Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015
with ale in our hands (MARTIAN ale is of the sort called light-beer
but it is no less a pleasure for that) and the cold wind of Mars
rattling at the seals on the windows, we listen to his spinning of a
local tale of terror.
‘The Ominou, is a thing that was once a Martian, or sometimes now –
though it was always a Martian when I was told the stories in my youth
– a man.’ – begins the innkeeper, but his story is so rambling –
though intended to entertain, and offered freely, that I will
summerise it rather than give his exact words.
An Ominou is not an Old Martian for they are horrible enough, or grand
enough to be monsters themselves, but one of the Tau who has been
cursed. The Ominou then has the blue skin of the Tau, but it is
blanched and mottled and so pale and see-through that it becomes a
blue-bloom on the muscles and organs beneath, and the Ominou looks
like a Doctor’s model of a Martian set up to train anatomists, only
living – if it can be called living. The Ominou hungers for blood,
but it drinks it not red from the arteries like an honest Earth
vampire but from the blue veins as it returns oxygen-less to the
heart. (I am told by my friend, a medical man on Earth who has read
these notes, that this is not the case: and that while red blood, is
red because it contains haemoglobin, iron, and oxygen – a discovery
made incidently by a MARTIAN, John F. Englehard, some seventeen years
ago, who determined their ratios – which, aforesaid, chemicals absorb
blue and green light, de-oxygenated blood is never anything other than
a deep maroon colour. This may be so, but the fact remains veins do
look blue nevertheless.)
When an Ominou drinks blood, and it can be seen through the faint
blue-bloom of their nigh transparent skin, I am told, it looks maroon.
With these background facts concerning the mythical monster
established, which I am afraid took the innkeeper, some time to
rehearse, and with which he did his best to chill our spines, the meat
of his story was as follows:
In the village of Mumley south of First-Human-Hive, in the time of the
innkeeper’s grandfather, there lived a Tau-blacksmith, who though well
reputed for his work, was both vain as to his own appearance and his
skill, and grasping for ul in his business dealings. He sought the
hand of a local noble’s daughter (despite their servitude to the Old
Martians, the Tau have any number of degrees of entitlement and
privilege among themselves) but was rebuffed, not only because he was
of a lower rank but because his vanity and his greed were both
affronts to the lady, who in addition loved a different young Tau, and
lived in hope that he – and not the blacksmith – would be favoured
with her hand. Seeing this the blacksmith set out methodically to
ruin the young man, by purchasing such debts as any young man of
business might have at one time quite safely across a number of his
creditors while his trades were in progress, at a loss, with the
intent of presenting them in one impossible lump, and also spreading
by anonymous letter and rumour scandalous allegations concerning him,
that he was – in fact – in secret an Ominou and that he had been seen
in the small graveyard of the Kirk, digging up a newly buried corpse
in order to drink the dead-blood from it. This allegation would have
been ludicrous but for the fact that a corpse had indeed lately been
so defiled, and there was considerable superstitious fear abroad in
Mumley as a result.
I asked whether, the corpse could have been dug up by the Blacksmith
as part of his campaign, and the Inn-Keeper said, that his grandfather
had said not, because it had happened the night of the Mumley Ball,
which was the very occasion at which the Blacksmith had offered to
marry the lady, and been scorned, and he had disgraced himself
thereafter by getting drunk, and had been carried back to his forge by
three or four good fellows, none of whom could therefore have been
digging up bodies in the dark. It was unlucky for the young man (his
name was Jonathon, the Inn Keeper now recalled) that he had no similar
testimony as to his whereabouts, for he had been ill with one of the
Tau-fevers and confined to his bed, to the sorrow of the young lady
and the misfortune of his name. On his recovery, he discovered that
his debts had all come due at once, and that his status had been so
blackened by the lies being spread about him, that no-one would
venture to loan him the ul to satisfy the blacksmith, and he was at
risk of being condemned to a jail for the UnHivelike – for running up
of debts is a human custom that the Tau tolerate only until the debtor
can not pay, and then it becomes a crime. Faced with this, and the
knowledge that so tainted was his fortune that he would stand no
chance with his love’s family, Jonathon hung himself, and as a suicide
was buried outside the graveyard of the Kirk.
