Friday, August 27, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Beholding

When Claire was ten, her right eye was injured by a golf ball. The doctors said that in time, stem cell research might advance far enough to repair the damage.

In the mean time, she was blind in one eye.

She didn’t feel blind in that eye. The doctors insisted this was normal.

Six months later, Claire found she could read the backs of cards or see through closed doors. She didn’t tell anyone.

When she was sixteen, she found she could see a few hundred miles away if she concentrated. Scamming poker players and blackmailing politicians lost its appeal. She didn’t need more money.

Everywhere she looked, she saw broken people. It was so sad. She began solving problems when she found them. She saved a neglected child from junkie parents by calling the CPS at the exact right moment.

Claire stopped several robberies by warning the cops when thieves planned to stick places up.

She even found a way to stop a suicide.

Her power grew. Things became more complex.

One day she noticed that if she saved the little old lady on Harwood, the teenage boy from 4th would die. Who should she save and who should she let die?

So many variables. Her eye looked at every angle of the world. It was too complex. She couldn’t make any choices without destroying some to save others. It would have been easy if the choice had been between genocidal jerks and benevolent, self-sacrificing poor people. But it almost never was.

She beheld, paralyzed.


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: The Spirit Guide

What I saw made sense. I’m an evolutionary biologist. A Coelacanth was a great spirit animal.

They’re huge and a bit scary, but beautiful. I was so entranced I didn’t catch what my guide said.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

“No worries.” It swam lower. The water must have warmed up.


“Oh yeah,” the fish said indolently. “Remember to be chill and taste bad. You’ll live forever that way.”

That seemed like a reasonable strategy. The vision faded.

“Wait! How do I learn to taste bad?”

I’d liked hippies before they drugged me for a spirit quest.


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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mars of My Youth Podcasted

Hey, y’all. The Mars of My Youth was recently podcasted on The Dribblecast. If you prefer your stories in audio or want to share this one with folks who do, this is the way to go.

Some of you may have seen me announce a new Troll Jammies segment on Twitter recently. Right after I hinted at it, I acquired a new responsibility that ate up a lot of my free time that’s not already dedicated to writing fiction. When I catch up on that, I will definitely give the new segment a whirl. Until I know for sure that I am going to be able to do it, I won’t bother teasing you by telling you what it is.

There are a few other changes in the offing. I should be getting an actual banner for Troll Jammies soon and I’m scheming certain things which should be very cool.

I should probably take the progress box off since I can’t manage to keep it updated. Rest assured, I’ve submitted at least two stories since last I updated that. One was rejected, and I’m still waiting on a response for the other. I have several pending novella ideas, a novel that needs to either be dropped or edited, a novel and novella in progress, an audio novella I finished first draft and which is not yet ready to be beta-read, a bunch of short stories in progress or in editing, and a novel I started but which needs to be plotted before I pick it up again.

None of that actually guarantees I’m actually being productive. The “clearly productive” part was the part where I have been submitting stories. I didn’t actually mention a wordcount anywhere in there! I have days where I manage 1-1.5K and I have days where I manage finishing a short story. Since neither of those things is happening every day, this means I’m being a bit of a slacker. Not a horrible one, but something of one.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Fear and Housing

They fear the old man in the creepy house. They shouldn’t.

He won’t use pets to trap the feast of kids.

His house does that.


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Friday, August 6, 2010

TH: Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights read by Ruth Golding. I’m a little behind on my classics so I never read Wuthering Heights. This’ll be a mini-review of the book, and then of the recording itself.

The book is crafted to make you hate everyone in it at first, and then slowly redeem most of the characters in it. The frame of the story is narrated by Mr. Lockwood, who moves to a house in the country to avoid company. And then immediately imposes himself on his landlord, a man who hates company even more than Mr. Lockwood himself.

Lockwood feels compelled to meddle in the strange arrangement of his landlord’s household and soon finds that the household’s antisocial behavior is related to some dark mystery with supernatural overtones.

It’s unclear whether there’s any actual supernatural element in the book, but it’s far more impelling and frightful than The Turn of the Screw. I’m going to make some enemies here, but comparing these two only, Emily Brontë is the better writer.

The specific LibriVox edition I listened to was read by Ruth Golding. Ruth manages to keep distinct voices for all of the characters, including both a male narrator, female narrator, house keepers, young men and women of different social standings, a curmudgeonly old Bible-thumper, and a wide variety of accents. This is one of the most skillful single-reader books I’ve ever listened to. It would be perfectly possible to keep track of the different characters without “s/he said” tags.

If you’re going to listen to Wuthering Heights, there is no possible better way to do so.

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Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Grampa Goes Rank One

Update: I realized a little too late that I had constrained this story to 100 words (drabble length) for no reason, and had thus lost the whole point of why I had written the story in the first place. Here's what I originally intended to write in 237 words.

“Frizzum, frazzum!” the old man said.

His oldest two grandchildren laughed.

The youngest suggested a replacement.

“That’s too much,” he said.

They assured him it wasn’t, but he didn’t relent his uproarious pseudo-swears.

The weekend was long. His grandkids didn’t even know they were naughty.

On Sunday, they persuaded him to try a video game. It was an FPS. He had a slowly growing revelation: This game trained children. He had been sent to Earth to recruit soldiers.

He could use this. He played for a little while longer and then let the children have their game back.

When they left, he went to the store and bought the game and the machine to run it on. The kid at the register convinced him to buy a headset and a subscription to the Internet service.

It took him forty-five minutes to connect the infernal thing to his television.

He created an account and logged into the highest ranked game he could get into.

Strings of swears and other wickednesses from little children poured from the speakers.

He muted his microphone and swore.

Soldiers were known for their foul mouths, but the things they were saying about each others mothers would put enemies on the battlefield into a lethal rage!

His fifty years of assimilating himself into Earth culture had been a complete waste.

Well, he would show those idiotic ruffians what a polite, civilized person could do.


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