Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Archive for the ‘Words about Words’ Category


Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Words didn’t fail the last man on earth; the city of machines did. After the gears ground down and clunked their last, he spoke at various consoles, but the machines wouldn’t whir back to life. Nothing but his cerebrometer made even the faintest buzz. Either its battery was failing as well or he was. Each day it dropped a tenth of a percent: 81.2. 81.1, 81.0, 80.9….

That’s when he found books: worlds that were, worlds that weren’t, worlds that could be right now: He built his own generator, wells, crops, pets, even a woman. He walked away from the city of the machines.

Years later, nostalgic, he wheeled in on a chair pushed by his favorite great granddaughter. They sifted through dust layered upon the old machines and the former last man reminisced on how machines walked, talked, thought, rocked babies, and bought cans of delicious goolop for you. They popped an unopened can and tried it: tasted like gritty motor oil. It must have spoiled, the former last man said.

The great granddaughter stumbled across the cerebrometer amid the rusted hulks of machines and shook off the dust. Hers was 140, more than half more than his had read at her age. Must be broken, he muttered. He slipped the leather straps over his head, and his read 120. How can one go higher than 100%, he asked. His great granddaughter pointed to the words, “Intelligence Quotient” and how it was scaled. Oh, he said, I’d thought I was getting a B.

The Complete Guide to Complete Guides

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Although this masquerades as a short story, it actually crams the known universe down your neural network.  Each pixel barrages your retina in photons arrayed to convey a trillion trillion trillion bits of information.  Glimpsing the first letter of this story has made you want to invest a month’s credits into our bank account, but hey, at least we’re honest.

After reading this far, you have the knowledge of three races from the Milky Way’s more intelligent arthropods stored in your brain.  How many of your friends can boast that?  (Shortly, all of them.  You will convince them to look at the first letters of this story, and they will soon sink a month’s credits in our accounts.)

All you have to know about your new knowledge is how to access it.  At present, this technology is limited to Random Access Memory—that is, it may require green tea on your Great Aunt Betsy’s veranda or a quiet afternoon of clinking dominoes at a local café, but it will all surface sooner or later, whether you want it to or not.

In clinical trials, 98.9 % of those about to be crushed by pillow-rock monsters on the planet Xartan are able to recall the necessary escape data to skedaddle with little more than a mild concussion or internal hemorrhaging.  Disappointingly, in the same trials, only 3.4% were able to retrieve data on man-eating orchids, lying in wait just the other side of the cliff face–a problem our programmers are working on as we transmit this data to you).

Next year around this time, a whim will compel you to purchase The All-New Complete Guide to Complete Guides, 2.0–updated to prevent your desire to buy our competitors’ viral Complete Guides so that you don’t go into bankruptcy buying alternate guides.  Those that do have a 27.6% probability of becoming schizophrenic, hydrophobic, and apoplectic.

That’s it!  The last of the data is loaded.  Enjoy your new life to the best of your ability.

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