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Shaping Hint

Sunday 31 July 2022, 17:00

This is the output from one of my text-generation AI experiments. I started with the GPT-J 6B model, and fine-tuned it on about 200,000 words of my own fiction writing (about half of that being the text of Shining Path). It took about 36 hours to fine-tune the model on my 12-core desktop PC, notably not using GPU computation, and then maybe 12 hours or so to generate this text under human supervision.

Shining Path

Saturday 14 March 2020, 12:44

I finished the manuscript for my first professional-grade novel in 2011, spent a few years trying to find an agent to represent it to publishers, and then shelved it as the demands of other parts of my life took priority. Now, I've posted it online at https://shiningpathbook.com/ . Please share that link widely.

It's a 100,000-word book in a genre I would describe as dark anime science fiction. Drugs, sex, religion, gangsters, catgirls.

The Genie speaks

Sunday 6 October 2019, 08:34

Once there was a Sultan who fucking loved science. That was the slogan embroidered upon his robe.

On begging

Wednesday 7 December 2011, 18:06

December 2011 on Earth, but it is eternal midmorning on the third layer of the Astral Plane. THOMAS OF AQUINO, NICHOLAS FLAMEL, and K'UNG FU-TZU sit at a card table, in that order clockwise around the table. At the fourth, otherwise unoccupied, spot sits an ominous blue-painted Chinese porcelain ginger jar.

Henry and Eliza

Friday 7 June 2002, 14:21

Henry came home from work feeling as horny as Hell. He threw his coat across the back of a chair, kicked off his boots, and picked up the mouse from its spot on top of the pile of books on the kitchen table, next to the breakfast dishes. He didn't shower. Eliza wouldn't care.

The Number 13 Road

Saturday 1 November 2003, 17:18

It's an old joke, you've no doubt heard it before. There's this young woman, and she's decided to kill herself by jumping off a bridge. So just as she's standing there on the railing looking down at the river below, a young man sees her and says, hey, so you've decided to kill yourself, huh? And she says yes, that's the way things are, and she's all expecting him to try to talk her out of it, to say come on, life isn't so bad; maybe he'll offer to listen to her troubles, maybe he'll get all weepy and beg her to call it off, all that kind of thing. But he doesn't.

The delivery man and his death

Wednesday 30 November 2005, 17:15

The delivery man looked at the calendar on his wall and saw that the day was right, and he looked out his window and saw that the Sun had gone down a little over an hour ago, so the time was right, too. He put his bag of blessings over his shoulder and walked out into the gloom to do his job. Oh, not the one they paid him for, but his real job, the calling for which he was called the delivery man. Nobody said good-bye to him because he lived alone because of his sin.

Will McCarthy and the Screaming Avocados

Tuesday 9 November 2004, 17:11

[Belated Halloween story because of animation festival and urethral surgery. You've heard this plot before, of course, but it's a new telling, anyway.]

The rain was coming down in big sticky globs and the tour bus's back wheels spun for a fraction of a second, sending up a big fan-tail of muddy water, before they caught and the bus lurched out of its illegal parking space behind the shopping mall, onto what passed for a main highway in the little backwater town of Wheaton, Manitoba. It was a bus full of desires and Screaming Avocados.


Friday 30 November 2001, 22:51

I was in the computer lab, just finishing off the last of the coding for my assignment. There'd still be doc to do, and the way my luck was running they'd change the requirements again at the last minute anyway - Oh, didn't we mention that it had to be portable to the ZX-81? Gee, we thought that was obvious! - but I could deal with all that stuff in the morning. I heard a noise, and I looked up to see a man walking through the door. That was a little unusual. It was almost midnight and I was the only person in the place and he didn't look like a student anyway, nor a prof that I recognized. He was in his fifties, maybe. Medium height, thin, the most noticeable thing was his odd hairstyle - bald on top but long light brown hair in the back, drawn into a pony tail. He was wearing a black suit that looked heavily worn and a little too small for him, and several silvery metal rings high on the cartilege of each ear.

The blessed ones

Thursday 29 November 2001, 22:14

The blessed ones, damn them, I wish they'd leave me alone. They start in just when the moon is slipping into that eclipse position, just at the corners, the fringes. My peripheral vision is pretty good, I can detect movement in practically any direction, but I can only see clearly through my glasses. So when they start sneaking into my field of view I only see their vague forms, green and pink, right on the edge there, I can't see their faces at all.

Pink Terra

Tuesday 27 November 2001, 20:11

After Contact, all our petty global economic concerns became irrelevant. Large-scale hyperspace transport made imports cheap; almost anything that humans would want could be grown or manufactured more cheaply on some other planet. Like all new frontier worlds, Terra was forced to concentrate on its few unique local industries, the things we invented that no other planet had ever seen before.

