Wednesday 13 February 2008

The Secret Mathematic - Chapter Ten

The Secret Mathematic is a science-fiction novel told in an indefinite number of chapters, posted serially by me, your occulted host, Cheeseburger Brown. This is the tenth installment.

Chapters: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|...

Multimedia: Listen to the The Secret Mathematic Overture in MP3 format, by Syntax Error.

Related reading: Three Face Flip, Stubborn Town, The Long Man, The Extra Cars

And now, our tale continues:


In an alley older than the New World's oldest cities Drago T. Zoran shuffles, stumbles and laughs. The ancient cobbles are tagged by fresh spray-paint; graffittoed over a run of trash cans is emblazoned the phrase LES PASSIONS IMPATIENT! Drago whirls and titters. Before he plants himself in the swill-burbling gutter he's caught by a friend, thrust upright, then caught again on the far side as he overbalances. "Whee!" squeals Drago.

"Watch it, watch it," warns Ray Chin. "I can't carry you home."

"Who needs for carrying when I can to fly?" Drago asks the sky, head flung back carelessly. "Oh look, there's Betelgeuse."

(This is Paris in summer. This is a night so perfectly temperate it feels like a warm bath. These are two boys who've submitted their doctoral theses -- two boys who for the first time in months have nothing to do of an evening but drink deep and breathe easy. This is freedom.)

"We should go home, Dragu," advises Ray. "It's late."

"I should have made you to drink more," says Drago. "You're far too sober, Mr. Ray. I can only to chalk up this failure to being from my own inexperience with the alcohols."

"You're probably going to throw up later. You do know that, don't you?"

Drago belches dangerously. "I'm fine," he claims.

Ray pinches the bridge of his nose and almost laughs, shaking his head. "You know, I think your French is actually better when you're drunk."

"Go on, go on -- teach me more Chinese."

"Not now. We should get moving. Have you finished your piss or haven't you?"

"I'm done finishing, yes."

The two boys totter back into the road. Ray starts walking toward the stairs down to the metro but stops when he realizes he's lost Drago. He turns. His friend is standing in the middle of the abandoned sidewalk, transfixed by green neon curlicues illuminating the painted glass of a small, semi-derelict looking storefront: MADAME GOGOASA, DEVIN.

Ray rolls his eyes. "Dragu! We'll miss the last train!"

Drago glances over at Ray but doesn't move. He pulls his wallet out of his pocket and peeks inside the billfold. There are still a few francs left inside. Voltaire's face is folded rudely against a crumpled receipt and a transit ticket. Drago looks up at his reflection in the glass. "Do you think it's expensive?"

"Do I think what's expensive?" asks Ray irritably, walking over.

Drago points to the neon curlicues. "A divination."

"Are you crazy? Don't throw your money away." Ray shakes his head. "Come on. Let's go." He tugs on Drago's elbow.

Drago snaps his arm away, eyes still fixed on the storefront window. "It's open," he says.

"It's nonsense," insists Ray.

Drago wags a finger reproachfully. "Do not to dismiss so rapid what you do not to be understanding, Mr. Ray." He closes his eyes for a moment, his expression inscrutable. "Perhaps it is possible to talk with my sister. I could to tell her my news, yes."

"I don't think magic is going to help you there."

"Magic?" Drago cackles, shaking his head. "Magic is just a name for the awe we have when we to see something we aren't yet comprehending."

"Oh yeah? And what's it called when we do comprehend?"

Drago looks to his friend seriously. "Science," he says.

Ray looks back at the entrance to the metro station as the little sign at the top of the stairs goes dark. A moment later a clattering sound can be heard as a custodian drags the metal gate closed down below. The custodian is whistling Madonna.

Ray sags. "Okay, Dragu. Okay. Whatever you want. If you insist on burning the Shah's money, who am I to stop you?"

Drago grins, squeezes his friend's shoulder, then pushes through the door and into the little shop. A bell over the frame jingles. Ray sighs and then follows him.

