Saturday, 11 September 2021
Saturday, 13 February 2021
- Tartan patch. Too small for a toga, but a bath towel, rucksack, picnic blanket, shawl or very fetching kilt
- Reel of tape. It's sticky, it's strong, it has a thousand and one uses.
- Flashbulb helmet. Works great on rats and roaches.
- Spring boots. Five minutes winding for one extremely unpredictable bound.
- Harpoon and winch. Clockwork gearings and polymer line ideal for climbing, hauling, whaling, skyfighting and more.
- Snail harness. Lots of nasty little barbs to stop it withdrawing.
- Pin rapier. Could be used for sewing, as well as swordfighting.
- Bug-in-a-box. A terrifying fire giant painted on the front, but the bug appears to be sleeping.
- Baked bean(s). The old beans used to take two hands to lift, but these new canned ones look like... small beans.
- Thimbleful of milk. It's as rich, creamy, heavy, heady, soporific as all the stories
- A brick of snuff, and a tiny, beautiful tin knife with which to cut and crush it.
- Elegant brushes of human hair, and stolen paints.
- Ampoule of perfume. Barely larger than you are, blessedly easy to carry but enough for a town.
Thursday, 11 February 2021
Tuesday, 2 February 2021
HADEAN EON (4.5 bya)
- Solar system forms from cosmic dust.
- Intelligent life develops on the lost planet Nibiru, beyond Neptune.
- Annunaki civilisation flourishes, begins to colonise gas giants.
- Presence of life attracts extrasolar predator Tiamat.
- Oort cloud infested by Tiamat. Hadean War begins.
- Annunaki scientists relocate Nibiru to inner ring of solar system.
- Nibiru collides with Earth. Moon formed. Collapse of Annunaki civilisation.
- Tiamat slain by Marduk, last king of the Annunaki. End of Hadean War.
- Late Heavy Bombardment caused by distintegration of Tiamat's corpse.
- Most surviving Annunaki retreat to lunar tomb-cities, enter cultural stasis.
- Tiamatic material, seeded by meteors across inner system, evolves into first prokaryotes.
- Earth cools below the boiling point of water, allowing oceans to form.
- Microbial mats populate the slimy shores of Vaalbara, the first continent, and begin to develop rudimentary self-awareness.
- Great age of stromatolithic architecture. Psychic reefs and dreaming mountains play host to anaerobic shoggoth ecosystem.
- Vaalbara fuses into one vast prokaryotic brain.
- Quasi-human time refugees from the Anthropocene terraform and colonise Noachian Mars.
- Martian seas run dry.
- Attempts to steal Earth's water lead to catastrophic war with Vaalbara.
- Empire of Hungry Stone conquers inner system.
- Shoggoth legions begin the process of converting all matter into cognition slime.
- Last of the Q-men infect Earth with blue-green bacteria bred in Tharsis plague pools.
- Vaalbara destroyed by Oxygen Holocaust.
- First eukaryotes appear.
- Chthonians evolve from subterranean protozoa.
- Q-men descendants colonise newly-oxygenated Earth.
- Surviving shoggoths retreat to bottom of sea, which remains anoxic.
- Q-men cope with Huronian glaciation by evolving into photosynthetic yetis.
- Frozen earth converted into temple. Ice mandalas etched on moons of Saturn.
- Yetis pass a billion years in silent meditation upon the beauty of barren continents, then peacefully go extinct, except for handful of sorcerors who mummify themselves to await the dawn of a new eon.
- Emergence of complex multicellular life.
- Elder blastoids populate Gondwana's warm, shallow seas.
- Arrival of the Great Race, emigrants from a hostile future who project their consciousness into the bodies of hallucigenian worms.
- Blastoid explorers make contact with the last shoggoths, lurking in sulphuric vents.
- Foundation of Pnakotus, the basalt library-city, where worm-scholars write the history of the universe by kidnapping witnesses from across time.
- Mi-go arrive from the Oort cloud, having evolved from cosmic parasites attracted to Tiamat's corpse. They colonise mountaintops and begin to experiment on fish.
- Shoggoth army conquers Pnakotus, unleashing the contents of its time dungeons.
