The Magician and the Ogre, an experiment in point of view.
The periwinkle skin of the demon was visually jarring compared to the sharp horns on his head, and the foul cigar butt planted permanently in a corner of his mouth. His watery yellow eyes looked at me with unbridled malice.
“What you never realized, and now will be unable to forget” Doubt said. “Is that people really don’t like what you write and compose. You thought they did, the small encouraging comments here. The occasional plaudit there. You thought the small amount of positive attention you gave people and their work was appreciated. Or even wanted.”
His tone was positively gleeful as he continued.
“Now you know its a lie. Now you know what they really think of you. I just showed you *his* true feelings. You know that he’s just the tip of the iceberg. You know it in the deepest part of your heart. He’s the rule, not the exception. Those small nice things and mentions you receive.” He belched a cloud of cigar smoke. I choked in response as it hit my nostrils, eyes and mouth. “All were acts of pity.”
Doubt hopped off of the computer desk, which had groaned but not broken under his weight. He strolled toward the apartment door, out of my field of vision. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak. I had no answer for him. I did not see, but guessed from the sound of his voice that he turned his head to face me one more time.
His tone changed to saccharine sweet.
“Now my work here is done. See if you write anything ever again. See if you comment or promote anyone’s work ever again.”
I didn’t look at him. I didn’t answer. I just stared at the computer screen. A hot tear rolled down my left cheek as I heard the sound of the door open, and close, shut.
Surely, all of you know by now that Presidential candidates, as well as elected Presidents and Vice Presidents, get Secret Service code names.
The code names for Santorum and Romney have been leaked out:
I like to think of Secret Service Code names as the modern equivalent of Roman cognomens, the “third part” of a tripartite Roman name. Cicero, for example, is really Marcus Tullius’ cognomen. Ceasar was Gaius Julius’ cognomen. Not everyone got one, or earned one. And after a while, the cognomen became formalized, and so a second cognomen, the agnomen, was created.
(example: Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus)
Anyway, what would *you* pick if you had the chance to get a Secret Service code name. For you writer types, what would your characters pick?
Me, personally, I’d either go classical and pick something Roman based (Cicero would not be a bad choice, really, he’s a hero to me) or something mythological. Griffin, possibly. 🙂
I have a guest post up today, but its not a review, a Mind Meld or a RPPA column, and its not at the Functional Nerds or SF Signal.
Instead, its at the blog of writer Mhairi Simpson (kind enough to host this for me) and is called “The Unwritten stories in my head”
So go read it already:
I curate a new Mind Meld at SF Signal, now live today
What are your favorite villains in Fantasy and SF?
I asked a sheaf of authors, from Scott Lynch to Myke Cole:
Scipio dangled the blade limply in his hand.
“I don’t understand. It’s just a sword”
Whip fast, his uncle’s hand swept forward, slapping Scipio’s sword hand. He dropped the sword, which seemed to anger his uncle even more.
“Pick her up, and apologize to her.” the swordsmaster ordered. “A sword should always be treated with respect as the lady she is. She is not an “it”.
Meekly, chastised, Scipio knelt. With not quite exaggerated care, he bore the sword in both hands from the sawdust-swept floor and into his hands.
“Kiss the blade.” his uncle ordered.
Scipio placed his lips, briefly, on the thickest part of the flat of the blade, near the hilt. This seemed to placate his teacher.
“And now we will begin again” the swordmaster said.
The blond haired man holds me in his hand. He still doesn’t get it.
“I don’t understand. It’s just a sword”
The swordmaster, who created me, hits him. The blond haired man drops me, and I shudder as I hit the wooden floor.
“Pick her up, and apologize to her.” the swordsmaster says. “A sword should always be treated with respect as the lady she is. She is not an “it”. He’s talking about me.
The blond haired man kneels.He takes me into his hands. I feel a tingle inside of me. This feels right, now.
“Kiss the blade” the swordsmaster says.
The kiss is electric, and binding. Does the Blond haired man know? Does he understand what he has done?
I feel it in every inch of my steel. He’s going to be mine. I wonder when I will tell him my name.
“And now we will begin again”
Oh yes, oh yes we will.
A MODEST PROPOSAL: PATENTS OF NOBILITY
In keeping with my previous Modest Proposal, another one to raise revenue. This one would require a Constitutional Amendment but the Republican party, in particular, seems willing to amend the Constitution.
