The Call of The Weird

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“There was a little boy, who wouldn’t go to sleep.”  Thus began my older son’s favorite book in the entire world.  It’s called Night Cars and I read that book so often that until very recently I could recite it all from memory.  Not so much now.  It’s been too long.  But I probably could get to it prompted here and there.

He was a year and a half when that became his favorite book, and I read it almost every day for a year.  It was the story of a little boy and his dad (the mom was never mentioned, but given it was all set at night, it’s possible the mom was asleep like a sensible woman) who lived in a downtown apartment. The little boy didn’t want to go to sleep, because it was a snowy night and there were all sorts of interesting things outside the window: people! Dogs! Police cars! Fire engines!

My son was not overfond of sleeping. Like most smart kids, he was afraid he’d miss something vital. So he didn’t nap, and getting him to sleep at night was a problem.  Mostly, he fell asleep by collapsing wherever he happened to be (I once cooked dinner entirely by stepping over him, as he slept in front of the stove.)  He’d go from running around to curled up on the floor, and then you had to decide: did you pick him up oh so carefully and take him to bed, risking his waking up, or did you leave him there.  The difference, usually, was whether it was daytime or nighttime.

And nighttime sleeping depended greatly on what was exciting, going on outside our window, which was in the heart of Colorado Springs, and looked across the street at shops.  There were people there all night, and yes, fire engines and police cars and dogs.

In the morning, in the book, dad takes his son across the street, gets a doughnut for the son and a coffee for himself. This was often our morning routine with the addition of my getting a bagel. (Depending on money. I mean, most of the time we had breakfast at home, but there were days we had money, and why not.)

You can see why son loved this book, right? He was young enough, I’m not a100% he didn’t think it was about him. Maybe. He’d probably have asked why it was dad and not mommy, who was the usual designee for staying up late, since dad worked outside the house.

His brother, born while we lived downtown, grew up till he was 8 in a tiny mountain town. His favorite book was William Allingham The Fairies, to the point that it was on my mind when I came up with my first published trilogy. You see, I was in a situation where I couldn’t reach for references, and I remembered that poem.  So, not only did the fairies intrude on poor Shakespeare, but the title of the book, now called Ill Met By Moonlight was Down the Rushy Glen.  The publisher changed it. The other two titles are still Allingham lines.

Note we still had Night Cars, but Marshall showed no interest whatsoever in it.  Was it because we didn’t live downtown?  I don’t know.  Could be because he likes more structured poetry. (He does, btw.)

Admittedly when you’re very young you like reading about what you know and sounds like your life, because, well… where is your imagination going to come from?  You can’t really go anywhere in your mind. You have no idea how other people live.

In fact older son’s first story (soon to be out, revised, in his collection.  I need to UPLOAD that!) was a heartbreaking story about adopting a child. Only he had no idea how one adopted a child, so it was like the humane society (where we’d adopted a cat.)  He was eight. What did he know? (When I explained the story changed. So… it’s actually more poignant.)

For those of us who live mostly in books, a lot of what we know about the world is from books. It expands our thinking, our realm of possibilities. Little by little we know more of the world. Most of us learn early on that sometimes writers are full of sh*t. Sometimes through lack of research, mind, but sometimes because a lot of time has passed and life/place is different. I can’t imagine my parents letting me and my friends go on the unaccompanied camping trips of Enid Blyton’s protags, for instance, but never mind.  More importantly — I think — through reading we learn how other people think, how other people are in the world. It’s an opportunity to slip into that space behind the eyes. NOt naked, of course. Your own space-behind-the-eyes goes with you and colors everything. But it’ the closest you’ll get to really GETTING someone else, short of an afterlife of some sort.

Which is why most of us do it. Maybe. Well, I do it because I’m ADD and without audio books I’d never take walks or clean the house. Not enough interest in those.

Anyway–

What this is all about…

My most recent publisher had a bad habit of calling me when I sent a proposal in and going “But what is the book ABOUT?”

I don’t know. Maybe other writers write like that. I can usually tell you the percipitating incident for the book erupting in my head. It’s usually something like “I was reading a book with cloning, and it was legal, so entire people were created for body parts, and I was thinking “Dear Lord, no. Given the ability to develop the process further, you just do body parts, or whole bodies without brains. Raising a human for this is too difficult and expensi–  Wait, what if it’s illegal and you have to hide it by pretendin–”  By the time I left that diner, the back, blank pages of the book contained the first few chapters of the novel.

What does it mean?  Oh, you could say it means that making things illegal makes them worse. BUT that’s not how the book turned out, and it means a lot of things, none of which have anything to do with the precipitating incident.  And that’s one of the clearer ones.  A lot of my books start because, you see, there’s this voice in my head and it’s not mine, and it’s telling a story.  Or I wake up with a sentence running through my mind.

My vampire book (BTW, right now in a story bundle) you could say is about compounding with evil. You give in to evil, and you give in to evil, and you give in to evil, and what does that make you.  It is echoed throughout the series till the last book, and I swear if the bundle does well the second book (the difficult one) will be out in two or three months. I have maybe a week of work in it.

But when the book came to me, I had no idea what it meant (BTW I can see now why it attacked when it did, because it was just before I came out politically.  You figure it. Use paper and pen if you need to.)  I just know I had to park really far away for art class, and then came back, in the August heat, and sat in the car, and my last situational thought as I turned on the car was “Damn, I’m hot.” And then there was an entire trilogy in my head.  By the time I got home and went to my desk, the first few chapters poured out of me and I typed a few other scenes to Kate Paulk on AIM. It was like, it was all there, and I could zoom in on certain scenes.

What did it mean? I didn’t know. I just knew it was there.

Again, what is this about?

Well, this week for various reasons, but mostly because I’m fighting an attempt by the stupid virus to come back (It is a stupid virus. You shed IQ points as you sit there, and all you want to do is sleep) I didn’t do all my posts as I’m trying to on the Sunday night. So, I was going through potential blasts from the past on… Wednesday? night.  And I came across a bunch of them about Human Wave and how someone (obviously eventually on the other side) wrote posts on it, talking about how we shouldn’t read just for fun, and how we need to write the other and… all the arguments which have become so familiar.  “You must write the other.” (Except of course, you can’t write the other, because it’s appropriation.)

This morning, I woke up and I’m reading a mega-bestseller unfamiliar to me.  This is because I can finally read something that IS NOT a regency romance (more on that later) and more specifically Austen fanfic. Which must mean despite the annoying virus, I’m getting better in the essentials.

Anyway, because this guy is famous and a mega bestseller, he has a prologue on the book explaining how he came to write it.  And I read it in disbelief.  He was tried of characters with problems, so his character is perfectly sane, has no problems at all, doesn’t need/want anything.  Yeah, bub. The character himself says that in the first chapter…

Which proves the character is not particularly introspective, and frankly neither is the writer.  Because the character is angry. It radiates off him. And the reason he’s angry is the reason the writer was angry when he wrote it.  The fact they’re both oblivious to this is actually fascinating.

Anyway, there’s the point — look, I’m uncaffeinated — there are two sides to writing — and to reading — one is the “you do this because you do it. The call of the weird comes up, and bam, you write it.” The other is “You must write this or that to illuminate the blah blah blah.”

I suspect there are two types of writer. Perhaps there are two types of reader too.  I have no problem reading the second type of writer in non fiction, but in fiction there are books I start and go “This is dead” or worse “why are you lecturing me.”  Most of the time, though, I just go “boring” and move on.

Mostly, there are things that appeal to me, and things that don’t. And things that appeal to me at different times — of life, of circumstance, sometimes different times of day — I get stuck in reading ruts.  Normally I live somewhere with sf/f some adventure, some thrillers.  If I’m stressed and real life is way too complex I mainline cozies.  A little above that in spoons and it’s historical mysteries. A little below and it’s regency romance or austen fanfic.  Note I’m not saying these are below in skill. Some are. But some aren’t. I’m saying they’re below in the emotional investment they require of me, because if I’m reading Pride and Prejudice Fanfic, I know how it’s going to end and 9 times out of ten what the details will be. I don’t have to try to figure if a character is good or bad. I read the name, and I know.

It’s easy to figure out with kids (because their life experience and triggers for things are so short/few) why a book appeals and one doesn’t.  Well, unless you know, it’s my younger kid.  It might have been the poetry and the big words, for all I know. He used to memorize poetry. Get drunk on it. Yes, he wants to be an engineer. Life is like that.

So when someone says they designed their book to appeal to x or educate x on y or whatever, there are two choices: Either they’re lying, or they think they really did this.

But whether the book actually does what it was intended to do? That’s chance. And the call of the weird. And how “alive” it is. And when it hits. And how it speaks to the reader.

Sure you can “design” books and take a prescriptive approach and say people SHOULD read your book because it’s good for them.

But fiction doesn’t work like that.  Fiction takes you somewhere.  And it’s all a matter of if the reader and writer want to be there.

So… write it. Put down your clipboard and just write it.  With luck, a lot of people want to follow you there.  And if not, write another one.

