Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
Sundry & Motley
As of June
Sunday, June 6, 2021 1:22 pm
Misha Burnett had seven stories that he had stalled on. He offered them as potential "duets" with other authors. I volunteered, read several, and was inspired by one. I sent him my proposal for the plot and resolution, which he liked, and I picked up where he had left off. I added 3.5K words and passed the baton to him. Depending on how it goes, he'll bring us to the ~4/5ths mark and then I'll wrap it up. 

I've never collaborated with another author before. He's pretty easy going, so it's been good so far. And the story is coming together rather nicely.

It's amusing to read his Twitter and see oblique comments about the story we're working on. He's not being explicit about the plot or characters, and he hasn't mentioned the collaboration. I feel like I'm in the know. Ha.

One of the reasons I passed the baton to Mr. Burnett is that I want to concentrate on writing a story for Cirsova 2022. Being an Official Contributor to Cirsova, I got an invitation from Alex the editor (although submissions are open this year anyhow).

I am going to persuade Alex to take The Impossible Footprint. You may recall it's way longer than what he normally publishes, but darn it, I wrote it for Cirsova and it's great.

But if I am unpersuasive, I need a fallback. Hence the break from the duet. Submissions are open the first week of August. So I've got less than two months to write a new story. And I'm a tortoise.

Fortunately Michigan has finally decided winter is over. This week looks to be invigoratingly sunny and warm. I might get things done!

The first six (of seven) seasons of The Venture Bros. are finally available for cheap. I bought them. I had only seen some of seasons four and five, and none of six (or of seven, for that matter).

The show never got bad as seasons four and five proceeded, but it got distasteful. The gays and pederasts and gender-bending became rather too ubiquitous. It was tiresome. The very lowest point was a routine about a "rusty venture." It was disgusting, and not in a funny way. It went on so long I thought I was watching the execrable Family Guy.

And then I got to the sixth season and... I was enjoying it again. I was laughing far more and the story and characters were good! And, not so incidentally, there was a decided decrease in the homo-pederasty. Not an absence of it — but then, it's the 21st century, isn't it? You can't escape the rainbow.

By the way, Rick and Morty is another show that's crossed the line. In many episodes, the fourth season is turn-your-head-away bad. "Oooh, we're edgy and vulgar, watch us edgily vulgarize!" Yeah, I guess I haven't abandoned Rick and Morty, but its nihilism really isn't as fun and clever anymore.

Notably there is more explicitly Christophobic "humor." That's the thing with nihilism: It usually becomes ever more vitriolic and, losing patience with subtlety, bitterly admits it just hates Jesus. Note well that you will never see Rick and Morty mock Mohammed — but that is a hoary and tired observation.

So I was cutting off the stems and leaves of a bunch of carrots and this little guy dropped out. It seems I snuck an extra carrot through the grocery checkout!

Speaking of grocery shopping, my store has been particularly enthusiastic about enforcing Michigan's eternal face-diaper mandate. They literally once threatened me with a burly six-foot stockboy, offering me a choice of putting on the diaper or being booted to the parking lot. I guess one chooses one's battles, but I am definitely one who has submitted.

I just want my carrots, you rotten karens.

Ah, but the mandate has changed slightly. You don't have to wear a diaper if you have been "fully vaccinated." Now, I will never have my genes altered by a politically rushed "vaccine" in order to avoid a bad cold. But, I can pretend to be vaccinated. What a wonderful taste of freedom it was, to shop this past Friday without that dehumanizing diaper. It was nice to breathe, too.

StoryHack #7 Is Out
Read My Story in It!
Friday, May 14, 2021 1:45 am
The latest issue of StoryHack is here! And it contains the third Hamlin Becker tale!

Buy it on Amazon (to give the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story An Uncommon Day at the Lake and be amazed by my stupendifulacrity. Go, now!
Gyno Wars 2
Just Stop It Already
Thursday, February 25, 2021 3:54 pm
Having finished Cyberpunk 2077, I fell into a replay of Fallout: New Vegas. Then, having finished FNV, I suddenly had an urge to resume playing Guild Wars 2. I stopped playing GW2 about three or four years ago because I was sick of it. I had played it to death. But this past month I decided to play the narrative chapters that have been steadily released in my absence. (I regularly logged in, these past years, just to keep my game up to date.)

Good God, the gynarchy has conquered GW2. 

Yes, it's been woke for a few years. The writers did what the SJWs usually do, supplanting an original heroic cast with a Burger King Club of Diversity — and this in a game that was only a few years old! But GW2 had the misfortune of being released just before the Great Awokening and so succumbed early in its life.

Every character you meet is female. Generals, scientists, researchers, pirate captains, heads of councils, leaders of refugee bands, trivial fodder NPCs... The central dragon, your heroic pal, is female. As is the dragon mount you hatch and raise! There is not an admixture of women; there is a domination. What especially killed me is that I came upon an ancient Dwarven Forge, one used to craft the weapons of the gods, and the forge master is — well, you know. Is there anything more masculine than hammering steel in fire? Ah, but every lass has it in herself to be a blacksmith, if only the men get out of the way!

