Saturday, September 09, 2006

Odd news of the day

Dolly the Sheep is apparently stuffed and living in a museum in Edinburgh. To which Chris' reaction was: "I mean, I guess that's cool and all, having the actual sheep. But we didn't stuff Abe Lincoln when he died, and put him in the Lincoln Memorial."

There's GOT to be a story in there somewhere. =)

22 comments:

BuffySquirrel said...

I suppose we could clone Abe, then stuff the clone and put that in the memorial. Seems a lot of trouble to go to just to outdo a sheep, but, yanno...

Jenny Rappaport said...

I like how you think, buffysquirrel. =) But what if it's not just Abe we do this for, but all our great political leaders? What if there's some weird trend that's forcing us to do this? How do people react and why the hell would we do this in the first place?

That's what should go in a short story. =)

Christine Keach said...

Hi there! Just cruising through from my friend Catherine's blog. What an interesting topic! That would indeed be a cool short story.

Bernita said...

A variant on carving them in stone or casting them in bronze, I suppose.
Taxidermists would love it.
And there's the "fingerbone of the saint" redux angle, too...

Jordan Summers said...

Same reason people freeze dry their pets. (shaking head) At least Dolly signifies a huge scientific breakthrough in cloning.

Anonymous said...

What about a Stephen King take on this. Let’s say that at a metaphysical level these great leaders are alike in some way. Yet what makes them ‘great’ in life, carries a curse in death. Their ‘souls’ are vulnerable in the passage from one plan of existence to the next. The elaborate burial process is essential to safe guard this passage—think Egypt. Their material form must be preserved and open to the atmosphere—hence public display. There’s a nice reciprocation here; they served us in life, we serve them in death.

Here’s the central conflict; there are those who would fraught this process—call them soul catchers. Motivation: they want to extract the ‘raw power’ inherent in the souls of our ‘great ones’, and to do this, they have to steal these preserved material forms and process them.

Why the desire for this power? Tune in next week!

Jenny Rappaport said...

I'm loving this discussion! Especially the last post from Anonymous.

Would anyone be interested in having a weekly "odd news" posting for use as a brainstorming session? Because I'd honestly love to see a short story or two get written from this idea; it would be really neat! =)

(And do remember, once you write your short stories, you can send them to my clients: John Joseph Adams at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Doug Cohen at Realms of Fantasy... I'm sure that both of them would love to get slush bombed.)

Anonymous said...

‘Anonymous’ here again. This is a great idea, Jenny. Those of you with a propensity for the short story form might even want to collaborate… who knows?

Here’s another take on this idea. Still using the ‘soul catchers’ concept, this story could be set firmly in the world we know and perhaps shortly after the assassination of JFK or Martin Luther King (read on and you’ll understand why this period or another like it is necessary). The graves of prominent statesmen and women are being robbed, including those of these two truly inspirational men. The authorities are baffled at the sacrilege, the public outraged …

Here’s the story. Across history a secret enclave of men have sought to pray on the ‘soul essence’ of great leaders. They have a knowledge of an arcane process that if successful will enable them to extract this charisma and use it to control the minds of humankind.

Until now, their every effort has failed; brought down by another secret society, sworn to prevent this knowledge from ever being used. But what happens when these protectors begin to turn up dead? And what happens when only an old man and his daughter are left standing between the enclave’s plans for the dead and the living?

They can’t go to the authorities, for who would believe such a ridiculous tale. They must stand alone, the future of humanity—dead and alive—in their hands. And here’s the twist; despite the efforts of our two protagonists, they fail! In December, 1971, the consciousness of the human species changed for ever, and not a living soul was any the wiser. Have you checked to see how autonomous your decision-making is today?

Come on, someone else have a go!

Jenny Rappaport said...

Sooooo good.

*demands a novel about this from Anonymous*

Anonymous said...

‘Anonymous’ here, yet again. Note: I apologise for the errors in my last post. Enclave should be conclave, of course. Pray; prey and so on. This is what happens when men try to multi-task! … I was typing, while conversing on the phone and perusing a lawyer’s letter.

People, I encourage you to take up Jenny’s idea, embrace it and make it your own. A challenge to BuffySquirrel. I read your, 'After the War was Over' today—wow, highly impressed! With talent like this it would be great to see what you could come up with here.

BuffySquirrel said...

Why, thanks, anon! Glad you liked the story.

Okay, how about Lenin? His preserved essence safeguarded the Soviet Union until the West found a way to drain it from his tomb, and that's really why the Berlin Wall fell. Not that the operatives involved could ever, yanno, tell anyone about it. The West dabbling in black magic?

But now that essence is roaming the Earth looking for a place to settle. Where will Lenin go next? Is he embittered by the way it all turned out? Angry? Lost and frightened? What might he plan?

The idea of posting odd news appeals. I bookmark stories from BBC News that I find weird or interesting. I could definitely post a few of those if anyone's interested. I'm always on the lookout for inspiration.

Exploding Chocolate

Or, why are graves suddenly being robbed? Hmm, human remains have power, we just haven't figured out how to tap it yet...but now somebody has. So when former world leader X is buried, extreme measures are used to preserve their body, but then it goes missing...and strange things start happening.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous demands a novel about this from buffysquirrel!

