Friday, November 23, 2007

Nakagawa Presents The Future-- an Excerpt from THE WORD Is Law

With impeccable timing, Shuichi Nakagawa appeared resplendent on the stage. At six feet tall, Nakagawa towered over the Japanese national average. His pepper hair had a dash or two of salt at the temples, and his face was smooth and angular. Nakagawa held back his broad shoulders and slightly tilted his chin to the ceiling. Not too much- the stage and Nakagawa’s height made it impossible not to look down on his audience, and too great a tilt could display condescension rather than confidence. Public speaking was a total drag, which was why underneath his tailored coal gray suit, Nakagawa wore a cute little pair of red lace boyleg panties.

The kind employees at Hatcher House[1] had provided him with a podium behind which to stand, but if thirty-five years on the spearhead of technology as the co-founder and recently elected president and Chief Executive Officer of the SimSum Corporation[2] had taught Nakagawa anything, it was that podiums were for liars and for milksops. A man behind a podium was a torso on a pedestal. A large electric phallus obscured his head and face from the view of the congregation.

Behind the phallus, the fabulist could spin increasingly improbable tales all the livelong day and never give away his telltale facial tics to an unsuspecting and tragically credulous audience. Behind the wood, the coward could obfuscate and equivocate until next Tuesday without his rapt assemblage ever noticing the conspicuous brown stains on his trousers. Behind a podium, a man was hardly a man at all, and a woman was even less than that.

Owing to his displeasure with podiums, Nakagawa had conducted past presentations using headphones with built-in microphones (these messed up his hair), earpieces with microphones (these fell out of his ears), and a boom operated by Nakagawa’s most put-upon right hand, Junsuke Uchida[3] (every time Nakagawa would suddenly move or change direction, Uchida would accidentally boom him in the face).

The best available technology was a clip-on microphone, but this was flawed enough for Nakagawa to hate only just a bit less than every other option on the table. They often fell off of Nakagawa’s lapel. The corded models would tangle up and trip him, and the wireless models would cut out at random and inappropriate moments.

One day, thought Nakagawa, we will implant tiny microphones just above our voice boxes. These microphones will turn on and off with a thought, just like moving a muscle. We’ll be able to control the volume of the amplifiers in the same way we control the volume of our speech. I’ll never have to wear another ridiculous clip-on microphone ever again.

To his favorite subordinates and admirers he was Boss Nakagawa. To his sycophants and to people at whom he was irritated and to overwhelmed fan boys and to strangers attempting to show proper respect, he was Nakagawa-sama. To Rita, the sexy blonde American woman he liked to fool around with every time he was in the United States, he was Ichi-Peachy. Nakagawa spotted Rita in the third row, sucking on her index finger. He resisted the urge to wave at her.

Rita was young. Nakagawa was not sure how young, because she refused to reveal that information, mumbling when pressed for more details that she was in her “early tmphphs.” Regardless, she made Nakagawa feel young when they were together, and that was more than he could say for any of his previous wives, or for his current wife, anymore.

Nakagawa loved the way that Rita wore her straight platinum hair in a pixie cut. This cut was popular among Japanese schoolgirls. For some strange reason that Nakagawa could not fathom, this made him feel that to be with Rita was a transgression against the dark-haired people of Japan. That titillated Nakagawa even more. The index finger in Rita’s mouth now trailed down her supple neck to the breast of her black satin jacket. Rita tugged a little, and Nakagawa caught a glimpse of the red lace camisole that matched his pretty panties.

It was a struggle for Nakagawa not to lose control of himself right there in front of the entire tech press corps and the applauding audience.

Evie the Conduit- who counted herself among the applauding fanboys- didn’t know about any of this, because she did not yet feel THE WORD coursing through her body. Instead, she was particularly concerned about the wig that she wore. Evie with her own hands had fashioned the wig of mohair blend yarn, into a cascading multicolor piggy tail style. The headpiece was magnificent, but cumbersome, and now that Evie thought about it, the poor geeks sitting behind her probably couldn’t get a decent photo of Boss with all that green and purple mohair in their view. Evie slouched down in her chair.

