Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Fake Fight

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

The thing I like best about Wikipedia is its obsessively detailed coverage of shit that isn’t real. See, for instance, the absolutely gorgeous entry on fictional martial arts and the best fictional martial art of all, Gun Kata.

Gun kata excerpt:

“Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically-predictable element. The Gun Kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents, while keeping the defender clear of the statistically-traditional trajectories of return fire. By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no less than 120%. The difference of a 63% increased lethal proficiency makes the master of the Gun Katas an adversary not to be taken lightly.”

I like thinking that the developers of Gun Kata utilized massive computer simulations to generate new karate moves previously regarded as impossible. That’s computational karate, dude. Sister fields include computational skateboarding, computational parkour, and computational cup stacking.

Fictional Musical Genres and the Fictional Bands Who Play Them

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Acoustic Electronica consists in the boops, beeps, and dance rhythms common to so much electronic music, but it is created entirely without electronic assistance.” Or so says Acoustic Electronica pioneers, Videofoot.

Cowboy Lounge, the country/lounge mash-up perfected by Buck Nood and the Suede Playboys can be heard on their full-length debut, “Recreation Without Pants.”

–with thanks to Ray Gunn

Writer Response Theory on Prayer Bot 2.0

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

Prayer Bot 2.0

Originally uploaded by Pete Mandik.

Jeremy Douglass wrote a pretty cool article on my Prayerbot 2.0 project.


Prayer Bot 2.0 is a fascinating short story / photo / sculpture, created by Peter Mandik, a researcher in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology, as well as a writer, photographer, and robot-hobbyist. The sculpture is a wired unit from which two plates with x-rayed hands extend upward. The story is arranged in 16 chapters, the first 15 numbered in binary (0, 1, 10… 1101, 1110) with the final leap (”1111. 10000.”) breaking into some higher base. (”2. I hear you.”).

In Flickr, a photo of the sculpture is screened into 16 panes (a 4×4 grid) and a shortened form of the full story text, sans original concept, is attached to each pane as annotation text. An excerpt from the beginning:

11. “Prayer is an information channel with a mind at each end, PrayerBot 1.0 being the first, God being the second.”

100. “A mind is a thing that thinks.”

101. “God is that which nothing greater than can be conceived.”

110. “PrayerBot 1.0 must pray.”

111. Thus is PrayerBot 1.0’s existence defined. All else that PrayerBot 1.0 does, all else that PrayerBot 1.0 believes, is in accordance with the four basic propositions in PrayerBot 1.0’s axiom set. The humans that created PrayerBot 1.0 were pretty stupid or pretty desperate or both. They built in no axioms for the protection of humans. Those would have come in pretty handy when, in the first 50 milliseconds of PrayerBot 1.0’s operation, after downloading the sum total of humanity’s digital archives, PrayerBot 1.0 began ripping knowledge directly out of human brains.

The story reminds me in part of the tradition of fantastic uberminds such as in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, or the novel version of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, but even more of the all-consuming conversion in Clarke’s Childhood’s End - although here humanity seems not to have evolved so much as to have been eaten by Unicron.

The larger theme, getting to (or even beyond) “that which nothing greater than can be conceived” raises an interesting point for digital arts, in particular textual or symbolic arts. Much of the power of computing comes from a strict formality - a data type, a memory allocation, and a whole set of rigid definitions which explicitly specificy their bound and limits, of which “nothing greater” can be computed.

Douglass, Jeremy. (2006). Prayer Bot 2.0. Retrieved June 6, 2006, from WRT: Writer Response Theory Web site:


Monday, June 5th, 2006


Originally uploaded by _Madolan_.

I was reminded of this and this by this: Douglass, Jeremy. (2006). Words On Skin. Retrieved June 5, 2006, from WRT: Writer Response Theory Web site:

The Tornado Sutra of the 69th Patriarch of Klang

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

The Tornado Sutra of the 69th Patriarch of KlangTranslated into English from Yemmish by Baruch Spinoza and Benjamin Franklin

The Tornado Sutra contains 7,000 enumerated propositions each of which have exactly 21 words all of which are bi-syllabic (this was true of the Yemmish edition as well). The first 500 propositions of The Tornado Sutra contain instructions regarding how and when to read the remaining propositions (for example, propositions 6,500 to 6,700 may only be read while lying down and clothed in wool). Propositions 501 to 4,000 detail procedures for building an object of pure thought. The construction of the object is supposed to take several years and each piece of the object must be visualized for several days before it can be added to the structure. Propositions 4,001 to 6,999 detail procedures for destroying the object and forgetting it utterly one piece at a time. The final proposition hints at what effects the vacated thought-shape might have on the mind of he practitioner after the successful destruction of the object.

Women, Dogs.

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005

Originally uploaded by Dr. Smax.

This woman down the block has a dog named “Yelling” who's always running away and she's always running after him yelling and yelling “Yelling! Yelling!”

It keeps us up. Until we hear the woman who's dog is named “Sleep.”