- Early amphibians haunt the clubmoss forests, worshipping the god Pan in the form of a horned centipede.
- P-T extinction event caused by blastoid-mi-go war.
- Amphibians evolve into serpent men.
- Serpent men tame dinosaurs, build solar-powered cities in the desert.
- Kardashev Type I civilisation developed.
- Slave race of Q-men cloned from yeti gene banks.
- Dyson swarm constructed around sun.
- Kardashev Type II civilisation developed.
- First contact made with Nordics and Zeta Reticulans.
- Serpent men explore the galactic core and discover the singularity Azathoth.
- Earth abandoned to breed new intelligent species for Azathoth's consumption.
- Kardashev Type III civilisation developed.
- Emancipated Q-men establish dinosaur kingdoms, start work on spaceflight.
- Improperly maintained Dyson swarm component falls into erratic orbit and causes Chicxulub impact.
- Last dinosaurs preserved by chthonians in Hollow Earth.
- Reanimated yeti sorceror founds Hyperborean empire.
- Maps of past and future discovered in Pnakotic ruins, providing hard evidence of causal determinism.
- Hyperborea declines into nihilism and sexual decadence.
- Puritan cult of Tsathoggua sparks civil war.
- Surviving Hyperboreans enter Hollow Earth, adapting to subterranean life.
- Early whales develop collective dreaming capacity, begin to sculpt oneiric dimensions once occupied by Vaalbaran consciousness.
- Continents settle into their current positions.
- Atlantis and Lemuria grown from crystal seeds, colonised by primitive Q-men.
- Zeta Reticulans make contact with Atlanteans, trading technology for a promise to guard their cetacean ancestors.
- Earliest hominids evolve in Africa.
- Multiple intelligent species attempt to guide human evolution, leading to the Ape Wars.
- Atlantis and Lemuria destroyed. Survivors flee to the Americas.
- Human civilisation develops in fertile river valleys, subtly guided by serpent men.
- Rings of Saturn constructed as means of social control.
- The present day.
Friday, 22 January 2021
- Dr. Emily Quibbell. Egyptologist. Easily flustered. Constantly misplacing her glasses. Possibly autistic. Too busy thinking about the Old Kingdom to listen to whatever you're trying to say. Bad habit of accidentally summoning ancient gods.
- Colonel Horatio Bump. Retired British Army officer. Walrus moustaches. Thick neck. Hangs out in gentleman's clubs all day complaining about the natives. Full of colonial stories. Weakness for gin and Arab boys in eyeliner.
- Milton Prescott. Rich American tourist. Owns a soap factory in Milwaukee. Says "Gosh!" and "Gee willikers!" to everything. Wears a checked suit. Hangdog expression. Not sure why penniless young women keep trying to seduce him.
- Lady Cynthia Traverse. Horrible old dowager. Reduces hotel staff to tears over a forgotten icecube or a stained napkin. Dangerously clever and vindictive. Widely rumoured to have murdered her husband. Secretly pursuing his real killer.
- J. J. Leavitt. Journalist for a top American newspaper. Pushy. Loud. Boastful. Offers everyone cigars. Tries to bribe people you can't actually bribe. Can't get in to see the tomb opening he's here to cover, and deeply pissed off about it.
- Countess Nina Belenova. White Russian émigré. Escaped Odessa with her grandmother's diamond necklace in a box, one step ahead of the revolutionaries. Translates for a living. Bleak sense of humour. Interested in Hyperborea. Occult friends.
- Bruno Colombo. Wealthy Italian playboy and daredevil. Pencil moustache. Flies biplanes. Gambles recklessly. Secretly a dangerous anarchist, responsible for the bombing of a Roman bank and the death of three policemen.
- Dr. Ruben Ghazarian. Self-proclaimed spiritual teacher who claims to have learned tantric secrets from the White Masters of Tibet. Followed by excitable young students who hang on his every word. On the run from the tax office.
- Jules Pichon. Private detective. Silly little Frenchman with a head shaped like an egg. Master of criminology and psychology. Pretending to be on holiday. Secretly on the trail of the international jewel thief known as the Sparrow.
