NEWSLETTER: AUGUST 2002 Digital Papyrus newsletter

Digital Papyrus

"Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily"

Date: August 2002
Issue No.

CONJOSÉ 60th World Science Fiction Convention Special Edition Precursor


To find OWC Chat -- Keyword: OWC > Other*Worlds*Cafe (under "Featured Sci-Fi Communities") > AOL Entertainment: OWC Chat
To find SF General Chat -- Keyword SCI FI > Books & Authors (under "Featured Sci-Fi Communities") > AOL Entertainment: SF Chat

Hosts, members and chatters come and go in the Other*Worlds*Cafe. Some return, others disappear into the ether. Since OMNI went off the netwaves, the Cafe pursued its own course holding fast to OMNI tradition: to get together and discuss science fiction, and as time progressed, to share our troubles and tribulations. We are dealing here with that intricate network of emotion called people. People who revel in the drama and wonders of science fiction, speculative fiction and fantasy. Avid book readers who often voiced the thought whether they could tell a story about the comings and goings in the Cafe. To embody everyone who crosses the threshold of the Cafe in a story is not an easy undertaking. Having said that, one starry night of tempestuous cybernetic traffic, the editors of this newsletter received this manuscript, The Other*Worlds*Cafe Story.

      "IN THE BEGINNING..." One of my limbs twitched; I plaintively scratched my head. In the beginning was this vastness of space and how long ago was it when I, suited in protective goo, skipped through timelines in the SFeme Spiral and landed Somewhere-here.
     The tables, chairs, sofas and beanbags had the look as if someone had arranged and irradiated them with a special touch, then locked the door, and abandoned all. Maybe not abandoned but put there to await somebody, something that was--me? Even with the lights turned off, there was a welcoming glow and a whisper of hospitality. The silence inside equated the silence of the encompassing Spiral outside.
     "I wonder."
     I only murmured it, like a sort of long reminiscing thought, you know. Immediately as if whispers here had been suspended but not forgotten, the cae soaked up the sound and the lights turned on. I looked upon a place that had waited to receive people, and waited, and waited, until now.
     "Well, well."
     I deactivated my goo harness and navigated my way carefully around the tables and chairs. I discovered I walked with a limp; I had strained a muscle apparently in that mad chase around the Spiral where I had to eject one stack of my goo-plates. I tried the washbasin behind the bar and the gushing water had the crispy taste of that Planet Winter I'd passed through not long ago. An idea suddenly struck me. I could stay here for a while, lick my wounds, regenerate new goo-plates, rest and maybe try a quieter vocation. In the stronger light of the lamps, I took a better look at the cafe. Not all seemed in order though. Some corners had a fuzzy look. The outlines were of tables, chairs, and couches all right; glass tops, hard oak and plush materials. They were shifting out of focus now and then, the way an object looks to you from a crooked angle as if it has one edge hovering into nowhere.
     "As if hovering into other worlds," I said plaintively.
