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The Color of Sand by Night

By transient0 in Fiction
Wed May 11, 2005 at 10:41:28 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

The problem is that my eyes are full of sand. And not a few errant irritating grains. No, I mean that the sheer weight of the sand I am buried under has caused my eyeballs to collapse and my ocular cavities have filled entirely with sand. Sand is pressing against my retina as I record this.

You might think that the pain would be unbearable. You would be right, at least for a while. There does, however, come a time when you have to ask yourself just what exactly 'unbearable' means. After bearing an unbearable pain for a certain number of years, say five in my case, you must acknowledge that the pain can in fact be borne, it is just tremendously unpleasant to do so. For a month or so the pain is blinding. After that, however, you may begin to be surprised by just how much tactile information your optic nerves can pick up.

If you have ever wondered how many grains of sand could fit on a human retina, rest assured that I have counted and it is more than you think.

Of course, my eyes being full of sand is merely symptomatic of the true problem: namely, that I find myself buried, face-up, thirty meters under the surface of the Sahara Desert. At least that was the true problem up until thirty seconds ago. The true problem now is that I want nothing more in the world than to kill my closest friend, Abu al Khayr bin Malik, preferably in a quiet and private manner not conducive to martyrdom. Performing this murder has become much more urgent than trivial matters such as my own continued survival.

You might ask: "Why would I want to kill my closest friend?"

It astonishes me, to tell the truth, that every human language has developed a word for the concept 'why?'

It is such a patently useless concept. I find myself doubting that a question beginning with 'why' has ever been answered to the satisfaction of the asker in the history of human discourse. Children learn very young that asking 'why?' will get them nowhere. Every 'why' question seems to beget an answer which only begs more 'why' questions. A child does not need to explore very many of these branches before discovering that they inevitably terminate in: "Because, that's the way it is."

This doesn't change with age or education. Try asking a physicist some day why Planck's constant is that particular number.

The hairiest 'whys' have always been those dealing with human intention.

"Why did you hit your sister?" the mother asks.

"I don't know," replies the boy. And who are we to say he's lying.

If you insist on asking me why I would want to kill my closest friend, I might be able to do a little better than that. I can start by telling you the reasons why I do not want to kill him. Primarily, I do not want to kill him because I love him. I love him as I have loved no other person. I love him with a deep and true loyalty and brotherhood. In fact, I suspect that I would die for him given the chance.

A very sane reason to want to kill Abu al Khayr would be if he were responsible for my being thirty metres under the Sahara with eyes full of sand. Is this true? Is he responsible? Perhaps. It is not inconceivable. However, even if he were—even had he dug the hole and pushed me in himself—even then I could forgive him. So strong is my love for him.

No, the reason that I want to kill Abu al Khayr bin Malik, my blood brother and closest friend, is because someone in the District of Columbia has flipped a switch. That switch has caused an encrypted radio signal to be sent out across the globe piggybacking on any natural signal it can find. That signal has in turn been received by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of microscopic receivers embedded in the brains of hundreds or thousands of unfortunates like myself the world over. This receiver has gone on to flip a tiny little switch of its own which has activated some filthy set of artificial neurons in the exact shape of a pure and overpowering desire to kill Abu al Khayr bin Malik.

Why has this someone in the District of Columbia flipped this switch? Because that's the way it is.

Ninety seconds ago I had finally resolved myself to the prospect of living out the remainder of eternity beneath the Sahara. Now, my need to be free of the sands is stronger than it has ever previously been. And at times, it has been pretty strong.

After my fifth hour under the sand I suspected my true nature. I am a soldier, at least physically. It has been forty-five years since the United States began biologically modifying those who would fight and die for their country. This was perhaps the biggest innovation in the history of the military. For the first time, they were not just building better swords and shields. The first 'enhancements' slipped in almost unnoticed. The military had been giving its men vitamin supplements for strong muscles and bones for decades. How much different was a nanite injection which would course through the body rebuilding these same muscles and bones in the very image of biological structural integrity? And who's going to complain if a few little human abilities get enhanced or added in the process? Hibernation (stasis, really) is not that much unlike sleep and certainly evolution would have given us the ability to keep the brain functioning on static and geothermal energy prevalent in the natural environment if it had thought of it first.

It had seemed odd to me at the time that, when suddenly shoved into a thirty meter deep hole, I seemed not to have broken any bones. I had sprained my ankle and was bleeding from several places but structurally I seemed miraculously intact. Indeed, I had actually begun the long slow process of climbing the sand walls of my prison when I was knocked flat on my back (hitting my head this time, losing consciousness and—let's not forget—leaving my eyes open to fill with sand) by the impact of that first wave of sand being poured back into the hole from the back of that dump-truck I had innocently and unquestioningly driven out here myself. Someone else would be driving it back.

Perhaps if the sand hadn't collapsed my eyes it wouldn't have taken me five hours to see the obvious truth. It was a fact that simply didn't fit. Why would anyone engineer a soldier with muscles like steel braid and bones like re-bar only to leave the eyes, the weakest chink in the armor of the body, as vulnerable as ever.

Because, I eventually realized, that's the way it is.

Oh, the torture. If Abu were here I would happily tear out his throat with my teeth to be rid of this terrible compulsion. I would weep as I did so, but no guilt or grief could be so terrible as this unscratchable itch.

Higher level brain implants never really caught on. Happily, the scientists and generals enhanced senses and memory and such, but tended to shy away from actually installing desires and systems of belief. There are experiments you can find out about if you know the channels through which to go. In the end, brainwashing of the old-fashioned boot camp sort turned out to be just as effective as hard-coded neural compulsion. It was also a lot less likely to result in litigation and public outcry.

There were rumors however (and it was the sort of rumor that only got repeated behind closed doors), that the American military had found another use for these implants: spies and assassins who didn't know they were spies and assassins.

After five hours without oxygen, when I found myself still inarguably alive, no other explanation remained. My only hope had been that thirty meters of sand would be sufficient insulation when the signal was finally sent. I would far rather die alone under Saharan sands than carry out whatever grim purpose they intended me for. But no, the receiver was far too well engineered and for far too specific a purpose to be fooled that easily.