The front of the shop is small and cramped, curios clustered on shelves and tables on all sides. The only illumination comes from a beaded lamp on the counter and the glow of the green neon tubes hanging in the window. There are Tarot cards and crystals, North American Indian woven dream-catchers and healing magnetic insoles for shoes. One shelf dips precariously under the weight of titles concerning the interpretation of dreams, the treatment of psychic diseases, lucky numbers and Feng Shui. There are idols, too -- miniature personifications of godlets and natural deities, long-forgotten shapers of the world rendered in clay, ceramic and Taiwanese plastic, copyright notices embossed on their bums.

Someone clears their throat. Drago and Ray spin to face the counter. From a beaded doorway has stepped a middle-aged woman wrapped in layers of translucent fabrics inlaid with intricate patterns, her hands studded with fat, sparkling rings, her wrists oozing with bracelets. "Good evening," says Madame Gogoasa. "I've been expecting you."

Ray sniffs. Drago ignores him. "How much is for a divination?" he asks. He's still holding his wallet in his hand.

Madame Gogoasa glances down at the wallet, then quotes him a price. Ray bites his tongue as Drago counts his money again. He drops a handful of creased bills on the counter. Voltaire stares up at him blandly.

The money vanishes quickly. Madame Gogoasa nods and smiles, her heavily made-up lashes batting. She gestures toward the beaded doorway. "Come," she says, turning and gliding away.

Drago and Ray follow.

The inner sanctum is dark. Madame Gogoasa walks the periphery of the room lighting candles. The walls are covered by tapestries. It is impossible to discern where their folds might hide other passages, other curios, even other people. They seem to sway slightly in an unfelt breeze, making the room feel faintly alive.

In the centre of the room is an octagonal, cloth-draped table. Drago and Ray take seats on one side of it and then Madame Gogoasa settles into the chair opposite them. On the table is a milky white crystal sphere in an ornate pewter bed circumscribed with runes.

"The reading is for you?" she asks Drago. He nods. From beneath the hem of the cloth she withdraws a shard of transparent crystal on a silver chain. "Put this around your neck," she tells him. He lowers his head and obeys. "Sit up straight," she adds. "Let the crystal hang over your heart."

Drago straightens. "Like this?"

"Perfection," she says soothingly. "Yes, perfection. I can already sense a very strong connection between the crystals. Can you feel it?"

Drago shrugs. "I don't know. I don't really know what it should to feel like."

Madame Gogoasa smiles. Her teeth are yellow from tobacco and coffee. "You are an honest person. This will serve us well tonight. An honest heart opens itself up to the crystal without strain."

"That's good," says Drago earnestly. Ray shifts in his seat beside him.

"What is your given name?" she asks. He tells her. She nods to herself, closing her eyes and repeating it a few times. She opens her eyes again. "Now, young Drago, I instruct you to take my left hand in your right. Perfection, yes. Look into the orb. Allow yourself to lose focus, to attach yourself only to the sound of my voice."


Her hand is cool and dry. The rings click quietly against one another. Drago stares into the opalescent haze of the crystal ball. When he looks closely he can almost see a weak light, a gentle guttering glow emanating from its core. He imagines he can feel the heat of the thing on his face.

"You have seen pain in your life," states Madame Gogoasa.

"That's true."

"But also great love. This is not a life defined by a nightmare, but merely coloured by it. Many turmoils, but also hope."

"Yes," he agrees.

She pauses, studying the crystal. "You have a great destiny ahead of you, young Drago. You are not like other people. There is something unique inside of you. But you already know this."

He nods, barely perceptibly. He whispers, "I am Drago."

"You are not here to ask me about the future, though, are you? No, no you're not at all. I can see it fully now. You seek instead...clarity...with regard to...relationships..."

Drago involuntarily squeezes her hand. "Yes!" he says breathlessly.

"A particular relationship..."

He nods, leaning closer across the table.

