A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Long Line

TOF, for the amusement of his relatives, who number as the grains of sand in the desert, has created a visual family tree by scanning images of husband-wife couples, as often as possible at the same or similar ages. (For two couples, he had to juxtapose individual shots made at the same time.) These he connected with what PowerPoint amusingly calls "connectors" running from the center of the parental picture to the appropriate side of the next generational couple. The nature of powers of 2 is such that the further back in time, the more they spread out horizontally and so spacing becomes an issue. Fortunately, or not, the photographic evidence doesn't go back very far. The two oldest images are photographs made by a third cousin of paintings kept by his great-aunt.
This inspired a bit of ruminations on the pictured individuals and their families.

Notes from the Untergang

Noodling around on R.A.Lafferty (instead of working), TOF obtained the following:
"How is a person or a world unmade or unformed? First, by being deformed. And following the deforming is the collapsing. The tenuous balance is broken. Insanity is induced easily under the name of the higher sanity. Then the little candle that is in each head is blown out on the pretext that the great cosmic light can better be seen without it.

The persons and the worlds were never highly stable. A cross-member is removed here on the pretext of added freedom. Foundation blocks are taken away on the pretext of change. Supporting studs are pulled down on the pretext of new experience. And none of the entities had ever been supported more strongly than was necessary. What happens then? A man collapses, a town, a city, a nation, a world. And it is hardly noticed." -- R.A. Lafferty
That "little candle" sentence is priceless. The apparently anonymous sitemeister commented:
"That, to Lafferty, is how evil triumphs: it erases, it reduces, it boils down; it destroys intellect, individuality; it depersonalizes. The monsters it creates do not slaver and torture and rend flesh: they trade stock options and take three weeks in Bermuda and swap wives and starve the poor and blow up cities with jaunty gaiety..."
The Miracle of the Hyperlinks eventually led TOF to a blog whose keeper comments on Lafferty's Arrive at Easterwine with the complaint that "this novel just left me irritated and confused. And running to the dictionary every few moments..." (TOF is informed that Lafferty must be read not as Hemingway is read or Melville, but as James Joyce would be read had he written Roadrunner and Bugs Bunny cartoons.) The blogkeeper gives a list of "words that I had either never seen before or did not readily know the definition..." When Faithful Reader see the list, ye will understand why no link is provided, to save the embarrassment of it.

Tthe list has been shorn of its definitions. How many of them did you know right off your headtop? How many did you suspect from your prior knowledge of Latin or Greek?

  1. callow
  2. purlieu 
  3. aerie, aery, eyrie, eyry 
  4. tor 
  5. fulgent 
  6. urbane 
  7. fellah 
  8. poseur 
  9. aestivation 
  10. eutectic
  11. eidolon 
  12. chthonic 
  13. bilge 
  14. abscond 
  15. cloy 
  16. subtile 
  17. cybern 
  18. roue
  19. intramuros 
  20. intraficies 
  21. paean 
  22. palimpsest 
  23. gamy
  24. prescind 
  25. philology 
  26. numinosity 
  27. amnestic
  28. Faeroes 
  29. outre
  30. caul 
  31. gravid  
  32. quoit 
TOF scored 28, and could guess at two others.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Nexus Progress

646 words on novelette "Nexus" rough draft. Now at 12 kilowords. Hammer about to come through the telephone. Tidbit:

Orphans of the Mind
V. Annie Troy

     Consider now the worker bee wending her way into the Pentagon from the upper platform of the Metro station. There is a reason for her being there; namely, that she is a civilian contractor “on loan” from MIT to U.S. Cyber Command, called uscybercom in that wonderful acronymic manner the government has. She splits her time between Ft. Meade and the Pentagon and so has been installed in an apartment in College Park, near the University.
      She walks with purpose, eyes straight ahead, no nonsense. She does not actually bump into anyone on the crowded platform or on the escalator to the security center, but swims like a fish among fish, maintaining her distance. A few in the morning stream send greetings her way and she answers their hails, but for the most part she is alone in the crowd.
     She seldom smiles – it is too much of an e
ffort – and when she does, it is a slight, wan upturn of the lips. You would have to look twice to be sure it was there, and it was seldom there long enough to be caught by that second look. “A cold fish,” some have called her, which was both true and unjust. Considering her upbringing, it is a wonder she can smile at all. Yet, there is this one just truth about the judgement: There is something darned fishy about her.
(c) 2015. Michael F. Flynn

Wednesday, July 29, 2015



It was fourty-four years ago today
Sergeant Pepper taught the kids to play

Monday, July 27, 2015

Watch this Space

The on-line submission system at ANALOG informs me that my sestina has been rejected. Evidently, poetry is not my metier. (Ho ho) I will await official notification, then figure out if I should just post it here for free.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Now, This is Funny

The Thomism Discussion Group in Facebook has a unique way of warning against topic drift or incivility:

Acta et Decreta Omnia
Reverendissimi Inquisitoris Generalis atque Illustrissimi
Colloquii Thomistici Gregis in Libro Facierum Statuti

... In solicitude, therefore, for the continued purity of this forum, and for the exigencies of Our bounden duty, We enjoin this decree upon you, that you ensure that your prospective scriptions be more plainly conformed to the directives which are set forth for Our learned company. ...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Infodumps for Fun and Profit

One of the problems the Writer faces is the dreaded Infodump. This occurs when a writer drops a mass of information on the Reader's head as if the latter were a statue and the former a pigeon. This is especially acute when the story is set in unfamiliar terrain, such as the future, the past, or an exotic country like Iowa, because the reader really does need some info if the setting is not to degenerate into the equally dreaded White Room. 

You are here, or not
One hardly needs to describe the sunny clime of LA or the concrete canyons of NYC, the which are well covered on the screens of television. Nor need the Writer expend effort telling the Reader what subways are and how they work. "Bob, take the A train to Harlem..." is sufficient. One needn't add: "As you know Bob, subways are underground railroads that operate off a powerful electrical current carried in a "third rail" running beside the track. Of the many trains running through this maze of tunnels, one of them, designated "A," runs up the Eighth Avenue tunnel in Manhattan, and..."

...and so on into the background of the IRT, BMT, and how the IND differed from the others... etc. etc. Dig it.