But though the sand couldn't stop the signal, it can certainly stop me. The sand... oh, the sand. That which has stolen my sight, which has stolen my free will. For so long now, my oppressor. The sand which I expected to drive me mad long ago. I do not know whether it is natural or engineered sanity which I have improbably maintained. The sand which has been by entirety.

During my third year beneath the Sahara I did, in fact, begin to compose a poem on the topic of sand. It had grown to some two hundred pages at one point (my extraordinary verbatim memory is another thing for which, like my perfect sense of time and direction, I suspect I may have the American government to thank). Those were two hundred pages of self-pitying trash. I went over them slowly and excised every paragraph with the word 'dark' or 'lonely' in it. I slowly began paring down the ten pages I had left until my poem was finished: "The Color of Sand by Night." (that is the title of the poem, but also the entirety of its body). I never was much of a poet.

I had considered writing a sequel, but there is no time for poems now. It is absolutely imperative that I escape from my hourglass prison immediately so that I may kill the one I hold dearest. I try, for the first time in three years to stir the muscles of my body. I get a response from my toes, free to wiggle in my boots (although I can feel unpleasant cracking in the joints as they do. Trying to so much as flex any of my larger muscles is patently impossible. There isn't much energy left in this old corpse after five years without food. To be honest, I don't know what biochemical trick has even kept the water locked in my cells. If only it were under conscious control and I could will myself to dry up and become mummified. Anything! Anything at all to be rid of this compulsion. But, no. No such easy escape exists for me. Even were I free from my prison, with a gun in my hand, I could not turn the barrel upon myself. For Abu must die before I am free to do so.

Abu al Khayr's security men were selected for paranoia. And never would they let within twenty paces of him anyone born in America. American doctors would take foreign babies born in their hospitals, so the rumor goes, and turn them into unknowing and unwilling assassins. The security men were paranoid enough to believe it. Who would have thought that they weren't paranoid enough?

I was fifteen when I found myself in a British hospital with a broken leg and being treated by an American doctor.

It was our first trip to Europe, Abu and I. We were fascinated by so many things which we did not have at home. Things which seemed so simple in Britain, but which we had never seen. Milkshakes, zoos, skateboards. Our parents watched us with tight smiles as we explored this new world. But always their eyes were suspicious. It was important that we learn of these things, but equally important that we not come to love them. My love of skateboards was perhaps fleeting enough fro them. The pain of the broken leg was terrible, although not nearly so terrible as, say, an entire desert resting its tired legs upon your optic nerve.

They put me under general anaesthesia while they set the bone. I never broke another one after that.

Perhaps I should have figured it out when I was nineteen and tripped at the side of my uncle's pool while no-one else was around. I hit my head on the edge of the pool, fell in, inhaled a lungful of water and sank. It was Abu that found me. They say that he spent half an hour trying to give me CPR, based only on having seen it done on teevee. He was weeping over my body when the ambulance arrived.  The doctor had already pronounced me dead when suddenly, on the emergency room table, I coughed up two liters of water and started breathing again.

"The brain can't survive that long without oxygen," he said. My parents chalked it up to the will of Allah. If only they had known.

Or perhaps they did know, eventually. Perhaps it took them seven years to figure it out, but that would explain why men who I had thought to be my loyal friends would bury me alive beneath the sands. It seems so obvious now. I had always just chalked the 'why' of it all up as: "because that's the way it is."

If this is true, I will have to be extra careful when it comes time to kill Abu al Khayr. I must assume they know I am an assassin. But I have the advantage that they think I am dead.

Of course, they have the advantage that I might as well be.

And so I am destined to spend as much of eternity trapped in amber-sand as American magic can manage. And trapped, now, not in peace but in torment that my dearest friend may still be alive.

And I wait.

Until I feel a terrible shudder. It is like an earthquake but it comes from above and to the side. A bomb? Of course! An invasion would go hand in hand with the releasing of the zombie dogs. And my subterranean prison is a mere kilometer and a half from Outpost Alif, my former home and a reasonable military target. I hardly have time to think this thought before the American invasion occurs again directly above me.

The shock wave tears much of the skin off my body, leaving me to wonder just how much gross bodily damage American nanites can see me through. My body was hardly in top shape as it is. But, what? The terrible weight is so much less. Scared to believe, I hesitate.

I am still trapped, no question. Yet the weight upon my eyes seems mercifully less. I try desperately to move my arm. There is a horrendous creaking, but no response. Oh how much more tortuous disappointment is when it follows glorious hope. Did fate not believe that my situation was painful enough, that I must instead by brought closer to the beautiful deadly light I crave, but be kept out like a moth at the window.

And I wait. It kills me, or I wish it did, but I wait.

Voices! Human voices! Can it possibly be true? After so long under the horribly insulating noise-proof blanket of sand, could my ears still work. Or am I finally going blissfully insane? I would welcome hallucinations. Welcome them dearly. But I know that my mind is whole. And these voices, these beautiful voices, are speaking a language I know. Looking for survivors. They're looking for survivors! Right here! I'm right here!

They are directly above me now. The sound of their footsteps suggests that I am a mere meter below the surface. A meter that may as well be a million. If only I could get their attention somehow, killing Abu might fall within my reach. Freedom. Freedom from my cocoon and freedom from the suffering of Abu al Khayr bin Malik's continued existence.

They are past me now. The foot-steps fading away. With a sudden horrible clarity I can see the depression in the desert beneath which I must now be buried. A massive crater created by an American bomb. Nature, I know, realized through desert winds, abhors a vacuum. I can see clearly the sands filling the crater, bringing it eventually level to the surrounding desert. Returning me to my natural depth. Forever.

Is it in me? This unnatural strength. This engineered potency, is it under my control?

I am willing every drop of energy that could possibly have survived these five years of brutal attrition. I bid the very electrical energy which sparks my synapses to realize itself as kinetic muscular force. I stop my heart, burn every available calorie, every molecule of fat, trapped anywhere in my near-mummified body and channel it all into the large muscles of my right arm. Channel it all into one single thought. UP!

Movement! I have actually achieved movement. But have I broken the surface? The epidermis has been totally stripped from my hand and with it any nerves or hair follicles which might have detected the desert air. So I listen with torn and battered eardrums. I listen to footsteps still retreating into the distance. All of my effort has been for naught. My hand lies centimeters below the surface of the desert and my would-be saviors pace away unawares. And Abu still lives.