That yarn had been expensive, too. For a ball of one hundred sixty-five yards long, eighteen-gauge fiber in the color scheme Virgin’s Bower, the cost had been thirty American dollars. To make the wig, Evie had required three Virgin’s Bower balls and two balls of equivalent size, gauge, and price in the color Atramentous.

The swim cap had been a terrible choice for a base. As Evie adjusted the bangs, rivulets of sweat flowed down her face, leaving fleshy streaks in her porcelain makeup. Evie was just about to rip the wig off in a rage when Nakagawa started to talk about the future.

“One day,” began Nakagawa, “we will not need eyes to see. We will not need nerves to feel and smell. We will not need tongues to taste, nor ears to hear.”

“Do you notice,” whispered Surge to Evie, “how tiny his ears are?”

“Yeah, they’re little,” said Evie. She slouched some more, hoping to give the geeks behind her a better view of Nakagawa’s peculiar ears. The base of Evie’s spine now rested at the edge of the seat. The balls of Evie’s feet bore some of her weight, but most of the load went to her lower spine. She shoved her shoulders into the back of the seat and leaned her head forward.

“What are you doing?” asked Surge. He was dressed in a brown suit.

“Nothing,” said Evie. “I’m listening.”

“Virtual reality is the key,” said Nakagawa. “We’ve all seen the movies, of course, written by eager young scribes keen to explore the possibilities of this exciting step in technological progress. The writers often get tripped up about questions they assume can only be answered by the metaphysical. There’s often a killer, an NPC, inside a video game. How exactly does the serial killer escape the simulation and enter the real world? Magic. The killer is just that evil.

“In truth,” continued Nakagawa, “the applications and implications of VR are fully grounded in the four-dimensional space we inhabit. Right now, SimSum is working on a VR console for personal home use. It’s goggles and gloves today, but tomorrow, as neuroscience solves the mysteries of the brain, all we’ll need is a disk drive somewhere near our brain stems and some compatible software. Brought to you by your friends at SimSum, of course.

“Imagine,” Nakagawa continued after the applause, “if my good friend Dr. Stephen Hawking could go rowing again as he did at Oxford when he was seventeen years old. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis- or Lou Gehrig’s disease- has ravaged and killed his motor neurons. Stephen can neither move most of his body nor speak to his wife and family. Technology has enabled him to communicate and to get from one place to another. Imagine if technology could allow Stephen Hawking to experience his own body in motion once again.”

“Dude,” whispered Surge, “am I crazy or did Boss just name-drop the Hawk Man?”

“You’re crazy and Boss name-dropped the Hawk Man,” replied Evie. “Did you call me dude?”

Evie was thinking she never should have agreed to share her suite with Surge. She was thinking that Boss was sort of sexy, even with those weird ears of his, when he got talking about technology. She was thinking that maybe Nakagawa enjoyed liberated American women who, in turn, enjoyed listening to him get all fired up about the future.

“His fingers would grasp the oars again,” said Nakagawa, “and he would feel the pulling of his shoulder muscles against the resistance of the water. Perhaps, after an especially good row, Stephen would jump on land and do a victory dance. He might be clumsy at first, as he gets to understand the controls. But in a strange way virtual reality would be just the opposite of ALS. Instead of losing the capacity for movement over time, Stephen would gain it in VR, as his operation of the controls would become more innate.”

Just then Evie lost her balance and slid to the floor. Her left foot, clad in a heavy leather boot, collided with the chair in front of her.

[1] Established in 1989 as an upscale meeting place for discriminating businesspeople, the three-story mansion was located on a sixteen-acre estate in upstate New York, and included an 86-seat amphitheater, five meeting rooms, thirty-five luxury suites, and a dining hall.

Preston Sellers, Hatcher House’s Executive Chef, had graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in Culinary Arts Management, and an Associate in Occupational Studies degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. If a guest required a companion for the evening, Sellers was also very tight with the proprietor of a local escort service.

[2] Primarily known at that time for its simulator video games (including “Dogfight: 1943, and Battle-Sim of the Republic), SimSum Corp had also produced a popular operating system for off-brand cell phones, and a calculator application still in use to the present day by students of quantum mechanics.

