[Sic] is the second book in Davis Schneiderman’s Dead Books Trilogy. It’s a collection of classic works reprinted in their original forms (as far as I could tell; I tried combing the book as best I could, comparing things with what I had in my personal collection to see if I could find any deliberate changes, and nothing – I was especially suspicious of an actual [sic] notice, but whatever) which includes passages from things like Hamlet, The Canterbury Tales, and the Confidence-Man, among others, like the very first Tweets in history, and more interestingly, the DNA map of mitochondrial vertebrate, and the original source-code of David L. Smith’s 1999 internet-killer, the infamous Melissa Virus – each entitled with a curious, “by Davis Schneiderman” staple. The book is also interspersed with desaturated images of an all-white, featureless humanoid figure hanging around Paris (scaring the crap out of a kid in one photo, which gave me a few chuckles). I think this mischievous white vessel  represents the blank sheet of paper we all are the moment we’re born, before the world writes itself into us, but don't quote me. [Sic] is a statement about plagiarism. It’s a scrutiny of the idea of originality, and it’s an indictment of the absurdity of laying claim to thought itself. Let me explain.

You won’t simply read this book, and it’s complicated. You see, you’ve no doubt read the actual content of [Sic] countless times, poked and prodded the works therein, studied them, wrote term-papers and thesis’ and dissertations, devoted your lives to them and their creators. Separately, most of these pieces are beautiful works of expression: inspiring, epic and evocative – sliced up and stitched together, however, they become something else entirely. But as a body of work, [Sic] can only be read in the same manner as one would read chicken bones. When you make your way through this hauntingly genius monstrosity, don’t be surprised with the weird places your mind will go. Mine, for example, went to the connected and fractal nature of collective-knowledge. There’s a key part in [Sic] where Schneiderman highlights the etymology of the word “from,” which had me constantly circling back to this notion that nothing can isolate any single idea or thought from every other thought or idea that came before it. What an immense truth, isn’t it?

And it’s baffling how many of our thoughts aren’t based on pre-existing conditions. When it’s quiet, and you have a little downtime – when the world melts into uniform streams of fantasy and wants, set aside some time to break down your inner thoughts and ideas, and try to remember where they came from. And then ask yourself: excluding biophysiological functions, drives, and needs, what’s left in your head that isn’t serial (or at least isolated from language, history, culture, values, mores, etc…)?

How many ideas sloshing around up there aren’t based on old information? Assuming you follow Descartes’ example, and you are because you think, try asking yourself how much of you is of novel origin. Examine it closer, if you dare, and play at the edge of that dangerous epistemological reservoir, which makes men pull against the many threads of their lives that are stitched into the deterministic fabric of our universe. Suddenly, free-will is an illusion, and you’re not special, and anything you can do, think, conjure, or conceptualize isn’t something anybody else couldn’t have done if the conditions were right. Talent is suddenly reduced to a margin of context and timing, refined by the opportunity of desire.

Admit that it isn’t possible to be original without embracing what came before. Admit that the only reason you’re able to utilize formulae to your own ends is because you have read the books you read, seen the movies you’ve seen, known the people you’ve known. The formula is true: you wouldn’t be you unless the world was what it is, and the fact remains that there isn’t a single thought in your head that hasn’t come from somewhere else. That’s called culture .

Originality is a factory that yields a generation of dreams, which then colors the dreams of the following generation, and finally makes new again what once was forgotten. This is a very clever (and important, even necessary) trick to being original, which freshens and reinvigorates the old, and keeps it relevant. The truth is that those past dreams are intellectually infectious, and the new dreamer is powerless to act upon them. And here’s Schneiderman’s question: who has the right to lay claim to that? By what circumstance have we come to earn that right? If nothing in your head is actually from you , how can you own it?

I worry that by saying things like this I may be adding to the overall redshift of what original content that does exist out there. And I think this is the point of what Davis Schneiderman is getting at; Of course my fear isn't the one true fear: who can honestly say that they have memorized Where the Sidewalk Ends , for example? But then who would you consider as reliable who couldn’t at least recite a word or two of Shakespeare? Even if you cared nothing to know anything about theater, you’d immediately recognize what follows, ‘O Romeo, Romeo […]’.

We think we want originality, but I suspect that we don’t really know what that means. At least for me, the wish for the new and the unknown is sometimes quite unsettling when granted. When you think about it, originality can be a scary and uncertain state. Humans are pattern-seeking animals in constant yearning for the comfortably familiar. This is how a story can become legend, before becoming a myth that precedes religion. What is there to love about the Bible if it isn’t the familiar cadence of its language? And it doesn’t just stop there; it’s the poetry of written language as a whole.

Even the word "Koran" means "the recitation," and it appears that in Arabic its conjuration can hasten people spellbound by sheer force, and yeah, even beauty. It’s the power of familiar, isn’t it? At least language gives substance to the concept of a connection to our distant past. It’s impossible for the new to exist without the old, and I won’t lie – I’m addicted to the familiar.

Yet sometimes, way past my bedtime, when I am not exhausted enough for sleep but too dizzy to continue absorbing anything news-related, I will approach the appropriate shelf and grab the unexpected: the books that have a tendency to surprise me. And then, of course, I’ll stay up even later than planned. I’ll grab a book like [Sic] by Davis Schneiderman, read it in a single sitting, see every familiar word in a new way, and sometimes, I really can appreciate that writing is not just done by hand.

