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9/04/2005

The Pilgrim Way


"Callicrates," breathed Utopia, reaching up to touch the glass through which shone a sharp crescent of blue and white, edging one side of a massive round shadow occulting the background stars. "The entire world is one great city. Can you believe that, Simon? You can see the lights shining on the nightside."

I squinted. "Those orange blurs?"

She nodded. "Each one home to millions."


Simon of Space - a sci-fi novel by Cheeseburger Brown
Dear literate adventure riders,

It's finally happened: the weblog edition of this science-fiction novel has been taken offline in order to make room for the hardcover printed edition from Ephemera Bound Publishing, on sale in stores and online as of Valentine's Day, 2008.

I regret any disappointment. I kept the free, weblog version available as long as I could. Please be sure to check out the new edition! See Cheeseburger Brown.com for more news and updates.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

P.S. You can read more of my free fiction via my weblog or in the complete story achives.

70 Comments:

Blogger Cheeseburger Brown decreed...

Dear all,

Just so's you know, today's post marks the three month anniversary of SIMON OF SPACE.

The story was actually supposed to be finished by now, but I guess I found I had a little more to say than I'd originally anticipated. And the fat lady hasn't sung yet, so there's more to come.

Tantalizers/spoilers?

* We still have one world yet to visit after Callicrates. It will be distinctly different from any world we have so far seen.

* Familiar faces are going to be coming back for cameos.

* Jeremiah still has...one more secret.

That's all for now. Hope you enjoy the episode. Me, I'm going to bed. Cheers!

Love,

CheeseburgerBrown

Sun Sep 04, 10:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dædalux decreed...

I'm torn between anticipation of the next installment and the urge to somehow read more slowly. I don't want it to end!

Sun Sep 04, 10:34:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Jillster decreed...

I'll be very sad when this ride is over with. I'll be looking forward to the last chapter(s)!

Sun Sep 04, 10:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger snowflakes decreed...

I can't wait to read the next installment!!! Yet, I hope I don't... so that SOS never ends!

Sun Sep 04, 10:53:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

Fantastic.

Sun Sep 04, 11:19:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Edmund decreed...

CBB,

No fair being your own first commenter!

I'm very much looking forward to Jeremiah's last secret...and the cameos. Kudos again to you for all of this!

But if the secret is "Simon, I'm your father..." I'll have to take it all back!

Sun Sep 04, 11:21:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous converted decreed...

Kudos, as usual!

Sun Sep 04, 11:33:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

Wow, amazing.

The domesticating bit... been sort of suspecting something along those lines in the back of my head... but never actually said to myself "woah... they're breeding people...."

I trully love this story, CBB. I understand all good stories have to come to an end, but like at least one other amazing read I can think of, I believe no ending for this can be an entirely good ending, only because it will be, well, the end.

Keep up the good work. I can not wait to read whatever you have planned after this, should it be in a similar format. And if it's going to be a straight-up novel that I'll have to wait years for, well, damnit. But I'll sure as hell buy that sumbitch and read it as soon as it is released.

This one too, actually. There better be a deadwood version not too long after you're done, or I'll... umm... try to get something happen... that won't use up your time... but will make you want to make a deadwood version.......

uhhhh....

You get the point!

Swift writing and best of times to you,
Muefigilo

Sun Sep 04, 11:35:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Edmund decreed...

Back on Aug 15th in a comment to Mass of the Halcyons I said:

"If you wanted to enslave/eliminate the human race, brute force wouldn't be the way to do it. Much more guile would be required."

Score one for me!

I loved the Apocalypse Now reference by Utopia. Will the Ride of Valkyries be next?

Looking forward to learning more about the Equivalents (let me guess, a group of doughty Patch 3 youth with a jones for Executive soul music)!

Mon Sep 05, 12:00:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Denim decreed...

Amazing work, as usual. I look forward to the conclusion of this gripping story, yet like many others, am not sure I want to get to the conclusion. I look forward to checking this web site every night. i enjoy the philisophical questions it raises. The universe it created. And I am still shocked that I didn't have to buy a ticket to it all. Kudos, fine author, kudos.

Mon Sep 05, 12:53:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

"He's got micro-gates in his brain, and he's constantly shunting packets of information back and forth between the stars."

Awesome.

Mon Sep 05, 12:55:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Lilaena decreed...

Domestication is not exactly enslavement, although I suppose it is almost the same thing. A slave is forced, a domesticated entity does what you want happily.

The neutering of the human race, perhaps, figuratively speaking.

Although, I still believe that Executives have mankind's best interests at heart, much like Robots in Asimov's universe clung to their Zeroeth Law. The Laws of Thermodynamics state that entropy rules the universe - and so that means that everything is continually getting slightly worse. If by 'domesticating' (most likely just a metaphor to help Simon understand) humans the Executives can stave of our natural tendencies towards our own destruction - remember Sol! - then the Executives will do it.

Mon Sep 05, 01:32:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Lilaena decreed...

Forgot to add: fantastic chapter, glad that we haven't just visited another Coruscant or Trantor. Like all your other created worlds, Callicrates is unique. I love it, and the patches are brilliant.

I'd say more, but I'm sure you've had enough ego stroking for today. ;)

Mon Sep 05, 01:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Mark decreed...

Wow. No time to read everybody's comments before I go to bed. This is an excellent chapter. "I love the smell of patch three in the morning" was a great take on Robert Duvall's infamous line from Apocalypse Now. As my parents' shooting club would say, it was almost a "clean shoot," meaning that I found only one typo. "a warm freeze ruffled my hair."

Great story from Utopia, and that last realization by Simon. Great stuff, CBB!

Mon Sep 05, 02:01:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Teddy decreed...

CBB you cheater! you took first post. no fair. even though i did wander absent mindedly upon this posting four full hours after it's uploading. by the way, three months, eh? i have been here the whole time, in fact i found Darthside before it was fully finished as i recall. i am glad for the teasers, good to know that there is more to do. as someone said, the wizard will send dorothy to fetch a broomstick? by the way, is this world after callicrates the last then? also, any plans on your next project? science fiction is nicely appropriate to the internet, but variety is the spice of life.

much admiration,
TRH

wordveri: wfubuoju. wafooboo-ojoo. native american word, means "adventures of crazy intersteller evil dictator who lost his memory".

Mon Sep 05, 03:05:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Teddy decreed...

XXXVIX. The Pilgrim Way
XL...

should be
XXXIX. The Pilgrim Way
XL...

if my roman numerals are up to speed.

TRH

Mon Sep 05, 03:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Sith Snoopy decreed...

Domesticating humans... cool. :)

Awesome as usual, CBB. :)

Mon Sep 05, 04:37:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Sith Snoopy decreed...

Forgot to add...

Nice way you jabbed at Coruscant and it being unsustainable! ;) [Not to mention kindof ugly having no flora or fauna to look at. And nothing else alive except sentient beings, and robots.]

