Spawn of Mars
Story vignettes are all well and good, but the best story is not a day in the life; the best story is the day between lives.
Mermaids & Termites
As of September
Friday, September 3, 2021 7:08 pm
Great day! I sold The Impossible Footprint to Cirsova. Every sale I have made in the past few years has been gratifying, but this one is acutely so. I really like this story and I really wanted it to appear in Cirsova. And as you know, I was worried that its length might be disqualifying. So I am also acutely relieved!

And by the way, my short Dead Neighbor is coming out in Cirsova's Fall 2021 issue in a couple of weeks. 

As I mentioned earlier, I recently diverted a couple of days to writing a Pugnacious Footefake story. My main project, however, has been the resumption of my novel The Remnant.

I started The Remnant sometime in late 2015. Within a year I had made some meaty progresss, mostly because (and I'm not kidding) my real job had degenerated so much, leaving me with so little to do, that I could spend hours at work writing a book. When I retired from being a wage slave in late 2016, The Remnant had reached ~29K words. But I had already stalled in the writing.

In early 2017 I inserted a chapter. Then I pivoted to joining the Pulp Revolution and getting myself published. Since then I have been writing stories for StoryHack and Cirsova.

After finishing The Unshrouded Stars I floundered, starting this, resuming that, uncertain about my next immediate goal. And then, perhaps due to my uncertainty about short fiction, I was inspired to pick up The Remnant again. Before Pugnacious diverted me, I inserted an important scene in chapter 2. I was then going to pick up where I had left off and start in on chapter 10.

But now I notice it's September — early autumn! — and I had planned to resume my collaborative work with Misha Burnett. Hmm. Well... It's still mostly summer, really. And he's otherwise occupied himself. I can still give a couple of weeks to The Remnant.

Don't want to waste the semi-momentum!

There's a couple of walnut trees around my house. I think they're walnut. I'm not a pomologist. Anyhow, every third year or so they produce a ridiculous number of walnuts. I had a feeling that this year would be bad.

Sure enough, so far this summer I have had five branches snap and fall from the trees, after especially gusty rainstorms. I'm assuming that the nuts were weighing things down. Tons of nuts fell, too. It's possible the trees are sick, but they are separated and the branches seemed healthy inside. But what do I know?

Anyway, here's one of the branches. This one bounced off my roof. You can see walnuts scattered on the patio.

I've been fortunate in that there's been no damage to anything but the trees. One very large branch, maybe 12 feet long, landed right across my little yard, just missing the house. I had to take a saw to that one to remove it.

For decades I've been sad that I don't like to read much anymore. Which is an odd thing for an author to admit. Sure, I erratically read my fiction mags, but I can't seem to get involved with a book or a writer. Every book peters out.

Then something — likely a blog post from somewhere — reminded me of Jack Schaefer, the man who wrote Shane. I read Shane aeons ago and liked it, but I never pursued Schaefer. Now I reckoned I could try some of his short stories.

So I picked up The Kean Land — and I really enjoyed it. Then I picked up The Big Range, another collection — and I really enjoyed it. I was getting involved! Now I've started The Pioneers. If things hold up, I may try the novels such as Monte Walsh, which was apparently Schaefer's personal favorite.

I was never a bibliophile or voracious. Not really. I was a bit uptight about my library and likely read more than the average Joe. Still, my rolling indifference to reading has seemed a degradation of my life.

I've supposed, time and again, that I've just become fussier. That's probably the truth. It just takes more time now to find something that doesn't bore me.

Schaefer should keep me happy for a while at least.

I've been back on Twitter for four days and already I've naughtily made tweets that have nothing to do with writing or art. At least they also had nothing to do with politics as such! Sheesh...

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.

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.

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.
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!
  • 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.

    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!  


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