Davis Schneiderman has created with [Sic] something that is truly one of a kind – you will never see anything even remotely like it again. And I think the discussion in years to come will be the entirety of Schneiderman's body of work – [Sic] is a single brushstroke on a larger canvas that will no doubt take a lifetime to fully appreciate, and he’s just getting started. Schneiderman is a master of his craft – of building images atop images – and provoking his reader to not only feel something, but to think unconventionally about conventional things. [Sic] is a lab-experiment. It’s an in-depth look at the mythical line between written language and visual-art. It’s an emblazoned declaration, a scathing indictment, a reverent homage, and a wonderful piece of expression all in one. You just have to check this out.

If you like what you see, drag your cursor to the RSS icon located somewhere in the right margin of your screen, and please subscribe. If you're feeling extra clicky, head over to my and click the Like button!

Thanks for reading, and as the islanders say: Live slow, mon.

-Shane

The hamster wheel keeps turning. And I keep writing. I’m still getting attacked by that novel, which is insanely frustrating because I’m holding myself to a 2000 words per day limit due to the surgery.  (If you’re privy to priority number 1, “don’t die”, then priority number 2, “don’t damage yourself any further” should also be observed. My neck is raw , like an exposed nerve, and the only things I’ve been able to do this month is pop painkillers and shift my body-weight from one butt-cheek to the other at thirty minute intervals.  I’m starting to walk a little more, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.) This in turn has cut into time spent blogging.

I think I can admit, however, that the novel in question, “Eigengrau”, is my second official novel. I think that’s okay to say, considering I still have no idea what I’m doing: should I spend my time convincing people to buy my first novel, “Artifact”? Or do I follow the momentum and hurl myself onto the next project? Do I slice my time into equal portions and service each thing accordingly? I’m still in a holding pattern here, anyway – waiting for reader-reviews to start popping up as people begin to finish Artifact – I’m also waiting for my first crate of books to arrive in the mail, so I can shoot them off to major publications for professional reviews. Exciting, exciting, exciting.

The plan is to start soliciting Artifact to individual bookstores as soon as I’m comfortable with the volume of reader-reviews sprinkled across the dreaded intranets.  I suspect the first thing a merchandise-coordinator will do once I ping them for orders is hop on the internet and surveil the good word about Artifact.

I have it by personal rote that each of these bullet-points must happen, in this order, before I can organize any kind of book tour:

1.       Any day now, maybe weeks,  I don’t know,  the first wave of readers who finish Artifact and actually like it should be dropping reviews at either Amazon, Barnes n’ Noble and Goodreads – I’m hoping ten per site, but I’d settle for three to five.  If it doesn’t happen, then I’ll just have to put my big-boy pants on, roll up the ol’ sleeves and trot on amicably.

2.       The free-copies of Artifact that Boxfire is sending me should arrive soon, and then I can start firing them off to the various professional reviewers that I’ve secured, e.g. Midwest Book Review, SFRevu, Booklist, Kirkus, etc.

3.       Once there is a healthy amount of both reader and professional reviews online, I can then start soliciting individual distributors.

4.       Whichever stores order a certain number of copies (I have no idea what that number will be yet – I have a tad more homework to do on this aspect of process) will determine how I organize any author-events.

I don’t know if baring my POA for all to see is good thing or not – I’m revealing my true noob colors, certainly, but this blog is another plane of reflection, isn’t it? I’m imagining my author buddies tisking at me, but I’ve said it before: bloggin’ isn’t easy, winners are rare, and losing is a wide runway of silence. Simply put: one topic is just as good as the other, especially when it comes to blogging.  To put it loosely? Talking about something is better than not talking about anything.

I think that’s it, unless Boxfire has any additional plans for me.  Given that they’re busy with their Sight mini-series, I doubt it. Today is August 23rd; I’ve passed the 93,000 word mark during my fifth amble through Eigengrau, which is slightly longer than I anticipated – it’s going to need some major trimming, but I lost most of the month to surgery and recovery-time – time , mind you, spent staring at the ceiling while my white and red blood cells work at laying fresh bone over two plates of titanium screwed into my spine. Wet-blanket neck surgery seems to be the only surefire way of clubbing my muse to death.

Many apologies about the lack of blogging: normalcy will resume in due time. But right now I’m preoccupied with convincing people to buy Artifact, as well as whipping the next candidate for my slush-pile into shape.

If you’re planning to attend the 5th annual Baltimore Comic Convention, look for the novel “Artifact” at booth 2103, and give Boxfire Press my regards.

Thanks for reading! If you like what you see, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed, located in the right margin of this page – and while you’re at it, pretty please, with cherries on top, follow and Like my author page. I need those tasty little Likes.

That’s all I have for now.

Please, my very attractive and inspiring reader, have a good weekend!

-Shane

Click to purchase
I just finished draft number four of my latest project “Eigengrau.” (That doesn't mean it's ready for publishers or anything; it just means that it's ready for a few select readers to grab a hatchet and hack away any detritus — then I can play the king’s men and put it all back together again.) And in addition, I could be bouncing a baby boy on my knee within a span of weeks, on top of recovering from a very intense and painful neck-surgery – so I think I might be taking a few days off from smashing away at the keyboard to catch up on some much needed rest. Or something.

