A Query and a Caution

I don’t suppose any of you know anything about this?:

I found it in my laptop bag the other day. I have no idea how long it was lurking in there. It might be there yet if my accursed Dell laptop hadn’t finally crapped out beyond any hope of redemption, forcing me to clean out all its effects and go shopping for a replacement. (An ASUS, as it turns out. I’ve spent most of the week loading it up. It’s got this built-in camera that literally tracks you with crosshairs every time you wake it up. Supposed to be some kind of facial-recognition gimmick, but really it just looks as if it’s trying to snipe you.)

Anyhow, the mix disk inside the jewel case has about a hundred tracks on it. Titles like “Stigmata” and “Satellite Mind” and “Christianity is Stupid”. I look forward to loading them up on my player and taking them running. But I wish I knew where the damn thing came from. For all I know someone actually put it in my hand to squees of delight, and I’ve forgotten the moment (there was a certain amount of celebrating after Squidgate wound down). In which case I’m an ingrate with Alzheimer’s, and I apologize. But I’d still like to know. I promise to remember this time.

That’s the query. Here’s the caution.  If any of you should happen to hear rumors to the effect that:

  • I have an unacknowledged bastard son, who
  • Has committed numerous acts of intimidation, arson, and attempted murder at my behest; and/or that
  • The whole border fiasco was part of a conspiracy within the US Military to destabilize the Obama administration, somehow involving a sociopath from seventies-era repertory theatre who later grew up to provide the audio-text narration for Blindsight; or, alternatively, that
  • The whole border fiasco had nothing to do with the fine and upstanding US military, but was cooked up by myself and Cory Doctorow (and possibly William Gibson); and that
  • I have ruthlessly turned my friends into hapless dupes who don’t know who they’re really dealing with; or alternatively that
  • Said friends are “bad people” I have unwittingly surrounded myself by; or
  • allegations of similar pedigree, possibly involving mind-control, bridges at midnight, and Farsi

… let me just state up front that none of it is true. At least, none of the stuff that has to do with me is true; no bastard child, no multiple counts of attempted murder, no mind control. I just want to get that out of the way, because someone has actually been making such allegations. Back when they were only writing letters to the Justice Department and Homeland Security, I pretty much let it slide; but they’ve started approaching friends and fans now — and they have posted to the crawl on more than one occasion — so I thought maybe I should mention it.

It’s probably nothing to worry about. I don’t blame this person; they’ve obviously got some serious short-circuitry happening upstairs, and are not responsible for their actions. (I know, I know; who is?) Still, this person took a wrong turn on the Jersey turnpike and “accidentally” ended up in Toronto a while back, so you never know. And the weird thing is, they can seem perfectly rational — even charming — in person. I know I was flabbergasted to see some of these e-mails.

So, one more time: no kid. No attempted murders. No mind control.

Government conspiracies are always possible, I suppose.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Sunday June 20 2010at 08:06 am , filed under misc, public interface, Squidgate . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

65 Responses to “A Query and a Caution”

  1. Now you have arrived. The advent of the crazy stalker heralds you becoming a celeb.

    *sniff*

    We’re all so proud.

  2. I know! I haven’t even received my first hate mail! I did attract the attention of some off fellow who tends to post to USENET and found a posting his (or hers) that I repeated, but no freak outs.

    What am I doing wrong?

  3. I think Hljóðlegur up there stated it best. I know Blindsight is Reddit’s favorite book right now. Your fan base is growing. You keep writing these things and you might end up with more creepy people breathing heavily by/on you.

  4. Could be leftover chicanery from Squidgate. Suggest you keep your lawyer and computer experts handy; there’s no telling what these critters will get up to next.

  5. Hey, you knew what you were getting into when you signed up to be a MIDLIST SCIENCE FICTION AUTHOR.

    Okay, so that was crass. I hope the crazies find somewhere else to be crazy soon.

  6. I would be slightly concerned if this happened to me…

    Good luck with this new stalker-trouble, sir! (can always get your bastard son to take him/her out) 😉

  7. Are you sure the disk of unknown origins did not contain a trojan?

  8. Peter you’re a dick. You give me the hope that I may be the illegitimate squidling and then you snatch the hope away. Not only illegitimate squidling, but also some sort of international espionage black-ops guy too!

    For shame sir, for shame.