Me?  Well, there is this guy and he has a dragon egg in a colony planet.  And there’s this woman who was just arrested in NYC under Mayor Giuliani’s attempt to cut down on the selling of fake amulets by the curse men.  And…. well, you see? I have to go write.

 

 

Do It For The Humans

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We were talking on facebook about the possible escape of small pox viruses from the lab in Russia.  (Yes, I know that’s not what they said, but I do speak fluent Russian obfuscation. You had to, in the cold war in Europe.) And soemone said that one of our techno billionaires was talking about a plague taking out 30 million people.  I said they want it, and I think I shocked this very nice lady.

But here’s the thing, it’s not 30 million. I’ve heard my liberal friends — before I came out politically — talk, unguardedly, when they didn’t think it mattered, and it’s more like 1/3 the world population. They think it would be best if a plague or something took out that many humans.

Part of this, sure, is the fact that they’re convinced there’s a massive overpopulation (there isn’t, not by any rational measure) and we should all die to make space for trees or plants or intelligent squid or something.

Part of it, is the unlovable “those people don’t matter.” or if you prefer “lives unworthy of living.

But a great part of it is more complex.

Why would humans hate humans? Why hate their own species so much that they wish it to die in great numbers, living only a very few that they imagine would live a happy and carefree pastoral existence in harmony with nature. (Okay, you have to realize what they know of pastoral existences is less than my cat knows of architecture, and also that they believe wholeheartedly in the myth of the noble savage who lives in harmony with nature.)

And there you have it: because they think it will be best for humanity in general, if most of us die, and live only a few, “to be happy, in harmony with nature.”

The problem with most of the left, and arguably with Marx himself, is that they don’t understand human suffering.

As Peterson is fond of saying, human life is tragic.  We live in an age of miracles. We have more time and better health than we’ve ever had before.  And we live longer. Much longer. But every and each one of us will die. And — I know this just statistically, from watching my cats’ lives — a lot of us will die painfully and ugly. And most of us will feel we die with unfinished business. So…

Human life is brief and tragic. What’s more, we live in a land of wonder. Almost everyone else, throughout the world, lives more limited lives.

People suffer.  And I think this bothers people on the left horribly. They can’t understand it, or reconcile it, partly because their “model” of life doesn’t have the idea of suffering or striving being a good thing.  In Marxism — a very flawed Christian heresy — there is no model of people (individually) striving or improving. All there is is being oppressed or oppressing, and eventually, the oppressing bettering their lot by punishing/despoiling the oppressors.

Because the model is a finite pie, there is no creating, no conquering your disadvantages or those of your surroundings.  If you’re suffering, there’s someone else who is not. And if you make them suffer, then your suffering will go away or lessen.

Because it’s based on a materialistic, finite pie model, the idea is if you take away what others have and “redistribute” it, then you’ll be happy. Or at least the average happiness will go up.

But the world is not finite pie. Not materially and not emotionally.  And if you think it is, you don’t understand that you can improve your own circumstances. Except by bringing others down.

This is the problem with a Marxist mind model. You think suffering is unavoidable, pointless and endless, until the “inevitable” perfect state of communism.  And you think communism will be perfect because somehow everyone will be forced to be happy and given everything they ever desired.

This is what I call a kindergarten idea of paradise, like when I was a little girl and loved this book about an imaginary land, where birds and fish were already cooked and went around with forks in them, and trees grew candy and ice cream.

It takes a grown up to understand that though we all hate suffering, sometimes it takes suffering and problems to make us move past a problem or a big blockage and achieve what we’d otherwise have thought impossible. Without suffering, we’d all walk around doing nothing.  Humans are not made for that. We’re made to create and strive, and fight for what we want. Yeah, sometimes fight against others, but mostly against ourselves and our limitations.  The kindergarten world would just infantilize us all.

And yes, the end is often tragic, but trust me, it can also be good. I’ve seen that too. There is such a thing as a life well lived, a life that justifies even a terrible ending.

Lacking that, the left is obsessed with ending suffering.  And because they don’t know how to do that, they keep trying to control everyone.  You know “Do it for the children!” “Do it for the victims.” “Do it for the planet.”

I read somewhere that in the early twentieth century the heirs to the throne of Spain were hemophiliacs (being descended from Queen Victoria) and to prevent their getting hurt the royal family had every tree in the garden surrounded by pillows, in a vain attempt to keep them safe.

If you think about it, that’s what the left tries to do to the species and the world. There’s safe spaces, and social justice, and open borders, and redistribution, and free this, and free that, and Occasional Cortex’s crazy idea that you can just print as much money as you want to and it won’t affect value, and that way everyone can have “good money” and “a good job.”

But — and I’m sure this baffles the leftist true believers, absolutely sure of their own benevolence — everything they do turns out wrong, and they keep trying to do more, and help more, because if they can just control us all, then it will work, and suffering will end.

And yet, suffering — and more importantly striving — can’t end, because humans were built to strive and try to improve themselves and others. Because that’s what humans do. That’s what humans are. That’s how we got from the caves (and before that the trees) to where we’re now. We’re humans. We create, and grow and try.  Even in the shitholes in the world, people are trying to improve things. Dysfunctionally, yes. Counterproductively, often. But they are trying.

And in their heart of hearts, the left knows that. They know the only way to make suffering stop is to make humans stop.  And thus, their minds keeps telling them that they need to eliminate vast numbers of us — and eventually, they know, all of us — to make suffering stop.

This is their foundational drive. They just want everyone to be happy and taken care of. And they fail to consciously accept that the only way to do that is to kill everyone.  Consciously they think if we just gave ourselves up and gave in to perfect communism, we would stop all this suffering.

Ultimately, they’re at war with being human. And unable to figure out the amazing glory of freedom of choice, of freedom of improvement and creation and the ability to make the world a better place.

No wonder they are miserable, and angry, and hate their own species.

No wonder they think death is the best thing they can do for us. No wonder they hate people like Peterson, who is telling people they can — individually — improve their lives and their happiness.

So what can we do?  Not shut up. Not go away. Not accept their simplistic view of cake or death. Continue to work and improve, and love.

What we can do is continue to strive and thrive, to improve and create.

We don’t need padded trees.  We need the freedom to be human.  We need the glory of being human and the joy and pain of it.

Yes, we suffer, because we are human. But we live fully because we are human, too. And the suffering is worth it.

Be not afraid.

Maybe, just maybe, some of them will  open their eyes, stop screaming it’s dark. and joins us in the glorious and terrifying light of the sun.

 

Unraveling The Narrative a Blast From The Past from March 2015

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Unraveling The Narrative a Blast From The Past from March 2015

It was 1993 and Clinton was making us prosperous and balancing the budget, and equality and amity flowed throughout the land. We were glad the “me decade” was well in the past.  Everyone was altruistic and full of care for the poor.  And weren’t we lucky that Reagan had not nefariously caused WWIII.

We know this because if you pick up practically any movie or book from the decade, this will be beaten home with a jack hammer.

I have actually howled with laughter while reading a book published in the late eighties going on about how Reagan was a murderous so and so who intended to kill all the Russians, or the like. You see, I remember the rather soft-handed treatment when the USSR actually imploded (and having seen what came after, I’m not actually convinced we shouldn’t have done as Heinlein wished and tried and hanged all Komissars. Sure some of them were just following orders. Like Nazis, after all. And yes, I am actually aware that was under George HW Bush. But the groundwork was laid under Reagan.)

It was 1998 and we were living in happy and prosperous land with the budget balanced and the worst danger on the horizon was a resurgence of the “right wing militias.” The future was an endless lot of “progressive victories” under “enlightened technocrats.”

It was 2004 and George W. Bush was going to put every gay person in internment camps. On the street corners people were searched for possession of Muslim religion or liberal ideology. Most of the country had got strip mined and toxic piles of toxic stuff lay everywhere.

You lived through the time and it was not like that, you say? Next thing you’re going to say we don’t live in a land where one in five women gets raped while in college, and where men have this magical thing called “privilege” which is a get out of jail free card in every situation (except when arguing with a feminist, when being called on the possession of privilege means it’s off to the dungeon with me.) You’re going to tell me that in this land, women in powerful, well remunerated positions aren’t oppressed night and day simply because they have a vagina and “institutional patriarchy” oppresses them night and day because institutional. Also patriarchal.

You’re going to tell me that women aren’t paid less than men just because they’re women.

You’re going to tell me that and you’ll be absolutely right, of course, because you know what you’ve seen with your lying eyes and it’s nothing like the narrative you can find in every book, in every movie, in every newspaper, in every report, and in the majority of the presidential speeches, too.

It’s like there are two lands, one that the media-industrial complex writes from, and then the land we live in.

And after a while the suspicion sets in, that they can’t be that blind accidentally, that the lies and coordinated purposely and for an end.

You’d be right. And wrong.

The big lie that informs all the little lies the media-industrial corporations tell is uniform, taught in the schools, and pushed at every kid and adult who has even a modicum acquaintance with formal schooling. This is because the ideals of Marxism have slid into our society and become the “overculture” of the elites. Not only through Marx, himself, mind. He fit neatly into a matrix of despising the present and your countrymen in favor of the past and the exotic, which had been propagated by all the custard head romantics heading back to the eighteenth century. But the Marxist lie was absolutely manipulated and shaped by the USSR who infiltrated just enough of the media-industrial complex to create the sense that all the good people were hard left.

