Promethea

An essay by Victoria Farthingstone, as told to Maureen Bowden
Art by Luke Spooner


Grandma lived in the attic. I’d never seen her, but sometimes, as I lay in bed at night, I’d hear her singing. The most frequent inclusions in her repertoire were “There’s a Place For Us” from West Side Story and “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” from Annie Get Your Gun. She was a mid-range baritone.

Mother cooked Grandma’s meals and left them on a tray at the bottom of the attic staircase, collecting the dirty dishes from the same spot an hour later. She also left a clean nightgown, bathrobe, bed linen, and various toiletries every week, and picked up dirty laundry. Neither of us ever climbed the stairs.

When I reached my teens I became curious. “Mother, where does Grandma go to the bathroom?”

“She has en suite facilities.”

“Why doesn’t she come downstairs and live with us?”

“She prefers her own company. Don’t pry, Victoria. No good ever came of it.” I recognised a warning when I heard it, and bided my time.

When I was sixteen, Grandma indirectly instigated our closer acquaintance. During my school’s summer vacation, I was alone in the house while Mother was at work. An hour after lunch, I collected the dirty dishes from their usual pick-up point, and I found a handwritten note on the tray. “Get me a darning needle, scissors, and some extra-strong thread.” I delved into Mother’s sewing box and found a needle and scissors but no thread exceeding normal strength. We kept a jar of coins under the sink. I grabbed a handful, stuffed them into my purse, and trotted off to the Art and Needlecraft shop run by Tegwyn ap Griffith, known as Welsh Teg. He and Mother were close friends. I wasn’t sure how close.

“Alright, Vic, what’s occurrin’?” he said.

“I need some extra strong thread, Teg.”

“Tidy. What colour is you after?”

“Dunno. It’s for my grandma and she didn’t say.”

“Grandma in the attic? She’ll be wantin’ Caucasian flesh coloured, isn’t it?” He tapped the side of his nose, and winked. I winked back, hoping it was the expected response. After foraging through a battered cardboard box under the counter he produced a cotton reel. “I won’t lie to you, Vic,” he said. “It’s a crackin’ bit of thread we got here, as it ‘appens. Tell Grandma it’ll last for years, like.”

I emptied the assorted coins out of my purse. “How much?”

“No charge. Have it on the house, and you tells your mam I’ll see her tonight at Wetherspoons, same time as usual.”

“Thanks. I’ll give her the message.”

“Tidy.”

My curiosity stamped its foot, demanding satisfaction, so after leaving the sewing accoutrements at the bottom of the attic staircase, I called, “Here’s the stuff you wanted, Grandma,” clomped down the landing loud enough for her to hear my retreating footsteps, hid behind Mother’s kangaroo vine in its bamboo pot, and waited.

The attic door creaked open. She descended the stairs. Her head was flat, her jaw was square, she had a bolt through her neck, and shoulders like Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was Frankenstein’s monster in a lilac nightdress.

Promethea

The attic door creaked open. She descended the stairs. Her head was flat, her jaw was square, she had a bolt through her neck, and shoulders like Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was Frankenstein’s monster in a lilac nightdress.I stifled a gasp, but she had excellent hearing. “Come out. I know you’re there,” she said. I inched out from behind the plant, getting ready to run. “Victoria, isn’t it?”


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016 collection.


Victoria Farthingstone is a Biology student at Keale University. Her innovative thinking and unorthodox approach to dissection have led her tutor to express the opinion that she has a future in the development of progressive reconstructive surgery.


Maureen Bowden is a Liverpudlian, living, with her musician husband, in North Wales, where they try in vain to escape the onslaught of their children and grandchildren. She has had fifty-one poems and short stories accepted for publication and she writes songs, mostly political satire, that her husband has performed in folk clubs throughout England and Wales. One of her stories was nominated by Silver Pen publishing for the 2015 Pushcart prize. She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.


Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.


“Promethea” is © 2015 Maureen Bowden
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Luke Spooner

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That Man Behind the Curtain: December 2015

Fitting In Kickstarter

Have I mentioned we have a Kickstarter? Because we totally have one.

This is a little late because we’ve been super busy with our Kickstarter. Here’s a look at last month’s numbers!

