Mysteriously Dying Pirates

The Times – Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship.

Since I’ve been watching a lot of X-Files lately, I can’t help but think of some bizarre conspiracy theory for this. Perhaps the Iranians were shipping some bizarre disease? Or a strange alien creature? Or something even more dreadful? The Lovecraftian inside of me imagines that these poor pirates are under the spell of some cult priest who is simply trying to kill them with a plague of boils.

Of course, the far more likely explanation is that the Iranian ship was illegally transporting uranium, and the pirates are suffering from radiation sickness. Yarr, gold be valuable matey, but uranium be far more. Yarr.

(Of course, I hold no illusions about modern pirates. They’re pretty scummy people, violent and dangerous criminals, gangs of thugs on the high seas. The pirates of yesteryear weren’t any better; they just didn’t have assault rifles.)

NaNoWriMo Looms

…and, surprisingly, I have a story idea ahead of time that I think I really like. It’s not The Divergents, that madcap romance of jazz, punk, and higher mathematics that I’ve been pondering. For one thing, I haven’t been doing the research — into jazz, punk, or higher mathematics — that I really ought to in order to make the story work. My metaphors aren’t going to work, and so on.

So I’m going to go a different route. Back to the tried and true. Comic horror. Cthulhu. The Necronomicon. Horrific beings from beyond the stars. Trains. The old west. And some romance, just because I’ve never had the guts to write any sort of romance at all. But I’m excited about this one. I’m going to draw on the history of Sacramento, the Gold Rush, hopefully hang out at the Train Museum and possibly some of the Living History folks around here, even though Sacramento won’t be part of the story. It’ll be a town called San Augustin.

It is, all in all, the sort of story that, if they made a movie out of it, would star Bruce Campbell. And I’ve already got some cool scenes in mind, like the scene where the young professor is assassinated, and the scene where the young woman fights off hordes of byakhees (or nightgaunts, or something like that) with only a sword on the caboose, and the scene where the lawman crawls along the outside of the train to get to the engine, where the engineer has already been killed by the nameless horrors.

This is going to be awesome. 50,000 words of pure unadulterated Crawford Awesome.

Soon I will begin soliciting titles in my usual way. I’ll let you know.

In other NaNoWriMo-related news, I and my friend  will once again be co-ML’s in the Sacramento region, which seems to range from Fairfield to Placerville, with points north and south this year.

A Little Bit of Awesome to End Your Day with

Today, SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk (who also founded PayPal), became the first company to send a rocket into orbit from the ground. The ship, Falcon 1, reached orbit this evening, about ten minutes after its launch at 7:15 p.m. This is the greatest achievement for the private space industry since Virgin Galactic sent SpaceShipOne into suborbital flight in 2004. Here’s a video of the launch, including the successful separation of the first and second stage boosters:

Apparently it was the first stage separation that caused the failure of the most recent launch attempt. Wired has a great write up here.

I believe I have an idea for my next Story of the Week.

Suggestions Solicited

To be honest, I had hoped that my Story of the Week project would bring more attention to my blog and my site, and increase my “fanbase”, as it were. It doesn’t seem to have had that effect, though.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I could achieve this goal?

(I do, of course, fully intend to continue with my Story of the Week project, and at the end I may even compile a book of them and self publish it. Who knows?)

Random Thoughts on writing and geekery

So, what happens when you send a manuscript to a pro market like Analog or Asimov’s or Cemetery Dance or Weird Tales and they accept it? Do you get a phone call? An email? A letter? A telegram? A smoke signal? At the moment I’m feeling discouraged and I feel like I just might never know from personal experience.

Sometimes I think that there’s something wrong with me and my enjoyment of certain geek shows, especially with they way I continue to enjoy them long after the rest of the geek world has pronounced them crap. For example: I enjoyed seasons five through seven of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, even though geek conventional wisdom holds that those seasons were pretty weak. I also continue to enjoy Lost. I also enjoyed Season 2 of Heroes, even though most people thought the second season sucked. And despite the criticisms of the first half of Season Four of Battlestar Galactica, I thought that was quite adequate as well.

I have this theory that the geek community’s expectations for a show continue to rise, whether or not the quality of that show rises in response to it. So if a show’s quality is constant, or even if it improves a small amount, if geek expectations rise higher than the show’s quality does, the geeks will proclaim that the show has decreased in quality. From what I can tell, my theory holds true of Season Three of Heroes. I haven’t seen the season premiere yet, so I don’t know personally, but I suspect I’m right.

New scan email making the rounds

There’s a new scam email making the rounds. If you receive it, just ignore it and delete it. Don’t fall for the scam. Here’s the text of the email as I’ve seen it:

From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson


Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully
Minister of Treasury Paulson

(Wil Wheaton deserves a hat tip for this one.)