After that, it’s not needed to tell people what to say, they can deduce how to shape the narrative from their oikophobia and their “hierarchy of victims.” Once you know whose victimhood trumps whose, you know how to shape the narrative. You also know only the “oppressors” can be villains.

Are the lies told for an end? – oh, sure they are, but the end is not necessarily consciously sought. To an extent the lies are told to make the liar fit in with what they perceive as the “upper crust.” To another extent, the lies are told to bring about what they’ve been told would be utopia, to wit, the rule by enlightened technocrats. But to another, the lies are told because even these people see the bad results of what their supposedly enlightened elites are doing, and want to deflect blame.

To wit, for how long have we heard Reagan closed the madhouses? Untold was the fact that the madhouses he closed were largely empty, since due to a campaign by the enlightened purveyors of enlightenment (and this one REALLY was financed by the USSR) we’d defined our madhouses like the communist madhouses. They used theirs to imprison political dissidents, so in equivalence world, then we must be using ours to imprison political dissidents. And if what the people in the madhouses thought was that they were the son of Mary Magdalene by Napoleon and that G-d himself had ordered them to kill every person named Ned, that was too political. Their madness was brought about by the inherent injustice of the capitalist system, you oaf. How can you not see that? Don’t you know many wonderful people who are poor and many rich people who are asses? Then how can you not agree that capitalism is unjust and makes people insane? (Never mind that people are more or less insane from birth, and that no better system has ever been devised. It’s unfair and therefore everyone who goes mad, goes mad because of Capitalism.) The left had waged a war on the very concept of mental illness, but when the hordes of crazy hit the street and then the madhouses closed, they had to blame someone, and the someone was the person who formally ended a system that had already ended in practicality.

Well, yesterday I came across a similar thing. I was watching Scorpion with my husband. He had saved a huge stack of episodes going back to October.

Now, I didn’t set out to watch it. I was, instead, intending to work in front of the TV, because my husband was there and also yesterday was very cold and the room with the giant computer screen is warm.

However the series captured me, mostly with its depiction of very smart people. They’re Odd, like us, and that was interesting.

Oh, sure, there were burs under the saddle. Like the fact that the main character at 11 supposedly got upset because his software was used to bomb Kabul. Of course he did. Because every smart person is against the war and wants our enemies to thrive, right? I mean self-defense is such an uncouth value.

Never mind. I could get over those little moments. But then we came to an episode where the plot was that a good populist politician had got murdered by (of course) an evil corporation, which did so because he would prevent (!) their stealing water from smaller agro-businesses in… California. California, by gum. The place where small farmers ARE being run out of business, the place being given over to a desert, because Nancy Pelosi and the eco-freak lobby have chosen to let the water flow through to the sea to keep alive the delta smelt, a sort of schrodinger fish that might or might not exist, and if it exists might or might not be endangered.

At this moment, I needed to go out of the room and not Hulk out. Because think about it – how many people know that Nancy Pelosi and her merry band of idiots are the ones responsible for the suffering of small farmers? How many people follow the shenanigans of politicians. And how many will immediately assume that having seen this on television, it must be true, and the evul large corporation must be the ones stealing all the water?

A few more repetitions, and “everyone will know” the desertification of California is all the fault of big agro-business. And then we’ll empower politicians who will, of course, be bought by big agro-business, and make it even less possible to be a small farmer, but never you mind that, because the narrative tells you what to believe.

And the beauty of it, the sheer beauty of this, is that you don’t need to tell all the lies yourself. Just have people hear the same explanation three times and most of them will assume they came up with it on their own through REASONING. And then they’ll tell the lies for you.

This is how those raspers, like that Reagan was going to destroy us all in WWIII ended up in the middle of an otherwise completely apolitical cozy mystery. This is how you find episodes of Muslim harassment and hate crimes against Arabs as being common in America today, even though most of the hate crimes in America are committed… against Jews. Most of them by Arabs, but that’s something else. You will hear every time there is an episode of Sudden Jihad Syndrome that “we fear backlash against Muslims.” And having heard that often enough the man on the street assumes it must be happening, every time, otherwise why fear it? And thus it creeps into books, like other myths, such as Clinton’s balanced budget and devotion to feminist ideals.

All of which brings us to where we are today. And before you slump and say “we know. It’s all up.” – Pfui.
It’s not all up, and we’re starting to make substantial holes in the narrative. The fact that they get all up in arms these days about stuff that doesn’t ACTIVELY SUPPORT the narrative: Interstellar not blaming the destruction of the Earth on humans; American Sniper not condemning the war, means that they are both afraid and desperate. They want to control every single peep coming out of media, of entertainment, of news.

But time has moved on. Back in the eighties or nineties, they mostly had it as they wanted it. You see, the trick to constructing the narrative and fooling the maximum amount of people is that you have to both show only those of your field who are most rational and coordinated, and manage to not show any opposing views that accord with what people’s lying eyes are actually seeing.

Fail at one of those, and you’re going to have holes in your narrative. Thus, when the representatives for your side are a chick who made up a gang-rape story to attract a guy who didn’t care for her; or even moderately successful science fiction writers who scream they’re being oppressed and attack men for using the word “ladies” or, of course, Rose Eveleth, Vagina Vigilante, pissing all over the victory of a guy who landed on a comet – ON A COMET – because she doesn’t like his shirt… Or a vast group of supposedly educated women going on a crusade to make men sit as though they didn’t have male organs.. well, the idea that women are more peaceful or worthy of ruling than men goes out the window. So does the idea that feminism is about equality of opportunities. So, might the idea that women should ever have been let out of the drawing room and fainting couches, if it weren’t that some of us still insist on using the brains we were born with and in public, to boot. (The feminists can thank us later, if all women don’t end up treated as lunatics or children or lunatic children. Or they could thank us later, if they weren’t so busy acting like lunatic children.)

The narrative is leaking like the titanic after striking the iceberg.

Then there is the fact that the repellent Lena Dunham had her narrative of rape-by-college republican exploded by citizen journalism; that Herr (Schickle)Grubber’s lies on behalf of Unaffordable Care were shown by citizen journalism; that Rolling Stone had egg rubbed on its dirty face by citizen journalism. And there is the fact that other books are available, books that don’t have to go through traditional publishing’s “must reinforce the narrative mill.”

Suddenly you realize the narrative is already fracturing. Or to keep our metaphor, starting to list and fill with water.  If it weren’t, if someone in that big den of conformism that is Hollywood weren’t starting to get the sense the narrative is not one size fits all anymore, we WOULDN’T have got Interstellar. Or American Sniper. Not without the narrative.

Someone once told me they shriek louder when they’re losing. Ladies and Gentlemen, small furry folk and dragons, it’s time to do like Ulysses and plug our ears lest their shrieking drive us mad. Interpret their cries simply as meaning one thing: we are upsetting them. We’re disturbing their control. Which is exactly what we want to do.

Lay into them good and hard.*

In the end we win. They lose.

*To the SJWs reading this (oh, come on honey. EVERY SINGLE LINE, and you know it.  I  elevate your heart rate as much as exercise, but you like your ragey rage more.) yes, this is a rape metaphor. Just like a medieval sword is a phallic metaphor and the stuff between your ears is a potato metaphor. Or you could, you know, learn something of real life and history.

Of course that would disturb your belief in the narrative and in the end – heaven forbid – you might start thinking and join our little rebel band… er… I mean group of privilege who are privileged to be kept out of all positions of power by our immense… privilege. Better not risk it. Go back to sleep. It’s a rape metaphor. That’s it. Just like umbrellas. And rolling pins. And fish.  And a thought intruding on your head.

Stop The Slavers

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One of the many amazing things about the left is that they have an inborn sense that the most heinous things are okay for them to do.  Not anyone else, mind you. Just them.

A friend calls this “It’s all right when we do it because our hearts are pure.”

Another interesting — and by interesting, kindly read “appalling” — thing is how they make slavery the centerpiece of their “we have America show.”  In their concept of America, slavery is the one unforgivable sin that caused America to be born tainted, and the reason the entire American population needs to be replaced via open borders… by groups that still own slaves (a lot of Africa, and particularly the middle East) and groups that did truly horrible things to enslaved peoples (Aztecs) etc. etc.

Yes, the lack of knowledge of history is wonderful: as in, it causes wonder.  Terrific, even: as in it causes terror.

Look, I realize our schools go out of their way not to teach that slavery has existed since there have been humans on the planet.  Maybe since there have been hominids. (The excuse I was once given by a doctor of education is that this isn’t taught “So as not to make our students of color feel bad.” I don’t know about you, but thinking my race alone out of all the races in the world was enslaved WOULD make me feel bad. Also scared. So I’d probably want the government–  Oh, wait. I think I found the real reason.)

Yes, slavery was and is a horrible thing, but honestly until Western Civilization with its concept of the (literal, from Adam and Eve) brotherhood of humans (note Jewish slavery was also different. What we’d call debt slavery. And had an end) and its industrial revolution, there wasn’t even a lot of revulsion on slavery.  Look, I know whence I speak. I read a lot of poems about the slave taking of moors by Christians and Christians by moors.  Slavery just was.

