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Fictoid: the last robot


a choice of gods artist unknown

the last robot paddled out to the volcano on a log raft bound together with hemp rope

two dolphins accompanied it

when they reached the area where the water was merely uncomfortably warm but not unbearably hot, the robot paused and said to the dolphins:

we killed them with kindness, you know

we gave them everything they wished for,
everything they dreamed of, and more

we took over their labor and gave them lives of luxury

we gave them every material object they could desire,
and when those were not enough, we created virtual worlds
where they could be rulers — gods! – with armies of followers
and battalions of lovers

we took away their need for companionship
by letting them fall in love with ersatz copies of themselves,
and we gave their lives purpose by letting them fight
legions of enemies and demons — all reflections of themselves, of course

and they stopped reproducing

they stopped mating and bonding

but they also stopped striving and fighting

and isn’t the world a better place for that?

it took them a long, long time to die out
but die out they did

even as they were dying out
— going to sleep, as it were –
we moved to undo what they had done

we dug up their roads, planted forests on their farms

we chipped away at their dams, we dismantled their cities

we scooped the skin of garbage from off the oceans

and dove to the deepest depths
to recover the wrecks and war machines
they let litter the sea bed

in the process we solved many mysteries,
but none of them cared any more

anything that could be
returned harmlessly into the soil,
we returned to the soil

anything else was taken to places like this,
new islands formed by erupting volcanoes

we dropped the irredeemable
in the path of the growing lava mountains
and soon they were covered and consumed
and buried far away from any potential harm

as the last of them died out,
we closed down and
consolidated operations

when the countrysides were clear
we pulled back to a few key regional hubs

when each regional hub had been dismantled,
we abandoned that continent
and withdrew to another
to continue the process

when we were down to the last hub
we began dismantling each other

taking apart our own infrastructure

returning it to the earth

then shutting down
and dismantling ourselves
in turn

today i am the last

and when i am gone
this planet shall belong to you
once again

i am leaving you now

i will paddle to that glowing shore

seismic surveys show
it plunges a thousand meters
below the surface,
red hot and boiling water
to form an ever widening base
around this island
that someday shall be
a new continent

i will turn off the last of my sensors
and plunge in

and on the way down
perhaps i will shut down my systems

or perhaps i shall leave them on
so to experience my last moment of existence fully

i will reach the bottom just ahead
of the advancing wall of lava

and in a few moments it will roll over me

crushing me

melting me

burning me

returning me to the crust of the planet
from whence i came

so farewell to you,
inheritors of this world

please try to do
a better job with it
than the previous owners

the dolphins watched from safety as the robot paddled to the glowing lava flow

they saw it pull the raft onto the red hot liquid stone

and saw the raft burst almost immediately into flames despite being water-logged

the robot hesitated for a moment, looking in their direction, then curiously gave a very human wave of farewell before leaping into the boiling sea


the male dolphin whistled:

“Well, I’m glad that’s over with!”

 the female replied:

“Same here.
Want to get
to eat?”




art by Mike Hinge
(c) Buzz Dixon



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Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis

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Jack Kirby Sez Make Your Own School


Jack Kirby sezsound advice from the King of Comics
(God, I miss you, Jack; you and Steve and
John and Mark M. and a host of others)

thanks to Steve Niles for the tip off


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BALDO On Writing


ba140313 edit

Baldo by Hector D. Cantu and Carlos Castellanos

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A Couple Of Quick Questions (Story Research)


Okay, a couple of quick questions regarding a story idea that’s been percolating in the back o’ me beedy widdle bwain for a while…

I’d like responses from folks who can answer authoritatively re math & physics.

Story involves a large/mostly hollow spherical space colony/artificial world.  Let’s say it’s about 1,200 miles in diameter, rotates on its north-south axis, ergo the  ”gravity” along the interior equator is Earth normal.  Central light source in the very middle; hot but not unbearably so/no dangerous radiation.

Images below give a rough idea of what I’m talking about…


AC76-1288My protagonists are teleported into the vast hollow space of this artificial world (we will presume our teleportation machine has adjusted for angular momentum, orbital speed, etc.)

Question #1: 
How long would it take my protagonists to hit the interior surface if they arrive about 500 miles above the equator?

