Monday, May 13, 2013

The Dying Earth

Sad news. A friend of mine at the college has cancer. Stage 4 in both lungs, and it's spread to the brain. They give him, if everything works out, three years. I don't see that happening. I've just heard the news, and I've yet to talk to him. I have no idea what to say. When people hear that someone has cancer, it's like you've told them he or she is received a death sentence. They are already dead. I can't do that. Call me foolish, but I refuse to give up on people.

My weekend boss, the sculptor, took a bad fall last week. He was visiting, in a strange house, and got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. There were two doors, one going to the bathroom, and the other to the basement. He got the wrong door and took a header down the stairs. I've heard limited information on his condition, but his wife said he is in for a "long recovery" which suggests some major head injury. I've made my best wishes known and offered any help.

Iain M. Banks has cancer. I read his novel The Algebraist some years back and enjoyed it (not everyone did), but had not been exposed to the Culture. It is a pity that, having just discovered these wonderful books, the source may not be with us much longer. Of Banks I will say that it is hard to find such vibrant prose, occasionally touched with poesy, that contain so many "fucks" in it.

On the not so sad news front, Jack Vance is still alive. Wow. Ninety-six years old. For those of you who do not him, Jack Vance is considered the Grandmaster of Fantasy and Science Fiction. His prose is elegantly constructed and intricately contrived, without being overly complicated or forced. Reading his books in my teens expanded my vocabulary. To this day, the tone and mood of his Dying Earth stories still haunt me.

In one story, a character named Cugel the Clever is internally afflicted with an alien creature named Firx by Iucounu The Laughing Magician. Firx is some type of parasitic life form from a world orbiting the star Achernar. I've my own vision of what this creature looked like, and here it is:

Ah, but of course, bigger. I've kept busy making more critters.

Honestly, I don't think I'd like to be internally afflicted by any of these things, but their small, so it would take a lot of them to be noticeable.

I suppose I should do an update on kickstarter. Currently, I'm at 40% of funding with 18 days to go. My student aide posted a notice on reddit, to which I inquired "Isn't that where all the assholes are?"

"Yes, but it's exposure".

"Ick. I don't want that kind of crowd." Too late, and so what. A nonevent anyway.

So, I'm trying to get together a "making of" video to post as an update to kickstarter. We'll see how that goes.


  1. Stage four in both lungs and his brain? No way is he lasting 3 years. My BIL died of stage four metastatic lung cancer. Diagnosed after Thanksgiving, he died a few days before Christmas. No insurance. I hope your friend lasts longer but don't know if it would be a blessing. Chemo and radiation won't do him any good at this late date but will make his remaining time feeling sick. Go spend as much time with him as you can.

    1. That's what I figured, but it's like I don't want to say it out loud.

      He's currently getting radiation treatment for the brain at a hospital not known for cancer therapy. We are trying to get him to go to Rush, or Northwestern U, where they actually have programs for exactly what he's got. But I think he knows what is going to happen, and doesn't want to rack up the bills.