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Author Archives: ianmdudley

About ianmdudley

Writer, lover, reader, father, taxpayer, husband, and son, though not necessarily in that order.

I heard it through a high fidelity recording of the grapevine

I’ve never felt more alive and aware.

How did I achieve this enlightened state? Was it reached after hours of yoga poses?

With hot stones taped to my chakra points?

While high on peyote?

Not exactly. Though someone should try that and let me know how it goes.*

Yesterday my Zoom H4n digital recorder arrived.

Wait. Let me rewind.

(Pun intended. Except it’s all digital, so is it really rewinding when there’s no physical tape? Meditate on that heaviness, my flock…)

A while ago, I stumbled across ASMR. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

Really wanna know? Go to YouTube and search ‘ASMR’. Then watch some of the videos while wearing headphones.

The short version (because there are a lot of videos out there) is that hearing certain sounds is supposed to trigger involuntary ‘tingly’ sensations in your head and spine that feel pretty good.

The operative word here is ‘supposed’.

I appear to suffer from a form of what the ASMR community refers to as immunity.

As in doesn’t work. No tingles. Well, once, when I was half asleep, and something inadvertently went bang in the background of the recording I was listening to.

Then, I had tingles.

For the half second it took before I woke up.

So I’ve clocked twenty, maybe thirty hours total on a quest for an ASMR. And gotten maybe half a second of one.

Story of my life.

Dammit.

But never one to accept lemons from life, I found a citrus lining in all this.

I became obsessed with sound quality.

OK, becoming obsessed doesn’t exactly sound like a trade up. Just bear with me. It gets better.

Besides, it could have been an obsession with Justin Bieber. That would definitely be more lemon than lining.

I researched the community and the artists who had the best sounding (but still non-tingly) recordings.

As a result, I bought a Zoom H4n recorder. They’re all the rage with the ASMRers.

And I have to admit, it’s pretty cool.

But all this is my long, meandering way of getting to the point of this posting.

As of yesterday, I have never felt more alive and aware. Why?

Because my Zoom H4n arrived.

And I started using it.

Being a grandiose idea sorta guy, I hit upon the brilliant scheme of recording my evening walk with the family, well, for lack of a better term, we’ll say dog.

Sure, dog. That works.

So I recorded the walk. And then listened to it.

I’d share the recording here, but I doubt you’d find the sounds of my…dog…relieving himself on a tree all that entertaining.

Plus at the end I may have walked through a spider web stretched across my front lawn, hypothetically belonging to a spider I might have seen during the day so I knew it was HUGE and so I might have screamed in a piercing, unmanly fashion.

No one would want to hear that.

If it existed.

Which it doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned.

The surprise came when I closed my eyes and listened.

And heard the skitter of sure, why not, my dog’s claws on cement. And crickets. And a neighbor’s water fountain. And cars whizzing by.

Standard stuff. And frankly, if I hadn’t heard them, I’d have been bitterly disappointed in my new purchase.

But I also heard sounds I hadn’t noticed on the walk itself.

A barely audible family discussion in one house I passed. Another neighbor with a water fountain. The lonely wail of the heretofore thought extinct Red-legged Tinamou.

Sounds that made me sit up, open my eyes, and say, “Hello, where did you come from?”

This really annoyed the Missus, since I was in bed at the time and she’d been asleep.

So tonight I walked again, and recorded again. But this time I found myself more mindful, more aware, and I picked out those sounds I had filtered out last night.

I felt a little bit more alive and a whole lot more aware.

Unlike that time with the peyote. I woke up from that with a migraine, a tramp stamp, and half a cat in my mouth.

Can not recommend. I’m still coughing up hair balls.

But all this New Age-y fulfillment will make me feel a lot better next month when the credit card bill arrives.

* NOTE: Ian M. Dudley is not a medical doctor, certified yoga instructor, licensed massage therapist, or psychedelic drug connoisseur. Attempt at your own risk.
 
