Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

October 16, 2007 | By | 5 Replies More

But what’s puzzlin’ you is the nature of my game…

That’s about the only song I can stand to listen to the Rolling Stones do.  Musically, thematically, it all comes together for them.  It’s perfect.  Beyond that, while I certaiinly like a lot of their songs, I cannot abide listening to the Stones.  Particularly, I can’t tolerate Mick Jagger’s sorry excuse for a singing voice.  Call me old fashioned, but a hoarse tenor croak is not pleasant to listen to.

(To be fair, I can’t stand Tony Bennet, AC/DC, Rod Stewart. Or Bruce Springsteen, largely for the same reasons.)

I start this piece with that bit of personal revelation for a reason.  Voice, to me, is very important.  Getting it right, using it properly, saying something meaningful…they all work together.  One may argue over style vs. substance—and there is validity to the argument, for certainly some people have nothing but style (Celine Dion comes to mind) and it would be nice if they had something to say—but ultimately, to get across what you mean, the two must work hand-in-glove.

When Erich invited me to contribute to Dangerous Intersection, I agreed under the proviso that I use a pseudonym.  My reasons were many, but mainly I wasn’t sure how good I’d be at it, and I wanted to practice.  But practicing in public can be…dicey.  So while I learned better how to do this, I elected to do it behind the cloak of an alter ego.

Jason Rayl is my creation.  In many ways, he is me.  He is a character in an unpublished novel I wrote in my late teens and early twenties, the first novel I ever completed.  It’s a big sucker and may never see the light of day, but the main character is very much me.  Or, at least, a very idealized version of who I thought I was and who I thought I’d like to be.  I grew out of him, but from time to time he’s been useful.

My name is Mark W. Tiedemann and I write science fiction.  You can find my books on Amazon.  I’ve posted a link to my own website, which I’ve just finished revamping.  It’s not all done yet, but done enough.  There, you’ll find a page called The Distal Muse, which is where I post news and assorted ramblings, and may now be posting much of what I’ve been posting here.  If Erich permits, I may cross post.

It’s not so much that I think I’ve mastered this form of writing—I wonder how many ever master their words—but I think the experiment has paid off and frankly I’m not in the least ashamed of anything I’ve put on Dangerous Intersection.  I would not be ashamed of the content in any event, but the voice….ah, the voice.  From time to time in my life I’ve committed actual songwriting.  Whatever other merits my attempts may possess, I do not sing them myself.  I don’t have the voice.

When Stephen King did away with Richard Bachman, he declared that Bachman had died “from cancer of the pseudonym.”  In Jason’s case, it was bad cold.

I said I write science fiction.  I’ve published ten novels, fifty plus short stories.  Writing fiction of any kind forces one to grow perspective.  Writing science fiction requires an appreciation if not a full understanding of how systems work and why things come together the way they do.  Historical writing shares this.  What it has done for—or to—me is cause me to see as many sides of an issue as I can grasp.  Consequently, I cannot abide doctrinaire positions, ideologues, Us Or Them thinking.  This has also caused many friends to view me with frustration and consternation, because they can’t pin my sympathies down.  Am I a liberal?  A conservative?  Reactionary, radical, libertarian?  Relativist?

See all of the above.  More often than not I take a “curse on both your houses” approach, because more often than not the primary issues are overlooked, run down, trampled, or twisted in the name of political expediency.
This has caused me to draw back from posting on some topic on which I have strong feelings, but can’t quite find the center of, and don’t wish to shortchange the complexities of what may really be going on in the interest of presenting a solid front for one position or another.

For instance, this whole mad, trendy, fashionable rush for bio-fuels.  I have friends who two years ago would never have admitted to any sympathy with Green anything and are now on the bandwagon for ethanol.  Why?  “We need to become independent of foreign oil.”  And when I say, “oh, so we should become dependent then on foreign sugar?”  they look at me as if I’d just farted at the birthday party.  See, they now support this for political reasons, not environmental reasons, and I find that just as objectionable as unthinking support for Big Oil.  It will solve nothing, just shift the focus of the problem.  The issues are far more complex than party politics allow.  Even though the bedrock issue is as simple as first-year algebra, and no one really wants to talk meaningfully about it.

Which means I stand outside both groups and lob stink bombs.  Not a comfortable place to be.

But it’s where I am and where I live.

So I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself.  So now you know who and what I am and can accept or reject what I say with full knowledge that you’ve been addressed by a Science Fiction writer.

Excuse me?  The bedrock problem?  Oh, sorry.  Population.  Very simply, there are just too damn many people on the planet, with no obvious possibility of curtailing the growth rate.  People don’t want to talk about that.  In order to live, to survive, to be what we may potentially be, we have to burn energy.  We have to burn something.  What that something is, frankly, is less important in the long run than the fact that we have to burn it.  Solar is passive, sure, but make solar panels we have to use petroleum, heat, the kind of high tech that has emerged as a legacy of a burning economy.  Hydropower is also pasisve, but building dams has other environmental drawbacks and is not transportable everywhere.  Geothermal?  Well, sure, but we may be releasing heat.

No simple answer.  The one factor, which if addressed could begin to solve some of these problems is population, but people insist, in aggregate, that they are separate from “nature” in this instance.  We take for ourselves the unhampered right to reproduce at will, without restraint, and that means that all the solutions we come up with for this overcharged fossil fuel existence are band-aids.  What could be sustainable and manageable at a billion people is a horrific problem at seven billion.  The planet isn’t getting any bigger.

There have been science fiction writers talking about this for decades.

Anyway, if you’ve a mind, come over to my website occasionally.  Or, if the whole pseudonym thing has put you off, stop reading me altogether.  I’m done with the experiment and feel that I have gotten from it what I needed.  So from now on, it’s me you’ll be dealing with.  Not Jason.  Oh, he’s not gone.  He always was part of me and always will be.  But he’s on my advisory board now.  Retired from public life for the time being.

Pleased to meet you…hope you get my name.


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Category: Communication, Culture, History, Language, Media, music, Noteworthy, Politics, Psychology Cognition, Technology, Whimsy, Writing

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (5)

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  1. Ben says:

    Why should we believe you now "Mark"? This seems more like another elaborate scheme to throw us off the "Rayl trail"… anybody can create a website these days… (sarcasm)

    I wonder if you like Ozzy? Joplin?

    I am aware of the population growth thing. I wonder if at some point in the future other countries will follow China's lead and enact 1 child only regulations/penalties. Here (in the US), people actually get tax breaks for having many children, as far as I know.

    “oh, so we should become dependent then on foreign sugar?”

  2. Hm, first thing I noticed was the same familiar picture, but a different name. Driven by curiosity I hastened to the comment section to ask when the word "pseudonym" caught my eye and made me stop to read. So, in what way did Jason Rayl differ from Mark Tiedemann? 😀

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    "If Erich permits, I may cross post."

    Have at it. Welcome to Dangerous Intersection, "Mark"!

  4. Vicki Baker says:

    Hello Mark!

    I like "Let's Drink to the Hard-Working People" on Goat's Head Soup.

    Better drink to them than be them!

  5. Dan Klarmann says:


    Ya missed a chance to link to <a href=",” target=”_blank”>, formerly know as Zero Population Growth.

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