Posts Tagged ‘Short Tails’

Crypto (More)


November 14th, 2022 Posted 7:12 am

Yesterday we touched on the ongoing tale of Sam Bankman-Fried (oh, what an apt character name!) and how we seem to have anticipated him (sort of) in the short story The Numbers After Two (available in the Short Tails collection). But there’s more (probably on account of how the writer of the Chet and Bernie series – namely me – sometimes gets bees in his bonnet. This is from Bark To The Future, the most recent C&B novel:

“Okay, Mr. Private Investigator, here goes. I’ve decided it’s not too late to do what I should have from the very beginning – get rich. How’s your understanding of algorithms, especially as they’re formulated for blockchain design?”

“Nonexistent,” Bernie said.

“Then I’ll give you the metaphor. Imagine a bicycle chain, with all the links, moving through the front sprocket wheel, and as they do a tiny identifier – it could even be a blob of paint – is automatically applied to every link, each paint color unique. Now, imagine running the chain backward, such that each paint blob gets scrubbed away. What have you got?”

“Money laundering,” Bernie said.

Mr. Kepler’s eyes opened wide. “You – you are with the SEC!” he said, and toppled off the stool and onto the floor, where he lay still.


Beginnings (Not)


November 13th, 2022 Posted 8:11 am

Normally on Sundays we do beginnings, taking a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. But with the very recent collapse of the crypto exchange FTX we want to post this little excerpt from The Numbers After Two, found in the Chet and Bernie short story collection Short Tails, available wherever books are sold, and maybe a good place for newcomers to the C&B series start (so feel free to share this post). One of the amazing things about the FTX story is not that so many little guys are going to lose their investments – that’s expected – but that the same thing is happening to big, sophisticated hedge funds and private equity investors. So here’s out little excerpt. Bernie, the detective, is talking to Crommie, a young man of about the age of Sam Bankman-Fried (FTX founder, and what a perfect character surname – I wish I’d come up with it). Chet narrates the story – a dog, yes, but not a talking one!

But – but how does it work?” Bernie said.

“You good with numbers? What’s your math background?”

“Mediocre and long ago.”

I polished off the last bacon bit. Numbers was the subject? Not my strongest strength. I seldom go past two, as I may have mentioned already.

Crommie nodded. “Basically what we do – me and a few guys in various parts of the world who came up with the concept – is run all the blockchain algorithms backwards. Do you realize that when you do that you’re actually going back in time?”

Bernie shook his head.

“Neither did we, at first. And then our programs started spitting out all this money! Where was it coming from? After a while it hit us – the money was coming from the future! Like maple syrup was flowing out of the bottle and back into the tree. And we were in the tree, Bernie!”

“Is … is it legal?” Bernie said.

“Legal to run algorithms backward?” said Crommie. “The question answers itself.”

“How about running them inside out?”

Crommie laughed, a laugh quickly cut off. He leaned back, gave Bernie a close look. I’d seen that look directed at Bernie before, the look of a someone starting to realize what he was dealing with.

“You’re a smart operator, huh?” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that,” said Bernie.



The Galaxatron


July 30th, 2022 Posted 6:46 am

There was a very brief pause when Mr. Parsons’ face went still. Then he smiled and said, “In fact, I’ve just come from the Galaxatron,” he said.

“Oh my goodness,” said Mrs. Parsons. “Were you in it?”

“Not actually in,” Mr. Parsons said. He turned to Bernie. “Did Edna mention the Galaxatron?”

“I was coming to it,” said Mrs. Parsons.

“I’m all ears,” Bernie said.

Better stop right there. Not that Bernie’s ears are tiny or anything like that. Far from it. But stepping back and taking a good look you see right away that Bernie’s ears are just a small part of the whole package. Then came one of the strangest thoughts of my whole life: Did Iggy worry about things like this? I glanced over toward the water the water bowl. Iggy was still there, but now on his back, paws in the air, eyes closed.
No worries about anything.

“The way Ricardo puts it,” Mr. Parsons said, “is that the Galaxatron just gives you a little boost on the way you already know how to go. But there’s science behind it, even if not fully understood.”

“What kind of science?” Bernie said.

“Electromagnetism,” said Mr. Parsons. I began to lose concentration at that point, and I got the idea that Mrs. Parsons did, too. Soon Mr. Parsons was drawing on a sheet of paper and saying things like “anomaly in the crust,” “vast iron deposit,” and “nodal point in the earth’s magnetic field.” I was considering lying on my back with my paws in the air when he said, “And the context for all this is the electrical nature of mental activity,” and came to an end.

(from the Iggy Papers, one of the short stories in this new collection)


Did I Forget To Mention …


July 25th, 2022 Posted 7:27 am

… that there’s an excerpt from Bark To The Future, the upcoming (8/9) Chet and Bernie novel, included in Short Tails, the new C&B short story collection? I wouldn’t put it past me.


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