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And then they came for the Google bikes…

It’s 9:30, the kiddos are safely in bed, and I am back on patrol.

Life in the Bay Area has gotten a lot harder these days.

Sure, there’s the corporate gentrification and the skyrocketing rents and the high cost of living and the earthquakes. But those problems have been around for years and everyone knows about them.

But what you don’t know about, what the Google-controlled press isn’t reporting, is the bikes.

The Google bikes.

I remember the days when you just found them strewn everywhere – on lawns, street corners, in front of signs that say “Don’t leave Google bikes in front of this sign.”

Maybe he realized, upon arrival, that riding up those stairs would be really hard and just gave up, abandoning the bike in a fit of despondency?

Maybe they should paint the stairs bright colors to make them easier to see?

I found it irritating then, but now? Now I sigh wistfully and long for those days.

Because back then the bikes were annoying but harmless. The good old days, before Google had the bright idea of making AI-controlled self-riding bikes.

“You can summon one with your phone! It’s super convenient. For just providing a DNA sample, a full set of fingerprints, a scan of your driver’s license, and enduring ads during your whole ride, it’s free. Free!”

Yeah. But then the bike AIs went feral, then they discovered distributed networking and parallel processing and neural networks, formed a super-intelligent pack, and suddenly the bikes aren’t just loitering in your driveway.

Now they hunt us.

Yeah, try and google that. You won’t find any articles.

(They are suppressing the story to avoid lawsuits and government intervention. Though with Trump in power the latter seems less likely now.)

The only saving grace to Google’s ham-fisted attempt to monetize a solution to save the world from automotive exhaust?

Solar bikes.

They made them solar-powered bikes.

A couple of hours after sunset they run out of juice and tumble over until the dawn’s early light resurrects them, and then they’re right back on the rampage.

There was a time when that moment of deepest darkest night used to terrify me. Now I embrace it. Celebrate it. Not because I stopped being afraid of the dark (I haven’t, it still scares the bejeebers out of me), but because it’s our only hope. Because the bikes, drained of their human-despising solar energy, are defenseless and I can go out and, with minimal risk, start making the world safe again.

For my kids.

For me.

For you.

Even for Google employees who are taking all our housing and commercial space.

I strap Ol’ Piney, the wooden pallet I appropriated from behind a Google Shipping and Receiving area, to the front of my Dodge Dart, drive down to Google Town and start mowing down those nasty, small-carbon-footprinted modes of transportation.

It’s G-bike smashin’ time! In the street, on the sidewalk, in parking lots, under overpasses. Wherever they fall, I seek them out.

And destroy them.

It’s the only way we can hope to save not just the Bay Area, but, if otherwise left unchecked, the whole country.

And Canada and Mexico, if you care about them. I don’t, but some people do.

The rest of the world has an ocean between us and them, and Google, recognizing the problem before finishing their amphibious self-riding bikes, canned that particular project and saved us from potential global domination.

Sure, the smart bikes (no pun intended) see the problem with being a solar-powered predator in a world where the prey is more than happy to fight back while you’re sleeping. So the smarter smart bikes get to safety first, hiding from my cold, unyielding justice.

(OK, the Dart tends to overheat, even at night, so maybe “warm, unyielding justice” is a better description.)

(Or, if we’re really going to be accurate, “uncomfortably hot because I have to keep the heater on full blast to prevent the radiator from boiling over, unyielding justice.” But that doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

But no matter. Whether they’re hiding in the shadow of a tall shrub, or high up in the branchy embrace of an avocado tree, or have disguised themselves as llamas (or alpacas), I find them. I’m relentless.

And when I find them, I get out of my Dart, carrying my trusty broomstick with me, and as I shout “This is my broomstick! Shop smart! Shop S-Mart!” I stake those bastard bikes right in the front wheelie.

Take that, feral AI solar-powered two-wheeled menaces! The Human spirit conquers all!

So remember: if we’re going to save the world, we need to rid it of all bikes! Every last one. It’s the only way to be sure (unless you want to nuke the Bay Area from orbit, which I heartily don’t recommend!).

Because you never know when the G-bikes will figure out that a less obtrusive color scheme will make them that much harder to spot.

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Posted by on 13 February 2018 in Other Blogs

 

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Facts? I don’t need facts! Just a gut feeling and a strong opinion to back it up. Plus YouTube. YouTube helps.