Sad to see the idea that all wildlife was eventually killed off... or rather, all life that did not fit well within human purpose was killed off.

I've gotten to scuba dive with sharks... reef sharks that are not aggressive towards humans. They were beautiful creatures. I would never have thought... Well, let's just say that I have a newfound respect and love for sharks. :)

I definitely don't want to be bitten by one, and I'll never swim with Great Whites w/o a nice solid cage between me and them! But I realize now that not all sharks are dangerous... That alot of sharks are, while not actually domesticated, capable of being lived with w/o harm coming to humans. Wow. So sortof domesticated in a walk-through zoo sortof way. :P Oops. Well, at least we humans didn't actually domesticate them... most reef sharks just happen to be mostly non-hostile towards humans.

I guess the old earth became a place without Lions, Tigers, Cobras, Scorpions... unless they became tamable.

Am sitting here writing this on my couch in the dark... while my tamed German Shepherds snooze on the couch with me. Yeah, I like my dogs domesticated and tamed.

I guess we can be grateful that the Executives have humans best interests at heart, and aren't just taming humans to become docile cattle that won't complain as it's lead to the slaughter house!

Veriword: howsyhfz. How's your fuzz????

Mon Sep 05, 04:54:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

Refreshing to see that anarcho-capitalists have a home on Callicrates. It would be awesome to see how their society works and how it is prospering (I suspect they are the richest and most prosperous Patch). Alas, this is not an Ayn Rand novel. Still loving it though..

Mon Sep 05, 06:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Kevin decreed...

Wouldn't it be easier to domesticate human beings through a thorough reengineering of our genome? I'd assume the genome would have been fully mapped and its characteristics deeply explored. A tendency toward docility or away from greed and viciousness wouldn't have been too hard to instill... would it?

Questions aside, it was a gripping read.


Kevin

Mon Sep 05, 06:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Cheeseburger Brown decreed...

Dear Muefigilo,

A Lulu edition of this story will become available approximately two weeks after the conclusion of the weblog. The two weeks are for Lulu to send me my proof copy, so I can make it sure it's not all %$#^ed up before anybody buys one.

Dear Sith Snoopy,

Wild life is not gone. It forms the basis of Solar ecosystems. Importance comes in general form, though, rather than the specific.

The specific large mammals of Earth were either domesticated, eradicated, tamed or marginalized. This isn't a science-fiction process -- by our calendar it all started at the end of the Pleistocene and will be just about finished in the time of your great-grandchildren who, bless their little souls, will not live in a world with tigers who live outside of zoos. (This isn't a matter of aggressive conservationism -- you can't quickly stop a ball that's been rolling for these past ten thousand years.)

If a wild Solar world were left to evolve on its own for a few tens of thousands of years, no doubt new kinds of animals suitable for domestication would arise -- but part of what makes an environment suitable for such evolution is the lack of human hunting. So, we'd have to bugger off for a while. And then when we'd come back, most of us would be scratching our heads wondering why we were reverting to Paleolithic biotech.

It's important to remember as well that when human beings rode out across the plains and ate every large mammal they found, the consequences were not just their extinction but our proliferation. If there hadn't been large amounts of highly stupid meat standing around waiting to be butchered, our race would have had a much harder time gaining a foothold on civilization.

So, you can look at it this way: Earth cashed in some of her tokens, trading a collection of large-bodied trusting herbivores for human civilization. In the long view this isn't such a bad upgrade.

So don't mourn the fallen. There's purpose to it. The world is changing (we can smell it in the water). And it's been happening ever since the end of the last Ice Age. And it's not over. If civilization can manage to escape this world before suffocating it, we'll all be able to look back and laugh. "Hey, remember when we almost destroyed our world? Aw, kids."

Sorry, I'm a fan of history, sociobiology, geography and anthropology. I can't help but try to connect what happens in this distant future with the fascinating story of Earth and her biosphere which has already been unravelling since before history. Human history is one long story if you take a large enough view, and what happened five thousand years ago is as relevant as what will happen five thousand years hence.

Dear Kevin,

You must keep in mind that the executives are not domesticating the human phenotype, they're domesticating human socio-politco-ecnomic culture. They're breeding for better societies, not glossier coats or a sharper bark.

Love,

CheeseburgerBrown

Mon Sep 05, 09:53:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Drew decreed...

**"It all makes sense now -- the competition of worlds, the co-evolving patches of governance, the push for cultural selection..." I said, my mouth dry. "You're domesticating us."

His shadowed form did not stir. "Sir," confirmed Jeremiah.**

DAH, DAH, DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

w00t!

Mon Sep 05, 11:00:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Drkdstryer decreed...

Again CBB: It's SO GOOD.

Found one typo (I think):

Jeremiah said, "all Solar worlds look virtually the same from this altitude, Simon."

Pretty sure that "all" should be capitalized as "All".

This was an amazing chapter. It was at a perfect pace, you still got to see Simon develop as a person, and of course the new amazing world. It seems that the patch system is simply capitalism at it's finest - especially with regards to the example given with the lawyer patches. Interesting that the world seems to be failing (in Utopia's opinion)...

Speaking of that, I think that missing the good doctor might have been a freak occurrence - I really think that Simon will end up geting Utopia in bed. The princess in cahoots with Terron Volmash, how's that for court intrigue? Oh yeah, and Utopia's invocation of Apocalypse Now! was just hilarious.

But really, the most poignant moment was seeing Jeremiah's burden that he has to carry... "Fifty million hours Simon. Fifty million hours." Truly amazing writing in capturing his feelings.

Speaking of Jeremiah, his secret has already been hinted at: "Property of Terron Volmash". This has yet to be explained, am I correct? That will be a good secret when it is revealed.

Well, this post turned out to be pretty long. I'll close it off with my confirmation word: wpzzgqe. Damned if I know what that means.

Mon Sep 05, 11:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Dave decreed...

Not sure what to make of this installment CBB. I'll have to read it 2 or 3 more times.

Hope everyone's having a great weekend.

wordspam: qcttz or QuickTizzy!

Mon Sep 05, 11:21:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous scott decreed...

"Satisfaction. Patches that fail to adequately guarantee the long-term needs of their citizenry tend to end up depopulated. Patches that indulge their citizens' short-term greed tend to collapse from internal pressures. Patches that balance economic and social sustainability tend to be emulated, thus maximizing their cultural legacy over the whole of Callicrates."

I don't know if you are aware but you just described what economists call "Tiebout sorting". http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/43

Awesome chapter (again)

Thanks

Mon Sep 05, 11:32:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

I find it interesting that Callicrates is the exception to the one-government-per-star-system rule. It seems to be a deliberate attempt to make Callicrates is a better Trantor than Trantor (which had to be fed by specialized agricultural planets). It has the Patches (Sectors) that are a microcosm of the Neighborhood (Empire) allowing the Executives (Seldon and the Second Foundation) a laboratory for understanding the whole by studying one part.