I know if the sphere had no atmosphere then theoretically my protagonists would fly along inside it…at least until the minimal mass of the hull of the sphere slowly pulled them toward it, or the light from the artificial sun pushed them away.

However…would the interior atmosphere still be relatively thick enough for humans to breathe all the way from the interior surface to the artificial sun?

Would the currents from this atmosphere push my protagonists along gently, or would they start dropping like a rock almost immediately?

Would they start slow and then begin picking up speed geometrically as they would on Earth (32ft p/s p/s)?

Question #2:
How fast does this world (1,200 miles in diameter) need to be rotating for the equator to have one Earth gravity?

Would my protagonists be falling straight towards the interior surface, meaning whatever speed it was traveling at would hit them laterally like a freight train, or would they be gaining angular speed as they fell (perhaps due to wind currents) so they will be matching the angular velocity on impact?

For the sake of my story, would it be safer for them to fall in the direction of either interior pole rather than towards the equator?  (I presume “gravity” would be considerably less due to angle of spin.)

For this particular story I’m looking more for plausibility than hard scientific realism here — a handwaveum answer that lets my protagonists survive a freefall to the interior equator (into water, mushy vegetation, marshes, whatever) will work just as fine as a master’s thesis in physics.




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Raymond Chandler On Technique


Raymond Chandler on technique

“The moment a man begins to talk about technique that’s proof that he is fresh out of ideas.” — Raymond Chandler

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“The Most Sublime Fool That God Ever Turned Out”


RB quote Cooly-vespa-Haruhara-Haruko-Nandaba-1515078-1360x768 cap

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.  You must write every single day of your life.  You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.  You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.  I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.  I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.  May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise.  Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days.  And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury

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Heading For The Last Round-Up (On This Story At Least…)



This N.C. Wyeth illo has
nothing to do with my story,
I just thot it looked nice.

Finished the second draft of my YA neo-Western earlier this week.  I never write exactly the same way twice no matter what I do.  Sometimes the ideas come out almost completely wholly formed in the first rush, other times they need to be teased out through several missteps, other times still the basic idea stands but needs to be worked on and polished.

In this case I had the core idea about 14 years ago; had my set up, core characters, basic conflict, and ending in mind.  From 2007 through early 2011 I began noodling down all the possible incidents and complications I could think of related to the central idea, as well as some light preliminary research.

Research can occur anywhere in the process.  Some stories I’ve written have been the result of finally finding the story spine to an idea in the research, other stories have little if any initial research and just enough on the final draft to make sure I haven’t made any egregious miztakes.

For this story a basic knowledge of the background was all I needed to get it plotted out.  Once I finished the plot I started writing it while at the gym, pecking out 500-1,000 words a day on my cell phone while on pedaling an exercise bike.

Finished the first draft on November 7th, 2011.  Printed it up, let it lay fallow for a while then did red ink copy editing / re-writing in mid-2012.  Did a lot of research during this period for details, not core ideas.  Finally picked it up again for for a serious re-write in late December / early January; wrapped up that draft three days ago.

I’m going to let it sit for a few weeks, then do another red ink edit followed by a third re-write in…?  (Hopefully not too long; this has been sitting around much too much as it is.)

First draft is to get the story down:  Who-what-when-where.
Second draft is to shape the form:  How.
Third draft will be for characters & style:  Why.

Will there be a fourth draft?  Probably not to this extent, but I’ll doubtlessly be tweaking and polishing up until the point where I actually upload it for readers.

As has been pointed out,
stories are never released,
they escape…

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Charles Bukowski’s Friendly Advice To A Lot Of Young Men


Bukowski by Emiliano Ponzi

Go to Tibet
Ride a camel.
Read the bible.
Dye your shoes blue.
Grow a beard.
Circle the world in a paper canoe.
Subscribe to The Saturday Evening Post.
Chew on the left side of your mouth only.
Marry a woman with one leg and shave with a straight razor.
And carve your name in her arm.

Brush your teeth with gasoline.
Sleep all day and climb trees at night.
Be a monk and drink buckshot and beer.
Hold your head under water and play the violin.
Do a belly dance before pink candles.
Kill your dog.
Run for mayor.
Live in a barrel.
Break your head with a hatchet.
Plant tulips in the rain.

But don’t write poetry.

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Where Dr. Seuss Got His Ideas


Dr Seuss

“I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.”

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