I Fail to Achieve Divinity

by wjw on May 20, 2019

Two white-headed capuchin monkeys (also known as the white-faced capuchin or white-throated capuchin) on Gorgona island, off Colombia's Pacific coast.

So it was a gloomy day on this gloomy, ramshackle freighter chugging over a gray, listless sea.  The freighter was this old rustbucket, World War II vintage maybe, 5000 tons or less.  My fellow passengers were listless, and all they wanted to do was talk about their deeply uninteresting lives while rattling the ice in their highballs.  The crew were mostly silent.  The sky was swathed in dark cloud.

The weird thing was that just behind us was a much more impressive ship, a beautiful white streamlined vessel that resembled the liner that Norman Bel Geddes designed back in the 1930s, but which was never built.  Since the white ship was completely streamlined, there was no obvious way to get on board, and whatever crew or passengers might be aboard were invisible.

But there were creatures visible on the white ship, large white long-tailed monkeys that were running around the exterior.  I tried to point out to my fellow passengers that this was a little unusual, but they seemed uninterested and just rattled their highball glasses on me.

Eventually our ship reached its destination, bleak flat sandy country that stretched to the far horizon.  At some point I realized that I was on a ship of the dead, and that we had just been delivered to the afterlife.  This particular afterworld did not seem particularly promising.

While the crew prepared rowboats to take us ashore, I took an increased interest in the white ship astern.  There had to be a point to the other ship being present, not to mention a reason for the white monkeys running over its exterior.  Whatever metaphysical setup was happening here, the white ship had to be a part of it,

I stole one of the rowboats and rowed to the white ship.  I stood up in the boat and pointed at the monkeys as I proclaimed the mad insight into the universe that had just struck me.

“You’re all God!” I said.

The monkeys looked at me with vast, benign interest.  They began to levitate, forming a rotating circle in the sky.  I rose to join them.  Somehow I attained a crosslegged position as we rotated about an invisible hub.  Profound truths poured into my head, and I realized that I was to be rewarded for my insight by being transformed into another member of the Godhead.  I was going to be God!

Wishing to become one with my new cosmic knowledge, I began to chant.

“OOOOOOOOOOOOOM . . . “

At this point Kathy jabbed me in the ribs with her elbow.

“Stop it!” she said.

“OOOOOOOOM— “

“You’re making weird noises!  Cut it out!”

I blinked awake in the bedroom.  I was absolutely furious.  “YOU STOPPED ME FROM BECOMING GOD!”

Turns out my wife didn’t care whether I was God or not.

Some time after this dream I saw an old Twilight Zone episode about an old freighter filled with people heading to the afterlife.  Possibly I saw this as a child, and it inspired the first part of my dream.  The white ship and its Godhead of monkeys, I’m pretty sure, came from my own imagination.

But on the off chance that I didn’t invent the monkeys, and one or more of you monkeys are reading this, please know that I’d still like to be on the team.

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Uh-Oh

by wjw on May 18, 2019

IMG_2500Looks like a security camera caught me when I was on one of my recent missions.

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D&D

by wjw on May 15, 2019

My life these days might best be described as D&D, by which I mean Dull and Dutiful.  It’s not like I’m not accomplishing stuff, it’s just that the stuff I’m accomplishing isn’t very exciting to write about.

Apparently I’m saving all my insights for a novel.

While I deal with the dullness of my duty, please enjoy the retro stylings of Miss Caro Emerald and “Tangled Up.”

(Which could also be titled “Tango Up,” but never mind.)

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The Rat Flew Straight and True

by wjw on May 10, 2019

So I finally saw Avengers: Endgame, two weeks later than most of you.  I made up for the delay by seeing it in IMAX and 3D, which I suspect really didn’t improve it that much, though I did duck when Starlord kicked the rat at my head.

If this is the sort of movie you like, then you’ll like it.  If you don’t care for films in which costumed characters bash each other in a fight over a bunch of plot coupons, you won’t care for this one, either.

I’ll leave detailed analysis and criticism with those of you with the energy to do it, and confine myself to a few observations.  While the film generally did a fine job of keeping track of its enormous cast, I noticed that Captain Marvel kept disappearing, particularly in the climactic battle scene.  Thanos literally tossed her away, and then we didn’t see her again till the epilogue.  Weird, because she was the most powerful of the heroes, and if Cap and Stark could keep coming back after being thrown half a league, then certainly she could.  Odd that the movie lost track of her, but then I suppose it was so that other, more established characters could battle Thanos to the finish.

The final climactic battle went on too long, the way they all do nowadays, but in this film it made more sense.  With more than thirty superheroes all in the same scene, the scene had to expand so that each could have his or her moment.

But the best thing about Endgame is that it was truly the end.  The giant story that produced 22 films and one TV series is actually over, and from now on they’ll have to find some other maguffin for superheroes to chase.

You don’t see that in the source material.  In the comics, you know that the Joker and Lex Luthor will always escape custody, and you know that when Superman (or any other hero) dies he’ll be back sooner or later.  That’s why I’ve lost interest in superhero TV— nothing fundamental ever changes.  But movies are different— in the movies they can build to a climax, then have that climax, then move on to a new story, and the guys whose contracts are up die or retire or otherwise find some place to be.

Oh, and one other thing.  Could people stop arguing about the logic of superhero films?  Because there was never any to begin with.

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Flash Fortuna

by wjw on May 8, 2019

My time seems fully occupied today, so while I’m buried in the frustrating trivia of daily life, please enjoy this video of an unexpected performance.

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The Shuffle

May 5, 2019

A note for all you completists out there.  The ninth Wild Cards collection, Jokertown Shuffle, has been reissued by Tor with new material, two never-before-seen stories by Carrie Vaughn and Cherie Priest. In addition to the original stories by Stephen Leigh, Lewis Shiner, John Jos. Miller, Melinda Snodgrass, Victor Milan, and Walton (Bud) Simons. And me.  This […]

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Sport Xtreme

May 2, 2019

In my Worldcon GoH speech a couple years ago I mentioned Finland’s habit of inventing new sports, conceived I suppose in the winter when they have little else to think about while drinking.  Finland is the home, for example, of swamp football, competitive sauna, and competitive hobby horse riding. Of course Finland is also the […]

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Unconventional

April 29, 2019

A lot of my posts lately seem to be about new editions of one of my books or another. That’s a good thing, right? Today’s post brought copies of the Author’s Definitive Edition of Conventions of War.  Read and enjoy!

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10:32

April 24, 2019

Ten hours and thirty-two minutes of auditory pleasure await you!  The Implied Spaces audio book has been released, and is available at your local store or online in the usual places. Apparently the book has been available for a while, but as I’m only the author, I was left to find it on my own.

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Terran Prize Awarded!

April 22, 2019

The Terran Prize for 2019, sponsored by George RR Martin and consisting of a scholarship for a foreign writer to this year’s Taos Toolbox Workshop, has been awarded to Chinese author Zhou Wen (昼温.) Zhou was born in Jinan, Shandong province, and has a double B.A. in English and finance, and a Master’s degree in […]

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