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Posted by on 11 September 2014 in Life

 

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They had it coming, especially their ringleader, that tilde with the smarmy grin

I’m a murderer.

There. That’s off my chest.

Huh. You’d think I’d feel better after confessing. I certainly thought I would.

But I don’t.

I feel just like I did before I ‘fessed up.

Fine. Just fine.

I suppose it’s because the little buggers deserved it.

No, wait. That’s not true. They didn’t.

It was my fault. But they still had to die.

This happens every time I edit a book.

Or a blog post.

No, I’m not talking about my characters. You can’t kill people who aren’t real, and they aren’t real.

No matter how much you love them, or enjoy watching them undress in that one scene you wrote just so you could watch them undress.

Freak.

But words are real.

And letters.

You see, I have this funny habit when I’m editing. If I’m correcting a misspelling, or changing the tense, or switching from an -ed to an -ing ending, I feel a qualm.

I feel like I’m killing the letters, or, if it’s an ambitious edit, the words.

Replacing an upper case letter for a lower case because the word doesn’t start a sentence any more?

Feels like orphaning a child.

Right in front of the child.

(I named that letter Bruce, and now he’s grown up and fills my nightmares with a sense of being persecuted.)

Because the letters know it’s coming. They see the edit before it happens, just like I do.

They anticipate the coming death, but are powerless to stop it.

I suppose this makes the editing more fun.

Well, less drudgery-ish, anyway.

Anything to add excitement, and what’s more exciting that a little murder?

Yes, making screaming noises when you kill the letter ‘a’ (Ahhh!) or ‘n’ (Noooo!) is more exciting, but then the people around you in the coffee shop get all judgmental.

And edge away.

Definitely a great way to get more space when you’re forced to share a large table in a really crowded coffee shop.

But then you get thrown out and banned from the establishment for life.

Now that I do all my editing at home, the Missus has insisted I mustn’t scare the children by making my dying letters beg for their lives.

Personally, I think she’s worried I’ll give the kiddos ideas. They already make little wails for their Vienna sausages before popping them into their mouths.

“But I have a wife and a dozen mini sausages!” is a common refrain around the kiddo dining table.

Yes, it is my fault.

But enough about my kids. I hate parents who go on and on about their ‘wonderful’ kids. Let’s get back to talking about me.

I don’t know exactly when this anthropomorphizing started. I don’t remember doing it in high school or college. It must have happened after that.

Sometime between when I worked graveyard and when I attended my first nanowrimo write-in.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

The doctor has offered me medication that would make the letters stop whimpering just before I hit the Backspace key, but I find those drugs impair my ability to write.

If I have to choose between being able to write or letters and words living in a world without fear, I choose tormenting the letters and words.

Consider it payback, alphabet and dictionary, for all the words hurled against me in grade school by classmates who thought I was weird just because I preferred to read during recess and lunch, and listen to the teacher, and do my homework, and pass my tests.

Payback.

But it’s not just me, right? You other writers out there feel the same thing when you delete portions of your works in progress, yes?

Please, please agree with me.Or I’ll kill this ‘a’.

I’ll do it! I (Ahh! Noo!) totally will!

Thirty one letters and five punctuation marks lost their lives in the course of editing this posting. Happy? I know I am.

 
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Posted by on 9 September 2014 in Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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How getting a Brazilian saved Balloons of the Apocalypse! (It’s OUT!!!)

Today, August 30th, 2014 is a momentous day.

You know how it goes. Girl meets boy. Boy joins a classical music worshipping cult. Girl never sees boy again, until years later when she stumbles across a street orchestra playing for food, and there he is. But she's happily married now, and he smells really, really bad.

As always, only Marlowe, spacewoman Nina, and a sham wedding can stop a dangerous Beethoven cult bent on world domination.

The second Capaldi Doctor Who episode aired.

It had daleks.

I liked it. And Capaldi as the Doctor.

So a momentous day indeed.