"A girl," she concludes, eyes leaving the crystal briefly to meet his. "A girl for whom you care very deeply. I can see her. My goodness but isn't she beautiful? Both in body and in spirit. Very powerful."

Drago's eyes are wide, his hand breaking out in a clammy sweat. "You can see her? You can see my Dragana? Can I communicate with her directly?"

"Calm now, be calm, young Drago," urges Madame Gogoasa. "Your intense emotions can cause interference in the spiritual vibrations. Stay centred. Join yourself to the orb and the orb only. Do not let your eyes or your mind wander."

"Okay," he agrees, riveting his gaze on the white sphere.

Madame Gogoasa's face droops somewhat, her forehead wrinkling. She touches the side of her head as if it aches. "She's gone, your Dragana. She's departed this plane."

"Yes, yes," confirms Drago anxiously. "My sister she to died when I was still being small. I miss her terrible, yes."

Madame Gogoasa squeezes his hand. "She knows," she says soothingly. "She knows of your devotion and your love, Drago. It fills her with energy -- white light and the gift of healing. She is a very beneficient spirit, Drago, and you are the source of her power. That should make you feel good."

He nods, rapt.

"She takes power from this love, because she knows this love is very pure."

He cocks his head. "What does this to mean, 'pure'?"

"Untainted. Wholesome. Selfless," says Madame Gogoasa. "This is not the same as the love between a man and woman, this spiritual bond of siblings. There is no lust, there is no desire -- only an unsullied bridge of true caring and trust."

Drago frowns. "That's not right," he says quietly.

Madame Gogoasa hesitates, but then rushes ahead. "I see there is conflict, too. You did not always agree when she was still among us."

"No, no, no," says Drago, shaking his head. He tries to withdraw his hand but Madame Gogoasa pins it firmly. "You don't understand. Of course there is lust. Of course there is desire."

Madame Gogoasa's forehead wrinkles again. "I am losing clarity in the signal..."

"Every night in my dreams Dragana and I make the sex. How can you not to know this?"

Madame Gogoasa licks her lips quickly, like a lizard. "She...she never knew -- that you felt this way..."

"Of course she did!" cries Drago, tearing his hand away and then massaging it as if it were injured. "You have no idea the conversations we had without ever to use words! You have no idea..." He trails off, a vague look on his pained features replaced in a blink by a sudden hardening. He looks up from the crystal. "You have no idea. You really don't, do you?"

"The ways of the orb are sometimes complex --"

Drago's eyes bulge. He kicks back his chair and stands up abruptly. "You cannot to see anything in that glass ball, can you?" He runs a hand aggressively through his bramble of black hair, eyes flitting before locking onto Madame Gogoasa once more. "You're a phony. You're a liar! How can you to do this?" he cries, spreading his arms wide. "How can you to take the money of sad people for to tell them lies?"

"I bring comfort to those who --" she begins.

"Stop!" he bellows, face colouring with rage. "No more lies!" He sweeps the crystal ball from the table. It smashes on the floor, revealing a small light-bulb and a couple of rubber-coated wires. A pair of AA batteries roll under one of the tapestries.

Madame Gogoasa sits in her chair, stunned, mouth agog.

Ray grabs his friend's arm. "Dragu, stop! She's not worth this. Come on, let's get out of here before she calls the flics."

Drago nods, breathing hard. He allows Ray to tug him toward the exit.

They push through the beaded curtain and out through the front door into the street. Madame Gogoasa hurries after them. "Wait!" she calls and though Ray keeps walking Drago's pace falters.

Madame Gogoasa rushes up and holds out a fold of francs. "Here, take your money -- take it all back. I'm so sorry," she says in a small voice. She looks up at Drago with pleading eyes. "I only try to help."

Drago stares at her for a moment, then dashes her hand aside with a brutal swipe. The bills fly free. "Go to hell, charlatan," he hisses with undilute viciousness, then turns on heel and runs off to catch up with Ray, a sob catching in his throat.