Grammar quibble:

"a cyst of air surrounding Jeremiah and we, his charges."

The "we" should be "us", as it is the object of "surrounding".

-The Monster

Mon Sep 05, 12:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Phy decreed...

CBB: Not bad! The Domestication of Humanity, if it is to be a cultural shift, would definitely require the elimination of the old hunter-gatherer organizational instincts. Good show, I say.

I've heard the theory bandied about before that, physiologically speaking, humanity is already a domesticated animal. This would mean domestication is a bootstrap procedure. Consider, from a wikipedia article, the 6 criteria for a domesticable animal: Humanity itself lacks only a reasonably fast growth rate, and this can be compensated for with our intricate child-rearing society. If that's the case, then the executives are just finishing what we started.

Also: "Executives vs. Equivalents"? As in, human executives vs. human Equivalents? This story's not done yet, folks!

wordveri: lrtoc. Leer talk. "... How you doin?"

Mon Sep 05, 12:43:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Mandrill decreed...

Congrats on your three months of SoS CBB I'm sure I could never have stuck with a project for so long.

I find myself wondering if part of the skill of writing is colluding with the readers subconcious. The suspension of disbelief necessary for me to actually feel like I'm on Callicrates with Simon and Jeremiah has to partly come from within. Doesn't really matter I suppose as long as I enjoy it, which I do.

I don't know if this has been mentioned but Callicrates (also spelled Kallikrates) was one of the architects of the Parthenon which stands atop the Acropolis in Athens.
Relevant? I don't know. Interesting? I thought so :)

WV Fun: Wfrism, or Oofrism. The mistaken belief that punching people in the stomach can bring about world peace.

Mon Sep 05, 12:51:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous delirium of disorder decreed...

Many things to like here, but this line stood out for me as particularly poignant and beautiful:

“I found the swiftness of the erasure as unsettling as the rise of the crowd's ire, frightened to imagine such ruthless passion as fickle.”


I so much like when CBB has the time to strike this narrative tone. The exposition works so much better when surrounded by the beauty of these worlds and Simon’s reflections. It amplifies the promise of the writing career being born before us all.

I do find this style of fiction, that which contains more complicated morals or even philosophy if you will, much more engaging than the standard literary archetypes, like “don’t shit where you eat”, or father son conflicts, or humankind will reap what it sows.


Equivalents eh? One wonders how this name represents their cause: if they promote stability in humans through a sort of communal system (the Executive form of natural selection is much more Capitalist), if it is to restrain/eliminate the obvious sway held by the Executives – somewhat harmonious with the attitude of our angry mob in Patch 3 – or what CBB is hiding behind door number three.

Someone mentioned Ayn Rand earlier. In answer to a question I have wondered often, I have to discern his style if not his purpose is much like hers: the ideals exposed in this story are CBB’s views on the way we ought to all get along. Based on his comments above concerning his interests in our anthropomorphic history, it seems items from this manner of nurturing society, to the perils of a nationalist agenda (white man’s burden) are insight into CBB’s own agenda and not so much story vehicles. And I gotta say CBB I see a lot of truth here. You have an insightful and razor sharp noggin there my boy. I think you could pen editorials for a think tank here or there if you so chose.


veri word fun: afdztzfd
a line in a horror movie spoken by a cockney maid as she tries to determine who or what got into the storage of kibble when the dog has a full bowl right there on the floor, just before the creature bursts out from the cupboard to gobble her up
“ef dis tis fed …. ?” (if this is fed?)

Mon Sep 05, 01:27:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

Jeremiah's 'Fifty million hours' reminds me of the robot in Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy's line 'Brain the size of a planet.'

Mon Sep 05, 06:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger mandrill decreed...

I've been inspired. You've infected me CBB with this need to write something.
I hope you don't mind me shamelessly plugging my own work on your blog. I'm following the same format as SoS but with my own tale. I'd be glad to have people read it (And tell me its not half as good as SoS, but then I know that already.)
Its at astoryofsorts.blogspot.com

Verifun: licbp, Lick Bap, What I use to do to breadrolls covered in flour before dipping them in my soup.

Mon Sep 05, 07:19:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous FasMaster decreed...

Maybe this is a result of my dislexia, or perhaps a sign that I play too much poker, but whenever I read the words "Queen of Space", my mind instead tends to form the 'Queen of Spades'..

detected typo:
"A warm freeze ruffled my hair,.."

should that be 'breeze' and not 'freeze'..?

Mon Sep 05, 08:58:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous sheik yerbouti decreed...

Ah, what a nice way to end a long weekend.

I can't wait to hear more about "Equivalents" (assuming they have nothing to do with solution chemistry).

Phy, you may have to dig up ten bucks after all. We shall see.

Edmund, I don't know about the "perfect" job, but two of my current jobs are the ones I'd pick; unfortunately, neither one is my day job (which isn't bad, and it pays much more regularly than the others). By day I write and maintain web applications for a big company, and by night I do independent web programming and software development (the latter of which you can see at easylistbox.com).

Of course my day job ends when 2006 begins, so who knows?

Mon Sep 05, 09:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Michael McHenry decreed...

I found a typo of sorts, but in the table of contents, not the story:

XVII. Revelations, Redux = 17
XVIII. Have Gun,Will Travel = 18
XVIX. March Of The Ants = ??? 24?

There's a converter at http://www.ivtech.com/roman/ if you have any doubt.

VIX is an odd construction. Even if you decided VI(6) were to be subtracted from X(10), you'd have 4 when you want 9. The extra V is obviously a typo.

You see this again for chapter 39:
XXXVIX. The Pilgrim Way.

But chapters 9 and 29 are fine:
IX. Glory Of The Low Streets
XXIX. You Are Safe, Do Not Panic


I've noticed that sometimes if you go to the TOC page, you get a sneak peak at the title of the next chapter before it comes out. Today, nothing...

Verifun: "boiyc" This is onomatopoeia for the noise made as water drips from my living room ceiling into the bucket I set there when I have to use my leaky upstairs shower.

Mon Sep 05, 10:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Michael McHenry decreed...

Regarding anarcho-capitalists, Anonymous decreed...
"It would be awesome to see how their society works and how it is prospering (I suspect they are the richest and most prosperous Patch). Alas, this is not an Ayn Rand novel."

This is the second chapter I have noticed Rand mentioned - I don't see the parallel to CBB.

If this were an Ayn Rand novel, the anarcho capitalists would indeed be prosperous. The would also have no children (at least none that weren't perfect) or sick or unfortunate people. Lucky them. :)
I bet they'd have an almost completely service-based economy exporting their skills to the other patches.


