Cold War

My first draft of Cold War is dated 22 Jul 1987 and is based on my experiences in the arctic and working for USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs. I wrote the story for a workshop. Self-reflection and -inspection wasn’t in vogue at that time and wouldn’t be for another five or so years. Most stories presented were tech driven and bored me. The one or two character driven stories were weak because the character aspect had to break through the tech aspect.

Anyway, since then it’s been published in Midnight Zoo ’92, Horizons Science Fiction ’99, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires 2016, and Daikaijuzine Sept 2020.

Enjoy.

Cold War

Home is…south? Gotta be. Everything’s south.

Which way is south? Can’t smell it anymore. Damn compass froze, it’s so cold.

Cold didn’t bother me the first 250 miles. Neither did the glare of the sun. Or the endless white. Or the total lack of smells. Someone told me there’d be weird smells up here. There aren’t any. Not this far north. There’s the smell of the ocean, humming beneath this glacier. I could smell the snow at first. That stopped after a few hours, after my mind got so use to the smell of white that it got blocked out. The winds don’t howl like I thought they would. They wouldn’t this time of year, anyway. But they whisper. The glacier surface is so flat I can hear conversations back in Mantinac Bay. They come to me when I let my mind rest, when I lay down to sleep. That’s not like in-country. You lay down in-country, any thing’s got legs uses you for an LZ, a runway. The ice surface is uneven, though. Up close it’s uneven. That’s like in-country. But nothing crawls over you. Nothing living, nothing but the wind.

I don’t sleep that much anymore. The monitor’s attached to my chest. Physically attached. They sowed it into me where the skin is thickest. So I can’t sleep on my stomach and when I sleep on my back I can see this damn little red light blink blink blink. Blink blink blink. Keeps you up all night, you know? Blink blink blink.

How much farther? I use to be able to do this in my head when I started. Mantinac to the Pole is nine-hundred sixty klicks. I’ve gone four-hundred. What does that leave?

It’s a long trip. Some nut told me the ice would smooth out. This from a guy with a Ph.D. in cold weather research. Guy learned from a book. That was back at USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs in Hanover, New Hampshire. New Hampshire can get cold, when the Montreal Express comes in the from the north and we get a Nor’Easter heading in from the Maritimes. One year we had a snow squall New England style. That’s a hurricane in winter. It got cold. Not like this. This is a dry cold. They didn’t modify me right. I can feel it. Right up my legs to where my willy used to be. I can feel it.

I started with just over nine-hundred kilos of supplies. Stupid bastards. Over nine-hundred kilos in the sled, my body weight just under a metric ton. Oh yeah. They figured this one right. Each time my feet splayed, the fishtails on my soles picked up little slivers of ice that worked their way in. Deep. Kind of like shin splints that itch. I’ve only used a third of the supplies. That part of the design went right, anyway. Big as I am, I don’t need much food anymore. How ’bout that, mom? Mother never raised no tiny children, she used to say. What you think of your poor boy now, momma? They took what you and papa made one night and made me something no woman will look at again.

Everybody thinks they find test subjects in jails. He’s a lifer, he’ll do this to get out. Maybe a college student who needs extra beer money. Oh, and there’s this one, where they volunteer some private to go hazard. You know how Garrett got to be The Flash? Fricken’ lightening hits his lab bench and douses him with chemicals. Fricken’ Bruce Banner would have a tumor the size of a football if he ever sat in a gamma ray like they said. Remember ‘When Captain America throws his mighty shield’? The next line should have been ‘That ninety pound wimp gets a dick as hard as steel.’

Used to read comics all the time. Can’t remember too many of them now.

How much further do I have to go?

Got this thing in the side of my head. They said it was like what they did to help me walk after Charlie sent me a baseball as I jumped off the Rome. I never walked right. They said they would fix all that, too. Make me a fricken’ Steve Austin. Fuck. This thing in my head, under this plate, it listens to me and signals some satellite where I am and how I’m doing okay.


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Writing Mentoring

You are a fabulous teacher. – Parsippany, NJ

 
Let me save you some time before reading this post by starting out as I did with Critiques: Online or via Email; Do you want to improve your writing? Are you willing to pay to improve?

If the answer to either of those is No then read no further, this post isn’t for you.