But no! One is saying "wait, what is that?" and the footsteps are returning. The other is saying "he must certainly be dead" and I am unable to so much as wiggle a finger to convince him otherwise. But they are digging anyways. They are digging me free. They are removing those last vestiges of sand from off my face and certainly looking with horror upon my ghastly form and my eyes of sand.

With a tiny spasm of energy that comes from some hidden corner within me, I smile. And fall unconscious.


I awake in a hospital. I can tell by the sounds and the smells. There is a needle in my arm. An I.V. I feel a long forgotten strength coming back into my body. I can't hold in a laugh.

A young male voice: "By Allah! He's awake!"

There is much scrambling and then an older voice, also male: "Can you speak, my boy?"

"Yes," I say, not really knowing for sure until I hear myself say it.

"It's a miracle" someone whispers. Yes, let them think that. There is an explosion in the distance. Then another much closer. I can feel the walls shake and some plaster fall onto my face. Very near a woman is screaming. The older voice has said something, but I couldn't hear.

"Your name! What is your name?" he repeats.

"Mohammed," I lie. Or perhaps it isn't a lie. The person I was died under the Sahara. The person I am now will need a name.

"Lazarus would be more fitting. You must have been very close to that bomb when it went off. And how long had it been since you had eaten? A week?"

"At least," I said.

"We're running out of room fast.  At the rate you are recovering, we might release you tomorrow. Really, it is a bloody miracle."

"Praise be to Allah," the younger voice says.

I mouth the words "Praise be" uncertain now to whom I am praying.

There is a moment of silence and then a child begins wailing. A female voice is yelling for a doctor.

"Ten seconds!" the doctor shouts. Then, more quietly, to me: "If only I weren't so damned busy I'd keep you here much longer. You are mystery upon mystery. I found a piece of shrapnel centimeters from your brain-stem in surgery. Or, I thought it was shrapnel until I removed it," he pressed something into my hand, "two grams of plastic explosive. I don't know what your story is, but if we survive this war, you must tell it to me."

I simply nod. It only made sense that the Americans would tie off their loose ends.

"I'm sorry about your eyes," the doctor says. The woman is yelling again and I hear the doctor muttering to himself and running in the direction of the call.

I smile slightly because I'm anxious to be out of this hospital soon. I have many things to do. Abu al Khayr bin Malik is going to die. I hate the world for being a place where he must die, but the fact that he will is as inevitable as the coming of the full moon. Perhaps the bombs will take care of him first, else he must die by my hands. But he shall not be the last. There is an American doctor in England who has a death sentence. Dead also is a button-pusher in D.C. and possibly quite a few more.

I squeeze the tiny ball of destruction in my left hand. One loose end may be enough to unravel the entire tapestry.

I smile also because I'm not entirely sure that American magic can't grow me some new eyes.


transient0 is also known as Frank Duff, author of Lysergically Yours.


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Display: Sort:
The Color of Sand by Night | 121 comments (82 topical, 39 editorial, 0 hidden)
Get some eye drops [nt] (2.00 / 4) (#5)
by Stick on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:30:38 AM EST

Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
5 years under 30m of sand? (none / 0) (#6)
by evolution of mankind on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:40:32 AM EST

Did he have a small nuclear reactor in his ass or something?
The ultimate secret of the universe: Cracky-chan.
Actually, yes. (3.00 / 4) (#37)
by cburke on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:11:15 AM EST

The doctor was too embarassed to admit how he found that while our protagonist was under, though.

[ Parent ]
that actually made me laugh (nt) (none / 0) (#89)
by Resonant on Fri May 13, 2005 at 01:21:45 AM EST

"I answer, 'This is _quantitative_ religious studies.'" - glor
[ Parent ]
It was excellent work the first time... (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by DrKatz on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:11:02 PM EST

...but your writing has improved considerably since the earliest version. Something you're well aware of, I suppose. My only question is this: When can I read the rest?

Tell me, son of Esau, Mr. "Katz", why do you hate YHWH?
-- Johnathan Walther
very good (none / 0) (#31)
by cbraga on Tue May 10, 2005 at 10:56:27 PM EST


more, please :)

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p

Excellent, just excellent. (none / 0) (#35)
by Resonant on Wed May 11, 2005 at 01:15:54 AM EST

That rates as one of the best K5 fictions I have ever read. Beautiful.

"I answer, 'This is _quantitative_ religious studies.'" - glor
Awesome (2.50 / 2) (#44)
by kensho on Wed May 11, 2005 at 11:26:04 AM EST

This is the first K5 fiction piece I have read to the end. A great blend of dry humor and near-future sci-fi. The imagery was really amazing. I could see and feel the sand as you were describing it. If you finish the story...please post it.

Congrats. (none / 0) (#45)
by Kasreyn on Wed May 11, 2005 at 11:36:50 AM EST

I'm glad this finally posted. The long wait between your original composition and this FP probably gave you the time to refine it, because I think it's improved some. Good job!

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Second post! (none / 0) (#57)
by Scott Robinson on Wed May 11, 2005 at 05:25:10 PM EST

Thanks for the second chance!

I liked it the first time, and I like it on the FP.

[ Parent ]

That's very interesting. (none / 0) (#64)
by Kasreyn on Wed May 11, 2005 at 11:29:48 PM EST

Except for the fact that you're wrong. It's never posted before.

(Though I'll admit, "one crack" includes dumps also...)

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
haha (none / 1) (#76)
by transient0 on Thu May 12, 2005 at 08:31:05 AM EST

i had completely forgotten about that diary entry.

it is true, i have turned my attention more strongly towards the world of paid print publishing in the last two years. but, as you can see, my k5 gets one shot policy has gone the way of most of my self-imposed policies: forgotten during a whiskey binge.
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

Very, very good! (3.00 / 4) (#46)
by landfill on Wed May 11, 2005 at 01:25:48 PM EST

I loved it! I'm going to have a look at Lysergically Yours as well...

i encourage (3) this comment (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by transient0 on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:29:42 PM EST

buy my book you free-loading ingrates.

lysergically yours
[ Parent ]
Will do (none / 0) (#59)
by OmniCognate on Wed May 11, 2005 at 06:35:11 PM EST

the minute I can connect to your site. Better luck in the morning I hope.