  9. If it makes you feel any better, Peter, Google knows nothing of this.

  10. Oh dear. Time to read some Gavin de Becker books?

  11. That cd weren’t me. I only did the one Rorschach-inspired mp3, but I am now totally feeling housed by any fan who did a whole album. Dammit, I knew I should have waited until I’d taken a crack at also scoring the Meesh & Isaac (&Siri snooping) scene…

  12. In 1969 Jimi Hendrix was arrested on arrival at Pearson Airport in Toronto because he had hash in his baggage. He appeared at Old City Hall in Toronto, which is a gorgeous old courthouse and still an active criminal court. The thought of Hendrix in florid neo-Edwardian neon velvet in that gorgeous antique building is worth a moment of meditation before going on.

    Ok, moving on. Hendrix argued (well, mostly likely his lawyer argued it, but that’s the standard terminology)… he argued that the drugs — like the disc you describe — *must* have been put in his luggage by a fan because *he* certainly didn’t put it there. *Honest your honour.* And he won. Amazing: he was acquitted .

    So, whatever is on that disc, I’m glad you’ve made it clear that it doesn’t come from you. ‘Cause I’d hate to see you back before the courts my man.

  13. Jukka Sarasti is alive and well living in Toronto, it seems. I would definitely congratulate you on your inevitable ascension to celebdom if it weren’t actually more than a bit scary.

    Never happened to me, but few years ago an old colleague of mine ( a radio personality of some renown over here) was being stalked by a lovesick middle-aged woman with some pretty obvious mental problems. And – according to my friend – it definitely wasn’t as fun as it might sound.

    I really hope yours is more of the harmless variety, but be careful out there…

  14. The CD is from the stalker. You’re the first-ever victim of the modern science of memetic warfare. Expect to lose fine motor control within three hours of listening to Track 3. Less, should your subconscious be smarter than I think. At any rate, have fun with respiratory arrest on day three!

  15. Inspired by Ted Chiang: http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/under.htm

  16. Three words (sorta)
    Orbital.
    Mind-Control.
    Lasers.

  17. Hmm. Being stalked does not make life so fun, as I myself have found out.

    Dell? Gee, why not pick that apple off of the computer tree? Jobs would love you for it. iMac therefore I am.

  18. Not only that, but he’s using left-handed DNA. The fiend!

  19. Peter… We control the horizontal… We control the vertical…

    *ahem*

    I’ve had a stalker, I found it decidedly surreal. Mine just wanted to be my friend though. Yours sounds like he’s either trying to put you in jail or wants to be recruited. Hopefully his running time is akin to The Outer Limits too.

    Those read like some potentially interesting songs though. If you’ve not heard of Tom Lehrer, you may thoroughly enjoy his material as well. An Example:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f72CTDe4-0&feature=related
    He covers a variety of topics, very amusing… though also eerie in that a number of the issues he sings about are still of concern. =P

    Be well! And keep those doors locked!

  20. If I was a government stooge, wanting to infiltrate your computer so I could really get the goods on your for an extradition and actual jail time, I’d put windows spyware on something you’d be likely to insert into an orifice of your laptop, and arrange for it to land up somewhere you’d pay attention to it. Re: Mr Doctorow, you may have read “Little Brother”?

    regards, from the paranoid section (and yes, some acquaintances of mine are provably under surveillance by the SIS in .nz)

  21. Well you would deny everything, wouldn’t you?

  22. “I have an unacknowledged bastard son.”

    Anyone who knows you would find this very hard to believe. However, replace the word unacknowledged with unknown and the plausibility increases exponentially.

  23. You are way too young for Alzheimer’s. Hmm, I am envisioning that you would be a great Dad Dude. Just think of how fun it would be to have tall, brainiac, curmudgeonly, Jethro Tull loving larva who know all about cephalopods, sociopaths and deep far outta space.

  24. It could be that someone has been collecting your drinking cups at cons and you have a bastard watts squid chimera out there waiting to be decanted.

    Ps. Did you know that we have some states (Arizona?) in the US that have banned animal/human chimera? wtf.

    Pps. Dang, there goes ever thinking that we could roll in to Toronto on a road trip through Canada and invite you out to lunch.

  25. I’m sorry. You deserve a young, pretty, female stalker. The kind that sneaks into your bed while you’re sleeping and you wake up with your arm around her 😉

    God. I’ve been told multiple times by my psychiatrist that I should try writing books. But I’m not really into it. Though the perks..
    I probably won’t get stalkers if I end up working as a gunsmith :-(

  26. Dang, Shiela – don’t you know that a-settin out on the front porch with an over-n-under acrosst yer knees is jes thuh Tronto way of sayin, “Howdy, stranger!”