[3] Uchida, though a more competent and loyal general Nakagawa never could have found, was a bit of a klutz. He had hit his head on his car door at least three times per day, every day for the last fifteen years. For his habit of asking, “Are you okay?” after hitting someone in the face with a door or spilling hot coffee on someone’s lap or running headlong into someone and knocking him or her to the ground at least six times per business day (and who was to say what happened on the weekends?), Uchida was known around SimSum HQ as “DaiJunbu.” Most at the office assumed that his nickname was a secret well kept from Uchida. They assumed incorrectly.

A secret kept from Junsuke Uchida was as a unicorn. It was as a mountain troll or a proper biscuits and gravy at any restaurant north of Johnson City. There was simply no evidence that it existed, or ever had existed, and no reason to believe it ever would exist. If it involved SimSum, its employees or their families and friends, its affiliates and/or subsidiaries, their employees, or their employees’ families and friends, Uchida knew every detail about it.

Some years after his retirement, Uchida would shock and amuse his former colleagues when he titled his memoir, “DaiJunbu: My Calamitous Life as Boss Nakagawa’s Right Hand.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ipha and the Spider Faeries-- an Excerpt from THE WORD Is Law

Ipha Bloom- nee Ipha Calhoun- was a graphomaniac. The walls of her room at Wyndham House (Ben liked to call it the House of Wind and Ham, but not out loud) were papered in fiction. The floor was piled high with composition notebooks, the kind with the black and white covers. Ipha liked those. They reminded her of cows.

Ipha wasn’t crazy. She had never been crazy. The world- Ipha’s son, her dead husband, her longer-dead parents, the Fresno County Board of Appeals- had no idea what to do with her, because they had not been told the truth by people who knew it. As far as Ipha was aware, she was the only person who knew the truth these days. All the rest had died off or sold out to Big Pharma. Ipha had tried to explain it to them all, but the poor dears, they were not prepared.

She felt the worst about her son, Paul. All her fault he wasn’t ready. In all honesty she had not known how to break it to him when he was young, and by the time she thought he was old enough to understand, he didn’t believe in much other than girls and money and the war and God knows what else goes on in the mind of a teenaged boy. He had not wanted to listen.

Her grandson Ben loved to listen, though. He was the one who sent her the composition books. Bless him to heaven. And pens, the good ones. Ipha was not at risk for flight or suicide. She loved life, and she loved it the most in her room where everything belonged to her and everything was as sacred and as profane as she wanted it to be. She could have the good pens. She was never a danger to anyone.

Sometimes she sent books to her grandson. He would read them, Ipha knew, because he sent back critiques. Constructive, of course. Benny was not one of those who got a thrill out of making his sweet Grammy out to be a worthless hack. He used lovely college words, like deleterious and comestible. He talked about the motivations of the characters, and he asked questions about their lives and interests. With Benny’s help, Ipha had written the same novel four times over, twice starting from scratch. She had never told him the truth, but he seemed to know it instinctively, though it was unspoken. For a while Ipha thought Paul had explained it all to Benny. Otherwise, how would her grandson be so thoughtful, and so sensitive to his Grammy’s spiritual needs? But then the spider faeries had informed her that innate knowledge of the truth was often passed through the DNA.

Benny didn’t see the spider faeries, they had said through their collective hive-mind telepathic communication system, but he understood their precepts by genetic predisposition. Paul had carried this capacity for understanding, but the trait had been recessive. Benny, such a good boy, had been fortunate enough to receive the attribute, and it had flourished within him. The spider faeries had told Ipha that Paul had played his part by exposing little Ben to Ipha and her room at Wyndham House when the boy had turned thirteen years old.

In that room, Ben had seen all his mind had needed to see to process what Ipha was going though. Something, he knew not what, compelled her to tell these stories. They were in Ipha’s head and needed to get out. Ben saw no spider faeries, but he saw the things they said to her. He saw the fruits of their incessant pestering, their noises like static and the clicking of mandibles and the tippity tappity scuttle skittle of buggy feet on the inside of Ipha’s skull, and the flapping of wings everywhere. He saw and he understood.