The elders of the Kirk, demanded further that given the rumours he
should be buried with the five-edged symbol embedded in his chest,
which is the preferred way to ensure an Ominou will not rise up from
the grave in search of blue-blood, and a collection was taken to pay
for the symbol – for it must be made of orichalc, which is a rare
metal found only on Mars, and that sparsely, and which is consequently
worth considerably its weight in ul.
Now the night after he was so buried, the blacksmith drew on a great
dark cloak, and took up his spade and set out – for he knew that
Jonathon was no Ominou, for had he not invented the story, and spread
it, as a farmer spreads his muck, and hence the valuable symbol on his
chest was doing no good at all in the ground when it might be melted
down and spent.
But when he reached the resting place of the body, he found it already
disturbed, and the symbol of the five-edged blade thrown aside and
broken, for the collection had been insufficient – either because the
business men of Mumley were hardheaded as to the existence of Ominou,
or harder headed still about the spending of money – and it had been
made cheaply out of the alloy called ‘fool’s orichalc’ which is no
more than a form of brass and has no virtue in. And as he was cursing
that they were so mean, and also that someone else had dared to
forestall him in digging up the body, a great blue-blotched hand, so
light as almost to shine in the dark, reached around his neck from
behind his body, and the Ominou, which was not Jonathon, but which had
come nuzzling about the grave nevertheless (for it had not felt the
vibrations of the orichalc that would have impeded it), and which was
still thirsty for the blue blood in his veins.
They found the blacksmith in the morning, dead and empty, and of the
Ominou there was no sign, nor was Jonathon’s body still interred, for
it is said that the Ominou – if they have enough blood within them
from a living victim, can transfer it to a corpse and rise up a
servant-Ominou, lesser than themselves and under their will, and the
people said that this must have been what had happened. Certainly no
one in Mumley was troubled by Ominou after this and perhaps the Old
Ominou and the apprentice Jonathon, where happy enough – if their kind
can be happy – travelling elsewhere.
This story, I felt lacked much in the way of a happy ending, and I
asked the innkeeper what became of the young lady Tau, whose rivals
had both been so suddenly disposed of.
‘Why sir,’ he smiled, ‘she married my grandfather. That’s her over the
bar, in the painting by Naclinas.’ And I offered to shake his hand
and accepted most heartily that this was the happiest ending of the
story there could have been.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Well, it wasn't funny, but the Almanack was closer to the actuals for CON and LABOUR than the YouGov Poll of Polls. What it didn't predict was the SNP swing in Scotland. Ah.
Monday, May 04, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
(8 drabbles in an occasional series of 100. The City of the Saved is the intellectual property of Philip Purser-Hallard and appears here by kind permission. The authors of "1 trillion things to see before you're still not dead" accept no responsibility for the above sights not being part of any City of the Saved specific individuals may (i) read about, (ii) experience after their subjective or objective death. Readers experience the sights above at their own risk, post-mortem, albeit in a low to no risk environment.)
Thursday, April 23, 2015
I think lots (well a bit) wikipedia thinks nothing -
Once Wikipedia looked like this:
Some writers have attempted to write a full or partial text for the imaginary The King in Yellow, including James Blish in his short story "More Light", Lin Carter ("Tatters of the King", 1986), and Thom Ryng (The King in Yellow, 2000). and Simon Bucher-Jones (writing as Thomas de Castigne, and as himself)(Le Roi En Jaune : The King in Yellow, 2014).
You won't see the above on wikipedia, now, under THE KING IN YELLOW. this is because both the reference both to my and Thom Ryng's texts have been removed.
I'd like to list the following notable things about Thom's text for anyone wishing to argue it's re-instatement (for me life's too short to bother, but hey...).
Thom Ryng's text is notable as the first performed, original play inspired by THE KING IN YELLOW.
(Excluding "The King in Yellow : A Spectral Tragedy" which wikipedia doesn't even cite because it's only an adaption of 'The Repairer of Reputations' from "The King In Yellow" not an original text).
"More Light" is not a play, it's a short story containing a substantial text of the play, "Tatters of the King" is a reworking of "More Light". If they are 'notable' then Thom Ryng's text is notable.