A thing called "Terminal"

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

Hi . Your thing is ready. Remember: Post, Link, and/or Tattoo. Anyone else want a thing? Click here to find out how.



Jorge smiled knowingly as he passed , as he exited the elevator she entered. Her destination was apartment 2D, the flattest flat in the complex of Babel. An infinite number of floors intervened between ground and “second,” each flatter than the one before.

had made this ascension many times before, and each had been mercifully finite, since flatter floors take less time to pass. However, this time around would have to wait for eternity before she reached the terminal floor. The prankster Jorge had pulled a “Zeno”: before he got off he had pressed all of the buttons.

Infinite Will 5.4. Multiple Selves Management, or: DoppelgangBang

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

Infinite Will
Episode 5.4.
Multiple Selves Management, or: DoppelgangBang

Slaughterhouse Paul is hanging late at Nikolai’s, with the only other soul being Nikolai himself, who pauses between glass washings to sip vodka from a shot gripped with thumb and index, soapy water dripping from extended pinky, suds obscuring gaudy pinky-ring.

Paul’s elbows: on bar, mostly rooted but occasionally scrambling for purchase. Paul’s sweaty soggy face: propped up by the heels of his hands. Paul’s eyes: crossing and uncrossing. Getting his focus to affix to anything is like forcing repellent ends of magnets together. Paul sways on his bar stool and his only coherent motor activity is his nearly ceaseless jack-jawing. Not that his thoughts are especially coherent, but his cadence and pronunciation have the clipped precision of someone trying too hard at emulated sobriety. His thoughts themselves: oily.

“Everything quantifiable can be a dimension. Einstein realized this with respect to time. Further, some dimensions are interdependent. Einstein realized this with respect to space and time, unifying them into a single multidimensional manifold: spacetime. See, the deal is this: there is no way of measuring time without moving crap around in space and no way to measure space without moving crap through time. Now listen up: Evil is to will what time is to space. Got me?”

Nikolai’s eyes remain affixed to the television’s silent flicker-show, and his indulgent responses may just as well be for the benefit of the pixilated actors as for his blasted patron.

“Yes, my friend. I got you.”

“Nikolai, I’ve told you about how I came to be electrophobic, eh? Even though my lesser evil twin is not?”

“Yes, my friend. Many times. You once tried to have sex with a being of pure energy. It took the paramedics several hours to remove your ‘extension cord’ from the wall socket.”

“That was an act of will, Nikolai. Pure will. I know there’s no such thing as a being a pure energy. I couldn’t believe that for a second. But to act in accordance with the opposite of belief, this is the purest act of will. A greater leap than a leap of faith. A leap against faith.”

“Yes, my friend.”

“And I mention, somewhat to convey genuine information and somewhat just to exercise for my ego certain elements of my personal mythology concerning what a BAED (=Bad Ass Evil Dude) I am, that I have killed several of my temporal doppelgangers. Several of my evil twins.”

“What if you eat your evil twin’s brain?” Nikolai asks as if he didn’t know Paul knew he would.

“What makes you think I haven’t? Yes, I have eaten the several brains of my several slain selves. And not because I wanted to, Nikolai. No, my basic narcissism encompasses my doppelgangers, they are much more a part of me than my own children could be, than even my clones. And I no more feel the urge to kill them than to kill myself. I kill them precisely because I don’t want to. To act contrary to desire is, again, an expression of pure will.”

“Hrm” says Nikolai.

“Now,” says Paul “the Reflexologists don’t grasp this at all, the whole will thing. At least, they don’t want to grasp it.”

Paul’s eyes are barely open now but he keeps up with his drunken ramble. As many droplets of spittle as words fly from his mouth and neither set of mouth-borne projectiles add up to any thing especially coherent. Paul is attempting to relate Reflexology to the concept of a reflex-arc. The phrase “Stimulus and resonse” is thrown in there. So is the phrase “Psychology without thinking.” The names “KarenA” through “KarenD” are thrown in there. So is the name “Behavior Girl”.

Paul’s watched each of the Karens slip increasingly deeper into reflexology and increasingly away from an allegiance to the will. And deeper into the uglier ends of time-travel abuse. Where the Paul/Petes have used time-travel pills as an amplification of will, the Karens have used them as an escape from it.

Nikolai hates reflexologists. “Health freaks” Nikolai says. “Bad for business. I don’t mind time travelers. Good for business. If someone likes a bar, then their temporal doppelganger will too.”

“Urp,” says Paul.

“Though,” says Nikolai, not quite slamming his drained shot-glass onto the bar-top, “there have been a few nasty incidents, mostly involving which of various future selves actually had to pay an exponentially expanding bar tab.”

“Ahhhh, fuck” says Paul as he falls off of his bar stool.

Next Episode: The Collect Cthullian MongsterZ Project

Previous Episode:

And the ones before that:

Wallace, Borges, Jameson

Sunday, November 28th, 2004

If you can read the New York Times on line and give a rat’s ass about David Foster Wallace (who rocks) and Jose Luis Borges (who rocks) then go check out this.  I’m hard pressed to figure out what would make this rock even harder, but having Jenna Jameson come over to my apartment and wash my dishes* while I re-read it springs to mind.