[ Parent ]
frankduff.com MIRROR (none / 0) (#63)
by transient0 on Wed May 11, 2005 at 10:32:52 PM EST

is available here.

what a bum time for my hosting to crap out.
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

Done [n/t] (none / 0) (#70)
by OmniCognate on Thu May 12, 2005 at 04:48:10 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Excellent! (none / 0) (#47)
by toganet on Wed May 11, 2005 at 01:59:21 PM EST

Please continue this story -- I love where this could go.

Johnson's law: Systems resemble the organizations that create them.

Excellent, but more? (none / 0) (#48)
by bgalehouse on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:16:16 PM EST

I'm not sure that more can be done, or done in the same style. In the commentary included in one of Vinge's books of short stories, he talks about how he learned the importance of keeping your supermen just off stage. Better to let the reader's imagination fill in the gaps.

[ Parent ]
Too true (none / 0) (#50)
by LilDebbie on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:25:54 PM EST

Beyond this there is only the killing, and that gets exceedingly boring, like being trapped under the desert for half a decade.

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

[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 0) (#54)
by sab39 on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:50:32 PM EST

There's a lot more than the killing still to come, potentially.

Once the compulsion to kill is removed or satisfied, it's entirely plausible that this guy might want to avenge his friend's death, or avenge what was done to him personally.

And I'm not so sure that there isn't a story that involves his subconscious mind finding a way to escape the compulsion, despite the fact that of course his conscious mind doesn't want any such thing to happen.

There's lots that could happen from here. I'm intrigued to know what does...
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]

Crazy Twists! (none / 0) (#60)
by vhold on Wed May 11, 2005 at 06:42:35 PM EST

That's kind of like saying the H2G2 story was over when the world exploded, all thats left is traveling around the universe and seeing some green bug eyed monsters, how boring.

[ Parent ]
Where it's been.. (2.50 / 2) (#61)
by vhold on Wed May 11, 2005 at 06:45:05 PM EST

Don't forget if this were ever developed into a bigger story, there is considerable room for exploration in what's happened before.

[ Parent ]
a very smart man once said (2.00 / 2) (#75)
by transient0 on Thu May 12, 2005 at 08:28:55 AM EST

"when readers tell you that a short story should be longer, it is just the right length."
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]
Bravo, sir (2.50 / 2) (#49)
by LilDebbie on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:23:45 PM EST

I am sorry that I was unable to vote this up. Alas, it is no matter. Bloody good story telling. You do have to work on the grammar though. The double negative at the end has got to go.

Will we be seeing more of this story, or are you done with it?

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

double negative (none / 1) (#52)
by transient0 on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:28:42 PM EST

i'm pretty sure that the usual complaint against double negatives is people using them when what they meant was a single negative.

i.e. "there isn't no money left"

in the case of the last line of the story, i used exactly as many negatives as i meant to. he suspects that he can grow new eyes. i just chose to phrase it that he isn't sure he can't grow new eyes. it was a conscious choice.
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

I'm aware (1.66 / 3) (#55)
by LilDebbie on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:55:56 PM EST

Using the double negative instead of the single positive makes you sound like a Appalachian degenerate, not an Arab.

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

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, you == wrong (none / 1) (#65)
by toganet on Thu May 12, 2005 at 12:01:17 AM EST

The sentence is grammatically correct, and states exactly what the author intended.

I smile also because I'm not entirely sure that American magic can't grow me some new eyes.

Try rephrasing that without your supposed double negative.

I smile also because I am  entirely sure that American magic can grow me some new eyes.

That sounds pretty different than the original.

That's because in this case our esteemed author used only one negative -- on each of two verbs (am and can).

Johnson's law: Systems resemble the organizations that create them.

[ Parent ]
You idiot. (none / 0) (#72)
by Why is the password autogenerated on Thu May 12, 2005 at 07:11:03 AM EST

Obviously the removal of the double negative would also warrant a rephrase due to its affect on the use of 'entirely' and such.

[ Parent ]
Wrong. (none / 0) (#82)
by Kadin2048 on Thu May 12, 2005 at 05:16:49 PM EST

Completely untrue. I think the final sentence is exactly as it should be. Changing it from its current form to the suggested one ('I think American magic can grow...' or whatever) removes the sense of self-doubt and suspicion. Also, it makes the end impossibly trite.

[ Parent ]
In this case... (none / 0) (#85)
by elgardo on Thu May 12, 2005 at 06:14:19 PM EST

...what would the alternative be?

"I'm not entirely sure they can't grow me new eyes," makes an assumption that is fairly certain, but not entirely certain.

"I'm entirely sure they can grow me new eyes," is an assumption that is made with almose naive certainanty. We must get the slight uncertainty in.

"I'm not entirely sure they can grow me new eyes," leans too far towards uncertainty.

"I'm fairly certain with a slight degree of uncertainty, that they can grow me new eyes," is far too specific, cold, inhumane, robotic.

"I think there's a good chance that they might grow me new eyes," gives a certainty stronger than the one expressed in the original.

I'm sorry, I just can't seem to find a different way of expressing the exact degree of un/certainty expressed in the original.

[ Parent ]

well there is always (none / 0) (#101)
by Altus on Fri May 13, 2005 at 03:22:58 PM EST

"I suspect the American magic can...."

which i think is a reasonable stand in for the last sentence meaning wise

but I dont think the double negative is all that bad.

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

This case is a short for... (none / 0) (#116)
by Filip on Wed May 18, 2005 at 08:43:33 AM EST

"I'm pretty much sure they can't grow me new eyes, but not entirely." So it's a matter of giving the natural course of things (not to get new eyes) the benefit of doubt.

Now go listen to "Forever young", and come back in an 80's mood.
-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]

The double negative is fine (none / 1) (#93)
by Drog on Fri May 13, 2005 at 10:33:14 AM EST

As I'm sure YOU are aware, the double negative in your final sentence is just fine. More than fine, because any other method of phrasing would have achieved a subtly different meaning.

Grammatical rules are made to be broken for the sake of artistic effect. There aren't many good writers that don't break them. I hate it when people don't realize this.

