Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
Not Quite Decking the Halls
But a Very Pleasant Array
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 12:12 pm
In years past, my curmudgeonly sadness was such that I refused to decorate my home for Christmas. In recent years, however, this year included, I have been quite in the spirit. And much as this is not really a personal blog, I'd still like to share my usual Christmas decor. 

My home is rather spartan; my decor likewise. Here is my mantle. You can see some figurines, a stocking, and some Christmas postcards. The postcards are real and actually mailed, but are not from my own family history. I bought them in an antique shop. They are evocative. The newest is dated 1925; the oldest 1913.

This figurine I also bought in an antique shop. It is pretty and offers a lovely flavor of the early 1960s.*

These figurines are antique, too, and also from the 1960s, but are from my family.

This manger was built by my dad for me, I think before 2005. Isn't it great? And my mother bought me the figurines, one or two a year, slowly fleshing out the crowd around Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. (You can't quite see it, but the place for Jesus is empty. I don't put him out until Christmas Eve.)

Here is my tree. A proper bachelor's tree; a gift from my mother. I've had to restring the lights once. The original lights died.

The angel at the top I inherited after my dad died and my mother faded. My mother bought it for their first Christmas as man and wife, in 1962. It cost $1.25. That was apparently a lot in 1962, especially since my parents, middle class or not, were poor at the time. This angel was at the top of every one of my family's Christmas trees. Here it is in 2017. It is truly an article of family history.



* Later it seemed to me that the figurine might be a tad older than the 1960s. The polka-dot outfit, the feet that aren't feet, and just the general look more evoked the 1950s.


Well, I inspected it, and saw that its bottom was marked JAPAN. So it was made in Japan. Now, from my slight forays into the antique world, I knew that during the occupation of Japan by America after WWII, exports had to be marked OCCUPIED JAPAN. I knew that the Occupation ended in the early 1950s — 1952, as I recently confirmed. So this figurine, which lacks the mandated OCCUPIED, is at least post-1952, and the 1950s saw a lot of figurines exported from Japan.

So, "late 1950s" might be the better guess for this pretty little elf. You know: back before everything got ugly.

My Grandchild Is a Cat?
A Pet Has None of the Value of a Child
Sunday, November 26, 2017 1:46 pm
Today I saw this sticker on a bumper. It is evil. I mean that. The person who displayed this — who apparently should be a grandparent to a human being — instead can claim only a cat. While it is possible that she is expressing some bitterness — "I gave my child life and all I got was a lousy cat!" — I imagine, rather, that she is cheerily joining in the maudlin elevation of a cat.

It is pleasing to Satan when you call your pet your child. It is pleasing to Satan when you treat your pet like a child. It is pleasing to Satan when you settle for a pet instead of a child. Satan hates children. Satan hates people. He revels in the barrenness of modern women. He delights in the non-existence of new people, of new souls made in the image of God, of new creatures oriented to the knowledge of God.

Equating a cat to a child is sentimental nihilism. It is a retreat from family and from human life. If all you have is a cat, then all you have is a cat. Don't imagine that you are the equivalent of a mother. You own a pet. You own an animal. You are caught in narcissistic affection. If, in unconscious recognition of your wasted fertility, you dare to call your pet a child, you serve only those who hate the perpetuation of man.
No, Not That Kind of Pulp
Here's the Kind I Mean
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:53 am
Old pulp has a reputation as vulgar, trashy, lurid, and low; and in their apologetics, the proponents of new pulp are usually quite aware of that reputation.

Sometimes the apology is an outright apology. Some proponents, for example, explicitly disavow the "racism" and "misogyny" of old pulp. Well, okay. I'm not here to hate races or women, either. But declaring against "racism" and "misogyny" is a concession to the very Stalinist conformity that has been destroying our fiction. Those words are no longer reasonable; the enemy has defined them. These days, putting a woman in a dress and saying she is not the same thing as a man is considered "misogyny." Virtue signaling is not the path to better fiction. 

But generally the apology is an affirmation. It is not trying to stay in the good graces of the modern zeitgeist but simply reminding people of the excellence to be found in old pulp; an excellence that is grounded in the pulp style.

Even so, there was something a bit vulgar about pulp. Consider the extent to which the Good People of the time sought to suppress pulp as injurious to morals. The Good People had a point. Scantily-dressed women and salivating killers are not precisely sublime.

But two things can be said.

First, there is a sense in which some vulgarities are better than others. George Orwell, in considering the naughty postcards of Donald McGill, noted that the cards, though obscene and (in Orwell's view) rebellious, were only funny because they presumed a stable society of indissoluble marriage, family loyalty, and the like. I myself have noted that pulp presumes the natural order. So long as the salivating killer is the villain and is so precisely because he is salivating and a killer, morals are not necessarily injured.

Second, even if one were to concede that a lot of old pulp was total trash and beyond redemption, there's still a lot that wasn't. As I read it, the Pulp Revolution has never been about total reversion to the past. It idealizes pulp. And ideals are not bad. Every revolution idealizes. A revolution is only guaranteed to be bad when its ideals despise the past. One can embrace old pulp and still set aside the vulgarity; for it is rather the wonder and excitement that guide new pulp.

Writing About Pluto
Get a Free Copy of Poof Poof Ya Does Me a Favor
Sunday, November 19, 2017 5:12 pm
Superversive Press is creating a series of anthologies, each of them focused on one of the nine planets in our system. I really like this idea and, when I heard about the series, immediately wanted to contribute.

Several anthologies, such as those for Mars and Venus, were already closed for submission. Luckily I wasn't left with only Uranus. Pluto was still available. 

I have written one other story about Pluto; one of my favorites. But I didn't want to recycle something old. I took the parameters of the anthology — science fiction about some combination of wealth, death, or Pluto the world — and wrote something entirely new. It's a nice tale of natural mysteries near Charon, Pluto's primary moon. I also worked in a nice lot of philosophy.

As I wrote it, though, I wondered how many of the contributors would be touching on similiar ideas. It's a thematic anthology, after all. For example, I added a (relevant) defense of Pluto as a proper planet, contra the pedantic killjoys. How many such defenses will the editor have to read? How many can the anthology bear?

Anyhow, what I wrote is pretty good. I'm optimistic about its chances. But we all know how this goes. It's been submitted; acceptance is another matter entirely.

In celebration of the new story and its submission, I thought it might be nice to make my other Pluto story available. Poof Poof Ya Does Me a Favor was originally published in Thundershine, way back in 1999. Between 11/21 and 11/25, you can get it for free on Amazon. Enjoy!

Sample the Revolution
And Give My Story a Read
Monday, October 30, 2017 8:40 am
Back in August, the folks at PulpRev put out a call for stories. They wanted stories no longer than fifteen hundred words, and we aspirants were given one week to submit. Obviously, had I a suitable story lying around, I could have simply polished it a bit and leisurely submitted it; but I entered the spirit of the call and wrote a fresh tale.

I took a very old, tiny idea that had never become the novel I imagined — "A king on the run refuses to abdicate" — and combined that with a little pulpy weirdness, and created The King's Portion.

You can get the sampler by buying it directly for all of 99 cents at Amazon or by signing up for the PulpRev mailing list (details here).

Go, now! Become enjoyified!

P.S. As with StoryHack, it was nice working with the PulpRev folks. If nothing else, the Pulp Revolution does not treat little-known authors with disdain!
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