The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Let Me Rub My Juices All Over You

A peculiar attribute of the technological zeitgeist of this decade (whatever we end up calling it in the end, which will likely be either the #MeToos or the Avocado Toasties) which sets it apart from the Nineties and Noughties is that people today are too lazy to actually surf the Internet. There’s no longer an incentive to do the gruntwork of visiting online forums or Usenet, when technology has evolved to a point where people no longer have to actually do anything to get their daily dose of memes. Now the Internet comes neatly packaged directly to the people, in the form of their Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds, to say nothing of the seemingly endless parade of smartphone notifications.

In recognition of Western civilization’s bold new devotion to intellectual sloth, I would like to remind everybody I have left behind the obligitory urine stain on both Facebook and Twitter. Not Instagram, though. Instagram is just one big digital high school. With a very impressive yearbook. Which is fine, except I graduated years ago.

As much as there is to dislike about social media as a whole, one of its useful aspects is as a supplementary energy to an organization’s already existing web presence. Like an appendage growing out of your website, reaching out to fondle people so it can coat their hair and clothing with its juices.

My twin social media appendages have indeed been doing a lot of fondling. I occasionally do this thing where I take an entire chapter from the book and post one page from that chapter a day, on one platform or the other. I don’t do it all the time, and which platform I end up posting it to depends on a complex schedule based on the time of year and the phase of the moon and the current coordinates of the magnetic north pole. But I do it occasionally, and love to drink the essence of the people’s reactions. The concept started on Twitter and gravitated towards Facebook a few months later. I have way more followers on Twitter †, so it’s a useful avenue for conducting grand sociological experiments. The Facebook page was more of an afterthought.

† I somehow gained a followership of over 1000 people on Twitter without being young, female or pretty. In this day and age, that’s an accomplishment.


The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Spring Has Sprung, and So Have Two New Chapters (and a map!)

Hark! The Beast has molted again! Two brand-spankin’ new chapters have been added to the version of Silver Brown available for free from this site. Not only that, but I’ve also thrown in a fourth map of the Environment to compliment the three that are already in the book. I made the amazing discovery these last few weeks that the complete Adobe Creative Cloud suite is installed on all the Mac computers in the Fanshawe College Library, for the convenience of anyone with the know-how and a valid student ID to log in. So I cracked open Illustrator and wasted a perfectly good afternoon creating this map of a typical island located in the world of my story, showing its urban areas, road system, (nude?) beach and entry points (or seaëxits, as they are known to the Environment’s denizens)…


In the Environment, an island is typically known by whatever expressword has been assigned to its index seaëxit by its registered administrator. Hence, the island depicted in this map would be called ₪VONOKAEL. The number shown in the centre (293119DAC) is an address within the Environment’s grid – specifically, that number indicates that ₪VONOKAEL is Island No. 293119 in the Delta Alfa Charlie sequence. Even if the administrator decided to change the index expressword to something other than ₪VONOKAEL, the island would still be known as 293119DAC in the eyes of the Great Monopoly. Being a heartless corporate bureaucracy and all, people and things are just numbers to them.

It’s also worth mentioning that these two new chapters are the first in the book featuring a character other than Florys MacNab as the narrator. Thus, these chapters have a slightly different look and feel, for the purposes of conveying an impression to the reader that the point of view has changed.

Implementing that look and feel was a tad bit challenging on my end. When I set about republishing the e-book to include the new chapters, I would learn the hard way that certain fonts cannot be successfully embedded in an EPUB document without paying a buttload of money in licensing fees. Not specialty fonts, either – I’m talking your standard-issue dingbat fonts that come prepackaged with just about every desktop operating system. This put a slight damper on my ability to depict certain graphical elements in the manuscript as I originally envisioned them.

As an alternative to selling my spleen on the black market to appease the Lords of Redmond, I decided to improvise a workaround. An earlier draft of Chapter Eleven (which is actually the book’s twelfth chapter; the first chapter is designated Chapter Zero in keeping with the story’s overall theme of computer technology run amok) featured an ornamental section break with a “glorified book” glyph in its centre that was cobbled together from Webdings and Wingdings…


In the current draft, this has been replaced by a new glyph – a stylized representation of the Aardvark radiating his aardvarkly aardvarkness on all the denizens of the Environment…


The ebook reader on my phone seems to like this new glyph better. The old glyph displayed correctly when I viewed it on my laptop, but when I transferred the ebook to my phone it displayed as ï&ð, which was not quite the effect I was going for.

As I heavily implied earlier, this new glyph (and the new chapters which feature it) are available for download now. The book cover below is the link to the download page. I reckon it’ll only be a matter of time before entire languages and writing systems become registered trademarks of some soulless multinational, so this new version of the e-book could become a collector’s item someday.


The Journey of SILVER BROWN

Sherman: A So-Informal-That-Clothing-Is-Optional Introduction

I’ve been actively editing the manuscript over the last several weeks, gutting and reconstructing several chapters that I had written months earlier but still had a sliver of some ineffable quality that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. A certain not-yet-ready-for-prime-time quality. I wasn’t quite sure what that quality was before, but now that the chapters in question have been allowed time to breathe, doing the necessary killing of the darlings is a much easier task.

The portion of the book that I’ve revealed to the public so far actually represents a very small percentage of the totality of all that the book is. There are many more characters and wacky adventures to come. One of those characters is called Sherman. He’s a talking ferret – more accurately, a utility program in ferret form, a program capable of running other programs in the Environment. He could hypothetically appear in any form he wants to, given the fluid and malleable nature of the Environment. But a white ferret is his preferred guise, and the only one he really uses. Unless he’s in the mood to change colour. He is Kent Fairholt’s sidekick, confidant, chief science officer, cigar lighter and occasional weapon.

His name is derived from Sherman Avenue, one of the major thoroughfares in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which for seven years was my hometown. Many characters in the book are named after streets in Hamilton – two other characters, Elmýr Garfield and the aforementioned Mr. Fairholt, were surnamed after the two streets to the immediate east of Sherman Avenue along Main Street. That was actually the part of Hamilton I used to live in, so it’s kind of near and dear to my heart.


I like to link of Sherman as a sort of Google Assistant with fur. He processes whatever request Kent gives him, and always seems to be the expert on every question under the sun. Except that Sherman speaks in an ultra high-speed variant of Morse code expressed in the normal clicking sounds ferrets make. Since this book takes place at a date far off in the future when humanity has long forgotten about Morse code, Sherman’s utterances can only be interpreted and understood by Kent, who has special software installed in the microscopic computer in his brain that translates Sherman’s ferretese into something ordinary humans can readily understand.

Sherman also has a transubstantiation engine in his stomach. Whenever Kent needs something, be it a weapon, some kind of tool, or even just something to munch on, he can just ask Sherman for it. If Sherman feels Kent’s request is honourable and within reason, he uses his stomach to compile whatever it is that Kent needs, and regurgitate it out his mouth. If not, he just gets all lippy with Kent about the merits of his request.

“I refuse to cough up anything with peanuts. You know damn well I have viruses, you bloody twit…”

The transubstantiation engine is not the only program that Sherman can conjure. He is also running a complete and thorough digital replica of Her Honor the Crocus Rupertia, Most Blessed Vicereine of Lodge No. 7714 of the Thirteenth Nation Sisterhood – a veteran cyberwitch of the most erudite disposition, and Elmýr Garfield’s late mother. Crocus Rupertia has a mind of her own, and frequently speaks to Elmýr using Sherman as her medium. I could tell you more about that, but then we’re getting into a whole other character and that’s really the subject of another blog post.