On a completely unrelated and nowhere near as momentous note, Balloons of the Apocalypse is now available.

The third installment in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman series, it has it all:

Words.

Sentences.

Paragraphs.

Mystery.

Exotic locales.

Marriage.

Major character deaths.

Steam-powered pigs.

Zeppelins.

I won’t bore you with the details, even if this is the promotional blog post announcing the release. Click on the Balloons of the Apocalypse link to learn more.

(I really hate self-promotion.)

But I will reveal to you the Brazilian connection to this book’s release.

I admit, I’d been in a rut for the last year or so when it comes to this book.

The day job, my marriage, my young kids, they sucked the life out of me.

No offense to the Missus or the kiddos. Or the day job, in case my boss is reading this.

It’s just these things are big responsibilities that take a lot of time and effort to do right.

And let me tell you, facing the prospect of losing your day job, Missus, and/or kiddos, you find yourself wanting to do it right.

Needing to do it right.

And getting dirty looks from coworkers, spouses, friends, family, and kiddos who expect you to do it right.

Talk about pressure.

That plus my previous books never magically turned into best sellers, so I reached this point where I was all, “Screw it. No one cares. I’ll never be a rich and famous author. Why bother, especially when there is a diarrhea-soaked diaper for me to change?”

Wait, make that two.

Dammit.

So I stopped working on and thinking about Balloons of the Apocalypse.

I could claim I was letting that field lie fallow, but I’d be lying.

I’d given up.

The light had gone out from my authorial eyes.

I’d developed a major facial tic around books in general.

I was done with writing.

And reading, since it reminded me of writing.

Then the Brazilian showed up.

Well, not so much showed up as appeared.

OK, not even appeared. More like lurked.

Eh, maybe lurked isn’t the right word.

I’ll explain.

I started noticing blog hits from Brazil.

Now I’m not going to say I don’t get huge volumes of traffic on my blog that would make it impossible to link a referrer to a visiting country, but it was pretty clear to me that not only was this repeat visitor a repeat visitor, but the Brazilian always came to this blog via ianmdudley.com.

(Don’t click on that. You’ll end up here again. Really. I promise.)

Not because of a search term (hello ‘Blake Shelton naked’ people!). Not through twitter. Not via facebook.

The Brazilian was going directly to my website, which redirected him or her to this blog.

For the longest time, I thought, “I’ve got this huge fan out there, desperately visiting my web site every day to see when Balloons of the Apocalypse will finally come out.”

My initial response? “Schmuck. You’re in for a helluva wait.”

But after a few days I began to feel bad.

Then sad.

Then guilty.

I was ruining this person’s day, every day, by not having the book out for him or her to read.

I think the last straw was Brazil’s elimination from the 2014 World Cup.

Now the Brazilian had endured enough.

Now I had to offer the only salve that could possibly help heal this broken, crushed, disappointed fan.

Now I had to finish and release Balloons of the Apocalypse.

So here it is. Two more editing passes and some minor re-writes later, and it is out in the world. Ready to languish on virtual book shelves, untouched by anyone.

Because two days ago I learned the truth.

Don’t ask me how. My methods are proprietary and the amount of money I spent too vast to mention anywhere the Missus might get wind of it.

(Remember that whole ‘doing the marriage right’ expectation thing?)

In a seedy sports bar on the less reputable edge of São Paulo, there is a bathroom with an ignored OUT OF ORDER sign (in Portuguese, of course) on the door, with the words, “For a good time, go to ianmdudley.com” scrawled, also in Portuguese, by the way, above a cracked, leaking urinal.

Learning that really took the piss out of me. But I was too far along in the publication process to stop.

So now I raise an angry fist while facing southeastward, and I shake it angrily at you, Brazil.

You broke an innocent man. You crushed his spirit. You made him burst into tears every time he walks up to a urinal.

Which resulted in a visit from HR at work.

(Remember that whole ‘doing the day job right’ expectation thing?)

