Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 10:45 am
For me it's been a remarkably unproductive couple of months. I finished The Impossible Footprint around the start of May and have written nothing but a few tweets since. The early summer days have been wonderful, though; especially pleasant for gloomy old Michigan.

Now through the 28th, my collection The Spare Midge is available for free at Amazon. As I said in my tweet about it, and as I have mentioned in this blog, these tales are from my Grim Period, from the late '80s to the turn of the century.

Fun fact: There is a location in the cyberpunk tale, The Courtship of Jay and Elusivebeth, called Little Bosnia. In the original version of the tale it was called Little Managua. I updated it when Nicaragua had become antique news. I probably should have left it alone, for that authentic flavor. Amusingly, of course, Bosnia itself is now antique news.
Friday, May 22, 2020 4:26 pm
So I've joined Twitter. As a matter of principle I normally wouldn't, given its biased suppression of free speech, but monopolies are monopolies and Twitter is where everyone is. Though I may initially treat it as a glorified RSS feed for this blog, I suppose I will eventually start tweeting more independently. Even then, given my history with my internet presence, my tweets will not likely be numerous. We'll see. Follow me at Spawn of Mars.

P.S. I've actually been inclined to tweet a few snarky jokes and images about the riots etc. Then I embraced my inner coward and decided not to become the target of SJWs and BLMs, nor risk the inevitable misconstructions. Tempers are too high and minds too shallow.
Cirsova Summer Special 2020 Is Out!
Read My Story in It!
Thursday, May 14, 2020 3:53 pm
The annual Summer Special of Cirsova Magazine is here!

Buy it on Amazon (to give the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story The Fourth Gift and be amazed by my wonderfullestness. Go, now!

P.S. From Twitter, here's a gratifying review of my story.
Rarely does one come across a story both intellectually brilliant and artistically beautiful. The Fourth Gift by DAVID SKINNER is absolutely one of that. A meditation on immortality, humanity, science, and struggle, it’s both a dense read and one utterly worthwhile.
You Will Be Assimilated
My Career as a Cartoonist
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 10:33 pm
Recently I noted that I have, on occasion, attempted to make clever-funny comics. Prompted by that note I have finally finished a certain comic, the rough pencil sketch of which has been stashed near my desk for years.

Since there is a lot of talking in the comic, I didn't directly ink the text. The text and layout and so on were done on PC (in GIMP). I did draw the one character, in ink and water (using nib and brush). I then scanned the drawing and integrated it with the layout.

My scanner is so old — an Epson Perfection 1200U — that a driver hasn't been released since Windows XP. Luckily I can use one of the later Epson drivers, although there's a bit of jiggering to do so. I thought it was already installed on my PC but apparently my Windows 7 64-bit forgot it was there, and I had to reinstall. Bothersome.

To keep the comic legible I had to make it too big to fit in the normal column of this blog. The image will overlap to the right but should be fine on most browsers. If not so on yours, download the image (via right-click) and view it elsewise.

Enjoy!  


Derivative of Nictzin Dyalhis
Writing Another Chronicle of the Venhezian Heroes
Monday, May 4, 2020 10:11 pm
Somehow I became aware of The Sapphire Goddess: The Fantasies of Nictzin Dyalhis, a collection published by DMR Books in 2018. It collects all the fantasy stories of the unprolific Nictzin Dyalhis, who wrote primarily for Weird Tales between 1925 and 1940.

Two of Dyalhis's contributions to Weird Tales are science fiction: When the Green Star Waned (April 1925) and its sequel The Oath of Hul Jok (September 1928).
I really liked both of these stories — so much so, that I have written a derivative work. Since Dyalhis's stories are in the public domain, I am free to have my story published, and I hope that Cirsova Magazine will accept it when submissions re-open later this year. 

There's an earnestness to Dyalhis's two stories. They are all superlatives, exclamation points, and outsized drama. The seven friends are the very best of their kind: the greatest scientist, the greatest diplomat, the greatest warrior, the greatest cultural scholar, the greatest biologist, the greatest reader of minds, and the greatest... well, the narrator is not presented as the "greatest" chronicler and poet, but he is part of the amazing circle.

The stories are clearly science fiction written before World War II. There isn't a lot of hard science. Nor is there magic; but there is an easy and intriguing occultism. Evil is as much a force as electricity. The technology has that alluring mechanical flavor, free of the atomic and the cybernetic.

The setting is the Planetary Chain, an alternative Solar System. Maybe it's the far future of our own but it seems much more a different place. The names of the planets are just a little off — Venhez for Venus, Jopitar for Jupiter, and so on. There are invocations of Our Lady of Venhez, a being who is not really Aphrodite. Venhez is a planet of love and its sign is the Looped Cross (i.e., ), but everything is sideways of our reality and mythology.

And that was my first handhold in creating my derivative work. Dyalhis doesn't develop things deeply. The world-building, though neat, is mostly suggestive.

My second handhold was the sketchiness of the characters. Hul Jok the warrior is vivid, Vir Dax the biologist has some color, Lan Apo the mind-reader is not a blank, and Hak Iri the poet, if only because he is our melodramatic narrator, is not one-dimensional, but by and large the characters are just carriers of superpowers. As you revel in Hul Jok you lament the general blandness of the others.

So there is a lot of foundation in the two stories but not a lot of definition. There's also an enjoyable spirit (and the touch of an outlook rather removed from 2020). The past century has not exactly produced a communal literary expansion of Hak Iri's Friends & the Planetary Chain. I may even be a pioneer. In any event, I had cause to continue Dyahlis's work; and therefore I did.

No, I did not write a gritty reboot. I'm not out to subvert expectations. Vir Dax does not have a gruesome past with a missing call-girl and Lan Apo is not struggling as a transgendered pansexual. My story is not a parody or even an affectionately comedic re-imagining. I simply wrote the third in a series.

Obviously I am not Dyalhis. Yet there is a manner to his writing that accords with my own and I don't need to mimic him wholly to evoke him. My goal was not, in any event, to don a Dyalhis mask. My work is truly derivative, neither identical nor separate. It follows well, I think.

Now I just need Cirsova to accept it — so that you can read it! Sadly, even in the best case, it won't be published for a year or more. But keep an eye out for The Impossible Footprint.

P.S. "Nictzin Dyalhis," though nom-de-plumey, was the man's actual name, near as can be determined. And I do recommend the collection from DMR.

24-Hour Bacon
My Career as a Cartoonist
Sunday, May 3, 2020 4:02 am
Many thousands of years ago, given that I have something of a talent for art and (maybe) for humor, I tried making some clever-funny comics. Not many have survived. I unearthed this one an hour ago. It was drawn with ink and brush. There was a bit of photo-duping and keylining (e.g., you can see that the frame outlines are all the same). It's amusing.

StoryHack #6 Is Out
Read My Story in It!
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 1:53 pm
The latest issue of StoryHack is here! And it contains the second Hamlin Becker tale!

Buy it on Amazon (to give the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story Due a Hanging and be amazed by my excellentivity. Go, now!

P.S. Canada speaks! A reader from Canada, in reviewing this issue of StoryHack, has this to say about my offering:
David Skinner wrote a punchy and brilliant story in Due a Hanging. Giving the reader just enough information to tug them along and explain his world, you get a strong feeling for the web of revenge closing in, and the tension of the events. A terrific example of show don't tell.
Thanks, Canada!
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StoryHack #6
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