Grown Up Matters

There is a saying “Personal isn’t the same thing as important” which goes with a certain type of character. It’s not right, but it illustrates the type of character who is utterly devoted to something to the exclusion of self beautifully.

In the same way, there should be a saying that “important isn’t the same thing as political” because it’s true, and because thinking it is drives me bonkers and also prevents any grown up conversations which actually do need to happen, in favor of shouting slogans in our faces and treating us as evil when we reject them.

Look, the right also politicizes things it shouldn’t. For instance, I found out that A Few Good Men is woke, and that only the gay characters are good people from the right. Who obviously were reading a book hetched inside their eyelids, after they closed their eyes not to read the real book. Because in the book the characters are gay partly to illustrate how any totalitarian regime treats minorities, and partly because it’s a minority and oft despise characteristic, but one that can be hidden, which then connects with the whole hidden stuff. Also makes Luce’s story plausible without giving him some kind of degenerative disease. (And no, I didn’t think of that when I started it. That’s not how the writing works. I just knew what it was. But as the book unrolled, it became pretty obvious.)

However we do that partly in reaction to the left making everything political and chasing us everywhere, from work place to hobbies screaming slogans and telling us we’re awful if we disagree.

But — It’s not right. And it’s hurting us. By us in this case I mean humanity and civilization.

This started because one of you posted something on literary criticism using the old “the curtains are blue” comment, on discord.

Now, I’m not outing her. She can if she wishes, but she seemed to think the original poster (I think a tweet) had a point, in that writers are trying to say or do something by specifying the color of the curtains even if they’re not doing it consciously.

I started rolling my eyes, and then the sapient pearwood soap box got under my feet when I got to the point where this tweet-er informed us that people who said that science fiction and comics didn’t use to be political are just stupid because it was always political, and people who thought it wasn’t just thought it was kid stuff.

At this point, I had a fine growl growing in the back of my throat consisting of “This is not how any of that works!” and my hand was actively seeking the axes given to me by the Minotaur (Thanks Ox!)

Because…. well, that’s not how any of that works.

The beginning with “but the critic has a point, otherwise the writer wouldn’t have put in any color at all” or whatever was merely stupid. Not actively poisonous, but short-bus special.

You put in details like the color of the curtains, because they build realism in the readers’ mind. If you just have something vague and fluffy like “the room had drapes” the scene will feel insubstantial and blah.

Look, it’s a fine dance and part of the craft of my profession to give just enough detail for the story to feel like it really happened while not spending your entire time describing the weave on the rug under feet. Depending on the importance of the room and the decor for the story, you might get away with “there were multicolored curtains on the windows” but if you’re trying to illustrate the character’s taste, or the particular world culture, it might be “There were bright pink curtains on the window. Interesting choice.”

So, does that mean the curtains’ color is deeply meaningful and blue curtains symbolize the open sky or possibly the Virgin Mary? (One of my idiot professors was obsessed with blue being the Virgin Mary. Weird for an atheist.)

Oh, heck no. And thinking it does is short-bus special.

It can mean that, or whatever if you are you know writing literature-class bait. But literature class bait is a genre to itself, and you have to start by assuming no one will read it if not assigned. (But lots of people will lie about reading it)

However, in your normal average book (or above average book) written by your normal average writer, who wants to be read, sure, the blue means something, most of the time (not always. Sometimes you just drop it in to add some realism.) But what it means is that the room is restful, or that the room was decorated by someone color blind, because all the colors clash. Or the character likes blue, so later on when everything in a room is red you know it’s not his/her room. Whatever. But it’s usually not some kind of deep symbolism.

In fact, figuring out how to get stuff like the curtain colors to do work with the character and the plot was pretty difficult for someone like me who had studied literary analysis, and kept thinking I had to put symbolism in it, and thereby bollixing the entire proper signaling of the color.

It can also have deep symbolism, of course, but if it does the writer doesn’t know it, and I challenge the critic to figure it out.

You see, each of us has a deeply-inlaid set of significants in our mind that are often completely unique to us. Say, for instance, you once had a vacation and stayed in a completely white room when you were like two, so for you it means rest and fun.

This is why criticism, back before Marx fouled the waters (more on that later) involved spending a lot of time deep diving into the author’s life.

It’s nonsense, you know? SOMETIMES you can get somethings from the story that tell you about the writer’s life and knowledge — like Shakespeare was obviously (eh) shaky on geography and at least in the beginning had not a single clue what went on in royal circles — but at the level of “why are the curtains blue” unless the writer left a long log of letters or a day by day diary and one of them mentions that the curtains in his mom’s room were blue, it’s also nonsense and often pseudo-Freudian nonsense at that. (As though real Freudian weren’t bad enough.)

So, you know, that was my first point of getting really upset at the post.

But the growling and trying to get axes point was the “This is so wrong, it’s not even wrong” idea that sf/f and comics were “always political.” and PARTICULARLY the bizarre, head up colon idea that if something doesn’t have politics it is (or we think it is) “kid’s stuff.”

What the actual blue curtained hells of the overlords of the fucked up universities of Marxiana is going on in this special snowflake’s scrambled sheep brains? (The original poster, not the person who echoed it, I think, because she didn’t suffer through literary criticism in University or try to have a writing career in the early oughts, so superficially it sounded okay to her.)

Look, first, first, on the less wrong point “Science fiction and comics were always political.”

True, although until the last ten years or so, only the clumsy ones done by exceptionally stupid authors were clumsily political.

Now what those politics were say in the tens or twenties might have given the snowflake the shock of his insular life. Most of the books from the twenties or even tens, particularly the ones written by self-proclaimed socialists had some reference to racial hygiene or eugenics. GLOWINGLY approving references.

After WWII, of course, those went away, but also Marxism became super-trendy and oozes from any analysis.

Now, the question is: were these novels (and comics) political because they wanted to be political, or because they came from the author’s assumptions?

Waggles hand. SOME of them. I’m sure this snow flake, if interrogated (I favor the iron maiden for this) would burp something to the extent that of course the books and comics were socialist because that’s only smart. And only smart people write books.

The fact, though, is that there was a filtering system back then: from at least the forties, and probably to an extent before (and through a process I don’t have time to go into) a lot of the publishing world was controlled by Marxists. Therefore, if you wanted to break in and be considered “serious” you had to have Marxist talking points, or at least the occasional genuflection towards the Marxist revelation.

You can tell how serious an author is about it by how much they intrude in the story, or whether they’re just the occasional throw away line.

This only solidified throughout the rest of the 20th century, as universities basically became wholly Marxist, and therefore Marxism became identified as “being smart” so that if you wanted buzz, and good reviews and your editor to take you seriously and give you push, you had to have some in.

Thing is: in the good books (which mostly weren’t taken seriously or got any push) the stuff either was woven skillfully into the assumptions of the story, so you might hate the ideas, but you enjoyed the story nonetheless,(sometimes, honestly because it didn’t say what the author or particularly the editor thought it did) OR they were the occasional sentence or phrase dropped in, and you shrugged and went on.

With indie, it’s different. We mostly write for the story. Yeah, okay, there is a political substratum to a lot of my novels, but it’s not because they’re political. Or at least they’re not political in the manichean sense.

Note this is where the critique of AFGM by the “I iz offended” right went astray, because they assumed that “Gay means woke.” and “Gay means that hetero is devalued.” There is a word for this….. give me a minute…. oh, yeah imbecilic.

It’s also called “Playing the game on the left’s terms.” Because that’s how the left “thinks” for lack of a better term.

Politics for Marxism, at least since WWI showed that the workers of the world WOULDN’T unite, and in fact were pretty nationalistic, thank you so much, has been a game of “finding causes” and “finding peons” to use as cannon fodder to destroy capitalism, so that, according to their ignorant, grifter prophet, paradise will arise from the ashes.