Nothing new under Ra (100 words)

Friday 23 November 2001, 21:58


The soul that speaketh this chapter during the day of going forth shall dwell peacefully all its days within a grand tomb of noble stature.

Hail to thee Ra, and to thee, oh Horus and Thoth. Let this be the spell of the construction of my tomb, in just five days with minimal effort. It is known that this is perfectly legal in your sight. Let me place one stone upon each grave named on this list, and then upon adding mine own name to the

[remainder of text lost]

In the Devil's drawing-room

Wednesday 21 November 2001, 21:01

It is a place of thick red carpets and elaborate plasterwork. The furniture shows centuries, if not millenia, of wear, but has stood up well on the whole both in physical and stylistic terms. You wouldn't be able to guess just when some damned hand first rubbed that varnish.

Breaking fast with the code monks

Sunday 18 November 2001, 22:55

[thanks to Brother Headchalk for suggesting "nutella" as topic]

Breakfast was an adventure. I had to get up early to catch the bus back to Redmond; most of the compound's inhabitants were still asleep. Those guys like to get up late and hack all night. I wandered down into the communal kitchen, toyed with the idea of just chugging a couple of beers out of the "FAIB" cooler, and decided that it was still too early for that. Instead I looked in the fridge, finding some bread and an unlabelled jar of brown paste. I opened it and cautiously smelled it, and concluded that it was Nutella or some similar product. I thought I'd have some toast with some of the brown stuff.

Is that two point six?

Sunday 18 November 2001, 03:05


The auditors

Thursday 15 November 2001, 20:59

Every night when you close your eyes and your brain stops working, the workers all file out punching their cards in the time clock and they walk out the main doors in your ears, a few slip out your nose, they all go home to their families and their late dinners and it's all quiet and dark inside your head all except at the very back where the night manager sits at his desk waiting for all the regular employees to go. When the last swirls and eddies of dust come to rest, when the photocopiers all go onto power saver, somewhere behind your nose a pin drops to the floor and bounces like in that long distance commercial, and the night manager hears it all the way back where his desk is, because the night manager has very good ears and can hear things like that.

Inner night

Wednesday 14 November 2001, 21:09

Transportation must always follow geography. Conventional water-boats travel over rivers, lakes, and oceans, and the cities that grow fat and prosperous on the strength of boats are those that are well-situated for their loading and unloading. Railways have their own logic of grades and directions, the open spaces and the convenient passes for the tracks, and the cities feel the benefit at intersections of major routes or where it is convenient to transfer goods to other modes. Air transportation has fewer constraints, but given that you will build an airport near some given city, you bet you're going to think hard about where to put it. You want to avoid (if I may make so bold as to mention it) having planes fall apart just after takeoff and drop pieces all over high-density population areas. On purpose or by accident hardly even matters to the people it lands on.

At the WCOC '01

Monday 12 November 2001, 22:58
[View source for Usenet headers]

Date: 13 Nov 2001 01:58:29 -0500

Summary: Intended to post this Nov 12, but beer and bad company intervened,
    and I spent the final hours of Monday watching Monty Python and smiling
    and nodding to much greater than the LD50 of other people's RPG

The World Counting Out Championships were held last week in Exeter, UK.
Opening ceremonies began Monday afternoon, with the national anthems of all
eight finalist countries, a selection of baton twirling and marching band
performances from local high schools, and so on.  Also included in the
ceremonies were speeches by the foreign ministers from Switzerland and
Canada, who (as the top-scoring nations not among the finalists) were
providing counters.  The ceremonies were followed by the traditional opening
count-out among the captains of the teams.  This would not directly count as
part of the tournament, but would determine the scheduling of matches for
Tuesday and Wednesday.

Occupational hazards

Friday 9 November 2001, 20:57

I guess every line of work has its risks. Too much time in the lab and those innocent pretty little droplets will whittle your brain down to a nub of harsh organometallic white noise. Climb one too many towers and even if you don't fall the RF will get to you. Keyboards and carpal tunnel, you get the idea. Sure, I'm being obscure and I don't even really know half the shit I talk about, but those are parts of the price for who I am.

Thing In A Jar

Wednesday 7 November 2001, 17:52

[OCRed and hand-corrected, from a page found in a recycling bin in the East photocopier area, lower level, Davis Centre Library, University of Waterloo, at about 6pm on Wednesday 7 November 2001. It seemed to be a photocopied page (page 37) from a book. I searched the bins but couldn't find any other pages from the same book, nor was the book among those on the nearby table of books to be reshelved. If anyone can identify it, please let me know.]