And of course when there are males, they are mostly villains, comic relief, or pathetic soyboys. There's clearly an effort to create dudels in distress and to ensure that no female is other than fierce and confident. Sure, there are a couple of token males who are not utter weenies (notably those who have the requisite excess of melanin). But again, the entire command structure of this world is female. It is unnatural — and off-putting.

And for a land awash in estrogen, it is decidedly bereft of the feminine. Every girl is LARPing as a boy.

Good thing I like killing monsters and grinding for rewards. The combat is fun, at least.

P.S. I forgot to mention the priest — a killer with a sniper rifle — whose god was killed by you, the player character. Here was an opportunity for depicting a bitter, nearly ruined soul, in a way that actually resonates with a normal person. Picture the rage in every 1,000-yard shot. Now picture the priest's lack of a penis. You go girl-sniper-priest! Just another dissonant note...

Sundry & Motley
As of February
Monday, February 22, 2021 11:44 am
I have an interesting post about peril in fiction (using Stargate SG-1 as an example), but that post is still fermenting. I have an even more inchoate post about the corruption of the tomboy, but as that subject is too directly political I'm hesitant to bring it up at all. Then there's that post about Warhammer 40K that I promised three or four years ago, which is also quite unwritten.

So instead, a few updates.

I sold An Uncommon Day at the Lake to StoryHack. Hurrah! So in 2021, I will have at least two stories published, one in StoryHack and another in Cirsova.

The two stories for Stupefying Stories — accepted in 2019 — are still in limbo. I have had no reply from the editor. Again, I realize he's been overwhelmed this past year, but at this point I'm frustrated. The original contracts for the stories are about to expire, without publication! If I didn't still want to be part of a resurrected Stupefying Stories — or if I had to feed myself from my writing — I would be done with this waiting. But I can hold out another year and a half, I guess. Not like any other mags are banging on my door.

I guess I am now famous. I was checking the Internet Science Fiction Database about some authors and something made me check for my own name. And lo, I'm in ISFDB! To be sure, my author entry was auto-generated from the tables of contents of my home issues of StoryHack and Cirsova. Nevertheless, it's neat to be counted, and counted accurately. Check it out!

By the way, after having resurrected The Santa Mantle, I reviewed my trash pile and determined that, yes, all the rest of the trash is still trash. That is actually reassuring. First, I would not want good works of mine to be lost; second, I would not want to start second-guessing myself as regards my judgments of my works.
Elvis Has Left the Twitter
No, I Wasn't Banned (As if I Were That Noticeable)
Friday, January 8, 2021 10:56 am
To the hordes rushing worriedly to this, my blog, upon my disappearance from Twitter, hear that my intent to disengage from the End of America would not be helped by even a limited use of that hellsite. If you're curious what prompted my break, here are my last three tweets:
I supported Trump as a force against the Uniparty. But now at the end, he accepts the frame of the enemy and calls yesterday's turmoil "heinous" without acknowledging its spirit nor those who DIED protesting a stolen election. Just another Republican after all. Yep. I am done.

Though angered by Trump's failure to distinguish between good MAGA folk and the hooligans, I acknowledge he is a man wronged and besieged. Even as I dismiss him in his final weakness, perhaps I should charitably temper my bitterness. He was often on the side of right.

That said, I am done with him and them all. Trust not in Princes, eh? It's time to take the blankpill and mind only my little life, my work, my God, and my family, and trust that the coming troubles will be endured.
I would just be tucking that blankpill in my cheek — failing, that is, to swallow it - if I maintained my Twitter presence. There are too many political and socio-cultural tweets, and too much temptation to bloviate.

I know I have said, "Don't ever trust that I will maintain my internet teetotalling;" but I think, in this case, that I might. This blog has never been especially political, except insofar as I defend reason and sense and Truth. And I barely update it as it is.

So I'll see you here, now and then; and hopefully, especially, in StoryHack, Cirsova, and other venues.
This I Didn't Expect
A Story Is Reprieved
Sunday, December 20, 2020 2:31 pm
My works that I think are worth preserving have been identified and preserved in one book or another. The other works are on the scrap heap. My judgments of worth were made over the past decade or so, and I had thought the judgments were done.

Weirdly, though, yesterday I was reminded of a story that I scrapped long ago. I can't quite reconstruct my judgment against it. It was, of course, repeatedly rejected, but that isn't determinative. It may have gotten swept away by my general disillusionment with juvenile fiction. I think I was annoyed by its "dark turn." I just couldn't write anything without a splash of grim, even a children's storybook.

Anyhow, yesterday I re-read it and — heck, it's pretty good. Good enough to work up into a Kindle freebie. So, for a little while (December 22nd through 26th), you can get The Santa Mantle for free at Amazon.