Section One, Articles Nine and Ten of the U.S. Constiution include the following passages:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person
holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
It’s time we faced facts, friends. The One percent are a de-facto Nobility, and its going to stay that way. Why don’t we formalize that, and make some money in the process. My previous Pyramid Tax Plan already shifted the tax burden away from the rich and onto the numerous teeming poor. This plan would raise revenue from the rich, but in a completely voluntary way that is also capitalistic and free-market oriented.
This proposal would amend the Constitution to remove the language not allowing the States and the United States to grant titles of Nobility. It would work as follows:
The United States Government would establish a hierarchy of national nobility ranks as follows:
2 Grand Princes/Princesses (Grand Princess of the Eastern United States; Grand Prince of the Western United States)
4 Archdukes/Duchesses (Archduchess of the Southwestern United States, et cetera)
20 Peerage titles revolving around the personages of Congress and the White House, in the same way that French Kings once granted ranks to nobles in their courts. People already call Washington “Versailles on the Potomac”. Let’s leverage that!
In addition, each State would be allowed to establish nobility ranks as follows:
1 Marquis/Marchioness (Marchioness of the State of Minnesota)
The noble titles would be sold by means of auction. I bet the bidding would be rather fierce, and raise a significant amount of revenue.
The titles would not be merely ceremonial. A noble who had state nobility would be entitled to a vote in that state’s legislative chamber. The federal nobles of Prince and below would be entitled to vote in the House of Representatives, the Archdukes and Grand Princesses would be considered Senators. They would also have the right of High Justice.
(It occurs to me that repealing the 17th Amendment and merely making the Senate a House of Lords like in the United Kingdom might be for something down the road)
These titles would not be heritable, as a holder of one of the titles passes away, on that sad day, the title would be resold. The first born child of the deceased noble would have the first right to buy the title at the cost, adjusted for inflation, that their parent paid for it.
The revenues brought by the selling of these noble titles would definitely help America stay strong and free, and the oppressed, wrongly hated wealthy would finally have some formal recognition of how important they are in society.
God Bless you and God Bless America
MEME: I SURRENDER!
Here’s how it works:
1. Comment to this post with “I surrender!” and I’ll assign you the basis of some TV show idea. (post-apocalyptic scifi-fi drama, fantasy, noir gumshoe pulp, criminal procedure…IN SPACE, historical drama WITH WEREWOLVES, etc.).
2. Create a cast of characters, including the actors who’d play them.
3. Add in any actor photos, character bios, and show synopsis that you want.
4. Post to your own journal.
Via Harry Connolly at Twenty Palaces
He gave me:
WW2 setting, classic Universal monsters vs. Nazis.
The Monster Squad
In a world where the Universal monsters are secretly real, during a USO tour, the Universal Monsters and their Army handlers discover that they are as good fighting the Nazis as they are entertaining the troops. Now, under double cover of being actors playing the monsters on a USO tour, the Monster Squad is set to punch Adolf in the jaw.
Hugo Weaving as Dracula.
Sam Worthington as The Wolfman.
Michael Clarke Duncan as Frankenstein. In a nod to Brittle Innings, it turns out he has been playing Negro league baseball in the U.S. prior to joining up with Universal.
Arnold Vosloo as The Mummy.
Thandie Newton as Annie Andrews (Ankh-es-en-amon). Its strongly implied that she was responsible for bringing the Mummy to life…
and Clancy Brown as their handler, British Major Abraham Van Helsing. He has secrets of his own, or else why does Dracula insist on reminiscing on the good old days when he and Van Helsing clashed in the 1880’s. Van Helsing can’t be *that* old, can he?
I had tweeted:
Given where it sends me, if Chris Columbus had my Garmin, he would have wound up in Istanbul
Chris Columbus left Palos de la Frontera on August 3,1492.
Not surprisingly, there were a couple of comments saying that it would have been better if Columbus hadn’t reached the New World.
But how plausible is it that Europe would not have reached the Americas sometime within the next 30 years? If it wasn’t Columbus, someone else would have tried the western route, and soon. The economic pressures were too strong not to try it.
So, how far back in history do you have to go to make an Old World where Europe is NOT striving westward in search of routes to the Orient? And what is your change to make it plausible that 15th century Europe doesn’t come into contact with the Americas?
5 am. May 22, Time to make the donuts. The clock radio alarm woke Doug up to quiet static.
Doug frowned as consciousness won out over sleep. Instead of the dulcet tones of the local public radio morning hostess, there was just static, like an old television tuned to a dead channel.
