The Journey of SILVER BROWN

Ice Cream Social Distancing

The microscopic saber-toothed tiger currently prowling the earth has disrupted what would’ve been normal activities for most of us, no doubt. This decade is only a few months old and it’s coined a few buzzwords and catchphrases already. Whodathunkit? From my experience, most decades take at least a year or two to shrug off the aura of the previous decade and find their own groove. But these Not-So-Roaring Twenties did it in a fraction of that time. Now if we could just get rid of that racism crap too, that would be great. Like somebody once said, we’re all in this together.

I’m trying to make the most of the setback, investing some of that shiny new free time I have towards professional development. Just in case that comes in handy.😉 Nobody ever became terminally ill just by coding JavaScript. We ain’t a race of cyborgs yet…


LoginAndCleanHouse
…although even these seemingly harmless functions I wrote need to be zipped prior to sending by email. File compression is apparently the computer equivalent of hand-washing.

I continue to edit SILVER BROWN when I’m not willing web apps into existence. This chapter I’m working on now is a complete rewrite of a passage from an earlier draft. It dawned on me the other day that said passage would better serve the narrative if I put it earlier in the story than it was previously. As a result of this literary reconstructive surgery, the new rewrite features two characters that weren’t in that scene in the first draft (one of which is an artificial intelligence). A wondrous new dimension to the whole dynamic has consequently taken root.

Ah, wonder. Something that is in tragically short supply these days. That sense of wonder I derive from these Lutherans is a much-needed boost to personal morale in the face of this surreally dark period of human history. I could spend my time in social isolation flailing my arms running around like a headless chicken, but I’d rather just write.


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The Journey of SILVER BROWN

“Interesting”

The earliest drafts of what would eventually become SILVER BROWN came into being solely because I needed an outlet for my creativity. An outlet I wasn’t getting from my job. I went to college to train in the field of digital media. A line of work normally associated with creating things. But I was seldom allowed to actually create anything. The corporate culture of the firm I ended up working for was extremely hostile towards any semblance of creativity on my part. Particularly during those last few years, when my boss’ mental health had deteriorated to a point where she started engaging in unlawful things. There was only room for one creative genius at that firm, and it wasn’t me. My job was just to follow her orders.

Prior to entering such a suffocating work environment, I loved building websites. Then that love was kindly shown into a black sedan somewhere and garroted from behind like Luca Brasi. So I found a completely different craft to put my passions into – writing. I have no regrets about taking up this noble and ancient art, a craft I’ll continue to practice for as long as the Fates will allow me to. Writing is good for the soul, without question. Seeing your own words right in front of your face has a way of illuminating certain truths in ways that Enlightenment philosophers and pleasant conversations with friends simply don’t.

Even so, one cannot live on writing alone. Every writer needs fuel for their creative motors. With no experiences outside of writing, what will the writer write about? So after some hesitation, I dived into the Hudson to find Luca Brasi and pull him out to shore, reanimating his skeletal remains by immersing myself in the Old Craft, with a focus on learning about this fancy newfangled middleware and how to use it.

Node.js is definitely not your grandpa’s JavaScript. In ancient times, JavaScript was an interpreted client-side language, running locally on a web browser. It was equipped with a number of tools to enable communication between a web page and a server, but willing an actual server into existence using only JavaScript was the stuff of science fiction. Yet science fiction tends to become science fact with the passage of time. In some ways, that’s a good thing. As recently as six weeks ago, I was pretty convinced building some kind of web application would be problematic for me, on account of lack of access to the appropriate resources. Namely, a working server on which I could run scripts. But now I have such a server, having acquired the knowledge to build one myself. Here’s a mini-Twitter I built from scratch that runs on said server…


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It’s not much to look at and there aren’t many bells and whistles yet. I mostly built this to get my feet wet playing with this shit.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; I am fully intent on furthering my education in this technology in the coming months (I tend to catch onto these new technologies in short order – hell, even my psychopath former boss once described me to a few of her contemporaries as a “quick study”). But the grand adventure on the side that is SILVER BROWN is and never was a waste of time. I know it doesn’t go unappreciated, hence the reason why I continue to write. A more detailed report of the progress of the book will come at a later date.

In the meantime, I should mention that I connected with a writer over the holidays who has published over sixty books and is a Master Mason to boot (if I ever get the itch to join that ancient brotherhood, I know who to call). In the first week of the new year he presented me with a printout of the first chapter of SILVER BROWN I had emailed him on New Year’s Eve, which was augmented with his editing suggestions and commentary. His only real complaint was that there was too much jargon used in the text which might get in the way of audience comprehension of the story. But his overall impression was favourable. To use his exact words, he found it “interesting”.


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At least as interesting as this.

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.