The Money Aspect

Amounts in parentheses are losses/expenses.

Hosting: ($17.06)
Stories: ($90.00)
Art: ($258.55)
Advertising: ($50.00)
Processing Fees: ($15.09)
Printing: ($353.14)
Donations: $79.00
Ad Revenue: $0.73
Book Sales: $64.55
Total: ($639.57)
QTD: ($1,182.26)
YTD: ($3,579.30)
All Time: ($14,144.04)

Last month I had an error in my spreadsheet that skewed my numbers a lot more than they should have been. Here’s to hoping I worked out all the bugs.

As per usual, I try to list costs for art and stories under the month that the stories run on the site rather than when I pay them. (This does not apply to special content which does not have a specific month associated with it.) Sales are for sales when they take place, not when it’s actually paid out to me. I also cover Paypal expenses when paying authors and artists as best I can. Paypal has made it more difficult, so I’m not as capable of covering international fees.

Submissions

We were closed to submissions in December. All time acceptance rate remains 48.84%.

Followers

Number of followers in social media as of the end of last month. Again, in order to better promote backing us through Patreon, we created a new Mad-Scientist-Journal-only Patreon.

Facebook: 1,053 (+7)
Twitter: 416 (-1)
Google+: 59 (+1)
Tumblr: 119 (+4)
Mailing List: 46 (+2)
Patreon: 6 (0)

Traffic

Our traffic was down further in December. We had a total of 620 visits. Our traffic consisted of 447 users and 1,053 page views. Our highest day of traffic was 36.

This month’s search engine term “mad scientist fanfic”.

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On Conveying Private Material and Persons in the Solar System

An essay by Prof M. A. De Bruin, as provided by Leenna Naidoo
Art by Leigh Legler


I’ve often been told that it is impossible for a private concern, much less a private individual, to set up a safe, secure, and self-sustaining enterprise on the Red Planet. Some have even taken my so-called obsession with Mars, and indeed, settling there, as a sign of mental illness. For this, I must thank those individuals who had me consigned to the Institute for three years, for it was there that I was forced to relax my mind, allowed to experiment with both sound and unsound ideas, and eventually to realise how exceedingly simple it would be to achieve my dream: my own self-sustaining legacy for the future of Mars!

Let me address the first concern of most scholars and engineers about setting up a base on Mars, or even the Moon: the cost of escaping Earth’s atmosphere.

It takes all that fuel (rocket fuel) to propel anything into our atmosphere and to achieve escape velocity. All one hears is: We must expend x amount of exorbitantly expensive fuel in order to create x amount of thrust for x amount of mass to reach escape velocity and then its ultimate destination.

While this was the way in the past, it is not the way of the future, or mine anyway. My calculations and experiments have shown me the remarkably simple, and massively cost-saving, way of conducting all my equipment and supplies into space and onto Mars utilising a simple and old-fashioned method–balloons! These balloons are, naturally, augmented by a few of my new and old inventions.

My calculations showed that the proper use of a fleet of helium balloons will elevate x amount of mass to a height of over 20,000 feet and thus reduce the amount of fuel used by at least 20% as compared to conventional methods!

At this height, my method calls for some ingenuity, if I say so myself, in order to propel my load into space and beyond. Here is where meteorology comes into play!

As the balloon mass glides across the skies, prior careful preparations will ensure that the balloons are near the upward draft of a large supercell storm! This upward draft will draw the balloons swiftly and effortlessly higher into the troposphere whilst simultaneously charging my patented plasma batteries, which are used for navigation and emergency power once out of Earth’s atmosphere. At the same time, of course, the higher pressures within the weather system will be working on the second stage propulsion device–one which is filled with compressed gunpowder. At the optimum pressure, a tiny lightning rod will be extended by each load cylinder attached to individual balloons. Nature will oblige in igniting the gunpowder, gravity will be stunned and escape velocity of the payload will be achieved. Nothing could be simpler!

On Conveying Private Material and Persons in the Solar System

The initial phase, as alluded to before, utilises balloons once more.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016 collection.


