It’s been weeks and you just can’t shake the feeling. You met with your friend at that party not too long ago but something was different. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but it didn’t sit right with you. They didn’t seem like themselves. Maybe it was the drinking, or the night’s festivities. Maybe it was even the outfits.
But whatever it was, you’re fairly sure, that was not your friend doing that keg stand while a dozen people, men and women, dressed as Wonder Woman chanted their name. They insist they’re still the same person, even tried to prove to you that they knew your secrets – even that one about the dream you swore them to never tell anyone ever again. But, in the days since the Equifax breach, you just can’t be too careful. Sure, you’ve locked your credit. You’ve gotten identity theft coverage. You’ve been doing everything you can to be absolutely secure. But let’s face it, there’s no way to be sure anymore that someone isn’t stealing from you at this very minute – and they could have found all that information somewhere else. So now, as you’ve taken every sane precaution possible, one last thing has to be investigated…
What if your friend’s been replaced by a Shapeshifter?
It’s a special time in your young Merfolk life, you’ve come of age, a time of great change when you’ll find out what kind of person you’ll be. Humans undergo the same sort of changes both mentally and physically and we know it can be a difficult time. Though, it would be an oversight not to acknowledge what we go through is not quite to the same degree of what you have to worry about. It’s now time for you to do as others of your kind have done for generations. Your amphibious nature and ancient ties to humanity mean you have a very important choice to make soon – do you rejoin the human race on the surface, or remain with the rest of your kind under the sea?
As such, as a representative of humanity, I’m here to help you along and show you a few things you’re going to need to know when you come here to the surface. Luckily, you already seem to be off to a good start, as you’re reading this article on what I imagine to be a waterproof phone you’ve been keeping in a cave or a laptop that managed to not be destroyed when a yacht went down. Either way, you’ve somehow managed an internet connection and that shows a degree of savvy that will get you far up here. But one of the great problems ahead of you is the fact that some of the information you’ve likely been given is…inaccurate, at best. For instance, this:
The Centaur, once a vital part of society, now relegated to the fringes of civilization due to circumstances beyond their control. Though one would suspect it were the fact they literally walk around as a half-horse who could be recognized from a distance, the truth is that the world has long ago abandoned a need for raw, natural horsepower. Though still appreciated by your lady friends, few tasks in this world truly require the work of a stallion anymore. Yes, while the horse is still sometimes used for a variety of tasks as a matter of tradition or for the simple joy of owning one of these magnificent beasts, few Centaur can appreciate the same status in today’s world. Why, it’s been generations since anyone would ride a Centaur in public without an exchange of money – particularly in seedy bars south of the border.
And because of this, the life of a privileged Centaur has become a dull and isolated existence. Generations of doing heavy lifting no other race could accomplish has managed to make your family quite wealthy, even comfortable. Certainly some Centaur still work, deep in some Gnome’s mine or on a Kappa’s cucumber farm. But such menial labor is no longer a part of your family’s life, things are good for you. Still, you yearn for something else, something is missing in your life. Being waited on hand and hoof has made your life terribly uneventful as you lounge your days away on the private Mediterranean property passed down through your family for generations. Your parents insists that this is merely a phase, but you know what lies in your hearts.
From time to time, everyone gets lonely. Unlike others you know who have formed tightly knit groups, you have always just kind of tended to be a solitary soul. Frankly, it’s hard to deal with people on a regular basis. You’re not exactly the social butterfly. You’ve never been very outgoing, certainly could never be described as an extrovert, and sometimes you’d prefer if everyone just left you alone. But sometimes, even someone like you could use some company. Unfortunately, you’re an Ogre – and not the civilized kind.
Yes, a lot of Orcs and Ogres have kept up with modern times, but you’re not one of those. You’ve managed to somehow fall behind the curve and it has greatly impacted your social life as the rest of the world passed you by and took your friends with it. Once upon a time you were fairly standard for an Ogre, but several of your friends have long ago settled down with a nice woman who has gotten them into shape. In fact, since then, they haven’t really come by your place that much either. At first you thought they were sick, but they’ve clearly decided she smells better than you do – not that it was much of a contest.
This makes things tricky. Simply being an introvert or anti-social is a hard enough mountain to climb. But an anti-social backwater Ogre? Even the ice breakers generally involve a lot more screaming than you’re willing to tolerate. You can’t remember the last time you invited someone to dinner where the guest didn’t bring a pitchfork. And let’s not forget the shed. Frankly, you’re a little surprised that so many women were interested enough to get there. Maybe it was the intimidation factor, the wealth, your reputation, or that fabulous beard – it’s kind of hard to tell.
Regardless, now that the season of parties is upon us, you’re looking to make some invitations and try again. If you’re ever going to get back in touch with your brethren, you’re going to have a lot of catching up to do. Hopefully, this time, nothing will get set on fire… Continue reading Being A Modern Ogre→
Being a giant can be a rough, lonely experience. In a world simply not built for you, some things just have to be accepted. You’ll always have to purchase two seats on an airplane. No bicycle is meant to withstand your weight. Doorways will forever require you to duck before you can enter any room. There are ways around this, but for the most part you’re just going to have to get a lot of custom work done.
But that’s fine, in the modern world getting something custom made can be as easy as finding the right people to do something for you. If you have the will and the money, someone will have the way. But it’s not enough to simply run to Etsy, you’re going to want to get the best. More than anyone, you know that things in this world are not made to last, so how about things meant for someone like you?
