Death Will Have Your Eyes by James Sallis. What if a poet wrote a spy novel? This is about what you’d get, I think. Not sure why I’ve been reading so many spy and detective novels lately. Perhaps there’s some solace in these archetypal roles. An escape from the tyranny of the real. Perhaps they just suit my current melancholy frame of mind.

The Notorious Vagabond and/or Scallywag

Once upon a time there was a vagabond who was possibly also a scallywag. This vagabond wondered and wandered hither and yon, taking in the sights, rolling over and under hills and vales, generally avoiding the affordances and moral and ethical conundrums posed by the peoples of the farms and cities. The vagabond (who might’ve been a scallywag) once met a baboon hiding under a tree trunk and at first there was much screeching and to and froing, but eventually things settled down and they had teatime on an old mouldy stump.

Moral: Just because you’re a vagabond (or maybe a scallywag) doesn’t mean you can’t resolve your differences in a civilized way.

The Cold and Infamous Wintertime

It was winter. It was cold. It was wet. It was almost snowing, but not quite. And the sun had gone packing off to, er, sunnier climes. The bear was hiberating. The rabbit was hibernating. The wolf was hibernating. The marmot was hibernating. The long haired guinea pig was hibernating. The hedgehog was hibernating. The earthworm was hibernating. The people were scurrying around trying to get stuff done, some of them miserable in wet socks and trousers. At least a couple had left their brelly at home.

Moral: On some of these winter days, hibernation sure does sound nice.

Up is Down, Black is White, Left is Right, the Mumpler Cried

Once there was a monster called the Mumpler. The Mumpler basically constantly screeched things that everyone knew to be false. At first it was just an annoyance, really just a headache inducing scrawp. Some people just wanted to eat breakfast, but it was tough to enjoy the buckwheat pancakes with marionberry syrup with a side of bacon and a fruit cup with all that nonsense screaming by. The Mumpler sure bounced around a lot and seemed especially agitated when no one was paying it any mind. Some people tried reasoning with the Mumpler, providing evidence for things like, you know, left being left and black being black and other things like that. Really, they couldn’t even get a word in edgewise. To everyone’s horror, soon there were some people who thought that Mumpler was all right, wearing “white” shirts and dangerously signaling the opposite turn direction when driving. There were still others who, wanting to appear fairminded, discussed the possible merits of blue being red or zero being one. This was enough to get people to tear their hair out, not literally, but still. Finally, they decided they had enough. They used a shrink ray to shrink the Mumpler down to a manageable size and then stuck him in a sound-proofed terrarium. They weren’t monsters. There was plenty to eat in there. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Except for all the people in the “white” shirts, of course.

Moral: Sometimes it sure would be nice to have a science fictional solution to one’s problems.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I don’t remember, but I think I read this one because of the title. There seems to be a novelistic trend in parallel universes these days. Effective use of nested narratives. I dug it.

The Lost Fable

Once upon a time an idea for a fable occurred to me while I was stepping into the shower. Instead of writing the idea down, I took a shower instead (cat sitting stoically nearby). I thought that I would (of course) remember the marvelous idea–it seemed so memorable! The thought of it had made me smile. Perhaps it involved a pirate or a wombat or a robot made of matroshka nesting dolls. Or maybe the idea led with a funny character name like Nebood Farmalpoops or Brestige Nickelwomper. Or maybe the idea led with a moral such as “Moral: Maybe next time listen to your mother.” or “Moral: You can always dig yourself deeper.” Anyway, I took a shower, got distracted by coffee, and only hours later remembered that I had come up with an idea I loved that I then completely forgot about.

Moral: Some ideas are worth writing down so that you don’t have to rely on your brain to remember it.

Gemina (Book 2 of the Illuminae Files) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I love the wild use of typography and visual design in these books. Also, the science fiction story’s pretty great too.

I thought that Deadpool was the first Marvel character to break the fourth wall, but it turns out David Burn’s Sensational She-Hulk did it first.

Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll. I’ve read other books about quantum mechanics. Nothing else has got me as close to feeling like I get it. A masterpiece of explanation.