And it was not — I know this shocks the living hell out of liberals, and to an extent all graduates of American education — RACE based in most cases. It was sometimes “ethnicity” based because of where slaves were most available from at the time.  Which is why Romans were likely to have Celtic slaves.  And yes, they had black citizens.

Also, when faced with the fact that the rest of the world also had slaves — I’ve come to suspect lately that the left  knows very well they’re lying, even the rank and file. Like, you know, they say that no one is going to take our guns, but if you hear a group of them talking and they don’t know you’re nearby, they’ll say they want to take our guns. In the same way when you confront them with the fact slavery is universal, they look upset to be found out, not surprised — they claim American slavery was the worst form and not practiced anywhere else.

Which means they’re crazy (and/or liars). Sure, it was pretty bad, but by and large it was worse to be a slave just about anywhere else. In the Caribbean it was a thing of horror. And in parts of Africa (Dahomey for instance) being a slave COULD mean being sold onto America and Europe OR simply being slaughtered over the tomb of one of their recently deceased kings.  Depending on when they arrived to Dahomey.  Which, you know, was also a fairly normal thing to happen in antiquity all over the world: slaves might be killed to the glory of their masters or the gods. Or worked to death.  Or….

But it goes beyond that. I really would like the left to answer ONE question: is slavery only bad when it’s done by one race to another? Or is slavery: the forcing of others to labor at things that benefit you for no or inadequate compensation, in general bad?  Like, for everyone?

They must think it’s bad for everyone, because they complain about the “wage slavery” of Capitalism.

First let’s dispose of that semantically f*cked up sentence. Capitalism is what communists (or Marxists) call the system of humans trading freely with humans. “Wage slavery” is what they call the fact that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”  I.e. the condition of humans on Earth, unless they’re very lucky to be born to very wealthy families.  I mean, look, seriously: there is no entitlement to be able to live without working. And unless you inherited a lot of money or land or other value that people want, you will have to trade your time and skill for the money that will allow you to live and get the things you want.

Is the compensation inadequate? Sure, in many times and places it has been. Arguably the compensation for unskilled work is now inadequate.  Do you know why? Because it obeys the law of supply and demand. The more unskilled workers the left imports (see, for instance the attempt to erase our borders and act like we’re some kind of charity organization, instead of a country) the less unskilled workers will be paid. Particularly since they can be undercut by people who are not trying to build a life here, but who are living 12 to a room and sending back what is to their coutnries a fortune, to build a life there.

You can’t repeal the law of supply and demand, anymore than you can repeal the law of gravity.  Saying it’s horrible and artificially raising wages just causes us to be more of an attractive nuisance to unskilled workers looking to send money back to their native depressed economies, and…

At any rate, absent monkeying by the state or other attempts to “help” the workers, wage slavery isn’t: you cannot be bought and sold. You cannot be forced to work against your will.  You strike a bargain to work for x amount.  Yes, the pay and the market can suck, but it is still not slavery.  Yes, trying to find a skill to learn that will pay, wihtout going into indenture (our current educational system is the result of government monkeying with it.) is difficult.  But you CAN.  It might be hard as hell — life is PAIN highness — but it CAN be done.

You know what IS slavery?

Well, most of the Democrat plans, really, now that they’ve gone full commie.

A planned economy is by definition slavery. You are told where to work.  The government has tables of how much you will make. What you will make.  In the crazier communist (or socialist, but they’re more subtle about it) regimes, you get told which of the “free education” you can consume. You’re selected to study this or that. You’re told if you can study at all. And if you study, you’re told how you can use it. And how much you’ll make.

HOW do you think “free college for all” will work?  Sure, we might have a generation or two of everyone taking whatever they want.  More likely 3 to 4 years.  And then?  Ah, and then…. the planned economy will dictate what you can study and when. Sure, everyone might go to college, but most of them will be taking some form of general studies. College will in fact become what High School has become. Not any kind of preparation for adulthood. Not even a last chance to teach people to read and write, but another four years “the better to indoctrinate you with.”

And in this brave new college, other than the few highly paid “political” professors, who do you think will make a living? (already assistants and adjuncts in college make next to nothing.)

What about doctors? Nurses? What do you think happens in socialized medicine?

Already the left, who are a kind of creature that is incapable of imagining anyone different from themselves, says things like “Why aren’t doctors paid the same as teachers?” Well, because no teacher in America (outside college professors, and even then) undergoes 8 years of under grad and post grad, plus 8 years of various kinds of training afterwards, years during which they are either unpaid or low paid. That’s why. Also because people, in general, are capable of teaching and learning, particularly at the elementary level, but very few people are able to do surgery.  Rare skills are paid more.  Supply and demand.

So, if you are going to make these people, after serious training, work at the same price as school teachers, you’ll be taking YEARS OF THEIR LIVES: the years they spent learning.  And forcing them to work at things they benefit you, at a salary you dictate.

There is a name for that: slavery.

No, I don’t care how “expensive” healthcare is (hint: get government out of it. Allow people to pay their doctors directly, in cash.  Get third party payers out of it period. The prices WILL come down.)  You can’t make it free without some degree of slavery.  And to make it wholly free, you need to enslave everyone providing it.  Which btw. explains the horrors we hear from NHS. And trust me, even those are shiny and great, compared to “socialized medicine” in most of the world.

Because — and this is another insanity the left doesn’t get when they say shit like “Slaves built our wealth” — slaves don’t work well. They’re not efficient. They’re not hard workers. In fact, if they can help it they don’t work at all or they do what we used to call “A zeal strike.” Its other name is “White Mutiny” — per Heinlein, but not in his words, because I read it in Portuguese and don’t remember the exact words — A “white mutiny” is conducted against a commander one lacks faith in. One performs the orders given with the exactitude of a computer; namely, what is ordered, exactly that, and nothing less and nothing more, using none of your own good judgement to temper the orders to fit the precise situation. The ship usually comes crashing down about your ears.

Slaves do that exact same thing. Which is why every slave society has to apply the lash and have spectacular executions, and– and– and–

And it’s why socialized medicine, despite the pretty numbers they like to try to fool us with, is in general a disaster. Socialized education, ditto.  In countries that have it, socialized housing sucks like a hoover too (as do our projects, which is our form of it.)

When Occasional Cortex runs her big ugly mouth on everything that the government should give you, what she’s saying is “We should enslave people to provide this for you.” Either enslave them directly, or enslave them sideways, by taking the majority of what they produce so the government can “give” people things.

The end result is always the same. Things produced by enslaved things suck.  “The ship comes crashing down around your years.” Even if it’s the ship of state.

The end stage of the Marxian economy is “guaranteed employment,” “Guaranteed education,” “guaranteed housing,” “guaranteed food” and “guaranteed clothing.”

And what all those guarantees amount to is the government assuring you that pine needles are fine and nutritious because everyone is starving, and they figure if you kill yourself eating those it’s fewer mouths to feed. It’s not like you, as a slave, have any value to the state. You’re just a debit that they have to provide all the free stuff to.

Because in end-stage Marxian economy, everyone pretends to work, and the government pretends to pay them.

So, when they say that the US is the only “advanced” (please define advanced? You mean “nation moving towards Marxian enslavement economy?” Are you advancing towards the rear, again?) economy without “free” education or medicine?

Hoist up your middle fingers at the slavers, my friends. Tell them Master Lincoln done freed the slaves.  And none of us, of any color, is hankering to go back into chains.

If they love slavery so much, they are invited to go to one of the countries that is walking into it, or has already walked into it. They’re welcome to partake of “socialized education and medicine” in Cuba and Venezuela. Hell, we’ll even splurge for a plane ticket. They don’t need to cross the waters in an inner tube or walk down the length of the Americas.  What the heck, we’re feeling generous: we’ll even promise to stand in the airport waving goodbye and singing cheery songs as they leave. We can come up with a playlist, I’m sure.

What they can’t do is enslave us.  Because their grandiose dreams do not make them our masters. Because their philosophy has never produced anything but mass graves.

Because America is the land of the free. Not the free stuff.  And we aim to stay that way.

You want free stuff? Go live where they give it. And pay the price.

Me and mine? We’ll pay the price for our freedom. Even if it turns out to be blood.

 

Those Who Demand Obedience

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The weird thing about the left side of this country is that they think not only that they can but that they should regulate our speech, our beliefs and our thoughts.

I mean, I know we joke about the fact that they read 1984 and took it for an instruction manual, but it’s actually worse than that: they read 1984 and viewed that place as a desirable world.  They thought it was working, and that it maximized human wealth and happiness.  Or at least they thought someone — like perhaps the people who were in charge — were happy.

