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Clews.

All mysteries need them; all conspiracies shed them; all intrusions follow them, down and in to the heart of the labyrinth:

Lavie Tidhar’s notes toward a working definition of steampunk, most notably his point that “the underlying theme of all fiction within the Steampunk sphere resorts to that moment whereby technology transcends understanding and becomes, for all intents and purposes, magical.”

That steampunk is the fantasy to urban fantasy’s SF.

This tweet:

The time my mother slapped me.

And the time—roughly contemporary? Let’s say it was—in physics class, when we were doing these basic (very basic) labs on probability, and I had a little handheld pachinko machine? With a bunch of balls, and evenly spaced rods, and stalls at the bottom? And you tilt it down, and all the balls roll to the top, and you tilt it back, and they come cascading down, and hit the rods, and either bounce left or right, and in the end you’ve got this lovely little bell curve of balls at the bottom, because law of averages and such most balls bounce left, then right, then left, or some combination thereof, and end up in the middle? And only a few go left-left-left-left, or right-right-right-right, and end up on either end? —Anyway, it’s my turn, so I tilt it down, then back again, and click-clack-click-clack-click, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve got an almost perfect reverse bell curve. Towering stacks of balls to the left and right, and almost nothing at all in the middle.

So I go to the teacher running the show and hold it out to him and say, okay, now what, smart guy? (“If it fails to agree, under novel experiments or with refined measuring techniques, it is not said that one should not be happy.”)

And the teacher looks at the little handheld pachinko machine, cocks an eyebrow, tilts it down, tilts it back, clack-click-clack-click-clack. Perfect bell curve.

“There,” he says. “Fixed it for you.”

—And I can’t for the life of me tell you which of those gestures is the argument with the universe, and which the sermon on the way things ought to be, dammit. —And that might just be my problem.

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