I don't have a whole lot to say at the moment because my brain is stuffed so far into the guts of “Eigengrau” that I can see daylight through its colon. Hopefully there'll be a surge of blogging in a week or two, once I’ve had a chance to heal, but until then feel free to talk amongst yourselves about whatever tickles you. My comment section feels a tad lonely and vulnerable – you should break it in a bit, give it some utility.

Meanwhile, I'm very pleased to announce that my debut SF novel, "Artifact,” is out now in paperback from Boxfire Press. You can order it from Amazon.com or find it in bookstores — a little birdy told me that Amazon has been running a few shipments behind, but I’ve been fielding reports from relatives and friends that paper copies have been spotted. Please note that this is the magnificent, top-shelf quality first edition , printed on real paper (or some synthetic, superheated mulch particles – whatever).

Congratulations to Candace and Treasure for being the first to get free signed copies of “Artifact” – they each purchased an electronic version and submitted reviews on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Thanks for the kind words ladies – you’ve made my dark heart shine a little brighter. I have eight free copies left, so shoot an email my direction and learn how to haggle one out of me.

That’s all I have for today, gals and gents.

Please consider buying a copy of “Artifact.” My widow and all of our seven adopted orphan children, not to mention the livestock, will be eternally grateful.

Thanks for reading – don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed (up and to the right). If you haven’t gotten around to it yet, could use one of your coveted Likes.

Also, head over to goodreads and cast your vote for Paul Levinson’s Best Firsts of Science Fiction .

Until next time: LIVE SLOW

-Shane


Yes, Artifact was officially released two days ago, but I didn’t have time to blog about it due to the worrisome presence of loose cartilage and viscera inside my spinal canal ( Click the image above to order it… )

The surgery was a success, apparently – level-two cervical fusion and discectomy – funny story, post-op, doctor waltzed into my room, smiling ear-to-ear, shaking his head. He said, “Your type of herniation, Shane – and I’ve been doing this a long time,” he lunged for my wrist – well, he reached for my radial pulse, but through the molasses-haze of narcotics, he moved very much like a methamphetamine-crazed flea doing stand-up-improvisation with Robin Williams – but he said, “A long time, sixteen years – I’ve dealt with every sort of herniated disc you can imagine, even for professional athletes. But yours - your discs were the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Half-asleep, high as hell, I said something like, “Hhnng?”

And he said, “Yep, your discs were terrible – I can’t even imagine what that much pressure felt like!” So he tells my wife and I (mostly my wife, since I was in la-la land) that not only had my c67 disc burst into the spinal canal and push against the adjacent nerve, it also wrapped around the vertebrate and stopped flush against the opposite-side nerve - one disc, two nerves, lottery ticket? Basically, the disc burst so hard out of the left side of my neck, my right arm went numb. He also said that, once decompressed, my c56 disc fell apart like wet newspaper.

I’m back, more or less. Still dizzy and a little stiff, but alive. I had this aggressive promotional campaign planned for this week, which I’ll have to push back until I’ve healed enough for travel. There will certainly be a small tour – I’ll start in the Twin Cities, then head over to Boston, Dallas, Denver and San Diego, maybe Chicago – what determines which cities I visit is where I make my sales. Stay tuned for updates.

I would like to take this moment and thank my hometown – the East Side of St. Paul.

When I started promoting this novel, I wasn't entirely sure how things were going to pan out. I've been pretty reclusive these past years – lost touch with old friends, kept in touch with others (mainly through my wife). The moment I signed the contract with Boxfire, I knew Artifact would need strong support from home if it was going to have any chance at all. My publisher advised that I set up a LIKE metric for each month leading up to release. I expected a ten percent growth of total likes each month, for eight months, which I would have been more than happy with. Honestly, I couldn't think of any reason why people would bother with anything I had going on, so I set a pretty modest goal - 193 page-likes before release. Well, to my pleasant surprise, your continuous support blew that goal out of the water: 255 likes at the finish line. No matter what happens, know that you've made me feel relevant, and that you’ve rekindled that campfire sense of home and community, even if it's only for a little while. Many thanks.

Now, if you’re into science-fiction thrillers , I may have a book for you to check out…

-Shane
Regrettably, a few weeks before Artifact launch, it seems that I can either write books, or I can write blog-entries - at the moment, I'm in the heat of finishing the second draft of another novel. Bloggin' ain't easy, I'm afraid. It's not where my passion is, you know? I'll attempt to finish up a meaty post for you all as soon as my creative juices cease flowing. In the meantime, well - let's spark up a discussion about something. Give me a few prompts and whatnot: it's much easier to blog once I've suckered you into giving me ideas. Come now, don't be shy...