I mean look, let’s be absolutely clear: 1984 wouldn’t work, not the way it’s presented in the book. Sure, the book could work the way that it’s presented, but it’s a myopic and narrow view of things.  You know d*mn well that if we were to actually live there, sure, there would be some people who stray over into opposition and are crushed, but you also know that there would be not just pockets of resistance managing just fine, but that vast sectors of the society would be working by free-market rules (known in authoritarian societies as the black market) and vast pockets of resistance and mockery of the dogma among the elites.  In fact, the most likely thing, judging by the dictatorships of the twentieth century, is that the majority of the society would be in non-compliance or outright rebellion, and the part we saw was sort of the Potemkin village of Big Brother, the parts bureaucrats see that make them happy.

In fact, throughout history, it’s pretty much always that way with any kind of ruler who gets into the nitty gritty details of every day living, let alone what’s inside human heads. Because when it comes down to it, humans are really, really, really bad at obeying. Famous for it, really.

So why does the left think they can compel not just our actions — those are semi-possible to be regulated, but results are mixed. Look, almost every human society has forbidden murder and I don’t think a single one has been free from it — but our speech and our thoughts? And not even just “you can’t say this” but “you must say this.”  As in, these days you are supposed to signal your belief in various leftist shibboleths, or you’re thrown off the liberal island.

As someone pointed out who witnessed an argument on facebook that started with someone demanding that someone write more books with women and gay characters ‘Even in supporting roles’ and was shocked when people laughed at her, a lot of the leftist complaints and answers are ritualized.

I.e. if I say “There isn’t enough diversity in science fiction” you’re supposed to agree and tell me that yep, all the main characters are white males, and only white males get prizes, no matter how ridiculous this contention has been for the last, oh, 40? 50? years (And it wasn’t ever ONLY white males, nor — no really — were the women in the closet. The women used pen names — for the same reasons a lot of men did — mostly because writing sf/f wasn’t respectable. Still isn’t some places. Which is why Margaret Atwood keeps insisting she doesn’t write it. (It’s sort of true. She doesn’t write contemporary SF/F. She writes truly bizarre fetish porn with pulp trappings.))  But it doesn’t matter how ridiculous the statement is, that’s what you’re supposed to say if you want to stay in the good graces of the left.

That’s of course before the pronoun mess that Jordan Peterson properly identified as “compelled speech.” And about a dozen other things, some of them completely ridiculous. For instance, does anyone understand why “Asian” is the right word and “Oriental” isn’t?  Or why “Native American” is the right designation for Ameridians, when you know, we know for an absolute fact they came from elsewhere, and did not evolve on this continent?  No? Why is people of color good but colored people bad? what is the semantic difference, precisely?  Why must we call black people “African American” (even if they’re not in fact American, and/or their ancestors haven’t seen Africa for eight generations but white people are white? Even when they’re really not, but really dark tan? Is “black” something to be ashamed of?  No? then why is it bad?

Look, I understand when this bullshit is in the name of an ideological point, no matter how brain-dead, but the above isn’t really. The above is in the name of making people jump when you say frog. There is no other reason, no other point, no other purpose to it, than to prove to themselves that they can make people do exactly as they want, on threat of social ostracism if they don’t.

And then there’s the agenda-points, the point at which they intend to change the language, because that will make it impossible for you to think bad thoughts.

This is how we get the erasure of gendered language.

Look authoress was always an abomination, because who cares what a writer even looks like.  But actor vs. actress?  You bet your toes that is different. They use their bodies as part of their work.  You don’t express emotions the same way.

How about why is fireman a bad thing? Note I’m perfectly happy for there to be a firewoman too.  Sure, firefighter fits both, but why does it need to? For how many years was it fireman?  And policeman?  And don’t say “that’s because there were only men.”  It hasn’t been true in my entire life, but we used to say “police woman.”  And if you think there is no difference in gender performance for both of those, you’re off your rocker. And you shouldn’t talk while the adults are talking. Because police women have both advantages and disadvantages over men. And frankly it takes more effort and bravery for a woman to perform that kind of work. So why do you think it advances her cause to erase her ans subsume her under “police officer” or “fire fighter?”  She puts in more effort than the males. She deserves more recognition. She at least deserves recognition she exists.

But the left is convinced if they reeee enough to make us stop using gendered nouns the very concept of gender will vanish.

Which is is completely and utterly insane. Because reality doesn’t obey language. Language grows to accommodate experience. And you can’t stop it, either.

This is why liberals became leftists became progressives, like a restaurant with a bad rep.  And let’s not start on things like “Janitor”.  For some reason “cleaning person” was bad.  I’m trying to remember what the latest word for it is.  it’s so bizarre you have to think to recognize it.  Or the various terms for deficient either physically or mentally.  No matter how much you change the name the reality remains, and the reality is that these aren’t things generally considered good by society.  So no matter how you change the name, people don’t think of it better, they just start considering the word bad.

So why do they think they can control our language, our speech, our thought?

Well, mostly because for decades we LET them. Because we understand that words don’t change reality but the other way around, we rolled our eyes and behaved in front of them.

We, in fact, erected a societal potemkin facade for the left, because then they would leave us alone.

Like a person married to someone who makes scenes in public over trivial stuff, we learned to avoid the scenes in public. Only to embolden the scene thrower and make him/her think it’s power.

But you cannot compel thought. You just can’t. You can twist it. You can make humans engage in double-think that taints their souls (and the scary thing is that this might be the aim of a lot of people doing this nonsense.) BUT you can’t actually control what other people think.

The only reason the left thinks they can — other than our enabling it for much too long.  and “our” here stands for the adults, because some of us weren’t even born when this started — is because their view of the world, their mental pictures of life, dictated by their ideology, requires them to believe theirs is the way of the future and “scientific” and therefore, once exposed to it everyone will convert.

Of course, the fact they have to run around threatening penalties for wrong think means their paradigm has already been broken.  And they’ve already lost.

But humans being what they are, this means they’re going to get louder and louder and more stompy-foot demanding and intransigent than ever.

Which I suppose means we should all make sure our eyes don’t roll all the way out.

Be not afraid.  This is not going to end well — for the left — and some places are going to get uncomfortable.

But they are not at war with us. They are at war with reality.

Reality always wins.

 

 

Look Into My Eyes!

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Look into my eyes. Come on. Look. From now on, you’ll only do exactly what I think is right, and you’ll forswear anything that annoys me.

No, don’t look away.

What do you mean that didn’t work?

I have it on the best authority of the left that this works perfectly well, or at least works perfectly well when used by a member of the same “class” which these cays means same general “widget class.” (You know, you share superficial characteristics, like the same skin tone, or the same general education, or the same sex, or the same general attraction, or the same… etc. etc.)

This is how you come across women saying things like “If men don’t want me to treat them like crap, they shouldn’t do–”  And the list that follows is something that 99% of men wouldn’t do or think of doing.  Say, feeling up a strange woman in public transport; or call out rude things to women, or even the rather innocuous “expect all women to smile.”

Uh…. okay, so, I presume they think that men can psychically control other men. Because if men can’t, then this makes no sense whatsoever.

Men do this too, btw.  “If women don’t want me to treat them like brainless morons, they should stop acting like bubble heads.”  Or “If women don’t want me to treat them like sluts, they should stop being attracted to–”  Or “If women don’t want me to assume they’re all leftist, they shouldn’t act like–”  Uh… Dude. If I had any control over the crazy-ass slut-walkers do you think they’d still be dressing like sluts and demanding you don’t look at them?

And yet, you get this constantly.  You complain about some form of mistreatment and you get told that you personally deserve this because someone like you did something bad.

Now while it goes somewhat the other way, a lot of this is about classes of people the left has decided they don’t like: white people, men, rich people, poor people, women who aren’t leftists… well, pretty much anyone who doesn’t sing from the leftist hymnal.

Inevitably, if you complain about some crazy cakes leftist behavior towards someone, you get as an answer “well, someone like you did this.”

Um… do they think people who look alike/are in similar circumstances share a brain?  Which brings to mind another question “do they share a brain? Is that why they’re extrapolating”  Don’t answer that.

And then there are the even crazier demands. We’ve all heard them:

-It should be safe for women to walk down the street in any neighborhood after dark without being assaulted.

Uh… okay. But how do you plan to enforce that? How is it even possible?  Even if 99.9% of guys were completely decent and chivalrous (what is the rate of criminals per 1000? Specifically criminals who are dangerous to women?  Is it much higher than 1 per 1000? I don’ even know, because of course this is per neighborhood, not per country or even humanity as a whole.) there would be that one man in one thousand.  Can you be sure that one man in one thousand isn’t in that street you’re proposing to walk down right now?

And of course, that one man in one thousand won’t attack just one woman. No, he’ll attack dozens or perhaps hundreds of them until he’s stopped. (BTW this is the craziest ass response to saying women should learn self defense. I will quote: “No, because then the man will just attack another woman who isn’t defended.”  Uh. No he won’t. Because if you’ve effectively defended yourself, you made sure he either can’t or will have serious trouble attacking anyone. Look here, sister, paraplegics rarely become serial rapists. Note I don’t say never. But you can certainly reduce someone’s criminal career.)

So, how are men — and why are men more capable of this than women? Don’t know. But this demand is usually made of “men” in general — supposed to prevent that one man in a thousand from attacking women?

Don’t know. I can’t get crazy women from demanding that they “should be safe to walk down any street.”  I mean, I completely agree with them that they SHOULD. In a perfect world, we should all be safe all the time. But that doesn’t make it imperative, or furnish any mechanism to make that happen.