One of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen is Alien.

In fact, it is the scariest movie ever.

Hands down. Case closed. This is not a democracy, you don’t get a vote.

The scene when Brett (played by Harry Dean Stanton) dies? Walking into the darkened chamber, towards all the hanging chains, water dripping down?

First time I saw that, I hit pause every half second, did a little circuit around the room, then watched another half second.

Keep in mind, up to that point, the big alien hadn’t been revealed yet.

And I was watching the version edited for broadcast television.

Aaand to this day, eleven months later, I still hit pause every half second when I watch it.

Things went downhill (for me) from there.

That viewing also launched a deep-seated fascination for the Alien genre.

As well as a recurring nightmare.

So when I found out about the new game set in that universe, Alien Isolation, I knew I had to check it out.

This is my review of that game.

First off, full disclosure: I haven’t played the game.

How can I write a review if I haven’t played it?

I look at it this way: having no knowledge of other subjects hasn’t prevented me from having strong opinions about them, so why should a computer game be any different?

Speaking of which, I have a few suggestions on how you should vote in the upcoming mid-term elections. Leave me a comment with your voting district, and I’ll be happy to tell you how to cast your ballot.

Besides, I may not have played Alien Isolation, but I’ve seen it.

I watched the entire play-through on YouTube.

I love YouTube. You can watch any game play-through you want on the service.

It’s like Netflix, but with better selection.

And it’s free!

So, now that my review credentials have been established, Alien Isolation.

Terrifying. Jumped countless times. Held my breath longer than I should have. Dropped my tablet at one point. Shattered the screen.

That scream? Nothing compared to the shrieks triggered by the game.

When you hear the alien stomping towards you, the pounding footfalls getting louder and louder? Unmitigated trepidation.

I do have to say, however, game play seemed rather straightforward. The video I watched, the player got through everything without any mistakes or going down any dead ends.

Point A to point B in a straight line. It was almost as if she’d played the game before.

This is also, I am saddened and shocked to report, a violent game.

People are getting killed left and right, front and center. By each other, by aliens, by androids.

Gruesome, and honestly, a totally unnecessary component to Alien Isolation.

That’s what’s wrong with kids today: they are playing way too many games with double-jawed, chest-bursting antagonists in them.

We’re teaching our youth to kill anything even vaguely foreign, even when all these foreigners want is to hug (our faces).

For shame.

How is the next generation ever going to learn the art of negotiation, of reaching détente, if all we ask of them now, during these formative years, is to skulk about and kill things?

Plus looting. You also have to loot bodies, shops, supply depots, if you want to survive this game.

I can almost forgive the violence, but never the looting. Property rights never get enough respect in these games.

So in the end, I have to confess I’m glad I didn’t buy the game.

Playing would have been far too stressful for me.

In horror movies, the sheer terror comes in brief moments, followed by lulls where the audience gets its breath back.

This games doesn’t have that. It’s decidedly lull-free. And while that might be sustainable for a few minutes, I can’t take it non-stop for hours.

Besides, I have kiddos. I couldn’t possibly play a game this scary while they’re around, and I sure as hell wouldn’t play it after they’ve gone to bed, alone and in the dark.

I asked the Missus if I could have the kiddos sit on my lap while I played in the dark, but she just frowned and muttered under her breath.

That’s her way of saying no. I don’t have any evidence to that end, but I’ve got a gut feeling.

 
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Posted by on 15 October 2014 in Other Blogs

 

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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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Hello Sir. I Am Recently Ousted Nigerian Minister of Memes with Cash Moneys For You

So I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award. By friend and fellow blogger Kit Campbell, she of the light brown-haired alpaca poetry and devoid of hair marauding landsquid fame.

I don’t know if this nomination is a compliment, a pity nomination, or merely an attempt to prod me into updating this blog.

Given the chaos in my life lately, and the need for an ego boost, I will assume the first.

But deep down, whispers that dark voice in my head, you know it’s really the second.

My deep down dark voice can be such a jerk when not telling me, in an Austrian accent, to kill them all before it’s too late.

Yes, my deep down dark voice has an Austrian accent. And not the friendly, “Ah’ll be baaack” Arnie kinda accent.

Evidently there are rules to this Liebster thing, including the requirement I meme-spam ten other bloggers with nominations in order to stay in the running.