On that note, consider this my open-call for volunteer bloggers to help a brotha' out while he's healing from surgery. Send me a message on facebook, if you're interested.
Not feeling very well, I'm afraid. Doc pinged me back with some shitty news (but news nonetheless, which is good): I have not one but TWO herniated discs in my neck (c56 and c67), slight bleeding along the spine, spiced with some cervical nerve damage. I'm gearing up for some likely surgery, a bouncing baby-boy and a book-release all within a span of weeks. No complaints, just... excuses for lack of content. I will be dropping a motherly sized article in a few days titled, "The Art of Trope Killing, and the Narrative Genius of Cabin in the Woods," so stay tuned for that. I'll attempt more content soon. Thanks for being patient. Special thanks to Damian Hirtz at Alliance Brazilian Jiu Jitsu MN for hooking me up with Twin Cities Spine - these folks wasted no time figuring out what was wrong - previous doc wanted to place me on a painkiller, anti-inflammatory regiment coupled with physical therapy instead of an MRI, which would have certainly done irreversible nerve-damage.

Have a good'n,

-Shane
Apologies for sub-par content. The thing is, I’d just finished first draft of my next novel, and then took a few days to whip “Apt Road" into shape, which was a nice break from the regimentation of novel-building. Now, since I’m waiting to hear back from my handlers at Boxfire about the latest news with “Artifact,” I’m planning to finish what I hope will be one of the final drafts of “Eigengrau,” a sci-fi thriller about an ill-fated mission to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Why so productive you ask? I have a herniated disc jabbing into my cervical root-nerve, therefore no working out, no running, no jits, no life. This means I have plenty of time to get in my 1,000 words/day quota. Heinlein said that once a person has written a million words, s/he’ll begin to understand what it is to be an author. I’m starting to believe him.

The first draft of “Eigengrau” is, well, not publishable. It’s definitely a story: the organs of narrative are all accounted for, sloshing around inside its carcass like viscera. I’ve re-read and edited the first half, refined it into something resembling a Jamie Hyneman style polished turd; the second half? Unpolished turd.

As for Artifact – still waiting on some testimonials from more of my heroes. I’ve also been contacting my favorite blogs and websites to see if any will agree to write some reviews the week of release. Why is this important? Sales-incentives for distributors, mainly. Credentialism. Booksellers are more likely to agree to stock your book if a number of respected sources give it the ol' thumbs-up. They’re not really for you’s guys. No, instead of blurbs and whatnot, I think what will convince the individual consumer to read what I got is how well the expression of my storytelling measures to his or her interests, and I plan to throw up some sample chapters of Artifact in a few weeks. You’ll know by then if what I’ve written is anything you’re interested in.

Re-reading this latest draft of “Eigengrau,” you know what the funniest part was?  The climax makes absolutely no sense, since I haven’t gone back to reshape the relevance-diagram of catalysts, which is really just a process of rearranging a network of arrows, if you will, which point to the end. Foreshadowing needs to be inserted for later scenes, shit that isn’t needed has to be cut, etc…

“Eigengrau” didn’t take terribly long to whip up (I tried staying as close as I could to the Lester Dent approach this time, which is a fabulous method, you should try it).

I have to admit that this blog thing is hard as hell. It’s hard to weigh exactly what you all respond to – stuff about movies and such generates a lot of traffic, and that sort of thing does interest me, certainly, but I have this insatiable need to write about meaty things, like politics, religion and shit. I really want to write about Snowdan’s espionage and the NSA fiasco; I want to write a whole thesis about what’s unfolding in Brazil and Turkey at the moment. I really, really, really want to analyze the moral arc of Obama’s fall from grace, and how this latest NSA scandal will probably (ironically) secure a serious republican nod for 2016 (assuming they don’t go full-retard again – don’t put it past them) and please, for the love of all things holy, if you ARE a registered Republican, learn who Buddy Roemer is. I really like how aggressive Liz Warren is getting – it’s so goddam interesting. It seems like she’s trying everything she can to solidify herself as Queen of the Far Left. Half of me respects the hell out of her, the other half loathes utilitarianism. I’ll figure it all out eventually.

The need to write page after page about this stuff is very strong. But I won’t go there. It’s 4am here. 600mg of ibuprofen, 600mg of gabapentin, and I still can’t sleep unless I’m in a seated position with a neck-roll. I wish I could say that I wasn’t complaining – there are infinitely more people out there who have it worse – but I can’t. This is probably the shittiest place I’ve ever been physically, and it’s really getting to me. My wuss-dial may be turned up a bit higher than most, but I don’t know how much longer I can take this grating, endless, exhausting, grinding, stabbing pain. It’s  damn-near crippling, especially in the morning. Writing helps, and has some therapy, with diminishing returns.  I’ll have better stuff for you to read in a few days.

Until then, as always, peace, and LIVE SLOW.

-Shane

I recently finished Unburning Alexandria, an excellent time-travel novel by Paul Levinson, who channels his anima in a more academic, mellowed, and scholarly way, rather than a blow-the-alien's-acid-based-guts-into-the-hull-of-a-spacecraft way ( cough, James Cameron). Not since Ilium had a novel kept me reading into the wee hours of dusk (I finished this sucker at 3:30 am, unable to resist immediately tweeting my triumph from the mountain tops). Just before tossing all aces like a godforsaken magician,  Levinson shuffled his paradoxes like a deck of cards, and I have to admit, stoked the flames of my imagination. It was a great ride. With that in mind, here's my puzzle for you, a knot of temporal paradoxes, inspired by Levinson and his time-traveling yarn of historical redemption. Since both of my prior outings into short-form were approached from an avant-garde perspective (which was really just me pining for awards and such)  this short story serves two purposes: it gives you an idea of how I pace my narrative, and in case you haven't heard of him, it brings to mind an author who's been, and continues to be, an inspiration: Paul Levinson. Without further ado, or gilding the lily...


