The Zen of SILVER BROWN

A Yuletide Banff After Dark

A fount of literary inspiration is nestled somewhere deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. A little place they call Banff. The name is Scottish in origin, according to what I just read on the official website. An appellation borne by both Canada’s oldest national park and the main town within said park. In the vernacular of this great land of beavers and poutine, most talk of Banff centers around the park. Yet contrary to what some people (mostly east of Winnipeg) believe, a town called Banff exists. I present this morning to the fine folks of Planet Earth an exhibit of original photographic evidence of its existence.

Everybody knows there is no Walt Disney World in Canada. But there’s Banff, and that’s close enough. It’s a town where the streets are all named after woodland critters. Where you can buy a shot of vodka from a street vendor like you’d buy a hot dog in a different city where provincial liquor laws aren’t nearly as lax. If that sort of thing turns your crank. During the height of ski season, half the population suddenly becomes Australian…


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…and the street vendors construct their booths out of ice. Because they can.

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Yes, buffalo and caribou with a Japanese translation. Welcome to Alberta.

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In Alberta, Christmas is in January. So I can get away with posting this.

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Even the local Toxic Ronnie’s is lah-di-dah.

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…and who doesn’t?

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The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Chapters 7 & 8, or The Final Exam Part I

The good folks of Planet Earth are presently being granted a sneak peak at Chapters Seven and Eight of SILVER BROWN through something they tell me is called Twitter, at a rate of one page a day. These two chapters are roughly equal in length, and constitute the first part of a distinct four-chapter story arc. The second part will come later in the year.

This particular story arc is one of few in the entire book that actually has its own title. Since it’s a depiction of the first genuine test of Florys MacNab’s mettle as a cyberwitch, it is (somewhat aptly) entitled The Final Exam.


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The Journey of SILVER BROWN

Out With The Old

Hey, it’s a new decade. Thank the Dagda. The Weenie Teenies (which I personally think is a catchier and more befitting name than the Two Thousand and Tens, so I’m just going to go with that) will probably go down in history as the worst decade humanity has seen since the 1940s. So I’m glad that’s all over with. Sure, it was a decade that saw vinyl LPs come back from the dead. That was the shit! But then there was a shitload of other shit that was as shitty as all shit. Hopefully this new decade will bring more shit that’s cool, like the aforementioned second coming of the long-playing record. May these Twenties be twenty percent as roaring as the last ones, so they don’t end as badly.


If this reminds you of someone, you’re officially not going crazy.


In this spirit of dispensing with the old and embracing the new, I’ve decided to prune a couple of characters out of SILVER BROWN entirely. There was a scene in one of the early drafts where my main character wakes up in the offices of one of the most powerful cyberwarlocks in Sector India. There, the witch Florys MacNab is approached by this warlock’s man Friday – an eight-year-old boy known only as The Kid.

The Kid grew from an intellectual seed that was planted in my brain by an Ojibwe elder from an ancient land we now call Minnesota, by way of a book he wrote I once burrowed from the library. He would tell me of a forgotten yesteryear well before there was any such thing as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, when the Ojibwe did not bestow names upon their children at birth. In those days, it was an ingrained part of the culture and tradition that a name be thought of as something one had to earn. Many kids didn’t earn those names until they were eight or nine years old. Some not even until puberty, or later. But finally doing something to earn a name was one of the most important rites of passage in a child’s life.

A few of the customs observed by the Society of Wheel Turners in SILVER BROWN invoke this bygone Ojibwe tradition to a certain extent. In the early drafts, young Wheel Turners in training were literally nameless. Hence, the reason why The Kid was just The Kid, and nothing else. I eventually had to dispense with The Kid entirely, because his sole function in the story was to reveal exhibition that had already been revealed. But the tradition he embodied lives on, albeit in a modified form. In the current draft, children born into the Society receive a totem from their council of directors when they pass a strenuous series of cybermagickal aptitude tests. The warlock of Sector India I mentioned earlier is known solely by his totem. His legal name is the one registered with SAAZMOL, which is why he doesn’t use it. He is instead addressed by his contemporaries as Lord Pukerabbit. There’s a whole explanation of the hidden meaning behind that appellation, but I won’t get into that here and now.

There was another character I had to get rid of when he ultimately proved superfluous. A utility program called Dunsmure the Bird, inspired by watching too many videos on YouTube like this:



I initially threw Dunsmure the Bird in the story to serve as a sidekick for Elmýr Garfield. In later drafts, Elmýr Garfield would gain the ability to shapeshift, his new powers reducing Dunsmure the Bird to a Jar Jar Binks – an unnecessary character that could easily be removed from the story without the story suffering any, and in fact should be removed. The bird’s jarjarbinksiness wasn’t the only reason I got rid of him, though. There’s already a character in the story who’s a talking ferret; I figured throwing in a talking bird on top of that would be laying it on a tad too thick.