Before I get flamed, I'm an anarcho-capitalist sympathizer, and my Ayn Rand books cover an entire shelf of one of my book cases.

I honestly think CBB is more interested in telling an entertaining story, whereas Ayn Rand was primarily focused on promoting her ideals.

Furthermore, notice the company the anarcho-capitalists are mentioned alongside:
Ruthless oligarchies, constitutional monarchies, benevolent dictatorships, lotteried democracies, realms of statistical rule, theocratic fascisms, anarcho-capitalist cooperatives, meritocratic gaming parliaments, hedonist soviets.

Right after theocratic fascism and before meritocratic gaming parliaments. Also notice they are anarcho-capitalist "cooperatives". I think that's a (maybe not-so-)subtle joke.


If anything I'd guess CBB is a proponent of trying different things out. It would be impressive to see such a cohesive confederation formed between such ideologically different states. And I suppose that could only be done under the awesome power of the Executives.

word fun: qypwfsat

Mon Sep 05, 11:08:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Teddy decreed...

Marx believed that capitalism would inevitably give way to communism. personally, i feel that it works the other way around, that the masses will want to sacrifice a guaranteed existance for a chance at luxury. in capitalism, excellence is rewarded justly, with promotions, greater rights and responsibilities as seen fit. in communism, it is somewhat the same, but there is only a promotion in the workplace, or the government. capitalism gives raises though, so one can not only improve stature but also improve the house, the car, and impress their prowess to the neighbors, playing into the suburban nightmare as i call it ("the jones's down the block have a riding mower, we need one").

i think governments are no different. people will have the government they most want that suits their needs right now. ie: america. four years ago (lord, four years it has been now, so long) planes smashed into buildings and a nation mourned. shortly thereafter, in a longstanding tradition going back to our roots as a nation and in direct line with events like the attack on pearl harbor, we struck back. we reorganized our government, even passed new laws. airport security has never been the same, and neither have gas prices. four years later, a nation is being torn apart at the seams. in all honesty, i support the bush administration, but i do not know how much longer i can continue to do so. the government catered to our short term needs for vengeance in the months following september 11th by attacking afghanistan, which was at the time harboring the monsters that engineered the attack. however, the same mentality does not work now. impulsivity, short-term goals, these are biological flaws in the human design. we live too short of lives, we are often unable to see our affects on the world. buildings are named after people usually after the person passes away.

this necessitates a race of moderators. people who live for 5 millenia (50,000,000 hours equals 5707.76 years) and can see our effects, in order to aid us in preserving ourselves. but i wonder, are the seeds already there? look at the US constitution. and my apologies to CBB, i know you're a kanuck and all that, but i'm a yank so these are the analogies i use.

the US constitution was written out and signed. it was implemented. it was revised minimally to warp to society over two centuries. notable, however, are that 10 of the 27 amendments were created very shortly after the country was founded and outline various rights that i enjoy as a citizen. it has stood the test of a fair amount of time as far as i am concerned (assuming that on generation is 20 years, 11 generations) and has proven a republic to be an effective form of government. want further proof? england. oldest government that has not completely changed (the chinese dynasties have fallen, sorry) or revolutionized over it's run, is parliamentary in nature. the monarchy no longer holds any real power, being mainly a figurehead that makes speeches on christmas and other important occaisions. the parliament system is representative of the people, being initially elected by the people (house of commons). in terms of england, it's run is nearly a millenia, enough to make a good hard dent in Jeremiah's life. meanwhile, flawed governments (dictatorships, fascism, theocracies) come and go. the only other known success in government is tribal governing, but this puts an upper limit on the population density, being as how tribal government is based on a system of a council of elders, or an eldest person, who governs not only the group but councils individuals. tribes cannot exceed to great a size or else it is simply to big to handle, as the council of elders does everything from deciding punishments for transgressions to distribution of aid and wealth. notable also, communism works better than capitalism in small groups where everybody knows each other.

now, on to CBBs universe. it is notable that the position of Queen of Space is a meritocracy: people try out for it, are tested, and may pass. if they do, they are trained. this makes the position one of presige. as such, people may not take into account the difficulty of the job before applying, the major failure of any figurehead governing position. US Senators carry prestige, the President, King and Queen of England, Prime Ministers, the Pope and various cardinals and bishops within the Catholic Church, emperors of Rome and China, warlords and such whatnot. read the biographies of former presidents, they will tell you that no job is harder than leading the world's last supernation. Utopia is a perfect example of this flaw. once in, she had responsibilites to fill that she had overlooked or been ignorant of at the outset. that doesn't mean i don't agree with her though, a leader who is forced to be subservient to the people, while safer for the people, can be easily exploited. to die of sepsis from an idiotic demand that can ultimately amount to nothing by a raving lunatic is not anything that a leader should have to do. they must be able to determine their own actions of their own free will, differentiating madness from sanity, or else they cannot effectively lead. they got the job, presumably in the queen's case, by their own merit for decision-making and other skills, and to inhibit this is to inhibit their quality as a leader.

do i think we have invented the perfect system of government yet? yes. it is called the benevolent dictatorship. however, it is unreliable, depending entirely on the moral character of the leader, and so far in this story i have found one person out of many characters who's scruples stand against all foes: Simon of Space. however, i have also seen that even one's deeds do not betray the true person underneath. i believe Terron Volmash to be a good person too, and i do not mean that he has warped to become Simon who is good. TV died. he ended his life, out of shame, out of grief, i do not know. but he chose to end his existance here and to transmute it to something new and fresh, something with infinite possibility. he gave his flawed life up so that a new unflawed one could begin, and there is no greater sacrifice, none more noble than this.

i believe the perfect system of government exists in this world, the one i inhabit. i believe it is in small pieces, hidden all over the globe. in washington dc, in the capital cities of the united states, in london england and paris france, madrid spain, berlin germany, brussels belgium and Nairobi kenya, in new delhi and beijing. i believe that it is not going to be any singular society that comes up with the perfect government, but all of them already have. however, to accelerate the process as the executives have is to come up with a rushed and harried version that simply will not suffice. humans do tend toward towering monolithic superstructures, just look at the internet. in two hundred more years, will canada and mexico still exist, or will north america simply be one america? perhaps the european union will unite itself as a governing body. they already have one unit of currency.

is this story possible? possibly. the secret math, for one thing, smacks of quantum physics. measuring a hair with a laser that only might have shone on it, particles interacting with particles in other universes, effects preceding causes, doesn't sound to different from a mathematic in which an event's effects that are expressed are so detailed that the event begins to unfold in reality. and the gates? express a human being's structure in the secret math and transmit using quantum-linked particles as transmission devices the variables in the equation, then simply recompute and BAM! you secret-math them into re-existance. i just wanna see the formula jeremiah puts together in his head to make guys collapse. likely he is simply calculating exact amounts of chemical and expressing his opponent's physical makeup to a perfection using simply the likelihood of what it is based on observation of the specimen and averages of humans, then imagining a cause on that makeup and calculating the exact effects.

like Fullmetal Alchemist, for those anime fans out there: Understand, Decompose, Reconstruct. if our Jeremiah can understand and influence, can he also decompose and reconstruct? can lead become gold in such a universe? perhaps. the capacities of the secret math are seemingly endless. me, i'll stick with "bloody cennons". not as seductively enigmatic, but they make for quite the show.

