The New Guy

Alistair 

I’ve just moved to a lovely new town in Massachusetts. Everyone’s nice enough, it’s all laid back and old-fashioned – maybe even a good place to meet someone special and raise a few. Honestly, though, something’s off. Nothing solid, just a sort of weird feeling about everyone, like I’m in a strange little town in a story that ends badly. What are some ways to get comfortable in a new place? 

The New Guy in Innsmouth


The New Guy, 

Chances are, your weird and slightly neurotic discomfiture with your new surroundings is nothing more than the need to become a member of the local community. This is very simple. Just ask if there are any traditions or neighborhood barbecues that you can participate in. Show up, bring chips, and don’t inquire as to the nature of the food. And for the love of all you hold dear, don’t ask about anyone missing afterward. You probably just miscounted. 

Alistair

Hungry

Alistair 

Here in Boston we have a zombie run every November. It’s a geeky, cultural thing.  Good fun. Last weekend, though, one of the cosplayers actually bit me. I would have just told him off (I don’t actually participate), but he fell over and… well, sort of fell apart right there. What’s the proper etiquette when you’ve been bitten? 

Hungry in Boston


Hungry, 

The first thing every successful zombie must do is consume the Powermeat, also known as the frontal lobe of your brain. Perform a self-induced lobotomy and eat the fuel for your apocalypse. 

Alistair

All in Black

Alistair,

As a stagehand, I’ve kind of wondered why exactly it is that literally every theatre I’ve worked at has a ghost. At my first show it was the old stage manager from the late 1800s. At my second it was a rich benefactor, most recently it was a murderer who slashed their way through an entire production of Hamlet back in the day. He’s mostly harmless now. 

Is there something about theatres?

All in Black in Madison


All in Black,

There are two factors that contribute to the likelihood that past persons will consistently inhabit any given space:

  1. They have some sentimental attachment to it.
  2. There’s something interesting there for them to do/watch.

The kind of people who die in theatres are likely to care more about theatre culture than the average person; they’re also the kind of people who actually find theatre productions interesting. 

Conversely, the reason that our highways aren’t constantly littered with apparitions (despite seeing far greater numbers of fatalities than theatres) is that nobody cares deeply for highways, nor do most people find traffic particularly interesting to watch. 

Alistair

Settle a Bet

Alistair,

Assuming that, for instance, you had an allergy to salt that primarily manifested in geometric shapes, like circles, and if you had to get to a roughly descendant-shaped and -sized object in order to manifest in the real world, what kind of process would one use?

Settle A Bet in Cuttack


Settle a Bet,

Nice try.

Alistair

Unwilling Landlord

Alistair,

A man saying that he’s me from the future demanded that I give him five hundred dollars to help him get a ride home. Also, he’s building a time machine in my basement and just kinda crashing there. I’m getting suspicious that he’s not actually me. What’s the best way to check?

Unwilling Landlord in Saint Louis


Unwilling Landlord,

There are a couple quick things that I would personally look for.

For example, are you a man? If so, does this particular man look like you? These things would be easy to check and pretty pertinent to the question at hand. 

Also, do you know anything about time travel/engineering? Mechanical time travel is not a third grade field of study. You would have to already be up to your elbows in time travel theory/tech if, at any point in a natural lifetime, you’re going to be able to build a time machine. If you’ve never really thought about how machines work and prefer to spend your time with birds than books, then chances are that this is an impostor and it is far more likely that he’s building a moonshine distillery than a time machine.

Alistair

Crewmember 1

Alistair,

I was put to sleep on a planetary explorer ship, class XY. I woke up thousands of years in the future to find out that my berth was the only one that worked. Everyone else stayed awake and built an entire life and civilizations on the ship itself. It just kinda… moved on without me. How do I cope with being not only out of touch but also being the only living creature that remembers the original purpose of the ship?