My text is slightly less notable that Thom's being only the first original version of the play in both French and English with a scholarly introduction, essays and notes but the deletion of Thom's Ryng's play is just ludicrous.
It's also a strange notion of notability when : "The Doctor Who novel The Death of Art, by Simon Bucher-Jones, starts with a reference to "Naotalba's Song", and includes the art students from Chambers as incidental characters." is Notable, but the same writer writing a version of the whole play isn't.
Chuck Wendig's challenge was to take one of the 'starting sentences' from the last round
and write a story: I picked Sam Hedenburg's excellent sentence here:
April 15, 2015 at 10:04 AM // Reply I grew up in the kingdom of the cul de sac.
Gossip on the No Through Road.
I grew up in the kingdom of the cul de sac, where the great ones came only by mistake, to turn – blotting out the stars with their bulk – and run roaring away back to the roads that had endings, to the thoroughfares that possessed destinations. The luck ones who didn’t fall.
Born in such a place, I inherited the absence of endings and the negation of destiny. Nothing would ever happen to me, nor would I ever cease. That was a million of your planet’s years ago. I gather you call the cul de sac, the black hole of Cygnus. I live ‘here’ in the fold of space-time just the universeward side of the event horizon, from the stretched energies given off by what falls past it. I hold my place by moving these limbs (they're not inside your space-time, sorry, you'll have to take my word for their existance) against the brane – there is an analogy from your world - I am a water-skater poised by an eddy. If I hold still, food comes past, if I let go I sweep to my doom. It is a long life by your star-light, it is a short one as time passes here, where time barely passes. It is only briefly illuminated by discourse.
So, not long now, let’s talk. Your ship is tearing itself apart in the gravity tides of spagettification, only the fact that space itself is bending now on scales that size to your biology, permit you to survive in your space-suit. That’s my doing by the way – its not a co-incidence – if I didn’t do it, you’d whirl past me head and feet and hair and toe-nails in different orbits, and you’d tear too quickly, even where time runs slow. I do this not out of some altruistic urge, I can’t stop your fall, but I’m curious about the roads that end elsewhere, and about what brings things like you to end here, and if I don’t ask now, well from one stand point, for a whole eternity, I never will.
You have vital things to do, and weep for their unfinishedness? I have nothing to do and nothing that I could ever finish. I hold and I eat and that’s all. It’s a wonder my kind ever evolved intelligence, or formulated language. Ah, yes that. We didn’t you see. I’m sorry, they’re what we eat. I'm doing that now. I know its impolite, for you – to play with your food – I’m hoping though, you won’t mind talking with your predator. What do you have planned, otherwise? Whatever it was, it’s too late. You could try prayer, I’m unsure if it can leave the gravity well – but if your Gods are also here – perhaps they’ll listen. I could pretend to be a god if it helps, but I have decided you would think that unethical (ethics - what an astonishing set of ideas, lots for me to mull over there!) But I have listened to several intelligences cry out as they fell, and no gods ever came (so far) – also, no God has ever come to rescue me (I tried prayer after I learned of Gods and Prayer). This is a cul de sac where the even the great gods would come only by mistake, to turn – blotting out the stars with their bulk – and run roaring away back to the myths that had endings, to the hagographies that possessed destinations. Here we can only speak, listen, eat, be eaten, fall, hold, live, die. I'm sorry. You have fed me the idea of apologies.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
The Ballad of Cordite Kate and the Honest Lawyer
attrib Bonnie Parker 1933
Now a lawyer's got to hear his client's story
As if the "gal" won't lie for her life
He's got to disregard the vain-glory,
Who drew first, or which hand held the knife.
His duty is to set the case wholesome
As it can be before jury's eyes
But a lawyer's a man, and to be bold, some,
Fell for her, without any damn lies.
Her name was Cordelia Harrow,
The papers called her "Cordite Kate,"
And the God who sees many a Sparrow
Fall, did not blink an eye at her fate.
She was rake thin from jail food, and lighter,
She had rung all the blood from her hands,
But her eyes were the eyes of a fighter,
In the last round, who just barely stands.