Prof M. A. De Bruin graduated in Physics at the University of Eindhoven. He completed his MSc at the University of Los Angeles. Returning to Eindhoven, he pursued a Post Doctorate in Applied Physics. He joined the Mars 2020 team in 2018, replacing Lisa Dereks who disappeared abruptly. In August 2019 De Druin suffered a nervous breakdown after a disastrous accident. Three years later, De Druin left the Happy Days Sanatorium to serve on the boards of two mining companies, Ironcore Ltd and Perseus & Pegasus Corp. In his spare time, he pursues his research and reads Terry Pratchett.


Leenna almost failed Physics at high school, passed first year Electronics for Video Technology easily, and has hankered to study physics further ever since. After quitting ESL Teaching in 2014, she has concentrated on writing women’s fiction and sci-fi/fantasy, including Situation No Win, How Not To Meet The Man of Your Dreams, and Here Be Monsters (set mostly on Mars). She is currently working on her novel, Incident At Wolfe Creek, which is not set on Mars, but on parallel worlds because her favorite theory has strings attached. Her blog is www.leennanaidoo.wordpress.com.


Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.


“On Conveying Private Material and Persons in the Solar System” is © 2015 Leenna Naidoo.
Art accompanying piece is © 2015 Leigh Legler.

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The Assessment

An essay by Doctor Riya Khan, as provided by Farah Ghuznavi
Art by Justine McGreevy


I’m not crazy, you know, even if they’ve sent me to you for an assessment! That’s the first step they take with any behavior considered deviant. But the real reason is that my husband wants me committed to a Rest-and-Reprogramming facility. It’s for “self-protection,” he’s told the Meditechs. For his own protection is what Jai actually means.

The consequences of marrying a much younger man crystallised with my daughter’s arrival. Jai didn’t want to be a grown-up, let alone a father. Asian cultural conventions still favour women marrying “mature” men. But I had realised that men never grow up anyway. So their age at marriage is irrelevant.

Yet despite my passion for working with Artificial Intelligents (or AIs, as the robots I had spent my professional life crafting were more commonly known), I found myself missing human companionship. I chose Jai because I’d spent too many years soaring in that lonely space above what they once called the glass ceiling. I’d made more money from my robotics patents than I could ever spend, even in our enhanced lifetimes. I yearned for a family, for motherhood. Was that so strange?

My male range-mates were all married. Most had multi-stage families by then. Their wives just kept getting younger, until some had daughters the same age as their latest marital trophy. Little was said beyond the inevitable eye-rolling that accompanied the “men will be boys”-type comments. Yet Jai was considered my aberrant consolation prize, the rich female singleton’s “joy-boy.” Dowry violence and female feticide have been relegated to fragments of past shame in the New Subcontinent, but some visceral attitudes linger insistently on, ignoring the fact that the welcome mat wore out long ago.

Once I held Maya in my craving arms, I didn’t care what anyone thought. I used eggs that I had frozen nearly two decades ago, but carried her internally instead of seeding her in one of those ubiquitous bio-capsules that litter the maternity units these days. “Risk-free reproduction,” they call it. Pain-free as well, of course. But then, why do it, if you feel nothing?

The Assessment

So I knew what was coming when Jai brought his humanoid robot home, ostensibly to help me with childcare. He called her “Pammie.” She was modelled on some ancient TV show about lifeguards that my husband insists was once the most popular tele-video programme broadcast on Earth. Whatever!

My problem was that I felt too much. Maya was premature, tiny and vulnerable. So after surreptitious advice from an older Helptech that the colostrum would make her stronger, I set aside my inhibitions and went ahead.

But when I continued breast-feeding, Jai claimed that I was reverting to a primitive state. And of course, nothing scares us more in the 25th century than the idea that we have anything in common with our backward ancestors!


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016 collection.


Born in 2253, in the region of the New Sub-continent once known as Bangladesh, Doctor Riya Khan is one of the greatest scientific minds of our times. Renowned for her work as a roboticist, Khan has pioneered multiple breakthroughs in her area of specialization, including the development of adaptive Artificial Intelligence. Author of several works considered standard texts for robotic students, Khan wrote the New American Times bestseller Adventures in Robo-Psychology, based on her experiences as troubleshooter for I-Corp, the largest global producer of Artificial Intelligenta. Currently on a leave of absence for personal reasons, Khan lives with her husband Jai, and baby daughter Maya, in Upper Bengal-Uru.


