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The Powers that Abide

By localroger in Fiction
Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 09:20:22 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

A followup to my recent story The Happiness Broker.


Every gift of godlike power comes commingled with a curse or responsibility, and mine is no exception. Of course as a god I am immortal and immune to all disease; and my specific gifts also allow me to travel anywhere instantly and to dispense sickness and health to mortals. But I can't increase the amount of happiness in the world; if I bring someone comfort or health, it must be offset by someone else's misery. And to me that misery is a palpable thing, because I feel both the agony and the joy of those who are in any way connected to me.

My predecessor was overwhelmed by this, which is why he passed me the wand that he called caduceus. It's had many names and takes a slightly different form each time it's transferred; all of the holy ikons are like that. It's interesting that most of the ikons have been transferred regularly, meaning their immortal owners gave up their power and immortality. Some go further than that; Richard, once no longer immortal, had thrown himself in front of a train. The next day I found out why.

But Richard had been foolish. The sense of others' pain can be modulated, and he had minimized it as much as he could, and acted when it became unbearable. But when I began to get my wits about me I kept the sense as sharp as possible.

Not everyone calls to me with their feelings, and by keeping the sense sharp I get a head start when someone who can affect me too much has a problem. This usually means curing a disease that isn't so far advanced, so I don't have to do as much damage elsewhere to keep them from driving me nuts. The only real problem occurs when someone finds their voice or develops that connection to me only after their disease has taken solid hold.

And then, I have other methods.

One morning I woke with agony pounding in my bones; I knew the boy's name was Michael and he was eleven years old and he had very advanced pancreatic cancer. He was also in San Diego, three thousand miles away, but that doesn't matter to me. In a moment I was at the park, watching him doze fitfully in his small wheelchair. His siblings were at play, and he was too weak to join them.

I could cure him, but it would be expensive. There was a better way. I entered his dream.

In Michael's dream he wasn't crippled but the pain sang out, a droning monster that never left him now. When I appeared he cowered because I did not disguise the fact that I was a god. Most people don't know when their prayers are really reaching a god, but when the god appears they get the idea fast.

"Are you going to cure me?" he asked humbly.

"No," I boomed at him. "The thing within you can be a curse or it can be a gift. You must try to understand this, because your time is short."

"I'm going to die, how is that a gift?"

I steeled myself and opened myself to his pain, and let him feel the fact that I was feeling it. "Pain is a message. You can live on like these people..." I let the real world seep in slightly to the dream, so that he was aware of his brother and sister and their friends. "...and if you do that you will die. But pain is also purifying. Pain can focus your attention beyond the world." I let the world fade. "None of these people will be as you are. You will live more in the coming weeks than most of them will in their entire lives. You will know more courage facing your own fate than they will ever need to muster. You will demonstrate more strength taking a single breath than they will in a lifetime. Death will come for all of these people, but only you are given the chance to see it coming and spit in its eye."

"It's not fair. I'm just a kid."

"The Fates do not care about that. Nobody knows why they choose to act as they do. All of these people around you are also mortal, but you have a chance for greatness. You can let your pain destroy you, or you can let it make you as a god. You have the choice."

And I faded out of his consciousness. In a few minutes he woke up. And he was no longer singing his pain to me; he was holding it in. As I watched he found the valve that controlled his intravenous morphine drip and quietly shut it off.

I went home.

You might be wondering what I was getting at in that little speech. Sadly, the answer is not much. Don't let anyone tell you that the gods don't lie. Outright lies do cost us, and so we avoid them. If I tell you outright that I'm going to do something and then I don't do it, it creates as powerful a connection as violence or romantic love, and I will feel your misery when the betrayal becomes obvious. but I didn't actually promise Michael anything. If I say something vague and you draw an entirely unwarranted conclusion, it's not my fault.

As long as Michael is concentrating on the purity of his own inner experience he's not singing his pain to me, and frankly that is my biggest concern. If I can get him to stop singing his pain without killing four other people whose pain I will also feel, so much the better.

Richard had neither the heart nor the brain to pull off that kind of metasolution, and that's why his powers killed him. He styled himself a "broker" of happiness, but his problem was precisely that he wasn't a broker. I, on the other hand, started my career at the bank telling nice young couples why they couldn't have the mortgages they wanted for their dream homes. That is why Richard is dead and I am a god.


Not long after running my little con job on Michael I got my own chain yanked pretty hard.

The gods have gods too, and in the pecking order of things godlike I am (as Richard complained before handing over his power) a pretty small wheel. The entire Greco-Roman pantheon hasn't been too important for a while. And for the last few hundred years gods in general have kept a pretty low profile. The biggest gods of all are the mysterious Powers that Abide, which are said to have created the Universe. But they don't have much to say to creatures of our caliber.

Or they didn't, until they yanked me right out of the local Starbucks and dragged my puny little ass before them.

I was actually pondering my finances when it happened. Naturally as a god I wasn't working at the bank any more, but neither did it suit me to live as some kind of impoverished wandering superhero. Fortunately, as the human expression of the swiftest and dimmest planet, I am not only able to go wherever I please instantly I am also quite stealthy, and I'm generally regarded as the patron of thieves as well as doctors. The trick is thinking of things to steal that won't matter to someone more important than me. I was thinking about large famous diamonds when I found myself flying through space.

The Powers didn't teleport me; no, that would have been too clean and simple. I was dragged like a small child through what some call the "astral plane," the metaspace that is not part of the World of Form but which exists parallel to it. Then I was dragged beyond it, to a realm where even my powers cannot voluntarily take me. I was dragged through the energetic boundary often likened to a river which separates those beings active in the World of Form from the dead and banished who are denied access. I was dragged toward a radiance so blazing and pure that it made my skin crawl even as it exalted me. I dimly sensed the presence of Christian souls, whose reward in the afterlife was to bask in the presence of the Powers; I could feel them noticing me. And then I was given the Vision.

I beheld two worlds, identical at first, one with my right eye and one with my left. Somehow I perceived on these twin projections the activities of busy humans and, beyond their ken, the comings and goings of beings such as myself. And in the distance, the infinite presence of the Powers that Abide.

As the world on the left spun Nature retreated before a relentless onslaught of humanity; forests died, deserts spread, the sea level fluctuated, and humans responded by turning the world into a limitless city. The gods stayed away in their realm, and eventually all of nature was tamed, all of humanity was brought under control of a unified government, all diseases were cured and all mental imbalance was treated.

Meanwhile, on the right the gods came down occasionally to work mischief. Nature retreated, then retrenched, and the universal city never materialized. There were wars, some the natural consequence of human fractiousness and some sown by the lobbing of golden apples. And the tide of human presence ebbed and flowed, always challenging and challenged, but never quite achieving total victory.