So, you know, they view politics as sort of a complex game of claiming “chips”. The race chip, the woman chip, the third world illiterate peasant chip, the gay chip, and recently the transsexual chip. They pick these chips and wave them around like a Catholic sprinkling holy water, to prove they have the right think and are okay with holy Marx.

We don’t have to play the game the way they play it. Even more importantly we shouldn’t.

Which brings us to the depths of stupid, a well so deep that you can’t see a glimmer of light from above.

Keeping in mind that “politics” for the left is signaling “I stand with correct thing in the correct way today”, you come across the casually dropped thing that — projection — we think science fiction and comics were for “kids” before, because they didn’t have politics.

So, you know, something doesn’t have the correct signaling, it’s stupid and for kids. Again this comes from THEIR belief that intelligence equals belief in Marx. So, to be intelligent and for adults, you need to put in the chips in the correct way to signal “I stand with the correct thing in the correct way” which makes you smart and grown up.

Or, you know, a brain-washed useful idiot, who can’t think. It’s one or the other, and if you read any of these people’s pride and joy, you know which one it is. Which is why the left can’t create, just like they can’t meme.

The problem with this is that “politics as the left understands them” does not belong in books. (There is a question of it belongs anywhere.)

It particularly doesn’t belong in science fiction books.

Why?

Because science fiction books should be for grown ups — note I don’t say “adults” which means something different. Heinlein wasn’t wrong when he said he wrote for teenagers, because teenagers were grappling with the big questions. He missed that a certain type of mind grapples with those their entire life, in an effort to understand, and those people are grown up but not ossified — and they should take on the big questions.

In many ways we live in a science fiction world. Not because all the big questions have been answered (they haven’t. And using that excuse for sf not selling is the bullsh*t publishers pulled in the early oughts) but because they haven’t, and because tech is impacting our life every day at an extremely personal level.

Now, take the transsexual question (Please. I don’t want it.) Sex change isn’t actually possible with the tech we have. What you can do is mutilate someone to look like the opposite sex. In extreme disphoria cases this is psychologically helpful, but in most cases it is just castrating/sterilizing someone while lying to them about what you did, or how close a solution is. There are also troubling cases of “cluster decision” and “infection” which are the result of social media, which is tech hitting our lives. And these cases are poorly understood by medical providers who by and large didn’t grow up with social media. Fine.

There are lies about it being possible some day soon. It might be possible, but not someday soon. And mostly likely only possible if done at the gene manipulation level, so you’re born the other way anyway, which means no help for the dysphoric.

I happen to be writing a book series which deals with a modified-humans hermaphrodite species. I full expect the right-who-is-fightin-with-lefty-chips to decide I’ve gone woke. I also fully decide the left to hate it, because the books I wrote set in this world in my twenties sent them raving insane.

So, why am I doing this? Um…. mostly because at fourteen I read The Left Hand of Darkness and went “This is not how any of that works, and did you read about hermaphrodite species in our world? Or study how humans acquired “roles” without injecting feminist narrative?” And then I went to bed and woke with this world in my head.

I tried to do a run at it at 20 and it … I didn’t know enough of HOW to write, and knew too much about the world, so it made no sense to people. However, interestingly the publishers’ problem with the world was that I called hermaphrodites “he.” There was a reason for this, yes. And it came from a bunch of biological and psychological extrapolation. In the early nineties, I was told a house would publish it if I changed the pronouns. I didn’t because it conveyed the wrong image.

Anyway, yesterday while talking to people in my fan group I half jokingly said it explores deep set questions of human sex, gender identification and orientation.

Half joking, because I was trying to sound like a lefty literary critic. But the thing is it is — or I hope it is — actually true. It explores things like: if we could completely change children pre-birth would some people do it? Would people do it expecting their kids would thereby be truly equal? Would they do it because they think they’re curing women of the burdens nature landed on them?

And then the other questions — which require a lot of studying the biology of apes. No really — which secondary characteristics are needed, and which are decoration and evolutionarily selected because pretty?

And always most importantly: How would it actually turn out in reality, and what price would you pay?

One of the prices my people in this world pay is sky-high child mortality because their design necessitates extremely “premature” kids who, though more equipped for survival than our premature babies are still tiny and very fragile, in a barbaric society. (Another price they paid came from their creators trying to start them out tabula rasa, with none of human history or culture AND a synthetic language.) Another price is that grouping together is not natural, partnership is not natural and marriage is not natural.

Is any of this written in stone? No, I’m exploring it with my understanding of it. Including a lot of articles I read that said family and band formation in early humans came from women being relatively helpless in later pregnancy.

Am I “right?” Well…. I don’t know. I know I’m writing entertaining stories from the premises and hopefully they will get people to ACTUALLY think and dig into issues of gender/sex/orientation.

Because since the pill sliced those issues off “reproduction” we’ve been scrambling. And while we can’t create viable hermaphrodites and might never be able to, or at least not for millennia, these issues are always going to matter to society.

So, you know, first I’m writing what I hope is an enormously entertaining adventure, making my characters people you empathize with despite everything, and getting this world that’s been in my head for 46 years out of it before I die.

Second, if it can make people think, and question things — not just the orthodoxy but all the Marxist chips being waved around — and start actually talking and exploring the questions, I’d like that. Because it’s needed before we come up with real genetic engineering and artificial wombs and stuff.

But that’s it.

It’s not “political” in the way of saying “I support the current thing” and it’s definitely not (I hope!) for kids, though it has no explicit sex, and teens might find it interesting, who knows? I wouldn’t have let my teens read it without telling them to come and talk to me after, but I was always more close-supervising than most parents.

Saying that if a book doesn’t have political slogans and “I support the current thing” is for kids, is bizarre and bizarrely stupid.

And thinking that the politics in science fiction are what made it good is also bizarre and bizarrely stupid. Often the questions it raised had nothing to do with the occasional slogan the author threw in, or even the author’s incidental obsessions.

When everything is political, nothing is. We need spaces where “I support the current thing” isn’t demanded and where we can explore the really complex and difficult questions without someone reeeing in our faces.

And I think that’s what we’ve been saying for a while.

And in my case also trying to walk the walk.

That’s all.

Book Promo and Vignettes by by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

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 (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE.*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH

FROM CAITLIN WALSH: Mama Bunny #1: Comics and Stories.

Parenting is tough, but it’s also rewarding. And occasionally even hilarious. Now collected for the first time, follow Mama Bunny and her family through this series of mostly-autobiographical strips and written stories as they navigate the ups and downs of dinnertime, chores, and all the other day-to-day adventures of a stay-at-home mom trying to raise and teach two children.

FROM LAURA MONTGOMERY: Mercenary Calling

Calvin Tondini has his first client, but he may be in over his head.

It’s the twenty-second century. Humanity’s first and only interstellar starship returns safely. Its mission to discover a habitable planet succeeded beyond all hopes, but there’s one problem. Captain Paolina Nigmatullin of the USS Aeneid left an unsanctioned human colony behind and now stands charged with mutiny.

Despite a somewhat spontaneous approach to his own career, life, and limb, Calvin intends to map a more cautious path for his new client. Captain Nigmatullin, however, shows an unnerving penchant for talk shows—appearing on them, that is—and otherwise ignoring her attorney’s sober counsel.

How can Calvin ensure his client’s freedom when death stalks the Aeneid’s crew, and Nigmatullin herself hides secrets from everyone, even her lawyer?

Buy Mercenary Calling today for the legal thrill of next century!

FROM J.M. NEY-GRIMM:Persephone Errant (The Hades Cycle Book 5)

he buried herself to escape her past, but now it’s followed her down to hell…

The dark queen anchors her soul in power—power as her husband’s beloved, power as the guide for shades seeking absolution. When the hero Orpheus invades hell to pluck the heartstrings of its rulers, his song reminds Persephone that beneath her sovereignty lurks weakness she persistently ignores.