Cantor vernacular petrify unfledged

Saturday 3 November 2001, 05:28

There are no meaningless words: for every sequence of sounds there exists an entry in the Great Dictionary. There are no wasted names. Although some unfortunates must walk unnamed eternally without a finite name, indeed, by the measure of infinity, all but a vanishingly small countable number of us, on the other side every possible name identifies a being. Though we may seek to drown significance in the psuedorandom noise floor, or to create fictional characters entirely disjoint from the world we know, it is a doomed procession into the infinite distance - for every word we speak implies the language that defined that word, and names the first person who spoke that language.

Projector's credit union

Friday 2 November 2001, 07:02

I went to open an account at the Projector's Credit Union. The PCU branch was tucked away behind the flashy modern CIBC branch, so that one would have to drive through the CIBC parking lot to get there. It was a small square building that looked like an old converted house, sitting at the edge of the parking lot among some scrubby blackberry bushes. I had chosen to deal with the Projector's Credit Union largely on the recommendation of my sister, who had told me that the tellers there were cute girls.


Thursday 1 November 2001, 12:04

This is a secured semi-anonymous connection. We know who you are, and can authenticate that. You don't know who we are specifically, but you can easily guess in general terms. Nobody else needs to know what's discussed on this connection, or that we ever had this conversation at all, unless one side chooses to reveal it.

The Reverend John Pickett and the damage done

Saturday 9 December 2000, 13:37

The son of Abraham and Mary Pickett was born on an overcast Sunday morning in May of the year of Our Lord 2015. When the Reverend Frederic McAuley performed the baptism, he held the screaming baby up to the light and asked the parents what his name should be, and in a choked-up voice Abraham Pickett said "John, call him John," and John Pickett was his name.

Mistakenly thought to be djinn

Sunday 4 April 2010, 17:41

First appeared in talk.bizarre, July 1997

You must know that Man was not the first of the Earth's masters.

A great many unusual people may be seen in the marketplace of Damascus on any hot summer day, but the Adept was definitely out of the ordinary.  She strode, alone and proud, though the crowd which parted unconsciously.  Foreigners have written that one veiled woman looks like any other, but even the quality of the material of Fatima's veil distinguished her from the rest.  The locals, accustomed to making the most of whatever they could get, stared outright, all as if they'd never seen a woman before.  They undressed her in their minds as she passed by.  The year, in your infidel's reckoning, was 738.


Friday 2 April 2010, 17:37

This is a re-posting of an item that first appeared in Livejournal, in October 2004.

One day the Fox met the Bunny, eating grass at the edge of a big field.  "Hey," he said, for no particular reason, "let's race to the other side of this field." "Okay," said the Bunny.  So she hopped and he ran, and the Fox made it across the field just a little bit ahead of the Bunny.  "I win!" he said, and went on his way.  "Bye!" called the Bunny happily, and went back to eating grass.  The Turtle had been watching them, and he said, "I want to do that, too."

Yon and Tinu

Sunday 23 April 2000, 21:25

There are settlements in the great Western forest where people are born, live their whole lives, and die without ever seeing a road or a cleared area bigger than one household's vegetable garden. Why not? It would be more than a week's hard riding from the middle of the forest to the nearest civilized land, and the forest folk just aren't interested in the world beyond. They live comfortably on what they grow, gather, and hunt among the trees. People seldom ride out from their own settlement.

Light and speed

Sunday 2 February 1997, 12:13

It's not so easy to find a primitive, backward culture anymore. Satellite constellations can lay down a gigahertz on every square kilometer of the Earth's surface and where there's a signal there will be receivers. We need not even mention the orbitals. The painters may be naked - they may be using mud pigments and hair brushes. You might mistake them for a tiny group of prehistoric people somehow cut off from the march of progress for thousands of years. That would be a mistake. Machines dug this cave, the hair for the brushes was grown by bacteria in a bottle, and the design taking shape on the wall does not represent an animal to be hunted. Not exactly.

The sing-song of unknown Kadath

Sunday 11 August 2002, 19:25

Not always was Antarctica a cold and barren wasteland, but a lush green continent of ghoulish degraded tribes. They were grey and they were rubbery and dined upon corpses. They made a nameless sacrifice and danced upon a mountaintop and called up the Lesser God Yig.

Eight knights of the dragon

Tuesday 30 March 2010, 14:30

0 (the dragon)

And once upon a time, the villagers used to say, there was a dragon that lived at the bottom of that cave, yes the one over there.  It would steal maidens.  Of course, those days are long gone now, they said.  But things like dragons don't go away just because people stop believing, and people don't stop believing just because things like dragons have gone away.

And upon any time that a young woman would be lost, killed, or harmed in any way, the old folks would nod their heads and say wise words about the nature of dragons, and the young boys would hunt and kill the little brown lizards that hid in rock walls in that part of the country, as if those harmless creatures were to blame for looking like dragons.  It was easier than entering the cave to face the supposed dragon directly.