The following short story, written by the famous science fiction author Isaac Asimov, is a gripping tale of Man and Machine’s evolution of consciousness, and their place in the infinite yet impermanent universe. The story was first published in the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly, and is to this day considered by many to be his best work. The author himself even thought so, and in 1973 he said of it:
“Why is it my favorite? For one thing I got the idea all at once and didn’t have to fiddle with it; and I wrote it in white-heat and scarcely had to change a word. This sort of thing endears any story to any writer. Then, too, it has had the strangest effect on my readers…”
The short story is split into seven story arcs, with the first one beginning in 2061, and each one after progressing further and further into the future. Despite the changes in time, space, and characters, each of the stories share in common humanity’s relationship with a supercomputer called Multivac and its successors – every sub plot revolves around certain characters discussing the life span of the universe and then asking the Multivac computer whether entropy (destruction) of the universe can be reversed, which is a question it has insufficient data to answer until the very end. This is a great read from start to finish – I give it a 5 out of 5; it is WAY ahead of it’s time!
In 1975 a legendary encounter occurred; Jimmy Page, the lead guitarist of the blues rock band Led Zeppelin, was interviewed by William Burroughs – counter-cultural icon of the 60s beat generation, and deservedly famous author of Junky and Naked Lunch. William S. Burroughs was a fantastically able writer who has won the literary recognition of many; he was also a journalist, and a long time user of heroin – even coining the term junky. Heroin was something Page and Burroughs shared in common during the time of this interview in 1975, as Page’s experimentation with heroin had slipped into an addiction at this point in his life and career. Musically, critics believed his playing ability fell sharply as a result of his heroin use, while those obsessed with the occult insisted that his poor playing was a result of a black magic curse put on him by Kenneth Anger, an acolyte of the infamous Aleister Crowley.
Burroughs was not interested in critiquing or evaluating Page’s music, and instead relied on his highly charged imagination to create a unique and somewhat strange interview with the rock and roll legend; an interview that can never be replicated, and perhaps, never fully understood. “I felt that these considerations could form the basis of my talk with Jimmy Page, which I hoped would not take the form of an interview. There is something just basically WRONG about the whole interview format. Someone sticks a mike in your face and says, “Mr. Page, would you care to talk about your interest in occult practices? Would you describe yourself as a believer in this sort of thing?” Even an intelligent mike-in-the-face question tends to evoke a guarded mike-in-the-face answer. As soon as Jimmy Page walked into my loft downtown, I saw that it wasn’t going to be that way.”
What follows is an interesting take on the standard music interview format, and a surreal exploration into the subconscious elements of music, such as vibrations, transferring of energy, magic, the arts and the similarities between rock and roll riffs and Buddhist mantras.
Read on for the full article that Burroughs published in Crawdaddy magazine in their June 1975 issue, and also the transcript of the interview that took place.
The following very short story about the Buddha’s journey is written by the great author Paulo Coelho, author of the classic pilgrimage story: The Alchemist. If you have never read The Alchemist then I would highly recommend it, and if you want to read a longer story about the Buddha, which goes into much better detail, then read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I found this story on Paulo Coelho’s blog, which you should definitely check out if you like to read, or are a fan of the man, because he writes short stories very frequently!
The following story is divided into 3 parts, each part only about 400-500 words. It makes for a quick read, and definitely contains some of Paulo Coelho’s writing flair. But it is still very short, and leaves a lot to be desired. But I suppose this is fitting considering it is a story about the Buddha; he would say to us: Desire = Suffering. Meditate on this. At least I think he would say this. Anyway, here’s the story!
‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.’ - Somerset Maugham
A plot is basically the skeleton of a story; it is the foundation that births the characters and the scenarios they find themselves in. Plot is absolutely essential to any work of fiction: if you plan on writing a story without a plot, don’t even expect your mother to read it, yet alone the rest of the world. Most works of fiction follow a plot, sometimes it’s a very linear plot, sometimes it’s a head numbingly complex plot, but in both cases the plot can either be amazing, awful, or anything in between. I am going to outline for you a bulletproof formula to plan and establish a solid plot for your story. This system was developed by James Scott Bell, author of the book Plot & Structure and is very easy to remember – it’s called the LOCK system.
Laughs were shared by all at the newsroom today when word had been received about Steve Jobs’ humorously ironic death. Steve Jobs, co founder of the mega corporation Apple – who were responsible for the widely used gadgets the iPod, iPhone and iPad – was found dead this morning, curled up next to his wall socket. Forensic psychologists on the scene say that Steve Jobs had run out of batteries in the middle of the night, woke up in a cold sweat after realising he was on his last bar and desperately searched the house for his wall charger, which was presumably missing… or stolen.
Several people knocked on Steve’s door in the morning, to discuss their iPods with him, and received no answer. Sources say these people just went on with their day, despite the looming possibility that Steve Jobs was in danger. This is another sad glimpse at the bystander effect in all its terrible shame. At roughly 11:30am the milk delivery man, who had been delivering milk to Steve’s home every day for the past 15 years, thought that something was up and forced open Steve Jobs’ back door, which will never look the same again. “Steve is always home, he never leaves the house, so when I knocked on his door and he didn’t answer, I knew something was up” said the milk delivery man when we interviewed him just now. The delivery man, who shall remain nameless because his role in society is not considered to be important, immediately dropped his milk, broke down the door and rushed to Steve Job’s body, who was described by the anonymous milk man as having “a blank white screen, as white as milk… his eyes, which used to be milky white, were now big black crosses”. The milk delivery man attempted to ‘reset’ Stevens’ battery by holding his lock button and home button at the same time; to no success. Steve was confirmed dead at 11:40am, and his wall charger was later found under his bed.
Rest in peace Steve Jobs, you silly man!
Police Photograph of Steve Jobs Remains (06/10/11) WARNING: graphic content (too late).
This is the article that propelled Hunter S Thompson’s writing skills to new heights and established his style known as ‘Gonzo’ journalism. Written in 1970, after publishing both The Rum Diaries and Hell’s Angels, Thompson was required to write a sports article covering the Kentucky Derby. However, he didn’t actually get to see the race, and instead wrote a manic first person account of his observations of the people attending the event. Faced with a deadline, and not having written anything resembling an article, Hunter tore out pages from his notebooks, and scrambled together this exciting narrative which was published in Scanlan’s Monthly. The writing of this article was later worked into his most famous novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, two years later, which has the protagonist Raoul Duke (Hunter’s alter ego) attempt to write a story on the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Las Vegas; unsuccessfully of course. If you’re a fan of Hunter S Thompson’s writing then you owe it to yourself to read this article if you haven’t already, and if you’ve never read any of his work, then this might just turn you onto him! Continue reading →