Madame Gogoasa watches the boys go, shoulders slumped. And then, after a moment, she turns her attention to chasing down the money skipping along the street in the breeze.

Voltaire flips and spins, settling briefly on the edge of the gutter before dropping into a sewer drain.


Orick of Toronto said...

1st post

although this chapter doesn't really advance the plot much, I like it. Quite sad and feels like the calm before the storm.

How was the snow shoveling this morning, CBB? :)

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Orick,

Indeed, this is an interlude -- a character moment that will help us frame some later events appropriately.

Chapters 11 and 12 serve a similar function: to bridge the gap from the introductory third of the story to the middle third where we ramp up the momentum and start making connections. The climax and crystallization of these connections will comprise the final third of the story.

So, by my estimate, we're about 33% of the way to the end.

Snow shoveling? Um. I skipped it. I was late for work. I just sort of skiied down the porch and then flew straight into my car, like Fred Flintstone.

Cheeseburger Brown

fooburger said...

Yeah... this whole thing with his sister is kinda disturbing. And it's getting more disturbing as time goes...
I guess you'd call this 'mission accomplished'.. :)

Anonymous said...

Really enjoying this one.

Simon said...

Yes, I enjoyed this one too. It's almost seeming trite to say "great chapter, CBB!", true as it is.

Some of Drago's infinitives seemed a bit forced, somehow. His speech felt different than it has in previous chapters. Is this his French? Ray did say that it's sounding better. If the language here was crafted in such a way to make his French seem less well tempered than his English, then I'll say mission accomplished. He is in Paris, after all.

A bit of a plateau of a chapter too. No real action going on, but I did get the sense that this will set something else up later on.

I like that we're 'only' about a third of the way through. I do so prefer a long, languorous meal over a tasty snack.

Yabba Dabba Doo!!

Mark said...

An interesting if, as fooburger said, "disturbing" slice of Drago's life. We still aren't sure whether he and his sister really engaged in incest, but maybe if they didn't, then it's just a case of Drago's being too young at the time she died to know that his thoughts are inappropriate.

He suggests they had some kind of understanding together... hmmm...

Tolomea said...

then it's just a case of Drago's being too young at the time she died to know that his thoughts are inappropriate.

You want to be careful with that one, what is and isn't appropriate is mostly a function of the society in which you ask the question.

And only matters as a test of how well an individual fits into the society around them. Throughout Drago hasn't seemed to care much whether he fits in with those around him, only that he can be what he is.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Tolomea said,

You want to be careful with that one, what is and isn't appropriate is mostly a function of the society in which you ask the question.

I think that may be true in many circumstances, but I do not believe it applies to the anti-incest taboo.

The anti-incest taboo seems to be hardwired. It is easy to imagine a sound basis for this genealogically speaking, but I think the most compelling argument is the visceral sense of discomfort all (or most) of us feel if we try to contemplate incest. It's like a naturally selected version of A Clockwork Orange: the repugnance comes calling on cue, and it's very hard to ignore.

On the other hand, we know that incest happens in real life so it's clear that this biological anti-imperative can be overriden or occluded by even stronger desires. This also makes a certain amount of sense, since a brother and sister isolated from any other people (on an island, perhaps) might find their compulsion to be fruitful more compelling than their compulsion to seek genetically diverse but compatible mates. There's survival of the fittest and then there's just plain survival.

As has been speculated, I don't think Drago and Dragana ever consummated their perverse love. Drago was indeed too young. I think it's more a matter of his devotion for his sister being inadvertently eroticized by his mother's obsession with Dragana's "modeling."

Cheeseburger Brown

Tolomea said...

Wiki has some relevant comments on the matter

Firs in America:

"Consensual incest between similar-age brothers and sisters is not uncommon, according to a study by Floyd Martinson, who found that 10-15% of college students had childhood sexual experiences with a brother or sister.[11] However, only 5-10% of those included intercourse, and therefore most probably represent a form of child sexuality based on experimentation, rather than incestuous desires."

