AA: Reboot This
swede at novitious.com
Fri Dec 12 05:23:18 PST 2008
Mademoiselle Muse, Inc.,
in association with
Lutefisk Wagon Press
an Author's Altiverse happening-thingie
Gary W. Olson,
in case you've forgotten
When the Swede awoke, his head felt thick and slow. The shapes
before him were blurry, the surface beneath him hard and more angular
than strictly necessary. His mouth felt dry, his ears felt wet, and
his elbows felt strangely like bean dip and guacamole. And his
exceptionally black Cloak O' Doom was, as he blearily inspected it, no
longer exceptional, no longer black, and not especially cloaklike.
What it *was* was something the Swede was not ready to contemplate.
Instead, he contemplated the interior of the Chapterhouse--the
bar in which he had awoken. It, too, had changed in some subtle and
disquieting way. Previously, the Swede recalled, it had been an
ordinary pub, featuring subdued lighting, polished wood tables and
booths, hardwood floors, a fireplace, a bar with stools in front of
it, and a thing bolted down in one dark corner that had been
identified as a 'motorized wallaby,' though what this meant in terms
with its interactions with bar patrons was never quite understood.
The place he was in now had insistent lighting, formica tables
and booths, a grand piano, a dance floor, several slot machines, and
numerous television screens that were displaying some sporting event
that included yelling, throwing hats, and competitive sweating. Sound
with an insistent beat and not much else of distinction poured from
recessed speakers. The motorized wallaby had unbolted itself and was
serving drinks to its patrons. A sign over the black-glass-and-neon
bar identified the establishment as 'Gortok's.' Gortok himself was
not in evidence.
Eventually, it occurred to the Swede that the reason it seemed so
unlike the Chapterhouse he knew and loved was that it was not, in
fact, the Chapterhouse at all. It was only the fact that many of its
patrons seemed to be Authors that had caused him to think so.
"Hey!" said a bearded man at a nearby table. "The Swede's
"Hey!" said the bearded man sitting across from him. "He's a
"Hey!" said the goateed man sitting on the side between the two
bearded men. "He has bean dip and guacamole on his elbows!"
"Hey!" said the goateed man sitting opposite the other goateed
man. "I can't see him because I'm facing the other way!"
After the Swede mentally identified the four Authors (in order,
*THE* Mason Kramer (Mason Kramer), Sabre (Eric A. Burns-White),
Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen), and the Amigoid (Lawrence Brown)), he
contemplated that which he had been reluctant to contemplate before--
i.e., that he *was* a taco, or at least dressed like one.
Specifically, he appeared to be wearing a giant hard tortilla shell
that was filled with ground beef, lettuce, shredded cheese, guacamole,
sour cream, bean dip, and salsa. It was about five feet wide, and
went from his chest to nearly his knees. The rest of him--head, neck,
shoulders, arms, calves, and feet--was starkers.
"Well, then," said the Swede.
"You're awake," Sabre noted.
"Yes," the Swede replied.
"You're crunchy," Dvandroid noted.
"What's up with that?" asked *THE* Mason Kramer.
"I don't know," said the Swede, for truly he did not know. The
last he remembered, he had been wearing his exceptionally black Cloak
O' Doom--his standard outerwear for all the many years he had spent in
the Author's Altiverse (223DON'TTRYITAUTHORSONLY)--drinking in the
Chapterhouse after the Authors had successfully replaced their old
OmniVAX mainframe with a spiffy and brand new OmniServer 9008sq
application and database server....
The old OmniVAX, while it had functioned well for a number of
years--giving Authors a means of shaping events in other altiverses,
such as 000SUPERGUY and 001SFSTORY, while governing how the Author's
powers of Edit could be used within their home altiverse--had been
showing its age. It no longer channeled the results of Authorial
inspiration well, to the vexation of Authors and their muses alike.
Plus it was a VAX, and that is so twenty years ago.
