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Grim indeed, yet eloquent and utterly compelling."
The End: NECESSARY EVIL Is Out! - 5/1/2013, 10:29 AM Because I Haven't Posted About tDCS In A While - 4/8/2013, 04:07 PM Announcing the NECESSARY EVIL Signing Tour - 4/5/2013, 05:15 PM Nuclear Deterrence in a Blood Magic World - 2/22/2013, 09:41 AM Guest Post #2 at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/17/2013, 04:41 PM Guest Post at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/15/2013, 09:17 PM A Conversation with Charlie Stross - 2/8/2013, 11:06 AM NOW OUT in the UK: THE COLDEST WAR - 2/7/2013, 12:22 AM Clarion Is Accepting Applications for the Class of 2013 - 1/27/2013, 06:38 PM Holy Smokes! Cover Art for Something More Than Night - 1/23/2013, 09:44 PM
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I have learned, over the course of many years, that I am less intelligent than the average squirrel on a college campus. Like during that morning many years ago when I was convinced -- convinced -- for a few short minutes that squirrels could read. And that they were politically conservative.
It was the autumn, my first quarter as a full-time student at the University of Minnesota. (The U of M was on the quarter system until around 2000, I think, when it switched to semesters. I still mourn the quarter system.) A drizzly, foggy morning in late September. The kind of fog that dampened the sidewalks in long, dark streaks.
So anyway, there I was, walking across Northrop Mall, awkwardly early for a 9:00 class (History of Science). I'm sure I was feeling very, um, collegiate at that moment: surrounded by stone pillars and neoclassical campus buildings, wet leaves underfoot, lovely Northrop Auditorium in front of me, backpack slung over my shoulder. (Northrop, incidentally, was designed by the same architect as the Widener Library at Harvard, and is in fact almost identical to same; two years after this I watched a scene from a Joe Pesci movie get filmed here, because the filmmakers used the location as a stand-in for Harvard.) Since this was, after all, 8:30 on a college campus, the place was dead quiet. Except for the rumble of the #16 bus pulling away from Coffman Union, and the sound of my own footsteps echoing across the Mall. And... this quiet, intermittent rustling sound.
I'd walk a few paces, stop, listen, walk a few more, listen again... I was about 2/3 of the way along the mall, outside the Tate Lab of Physics (where I'd spend much of my life in the next few years) when I realized the sound was coming from behind one of the round message-pillar-thingies scattered across the Mall. One of those things you see on campuses-- permanently covered several pages deep in concert announcements, lecture announcements, film festival announcements, ads seeking roommates, ads selling third-hand furniture, and just about anything else people decided to post. I suppose some of that is done online these days. This was in the Dark Ages of the internet, before the World Wide Web, long before things like Craigslist and Facebook and Myspace. At least a year, in fact, before the U of MN rolled out email accounts for all students.
Something was rustling papers behind the message board, where I couldn't see. Since I had plenty of time to kill, I took a little detour to satisfy my curiosity.
The bottom of the message board, at about knee height, was plastered with paper signs featuring a simple message:
And the rustling sound arose from a single squirrel that was systematically tearing down these signs.
I mean, the tableau spoke for itself: a call for squirrel solidarity, and a squirrel that apparently felt this kind of Socialist propaganda was unacceptable on a college campus. (Seriously, it was 8:30 in the morning. What would you have thought?)
Later in the day, or maybe the next day, I figured out what had happened; there was a perfectly logical explanation for what I had seen. But right at that moment I lacked two crucial pieces of information. Standing there, alone in the fog and drizzle on Northrop Mall, I would have sworn up and down that damn squirrel could read.
I hate those little buggers. I have a family of them in my attic, fat and snug and living high on the hog on my dime. I hope part N describes how they all died in a fiery cataclysm.
Part N describes how they decided to start pooping on my desk, as a "thank you" for stealing my lunch every day. That was 7 or 8 years after Squirrels Unite, though. They upped their game over time, you see.
If I ever get around to writing the Bees od Brooklyn, literate squirrels will play a big part. They are out there.
I imagine the literate squirrels produced ad copy for your moviegoing mice, too.
Don't the squirrels in Brooklyn carry tasers?
And are extremely adaptable. They've moved into city life like they were bred for it.
One day, they will discover fire. Then we're boned.
I figure the squirrels will just wipe us out with bubonic plague first. Then, as you say, they'll discover fire and wipe out the remaining pockets of human resistance.
The few human survivors of that post-apocalyptic wasteland will become slave labor in the vast, subterranean acorn mines.
I for one welcome our new rodent overlords.
I for one welcome our new rodent overlords
One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them.
No tasers in Brooklyn. Being cowards, the squirrels hide in the trees. The rats rule the streets.
Could be worse. It could be flying snakes inhabiting the trees of Brooklyn.
Nothing is worse than squirrels, except maybe flying squirrels.
Pigeons are worse than squirrels. Flying rats we call them.
Now see this is interesting because I too had a sentient squirrel moment on the U of M campus one day, walking away from Northrup Auditorium. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a squirrel wearing a pink scarf. Like something out of Beatrix Potter. I looked again with my whole eye this time and saw that in fact it was a squirrel carrying a crumpled piece of pink paper in it's mouth. Perhaps carrying messages for an early Squirrels Unite meeting. Very clever of them to use PINK paper. Very reverse psychology of them, hiding in plain sight.
Perhaps carrying messages for an early Squirrels Unite meeting. Very clever of them to use PINK paper.
Hmmm... This would have been around the same time, plus or minus a year at the most... and again, near the Auditorium. All these years I've been discounting the experience, but now that I'm confronted with new evidence I have to reconsider. Their use of pink is, as you point out, rather damning.
Unwalkers interview [English | French ]
Interview with Speculate! Podcast Interview with Adventures in SciFi Publishing
Ian Tregillis on the Sword and Laser Podcast
Ian Tregillis on John Scalzi's The Big Idea
Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with SFRevu
Interview with Mad Hatter Book Review
Interview with Apex Books
Interview at Literary Musings Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
An interview with the authors of Busted Flush at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with Travis Heermann at The Write Line
9-way interview with the contributors to the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview in the February, 2008 newsletter of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
An extended interview with Ian Tregillis by Ty Franck, on www.wildcardsbooks.com.