Which actually means somewhere between 1 in 67 and 1 in 200 college students has had intercourse with a sibling, which btw is way higher than I would have expected.

And as with many things now considered immoral it was much more popular in the past:

"It is relatively accepted that incestuous marriages were widespread at least during the Graeco-Roman period of Egyptian history. Numerous papyri and the Roman census declarations attest to many husbands and wives being brother and sister."

And in case anyone gets the wrong idea this is a comment against cultural bias and should not be taken as supporting incest in anyway.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Simon says,

Some of Drago's infinitives seemed a bit forced, somehow. His speech felt different than it has in previous chapters. Is this his French?

Thanks for the note. My thinking was this: Drago gets by relatively smoothly in Hungarian (with Piroska) because it's not all that dissimilar from Serbo-Croatian. A romance language, however, is more difficult for him.

Of course, he could speak French properly. The fact that his errors are not consistent is proof of this. He simply doesn't care enough to bother the way he should. He's lazy, and he rushes.

I think his English, when we get to it, will fall somewhere between his competence in French and his competence in Hungarian.

Cheeseburger Brown

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear all,

Sorry I'm not replying to each comment in sequence here -- I'm squeaking in brief commenting opportunities as my children permit!

Cheeseburger Brown

Anonymous said...

Big T said:

Trying to leave a comment is frustrating. It seems different every time.

I agree with Simon, Drago's speech did seem a bit forced. I took this to be his french also. Not the most exiting chapter although I would never doubt CBB in his storytelling abilities. I am going to leave the whole incest thing alone, I am an only child. CBB what is the best way to buy a copy of Simon of Space, and is there any way to get it signed?

Teddy said...

I've just put in a purchase for my copy of the new (and hopefully improved) version of SoS. I'll have to get my Lulu copy back from my sister and side-by-side them.

Also - We got hit with that snow this afternoon and the other day. I know how it goes with the weather, CBB. I do believe we're at similar latitudes.


gl. said...

i bought my copy of simon of space!

that is all.

*skipping away*

well, okay, obligatory chapter comment: i third the "disturbing" comments, but i have enough patience & faith to see what will happen next. also, nicely sly reference to the shaw.

Tolomea said...

what is the SoS cover supposed to be? cause you know one of my pet peeves is sci fi covers that don't relate to the stories.

For example my copy of Asimov's Bicentennial man has a picture of a 50 story high robot shooting down a jet plane with it's eye lasers WTF!

fooburger said...

Hey... I didn't mention it, but I agree with other posters here that Drago's speech didn't sound drunken-forced, or whatever.

It kind of zapped me out of the story for a moment while I tried to consider what it was. So I'd agree, it was a little bit more distracting than it was engrossing.

Maybe something foreshadowing his difficulty being coherent would help the reader be prepared.
Not to just dog pile on the issue, but I definitely did notice it. Sounds like there's good reason, but from a perception of what read well, at least to me... that wasn't the best.

Orick of Toronto said...

I second the question regarding what's the best way to buy SOS and how to get it sign. Now that my finances are finally going to be in order. I can start to chip in and support the continuation of the Burgerverse.

Simon said...

I just bought my own copy of SoS from Ephemera. I like the original cover art over this, new, version, but I think I'm probably biased. The PayPal option wouldn't work for me and I was forced to resort to pulling out my credit card. Either way, I'm happy with the thought that I'll be able to hold and coddle my new book in a week or two.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Tolomea,

I'm pretty shocked by that statistic, too. I had no idea this particular taboo was so...flexible. I stand corrected!

Big T mentioned,

Trying to leave a comment is frustrating. It seems different every time.

Oh dear -- what obstacles are you facing? I switched off word verification as it seemed an unnecessary hurdle considering all comments are submitted for approval before posting (I let everything except spam through, of course: there are no suppressed negative comments here).