Crewmember 1 in El Paso


Crewmember 1

Well, the ship has, as you say, moved on without you. In this plane of existence, it’s more or less up to you to manufacture a meaning for your life. Yours was Something – discovering new worlds or something similarly optimistic, or perhaps fleeing the maws of a great entropic destruction – and now it is no longer that Something. In a straightforward way, you’ll have to find a new Something. Gardening, cooking, crime fighting, studying rare species of butterfly. Whatever it is that makes your little corner of the class XY ship a little brighter.

On the other hand, you could also preach the news on street corners. That has some ethical merit, but is a far less enjoyable way to spend a life that has already suffered from being more or less flash frozen for at least a double handful of centuries.

Alistair

Existential Crisis

Alistair,

I had my consciousness uploaded to a computer system so that I could live forever in the internet. Turns out it wasn’t an upload, it was just a copy. Long story short, my electronic identity is being held hostage by a virtual me, while my real identity has all the physical details. How do we compromise on who has what control?

Existential Crisis in Saitama


Existential Crisis,

So you have three courses of action available to you:

  1. Kill your cyber persona. Given that this persona is sentient it will be difficult to do, but not impossible. The same methods used to destroy nonsentient code can be utilized to kill sentient code without discrimination. Try tricking your persona into downloading onto a fixed server.
  2. Reinvent yourself. Change your name and create a new internet identity to correspond to You 2.0. Then your cyber self can keep the old You and everybody’s happy.
  3. This is the best option: Make peace. If you had made a physical copy of yourself, you could do all kinds of crazy stuff with that. Pranks and elaborate heists would be just the tip of the iceberg. Now take that same positive, ambitious energy into your relationship with your cyber copy. Having a copy of yourself that can move through the internet with impunity and communicate with you is a blessing, not a curse.

Alistair

Wrench Turner

Alistair,

I’m the cryosleep maintenance engineer on a spaceship launched for far reaches of space. I’m woken up every ten years to fix things up before going back into cryosleep. I woke up this time though and found out that the thrusters broke. We haven’t moved in ten years, and I haven’t got the parts to fix it. The planetary settlement program dissolved in some budget cutbacks a while ago, so I can’t even contact anyone.

Advice?

Wrench Turner in Orbit


Wrench Turner,

My answer to this question depends entirely on which of  the settlement ships you’re on. 

Are you on the ship with the scientists? The engineers? The tradesmen? These people might be able to problem solve this with you – maybe even fabricating problem-solving parts and tools with which to fix your precious thrusters.

Or are you on the settlement ship with the insurance salesmen, public relations executives and hairdressers?

You’re on that ship, aren’t you. In that case. . . it’s probably for the best.

Alistair

Web of Mistruths

Alistair,

An alien crash-landed in my backyard a couple months ago. I tucked him away into a closet and have been feeding him and nursing him back to health. I’ve also been hiding this from my entire family, as I’m worried the government will experiment on him. It’s starting to take a toll. My wife thinks that I’m having an affair, and I can’t explain since I’ve overcommitted. How do I undo this disaster?

Web of Mistruths in Lutsk


Web of Mistruths,

My sympathy here lies with the alien. It must really suck to (1) crash your spaceship, (2) get locked up in a closet indefinitely, (3) rely on a paranoid egotist for sustenance and care and (4) have to listen to this guy and his wife arguing incoherently all the time.

If we’re being honest, your wife is probably well aware of the alien. What are the chances that she simply hasn’t looked in that particular closet recently? That she hasn’t heard weird noises, smelled weird smells or seen weird things? You have an alien in the house. Of course she knows. Chances are, she only accused you of having an affair because she hoped that, faced with the comparatively weighty accusation of infidelity, you would readily admit to the fairly innocent act of rehabilitating an alien in secret.

On the plus side, regardless of your antics, the relationship has probably had a dose of reality and honesty that she’ll have to cope with.

As for the alien, if he’s mobile, let him go. That’s an adult being you’ve got sequestered away.

Alistair