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To Open Every Kind of Lock

I should have included this in A Burglar’s Guide to the City: a magical procedure used “to open every Kind of Lock, without a Key, and without making any noise,” whether you’re dealing with individual padlocks or entire prisons, taken from a 15th-century grimoire called The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, the Mage, translated by Samuel Liddell...

Luminous Dreamlight

I spent part of the weekend down in Orange County, looking at birds, then the better part of an hour scrolling around on Google Maps, trying to figure out where we’d been all day. [Image: Courtesy Google Maps.] In the process, I noticed some incredible street names. I love this development, for example, with its absurdist, greeting-card geography:...

Molten Roads and Airbursts

[Image: Max Ernst, “Landscape with a view of the lake and chimeras” (1940), via Archive.] While we’re on the subject of astronomical events leaving traces in our everyday world, here’s another story, this one from November: “an airburst over the Atacama Desert 12,000 years ago melted the ground into glass,” according to new research aimed at explaining...

Home Star

This was all over the news back in October, but I am a sucker for stories like this, in which seeds of cosmic revelation are found hidden inside everyday materials, especially when those materials are architectural in form. In this case, it was “the imprint of a rare solar storm” that left traces in the rings of trees cut into logs by Vikings and...

It’s been an unremittingly bleak year, a situation I almost certainly made worse for myself by drifting further and further away from a daily writing routine, but I figured I should open up the villain’s lair here and post again briefly, even if only to offer proof of life. So, hello! Hope you had a more rewarding year than I did, and that we all enjoy a better 2022. The post appeared first on BLDGBLOG.

It’s been an unremittingly bleak year, a situation I almost certainly made worse for myself by drifting further and further away from a daily writing routine, but I figured I should open up the villain’s lair here and post again briefly, even if only to offer proof of life. So, hello! Hope you had a more rewarding year than I did, and that we all enjoy...

Looming Matter With Light

“When light collides with other light, it can transform into particles of matter,” science writer Corey S. Powell posted on Twitter the other day. He was referring to recent evidence from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider that “pairs of electrons and positrons—particles of matter and antimatter—can be created directly by colliding very energetic photons.”...

We Have A Ghost

In one more quick bit of news, I was excited to see that a short story of mine, “Ernest,” published back in 2017, started filming for Netflix last week under a new title, We Have A Ghost. [Image: Art originally used to illustrate “Ernest,” using Google Street View imagery, unconnected to the current Netflix adaptation.] It has a superb cast—David...

Until Proven Safe

[Image: Dressed in 21st-century personal protective equipment (PPE), I am standing next to Dr. Luigi Bertinato, wearing period plague doctor gear from the time of the Black Death, inside the library of the Querini Stampalia, Venice. Photo by Nicola Twilley.] Long-time readers of this blog will hardly be surprised to hear of my interest in quarantine,...

House on the Border

There’s a great detail in a recent news story about cross-border smuggling in a small northern township, where upstate New York meets Quebec. Some homes in Dundee straddle the international border between the U.S. and Canada (recalling the marbled, enclave-rich border town of Baarle-Hertog or even Derby Line, Vermont). In a report about a man arrested...

Impact Gardening

“Impact gardening” is the evocative term used to describe surface disturbance—and potential biological effects—caused by the crashing of extraterrestrial objects into planetary bodies. [Image: The surface of Europa, including “the kind of areas churned by impact gardening.”] These impacts can “churn” or, in effect, plow the surface, exposing previously...

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