Let me know specifically what's pissing you off, Big T, and I'll see what I can do to streamline the process within the scope of the powers Blogger affords me.


CBB what is the best way to buy a copy of Simon of Space, and is there any way to get it signed?

The best way at this point is to go direct to Ephemera Bound. They inform me there is currently some sort of mix-up with the ISBN number which has caused SOS to not appear in search results at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Presumably somebody's working hard to straighten that out.

As for signed copies, that's a dilly of a pickle: Ephemera Bound has not to date arranged any book signings for me, and frankly even if they did they'd be arranging something in the United States and I'm really sure I can't afford to fly anywhere right now.

When the first edition was released I ordered copies on readers' behalf, signed them, and then re-shipped them out. This is not a process I am terribly eager to repeat because a) I lost money on the shipping due to a miscalculation on my part, and b) it turned into a much bigger job than I had anticipated. That being said, I'd be hard-pressed to say "no" to any of you fine folks here -- the inner circle, so to speak.

Teddy said,

Also - We got hit with that snow this afternoon and the other day. I know how it goes with the weather, CBB. I do believe we're at similar latitudes.

In my neck of the woods we have to date accumulated three times more snow than the average for the entire season -- over 100 cm so far! Everything in my village looks like it's been attacked by the Stay Puft mashmallow man (that's my daughter's simile, she's obsessed with Ghostbusters).

The height of my fun came when my Mini broke down during a raging blizzard. I was very frosty by the time the tow arrived. The best part? The dealer says they need to replace a tiny component of the transmission computer at an estimated cost of $2,200. Isn't car ownership awesome?

gl. skipped by to say:

well, okay, obligatory chapter comment: i third the "disturbing" comments, but i have enough patience & faith to see what will happen next.

As I mentioned, this and the next chapter are more or less interludes, bridging us from the "childhood" phase to the "adult-life" phase. This is less evident with Drago (because he's still so young) but in his case it means he's about to get down to business.

Tolomea wondered,

what is the SoS cover supposed to be? cause you know one of my pet peeves is sci fi covers that don't relate to the stories.

In the interest of not pissing anybody off, I must decline to air my views on this subject at this particular point in time.

Fooburger chimed in,

It kind of zapped me out of the story for a moment while I tried to consider what it was. So I'd agree, it was a little bit more distracting than it was engrossing.

Consistent criticism means I screwed up. I hear ya! I'll try to address smoothing out some of the speech irregularities before this puppy goes to print.

Again Orick,

Now that my finances are finally going to be in order. I can start to chip in and support the continuation of the Burgerverse.

Yes -- for each copy sold I believe I'm due to receive about $1.25 sometime in 2012. Don't ask: the vaguaries of delayed post-quarter inventory hold payment cleared dispersals are completely Greek to me. However, each copy sold does send a message to Ephemera Bound (and any other publishers I court) that people like this stuff, and are willing to pay for it.

That helps a lot.

As for finances, boy can I relate: I just took on two additional commissions to help me get through the next couple of months. In the next few weeks I have to write twenty articles (on the subject of Scotland, a place I've never had the pleasure of visiting) and three high-resolution illustrations for a friend's book project. Also, my insurer just called to tell me I'd bounced too many payments and they're dumping me. She was very nice about it. To add insult to injury, the power company sent me the dreaded pink notice yesterday: pay up or we'll send you back to the stone age.

My wife and I are seeing a debt counsellor next week. Wish me luck!

Simon added,

The PayPal option wouldn't work for me and I was forced to resort to pulling out my credit card.

I'll let Ephemera Bound know about that issue. Thanks, bud.

Cheeseburger Brown

Eric said...

Yay! Simon of Space is finally in print. I just ordered 2 copies.

Anyway, I agree with everybody else about the speech. I thought was at its oddest at the very beginning of the chapter. After that, the speech patterns either got better, or I got more used to it.

I kind of liked this chapter simply because I find Drago to be an endearing, if enigmatic, character, so getting some insight into what makes him tick was rewarding for me.