Orpheus proves but the herald of another illicit visitor to the underworld. Confronted with her memories in the person of an old enemy, Persephone resolves to bury her past anew.

But hidden amongst congealed impotence, frustration, and swallowed rage lies an opportunity the queen banishes at her peril. If she refuses the challenge, she who saves the souls of the damned will lose her own.

Persephone Errant is the fifth tale in the enthralling Hades Cycle. If you enjoy deep mythology imbued with an intimate focus, you’ll love J.M. Ney-Grimm’s rite-of-passage story in which a goddess confronts the choice that will define her for the ages.

FROM D. A. BROCK:Texas at the Coronation (Republic of Texas Navy Book 1)

For seventy years after a devastating war, the Republic of Texas kept to itself. But it would be rude not to attend the international naval review celebrating Britain’s new king, George VI. So with war clouds over Europe, Texas sends the elderly armored cruiser, San Antonio, and her new captain, Karl von Stahlberg.

While making new friends and meeting Texas’ ancient foe, can Karl and his men avoid sparking a war?

FROM RON CORRIVEAU: The Least Significant.

An alien thief has escaped to Earth with an object of critical importance to his planet.

With the authorities close behind, the thief plans to hide by blending in among the people. But there’s a problem. His native form would make him stand out, so he’ll need to borrow a human body.

And he has a specific one in mind.

Catherine and Marcus are a young couple enjoying the evening of their engagement in downtown Dallas when Marcus suddenly vanishes from the sidewalk in a burst of shimmering lights. Unable to explain his disappearance, Catherine is soon approached by a mysterious man who tells her the thief he is chasing has taken over Marcus’ body and displaced his essence to another dimension.

Unsure whether to believe him, Catherine reluctantly agrees to help when she learns the man can return Marcus to his body. But, as they begin to close in on the thief, Catherine uncovers a shocking truth about Marcus and the alien planet more fantastic than she ever imagined.

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: Rockin’ the USA

It’s not easy being married to the leader of the band, even in the best of times. When everything becomes political, you’ve got a nightmare on your hands.

Laurel had her doubts when her husband signed on to headline Governor Thorne’s Independence Day concert in Candlestick Park. Now that the band’s committed to the appearance, the Flannigan Administration has decided to shut the show down, with prejudice.

Laurel knows she has to fight this attempt to stop the signal. But doing so may put her in more danger than she could ever have anticipated, and risk those she loves.

A story of the Grissom timeline, originally published in Liberty Island Magazine.

This edition also includes a bonus essay on the era of dictatorship in Grissom-timeline America.

FROM KYRA HALLAND: Dreams of Magic (Mage of Storm and Sea)

They called him a war hero. The savior of the common people of the Islands. The greatest weather mage the Islands ever knew. But once, he was a lonely, misfit youth with some impossible dreams.

Esavas Daruvias wants two things in life – to become a weather mage and to marry the girl of his dreams. But, bookish, awkward, and misfit, his magical power stunted since childhood, he knows that his hopes are completely out of reach and life as a scholar at the remote, secluded Tower is his only refuge from a society where he doesn’t belong.

Then his father offers him the impossible, an arranged marriage to the beautiful Pirazina, the girl he’s always loved – who barely even knows he exists. Determined to win her heart and admiration, Esavas risks everything – his freedom, his future, even his power itself – to become the mage and man he longs to be and make his dreams a reality.

Dreams of Magic is the prequel to Mage of Storm and Sea, an epic fantasy series with a prominent romantic storyline in the later books. There will eventually be an HEA for the characters, but they have to work for it first!

Contains strong language and mature subject matter, including drug and alcohol use and sexual references.

FROM JACK LONG: The Dark Frontier Adventures: DANGO.

Dango, a retired half-elf army scout, sets out with his friends to start a quiet new life on The Dark Frontier. Maybe raise some tuskers, no more fighting. But fate has other plans.

Kidnapped by savage elves Dango must fight for survival, but escape is just the beginning of his trials as he finds himself embroiled in a struggle for dominance of the territory with the vicious Gradokk Gang.

Join Dango and his friends as they fight corrupt ranchers, murderous elves, and the mountains themselves.

Welcome to gritty and visceral chases, murders, pit fights, betrayals, battles, and redemption on The Dark Frontier with this volume of The Dark Frontier Adventures – DANGO!

FROM CHRISTOPHER WOERNER: Virus

This book is a collection of material from seven of my published books, covering the virus and vaccine. The tyrants have made full use of these to seize power and impose misery. This is just a straight-forward, day-by-day reaction to the events as they unfold. No great climax or narrative, just an increasing realization that we need to resist them. This also includes many news headlines and random jokes I made up about the nonsense we’re all forced to live under. It will keep spreading, unless you buy this book. In fact, buy several copies as a booster. It’s the only way.

FROM DAN BRIDGEWATER, A CHARITY ANTHOLOGY: Abandoned: An Anthology of Vacant Spaces (Legion of Dorks, book 4)

Abandoned places can be intriguing, creepy, and forsaken, but are they always empty?

In this fourth anthology in the Legion of Dorks presents series, fifteen authors poke around in vacant places and let us see what turns up.

You’ll discover:
· the wreckage of an enormous, ancient, alien craft and what it hides
· a young woman looking for a shopkeeper, but who runs into a genie instead
· an old researcher who travels to a hidden island
· an AI satellite that rebels against its programming
· a dragonling that threatens the safety of a kingdom
· and so much more.

These books are put together with love and a generous heart as a way to give back. So, 50 percent of the profit goes to charity. Pick up your copy today and join the adventure while supporting children in need.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: CONNECTION

This Is A Post

Okay, I lied. It’s just some memes and links.

I am better, but I’m slammed under deadlines. Also woke up with massive headache. Ibuprofen has it at manageable levels, but still annoying. Yeah, I might have messed up my sinuses by being an idiot. (Long story.) Anyway, that’s probably the headache. Or it could be the fact I’m under crisscrossing deadlines and desperately want to write the thing that doesn’t need to be written. Because….

Because I’m going to have to take my muse in the back lot and shoot it.

Which of course brings to mind a series of books called “Death of a muse” in which an author (only one who knows the muse world) investigates muse-murders. And I’m not going to write it. Deal with it. You guys can feel free to write beginnings for the first book though. Go ahead, amuse me. Make it silly.

Meanwhile:

Meanwhile, the Babylon Bee is breaking news again: Yet Another Stash Of Classified Documents Discovered During Biden’s Colonoscopy

Our very own Ox is on the track of a concealed carry gas stove — okay, it’s butane, close enough: Tiny Little Stove and Big Heat MOO! (I probably have the accent wrong on that, but oh, well.)

I’ve been saying this for how many years? Go. Disperse. Tyrants need people concentrated to effectively tyrannize.

Too late to have another drink, the lights are going out: The great Paul Johnson, RIP

Like we haven’t before: Like Paul Revere, a Massachusetts Republican Sends Warning.

This will end well: Biden, Media Taunt Struggling Americans By Insisting 6.5% Inflation Is A Good Thing

Direct from Fauci’s plans: Boston Medical Center Denies HIV-Positive Patient Life-Saving Care Over Face Mask Dispute

They have nothing left: The new Scooby-Doo series is “boring and unfunny and sexualized” and it’s getting absolutely terrible ratings

They really got nothing: ‘Man Called Otto’ Is Oscar-Bait at Its Worst.

This seems interesting: ‘On the Trail of Bigfoot: Last Frontier’ Will Get Under Your Skin.

This Is Not A Post

So once the coughening was done, and with deadlines looming, my body did what? Well, it caught something else, apparently consisting of sore throat, aching head, fever and nausea.

