Friday, June 27, 2014

Administration Q2 for 2014

We are now halfway through 2014.

The analytics for this 'blog remain consistant and constant; most of my audience is in the Anglosphere, followed by English-reading people in Russia. There is a long-tail effect, meaning that the value of my stories grows over time because it is not subject to the usual bias towards novelty and the new that I see in my 'blogs where I deal in either political philosophy or talk about other things of a more ephemeral nature. Stories, on the other hand, by being little or not sensitive to the demand of immediacy allows readers to come back time and again to read what they want as they choose.

So, at the risk of being boring, the conclusion is simple: maintain course.

There will be two more serials for this year, one per quarter. I will begin the Q3 serial next week, but I warn you now that next Friday is also during CONvergence, where I will be in attendance through Sunday of next weekend. Therefore, that first post may be delayed until Sunday; I will attempt to get it up at the usual time, but because the convention's events may produce emergent results that get in the way of that. Q4 begins at the end of September, as the heat of Summer dissipates swiftly and the onset of Autumn rushes upon us, and expect our end-of-year Administration post on Boxing Day in December (as that is the last Friday of 2014).

I will not announce the stories now. Better that you be surprised. I am grateful to all of you who read my work, however good or not they are in quality, and I hope that you would follow me as I attempt a transition to writing novels. I wrote my first one in 2006 for National Novel Writer's Month just to prove to myself that I could do it; a hard drive crash destroyed that one. I wrote my second to prove that I could do it again in the Spring leading up to CONvergence two years ago; I have yet to publish that one, as it is in dire need of a wholesale rewrite. I've since continued to hone my craft, and now I am ready to write a third one; this will continue to take up more of my time through the rest of the year, first in the drafting and then in revision prior to seeking publication.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-12

The Wizard sat in a room, alone, seated at a round table. Four featureless walls surrounded him, with a non-descript interior door the only portal to be had. Then the door opened, and in came a woman and a man, both attired much as he was- professional, if a bit dated.

"Madam," The Wizard said, "and Sir."

"The others are decided." the woman said, "They are satisfied."

"You fulfilled the expectations for this operation." the man said, "Exactly so."

"Too exact." the woman said.

"Well," The Wizard said, "I can't go about showing up everyone else in all things now, can I? That doesn't do well for morale."

"You executed a complicated, risky, and uncertain operation with naught but yourself and what resources you personally procured in a fraction of the time that should ordinarily be the case." the man said, "If I did not know better, I would be suspicious that you'd kept these Nazi holdouts stashed away someplace for just this sort of occasion."

"I had a plan." The Wizard said, "I paid attention to the situation, and I adjusted the plan as necessary. Nothing more than just paying attention, and knowing what to do in the moment."

"Your humble bragging is unbecoming." the woman said, "We have good reason to believe that your report is neither complete nor comprehensive on the matter."

"You asked me to clean up one of your messes." The Wizard said, "I did, and at a fraction of the time and effort that your own proposes involved. I would like the compensation I am now entitled to receive in return for those services rendered."

The woman and the man looked at each other and sighed. "It's in the main hall."

The Wizard got up and took his leave of them without so much as a wave goodbye. Walking down equally featureless hallways, he made his way up from the interior of this place to the main hall. There, in a bright--but mundane, dispiritingly so--great hall of dull, washed out light colors and no decoration stood a single structure like a smooth shining (but short) marble tower or cylinder. He walked up to it, smiled, and knocked on it approvingly.

"Come on, old girl." The Wizard said, "Time to make amends to a lovely boy." A door in the tower opened, revealing an interior space seeming larger than should be the case, and in he went- closing the door behind him. Moments later, the tower disappeared in a series of blinks that slowly--silently--phased it out of sight.

* * * * *

Tom and Longfellow stood in the middle of Longfellow Hold's courtyard and watched as the shining short cylinder blinked into view and solidified. They stopped talking to each other and watched, and smiled as they realized what this meant. The door opened, and out came The Wizard.

"Still mad at me, Thomas?" The Wizard.

"No." Tom said, "Longfellow explained it all."

"Though dumping him on me on short notice was quite the caddish thing of you." Longfellow said.

The Wizard approached and embraced both men in turn. "I am now able to say that this should never happen again. I truly regret my deceptions, despite their necessity, because powers greater than I can contend with compelled me to do this."

"And?" Tom said.

"I can now properly take you home." The Wizard said, "As for you, my old friend, I have something you need."

The Wizard handed a baton to Longfellow, who opened it and saw the schematics to a machine.

"At last, we can connect to the surface world on our own terms." Longefellow said, "Much thanks, old friend."

"As for you, Thomas, care to see some sights on the way home?"

"Such as?"

The Wizard leaned in close. "How about Mars?"

Tom blinked. The Wizard nodded affirmatively.

Tom hugged Longfellow. "Well, off towards home I go. Maybe someday in the future?"

Longfellow smiled. "Maybe."