- Constance Fairweather. Frivolous flapper in cloche hat. Listens to jazz and dances till dawn. Claims to have inherited a fortune from dear old Uncle Charlie. Secretly the international jewel thief known as the Sparrow.
- Jim Hyde. Failson from a good family. Opium addict and low-grade conman. Hangs round hotels cadging drinks off tourists, trading off his education and good breeding to sell fake artifacts at bargain prices. Lives in a filthy apartment near the souk.
- Lenny Logan. Aussie digger left over from the Great War. Still has the bullet wounds from Gallipoli. Flies a small plane full of smuggled cigarettes, booze and the occasional mummy. Friends among the Bedouin. Cheerful and ruthless.
- Musa Mwembe. Enormously fat Ugandan man who runs a crime ring from a Turkish bath. Floats in perfumed steam, up to his nipples in warm water, eating figs from a golden platter. Loads his friends with gold, drowns his enemies.
- Omar Hegazi. Crooked local politician. Fat. Wears a fez. Always smiling. Three wives and at least a dozen children running round his feet. Knows everyone and gets a cut of everything. Throws lavish parties at which people sometimes disappear.
- Captain Fareed Zulficar. Officer of the Cairo police. Completely humorless. Unbribeable. Brilliant detective. Despises Westerners and will take any opportunity to punish one, as long as it's entirely within the bounds of the law.
- Ismail Gamal. Idealistic young lawyer. Dreams of overthrowing the British empire and replacing it with a pan-Arabic socialist state. Defends rioters in court. Writes for small, angry journals. Secret love affair with wife of British official.
- Selim Shafei. Hotel concierge. Enormously dignified. Polite but not obsequious. Loves his hotel and will defend its reputation to the death. Will go to any lengths for the comfort of a guest. Proud of his very fine suits. Underpaid.
- Zainab Ammar. Nightclub owner. Gold rings. Heavy eyeshadow. Aging as gracefully as she can manage. Stages the most risqué shows in town. Runs back rooms where highly specific tastes are catered to. Possessive of the girls and boys in her employ.
- Leila Kanaan. Cabaret singer. Sultry and mysterious. Likes to hint at tragic past and romantic liaisons with European royalty. Rumoured to have sold her soul to a djinn of the deep desert in exchange for wealth and fortune. Lies a lot.
- Cyrus Mohebbi. Stage magician. Claims to perform Zoroastrian fire sorcery, conjuring doves out of flames. Sweaty. Balding. Won't admit he's losing his touch, no matter how badly he burns his assistants. Would like to cast one real spell before he quits.
- Aam Salama. Oriental dancer. Does a nightclub act with a three-metre-long African rock python named Boris, painted gold and wearing a Cleopatra headdress, acting out the battle between the sun god Ra and the serpent Apophis. Sarcastic. Smokes.
- Abdu Ali Hassan. Small stout merchant operating from a carpet stall in the souk. Oleaginous. Wants you to invest in his new guaranteed get-rich-quick scheme. Always in debt. Can get you anything, but will probably blackmail you about it.
- Reem el-Sherbini. Fortune teller and spirit medium. Patronised by rich Westerners who believe in Oriental magic. Floaty scarves. Incense. Crystal ball. Terrified that actual ghosts will find out about her fake seances and punish her.
- Nour Anwar. Folk healer and apothecary. Little shop in the souk full of herbs, amulets, bones, mummy powder and reptiles floating in jars. Gossipy. Earns most of her income from covertly selling rhino-horn erection pills to British officers.
- Thomas Abdallah Aziz. Bookseller. Absent-minded. Shop in the old city cluttered with everything from detective paperbacks to medieval manuscripts. Knows all of history but forgets the names of his grandkids.
- Waleed Mostafa. Pushy tour guide. Won't take no for an answer. Tells you the whole story of wherever you're standing, then asks you to pay for it. Insists he's always right, even when contradicted by history books.
- Yasmin Ezz. Expert forger. Sensitive eyes. Hates bright light. Works mostly by touch. Long nimble fingers. Used to be a seamstress. Rarely leaves the cramped apartment above her son's grocery store, full of cats and half-completed relics from fictional tombs.
