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Trashgod – part VIII

4 Dec

Percival kept on mumbling poetry throughout most of the night, sleeping or awake, but Vasilisk and Mini where too tired to notice it. They didn’t sleep well though, as the ultrasound residue of the noise dragon’s booming cries trickled all the way down to them, fiddling with their metabolism and Vasilisk’s vestigial echolocation organ.

–          Which way do we go now, boss? asked Mini staring up the steep shaft they’d slid down on.

There was no way back. Noise dragon stalking on the surface or not, the way they’d come in was inaccessible.

–          Only one way left …

The scalding carbide lamp kept darkness at arm’s length, but it quickly rushed in on their footsteps as they went down the chilly corridor with a gagged and sedated Percival.

The occasional banging noise coming out of the depths as the only accompanying soundtrack got louder and scarier as they pushed on. Whenever they reached a fork in the road, Vasilisk pointed out to the one that sounded less likely to lead them to the source, until they realized that all options inevitably took them closer.

They reached the nexus after precisely 253 minutes of hard marching. The walls dissolved in a gigantic cavern, as the floor under their feet turned into a bridge of stone. Everything was glowing with fungus and leachate and they could see the pathway finishing off abruptly just before connecting to the shaggy metal spire rising in the middle. Vasilisk thought he’d heard Percival mumbling a line from Marlowe’s Childe Roland when he looked at countless other bridges and entryways throughout the entire cavern, ponting in the same way to the epicenter.

They felt like specks of dust, lost in the darkness and size of the underground chamber, not fit to receive all the unwanted attention they got when a huge spotlight pinned them down.

–          STOP WHERE YOU STAND OR I WILL GUN YOU DOWN!

Sharp sound and a line of reddish vapor added muscle to the threat. Vasilisk recognized it as the telltale mark of a relay gun.

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To the lighthouse

3 Dec

I am not entirely sure why I enjoyed this book.

If you just look at the facts, nothing spectacular happens – in terms of action or long burried secrets at least. The characters are  normal (even if intellectual) people, living normal British lives.

So …? What’s the catch.

The trick Virginia Woolf managed to pull on me (and all those who have enjoyed this book) is called ‘fascination with the human mind.’

The book is truly about what lies beneath. We, as humans, say so little of what truly goes on in our minds and Woolf captures all the inner noise so well, that I felt compelled to read this book to the end. How she does it is beyond my skill to fully understand and explain, but you become a spectator to conflicts, frictions and loves of monumental (dis)proportion.

The entire book actually happens over the course of an afternoon and its evening, followed by an evening and morning ten years later. While little out of the ordinary happens outwardly, inside, entire worlds and philosophies clash. The book is about what the  characters feel, about their inner conflicts, about their greatness and their pettiness facing each other as images in a crooked mirror.

What truly impressed me about the book was the fascinating symbiosis between two antithetical entities: Man – renowned, yet insecure, intelligent and deep thinking, with incredible insights, but at the same time a whimpering child always seeking attention and validation, to the point of begging for it; Woman – discreet, beautiful, mother of eight, of little fame or academic intelligence, yet strong, caring, with a heart and an eye for directing destinies and doing what must be done, in spite of reproach.

There is so much more to be said about this short book, but there is even more thinking to be done. I will let it sink in, with all its beautiful dioramas on the human mind and the unseen ties between people, and invite you to read it before I end.

23 Jun

I’d promised the bitch I’d marry her. Must’ve been drunk on alcohol, lust or both.

As if the embarrassing lapse of reason wasn’t enough, we told our friends. Or, to be more accurate, I did. I flaunted my commitment, let everyone know, almost invited a few of them to some sort of mysterious wedding in the epic future. Got a house for us, shoved a few friends in there too, knocked on neighbours’ doors with a “hey, fellas, here we are, new to the neighbourhood and fountainpens full of spunk”.