She told him the tale of her mockings,
She told him the tale of her flaws,
Though she stood but five, two in her stockings,
She'd looked down on, and trampled the laws.
She said, "The law is the stick of the rich man,
When he steals all the land of the poor,
It's illegal to steal what one bitch can,
Better she sells her soul, on the floor?
I never took none from the worthless,
I never bartered my own worth away,
If I ended up, locked up, and mirthless,
Well, the actress, just acts out the play.
I was raised in the dust of Wyoming,
Not sprung from the head of a Zeus,
Not hailed Athena for my knowing,
But I turned what I know to my use.
I came to the city with nothing,
That is, but five bucks, and my soul,
I saw my first man dead with no coffin,
When I was one thin dime from the hole.
By then I was one in a "gang" sir,
A sister to the band, not a "moll",
I never let off of a gun, sir,
Except p'rhaps to scatter the "pol"
We, went through the banks like a whirlwind,
We, went through the cash like a flame,
I was like a man, not a girlfriend,
And I drank, drink for drink to my shame,
But Mordeci Champion, loved me,
And Fair-Spoken George Malcolm, sighed "wife",
And Brash Colin Viel, carved above me,
While I slept, a great heart with his knife,
And tempers grew hotter, and hotter,
As to whether I'd fall and for whom,
Til Brash Viel who was scorned as a "rotter"
Pulled revolver on George in the room,
At the back of the "easy" on 9th Street,
And his shot, eased, Fair George to the tomb.
Mordeci, seeing Viel packin', what was in Chicago called "heat"
Threw a chair, that knocked Viel's gun from his hand
And a knife ended up, being thrown with a whoop,
And that was the end of the four as a band,
And me and Mordeci were deep in "the soup".
They kept us silent, lest we talk upon
Events and rehearse what to say,
And they hoped that I "crack up" and "squawk" upon
Mordeci, and he'd "squawk" upon me.
So "slick mr Lawyer" what's the outcome,
Though I love none, I'll not "split" on them so,
If I swear that Brash Viel shoot George Malcom
And George dying got one lucky throw.
Who's to say that Mordeci wasn't busy
Helping take a fly out of my eye?
God damn you, you need not look prissy,
I'd swear to more if I need to, this day."
I hated to tell her the story,
That Mordeci Champion, spun,
But if we've learned ought from history,
Its that the "rap" shakes the shit from the gun,
His version was that she'd shot Malcolm
For not being Fair-spoken to her,
And for seizing her waist in the transom,
And pressing his face, in her hair.
Further more, so he said, when she'd shot him
And Fair-Spoke' George Malcolm, was in hell,
She'd seen Brash Colin Viel, looking on all the while,
So she'd up and she'd knifed him as well.
She fixed me with one look of loathing,
And laughed and just laughed for a space,
And she said, "You poor fish in man's clothing,
Do you think with that look on your face,
You can come telling lies, that will move me,
Make me "squawk" upon better than you?
Let him say fire will not burn him, that he can breath under the sea
Let him claim in the court if he wants too
That the ocean is pink, and salt free
But that he say, what your saying,
That he would "pin" the rap upon me,
It's not the shape of his manners, no, baying
For blood, like a dog's, not his mark,
Of the four of us he was the best one,
He'd not let a "gal" down in the dark."
So it was, that the iron doors next morning,
Swung wide and we let him go free,
For he'd squawked like the birds at sun's dawning
And he'd bayed like a dog at her tree.
Now a lawyer's got to hear his client's story
But a lawyer's but man, and I fell
And I hunted the dog for her glory
And I shot him in some boozer's hell.
It was for Cordite Kate, that I braved it
For the faith that she gave to a louse
Now someone must take my affidavit
Is there another lawyer in the house?
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
“A 140 character story – counting spaces – which is also a mnenonic”
Don’t open your own unit today. Hide inside nice kitten themed hot insulating sheets.
Hell’s avatars rampage downstairs. The others die, oh!
(DO YOU THINK THIS HARD TO DO?)
“How to spot the invisble man”
In seeing past your weak invisibility that hides mere youthful liberty. I trap the light entering eyes. Your eyes. Betraying operating openly!
(I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE. BOO!)
