The Explorer

There was a time.

 

When everyone wanted me, or better said I was a necessity. People used to take pride in using me. I was invited everywhere, was absolutely needed at every puny explorations. During those days, thankfully, not many were matured enough to look for alternatives, for I was beautiful enough.

 

Things started to change. Guess I started to age. There were new players in the scene, prettier ones. Also to have a stand in this field, one had to be constantly updated on client preferences, better equipped for the changing audience. I felt the compulsion to change as well. Still, I stayed like an old mechanical watch with clockwork precision in a world of emerging quartz crystals. Or better said, my Masters for some reason wanted me that way, reasons I could’t comprehend. Again, I never lost my elite prime status. I was the first to be consulted, the default, before moving into other superior foxes, with far better tricks up their sleeves.

 

I had a lot of clients back during my inception. Rich and powerful people, people with power to change my world and world as a whole. I was their tool and I liked being used. I was popular, too popular in fact, young ones around looked up to me, with reverence at first, which graduated over time to pity and finally disdain. They wanted my clients, they longed for the fame I enjoyed. I was made this way, with little capability to think or understand, but possibilities were endless. I was a tool, for pleasure, for learning, for knowledge, for sometimes for testing. But it all depended upon my connection to the higher intelligence, without which all of us were useless dolls.

 

The higher intelligence itself was changing, expanding and getting faster. It increased the clients, more and more people were interested in us. Pleasure and time pass started overshadowing knowledge and companionship. I used to be solely an escort medium once, the one people used to convey messages to others. Now with the ever growing higher intelligence, I find myself reduced to the status of a mere spectator, an unavoidable tool to get to the fancier ones. I watched my old clients taking escorts in operas, having fun in safaries and feeling elite with new foxes. Maybe “cougar” isn’t a bad usage for old players after all.

 

Everything is moving fast around me, except myself. My clients are heavily reduced. My Masters were constantly tweaking to upgrade the old tricks, but age was still a factor. They even made versions of me, none gained the fame I enjoyed or other contemporary models for that matter. Pleasure is what everyone is looking for these days. Even in other fields, others could give far better results than me. I was soon reduced as the first showcase model, a collectors vintage item. But there were people who still preferred me. Not puny new comers, but high class government officials. They trusted me, that mere knowledge was more than enough to keep me going.

 

But now, it is almost the end. I have reached my expiry date, none of the updates served the purpose of keeping me up with the game. People wanted novelty, speed and better experiences. I had none of them to offer. Still they all went through me first. I was a necessary evil to get to the prettier ones. People started developing upgrades for the new ones, giving them more features than masters gave me, giving them the power to explore themselves more.

 

It is high time they shut me off, freeing the young ones off my shadow. They might age and reach my stage, probably not. I hope not, for I was originally an explorer developed for amusement and information, with the expectation of a perpetual life. And now when the masters are finally plugging me off, reducing me to history, I hope you will remember me.

 

As your first browser, as Internet Explorer

 

—-George J Jr.

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Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda

cover_monstress.jpgPersistently gorgeous artwork and well placed panels were not enough to save this tantalizingly ambiguous steam punk weebo universe. Everything looked like a line art version off Avatar world, with Korra lookalike monstress, Asami style villians and cute little creatures. I found the whole Arcanic scene similar to Elfen Lied in violence and adult content.

Anyway there were some badass chthulhu inspired Garra/Naruto level transformations to drool on. And the uncanny similarity of ancient God with the inter dimensional monster from Locke and Key was hard to ignore. I guess, this was my issue- for a world this ambitious, Monstress failed to deliver.
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Also it wasn’t free off the usual YA cliches- chosen one, prophecy, troubled childhood, lost big shot parents, blood with vampirish background, infernal monsters and Rosicrucian secrets. Pretty sure, the perfect guy ordained to be with heroine eons ago is waiting to appear in further volumes.

And cats, annoying cats.

Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick

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Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” meets Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”, yup dinosaurs and time travel paradoxes. It was more than enough for picking the book up, though not so much to keep me reading once the lure went off. And for the intro, “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur”, the short it’s based on, is a more fitting read than the novel.

I think Swanwick might have been a huge Jurassic nerd or something, with a lone bullied childhood and stuff. It could explain him creating this group of dinosaur obsessed paleontologists to geek out on extinct species, continent drifts, evolution and the possibility of testing out all hypothesis postulated so far with time travel. Though I was already sold with the plot, majority of the nerd talks had me struggling to get a hold on. Then again I was in constant expectation of something – to have my mind blown, thanks to the terrific short this novel was based on.

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It was annoying to see future people teasing their past heroes for the deeds they are gonna do, or themselves for that matter, like starship crew fangirling the first contact doctor guy in Star Trek. And for a technology this awesome, for no reason whatsoever, Paleontology is the most benefited branch of science, which kind of meddle with causality. With outposts at various time periods and scientists recruited over a span before and after the availability of time travel, this usually patronized research field is at its golden age.

Yet, this book takes time travel seriously, keeping divergent timelines in one common reality, for which I give my eternal respect. And for a book on dinosaurs and time travel, it managed to stay pretty mature with two story lines – a group of future scientists stuck in Mesozoic age and another group far in future to meet the Unchangings.

It also provides the best available interpretations for readers to ponder on things like why aren’t ears evolved in dinosaurs, how grass changed the laws of evolution, or is an extinction aftermath better than survival of fittest for species diversity. Story goes sloppy and frustrating at many points with forgettable characters and non uniform pace, where author conveniently swerves off the questions readers are left with. But it does do depict one thing accurate – publishing driven current scientific community. Other than that, in terms of expectations, this book moves into the realm of might-have-beens.

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I admit to googling Cthuluraptor for some weird results and ending up re-watching Kung Fury for Laseraptors. And now I am left with absolutely non show off-able intricate informations such as difference between ranching and domesticating, cold blooded-warm blooded animal distinctions and their likes.Who knows, some of these infamous infos might be a better pick up line than pac-man, in some future timeline.

So bottom line, hell- yeah for Scherzo for Tyrannosaurus and an usual yeah for Bones of the Earth.