EP087: Authorwerx

By Greg van Eekhout.
Read by Stephen Eley.

I launched into my next bit, which I’d rehearsed that morning on the tram. “What I liked about your stories is that you never knew where they were going. It’d start off as a World War II military adventure, but then it would wind up being about android worms from another dimension out to steal Earth’s dirt. It’s like other writers’ stories are bridges: There’s a beginning, there’s an end, and it’s a pretty straight shot through. It might be a long bridge, or curvy, maybe, so you can’t quite see the ending coming. But the trip basically makes sense. Your stories were different, though. You always blew up your bridges halfway across, and you’d have to swim for the banks, and you’d end up on some rock with weird lizards.”

On the verge of laughter, he looked at me. “You’re kidding, right?”

Rated R. Contains profanity and a disturbing resemblance to Philip K. Dick.

Referenced sites:
Eley’s writing progress
New forums (finally!)

Comments (14)

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  1. Ryuujin says:

    So basically this is a very interesting story, with a very nice “pling” to it – the sound effect, that is; the one I always associate with something not all too shabby. Also, it’s not entirely clear where it is the 1st person is walking into – my first impression was that of a “gentlemen’s club”, if you know what I mean.
    Anyhow, Nathan P. Horn (if I’m not entirely mistaken) is a rather paranoid guy – not all too different from myself, I have to admit.

    Oh, and that ending. That is such a perfect ending, it even had lizards.

    The way Greg seemlessly blends the two stories together is really awesome, though – I especially like the way it’s not entirely too evident (at the beginning at least) that this is in fact the future. Also, it’s not entirely clear where it is the 1st person is walking into – my first impression was that of a “gentlemen’s club”, if you know what I mean.

    Fact of the matter is, I’d love to have this kind of writer in the real world. I’d so read his stories – they sound awesome, the way they’re described as blowing up half-way through and ending up on weird islands with lizards and stuff – although Greg somewhat does that; just not as much as I would like if I had a say in it.

    Anyhow, Steve – don’t worry if you wouldn’t know if you were a simulation of youself thinking of a tagline or not. Or if you’re something completely different. Perhaps we’re all just part of The Matrix anyway. And Irish whiskey does make one feel better – it always does.

  2. Liz says:

    I enjoyed this story very much, even if the warning (about Philip K. Dick) made it seem like it would make less sense.

    In my opinion, the story seemed like it had more closure than seemed fitting. It seemed too much like a sappy setting-off-into-the-sunset-and-the-credits-rolling kind of ending, and it left me a little too comfortable with the whole technology.

    I also thought I’d mention a grammatical error in the warning: “Contains profanity and an disturbing resemblance to Philip K. Dick”

    Shouldn’t it be “…a disturbing…”?

    Thank you for all of the great stories.

  3. Ryuujin says:

    Well, yes. It is the resemblance that’s disturbing – but that doesn’t make it less of a grammatical error.

  4. SFEley says:

    Good eyes. The error’s fixed.

  5. Holden says:

    When it comes to having an encounter with a dead celebrity, I’d rather encounter the re-animated (and regenerated) original body of the celebrity instead of an engineered copy. If I know that I’m only interacting with a robot copy, it just doesn’t have the same level of appeal.

    This was a fun story. This is the kind of story that reminds me of a campfire game – each person takes over where the other left off, and each person takes the story in an entirely different direction. For example, one person could take over and tell how the main character then meets up with a bunch of other people who replaced themselves with organic robots, which are all on the run and being hunted by their respective corporate owners, but then another person takes over and we find that the organic robots are in control of all the corporations…and the government…and are now hunting, enslaving, and exterminating all human life, then another person takes over and tells about how the main character finds out that he is really an organic robot, etc.

  6. oddpod says:

    ace tail
    and some of us like K dick
    as for bad grama, shurly a language neads mutashon to evolve just like any thing else

  7. slic says:

    Having cut my teeth on stories like “Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep”, “West World”, and “Bicentennial Man” this was familiar territory. The ending was a neat twist, and it also go me thinking about meeting with dead celebrities.
    I agree somewhat with Holden. I’d prefer the real thing or nothing at all, for one other point, as well- the engineered copy is someone’s (or ones’) idea of what the person was like – based on stories and myths and whatnot. While the robot copy might be more in line with what I’d expect, it would still be off.
    The re-animated idea is a bit creepy, though – if you believe in souls then what exactly are you interacting with – did you rip some one from Heaven/Hell (a la Buffy)? Wouldn’t that fundamentally change them? And if we are just inert matter when we pass on and all you did was restart the battery, what about all the brain damage – reminds me of the Monkey’s Paw.

    oddpod – Until I read it phonetically, I thought your post was dirty dirty spam – I must be getting old. It did remind of an excellent book on how languages change called the Power of Babel (by John McWhorter) – highly recommended

  8. ruthling says:

    This was very odd and I liked it! Due to my own technical problems, I missed the opening warning about Philip K. Dick, which was ok because I thought of him immediately anyway. 🙂

  9. Great stuff. Loved this story — keep tales like this coming. And your narration has really hit its stride, Stephen.

  10. Dave T. says:

    Aw, no warning again this week. But at least you told us why this time, Steve.

    Loved this story. Definitely reminded me of Philip K. Dick. I liked how the idea of bridges in science fiction stories was layered throughout this piece.

    That bit when Horn “malfunctions” is so funny, between him and the narrator’s reactions. I think I’ve listened to that bit 3-4 times now.

  11. Simon says:


    This story was fantastic, I already knew after Robots and Falling Hearts that Greg was one hell of an artist, but this went it a completely different direction…

    I’m not going to dissect this, it’s too nuanced – just simply say “More Please”. Concept heavy SF with a knowledge of the history of the Genre. I loved it.

  12. Simon says:

    Just one other comment – respect is due to Steve for fixing the forums, but I have to say I am with Slic (who commented on this last week) that I really like the One-Stop nature of this comments list…

    I’m a little unsure of the forums so far, and hope the price we pay for open threads isn’t the loss of community over here (my experience of forums across the web is that the signal-noise ratio can get pretty sketchy, with lots of me-too-ism)… I’ll be staying mainly here, but reading over there.

  13. scatterbrain says:

    Not such PKD, more Eekhout’s version of Kilgore Trout.