Friday, May 31, 2013

Jack Vance, Wandering the Stars

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Jack Vance died the other day at age 96.  He was the most influential  science fiction writer that only those within the field knew about.

Vance wrote a great many books but no "great" books.  With the exception of The Dying Earth and its successors, which took Clark Ashton Smith's vision of Zothique, the last continent on a far-future and dying Earth, and infused it with wit and energy and zest, and then passed that vision on to Gene Wolfe and his Book of the New Sun sequence, it's Vance's oeuvre, rather than its individual components, that is important.

Typically, Vance's heroes were little men caught up in big events.  His sympathies were always with the hoi polloi, and his novels always had the time to pause to take in the opinions of an innkeeper or the crackpot theories of a small businessman.  This is a lot harder to make work than it sounds, and it's one of the reasons why, almost secretly, Vance was so influential.  His fiction taught lessons to aspirant writers that other novels could not.

Jack Vance loved boats, avoided fans, and lived a good long life.  Though physical problems kept him housebound in his last years, a mutual friend told me a year ago that his mind was still clear.  He kept writing later into his old age than all but a very few can manage.

A typical Vancean detail in I forget which novel was that on summer evenings on one particular world, it was the custom to picnic on the grassy hills outside of town and then, lying back on blankets, point to specific stars one had visited and talk about what the people on the planets orbiting them were like.  Tonight, I will go out and do the same:  "See that star?  Jack Vance wrote about the people there.  They never go out in public without a mask and those masks reflect their public prestige.  One day, he said, there came a stranger to that world..."

There will be formal obituaries and the weeping and rending of garments soon.  In the meantime, you can read the Locus Online item here.


Above:  The Maestro.  The story about the people with masks is called "The Moon Moth," and if you haven't read it, you are encouraged to do so.  It's a classic.


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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Undead Story Lives! It Lives!

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I vividly remember getting a royalty check for my story in The Living Dead -- which in itself was notable because most anthologies do not sell enough to earn anything above and beyond the advance -- and being astonished at how large it was.

It turned out that editor John Joseph Adams had found the sweet spot for a theme anthology by a) carefully assembling pretty much all the very best zombie stories written to date and then b) publishing it at exactly the right moment -- just after zombie fiction went mainstream and just before every other editor in the world decided to put together exactly such an anthology and discovered that Adams had beat them to the punch.

Here's the stock blurb:

When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth!

From White Zombie to Dawn of the Dead, Resident Evil to World War Z, zombies have invaded popular culture, becoming the monsters that best express the fears and anxieties of the modern west.

Gathering together the best zombie literature of the last three decades from many of today's most renowned authors of fantasy, speculative fiction, and horror, including Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, George R. R. Martin, Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Joe R. Lansdale, The Living Dead covers the broad spectrum of zombie short fiction.              

And many, many others.  This is one big book, with an excellent list of authors.  How excellent?  Excellent enough that I wasn't offended by not making the short list on the cover.  Much.

My own story, "The Dead," was inspired by a series of paintings by an American leftist and came out so well that, figuring that James Joyce wouldn't mind, I gave it the title of what may be the single most famous short story in the English language.

Now the UK publisher Orbit has acquired rights to the anthology and will be issuing a digital edition in the United Kingdom and their export markets (including Australia & New Zealand) one June 13th.

So for e-readers in those countries, the decision whether or not to buy is an easy one:  If you like zombie fiction, you want this book.  But if you don't, I fail to see how you made it this deep into today's blogpost.

Amazon's pre-order page can be found here.


Above:  That's the American cover.  The Brit cover can be found over at Amazon.  And wherever fine UK ebooks are sold.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Chance to Write SF About Self-Driving Cars

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There's one of them up above -- a self-driving car.  Looks deadly normal, doesn't it?  Oh, it has that goofy camera on top, but that's just Google collecting street views for its Earth app. Still, we can confidently expect it to change the world in surprising ways.

I've been thinking about self-driving cars off and on for the past decade, ever since it became obvious that they were about to arrive.  Some things are pretty obvious:  They'll be a godsend for people with a drinking problem.  There'll be an upsurge in fuel consumption and a real traffic problem in places like New York City as, rather than spend forty bucks for a parking garage, people just tell their cars to drive around the block for a couple of hours while they go to see a movie.  And every medium-sized city in America is going to hope to revitalize their downtown shopping districts by building convenient pull-offs in front of the shops where you can get in and out of your car before it's sent to free parking lots in the cheap part of town.