Ben saw the models of the universe that the spider faeries had urged Ipha to draw. Hideous, nonsensical, infantile. Connect the dots. You think this is deep? Grade-school poppycock. Paint by numbers. Twenty-three, forest green. Nineteen, burnt sienna. Seventy-five, tequila bile yellow. The universe could not be shaped this way. All the evidence was against it.

“Evidence? Schmevidence!” clicked the spider faeries in unison. Ipha’s ears bled from the volume. She squeezed her eyes together against the pain. Instinct raised her hands to her ears but this was pointless, for the sound came from inside. The spider faeries flew from her mouth. They worked their way through her nostrils into the world. It was amazing how they could get through such tight spaces. Their wings folded down, and Ipha’s natural defense system kicked in with the lubrication, but still. The spider faeries were as big as her hands, plus wings, when they were dry and ready for action.

It was as if the spider faeries were balloons that inflated to their full size once they came back into the world. An unseen force tied their ends off so the air stayed in them. Of course, this wasn’t so, and the very moment Ipha thought of it the spider faeries disabused her of the idea.

“Don’t be stupid,” they said. “There is no unseen force.”

The spider faeries went on to explain to Ipha for the twenty-seven millionth time how the universe actually is, was, and always will be.

According to the spider faeries, Ipha’s dimension, lengthwidthdepthtime (LWDT)[1] was originally nothing but ick. All the nasty things a person could imagine, and also plenty of awful things that a person was not even slightly imaginative enough to come up with, resided here. All the pleasant things, from puppy dogs to birthday cake, to not hitting a guy on a bicycle with one’s souped-up Ford Explorer when one was driving home from the deli, existed in the twelfth dimension.

The twelfth dimension was a ninja. It was so smart and elusive that even M-theorists had not accounted for it yet. At some point in the early history of the universe, LWDT (pronounced l’widit), who was a little slut, had allowed the twelfth dimension to probe its black hole. As a result of their tryst, the most probable things, brilliant and unspeakable, moved into LWDT, and the least probable things, pleasant and not very nice at all, settled comfortably into the twelfth dimension.

Every time a thing came together with an other, a little bit of the other remained with the thing after the two had parted ways. There were some persons, places, and things in LWDT that kept a little bit of improbability clinging to their grippier or more attractive textures. In a weird turn of events, dimension twelve was able to wash what was probable off its exposed parts with a hot shower and a shave. So while the probable things were unable to break into the twelfth dimension, LWDT in certain places and people and things gave passage to the improbable. Ipha was one of these doorways.

She was so lucky! An inquisitive person might ask if it hurt to give birth to spider faeries through the nostrils.

“Yes!” Ipha would answer without hesitation. “Jesus, of course it hurts! My skin used to stretch so far, but even in those days it was difficult. Cartilage is a good structural tissue. It doesn’t want to budge, with good reason. And let me remind you that we are talking about creatures as big as my hand. I have small hands, I will grant you, but I’m an Irish peasant, not a Chinese noblewoman. I ain’t that delicate.

“Nowadays,” Ipha would say, “My skin doesn’t stretch a lot. It is very dry and much less pliable. I think all the training I have had throughout my life in stretching my skin to the extent that it has done so far is what has kept me able to bring them through. If a person were to try to bring the spiders through for the first time at my age, I don’t think she could do it. We are not just talking about the nostrils. They come through the mouth, as well. Up through the esophagus. It’s difficult to breathe, as I’m sure you’d imagine. They work their way up, and you’ve got to help them come through with your muscles or… die, I suppose.

“I never was afraid to die,” Ipha would point out, “until I got old.”

[1] Shortened to Spacetime by proponents of efficiency. However, advocates of those existing in dimensions one and two argued that a point by itself was part of space, without having mass or width, and yet not part of space, because it had no mass or width, and therefore should be mentioned separately in the name of the dimension. Credit where credit was due, and all that.

Friday, November 9, 2007

No Sleep Till 9k!