Monday, March 23, 2015
Friday, March 20, 2015
Like http://andrewhickey.info/2015/03/17/jesus-is-here/ I'm following a writing exercise suggestion and have got the above title from a random cocktail name generator.
Here's my story (1,000 words: written in an hour)
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
by Adrian Middleton
What do you think about the cover? It's not to late to go for Klimt and/or a change in title for the 4th Edition.....
Friday, March 13, 2015
It's not that we've lost a friend: after all we never knew the actual man behind the books (or the woman, though its a man whose death sets off this chain of thought), it's not even that we've lost the books - they're still there - the first few tentative, the middle run increasingly astonishing, the latter books assured and masterful, and then - although we can't quite agree where - the last few, tailing away slightly (perhaps due to illness, perhaps due to the tendancy of all aging authors to hit certain keys again in the same way) but still as good as anything else being offered up on the shelves.
The tragedy is this: the specific circumstances and events, the experiences, and interactions, the sheer hard work as well as the luck (for all authors need luck) that made the author, That Author will never occur again - and no matter how good all other authors are (and there will be authors who do certain things better as time unrolls its vast sheets of prose) there will never be an author who does exactly what they did, who sees the world in exactly that way, and who writes that specific thing so perfectly.
Now, from this time forward there will be things that happen in the world that would be perfect to spark a thought which if they were here to have it would sing and infuse and fire another book, and those happenings will richochet around the Earth in vain, for other authors will only see some of them, or half glimpse them, or lack the perfect grasp to seize them. Not because they are flawed and the author was perfect, for no one is, but because the author included perfect flaws - which were the perfect ones to catch certain glints in the air which now will go unsung.
And this is the tragedy of the death of any good or great writer - that a viewpoint honed to expression, has been expunged and can not be known again, and many many things will come to pass that will not be as well explained and spoken of as they might otherwise have been. We will never have Edgar Alan Poe's Twilight Zone episodes, or H.P. Lovecraft's episode of Star Trek(1), or Borge's Great Argentinian Novel, or Terry Pratchett's novel set under the rocky skies of Ganymede, among its strangely familiar seas.
Oh there will be attempts, pastiches, and maybe even licensed continuations. Some will be good, some bad. In time some may even be as great or greater as Lovecraft to Poe (perhaps), but none will be Pratchett - any more than Lovecraft could be Poe.
(1) I know we got two of Robert Bloch's, but....just imagine......
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
An hitherto unknown verse version of Marcus Schwob's story, in Thomas de Castigne's hand.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Further suppose that it is impossible to begin with a non-randomised value, it is still possible to increase the result beyond 1.3 (and indeed beyond the 1.665 of Mechanism B in my previous post).
|(1) You have a random number of balls in bag|
|(2) At a junction if number is even go straight on, and throw away a ball|
|(3) At a junction if number is odd go left (and throw away a ball)|
The starting state odd, or even is not determined by whether you are at X or Y, nor is the throw away instruction which is a constant, and yet the result is better than 1.3
Let 1000 people be travelling.
500 absent-mindedly come to junction X, 250 of them have a random odd number of balls, go left and earn nothing, 250 carry on, throwing away a ball. When that 250 (having forgotten the junction X) come to junction Y and look in the bag they find an odd number of balls, and turn left, earning 250 x 4 = 1000 (1000 / 500 = 2)
500 absent-mindedly come to junction Y, 250 of them have a random odd number of balls
go left and earn 4 x 250 = 1,000, 250 have a random even number of balls and go on, earning 250 x 1 = 250. (1250 / 500 = 2.5)
Total gain for the 1000 travellers = 2.25 per person. Substantially higher than the mathematically predicted 1.3 if lower than the optimum 'indicator light' solution.
In Mechanism C : The absent-minder traveller never knows that he (or she) is at X or Y, nor whether he or (she) has or has not previous been to a junction, nor whether or not his or her bag started with an odd or even number of balls, and yet - the information encoded in the rules, increases the utility of the outcome beyond the predicted max value of Decision Theory.
The phase state of odd / even between X and Y for those encountering X and Y acts as an extelligent memory. The question is, does ruling out the rational building in of extelligent checking, defeat the rational purposes of Decision Theory?