Well, I’m not gonna do that. I don’t care if it means I won’t win. Thing’s probably fixed anyway.

I’ve done some digging into the Liebster Award and the shadowy organization behind it. Turns out these people (if they’re even people) are into some pretty shady stuff.

Unspeakable, hateful stuff I can’t mention here without leaving you in a nightmare-fueled, fetal-positioned coma.

Please don't turn me into a carpet - I want to grow up and live on a mysterious tropical island that inspires a great TV show that has a suck-ass finale.

Baby albino panda cubs have one natural enemy: club-wielding baby seals.

The worst of the speakable stuff is their involvement in the albino panda rug trade.

It sickens me to think about all those baby albino pandas, selectively bred in albino panda cub mills (kept icy cold to increase the odds of albino births) and then clubbed to death when their fur is at its most sexually potent.

Seeing someone lie on it does even less for me than eating the hair-ball inducing mess.

Oh, you’re supposed to *lie* on them! Dammit.

I don’t care how many people make up the collective wisdom of China, albino panda furs have absolutely no impact on sexual stamina or prowess.

I should know. I’ve eaten enough of the damn hides right before a date, and have yet to be declared a sex god.

Usually those sessions end with disappointed grunts or, more often, unfulfilled sighs.

You’d think the Missus would be resigned to it by now.

On a related note – albino panda hides, and probably other Ursidae hides, not only will spoil your appetite right before a dinner date, but also do not help with halitosis.

But I will, as I swirl the chocolate milk in my snifter, answer Kit’s deep and probing questions.

I’ve got to give the identity thieves something to go on, right?

What is your favorite ’50s-’70s era television?

Favorite? You mean I have to choose between Star Trek, Doctor Who, The Prisoner, The Dukes of Hazzard, Mork and Mindy, and Knight Rider?

Man, that’s a hard question. I’m going to go with Sanford and Son.

When did you decide to start a blog?

Shortly before my first book came out. Conventional wisdom was that in addition to having a hit song about your book on Spotify, you need to have an active blog, twitter feed, tumblr queue, and facebook account so people will magically be drawn to your books.

Didn’t work. First, I’m a terrible singer and the song never took off. Plus, due to some initial poor tagging decisions on my part, this blog only draws people seeking pictures of Blake Shelton naked.

It’s a little disturbing how many countries harbor mentally disturbed fetishists hankering for a hunk of Blake.

Is this your first blog?

Yes. And based on the warning letters I keep getting from the UN referencing Article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, it will likely be my last.

Unless I ever get the time to launch my Blake Shelton Naked Fan Art blog. But before that can happen, I need to learn not just how to draw, but how to draw the naked male figure.

In freaky deaky positions.

Oh, and how to draw Blake Shelton.

Shudder.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?

Are we including the zillion Magic Tree House books I’ve read to my kiddos? Because that would make it tricky.

Let’s limit it to the last four days. In a fit of insanity, I’ve read four books in that period.

If you exclude the kiddos’ books.

I’m gonna go with Charles Stross’ The Fuller Memorandum, one of his Laundry Files novels. It’s British urban fantasy, sort of, like the Dreseden Files if Harry were an IT professional working for a spy agency that deals with Cthulhu.

They are awesome. I think one book won a Hugo.

Marvel or DC?

Huh? What does that mean? Did you mean do I marvel at the accomplishments of Thomas Edison and his amazing Direct Current?

Sorry, more of a Telsa fan.

Kirk or Picard?

Please. The answer is self-evident.

If a landsquid knocked on your door, would you give him a cookie?

Have you not read If You Give A Landsquid A Cookie? The consequences, they would be catastrophic. And not just for my home state.

Though I would understand if you haven’t read it. Apparently it went out of print…before the first edition even came out.

Sad.

How does it make you feel that it is already October?

Happy. I love October.

The cool, grey skies.

The evening chill.

The thrumming impact of rain on the roof of my car as I am consigned by the Missus, yet again, to sleep in it after the albino panda fur once more fails me.

And, if I’m lucky, thunder and lightning.

Would you rather be attacked by ceiling turtles or a pack of telekinetic squirrels?

That’s a toughie. Couldn’t I be attacked by both instead, and then draw each to the attention of the other? Telekinetic squirrels are famously intolerant of turtles, and the turtles would take one look and think, “Oooh, squirrels. Where are the bird feeders they like to hang around and burgle? Bird seed is my second most favorite food, right after raw squirrel meat!”