Farah Ghuznavi is a writer, newspaper columnist, and development worker, whose writing has been widely anthologized in the UK, US, France, Canada, Germany, Singapore, India, Nepal, and her native Bangladesh. Her story “Judgement Day” was awarded in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition 2010, and “Getting There” placed second in the Oxford University GEF Competition. Farah was Writer in Residence with Commonwealth Writers in 2013. She edited the Lifelines anthology (Zubaan Books, 2012), and subsequently published her first short story collection Fragments of Riversong (Daily Star Books, 2013). Her Facebook author page is at: https://www.facebook.com/FarahGhuznavi


Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.


This story originally appeared in Fragments of Riversong.


The Assessment is © 2013 Farah Ghuznavi
Art accompanying story is © 2015 Justine McGreevy

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Reconstructing Visual Memories from Brain Activity Using fMRI

An essay by Dr. Bertram Vu, as provided by Michael Goldstein
Art by Dawn Vogel


Abstract

Data recorded in the visual cortices using fMRI technology can provide reconstructed visual images and video to within 95% similarity to what the subject actually witnessed. Even after an appropriate delay between witnessing the event and performing the brain scan, the images were able to be reconstructed with greater than 95% accuracy. This experiment provides a way to extract information from prisoners and enemies without the need for interrogation or torture techniques.

~

Introduction

Accurately reconstructing what a subject has witnessed is a difficult task. For centuries, extracting information has relied on clever interrogation, pharmaceuticals, and brute force, or–in extreme cases–a combination of all three. Recently, human intelligence (hereafter, “HUMINT”) has relied on progressively gentler techniques. This is known as the “catching more flies with honey than vinegar” method. Despite an improvement in both the quantity and quality of information, its efficacy is still limited by human stubbornness and the natural uncertainty regarding witness testimony.

Despite the leaps forward in scientific progress in the last century, there is still a large gap between HUMINT techniques and available technology. In this paper, I present a new method for extracting information from subjects that eliminates the difficulties associated with subject willingness and the uncertainty of witness testimony.

Modeling dynamic brain activity is difficult, particularly when noninvasive methods are required or preferred. Currently, the best tool for noninvasive imaging is functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (hereafter, “fMRI”), which measures brain activity in real time by recording changes in blood flow. Blood flow in the brain is directly connected to neuronal activation, meaning that recording the hemodynamic changes within the brain gives direct insight into the areas of the brain in use.

This experiment took place in two separate parts using four different test subjects. The first part provided proof of concept, while the second was a full-scale test.

~

Reconstructing Visual Memories from Brain Activity Using fMRI

In both subjects, I was able to match the recorded local motion energy to one of the predicted models. This allowed me to reconstruct what the subject had seen with 95% accuracy, giving me the information desired without requiring the subject to cooperate.

Materials and Methods

For proof of concept, I placed two subjects in an fMRI scanner and recorded their brain activity while showing them six different high definition color videos. Each video was shown ten times to ensure proper encoding. The hemodynamics of the posterior and ventral visual cortices were encoded into voxels–three-dimensional versions of pixels that record volume, image, and position (in relation to neighboring voxels)–and given values for local motion energy and direction of flow.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016 collection.


Dr. Bertram Vu received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Vu is currently the Department Chair and a Principle Investigator of the Human Intelligence Development Group at Global Domination Solutions, Inc. He currently holds two patents for a portable fMRI machine.


Michael Goldstein dabbles in science fiction and is a gunner’s mate in the US Navy. He is also pursuing his degree in mathematics. Between all this, he somehow finds time for his very patient and very supportive wife, Ellie, and daughter, Avery.


Dawn Vogel has been published as a short fiction author and an editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Although art is not her strongest suit, she’s happy to contribute occasional art to Mad Scientist Journal. By day, she edits reports for and manages an office of historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. For more of Dawn’s work visit http://historythatneverwas.com/.


“Reconstructing Visual Memories from Brain Activity Using fMRI” is © 2015 Michael Goldstein.

