Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Michael's Chronicles: Needing a Wal Mart

Michael Thiele is a woodsmith who makes musical instruments and playable furniture. He spends most of his life either in the shop or out on the road buying wood and selling his work at craft shows. In recent years, his travels have begun to inspire his own writing, so he sends me his thoughts.

Monday, Jan 10
Needing a Wal Mart

How difficult is it to know where you are? How tedious? Doesn’t seem too much to keep track of if you ask me. I called a motel the other night to ask what exit to take off of the main highway to get there. The front desk clerk said he couldn’t really tell me - he “just works there.” Okay, I asked, how does he get there? Does he drive? Does he walk? Does someone drop him off? Does he live there and never leave.? Perhaps he is beamed down daily and back up from the Starship Enterprise? (No, I didn’t ask that last one).

The real answer is he takes a bus. A bus, huh? How does he know where to get off, I thought. So I asked him. His answer made all the sense in the world (just not this world). His precise words were, “I just get off at the same place every day.” What bus does this guy ride, Heresy One?

I hate the phrase, “it’s a sign of the times.” I refuse to make myself generalize that way when things like this happen. I knew what was coming next from the guy who didn’t know how he got to where he is and thus couldn’t tell me how to come join him. 

“Just Google it on your phone.” When I hear this response after the opening conversation I just described, all matter of facty and such, it always comes across as “you idiot - anyone knows that’s just what you do.” The tone of his comment convinced me that he was genuinely wondering what cucumber I had just popped out of. I felt no need to disclose that I was the scheduled keynote speaker at the Luddite International Conference this year. Again, the questions were, where are you and how do I get there? The motel turned out to be just one block off the aforementioned state highway.

“Well,” I said, is there anyone else there who could give me directions?” He went away. A short time later a woman showed up on the phone. The first words from her mouth were, “just use your GPS.” How helpful. Sign of the times. She also wasn’t sure how to get there, not being able to understand where I was coming from because she “only knows street names, not highway numbers.”

In the end, I found the place. Would it not be a reasonable idea to post a little piece of paper on the wall at the front desk on which might be stated simple directions to the property when coming from either the north or south on the main highway to the motel, one block away? Or maybe a directive on the website stating, “don’t call.”

Yes, I like most people, can navigate the website enough to get directions. Sometimes I’d just like to hear a voice. It would warm my spirit and jack my confidence that someone would actually know where he is.


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