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.

The Journey of SILVER BROWN

Staycation in a Strange Land

Several weeks of being grossly distracted by other things have come and gone. In my absence, new life germinated in some literary world of my own devising I temporarily abandoned. The intricacies of that world were the same ones they were before. They were merely re-experienced with a beginner’s mind. A mind that had just finished unlearning what it had learned.


The Zen of SILVER BROWN

My Homemade Get Well Card to Civilization

It’s fall in this here Northern Hemisphere. Or autumn, if you’re fancy. A season of transformative molting, of dispensing with that which is no longer necessary. Certain anatomical structures withering away to preserve the life of the organism as a whole, the useless structures in question becoming bombastic and colourful before they are ultimately cast aside, wilted and impotent. It was out of this ancient rhythm of Nature that the time-honoured autumnal tradition of the wicker man was born.

In the spirit of getting rid of things that are no longer needed, every year I customarily dress my wicker man in old clothes of mine that are far too shabby and tattered to be worn in polite company, adding to its bulk by stuffing it with handfuls of the ever-present dry foliage. A significant part of this tradition calls for all participants to compose a handwritten list of everything they would like to lose in the coming year, to be affixed to the effigy moments before the great sacrifice. This year’s list was augmented with a special attachment, of a type I would not normally include.

It goes without saying that this past year has been an exceptionally trying one for the human species. Among other things, there is an irritating pimple on the sphincter of the world that is all but certain to rupture and cause a life-threatening infection if it is not promptly removed. To that end, I incorporated a conspicuous image of said pimple into the construction of my wicker man…

The pointed hood visual effect was not something I originally planned, but it works.

In addition to a hideous mug, I also festooned him with a tiny camouflage penis, which I probably made too big…


…and somewhere on the back of the figure’s head, I did a little Sharpie doodle of the other Lovecraftian abomination that is actively threatening human civilization…

This is hands down the ugliest wicker man I’ve ever built.

Dousing the effigy in some kind of flammable liquid before the party starts is highly recommended, speaking from personal experience. Any kind of distilled spirit is ideal for this purpose; the higher the proof, the better. Fittingly enough, this year I went with Trumplethinskin’s national beverage. Vodka.

The stage was now set for the main event. It took several attempts to get the show on the road, because the wicker man’s sleazy “fixer” The Wind kept trying to persuade the High Court of Nature to delay the sentencing. But once things got underway, it was a magical mystery tour from start to finish. I present it here in spectacular GIF-o-vision™ for the viewing pleasure of the good guys and ghouls of Planet Earth…

“You cursed brat, look what you’ve done! I’m melting!”

The face fell off when it was about half-melted, landing nearby. It gave me the most menacing stare (highly reminiscent of filmdom’s Chucky, minus the charm) as it laid on the cold stone, the flames engulfing it and reducing it to embers. Obsolete, irrelevant and scientifically debunked embers…

“I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little democracy, too!” [manic cackling followed by abrupt shortness of breath and involuntary sniffing.]

Occasionally you see ghouls manifest in the flames when these things burn, like that time a dragon peered out into the land of the living a few years ago…

The Draconis Lux of ’17, who has no platform and probably won’t be the next Bigfoot.

This year it was the orange phantom with the big eyes staring at me from what remained of the wicker man’s head, shortly after the face fell off. It resembled either C-3PO or Gonzo the Great. Or perhaps Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama. It’s a highly subjective thing, really. I’m leaning towards Gonzo myself. A fitting interpretation, on account of his subordinates being all chickens.

Miigwetch.