APT ROAD.

A short story

By Shane Lindemoen

Apt /apt/

Adj . Appropriate or suitable under the circumstances.

“Listen,” Jay said. “If this were a time travel thing – and I'm not saying it is – but if it is, then everything we do from this moment on would have already happened to another couple of Dave and Jason's later on down the timeline...”

I re-evaluated again the smoking, flipped-over Brinks truck in the ditch. “So what do we do?”

He twisted the red scarf in his hand again and then glanced at the duffel bag on the side of the road. The wind pulled dollar bills of different value away from the bag – several notes already making a run for it across the ditch.

“Look,” He passed me the scarf. “I can't tell – is that your handwriting?”

“Dude, this could be anybody's handwriting–”

“Why's the truck empty?”

“I–”

“And where the hell is the driver?”

Sirens were localizing somewhere to the west, and getting closer. The sun hadn't fully set yet, and the damp leaves refused to let go of anything. I looked around, searching the deep blue tree-line on either side of the road for a sign of life, finding nothing. “I don't know...”

Jay walked back to the message gouged into the side of the road and scratched his head for the millionth time. I reread the other message written onto the scarf, scrawled in messy magic marker, wondering how the hell–

–A second duffel bag suddenly fell from the sky.

I dove for the ditch, screaming bloody death as more dollar bills exploded in a pale green cloud of particulates. A single white leaf of eight by eleven paper spiraled out of the primary confetti of bank notes, gently weaving its way through the air, finally smacking me in the face.

“W– what the hell was that!?” Jay ran over with his hands on his head.

“Unghh,” I stammered, picking myself up off  the ground. “Another bag...?”

Jay looked up, squinting at what looked like a tiny teardrop passing high overhead – I'm talking really high, several thousand feet. He looked back and forth between the new bag of cash and the sky, pacing in a tight circle, wagging his finger at the unreasonableness of the situation. “We – we have to get out of here,” he pointed at the sirens. “They're gonna think we tried to rob this truck – we're gonna – we gotta go, Dave.”

I wiped dirt from my chin, deciding that he was right, that we needed to hightail it fast. Jay stopped and kicked the tar again – then pointed. “Quick, come here and read this again please – just so I know that I'm not losing my vegetables –”

I peeled the piece of paper off my chest and stumbled over to Jay.

Dave and Jay ,” it read. “ Uniforms in truck, leave bag number two and grab the red scarf ....”

Jay snorted, barely controlling his breath. “How is this even possible? That tar is old, Dave....”

I knelt and brushed the neatly engraved words with my fingers, feeling the sirens getting closer. “I don't know, but we have to get out of here–”

I stood, noticing the hook of an upper case J on the piece of paper in my hand. Unfolding it, I said, “Awe, no...”

Jay turned and started to say something, then stopped.

I held up my hand for him to let me finish.“To Dave and Jay,” I read. “Why are you two mentally-insufficients still standing there? Take bag number one and grab the uniforms inside the truck – en route, thirty seconds .

En route ... what does that mean?”

I shrugged. “Dude, let's get outta' here.”

He nodded and we moved briskly toward our hatchback – but something in the first duffel bag caught my eye – a flash of scarlet and another hooked, uppercase letter. Since we were passing it anyway, I jogged to the first duffel bag, eying the second one, still feeling the sirens biting at every passing second. The bag was open – an exact replica of the one that fell from the sky, which was lying a few feet away from the empty, turned-over Brinks truck. Nestled inside of what must have been about five hundred thousand bucks, was a red scarf.

Jay waved me along, shooting worried looks where the road disappeared toward the sirens. “Dave, what the hell–?”

I pulled the scarf out of the bag – and read the same message, scribbled in black magic marker, Dave and Jay, this is real .

“Uh, Jay...?” I walked back to him hopping in the roadway, dragging my jaw with me.

“Oh lord Jesus, what now–?”

I passed him the two scarves, each with an identical message written along one side, in messy magic marker. “Dave and Jay,” he read. “This is real…”

A police car suddenly burst over the hill and sped toward us, lights and sirens blaring. Jay shoved the scarves back into my arms, and I just stood there like an idiot, not knowing what to do. The cop car screeched to a halt near the Brinks truck, swinging its doors open wide, and out stepped a pair of officers from either side of the vehicle, each holding a very large shotgun.

“Hold it right there!” The driver yelled, “You scum eating, puke slurping, video-game-playing, Douglas Adams-Readin' sons-a-guns!”

My fingers went suddenly numb, so I let go of the two scarves – one fell to the ground as the wind wrapped it around my thigh, and the other took off with a gust, away from the crash scene, somewhere into the tree-line. Jay threw his hands up, while I fought the sudden urge to wet myself, thereby making my meat unappetizing to any predators in the area.

The officer on the passenger side said, “Quit screwing around, man – we don't have time.”

“On the contrary, my friend.” The primary officer racked his shotgun and then pointed it back at our faces, “as it turns out, we have loads of it.”

