Saturday, April 28, 2007

Writing news - April 2007

Hi again,

I hope everyone's doing well out there. Seems like most of my writing these days is describing things I'm selling on eBay, but I've managed a bit of real writing, including selling another offbeat story to Analog and posting some of my short films and outtakes on YouTube.


Poetry chapbook "Peripheral Visions" (NEW) now available from Assume Nothing Press for $6.
Here's the link:

Poetry collection "Appalling Limericks" now available from -- I was the editor of this one, and it's a lot of fun.

My new story collection ("Blank Spaces & other dangers") is currently offline.
I'm working to get it setup again soon.

I still have a few copies of "Afterlife 9" and "the Other secret house" available for $5 postpaid in the USA.


Recent works of mine can be found in Appalling Limericks, SciFan, Late Late Show, Star*Line FlashShot, Between Kisses, Sage of Consciousness, and Amaze.

My latest art pieces were: cover art & design for Ecotastrophe anthology, and cover design for Wondrous Web Worlds 6.

I wrote most of the game mechanics and character dialog for the video game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces", which was a fairly major release. But most of my contributions were replaced in the last year of production.

=====> NEW SALES:

An offbeat story "Jimmy the Box" will be appearing in Analog soon.

Poems accepted by Hahaku, SamsDot Publishing, and a few others.

Poetry chapbook "Jane Doe Discovered" coming in 2007 from

A gruesome illustration has been accepted for the Hungur 2 anthology.

=====> MY SITES:

My active blogs:
"writer's life" blog ...
Unfuture Chronicle ...

Thanks for your interest. Drop a line if you have any questions, or want to chat. Have a nice day.

= scott

Thursday, April 26, 2007

armed and maybe controlled

The Unfuture quote of the week comes from the show "Futureweapons:"

"Anything can happen when you give a machine gun to a robot."

I have to agree with the military guys who want little combat robots they can run by remote control. Never send men into a crossfire or a building full of hostile forces when you can send a little metal thing loaded with weapons. We're already programmed to play video games. How would it be any different to set a few thousand bots loose and let people go down to the local arcade and strike a few blows for their country?

Personally, I'd prefer a world where there was no fighting at all. But apparently, I was delusional all those years. It now looks like we will be at war forever. We can never let our guard down, because we would be trampled in an instant by all the people who want what they want, for whatever reason. Self-interest is our guiding principal, and apparently we all want to see how much we can get away with, from top to bottom. There are pressure systems, just like in the atmosphere, with all goods flowing from place to place driven by unseen forces.

I'd like to see a news service that only shows good news. Where we can see that people are still giving, caring ... but this doesn't sell, so it has been largely wiped from the big screen. I wonder if there's any good news at all, and hope like hell there is. Left to themselves, I've found people to be decent, and interesting. But as soon as they start to get together, they can destroy anything in their path.

So here we are, giving machine guns to robots and hoping they can clean up today's mess without screwing up tomorrow too badly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the buzz about dying bees

Right now there are bees dying. They go out from their nests but never come back. There seems to be an outbreak of what entomologists are calling "colony collapse disorder," and a growing buzz over what's causing it. Possible culprits are cell phone signals, disease, and pesticides. We've got a definite "unfuture" coming if the problem gets out of control. After all, without bees, plants will stop producing seeds, including most major agricultural crops.

It's sobering to think that our actions or creations could have such a subtle, unpredictable effect on the world around us, and that the effect is hardly noticed until it becomes too vast to ignore. Or is that just the way we do things? All flowering plants could be wiped out, and the pine trees and ferns would return to carpet our dead cities. I'm just speculating, because that's my role. But let's keep an eye on this story. It will be interesting to see what's behind it all.

More reading ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

tuna guitar & the origami troupe

First there was a guy who tried to tune his guitar using the Doppler Effect. He figured that at some delta velocity the thing would sound right. Trouble is, he would never know. It sounded different to everyone he passed on the freeway, always different from the way he himself heard it, standing still with respect to the thnig in his hand. Still, he played in the half-shell house on the tractor trailer bad -- CAUTION: WIDE LOAD -- and people whizzed past and gave him the finger.