  27. Psh, Peter, you should use this as a platform to start even more rumors. You could be the Van Halen of underrated sci-fi authors.

    There’s hookers and blow in it for you, that’s all I’m saying.

  28. “Satellite Mind”? Is that anything like “Radar Love”? Or “Rocket Man”?

    Too bad you don’t have a way to make some “sounds” on your newscrawl, Peter, then we could all “squee with delight” and partake in the aural enjoyment of your rDNA Disc.

    What kind of music is it then?

    Alright alright. After your run with the music, you can let us know what kinda genre it is.

    Judging from the few song title teasers, “Stigmata” (Stick Ma Tongue?), “Satellite Mind” (aka~Radar Love), “Christianity is Stupid” (aka~Supernatural Love Stinks), you revealed, (and someone said something about someone being a *Richard* aka~ dick, and wistful illegitimate squidling regret) sounds a bit like an unnatural recombinant mix of heavy metal and retro-neoagey spacey revival about moody love sure to make your head swell with sensations not suitable for larva, while visionary *FC* emoticons shuffle, fuddle and shuck your mind. :)

    p.s. If you cooked your ordeal up, man, dude, you should compete on Top Chef, with the beautiful and scathingly blunt Padma Parvati Lakshmi, or Iron Chef with the martial artist/actor Mark Dacascos (from Hawaii!).

    Unless you feel like Hell’s Kitchen is the way to go and being yelled at by Chef Gordon Ramsay is a piece of cake with sweet bon bons.

    p.s.s. There is a song, “Stigmata”, from a 1990 movie entitled
    “Hardware”, aka “M.A.R.K. 13”, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film, as well as
    a song by some industrail metal band called Ministry, from their
    Saskatchewan influenced album, “The Land of Rape and Honey”. Oh my.

    Hmm. I am blindly seeing a pattern here.

  29. “Land of Rape and Honey” — that’s the one, I think. At least, that phrase showed up in the disk’s metadata.

    I remember Hardware. Pretty good, given the budget. Some bad voice dubbing, though.

  30. This: http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1662 seems strangely fitting.

  31. I have ruthlessly turned my friends into hapless dupes who don’t know who they’re really dealing with

    You are Harlan Ellison after experimental rejuvenation therapy. You moved to Canada (seeking vengeance on its population for the travesty of The Star Lost) and have employed an aged character actor whom no remembers to play ‘you’ in LA and appear at conventions.

    Vasectomy, rants, physical altercations….it all fits.

  32. Further evidence of Peter’s ascent into respectability (of a raffish sort) – you’re mentioned in the comments of a Crooked Timber entry (http://crookedtimber.org/2010/06/17/john-gray-on-science-fiction/#more-16275).

    Something about the perfectibility of humanity.

  33. Dude, you’ve got a case of stalkers. SO COOL.
    Especially since their delirium appears more than a little bit thematically appropriate to you fiction (at least the mind control/military conspiracy part) 😉

  34. Peter revealed: “I remember Hardware. Pretty good, given the budget. Some bad voice dubbing, though.” Ah, the good ole days of B-movie fun and escape. :) When life was seemingly simpler…where are those killer tomatoes…

    Question of Utmost Importance!

    Even more than BP giving an honest, straight, clear, we actually do care about the *small people* affected by the Gulf Coast Muck-Up answer, acknowledgment that BP should be held to a higher level of punishment than the Jar Jar Binksian Yousa Ina Some Deep Doo Doo with alleged Chicago-Style flim flam shakedown up the ying yang flourishes, and the what-the-heck ongoing puzzling pickle predicament tweedly dum dum CEO-Hayward PR Fuck-Ups, many demand an answer to this burning question~ Why is the alleged illegitimate squidling not a bastard daughter?

    Well? Is it the supposed importance of that proud and mighty appendage?

    How can that be? What is so darn important about one-eyed, blind, mindless Mr. Johnson?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

    I must say that a warped mind is a terrible thing to waste, although one may end up in a dilly of a pickle. A warp speed mind would be better.

  35. *Well? Is it the supposed importance of that proud and mighty appendage?*

    …Well, it’s what the unacknowledged bastard son uses to commit attempted murder.