For anyone interested, the double negative was once considered to be just fine. From Grammarphobia.com:

The double negative wasn't always a no-no. For centuries, it was fine to pile one negative on top of another in the same sentence. Chaucer and Shakespeare did this all the time to accentuate the negative. It wasn't until the eighteenth century that the double negative was declared a sin against the King's English, on the ground that one negative canceled out the other. (Blame the clergyman and grammarian Robert Lowth, the same guy who decided we couldn't put a preposition at the end of a sentence.)

As for now, stay away from the most flagrant examples (like I didn't do nothing or You never take me nowhere), but don't write off the double negative completely. It's handy when you want to avoid coming right out and saying something: Your blind date is not unattractive. I wouldn't say I don't like your new haircut.

Looking for political forums? Check out "The World Forum". News feed available here on K5.
[ Parent ]
Dude! (none / 0) (#100)
by Altus on Fri May 13, 2005 at 03:20:08 PM EST

double negatives are totally non-non-non-non-non-bogus!


"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

Grammar (none / 0) (#58)
by IainHere on Wed May 11, 2005 at 05:27:37 PM EST

You do have to work on the grammar though

I disagree, the grammar was near perfect - I noticed only a missing comma in the entire piece. And that's coming from someone who, because of his prescriptive schooling, has to suppress cringes whenever he so much as hears a dangling preposition.

The double negative at the end was IMHO far superior to, "I'm sure that American magic can grow me some new eyes." It expressed a suspicion that his eyes might work again - a secret confidence rather than a certainty. It read nicely too.

[ Parent ]

dangling prepositions (none / 1) (#73)
by komet on Thu May 12, 2005 at 07:24:46 AM EST

are nothing to cringe about.

[ Parent ]

You cruel, cruel person (none / 0) (#80)
by IainHere on Thu May 12, 2005 at 02:03:31 PM EST

Like I said, it's a sad result of schooling that these almost arbitrary rules are ingrained in me to that extent. It's just something I have to put up with.

[ Parent ]
thank you (none / 0) (#51)
by mizzer on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:27:55 PM EST

nice work.

Americans (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by SocratesGhost on Wed May 11, 2005 at 05:13:16 PM EST

1. Americans are mammals.

2. Americans fight ALL the time.

3. The purpose of the American is to flip out and kill people.

Americans can kill anyone they want! Americans cut off heads ALL the time and don't even think twice about it. These guys are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time. I heard that there was this American who was eating at a diner. And when some dude dropped a spoon the American killed the whole town. My friend Mark said that he saw an American totally uppercut some kid just because the kid opened a window.

And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you don't believe that Americans have REAL Ultimate Power you better get a life right now or they will chop your head off!!! It's an easy choice, if you ask me.

Americans are sooooooooooo sweet that I want to crap my pants. I can't believe it sometimes, but I feel it inside my heart. These guys are totally awesome and that's a fact. Americans are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I can't wait to start yoga next year. I love Americans with all of my body (including my pee pee).

Q: Why is everyone so obsessed about Americans?

A: Americans are the ultimate paradox. On the one hand they don't give a crap, but on the other hand, Americans are very careful and precise.

Q: I heard that Americans are always cruel or mean. What's their problem?

A: Whoever told you that is a total liar. Just like other mammals, Americans can be mean OR totally awesome.

Q: What do Americans do when they're not cutting off heads or flipping out?

A: Most of their free time is spent flying, but sometime they stab. (Ask Mark if you don't believe me.)

(note from plagiarist: For some reason, T0, when I read your piece, that whole "Ninja's have REAL ULTIMATE POWER" came into my head.)

I drank what?

lame (none / 1) (#86)
by klem on Thu May 12, 2005 at 06:36:48 PM EST

[ Parent ]
fine, a more appropriate response (none / 1) (#92)
by SocratesGhost on Fri May 13, 2005 at 10:04:24 AM EST

Americans have become the catch-all of super villainy. They are the objects of scorn, fear, superstition, and preternatural scientific capacity. They are such advanced killers that they don't even kill people--they instead developed technology to require others to kill for them. If you need a super villain, you need look no further than to select American from the top of your "Evil Guy" drop down list.

That is what I get from this article.

Now, go read this since you obviously didn't get the joke. If you don't find it funny, that's ok. I won't get in the way of you having a miserable time.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
Russia is out, who is left? (none / 1) (#102)
by Ptyx on Fri May 13, 2005 at 04:29:58 PM EST

They're regaining ground rapidly, but right now they're not serious contenders.

Who else? Korea? China? Sure, they could be credible villains in their parts of the world, but they tend to stick to themselves and lack the balls.

America, on the other hand:

  • power - check
  • money - check
  • brains - check
  • ambition - check
  • questionable acts - check
  • bad press - double check

Pus they have no credible challenger, so they are fair game for a lone hero.

-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
[ Parent ]

this thread is pure gold (none / 0) (#103)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 13, 2005 at 04:54:47 PM EST

because it sums up how all the armchair geopolitcal analysts here are just reveling in b-level hollywood plots

there's no intelligence, just stupefyingly moronic cartoonish bullshit

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Fiction [nt] (none / 1) (#104)
by Ptyx on Fri May 13, 2005 at 06:56:41 PM EST

-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
[ Parent ]
You can't be serious... (none / 0) (#105)
by SocratesGhost on Fri May 13, 2005 at 07:24:31 PM EST

To me, things are interesting when a writer makes the non-obvious choice. Maybe the reason we don't hear about the aggression of Poland is because of their secret nano-technology program that's been employed covertly around the world? While the rest of the world is unaware, our new capital is about to be Warsaw...

By using America, the author is playing into an uninteresting stereotype when just a small change could have made it far more interesting.

Don't let your imagination be limited by your stereotypes and don't be under the false impression that if any other country had the same opportunities that the U.S. has had, that they would not take them. It is acting no differently than any other global superpower through history. If anything, the U.S. is a bit more on the benign side of Germany, Rome, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, ancient and modern China, the Ottomans, etc.

Does this make the U.S. evil, then? No. Just classically human.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
This is a short piece (none / 0) (#107)
by Ptyx on Sat May 14, 2005 at 12:38:49 AM EST

Although I'm not a writer, I think it is pretty difficult to write something that short without relying on some obvious choices.

Had transient0 choosen Poland (for instance), he would have needed to explain why and how they managed to get such technology or how they evolved to be capable of such feat - not the story he wanted to write (and I like his).