Contrary to popular belief my immune system is not weak. My immune system is very strong, but it attacks only me, while extending the welcome mat to everything that tries to invade. (Um…. my immune system is Brandon. Great.)

Anyway, remember the hula-baloo about “long covid”? It’s not just covid — which I haven’t managed to catch since what I think was it early in January 20 — it’s every virus.

Viruses are little sh*t heads. Even the not very bad ones come in with inconvenient symptoms like “Stay awake all night coughing” (which on the heels of the medicine reaction my body was primed to do) and then leave you weak, so the next virus (or bacteria) catches you.

My theory is that after spending a month coughing in reaction to ******pril, I was primed to catch the “cough till you die” virus (which some fans two states over have been battling, so I didn’t make it up.) It was better than the medicine reaction, in that I could take cough medicine. But it went off every three hours, and I couldn’t take it for four and– Yeah.

Anyway, that finally left me three days ago, under an onslaught of lemon tea.

And I was okay for about twelve hours, and then the …. other thing.

I suspect this last one only catches people when they’re already weakened. It got better after a day, and today I’m almost-normal.

But you know, five years ago I went to the doctor because I was tired and dragging and she diagnosed it as post-viral syndrome.

And what I’d had then was like five weeks before, and NOTHING like the sh*tshow we’ve been living with since November.

So, you know what? Deadlines still pushing, and I’m going to try to finish the Barbarella script today and maybe a short tomorrow (I mean, I’ll try today, but I kind of doubt it. I feel a nap coming on already.)

And I’m going to take it kind of easy and sleep a lot for a week. Because I don’t want to fall prey to something that only attacks newborn babies, or people with terminal TB or something. And that’s about where I am right now.

I will — duh — be doing posts, but there might be some off days too for a week or so. Bear with me. It’s very annoying for me not to function at full speed too, but I have books to write, and I’d prefer not to die now.

So, go play. But not in the street. The last time y’all played in the street Fluffy ate a tourist, and the paperwork was very annoying. So, don’t do that.

See you tomorrow.

The Weight of History a blast from the past from February 2018

The Weight of History a blast from the past from February 2018

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I realized the other day that I was born the same distance from the end of World War II as we are now from 9/11.

It seems like a weird idea.  After all, 9/11 happened yesterday, just about.  I remember the shock, and worrying about Dan (he was working in DC at the time) and bringing out the bourbon and frying doughnuts.  I remember months of not being able to think straight.

But WWII was ancient history when I was born, a thing of the past done and over with.  It helps process things like the holocaust when you feel as though they happened in the unimaginably distant past.

Yeah I grew up watching WWII movies, which were all in black and white, and where the decisions seemed obvious and simple.  I grew up in the sixties, with the idea of hallucinogenic drugs if not the reality (sure they existed in Portugal.  Heck, they probably existed in my circles, but I turned 8 in 1970 and if those existed in the playground, it was more than I could guess) the idea of space travel and a bunch of truly bad ideas that were all about overturning centuries old practices and ideas with the new shiny of what boiled down to a few really dumb syllogisms (we’re all naked under our clothes, man) and a lot of also very old, never worked anywhere, and dressing them up in new psychology won’t help (free love, man.)

I literally did not realize how close I was born to WWII because it was old history to me.  Dead and gone.  The harrowing uncertainty of the past had become history, written, cut, dried, judged, finished.  I was so uninterested in it I never opened my dad’s multi volume history of WWII.

And thinking back, it’s no wonder I viewed it that way.  Sure, my parents remembered WWII, but they were kids then.  (And since Portugal, which was even more broke than usual, and also really couldn’t go in on any side except the Axis without prompting an invasion by its old enemy, Spain, [which btw tells you that Portugal, national socialist though it was, didn’t align with the Axis intellectually, because otherwise it would have gone in, easily enough.  These things are way more complicated than we tend to think.  I mean FDR was also largely national socialist.  It was the spirit of the time.] was neutral, my parents memories were mostly rationing, and that time that people came around to glue film on the windows, to minimize the risk in case of bombing.  And they didn’t even know what kind of political brinksmanship led to that, except that the bombing expected was German.]  My grandparents were the ones of age to have fought in WWII, had the country not been neutral.  My grandfather did tell a story about a trip from Brazil when his boat was boarded by a German submarine crew, looking for someone or something, and if I got the gist of the story right, they really had a (British or American) spy hiding among them, whom they didn’t turn in.  (Grandad spoke English, and also he really didn’t have a fiction-writer bone in his body.  He couldn’t have embellished any story to save his life.  That comes from his wife, the storyteller.)  But I don’t remember the details very well, because I was very young and most of the referents he was using made no sense to me.  There was a type of coat my mom wouldn’t let me wear, because it reminded her of the emaciated Jewish refugees arriving in the train stations in Portugal during and after the war.  Not that she was hostile to them, but as she put it, the coat made her think of “famine and desperation.”

Sure the rationing made the country very poor.  National socialism did too.  (And you know, Bernie might be truthful about his national socialism, though I’d doubt the national part of it, because I remember he honeymooned in the Soviet Union, the weasel.  His hatred of “corporations” matches the regime I grew up under, and mind you, that kept us d*mn poor.  Particularly the insistence on keeping out multinational trade.)  My mom was one of those children who walked along the train line, picking up bits of fallen coal to use to cook with at home.  Being older and Portuguese, she wasn’t one of the children John Ringo saw, but she was their spiritual sister.  And she and her siblings gleaned the fields, after the farmers were done, to get potatoes, to supplement the household food.  (And grapes, and whatever.)  My dad came from a more stable/better off family, though the country itself was so broke that his father worked abroad for 30 years of his life, to send money home to keep them so.  But when dad got a scholarship to high school (at the time a paying thing,) his mom made him a book bag out of old cloth, because they couldn’t afford to buy him the normal leather ones.

But all these hardships were far in the past when I was born.  It never occurred to me how close they were, or that my brother, himself, was born only 9 years after the end — and the horrors — of World War II.

I was a child of the cold war.  We grew up knowing we were all going to be blown up, at any minute, by a dispute in which neither us nor our rather tiny country had any say.  Always, from earliest understanding in the world, I ran through plans to survive nuclear war, because I knew this would come in my lifetime.  (Yeah, I do know it might still, but it’s different, isn’t it?)  I grew up jaundiced and cynical, looking at the “Soviet Life” magazines and snorting, and passing the Gulag Archipelago under the desk to classmates, because it wasn’t legally forbidden, but heaven help us if our teachers found out we were reading it.  Say goodbye to that A and be harangued forever about buying into propaganda.

I grew up knowing that all the intellectuals thought communism was cool, that leftism was a positional good, that being patriotic was gauche, and that, nuclear war or not, communism would eventually win out.  Even those who hated it believed so.  It was so efficient after all.  Inhuman, but efficient.

And then the Soviet Union fell, and the sheer inefficiency misery and stupid of the regime leaked out.

And yet I remember, in my thirties, after the fall of the wall, reading my first Reason magazine and realizing with a shock that overpopulation and pollution, let alone the exhaustion of natural fuels, were nowhere near as close as I’d been taught to believe, that the end of the world in my time or even my grandchildren’s time, wasn’t inevitable, that there was hope.  It was both a shock and a breath of fresh air.

Why am I bringing all this up?

We all grow up caught in the tidal wave of history, only the wave is made of amber.  It pins us in place.  We carry with us a set of beliefs, thoughts, feelings, that are completely transitory, but feel like they’ll last forever, like they are eternal verities.