“Dude, you know what I mean–”

“Yeah, Yeah...”

Jay and I exchanged a couple of aorta pinching glances as another Dave walked briskly in front of the cop car – smiling ear to ear – wearing a crisp, neatly pressed Portland Police uniform. “Relax guys – it's us. Take off your clothes.”

“Uh...?” I said, not wanting to move.

I quickly walked toward the tipped over Brinks truck... meaning he did... basically, we walked over to it, impossibly, while one of us stood in the middle of the road wrestling with our bladder, and the other grabbed one of the duffel bags filled with an obscene sum of money. The second Jay disappeared into the back of the Brinks truck, as I – that is to say, he – walked across the road and tossed the duffel bag into the backseat of our hatchback.

Jason and I watched this happen through a lens of refracted shock. The whole time, Jason kept his hands up, and we just stood there making popping sounds with our lips, not knowing what to say.

“Dude,” Jay finally said. “What the holy hell is happening?”

The other Jay – the Jay in the police outfit – emerged from the wreckage carrying a pair of gray security uniforms. He stumbled out of the truck and walked toward the edge of the ditch, facing the tree-line. “It's clear guys!”

I walked back over and started unbuttoning my shirt – he did, I mean, the other me – and said, “Come on guys, take off your clothes. We only have a few minutes before the real cops start showing up.”

“We didn't have anything to do with this,” Jay stammered, pointing at the smoking truck. “We were just driving by, thought somebody needed help–”

“Well,” I said, shaking my head – he said, rather. “You didn't have anything to do with this yet .”

I started pulling my jacket off, but Jay kept standing in place, in a state of shock.

“Listen,” I said... he said... “Trust me – I know what you're thinking – I remember thinking the exact same thing – but you're going to have to do exactly what I say, because if you don't, this time-loop will end and our past selves will each be spending the next ten ad infinitum miserable years in prison.”

“You're us,” I said. Me this time.

“That's right,” he winked. “We're you from about four days into the future.”

“Uh huh,” I nodded, stepping out of my pants.

“Dude,” Jay said. “What are you doing, let's go...?”

The whole time my thoughts kept circling back to the bag of cash that the other me set  in our back seat. “That's a lot of money,” I said.

I smiled – rather, he smiled, and I smiled back, and we were suddenly in this weird but excellent hall of repeating mirrors.

“How screwed are we?” I asked the other me.

My smile – his smile, actually – widened. “Pretty screwed,” He said, passing me his cop uniform. “Here, put this on – but, if this works you're going to be stinking, filthy, obscenely, disgustingly rich.”

The other Jay jogged up with the security uniforms draped over his arm, eyeing his past self through a sly grin, and I saw a pair of shadows separate from the tree-line not far from the Brinks truck. The second Jay handed me – handed the other me – the uniforms and started undressing. “Fellas,” he said, as the largest smile that I had ever seen broke across his lips.

Jay finally gave up trying to figure everything out, and quietly donned the police uniform with an unsettled look on his face. There was a bit of trouble with some of the belt keepers, but we eventually wiggled our way in without too much of a struggle. The other us's started pulling themselves into the clean Brinks outfits.

“Here,” I said – the other Dave said, passing me a rather large key-ring. “These are the keys to pretty much every room at the station. In about five hours, they're going to lock that bag of cash in evidence room C – as in cat – you got it? It will be sitting there for exactly forty eight minutes, until another Brinks crew comes to collect it. You two are going to take the cop car and head to the Ramada Inn on highway 10. When you get there, you're going to get a room, stow the uniforms, and meet up with a woman named Alice at the hotel bar, who'll explain everything. She's got another bag of cash for you–”

As the other Jay took pictures of the duffel bag with his cellphone, the other me reached down and pulled the red scarf out of my pile of clothes. “You're going to give her this to identify yourselves . She'll tell you how to proceed from there.”

“Wait,” I said, taking the scarf. “What’s happening…?”

The two silhouettes from the tree-line finally made it to the road. My heart dropped when I realized that those two shadows were another, separate Dave and Jason, wearing a couple of tattered, ripped up and singed Brinks security uniforms. Our faces were covered with grit, and the side of my head – his , rather – was singed and missing a patch of hair. But he was still smiling like a maniac.

They met up with us on the side of the road, and I passed – he passed, the third Dave – me a set of keys and squinted. “Which one are you again?”

“Those are for me,” the second Dave said, the me from the police car.

“Right,” the singed Dave nodded. “I'm just going to run through this real quick, to make sure we have everything.”

“Sure,” I said – the second Dave.

“The receipts are all in the bag of cash over there,” dirty Dave said, pointing at the duffel bag near the Brinks truck. “The first bag is in the backseat of our car,” he pointed at our hatchback. “So when the police get here, all of the cash will technically be accounted for...”

“Yep,” Dave number two said. “So you two are going to take their clothes,” he pointed at us. “The car and the cash, and drive out of here like nothing happened.”

“Right,” the filthy Dave said, sliding into my pants. “So that means no All-Persons-Bulletin for any rust colored hatchback that just robbed the evening Brinks truck. Nobody will be looking for anything... ?

The other Jay – the second Jay – finished putting on the clean security uniform and hurried over to the Brinks truck, where he carefully crawled inside.