On the not-so-off chance I lose the day job and find myself saddled with alimony and child support payments in the near future, please, please, please consider buying a copy of my book.

And the next time the guy at the urinal next to you bursts into tears, remind yourself:

“There but for the grace of a Brazilian go I.”

Bloody Brazilians.

 

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Balloons of the Apocalypse Cover Reveal

Everything looks to be on track for the release of Balloons of the Apocalypse, the third book in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman series.

(That’s e-book, mind you, I have more work to do before the paperback is available. Say another month?)

And now, with minimal further ado, the cover!

Just one minor ado. Release date.

30 August 2014.

That’s this Saturday.

I’ll post links, but you’ll find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And, if all goes well, Smashwords.

Shudder.

I hate the Smashwords meatgrinder, but I like their distribution reach.

And I sell more books there than on Barnes and Noble.

Sad, that.

OK, done with the ado. Here’s the cover.

You know how it goes. Girl meets boy. Boy joins a classical music worshipping cult. Girl never sees boy again, until years later when she stumbles across a street orchestra playing for food, and there he is. But she's happily married now, and he smells really, really bad.

As always, only Marlowe, spacewoman Nina, and a sham wedding can stop a dangerous Beethoven cult bent on world domination.

Artwork done by the same artist who did the previous two covers, smokewithoutmirrors. She does fantastic work. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a book cover.

Or a vanity portrait. I printed mine out to wall size.

Scares the crap out of the dog.

Along with the cover, I thought I’d ramble a bit about the editing process, since I learned something new this time.

Well, maybe not new. Just something I wasn’t conscious of before.

When I write a book, it takes forever to get it done. Quite literally years.

OK, that I was conscious of. Everyone who knows me is conscious of that!

Part of this is my fear that people will hate my work, and so I revise and revise and revise, trying to present the first copy to beta readers as a fait accompli.

It never is.

I’m getting better. Marlowe and the Spacewoman went through ten revisions (I think, maybe eleven) before I published it. It also took me close to ten years from first draft to published.

The second book (short story, really) actually took longer, but I started it before the first book.

Don’t ask. It’s complicated. And I abandoned it for a large part of that period.

I started this book five years ago? Four or five.

Either way, an improvement.

And considering I had kids in the middle of all that, kinda impressive.

What I discovered this time around is that taking my time really does work wonders.

Because I finish a draft and let it lie fallow.

I don’t read it for ages and ages.

And by the time I get around to it again, it’s fresh and new and not in my head. So I can read it with a clear eye.

This helps me see problems. Typos, grammar goofs, misused words.

But not well enough to forgo other readers.

Beta readers are essential, because some biases are so ingrained that you are blinded to the problems they cause.

No matter how long you wait between reads.

I went about a year between penultimate read-through and ultimate read-through. And found lots of the above-mentioned, typical goofs.

And the blind bias stuff? My betas found a heartbreaking number of problems, which they dutifully reported back to me.

I think, with their help, I addressed the worst of that.

But I did have a couple of big surprises.

After I started the last read-through, I found myself thinking about the book a lot.

Usually when I was trying to fall asleep.

Annoying, that. Especially on a work night.

But that’s not the surprising part. I always obsess over current projects.

It was the couple of major plot holes I discovered. Things that happened (or didn’t happen) which simply made no sense.

The sorts of things, that, when I see them in other books, make me go, “Man, this author is lazy. He didn’t bother to think things through. Shame on him. I will find out where he lives and burn his house to the ground.”

I was stunned to discover them in my book. I’m not lazy, but I certainly hadn’t caught them in previous read-throughs.

More alarming, neither had any of my beta readers.

Actually, the fact that they missed them too makes me feel a little better.

Fortunately, I was able to patch the holes pretty easily, once I applied myself.

I also struggled with how to open the book. I tried three different openings.

The final one? Came to me while I worried about it.

In bed.

Trying to fall asleep.

So that’s my process:

Crank out a first draft, wait approximately one earth orbital period, and edit it.