So, a brand new, top-of-the-line OmniServer was ordered from a
company in altiverse 091LARRYELLISONOWNSYOUBEEOTCH, imported into
223DON'TTRYITAUTHORSONLY, and installed with the great care, caution,
and attention to detail that Authors are renowned for. They only blew
up Planet Mitchell Secundus--the planet they generally congregated
upon, when not in their own domains--twice before getting it (the
server, not the planet) to work.
But at last, the day had arrived when all the schemas were
aligned, all the permissions tabs were correctly set, the altiversal
data from the legacy OmniVAX system had been converted, and it was
time to start the new application in production--or, as it was widely,
if less than plausibly, known, 'reality.' As the Amigoid readied to
right-click the 'Build Altiverse' menu selection, the Last Sane Author
(Greg Fishbone) voiced a strange objection.
"Shouldn't we," he said, "you know... test it first?"
Mechaman (James Rinehart), who was seated on the other side of
the Amigoid, smiled.
"Test in prod!" he declared.
"Test in prod!" exclaimed the Swede, who had been detailing the
OmniServer's external housing with graffiti that explained something
about a man from Nantucket.
"Prod in prod!" exclaimed Frobozz (Chris Angelini), who wasn't
even in this flashback.
"Today," proclaimed the Amigoid, bellowing like a Klingon, "is a
great day to deploy!"
He right-clicked 'Build Altiverse.' The menu selection flashed
once, then disappeared.
All were aware that the build process would take several hours,
after which the server would start up and auto-deploy the Author's
Altiverse. The transition would be seamless and imperceptible, which,
to the assembled Authors, meant they didn't actually have to stick
around to be sure nothing went wrong.
"That's pretty much how it happened," said the Amigoid, as he
sipped his beverage of choice. "We came back to the Chapterhouse and
started celebrating. Then, a few hours later, the new altiverse must
have deployed, because everything changed around us. The Chapterhouse
became Gortok's. You became a taco."
"I... am not... a taco!" the Swede declared. "I... am a human
The Authors gathered around clapped, thinking he was imitating
John Hurt. The Swede scowled.
"I refuse to accept this!" he exclaimed. "I'm going home!"
With that, he edited himself out of the Chap... er... Gortok's...
and back to his Authorial abode. His abode was, in fact, a hut on a
faraway beach on Abe Vigoda, one of Mitchell Secundus's less inhabited
continents. It had not always been there, but it was as good a place
as any, and reminded the Swede of his early days as an Author. He
looked down at his taco costume, edited it away, and replaced it with
his black Cloak O' Doom, black jeans, and black boots.
"Much better," he commented as he went inside.
The interior of the hut was not, contrary to popular belief,
larger than what the outside structure would suggest. Over the years,
the Swede had done some extensive remodeling, always adding more
rooms, usually in 'the back,' so that over the years anyone viewing
his abode from the outside would consider that it looked alarmingly
like a greco-roman-neo-gothic-rennaisance-tudor-cyber-fortress with a
tiki-wood wart. He sauntered deep into the 'hut,' past statuary, the
puppet theater, spacious fields, roller rinks, tennis courts and some
sort of frisbee-throwing machine. Eventually, he reached his living
"Yo," he said, "anyone home?"
<<Welcome back, Dave,>> said HAL, the AI that kept the Swede's
domains more or less tidy. <<I have observed that the deploy of the
new Author's Altiverse has not gone according to plan.>>
"A few bugs to work out," said the Swede, waving a hand in airy
dismissal. "We'll put it in the plan for Phase II."
<<The mountain ranges to the east were turned into ham.>>
<<The ice of the southern pole continent is spontaneously shaping
itself into carvings from the movies of Roger Corman.>>
<<You, Dave, are now a taco.>>
The Swede looked down, and saw that he was indeed back in his
taco costume. He cursed. He snarled. He ranted. He even...
When all that was done, the Swede's muse, a penguin named Squawk,
waddled into the room. In one flipper she held a herring--in the
other, a wrench.
"Squawk!" she said, upon seeing him.
"Hi, girl," the Swede replied, as he slumped onto a nearby couch.