Then I was at an odd stage play. The crew came out and setup a man-sized wooden dog, then walked off stage. The planks that made up the dog began to unfold and twist in slow-motion transformations, soon becoming a lion in a classic stalking pose. Then the gears turned again, and the wooden surfaces moved, and it was a caribou. Someone began to chant "Hakuna Matata," and when the whole crowd was spouting that vibe, the production had to fight back. Someone slapped on "Animal Magnetism" by the Scorpions. The guitar crunched out the chords, then the cast came out and began to frolic and devour each other.

Of course, that's when my cell phone rang, which was surprising since I don't have one. But there it was in my pocket, ringing. I picked it up, covered one ear. "Dammit, I told you I'm trying to get out of building websites for people. Right now I'm at some kind of off-off-broadway cannibal party, gotta run."

But by then the feast was over. Later I was told that the blood was symbolic, but there wouldn't be a repeat performance.

--- dream 4/18/07

Friday, April 20, 2007

getting into 9th gear

Lots of vivid dreams lately...

I had a car with a 9-speed stick shift, where the very last gear will teleport the car up to a mile away in a random direction. The non-space bubble would float up or down to the surface of the earth before collapsing and bringing the car back to reality. Someone stole the car when I was in the city looking for clues ... I saw her go around a corner, engine sputtering. She obviously wasn't used to a stick. Then she vanished.

Nobody in their right mind would do a random teleport inside a city. It was made for places like Kansas with long straight roads and square miles of corn to hide in. I took out my keys and pressed the emergency button, hoping I wasn't too late. The car should have teleported back to the dealership and sprayed knock-out gas on the driver. Fun times. My phone rang less than a minute later.

On a good day, technology does work as advertised.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a final fire

day after day of pushing buttons. never knowing which one will start the reaction, the mixing of fuel, the runaway implosion that forces the core inwards. he sees the gauges behind closed eyes, glowing. they will not let him sleep. the stress in unbearable. alarms go off. temperatures rise, the damned gauges react, the all-or-nothing pressure reaches ALL then releases its rage reducing the world to NOTHING.

but not today.

another day, no faces, run and hide. shift after shift, shifting but never changing. wars imagined, made real, fought to the death. the banks win every time, quietly behind the scenes, laughing between piles of infusible irrefutable gold. the buttons, pushed. hidden codes shuffle. thunderstorms pass far overhead. what if the power fails? all the codes would fall to the floor like last week's rose petals. and without the codes there is nothing to stop the irrational, irreversible reaction.

the end of 10,000 years of arts and invention. maybe plants will survive and inhabit our bones when we're gone. things will scurry and tunnel and dine on our silted-over credit cards, take a bite, spit it out, inedible garbage. the sun will continue to pump energy into the earth. we were just a side effect of that energy. may the next creatures rise and be all we wanted to be, and more.

--- daydream at 1am, 4/17/07

felons in limbo

I just saw a short piece on CNN about some sex offenders in Miami who are forced to live under a bridge and actually had a parole officer who went under the bridge at 5 a.m. every morning to check up on them. The laws which said they couldn't live within half a mile of any place that "children might congregate" meant there was no place left for them to go.

Link here:

Obviously, these are dangerous people, and there's no good way to know which ones will repeat their crimes. It's a strange situation where the people can't be held in prison forever, but can't be set free either. New legislation may result in tagging the felons with radio transmitters, and one can picture a scenario where computers track them and sound alarms if they leave their prescribed area or enter some forbidden zone. It's almost a scenario for shared computing -- I'm sure there are people who would sit around all day watching little blips on a map and firing buzzers every time they saw something they thought was suspicious. Even easier, why not just tag everyone, and then we can zap each other and penalize each other for fun, or send anonymous drug tips about ex-boyfriends just for kicks.

I'm not trying to be facetious. We all should have our freedoms and rights, and each type of crime may properly result in loss of certain freedoms for the safety of the society. I'm just trying to point out one of those futuristic-seeming scenarios we never could have predicted, that doesn't appear to have a solution, now that Australia is off limits for all our riff-raff. Don't laugh just yet -- European nations used to send their convicts to remote islands, or the persecuted people could sail off to new lands, but the world is flooded with people now. Some of them even end up under bridges ...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

welcome to my sandstorm

I was hiking somewhere near Globe, AZ and got caught in a sudden sandstorm. Any building looked good through dirt-crusted eyes. I felt my way around the corrugated structure, found an opening and slipped inside.