- Ibrahim el-Din. Half-blind old cleric with a long white beard who wanders the streets barefooted. Beloved by the city's poor, who won't let him come to any harm. Expert in Sufi mysticism and Islamic law, which he uses to judge beggars' disputes.
- Malak. Cheeky little street urchin of indetermine gender. Picks your pocket and runs into dark alleyway where the rest of the gang awaits. Bare feet covered in weeping sores. Has a knife. Expects to be ruthlessly beaten if caught. Genuinely dangerous.
- Dawada. Queen of the beggars. No legs. Skin diseases. Goes around on little trolley, pushing herself with strong arms, asking for alms. Nobody refuses her twice. Hides a fortune in gold at her stronghold in the Cairo Necropolis.
Tuesday, 19 January 2021
Written a couple of short horror stories recently. Putting them in one place for your convenience.The Catch is about creepy things happening in a small English coastal village, which in my view is one of the best things a story can be about. Reused some Marcher Lords content for this. I'm still fixated on weird Celtic mythology and want to do more with it. Also Brexit is involved so it's topical.
Real Live Dinosaur is a creepypasta I posted to r/nosleep. Collective online horror fiction interests me, and was a big inspiration for the Black Auction post I just did. I know even the best creepypastas tend to be slightly shit, but that's part of the charm. Want to do a few more of these in the future.
And here is a podcast episode I did with my friend Jo on why the novel sucks so much these days and what can be done about it. I have a whole socialist podcast I do if you're interested in that kind of thing.
The common thread here is the interplay between the "official" system for publishing fiction, which controls what books you read and what movies you watch, and which has become stultifyingly conservative over recent years, and the weird online stuff that blossoms in the cracks and that nobody has yet figured out how to capture in boring solid prose. How come there's writers out there who did six blog posts and disappeared, who have been read by perhaps a thousand people ever, who are obviously more talented than anyone who's published a novel in the last decade? Increasingly creeped out by this question.
Edit: Youtuber Uncle Koko did a reading of Real Live Dinosaur on his channel, check it out.
Wednesday, 18 November 2020
1. List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1975-1979) - Wikipedia article. Contains several incidents not attested to by any other source, including the loss of an Israeli Lockheed C-130 Hercules over the Sinai Peninsula to what witnesses described as a "fist of light". These are tagged with , but have not been taken down.
2. Krantz-Bohannon film - Silent 8mm film sequence shot in 1969 on the banks of the Klamath River in southern Oregon. Depicts a young man in a mohair jacket, provisionally identified as convenience-store worker Lee Bohannon, standing proudly over the corpse of an ape-like biped, holding a shotgun. As another biped lurches from the woods behind him, the video cuts out.
3. Matrakçı Nasuh map - World map compiled from Arabic and Portuguese sources in 1554 by Matrakçı Nasuh, the Bosniak polymath and Janissary. Includes an extremely detailed chart of the Antarctic coast, possibly derived from the missing fragments of the Piri Reis map, illustrated with black pyramids and leechlike creatures not found in nature.
4. "Never Give A Dollar To A Droggo" - Meme template originating on the 4chan board /pol/, in which a crude caricature of an emaciated, dog-headed creature stealthily picks a white man's pocket. Variations on the meme stereotype the "droggo" as being greedy, congenitally deceitful, superficially charming and prone to consuming his own vomit.
5. eibon.mobi - Kindle-formatted Hyperborean grimoire. Will "colonise" other books on the same device, inserting references to a toadlike divinity beneath Greenland. Novels become horror stories, books of science propose nonstandard theories and history books develop footnotes attributing catastrophes to the influence of antediluvian cults.
6. McKinley-Bryan debate - Livestream, briefly hosted on CNN website, of a televised presidential debate from 1896. A visibly uncomfortable McKinley, gleaming with sweat under the studio spotlights, attempts several times to interrupt Bryan's lectures on the silver standard, the plight of American labor and the villainy of Charles Darwin.
7. Screen Cheats - 2003 webcomic about two best friends who play videogames and their wisecracking roommate, a talking llama who smokes cigars. Goes in increasingly surreal directions after the 2007 Epic Mike arc, where the friends meld with their gaming couch to become a bloblike "pleasure hybrid", much to the llama's distress.