TRH

wordveri: frpas. a furpa is a short round paranoid little being much like a tribble but with features. they are kind of like the childrens toy furbees but not evil.

Tue Sep 06, 03:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Dave decreed...

Wow. After a re-read, I found only one possible typo:
" You don't know what Callicratian politics is like."
Should it be "politics are like", as it's plural, not singular?

Great work CBB

wordblurb: fbciancm (no freaking idea)

Tue Sep 06, 08:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger aniki decreed...

I just read the entire however-many chapters of SoS in the last two days, thanks to some slow time at work.

Love it, and I'm on the edge of my seat for the next one.

Tue Sep 06, 04:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous mandrill decreed...

Theres a prize (well no there isn't really for whoever can tell me the name of the person who said;

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Teddy's post made me remember it.
The benevolent dictatorship is not only reliant on the dictator being a good man. How about his second in command? Is he a good man because he rules too, albeit in the name of the dictator. Come to think of it how about all the clerks and other people necessary to make a country work? Are they of good character?
Generally what you get in a benevolent dictatorship is a mess of cronyism and patronage. Power corrupts remember and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Verifun: wycfnzao; Wick Funds, ow. What a thief says during an attempt to steal the kitty used to buy candle wicks when he finds that they're too hot. (boom boom)

Tue Sep 06, 06:43:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Jillster decreed...

Abraham Lincon. (What? No prize? Oh, nevermind.)

Tue Sep 06, 07:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jill decreed...

I can't spell, apparently....

Abraham Lincoln. There!

Tue Sep 06, 07:38:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Drkdstryer decreed...

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Lincoln :D

And wow teddy, that was a long ass post. Pretty enlightening though.

Verifun: moqel. A motel... with a fun twist!

Tue Sep 06, 07:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger indrax decreed...

I have a prediction to make, but it's also a twist I want to use in one of my own stories.

The MD5 sum:
59463a16abd41c0821e7f27c83b5fa05

Tue Sep 06, 10:08:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous sheik yerbouti decreed...

"Power corrupts"... pfft. You won't get anywhere until you realize that people are evil by nature and that power just makes them more able to do what they would anyway.

And indrax, that's pretty cruel, man. At least give it to us in XOR encoding or something so we can undo it if we want to know!

word verification: ndevepy
(CBB's intern from India -- think Asok from Dilbert)

Wed Sep 07, 12:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Mark decreed...

CBB, I think that the number and the depth of the comments here confirms that you are making art. I hope you really meant it when you said it's going to be published. I'm up to 10 people now who will have a copy, purchased by either them or me.

Wed Sep 07, 12:32:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Mark decreed...

Teddy, I have worked in government jobs in the past, so I know firsthand how disheartening it is to work one's a** off and receive nothing more than the cost of living raise, while the lazy bum down the row shucks his duties and gets the same. There's no reward system to make up for this, either, because in our capitalistic society, money talks. Capitalism is not perfect, but working in private enterprise instead of the public sector shows me that it's got to be better than anything else currently in practice.

On a lighter note, I miss the cab-drivin', gun-totin' lawyer.

Wed Sep 07, 12:35:00 AM EDT  
Blogger indrax decreed...

Sorry sheik
You'll have to read the story. I might actually start it soon.
I'm only going to reveal the prediction if it is dead on, and I'm hoping it isn't. If CBB is using the same idea (which is less likely the more I think about it.) I will be very upset.

I think it would be interesting to put the comments in the back of the book. (of course, that might double the size of the book) I'm sure there would be copyright issues with the anonymous comments, but I would certainly grant permission and I think others would too.
CBB was partly writing to us answering questions we posed, and I think tormenting us by stringing along our speculations. I think the reader would have a richer experience with access to that dynamic.

speaking of which, we seem to be getting lazy. CBB gave us some great tantilizers. A world 'distinctly different from any world we have so far seen.' ???
Familiar faces? it makes sense that at least some others survived the crash of the Neago.
I don't even want to think about jeremiah's last secret.

come on! we can't be THAT burnt out!

Wed Sep 07, 03:38:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Lilaena decreed...

One world ot visit - distinctly different? That doesn't help much - they've all been different. Wait - maybe a world of lava where Simon will battle Jeremiah in a bloody duel?

Nah...

Familiar faces: Nurse Randa, the guy with the five minute memory - but most likely Pish, Glory and Duncan. Oh yes, Duncan MUST come back. After all Simon is his SON.

Jeremiah's secret is that he is the Executive that rebelled.

Maybe. :D

Verification Word: fogboe

Wed Sep 07, 04:03:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Teddy decreed...

how about capt. gold? or, perhaps, as nearly all of us speculated (and yes, we are a distinctive group, we uberfans of SoS and CBB), Jia isn't dead, and she will be making a return here. hehe, maybe she's the overarching puppeteer, putting everybody in place. maybe she's the queen of space. wouldn't that be different. after all, crushed head faeda turned out to be the head honcho at the citadel of "recovery" (or cosmic disturbance and fetishes, if you prefer). i personally want to see fartles make an appearance. and i have a sneaking suspicion that we the readers may have seen this last world already...are even there now? could earth have survived? bare rock, scorched by supernova and barely survivable, but lord only knows that human beings even in the current world make it in the strangest places. i write from North Dakota, which is a barren wasteland that goes below -40 in the wintertime. for those of you who live in more temperate climates, C or F doesn't matter at -40, the scales are equal there.

and my apologies for the long post. i kind of blogged a bit on my own. i'm working on modifying that for my own blog (follow my Teddy link for it, it's got great stuff there). by the way,

I hereby grant Matthew Frederick Davis Hemming permission to use any comments i have written, am writing, or will write on any response board to the blog found at http://simonofspace.blogspot.com in any publication he so chooses. amen.

TRH

word veri: yqxqt. why you ex-cutie. remark spouted off when one sees their childhood crush at fifty.

Wed Sep 07, 04:44:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

Equivalents = upgraded run of the mill humans that have had microgates and other things installed to make them live longer be stronger and think smarter.

just my opinion about the properties of a new class of character yet to be introduced.

I bet their homeworld is the one that we have yet to visit.

Wed Sep 07, 10:56:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Edmund decreed...

My trepidation is that the "distinctly different world" will be like the final scene of Wizard of Oz, with Simon waking up in a hospital in Grand Forks, ND and that Jia, Omar, Duncan and others will make cameos as co-workers, family members, and caregivers (with Nurse Randa as Herself).

