Tag Archives: science fiction

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.”

Good ideas DO grow on trees

14 Mar

Ever thought about mindmapping your way to richer characters?

I’ve been using mindmapping for years now, but I had only used it for educational and management purposes when it hit me: what a good tool to add some depth to my characters!

Since this is one of the most important things on my To improve list (somehow I feel my guys and gals – good or bad – generally need more meat), and since I am a visuals junkie, I had to take the shot. So, this post is about how mindmapping can be used to get some good work done on your characters. Nothing revolutionary, nothing fancy, but practical. The way I like my tools.

1.       What is mindmapping in the first place?

This is a story other people have already taken their time to write, so I’ll provide you with bibliography.

click on the image for an introduction into mindmapping

2.       Oh, I get it. But why should I use it?

There are two important things that mindmapping can do for a writer. The first is outlining – a mindmap is a great way to explore possibilities for your story. The second is getting a deeper, clearer view of your most important characters by constructing an exhaustive portrait of her/him/it.

By mindmapping your characters, you provide yourself with a coherent view of who they are and what their motivations, quirks and secrets are.  You put everything in one big picture that you can easily tap into with just one look. But guess what – this doesn’t do squat!

In my experience, it’s not being able to go back to the mindmap that helps – it’s actually making one. The process forces you to think of the characters by looking at them from all sides, hidden and obvious, and filling in the gaps.

3.       How should I go about doing it?

If you’v ever done characterisation essays in literature classes, this is the same process, reverse engineered. Instead of looking at existing heroes, your are creating new ones filling in a similar templat:

  • Visual characterisation – how the character looks, moves, dresses and generally behaves on a level that can be perceived visually
  • Dominant traits that the story will underline/feed on (including dominant passions and vices)
  • Direct characterisation – what other characters would have to say about the subject
  • Indirect characterisation – traits (psychological and emotional) that can be observed and extracted as conclusions from his/her behaviour

Well, the best way to go would be to give you and example. Here it is, mindmapping applied to Vasilisk, the main character in the Trashgod short story.

For this particular piece, I’ve used a dedicated software (a few options below), but if you feel like grabbing you crayons and an empty sheet of paper to open the floodgates of your child-powered creativity, don’t let me stand in your way (not that I would DARE to).

http://www.mindjet.com – ‘professional’ software

http://www.mindomo.com – partially free, subscrition based license; online, so location independent

http://www.freemind.sourceforge.net – freeware. fast and furious

An extra note on creative mindmapping: to keep your left-side brain from getting in the way, use all sorts of elements for mindmaps. Sketches, clippings, colours and, of course, writing – it doesn’t have to be a sterile land – my character looks like this or that, he does this and says all the wrong thigs, etc. The branches of your mind map could well be short scences from the (future) story.

4.       When should it be done?

Any time you feel it is necessary. So far, I have never done it before starting a story, it has been more of a way to clarify things and make sure that a character does not get wishy-washy when he has some serios decision-making to do.

However, if you have a clear enough picture in your mind, you can start to put some more ‚meat’ on the skeleton even before you write the first line. Of course, this isn’t just for the main character. Linking their mutual stereotypes and feelings could be fun and creative.

So, what are you waiting for? There are no excuses left. Better characters are lurking out there, waiting for the right writer to prey on.

Bait them with some mindmapping and enjoy your writing.

Trashgod – part VII

13 Mar

The dragon’s screech followed them, but it died away before hitting. It was then that Vasilisk noticed the thick, rubber-and-cotton padding that covered the walls of the tunnel, even the floor they landed on.

“ He’s hit in the shoulder. Doesn’t look that bad,” suggested Mini as they stopped to examine Percival.

“A flesh wound, as 30 mm flesh wounds go. But that’s not what I’m concerned about.”

“What then?”

“This”, replied Vasilisk extracting a fragment fullmetal jacket.

Percival’s peculiar allergy to copper kicked in about an hour later. He was not particularly ill – no real fever anyways – and he didn’t thrash or anything, since his shoulder hurt. But it was pretty bad for his mates.

“Boss, isn’t there a way to make him stop?”

“… but I, being a poor man, have nothing …”

“We could gag him,” scowled Vasilisk.

“… but my dreams …”

“We should …”

“Fine. You hold him.”

Percival didn’t even seem to notice Mini as he was grabbed in the middle of the lyrical seizure, and kept on reciting as long as he could before Vasilisk stuffed his mouth with a dirty piece of t-shirt.

“… tread softly, for you are treading on my drhmfdsfs …”

The story of dirty Mari

10 Mar

Mari was was serving stale beer and cold food in a crummy pub when the Flying Spaghetti Monster walked in and ordered a Bloody Mary with extra tomato juice.

He sat at a small table in the back and sipped his drink through a yellowish straw. Funny. Mari couldn’t remember giving him a straw.

He looked handsome. Actually, he looked too good for the place; he just didn’t fit in the picture. His presence made the tables look dirtier and the floor beneath his feet stretched out greasy palms begging for a sweep.

She unbuttoned one more button on her shirt, but felt like slut right all the way to his table.

Oh God, everyone’s staring at my meatballs. Mari you’re so stupid. He’ll think I’m …

“Easy choice.”

His voice struck her. It was unctuous and deep, and no matter how uncomfortable the intercourse between his words and her thoughts made her feel, it also soothed her beyond anything she’d felt in a long time.

“Excuse  me?” she asked, barely squeezing the words past the lump of mince meat in her throat.

“Easy choice, with a menu like this. I’ll have some pizza. And some other drink, something finer than this cocktail. A glass of wine. Chateau something fancy.”

