Echos from the Well of Souls

Strange things tend to happen with this online medium. Looking around today and following up to see if Jack L. Chalker had released anything new(ish) prior to his untimely demise I noticed that his website hadn’t been updated or even kept running smoothly after his departure.

How I found out about his bout of heart troubles and unfortunate end is also a bit odd. It was in the forward to a book on programming AJAX, one written by someone apparently influenced by the accomplished Science Fiction writer, teacher, and from all accounts good guy. But I digress.

One of the stranger things about all of this is that writings online tend to collect up like so much electronic floatsom washing up on the shore. Even if they’re not officially run by anyone sites stay up long after their authors slip the mortal coil.

Writings on forums get cataloged forever.

With all it’s various archives no antagonistic Usenet statement about someones affiliation with fascism or resemblance to mustached dictators will ever be lost. Just forgotten.

Postings about Usenet I find particularly funny, as they’re always written in the present tense. The reason that’s funny, for those of you who don’t use, don’t know about, and have no inclination of ever using Usenet news forums is that they’re all dated circa the late nineties.

And always proclaim that their subject matter, alt.fiction.literature or whatever, is still a vibrant community of writers that’s just waiting for you to drop in. There’s still people loitering on Usenet mind, it just hasn’t scaled. In fact, it appears to have shrunk quite a bit since the endless deluge of AOL users back when (see Eternal September on wikipedia).

Speaking of which the font of Cyber Punk genre fiction at the Tea Bowl mirror being maintained by Joel Benford. Ken Stone seems to have disappeared, washed under the tide of data. Or maybe just forgotten by Google. He ran back at the dawn of time.

I’ll mirror it once again when Villa-Straylight is back online or Doombook’s main page gets cleaned up. Just to keep it from getting too dusty.

Because that’s all that happens. For a medium with such a short shelf life on “new” content it’s funny how things are starting to disappear less as the network spreads out. Although it’s freaky to see someone’s last writings lingering around with no tidy closing notice put on them.


Nochnoy Dozor: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Nochnoy Dozor (Night Watch in English) is the first book of Sergei Lukyanenko’s modern dark fantasy (trilogy?) centering around “Others” waging a war unseen in Moscow. The Others encompass warlocks, were-critters, magicians, and other fantasy elements.

So far, so good. It’s kept me reading straight through to the tail end of the book. His writing style is aptly compared to William Gibson’s as they both center the story neatly on the characters and wrench a well researched and colorful environment into place for them to play in.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the Night Watch (players bound to be good who work for furthering law and the light) monitor the activities of “dark” others at night. Were-wolves, dark magicians, and the like are all under their purview. The Day Watch is made up of the same chaotic evil-doers and monitor the activities of the light side during the day.

All this goes on under an truce arrived at after the last cataclysmic meltdown between the two sides. However, they still jockey for position and our protagonist is a pawn in the Night Watches latest machinations.

So give it a look. The translation is good and manages to convey the correct sentiments without destroying the unique Russian feel of the writer. It’s worth the 12$ or so the paperback goes for a good novel and a little insight into Russia at the turn of the century.

There’s also a movie.. but the book has quite a bit of intricate play between the characters. I’m not sure it’ll translate well to the big screen.

Beer Stein with Attachments

So, driving home Sunday I noticed a Beer Stein sitting on a recycling bin out in Wolcott. I almost stopped to pick it up.. almost. It had some odd looking attachments at the bottom that made it look like some weird Beer Stein hookah cross-bread.

And I do have a love for the bizarre accouterments. Even though I don’t smoke.

But then I got to thinking.. what if it’s a beer stein for holding ashes from some weird culture? Or maybe a stein that’s cursed to make the beer therein taste like ash.

Deciding to firmly ere on the side of beer-related caution, I drove by.

Bastard Pop Terrorists

On my recent trip to Japan (which I have yet to write about at any length) I picked up a few CDs. Among them are the set I’m currently giving my car stereo over to, Bastard Pop Terrorists vol 2 3 and 4.

I still don’t know quite what to make of these, weather they’re just cheap attempts to throw together a CD with cute cover art and sell a few copies or a go at real trance/house/techno.

The musical content is diverse and largely a mixed bag. Even in the car where I’m more prone to give a questionable track a listen I’ve found myself skipping some of them.

But some of the (largely Japanese language) tracks are good remixes or mediocre remixes of good song (Hare Hare Yukai by Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara, and Yuko Goto for example). On the whole they lay down a catchy beat and are listenable.

So I’m undecided as to the quality of the Bastard Pop Terrorists series as of yet. I’ll give it a “not bad on the whole, hell of a name” until I’ve made up my mind :).

Revitalizing Villa-Straylight and Doombooks Hardware

The hardware all this runs on is a hodge-podge of servers in my basement. On the one hand they’re likely to fail at any moment, system wise. On the other they’re more reliable than MySpace.

Which isn’t saying much, but still.

So I’ve invested in some decent power supplies and a new case (to replace the frame that one system is currently housed in) to keep the whole mess running for a while longer. The one bright side of the setup is the lack of dust in their current locale.

So here’s for another 8 years of villa-straylight.