks, turning his head up to the silent soldier.
                “I shall,” she says with a nod.
                “I can tell my carpet to follow you while I sleep.  Will that be all right?”
                She nods.
                “Thank you,” he says, after a pause.
                She walks on.  Cooper lays back on his carpet, legs still crossed, the young goblin curled up at his knees.  He falls asleep under the sparkling stars.