The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Chapters Fourteen and Fifteen

A brand-spankin’ new year has arrived. Immediately following a year that has seen all manner of weird. To kick things off right, Chapters Fourteen and Fifteen of SILVER BROWN are presently being tweeted for the reading enjoyment of the fine folks of Planet Earth, at a rate of one page a day. These chapters are chock full of exposition and flashbacks, and are set on a forested island inhabited by flesh-eating beetles. There’s a colossal subterranean faceless entity in there too, manifesting somewhere in the last few sentences. Which might not seem so strange, after the year we’ve just been through. If the earth’s gravitational pull should suddenly and inexplicably fail, or vast armies of arachnoid hostiles from somewhere beyond Canis Major should mass-impregnate our women, it’ll probably be seen as a minor inconvenience in our post-2020 world. Like losing one’s car keys. 


The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Zip. Zilch. Nada. (The Late Show)

This would ordinarily be the date I start re-posting the chapter(s) from SILVER BROWN I tweeted two months previously on Facebook, at a rate of one page a day. But I’ve decided not to do that this time around. For a couple of reasons. The first reason is I think a major societal backlash against Facebook is just around the corner. Social media in general, but especially Facebook. My Spidey-sense is tingling, and it’s telling me conditions are ripe for the Old Zuckerverse to be reduced to something akin to the hair metal of mass communication within a few years.

For all the young folks in the audience who thought that last sentence was written in Martian, a brief history lesson. In ancient times, when a completely different racist old coot with a background in show business was leader of the free world (a coot who was at least somewhat respectable on account of being a World War II veteran, unlike the soon-to-be-ex-guy), hair metal was all the rage. It was a time when being in a band gave a dude a legitimate excuse to wear spandex and lipstick. Sweet memories. Alas, that era came to an end when the aforementioned old coot (gracefully) left office, and a new decade dawned. In the rays of that new sun, hair metal evaporated in a gust of cultural irrelevance. It was seen as a hackneyed relic of the decade that was, so it was tossed aside and forgotten like a used condom. Today, millions of children will likely live their entire lives having never learned there was ever a band called Quiet Riot… 

There are evidently limits to how much “noize” the public is willing to feel.

We now see a new sun about to rise, reminiscent of the one that rose all those many years ago. When I think of cultural phenomena of the last decade that could end up going the way of hair metal in the new decade, Facebook almost always tops the list. I foresee it will become another tobacco industry. There used to be a time (long before I was born) when smoking cigarettes was considered sexy. They were actually advertised as being good for your health. Now, just about every national government slaps some kind of warning label on cigarette packages, actively discouraging their citizenry from taking up the habit.

Another reason why I’ve decided to forgo posting another chapter on Facebook is because I think Twitter is overall a better medium for this sort of thing. SILVER BROWN is still very much so a work in progress. Posting excerpts of my writings on social media is one of the means I employ to drink the vibes of my audience. Not everything I write is going to be brilliant. But if I tweet something that sucks ass today, I can at least rest assured the world will forget about it tomorrow, if not later on today (unless I run for political office, and like hell I’d ever do that). Facebook’s modus operandi is very different. In some ways, the complete opposite. They love to regurgitate posts from the distant past, your actual desire to revisit them be damned. If the Zuckerverse is privy to something I posted that sucks ass, it will suck ass for many years to come.

Henceforth, my Facebook page will be little more than a token presence, until the inevitable arrival of the Nevermind that kills off the whole platform. It’ll have my blog posts on it, but not much else. More chapters are due to be unveiled in the new year, but those chapters shall only be tweeted.

I did toy with the idea of establishing more of a presence on Instagram, but decided against it. The Gram has the social dynamic of a neverending virtual high school prom, methinks. Literature of any sort is seemingly not something that would interest that particular crowd. They like shiny things. The handful of authors’ Instagram feeds I have seen feature the same old barrage of selfies, vacation pictures and foodporn that everybody and their grandma posts. What in the Sam Hill is the point of that? Do you really want to see a hundred pictures of my face?


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.