But there are going to be problems, too.  I think that a lot of parents are going to send their children to school in driverless cars.  The default situation in the U. S. is that most parents have to leave for work before their kid leaves for school, and come home after their child does.  Once your car can drive itself, the obvious is to put in a nanny-cam and let your Prius do the driving.

I can't see the police or politicians liking this much -- it feels too much like reckless endangerment.  And I'm pretty sure there are going to be some very creepy people looking to game the situation by luring a child into what only looks like the family car.

To my embarrassment, though, the whole thing hasn't set my imagination aflame.  Once the driverless car becomes common -- and since they're going to be much safer than human-driven cars, I expect that will happen fast -- there are going to be huge social consequences.  Changes as profound as those brought on by personal computers, cell phones, and the Internet.  Some good hard thought and some good crisp writing, and Somebody can get credit for the rest of their life for having predicted them.  Which is a useful thing for a science fiction writer.

I'm not going to do it because my hindbrain apparently just doesn't find the chore interesting.  So it might as well be you.

You'd better move fast, though.  Driverless cars are already on the road and they're going to be an everyday sight soon.   A few years back, a friend told me that he'd test-ridden a driverless car on a closed track with paid drivers in regular cars who would occasionally cut if off or slam on the brake right in front of it.  "How did it feel?" I asked him.

"You'd be amazed," he said, "how little time it took for it to feel perfectly ordinary."

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Friday, May 24, 2013

If We Can't Make Education Better, Shouldn't We Stop Making It Worse?

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There it is, up above, St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, Vermont.  Yes, I went to Catholic school.  Yes, I have conflicted feelings about that.  Yes, I have stories to tell.  But never did I doubt that everybody involved was doing their best to educate me.

Skip forward fifty years.

Today after half a century's efforts to improve education, we have school accountability.  Which means that every public school is obsessively tested to find out if they're doing better this year than they were a year ago.  If they are, no problem.

And if they aren't?

Well, the good news is that their funding remains the same.  The bad news is that the money which otherwise would have gone to library, sports, music, and books is required to go to motivational speakers to tell the teachers how to bring their students' grades up.

This is bad.  Because it does not work.  In fact, it actively degrades the education children are receiving.

This is not a red thing or a blue thing.  It's not a left thing or a right thing.  And it's certainly not a conspiracy on anybody's part.  It's simply an idea that sounded good once upon a time but which didn't work out in practice.

Let's get rid of it.  We can replace it with a better idea when we come up with one.  But in the meantime, let's just let our teachers teach.

Here endeth the sermon.  Go and sin no more.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Diving Giraffes

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I'm sure there's an explanation for this.

But I believe we're better off not knowing it.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Real Dinosaur Art Real Cheap

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I spent a long and pleasant weekend in Virginia for a family wedding.  Now I'm back at the keyboard, weary but typing away.  Since, mirabile dictu, I have no news to pass along today, I thought I'd throw in a second plug for the Walters & Kissinger Etsy sale.

Robert Walters and Tess Kissinger are both paleoartists of renown.  Which is to say that they don't just paint and draw dinosaurs and related subjects, but they do so in close consultation with paleontologists. To paint, let's say, an Sinraptor, Bob will begin by drawing its skeleton.  This drawing goes back to the paleontologist working with the fossils for comment and correction.  This can take several passes.  Then Bob draws an √©corch√©  -- the skeleton covered with muscles, but without the skin.  Back and forth it goes for corrections.  Then he draws the animal covered with skin.  After a last round of consultations, he paints the final version of the dinosaur.

This is why you were never able to afford to buy a museum-grade scientific illustration to hang on your wall.  Those things are labor-intensive, and the people who can create them are not numerous.  Also, more and more the illustrations are being created on the computer.  So the hand-made originals are getting progressively rarer.