Besides, don't get carried away - noone is making any judgement against the US there. They just make a plausible supervillain. If China was in that role, would you have had the same reaction?
-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
[ Parent ]

Writing without stereotypes (none / 0) (#108)
by OpAmp on Sat May 14, 2005 at 04:52:59 PM EST

You are right, however, the writer is usually influenced by the current (for him) political situation. Hence most of the contemporary fiction makes U.S. either the supervillain or the superhero. Other solutions are possible, but require putting much more effort in the world construction, which, in stories like this one, is secondary.

A nice trick I have seen employed in Polish (ironically, in the light of your idea above ;-)) sci-fi written under communism in order to evade the censorship was to refrain from naming of the state, or to use names that could signify anything. So in the text above, swap U.S. for something like "The State", D.C. for "The HQ", don't give the narrator's brother name, etc.

[ Parent ]

Yes but Canadians, (none / 0) (#106)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat May 14, 2005 at 12:08:37 AM EST

still beat Americans.

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
i have a solid, unyielding firm policy (2.00 / 2) (#62)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 11, 2005 at 07:22:32 PM EST

of never reading fiction on k5

i just broke it


reminds me of "jacob's ladder"

ever see that movie, with tim robbins? about psychedelically modified soldiers in vietnam?

it's HOW the movie is told that makes it so compelling, it's more psychological horror movie than anything else... the lizard tail between the chick's legs at the party and the agents with the flickering heads

very claustrophobic

get thee to the nearest bittorrent seed/ netflix site/ video rental store and go see it if not, pronto

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

you lost my attention.. (2.00 / 3) (#67)
by geekmug on Thu May 12, 2005 at 12:30:26 AM EST

when you mentioned Planck's constant. I find this to be a commmon problem with science fiction; the writer's are constantly trying to squeeze something scientific into every nook and cranny of there story.

Honestly, you needed an anecdote to qualify "Because, that's the way it is," and you choose the geekiest thing you could possibly choose. I can't imagine most people have ever asked anyone why Planck's constant is what it is -- I haven't. So, what purpose did that serve since most readers will not relate to it?

-- Why reinvent the square wheel?
just read past the geeky parts (none / 0) (#68)
by LadyChatnoire on Thu May 12, 2005 at 12:59:12 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Strongly Agree. (none / 0) (#71)
by Why is the password autogenerated on Thu May 12, 2005 at 06:04:56 AM EST

[ Parent ]
planck;s constant (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by transient0 on Thu May 12, 2005 at 08:24:59 AM EST

it's interesting that you mention that, i thought that particular bit was really quite accessible. it's not like the reader needs to have any understanding of the importance or value of planck's contant to follow the story. the reader need simply know that there are certain physical constants in the universe and that there is no particualr reason for them to have the values they do.

so, i guess i am writing to people with at least a grade 10 education. i think that's a fair admission bar for science fiction.

and the purpose wasn't for people to relate to the question, the purpose was in fact to show that this "that's the way it is" problem is not a human invention but rather an intrinsic property of the universe. and perhaps also to elicit a grin or chuckle from those readers who do have a basic understanding of physics.

ah screw it, i think i am venturing much too far down the road of publicly dissecting my own work, which is a fatal one for writers.

anyway, i do appreciate the criticism. it made me reconsider my decisions. it's just that in this case i think my original choices were the right ones.
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

yes and no (none / 0) (#94)
by SocratesGhost on Fri May 13, 2005 at 10:57:46 AM EST

Having a threshold for science fiction is one thing but because this is the narrator speaking (first person point of view), the word choice is part of his personality. Also, why is he speaking? Is he writing this in a journal or relating this to someone? This also affects word choice. This is the challenge for first person and is one reason I generally avoid it: you don't tell a story as much as a perspective.

As a result, unless he's a scientist, I'd probably say that most people think of PI before Planck and probably about more mundane things before even that.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
yes but (none / 0) (#96)
by transient0 on Fri May 13, 2005 at 11:38:06 AM EST

although it isn't specifically mentioned, our protagonist is meant to be educated. and he has had a long time to think about this subject.

the most obvious example to use would be the cliched "why is the sky blue?" but that invites an answer in terms of the reflective properties of certain gasses. and you can keep asking why and getting unsatisfactory responses until you get down to universal constants at which point your infinitely patient interogatee must throw up his hands and say: "because that's the way it is."
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

I wouldn't sweat it (none / 0) (#112)
by ncyori on Sun May 15, 2005 at 09:10:17 PM EST


Your story had me enthralled from start to finish. You are going to write a complete series for this character to navigate, right? ;)

I realize that I'm just hurling my opinion like everyone else, but here goes: I think that the character's choice of words very well reflects someone who had been educated on many things in bredth and knows just enough about a lot of things to speculate on their significance and meaning. I think that this is an accurate reflection of humanity at large and it allowed me to connect with the character on many levels.

If my advice makes any difference in your writing then I'd hope you'd continue to not worry about people who struggle to willingly suspend their own disbelief and just enjoy fiction. I, too, have heard of Planck's constant and have no idea what the number is. Know what: I really don't care, because you're character inspired me not to care. I felt like I was right there with him, brooding under the sand and not really giving a toss about things I have no control over. Geeks: if this irritates your imagination so much, go read a dictionary.

In conclusion: jUR \/\/r1+iNg == teh 5h1t, r0Xor!!!!111

[ Parent ]
Narrator wouldn't have a dictionary under the sand (none / 0) (#113)
by SocratesGhost on Tue May 17, 2005 at 12:53:35 PM EST

I think T0 justified it enough to me to say that he's educated. I would perhaps have enjoyed a bit more support of that (I'm reasonably well educated; I studied Planck's constant in college 10 years ago; I had completely forgotten what it is was about until I looked it up). My main point was that unless he was someone who considers Planck on a regular basis, it's not the first idea that usually comes to people's minds. I'd have preferred something more mundane like: why can't we go faster than the speed of light? It's one that more people could grok.

I also have a pet peeve against the first person perspective so that I come down rather strictly on it as I've done on this site and elsewhere. FPP, like mustard, should be used sparingly. My criticisms don't apply to this particular story and on the whole, I consider this one very well done. It still triggered my "pedantic button" though.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
re: yes and no (none / 0) (#97)
by gzur on Fri May 13, 2005 at 12:16:13 PM EST

Question: Why is PI 3,1415926?