I slowly eased my sore body back into my jacket and took a deep, shuddery breath. “I can't believe that worked.” I shook my head and took several wobbly steps toward the hatchback – relief and victory nearly knocking me to the ground.

The dirty Dave and Jason hopped into our car with a crisp, anonymous bag of cash in the back seat, and started the engine.

Dave number two leaned into the window and said, “remember guys, you have to meet up with Alice at the gas station on 169 and Bass Lake Road. When the market opens tomorrow, you're going to place an order for one hundred and fifty thousand shares of FSI to sell at $7.50. The options expire in two days – remember, two days – at $3.25.”

“Yeah,” I said quietly, smiling. “We got it.”

“Oh,” I said, “and think of a better message delivery for the next loop – one that's a bit less stroke inducing, okay? These guys should have been ready to go as soon as we got here, not scratching their heads.”

“Sure, uh... we’ll try.” After a couple of long and deep, unrestrained breaths, Dave and Jay number three hit the gas in my hatchback, and casually meandered out of our lives. They each stuck an arm out of a window and waved us luck, moving into the autumn sunset with our future wealth safely tucked in the back seat. I walked over, finishing the top button and straightened my badge. “Any questions?”

“Yeah, um–”

“Any questions about getting to the Ramada?” I interrupted.

We shook our heads.

I passed myself a couple of neatly folded pieces of paper. “Job applications,” I said. “For Brinks.” I patted myself on the shoulder and nodded. “You guys are going to do fine…”

And with that, I left us there. I walked to the wrecked Brinks truck to meet up with the other Jay, stopping every couple of steps to do a little dance, and at least one pirouette. “Remember,” I called back. “Alice at the Ramada Inn, highway 10.”

Jay and I moved toward the police car in a daze, watching our feet as we walked.

“Hokay, then.” Jay finally said, still unsettled, but relaxed. “Are you driving?”

I smiled and did my own little dance. “There had to have been a couple hundred grand in there!”

Jay turned around and watched our car disappear over the horizon. “You think that'll be us in a few days?”

We hopped into the police cruiser and pulled away from Dave and Jay's Brinks truck, thinking about the adventure ahead, not saying anything, smiling as flashing red and blue lights steadily filled the roadway. That was about five minutes until the rest of our lives, I realized. A complete circle collapsing onto a moment, like an artifact of memory. Each version of myself infinitely different than the one before it, irrevocably affected by that essence of us that dared to step out of the thoroughfare of time. Jay and I moved ahead anyway, watching the second red scarf in the rear view mirror float to the ground, where it finally curled itself into the damp curtilage of the shoulder, wondering where it was going to come from.

“Well,” I said, flipping on the headlights. “There's only one way to find out.”

fin/ début /fin [...]
While previous pictures of the atom would be a blob, only really showing where an atom is, this is the first ever image of a Hydrogen atom's Electron Cloud.

Where Are We Going?

I can guess, but not to know. Don’t let anyone swindle you by telling you they do know. They have the same anatomical systems as anyone else; the same blood flowing through their veins as what flows through yours. They don’t have any special powers that you don’t have.

A lot of people don’t claim, and can’t claim to be scientists. I particularly claim not to be a scientist. To my frustration some years ago, railing internally against the aggressive futility of our culture while I was interning at the Center for Homicide Research, trying as best I could to come up with some grand unified theory of violent death, the Principal Researcher Dallas Drake had to reel me in this fact the gentlest way: Sometimes the answers aren't simple, and they’re not easily explained. I am not a scientist, but like many of you reading along I do understand something about the rules of logic and evidence; about the deonetic and the probable; the contingent and the non-contingent; and the adequate and the essential. Because scientific thinking must operate, can in fact only operate on the basis of objective inquiry that is driven by doubt, skepticism and by uncertainty. We’re pattern seeking animals; we do look for answers, we look for shapes – our minds are selected to look for them – and so we see the purpose of our lives as some grand meaning, as if it were something not emergent of nature, or at the very least something that is outside of the natural order of things.

We now know roughly the age of our species – the age of homo-sapiens. Some say it’s a quarter million years old, Dawkins thinks it could be as little as a hundred thousand. Imagine for a moment how far we've come: from a hundred thousand years of homo-sapiens born into conflict, agony, misery, uncertainty, fear, not understanding nature, ascribing the weather to wizards behind a curtain, knowing nothing…

To us.

And we've built and built, struggled and uncovered, learned and divined, calculated the maths, studied the cosmos and measured the known particulates herein. We’re still learning life’s full agenda, its magesteria, but that doesn't mean it’s any less special to us. We’re just less superstitious, more materialistic. But to be a materialist is not the same thing as being a reductionist (although I am); it’s not to say that there isn't any mystery left  –  that life is merely a series of chemical reactions, or that love is biologically stripped to formulae. Far from it. That would be dull . I always say that the atheist in me requires evidence for belief, but the storyteller in me can’t help believing in everything . I have no problem making this distinction, no dissonance.

It’s actually to make the distinction between the numinist and the transcendent, which we do need and will always seek, and the supernatural. I think that’s a very important distinction. If Verdi could write his Requiem while not being a believer in God, why can’t we write our stories, simultaneously believing in them and knowing them to be untrue? He said people can do without God, but they can’t do without music – they can’t do without some feeling of majesty, narrative, sorrow and struggle that’s beyond themselves. That’s absolutely important.