     I involuntarily jumped back; some of the fuzzier outlines suddenly sprang into focus. I discerned a chandelier that I thought was a mishmash of cobwebs. I saw bookcases along the farther walls and armchairs in distant corners. There must be some voice activation somewhere, an eavesdropping computer. I'd better not say things aloud before I knew what damage spoken words could do. Yet, I was curious. Clearly, this place didn't experience sound for some time and sound made it come alive.
     In my mind, I retraced my steps, the minutes and moments before I landed on this cafe's doorstep. There was fractal chaos, a swirl of brainstorms, a whirring of memes and a call: 'In the beginninge'
     "In the beginning was leather," I chuckled and sank myself in a leather armchair.
     I got the shock of my short cafe life when a spectre materialized right before me. An impressive figure. Deified he appeared, all wreathed in halos and his feet were shod in clouds.
     "Finally, the voices had it right," the newcomer said, "out of a gazillion of words and only that word brought me here."
     "Drinks?" the Deity queried, "Are you in charge of the bar, Squire Squid?"
     Squid? While the Deity familiarized himself with the cafe, I scourged the place for a mirror and found one in the backroom. So, the gooplex had moulded out a squid appearance. A squid in tight jacket and jockey knickerbockers! What was the gooplex thinking? That I was going to the seahorse races? I then had an idea, a brilliant one I thought. I cudgelled the gooplex and made some configurations. I inspected my handiwork in the mirror: snug-fitting black pantaloons, a wine-red double-breasted jacket and a bow tie.
     In the beginning was the bartender.
     I stepped out again. The cafe was filling up. A couple of other guests had arrived. One stared at me under curmudgeon brows and said: "Icky!" "No," said the Deity from the armchair that he now occupied, '"that is Iggy, Iggy Squid. The voices say so. How about some frothy drinks, Iggy my man."
     "Certainly," I said and took my post behind the counter, "Spinoza gargleblasters coming up."
     With that, the atmosphere became positively warmer and the tongues more free.
     "There is a conspiracy, I tell you," said the Curmudgeon, "a rotten plot to hide this place in obscurity. I had a hard time finding my way in here. I had to go through several temporal shifts, battling pirates, liberating slaves, storming bastions and look at me, look at my outfit, all torn and dishevelled and I had to say only one word, the right word to get me here."
     "Something is garbling up the keywords," said a wizardry looking individual, "those dastardly Aslers."
     "The Aslers are nitwits," said the Curmudgeon, "I feed them to the hogs."
     "It has to do with the memes in the Spiral," said the Deity, "angles have slipped out of the mesh, fractals are unravelling. Keywords are blowing here and there like ion chaff in the Dark."
     I discreetly cleared my throat. Heads turned, eyebrows cocked. "Why don't we memorize all the keywords, put them in one place that everybody can access."
     "A place favourable to us, a Favourite Place, yeah."
     "We can start by sharing the words that brought us here," I said tentatively
     I became the scrutiny of all eyes. "My dear fellow," said the Curmudgeon, "which word brought you here? Or have you been holed up here for all the recycled times?"
     I was about to say the word when like a red bolt out of black space the Curmudgeon started to fade in a breeze of particle dust. The outlines of the cafe became transparent. The Deity hovered like a tattered cloud. The Wizard flickered in and out of substantiality, then vanished. They all vanished.

