Gil Williamson

Welcome to the 17th issue of Mythaxis.

I present to you Mythaxis' 17th collection of short speculative fiction, the February 2016 edition.

In addition to a splendid crop of new stories, we have attempted two experiments this time - a Comic Strip and an Interactive Story.

The Comic Strip, by Liam Baldwin, is one of a series of Jet Starr and her Astro Amazons comics that he is working on.

Many readers will be familiar with the principle of the Text Adventure. If not, have a look at this page.

Interactive adventures like Iceweb have a plot or variety of plots, but it's up to the player to explore the plots themselves. The descriptions offered by the game should be read carefully to reveal clues to the next decision.

Unlike many text adventures, I have pitched this game at a fairly simple level. The intention is to entertain, rather than to puzzle, and the whole narrative is intended to be read, rather than solved as such.

Now let me entertain you with a true tale of institutional bureaucracy. I say 'true', and I mean it, but certain names and identifying details have been altered to protect the guilty.

I was running a small sector in a large computer manufacturer's software division. The sector was called, shall we say, Unusual Software. Which meant that we dealt with anything that the rest of the product development group wouldn't handle. For example, we wrote 'glue' software to allow products written for one operating system to work on another, and we owned a database product which was a rival to the company's main database product. Politics.

One day a request arrived from the company's French division to alter an accounting program they had bought from an external supplier. In order to do this, we needed a particular computer type not available in the UK. Let's call it a TSM1.

Me to France: Then send us a TSM1, please.

France to me: Well, certainly, but we believe it should be easier for you to get one in the UK. There are several of an old model TSM0 that we don't sell any more in a warehouse the UK division maintains at Heathrow airport. Though the model is old, it is compatible.

Me to Warehouse: Please send me a TSM0. Charge it to France.

Warehouse to me: Sorry. We are not authorised to release one, unless we receive a pro-forma payment in the form of a Capital Transfer Form from a UK division.

Me to Warehouse: How much do these TSM0s cost?

Warehouse to me: Since they are superseded, they are valued at zero. We just need the form... for form's sake.

Me to my local accountant: Please raise a Capital Transfer Form for a TSM0 from Heathrow. Value zero.

Accountant to me: Done. I've sent it to the Divisional Director for signature.

Divisional Director to me: How dare you waste the company's time and mine submitting a Capital Transfer Form for zero!

Me to Divisional Director: But.. but.. I am informed that this is the procedure.

Divisional Director to me: Atrocious! I'll sort this out and get you that TSM0.

Several weeks pass. I don't like to press him, but when I do, I receive a Capital Transfer Form for zero, signed by the Divisional Director, who seems to have failed to clear the roadblock after all.

Me to Warehouse: I have here a Capital Transfer Form for a TSM0, signed by our Divisional Director.

Warehouse to me: Sorry, mate, the TSM0s were recycled last week. On the orders of your Divisional Director, apparently.


Me to France: Sorry. The TSM0s that were in the warehouse no longer exist. Please arrange to send me a TSM0 or TSM1.

France to Me: By great good fortune, there is a spare TSM1 at an exhibition in Czechoslovakia right now. When the exhibition is over, we will ship it to you direct, instead of to Paris. No need for paperwork.

Several weeks pass.

Me to France: Umm... Where is that TSM1?

France to me: Hasn't it arrived? All the rest of the equipment from the exhibition arrived back here. We shall ascertain the reason.

Me to France: I await your response.

France to me: Regrettably, that TSM1 was sold to a customer off the exhibition stand in Brno, and is no longer available. Also, we find that we no longer require the software alterations, as we no longer supply the TSM range of computers.

Me to France: Why not?

France to me: It appears that we were losing some 10000 pounds every time we sell one, due to a Sales-initiated pricing policy originating in our German division.

Me to me: Grrrr...

Now you know one of the many reasons why, at risk to our livelihood and pensions, my wife and I bade goodbye to big business and started a small, and initially loss-making, software consultancy business.

Gil Williamson


Date and time of last update 14:16 Wed 24 Feb 2016
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