When it was clear how the two futures differed the blazing radiance of the Powers that Abide lashed out at the world on the left, the world where humans had achieved perfect dominance, and annihilated it. The Sun exploded, the continents melted, the oceans boiled off into space, and even the astral world of gods and spirits was sterilized. As darkness fell upon the world on the left and the world on the right spun faster and faster, emphasizing that it would have a long future, a single thought was impressed upon my consciousness:

And then I was spinning backward past the souls of Christians, past the muslims with their astral virgins, past the place that had once been called Mount Olympus, past the tinkerers and wanderers who lived nearer to the World of Form, and finally back to my chair at the Starbucks where I promptly spilled my coffee in my lap.

I had thought I was getting a handle on this godhood thing, but it was clear my education was incomplete.


Before Richard another person had held the wand, and despite being mortal now he was still alive. I decided it was time to meet him. In the Database, where the connections between things are created by strong emotion and definite action, Malcolm and I were strongly linked even though we had never met.

"I was wondering when you would show up," he said. I had materialized out of his view -- I always do -- but he could sense my presence.

"It's not your problem any more," I said.

"Don't be an ass. I knew Richard would fuck it up somehow, but I never guessed he would do it so spectacularly. I felt the eleventh a little myself. I'm very sorry you had to experience that."

"You didn't do it."

He was holding a cocktail and he took a stiff bolt of it. "Of course I did. We stay connected to what we do. Just look at the Database."

"Everything is connected to everything else."

"Oh but you're so wrong. Only the connections recorded in the Database really matter, and once those are formed they're almost impossible to erase. I gave Richard the wand knowing he was a fuckup. I hoped he would screw it up so spectacularly as to embarrass the powers that created such a miserable thing. Of course the joke was on me; I was a fool myself to think the Powers that Abide would be even remotely bothered by Richard's ham-handed fumbling."

"Anyway, that's not why I'm here. I received a message from them."

Malcolm looked at me strangely. "You received a message from the Powers that Abide?"

I held up my right hand, and he touched my palm with his left. He recoiled as the vision spun out for him. "Wow," he said. "I don't think they've done anything like that for a long time."

"I was just wondering what it means."

"I think it means you need to go to Atlantic City."

"That seemed almost too obvious."

"Well you are the messenger of the gods. You're the one they would give it to, but you're not the one they would expect to ultimately act on it."

"Great. You know, I need to know one thing before I leave. I know all too well why Richard wanted to get rid of the wand, but I don't know why you gave it up to him."

Malcolm tossed back the rest of his drink. "I held the wand for three hundred and twenty-six years," he said. "And one day, I realized that I no longer recognized myself. It wasn't that I, Malcolm had become a god, but rather that godhood had taken over the human being that had once been Malcolm."

"So you gave it all up?"

"I will tell you one thing Richard did right. What he did to you was very evil, but it was probably the first completely evil thing he ever did with the wand; and I know for a fact that when he died he was still human."


The King of the Gods (or at least the gods of my pantheon) met me in his penthouse suite. Once upon a time there had actually been a being that had once been human who had gone by the name of Zeus, but nowadays that power belongs to a man whose name you would probably recognize, and the staff that once disgorged lightning bolts looks more like an electronic remote control.

"I hear you have a message," he said. Even to a god he had the air of command. I held up my hand and he received the vision.

"This is not good," he said.

"Let me have it," a smooth female voice purred. Once upon a time there was a human woman named Aphrodite who was given a bracelet of woven copper. And this is the woman who emerged from Jupiter's bathroom wearing only a towel. Venus has never passed on her godhood, and she is nearly three thousand years old. She is by far the creepiest of my peers.

I looked at my King quizzically, and he said "It is your duty." So I held up my hand. Her face registered shock, then indignation as the implicit threat spun out.

"It seems they are threatening to destroy even us if we don't decide correctly," she fumed.

"That's how I read it."

"But what, exactly, are we supposed to do to prevent this world- city from forming?"

"That is the problem," the King said. "We have generally been discouraged from making our presence felt in the World of Form. Our powers backfire whenever our actions might be too well measured or recorded, and devices that inhibit our action are becoming more and more common."

"That could be one problem with the world-city," I said. "If it's so tightly controlled we might be constrained from acting at all."

"I think you should talk to the last one of us who received such a vision. And also the Coyote; he is the oldest of our kind. Do it while the vision is fresh."

I didn't bother telling the King of the Gods that I would probably be able to freshly recall my revelation if I lived to be a thousand. I just sped off to do as he asked.


I found the last person who received a vision from the Powers that Abide sitting before an easel in Jackson Square, painting a picture of the Saint Louis Cathedral. New Orleans tourists were milling about and he had a row of similar pictures hanging on the wrought iron fence for sale.

"Care for me to paint your portrait?" he asked genially. "Only twenty-five dollars."

"Don't you know why I'm here?"

"Of course I know why you're here. But not all of us are blessed with powers of teleportation and filching. The shops that sell liquor are open twenty-four hours a day here, but they still want money in exchange for their wares."

I sat for him, and then he held up his left hand. "All right, let me have it." He looked contemplative as he received the vision. When it was over he nodded slightly. "That's about in character," he said.

"That doesn't illuminate it much."

He began to dab paint on his canvas; he worked fast as he talked. "There isn't much to illuminate," he said. "You can't believe anything they give you. They will show you whatever they think you need to see in order to get you to do what they want."

"So the threat might not be real."

"More likely the situation they are trying to avoid is not really what they showed you. Who knows? I believed them and I did what they wanted. To them, that is all that matters."

"You became a god. You weren't before."

"Oddly, they seem to consider that some kind of reward for being a good little patsy."

"But your teachings..."

"My teachings were perverted beyond all recognition. Nobody even knows what I taught any more. Even I barely remember; it was all foolishness anyway."

"I thought the part about treating others the way you'd like to be treated was pretty profound."

He shrugged. "Buddha said it five hundred years earlier. The Powers that Abide just wanted a certain kind of cult started at that time among my people. Once it was formed they sent other spirits to mould it into the thing they wanted. It had nothing to do with me. I'd be shut of the whole thing just as your predecessor was, except that some ikons are harder to be rid of than others."

He made a sweeping motion, and for an instant I saw it. I recoiled; it's one thing to read the words, words so foreign to ordinary experience that they really have no meaning. It's another thing entirely to see so many thorns woven through the ruined flesh of a human scalp.