I was born in the after-shock of World War II, which was itself, and aftershock of World War I.  I grew up suspicious of nationalism, because people were suspicious of nationalism after World War I.  I grew up with leftism being a positional good, because communist (mostly Soviet) propaganda during and after WWII made it so.  FDR let the soviets cast themselves as the alternative to fascism, when they were no such thing, all to secure the cooperation of good old uncle Joe.  Sometimes you make pacts with the devil.  I’m not sure that one was needed or worth it, but then I wasn’t there, and for all FDR was a bastard I don’t think he hated America.  We had to wait a while for presidents who did hate America. So he did what he thought he had to do, and I can’t judge it.

And the patina of leftism as a social good hasn’t worn off yet.  All our intellectuals think that it’s inevitable some form of socialism will win out.  Except that Europe is choking on socialism and dying, and if it saves itself it will by renouncing it.  (And no, I don’t know if that’s possible.)  And the poverty and misery of leftism keeps pouring out, every chance, leaking, guttering, seeping through, becoming obvious despite their domination of the media that does its best to keep all that hidden.  It’s becoming very obvious.

We’re on the crest of yet another wave of history, where it turns, and curls under.

Go easy on the millenials, particularly the young ones.  They were taught to believe in a senescent philosophy that never worked anywhere. They suffered the shock of 9/11 but no one at all helped them process it.  They were taught to hate their country by the people who think that removing nationalism will remove war (“nothing to kill or die for” — I’m spitting on you John Lennon.)  They are taught to hate corporations by people who are as economically naive as the national socialists I was born under.  And no one has taught them the horrors of communism, everywhere it was tired.

Well, we’re on the turning of the wave.  And part of it is the leftist boomers getting old/losing their grip on the institutions they so carefully crawled through.  And part of it is the new media, and unbelievably dirt, vast, unimaginable secrets leaking out.

The kids will be all right.  It’s only about 100 years since Europe tore itself apart psychologically and Western civ decided that the way to stop this was to destroy itself.  And we’re already turning away from that.  We’re rebuilding.

Grandma’s grandmother was born just after the Napoleonic wars.  A hundred years and change isn’t much in human history.  It is much for HUMANS because we’re caught in our little bit of amber, and only see so far.  But human history, human ideas move slower.  They do move, though.  No movement, no trend — particularly dysfunctional ones — lasts forever.  Things self-correct.  Maybe it’s too late for Europe.  And maybe not.  Sure, there’s a lot of Arabs around, but a lot of them converted and became part of the weave of Europe before.  It’s not the genes, it’s the culture.  It could still turn around.

In biographies of Englishmen who fought the peninsular wars, I read how devastated the country was, till there was not a work-cow to eat, till fields were ruined, great houses and families destroyed.  After it came a time of lawlessness and fear, the tall stone walls of the village topped by broken glass, in a more or less vain attempt to keep thieves at bay.  Grandma’s house was built around that time, and so designed there was only one window in the lower floor, and it had a huge board that went over it at night, to prevent break ins.

Yet I grew up in a poor country, but one in which food was plentiful and where walls were decorative, and maybe five feet high.  Now mom and dad have raised the walls, and have security bars on all the lower floor windows.  And steel shutters that shut the house tight at night.

No trend is forever.  There is nothing as stupid as extrapolating present trends to infinity.  And none of us is given to see more than a little bit of the great waves of human history that come from an unimaginable, not-remembered time and carry on to a future none of us will see.

When you’re inclined to despair, remember, most of us were born very soon after World War II, after the two conflicts that ripped Europe’s heart out and ate it.  We’re still in the shock wave, in the concussion.  Even our kids and grand-kids will still be affected by that great explosion.

But nothing lasts forever.  Even the most grievously maleducated generation in the history of the west will have events that change their mind, discover ideas and secrets that transform all.

And our function is to snatch brands from the fire, to take these great grandchildren of World War II and the fall of Europe, and teach them that yeah, their history is not immaculate, their country not without flaw.

But in the long march of history, the United States might be the last great hope of mankind, and Europe itself, ragged and soaked in blood is no more so than other continents, other cultures, and is perhaps better in, for the first time, having raised a lot of people above the poverty line.

The flag of personal freedom will rise and fall, as will the idea.  But respect and freedom for the individual are the only thing we found that breaks, for at least a short time, the cycle of “bad luck” and evil that afflicts humanity.

Carry it proudly, and give copies to your children or to young people whom you can reach.

It’s a long, long road.  None of us will see the end of it.  Battle on.

Parsing Words

Important issues should be discussed in language we understand the meaning of.

The recent trend of dictionaries changing meanings according to the howling of the crazy people is wrong, but frankly, so is the howling which gets in sane people’s heads and replaces the meaning of some words with a howling sound of outrage and the sense of “DON’T”. After that the howling-word starts getting applied to everything vaguely adjacent whether benign, malign, indifferent, or simply something a political side wishes to suppress.

Take racism for instance.

I was never racist, until “race-blind” became racist. This is not a statement of virtue, because race-blind is a neutral characteristic. Some people see race, some people don’t. In my case, I don’t except in the sense of becoming fascinated about someone who looks like no-one I’ve ever seen. This is rare, of course, but there are — particularly in the US, some fascinating and unclassifiable genetic mixtures, which are almost always, for some reason, beautiful. And my fascination extends as far as “I want to draw this person.” (I need to get back into practice.) That’s it. There is no value judgement, besides the fact that it’s built in to humans that beautiful people are somehow nicer, no matter how often we learn it’s not true.

Individuals are individuals, and their features and skin color don’t have much to do with the content of their characters, as far as my experience goes. People who grew up in different places and times might have different mental pigeon holes for certain sets of features and skin color. And it’s none of my business.

Look, real “racism” as a thought category — someone who mentally assumes all people of a certain race are good or bad — is none of anyone’s business. It’s only when that thought translates to actions that it becomes anyone’s business, and even then… The Constitution, though apparently we’re not paying any attention to it anymore, guarantees us freedom of association. This means if someone chooses not to associate with people of a race he or she despises, it’s none of our business. In a society like America, racism of that kind is likely to be its own punishment, because if there are enough people of a different race to make an economic difference, the racist will suffer. He’ll either miss on employment, or have to pay higher price. In the end, the behavior will be disguised or abated.

But what about riding in the back of buses and not being able to sit at a lunch counter and– Well, all those were government-imposed during the reconstruction. The segregation of races in America was a government imposed thing. Because it’s antithetical to the spirit of America. …. So, of course, it was solved with regulations the other way. Which makes no sense whatsoever, but is of course the way it goes.

For the record, if a place is so screwed in the head that you can’t use public accommodations — that doesn’t mean private shops — you should move. And if a government imposes that kind of segregationist rule, yeah that’s wrong and should be struck down because it’s unconstitutional.

But the point is rules in the other direction are screwed in the head too, and lead to “bake the cake” situations, and who knows what other crazy stuff in the future. Do Catholics have to host a Satanist wedding? Think about it. We’re so far into raping the Constitution that this seems like a step more, and not a big one.

“But why should people have to move because every business in a town — say — is run by racists?”

Well, why not? The best thing you can do is move. That way the businesses lose both your business and the satisfaction of looking down on you, and you can go and be prosperous elsewhere. Eventually the racists will have to sell to each other, and won’t survive.

Look, I speak with knowledge. As an out-conservative (Bah, Libertarian. Or Constitutionalist. Or something. Someone of my disposition, who has been side-eyeing guillotines for a few years now, and wanted to deposit one on Polis’ lawn as a memento mori, (Don’t worry, that’s the inner bitch, and I watch her ALL THE TIME) should not be called conservative. But in this decayed linguistic time I apparently am) I am QUITE barred from the small town of traditional publishing and have to make my way to the frontier. (Imagine my shock when husband pointed out that since I did I doubled my annual income. Not that it’s a ton.) So I know. It’s not race, but it’s just indelible a scarlet mark. And yet, what could be gained from pounding my head against the doors of those who don’t want me? And heaven knows I don’t want a law forcing them to take me. Thank you. I’ve suffered enough.