     I stood stunned behind the counter, a teacloth in one tentacle, a glass in another and a wine bottle in a third. A bluish glow swathed the cafe from ceiling to floor and threads of meme debris rioted through the ambience. A searing energy static charged through my head tentacles. As if from nowhere a kid streaked into the cafe, a kid in a mini Audi.
     "Aaaaaah," he wailed, "the pain, oh, the pain..." And streaked off into somewhere. I hadn't moved a limb.
     "Hey you."
     I did not move.
     "Hey you."
     I put down teacloth, glass and bottle. "Hey you from whom?" I countered
     "It's me."
     "Where is 'me'?"
     "Oh! Just a sec."
     I waited seconds, stock-still. A faint whirring, a tapping and a few grunts, and with a plop a heap of scales materialized before the counter. Within another few seconds the heap shuddered into-an armadillo. He scrutinized me and I him. He wrinkled his snout; that furtive gesture, a sign that meant nothing to others but a lot to me.
     He whirled his arms. "L/W/H," he growled.
     I curled my tentacles. "F/T/L," I purred.
     I relaxed and said, "Seemed you've hit the right keyword and landed here too."
     "So have you," he commented, "nice costume."
     "What are you now?" I asked.
     "Charlie 'Dillo," he said. He leant over the counter and whispered: "The Stolids are about."
     "Them again," I said and a faint tremor ran through my tentacles.
     "Yeah, and the news I gleaned through my tumble across the SFeme Spiral is bad. Really bad. Arid minds are drying out the creative springs. They consider stuff made of dreams is made of toxic. You and I are in grave danger." He gave me an askance look. "Under what name do you go nowadays?"
     "A Deity baptized me Iggy," I said.
     The guffaw never found an endingea hole in the floor-a trapdoor!!-suddenly flipped into existence and flopped Charlie flat on his back. Shadowy outlines of something dank, something musty, something that had dwelled for untold times in the convoluted caverns of darkest imagination, hovered in the mouth of the hole. Slimy paws scraped across the floor for a better purchase. Charlie was on his feet. The abrupt force of his action caused him to quiver and fade for a moment but when he stood at my side he was all hard scales, wiry snout and swinging a broom.
     Out of a corner of my mouth I hissed: "That's a broom you're holding. Where is your critter prod?"
     Charlie gave the broom the long look of a maniac. Meanwhile the creature had cleared nearly all of its torso out of the hole and hunkered down in a tangle of abnormal proportions. "That's my broom," the creature rasped. Only one reddish eye was visible through its Medusa-like dreadlocks. "Here is your critter prod."
     "What happened?" Charlie demanded.
     "Probably SFeme warp," I said, "erratic pathways of rematerialization energy."
     "Yeah, and it rematerialized you into a squid," Charlie grunted. He then reached out, slowly, slowly. If you haven't seen an armadillo stretched out like elastic, this is the time. Charlie and the creature exchanged broom and prod and Charlie snapped back to his erstwhile belligerent stance.
     "You know what," the creature snickered, "this is a rocket broom and far more powerful than your puny critter prods."
     Both Charlie and I stiffened. The creature snickered again, and with broom under one limb slithered off into the backrooms of the cafe.
     "Where are you going?" I called after it.
     "Food. I am hungry."
     "Do you have food around here?" Charlie asked.
     "I have only booze and gargleblasters."
     "I eat anything," the creature said, reappearing and munching on a slice of bucket.
     "You can eat anything around here," I said, "but leave the furniture, the rugs, the piano and the bar alone."
     "You speak as if you're the master of this place," Charlie drawled.
     "It was I who arrived here first," I said, "the others came later."
     "There were others as well?"
     I nodded. The creature looked interested. "Has the lady warrior come here as well? A Viking type, or Amazon, or Athenian, depending on the style of her wig."
     "Let me take a flashback," I said, "there were this Deity with a passion for leather, a Curmudgeon, a Wizard, a kid in an Audi. Nope, no lady in a warrior headdress."
     The creature suddenly broke into tears. Charlie and I stood perplexed. I carefully approached and with tentacle wrapped in clean napkins patted the creature. "There, there, my dear gob of slime, things aren't so bad. We are in this cosy cafe, we have drinks, we can replicate food if we can find a replicator in this place. Ehr, do you have a name by the way?"
