July 26th, 2007

Dreams of Electric Sheep

My buddy Dan turned me on to this wild screensaver program called Electric Sheep, a screen capture of which is above.  It's . . . well, let me just quote from the website, www.electricsheep.org:

"Electric Sheep is a free, open source screen saver run by thousands of people all over the world. It can be installed on any ordinary PC or Mac. When these computers 'sleep,' the screen saver comes on and the computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as 'sheep.' The result is a collective 'android dream,' an homage to Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

"Anyone watching one of these computers may vote for their favorite animations using the keyboard. The more popular sheep live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and cross-over. Hence the flock evolves to please its global audience. You can also design your own sheep and submit them to the gene pool."

I'm not expert enough to know if there is a danger of compromising your system integrity, but the site owners say no.  And the results are really cool.   

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Todd Schorr: Introduction

In 2003 I was privileged to participate in a wonderful project.

I got to write some text to accompany the mind-croggling artwork of Todd Schorr.

The result was the glorious book called DREAMLAND, depicted above.


My text consisted of mock-scholarly essays. Non-fiction, in other words.

But as I explain in my story collection SHUTEYE FOR THE TIMEBROKER--


--Todd and I originally intended to have me produce a little story for each painting, a plan we had, for various reasons, to abandon for DREAMLAND.

But I went ahead and wrote the stories anyway, and they appeared, sans paintings, first in INTERZONE, and then in my collection.

It occured to me recently that thru the miracle of the internet and this blog, I could finally unite stories and art for the first time.

So over the next few weeks--starting immediately--I'll be borrowing artwork from Todd's own website--


--and pasting the fiction next to it. I'll title each post with Todd's name and the name of the painting, which is also the name of my story.

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Todd Schorr: The Deviled Egg


The Tockwotton Nursing Home looked out over hundreds of acres of neighboring farmland, nowadays all fallow. In the distance the old farmstead itself loomed, a weather-beaten, tumbledown, abandoned structure.

Everywhere around the globe, farms in similar states of deseutude sprawled: untenanted, unproductive, unneeded.

All thanks to SuperEggs(TM).

Monteverdi Vespers, the elderly inventor of SuperEggs(TM), sat in his smart wheelchair on the patio at Tockwotton, considering what he had wrought.

Thirty years ago he had been so idealistic, even as he approached retirement. He had been focused on solving what appeared to be the major problem of his era: the lack of enough food for many of Earth's eight billion people.

What had inspired him to combine various tailored bacteria and viruses with the rudimentary workings of the new line of legless, wingless, headless chicken, he could not now remember. But his brainstorm had been justified by the results.

Encasing the limbless egg-layer in a box fed by a hopper and relieved by an outlet duct, Monteverdi had created the first SuperEgg(TM) factory. Any organic substance, from grass clippings to oak leaves to seaweed (and including the chicken's own wastes), could be fed into the grinding hopper and directly into the throat-aperture of the chicken. Controls on the box tweaked the chicken's metabolism and hormones and endocrines and proteins, producing eggs of any flavor or nutritional composition.

In one stroke, world hunger had been beaten.

Too bad Monteverdi Vespers had signed a contract assigning all his patent rights to the firm that employed him.

No matter, the old man thought. He had never wanted to get rich. He had done what he had done for all humanity.

But how he wished the charity nursing home he had ended up in didn't recycle its dead residents through his invention!