All that's background to the fact that Bob and Tess have put up a number of original illustrations -- the final, finished product, not an intermediary step -- for sale at what I consider to be bargain prices.  I owned several major Robert Walters pieces already, but I took advantage of the sale to buy two skulls by Tess Kissinger -- one for Marianne's Dragonstairs Press office, and one as a birthday present for our son Sean.

I'm not sure how long these things are going to be for sale or whether any more items will be added to the shop.  But I do know that the supply is finite.  Right now, there are a dozen of Bob's illos available for prices ranging from $125 to $200, unframed.  There's also a Tess Kissinger Sinraptor skull left unsold.  There were rather a lot of skulls available when the sale began, but people like me leapt upon them with small, glad cries.

You can find the Etsy shop here.


Above:  There resides the Giganotosaurus skull, just beneath the Moebius serigraph.  You'll note that I very carefully bought it before letting you know such things were on sale.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Morning Zen

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As always, I'm on the road again.  But here's a video to make your Friday morning brighter.  It's the first music video ever made in Earth orbit.  Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield sang a modified cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in the International Space Station and the results are pretty good.

Still.  As an American -- a U.S.A. American, I mean -- it kind of grinches me that Canada beat us to this one.  We used to be top dog when it came to pop culture.

I can just hear Rob Sawyer gloating.

You can read about the accomplishment in more detail here.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Book of Rogues

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Gardner Dozois has just announced the table of contents of Rogues, which he co-edited with George R. R. Martin.  The cross-genre anthology, whose title is pretty much self-explanatory, has been turned in to Bantam Spectra and will be published in the due course of things.  The publishing industry's wheels grind slow but fine.  I'm guessing sometime in 2014.

Here's what, assuming you buy a copy, you'll get:

George R.R. Martin “Everybody Loves a Rogue” (Introduction)
Joe Abercrombie “Tough Times All Over”
Gillian Flynn “What Do You Do?”
Matthew Hughes “The Inn of the Seven Blessings”
Joe R. Lansdale “Bent Twig” - a new Hap and Leonard story
David Ball “Provenance” 
Carrie Vaughn “The Roaring Twenties” 
Scott Lynch “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” 
Bradley Denton “Bad Brass” 
Cherie Priest “Heavy Metal” 
Daniel Abraham “The Meaning of Love” 
Paul Cornell “A Better Way to Die” 
Steven Saylor “Ill Seen in Tyre” - a Gordianus the Finder story (with guest appearances by Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser) 
Garth Nix “A Cargo of Ivories”- a Sir Hereward and Master Fitz story 
Walter Jon Williams “Diamonds From Tequila” 
Phyllis Eisenstein “The Caravan to Nowhere” - the first Alaric the Minstrel story in decades 
Lisa Tuttle “The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives” 
Neil Gaiman “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” - the first new Neverwhere tale since forever 
Connie Willis “Now Showing” 
Patrick Rothfuss “The Lightning Tree” - a long novella set in the world of the KINGKILLER CHRONICLES, featuring Bast.

And, from me, a new Darger & Surplus story titled "Tawny Petticoats."  This one is set in New Orleans.  (Yes, the lads do eventually get that far . . . and, indeed, farther.)  The title is the name of their  new partner in perfidy.  Can a mere girl outwit our scoundrels?  Well, what do you think?


Above:  Sir Blackthorpe Ravenscairn de Plus Precieux continues to stalwartly guard my office.  Peering down at him from atop the globe of Mars is Coyote.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

How Much Research Does a Six-Page Story Take?

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This is a story they tell in the Communes . . .

I was asked recently, by someone who was impressed by the depth of reference in "The Mask" (he'd just bought a copy of Tales of Old Earth), how much research had gone into those 1,700 words.

Well . . .

The tale-behind-the-tale begins in 1981 when Kim Stanley Robinson published a story called "Venice Drowned."  Stan was one of a number of people -- Nancy Kress, Bill Gibson, Pat Cadigan, Jim Kelly, and Bruce Sterling were some of the others -- I considered my peer group.  They were my ideal audience, the guys whose admiration I wanted and whose best work I wrote in competition with.

Maybe seven years later, as I was preparing for a trip to Italy, Gardner Dozois said to me, "As long as you're going to be going to Venice, Michael, you should write a story called 'Venice Rising,' and sell it to Asimov's."   That was one of the many tricks and stratagems that Gardner had for tricking writers into providing first-rate work for the magazine and a good example of why he's such a great editor.