So it was unavoidable that, at some point in time, she told herself “this is it, I’ve changed the bastard at last” (all women say that to themselves at least once in their liftime) and smiled to me reassuringly, put her hand in mine and patiently waited for the ring, guests, cake and a beautiful dress to stain with dove shit in front of the church.

It’s not that I got cold feet, you know. It’s more of a … they were never warm enough kind of situation.

New options, new ambitions, smells like career, you know. Fuck the broad, she’s holding me back.

I went the other day to our small house. Smelled the curtains, felt the tang of mildew in the back of my nostrils, all the way down to the throat. Coughed just to see floating dust panic in the dim light of dirty window censorship.

She’s still there, you know. I locked her up in the basement a few months ago. There’s no stink ebbing and flowing up from between the floorboards, nor any fattened rats squeeking around in dark corners, there’s no sign of foul play.

But she’s there and not doing very well.

I’m sorry, girl. We could have been so good together. They would’ve loved us, your ideas and my way of phrasing them … or was it the other way around? Oh, hell, doesn’t matter know, it’s doesn’t amount to nothing anymore. Everything that’s left is a sliver of remorse lost in my bloodstream, hardly registering in any chemical test except for those painful moments when I remember the horror in your eyes when I strangled you and crushed our hope, love and dreams together with your trachea.

I guess I got scared. Scared of us, scared of being the weak one.

I was never good enough for you, Calliope.

Der Sandmann

16 May

Perhaps the freakiest, creepiest short I’ve ever seen. Enjoy, but don’t let your kids anywhere near it – watch and you’ll see why.

The Government Who Shot @LibertyValance

3 May

Everything and everyone exploded instantly when the Government finally managed to track down and kill @LibertyValance. Traditionalists quickly spilled their bile or honey by buzzing, twitting and facebooking all over the web, while web 6.0 kids spun their weave of neurocasts and newshack reports on the Cyberweb.

Immediately, an infinite chain of 15-minute-squatter-parties broke out on corporate or Government  servers with crappy security. It was only fitting since @LibertyVallance had been the one to invent them after breaking into  World Trade Center 2.0 servers and selling tickets all over the web for access to their innocent and defenseless TBs during the 15 minutes of chaos left before the ICE would be raised back.

Zilliards of messages, opinions, arguments, forum flamewars and Dadaist e-ssays flowed on the topic of his execution. The official government position was that the infoterrorist had been followed for two long years before an entire Area 21 farm of atomic processors had been deployed with the mission to capture him. Of course, capture him alive, if possible, but @LibertyValance had violently resisted an IP lobotomy intervention and the men in black turtlenecks behind CIA keyboards cold-bloodedly punched in the command to inject the terminal malicious code.

The first to issue a contrary position had been @LibertyValance’s own gang of self-titled lieutenants, grunts and Facebook fans. In unison, they claimed this to be a government electoral hoax and asked for real proof of their leaders’ termination, while threatening to respond with increased attacks and proof of their own that @LibertyValance was still alive and kicking – which they immediately did, by releasing a podcast of @LibertyValance himself letting everyone know he was ok, while apologizing for voice distortion and the trademark cowboy smiley which had always covered his face in all previous podcasts. He had said he knew all his supporters understood these smokescreens were there for his own safety and trusted him to  continue his fight for informational justice all over the Internet and Cybernet – a trust which he would not betray.

Serious media provided full coverage to both extremes and everything in between, newsflashes announcing nothing new on the IT front every 30 minutes and day-long talkshows hosting somewhat sterile debates with somewhat senile experts. At the same time, the tabloids took the putrid pink tint of informational debree floating in an alleged holographic representation of the infoterrorists’ e-remains as sufficient proof of the rumor that he had died while engaged in hardcore interactive pornographic S&M entertainment with @LadyDomina, e-prostitute well-known and feared for code more malicious than anything the Government could ever dream of uploading.

Some of the most hilarious news included: a young man closing his vintage World of Warcraft account after having sworn to keep it open until @LibertyValance was caught; an eBay auction of alleged @LibertyValance’s web-jockey equipment which ended in crashed servers and losses of 1.5 billion dollars due to immense sudden traffic and irate fans with programming skills; and a discreet bar for IT afficionados opening on Oxford Street in London with the corny name of @LibertyValance’s.