The Wizard grabbed Tom by the arm. "Did I mention that I knew Burroughs? His whole series of books on Mars started when I took him there. There was a small mishap on the way there, and we ended up off-course, but that just added to the whole adventure of it. You know, I hadn't told this story since I mentioned it to a BBC man at a dinner party in the early 1960s..."

Tom and the Wizard entered the tower, and moments later it silently blinked out of existence, and towards a new adventure.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-11

"We'll, this should be interesting." Tom said, "Now that we're away, I'll finally see how the Nazis were able to fly their saucers to and from the Inner Earth all these years."

The Wizard chuckled. "I think you're going to be disappointed."

"Speaking of which," Tom said, double-checking the instrument panel, "I am disappointed, after a fashion."

"How so, Thomas?"

"After you come get me at the last moment before I get gunned down in a firefight, and you explain to me that I am needed to win a war, this turns out to be more like something out of Inglorious Bastards than The Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare. I was all prepared for everything to go wrong, but it didn't. I was all ready to pull contingency after contingency, but the plan worked more or less as intended. Blood, sweat, tears, all that- yet we had a few minor wounds and that was it."

"You're saying it was all too easy?"

Tom nodded. "Yeah."

"It was." The Wizard said, and with a wave of his hand he held Tom fast.

"You're a good man, Thomas, which is why I'm doing what I am doing now. These Nazis we captured are, indeed, going to surface authorities. However, they're not going to be put on trial. They're going to disappear down a rabbit hole, at it were, and never be seen again by those outside the system. They will be debrief, interrogated, cross-examined, and once every last useful bit of intelligence is out of their minds they will be quietly and effortless dispatched. Maybe their organs will be recycled, or not; I don't know. No one on the surface will ever know that they yet lived; at some point, when it is most convenient to do so, what's left of their remains will be allowed to be found and identified, crossing them off the list. It will likely coincide with the list itself being closed down, and hunt operations ended, since it will be at the point when any probability of recovery will be moot due to old age."

The Wizard then put his hand upon Tom's head.

"But I cannot allow them to have you, Thomas. As I said, you are a good man, and good men are very hard to find in any age. It is bothersome, and distasteful, but I must do what is necessary to both fulfill the greater good and preserve a useful ally for future employment."

In the other hand, The Wizard held an insignia of Longfellow Hold, which he now placed on Tom's head and held in place.

"Longfellow is well aware of how things truly are. He will explain, and do so better than I, why you cannot return to the surface world- not yet. Once he is satisfied that you are ready, then I shall come back for you and bring you home- but not before he, and I, and prepared."

The Wizard's face frowned, and a tremor in his voice surfaced.

"I am sorry, Thomas. This is the least I could do unto you."

And with that, The Wizard teleported Tom back to Longfellow Hold, using ties of sympathy and contageon to bend space and time for the brief moment necessary to push Tom through the hole that lasted but a second and away from him and the commandeered saucer. Now alone, The Wizard punched into the com system a passcode; it activated a hidden function, and then The Wizard made contact.

"White One to Council. I have the last of them. All liabilities removed. Request recovery."

A woman's voice answered. "Request granted. Welcome home."

The saucer became enveloped in a 20-sided figure made of light, and then disappeared. The Wizard was away.

Back in Longfellow Hold, Tom appeared in a chair in Longfellow's chambers. Longfellow stood over him, took back the insignia, and handed Tom a drink.

"Looks like you're staying a while longer, my boy."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-10

"Everyone's strapped in, Thomas." The Wizard said, "Let's go."

Tom smiled as he took the capture Nazi saucer back into the air and away from the Nazi base, and his smile widened as he saw it explode behind him. Longfellow's men sat across from the two captured officers, and they too smiled wide with satisfaction. The return to Longfellow Hold was without incident, and they returned to a warm and cheerful welcome. Prisoners in hand, the winning team held a banquet to celebrate; later that night, in Longfellow's chambers, Tom and the Wizard talked with him about the fate of their prizes.

"You wish to bring them to the surface?" Longfellow said.

"Yes." The Wizard said, "The general is still wanted for his actions during the war. The major is his subordinate, and therefore just as guilty as an accessory after the fact. There is still a warrant for the general's arrest, albeit not as well known these days."

Longfellow sighed. "I would prefer to pass judgement myself."

"Of course you would, old friend." The Wizard said, "Were there not over sixty million souls, and their families, on the surface already claiming these prisoners on prior crimes then I would gladly comply."

"You know," Tom said, "chances are good that whomever takes custody of these Nazis will be willing to accept written testimony on their activities here."

"Which means that the authorities are not part of what the surface populations perceive as the whole of their existence." Longfellow said, "A hidden court, with no means for effective accountability, is disquieting."

"Imperfect, deeply so." The Wizard said, "But the justice that awaits there is far greater than what you command, old friend, and I know that you wish greatly for them to face the full truth of their actions. Thomas is correct in advising you to add what you can to the charges against them; I assure you that your words shall not only be heard, but heeded, and taken seriously."

Longfellow nodded. "Very well."

Longfellow dictated the trials of his people, recording them for the authorities to hear, that night.