And then Jeremiah will excuse himself to take a shower and turn into Patrick Duffy - at which point I'll scream as if the Nightmare Cannon just went off again!

And since CBB said that he might someday do a prequel (not a sequel), it leads me to believe that the current milieu will be coming to a screeching halt. Or he was playing with our minds. Which IS more likely.

Or not. CBB has already said Act 4 is over. According to standard drama form, all that's left is some small cleanup, or the setup of Volume 2. Given the addition of the Equivalents and the still-hanging issue of "something wicked", CBB is either breaking form and we're in for some action, or he's set up the sequel. Or Simon's going to wake up somewhere unexpected.

OR Simon and Jeremiah go to Risa and record the Ultimate Ecstasy and broadcast it via the Nightmare Cannon (now renamed something pornographic) and everyone lives VERY happily ever after!

How's THAT for speculation, Indrax?

Wed Sep 07, 01:22:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

don't we normally get new posts on wednesday. Not that I want to rush the ending and all but I was just wondering....

*SIGH*

Wed Sep 07, 03:18:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous delirium of disorder decreed...

Jeremiah's secret: that he remains Simon's enemy, and what we perceive as a bond is insignificant next to the power of the force -- I mean what we perceive as a bond has no effect on Jeremiah using Simon as a means to an end. As he has stated, he won't use the Secret Mathematic unless left with no other practical choice so he is guiding and shaping Simon according to the values Jeremiah desires Simon to have, just as you would a small child. Jeremiah is teaching these ideas of governance and society through natural selection, and the caution of centralized ultimate power in order to ensure Simon makes the correct ‘final solution.’

I think Lilaena’s idea of Jeremiah being the 17th strain is complimentary to this.

Could be.

And Michael McHenry, I think you may be wrong on the storyline or at least the positions espoused by Jeremiah, not being shared by CBB. Just look at CBB’s comments above to see that he expands and defends those points. We aren’t saying he shares beliefs with Ayn Rand, we are saying he may be using this blog like she used novels: he is teaches us his views of the world through fiction. It may not have been his set purpose, but it is taking place.

Veri word fun: sncestt
Obviously, when two S’s from the same family have ‘relations.’

Wed Sep 07, 05:24:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Jeff S. decreed...

From: Flight of the Neago:
"Give me Praxiteles Control," said Jeremiah, turning to face his console. Mr. Oliver punched it up, and an orange-skinned fellow in a crisp crimson uniform saluted.

"You're a Five!" the man exclaimed.

"I am Jeremiah of the Fifth Strain,
and in the name of the Queen of Space I order this array opened to us. My clearance is being transmitted...now."


I think that if Jeremiah is easily recognized as 'Fifth Strain', then he is probably not of the rogue 17th.

Wed Sep 07, 05:45:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous ant decreed...

The revelation that Simon is Jeremiah's "enemy" may not have been resolved by the fact that Simon was TV. I don't think TV could have really been Jeremiah's "true" enemy. As an Executive, J must/should have allowed for the existence of a TV. He (TV) was just one of the outcomes of their domestication process. From Utopia's revelation of Executives vs. Equivalents, could it be that Simon is actually an Equivalent? We don't know what an Equivalent is yet, so it's possible. It would make sense as to why Simon would be J's enemy, at least. (It doesn't seem like Executives have any other "true" enemies, and the fact that J didn't shed some of his encyclopediac knowledge on "Equivalents" when Utopia mentioned them is also kind of fishy, as he pretty consistently has given some tidbit of information on everything else mentioned).

Obviously the lack of a new chapter to read is giving me too much time to think...

Wed Sep 07, 05:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger indrax decreed...

Perhaps the fifth strain is the one that betrayed Zoran. That would certainly explain "You're a five!"

Perhaps despite this mistake they were not destroyed (it is forbidden for them to fight amongst themselves?) or stripped of authority (because they still have duty) rather they are simply on the fringe of executive society.

I'm thinking of the Dark Templars from Starcraft. Good, but BadAss.

Jeremiah said that they normally reproduce by cloning one of the 16 original inital conditions. If the 5th strain is no longer elegible for this manner of reproduction, it may explain why Jeremiah became interested in finding the new method.

Wed Sep 07, 08:42:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous sheik yerbouti decreed...

indrax,

Interesting speculation; I had thought that myself, but since we have never known Jeremiah to lie, I would have to assume that his stated purpose for participating in the reproductive research was indeed the real reason.

Edmund, the porn cannon has already been invented. It's called commercials.

Maybe the last planet they visit will have a giant mall, and inside will be the very first Jeremiah's Secret store. Then he'll unzip his costume and turn into Halle Berry, drink a Pepsi, wink at the camera... and Simon WAKES UP!

He shakes his head, puts on his glasses, and thinks to himself, "whew... it was all a dream."

Then he sees the secret math on his bedroom floor...


OR WAS IT???


DUN dun dunnnnnnn...

Wed Sep 07, 10:01:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous sheik yerbouti decreed...

(The twist ending is that he wakes up in a tub of ice and his kidneys are gone)

Wed Sep 07, 10:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger indrax decreed...

sheik:
But it could be both, the executives DO need to find another way, and now the fifth strain is particularly imperiled.

Wed Sep 07, 10:05:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Edmund decreed...

Sheik,

You slay me!

And then remove my kidneys!

And I still need to respond to the job thing. I'll put my e-mail address in a comment on the episode where Olorio buys the farm.

Wed Sep 07, 11:26:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous decreed...

" (The twist ending is that he wakes up in a tub of ice and his kidneys are gone)"

Hopefully only one...

Also, teddy, the surity of your statements reveals an ignorance of the issue. Like most things, government is more complicated than you make it out to be, and there are probably no right answers. Your post, while certainly helping you to organize thoughts that must have been milling around your head for a little while now, displays what is largely sophomorism. I also am sure that you are way off as far as whatever kind of sense you are trying to make of the secret mathematic. Also, unless this become a bad cyperbunk novel all of a sudden, I doubt the secret mathematic should be thought of in any way short of magic.

"We aren’t saying he shares beliefs with Ayn Rand, we are saying he may be using this blog like she used novels: he is teaches us his views of the world through fiction. It may not have been his set purpose, but it is taking place."

Well, yes, this is what ALL writers do, some better than others. It is impossible for anyone to create any kind of message which is not inherrantly entirely from their point of view. As such, he shares as much similarity with her as he does with you and me, at least in terms of what you are describing.

Thanks, hope I don't come off overly harsh,
Muefigilo

Thu Sep 08, 12:42:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Paul Martin decreed...

Teddy,

Don't listen to your critics; listen to your heart.

Ayn

Word Veri: Muefigilo = me want fig leaf - in Italian!