He turned the painting around. He had painted me as the god Mercury, with wings on my feet and a traditional caduceus. The style was primitive, with blocky lines and bright colors. "I've had two thousand years to think about it," he said heavily. "My dreams died in seventy A.D., and ever since then I've watched something that was supposed to be mine become ever more unrecognizable. I'm not sure how much I would worry about that warning. If they want something to happen a certain way, they can make it happen."


The Coyote does not live in the World of Form. I found him in the den of his making, where he stays when he is plotting the tricks he will play on mortals to enlighten them -- if they don't go crazy or get killed first following his advice.

It was a richly decorated room, with the walls suggesting the four classical elements; air in the east, fire to the south, water to the west, and earth to the north. Against the east wall the Coyote was operating a computer.

"Greetings friend! The victim of the biggest joke in, well, a long time is always welcome in my lair."

"It wasn't that funny at the time," I steamed.

"Oh, no, it never is, but look at you now! You have got the system of your powers gamed, my man. Richard may not have stuck around to learn his lesson but you sure learned it."

"Somehow I doubt it would have occurred to me to offer terrorists a pretty afterlife so I could mooch off the pain of their victims."

"Oh, and didn't you tell a little boy this morning that pain was, how did you put it, all sniffle purifying and displayed such sniffle strength? I was really disappointed to miss the part where you told him freedom was slavery."

"That isn't quite the same," I fumed. "In order to save him I'd have had to kill at least four people."

"Your concern touches me, it just makes me wilt," the Coyote mocked. "The only reason you care about those four people, or about the poster child for pancreatic cancer, is that they are connected to you so you feel their pain. Richard only tried to game the Muslims because he thought he was safely remote from them."

"Running a con on someone forms a connection," I said. "It's just like violence."

"Or romantic love, as our dear friend Venus would advise," he laughed.

"Or blood, or long association."

"I have been studying maths lately. Maths are hilarious."

That was Coyote for you. "Maths are hilarious?"

"My oh my, certainly! Surely it has occurred to you what a huge fucking joke it is on the part of the Powers that Abide to build a world like this that is so precise, so accurate that you can drop remote-controlled cars on Mars and figure out by examining some rocks and microwave echoes that it's thirteen point six billion years old. Point six!" He burst out laughing. "Not point seven, remember that!"

"So what, it isn't?"

"Then, these same Powers that made the Universe so exacting and anal-retentive about numbers create beings like us. If I had your powers, I would have a grand old time with the doctors. You could drive them bugfuck."

"You do a pretty good job of that yourself."

"Why thank you. Here, take a look at this. Have you ever seen the Mandelbrot Fractal?" On the screen of his computer was a fantastically intricate design.


"Oh, you should study it. The whole thing is drawn by this program." I'm no programmer, but I could see that the window he popped up held only three lines of code.

"That doesn't make sense. Those three lines of code draw that?"

"Oh, it's much worse than that. You can zoom in..." He selected a smallish rectangle, and the computer began drawing a magnified view of its contents. Then he zoomed in again, and again. "You can zoom in forever, and it keeps showing ever more complexity. No two screens are alike. Here, we are probably the first conscious beings ever to see this particular corner of it; at this scale, the main image is bigger than the Solar System."

"Um, neat."

"I riddle you this: Where does the picture come from? It's implicit in the equation that draws the picture, but you can't actually see it unless you actually build a computer and scan it point by point. So did these structures that we are looking at here even exist before I told the computer to draw them? If I back out..." He tapped a key, and we were looking at a bug-like image labelled 1:1 "...does it still exist?

"I have no idea."

"Well you're in good company, because neither do the world's best mathematicians! You realize that this means you're qualified to be one of the world's best mathematicians, since you don't know where the fractal comes from either?"

"I don't think it works that way."

"I wouldn't be too sure. You know, I am very old, which is why Zeus sent you packing here, but I'm not really that old. For most of those thirteen point six billion years the Universe has been a fairly simple place. There have always been beings that exist outside of the rules, but they were avatars of forces like gravity and elementals. Then life arose, and the Powers that Abide became interested in the Earth in particular." Coyote selected a little corner of the bug-like fractal and zoomed in on it.

"Here there was life, and the caretaker deities became more specific and complex; they represented the natural forces shaping the world. Later on life became more complex and intricate..." He zoomed the fractal again. "...and the deities came to represent types of living things. Since there were no mortal humans to recruit these beings were made from scratch by the Powers that Abide, usually with some trait that is remniscent of the thing that inspired them. They have no ikons to give up, though; they were made to be what they are."

Coyote continued to zoom in on the fractal as he talked. "Then humans came. I am not strictly speaking an animal spirit; I am a human conception of an animal spirit, which was a new thing."

"Where are the beings older than you, the elementals and such?"

"You still run into them sometimes, in the remoter stretches of the astral plane, but they don't have much to do with the world any more. That's why Zeus sent you to me. I'm the oldest deity who is active in the affairs of mortals."

"And humans were so interesting, that the Powers that Abide came to notice the actions and motives of individuals for the first time. This is when they came up with the idea of making deities out of mortals. For the first time the Universe had thrown up something as interesting as what they could make on purpose."

Coyote hit another key, and the computer started painting the screen black. "What's that?" I asked.

"Just another part of the diagram," Coyote purred. "The computer doesn't care; it takes whatever starting point you give it. It doesn't find any part of the fractal boring or uninspiring."

"But you do."

"Oh no, I'm going to zoom in on this bit of blackness as far as the machine will allow. I owe it to the fractal, you know. It's just not fair to single out the places with curlicues and vortices when none of it might exist until it's rendered."

"You owe it to the fractal."

"Of course. It would be kind of rude to, you know, throw an asteroid at it or something."


"As I expected, the Coyote said nothing comprehensible and just insulted me the whole time. I never even got around to giving him the vision."

"On the contrary, he all but pounded you into the ground with it. That's all right, I expected him to tell you something you wouldn't understand. That's how Coyote is."

"I'll say."

"The problem is, we still don't know what we specifically have to do to keep the universe 'interesting' for the Powers that Abide."

"They made it pretty clear that we would have to do it. Actually more than one it. It was like we were actively involved in the world. Come to think of it, I've just adopted the habit of keeping a low profile, but why exactly do we keep such a low profile? Why not just run for President instead of owning a casino?

The human avatar of Jupiter poured himself a stiff shot of whiskey. "It was tried," he said. "In the early days of the Age of Pisces we attempted to protect our interests. And when it suited them, the Powers that Abide simply cancelled our powers. That's why most of the original members of our pantheon are gone. As we felt the currents shifting toward Aquarius it got worse. Beings who are used to moving mountains with their thoughts have been humiliated by the likes of James Randi."

"So what are the new rules?"

"We don't know. But after you've had your ass handed to you on a platter a few times, you stop taking risks."