"You make it through the deployment okay?"
"That's what I like to hear."
The penguin went to one corner of the room, where the Swede could
see she was working on some sort of robot penguin. He turned his
thoughts back to his situation. Not liking that much, he turned his
thoughts to bacon, and contemplated it for a while, until he got
hungry, and started nibbling on the bean dip near his right nipple.
He scowled, and turned his thoughts back to his situation.
"HAL," he said, "do you know *why* I am persistently being
dressed in a taco costume in this new Author's Altiverse?"
<<I have read-only access to the schema and tables on the new
OmniServer,>> HAL informed him. <<It appears that your entry on the
AUTHOR_CHARACTERISTICS lookup table, which should have defaulted to
your key value on the AUTHOR_SARTORIAL table, has been replaced with
the word 'taco.' As long as you are in this altiverse, Dave, the
OmniServer will continue to assert your taco identity, and any edits
you make to the contrary will be temporary.>>
"Great," the Swede grumbled. "So how do I fix it?"
<<You merely need to return to the OmniServer and update the
table to default to your AUTHOR_SARTORIAL entry, to which you have
write access. Then changes you make to your appearance via edit will
correctly manifest and persist.>>
"Okay," said the Swede, as he stood and struck a pose of action,
which was unfortunately impossible to discern within the depths of the
taco costume. "To the OmniServer!"
<<There is one problem, Dave.>>
"What could possibly be a problem for me?"
<<The OmniServer has relocated itself to an indeterminate
location somewhere on Mitchell Secundus. Though I can read its tables
and files, I cannot deduce the whereabouts of its physical hardware--
which, for highly technical reasons is what you need to access in
order to change the table you need to change. I assume this was a
safety precaution put in place by the Authors to prevent post-build
tampering, and that no Author now knows where the OmniServer is.>>
"Why would you assume we would do something so stupid, short-
sighted, and detrimental to our own interests?"
"Ooh, right." The Swede thought some. "Has this affected my
<<No, Dave,>> HAL answered. <<The portion of your mind dedicated
to writing the next episode of Rad is active, and the OmniServer is
auto-constructing the post. There is a lot of material in this one,
so it is expected that it will not be ready to be compiled and
deployed to 000SUPERGUY until late February. This part of the
OmniServer, at least, is functioning both as desired and as
"Glad to hear it," said the Swede. "I've got to get back to
Gortok's, see what else has changed, and if any of the Authors can
help me find the OmniServer."
He edited himself away, leaving only the faint scent of guacamole
to mark his passing.
Gortok's was still busy when the Swede edited himself into the
place he had been standing before, but the Authors that comprised at
least a portion of that business were no longer there. The Swede
walked out the revolving glass door in the front to the sidewalk. The
sidewalk that the Swede did not recall as having previously existed.
Gone were the mountains of nerf. Gone were the semi-familiar
buildings and landmarks. All that the Swede recognized was the
looming form of the Noj, well in the distance. Everything else had
What he saw now was a curious blend of casinos, hotels, theaters,
taverns, and assorted tourist traps that promised wax replicas of
famous celebrities, haunted mazes, haunted corn, and the like. The
casinos were large and tacky beyond Earthly comprehension--the
Belligerento, the one directly across the avenue from Gortok's,
boasted two pyramids, a UFO saucer, and the giant, disembodied
holographic head of Gavin McLeod, which periodically spat death rays
toward the street. Signs for shows such as 'the Blue Yak Group' and
'Godzilla vs. Celine Dion' were everywhere. In the avenue, all manner
of rolling and floating vehicles moved past
"Crazy, isn't it?" someone to his left asked.
The Swede regarded the man, who he recognized as an Author.
"Sure is, Brism," he said.
Brism Wanor shook hands with the Swede, and subsequently had to
look for somewhere to wipe the bean dip off his hand. As he did this,
the other Authors emerged from around the corner of Gortok's, holding
"Got the last ones," said Sabre, as he handed a ticket to Brism.