I went to Italy and all the while I was in Venice -- a stone dream of a city, unlike any other -- I took notes toward "Venice Rising."  I imagined a future in which capitalism had all but been obliterated from the world -- save for one last stronghold.  I imagined these new doges as being very much like the old ones -- hard working, colorless, ruthless.  I imagined the technologies they'd be selling, and the uses they'd put it to.  I lived in that alternate future.

When I got home, I continued to create an interesting and detailed world for the story.  I worked on it, off and on, for years.

And nothing.

I'd chosen the wrong protagonist and, it turned out, the wrong plot.  There just wasn't a story there for me, it seemed.  So I set the story by, as one must from time to time.

Years later, I was reading the Re/Search book on J. G. Ballard, and came across a photo of three potato-shaped white men in chairs with before them a lovely young woman wearing only a bikini bottom and a fish net.  The caption explained them as J.G. Ballard, two associates, and a stripper (Miss Tempest Blaze, if I remember correctly) who during during the 1960s put on a series of performances in which she read excerpts from Ballard's works and select medical texts while removing her clothing.

It made me feel like a degraded commercial hack, because all I did was write science fiction stories and sell them to Asimov's.  

So I took all the unused ideation for "Venice Rising" and used it to write a 420-word story titled "The Mask."  Using surgical gauze, I then made a life mask of my wife, Marianne Porter.  When it dried, I painted the mask white and, cutting the story into strips, pasted "The Mask" over the mask in a sort of demi-mask.  Marianne then punched two holes in the mask, ran a red silk cord through them and hung the mask on the wall.

And I felt better.

Some time later of course, I expanded the story to seventeen hundred words and sold it to Asimov's.  Because I do have to earn a living.

So that's all there is to it.  From Stan's story to publication in the April, 1994 issue of  'mov's (as Jim Kelly invariably referred to the mag) took a mere thirteen years.  I'll leave it as an exercise for the student to work out how much I was earning by the hour.


Above:  There it is, the original mask.  The story I pasted over her has discolored a little over the decades, but she still resides in a place of honor on the wall.



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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Today In . . . HISTORY!!!

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It was this date, May 12, in the year 403284163 B.C.E., that the first fish left the water, seeking a better life for her spawn on land.  That fish is ancestral to all terrestrial chordates, including mammals, anthropoids, and human beings.  She was the ultimate mother of our species.

It is for this reason that we annually honor that brave and hopeful fish -- whose name is lost in the mists of time -- on the Sunday we call Mother's Day.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

It's Official -- Cyber Heists Are Now Old School!

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The ATM was a great invention.  Before that, you had to hit up the bank at lunchtime on Friday to make sure you had enough money for the weekend.  If you had a job, it was the only time you could access your money because "banker's hours" back then were ten to three.  And if you got an emergency assignment that made you work through lunch, then you fed yourself on whatever happened to be in the apartment pantry.

So I got the card and the instructions on how to make it work and, being an sci-fi kind of guy, wondered:  How do they keep someone from opening an account, draining it down to one dollar, telling the ATM they were depositing a thousand bucks, and then withdrawing two hundred?  

A moment's reflection, and I thought:  Of course.  They don't credit the deposit until the actual money or checks have been confirmed by the bank.

A week later,  I read an article in the Inquirer stating that the new ATMs were no longer crediting deposits immediately.

It's amazing how naive bankers are.

You've probably read about the Great Cyber Heist.  An international gang took advantage of the fact that banks in the United Arab Emirates and Oman have sucky security, and that American credit and debit cards are so far behind the technological curve that they still use magnetic strips.  As a result, the gang was able to empty out ATM machines up and down Manhattan using a little hacker legerdemain and hotel room keys!  Strangely cool, actually.

Except.  These guys apparently forgot that they were living in 2013.  They were filmed every step of the way -- at the machines, on the street, everywhere.  It never occurred to them how easy they would be to trace.

It's amazing how naive criminals are.

You can read about the heist here.  Or here.  Really takes you back to the days when Cyberpunks roamed the earth, dunnit?