Answer: Because 3,1415926 is the the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter and has proven to be very useful in trigonometry.

No "because that's the way it is" there, is there?


But I still get the feeling that I'm missing the point entirely:)

"I'm not looking for work, but I wouldn't say no to a Pacific rim job."
[ Parent ]

Sure there is (none / 0) (#99)
by Drog on Fri May 13, 2005 at 12:34:49 PM EST

I can totally picture a child asking why is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter equal to 3.1415926 instead of some other number? And the answer is... because that's the way it is.

Perhaps, though, what you are getting at is that because pi is a mathematical constant, there is no way pi could ever have equaled anything else. Whereas for physical constants, such as Plank's constant and the Gravitational constant, there may be an actual reason that they are the way they are. Their value may have been determined during the process of the big bang, for instance. Or they may be the result of other constants of which we are not yet aware. They may be changing and we don't know it yet.

Looking for political forums? Check out "The World Forum". News feed available here on K5.
[ Parent ]

pi is also a physical constant (none / 0) (#118)
by ergodic on Sun May 22, 2005 at 01:07:46 PM EST

I'd argue that pi is also a physical constant, as well as a mathematical constant, since you can think of lot of physical instances of a circle. In fact, maybe all mathematical constants are in a sense physical constants also, in the sense that if one had a different value, the universe would be a very different place.

[ Parent ]
No... (none / 0) (#121)
by Drog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 02:13:34 PM EST

I'd argue against that. Mathematical constants, by their very definition, are defined independently of any physical measurement, unlike physical constants. This is true for pi.  Mathematical constants are almost always computable. This is also true for pi, as it can be defined analytically using trigonometric functions (e.g. the smallest positive x for which sin(x)=0).

I kind of get what you're saying, but physical constants require physical measurements, and pi simply does not require that. So calling pi a physical constant would require redefining what a physical constant is.

Looking for political forums? Check out "The World Forum". News feed available here on K5.
[ Parent ]

Why is ratio of edge to perimeter of a square 4? (none / 0) (#120)
by jck2000 on Mon May 23, 2005 at 05:53:11 PM EST

How come no one ever asks this? Does this differ from the question re pi or is the pi question really a question about infinite series?

[ Parent ]
re:you lost my attention.. (none / 0) (#77)
by gzur on Thu May 12, 2005 at 08:44:48 AM EST

K5 - where geekness reigns, love it.

"I'm not looking for work, but I wouldn't say no to a Pacific rim job."
[ Parent ]
Nice (none / 0) (#78)
by froggerwood on Thu May 12, 2005 at 09:01:09 AM EST

Finding this story here today made my day, and cost my employer a bit of my time. I'm impressed. You really need to get this published.

Buried under sand for 5 years? (3.00 / 3) (#79)
by AnalogBoy on Thu May 12, 2005 at 10:06:12 AM EST

There's a Visine for that. [tm]

Save the environment, plant a Bush back in Texas.
Religous Tolerance (And click a banner while you're there)
Hey I love this, (none / 0) (#81)
by TheVenicianEffect on Thu May 12, 2005 at 02:52:01 PM EST

and lost my evening to lysergically yours.

Optic nerve pain? (none / 0) (#83)
by Metasquares on Thu May 12, 2005 at 05:20:49 PM EST

The only stimulation that the optic nerve can perceive is light.

How do you know... (none / 0) (#109)
by b4b0 on Sat May 14, 2005 at 06:14:06 PM EST

That the RETINA dosn't have tactile nerves?
WHORING: http://www.chrakworld.com
[ Parent ]
oh my goodness (none / 0) (#84)
by CAIMLAS on Thu May 12, 2005 at 05:41:00 PM EST

I kept reading your article, only because I kept feeling as if I'd read it before - yet I knew I hadn't, surely? Have you posted it before?

As I finished it, I realized I had - in a dream, I think, about 5 years ago. Unless, of course, this has been written for quite a while and I read it elsewhere, in which case I'm going insane.

Now I'm creeped right the fuck out.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Deja Vu for me also (none / 0) (#91)
by jonathan_ingram on Fri May 13, 2005 at 08:06:51 AM EST

I'm *sure* that I've read this before -- perhaps even on this site. I'm guessing that this was one of the flood of fiction submissions that were rejected back in the early days of the fiction queue.
-- Jon
[ Parent ]
Fun (none / 0) (#87)
by ubu on Thu May 12, 2005 at 06:44:30 PM EST

This story reminds me of a short piece I read many years ago in a pile of sci-fi books. It was called "The Last Command" or "The Final Command", and it was about a buried autonomous battle-tank that managed to crawl back out of its grave many years after the conflict that spawned it was over. The last surviving member of the team that commanded those tanks is called upon to speak to the old machine and convince it to voluntarily go to its final resting place.

It's far less dark of a story than this one, but I enjoyed both of them.

As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
That Was A BOLO Main Battle Tank (3.00 / 2) (#111)
by kenmce on Sun May 15, 2005 at 04:13:24 PM EST

I forget who wrote the BOLO series.  They were quite well done.  In the story you mention (A Relic of War??)  The story starts out with an old and faded veteran sitting forgotten in The Home, doing nothing, enjoying nothing, watching TV, waiting to die.

Out in the desert, in what used to be open, worthless uninhabited land, they are blasting for the foundations for an new expansion of the mall.  Not far from the mall is an old dump for hazardous materials left over after the war.  

One of those materials is a BOLO Main Battle Tank, or what is left of it.  It was too badly damaged to refurbish, too radioactive to make good scrap, and would have been a real b**tch to try and take apart.  So they turned it off, dug a shaft, set it in the bottom with all the other trash and left it there.

The blasting disturbs something and it wakes up surrounded by rock, weak, confused, but still ready to fight.  It works its way back up out of the pit and surfaces to find news crews who've come out to see what's going on at the dump.  

They can talk to it, although getting that close is violently unhealthy, but its been in that hole since before they were born, they don't understand it, don't know hundred year old command codes, etc.  It doesn't recognize them, doesn't recognize the area, so its suspicious military mind  defaults to its primary job of bringing the battle to the enemy.