By the way, that is not the original title. The original title was very lame. I came up with "Santa Mantle" yesterday. Pure inspiration.

P.S. Does this mean my scrap heap hides other unjustly discarded works? Not likely. Although, in this listless and boring period of pandemic and political collapse, maybe I'll take some time to double-check...
Sundry & Motley
As of December
Thursday, December 17, 2020 4:52 pm
To begin with, I am terrible at avoiding the internet. I can manage an entire day without Twitter or blogs; but at night I always fall off the bandwagon. One of the reasons I am a teetotaller is that I never trusted myself not to be become a drunk. It's embarrassing that I need an internet fix. 

Of late I've not even bothered abstaining. I check several times a day. Sure, the anxiety about the unresolved election isn't helping. At his point I wish the execution would just happen. It is clear that the country is thick with corruption and cowardice. Let's be done with it all already. Hope is for chumps.

Oddly, a brief check of the internet, in between perfectly productive activities and recreations, genuinely alleviates a kind of tension inside. I don't like this about me. I really do have a touch of the drunk. But there it is.

So the next time I swear off the internet, know that I am deluding myself, and ignore me.

Luckily I have not been wallowing in ephemera. This past month I wrote another work of fiction. That brings to four the number of works that I have written in 2020. Hardly the speed of pulp, I know, but damn fast for me. My latest is a fictional review of a fictional book about a fictional disproof of the Reimann Hypothesis. It's math fiction! With a blush of the weird, of course. It might be barely suitable for Stupefying Stories, but to be honest I wrote it for myself. (I had intended to write my not-maple-syrup story "for myself," but then had an impulse to write this other one instead.)

I've written only one other fictional review (that one a theater review, available in my non-SF collection The Chicken Bone). The fictional review is not a literary form I often read. I wrote mine mostly under inspiration from Stanislaw Lem, whose examples (as in A Perfect Vacuum) I have read and enjoyed.

So what's next? Well, these first four years of my retirement have produced twelve new stories. (Only twelve, yes. Again, I am a tortoise.) The first seven make a perfect collection. The next five can make another, if I include a sixth. So I am going to write a one-off short, most likely what I have designated my "Bodyguard" or "Praetorian" story, about a Secret Service agent who loyally protects the alien "King" of the USA.

P.S. I will not make these SF collections available to the public until each of the stories has been published in some magazine (and, of course, released from exclusivity). Self-publishing on its own, as I have said before, is euthanasia for my stories.

P.P.S. I am still waiting on word from StoryHack about An Uncommon Day at the Lake. It's only been a couple of months, but I am getting antsy. Also, I still have no idea what's up with my two stories at Stupefying. I'm reluctant to nag them, so I just keep checking their blog for schedules, to get some sense of anything. They're overdue for Issue #23. I am discouraged. But we'll see.

Yes, I like The Expanse. But you know what's annoying me? Apparently the future is a gynarchy. Women dominate all positions, political or scientific. They are the majority of any team. Pay attention; you’ll see. True, that does not make The Expanse unrealistic. After all, current America is a gynarchy, not least in its emasculation. But it does make The Expanse a tad tedious.

It was especially annoying in season four, when a Belter ship could be saved only through the combined efforts of Naomi, a clever female terrorist, and the terrorist's clever daughter. They literally had a no-name male character in the background nodding his head with subservient pride at the brilliance of the young girl, who apparently has preternatural skills and is able to solve it all, despite lacking an actual engineering education.

And Lord God above, if I see one more distaff hacker-tech-nerd on TV, I am going to kill somebody. If the natural impulse is to place a man, you just know they’ll square-peg a woman into that round hole.

I'm not accusing The Expanse of political correctness, as such (although I did stop reading the books because of their wokeness). The rot in our minds is so great now, that were the story to allow men and women their proper balance, our heads would start hurting and our stomachs start churning, the pain unabating until every two men are replaced with two women, and the third man is made a subordinate. I'm glad that I still recognize this revolution for what it is; but it does make me an utter curmudgeon. I can't wholly enjoy anything new. Everything new just has a bad feminist taste.

P.S. Oh, I am aware that the primary characters are not all women. I submit that one of the reasons The Expanse seems so good is that, despite everything else in the show, men are actually playing the key roles in the narrative. That just feels right, does it not?

Earlier in this post I said that hope is for chumps. I am not hopeful about America. Nevertheless I am saying rosaries these days, not so much for Trump but for the Republic (although I do believe it is critical he prevails). I know that God is concerned with the salvation of souls and not, per se, the course of human events, and the successful theft of the election might be, over decades or centuries, better for populating Heaven; but I also know that Justice is not to be scorned, and it's a different kind of despair to say, “Why bother? God has His own plans.” America needs a Lepanto. Will God give us one? Probably not. I’m really not hopeful. Still... I pray.

Magazines
StoryHack #7
Stupefying Stories #23
Cirsova: Winter 2020
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