Inhuman Swill : Page 73
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Pinheading our hopes

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People spend so much time and effort agonizing over things that are imaginary. Yes, it happens with Star Wars and the Marvel universe too, not just with religious topics, but at least Star Wars fans know Star Wars is made up. I think.

Man, what if all the brainpower we waste on this stuff were devoted to world peace instead, or to developing clean, renewable fuels. Too bad we didn't evolve to agonize over questions like those until they're solved.

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No, Paris is in Texas, son

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Via Laura:

To follow up on the Thomas Ravenel story...

Greg Ryberg has Star Trek technology.

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South Carolina state treasurer Thomas Ravenel has been indicted on federal charges for cocaine distribution.

Buried at the bottom of that article, you'll see that Ravenel is the South Carolina state chairman for Giuliani's presidental campaign.

Is it coincidence that Mayor Bloomberg, only a short time later, announces that he is leaving the Republican party?

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Sizzling hot bacon

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This is for my compatriots from Marvin's Blue Heaven breakfast table:

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I finally made it back home yesterday to my lovely wife and fuzzy dog after eight days away at the Blue Heaven workshop. I'm delighted to be home but nostalgic for the workshop. It was an extraordinarily helpful, intense, and fun week, maybe even moreso than last year. I don't want to be a namedropper, so I'm not going list all the terrific skiffy writers who attended. Suffice it to say that the week was professionally and personally rewarding, filled with learning, insight, humor, collegiality, friendship, food, beer, free Stormclouds, animal heads, turkey vultures, TNT explosions, Totally Outrageous Behavior, quips that can never be repeated without someone choking almost to death, and Old Gregg. My novel Silvertide was critiqued by two sharp readers who restored my confidence in it, and I hope I served as useful a function to the three embarrassingly talented scribes whose novels I critiqued in full (or nearly so).

Too many good times to recount them all, or even to pick a handful. I leave you with my entry in the Blue Heaven 2007 Raunchy Limerick Challenge, posed by a fellow workshopper who shall remain nameless, for reasons that will remain unstated. The challenge was to compose a limerick employing the words pump, rump, and Cockney.

Down at the Village Pump

A barmaid of bonny sweet rump
Set empty beers down with a thump.
    "Don' just sit and watch me,"
    Said this comely Cockney.
"You want some, get back 'ere and pump."

It's good to be home.

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Explosive critique sessions

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Greetings from Kelleys Island, Ohio. I've been here since Sunday with the Blue Heaven writing workshop, and though I've had plenty of opportunities to report, I have somehow found other things to do instead.

But now that we have something of a lull, and no alcoholic beverages at hand to distract ourselves with, I will mention some excitement from this morning's critique session. (And no, I'm not talking about the deer that wandered past.) So we're sitting on the patio behind a bed and breakfast in the woods not far from a giant limestone quarry. At about 11:45 two long siren blasts came from the direction of the quarry. There was idle speculation that this was a warning preceding an explosion.

Sure enough, a few minutes later the ground rumbled beneath us with a deep whump! That was exciting enough, with our ribs vibrating, but a second or two later followed the sound of an immense explosion that was loud enough to make everyone jump in their seats a little. It was so loud I expected to see a debris cloud lift over the trees, or rock fragments to come sailing toward us, but nothing of the sort happened.

Gee, that was kind of a boring explosion.

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I can't believe neither Laura nor I had ever eaten at Peter Luger until last night. It was worth the wait, and the money, and it fully lived up to the hype.

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I've just sold my early, early story "Colin and Ishmael in the Dark" (Science Fiction Age, September 1993) to Escape Pod's new fantasy podcast that will probably launch sometime in July.

This story grew out of a writing exercise in one of my college writing classes. We were supposed to write a page in class of only dialog. I wrote three pages, then set the result aside for a couple of years. When I took it out and read it again, I knew how the story should end and wrote the rest very quickly.

I'm excited to hear "Colin and Ishmael" read aloud. I'm very fond of it. I think it will be best to listen to it in total darkness.

My icon for this entry is the original illustration from this story's appearance in Science Fiction Age.
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Via Laura:

My father used to teach me, in soberest earnestness, a version of the supposed prophecy discussed in this Salt Lake Tribune article:

It's Mormon lore, a story passed along by some old-timers about the importance of their faith and their country.

In the latter days, the story goes, the U.S. Constitution will hang by a thread and a Mormon will ride in on a metaphorical white horse to save it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it does not accept the legend—commonly referred to as the "White Horse Prophecy"—as doctrine....

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Chapbook pre-ordering

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You know, that last post reminds me that I should explicitly point out that my chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century, due this summer, is available for pre-ordering now.


Did I mention that it features four reprinted stories, two all-new stories, an introduction by Cory Doctorow, and the fantastic illustrations of Mattias Adolfsson? If not, I should have.

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William Shunn