Zeus the Cat Confronts the Greatest Mystery of His Life

For the pets, we have a water bowl with a three-gallon reservoir, and every time I fill it up and put on top of the water bowl, it eventually “burps,” sending several large air bubbles to the top of the reservoir. And when it does so, it absolutely fascinates Zeus — enough so that if he sees me filling up the reservoir he will wait until I’m done to watch the bubblation. He views it so intently and with such intensity that it’s pretty obvious (to me, anyway) that what he’s trying to do is figure out where the bubbles come from. One day, he seems to be saying, I will learn the secret of the bubbles. And when I do, all the mysteries of the universe will be open to me. And what a day that will be! The problem, of course, is that he will never figure out the secret of the bubbles. Because, you see, he’s a cat. And while he’s a pretty nifty cat, the intricacies of bubble formation are forever beyond his comprehension.

I think about Zeus on occasion, when people confidently predict that humans will one day be able to explain everything about the universe. The human brain is a marvelous thing, and to be clear, I don’t think we’ve come close to the limits of its abilities to understand and comprehend the world around us. But the fact of the matter is the thing is limited. And just like my cat will never quite grasp the Mystery of the Bubble, eventually we’re going to come up against stuff that, no matter how hard we rack our brains, we’re never going to get. And then we’ll know what Zeus knows every time he sees those bubbles go up. I think it will be an interesting day when that happens. I don’t expect to be around for it, I should say. It will be an interesting day nevertheless.

The Last of The God Engines (Plus New Master Li)

Just a quick note about hardcovers of The God Engines: Subterranean Press tells me they’re down to the last 150 copies or so, and that since the book is now available in e-book form, there’s no plan to reprint the physical version of the thing. So if you want a copy to put on your shelf, now is a good time to get it. Also, if you want to get it you should probably think about ordering it from SubPress directly, since the copies are sitting in their warehouse at the moment. After these copies are gone, that’s that for the physical versions.

Also, as we’re sort of on the subject of Subterranean Press, publisher Bill Schafer tells me the press is planning a new edition of The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, a three-volume omnibus of Barry Hughart’s fantastic tales from a China that never was. The first of those tales, The Bridge of Birds, is one of my all-time very favorite fantasy novels — such a great balance of wonder, humor and adventure — so if you want some good reading, here you go.