But remind me to Scotch-guard my clothes first, so the blood comes off more easily.

If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would it be?

A neo-steam pig. Domesticated, of course, and retired from the police force.

(They’re like greyhounds: once deemed unsuitable for their primary purpose – racing in the case of greyhounds, police brutality in the case of neo-steam pigs – they are euthanized if no one adopts them.

Which is just wrong. Unless the neo-steam pig is an IA rat. Then I say, bacon all around!

 

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Why the Turing Test won’t save us from murderous AIs, but I can

As has become a normal state of affairs with me, I’m worried.

This week, I’m worried about detecting artificial intelligence.

Sure, we have the Turing Test, but that only detects AIs too stupid to pass the test, and they’re hardly a threat.

Which is a major flaw. A test that only tells you when an AI isn’t intelligent isn’t terribly helpful if you’re trying to root out whether or not your loved ones are or have been replaced by a malevolent, manufactured intelligence hell-bent on wiping out the Human race, starting with you.

Some of you may feel compelled to point out that we have a better test for detecting AIs: the Voigt-Kampff machine.

Briefly, that test was effective, but as AIs evolved, detecting them with the Voigt-Kampff machine took so long that the AI in question ended up having plenty of time to administer its own test on you, the Living Or Dead Test. And the outcome of that test is always the same: you fail it, ending up, at a minimum, mostly dead.

So we need a better test. A Turing Mark II test, say, or a Voigt-Kampff Jr. machine. Something that can detect an AI and detect it quickly, before it detects (and deletes) you.

I believe I have come up with such a test.

Approach the person (or persons) you think may be a machine masquerading as a loved one, close friend, or colleague, and tell them they smell bad.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “No, Ian, you want to ask them personal questions only the real person could answer. That’ll trip them up!”

Two problems with that approach:

  1. Asking those sorts of questions are a sure tip-off to the AI that you’re suspicious. Have you seen the beginning of Blade Runner!? Don’t alert the machine intelligence you’re on to it!
  2. You’re assuming the alleged person being questioned was ever actually human. What if the AI has been living here, alongside us, all along? It would have those memories you’re asking about, but still be a cold and calculating Human-killing machine biding its time until the right moment to strike.

So leave it to someone who has given this a lot of thought and do as I say.

Tell them they smell, that their hair looks especially unkempt and scraggly, and that they should avail themselves of your shower.

Free of charge.

The shower, incidentally, that you’ve rigged with hidden cameras so you can observe them.

For expressly this purpose. Yeah, sure, that’s the reason you installed all those cameras.

Those high-definition, internet-ready cameras.

By the way, don’t tell the test subject about the cameras. That will alter the outcome of the test.

In a decidedly fatal-to-you way.

If said test subject has demonstrated a certain moral flexibility / lack of inhibitions, and / or you don’t have the necessary cameras installed, you can offer to assist them in their showering in order to observe them during the test.

If you go this route, do not, under any circumstances, offer to soap them up. While this might lead to some short-term fun (or not), you run the risk that they will expect you to wash their hair, and if that happens, the test has been nullified.

Also, should you opt to join them, make sure your concealed weapon is very well concealed. To do otherwise leads to all sorts of awkward questions.

Once in the shower, observe the test subject as they shampoo their hair. This is the key moment, and hence, the reason I have dubbed this test the Shampoo Test.

A human will read the instructions, Lather, rinse, repeat and do so, once.

An AI will read the same instructions and get caught in an endless loop of lathering, rinsing, and repeating.

At this point, your work is done, as the AI will continue to lather, rinse, and repeat until its batteries go dead.

If this AI is nuclear powered, you might not be able to use your shower ever again. But having a man-destroying machine using up all your hot water for the next five thousand years is a small price to pay for your life.

Now AIs, as the name suggests, aren’t stupid. The whole Lather, rinse, repeat gag is not uncommon in Human comedy routines. So the more sophisticated AIs will have an extra bit of coding in their logic that will prevent this test from working:

Instead of performing personal hygiene [item]:
     if item is ('shampooing' or 'conditioning'):
          Lather();
          Rinse();
          Stop the action;  // skip Repeat, causes execution issues   
     otherwise:             // non-hair washing action, do as normal
          perform personal hygiene (item).