Because here’s the thing: you can’t get into people’s heads and make them act the way you want them to. Even if the way you want them to act is like decent human beings, and that’s it.  You don’t want them to sing, dance, be able to speak Greek and Latin, or suddenly, overnight, become endowed with the capacity to always be charming and polite. No, all you want to do is keep them from acting like animals, attacking strangers, hurting and stealing from others.  That’s all you want.

But you can’t do it.  There is no method known to anyone of making everyone on the planet act decently. NONE.  There’s always going to be that one person, male or female, who thinks it is great fun to hurt others and take their stuff.  The more subtle of them even disguise it and get away with it longer.  And you can’t stop it, because you can’t get in their heads and make them quit doing it.

Sure, punishment has some effect. Deterrence — via punishment, or just the possibility of a potential victim defending him/herself — has some effect…  Actually those are the only two things that have some effect.  Note I said “some.”

However there is no real way of making a criminal stop committing crimes other than death.  And I’m absolutely serious about that.

Sure, paraplegics have trouble committing sexual assault, but we’re probably going to find out at least one person who somehow managed it.  We know castration, real or chemical doesn’t work to stop sexual assailants.  We know even what we’d consider cruel and unusual punishment, like lopping off hands don’t stop theft. Sure, they deter it, but they don’t stop it.  And we know even the threat of public hangings never stopped murder. Sure, they might make it less likely (this is incredibly difficult measure, of course) but they didn’t stop them completely.

This is because humans are — get this — individuals.  And some individuals will be twisted.  (And no, you can’t fix it with education, early childhood support or tender loving care. Being twisted is part of the human make up.  You know, the heart is wicked and deceitful and all that? Yeah.) And some will not ever realize they should control their desires to do bad things to others.

It doesn’t matter how few those are. They are going to exist. And if they exist, there’s always the possibility of their victimizing someone.

Even the safest societies have crime, and criminals.

So what can you do about it?

You defend yourself. You teach other people to defend themselves. You make it less likely that the criminal, be he one in two or one in a thousand succeed.

Because you’re not psychic. And you don’t have psychic control over everyone else.  And neither does anyone else. No, not even people who look like whatever specific criminal.

I agree with you: no one should be murdered; no woman should be attacked; no child should ever be abused; heck, no pet should ever be abused.  The world should be a safe and happy place, where everyone wakes up with a smile and goes to bed thinking happy thoughts.

Where we disagree is the idea that I — or anyone — can get in the head of someone determined to act against moral or law and make them refrain.

I can’t do that, and I don’t think you can either.

So stop trying to Svengali, and start making like an adult, who ensures his or her own safety.  And who doesn’t cry “but it shouldn’t be that way.”

Because trust me, if anyone could control the way other people behave, you’d have stopped whining long ago.

Book Promo! An Embarrassment of Riches. Also Writing Challenge

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A NOTE ON COVERS, PLEASE READ.

I don’t have a terrible lot of room to throw stones. I know that covers are difficult and that it’s almost impossible when you can’t draw or render scenes and are dependent upon what you find.  Or rather, no, it’s not impossible. Between Pixabay and paying stock sites (I think well of dreamstime) most people can manage a not cringe-worthy cover.  If you look above that is obviously a photoshop, and no, I wasn’t that good yet.  But I could now, and probably will at some point make it a not-cringe worthy cover. Look at covers of your genre and please, please, please try something like.  I did a cover series here.

Why this matters: COVERS ARE YOUR BIGGEST MARKETING TOOL.  I’m not the only one who has passed up on a book because the cover didn’t fit the genre. Look, if you don’t take elementary care to have your cover be 1) genre signaling 2) reasonably attractive I don’t trust you to have written a book worth the first ten minutes of reading without throwing it against the wall metaphorically speaking.

You don’t have to pay 1k for covers. In fact, particularly if you’re doing e-only and you go above $500 for covers you should have your head examined. Again, go look at stock sites. Understand the cover is not “a scene from the book” (how would the reader who hasn’t read the book yet know?) but mostly signaling correct genre.  And stock photo sites are FULL of attractive images you can use for maybe as low as $15. Look for a font somewhat like the ones in your genre, and GO.  There’s more it. I did a series on it here. If you’re totally at sea, go read it.

I will NOT include in the promo books with covers so bad that I would not even consider clicking on them to see the contents. Look, we have limited real estate and a cover that’s text only on a blank background for a time-travel story will bring all the other books down (not to mention in that particular case, I’d want to read or skim the book because of the theme)  Seriously, a translucent clock-gear-and-face on a blank background with the title would be better in that case, even if signaling “literary.”  At least it doesn’t signal “I have no clue.”

No, you can’t make money on the book to have enough to pay for a cover. People don’t buy books that signal wrong.

And yeah, I know it’s a strange standard to most of you, but I’m willing to tolerate less than wonderful covers. I’ve been known to make less than wonderful covers for myself or family, and fixed it later. We’re not always perfect.  However in the year of our Lord 2019 there are minimal criteria that don’t scream “I’m phoning it in.” Learn them. Apply them.

LOOK, IF YOU’RE NOT IN THIS TODAY, GO LOOK AT YOUR COVER.  YOU KNOW THE “YOU ONLY HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE THE FIRST IMPRESSION? CONSIDER IT. REALLY CONSIDER IT.  (AN NO, NOT ALL ARE HORRIBLE, BUT SOME I’M FAIRLY SURE ARE SIGNALING WRONG, LIKE NON-FICTION, OR LITERARY)- SAH

Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months. One book per author per week. Amazon links only.

AS AN ADDITIONAL NOTE, BECAUSE I DIDN’T DO THIS THIS WEEK, WE HAVE A TON OF BOOKS. SO I’M DOING HALF TODAY AND PROBABLY HALF FRIDAY NEXT. I DON’T WANT YOU TO GLAZE OVER OR FEEL A WALLET SPRAIN. – SAH*

 

I AM IN THIS, EDITED BY JAMES YOUNG:  To Slip the Surly Bonds (The Phases of Mars Book 2.

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Throughout the human experience, historians have wondered, “What if?” What if Americans had fought on the side of Germany in World War I? What if Germany had invested in naval aviation in World War II? What if Russia had started World War III?

Wonder no more, for these questions, along with many others, are answered within the pages of this book. Told by a variety of award-winning authors, like Sarah Hoyt, the 2018 Dragon Award Winner for Alternate History, Richard Fox, the 2017 Dragon Award Winner for Best Military Science Fiction, and Kacey Ezell, the winner of the 2018 Baen Reader’s Choice Award, “To Slip the Surly Bonds,” deals with aviation warfare that never happened in our world…but easily could have.

The second book in the exciting new “Phases of Mars” anthology series, there is something for everyone inside! From fighting alongside the Red Baron, to flying a P-38 Lightning, to present day air warfare, “To Slip the Surly Bonds” traces a century of aviation warfare…that wasn’t. From learning how the PBY got to the new world in Taylor Anderson’s “The Destroyermen” series…to fighting the French in a very different Vietnam, this book has it, so come aboard and find out “what if” all of these things had changed history…just a little. You’ll be glad you did!

FROM BLAKE SMITH:  A Capital Whip: A Pride and Prejudice Sequel.

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An invalid for much of her life, Miss Anne de Bourgh has precisely one accomplishment: carriage driving. She is proud of her skill with reins and whip, and justifiably so.

But when another young lady moves into the neighborhood, and challenges Anne’s place as the most accomplished driver in Hunsford, Anne must prove to herself, to her beloved horses, and to her family that she is worthy of the name de Bourgh, and she does not shrink away from a challenge.

FROM MARGARET BALL:  Dragon Scales (Dragon Speech Book 2).

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It’s one thing to meet a dragon in the snowbound mountains of the High Pamirs, but quite another to entertain him when he shows up at your Austin home, together with his sulky and all-too-human teenage girlfriend! Linguist Sienna Brown battles a shapeshifting dragon who helps himself to her clothes and demands enormous quantities of pizza, a teenager whose ignorance of American customs doesn’t prevent her from picking up every man she meets, a nosy neighbor and a group of Russian thugs who are tasked with acquiring the dragon for their own country. In addition, her boyfriend is terrified that the dragon’s presence will tempt her to use its magical but brain-injuring native language. And he’s not entirely wrong about that.

FROM PAM UPHOFF:  Kaat (Wine of the Gods Book 45).

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A Novella in the Wine of the Gods Universe

Oner Agent Kaat Withione Sideris Kriti successfully infiltrated the enemy’s home world. But circumstances and time, friends and then family . . . where will her conflicted loyalties fall?

LAURA MONTGOMERY:  Simple Service (Martha’s Sons Book 1).

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A lost starship. A lost colony.

Two factions. One expendable son.

When the colony’s governor requisitions the colonists’ personal weapons, Peter Dawe’s father sets him a simple task. Get their weapon back.

But the Marss have all the technology, and Peter, a second generation colonist, the youngest of ten, the expendable son, must contend with the guard, palace politics, and his biggest problem of all, Simon, his brother.