8. The Spreadable Pooch - Unreleased eleventh episode of Wallace and Gromit's Cracking Contraptions. Annoyed by Gromit's failure to fetch the newspaper on time, Wallace sculpts a new dog out of Wensleydale cheese and brings it to life with a bolt of lightning. While he goes about his day, blissfully unaware, Gromit must fight to stop it assimilating all organic matter in the village.
9. "It Screams When You Step On It" - Series of magazine ads for the 1984 Isuzu Intruder, featuring the car driving down a misty road at night with a blurred, ghostlike figure visible behind the smeared glass of the windshield. The copy promises "authentic pagan engineering" and "the only car on the market that feels real pain!"
10. What Went Wrong - Political tell-all book written by an unnamed staffer purporting to have worked on George H. W. Bush's 1992 re-election campaign, attributing his loss to a "failure to appease the Sunken Ones" and Clinton's base of support among "the hounds of Apollo", as well as a lack of decisive action on the budget deficit.
11. The Towers Benighted - 1824 oil painting by the English calamity artist John Martin, depicting the exact moment at which American Airlines Flight 11 made contact with the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Distraught citizens gaze up at the burning towers from the rubble-strewn streets of a decaying city, overhung by swirling plumes of apocalyptic smoke.
12. "Ihre Festung hat kein Dach" - 50,000 propaganda leaflets dropped from the sky over Stuttgart in 1954, claiming that humanity's defeat is inevitable and promising a reward to any soldier who defects to the invading forces. Followed by the disappearance of a Martin B-57 Canberra tactical bomber from Ramstein Air Base in southern Germany, along with its pilot.
13. Where Do Chuckles Come From? - 1959 children's book about a curious mouse who wants to know the origin of laughter. After a series of adventures that involve tickling a big pink pig and making fun of a frog, he finds a deep cave in the side of a hill that all the other animals tell him is "where laughter really comes from, right down at the bottom". The last two pages have been torn out.
14. Dev Kahraman 6 - 1974 Turkish cult superhero film about a Mexican wrestler saving Istanbul from Spider-Man, who lacks any of his usual spider powers but can turn anyone he touches into a copy of himself. Full of copyright violations, including a Chewbacca cameo and unauthorised use of Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to Batman Begins.
15. Else We Are Savages: Translation and Barbarism in Early Modern France - 2002 PhD thesis from a graduate student at the University of Hull which claims to prove, through painstaking textual analysis, that Michel de Montaigne was consumed and replaced by a Brazilian cannibal in 1579, and the history of French literature must be wholly reinterpreted in light of this fact.
16. Empty Planet - 2013 BBC documentary on subterranean fauna, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Covers the Slovenian olm, the Pilbara blind eel, the bat-eating centipede of Venezuela and the pink-shanked langur of Xe Bang Fai, never before caught on film. The last two episodes were scrapped after the disappearance of a camera crew beneath Kentucky's Pennyroyal Plateau.
17. Princess Time! - YouTube Kids channel with over 13,000 videos of Eastern European actresses dressed as Disney characters, acting out short, algorithmically-generated scenarios about toilets, pregnancy and medical experiments. Endorsed by several prominent child psychologists as a safe and healthy way to process pre-adolescent trauma.
18. The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Bodies Know What Our Brains Deny - Bestselling 2017 pop-psychology book by self-proclaimed "concrete Jungian" Dr. Bryson Valentine. Sets out nine simple rules for living that enable anyone to build confidence, overcome anxiety and percieve the vampiric entities who walk among us unseen, enslaving us and sapping our sexual energy.
19. Šílenci - 1933 Czech horror film about a discredited doctor converting his enemies into circus freaks and selling them to an American showman. Notable for its use of actors with real disabilities. The surgical scenes have been closely studied by effects designers, Soviet censors and medical professionals, but it remains unclear how they could have been simulated.
20. Prisms & Pentacles - Orphaned D&D blog. Posts about spell tables and lists of medieval professions gradually supplanted by long, rambling personal essays, reviews of nonexistent films, prolonged exegesis of fictional scripture from an Old Testament-inspired setting never fully detailed. Final post in 2019 anticipates the recent discovery of a flayed corpse in the New Mexico desert.