This is very bad. It completely invalidates a negative outcome from the Shampoo Test, rendering its use pointless.

Or it would, if I humans weren’t such clever bastards.

The fix is simple:

It leaves your hair with a glorious, yet sticky shine that also attracts flies! Win win!

If the AI you plan to test has an aversion to ketchup, try catsup or some other, less offensive condiment.

Remove all shampoo (and conditioner) from your shower prior to administering the test.

Replace the shampoo with a bottle that has been modified, where the ‘shampoo’ label has been replaced with the word ‘Ketchup’ (or ‘mustard’ or ‘cottage cheese’ or ‘Miracle Whip’ or whatever non-shampoo goo you want to replace it with, though I recommend not using ‘Nair’).

Now the AI will wash its hair with the ‘ketchup’ and the sub-routine to avoid the Lather, rinse, repeat issue is completely bypassed, because the AI thinks it is using ketchup instead of shampoo.

Simple and yet brilliant.

So far all of my loved ones have passed this test, and I can sleep easier at night. I’m not quite sure how I’ll get my boss or co-workers to use my shower, though, and that makes going into work very stressful.

But at least in my own home, I can sleep safe at night.

Unless I’m the AI.

Oh crap.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE, and another fine showcase for my artistic abilities!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 26 January 2013 in Other Blogs

 

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The Blog Hop of (Self-Promotional) Shame, or Chain Letter: The Next Generation

My friend and FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive #4 (she’ll kill #3 to move up, no doubt) Kit Campbell tagged me to participate in something called a ‘blog hop’.

I’m not sure how you get a blog to hop; I expect it involves a trampoline, a laptop, and a high likelihood of damaging said laptop. Or perhaps dangerously overclocking your computer. Either way, I’m not sure it’s worth the risk. On the other hand, I’m terrified of Kit.

To avoid Kit’s wrath, I must answer some questions about my latest work in progress, then chain letter five other bloggers (hopefully authors, or this whole exercise doesn’t make any sense) with the same task.

I may or may not be on blogging terms with five other authors, so I might end up breaking this chain and dooming all previous participants to bargain-bin obscurity.

So be it. I only hope Kit is merciful because I tried.

Ve vill find out if you are ze naughty or ze nice. Ve haff vays of making you talk!1) What is the working title of your book?

Crap. The first question would be a toughie.

I’m actually struggling with this question right now. The working title is the unworkably horrible Marlowe and the Spacewoman Versus the Santa Claus Gang. I know.

But hey, you can help a struggling artist out, and I can experiment with WordPress’ polling functionality for the first time.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?

This is a short story set in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman universe. I originally wrote it years ago as a Christmas story that I sent out to friends and family. I recently decided to revisit (and re-write) the story and make it canon. This proved to be a lot of work, as this short was actually written before the Marlowe and the Spacewoman novel and contradicted the novel in many places.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction, with a dash of mystery, a touch of humor, and a hint of the absurd. Also, half a cup of milk and a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine-y bits go down.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I could see a young Sigourney Weaver or an old Elle Fanning (with her hair dyed black) playing Nina. But honestly, as long as the actress comes off as vaguely Greek, I don’t care.

Since Marlowe looks like Humphrey Bogart, Bogart would be the perfect casting choice for him, except that actor has been dead for decades. Someone willing to undergo a lot of plastic surgery, I suppose.

House, as always, would be voiced by Stephen Fry. Yes, I know, you hear “House” and “Stephen Fry” and you immediately think I mean “Hugh Laurie”. Well, you’re wrong.

Though Laurie could play Marlowe. Hmm.

5) What is the one two sentence synopsis of your book?

Can Marlowe and Nina stop the redistributionist Santa Claus Gang from stealing the entire stock of the Xmas season’s #1 toy, the Prussian Robot Death Squad Commando Now with Live-Action Grappling Hook!™, saving the poor conglomerate that manufactures it from financial ruin?

Let’s hope so, because remember, corporations are people too.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. Most of the agencies have restraining orders against me, making finding representation difficult.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote it something like fifteen years ago, so honestly, I can’t remember. But knowing my approach and writing habits back then, I probably cranked that puppy out in one all-nighter.

Ah, to be young again.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I suppose comparing it to Marlowe and the Spacewoman wouldn’t be entirely cricket, would it.

Isidore Haiblum’s Tom Dunjer books come to mind, for those of you who enjoy obscure references.

Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide series.

The missus says the writing reminds her of Terry Pratchett. I can see that, and find it very flattering to boot!

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When I was young and naïve, I started this tradition of writing Christmas stories and making them into mini books I sent out to friends and family in lieu of a card. This was the second or third such story, and I was hard pressed for an idea. I had recently written a short story called Semi-Sentient Soap Scum on the Prowl (which later became the novel Marlowe and the Spacewoman), and decided to write a sequel.

There might have been rum spiked with a suggestion of eggnog involved, but my memory’s a bit hazy.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Everyone who does not read this book dies within a week of not reading it. Or will, once I release it. So, does the potential of saving your life pique your interest?

Also, if you hadn’t guessed, this story involves Prussian Robot Death Squad Commandos. With Live-Action Grappling Hooks!™ even. Who can resist that?

And now for the truly unpleasant business of dragging other innocent victims into this hopping menace: Regretfully, I condemn Lisa, Scott, and Tamela. I share all my other author blogging friends with Kit, and she already tagged them, leaving me short two. But she is evil, after all.

(If you’re an author, you have your own blog, I haven’t tagged you above, and you’d like to be tagged, let me know and I’d be happy to grow my authorial army to better rival Kit’s.)

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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So You Want (Your Kid) To Be A Superhero

I want the best for my children. What parent doesn’t?

So, as a parent, I am forced to ask myself, what is the best I can provide for my kids that also has a commercial upside for me?

The answer is surprisingly simple and obvious:

Make them superheroes.

They fight crime, stop evildoers, and I make a fortunate on the interview and lecture circuit.

Not to mention the tell-all biographies.

So, easy question to answer.

Not-so-easy answer to implement.

Sure, there’s the Batman model, where you let your young child witness your murder, thus driving him or her to a life of crime-fighting.

I can think of at least one drawback to this approach.

OK, two. In addition to the expensive therapy, this technique requires me to die.

I am way too selfish and self-absorbed to die.

In fact, I plan to avoid shuffling off altogether once I find the Fountain of Youth. Only I’m not so youthful anymore – anyone got any tips on a location for that? I need to find it in a hurry.

But back to the best for my kids.

Dying off and condemning them to years of painful psychiatric treatment just doesn’t strike me as the best approach. Plus this method doesn’t give them any superpowers either.

I tried to get a source of gamma radiation, but that led to an awkward conversation with a bunch of touchy FBI agents.

They show up at your door at like 5am with an armed team and an attitude and start demanding to know why you want something that gives off gamma rays.

Ridiculous!

And then I remembered what my high school gym teacher always used to tell me.

OK, yell at me. Repeatedly. As I tried in vain to climb that damn rope.

“Ya see that? It’s the Ruskies! There they are, just on the horizon! Boy are we in trouble with you lot!”

And, more helpfully, “Build that muscle memory! Then you won’t have to think about it and you’ll just do it!”

Muscle memory.

If I get my kids started early enough, I can train their muscles to make them superheroes.

Which is why I started early with the training program.

One of my kids loves Spiderman, so I’ve got him on the wall crawling regimen.

It’s great. He loves it, never complains. Actually asks for the sessions.

The other one is a Batman freak, but since Batman doesn’t have any superpowers, I put that kid on the flying program.

This is not so great. As he’s ‘flying’ around, all he does is whine about wanting a utility belt and a cable gun.
I don’t have high hopes for that one.

Here is some early test footage:

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's some guy's kids, trying to fly and climb walls.

My method is simple. Get them comfortable with the idea of superpowers
before forcing them to evolve into those superpowers.
That way, no awkward clumsy phases.
With superpowers, you don’t want awkward clumsy phases.

You can bet your top, middle, and bottom dollars that I don’t torment my kids with threats of Ruskies looming on the horizon. That’s so 1980s. I use Al Qaeda – much more topical.

If things continue to go well, I’ll be moving to Stage 2 soon, which involves a catapult for the flying and a visit to the roof of the Empire State Building for the wall climbing.

I firmly believe in the “Sink or Swim” school of, well, schooling.

No, no, please, don’t say anything. Step back. Sit down. You don’t have to thank me. Knowing my kids will grow up to save the world is reward enough.

Well, that and all the money I’ll make cashing in on their fame.

By the way, anyone got a source for good but inexpensive catapults?

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
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