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2 Stories and I am a Visionary (Again)

October 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Something old, something new...

For a while, now, I've been meaning to mention that two of my stories are currently available online.  One is a reprint and the other is an original set in the Milkweed universe.

Additionally, I've just discovered a second case of real-world circumstances reflecting something that I thought I had conjured from my imagination.

Something old …

One of my favorite stories has just been republished by the good folks over at Snackreads.  (Which, by the way, if you're not already familiar with Snackreads, they're worth a look. They're putting together a nice little catalog of stories by terrific authors like Daniel Abraham, Jane Linskold, and Fred Saberhagen.)  Come Dancefight, My Beloved Enemy is an eminently silly tale of retired spies and mechanical sharks, told entirely in that literary abomination known as second-person narration.  And yet, for all that, I'm fond of the piece.  I wrote it as an exercise for myself at the end of Clarion (which is going back a few years now, come to think of it).   No story is perfect, true, but somehow—in spite of the deliberately over-the-top weirdness, or perhaps because of it—it worked out better than I had expected.  So I'm happy that it's available again.

Something new…

Dancefight is one of my earlier stories, though.  Much newer, as in brand-new, is What Doctor Ivanovich Saw, which has been published in the current issue of Subterranean Press Magazine.  It's a standalone story set in the world of the Milkweed Triptych novels Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil.  It takes place during the long gap between the first and second books.  It's also, as one might infer from the title, a companion piece to What Doctor Gottlieb Saw, which takes place just prior to the first chapter of Bitter Seeds.  Though the stories are independent of one another. 

Something conjured from the depths of a fevered imagination…

(Isn't that how the rhyme goes?)

Anyway.  Speaking of Doctor Gottlieb, here's an interesting headline that came across my Twitter feed this morning: Dell Users: Latitude 6430u Laptops 'Smell of Cat Urine'

This amuses me to no end because it reads (to me) like a confluence of tiny details plucked from the Milkweed books and the Doctor Gottlieb story.  Early in Bitter Seeds, the batteries that fuel the superhuman feats of the Götterelektrongruppe are described as rechargeable lithium-ion packs.  I wrote that with modern laptop batteries in mind, to try to hint at the idea that the technology developed at the Farm was far ahead of its time.  Later in the series, and also in the Gottlieb story, I describe the innards of the batteries—and the laboratory where they're assembled, and the technicians who work on them—as carrying the strong ammonia stink of cat piss.

So I fully expect the source of that strange odor will be traced to the batteries in those Dell laptops. 

First, it was Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation.  Now it's the smell of (possibly) defective batteries.  Bit by bit, the impossible over-the-top mad science of the Milkweed books becomes reality…


steve halter October 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I will guess that you are right on the ammonia smell. 

Dancefight is a great deal of fun. Glad it is out again. 

Ian October 31, 2013 at 7:56 am
Thanks, Steve.  The silver lining would be that if I'm right about the source of the smell, then perhaps Dell laptop batteries would be ideal for tDCS experimentation...
Andrew Healy November 4, 2013 at 4:29 pm

There was an article in the NYT magazine this past weekend that talked about tDCS, and it was quite informative.  I got some answers to questions that I had had for a while from it.  I still have more questions, but my sense of curiosity about this is still strong.  Not too keen on the do-it-yourself folks, though.  Right idea, wrong follow-through.

Ian November 4, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I didn't see that article!  Now I need to track it down!

The timing on that is funny, too, as just this weekend my fiancée and I had a long discussion, with two of our friends, about DIY tDCS.   I'm intrigued enough to want to try it (in theory, anyway) but everybody else seemed to be of the opinion that this was a bad idea.  The argument that it might imbue me with superpowers fell on deaf ears.

Andrew Healy November 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Oh, the implications are very interesting.  I just would like to have far more information about the results, and something that was specifically built by the "experts" for the sole purpose of doing this.  Plus, I have some residual reluctance about sending electric currents through my head.  Too many movies with electroshock therapies or executions.

Steve Halter November 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

Well made devices seem to be fairly harmless. Of course, I haven't actually tried it myself ...

It seems like it could be useful in a fencing match. Keeping focus is quite important. Now, maybe it gives you that Jedi power of knowing where the blade is going to be before it goes there. Yeah, I'm sure it would do that.

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