Worry about it in bed.

Repeat until I have enough confidence to share with beta readers.

Worry about it in bed.

Stare at their feedback emails for several days before working up the nerve to open them.

Worry about it in bed.

Marvel in the description of issues I wouldn’t have detected if they’d come up to me, kicked me in the family jewels, and said, “Oh, pardon me, I didn’t mean to do that.”

(My issues are very polite.)

Worry about it in bed.

Edit again.

Worry about it in bed.

And again (the editing, that is. Oh, and the worrying too.)

Then, just maybe, I’m ready to publish.

There is only one drawback to my approach.

OK, two if you count sleep deprivation.

After several read-throughs of one of my books, it starts to feel old.

Not fresh.

Done before.

(Because, well, it has. In the previous drafts.)

So by the time I’m ready to publish, I don’t feel a lot of excitement.

This is bad, because publication time is when you’re supposed to promote it.

So now I have to promote and rah-rah-rah a book that, for me, feels tired and worked over.

And worry that everyone else will feel the same way.

I don’t think I’m going to be sleeping well for the next few nights.

 

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If you’re lucky, they’ll make you sit in the comfy chair while they indoctrinate you

To complement the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse Sooner Rather Than Later!™ [IT'S OUT NOW!], I am presenting a series of articles about a group that features prominently in the book – the Ludite (pronounced LEWD-ite) Church. Their primary claim to fame is that the worship the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.

The start of the series – Introduction to the Ludite faith – can be found here.

While many aspects of the Ludite Church can, and ought, to be viewed with concern, consternation, and untempered vitriol, one aspect of the Church’s work is universally praised.

Its furniture.

And rightly so.

Ludite furniture isn’t just the most highly sought after home and office product to come out of Beet City. It is the most highly sought after home and office product in the known world.

Many people, willingly or not, are brought into the faith. Not all are suitable for missionary work.

Some of those who aren’t show an aptitude for the arts.

A non-zero number of those who show an aptitude for the arts also exhibit a talent for carpentry.

A fraction of that number, it turns out, can be trusted with knives and other sharp tools.

These people end up under the purview of the Ludite Church’s Artisan Bureaucracy.

Artisans are apprenticed with a Master for ten years.

The first three of those years are spent sitting in a chair, holding stock still, and watching the Master work.

In the fourth year, the apprentices are allowed to start doing basic prep work, such as queuing music and fetching sand paper for the Master.

During years five through ten, the apprentice slowly works his or her way up to making miniature furniture: chairs, stools, simple beds, kitchen sets. This involves building a 1:15 scale version of an item, tearing it apart, then rebuilding it, over and over, until the muscle memory is perfected and the Master approves moving on to the next item.

Such is the thoroughness of their training during this period, that this miniature apprentice furniture is coveted by dollhouse aficionados, who are known to pay exorbitant amounts for some examples of the work.

If all goes well, after ten years, Journeyman status is achieved, and students are allowed to assist in the manufacture of full-sized Beet City tables and chairs.

Master status, usually attained during the Ludite’s twilight years, is only rarely bestowed, with fewer than ten Masters in existence at any one time.

This long and arduous creative path results in Beet City furniture being the most supple and calming furniture in existence.

The exact process of manufacture is a trade secret, but the sales brochures do disclose this much: the material is saturated with Beethoven’s music from start to finish.

It starts in the design phase, when the rare materials are procured. Only the highest quality recordings are played. In the case of a prestigious commission, recordings are deemed too flat for the sought after effect, and live orchestras are brought in to play around the clock.

It has been suggested by some that music is even played to the trees as they are cut down, and in extreme cases, to seeds that are planted with furniture in mind.

And, of course, Beethoven is played during the actual assembly of the furniture. The intention is to saturate the fine-grain wood with the dulcet tones of the Great Composer’s work, so that it might ooze the melodies’ soothing effects as the furniture is used.