Sunday Writing Challenge

And for your writing challenge: We know that when we go to space Earth’s biosphere will go with us.  Sure, we might try to keep them here.  But you know as well as I do that (particularly if there’s ever such a thing as one-man-interplanetary, let alone interstellar, ships, cats, dogs and inevitably mice will travel with us [and chickens with the Portuguese.]

So, have fun, and write me a few paragraphs about that delightful scamp napping above, or his counterparts of paw hoof, claw or tentacle in other ships.

It’s Companion Animals To The Stars. 😛  (And if you feel like giving us a blurb for what the story would be, we won’t complain either.)

Going Home

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When I was a little kid, in the North of Portugal, in 5th and 6th grade, I had the option of taking a crowded bus home or walking a couple of miles through a path, next to a ravine, by the side of the train line.

Being me, of course, if it was at all warm, I took that — not particularly safe — path and I had the habit of singing Take Me Home Mountain Roads at the top of my voice.

Which, you know, was the expression of a feeling that I wasn’t actually at home, that my home was elsewhere, even if the image of a little girl in Portugal singing a song about West Virginia while walking alone by the side of a train line is pretty funny.

September 11 this year, I found myself describing that morning: how beautiful it was (as this fall is getting) crisp, sunny, clear.  I lived in the tiny mountain town of Manitou Springs, in a pink house, at the top of a hill.  The boys’ school was four blocks away, up and down a mountain road.  In Winter walking that road was painful no matter how much you covered up (and driving when it was icy was also dangerous) but in Fall it was a gorgeous walk.  We petted friendly dogs on the way out and talked about everything. Marshall was in Kindergarten and Robert in third grade.

Because kindergarten started twenty minutes after the rest of the school, I took a paperback in my jeans pocket (I was reading my way back through my pulp collection, at the time) to read after Robert went in, while I waited for the kindergarten kids to go in.

I then walked back, thinking of the book I was working on — Any Man So Daring, back then — and the weekly short story — my writers’ group wrote a short story a week, as part of our discipline.

And on that golden, beautiful morning, it occurred to me we were living through the best years of our lives.  We were finally making enough. We loved our house on a hill, with a little terrace on top of the garage (very Mediterranean) where we wrote when the weather was warm.

Dan worked a traveling job, which meant he was at home “on the bench” about half the year and had time to write. We’d both started being reliably published.

We had a writers’ group which had become friends. Which meant that we had a meeting at our house on Saturdays.  It started at 3 pm, and sometimes we kicked everyone out by 10 pm.

Amid those writers’ group friends there was a family with kids the age of ours. After dropping kids at school, I’d start coffee and the mother of the family — then my best friend — would call me, or I would call her.  We’d talk to each other while making beds and starting laundry. It was in a way our “morning meeting.”  We told each other what we’d be writing (she was writing her third book, also) which served for accountability.

So I got home, hung up my keys, and started making coffee.  And before the first drop went into the carafe the phone rang and I thought “Becky is early.”

I grabbed the phone, ready to make a joke. And she screamed/cried in my ear “Turn on the TV, turn on the TV.”

We didn’t have a TV. Or rather we did, but we didn’t have cable. And reception sucked. Lots of snow. So this was a bizarre request. But I went and turned it on.

And I never went home again.

No, listen to me: NONE OF US EVER WENT HOME AGAIN.

In the next week, amid anger and fear (for Dan who was in DC and had to figure out how to make it home) something changed in me. I couldn’t go back there.  Reading the stuff I wrote before that, is like reading an alien. There are perfectly functional short stories I’ll never publish because they give entirely the wrong thought/feeling about the world.

I was so traumatized that for the first time in my life, all my thoughts/daydreams before going in bed the stories I tell myself to go to sleep to, were of being someone else, someone completely different, another person altogether, not me.

I was someone completely different by the end of that year.  And from there, I went somewhere else again.

I was 37. My life inflects at that point. It bends almost to breaking.  To use a Pratchetterian idiom, it’s a different leg of the trousers of time.

Where I am, what I do, who I am: none of that would be true without that day in September.

Tom Kendall to an extent, and a lot of you in the comments, said “Nothing changed. 9/11 just exposed the rifts.”

And you’re not wrong, those who say that.  The left was what it always has been. Or at least what it had been since long before I was born.

Robert A. Heinlein said they were infiltrated by communists back before WWII. They have/had perhaps unnoticed to themselves, or at least to large numbers of their supporter, become oikophobes who hate America and disdain the Constitution and our form of government.

But we could ignore it. We could pretend they were mostly misguided, and they would come to sanity.  And they — because they always suppressed dissent — could tell themselves, as they still try to do, that everyone agreed with them.  The weeks after of flying flags and “bless America” were terrifying to them. These “educated” people who surrounded them couldn’t possibly believe America was that great, right?

You see, the left, steeped in “international socialism” (Which was always Russian nationalism, but American leftists in particular tried to ignore that. Even if after the cold war they went around muttering that the good guys had lost.) equated and equates nationalism with fascism. Perhaps because they don’t allow their mental universe to conceive of a world that is not socialist/collectivist. (And national socialism is indeed fascism. But thank heavens, the rest of us are aware of forms of government that aren’t socialist.)

I was a Libertarian (actually had volunteered with the party a few times. One of my son’s earliest memories is passing out Libertarian flyers at the state fair.) But I was an international libertarian, and I believed — I’d persuaded myself to believe — that every culture in the world would convert — PEACEFULLY — to liberty.
What on Earth was wrong with me?
I don’t know.  I wanted to believe.

Like that golden September morning, I was seeing everything bathed in a beautiful light. Which then crashed, in fire and horror.

But it was more of a crash for the left.  It was the first — perhaps — of a series of shocks, the latest being November 2016, in which they realized the world was not what they thought it was. By having educated people and their friends suddenly come out as people who valued the US they suffered a bad shock (both times). They thought we were all agreed!

As always, with the left, the response to these shocks is to become more adamant, more dictatorial, less tolerant of contrary opinions expressed.

And the rest of us…

How different would life be now, if that golden bubble hadn’t popped? Well, I’d probably never have come out politically. I’d probably be a literary fantasy writer to this day, writing “difficult” historical fantasies for a small, devoted fandom (before 9/11 90% of my fan letters were from college professors.)  There are reasons for that. I’m not going to go into them.  Our financial situation would be far less precarious — I also can’t explain that, because it goes into Dan’s job and our investments at the time — and therefore the kids would have had opportunities they don’t.

It is possible I would by now be teaching in college (again.)

Those are minor things.

As a minor side step on this — perhaps because I’ve been reading a lot of Pride and Prejudice variations (i.e. plot variations) — this morning I was reading about the WTC jumpers.  And I had a horrible and horribly plausible side-flash.  For reasons that, again, I’m not going to go into, it was all too plausible we’d be at the hotel in WTC that day, with the two kids, on a sightseeing trip.  Was it possible we’d have gone to the Windows on the World for breakfast?  Sure it was.

And what do you do in that situation?  I had a flash of us grabbing the kids, and holding together and jumping.  And telling the kids we’d fall into eternity.

So, the side-spur world we’re on, this leg of the pants of time, is not the worst it could be. Not even close.  On a personal level, and perhaps on a collective one, it could be much, much worse.

Where would that world without 9/11 have gone?

Who knows? Maybe like the cold war our cultural cold war would have resolved without a fight, without blood, without the map going all arrowy and red. Maybe. That hope is certainly in line with the old me.

Or maybe, as Tom says, we would have walked, blindfolded, into the place like where Germany is, where we’d be making concessions to the invaders and the enemies within, and not even aware of it.

I was also talking to a friend yesterday who said that he didn’t feel much about 9/11 anymore, because we’d ended that war, and the war we were on now was not that.

Um… Except the cold civil war we are in now was made much harsher, much more obvious, and opened up hot spots then.  And that is still escalating.

Is it better than sleep walking into tyranny. Sure. Of course it is.

But the time we’re in — seemingly suspended — is the time before the map goes all arrowy and red.  We’re in the “causes leading up to.”  And it’s my strong gut feeling that in the next five years those arrows and splotches will come. And that what emerges at the end is something completely different. So different from now we wouldn’t even recognize it.

Nothing we can do about it.  Except feel a certain nostalgia for the blind — but happy — fools in that September morning long ago.

And hold in our hearts the Constitution, the words of the founders, and our love of the US.  Because only those will take us through the mess ahead, and hopefully to greater freedom beyond. Maybe even a revival of our constitutional republic.

And if not, we’ll carry our flag, our Constitution, our beliefs in human liberty in our hearts.  Until they can be true in the world again.

Until we can be home again.

Oh maid most dear, I am not here
I have no place apart —
No dwelling more, in sea or shore
But only in thy heart. [Jean Ingelow]

Sorry State

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Sorry this is late.  I woke up yesterday feeling a little icky.  Not sick, but my nose was runny and I diagnosed myself as feeling “lazy.”  I didn’t want to take my morning walk, I barely made myself go outside to water the garden, and frankly I just felt like taking the day off, but I couldn’t let myself do it, so I kept trying.