Simon said...

Re: Tolomea's cover art comment, and CBB's inability to comment:

Having spent the past five years over on another (successfully published) author's site, I know that cover art for books is a strange and nigh-impenetrable realm of the publishing world. It is one in which an author NEVER has any sort of final say, is rarely consulted, and whose influence doesn't amount to the proverbial hill of beans, though Fartles the dog wouldn't mind tackling it.

Once an author becomes rather successful, only then does some iota of influence creep into the cover art conundrum. I have been given to understand that this is exceedingly rare. Like, liberal arts major virgin sort of rare. (Think, perhaps, JK Rowling, Robert Jordan, Dan Brown kind of success needed to be happy with your influence over cover art.)

It is also frequently re-used. I have seen original cover art for a George RR Martin book re-used on a "lesser" work of fantasy from a different country. This, I gather, is a fairly common practice - especially where a publishing house crosses international borders and can save some ducats on recycling the art. This happens a LOT, and was probably the case in Tolomea's Asimov example of Bicentennial Man. It happened with a lot of Herbert's Dune books too.

Once a publisher agrees to take on an author, it is the publisher's job to sell the book. It is not in their best interest to preserve the artistic integrity of a work for the sake of an artist's feelings. If something more dynamic, colourful, or just plain eye-catching will sell more, that will invariably take priority. Unless you're Jo Rowling, you suck it up and hope you sell.

I refused to read Hyperion for years because I was so turned off the cover art, for which Dan Simmons must have ground his teeth flat, it sucked so bad. The book though, now, is one of my favourites of the genre.

Authors too, as exhibited here in the comments, are notoriously mum on the subject simply because, by and large, they are at the mercy of the publishers for their livelihood (or sometimes even the prospect of so earning a livelihood), and are more than smart enough to know where not to offer criticism.

Opinionated readers, though, thankfully, are not bound by such pragmatic inhibitions.

Orick of Toronto said...

CBB, I sympathize with your bill situation especially since you have kids. Must be tough to take up the burden of the whole family. Maybe instead of buying the book, I can just send a cheque your way?

I ended up scamming my way into a new job that pays a nice monthly car allowance. That drastically improved my cashflow.

Speaking of George RR Martin, that reminds my favorite charater of his also had an incestrous relationship - Jaime Lannister.

Was the original Hyperion cover art the one with the shrike overlooking a valley. I didn't think it was that bad. Maybe my standards are low. :)

Let's all hope CBB will be sucessful enough to pick his own cover art because god knows how much better his stories are compared to those from so called 'established' writers.

Teddy said...

In terms of signing, I was banking on making it to the next scifi con that you attend, CBB, be it in the near or nigh unforeseeable future, and simply getting my copy signed.

No, EB has not yet been stickered. I'm really quite busy with stuff. Nerf Wars won't fight themselves, you know. I do look forward to recieving my copy, and I hope the 1.25 goes toward something useful! Best of luck with the debt thing. Money is the worst of troubles, and I'd honestly rather be rich and sick than have my health in poverty.

I have to say, I thought Drago's speech was a bit odd as well.


Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Orick,

No, no -- buy the book. The stats matter more than my bills.

My bills I'll figure out somehow. I'm not quite sure what the problem is, but we've just undertaken a major reorganization of the way we handle cashflow at home, and I'm optimistic that things can only get better.

Despite not living large (by any stretch!), we seem to chronically output more than we input. I'm sure some professional advice will help us get back on track.

The sad part, for me, is that I've been saving up for a new laptop for months now, and I've just realized that the amount of money the power company wants is...well, a laptop's worth. I said to my wife, "By the way, Hydro called: they want a MacBook from us."

Why is my power so expensive? It's all connected: my ancient house is not very well insulated, and I've been unable to afford to hire a contractor to seal the leaks and I'm too mechanically incompetent to do the work myself (if you don't know this about me, me and the physical world exist in a state that can only generously be described as a "truce"). So, it costs an ungodly amount of money to stay warm, and since you can't let your kids freeze it's not something I have a lot of latitude with.