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The End of the Beginning

An essay by Professor D’arby Swanson, as provided by Sean Kavanagh
Art by America Jones


I stood in line at the patent office, my device, my little miracle, bundled up in its box in front of me. It didn’t look like much, but I had burned my way through three grants, a marriage, and several friendships to make it work. Progress has its cost.

The buzzer sounded. No 55 flashed up on the board. My ticket was no 57. Soon.

A man came and sat next to me. I didn’t like the look of him. His briefcase was large–a little TOO large–the sort of thing you’d hide espionage equipment in. Was he scanning my device? Was he scanning me? Trying to get my secrets before I could patent them? These people …

I moved to another bench seat on the other side of the Patent Office, alone once more. Away from the mind reading mechanism or whatever it was he had in that bag. I wasn’t stupid. No. My rivals would do anything. Anything.

Buzz. No 56. One more to go.

Then, the old lady came and sat opposite. She smiled. SMILED! Who smiles at strangers? I held my device closer to me and checked in my pocket for the paperwork to file my patent.  I’d been up all night filling it in. Reading it. Re-reading it. All correct, every last detail.

She smiled again.

Why, I asked myself, was an old lady in a patent office?  What had the old crone got that was worth patenting? In fact, now that I looked, she wasn’t carrying anything. Not even a bag for her paperwork. A psychic? That was it. They’d sent a psychic to read my mind. Maybe she was working with the man with the bag? I could imagine the scam: she read my thoughts and he recorded them on a machine in the bag. Or maybe she was his back-up, sent in as I’d moved out of range of his equipment.

I moved as far down the bench as I could.

The End of the Beginning

“Please sir, no, not again—”


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016 collection.


Professor D’arby Swanson is a member of faculty at Oxbridge University, concerned with the study of very peculiar particles. He is currently on sabbatical from reality and engaged in more exotic personal projects of invention.


Sean Kavanagh works in commercials and TV, as well as being a prolific writer of his favourite form of fiction: the short story. He has published three anthologies on Kindle, as well as having stories published on 365 Tomorrows and in the 81Word fiction anthology. You can see more about him on his blog: http://seankavanaghauthor.blogspot.co.uk/


AJ is an illustrator and comic artist with a passion for neon colors and queer culture. Catch them being antisocial on social media @thehauntedboy.

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Now Available: Winter 2016

Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016If you’d like to read our stories before they appear on the site, plus get exclusive content that doesn’t appear on the site, perhaps you’d like to check out Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016! It’s available most places ebooks can be found, plus a few print book vendors. Here are some links:

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Jack the Giant-Killer: A Species Traitor?

Presented to the Journal of Ahistorical Archeology by Professor T. Phineas Munbar, Ph. D., Fellow, A. A. A., as provided by Dave D’Alessio
Art by Errow Collins


Giants were apparently more common in the past then they are today. The Bible refers to giants, as do Greek mythology, the Torah, and Dante’s Inferno. However, the first three date to thousands of years BCE, and the giants of Inferno are dead. Today “giant” is less a description than a sobriquet; for instance, wrestler Andre “the Giant” Roussimoff stood a mere 7 feet, 4 inches tall, shorter than basketball players such as Manute Bol and Shawn Bradley (each 7 feet, 6 inches), neither of whom was called a “giant.”

One of our best sources of information on giants is the story Jack the Giant-Killer (note 1), in which the titular hero encounters eight giants and kills seven of them in various manners. There is sufficient detail provided in this memoir to allow us insight into both the biology of giants and the nature of Jack himself, which will lead us to a new theory of the hero.