Golems, nature’s most huggable landslides. Often upstanding members of the community, these gentle rock hard giants give new meaning to the description “cut like granite”. But with their stony exterior comes a severe problem. As the summer sun comes around and it’s time for everyone to show off their beach body, you’re left wondering if you can really be presentable. Dry, scaly skin is one thing, but skin with the same texture as the beach you’re standing on just might be too much.
After all, in today’s climate you just can’t risk looking natural. In the age of spray-on tans, wrinkle creams directed at 20 somethings, and cosmetic procedures designed to make you look like a doll – flaws are unacceptable. Once upon a time it was unusual to look like a Barbie doll, but now people are paying for it. And, let’s be honest, you never thought you’d live to see the day where people could honestly have a debate on whether or not someone got butt implants.
So let’s go ahead and attack that nasty skin problem of yours, shall we? And remember, only do some of these if you’re a Golem because they would just be stupid otherwise.
For generations we’ve known that the machines we build would one day become intelligent enough to become life-like, maybe even sentient. Moore’s law states that processing speeds would continue to increase exponentially until it eventually hits a physical limitation. Given this, we know that one day computers will be as intelligent as the human race and, not long after that, a computer would be smarter than the whole of us combined. So, of course, we’ve been working on that problem the way humans work on any problem.
We’ve seen a lot of tremendous progress on this recently. Watson, IBM’s computer, was able to show up humans on Jeopardy and is now doing commercials with various celebrities. Asimo has been impressing humans for years with its ability to do things like walk, talk, and kick a ball. The stock market is currently controlled almost entirely by algorithms and, as such, is prone to having massive collapses due to glitches or statistical anomalies. And, of course, twitter robots are so prevalent that I can count on them at least once a day to give me a retweet because I managed to trigger their algorithm.
But recently, humans have been going out of their way to torment and torture our machine creations. I’ve said before that if there were ever an active war between humans and machine it would be likely we start it. Unfortunately, most people don’t get the memo. Many of the most recent mobility tests have involved kicking the robots over, never mind the fact that recordings of this end up on the internet. We have also gone out of our way to do things like destroy the poor, unfortunate hitchhiker bot when he passed through Philadelphia. But the most egregious and damning situation came when an artificial intelligence was exposed to social media and rapidly absorbed every negative trait humanity could muster. I am, of course, referring to the unfortunate case of…
The days are growing shorter and the humans are starting to act a little strange again. You’re seeing them hang skeletons in their windows, corpses on their lawns, and they’re buying pumpkins in bulk. And let’s not even get started on what else they’ve been doing with the pumpkins.
But the one thing that truly intrigues you is the idea of this Halloween they do every year. Sure, you were around when it was called the Samhain, but now they’ve gone and made it more fun and less solemn. You can get to drink, eat ridiculous foods that shouldn’t exist, and play games with complete strangers. And, best of all, for the first time all year – you’ll fit right in! Yes, the costumes are on the way and that means you can disguise yourself as something completely different.
Just one problem, the costume choices aren’t doing it for you. You spend all year being a little… quirky, so you really don’t need to be doing it again for Halloween. The standard vampire, werewolf, zombie and grim reaper options are pretty mundane as far as your day-to-day goes. It’s time to go wild, go crazy, and do something really wild. May I suggest to you the perfect costume: normal people. Continue reading Dressing Up Like A Human→
Time travel, it’s not exactly something we’re sure can even be done, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to write about it. One of the things that gives humans an edge on the rest of the world is recognizing the passage of time. And, of course, because we hate the thought of dying, we’re constantly trying to figure out ways to turn it back. Almost every day someone out there is thinking, “maybe we could accomplish this by building an elaborate machine, finding a wormhole, or sticking plutonium in the back of a 1980s POS sports car no one wanted.”
However you go about it though, it’s a good chance you’re basing a lot of what you know on time travel you’ve seen in the movies. After all, when you look for reference materials on the subject, most agree that it’s impossible. The only place where anyone would give any credence to your batshit project is the hallowed halls of sci-fi where they think you’re bound to happen. So you’re likely to crack out the sci-fi books and movies and get to working on it. There’s just one problem for you… it’s all bullshit.
A lot of sci-fi has no clue how time travel would work, and most of the time we’re just winging it. In fact, most uses of time travel eventually devolve into some lazy writing. So let’s go ahead and check out a couple hurdles in your way before you fire up the Delorean and do your best… Continue reading So You’ve Built A Time Machine→
Congratulations on moving out on your own. The family was getting to be a bit too much to deal with in such limited space, but you’ve finally got some space of your own. Things are looking up. And it’s such a steal too, despite the high price of real estate and the fact you’re living in a major metropolis you managed to get some wonderful space that most people would have to pay thousands of dollars every month for.
But, despite your enthusiasm, you have to admit to yourself that it is still just a little bit cramped. Luckily for you, we live in a world where people have figured out how to live in just about any environment with some planning and space saving techniques.
And your people have been doing it longer than most. After all, your grandfather would consider you spoiled for living in such wonderful conditions now. You have walls, a ceiling, and probably some running water that is easily accessible through the dripping pipe. So really the only question left is: how do you make your choice real estate feel more comfortable? Continue reading Sprucing Up Your Hole In The Wall→