So, I just about managed to save up for a new laptop but I'll now be handing those funds to the power company.

But, like I said, I've taken on new commissions for twenty articles and new illustrations, and that should help a bit. I feel lucky that there's at least things I can do to supplement my income. Not everyone is in such a fortunate or flexible position. Once the wife and I get licked some of her credit card weight I feel confident that we'll able to move forward on a more stable basis.

And then, as my mother says, somebody will one day insist on giving me gobs of money to keep doing what I'm doing. I hope she's right.

Dear Teddy,

Speak of the devil: I just finished paying off my debts for last summer's scifi con last month! So another one is conceivable, if slightly ill-advised.

I'd be pleased to meet you someday.

Oy...I've just been out for a liquid lunch and now I think I need to take a little nap. Wake me if my boss comes back.

Cheeseburger Brown

Mark said...

I just ordered mine. Wheee!

I wish I hadn't just started reading Fall of Hyperion and writing another story I'm posting online. Hmm... going to have to prioritize.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Mark,

New story? Dude: link it up! You can't count on folks to conduct a Columbo investigation to find this stuff -- make it easy!

Cheeseburger Brown

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Any Diggers here?

Here is my profile -- I'd appreciate any help Digging up my SOS submission.


SaintPeter said...

Is the version of SoS published by Ephemera Bound hardcover? Also, do we know if the price listed is Canadian or USian dollars?

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear SaintPeter,

The Ephemera Bound edition is indeed hardcover.

The price is in American pesos.

Cheeseburger Brown

fooburger said...

yeah... definitely let us followers know next time you'll be at a con.
can at least offset the bar tab a little or something.
Play it up even... put a 'will be at XXX' on your front page, so we don't end up missing it in some comment, deal?

Simon said...


Yeah, it was the Hyperion cover with the spiky hedgehog on the front, looking down at the ship on the sea of grass. The silly thing - especially AFTER reading it - is that the Shrike is this totally ephemeral thing that is never fully described, and the reader is left wondering exactly what this monstrosity is. Then one look at the cover tells you it looks like some dude in spiky armour. Lame. (To me, anyway.)

Also, Mark's new story is called simply Bernie, and the first chapter (of which there are currently four, with new ones every week day at least) is conveniently linked HERE.

Mark said...

Thanks for the go-ahead on linking my story, CBB. Also, to Simon for getting it done before I did.

I admit that for this story I adopted the CBB method of including a brief intro atop each post with links to the other chapters and related reading.

I hope that wasn't poor form. Just let me know if so.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Mark,

Cross-pollination is normal and healthy.

The addition of the "next" and "previous" buttons at the bottom of each chapter of this story, for example, is a notion copied from your site, Mark.

I look forward to reading your latest wares.

Cheeseburger Brown

Mark said...

Barnes and Noble's web site is selling Simon of Space for $23.99 (better than the $29.99 before shipping at Ephemera's site).

CBB, do you still get as much for each sale when they don't come from Ephemera's site?

Go here for the B&N listing.

Eric said...

Leaving aside the $1.25, ordering it from a site like B&N or Amazon could be beneficial for other reasons.

I don't know how B&N works, but Amazon ranks books based on orders, so it could, conceivably, help get people to notice the book if we purchase it from there.

Anonymous said...

Also, I highly recommend that we all go to Amazon (and B&N if you're a member there), rate the book, and tag it for additional searches.

At least I think that's a good idea...

gl. said...

"Cross-pollination is normal and healthy."

ah, bless you, burger. we adapt and adopt: even if the structure is copied the object is never the same as the original.

SaintPeter said...

Here is the link to the book at

Interestingly enough, I could not find it by searching for "Simon of Space" - instead I had to search for Cheeseburger Brown. I plan to write a review for it there. We gotta pimp this baby hard!