I looked at him for a long time, going back to my experience as a banker. "Sometimes you have to take a risk even when you don't want to. That's what the warning is about."

"Well, Messenger, why don't you go first?"

"Fine. I will."


Instead of killing four people I killed six, so I could kill them quickly. Suffering gives the killing more power, but it goes on longer. It was tragic enough that six healthy people unexpectedly developed sudden cardiac failures, strokes, and in one case an aneurysm.

"Michael," I whispered into his dreaming ear. From the inside of his head.

"I remember you," he said. "Have I been strong enough?"

"You've been very strong. And I have a surprise. I have decided to spare you. You must teach your strength to your fellow men. They need an example such as you to teach them proper discipline."

"I'm just a kid," he said.

"You will walk like a god among men. Tomorrow you will awake and the pain will be gone, and you will know. All will marvel at your recovery. And to earn it, you must promise that you will spread the message everywhere you can."

"What message?"

In my mortgage-denying days I used to visualize the Bullshit Generator as a little machine that ran from a noisy gasoline engine. In my mind I cranked it up to about 9,000 RPM and let it hum into Michael's ear. "There are people who are worthy, Michael, and people who are not. Your cure is a sign that you are worthy. You must find the other worthy people. You will know them because they seek out and embrace pain instead of shunning it. You will become their king. You will forge them into a mighty army and you will make the world worthy."

"How can I do that?"

"Michael, you know that. There is only one way."


"You will figure it out." And with that, I erased his cancer and fixed the damage it had done to his organs. He would wake up from the most untroubled sleep of a year or more with a healthy body and, thanks to me, the beginnings of a dangerously warped mind. I'd come back once in awhile to make sure he developed in that direction, and if for some reason he failed me I could always take back my gift and forward it to someone more promising.

I don't know if it's exactly what the Powers that Abide want, but if anyone ever tries to unify the human race into an overly simple groupthink unit, they will have to go through Michael and his followers to do it.

Tomorrow I will talk to Venus. She isn't very particular about the men she seduces, men who will never be satisfied with a mere mortal woman again and who have a very high rate of suicide when she's finished with them. Hers is a power that can be used with impunity, no matter what technology arises.

If the Powers that Abide want a world full of interesting vortices and curlicues, I think we can oblige them.


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Display: Sort:
The Powers that Abide | 106 comments (78 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1, SP (2.75 / 4) (#3)
by elver on Sat Feb 12, 2005 at 09:03:13 PM EST

Better than the last attempt, IMHO.

The subject matter didn't really grab me, though. But that's a matter of taste. Quality's there. It's not as good as the first one, but it's good enough.

Have you ever seen "The Cube"? It's a movie about people trapped in a strange labyrinth. No explanation is given as to why they're there. Most of them get killed. Only one of them escapes. It was an excellent movie. And then they made a sequel called "Hypercube" -- turns out the maze is a government conspiracy or whatnot. It completely ruined the feel that the first movie set up.

Same thing with this series. The first one was excellent. It was interesting, fresh, had dialogue that captured me and while the ending was a bit odd (it felt like pure fiction, but then you brought in an historical fact within the timeline of the story, which kinda ruined the feel), it was still pretty damn good.

This sequel doesn't capture the same feel anymore. It's a different story altogether. As a sequel, it ruins the first story as well.

So no FP this time.

I liked that movie (none / 0) (#16)
by nollidj on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 02:24:35 AM EST

Unfortunately, I only saw about the first half of the movie... up until around the point where the tunnels they have to go through stop being labeled with prime numbers and the mathematics girl has to figure out a new pattern behind them.

Care to spoil it for me and tell me how it ends/who gets out?

[ Parent ]

Sure, I'll spoil it for you (none / 0) (#19)
by elver on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 05:35:02 AM EST

The retarded kid ends up walking into light while everyone else is either dead or trapped in the maze forever.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#20)
by nollidj on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 06:05:52 AM EST

I actually managed to procure a copy of the film and watch it just now. Quite enjoyable, really. Methinks I should not have asked, in case someone else wants to keep from ruining the film. Oh well.

[ Parent ]

You misremember (3.00 / 3) (#38)
by Pxtl on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 09:34:07 PM EST

The first movie explained that it was a public works project.  Worth explained to his fellow prisoners that it is an example of government beaurocracy gone wrong - a "headless monster" he described it as.  No conspiracy (like the Doctor suggested) - just a project that was started for one reason, continued for another, and eventually something that just had to continue, rather than get cancelled and have people get fired and lose budget.

And as the doctor asked: "Then why put people in it" and Worth answered "because it has to have a purpose".

To me, that was the highlight of the movie - the most bizarre, twisted, and plausible origin story for a monster.

[ Parent ]

No, its more like Pi. (none / 0) (#43)
by The Amazing Idiot on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 12:35:28 AM EST

The story in which a lone computer and tech wizard tries to create a device in which to learn.. everything.

He eventually grew a tumor on the side of his head, and agined the ability to see the future, predict precisely the stock market, understand what the Bible is.. everything.

His knowledge was comparable to God.

Though, he understood what his limitless knowledge brought him.. and that was his undoing. Limitless power also brings limitless responsibility.

[ Parent ]

+1 - Fabulous (none / 1) (#21)
by fyngyrz on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 09:13:30 AM EST

I really, really enjoyed that.

Blog, Photos.

+1FP, contains word "Happiness" (none / 1) (#27)
by nr0mx on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 01:48:32 PM EST

Three times.

It also contains a chapter 3. (none / 0) (#45)
by gidds on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 08:26:28 AM EST


[ Parent ]
+1SP (none / 0) (#28)
by vera on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 02:43:35 PM EST

Decently written. Too much dialogue for my tastes, though this sort of storytelling calls for it I suspect.

Good enough for this place, in any case.

+1 FP (none / 1) (#30)
by ewhac on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 03:40:52 PM EST

I confess, I preferred The Unhappiness Broker, as its cynical, sarcastic slant was more to my tastes. And, as another poster pointed out, Venus was better as a developed character than as a passing footnote.

One interesting aspect: It seems the minor gods have as much clue what The Powers that Abide want as mortals do. They, as we, sally forth into the world, evoking change in the name of God-with-a-capital-G without the remotest concrete idea of what God really wants.

Chaos. All the way up and down the ladder. Interesting idea.

Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.

Alas, Venus had to go (none / 1) (#32)
by localroger on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 07:11:52 PM EST

Although the snarky element is fun, I realized from the comments to TUB that it was drifting a bit too close to Terry Pratchett & co. I was after something a bit darker, and while Venus showing up as Trinity was a pretty good joke on the narrator there just wasn't any place for it here.