Above:  My rather blurry snapshot of those members of the Avram Davidson Society who met for lunch in Manhattan yesterday.  An erudite time was had by all.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ray Harryhausen

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I drove three hundred miles on Monday, then another three hundred miles yesterday.  Today, I have another two hundred miles to drive.  So this is going to be brief.

Special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen died the other day at the age of 92.  I doubt there's anyone here who doesn't know who he was.

Harryhausen spent his entire life playing with toys and made a good living doing so.  He lived long enough to see his accomplishment not only recognized but celebrated.  That's extraordinary.

Now he's gone and all around the world people are mourning his passing.  Not bad, eh?


And now . . .

Into the car with me!  See ya Friday.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

If All the World Loves a Lord, then Why Are Your Titles So Dull?

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You've probably been wondering why I gave a story the baroque title, "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled."  And you've certainly wondered why I called another, "For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness, and I'll Not Be Back Again."

I did this for you, my children.  To amuse you and to edify those who might themselves aspire to be a writer someday.

Occasionally -- only rarely! -- I've taught at one of the three Clarions.   The students run the gamut from already-publishable to almost ( but not necessarily) unpublishable.  And I've found that the most common flaw they have is a fondness for what are technically known as sucky titles:

Social Decline

Grunge 
Road Kill

Dust

For contrast, let's look at some classic titles from yesteryear:

Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line

Imagine that you had bought a science fiction magazine and were running an eye down the table of contents.  Which story would you read first?  The Semi-Precious Stones one?  Or "Lint"?  Better yet, imagine you're walking down the street in a shabby part of town and you see a dingy shop with a sign over the door labeled LINOLEUM.  Beside it is another shop whose sign reads CARPET REMNANTS.  And just beyond the two is a shop whose sign proclaims it to be the EMPORIUM OF FORBIDDEN ASIAN EROTIC SCULPTURE.

It's entirely possible that the first shop has linoleum that will change your life, while the last one has explicit statuary that will put you off of sex for a week. 

But which are you more likely to enter?

Here's a sad truth.  Most magazine subscribers don't read everything in the zine.  Most people who browse a bookstore only pick up those books which look interesting.  A great cover can do the trick -- but very few writers have much say over the cover.  The title, though, can turn the trick and get the reader to glance at the first sentence of your story.  At which point, the battle is half won.

 Am I saying that I gave the two above-mentioned stories their extraordinary titles just so new writers would be reminded that they don't have to burden their best efforts with drab gray forgettable titles?

Yes.  That's exactly why I did it.

Because, as I said above, children, I care for your welfare.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Me, Me, Wonderful Me!!!

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I admit it.  Where most writers approach self-promotion with a kind of mealy-mouthed faux modesty, I assume an equally false air of egomania.  The truth is that I'd be perfectly happy to sit alone in a dark room somewhere, saying nothing, as my fiction is published without any cheerleading or puffery on my part.

There are only two reasons I don't do that:  1)  It's not the responsible thing to do, and 2) There are people who want to know when I have something new (or reprinted) out, and since these are the folks who keep my career afloat, I feel a moral obligation toward them.

So I have two pieces of news.  The first, and strangest, is that I've donated a prize for the F&SF Competition #86:  FIRST DRAFT.  The competition, to provide a brief first draft of a well-known work of fantasy or science fiction, has for its first price a first-draft manuscript by Yours Truly.

This is a rarer thing than it sounds like because most of my stories don't have first drafts.  I write a page or five and then go back to the beginning and write forward until I stall out again.  Then I go back to word one and start typing again.  At some point, the first page is letter-perfect and so I start from the second.  By the time I reach the end, the story is rock solid.  And all those hundreds of pages written over and over again have been consigned to recycling.

But, by chance, when Gordon Van Gelder emailed me to see if I'd contribute a typescript to the cause, I'd just finished a story . . . and it didn't work.  It was chockablock with great stuff, the writing was fine, but it just didn't have the emotional heft it should have.  The fizzy, upbeat ending felt unearned.

Pretty much simultaneous with Gordon's email, I looked down at the typescript of the story and realized that I'd left out a necessary confrontation.  So I wrote it out, the story worked, and I told Gordon I'd set aside the first draft of "Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown" for him.