Saying ‘no’ to him, any kind of ‘no’, felt like the hardest thing in the world. She cursed herself for being a loser waitress in a losers’ bar instead of a smart waitress in a high class restaurant, where she could have spoiled his long, thin lips with the best selection in the world …

“ … Sorry, Sir. I’m afraid we only have the standard pill-brewed slipslop.”

Why on earth had she been so honest!?!

“Mari, get a hold of yourself”.

“Then get me a pitcher of Coke and I’ll make do.”

She wrote that down as if there was a goddamn chance she’d forget and was just about to leave when he said it.

“Since you will join me, make that a pizza for two. And two wine glasses with the Coke.”

It would have been impolite to say ‘no’, since this was her chance to atone for the redneck’s reply she’d just given.

It would have been impossible to say ‘no’ too, but Mari refused to let this realization into her consciousness.

“ What’s your name?” he asked pouring the Coke.
“Meatball Marinara. My friends call me Mari.”

He lifted the glass up in the air and examined it, swirling the Coke like an expert wine taster.

“Then history will remember you as Mari. Sweet, dry or any of the nuances inbetween?”

“S … sweet I guess …”

He placed the glass in front of her with an inviting look in his eyes and repeated the drill with his own glass as she tasted it.

It was wine. So fine, so expensive and good, it would have tasted of dollars had she sipped it in different company, but right there and then it was a cocktail of myrrh and frankincense and nectar and ambrosia. It tasted alive, frolicky, cleansing and diamond-sharp, it tasted of unrefundable lost time and great expectations and all the caressing hands of darkness, it tasted …

…  godly.

“Who are you?” she dared to mumble, squeezing into herself to brace for the answer.

“My name is Monster. Flying Spaghetti Monster, but you can also call me…’ and as he said this his head seemed to surround itself with a halo of starchy pure white”… God.”

Funny, it didn’t feel like he was joking. In fact, his olive eyes stared at Mari so intently, and the uncooked spaghetti rays around his head shimmered with such an unearthly glow that she could ask only one question.

“Why have you come to me, God?”

“Well, I had to meet the mother of my only son. So please, tell me all there is to know about you.”

Mari told him the stories of her entire life, the ones which register on the fabric of time under the weight of our actions, as well as the secret ones, of heart and soul, which pull happiness and sorrow into our life through the gravity of self-fulfilling prophecies. She told him about the marble she’d swallowed when she was eight, about the pup she’d drowned in the washing machine trying to show her mother he could be clean enough to keep, about the one exam she cheated on, the poetries she never wrote, and the days she just lay on the ground trying to feel if the growing grass was taking her closer to the sky. She told him about washing dishes in the kitchen, about Grandma and her foul smelling medicine, about the scare of her first menstruation and the relief of the following sixty-seven. She told him about her dreams, her hopes, her fears and insecurities.

She told him about everything, until, at some point in the ever winding story, he put a finger on her lips, then took her head between his thick fusili-fingered palms and drew her close to him. She closed her eyes. His breath smelled of basil, his hands held her with the firm kindness of velvet vise grips and everything else took a time-out from existence. There she was, table-scrubbing Mari, the uber-nun of Mortadella High, as virgin as an unopened can of peeled tomatoes, about to be kissed by a man so aweso…

No, by a god. About to be kissed by a god.

His lips touched her forehead, hot as pasta fresh from the microwave, and then he left, paying exactly what he owned, not a dime, not even a pence or a centime more.

It wasn’t until two weeks later, when she missed her period, that Mari realized she’d been over tipped.

~~~

My entry for the Chuck Wendig Irregular Creatures Challenge

Trashgod – part VI

9 Mar

The noise dragon errupted in a spectacular fountain of ruined treasure, leveling all piles of junk on a radius of one mile around ground zero. Vasilisk and his troopers had only gotten 0.8 miles away and the blast threw them face down in the dirt.

STAY DOWN.

The two guys nodded and did as Vasilisk gestured.

TWO? WHERE THE FUCK IS ORION?

They heard him making his way through the clutter, singing, commenting and advertising, interrupted only by the sound static as he switched in excitement between the channels in his head.

He was out to get himself a trophy. Vasilisk had know this day would come – he always wanted to take down something big.

Orion’s voice was the only thing louder than his Gatling as he switched it to tracer bullets and painted the darkening sky with red hot lines.

–          SHOWME WACHYA GOT, YOU BADLY DRAWN BASTARD!

The dragon first turned away from Orion’s AA rounds, then took a sharp turn towards the heavily armed nutcase, all garbage shattering in its path crushed by an unseen force.

Percival chose the worst moment in his life to act the unlikely hero. Later that night, hidden somewhere beneath the surface, Vasilisk thought he had to give it to him for having the cojones to run for Orion.  Useless though. He couldn’t even get to him before the dragon’s sonic blast hit his friend.

For a few seconds, Orion just stood there before his sense of direction toppled together with any aim he still possessed and went fully mad while holding a fully automatic 30 mm cannon. He shot Percival right before the dragon finished him off.

The sight of him disintegrating was convincing enough. Even the pits were a safer place than the surface. They jumped into the nothingness, with Mini dragging Percival by one leg.

Competition

8 Mar

Go on and join the Chuck Wendig flash fiction competition. 1000 words to spare for telling the story of an awesomely wrong, terribly irregular, hyperbolically twisted creature.

I’m working on my own version right now. Join the rest of us weirdos, for the fun of it …

Competition link on the banner below …

© Chuck Wendig

Futuristic Tales of Here and Now

7 Mar

Cory Doctorow, one of the most popular cyberpunk writers on this planet (I don’t have much information on other planets or dimensions), is offering his readers a treat.

The comic book version of his short-story collection Futuristic Tales of Here and Now is available for free. A place where you can find them is here.

For the best reading experience I recommend CDisplay, available right here: http://www.cdisplayex.com/

Enjoy!

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