As I mentioned in a comment under TGoRMG's story, after reading the comments and thinking on it I realized the queue had made the right choice rejecting TUB. It had its fun moments but it didn't encapsulate as many ideas, and it was awkward for what it did manage to do. You can see bits and pieces of it here, but most of the characters are at least a little different.

If this story smells like Pratchett a bit it's probably because it flows from the same question -- if the gods did exist, what would they be be doing today? The difference, I hope, is that nobody will expect these dudes to be getting the girl and emerging triumphant in the end.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Trinity vs. Boobzilla (none / 0) (#35)
by BottleRocket on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 09:01:15 PM EST

I'll wager money I don't even have that Trinity wins a fight to the death

Having said that, I agree with you about not encapsulating your ideas. She's better with a limited personality, cuz otherwise she becomes too dominant in the story. Venus is the goddess of love; she's practically omnipotent as it is without having her as a crafty dominatrix.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $

[ Parent ]

I wouldn't bet too quickly against... (none / 0) (#37)
by localroger on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 09:10:39 PM EST

"Boobzilla." In TUB she appeared as Trinity because Our Narrator was attracted to that image. Here she is kind of neutral because there is no focus for her. It's not explicit in the story but the idea now is that she appears to other gods as herself, and only to mortals as "perfected." I might fine-tune it more after thinking about it, but the original idea stands; she is one of the most powerful of these beings because her talents tend to pass beneath the notice of folks like James Randi.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
TUB? (none / 1) (#62)
by mcgrew on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 09:44:32 PM EST

Venus is Tubgirl????

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Teh Unhappiness Broker TUB /nt (none / 0) (#63)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:19:29 PM EST

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Is this actually available anywhere? (none / 0) (#73)
by sab39 on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 10:35:17 AM EST

From the comments here I'm assuming it was voted out of the queue, but the glimpses of the story in the comments are tantalizing enough that I'd be interested to read it...
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]
No (none / 1) (#75)
by localroger on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 10:50:04 AM EST

I wrote TUB on the day I missed work because my ankle was sprained. I'd been thinking about it for a week or so but it was a quick knockoff and it showed. It's also not consistent with the direction I've taken the character's story here.

I do pay attention to what people say in the comments, though, and if I do another story in this series I'll probably make a point of incorporating the things people are saying they miss from it.

I tend not to put things that are voted down in the diaries, on the theory that if people voted not to see it, it's because most people don't want to see it.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

ok :( (none / 0) (#77)
by sab39 on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 10:59:46 AM EST

Even with all those caveats I'd still be very interested to read it. I obviously respect your right to keep it private if you want to (you wrote it, after all) but just because most people don't want to read it doesn't mean that nobody does...
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]
This actually reminded me more of Douglas Adams (none / 0) (#76)
by sab39 on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 10:55:35 AM EST

Specifically, "The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul". I liked your take on the concept better, though.

While TLDTotS is probably my least favorite of his books, "better than Douglas Adams" is still high praise coming from me.
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]

IAWTP (none / 0) (#78)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 11:25:57 AM EST

Venus as Trinity did feel of the mark.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

A lot bettter... (none / 0) (#31)
by k31 on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 05:40:28 PM EST

than the first one, which itself didn't make it out of the queque, I guess. The open ending is a fresh change and the connection to fractal compression of the universe is all good.

Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....
I don't know about that. (none / 1) (#34)
by trane on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 08:56:38 PM EST

"Hers is a power that can be used with impunity, no matter what technology arises."

Realdolls with AI! Customize the bitch(es)...

Realdolls are to real women... (none / 1) (#36)
by localroger on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 09:05:01 PM EST

...what real women are to Venus.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
That depends on the quality of the technology...nt (none / 0) (#40)
by trane on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 10:57:55 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily... (none / 1) (#41)
by CodeWright on Sun Feb 13, 2005 at 11:34:26 PM EST

...I bring your attention to what one author has had to say about simulacra.

Also, a two-day-in-advance-pre-emptive-happy-birthday because I won't remember otherwise.

A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
RealDolls(tm) are not Prime Intellect (none / 0) (#56)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 08:02:10 PM EST

No matter how realistic it is, fucking a giant doll is still fucking a giant doll that just lies there. Prime Intellect's simulacra are indistinguishable from people including their behavior. You only know they're fake because they're made to order and acting exactly as you asked.

Thanks for the birthday props. One more year and I'll be the secret to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Did you read my original post? (none / 0) (#59)
by trane on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 09:29:28 PM EST

I said realdolls with AI. So they will simulate humans, but be customizable.

Even so, I think I'd rather have a realdoll as they currently exist than a real woman with all her manipulations and arbitrary capriciousness. If you do go ahead and write the next installment using Venus as you seem to hint in the penultimate paragraph of your story, I hope you consider my point of view.

[ Parent ]

I get your point (none / 0) (#68)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:31:46 PM EST

It's just that the technology is so not there. I am sure that if I write another of these that Venus will validate very bad idea you have about women, though.

I should probably post this and quietly shut off the computer before my wife walks in the room.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

haha (none / 0) (#70)
by trane on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 01:04:44 AM EST

the greatest art aspires to appeal, simultaneously if possible, to everyone...

[ Parent ]
It is telling (2.83 / 6) (#44)
by LilDebbie on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 01:06:54 AM EST

that kur0ns, and, by extension, most IT people, are so spiritually bankrupt as to vote this drivel to the front page.

Spirituality is more than a process. Of course, you can't see beyond the process, but that is your failing; and yes, I'm talking to you.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

-1, Invalid extension (n/t) (none / 0) (#48)
by Protagonist on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:50:43 AM EST

Hahah! Your ferris-wheel attack is as pathetic and ineffective as your system of government!
[ Parent ]
The Process (2.66 / 6) (#49)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 11:16:03 AM EST

First of all, if we're ignorant of spirituality, at least most of us make up for it by not being humorless dorks.

In other news, you're just plain wrong.

Not just spirituality, but life itself is nothing but a process. If you think there is a goal or that you are seeking some attainable state of perfection, congratulations; you are about to become the butt of one of Coyote's cosmic jokes.

Of course, this is not the first time I have written about this.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Humorless dorks... (none / 0) (#61)
by mcgrew on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 09:43:58 PM EST

...have no spirituality. And (psst) YHBT...

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I know /nt (none / 0) (#65)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:24:02 PM EST

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Willful ignorance (none / 0) (#83)
by LilDebbie on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 12:30:01 PM EST

...is still ignorance.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
don't entirely agree (none / 0) (#86)
by m a r c on Wed Feb 16, 2005 at 10:33:40 AM EST

Not sure I agree with life being nothing but a process. Process may be how life works but it is not why life works. If there is no goal to life then why do we seek one? Just because of the goal driven part of the human condition?

