Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
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.

Sundry & Motley
As of November & the Collapse of the Republic
Friday, November 6, 2020 12:37 am
Looks like I missed October's update. Sorry. I know no one reads this blog anyhow. If you do, I apologize for doubting your existence.

I sold another story, this one to Cirsova. Not The Impossible Footprint, which, as you may recall, was pre-emptively rejected because of its length. Instead, having decided not to give up on contributing to Cirsova for 2021, I whipped up a 1,200-word short called Dead Neighbor, which Alex the editor bought. So that's nice! 

Still waiting on word from StoryHack about An Uncommon Day at the Lake. Bryce the editor had some 50 submissions, so I won't be impatient. I know I'll hear about it soon enough. Boy, I hope he accepts it. A rejection would pretty much terminate my StoryHack career. Hamlin Becker is my Action-Adventure mode, and his tales are a continuing series.

Meanwhile, Stupefying Stories is resurfacing. I saw an interview with Bruce the editor, and their blog is active again. I know Bruce has had a difficult year, not least personally, but he seems back on track. My two stories Banana Man and Wayward Scarecrow might get published after all. I haven't heard anything yet, however.

Back when music was released on LPs, often an artist would blend one song into the next, creating continuous music through the briefly widened needle-path between tracks. When CDs of such old LPs came out, I was repeatedly disappointed by the harsh discontinuity between tracks, a moment of blank sound where no blankness used to be. I never understood such sloppiness in the CD transfers.

Recently, for some reason, I was motivated to buy Animals by Pink Floyd, which I never got on CD and haven't heard in decades. Much to my surprise, there are no discontinuities. Nor on Wish You Were Here, which I also just re-acquired. It's a beautiful thing. Did they finally figure out how to digitally execute the artist's original blending? Or did they just stop being sloppy?

By the way, Animals is really, really good. I'm not a huge prog-rock fan, but I like this album even more than I once did. Definitely Pink Floyd's best.

In my continuing struggle with Twitter, I have resolved to disengage. From Twitter, YouTube, and all blogs. The proximate cause is the election. I don't care what happens anymore. I don't want to know. This Republic is truly done. Life is too short to care. I'll leave it to others.

Obviously I have not left the internet; but my own blogging is a solipsistic affair. And while I will keep my Twitter account open as a sort of RSS feed for this blog, as well as to signal-boost publishing announcements from myself, Cirsova, StoryHack, and Stupefying Stories, I will do so delicately, with blinders on. With luck I'll never learn who the President is. Ha.

Speaking of Twitter, here's a couple of tweets of mine that I thought were worth rescuing.

  • "Convergent" evolution: The admission that evolution relies not on random mutation but on a set of paradigmatic responses to potential turns of events. The mutations are, as it were, built in.

  • What prevents the Woke from writing good entertainment is that good entertainment accords with the natural order. We are entertained when we sense right and wrong, male and female, God and joy. Those are things the Woke hate. Thus, the Woke cannot entertain us.

    One of the best days of the year is when, in October, I go to the apple orchard with my brother's family, to gather apples and to overload on donuts and cider. In recent years I have later made an apple pie for myself. I'm not much of a cook, but I am a decent baker. Here's a couple of pictures of my Dutch Apple Pie for 2020.

    It was quite delicious!
  • Devils I Used to Know
    A Rediscovery of an Old Band
    Thursday, October 22, 2020 11:44 am
    As a teenage metalhead, of course I listened to Black Sabbath. Never quite loved them, though. When I was in college, Dio Sabbath (i.e., Black Sabbath fronted by vocalist Ronnie James Dio) came out with the albums "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules," both of which I loved. Then I fell off Sabbath again. And got old.

    Recently I learned (from RazorFist's YouTube series "Metal Mythos") that Dio Sabbath, calling itself "Heaven & Hell" (because Ozzy Osbourne, their original vocalist, had legally blocked the "Black Sabbath" name), released an album in 2009, called "The Devil You Know." Of the Dio albums, it is now my favorite. The Sabbalicious track "Follow the Tears" simply... pounds.


    Yes, I am a traditional Catholic, and yes, I have listened to a fair amount of "Satanic" metal. Make of that what you will. While holding no brief for Satan, I must say that Catholicism has always been a bit metal. Eating the body and blood of your God is not for the weak-kneed.

    P.S. Apparently there was a fourth Sort-of-Dio Sabbath album, released in 1992. Missed that one, too. However, given RazorFist's discussion of it, it does not attract me.
    Wednesday, October 7, 2020 10:55 am
    Indian Summer. The Janus Season. My patio furniture is put away, yet the falling leaves dislodged some sun and warmth and so I unfolded a chair. I sat on my patio in long sleeves and bare feet, reading under the drowsy trees.

    Sundry & Motley
    As of September
    Sunday, September 6, 2020 6:59 pm
    So I finished the fourth Hamlin Becker story, that epilogue of sorts to An Uncommon Day at the Lake. I had hoped to make it a succinct 4K words. As it is, it's 5.3K. That's still shorter than the last two (which are ~10K each) and below the pulp standard of 6K (which I regularly exceed). I think it is also fairly succinct in any event. It is entitled His Own Ends.

    This means I might have two stories in StoryHack in 2021. Assuming there are enough issues planned. And that the editor likes them both. Which he will. Because they're great.

    What annoys me about my writing "process," such as it is, are the numerous, unproductive periods. 

    I finished Uncommon Day at the end of April. I found it impossible to make headway on His Own until July. Then, somehow, I started writing; but even then, I didn't finish until August was gone. Two months down; two months up. Four months to get out 5K words.

    The horrible thing is, the down times seem necessary. They are, at least, inevitable. No, I am not "recuperating" or "recharging." I'm just lounging. And my will is empty. Until it's not. And then... not suddenly, but with a certain useful steadiness, I manage to write a complete tale.

    So now, having finished His Own Ends, do I have months of nothing ahead? Probably.

    Since Cirsova is apparently not an option for 2021, and I've already got two possibilities for StoryHack, and Stupefying Stories seems to be dying (and my two stories, already accepted by them, may revert to me unpublished), I don't precisely have any successful markets to target in the short term. Not having to write for specific markets, I am going to let my next story be rather... whatever I want. Just some idyllic SF. No pulp, no action, no thrills, no nothing but what pleases me. This is a kind of freedom, to be sure. I'm looking forward to it.

    The drag of it is, I still have to do some planning and such. I really would like to free-form it and just write. But I decided decades ago that, whatever stream of thought I might indulge, there still has to be a story of some sort. A plot. Or at least a point. Hence the tedious preliminaries...

    It should be cool, though. It's about a man who decides to produce some good, like maple syrup, except not that. His community resides above the surface of a neutron star. The inhabitants of the star, akin to spirits, maintain the livable fragments above. The story is a kind of journal, about his not-maple-syrup endeavors and his benign clashes with his neighbors and local government. It's idyllic. A summer in the life of his family.

    I don't expect to sell it to anyone. I just want to write it.

    I haven't done a very good job avoiding Twitter. It's not so much that I want something to read (however piecemeal), although there is that; it's more that I am so bored. If nothing else, Twitter provides stimulus. Still, I've been cold turkey for a day. Ha! I may avoid it for a time...

    Magazines
    StoryHack #6
    Stupefying Stories #22
    Cirsova: Winter 2020
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