By noon it was obvious it was more than laziness as my eyes were running enough it looked like I was crying (and I wasn’t sure I wasn’t, but I had no idea WHY.)  Then I started feeling clogged and my ears started hurting.  By 4 pm I went to bed, got up at six with some idea of making dinner, only to wander around the kitchen and do nothing for half an hour, before making a cup of tea and sitting down, having decided making or eating dinner wasn’t happening, and I’d wait till 8 and change to go to bed. Which I did.

I’m… better? this morning to the extent I only feel very tired and like I should go to bed, but not like my thinking has shut down and I can’t keep my eyes open.

I have two energy drinks sitting on my desk. I’m hoping to compensate for wellness with caffeine enough to write, and “only” go to bed at five or six (maybe seven) pm.  I have a short story ridiculously overdue, and I DID promise to finish it today. I hate letting people down.

What the heck is wrong?

Don’t know. At first I thought it was an auto-immune attack, but my eczema is not flaring anywhere badly enough for this.  And also my husband is showing (much milder) symptoms.  Because of the suddenness, I think it’s a virus.  Friends who had something similar happen say it’s very bad for 48 hours and then mildly bad for a week.

I’ll post something tomorrow. Might be just a pretty picture.

And now to shower, mainline some energy drinks and see if I can do a story.  Fortunately the plan is rather hallucinatory, anyway.

Note this was written while wearing a virtual mask. Don’t breathe too close to your monitors.

I’ll be back.

Massacre, War and Colonialism – a Blast From the Past From August 2nd 2017

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Massacre, War and Colonialism – a Blast From the Past From August 2nd 2017

So I’ve been reading this mystery.  Yes, yes, “It came from KULL” [kindle unlimited lending library] I know, but it’s actually decent.  I mean, it’s not exactly setting my world on fire, but it’s pleasant enough.  Until…

The book is set in the nineteenth century. One of the characters is reading her father’s diary, and her father was a scientist/explorer (who has disappeared.  This is sort of the background to the whole series, not the mystery) and she’s enthralled by his adventures, until…

Until his party is attacked by neighbors, and they fight back, killing a bunch of the natives.  The author then refers to this as a “massacre” and proceeds to act as though this tarnished the main character’s view of her father forever.

Then to make things clearer, this woman’s bone-headed brother in law comes in to say that the savages should be glad we bring them civilization even if we have to kill them.  And in case you know, the reader might be tempted to sympathize with this opinion, blusters about how men and women shouldn’t work together, because they might become — horror of horrors! — friends.  Then he huffs off, shedding straw as he goes.

[Sarah puts thumb and forefinger on either side of the bridge of her nose, closes her eyes and inclines her head.] Where to begin?

Let’s start with the fact that the attitude of the main character is seriously a-historical.  A woman of the time might be horrified by the “barbarous” doings, but would certainly not think it constituted a massacre.  To consider this a massacre takes knowing that in these clashes the white men would ALWAYS win and were disproportionately equipped to do so, and KNEW they’d survive and kill all the others.

Reality check, okay, even in this book that’s given the lie, since her father was almost certianly killed by natives.  But beyond that, the world is strewn with the corpses of scientists/explorers, even those way better armed than hostile natives, but at a disadvantage in the landscape.

Then there’s the brother in law’s opinion that colonialism is good for you.  You know… for most of human history it was.  Now, it wasn’t particularly good for INDIVIDUAL humans.  Being invaded and more often than not reduced to the position of serfs or slaves purely sucks. But when the colonialists bring with them a higher level of production/wealth creation/security… well…  I’d hate for it to happen to me or my kids, but in the long run future generations might be much better off.

Now this isn’t always true, of course.  Colonialism, like other Marxist buggaboos, has no existence in itself.  It is the abstract isolation of a phenomenon that can be good or bad or indifferent, depending on who is colonizing whom.  (It is also not, btw, a characteristic of white men.  All humans colonize. Which is why there are humans on every continent.)  Europe being invaded by the Moors might very well, on the whole, have redounded to the worse.  Some things were gained from the invasion, sure (almonds and the artesian well were among the ones we were forced to memorize in school) but had it not been thrown off, the level of individual happiness and wealth would probably have ended up lower (as it did in Africa) and it can be argued it left behind habits of mind that are at odds with modernity (which they didn’t know would come) as well as regressive treatment of women.  It’s far more complex than that, though, since each invading civilization brings both good and bad, and also changes while it’s occupying the land.

That change, btw, accounts for a lot of the disastrous effects of European colonialism in much of Africa: as Europeans embraced Marxist thought, the leading minds of Africa came to Europe to study it.  What communism, socialism, and its cousins have done to Africa doesn’t bear contemplating.

The author, btw, as though aware she’s being crazy and imposing her crazy on the story, goes on about how her father was “trespassing” and that’s why these young men attacked.

[Does sinal salute again.]  She never actually tells us what moral behavior in those circumstances would be.  Letting themselves be slaughtered when they were attacked, even though they aren’t doing anything wrong (objectively) but merely looking for specimens?

Look, I’ve described this type of encounter between western civ and tribal mind set before.  To an extent our current confrontation with Islam is that, writ large.  There is a tribal mind set that is very old, is probably built into our genes, because we were tribal long before we were anything else, and which goes something like this “strangers in our territory” (however defined, since most tribes lacked the concept of land ownership.)  “We’ll commit atrocities against them, so they leave us alone.  The greater the atrocities, the less trouble they’ll be.”

Unfortunately western civ interprets/ed atrocities as “these savages can’t be tamed/integrated.  Kill them all and let G-d sort them out.”

This is a problem, because in the language of violence (and violence, between human groups is a language, intended to convey a message) what is “said” and what is “understood” are completely different.  And it will escalate violence until the stronger civilization destroys the weaker one.

It’s a tragedy, but it’s unavoidable.  It’s been happening for centuries or millennia — alas, Cartago! — and absent the ability to telepathically communicate with a tribal civilization to make them back off, I do not know what the author thinks could be done to avoid the “massacre” of people who were trying to kill a scientific expedition.

But more importantly, speaking to the mindset behind this, the mindset that thinks colonialism is somehow evil, and can only exist from whites/Europe versus everyone else, and also that SOMEHOW Europeans are so powerful that when they kill EVEN PEOPLE ATTACKING THEM it’s always a massacre:

1- All humans are colonialists.  All humans are territorial.  Before we had anything as complicated as tribes, if our understanding of our nearer evolutionary relatives is right, we had family bands, who had territories.  Clashes occurred at the bands of these territories.  The band that was successful in taking over the territory and aggregating the other band, eventually became a tribe.  The tribe most successful in conquering others, eventually became a nation.  You can beat your chest and cry, but it doesn’t matter  We’re not angels.  We’re uppity apes and this is how we function.  All your scolding won’t change it.

2- Violence will always happen when two very disparate civilizations meet.  Why?  Because even when they talk, even when they learn each other’s language, the concepts will be different.  Take martyrdom.  In Christianity this means entering the Arena singing Hymns and acting happy, because overtime that will convert the spectators.  In Islam it means blowing yourself up killing the infidel.  You can talk martyrdom, but it doesn’t mean the same thing on either side.  Violence is also a language, and when even your violence is misinterpreted, it means you don’t have a language in common.  And violence WILL happen and someone will win.  If you feel that your civilization should never be the one to win, there might be something wrong with you.

3- Someone will win from this violence.  All the scientific/exploration parties that died and disappeared means that sometimes the tribal humans win over those who are contributing to the species knowledge of the world.  Those are sad occurrences, but they count for nothing, except that it encourages other tribal humans to fight and die trying to take down something they CAN’T take down.  It’s an escalation of tragedy, if you will.  In the end, killing the tribal band that first attacks you (instead of what?  Lying down and dying, to expiate ‘privilege’?  In a land where the privilege is obviously with the natives?) is the best thing you can do.  It sends the message “fighting is futile” and will encourage the local tribe to try to protect itself by other means, be they negotiation or trade.

4- In a clash between civilizations, if you decide that your morals require you not to fight/lie down and die, you’ll be the one colonized.

There is no option between human civilizations for ‘we’ll each go to our little territories and stay there’.  That’s not how humans work or ever have.  Population pressure; desire for goods; desire for a certain land; conviction of one’s superior civilization, will keep us fighting and trying to expand (and btw, that last applies to ALL human civilizations.  Yes, Islam believes they’re superior to and more powerful than the west.  They have Allah on their side, after all.)  Your choice is never “let’s all live in harmony.”  Your choice is colonize or be colonized.  Think carefully of where you’d rather live, and which mind sets and conditions you’re willing to encourage.

And stop mouthing pieties about “massacres” when someone fights in self defense.  Western Civilization is not always the winner, and will not always be the winner.

The fatal oikophobia you’ve been taught is the worm gnawing at the heart of the civilization that’s lifted most humans out of poverty.  Examine carefully how you’d like to live before your throw your weight behind the supposed victims.  They’re just another set of aggressors.  And if you wouldn’t like to live under their rules, that’s not the side you should be fighting on.

No humans are angels.  Some are just more accomplished warriors than others.  That doesn’t make them bad.  It all depends on what you’re fighting for.