Thu Sep 08, 01:18:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous delirium of disorder decreed...

Mufo dude – while you are coming across as overly harsh to teddy, I feel compelled to respond to the following comment directed at one of my postulations:

Well, yes, this is what ALL writers do, some better than others. It is impossible for anyone to create any kind of message which is not inherrantly entirely from their point of view. As such, he shares as much similarity with her as he does with you and me, at least in terms of what you are describing.

In the following question find what is inherently wrong with your premise: what about the bad dudes? Or what about writers whose themes change from novel to novel? Go look right now at your book shelf and see if the major theme of all those novels represents a morale truth for the writer. If this is accurate I hope to never come across Steven King in real life. Your stated point of view does all creative writers a disservice. Its their words true, but that doesn’t mean its their convictions.

Remember that on the debate team you have to be prepared to argue the opposition or the proposition. Why shouldn’t a writer, particularly one as skilled as the burgermeister here, be able to write a science fiction blog in which the theme is diametrically opposed to his personal view?

There are many characters in SoS with great disparities in their views on governance and power. CBB’s could easily be one or none of these. But it may just be that his agree with Jeremiah. Or then again maybe Olorio.

Plus, who knows: in the end all this put forth by Jeremiah may come crashing down to reveal CBB’s ultimate truth about society. Only by fully engaging us with J’s point of view is the full effect of its eventual crash felt.

Or perhaps it is just ignorance/arrogance on your part and we really are simpletons who can’t think laterally and are bound to one side of a topic. Sorry. Its late and while its all good fun to argue story points, its no fun to call names.

I wonder if this will get deleted?

Overly harsh,
DoD

Veri word fun: nfudk
What you say to your friend Richard when he’s filled your glass to the top with beverage: “‘Nough Dick”

Thu Sep 08, 02:19:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Teddy decreed...

your defense of me brought tears to my eyes and a grin to my face. muefigilo: welcome to the collegiate condition. i am not even a history major. i know what i managed to pick up from high school history classes that i barely paid attention in. i do what i can, or, as i so often say, "you play the cards you are dealt." i managed to make a page and a half in word (i copy/pasted later) from the cards i was dealt, and personally, i liked it. i suppose i would though. and to my supporters: thanks a million guys, despite my incredibly thick skin (which doubles regarding the internet), your sentiments are heartfeltly appreciated.

TRH

word veri (to prove that i'm cool): ofzbrggw. "Off zee bridge, go!" a german superhero attempts to clear a bridge that is being destroyed by his arch-nemesis, Strain 17.

Thu Sep 08, 03:39:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Michael McHenry decreed...

I suppose I object to CBB being characterized as "like Ayn Rand" because I don't see so much similarity in their motives.

Ayn Rand rather heavy-handedly lays out the only one true way to live in all of her novels. The story is secondary. Perhaps in We the Living, she comes closest to mere commentary saying essentially that collectivism sucks and it kills all good people without so directly stating her absolute "objective" moral truths. It's probably her best because it sticks to subject matter she really knows and lived - it has verisimilitude that is lacking in most of her fiction.

Even so, you can see that the common thread in her novels is her attempt to reorient the reader's moral compass to her own, using any force necessary.

If CBB fits in the same category, then perhaps he's too smooth a manipulator for me to detect. And I should probably stop reading!

You get the same quality of commentary from him you get from any author who has a decent "voice", especially a science fiction writer.

I thought the whole point of sci-fi was to comment on how doomed we are based on our natural instincts and how dangerous concentrated power is while rewarding us with space battles, universe-saving heroism, and promiscuous alien sex.

CBB delivers!

well... he hasn't delivered in a few days. I hope all is well.

word fun: tainfxb
The label on the basket by the fax for incoming T&A. Used in pornographic talent searches.

Thu Sep 08, 09:55:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous delirium of disorder decreed...

Micheal McHenry –
I could not agree more with your assessment of Ayn Rand. I would go further and say her hit-reader-on-head-with-a-sledge-hammer, melodramatic, one-dimensional character, novel as religion can be pretty tough for some people to get through. I point you to Anthem as support of this position. I think you can take college courses on why such bad novels (and I own 6 of her publications myself) lead to such a huge following/readership, so we can leave that for another space.

The comparison between CBB and Rand begins and ends with using a personal view of things, a personal philosophy, as a central story point. If you take the analogy any further it breaks down and is even sillier than it sounds. The question asked originally was: are the societal, political, and evolutionary views used in the story and presented as answers – those of Jeremiah – just story vehicles or are they the writers opinion, and does the story space act as a means for the writer to explore their own notions or even advocate to the reader.

In one SoS get-a-lifer’s opinion that answer is ‘yes’. Maybe Rand was a bad choice for the comparison because it obviously has us talking about her and not CBB. Just as Aynnie would have it. If you want to be really ridiculous we can compare the manipulation of mankind by the Executives to John Galt, Francisco, and Ragnar the Pontificating Pirate.

But I think it would be even more fun to determine if its Jeremiah that is the Tin Man and needs a heart (calculation-free emotion and the ability to make a broad leap of faith he says his kind lacks) or our hooker with a heart of gold Glory. Is Pish the scarecrow because he is unaware of his origins? Who could possibly be the cowardly lion? Is Olorio the wicked witch because most of the monkeys in the story were in his employ? Yada yada yada.

It was also overly harsh to lambaste teddy like that. I mean, the name is ‘teddy’. How unpretentious is that?

Besides, I thought the whole point of science fiction was to play with laser beams and have sex with extra terrestrials.

“How can you tell if they’re female extra terrestrials”

“They have three tits”


Concurringly yours,
DoD

Veri word fun: hhtdnx
What you say when increasingly frustrated by your little sisters stupid boyfriends: “(I) HHAATE Dinks”

Thu Sep 08, 11:27:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous sheik yerbouti decreed...

While I don't want to see a flame war started, I have to agree that CBB's personal views *do* emerge, particularly in the long discourses that Jeremiah dispenses as truth.

Of course any writer does this, whether you like it or not... sure, they write characters with opposing viewpoints, but with a bit of a discerning eye, you can figure out the presuppositions behind the pen.

That said, though I disagree with MFDH on a host of personal/moral issues (which is why I tend to avoid his personal blog), I can deal with them through suspension of disbelief and enjoy what is certainly one of the best-written stories I've seen in a long time.

And yeah, I know there's a new episode up. If I can't have first comment, I'll darn well have last... at least until somebody reads this three months from now.

Thu Sep 08, 11:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Cheeseburger Brown decreed...

On the philosophical debate:

A.E. van Vogt is acknowledged as one of the Grand Masters of Golden Age Scifi for many reasons, but not the least of which is because he exemplified a generation of pulp authors who were -- well, pretty terrible writers but with heads chocked full of fanciful ideas.

