Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Quote note (#321)

Heinlein’s dark arts:

Gulf is available free (and legally) online now, so if you’re not familiar with it, here you go. You don’t have to read it to get the rest of this post, but I suggest you do. There are enough new, intriguing ideas in this brief novella to keep you thinking about it for a long time: an artificial, highly compressed, efficient and logical language (“Speed-talk”); a secret society of “Supermen” working behind the scenes to discover and regulate major scientific and technological discoveries; bar codes (in 1949!); but what I note here is focus, mental attitude, and what are now called “Dark Triad” traits and their usefulness in getting things done, rather than emoting and “virtue signaling.”

January 8, 2017admin 7 Comments »
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Quote note (#296)

From Cixin Liu’s latest (and perhaps greatest), p.129:

When the deterrent is the complete destruction of the deterrer and the deteree, the system is said to be in a state of ultimate deterrence. […] Compared to other types of deterrence, ultimate deterrence is distinguished by the fact that, should deterrence fail, carrying out the threat would be of no benefit to the deterrer. [..] Thus, the key to the success of ultimate deterrence is the belief by the deteree that the threat will almost certainly be carried out if the deteree thwart’s the deterrer’s goals …

Hence the drive to mechanization of commitments. Trust evo-psych and cultural tradition passes the torch to game-competent machines.

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October 23, 2016admin 10 Comments »
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Sentences (#65)

Peter Watts in pursuit of abstract horror (Echopraxia, p.297):

The less he found, the more he feared.

Plus vampire acausal trade bonus: “… they’d acted in perfect sync, knowing that others they’d never met would have worked out the same scenario” (p. 289). — A classic Age of the Basilisk threat structure.

And one more (p.292):

“A stealth supernet fine-tuned for the manipulation of pawns with a specific skill-set suited to military applications. And it just emerged?”
Moore smiled faintly. “Of course. No complex finely tuned system could ever just evolve. Something must have created it.”

July 17, 2016admin 13 Comments »
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Quote note (#268)

From Peter Watts’ Echopraxia (p.213):

“Word of advise,” the Colonel said from the other side. “Don’t tease the zombies.”
“I wasn’t teasing him, I was just chat–”
“Don’t chat with them either.”

July 16, 2016admin 19 Comments »
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Deadlines (Part-2)

Screaming is rare. Outside the movies, war zones, or psychiatric institutions, it’s unusual to hear anything more than an exaggerated squeak. This wasn’t that.

Alison Luria was screaming. She stood in the middle of the cluttered office, rigidly upright, arms by her sides, head angled slightly back. Her mouth was locked open, eyes tightly shut. The sound she was emitting, in a continuous, only slightly uneven stream, overwhelmed apprehension. It was less a specifiable noise than an abstract inaudibility, the unheard manifested as a monstrous positive entity, insensibility made palpable.

It had begun at almost exactly the moment of entering the room. I had not quite finished closing the door behind me, still uncertain whom first to address, when – as if out of nowhere, without the slightest warning – a shard of sonic shrapnel sliced into my head, making any further thought impractical.

It was my second visit to the company, and the small team was already vaguely familiar.

Fred something, the tech guy, was (incredibly) ignoring the phenomenon, and seemed still to be working. Alison’s editorial assistant, Xu Ling, had retreated beneath her desk, where she now lay perfectly immobile, coiled into a tight fetal knot. Millie Zhang, the sales director, had missed it. Her tidy, south-facing work-space was unoccupied. It had been set up as an oasis of light and order, semi-withdrawn from the gloomy debris-field of the larger open-plan attic area. She was probably out on a sales call.

I had never fallen prey to mystical inclinations, and problems of an esoteric nature seldom detained me. If, on rare occasions, hints of hidden profundities over-spilled the dikes of dismissal, they elicited vague repulsion, rather than enthusiasm. I would, at that time, have reacted with instinctive aversion to any claim that the suspension of reason opens secret gates. (No one had ever bothered me with such suggestions.) Yet as the threads of intelligence were severed by the scream, it was as if access were being granted to the inner substance of the world, violently unwrapped from the distractions of visual identification. Something was poking through the wall of sonic oblivion – a clicking or crackling. This isn’t a message, said the click-code, it’s just the sound of your auditory nerves dying.

Would it ever stop? Had it, in reality, ever begun? Its duration had become a matter of no significance, because this breakage of the world was no longer Alison Luria screaming, but the scream as it existed in eternity, freed from the bonds of fact. It was the primordial scream, vast beyond cosmology, anonymous and inexpressive, the pure howl of being now perceived as it always had been …

… and then, as suddenly as it had begun, it ceased.

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April 10, 2015admin 19 Comments »
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Deadlines (Part-1)

If you believe in yourself, you’ll believe in anything. – Nicola Masciandaro

Based – very roughly – on a true story.

[Subsequent content carries a vulgarity and decadence warning, for sensitive readers.]

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November 28, 2014admin 25 Comments »
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Halloween XS 2

A (short) exercise in bombastic Halloween fiction

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October 31, 2014admin 12 Comments »
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Quote notes (#99)

In Chapter 70 of Moby Dick, Ahab addresses the severed head of a whale:

“Speak, thou vast and venerable head,” muttered Ahab, “which though ungarnished with beard, yet here and there look hoary with mosses, speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid the world’s foundation. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there in that awful water-land, there was thy most familiar home. …”

(No reason for this beyond indulgence.)

July 31, 2014admin 15 Comments »
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