Two Paragraphs from My Current Work in Progress

This is a doodle of an eyeball glyph I did in Adobe Illustrator a while back that I’ve never had an excuse to use until now. If you scroll down past it, you will find an excerpt from the current chapter I’m working on. The species so described is part of the established lore of the fictional Environment in which my story is set, but I think this would be the first time I’ve fully realized it in prose. Might give it more qualities in future drafts, but methinks this is serviceable as a rough sketch.

At first glance, this life form looked perfectly harmless. Comical, even. Resembling a course layer of chocolate brown hair growing out of solid bedrock. Carpeting the walls of the burrow. The fur of a shaggy dog, without the dog. But as every worker knew, this fur was not to be petted. If one were to agitate the hairs in any way (either by accidentally kicking them or handling them in any non-gingerly fashion), such an action would trigger an immune response in the organism, causing fruitbodies to germinate in the agitated hair tips. A mere ten minutes or so later, these hairs would have evolved into thick, almost woody stipes bearing mature spherical sporocarps, each one with that characteristic appearance suggestive of the head of an old Morgenstern club with a shiny metallic sheen. One could probably see their reflection (albeit distorted) looking into such an anatomical structure. But no worker in their right mind would dare find out for sure. It was grilled into them from their job training that if a fruitbody had that certain silver look to it, it was dangerous. One should get as physically far away from it as humanly possible, with the same speed and sense of urgency as if it were a time bomb on the verge of detonation. Because in many ways, that’s exactly what it was.

That silver part of the Silver Brown never made a sound when it burst. But a worker would always know when it did. Their sinuses would instantly be assaulted with an odor that was as distinctive as it was repugnant – something like a cross between cheap men’s cologne and a skunk carcass in an advanced state of putrefaction, with a subtle hint of wet dog flatus. The unmistakable stench of untold cubic gallons of the organism’s seminal ether being ejaculated into the open air, a minute percentage of its mist and vapors invariably finding its way into the lungs of any hapless soul who just happened to be in the vicinity.

The Journey of SILVER BROWN

The Muse Kissed My Brain Last Week

On an otherwise typical Thursday night, the sandman flooded my dreams with images of a manuscript that was half novel and half comic book. Every other chapter was written in comic book form, and people would wonder at the marvel of it. I’m not sure if I would ever do a writing project like that myself, but it’s an interesting concept to ponder at least.

Can’t remember what the hell it was about. The plot was completely forgotten as soon as I checked the notifications on my phone upon waking. All I remember is the main character was a fish-out-of-water everyman in the tradition of Philip J. Fry, and its world was populated by a race of diminutive humanoids who communicated entirely in Shakespearean sonnet. Vaguely resembling the creature depicted in the image below, but with a penchant for wearing stately phallic headdresses.

The Journey of SILVER BROWN

If The Aliens Don’t Conquer Us We’ll Invent iDæmons

A number of years ago I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I would give it three stars out of five. It teetered into hokey territory in places, and a few of the plot twists were a little too deus ex machina for my taste (somebody conveniently swoops in to save the day whenever Lyra finds herself up shit creek without a paddle). But the concepts and plot devices were interesting at least. The story is set across several different parallel universes, the heroine hailing from a reality where every person’s spirit animal (referred to as a dæmon) walks, slithers, hops, swims, crawls or flies in close proximity to the person at all times. The dæmons can talk to their humans and give kindly advice, but their human is the only one who can hear them speak…

…which somewhat vaguely recalls Ozmodiar, the tiny green space alien that only Homer can see.

Some variant of that concept would inevitably find its way into my own writing. The dæmons in my particular story are depicted as software applications, running within the simulated world in which it is set. Whether or not other people can hear these things speak is an adjustable setting. Like airplane mode, or the wallpaper on your desktop.

The idea of having a human dæmon for a character who is not human was used as a plot device for exactly one scene in the first volume of His Dark Materials, but was never explored more fully beyond that. So I decided to run with it in my own yarn. One of the antagonists is a colossal invertebrate with no vocal apparatus of any sort. Its language is entirely olfactory, comprised of odors it emits through its breath and slime trails and territorial musk. Odors capable of conveying all manner of idea from the mundane to the philosophical, but are mostly undetectable to humans save the ones that smell obscenely bad. Thus it needs a companion humanoid entity to follow it around wherever it goes, translating its odors into something humans can understand…

Kind of like this guy, but with slightly more charm.