"It should be a good show... Celine's playing herself, and Godzilla's
being played by Gary Busey."
"You get a ticket for me?" the Swede asked.
"Right here," said the Amigoid, handing the Swede his ticket.
The Swede recognized the adolescent at the Amigoid's side.
"Hey, Christopher," he said. "What's up?"
"You're a taco," Christopher Brown noted. "You tell me."
"Hey, have you tried using your Edit?" Frobozz asked.
"I got to my home and back," said the Swede. "I also tried
editing back my regular clothes, but it didn't last long. Something
about an entry on an OmniServer table that got overwritten for me...."
"No," said Frobozz. "I mean, have you tried to use Edit *here.*"
"Um, no..." the Swede said.
"Observe as I Edit up a Steve Alaimo album," said Sabre. He
extended his hand, concentrated, and immediately, a chicken shot out
of his armpit and landed on the street. It looked up, confused by the
strange world around it, and immediately ran down the street.
"Or watch as I use my power of Edit to make a sixteen-ton weight
appear above *THE* Mason Kramer," said the Last Sane Author.
"What?" asked *THE* Mason Kramer. A second later, the air
shimmered above him, and he was besieged by a rain of Skittles.
"Something's really screwed up on the OmniServer," said the Last
Sane Author. "In our personal domains, our Edit works as per usual,
and we have close to 100% omnipotence."
"Er," the Swede said, "if one is less than 100% omnipotent, then
it's not really *omni*-potence, is it?"
"But in the shared common areas on Mitchell Secundus, i.e. here,"
the Last Sane Author continued, "it's all screwed up. For instance,
observe as I edit up the Jonas Brothers."
"Why would you do that?" Brism asked.
The Last Sane Author focused his powers of edit. Immediately, a
small tin of ham appeared in the street, where it was immediately
flattened by a limousine.
"I'm not sure I see what was wrong with that demonstration," said
"There's some kind of indexing problem on some of the tables,"
the Amigoid opined. "We just have to find the OmniServer, identify
and fix the index problem, then recompile and redeploy. Make sense?"
"Sure," said Mechaman. "In the meantime, we should avoid making
use of our edit powers, as they clearly have consequences that only
the very foolish and foolhardy would ignore."
The collected Authors considered this, decided it hardly applied
to *them,* and proceeded to make use of their Edit powers. The
collective consequences of this over the next several minutes were,
among many others, these: one of the pyramids at the casino across the
street turned into a Mobius loop populated entirely by avocado stands,
the giant holographic head of Gavin McLeod turned into a giant
holographic head of Joe Don Baker, the southern continents of Mitchell
Secundus were ravaged by what appeared to be tornado funnels but were
actually borscht funnels, three galaxies exploded in altiverse
929INNOCENTBYSTANDERS, and 'According to Jim' was renewed for another
season in 000REALLIFE.
"The horror," Frobozz whispered. "The horror... of Jim
"Right," said Sabre. "So we're somewhat hampered in using our
abilities to find where the OmniServer has hidden itself away. But we
are still Authors! And I say we shall not rest until we find the
OmniServer and we restore ourselves to our full glory and de-tacofy
the Swede and bring back the real Chapterhouse and... hey, is that
He indicated a large building further down the street. The
building bore a large neon sign boasting that it was called 'Laser
Taggerdome,' and that it featured considerable fun in the areas of
lasers and tagging.
"Laser tag!" the collected Authors exclaimed as one, before
rushing toward the building, causing pileups as their erratic paths
through traffic disregarded street signs and common sense.
WILL THE SWEDE BE DE-TACOFIED?
WILL THE AUTHORS FIND THE OMNISERVER?
WILL THE AUTHORS PUT SOMEONE'S EYE OUT DURING LASER TAG?
WILL THE MECHANICAL PENGUIN BE MENTIONED EVER AGAIN?
WILL IT FACE OFF AGAINST THE MOTORIZED WALLABY?
All this may or may not be answered in the next questionable Author's
Altiverse installment, on... SUPERGUY!
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