Sunday, January 07, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-2

With Dally gone, Merle decides to quit his job as amalgamator and head for greener--or at least other--pastures. He heads east, "something in the back of his mind convinced that years ago on the way west to Colorado he had missed something essential, some town he hadn't seen, some particular piece of hardware that unless he found it and put it to use, might even cross off a good part of the meaning of his life so far" (449).

He reaches a town called Audacity, Iowa, where the natives are growing restless due to the local movie theater's projector having been malfunctioning for some time now. The projectionist is known as Fisk, and he is most grateful when Merle fixes if for him. While he goes on hiatus, Merle takes over the job, although he is vaguely unsatisfied with the ponderousness of the projection method. "There had to be something more direct, something you could do with light itself..." (451). A foreshadowing of the rise of digital media?

One day--he's left Audacity, apparently--he arrives at Candlebrow U, and recognizes it as the place he was looking for. Their famous time travel conference is underway. Some professor is going on about how time, rather than being linear, is in fact circular, like tornado. And speak of the devil, as he's talking, a tornado is moving towards the university, and everyone heads for a storm cellar.

This isn't just any tornado, though--it's a tornado that comes to Candlebrow with some regularity. It has been christened "Thorvald. Hell, if we can have sentient ball lightning, why not? It is theorized that one might communicate with Thorvald via wave modulation of some sort.

Merle ends up becoming a regular at the annual conferences, doing random odd jobs the rest of the year. One evening, the Inconvenience touches down, and Merle recognizes Chick Counterfly, in spite of the mustache. They are looking for Roswell Bounce in order to procure some hypops equipment, so this must take place prior to the previous sequence. Roswell, it turns out, is right there at the conference. How convenient! He is currently involved in legal action against Vibecorp for the theft of his invention. He doesn't expect to win, but he's still feeling upbeat. He explains his current way of living:

You know how there's some have found Jesus? Well, that happened to me, too, only my savior turned out to be more of a classical demigod, namely," pretending to look furtively right and left, and lowering his voice, "Hercules."

Merle, recognizing the name of a popular brand of blasting agent, twinkled back discreetly.

Roswell and Merle chat about the science of light and time. After seeing a lecture by a German mathematician named Hermann Minkowski, they mull the idea of trying to build a time machine. Why not?



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