    Best not to ask further. Trust me on this one.

  36. Especially since their delirium appears more than a little bit thematically appropriate

    Hey, would you not say it makes sense that a person attracts stalkers in their own particular idiom ? They attract fans who have the same types of thoughts and ideas, and friends and lovers who have the same types of thoughts and ideas, and with the internet to bring people together from all over the globe, artists and free-thinkers and, yes, loonies with the same ideas and concerns.

    RandomJ: Do you smell trans-3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid in all this?

    I have to stand by the shotgun gently resting across the knees, even if it’s a metaphorical firearm. It’s not actively hostile, very Atticus Finch, it’s not hiding, and it lets them know you know they’re standing out by the hedge watching the house…..

    It’s the false intimacy of the internet combined with the false intimacy of celebrity, then add schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder, and you got girls who have wallpapered their bedrooms with thousands of photos of you, including the ceiling, shellacced them down, and posted an index of this masterpiece, with each photo numbered as to what it is and how it pertains to your life, in her blog.

    Then she’s making threatening phonecalls to your wife, stealing your garbage, and is angry at you because you changed the brand of footware you’re sporting. Consider how much work, how much time and thought JMGrinder went to to bad-mouth Watts all over the damn intarwebs? That’s love. Or something.

    Price of fame. I still say even a metaphorical shotgun is useful, as well as being plain that you see them coming. Which I guess is what this post is about?

  37. You are such a loser. I gave you that, remember? Email me. I’ve been sick. It’s a long story., Was going to call you after Evelyn Evelyn but then my entire life took a detour to hell, and I’m just seeing this now,

  38. I am sorry I am sorry. I am a doof. I am a senile doof. One mystery solved, at least.

    I don’t suppose you bore me a son child back in 1989, did you?

  39. Yeah, it’s an idiot bastard child doddering in a secure facility for the criminally insane.

  40. Flanders sez: …Well, it’s what the unacknowledged bastard son uses to commit attempted murder.

    Best not to ask further. Trust me on this one.

    *trying not to ask further*
    *trying not to ask further*
    *trying not to ask further*

    Oh, hell. Okay, outside of having HIV, if you can kill with your schlong, you’re obviously like Thor’s son or Zeus’ son, not Peter’s.

  41. The other stuff I’ll accept, but come on, be honest.

    Can you really tell us you’re not at least experimenting a LITTLE with mind control?

  42. How is it that this blog always reverts back to discussions about the penis? Take an innocent discussion about stalkers and bastard children and you folks out there always seem to bring it back to the penis. What’s up with that?

  43. Penises are awesome implements of doom. It’s not that we try to bring it back to dicks, they just happen to pop up all the time (badum TSSH)

    I think the original penis discussion was actually Peter’s fault IIRC. So, I don’t know, blame him? What do you have against our valiant members anyways? >:(

  44. Nothing against them at all. Some of my favorite people possess them. I just didn’t realized they were constantly locked and loaded to kill. Makes me kinda leery about going to sleep tonight…

  45. @proudinjun:

    Madam – the Penis is only dangerous in the hands of the amateur. In the hands of a practiced penis-wielder, they’re a force for Good.

    And lemme tell you, the people on this list have years of practice.

  46. “I see your schwartz is as big as mine…”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S25Zf8svHZQ

    *ahem*

  47. @Hljóðlegur:

    Well, schiz is not unlikely in stalker cases, especially when highly systematic delusions are also apparent.

    Having said that, there are many other diseases that can cause one to become a stalker.

  48. Delighted to note it’s not the objects of my paranoia hunting you down. regards

  49. Peter is nowhere near egotistical enough to be Harlan Ellison. Self-involved, maybe…egotistical, don’t see it. Peter could be his own stalker and his own bastard son, a la cutting edge sf stories of the 1950’s. And in a way, couldn’t we all be Peter’s bastard/stalker…of the mind? I’d like to think so. The real question is how he got that tatoo of me on his ass that’s composed of machine code*. Cause if he breaks the universe one more time….

    I leave it as an exercise for the reader to interpret the ambiguity in that sentence.

  50. (blog meta question: woa, I just noticed in my browser helpful rrs icon thing that one can subscribe to comments on specific posts, not just the blog. I’ve never subscribed to comments before, I always just came back to reload the page later, once I realized people posted interesting and entertaining stuff here. is there a way to subscribe to comments in general in wordpress, or does one have to do it post by post (tedious! and I’m so lazy))

    (Ps. over here it’s baseball bats rather than shotguns, but to be honest, I have no fighting chops, so for me it is hide or run like hell. so, no joining a posse in the fight against stalkerdom sorry to say.)