Jack’s Eight Giants

Jack is described as the son of a farmer in the general area of Cornwall, England. He has contact with King Arthur, which suggests that he lives in or around the year 700 CE and comes from a Celtic background. He launches into a career in giant killing as a financial venture, as he is offered the treasure belonging to a giant as an incentive to kill him. Later, his motivations will include self-defense and the desire to support his master, who is identified as “King Arthur’s only son.” (note 2)

In order, Jack meets:

  • Cormoran, who is reported as living on the Mount of Cornwall. Jack digs a pit, lures Cormoran into it, and then slays him with a pickaxe blow to the head (note 3);
  • Blunderbore and his unnamed brother. Blunderbore captures Jack in revenge for the killing of Cormoran; Jack improvises a dual noose, strangles the two giants into immobility, and then kills them with his sword;
  • An unnamed two-headed giant of Welsh extraction, who is portrayed as being not very bright. Jack tricks the Welsh giant into killing himself;
  • An unnamed three-headed giant that Jack describes to his master as “his uncle.” By pretending to be the giant’s cousin, Jack tricks the giant into giving him his entire fortune, and his coat of invisibility, cap of knowledge, sword of cutting, and shoes of swiftness;
  • An unnamed giant who carries a large iron club. Jack uses the coat of invisibility to get close enough to the giant to slay him with the sword of cutting;
  • Thunderdell, a two headed giant who comes to avenge the other dead giants. Jack tricks Thunderdell into chasing him onto a specially weakened drawbridge across a castle’s moat. The drawbridge collapses under Thunderdell’s weight, depositing him into the moat, where he founders until Jack, using a team of horses, drags him out and slays him with the sword (note 4); and
  • Galligantua, a giant who is allied with a sorcerer and keeps two griffons to protect his castle. Jack uses the coat of invisibility to sneak into the castle, deciphers a riddle predicting the overthrow of the giant, and cuts Galligantua’s head off with the sword of cutting as the giant stoops to pick up a club.

So, of the eight giants, only the three-headed giant survives, albeit without his most precious items or fortune (which Jack gives to his master).


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2015 collection.


T. Phineas Munbar is the current holder of the Benjamin Knout Chair of Extraordinary Esoterica at Bodmin Polytechnic Institute. His book, Rock Cornish Game Hens: AElfraed the Great’s Shock Troops, has been described as, “…ensuring that the author should never be considered for tenure, anywhere, at any time.”


Dave D’Alessio is an ex-industrial chemist, ex-TV engineer, and ex-award winning animator currently masquerading as a practicing social scientist. His work has appeared in Every Day Fiction, Stories in the Ether, and the Copperfield Review, as well as the upcoming anthology Altered Europa and, of course, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly.


Errow is a comic artist and illustrator focused on narrative work themed around worlds not quite like our own. She spends her time working with her partner on The Kinsey House webcomic and developing other comic projects when she’s not playing tag with her bear of a cat. More of her work can be found at errowcollins.wix.com/portfolio.

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That Man Behind the Curtain: November 2015

We put up a tiny, tiny fake tree and put ridiculous ornaments on it.

We put up a tiny, tiny fake tree and put ridiculous ornaments on it.

Welcome to our latest installment of behind the scenes!

The Money Aspect

Amounts in parentheses are losses/expenses.

Hosting: ($17.06)
Stories: ($135.00)
Art: ($245.51)
Advertising: ($20.00)
Processing Fees: ($16.61)
Printing: ($1o.99)
Donations: $49.00
Ad Revenue: $1.01
Book Sales: $24.82
Total: ($813.54)
QTD: ($1,360.68)
YTD: ($11,503.31)
All Time: ($38,372.45)

As per usual, I try to list costs for art and stories under the month that the stories run on the site rather than when I pay them. (This does not apply to special content which does not have a specific month associated with it.) Sales are for sales when they take place, not when it’s actually paid out to me. I also cover Paypal expenses when paying authors and artists as best I can. Paypal has made it more difficult, so I’m not as capable of covering international fees.

Sales are down. I have yet to figure out how best to market us during the post-Thanksgiving extravaganza, but I run into a few problems. The first is that I’m not a fan of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Second, we don’t exactly have a robust shop and we don’t do any of our own sales. Third, I’m not able to offer discounts through Amazon and I price the print books as low as I can go. Coupons for Smashwords are my main option, and that’s a little lackluster.

I do participate some affiliate programs for places like Amazon, iTunes, Powell’s, and Smashwords. I’ve considered doing a “shop with a mad scientist promotion” but haven’t followed through.

Submissions

We were closed to submissions in November. All time acceptance rate remains 48.84%.