It can see the mall just fine.

The veteran, watching TV in the home, sees it on live TV.  A long time ago he was a tanker, the youngest man in his division.  He knows what it is and understands what it is capable of.  He digs out his old uniform, puts it on, calls a taxi.

He goes to the mall, looks for the approaching commotion, walks out to greet it.  It recognizes his uniform, stops to talk.  He orders it to fall back, avoid contact with the enemy, and await further instructions.  He knows perfectly well that he won't get cancer from getting that close to it, the radiation sickness will kill him long before the cancers can grow.

I believe that in the end he catches a ride with it, one veteran with another, and the relic of war heads out into the desert to die.

[ Parent ]

Thank you so much (none / 0) (#114)
by ubu on Tue May 17, 2005 at 07:03:32 PM EST

I Googled really hard for that story, and couldn't find it. Thank you.

It's really cool that somebody else knows that story. It was one of my favorites from forever ago.

As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Written By Keith Laumer (none / 0) (#115)
by kenmce on Tue May 17, 2005 at 09:07:01 PM EST

You're welcome.  There are more BOLO stories.  See:


click on the "BOLO Fighting Machines link.

[ Parent ]

"The Last Command", Keith Laumer (none / 0) (#119)
by wrong on Mon May 23, 2005 at 04:47:51 PM EST

The story in question is indeed 'The Last Command'. It can be found in _The Compleat Bolo, amongst other anthologies. 'A Relic of War' is a different story, although it's also about an obsolete Bolo operating outside military structures - a theme that's been revisited many times by the other writers producing Bolo fiction.

[ Parent ]
Eyes (none / 0) (#88)
by ertelc on Thu May 12, 2005 at 10:29:51 PM EST

Maybe I need some new eyes. I think I hallucinated after staring at the white background for so long. Great post.
[%] Free Ringtones
Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar (2.00 / 3) (#90)
by lash marks on Fri May 13, 2005 at 02:29:50 AM EST

Maybe it's me. All I see in my mind's eye when I read this <transient0>'s post is a well-thumbed paperback copy of 'Blade Runner' thrown on a pebbled red formica table, beside a demitasse of dense black coffee with a half-pack of Gauloise non-filter cigarettes, and two lumps of pure white suger on a damask doilie next to a tarnished silver spoon. And then the cow ran away with the moon. His protagonist, who we must name Nobody because s(he) has no name, is a metaphor for US, all of US. Americans, blinded by the Babylonian sands, billions of shards of sharply told lies poured into our open eye sockets by the media, rendering us sightless as we imagine our puerile future. Americans, buried in those Babylonian sands, trapped and suffocated by a military run amok, by a black ops killing machine now fully funded to kidnap and kill anyone in their laser vision, anywhere in the world, at any time. Disappeared. Americans, hating Abu al Khayr bin Malik, who is again No One, nothing, as any Arab is nothing to US, every name the same, mispronounced, you'all. "Oh, a-BUU el CA-re ben MAA-luk, where are you?" SFX(Sound of a Koran flushing down the toilet.) The invisible doctor, that voice in the machine, our conscience, pressing the microchip of our own demise into our hands, warning US, "The Internet is a minefield, a ghost ship, believe nothing." A two gram microchip implant centered just behind our medulla, cutting off the life force to our arms and our legs with which we hold reality, or held it once, before we crawl back into the caves, and the sun iss blotted out by smoking torches. "a-BUU, where are you!?" We will find him, find all of them, when we stand before the mirror of ourselves, and rub the sand from our eyes. Wee Willie Winkie, the Sand Man comes again. It's time for American Idol on TV!

I really enjoyed this story (none / 0) (#95)
by Drog on Fri May 13, 2005 at 11:01:19 AM EST

Your story had me hooked right away and kept me enthralled throughout. You have real talent; this is a professional-quality piece of writing. You are able to describe in great detail without resorting to excessive use of adverbs (something I continually find myself guilty of). And I have always been a fan of the first-person present-tense narrator format.

I posted an old story of similar format here awhile ago, if you're interested. It sucks in comparison to yours, I am very much aware. I console myself by saying that I wrote it in one all-nighter session in the U of Waterloo computer lab. :) I keep coming back to it now and then, though, thinking that the premise wasn't really so bad, just the writing, and that its scene jumps would better fit the screenplay format.

By the way, I just read Lysergically Yours last night. Bravo. I loved it. Kept me glued to my chair. I kept thinking as I read it that it would make a great screenplay. It's the perfect length for it, and you have a flair for creating interesting yet realistic dialogue. I hope you consider it.

If I could ask, does your writing ability come completely naturally or have you studied writing or read writing books? I started reading books on writing last year, when I began to take my dream of becoming a writer more seriously, and I discovered I was guilty of a lot of amateurish mistakes. Nowadays, I think I'm a better writer, but I still have to overcome my problem of actually committing to it every day, even if it's just a stolen hour (or an hour less sleep).

Thanks for the great reads. By the way, is this story really intended as a standalone short story? Because it would make a wonderful first chapter instead.

Looking for political forums? Check out "The World Forum". News feed available here on K5.

you're showing off a bit... (none / 0) (#98)
by sylphide on Fri May 13, 2005 at 12:32:42 PM EST

...but you should know that i above all people wholeheartedly approve of showing off, particularly if you have what it takes to back it up. god knows i do it when i write, and i'm far less subtle about it than you are. modesty is just lying, and i think you've earned the right to be a little smug and/or cocky. good job.

Nice! (none / 0) (#110)
by muggins on Sat May 14, 2005 at 07:25:07 PM EST

Wow! I really enjoyed reading the story! Thank you for sharing it.

Tinka's Motivation? (none / 0) (#117)
by Yaroslav The Wise on Thu May 19, 2005 at 05:03:38 PM EST

After reading Lysergically Yours, I cannot say I comprehend Tinka's motivations for her actions. Also, why did the Koreans take him hostage and fly him to Korea? Was it just because of his affair with Tinka or were they aware of the price on his head based on the experimental LSD and were hoping to control it?

Sorry for the stupid questions. I am not as accomplished as the author is, but I very much enjoyed the book.

The Color of Sand by Night | 121 comments (82 topical, 39 editorial, 0 hidden)
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