Of course, conspiracy theory groups had to have the last word and cast the issue into never-ever-find-the-truth Limbo by pronouncing the assassination of @LibertyValance to be a phony setup: the Government had only killed a double which had been posing as the infamous infoterrorist for the past 2 years. To make matters worse, Government programmers had done the deed with help from the real @LibertyValance, just to help him vanish and retire from CIA service after having  blown World Trade Center 2.0 security to justify strict Government control of all communication and infringement of all possible liberties, which needed to be safeguarded by immediately dismantling the Internet and the Cybernet, the Global Postal Service, the satellite belt, mobile telephony and landline telephony networks all over the world, harsh but much necessary measures which had to be followed by a swift massacre of Amish homing pigeons  and thorough confiscation and incineration of all blankets in the last three Indian reservations. A petition supporting these demands was also launched for anyone who wanted to sign it, anonymously if needed.

Personally, I say this is all crap. People, read the message, I’ve written it on all hard-drives  on the planet, it says:

”Wife pregnant. More important firewalls to crack. Bye!

Love,

@LV

PS: If you are reading this, the message is in your boot sector and all data on your hard-disk will be deleted next time you boot (ahem … start) your computer. Never ever shut down your PC and send the message urgently to all your friends.”

Hyper

1 May

Dan Simmons’s Hyperion is by far one of the best sci-fi novels that I’ve ever read, up there together with Dune and – sorry to say this, Ender fans – better than the two Ender novels I’ve read so far.

Now, before I launch into why this novel is so good, I’ll make a caveat on taste and quality. ‘They’ say that there is no accounting for taste, but I believe there is as far as craftsmanship goes. There is a difference behind enjoying a novel and taking a look at the way it was constructed to tell a story that is realistic (if necessary), credible (always necessary), mind-bending (by posing some interesting/important questions) and immersive (because fun must be factored in, too).

Now, back to Hyperion.

The first surprise I’ve had was to discover that it is actually a frame story, where each of 7 characters embarking on a mad pilgrimage tell their stories, hoping that it will shed some light on why they were chosen to meet the greatest horror discovered so far in the known Universe.

The second surprise was the first story. The third surprise was the second story. The fourth surprise was the third story … and so on.

Each of the stories is so different, yet so extraordinary and unexpected that each could have easily been a novel by themselves (or a movie – and I’m not the first one to say this). All six of them (yes, six, not seven, but I’ll let you read the book to learn why) are, of course, connected to the mysterious figure of the Shrike, the alien (in the worst possible sense of the word) entity that some revere as a god, while others seek to destroy as if eliminating a pest (well, a pretty horrible one).

However, the strongest point of the six stories is not just how different they are in content. It’s the style, too, their voice, their personality changes tremendously based on the characters. The posse that Simmons has created provides one of the most heterogeneous assemblies of high-contrast, well defined and individualized characters. Creating such a group is a challenge from the outset, but Simmons turns the fact that they are always together, with a constant danger of ‘not being who they should’, into an asset for the book, as contrast between them furthers their individuality.

There is a lot to say about meaning and deeper ideas in the book, but … where should I start? From politics and hunger for power to humble personal discovery, from the relativity of philosophy, literature and history to God, from science to issues of ecology and eco-terrorism, the novel touches all of them raising interesting questions for those who are looking for more than just a good action-packed story.

I’ll close here, with a warning. Make sure you have The Fall of Hyperion (second novel of the Hyperion Cantos) handy by the time you finish this. Trust me if you don’t enjoy going cold turkey.

Write-o-meter: 23rd of March

23 Mar

Taking my chances here, but a little bit of exhibitionism never hurt anyone …

Here’s status on my projects on the 23 of March. You can find more information about them on the Write-o-Meter page.

Losalia

Section 666

Tickets to the other side

Venus

Trashgod

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