Followers

Number of followers in social media as of the end of last month. In order to better promote backers through Patreon, we created a new Mad-Scientist-Journal-only Patreon. Trying to have a single Patreon that reflected both my own writing and Mad Scientist Journal was proving to have some problems. Since the change, not everyone has moved over to the new Patreon, so our number of followers has been adjusted to reflect that.

Facebook: 1,046 (+17)
Twitter: 417 (+9)
Google+: 58 (-1)
Tumblr: 115 (-1)
Mailing List: 44 (-1)
Patreon: 6 (-4)

Traffic

Our traffic was down further in November. We had a total of 798 visits. Our traffic consisted of 448 users and 1,232 page views. Our highest day of traffic was 49.

This month’s search engine terms were sadly lacking, and mostly spam. So this month we have the return of “ebay 1979’s quilt patterns”.

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The Letters of Dr. Walter Matheson

Letters by Dr. Walter Matheson, Ph.D., as provided by Jennifer Mitchell
Art by Luke Spooner


Dated 12 June 2015

Dr. Walsh,

I have made a discovery that I think you will find of interest. While collecting water samples with my research assistant, I came across a small species of jellyfish. To me they seemed unremarkable, but I allowed Henry to collect several of them. He took them home to keep as pets, and I completely forgot about them. It turns out that Henry did as well, the poor jellyfish. He came in to the lab upset, and I said to him, you fool, you’re supposed to feed them. I thought that was the last I would hear of these creatures, but of course, if it was, I would not be writing to you.

The day after their death from starvation, Henry brought his tank to the lab. Something curious had happened–jellyfish polyps had appeared in the tank, and the corpses were missing. This was potentially more interesting than our water studies, so I allowed the tank to remain in the lab.

We continued to observe the tank for several days. Over this time, the polyps matured into adult jellyfish. Henry was convinced that these were the original jellyfish, returned to life, but I raised the possibility that they may have simply reproduced before their deaths. Henry is a bright lad, but not always a voice of reason.

Convinced that I was wrong, Henry drained the water from the tank, killing the jellyfish, and flooding the floor of the lab. I was horrified, but he insisted that he would prove me wrong. He refilled the tank with salt water and we waited. The limp jellyfish floated on the surface of the water, and nothing happened. I decided to fire him just as soon as I could find a suitable replacement.

When I arrived at the lab the following morning, the jellyfish were gone. Where the corpses had floated, there were more polyps. In the following days, they regrew into adult jellyfish. At this point, I was convinced in Henry’s theory that these were the same jellyfish that we had originally captured, returning to their earliest stage of life upon death. To be sure, we repeated the original experiment three more times, and each time, the jellyfish returned to their original, living state.

I look forward to receiving your insights into the subject.

Your old friend,

Walter.

~

The Letters of Dr Walter Matheson

The day after their death from starvation, Henry brought his tank to the lab. Something curious had happened–jellyfish polyps had appeared in the tank, and the corpses were missing. This was potentially more interesting than our water studies, so I allowed the tank to remain in the lab.

Dated 17 August 2015

Dear Dr. Walsh,

At your suggestion, we have confirmed that the DNA of the jellyfish remains unchanged after their death and rebirth–these are definitely the same individuals. A wonderful discovery for science! My paper on the subject will be printed in Marine Genetics Journal next month.

For the present, I have abandoned my water sample project and am focusing all of my efforts on advancing knowledge of the jellyfish. I have hired another assistant with more knowledge in this area to assist Henry and myself. We are trying to isolate the sequence of DNA that allows the animal to be reborn upon death.

I will be quite busy with this project for the foreseeable future, so it may be a while before I write again.

 

Walter.

~


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2015 collection.


Dr. Walter Matheson, Ph.D., is a Canadian oceanographer and marine biologist. He is famous for his studies of ocean water, jellyfish, and most recently, for committing many murders in the name of science. He is serving a life sentence in a maximum security correctional institution.


Jennifer Mitchell is a Canadian writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Born in 1722, a homemade time machine has allowed her to write stories for the people of the future. She has been abducted by aliens twice. Do not approach Jennifer, because it may be her identical evil twin, NotJennifer, who is a wanted criminal in six galaxies.


Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.

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