Thursday, September 29, 2016

Can You Prove You’re Not Crazy?

Mitchell is a space navigator who wakes up in a mental ward with no idea why he is there. He overhears his captain saying to not let him remember what happened. Mitchell is told he has an incurable condition, so obviously he will never leave. But Mitchell knows he is not insane.

So begins “The Mind is its Own Place” by Carrie Vaughn, in this month’s September 2016 Asimov’s Science Fiction. (Sorry for the lateness of this post. If you can’t find this issue at your bookstore, you might try eBay.) Is Mitchell insane or not? The story is ambiguous at first, then the tension builds as he recalls bits of his memory.

I talked with Carrie Vaughn at the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago. She was very encouraging for my idea of a married vampire slayer. You can see an excerpt here, but of course, she’s not responsible for any lack of quality in my writing.

She wrote a young adult novel called Steel, and in the back is a helpful glossary on fencing terms. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

And then she turned into Seven of Nine

Last night, I dreamt I visited a friend to watch the winding down of a Sherlock Holmes TV series. I walked down to her apartment in a red brick building in England, and I sat beside her on a couch as we watched. There were no behind-the-scenes insights; just the last episode with Sherlock in his deerslayer cap. 
public domain
The scene changed to me by myself in a large auditorium, I think in California. I was there for the winding down of Star Trek background scenes. A large, flat image of the moon was against the high wall towards one end of the auditorium, and a few people from Star Trek, including DeForest Kelley who had played Doctor McCoy, were standing on a catwalk at that level for the occasion, smiling and apparently reminiscing about the old prop. 
photo by Alan C. Teeple
The moon was almost twice as tall as a person, and a large clamp at the end of a lift was set to take it apart, piece by piece. It grabbed hold of the bottom and pulled, making a middle flap start to tear away from the rest, so it was obvious it was composed of cardboard sections with the image of the moon spread on top, perhaps on a plastic sheet. This definitely ruined the illusion of it being so realistic.
But that section of the moon wouldn’t detach. Kelley and the others had to look at each other and amble around a little on their catwalk to make up for the lack of action.
With nothing happening, much of the crowd dispersed. I wandered on the bleachers towards the other end and found Jeri Ryan, who had played Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, sitting by herself. She was dressed in ordinary clothes and had her blonde hair down. I asked if I could sit next to her, and she said yes. 
photo by GabboT
We chatted as a couple men at that other end stood at the top of a ladder, obviously in a dangerous way, to dismantle some red metal framework that was as tall as a basketball hoop. One of the men got down from the ladder, then part of the framework fell near him. Part of it must have hit his arm, so he cried out in pain. This greatly disturbed Jeri Ryan, so she stared at him for several seconds, a look of great concern on her face.
A couple other celebrities came by. One of them was Sylvester Stallone, who asked me a question about Star Trek. When I tried to reply, he talked over me, making fun of Star Trek as if it were a silly subject for children. Resentful, I realized that behind him in the distance was a placard of some Neanderthal-like people, and I was tempted to make a comparison, but thought better of it. 
photo by Towpilot
After they left, a large scaffolding structure rose suddenly in the middle of the auditorium, effectively cutting the place in half. The people controlling it showed some of the effects they could do, like making part of it shoot it up so it looked like it reached the ceiling. They proceeded to dismantle it slowly, piece by piece.
I said to Jeri Ryan in an apologetic tone that this was all anti-climactic, after the failure to take down the moon.
The scene shifted to Seattle, and we were inside some kind of Star Trek museum. The first part was on the classic Star Trek, and she laid her hand on a tabletop display showing drawings of two starships. They were very similar to the original Enterprise, and she looked puzzled that the ships had a different name on it. I knew that the Enterprise was part of a fleet that had several ships of the same class, and I watched to see if she figured it out. She remained puzzled, and we moved on.
We went through a number of exhibits, then we reached the one on Voyager. I said, “This should be familiar to you.”
She was standing to my left, and for a moment she was in her Seven of Nine persona: hair wrapped around her head, a metal implant in place of an eyebrow, and her figure more pronounced because she was in her skintight silver uniform with a corset underneath. She said nothing but simply stared at an exhibit, implacably.
When I turned to look at her again after an instant, she was back to normal. 
(There are no copyright-free images of Seven of Nine. Here is the link:
To see my Giant Dream, click here

Friday, September 16, 2016

Not Killing Reagan

Since the attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan has been released, I’ll reprise my review of Rawhide Down from my original post, slightly altered at the start.

One of my picks for best non-fiction is Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of President Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber. I remember when the news came in that President Reagan had been shot. On March 30, 1981, a gunman opened fire on Reagan with explosive bullets, one of which ricocheted off the presidential limousine and entered Reagan’s chest. Fortunately, it didn’t explode.

Reagan survived, but did you know:

-The Secret Service did not have professional training until relatively recently. That’s why during the Kennedy shooting the driver slowed down after the first shot, the way anyone would.
-When Reagan was in the OR, he took the oxygen mask off his face and quipped, “I hope you’re all Republicans.” This assured the nation that he was all right. In reality he was in great pain at that moment, and he had almost died.
-A doctor in the hospital responded to the call, looked the patient over, then was shocked when he saw the face. The patient was President Reagan. Then he realized there were all these men in suits standing around. 
-Another doctor was operating on the president. He looked up and asked if anyone else had been shot. What was going on outside? Had World War III started? The men in suits stared back at him, saying nothing.
-Nurses stayed with Reagan around the clock, often after their shifts were done. He passed funny notes to them, endless jokes and quips written in weak handwriting.

This is a fantastic book on a crucial moment in history. Wilber notes how professional the Secret Service was: In all the transcripts of their radio calls that day, they never said that the president was shot, or that Reagan was down. He had to be referred to by his code name of Rawhide. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fee, Fi . . . The Giant Dream

Last night, I dreamt.

At the start of my dream, I had crawled out of a cave below the edge of a cliff where I had hid, and now after a series of misadventures I stood on the top of the cliff.

I was standing at the edge of a gigantic corridor, much larger than for a human being. The walls, ceiling, and floor were of stone. At the end, to the left, was the opening to a huge lair. I sent a panel of stone, as tall as the corridor, sliding along the left wall to seal off the lair.

A fellow to my right grabbed and shook me with joy at what I was accomplishing. I had to caution him, because the panel was sliding so slowly.

Pale extremities of a huge nature began to emerge from the lair. Their odd shape gave evidence that the being who was emerging, whom I had tried to seal off, was not entirely human in form.

A gigantic cry sounded: “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum.”

I turned and ran. Suddenly on all fours and in pain, I heard the rest. “I smell the blood of an Englishman.”

I had been half-awake, now I fully woke. I had rolled out of my bed and landed on a couple stacks of books.

Gustav Dore
public domain

This was not the first time a dream ended that way. See my Norweson/Nightmare entry.


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