And so we struggle on. We keep searching for truth, meaning, and all that is right in the world until…

When?

The end of the world?

Why must it end? Because your church says so? Because the fatalist says that we will be crushed under the weight of our own culture? Because the utilitarian says we’re breeding faster than we’re dying? Because the economist says that there isn't enough to go around? Because the doomsayer says the poor and the destitute will rise up and eat us all?

Too many of us think that the end of the world is a certainty. Too many of us have been culled into the belief that we cannot think ourselves out of it; that we are not the only species which can dream reality into existence.

There are technological answers to each one of these most unfortunate assumptions. All you have to do is ask yourself: what is your will, and what are you willing to do to get it? It’s a simple question.

What does anything I’m talking about have to do with ancient technologies from Mars, the zombie apocalypse, a giant mausoleum in the center of the Earth and shadowy government spooks?

Open the ARTIFACT, and you’ll know.

-Shane

I’ve been recently grappling with my latest project, and it’s running away from me; hence, the lack of blog posts. The Predator one is still going strong, infecting the intrawebs, upsetting cinephiles everywhere, so that’s good.

The very first commercial 3d printer went on sale this month at Staples, and I hoped to explore the inevitable laws in detail (someone had the bright idea to create a functioning firearm with one of those bad-boys for the sole purpose of setting some sort of legal precedent). My theory is that certain laws will be cropping up soon, outlawing the fabrication of anything remotely resembling a firearm, perhaps even requiring printers to be installed with software that prevents the fabrication of anything deemed “threatening,” or “harmful” (I’m thinking plastic blades that can evade detection in airports/courthouses/etc.) It’ll be interesting to see where we’ll end up marking the line. There’s often a disappointing resolution with these things, balancing how much freedom we’re willing to sacrifice for sweet, safe, unthreatening comfort. I mean, yeah – do what you have to do with guns and stuff (honestly, I could probably whip up a functional firearm with pvc piping and some isopropyl alcohol – a lethal one, too.) I’m of the opinion that if some nutjob or other were determined to go off the rails in public, they’ll find a way, 3d printers notwithstanding.

I also think certain companies will attempt to extend copyright laws for things they could potentially lose sales to. The creation of custom iphone cases, for example, could fall under the purview of certain anti-piracy laws (as ridiculous as it sounds). Keep an eye open for any lists sprinkled across those pesky interwebs detailing three-dimensional blueprints that could be outlawed. Action figures, car parts, televisions, that sort of thing. Grab your popcorn folks, and settle in comfortably – we have some fairly entertaining (terrifying…?) legal battles in the pipeline.  Worst case scenario: 3d printers will be made illegal. Next best shitty scenario: when you do decide to fork over some hard-earned cash for your very own 3d printer, you won’t legally be able to do anything interesting with it. There’s only so many plastic flowers one can make before the novelty wears off, methinks.  These laws may very well make or break the 3d printer market, or at least restrict the privilege of owning these cornucopia machines to certain licensed entities. As of right now, the current generation of 3d printers can be purchased for a meaty sum of $1500 –  of course I want one badly,  but I’m resolved to wait until all the bugs have been thermalized by the magnifying glass of Moore’s Law. Considering the Law of Accelerating Returns, I put 3d printers at less than $100 within ten years, tops. I’m a patient guy. Patient and frugal. Of course, you may want to go pick one up while you still can, legally.

Changing gears, the most interesting thing I read last week (well, the most memorable) was a kickstarter for glow-in-the-dark trees that could one day replace streetlamps! If you ever wanted to live on the planet Pandora with a tribe of bluish cataliens [sic], you can donate here . Picture bioluminescent grass, ferns, and palm trees. Yah, screw flying cars – a future with glowing trees is the one I want! Depending on how your city gets its power, glow-in-the-dark trees could seriously cut down CO2 emissions.  I’m all for that, excluding the possibility that said shiny foliage doesn't screw up any wildlife (at least no more than streetlights do).

As for Artifact – things are plugging along on schedule. We just finished the final Blue Line Edit, so I believe the next step is formatting the print-release.  It’s out of my hands at this point (the fine people at Boxfire will take it from here and make it presentable).

Personally, my neck/shoulder/collarbone/whathaveyou is still a grating mess of sharp pain, so I think I’m out of Jits until the good doc can figure out what the heck is going on. This means MRI and possibly (crossfingerspleasegodno) surgery. I thought I could suck it up, be a man and all that, but that shit hurts. And the sharktank over at Alliance Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Minnesota is no place for a wounded flounder like me.  They’re a bunch of animals, I say – ANIMALS!

Tomorrow is Stark Trek: Into Darkness, which means my nerd-reflex has been twitching hard. It’s a shame the wife hates movies – go see it for me so that I may live vicariously through your joy!

Apologies for such a short entry – I should have more content for you this weekend (It’s up there somewhere, in my brain; it just needs a little encouragement). Thanks for reading! If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to my RSS feed (up and to the right) and head over to my Facebook Page and hit the LIKE button. Please, and this is important, tell all your friends about me so I won’t have to sell my kidneys one day! PEACE, and LIVE SLOW.

-Shane