Answered Yes to both? Read on.
Continue reading “Writing Mentoring”

Writing Critiques: Online or via Email
(paying subscribers get an automatic 50% off regardless of subscription level)

Who’s my hero? Joseph Carrabis. Just finished an edit consult where he kindly, constructively, and expertly ripped my book blurb to shreds! LOVE IT! ‘Atta Boys do you no good. Find someone who will give it to you straight!! Thank you! I owe you. Mine felt soulless. Now I see why. It is humbling to be such a novice at something. I appreciate your help. – Augusta, GA

 
Let me save you some time before reading this post; Do you want to improve your writing? Are you willing to pay to improve?

If the answer to either of those is No then read no further, this post isn’t for you.

Your critique of my novel was priceless. – Hudson, NH

 
Answered Yes to both? Read on.
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(paying subscribers get an automatic 50% off regardless of subscription level)”

The 3x Rule

Note: This material originally appeared on a marketing site and dealt with branding. People who know what they’re doing recognize all branding is an application of neuroscience, hence neuromarketing (which may have been a part of neuroscience at one point and now is a buzzword and poorly degraded from its original).
I’m resurrecting it for a friend who’s curious about
The 3x Rule.
The 3x Rule has broad applications – everything from education to marketing to branding to military training and for the purposes of writing, creating memorable characters. You can use The 3x Rule to have your children, partners, peers, et cetera, remember to do something when they need to do it.
I use the
The 3x Rule rule in my writing to lock characters and scenes into reader memory.
Enjoy!


The 3x Rule has six elements:

  1. Memory
  2. Touch
  3. Mirrors
  4. Words
  5. Sentences
  6. Voice

Let’s explore each element separately then put them together.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
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Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore

(This post originated as “Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 5 – I can’t talk to women anymore”, but I’m tired of the sensitivity reader thread, aren’t you?)

My first rumination can be found at Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”
My second at Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions
Rumination Part 3-1 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1
Rumination Part 3-2 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2
Rumination Part 3-3 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class
Rumination Part 3-4 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 4 – Is your character POC or POM?


It started long ago, I’m sure. A slow dawning, a creeping awareness.

I’ve thought about it for a while. It started innocuously; a character in one of my works-in-progress knows what other characters think, how they’ll respond, what they’ll do.

Study consciousness and this ability shows up as Theory of Mind. The literature is full of it. While not calling it telepathy or mind-reading or whatever, most people do it automatically because it’s part of how we function in society; we hear something in someone’s voice and know they’re having a bad day. The truth is we’re assuming they’re having a bad day because having a bad day would cause our voices to sound the way theirs does (if you’re ravenously interested in exploring this, read my Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History. It’s rife with this stuff).

This works pretty well as long as you’re in the same cultural group as the other person.

Fails miserably when you’re from different cultural groups, which is why well done First Contact stories are wonderful reads.

The Foreigner, the Other, the Stranger
I mention off and on about the technology Susan and I created (it’s documented in that Reading Virtual Minds book I mention above). Give it a some digital communication – an email, a company organ, a business brief, whatever – and it can determine how psycho-emotively close the author feels to their reader (just one of its many abilities). One thing we discovered quick was lots of business communications authors viewed their audiences adversarially at best and as completely alien at worst (the technology provided suggestions for both tightening and loosening that bond).

The technology broke social distance – the bond between author and audience – into five degrees of separation: Otherness, Strangerness, Difference, Sameness, and Selfness. Phrasically these would be:

  • Selfness – I/me
  • Sameness – We/us
  • Difference – I/we, you/them
  • Strangerness – Us, Not-Us
  • Otherness – I/we/us, WTF?

Most fictional aliens are variants of recognizable earth lifeforms. That’s why most StarTrekTM aliens had two arms, two legs, a head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth… Didn’t matter where the aliens originated, they pretty much had the same bilateral symmetry humans have. Want to indicate the alien was nasty? Make him bilaterally non-symmetric. No Borg (except the Queen Mum and 7of9) had bilateral symmetry. They all had some kind of projection coming out of them somewhere or a huge prosthetic attached somewhere (simply put, they were out-of-balance). The Queen Mum and 7of9 were exceptions because their purpose (scriptwise) was to interact with and/or seduce humans (a different kind of assimilation, if you will).
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore”