TASTE

He With Nine Toes

One of the things I miss about the SILVER BROWN experiment is drinking the essence of the people’s vibes whenever I threw pages of the manuscript out into the Twitterverse. I’ve been itching to do something like that again in 2022. Unfortunately, my current work in progress is not yet at a point where I’m comfortable with the idea of other people reading it — it’ll need to go through a few drafts before it gets to that stage, and I’m still in the middle of writing the first one. In order to scratch the aforesaid itch, I shall dig up one of my oldies that I started writing in 2008 and eventually forgot about.



Years ago, in the days when people still met in person, I used to attend writers’ critique circles that were advertised on Meetup. At the first meeting, I showed them the first few chapters of HE WITH NINE TOES — the manuscript I was working on at the time. If I recall, the reception was glowing. The only beef they had with it was the choice of vernacular. These chapters take place on an agricultural planet, where the locals speak a dialect that is heavily influenced by the Scots language. In their reviews, my fellow scribes told me that they frequently couldn’t make heads or tails of what the characters were saying. But aside from that, they loved it.

I never got around to correcting the issues they brought up, abandoning HE WITH NINE TOES to try my hand at writing something that wasn’t space opera. But I think it’s in decent enough shape to amuse people if I were to show it to the world at this time, warts and all. Starting on the 7th, unless something comes up. If it helps lighten the mood this apocalypse tax season, it’ll be totally worth it.


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.