Here's an artifact for our time: a statue of Siri. A three-dimensional object, you can plug your iPhone into its base then watch the face as you listen and speak to the semi-embodied AI.
The creater calls it "Omniscient Siri."
From one angle, we see a female human face smiling at us:
That's very nice, isn't it? As the site says, "The androgynous face has a wry, elusive smile suggesting the machine knows something that the user does not."
Then if we rotate the item slightly to one side, it becomes somewhat disturbing:
Yes, the face is extruuuuuuding out from the plinth, tearing at (or being torn out of) the bases.
Seen from the side, the horror is even more clear:
Like a damned soul attempting to flee hell, or a ghost manifesting from a wall, or a young person being devoured by a shuggoth! SaGa Design has realized Siri's Lovecraftian horror at last, and we may now commenced terrified adoration.
This is a novel best suited to two audiences: those looking for innovative horror, and people interested in visionary possibilities of new media. It would also be good for fans of first-time novelist David Cronenberg's work in film, but I suspect they'd fall into the first two categories.
(I fall into all three, being a lifelong Cronenberg fan since I first saw the mad genius of Videodrome.)
Consumed is, as one might expect from the author, a challenging and strange book. I can describe the plot like this: two journalists investigate a Parisian crime, wherein a husband killed and ate part of his wife. The (former) couple were influential philosophers, Célestine and Aristide Arosteguy, and a cute parody of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. They made waves with a theory of consumer society (hence one meaning of the title). Naomi and Nathan are lovers and colleagues, fellow gadget hounds, but they usually live apart, and follow their joint inquiry along separate, parallel lines.
What follows is a picaresque or road trip, as the two N's travel the world: Paris, Japan, Canada, Hungary, Cannes, Holland. Cronenberg teasingly refuses to give us much local color, offering instead the thin, usually tech-mediated views of our protagonists, or sketches of the people they meet.
So much for the plot's initial action. But I'd also need to tell you more about the book's style. Consumed adores its surfaces and fetishes. It lovingly describes clothing, technologies, record covers (oh yes), body parts, and interior decorating exactly as far as major characters obsess over them. Technology looms large; this is very much a novel about modern digital devices and how we intimately use them.
Consumed is also about pushing against discussing awkward or awful topics, mostly in a horrific way. Without spoilering too much, I can mention offhandedly cannibalism, murder, autocannibalism, apotemnophilia, acrotomophilia, deformed body parts, sexually transmitted diseases, cancerous body parts, and medical fetishism. Which brings us back to Cronenberg's tone. He doesn't revel in these topics, but comes to them thoughtfully, from a character's mind, almost (and sometimes literally) clinically.
Back to the plot, and now I must hide some words after the cut:
the burgers will be presented in a way that's, dare we say it, tasteful. They'll be topped with Thomlinson's signature sauce, a bacon ketchup, along with lettuce and cheese, and served inside a sesame brioche bun. For an additional media event Monday night, he added in sweetbread nuggets accompanied by Bloody Marys...
Kudos to the chef for decent research:
Thomlinson took the assignment seriously, researching accounts of cannibalism. One came from the explorer William Seabrook, who procured human flesh from a hospital intern at the Sorbonne and ate it. As he wrote in his book Jungle Ways, "It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted."
Thomlinson also took inspiration from Issei Sagawa, a Japanese cannibal who was interviewed in 2010 by Vice, and the 1993 film Alive, based on the true story of a Uruguayan rugby team that survived a plane crash in the Andes Mountains by consuming some of the team's members. These sources all led him to look for a blend of meat that was like veal but pinker than beef.
This is a nice collection of super-short stories, only two sentences apiece.
I woke up to hear knocking on glass. At first, I thought it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again.
I can’t sleep,” she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in.
The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.
A new study found that not only do computer games with violent content not cause offline mayhem, but may actually reduce violence.
The study compared 30 years of FBI crime statistics and “how they line up with violent video game releases.” He expected that shootings would increase when new VVGs came on the market, however, “the exact reverse” happened. Analysis of the most popular violent video games (Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Halo) showed that homicides consistently decreased following the release of new versions of the games, he said.[emphasis added]
While, after playing violent video games, some people might be more likely to act like “jerks,” that does not mean their behavior rises to the level of violence, said Markey, who has been doing research on media for 10 years. It’s “quite a leap” to say that violent video games led to the horrific Sandy Hook or Columbine shootings, for example, he said.
Let's see if this gets picked up by mainstream media or academic discussions.
The press release adds more details, and develops the mystery:
The mysterious feature, which appears bright in radar images against the dark background of the liquid sea, was first spotted during Cassini's July 2013 Titan flyby. Previous observations showed no sign of bright features in that part of Ligeia Mare. Scientists were perplexed to find the feature had vanished when they looked again, over several months, with low-resolution radar and Cassini's infrared imager. This led some team members to suggest it might have been a transient feature. But during Cassini's flyby on August 21, 2014, the feature was again visible, and its appearance had changed during the 11 months since it was last seen.
Gothically-skilled readers will enjoy the Edgar Allan Poe link in that passage. (Hint: what's the name of the sea?)
HuffPo offers a glimpse into another use for human beings: postmortem trousers. Behold the necropants!
After he has been buried you must dig up his body and flay the skin of the corpse in one piece from the waist down. As soon as you step into the pants they will stick to your own skin.
A coin must be stolen from a poor widow and placed in the scrotum along with the magical sign, nábrókarstafur, written on a piece of paper. Consequently the coin will draw money into the scrotum so it will never be empty, as long as the original coin is not removed.
That money becomes something of a curse, a la The Ring (1998 et seq), or a business model:
To ensure salvation the owner has to convince someone else to overtake the pants and step into each leg as soon as he gets out of it. The necropants will thus keep the money-gathering nature for generations.
A photo of a reconstructed pair of death-trousers is below the jump. NSFW, obviously:
Although most of us are terrified of being buried alive, there are actually few cases of this actually happening. But there are reports of a live burial by accident coming out of a town in northern Greece.
Shortly after the last relatives left the cemetery, residents and a group of children playing outside reportedly heard a female voice shouting for help from inside the grave.
They called the police, and began digging up the grave to save her but she had suffocated to death inside the coffin, Greek media reported.