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I have a challenge for you. - Baxil [bakh-HEEL'], n. My Sites [Tomorrowlands] [The TTU Wiki] [Photos]
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June 30th, 2003
07:26 am
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I have a challenge for you.
Yes, you. Reading this journal right now.

All I ask for is fifteen minutes and one hundred words.

Here's the deal: I maintain a shared fiction universe, TTU (or "The Tomorrowlands Universe"), on my website. It's an urban fantasy setting -- based in a world that essentially was our Earth until the waning days of 1996, when without warning a dragon walked through the background of a live news broadcast, and within days a cascade of all sorts of magical effects, including people shapeshifting into all manner of creatures (collectively coined "therianthropes"), had started. More detail available at the link above.

Now, for a while this shared universe was simply a place for stories; then I (and some other contributors) got bored, and started producing things that were not so much stories as fictional non-fiction. Cultural artifacts, if you will, from within this world. I coined the word "Culturalia" for it and have written some songs and an essay or two.

What is the challenge? Here it is: I recently wrote a piece of TTU culturalia titled "The Death of Teleportation," exploring why one of the most potentially revolutionary ideas failed to make more than a momentary dent on the world. The essay is written as an article published in the Boston Underground, a counterculture newspaper. And what happens when provocative stories run in newspapers? I'll tell you what: Letters to the editor!

So give me a brief letter to the editor -- 50 to 250 words. Respond to the essay. Respond as you would, or as someone else (fictional) would. Point out something he missed. Cite statistics (make them up if you have to; this is a world-building exercise). Hotly dispute one of his conclusions. Hotly dispute one of the conclusions your fellow letter-writers reach and defend poor old Vick. Heck, even agree with him and share your personal teleportation horror story or urban legend. Or whatever! Be creative!

If something breaks the universe's canon, I'll let you know -- but don't let that stop you. I'm trying to give people latitude to have fun on this, and if you stay within the framework of the history cited in the essay, you should be fine with your facts.

Oh, and just to make this easier on me, provide a name (NOT yours -- make one up), and (if you can be bothered :)) a neighborhood of Boston and/or nearby city as the letter writer's hometown. (For your convenience: list and map of Boston neightborhoods.)

Results may be posted as more culturalia (linked to the original essay) unless otherwise requested. Thanks! :)

Current Mood: contentcontent
Current Music: "Swinglargo," People Like Us
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(13 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2003 08:01 am (UTC)

To get you started thinking

I posted this request back on my website's forums shortly before the forums broke, and did get two responses before things went foom. I'll reprint them here.
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2003 08:04 am (UTC)

Re: To get you started thinking

From kistaro back at the forums:
I had an objection to your recent article, "The Death of Teleportation." While most of the information seems to be correct, or at least all that I was able to verify, there is another issue here.

The issue is the nature of magic itself. Magic is an act of willpower, enhanced by some as-yet mysterious form of "energy," used to create a definite effect with no apparent cause -- or at least no cause supported by the old model of physics, which must now be discarded -- or, at least, seriously modified.

You have just written an article on how incredibly dangerous teleportation seems to be. This will plant the fear that teleportation will, somehow, go wrong in the minds of most of your readers. (I have a similar objection to the laws passed, and the publicity that the earlier teleportation accidents gained.) This subconscious -- or completely conscious -- fear can very thoroughly effect the outcome of attempted magic -- resulting in more teleportation accidents.

Perhaps it would be well-advised to write a counter-article.

Karen N., Ph.D. Psychology, researching and creating a degree for Applied Magical Psychology
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Date:June 30th, 2003 01:30 pm (UTC)

Re: To get you started thinking

In case y'all are wondering, by the way, there actually is a Karen N. in the Boston area, and she does have a Ph.D. in psychology. She's also the type who would research and create a degree in the area. She's my aunt, y'see.
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2003 08:06 am (UTC)

Re: To get you started thinking

From raki, back at the forums:
So, Vick has decided to air his grievances publicly, has he? Not content to berate and ear-bash customers, he has taken to ranting in Boston's counterculture publications about his pet peeves.

What he hasn't told us is that he himself was the victim of a teleportation mishap, when he attempted to procure wares by teleportation rather than by conventional means. The wares ended up in the middle of an alley, spoiled and ruined, three weeks after he attempted teleportation.

Why aren't you honest for a change, Vick? How about giving some of us mages a go before you go abusing us publicly?

But, that wouldn't be your style, would it?

Alexis P.
A Mage from Dorchester.
Date:June 30th, 2003 06:09 pm (UTC)

Re: To get you started thinking

I made it all up.
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2003 12:52 pm (UTC)
I'll try to have a crack at this later! If you really want Boston-area verisimilitude, I'll try to put on the personality of Miguel Guanipa, our beloved local right-wing crank whose letters show up in something every week or two. :) (I'll probably have to skip out on our call tonight, too, turns out I'm going to have to be downtown in a couple of hours...)
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2003 03:46 pm (UTC)

A letter to the editor... ^__^

You know, it is rather sad that, to hear Vick Tannigan tell it, teleportation is dead. With every technological advance comes quite a bit of risk; as a matter of fact, even older technologies still pose problems. Automobile and airplane take lives every year, yet there's no mad rush to halt driving and flying, is there?