With one addition. Instead of the West dabbing in black magic, per se, the origin of this knowledge could originate from Nazi Germany... you're a history buff, so you'll know where I'm going with this.

The political statement or unease such a novel should generate in a reader, I think, is that while extreme right and left political ideology is inherently tyrannical, and obviously so, liberal democracy isn’t much better. Governance via the gun is replaced by governance via Michael Foucault’s ‘gaze’ …. Liberal ideology is about normalising the logic of the capitalist order ... yep, why not throw in Marx here. Perhaps this is the worst form of tyranny, since it's subtle; the enemy lives inside the individual's head. Then there's the issue of who's interests are really being served...

The key to the writer's unease, I think, is to leave them with nothing but the nihilistic void, and the self staring back at itself! Totalitarianism of any hue is bad, the classical humanism inherent in the liberal utopia is a self-perpetuating lie, God is dead, so what’s left? It's amazing how many people fear this ... Okay, enough already!


And yes, you're right about the OED definition (stated above). ALL English nouns can change their lexical category through a raft of really boring processes, derivation, zero-derivation/conversion—or at least that’s what I learned (probably in error!).

Anonymous said...

exploding chocolate, great article! If you have more, yeah, post away. I know, I for one would love to read them here.

Anon

BuffySquirrel said...

Okay, how about some snail love darts?

Anonymous said...

I adore stories that explore gender differences. See Dekker and Middleton’s ‘The Roaring Girl’ and Middleton and Rowley’s ‘The Changeling’ for what I think are two of the best, even if they are Renaissance plays and not widely known or appreciated people!

BUT snails, worms and other slimies engaging in activities that could be construed as ‘date rape’ and masochism all in the name of reproducing the species … sorry, Buffysquirrel, just not my flavor—way too sociobiological. I’m more of a high fantasy fan, than science fiction nut… I’m sure you understand the different conventions governing these two genres and thus, know what I mean.

Though, having said that, I can see the possibilities for a story here … and I did learn a lot and laugh while reading this! Thanks for the post.

What do others think?

Anon.

BuffySquirrel said...

Damn, you're anonymous, not anonymous or anonymous...so hard to tell y'all apart!

Okay, for the high fantasy nut...high-tech cave folk.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, anonymous and anonymous are one and the same on this thread, but yeah, point taken. Okay, to avoid confusion, I’ll post at Lit Soup/Jenny's wonderfully entertaining Blog as “Kiwi”. Deadlines today, so I’ll read high-tech cave folk tonight. Loving these stories, Buffysquirrel!

… and come on people, have a go, already. Flightless nocturnal birds and squirrels generally don’t bite.

Kiwi.

Kiwi said...

Nice! ... the imagination runs wild. What if the caves of Matera hold a secret that has been buried since the dawn of human history, and unwittingly, the new tenants and their refurbishment of these sites are about to wake this horror?

Or one could do a nice piece that explores the tension between the present ‘developers’ –-let’s say a multinational out of silicon valley or the subcontinent, in league with corrupt government officials--and the local populace who want to preserve these historical sites for posterity … a case of the local resisting the global… . The possibilities are endless.

… your turn to build on this ...

Oh and the fantasy 'nut'/squirrel pun is noted; Buffysquirrel.

BuffySquirrel said...

Hmm? Oh, sorry, got distracted reading about a biologist who does necropsies on whales...at sea.

I've always liked stories where people start seeing ghosts and develop ideas to explain their origins (hardly a ghost sighting isn't accompanied by some, usually apocryphal, 'explanation'), but the actual explanation is never revealed. Usually because the wonder in our own minds excels any prosaic reason.

So, all this high-tech equipment moves in and people start seeing things. Are they ghosts of former inhabitants? Are they the result of the effects on the brain of magnetism generated by electrical fields? Everyone in the story could have their own explanation arising from their agenda--the developers want to dismiss it all as having a scientific explanation (or mass hysteria: pick one!); some locals who want everything to remain the same say it's outraged ghosts; the medium industry moves in; some historians think they could learn by observing the ghosts' costumes, others think those historians are charlatans, etc. etc.

Kiwi said...

Nice, Buffysquirrel, very nice! I wish I had time to respond to this. Later.

Jenny Rappaport said...

How does one do a necroscopy on a whale while at sea? Do they haul the carcass onto a ship?

BuffySquirrel said...

Q: Most of the necropsies you do are on the beach, but you've also done some at sea. How is this different?

A: Those are samplings, rather than necropsies. Once, I went to look at 17 dead humpbacks out on Georges Bank. It was 35C and I landed on a whale in swimming shorts; you have to get onto them because a humpback is about 3 metres wide and all the organs are in the midline. Also in a swell it's much easier to be moving in the same cycle as your target. People think I'm crazy, but you can't do it any other way. I get on and cut it open from sternum to anus. It forms a sort of dugout canoe into which you can climb. The organs pop up at you.

Source: New Scientist interview with biologist Michael Moore, 24 August 2006.