Whether you view the Ludite Church as our last hope for salvation or an intolerable bane on freedom, you cannot dispute that the chairs are remarkably comfortable, the tables sturdy and beautiful, the bed frames deeply relaxing.

Even the condemned who swing from Beet City-made gallows are reported to go out with a smile.

Followed shortly thereafter by the violent convulsions of death.

Although Augustus Brutus, an early Il Maestro of the Church, claimed these convulsions were the Great Composer reaching out from beyond the grave, attempting to conduct one last symphony.

So convinced of this was Augustus Brutus that he tied batons to the hands of those facing execution, and he had an orchestra present during the hangings, playing music to the wildly gesticulating limbs.

The resulting music was said to be so disturbing that Augustus Brutus was eventually murdered to put an end to the practice, and all recordings destroyed.

Now who among us wouldn’t want to own a piece of furniture with a provenance like that?

 

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Don’t bother preaching to the choir – they’re listening to the music (and subliminal programming)

To complement the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse Very Soon Now!™ [IT'S OUT NOW!], I am presenting a series of articles about a group that features prominently in the book – the Ludite (pronounced LEWD-ite) Church.

The start of the series – Introduction to the Ludite faith – can be found here.

They say that travel broadens the mind.

It also broadens the faith base, if done correctly.

And the Ludite Church knows how to do travel correctly.

In the post-Big Fed era of limited long distance travel options, the Ludite Church recognized that bringing the flock to Beet City was not a viable long-term option for growing the number of the faithful.

So they sent out missionaries, to both preach to the unwashed masses and to market the desirability of Beet City as a vacation retreat for those with the means to travel.

But when your faith’s spread is reliant on brainwashed proselytizers, you can’t just take a newly minted convert and turn them loose on the world.

The Ludites learned this the hard way in the early days, when mass defections and deprogrammings occurred amongst their missionaries once they were out and about, free of Beet City’s cloying control.

So the Church evolved and took steps to prevent any but the most devoted from going on missions. This involved a series of activities and tests designed to crush any form of free thought or resistance.

Little is known about the first few years of indoctrination within the walls of Beet City, called the Rite of Composition, except that at one stage it involves a coffin-sized box, a stage magician with a sword, and asparagus-flavored marshmallows. But the end result is an evangelical with an undying love of Beethoven and an unending devotion to His music and return.

Once an Initiate has been deemed to have passed the Rite of Composition, he or she progresses to an Associate Second Stand position within the Church. At this stage, the adherent is deemed indoctrinated enough to trust outside Beet City limits.

They are shipped out to neighboring city-states, though never one where relatives are known to live. The Church is not willing to risk a deprogramming effort made on the part of distraught (and now either penniless or locked in property litigation [see second article]) family members. The Associate Second Stand’s mission is to spread the Lyrics and Music of the Church to new potential Initiates.

A complicated point system taking into account the number, wealth, and geophysical location of new converts is used to judge the Associate Second Stand’s progress, and when a certain point score is reached, they are said to have achieved Clarissimo and are elevated to Second Stand.

Attainment of this level is accompanied by a laminated certificate from Il Maestro, the Church’s leader, congratulating them on their success.

This point system is the closest thing to a bible the Ludite Church has. However, unlike religions that feel compelled to spread the word of their holy documents, the Ludites hold this system as a closely guarded secret.

The official Church line is that to know and fully appreciate the rules, adherents must slowly build up their spiritual readiness in a carefully controlled manner in order to accept it.

Others, who admittedly have not seen the writings, suggest it is because the rules would be immediately recognized as silly when viewed through an eye untarnished by extensive brainwashing.

Many books detailing the point system have been written, but are only available to church members for a more-than-nominal charge. Skeptics have joined the Church in order to gain access, but to date, all have succumbed to indoctrination and are now vocal supporters of the Church.

Each copy of the books is uniquely numbered, never allowed to leave Beet City limits, and carefully watched. And so, to date, a copy has never made it into non-secular hands for examination.

An investigative journalist with a platoon of mercenaries came close, which is how the outside world learned that the books were designed to explode once more than a meter outside Beet City limits.

This is also how the outside world became acquainted with that most fearsome weapon, the baton blaster.

It doesn’t need to be said that none of the journalist’s team, herself included, survived the incursion.

Her posthumous article on a baton blaster gap, however, both won a Peabody and started a baton arms race.

Which led to a lot of wasteful spending on musical accoutrements and more than a few nasty musical military industrial accidents.

Also, her ghost writer was pretty steamed about not getting any credit for the Peabody.

 
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Posted by on 13 August 2014 in Marlowe and the Spacewoman

 

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All your bass, alto, and soprano are belong to us

To complement the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse Very Soon Now™ [IT'S OUT NOW!], I am presenting a series of articles about an organization that features prominently in the book – the Ludite Church.

The start of the series – Introduction to the Ludite faith – can be found here.

This installment discusses the process of indoctrination – how new members of the Church are inducted into the Faith.

First, it needs to be stated that the Ludite Church believes in expansion. Rapid, unobstructed expansion.

As a result, some of their missionary activities are deemed by outsiders to be…aggressive.

Now while it is true that missionaries are sent out to find new converts, the primary source of new recruits is tourism.

The Ludites built a grand city in the desert, one of remarkable architecture, striking landmarks, and unrivaled musical performances:

Beet City.

One cannot see or hear the words ‘Beet City’ without thinking of some of these tributes to music and engineering:

  • The Eternal Flame of the Composer, a fountain of fire and vibrato unparalleled in modern existence, and said to put viewers into a trance of pure ecstasy
  • The imposing, 1000-meter tall Statue of Symphony, a stern-but-welcoming herald inviting music lovers to visit Beet City and experience its transcendent power
  • The Gift Shops of Inexhaustible Kitsch, offering a vast array of inexpensive mementos that allow you to keep Beet City close to your heart, even when you are far away

As intended, this wonder of the North American continent serves as a major tourist draw, pulling in a rich and varied pool of potential converts.

Once trapped within the walls of this holy see, visitors are barraged with subliminal messages and, in some cases, more overt methods of brainwashing conversion.

Those who are ill-prepared for this onslaught of indoctrination soon find themselves inured to the beliefs and tenants of the Ludite Church, and so a family vacation to Beet City turns into an unintended pilgrimage.

Tourists are carefully monitored at all times, and when the authorities deem that indoctrination is complete, they are designated novices and apartments provided for their long-term stay. The tour guides provide directions and maps, and the new novice then finds him or herself at the Office of Legal Orchestration.

It is in these offices that the novice provides a detailed family history, including last known addresses of all relatives and ancestors, and sign over all their worldly goods to the Church. Following the completion of this necessarily cumbersome paperwork, the Initiate is taken to a celebration known as a Mass Conversion. Here a Church Member of the First Chair performs the Rite of Confirmation. This Rite not only converts and enters the individual into the Church as an Initiate, it also converts all of their relatives and ancestors into the Church.

As relinquishing all your worldly goods is a prerequisite to joining the Ludite Church, the Office of Legal Orchestration then files lawsuits against all the Initiate’s relatives and ancestors in the City-States where they reside. The lawsuits seek to recover the property of said ancestors, which in the view of the Office of Legal Orchestration is now the rightful property of the Church.

It is disturbing how successful these lawsuits have been. Their success is usually attributed to the 10% finders fee awarded to the municipality in which the lawsuit is filed. All appeals have to be made in Beet City, where plaintiffs must sit through an indoctrination presentation before being allowed entry to the courts.

Few are able to resist the power of this presentation, and end up joining the Church as well.

Still, it cannot be denied that Beet City is an amazing place well worth visiting, assuming you can withstand (or don’t mind) the attempts at conversion.

Part 3 of this series, Assumed Missionary Positions of the Ludite Faith, can be found here.
 
 

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