Teleportation could make life so much easier and would even - dare I say it? - cut down on transportation accidents. One is, after all, a lot less likely to crash into another car if there isn't another car for miles. Also, if more people stayed off the roads and teleported to their destinations, reckless transportation would not necessarily have a negative effect on society. If one teleports oneself while drunk, one has only oneself to blame for a mishap.

Granted, if people teleported instead of flying, the airline industry would lose money from commuters and those passengers who absolutely must fly. However, the industry could then specialize, catering to those who enjoy flying. Every flier could receive first-class service at coach prices!

Society's negative response to teleportation is just one more example of its closed-mindedness. We as denizens of this Earth must get our heads out of the past and into the future.

Professor R.L. Black
Wolfsheim School for Recalcitrant Youth
Downtown Boston
[User Picture]
Date:July 3rd, 2003 01:35 am (UTC)

Re: A letter to the editor... ^__^

Arigato! ^_^
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2003 07:40 pm (UTC)

You asked for it!

As someone who used to work in Raven’s Head Technologies’ teleportation department, I felt I had to respond to your recent article on the subject.

It bothered me that the author stated “the collective efforts of scattered, individual researchers can do no good if those researchers mysteriously disappear one by one” and then goes on to mention in his notes “Matt’s Act was a measure pushed through Congress in March 1997 imposing even tighter restrictions on teleportation than had been previously placed on magic in general--Nearly outlawing it anywhere for any practical purpose” [Italics mine].

This is the core of the problem, is it not? Researchers who are successful with their studies in teleportation are hesitant to go public with a great deal of what they have learned. The media is swift to descend on anyone who claims reliable and safe teleportation advances and label them crackpots or worse. The government is just at quick to pass it’s judgements, promising incarceration and revoking liscenses. Mages who work hard for teleportation are unwilling to expose themselves to this sort of ridicule. They would rather not have to negotiate a sea of narrow minded beaurocrats and hysterical mothers against mad teleporters.

Funding was pulled from our most sensitive research at a point where we were very close to our goal of safe, small scale teleportation. The pressure of public interest groups, the incessant federal inquiries, slowly killed the project from the inside. The worst part of it was that “the flap over safety statistics” didn’t even involve our statistics. RHT maintains the highest safety standards in the business. At no point in any of our research on teleportation did we suffer any of the dramatic and tragic disasters that consistently befall amateurs operating in uncontrolled conditions.

It’s ridiculous that laws like “Matt’s Act” can even be passed. The bill went through on a wave of public sentiment about an incident that involved exactly one victim--Matt himself. Millions of people who supported Matt’s Act never met or even saw him in person. They were simply reacting to a fantastic “what-if” scenario created by the news media to sell their sensationalist story. As a result an entire area of magic has foundered.

As for vanishing researchers, I know of only one in recent years, former head of RHT’s Teleportation department, Dr. Tyrone Briggs. Dr. Briggs had reported to many of his former colleagues that he felt he was very close on his teleportation technique. A week later his wife reported him missing. Police attributed his “death” to a teleportation accident [and fined RHT for "illegal continuance" nine months after we’d already closed our lab]. I submit that perhaps Dr. Tyrone Briggs didn’t just disappear. Perhaps he went to Bermuda. Maybe an inquiring journalist should look into that possibility.

And of researchers who may have truly slipped into the unknown, it is terribly short sighted to assume they will never come back at all. I’m pragmatic enough to concede that they could very well be dead, but isn’t it also possible they’ve entered some dimension we know nothing about and won’t be able to understand until they return. A few decades ago the world was a narrowly defined reality with clearly marked entrances and exits. Not so anymore. The theri alone are proof that there is more to what we think of as reality than simple life/death linear thinking.

Dr. Lorraine Turpentine, PhD, P.O.E.E.
Danvers, Mass
[User Picture]
Date:July 3rd, 2003 01:45 am (UTC)

Re: You asked for it!

I did ask for it. I got it. You get it. You got me. ;) :)

... I don't suppose you could be persuaded to write any TTU fiction and/or culturalia? This is practically an article unto itself, but I'd love to see more where it came from.
[User Picture]
Date:July 3rd, 2003 09:40 am (UTC)


I could try, but it's easier for me to write off someone else's work with something like this. It provides parameters I could [and would] easily overstep without the kind of hard guidelines provided by an original peice. I suppose I could do some more research into the site, but that will take a while...
[User Picture]
Date:July 3rd, 2003 11:37 am (UTC)
People like Vick don't seem to realize just what sort of Pandora's Box they want to open when they want to speculate about teleportation. Indeed, most people fail to even think about what the larger consequences of legalization would entail - and I'm not writing about these "accidents".

Purses would disappear from shoulders by the thousands, at the same time as wallets vanish from back pockets. Unspeakable amounts of cash could be stolen from vaults across the country, without a single lock opened. And I'm sure none of the Vicks out there have ever thought of what would happen should a five-year-old child suddenly disappear from the hand of her mother, or considered the idea that some radical with a ransom could pass through airport security effortlessly because their gun stays comfortably at home until he crosses the threshold.

Sit up and think about what you're discussing for once, and how it would cripple this nation, before you amuse yourself with speculation.

Gordon Manson
Beacon Hill
[User Picture]
Date:July 26th, 2003 04:26 am (UTC)
I just realized I never said this earlier: Thank you! :)
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