     The creature raised its head and said between sniffles: "Call me Thang, or Pit. Pit Thang will do too. I'm quite attached to that lady. She is my keeper in a wacky sort of way. And this broom is hers. I know it's hers, her smell is all around it. I found it in the Void of the Corrective Mind. That's a place you don't want to be in, I tell you. I was looking for her to return this broom and now she's gone!"
     "Come, come. Here, take this stiff squidquilla on the rocks, my own concoction. It will perk you up for sure."
     Thang accepted my offer gratefully, drained the squidquilla, crunched the ice and the tumbler, and burped. "This is good, that bucket had a Lysol aftertaste."
     "Poison for me too, Iggy," Charlie purred.
     I poured out two tumblers; I needed one as well. With my spirits calmed and fortified, I sorted out my thoughts in a semblance of reason. "Let me take a look at that broom, Thang," I said. "The others vanished leaving nothing behind. But we have this broom, the only evidence, the one spoor that can lead us to its owner."
     "It is a fine broom, sturdy and light as a feather," Charlie commented between sips. Thang slithered off to explore the cafe. I looked at the greenish trail it left on the floor and I sighed. I hadn't been here for long but I'd grown attached to this place as Thang was to its warrior lady.
     I took out my sensor monocle from one of my gooplex pockets and proceeded to examine the broom. "Look at these minute etchings, Charlie," I said, "they look like symbols."
     "Better not touch those. You might set off something. Bear in mind it's a rocket broom."
     It was a broom like none other. E-cells were woven into the bristles and the symbol markings were more pronounced towards the tail end of the broom. Other sets of markings decorated the head, snaking to form a pattern with the bristles. Paddings reinforced the mid section of the handle. I slid in the Decipher lens into the monocle and tentatively swept it over the tail etchings. Well, well.
     "You can ride this broom," I said. I positioned the broom with the stick-head leaning on the floor, straddled the handle, and touched one of the markings. The broom bore me aloft without so much as a wheeze and circled me around the room.
     "Whoa!" Charlie shouted.
     "Hey, that's my lady's broom!" Pit Thang protested.
     "I'm just test-flying it," I said and navigated the broom downwards to a soft landing.
     "Let me try," Charlie said. He took his place and zoomed off. "Wheeeee." If you haven't seen an armadillo on a broom, this is the moment.
     "Don't wear out the E-cells," I said. Something nagged in my innards that we might need the broom.
     After a few disapproving looks upward Thang returned its concentration to whatever it was busy at. "These books look tasty," it said from a far corner.
     "Leave the books alone, they are for reading, not for munching."
     "Reading, my paw. There is nothing there, all blank pages."
     I scurried to the bookcases. Charlie landed with a plop. We yanked out book after book, flipped page after page. The letters, the themes, the plots and characters that had filled and reverberated throughout the pages, words for which this cafe had longed, were gone. Legends had been wiped out.
     I sat on the floor, baffled and grieving. "What devilry is this?"
     "The devilry I saw in the Void of the Corrective Mind. Stark, sanitized, nothing there except the cleanliness of a scalpel. Except this broom." Thang cuddled the broom with great affection.
     "We face extinction," Charlie said.
     As Thang and I sent him our questioning looks, he repeated, "We face extinction."
     Charlie had sprawled on the floor in the same dazed and saddened state as we were, but now he rose and paced around the cafe. "Look at me, look at you, look at it! Are we stark, sanitized, are we clean? Well, clean not in the sense of your nice outfit, Iggy, but clean in the sense of normal, ordinary, common. A squid, an armadillo and a pit thing? We are abnormal and exquisite. Exquisitely out of the ordinary and a danger to everything mundane."
     "The Stolids," I muttered.
     "The Stolids, the Carbos, the straight and narrow."
     Charlie stopped pacing. A slight shudder went through the cafe. The lights flickered and the objects in the cafe started to shimmer in and out of corporeality.
     "Into the pit!" Thang yelled.
     There was not one nanosecond to lose. Everything trembled into nothingness. Soon there would be no walls, no ceiling and no trapdoor. Charlie and I scampered after Thang as it plunged headlong into the hole in the floor. Lights extinguished, sound expired, we were in utter darkness.

