September 1st, 2004


you've been warned...

One cold, wet night in downtown Birmingham, sometime in November 2002, I was standing on the sidewalk outside my apartment with Rogue (he of The Crüxshadows). We were on our way to see the second Harry Potter movie, but that's not here, there, or anywhere else. We were standing on the sidewalk, damp and shivering, talking about the stresses of being a writer and the stresses of being a musician, and which was worse, which was better, and so forth. We began to talk about getting older and finding ourselves in a situation where we at least feel as though it's very important that we appeal to people much younger than ourselves and how that required a certain degree of glamour. And, at some point, he said "You're sort of like the Oscar Wilde of dark fantasy," not meaning to imply that I was a foppish Victorian man with an acerbic wit and a taste for pretty boys, but rather that I have gotten a reputation for a decidedly flamboyant, decadent mode of dress in a field where most of my peers dress very, very, very casually. Okay, well I do have a thing for pretty boys, and I love Victorian fashion, have, in fact, often dressed Victorian, and if I weren't a woman I'd certainly be a fop...but, in this case, Rogue was talking about my disdain for the default writerly uniform of our day — a t-shirt, jeans, athletic shoes, etc. I am, in short, a goddamn clothe's horse.

Anyway, the reason I'm bringing all this up is because I intend to be a little bit more casual at Dragon*Con this year, and I don't want anyone keeling over in disbelief. I'd feel responsible. No, I'm not going to be wearing T-shirts or jeans or athletic shoes, but, for one thing, I won't be having my hair colored, because of the recent sinus trouble (the airbrushed makeup on Sunday is already going to do a number on my sinuses). So you might see roots. You might even see grey hair. I have a lot of it these days. I'm not in the mood to be the Oscar Wilde of anything at the moment. I hope you'll forgive me. I'll try to be truer to my reputation in the future.

I'm having one of those mornings where a lot of stuff I mean most sincerely comes out sounding somewhat sarcastic. Oh, yeah. Oscar Wilde.

I am getting a haircut today, though, 'cause this sheepdog thing just isn't doing it for me.

I sort of worked on "Bradbury Weather" yesterday. I say sort of because unless I'm actually writing prose I rarely feel like work is work. I spent several hours researching zeppelins, Martian aerodynamics, hydrazine, nitrogen tetroxide oxidizers, entomopters, and the problems one encounters with propellers and rotors in a thin atmosphere. Turns out, putting zeps on Mars is not as easy as I'd hoped (but nothing ever is). Consider the following:

On Mars, with a sea level equivalent pressure of only 0.7 percent that of Earth, a ten-foot cube of hydrogen would weigh about seven one thousandths as much as on Earth, or about 3.5 thousandths of a pound. But even the Martian atmosphere, at a near vacuum, only weighs in at about a tenth of a pound. So the net difference in weight would be about ninety-six and a half thousandths of a pound. This means that to get a full 73 pounds of lift, we would need about 760 such cubes. Fortunately, Martian gravity is only thirty seven percent that of Earth. So we need even fewer cubes, about 280 cubes. So to carry the same payload on Mars as on Earth we are looking at a design that begins almost 300 times as large as a similar vehicle on Earth [italics mine - CRK]. This sounds extreme, but amounts to a cube of hydrogen on Mars of 67 feet on a side producing our net 27 pounds of lift. Ignoring such pesky add-ons such as structural weight, a dirigible made to lift one person of 200 Earth pounds, or 74 Martian pounds, would need about three Mars-sized cubes for lift. Four people would need a dozen, plus another dozen for payload, and another couple of dozen for fuel and structure. This means a spherical balloon would need to hold almost 50 volumes of a third of a million cubic feet each to be useful. A dirigible of 17 million cubic feet is called for, about triple the size of the Hindenburg.

And I need zeps that can carry dozens of people and a significant cargo payload.

I also talked with Bill Schafer, for whom I am writing "Bradbury Weather" for the Subterranean Magazine. He's decided do make the second issue a "Caitlín R. Kiernan" issue, which will include "Bradbury Weather" and another story, plus the first real interview I've given since the spring of 2002. I'll tell you more about this when I know more, but it'll be cool.

I'd tell of my most recent exploits in Vvardenfell, but I should probably do something less annoying.
  • Current Music
    David Bowie, "A Small Plot of Land"