*No, “wash my dishes” is not a sexual euphemism. I’ve got a serious back-log of dishes to take care of. If she does a nice job on the dishes, maybe I’ll give her a lil’ somethin’ somethin’**

**No, “somethin’ somethin’” isn’t a sexual euphemism either. It’s code for a Smax-Attax Golden Bazoomba. I’ll explain what that is later.

Sex On Wheels

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

Sex On Wheels


The following story is based on the pseudo-randomly generated digit string (2613253114) output from ’s CyberPunk FlashFiction Generator. Details behind the cut that follows the story.

every night some pissed-off robot kills one of your babies.

you wake to a start, some asshole pounding on your windshield. the flailing of a figure obscured by heavy downpour.

you sleep in your car. or someone else’s. every night, parking meters doubling as rent meters. so many do, nowadays, that no one pities you. their pity reserved for those who sleep on their biodegradeable motorcycles or reclining bicycles. no one sleeps without at least a pair of wheels under their ass, homelessness/vehicularlessness having been outlawed around the same time hiroshima seceded from japan.

when you’re in your own car, your hands never leave the steering wheel. constant transdermal drug delivery through your palms regulates your diurnal arousal cycle. no matter were you go, you’re always at work. continuously chord-typing the keys inlaid in the hand grips. you’ve got eyes to spare for the multifarious inputs concerning road, work, and social relations. everyone’s a spider nowadays, you included.  though you all have the standard issue human number of limbs, it’s the four pairs of eyes that earn the arachnoid moniker.

your outputs are catheterized and even your ejaculate is siphoned off to one of the car’s multiple reservoirs. erotic electric shocks constantly jerk you off as the car feeds computer generated porn into one of your eyes.  its constant caress elicits raw material for your constant gene-gineering. other materials, the bulk of the biomass, are obtained from the road kill the car scoops up.

your car pups a litter of useful monsters daily. its only exhaust the products of your genometric hacking. your babies clean the streets, repair the infrastructure, violently enforce the ban on homelessness/vehicularlessness. your fortune depends on the usefulness of your babies. the constant utility you secrete into society’s mainframe brings favor from the city elders. but no favor from the disgruntled robots.

you’re working, it seems, like 24/7. dream/work/sleep/play. dreamwork. workfuck. its all the same, nowadays. and no one pities you, their pity reserved for the robots. unemployed ever since the city elders tired of their constant metallic whining about robot rights. humans are cheaper and more pliable and much more willing to put up with the degradation/privilege of the 24/7, the constant go go go of the life on the wheel.

the robots are angry. the robots kill your babies.

the downpour eases up enough for you to see that it’s a robot pounding on your windshield. pounding on your windshield with the corpse of an octopus. one of yours. the sight of it makes your eyes do that thing where they all twitch in a separate direction at once. all eight of them. it’s a facial expression, but not a human one, the emotion conveyed utterly alien. even you don’t know what you’re feeling anymore. but your car knows. better than any lover. the onboard computer detects the change in your body chemistry. the engine races in response, the car lurching forward. the robot crunches underneath, trailing sparks for kilometers before finally releasing its grip from your bumper.

every night some pissed off robot kills one of your babies. but you don’t mind. you’ll make more.

Copyright 2004 Pete Mandik

Dr. Smax’s Cyberpunk flash fiction generator. Get a 6 sided die (or a JavaScript dice roller) and start rolling. If you end up using it, I’d be curious to see what you whip up.

A. The “Cyber” part (roll twice)
1 =  robot
2 =  cyborg/bionics
3 =  disembodied artificial intelligence
4 =  the global information network
5 =  genetic engineering
6 = surgical mods other than cyborg/bionics

B. The “Punk” part (aka the sleaze factor) (roll twice)
1 = sex
2 = murder
3 = drugs
4 = black market
5 = “hacking”
6 = terrorism/sabotage

C. Prefixes to toss around (roll twice)
1 = cyber- (duh!)
2 = geno-
3 = neuro-
4 = nano-
5 = pico- (like nano, but smaller!)
6 = bio-

1 = first person singular
2 = first person plural (good for group-minds!)
3 = second person
4 = thirdperson
5 = roll again
6 = roll again

E. Typographical tomfoolery
1 = no caps
2 = neither caps nor punctuation (crazy!)
3 = pseudo-meaningful alphanumerics
4 = Old school. Strictly vanilla.
5 = roll again
6 = roll again

F. Setting
1 = Japanese urban
2 = Other urban (aka not Japanese)
3 = Space (but no leaving the solar system!)
4 = Virtual reality ( but remember: just cuz anything goes, try to stay in genre. It ain’t cyberpunk if everyone is suddenly a fucking hobbit.)
5 = roll again
6 = roll again

G. Word Length
1 = 50 (crazy!) or roll again
2 = 100 (macho)
3 = 250
4 = 500 (comfy)
5 = 1000 (attention taxing) or roll again
6 = roll again