     The blackness hung like a thick cloak.
     "Lights please. I like the abnormal but with a little bit of light." That was Charlie.
     "I need no stinking light, I can find my way in the dark."
     I fumbled around in my goo pockets. Didn't squids have chromovores that could light up the dark? I made a mental note that if we found our way back into the cafe, I should install an emergency chromovoric fibril in this bartender outfit.
     "No glow cells at all in your goo, Charlie?"
     "If I had I would've shed some light," came Charlie's muffled answer in the dark.
     "Follow my scent," Thang said, "I'll be your leader."
     "After all my heroic exploits in the SFeme I now have to follow the Leadership of the Stink," Charlie grumbled, "TANJ!"
     "I can leave you behind in the Pit of Eternal Halitosis," Thang suggested in an over-friendly voice.
     "Come now, buddies," I said.
     "There Ain't No Justice in bickering."
     There was a profound pause. I could hear for the first time the faint echoes of water in the distance. We're near the shores of the Rambicon. The voice, a fourth voice, had come from behind me. I could feel my tentacles tangling.
     "Who is that?" Charlie demanded, breaking the silence. Judging from his voice, he was somewhere to the right of me. "One of your tricks, Thang?"
     I didn't think so. The voice was femalish, contralto and cultured. I slowly turned round. A pinprick of light had punctured the overpowering blackness. As seconds ticked away into history, the flame strengthened, dispelling the surrounding gloom like a slowly encroaching orange tide. I could finally discern Thang somewhere in the background, huddled on the floor, staring with glazed eyes at the speaker-the broom.
     "Don't stare at me as if you're seeing a ghost," the broom said. A halo had blossomed out of the end of her stick.
     "We didn't know you had a voice," I said.
     "Well, I didn't and still don't have a voice. You just used the codeword to activate my sensory modes."
     "What codeword?"
     "TANJ," the broom said, sending a wiggle of impatience through her stick body.
     "Are there any other codewords we should know about?" Charlie asked. He had shuffled closer to my side.
     "The words are all in the books," the broom lectured, "read them."
     "Hah!" Charlie turned on Thang, "you didn't even know you had a talking broom there."
     "I munch on books," Thang said sullenly.
     This was an interesting development; we had an ally in this broom who speaks. Maybe there was hope that we could win this insane sanitation attack on talent and imagination.
     "What happened to your mistress?" I questioned the broom.
     "My mistress? Oh, you mean my Rider of Barsoom." A pause as the broom went round in little circles.
     "My Rider received a signal, telling her about the threat from the Stolids. It was a call to arms. She was summoning her allies but the lines were already scrambled. The Cleansing Tide has started slow but is gathering momentum. Our fault really, we haven't been proactive enough, but no one could have predicted the enormity of the attack. My Rider tried to turn back the Tide in the Void of the Corrective Mind but then the wig, who would rather stay home and watch the Hair-raising Adventures of Sassy and Vidal on TV, flew off and got ensnared in my bristles. That's the last thing recorded in my sensory log. The only thing I can say is never go on rescue missions with a recalcitrant wig."
     "You know what this means," I said.
     "That we have to carry on the mission to the end."
     "We?" Charlie echoed, "a squid, an armadillo, a pit thing, and a broom?"
     "Strange things have been accomplished by even stranger alliances."
     "What are you trying to say, Thang!"
     "I'm just trying to hit on the right codeword so the broom can produce me some sneakers to chew on!"
     "This way to the Void of the Corrective Mind," the broom said.
     "I'm not going there," Thang said.
     "Think of the heaps of sneakers you can gnaw on when this mission is accomplished."
     "And buckets of slime too?"
     "And buckets of slime."
     "Okay. Slime is my friend."
     We went on our way, following the halo of the broom. No longer was the darkness an overpowering entity but something that protected us from enemy eyes. In the faint glow of the broom's stick imageries shimmered on the walls of the corridors we passed; spectres of worlds waiting to be fleshed out and writ in the wax of the reader's discerning mind. They played on our imagination, dim moving pictures on fluorescent wallpaper, stories chafing to materialize. Walls who dream. And as we walked further and deeper into the networks of germinating darkness, a half-light seemed to encroach from all around and brush away the reflections on the wall, off-handedly and unfeelingly.
     The broom persistently led us to the source of that scything half-light even though Charlie's heavy sighs and Thang's scraping of claws implied their anxiety and unwillingness. My tentacles were knotting and unknotting which was a sign of great stress. But I was saying to myself that since we were going to be brushed away into oblivion, we'd better face the unknown and try to do something about it.