In this way, I have often felt that A.E. van Vogt was the living embodiment of Kurt Vonnegut's famous fictitious pulp hack, Kilgore Trout.

Like the most transparent episodes of Star Trek, the stories told by Trout and van Vogt were ill-concealed allegories for modern situations. It was inevitable that every tale would end in a confrontation between the various characters in which the hero would suddenly discover the science-fiction equivalent of The True Meaning of Christmas, and then proceed to make a pompous and/or maudlin speech about the nature of the human animal.

I grew up reading pulp. I have shelves and shelves full of original pulp digests in little plastic sleeves, full of garish illustrations of Martian invaders and their flying saucers. And so to me, it just doesn't feel like authentic scifi until one character or another gets to suffer the indignity of being the moouthpiece of the author's half-baked fantasies about society.

What would Star Trek be without Captain Kirk's impassioned speech at the end? "It's...about -- being human, Spock!"

Would would Heinlein be like without the hedonism? What would Asimov be like without having Daneel Olivaw to sit on the sidelines, passing judgement on the course of history as he tweaks it? What would be the point of Clifford D. Simak if he weren't reminding us that even aliens like to sit out in their back-porch and sip lemonade, or of a Philip K. Dick story that didn't touch on the depraved side of our human tragicomedy?

I am no more of a philosopher than A.E. van Vogt, or Kilgore Trout. I'm certain my pretentions on the subject are equally ridiculous.

I have no interest in defining a new world view to package to readers through stories. That is not my mission. Story First, Always.

But as a thinking being the stories I generate come from my thoughts, and as a literate and curious being my thoughts are inspired by what I learn and experience.

I am interested in the world, which by definition makes me interested in either science, religion, or both.

Though run through with elements of fantasy, SIMON OF SPACE is a science-fiction story. The science is uses as a basis for extrapolation is sociobiology (now called "evolutionary biology" in some circles). In other words, the main concern of this story is not how spaceships fly or what makes robots tick, but what people do.

Now, to be clear: I have no interest in telling people how they ought to behave. The societies I have written about are not models. If there is one over-arching moral theme to this telling, it is probably that one should always be highly suspect of anyone who thinks they do have the right to tell people how they ought to behave or think or feel.

Righteousness is sensitive to context, and the ultimate context is not knowable to mortal actors. As said so eloquently by S. Morgenstern: "Anyone who tells you differently is selling something."

I am politically naive.

I'm sure there are very clever readers out there who could do up a fine paper on how my lifestyle as a person is reflected in the beliefs and conflicts of my characters, for whatever that's worth.

I am a knowledge-based worker who lives out in the country with big dogs and a gun. We have a well, and I intend to keep it as I don't trust my province's ability to control civic water quality. We grow our own vegetables and apples. I am self-employed, and answer to no boss. We're working toward investing in a wind-generator, so help ease us off the grid.

My personal priorities in life: to tell good stories, to be a good father, to be a good husband.

I am, by some measures, therefore unambitious.

My credo? LIVE AND LET LIVE. Does this come through in SOS? I'm sure it must.

We recently had an au pair staying with us who came from the island of St. Maarten living under a religious hegemon, and she spent eight weeks being delighted shocked and warmly awed by the way we live by our neighbours in this part of the world. I admit, it made me proud. I know it's uncouth for Canadians to be proud of Canada, but, honestly: seeing someone from an intolerant society so moved by the common decency and everyday rationality we take for granted in our village was inspiring to me. That is something I wanted to be able to communicate in a story, because I think it's important.

Like I said, I'm sure you scholarly types have an excellent term for "live and let live" that would make my political orientation more plain. All I know is that it makes life go smoother, for me and mine and our neighbours.

I don't know -- let's see...what other philosophical slogans lie close to my heart? For one thing, I have a bone to pick with anyone who would exclude human beings from the category of "animals" or suggest that human civilization is somehow "unnatural." This point of view can only result from a misapprehension of the power and complexity of natural selection, which is sad but common. Nature is frequently robbed of most of its dignity and awe by many religious and secular modes of thought alike, in my opinion.

Should people recognize their natures? I don't know. I don't really care. All I mean to say is that when I talk about people it's going to be coming from a background of viewing them as animals, specks in a continuum of evolution that started four billion years ago.

And as I've said before I believe strongly in the importance of awe. I don't care whether your awe is inspired by science, religion or just open-eyed wonder -- but if you live a life without awe you truly do have my pity because you're dead inside.

So what have we got here?

#1. Live and let live.
#2. Man is natural.
#3. Awe is essential.

Anything else? Let me see. I'm really stretching now. I guess I'd also have to say that I am a firm proponent of constructive rationality over intuitive whinnying when it comes to decision-making or conflict resolution. I believe in negotiation and compromise, in reasoned discourse and fairly-considered argument. As much as the passion of awe is important, so is unbiased calculation and the ability to step back from base drives which compel us to act emotionally. So...

#4. Constructive pragmatism is predicated on dispassionate rationality.

And I suppose add to that a human corollary, for the sake of balance:

#5. It's fun to get drunk, laugh loud, and squeeze the fine derriere of a sweet woman.

...And now I think we've pretty much defined the five pillars of CheeseburgerBrownic philosophy, such as it is. I'm sure it's clear to you now that SIMON OF SPACE is not a treatise on right living, but just a story generated out of my particular imagination, hinged on issues I think about in my idle or awe-filled moments of reflection or experience.

This is how the galaxy in my head looks. It isn't a prescription -- it's just a fun place to explore and feel.

And, morever, I get to have my A.E. van Vogt scenes of pontification, too, completing the pulp package as I remember it. And, inspired by Kilgore Trout, the whole package is liberally salted with fart jokes.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Love,

CheeseburgerBrown

Thu Sep 08, 12:38:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous sheik yerbouti decreed...

Whew. I was afraid you were going to start coming up with more points for padding so you could hit a specific number. Thanks for not going all Stephen Covey on us.

Perhaps I should have said "with or without a discerning eye, you can figure out the presuppositions behind the pen.


Every story needs a good fart joke.

As long as it's a good one.

Thu Sep 08, 03:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous delirium of disorder decreed...

CBB –
What makes your writing so brilliant is the depth you unintentionally build into the story. The greats do this and we get stuck writing expository essays in junior high on Moby Dick and Great Expectations about story lines they never even intended. So here us “scholarly” types can discuss ad nauseum how wonderfully poetic they find Fartles, when really its just a good fart joke. Unlike some “arteests” who believe their own hype, you are thankfully grounded in the wonder of your own reality, thanks in large part no doubt to the marvel of young family.

Really you are just helping too many of us seem important with our verbose, pedantic, and pompous thoughts.

veri word fun: hlqotpch
Speculation on where the next shot on goal will be by someone whose unfamilar with the term "five-hole": 'He'll Go Top Crotch'

Thu Sep 08, 04:15:00 PM EDT  

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