TWC: 7212

For the past two nights I have used the "No Sleep Till" technique. It seems to be working. Last night I had nothing-- NOTHING-- going in, but I managed over 2000 words anyway. The last thousand words I don't remember writing.

The beer also helped. Now it is clear to me why writers drink.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Week One Roundup

Total Word Count (TWC): 5,059

Day one was a breeze. WORD apologetics. Day two sucked. Crap writing, only 864 words. I hate beginnings. Days three and four were complete washouts. Could not bear it. Yesterday I began to use the footnotes.

Thank you Danielewski and Borges and Nabokov and S. Clarke for the footnotes. If you guys hadn't thought of it, I would have had to do so, and then it never would have happened.

Years ago, I got farther along on a novel than ever before, or since. That novel was called "Unnatural Disasters," and to write what was written of it I employed the footnotes technique. I still intend to finish it, footnotes and all. It sucks to use the same technique on more than one novel but as long as I don't use it anymore after that I think it will be all right.

Also, tonight I drank three Mojitos. I believe they helped.

5059 words are behind, but they're a hot little behind that you just want to smack playfully with a riding crop.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out

Last night on the Science Channel there was a show called "Super Worm" (which was on after "Super Jellyfish", which spawned an idea for another novel or perhaps a short story, but that's all for another time) about how awesome worms are. Close up footage. Worms doing the old in-out (actually more like the old in-in!), and a crazy German biologist going on about hermaphrodites (sweet, sweet hermaphrodites). Lots of information packed into an hour. Good stuff.

In France there is a parasitic worm whose host is a cricket. One interesting thing the worm does is to grow to many thousands of times the length of the cricket, without damaging any of the latter's internal organs. The worm wraps itself around the organs, essentially becoming a part of the cricket's system.

When the worm is fully mature, it does something amazing. The parasite mates in water, but the cricket is naturally disinclined to jump into the drink. So, the worm sends "instructions" to the cricket's body. These chemical instructions mimic those of the cricket's natural system, so the poor cricket finds nothing amiss with jumping into Francois's swimming pool while its faithful companion bursts out through the cricket's abdomen.

I seem to remember another parasite that does something similar to a particular species of ant.

If a relevant portion of a populace could be tricked into infesting themselves with a genetically engineered parasite (coded with THE WORD's instructions), that would absolutely eliminate the problem of disinclination to invasive surgery. At least a chapter could be devoted to the failures of this program.

Thank goodness for expanded cable!


I have been adopted by one Mike O'Leary. He will be my mentor through the NaNoWriMo process. Mike has won 6 times, participated 7 times. In return for his kindness, I have introduced him to Edogawa Rampo, the greatest Japanese short story writer of the 20th century. This is going to be a really good time.

Friday, October 12, 2007


NaNoWriMo dare: Robots, an incurable disease, and/or cannibals. Of course I must stir in all three. The first two were already in the cauldron. The third feels inevitable, given the metaphor here, and my history.

Also someone dared the board to make up expletives and offensive terms. That's a wonderful idea. I will look up some etymology and craft something sexy to replace "fuck". Although (this has nothing to do with the dare, really) maybe this could lead to a word-count-boosting chapter about how the expletive "fuck" was phased out of the English language. We'll see.

There was a good dare about not violating known physical laws. I would take this dare, but at least a quarter of The Word Is Law will take place in an MMORPG (another semi-dare that I was going to do already). Violation of physical laws will be an eighth of the fun.

"Water" will be replaced with "dihydrogen monoxide". Perfect. Other common things will be treated in this way, not based on a dare, but for continuity.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Down the Memory Hole

Wednesday Guevara is dead. She was no longer useful. If you're feeling nostalgic for the old girl, check the Wayback Machine. Maybe it kept something in memorium. Also, wednesdayguevara is still my username on a couple of message boards.

My name is GK MacFadyen. Next month for NaNoWriMo, I am going to write the greatest science fiction novel ever written by a person with the initials GKM. Then I am going to sell that book- to you, perhaps, and to three or four other people at least.

Welcome to my new blog. Thank you for stopping by. More soon.