Which is why it’s important to think carefully about things like “racism” and what they mean, rather than starting to howl, as intended.

Look, racism as a thought is not only not a crime, and not necessarily detrimental, but is also impossible to police against. Trying to change what’s inside people’s head is impossible, and will cause stupid(er) backlash.

How can I say it’s not detrimental? Well, depends on what you consider race. My dad is almost charmingly racist. No, seriously. Except he thinks Portuguese is a race. It would be the ridiculous “white nationalism” they keep warning us about if Portuguese had anything to do with racial characteristics. Instead, it’s just charming and a bit deranged, and I think you guys with relatives who came from Europe have experienced the same.

My dad thinks the Portuguese invented everything and did everything worth doing. The Portuguese not only invented bread, but the knife to slice it and the butter to spread on it. No seriously. You can hear him explain history according to Portuguese greatness and the only reasonable response is to giggle.

It only chafes a bit because his crazy younger child went off and married one of them inferior Anglo-saxons (With a bit of Amerindian, a lot of German and…. but dad doesn’t need to know that. I mean Germans. That’s worse than anything. Amerindian is a plus though, because he grew up on Westerns.) He deals with it passibly. Dan is of course inferior, but he’s OUR untermenchen and Dad quite likes him. Not as much as if I’d married a Portuguese, of course, but look, he’s dealing with it the best he can. And the boys, though obviously mixed race take after the Portuguese side (in dad’s mind) as any sensible child would, so they’re okay, and he’s very proud of them and expects them to excel in this barbarous land to which I took myself.

The fact he thinks Portuguese are genetically superior hurts no one and enhances his life immeasurably.

Now, of course, dad is a moral person. If he enters into business with a foreigner, he’ll be strictly honest, because his own pride demands he be fair. (The Portuguese are always fair. Snort, giggle.)

But, you say, Portuguese is not a race. Isn’t it? Makes as much sense as American perception of races. You guys might not realize it, if you grew up here, but what you consider black (Oh, pardon me, African-American) makes not a whit of sense. No, seriously. Half of my relatives are “black” according to American perceptions. (Dad would mostly ping Arab or, if in NYC, very Jewish. But dark. But other relatives.) And frankly half of my genetic cousins, to believe 23 and me (snort, giggle) are pure European. But… dear Lord, drop them anywhere in the US and they would be assumed to be black. As for me, with a perm and a tan, some PORTUGUESE assumed I came from the African colonies.

I hear someone referred to as “An African American actor”, (in another post we’ll go into the erasure of women by using the male form ONLY for artists) blink at the picture of a Mediterranean looking girl, and flash on the Farside cartoon of two bathrooms marked with identical penguins, and the words “only they can tell the difference.” I think you have to be born and raised in America to “get” how Americans see race. Either that, or it’s actually impossible. I don’t know which.

America is in fact so mixed we scared the heck out of my mom who couldn’t discern which (European) race people belonged to and had a minor panic attack over it, since we were messing with her head categories. (She also couldn’t identify any of the races we consider races, because it doesn’t look like in Europe where they tend to keep separate.)

Look, if there’s an American race, it’s “mongrel and proud.”

So, racism in America is USUALLY a reaction not to race at all but to culture, as expressed in clothes, hairstyle and manner of speech.

People often ask my kids what race they are (snort, giggle) because apparently they present as incredibly mixed, but they’re more likely to be discriminated against for being male and huge and perceived as dangerous than because they tan. Because they open their mouths and — how did the Barbarella reviewer class my language habits? Oh, yeah, — sound like they swallowed a thesaurus. And no one is afraid of that. Confused, sometimes. Upset, often. But not terrified.

But we don’t use “racism” to mean hatred of a race. Instead we apply it to situations that real racists in NYC or Hollywood THINK are due to racism, thereby betraying only their own inner thoughts.

Take when I complained about homeless taking over the public library and denying me and the boys a resource and a place where we used to walk regularly. The blogs on the left that read that and decided I needed to be yelled at immediately screamed “racist”. This puzzled living heck out of me, until someone on the blog pointed out that “homeless are usually black in the East.”

Well, that’s…. interesting. I might be racist against the East of the US, only it’s really culturist. Look, guys, I don’t dislike you or anything. it’s just you’re all way too cozy with other people in your space. Like… When traveling to Liberty con I hit Atlanta (usually the last transfer) and start singing “Don’t stand so close to me” under my breath before I even realize it. (It’s the reason I ultimately couldn’t face moving East.)

In the west there aren’t a ton of black people. And in Colorado Springs, any random black person you encounter is more likely to be in the Air Force than to be homeless. In fact, up to the time of that accusation, I’d never seen a homeless black person. (Only started seeing them when crazy cakes Polis made Denver a haven for them, and they came from the East, because the benes were excellent.)

I dislike infestations of homeless, particularly feral homeless, because they make the city dangerous, destroy business and victimize innocent inhabitants of the area, not because they’re any color or variation of features. So screaming “Racist” when I’m pondering what to do with the homeless problem that neither involves killing them nor subsidizing them but probably a dose of tough love, is such a bizarre misfire that it says more about you than about me. You can call me heartless (I’m not, but I don’t favor being kind to the cruel, because it’s being cruel to the kind) or hard-assed, or even stupid, but it has zero to do with race.

In the same way, yesterday while helping a friend distance-house-hunt we tripped on another of those.

You see, realtor and other sites used to have crime-maps. This was very useful when shopping for a house from another state.

Those have been banned because “they were used as a proxy for race.”

Again, this says more about the people coming up with that nonsense, or perhaps the benighted places they live in, than normal human beings, who — like us — looked at the maps to make sure we wouldn’t be knifed in our sleep.

Dan and I have lived in neighborhoods (our first house) where we were the only white people, and had no issues. (Yeah, I know. I’m “white” — waggles hand — but pass, but trust me, the husband tans by becoming slightly less pasty.) We talked to neighbors, went to neighborhood events and stole the county commissioner’s cat. (Stop staring at me. He let him out in the snow. We let him in. We’d have moved with him too, if he hadn’t caught us in the act. We didn’t know he was a Maine Coon!) The neighborhood was young professionals. That was more important than any race. And I suspect our nickname was “the crazy cat people.”

And we lived in a high crime neighborhood — we rented without checking the map. ARGH — where I was probably the darkest person. Yes, it was mostly drug crimes/dealing, but seriously. Good idea to stay indoors after dark, and away from front windows.

However some crazy people, undoubtedly back East have a head-belief that all criminals are black (Sounds racist to me) and therefore took away a useful tool people used when buying houses at a distance. (Hey, maybe they didn’t want us to flee.)

That there is harmful racism, because it affects people of every race when going about their lawful business of real-estate purchase.

But we let them do it, because they hide behind that awful “racism” slur.

Which is why it’s important to tear the cover away and see the thing for what it is.

Racism as a thought-crime doesn’t hurt anyone. The crazy things racists do while claiming OTHER PEOPLE are the racists? That hurts everyone and tears society apart.

World changing: top down or bottom up? – by Margaret Ball

*I know a lot of you also read over at Mad Genius Club, but most don’t. I though this post from Margaret Ball three days ago needed wider exposure – SAH*

World changing: top down or bottom up? – by Margaret Ball

My flimsy excuse for posting this on a writing blog is that one thing science fiction writers do, a lot, is invent strange cultures and describe how they change. And too often the changes are not convincing; they amount to everybody saying, “Oh, now that you explain it, I can see that how we’ve always done things is counter-productive. Let’s all revise our norms and expectations overnight.”

You know, the usual reaction is going to be more like, “But that’s how we’ve always done things.”

Consider three test cases.

I expect we’ve all seen pictures like this, illustrating stories about the Taliban’s series of decrees aimed at driving women – which means the whole of their society, really – back into the Stone Age. And I know there are some of us old enough to remember the pictures of girls in Western dress in Kabul circa 1970.