Doug looked at the time, and decided he could deal with the radio tuning later.
Twenty five minutes later, after morning ablutions, Doug picked at a whole wheat bran muffin that did not taste as good as it looked. And it looked like something that an unloved pet might find in their food bowl. The white noise sound of the static of the radio still filled the tiny studio apartment.
Doug walked over and started to fiddle with the dial. Nothing. Static. Not even the annoying prog rock station whose signal sometimes overawed the small public radio station’s broadcast had anything. The conglomerate modern music station had some sort of test sound, a high pitched whine.
“Stupid radio” Doug cursed under his breath. He resented the money it would take to replace it.
Doug padded over to his computer. A few emails from last night, but nothing that required his immediate attention or his reply. Work email could wait until he was in the office, anyway.
When he logged onto some social networks, he noticed that no one seemed about. Sure, few people followed him or cared about what he was doing, but he could usually see what other people were doing. If he was reading this right, there had been no activity from any of them since last night. Not even the Inkheart writer group in Europe, which usually had a lively debate going on Twitter. All silent.
A trip to some news sites, even the BBC, revealed that no stories had been updated since last night. No timestamps beyond 11:38 PM. It was as if the Internet stopped after that time.
“My fucking cable connection, too?’ Doug growled aloud and slammed the heel of his hand against the computer desk. He regretted the outburst. Old Mrs. Atwood woke up early and had preternatural hearing. More than once she had complained to the apartment manager about Doug’s television being too loud. By too loud meaning above the sound of a whisper in a thunderstorm.
Silence. Nothing. Perhaps she was fast asleep, for once. Maybe she had spiked her Geritol.
Rebooting the computer, and the connection, did not change matters. Doug glowered at the computer screen. Besides, Doug thought, he was late for work.
It took about six blocks for Doug to realize something was seriously wrong. A gas station on fire, with a Hummer crashed into one of the pumps was strange enough. It was doubly strange that there was no one seeing to the fire or even watching it. The lights were on in the twenty four hour convenience store. Regretting that he didn’t have a cell phone, Doug carefully parked away from the fire, and trotted to the convenience store.
The store was empty of people. Doug headed to the counter. Something possessed him to look over the counter. There was a pile of clothes in the center of the space, but nothing else. Quizzical, Doug eased himself over the counter and picked up the phone. Three attempts to call 9-1-1 resulted in nothing more than an answering service. Calling the police department directly proved equally fruitless.
Outside, the fire in the gas pump burned in the morning light.
Doug racked his brain as he got in his car, but finally memory sent him down DeNardo road, toward the nearest fire station. The car radio was as useless as the radio in his apartment. He could not find a working station.
There were a few abandoned cars in the grass lined ditch on the right side of the road. Doug slowed and stopped by one of the cars. The car was still on, running fruitlessly, headlights and taillights on. There was a pile of clothes in the driver’s seat, and shoes in the footwell. Key still in the ignition, Doug leaned over and turned the car off. It sputtered to a stop.
Doug continued on his journey. The fire station shared space with Clifton Landing’s police station, and, as Doug was growing to expect, both were quiet as a tomb. There were a few piles of clothes and shoes here and there, in random places. Doug lifted a set of keys and explored the fire station and police station.
Even in the drunk tank, there were two sets of clothes without owners.
Doug went to the administrative section of the police station and fired up a computer. Clucking his tongue with the lack of any security whatsoever, he quickly was able to get onto the Internet. A thought had been creeping in his mind for the last hour.
A little Googling did the trick. There, there it was. Reverend “Pappy” Todd Brandt. He had loudly predicted the Rapture would come 7:39 AM, Jerusalem time, May 22, 2011. The computer translated that to 11:39 PM local time, last night. Pappy had said only the worthy and the saved would be bodily transported to heaven, leaving all others to misery for the end of their days on a dying Earth.
Dumbfounded, Doug wandered out of the police and fire station, into the street. The sound of a sonic boom led him to look up at the sky. Instead of the early morning light, the sky was now the crimson color of fruit punch, and a diagonal line of clouds were black, forming a gash across that unnaturally colored sky.
Doug shook his head and moaned. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t. It just couldn’t.
Everyone he knew and met, apparently, and for all he knew everyone in the world had been Raptured.
Everyone, except him.
Doug sank to his knees in the street, looked up at the hellfire skies, and wept, alone.