    (Pps. I miss usenet.)

  51. PrivateIron: Peter could be his own stalker and his own bastard son, a la cutting edge sf stories of the 1950’s. And in a way, couldn’t we all be Peter’s bastard/stalker…of the mind? I’d like to think so. .

    Well, Peter is functionally his own cyberstalker every time he googles himself.

    What was that sci if work? the guy becomes a woman and gives birth to himself, loops back and meets himself in a bar? That wasn’t an Ellison story, I don’t think.

    And, dude, everyone has a tattoo of you on his butt in machine code. It’s just flesh-colored.

  52. What was that sci if work? the guy becomes a woman and gives birth to himself, loops back and meets himself in a bar

    I don’t know from the 50s but my first thought was of something more like A Scanner Darkly.

  53. The Man Who Folded Himself. David Gerrold.

  54. ah HA!!! Thanks!! Older guys know more stuff, don’t they.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Folded_Himself

    I was thinking, “All You Zombies,” by Heinlein. Jeez,. how many of these “I Got Myself Knocked Up” stories are there out there?

  55. I’m not surprised Peter’s drawn himself a stalker. His work with Mott the Hoople was groundbreaking stuff, man.

  56. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_My_Own_Grandpa

    Just saying, time travel ain’t strictly necessary.

  57. I too was thinking all you zombies.

  58. proudinjun said:
    “How is it that this blog always reverts back to discussions about the penis?”

    Sorry, sorry. I could not resist. Allister01 called Peter a dick, and made some wistful regret thingy about not being the squidling, so I asked myself why is it a son and not a daughter? (Splice just came out, and like Species, both of the “creatures” were “female”.) Allister01 had, if you recall, made a big thing about that swell “Peacock Theory”, so it just all made sense.

    And said: “Take an innocent discussion about stalkers and bastard children and you folks out there always seem to bring it back to the penis. What’s up with that?”

    Hmm, perhaps the discussion was innocent, although I am not so sure anyone on here can raise their hand and claim innocence per se, unless anyone on here has lived and is still living their life in a convent…

    But alas, it was I, as far as I can see, regarding this thing, that did bring back the shwing, with a swing, to get the thing, going, about Peter’s alleged fling, the coupling, that created the sociopathic being, with a thing, that made me sing as to why one must cling, to the notion of Peter’s squid-ling, with a ding-a-ling, is the thing, when badass girls are striving, to ass kick that thing, into the stratosfear, with a wing, and a prayer, believing, it really is nothing, therefore sensing, that elevating, squidly offspring with that thing, is not believing, nor rising, in one’s self and being, that one does not need that thing, darling, as their fleshly plumbing.

  59. I was mostly thinking of Heinlein’s story, but I was sure the same trope must have been used a dozen times while it was still “cool.” Mainly, I was pimping the return of new iterations of Bender on the HypnoToad. And just saying, but if my master The HypnoToad was in charge, he wouldn’t need to hold summits with billion dollar security budgets. Think about it, won’t you?

  60. , but I was sure the same trope must have been used a dozen times while it was still “cool.”

    There are movies as well, but I didn’t want to mention them for fear of spoiling. aha, I know:

    svtug pyho. nyfb gung wbua phfnpx zbivr gung V pna’g erzrzore gur anzr bs. jvgu gur crbcyr genccrq fbzrjurer orvat uhagrq ol n arsnevbhf frevny xvyyre.

    http://www.rot13.com if you need help

  61. Va n zbgry. Rkprcg ernyyl va uvf urnq.

  62. Identity

  63. Whuh? Okay, nobody in svtug pyho was their own parent or grandparent – that’s the moldy old trope.

  64. Yeah, but they were all the same guy in Identity. Hmmm… the plot thickens.

  65. It’s not the moldy trope, upthread I said I didn’t know those… so what comes to mind, rather, are things like A Scanner Darkly with [name] narcing himself, or the movies where someone is unknowingly hunting or obsessed with his self.

    which movies I have enjoyed but have had to suspend disbelief for whether anyone would experience a split in that way. plus it comes periously close to it was all a dream.

    (in unrelated news, have squid lovers seen the recent vid of a vampire squid turning inside out?)