So.  A very cool story, and an unpublished one to boot.  With a happy ending!  Since it'll still be unpublished two months from now, when the next issue comes out, I'll throw in a copy of the finished story, so the winner can see how much better it reads now.

You can get the details and rules for the competition by picking up the current (May/June) issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Pictured above.


And I'm in reprint again . . .

My astonishingly inventive science fiction story, "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled..." has been reprinted (or re-e-printed) by Clarkesworld, my first appearance in that young but august zine.

FBF'nGWF... is all that remains of what was originally going to be a novel.  I put a lot of ideation into making notes, creating a stellar system, a way of moving humans into it, a version of information economics that went way beyond the predatory, an alien society, a human society... and then one day realized that it had been two years and I still didn't have any characters or a plot.  So I got to work on a different novel.

A working writer abhors waste, however, so I took as many of my ideas as I could and put them into this story.  Someday, I may write another story showing how the humans got to Gehenna in the first place.

You can find issue 80, and my story, here.


And I hear you asking . . .

What's up with the ornate, not to say Baroque, story titles?  I'll explain that here soon.  Monday, unless something else comes up.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Wizard Willie Nelson

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It's Thursday.  How better to celebrate than by viewing Willie Nelson's audition tape for the part of Gandalf in the next Hobbit movie?

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Upright Magistrate Hsi-men Pao

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I picked up a copy of E. T. C. Werner's A Dictionary of Chinese Mythology after reading a review of a book about the murder of his adopted daughter (it's a long story, but if you're curious, I'm sure you can look it up) which mentioned it in passing.  It seemed like a book I needed.

And did I?  Boy howdy, you betcha.  Here's an entry I just now found by opening the book to a random page and reading:

HSI MEN PAO -- Prefect of the Wei country, circ. 410 b.c.  His name is associated with his noble action in putting an end to the offerings of girls made to the God of the Yellow River.  The events reasulting in his apotheosis are related in Chapter 126 of the Shih-chi ts'e-i as follows:

In the town of Yeh, there was a witch and some official attendants who collected money from the people yearly for the marriage of the River-god.

The witch would select a pretty girl of low birth, and say that she should be the Queen of the River-god.  The girl was bathed, and clothed in a beautiful dress of gay and costly silk. She was then taken to the bank of the river, to a monastery which was beautifully decorated with scrolls and banners.  A feast was held, and the girl was placed on a bed which was floated out upon the tide till it disappeared under the waters.

Many families having beautiful daughters moved to distant places and gradually the city became deserted.  The common belief in Yeh was that if no queen was offered to the River-god a flood would come and drown the people.

One day Hsi-men Pao, Magistrate of Yeh Hsien, said to his attendants:  "When the marriage of the River-god takes place I wish to say farewell to the chosen girl."

Accordingly Hsi-men Pao was present to witness the ceremony.  About three thousand peole had come togehter.  Standing beside the old witch were ten of her feamale disciples.   "Call the girl out," said Hsi-men Pao.  After seeing her, Hsi-men Pao said to the witch:  "She is not fair.  Go you to the river god and tell him that we will find a fairer maid and present her to him later on."  His attendants then seized the witch and threw her into the  water.

After a little while Hsi-men Pao  said:  "Why does she  stay so long?  Send a disciple to call her back."  One of the disciples was thrown into hte river.  Another and yet another followed.  The magistrate then said:  "The witches are females and therefore cannot bring me a reply."  So one of the official attendants of the witch was thrown into the river.

Hsi-men Pao stood on the bank for a long time, apparently awaiting a reply.  The spectators were alarmed.  Hsi-men Pao then bade his attendants send the remaining disciples of the witch and the other official attendants to recall their mistress.  The wretches threw themselves on their knees and knocked their heads on the ground, which was stained with the blood from their foreheads and with tears confessed their sin.

"The River-god detains his guest too long," said Hsi-men Pao at length.  "Let us adjourn."

 Thereafter none dared to celebrate the marriage of the River-god.

 This took place in the reign of Wen Hou, the first sovereign of the Wei.

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It is purely a fancy of mine that the noble Hsi-men Pao would get along with my own Aubrey Darger like a house afire.


Above:  The state of Wei.  I couldn't find a picture of Hsi-men Pao.  But we all know what that upright man must have looked like.

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