     The broom brought us out of Ponder in the darkness to confront Blind in the light. To the shores of the Rambicon, that stream of inspiration curving a silvery path along the starways, the borders of the SFeme Galaxy. She pointed to a terrible sight- a Void cascading like runaway bleach, whitening the glittering sprawl of space, the origin of so many legends, and leaving a horrible great blank in its wake. The Void's cleansing corpuscles were everywhere, driven by one stolid sense of whitewash. Shades of colour on which stories could be chalked were definitely not their friends.
     As the others watched helplessly I hit upon an idea, something that Thang had said. "Dirt is our friend, and so is slime," I said, "and with the paint of the grotesque we can try to reverse the cleansing process. Charlie, you as an armadillo are a master of scavenging and you, Thang, a wallower of slime. And you, broom, search in your sensory logs what was your Golden Rider of Barsoom trying to do before her wig got snarled in your bristles."
     "And what are you going to do?" Charlie asked.
     "I," I said solemnly, "as a squid shall splat with ink."
     I started to pull globs of ink from my gooplex and began to bomb the Void. Each time ink hit the whiteness, a golden sun winked through the spreading blue-black stain. As more suns popped out, hordes of cleaning agents evaporated in the fusion burst. But swarm upon swarm kept coming. But there comes Thang and it has slime to fling, more slime and still more slime! And next to him stood our perky Charlie and his arms were full of indescribable rot to fling as missiles.
     But still the agents came on in mindless droves, expurgating and erasing our rioting pigments and figments as fast as we could fling them. We stood our ground, but our ammunition was in danger of running out. I looked over my shoulder to the broom who had been leaning against a tattered moon all this time, mulling and twirling her bristles.
     "Broom!" I called out, "we need something more lethally dark and decisive!"
     "Patience," the broom said, "there are logs and logs to access."
     "Logs and logs. Oh, brother," Charlie moaned, "I don't have enough garbage to sling. I hope they are dirty logs."
     "Some of them are," the broom murmured, "but I've come to the last segments of my log cache. Yes, yes, the last act of bravery of my Golden Lady of Barsoom was-was-to use wallpaper to crush the Attack of the Stolids."
     "Wallpaper?" Charlie echoed. Thang just stared, its hands greenly dripping.
     "Yes, wallpaper! That's where the memes reside, the mind viruses of SF, the SFemes."
     "Of course!" I yelled and sped back into the corridors. The others followed, slop-slopping on the spills of fecundity they had hauled from the Germinating Darkness.
     We were back in the labyrinth of corridors and I pointed out to my companions the glimmering frescoes on the walls. "There is your wallpaper."
     "But how are we going to get them off the walls?" Charlie wanted to know.
     "Peel it off." Thang glared. "Yuppo, yuppo, I've done it countless times. I see something yummy on the walls, I peel it off."
     "You vandal."
     "Hey," Thang bristled whiskers at Charlie.
     I ran my fingers and tentacles across the surface and sure enough, a layer thin as cobweb and as tenacious as saliva of a droolfang lizard in Beta Centauri, came off the walls. I pulled gingerly and a whole sheet rolled loose with all the images writhing and dancing through the material with lives of their own. With a whoop my companions followed my action and peeled off sheet after sheet. Speeding back to the battlefield we threw the roiling sheets everywhere that is Void, and on everything that is Stolid.
     "We grokked them," I said, "we really did."
     "Crikeyjacks!" the broom shouted and burped out projectiles of words that immediately flattened an army of ugly censoring agents.
     "GROK is the codeword!" Thang yelled, "graffiti!"
     "Yes," I exulted, "graffiti, the more the better, the fantastic, the speculative, the science fictional!"
     As if those words were codewords, keywords, they triggered movement behind us in the coming darkness. With a vengeance an army streamed out and I identified among the warriors the personalities that had earlier visited the cafe. The Deity, the Wizard, the Curmudgeon, the Audi kid and more, many more. And they were armed with barrels of squid and ink and pun-gent words. And one garbed like Dark Knight came and carved his graffiti of the Throughts of Spave on the ragged remnants of the Void and named it his Flexicon.
     In the end, riot and chaos mucked up the scalpel-clean Void. Where there was monotony, there was now variety. Where there was nothing, there was now colour. Where there was a cascade of blankness there were now nebulae of constellations. Where there was silence, there was now song. And a Thunderbird delivered a chanty to the Tune of "Blow the Man Down".