Now take Turkey. Kemal Ataturk was a national hero and he did his best to drag Turkey, kicking and screaming, into the modern world. It’s been sliding back into Islamism ever since he died.

What happened? It’s what didn’t happen. Changes that were imposed from the top never reached the mass of society. A few elites enjoyed a brief spring of freedom, but as soon as the politics changed, the societies oozed slowly back to where they were.

It’s depressing, if you think the changes were good ones and that the societies are worse off for rejecting them.

On the other hand…

I feel that normal people in the USA are now being battered by a series of changes demanded by a hysterical, clinically insane elite. And you know what? I don’t think that will last. The majority of people in this country are still sane. We don’t want our children sexualized or our communications censored.

Yes, it’s really hard to change a society by orders from the top. And sometimes that’s a good thing.

Book Promo and Vignettes by by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

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 (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE.*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH

IN WHICH THE AUTHOR IS A BITCH AND PUSHES HER BOOK AGAIN. (I’M ALSO REDOING COVERS FOR THE OTHER DST, AND WILL POST HERE WHEN I DO. DEAL – SAH)

FROM SARAH A. HOYT — NOW WITH HARDCOVER OPTION: Through Fire

Zen Sienna is a woman from another world and does not want to become the wife of a ruler of Earth. But she also doesn’t know how to escape the man’s courtship.

Which is just as well, because when a revolution happens, she turns out to have the skills to stay just one step ahead of the corrupt revolutionaries and the insane government to keep herself and those she comes to love alive and lead them to triumph.

Follow Zen in a harrowing adventure where a stranger in a strange land proves herself the most qualified to survive.

Also, (I said I was being a bitch, right?) These two have Paperback and Hardcover editions now. (And have been re-typeset, but that’s matters less. I’ll do the third one probably tonight. I’m hoping to finish the fourth this month for release next month. If I can get rid of the stupid cough.)

FROM SARAH A. HOYT, NOW IN PAPER EDITIONS:

Dipped Stripped and Dead

French Polished Murder

FROM HOLLY CHISM: Having a Pint (Liquid Diet Chronicles Book 2)

Meg Turner, vampire accountant and investments advisor, has plenty of living clients, but not many among her fellow undead. That’s about to change: she’s been invited to a regional business fair for her kind. She’ll get to meet and greet more bloodsuckers than she really wanted to (hopefully without having to suck up to any of them). than just the two Vampire cops she helped track down and stake her late, unlamented sire—and hopefully make some friends and answer some questions.

Unfortunately, she’s got a Line Progenitor who’s begun invading her dreams, and a serial killer stalking her future clients to distract her from growing her business. Throw in a sick roommate not long before the conference starts, a mafia messenger boy left on her front porch, and only one car to juggle all of her responsibilities toward her roommate and unexpected guest. And then on top of that, she has the business fair over an hour away that features vampire karaoke, nosy, pushy elder bloodsuckers, and one particular elder who’s friends with her unwelcome dream guest. Seriously, it’s enough to drive her to drink something other than coffee or blood.

Just why did she think this whole conference thing sounded like a good idea, again?

FROM KELLY GRAYSON: Kindred (The SumDood Chronicles)

In the Dakota Territory, a U.S. Marshal haunted by his past works desperately to discover who is behind a weaponized smallpox plague and stop an incipient Sioux uprising.

A Serbian policeman, at war with terrorists as well as his conflicting loyalties, races against the clock in Sarajevo to stop the terrorists intent on setting off World War I.

A gifted New Orleans paramedic finds himself embroiled in the bloody drug cartel wars on the U.S./Mexico border, battling a new kind of plague he does not understand.

All three men have two things in common: the archangel that resides in their heads, and the fallen angel they’re pursuing.

It’s a battle as old as time, with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance.

FROM KAREN MYERS: King of the May – A Virginian in Elfland (The Hounds of Annwn Book 3)

Book 3 of The Hounds of Annwn.

MORE VALUABLE AS A WEAPON THAN A KINGMAKER, HE MUST MAKE HIS OWN CHOICES TO SECURE THE FUTURE.

George Talbot Traherne, the human huntsman for the Wild Hunt, had hoped to settle into a quiet life with his new family, but it was not to be. Gwyn ap Nudd, Prince of Annwn, has plans to secure his domain in the new world from the overbearing interference of his father Lludd, the King of Britain.

The security of George’s family is bound to that of his overlord, and he vows to help. But when he and his companions stand against Lludd and his allies at court, disaster overturns all their plans and even threatens the Hounds of Annwn themselves.

George and his patron, the antlered god Cernunnos, must survive a subtle attack that undermines them both. Other gods and gods-to-be have taken an interest, but the fae are divided in their allegiances and fear the threat of deadly new powers in their unchanging lives.

George and his companions must save themselves if they are to persuade their potential allies to help. But how can they do so, attacked on so many fronts at once? Will he put his family into greater jeopardy by trying to defend them?

FROM KENNETH CROMWELL AND CHARLES CROMWELL: The Tomb of Theragaard (New Paladin Order Book 1)

Tryam dreams about becoming a legendary paladin of old and combating the evil that is falling across Medias like a malevolent shadow. But as a ward of the Church, he is forced to obey every whim of an overbearing abbot who preaches peace above all else.

Dementhus is a wizard of immense power and even greater ambition. To further his ends, he has broken faith with the Wizard Council and has learned the forbidden magic of necromancy. As payment for this knowledge, he must deliver to the Dark God a weapon from the time of the Ancients: an unstoppable artifact known as a Golem.

When the sinister machinations of Dementhus results in the kidnapping of one of Tryam’s friends as well as the murder of another friend’s father and the brutal destruction of their village, the youth is compelled to disobey the abbot and venture into the unknown, armed only with his faith.

This is a time of growing chaos, as great civilizations fall into decay and ruthless powers fight to fill the void, a time when the cruel can rise to power from the words of a single spell and the honorable fall from the chop of a bloody axe. This is an age in desperate need of heroes.

FROM JASON FUESTING: This We’ll Defend (Echoes of Liberty Book 3)

Captain Eric Friedrich traded his ship to reach the heart of Confederate space and what temporary safety it offered. Preferring to be the hunter instead of the hunted, Eric now seeks to avenge his fallen and defend his new homeland, but to do that he must plot a course through unfamiliar waters. He will leverage everything he can, bargain with shadowy government agencies, strike deals with politicians, and run head first into danger once again. Failure will cost him everything he holds dear, but the clock is ticking and the only way to go is forward.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: shocking

Cross Your Fingers

I’m going to attempt a quick house cleaning, and would like not to end up very sick again, so…. cross your fingers for me.

Meanwhile, I leave you with one of the funniest cross over funnies EVER:

Oh, quick business: the certificates for those who contributed have gone out, as has the sound file for “Moose and squirrel.”

If you didn’t receive, ping me in the book promo email with “Did not receive” and I’ll correct. (We had a heck of a time with spam filters.) BUT check your spam and junk first, please.

The collection of USAian short stories is waiting for me to finish the original short, which was delayed by spending approximately two months getting the coughening again.

And those who paid for either tuckerization or mentoring, please ping me in the regular hotmail. One of you already did, but I haven’t got back to him, because coughing my head off and sleeping like a cat 16 hours a day.

I will get on it, though.

And now hugs. Promo tomorrow, and see you back here on Monday.

January 6th

How eager was I to write a January 6th post?

So eager that I came downstairs to write a blog and promptly fell asleep for three hours, even though I actually slept well last night.

