September 12th, 2010


So Say We All.

Yesterday morning we were picked up by the team-up of manningkrull & Marjorie; slim, trim & full of vim! We piled into the Zip Car & were off to the races. The drive to New Jersey was maybe two hours? Not very long. We stopped at a WaWa for lunch-- I over indulged, diary! I had a cheesesteak sandwich & also chicken fingers. I had intended the fingers for sharing, but that just isn't how the world works out, sometimes. There was just enough time for Jenny to buy sunglasses, a decision I envied through the rest of the day-- then, to the wedding! littlewashu got hitched! Very exciting, especially since Kerry is a much better friend to us than we are to her. She'll come to Metropolis to visit us, but as much as we say we'll visit her in Midvale, we never do. Well for once we finally did! All it took was a huge life milestone. We didn't really know what to expect, one way or the other, with the venue. The words "farm" & "no high heels" had been tossed around. It was a great venue, as it turned out! There were two open bars, a barbecue smoker, croquet & bocce & frisbee games, a jam band, & about two hundred people. Yeah, it was pretty big! The ceremony was a lot of fun; we got to put hexes on the rings-- they were passed through the audience for that purpose. There was a tea ceremony, & lots of henna, & at the end there was a reading with call & response...& the response was "so say we all!" Hooray for geek weddings-- what else would you expect from someone with a Tenchi Muyo! nickname? The sun was out in full effect, too, which I'm sure some people liked. Me, I'm a hateful gollum, so I was all squinting & squirming. Kerry & Chris looked very nice & happy. After the ceremony, there was some snacking, & some goofing around, & iphisol was there with her partner Alex, who was predictably great. My favorite part was when Kerry's dad was making a toast, & joking about how her last name will have less syllables, & Kerry was like "I'm keeping my last name, dad!" I also enjoyed the best man's opener in his speech, the ice-breaker: "Fornication. (pause, cough) Excuse me, For an occasion such as this..." Oh, that was rich. Wedding cliches are new to me! Night fell on the event-- after dinner, of course, of which I partook only lightly on account of too much WaWa-- & then there were glow sticks for everyone. I made a crown! That was our signal to take off; we went back to the Zipper & came home. I dozed in & out, & the first part of Metropolis I saw were the giant Towers of Light. I like The City a lot. Then poured into bed. Someone in our building woke us up again last night, though, having people over at four in the morning. They didn't play music or anything, which is the troubling thing-- there is nothing to be angry about, officially. They were just loudly guffawing, & the courtyard caught & amplified their braying. Like the donkey boys from Pinocchio. The worst part is of course that they weren't being full on jerks, just thoughtless. I can't be all full of righteousness or anything; I can't be mad that they are awake on a different schedule. Well I can, but it isn't like, criminal of them. Just annoying. Whatever, I just woke up at six-- or rather, gave up trying to fall back asleep. I'm not particularly angsty, since I'm all full of wedding fun. Though my allergies are murdering me. I'm dying through my nose.
  • Current Music
    crown me king- my other car is a constitution class

The Gun, the Engine: Here There Be Dragons. (78)

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman.

The Angel: "Fear Not."
His drawn six-shooters were named
Mysterious, Ways.

This book is so good it made me angry. I'm not used to envy, & I'm dripping green with it. There aren't a lot of things that make me go "damn, I wish I had thought of that first." Half-Made World is a glint in the eye of a very bad man, is the rustle of leaves that stir up delicious paranoia. It is a balm from the usual rush of Apocalyptic fiction-- rather, here we have universe not long out of Genesis; in fact, far enough West it is without form, & void; & darkness is upon the face of the deep. & the Spirits & Gods move upon the face of the waters. The book starts out very Gabriel Garcia Marquez, with one of his eponymous Generals; soon after it becomes a little bit Stephen King's Dark Tower series-- there is even some musing about a particularly beautiful rose-- & a little bit China Miéville. The book doesn't quite descend into the depths of the Weird that Miéville charts, staying rather tight & on point.

The narrative concerns to juggernauts of history, & the people caught between it. The Gun are terrorists, cut throats, anarchists. The Line are dystopian conformists, the crushing anonymity of industry. The Gun are the villain & anti-hero of every spaghetti western, The Line are the rapacious greed of "progress." Ah-- but make no mistake. They are very real, they are not totemic forces but rather Totemic forces. The Guns-- with diabolical names like Marmion & Belphegor-- are symbols of somethings, some otherworldly force of spite & malice & murder. They are the avatars in iron & wood & ivory, belching fire & death. The Guns are just that-- guns-- but more: they are an infernal lodge of creatures from-- Hell? an Evil Star? Nightmares?-- that speak in blasts, in the clattering of hammers, the whisper of whirling chambers. They Ride their agents like hateful loa, giving them speed, strength, healing, invincibility-- but demanding fell deeds in return.

The Engines are the god-machines of The Line; the Engines have names like Gloriana, Dryden, Fountainhead & their Song is too terrible for men to hear, or contemplate. They communicate through telegrams-- but you will never receive one. You will toil in obscurity at your desk forever, hunched & ugly, dominated by petty managers, tyrannizing in turn those beneath you in the hierarchy. You are condemned to be No Less Adequate than your peers. The Line will never stop; the Line will swallow the world-- their Engines are mad deities who kill with Noise & Poison Gas. They are ignoble, they water their gears with blood, & they are utterly uncaring. They are Duty, stripped of will. They make automatons of men, buzzing around, fat with cheap food, in cars & heavier-than-air machines.

In between them? There was the Red Republic, but that was crushed, destroyed. What can men do against the reckless hate of The Gun? & when any customer of the Line can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black-- well, the Republic fell, & its General went mad. Which brings us to our protagonist-- one of three, for we have an Agent of the Gun & a Linesman as well. Liv Alverhuysen is from the East, from the civilized world where things have been Made. She comes to the West by invitation, to the House Dolores, to help with the patients there. She is a classically trained psychologist, & has come to the Doll House to help with its patients-- it is a veteran's hospital & asylum. Of course it just so happens that one of her patients is the General, who knows of some secret, some MacGuffin that could set the world aflame & bring an end to the Line & the Gun.

With a lot of good books, you can enjoy it but feel free from jealousy, since it isn't what you'd make, given your druthers. Well, Half-Made World is following a lot of the paths my RPG campaign, Oubliette, walks down. I even have a Cult of the Gun & a Black Lodge! Ah, but Felix Gilman is a smooth operator. He paints a world where Chaotic Evil & Lawful Evil are duking it out, but in unexpected colours. Not only does he construct a calliope of many cunning pieces, puzzles & parts? But he makes it sing, he gets it swinging in perfect tune. Gilman focuses on the characters first, which anchors an otherwise fantastic setting, making the elaborate worldbuilding seem lived in, real, plausible. The Gun & The Line manage to be both menacing & seductive, & never spill over into preachy allegory. I thought it was absolutely wonderful-- I haven't been this excited about a book in a while.
  • Current Music
    crown me king- how much is that gun? how much is that whiskey?
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