O come, SF lovers to O*W*C:
chats, puns, guest writers too;
Barkeep Squid Iggy is waiting for ye.
Hearties, our hours nightly are two.

You may like *Gold Age, "CP," or flicks;
we tease, but without hurts.
Yet if you try some unsavory tricks,
we and the Host will shoot ASCII squirts.

So if ye enjoy SF chat and good times,
come, stay, say what ye think.
We are quite zany; our climes friendly climes.
All is recorded in Iggy's sure ink.

     I picked at an ink drop in the corner of my eye.
     "We should go back to the cafe," the broom softly said. "The Golden Lady of Barsoom is rallying the hosts."
     We left the squidsplatters to do their mopping up and backtracked through the corridors. The walls were shimmering with a new skin; memes newly born. Light is good; it shines upon the road the reader is taking. But so is darkness; it is the milieu where dreams are spun and SFemes percolate. Through the trapdoor we climbed back into the surroundings of the cafe and cleaned up the debris, swept up the broken glasses, righted the overturned furniture, checked the books on the shelves. The words are back where they belong. We went into the backroom momentarily, for me to clean my bartender outfit, for Charlie to rinse his hides and for Thang to munch on a Birkenstock sandal that it must have peeled off the wall in a hungry moment. The broom leant in a corner, quietly, mission accomplished. When we returned to the main floor we saw a company had gathered. A host was greeting guests. Thang hastily slid back through the trapdoor into its netherworld of Meme walls. My eye caught Charlie just in time before he disappeared through a door that was not there before. Obviously there were other rooms beyond that door, where he could be useful. I took up position behind the counter and filled the orders for cocktails, brandy and pangalactic gargleblasters.
     During the course of time, ink-splatting became a tradition and squid-flinging fights a regular event. From time to time raucous squid songs reverberate through the hallways and the corridors beneath. Of course, there is a different me under the squid goo, but that is another story.

     In the cold dark, on a space-weathered rock big enough to house a hamlet, at the edge of the SFeme Spiral Galaxy before the River Rambicon, the Cafe stood there. It had stood there observing the folding and unfolding of the continuum, waiting for a signal, a spark, a stream of Ideas to cross the Rambicon. The signal came. The call of a modem, the rustle of pages and pages and pages of books, the rush of hectic bytes through the Madcap Line, the frantic mews and dings of IMs. The Cafe absorbed the signal like galactic brandy and broadcast a message. "IN THE BEGINNING was the Word and the Word is Science Fiction", the keyword that brought a galactic patroller in his squidine gooplex to its doorstep and the stories started rolling in.

By Sterren Lant and Iggy Squid
Supplemented by Pit Thang and Charlie 'Dillo

For the monthly newsletter on the web:


Besides the Deity, the Wizard, the Curmudgeon, the Audi kid, the Dark Knight and the Thunderbird, there are countless other personalities in the Other*Worlds*Cafe. But as a story goes, it picks out its own personae and the mascots wrote the First Word for the O*W*C and Science Fiction General. The editor takes this opportunity to thank all of the members and hosts past and present (not mentioned in this story, other than the founding Lady of Barsoom) for making the Other*Worlds*Cafe a place where Science Fiction is Brewed Fresh Daily, truly and artfully.

In the heat of the debate strange words swirl to and fro in Cafe ether. Here are excerpts of the Flexicon:

Asmiov same as being miffed
Brealman cannot live by breal alone
Chanucera Martian translation of the Canterbury Tales
Chochipas chocolatey as ever
Clithesfor the sake of modesty
Ddisgustinga shuddersome distaste
Ezapmletry & get the Scorpion King to pronounce this!
Expetexpect the experts to bungle this one
Fiolsounds Gaelic to me
Forfend taking care of yourself before anybody else does
Gakkel a stutter for a cackle
Ginta behemoth
Glottala guttural phonics in pronouncing "Global"
Gorlgrrrl with serious deficits in attitude
Goughnuta psychopathic donut
Holdazeschool days at its worst
Iniforma many varied uniform
LinkeCol. Klink's ugly cousin
Maggiagea marriage to a girl named Maggie is pure unadulterated hell
Movicemovies made by amateurs not worthy of Hollyweird
Neccissilya necessary distraction
Nominaionnecromantic list of dead celebrities
Omebodya body not your own in deepest hypnosis that chants: OM!
Pepse a pep talk for Pepsi cola commercials
Putple deepest burgundy
Selisa gibberish from the planet Solaris
Revistieda Plutonian mumble
Selisa gibberish from the planet Solaris
ShaignAnglo Saxon gibberish for "shame"
ShinningI'd like to get a copy of that movie: The Shinning
Spaveeverybody's favorite frontier
Spazeddazed in space
Soacea Martian gibberish for "universe"
Stangethere's actually a place with a name like that
Subtractalsuse your imagination
Strinksa string of stinky poo
Suiddya nickname for Squiddy
Suppermansuperhero that brings you TV dinners
Throughta thoroughfare in convoluted thinking
Warryworrying about war
Wrinitingwrite to unite all causes
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