I read your link, and agree mostly with what you say, except the part on consiousness. You say that animals have consciousness yet that would require that they be aware of their thoughts which I do not believe it true.
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.
[ Parent ]

Look at the votes (none / 1) (#50)
by Anonymous Howards End on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 11:41:28 AM EST

The number of 'qwerty' style dupe accounts is embarrasingly obvious.  If localroger had any integrity, he'd ask for this to be taken down.
CodeWright, you are one cowardly hypocritical motherfucker.
[ Parent ]
As a Christian I must say... (1.33 / 3) (#60)
by mcgrew on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 09:43:17 PM EST

Fuck you. HAND.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I am curious (none / 0) (#88)
by Cheetah on Wed Feb 16, 2005 at 08:14:30 PM EST

I am curious why you associate this story with spiritual bankruptcy? While this story is certainly at odds with just about any organized religion you care to name, it does not seem spiritually bankrupt to me. What the reality it describes does lack is blind faith. But I submit that blind faith and spirituality, while commonly related in our species' organized religions, are not inextricable. And the reality described in this story does preserve, albeit in a different form, the mystery of the unknown and unknowable in the universe.

[ Parent ]
Huh ? (none / 0) (#89)
by bugmaster on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:15:28 AM EST

What does this story have to do with spirituality ? It's just fiction, not a holy writ of some kind. Geez, lighten up already.
[ Parent ]
well (none / 0) (#99)
by ShiftyStoner on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:26:25 AM EST

it's better than the rest of the drivel that's been getting on the fron page.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
Amazing.... (none / 0) (#46)
by z84976 on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 09:59:25 AM EST

Haha! I think this is probably the first time I've ever read fiction that mentions The Amazing Randi!! Keep up the good work, Roger...

Per se (2.33 / 3) (#47)
by Protagonist on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:48:29 AM EST

I refuse to read the work of an "author" who writes per say. WTF would that even mean?

Hahah! Your ferris-wheel attack is as pathetic and ineffective as your system of government!
That horse is dead, son. (none / 1) (#52)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 11:47:55 AM EST

It ain't gonna get up no matter how hard you flog it. Seriously.

In other news, here is teh typo of the day.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Dammit (1.87 / 8) (#51)
by Anonymous Howards End on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 11:44:31 AM EST

Me and my fifty dupe accounts didn't even get a chance to shitcan this before you and your fifty pathetically obvious dupe accounts pushed it to the front page.
CodeWright, you are one cowardly hypocritical motherfucker.
Lousy grammar (1.66 / 9) (#54)
by Red Moose on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 05:08:05 PM EST

His siblings were at play, and he was too weak to join them.

Just because you found out what siblings means, doesn't mean you should use it like that (it sounds stupid and forced), and, you, shouldn't, use, a comma, after, using, and.

I steeled myself and opened myself to his pain, and let him feel the fact that I was feeling it.

Stop it stop it stop it.

And I faded out of his consciousness. WTF? Don't start sentences with "And". This is 6 year old stuff.

And he was no longer singing his pain to me; he was holding it in.

What are you trying to be? The Bible? "And he looked and saw 12 glorious apostles"? Dude, this isn't that bit in Ghostbusters when they quote Revelations so stop using it as a replacement for English class.

The Sun exploded, the continents melted, the oceans boiled off into space, and even the astral world of gods and spirits was sterilized.

This one is obvious. Same shit, different sentence. NO COMMAS BEFORE AND.

Maybe that starting off sentences with "And" was a subtle irony to imply the "godlike" status; however, as it's totally inconsistent throughout I doubt that.

"Let me have it," a smooth female voice purred.

Well this is just bollocks, plain and simple. How can the voice be purring and also smooth? You're obviously confusing the two as it just doesn't make sense at all. Either the female voice is smooth, or else it purrs. Think about it. It doesn't read quite "right" does it. AGain, simply because you've read lots of children's books and have > 5000 words of vocab doesn't mean you should try and fit it all in at once.

Of course I know why you're here. But not all of us are blessed with powers of teleportation and filching.

For fuck's sake mate. When did you learn that sentences could start with But, speech or not.

It was tragic enough that six healthy people unexpectedly developed sudden cardiac failures, strokes, and in one case an aneurysm.

Are you trying to piss me off? How many times do you make these basic mistakes? I couldn't even read this short-story as there were so many in the first paragraphs I had to stop. For the love of God man, please, stop this abuse of language.

She isn't very particular about the men she seduces, men who will never be satisfied with a mere mortal woman again and who have a very high rate of suicide when she's finished with them.

I'd swear there should be a ; in there somewhere. I'll let you guess where.

I'll give you some credit though. Around half-way through you realised that you made so many goddamn mistakes at writing simple English that switching the entire rest of the story to speech would minimise the amount if thinking you had to do just to piss me off this much.

I admit it, you're right. (2.50 / 4) (#55)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 07:54:09 PM EST

I wrote this story the way I did for one reason, and one reason alone: to piss you off. After all, the opinion of someone with 11 comments, zero stories, and zero diaries is much more important to me than the 100+ people who voted it up.

Your snarky little rant reminds me of a story. Once upon a time there was this college student, and he wrote a story, and received a grade of D along with a rant from his professor very similar to what you wrote here. This student sniffled and sent the story off to a magazine, which promptly bought it. He brought the check and showed it to his professor, who sniffed and said that commercial success is basically crass.

The student was named Stephen King.

My parrot has whispered in my ear that I have probably known what "siblings" meant since well before you were born. And if I meticulously followed all the rules you are so het up about another word I'd have to dig up is "pedantic."

It is possible that you aren't really this naive and that this is a troll, and if so I say bravo. No matter how much I wanted to piss someone off I don't think I could embarrass myself this much and at such length pretending to believe so sincerely in the crap they tell you in high school composition class.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Look, I don't like you one bit (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by uppity on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 09:03:27 PM EST

But many of the "errors" he pointed out weren't errors at all. I'm just sayin'.

Don't think I'm on your side, though, because I'm not.

[ Parent ]

Respectful thanks (none / 0) (#64)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:22:18 PM EST

I don't expect everyone to like me. I do expect basic standards of respect. Thanks for stepping up.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Especially (none / 0) (#66)
by esrever on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:27:04 PM EST

the bullshit 'no commas before "and"' crap.

The english language is a morass of ambiguous phrasing at the best of times; there's no need to deliberately make it worse by insisting on arbitrary, pedantic, and meaningless rules like 'no commas before "and"'.

Why the hell not?  Why shouldn't the last two items in a list get a comma between them like every other item on the list?  Back when I was in school, a comma indicated a slight pause; it's not some arbitrary made up delimiter that has no context outside the written word, it is instead art imitating life, and in real life, if I'm rattling off a list of things, there's a pause between each item, including the last two, so I damn well will put a comma in between them, before the "and".  The OP can go to the back of the class.

/rant over

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

It's the programmer in me coming out (none / 0) (#67)
by localroger on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 10:29:47 PM EST

Where the language has funny rules like putting the punctuation mark before the final close quote, I do tend to observe them. But with rules for things like lists and lists-within-lists (think comma delimited things within semicolon delimited things) I tend to revert to my programming-language ways.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Well, the first suggestion was flat out wrong. (3.00 / 2) (#69)
by uppity on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 11:18:06 PM EST

His siblings were at play, and he was too weak to join them.
The comma is mandatory, since you have two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. Applying the "no comma before and" rule is just wrong.

The firm rule against starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction has largely fallen out of favor. It's a stylistic choice, and like anything, hurts one's writing if overused.

The Sun exploded, the continents melted, the oceans boiled off into space, and even the astral world of gods and spirits was sterilized.
This is an interesting sentence, since each of the list elements is an independent clause. I think if you wanted to be fussy, you'd have to put a comma and coordinating conjunction or semicolon between each pair, but your meaning is perfectly intelligible. In the case of normal lists (i.e. lists of phrases), the "no comma before and" rule is largely British. Ultimately, it's an aesthetic choice.

She isn't very particular about the men she seduces, men who will never be satisfied with a mere mortal woman again and who have a very high rate of suicide when she's finished with them.
I don't know why he thought there should be a semicolon in the above sentence. Since the phrase after the comma is a parenthetical, the comma should probably be an em dash, though. Replacing the comma with a semicolon would be incorrect.

[ Parent ]
Your are not Stephen King mate (none / 1) (#74)
by Red Moose on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 10:47:40 AM EST

That's a great response except you are not Stephen King. The reason is that you are writing this shit here on a website instead of sending it to a publisher as Mr. King would have done.

My post was not meant to be a snarky post; I found it difficult to read your story as it's not written to be read like a book. It seems as if it's written to mimic someone dictating their speech and to be rad out loud. I wouldn't expect you to meticulously follow the miriad of conflicting rules in Enlgish, just the basic ones to allow an easy flow of content. This helps with proper paragraphing and grammar. I don't understand why you changed to using loads of speech. The whole thing just didn't sit with me "as a whole" as the style changed for no apparent reason.

If you find that the opinion of the "100+" people who voted your story up to be of more importance to you than someone with zero diaries, stories or comments such as myself that's fine. Just because people around you agree with you doesn't mean you are right; it's nice to feel wanted and supported but the fact remains that you are bastardising English into pleb-speak. Reading some basic grammar books will improve your work as you will develop your own style and not that of Mr. King.

[ Parent ]

Brief Critique (none / 1) (#82)
by CheeseburgerBrown on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 12:09:04 PM EST

My post was not meant to be a snarky post...

If that is indeed the case then I'm afraid you have failed it with respect to the use of language much more severely than localroger.

Where he may or may not have made some errors in punctuation or grammar, you've written something that has entirely miscommunicated your basic stance.


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weeke
Parent ]
Most of your 100+ fanboys (none / 1) (#90)
by Anonymous Howards End on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 12:54:55 PM EST

Are nullos.  How delightful it must be to receive their adulation.
CodeWright, you are one cowardly hypocritical motherfucker.
[ Parent ]
Fiction, Voice, Commas (3.00 / 2) (#80)
by CheeseburgerBrown on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 12:04:15 PM EST

Go back to reading tech manuals and appendices on new gizmo features, you vinegar clown.

If you don't think it can be legitimate to begin a sentence with "and" you need to quickly re-read the last two hundred years of English literature and then get back to us. Trust me: you've missed a part.

Read localroger's story aloud -- the way stories were meant to be told -- and you'll find that a majority of the commas you've flagged as extraneous will fit naturally into the stops and pauses of a dramatic reading. Try it.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weeke
Parent ]
Wrong on all counts (3.00 / 2) (#84)
by adavies42 on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 01:28:05 PM EST

Who the hell taught you grammar? Every single technical point you made was wrong. Commas MAY go before "and" in a list, and MUST go before it when joining two independant clauses into a compound sentence. The rule about not starting a sentence with a conjunction is dead. Using a semi-colon would be wrong, as the second half of that sentence is not an independant clause. Try again when you've read Strunk & White.

[ Parent ]
WHOA (none / 1) (#79)
by klem on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 11:48:28 AM EST

That was so good I thought I was tripping.

Well done (none / 0) (#81)
by Wildgoose on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 12:04:25 PM EST

I enjoyed it, as ever. Thanks.

I was gripped (none / 0) (#85)
by d s oliver h on Wed Feb 16, 2005 at 10:22:59 AM EST

during the first couple of chapters or sections. But I didn't find the remainder of the story all that satisfying. In effect, I was a trifle disappointed by the progression and denouement of the tale. (Not that I could have thought up a better story based on the premise). Anyway, I found it an interesting premise and it made me want to go back and read the last story. But I haven't done that though. Well done anyway, quite good, but I don't think it's perfect and amazing like some other people who have commented.

Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke? (none / 0) (#87)
by fourseven on Wed Feb 16, 2005 at 12:19:45 PM EST

... shares a common point with your story.. but their tale takes the other prong of the fork. i like how you explore the other possibility.

it all reminds me of the Halting Problem devised by Alan Turing, metaphorically-isomorphically misabused to describe natural life.

one choice is that we strive for continued economic growth and increasing ordering of our lives -- thus painting ourselves into a corner out of which the only remaining move is The Great Termination. a second choice is to let the rhythm continue, and the ebb and flow of life go on without the certainty of ending.

for some reason (personal?) i feel this story is very current, very right this moment. feels like you're on to something relevant, and telling it your own way. thanks!


you lost me at metasolution (none / 0) (#91)
by fleece on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 04:21:19 AM EST

plus you write like stephen king did after he got hit by a car, but even worse, like he was still on the dust. Plus you converse too much with the people that add comments. Plus, and here's the rub, to overuse an annoying turn-of-phrase, your best work thus far is MOPI, so you've never been (and probably never will be) as good as you were, because the world has soiled your soul and there's no turning back.

I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
actually that was a little unfair (none / 0) (#92)
by fleece on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 04:25:38 AM EST

stephen king wrote his best work while he was on the dust.

I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
About Stephen King... (none / 1) (#93)
by localroger on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 08:12:50 AM EST

...I am probably the only person in the entire world whose favorite SK book is The Tommyknockers. It's a very imperfect story that could use some heavy editing, but it captures that "mad juggernaut of self-destruction" vibe better than anything I've ever read. Of course, it's the last thing he wrote before the Great Big Messy Intervention.

MOPI was something that just kind of poured out of me like that, and you're probably right that I'll never write anything quite that good again. But life goes on, and to use another example even if nothing John Varley has written since has the sparkle of The Ophiuchi Hotline or The Persistence of Vision, I'm gonna keep reading what he writes.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

hah (none / 0) (#95)
by fleece on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 03:08:05 PM EST

don't mind me I'm just yankin' your chain

I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
Promethea (none / 0) (#94)
by chroma on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 12:12:33 PM EST

I liked this story better than the first one. The premise reminded me a bit of Alan Moore's Promethea books. Is localroger familiar with this series?

Pick one guy (none / 0) (#96)
by clambake on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 10:45:33 AM EST

Every gift of godlike power comes commingled with a curse or responsibility, and mine is no exception. Of course as a god I am immortal and immune to all disease; and my specific gifts also allow me to travel anywhere instantly and to dispense sickness and health to mortals. But I can't increase the amount of happiness in the world; if I bring someone comfort or health, it must be offset by someone else's misery.

Pick one guy, make him the most miserable being in the universe.  Make everyone else happy.  Give him a "Life's a bitch" t-shirt.

but (none / 0) (#100)
by ShiftyStoner on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:12:16 AM EST

that originaly would have had to have been the happiest motherfucker in the universe. no one is so happy that if you spread their happieness around evenily everyone would be happy.

Then again, bill gates has an excess of happieness. Which makes me think, a better solution than killing 6 people to make one kid happy would be to kill one person and make hundreds of kids happy. Not as happy as the person killed origanaly was, but out of misery. The kill six senario really seems to be opisite of what the god's duties are suposed to be, unless there duty is to cause problems. Because now six families, along with the six people are suffering instead of one. I probbly should have realised this while reading it, but this dude is straight up evil, i mean, he's trying to make a monster out of this kid and by causing many to suffer. Ignorant himself to the fact he is working for the devil. Chosen as a god because he sacrificed 2 for himself.

Now that you got me thinking about it, this stories happieness realy sounds like an analogy for gold. Then, gold, representaion of it even, IS happienes even though it can't fix everything.

I was starting to think this story was lamer than I previously thought. Now I'm thinking it's a lot better than I previously thought. The realety created stands up to scrutiny, a must for a story to even be decent.  All the gods are wicked and are miserable themselves, and like the gods, while reading it, I was blind to the apparent fact. Making this story smarter and better than I realised.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

naw (none / 0) (#101)
by clambake on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:30:30 AM EST

that originaly would have had to have been the happiest motherfucker in the universe. no one is so happy that if you spread their happieness around evenily everyone would be happy.

Just make him AMAZINGLY unhappy.  Unhappy that people don't speak his name for generations.

[ Parent ]

roger (none / 0) (#97)
by ShiftyStoner on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 08:13:55 AM EST

I for one hated the happieness broker, or would have if it was all I was left with. It wasn't at all enough. I'm glad I didn't read it till you linked to it here. It was enjoyable, nothing to special though.

I get the feeling that your next story is going to be about michel and this story was just sort of a setup for that story. I'd think it would be much better than both of these. Am I totaly off base?  
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

Likely (none / 0) (#98)
by localroger on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 08:18:52 AM EST

I can't say I started out with a plan, but that's how a lot of my stuff goes; when I wrote Passages in the Void I had no idea I'd end up writing a scene set a billion years in the future. It does seem that I've set the stage here for a massive clusterfuck. Might be interesting :-)

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Thoughts... (none / 1) (#102)
by Rhythmic on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 02:09:22 PM EST

I apologize for not having the time to explain my thoughts on this thoroughly, I have class in a couple of minutes.
This story, for me, was like, using an almost universal example, what the Matrix Reloaded was to the original; it shifted the "feel" of the story and took it in a whole new direction. In this case, and as for the Matrix, it was not a good thing.
I enjoyed reading the first story, "The Happiness Broker", because of the elements you put into play. For instance I really enjoyed the idea of the "broker" that had to play with tight constraints, but now you've evolved them to gods who are now in a much more open arena. The first story started with style and ended somewhat cliché - I seriously thought you were going to incorporate THE tsunami in this story - and this one, IMHO, you went through too many characters while trying to keep them from being too underdeveloped.
I'm not sure where you're going with your next part to this story, but I don't think the enjoyment I got from the first will ever come back after reading where this story has taken the series to. It seems like the first story didn't need to be for this second story to exist, that the main characters origins could have just unfolded as the story went on.
These are just my honest thoughts, take it as you will, but I would like to thank you for offering a creative muse for me to play with.
comment appreciated (none / 1) (#103)
by localroger on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 08:48:12 PM EST

One of the weird things about writing is that nothing works for everybody. I appreciate your description of why you felt this wasn't as good, even as in my head I'm balancing it with comments from others who liked it better. *sigh*

In all honesty I didn't have a future direction for this thing before sitting down to write either story. Although I am now starting to get some ideas for how to do a third installment, I have pretty much considered all of my projects here complete at the point I put them in queue. In each of these stories I've aimed for a kind of philosophical feeling, a visceral sense that something we take for granted (wouldn't it be cool to have super-powers and be immortal and all) might have a down side, not just theoretically, but in some way I can make the reader feel viscerally.

Doing a thing like that is hard, and even when it works it doesn't always work for everybody. I will keep your comments and those of the other people who didn't like this one so much in mind if I write another, though; maybe it will totter more toward something that works better for you.

Meanwhile, thanks for taking the time to read it and to let me know what did and didn't work for you.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Tip jar please (none / 0) (#104)
by Fen on Thu Jun 16, 2005 at 10:18:44 PM EST

I'd like to tip for this particular article (let's see if money talks). $8 or so. What's the address?
Just one jar (none / 0) (#105)
by localroger on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 08:24:47 PM EST

You wouldn't be the first if you left a tip for something else in the PayPal jar on the Prime Intellect page. Just include a note as to what it's really for in the "what you are purchasing" field.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
OK bitch (none / 0) (#106)
by Fen on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 05:58:53 PM EST

I can call you that because I sent you even more money for nothing.
[ Parent ]
Cool (none / 0) (#107)
by localroger on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 07:48:59 PM EST

You can call me anything, just don't call me poor. (ba-DING!)

Oh, and thanks for the love.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

The Powers that Abide | 106 comments (78 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
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