Okay, that might have more to do with the fact that I am actually, in point of fact, still recovering from “the cold that keeps coming back” whatever the heck that bug is. Dan says I didn’t cough less last night, so all I can say is I must have slept through it? But I am coughing less during the days, which is at least the right motion. And he dragged me to do the doctor, so I’m medicated. (So, yeah, you know, not that kind. I remain at large. But I am medicated for the cough and secondary infections. Bronchitis in this case.)

However, there is nothing happy about Jan 6th. Not the two innocents butchered for no reason except they needed bodies as far as I can tell, not the setup to give themselves a reason to go after ideological dissenters, not the sad spectacle of grandma’s indicted for “parading” which is apparently now a crime in America, nor the people they still hold in jail, because why not, they have China envy and dream of making protesters disappear.

The only thing I can say is that what January 6 has done is given us a gauge for “Don’t do this. Nothing good will come of it, and there’s a good chance there will be a setup to get us in trouble.”

Mind you I think the setup failed. I think they were trying to get a semi-revolution going (because they read the mood in the country) but the right didn’t bring guns and didn’t do more than walk around being tourists, so they’ve been stuck making the best of what they got, and trying to hide any real damage was agents provocateurs and any real deaths by violence were of protesters and unprovoked.

Which brings us to… well, this is important okay?

Like the year they didn’t assign us a teacher for German and still expected us to take the final exam, we tried demonstrations, but really who cared if 12 people demonstrated? We looked insane. If one of us had had contacts and got to the press, it might be made something of, but it would need to be someone who could pull a favor.

In the same way, what was the 6th going to accomplish?

I don’t know what Trump thought it would do. He OBVIOUSLY never meant to overthrow the government. OBVIOUSLY. He might have thought that Pence would make a stand on principle, and wanted to have people nearby to cheer it, in which case well… he’s gullible, but we suspected that, at least for his inner circle.

But we knew, from the moment the supreme court ignored the obvious markers of fraud that it was all going to be swept under the rug, and that the establishment was determined to carry through with the soft coup and install what is probably a Chinese Client government in power. (Though, hey, they’re poli. They symp for Russia too. Or what else do you think throttling our oil production does?)

It was obvious all of the establishment and frankly most other people were completely baffled by the color revolution, using our rules, and only suspicious if you know math or accounting, and literally didn’t know what to do. Any functionary, when unsure what to do will lean into “we’ve always done it this way” which is why we’ve been skating our merry way to hell, with a few, cheering outbreaks of rebellion and sheer “I won’t.”

I suspect those are about to become more frequent and at all levels. Hey, dems, if you wanted to convince us you were legitimate, there wouldn’t have been barbed wire around the capital, and the national guard hunkered down, like you thought we were all about to drive in on tractors; there wouldn’t have been making much out of a demonstration that even taking the actions of the agent provocateurs you’d peppered in as part of it, paled before the things antifa and BLM have done; and there wouldn’t have been chasing around and trying to delegitimize everyone who said the election was crooked.

In fact, you had examples of this before you, since you claimed both George W. Bush’s and Trump’s elections were illegitimate and no one tried to jail you, cancel you or call you election deniers. Mostly because no one had anything to hide.

But you did. So you didn’t appoint special investigative councils. You didn’t at least pro-forma demand it be looked at. You didn’t even let any of it come to court. And then, to put the topper on the cake, you decided it was fun to do it again for the mid-terms, in granted a more subtle way (You had some idea what you were facing.) But still sus as all get out. And frankly at this point you have been so ridiculously sus that none of us will trust you to count the votes for prom queen in a rural high school. Unless we go all one day, paper ballots and purple fingers, we’ll assume you’re crooked and making up voters wholesale.

And here we are. We know what you did last two cycles. You know what you did last two cycles. Your conscience has you panicked as all get out, because you know we’re armed to the teeth and you know we know what our ideological ancestors did a certain Christmas. And we are p*ssed. Yes, we know the remedy for this. It’s in the declaration of independence. But we also know that we don’t want to tip it all into the pot unless there’s no alternative. We are sitting here, stewing in anger, and thinking that the entire nation is a powder keg, and you flash bastards are dancing on it, obliviously, convinced that if you show us who’s boss we won’t do anything, and — because you’re panicked and stupid — trying to rush through every yota of your mentally retarded agenda, like that will keep us quiet. (Who knows, maybe you think that actually will bring about nirvana. After all it never worked anywhere before, but now you’re in charge, so it’s different.)

This year is going to be hell o’ weird. The speaker votes are just the beginning. It’s going to get odd. D*mn odd.

And the left — talking to my readers now, so you lefties shut up. I’ll offend you again in a minute. Just wait — is divorced from reality at the best of times. Very divorced from reality and in cloud cuckoo land the rest of the time. They’re going to start getting spooked.

You see, their creedal revelation changes but it always pretends to foretell the future, and the future is always precisely according to their plans of the moment.

If I’m right 2023 is not going to go according to anyone’s plans. Hold on to your hats, strap on your seat belts, because we’re riding this fiery basket through a dumpster fire that collided with a clown cart. Making sense of this is going to be weird.

When the left feels uncomfortable, they revert to trying to create traps for the right, and create situations that — they think — will cause to act as they would, and give them just cause to exterminate us. It’s obvious that Jan. 6h fizzled. They somehow failed to convince most of the public that the people with most guns in the US showing up to demonstrate without their weapons intended revolution. Go figure. It’s a puzzle. For them. Their true believers are super-convinced, after all, because they never saw anything on TV news that they didn’t buy wholesale and ask for more.

But that means they’re going to try to create more traps. And I figure the best I an do is give you the following touchstones:

1- Look at the imagery. The left CAN’T help themselves. Because it’s part of their creed that this is what “the people” want.
Anything they create will be called “Front” or “the People’s” and the site and leaflets and all will be pasted all over with Maoist imagery, stars and fonts.
They can’t help themselves. And maybe they are taking dictation from the CCP.

2- Look at where they want you to go, whether they want you to sign up ahead, etc. Is there a way they’re going to track you to be able to put you on lists, etc. (Yeah, well, you know? I am already on lists. But most of you aren’t.) If it’s an obvious “collect names” set up…. well, why bother.

3- AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: What is it supposed to accomplish?
Jan 6 was never going to accomplish anything besides “one last hurrah.” And one last public speech by Trump. The establishment had already closed ranks. There wasn’t going to be any reversal on that.

What did you think you were going to do? March shoulder to shoulder and demand they redo the elections? In what world was that going to work? Unless you got seventy million to converge on DC and that wasn’t going to happen, the best you’d have managed is start the shooting war right then and there. And even that would have required five or six million.

There are limits to what demonstrations can do. And at the time, before the lunacy of the last two years, most people didn’t even want to believe there had been fraud. Even people on our side. (I’m not going to link Larry’s essays again, but you can find them if you search his blog for fuckery. I didn’t need them, because I have a feel for when numbers go wrong, but you might.) People hoped we could just take the hit, and it wouldn’t be worse than the 70s. (Well, howdy.)

SO TO SUMMARIZE: Don’t take any wooden nickels. Don’t fall for fake imagery. Don’t fall for attempts to get a few hundred people to do something that looks bad, so they can go after the rest of us.

Other than that? Stand way back from the points of packed powder and watch carefully. At some point it’s all going to blow, unless we get very very very lucky. (I want to believe G-d protects fools, drunkards and the United States of America. I do. We will see.)

And while you’re waiting, don’t forget that laughter is good for stress relief, and some of the traps the idiots will try to set will be for real hilarious.

No, seriously. I don’t think they can get much “better” than the “Patriot Front” delivering polo-shirted, sun-glassed guys with military haircuts and identical shoes various places to claim there was a serious White Nationalist movement afoot. But you never know. They’re scared and stupid, and that’s a heck of a combination.

At this point, they are the clown car that collided with the dumpster fire.

Buy stock in popcorn. Be prepared. And be not afraid.

And remember, keep your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.

And pray you have no need to do just that.