It was pitch black and there was a giant cartoon dog on the wall. At first I thought it was talking to me, but then I saw the three children sitting on the couch in the darkness, lit only by cartoon-dog-light. I kept to the shadows, found another door, then a black hallway.

A group of commandos came pounding up the hall after me. As they approached, images appeared on the walls around them. I pressed my body up against a tall curtain and they rushed right past me, barking orders and cusswords at each other. They went into a room up ahead and started shooting and shouting. I sneaked a peek through the door, and saw they were in a cave full of demons. Things rushed at them, they fired, things burst, but I could see it was all on the walls. None of it real. Of all the places I could have found shelter, I chose some crazy VR gallery, and unless the system knew I was there, I couldn't participate in any of the games.

I rushed to find the front desk, to buy a ticket. One of the games on the list was Sandstorm, which I thought ironic at first, but then I rushed outside and found that the storm was made of pixels about an inch wide. I wondered why I hadn't noticed that earlier. Maybe the reality server was having a glitch. I turned around to get a refund but the arcade was just a gaping maw in the earth.

I checked and double-checked my firewalls, then dove down into the emptiness.

--- from a dream 4/10/07

Friday, April 13, 2007

invitation to crime

Craiglist hoax

Here's a strange technology hoax ... someone posted on CraigsList that everything in a certain house in Washington was up for grabs. You could go take whatever you wanted for free. So people showed up, stole everything and gutted the place. They ripped out the water heater, sinks, even light fixtures, probably leaving dangerous bare wires sticking out. Some visitors filled up whole carloads, some even stopped to spray graffiti on the wall. I doubt the posting said that vandalism was okay, but you just don't invite strangers to a party.

How insane is that? It's wrong in every possible way: that someone could post such an invitation and have it go live; then that people would find the posting and think it was okay; then that people would show up and still think it was okay to grab whatever they want; that people are so desperate to make a buck any way they can; that the ransacking went on for hours before someone called the police; that people would leave trails of garbage all over the lawn ... apparently the posting was soon flagged as a violation, but the damage was done.

Disgusting behavior. This is what we get for giving the masses access to the internet, huh? We try to give everyone access to information, and instead we see a proliferation in crime, and whole new categories of crime being invented.

There was a clip on CNN of the investigating officer essentially saying that they're used to tracking down crap from craigslist, but this was a whole new kind of thing. Craigslist was reported as saying that they would not release any information about the offender(s) without a proper warrant, which is technically the correct response, but only if they're proud about sponsoring crime and scams. If I was running an online community, I'd certainly care about whether I was contributing to illegal activity, or at least becoming the laughing stock of the town. Craig himself always seemed like a pioneer, an underdog we could all cheer for, but you just can't hand technology to people these days without criminals and screaming heads finding a way to corrupt it.

I guess there will be a bunch of copycat revenges against ex-spouses now. More invitations to destruction and theft. Because there is no shortage of desperate people looking to get in on any action in an otherwise miserable world. Maybe the days of unmoderated forums and listing services are over, and clinging to the hope that people will use them honestly is just another Grimm fairy tale. On the bright side, the police could probably use similar invitations as a sting operation for petty thieves.


I'm thinking that news stories which suggest we're "living in a weird future" can find a home here from time to time.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

at your disposal

I was on a ferry, working as the disposal guy. I tried for the cushy disposal job, the one where I could bale together all the plastic jugs and stomp the aluminum cans, but that didn't work out. My boss said that job was for newbies, and he had a related job that got much better tips. That's how I became the dead body disposal guy. Whatever dead bodies people brought me, I would wrap in black trash bags, then grab some ballast from belowdecks and shove the whole package overboard under cover of darkness. Strangely, the ship's ballast was almost entirely made up of old manual typewriters, the kind that an old Harlan Ellison novel said were by far the best things for weighting down a corpse.

It was steady work. Every night we'd do five runs across the harbor, and on every run, at least one group of shady, jittery bad guys came to my tiny office dragging a dead goon by the hair. No paperwork, no questions, just my life on the ship of ghouls. The downside was not being able to tell my friends what I did for a living, so I had to say I was a bartender. Still, it put me through college, and then the ferry conveniently sailed into a fog bank and never came out. I had nothing to do with that, by the way. I heard the boss just got burned out and one night he called the disposal guy who made whole ships go away, not questions asked.

Fair enough, I guess.

--- from a dream March 2007