Posted in Pop Culture

An Analysis of Geekdom

Normally I find this topic so profoundly uninteresting, and so motivated by marketing, that I cannot even, as the kids say. But this post encapsulates so much of what I dealt with as a young adolescent that I can’t not pass it on.

Something of being a Geek lies in the aesthetic rejection of modern society, a longing for an escape to a realm more in line with one’s spirit. The reasons for this are manifold, and this touches on them some.

(This is the first part of a two-part series by guest blogger Jacob Lloyd — ASG) “Give them an inch and before you know it they’ve got a foot; much more than that and you don’t have a leg to stand on.” -General Melchett, Blackadder Goes Forth I am a geek. My time at school […]

via Fear and Loathing: Geeks and Social Justice Warriors by Jacob Lloyd — Mad Genius Club

Posted in Publishing

Unnamed Journal 13 and A Callback to a Mad Emperor

UJ cover 12

I don’t care what you say, that’s just cool.

This first of our quarterly issues contains a whole mess of cool jazz, which you don’t need me to tell you about, because it’s right there on the cover. But I will say that The Meditations of Caius Caligulia is an idea I’ve been batting around for a little while, as a counter-point to the tale of I, Claudius. In fact, I blogged about that a while ago:

I’m interested chiefly in the widely-reported notion that Caligulia believed himself a god. The Roman Empire was a time of great religious flux, as the old Republican pantheon gave way to thrilling cults from the East: Isis, Mithraism, Manichaeanism, Gnosticism, and Christianity. So I’d like to shift this most notorious emperor from Crazy to Self-Deifying.

And that’s precisely the tack I’ve taken with him. Camus’ play worked off the idea that a man that young holding power that absolute would have required god-tier self-control not to think himself divine. I run with that to the notion that for Caligulia, believing himself a god made much more sense than the lunatic Game of Thrones that was the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This is of course, only a second chapter; the first was in the last issue of UJ. When I’ve written them all, I’ll turn them into a book.

Read for free on Joomag.

Posted in Books, writing

New Stuff! New Stuff! New Stuff!

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Why would recycle a Ron Paul meme? Why wouldn’t I? Why aren’t you?

Okay, so first thing, the new edition of the new quarterly Unnamed Journal is out tomorrow. Layouts will be finished tonight.

Next, Void will finally see the light of day as a completed novella, at month’s end. The final edits are done, I just need to upload them to Amazon.

Next, back to  The Sword. Now that the Three Novellas are out of the way, the plan is to devote full time to this. I’m currently in Chapter 6 of a planned 14, so a few month’s determined work could finish it.

In the meantime, I’ve got a western novella I’m toying around with, and the question of what I’m going to work on after The Sword is finished continues to bemuse me. I have one of several paths to take:

  1. The Lord of the Black Tower – swords and sorcery in my home-brew fantasy world, Cevalon.
  2. The Bastard of Maryland – alternate-history of America if Washington had died prior to the Treaty of Paris being signed. An actual (heavily altered) historical figure – the last, illegitimate descendant of the Calvert family –  for the protagonist.
  3. Pilgrims of Elysia – Sequel to Solar System Blues. The descendants of Burton discover how the planet he discovered isn’t exactly as it seems to be.
  4. The Fires of Tirzah – A tale of palace coup, blood, and fire, taken straight from the Old Testament.

It’s not a question of which one I’ll write. It’s which one I’ll write first.

Strap in.

Posted in Pop Culture

A Series of Thoughts on The Last Jedi

It’s not 1999 anymore. I don’t actually care whether you liked TLJ or not, and I have no intention of telling you your opinion is wrong. If you hated it so much that the flames on the side of your face are heaving breaths, that’s fine. We don’t all have to like the same stuff.

I enjoyed The Last Jedi. It wasn’t perfect, and it could have been better, but Inhad fun watching it. Honestly, that’s all I care about.

Herewith are presented, in no particular order, a set of thoughts and reactions to the film.

Your Messiah can only save you once.

  • Once the day has been saved, the savior retires and let’s others do the business of functioning in the new world.
  • Moses could only take Israel out of Egypt, not lead it to the Promised Land. Mohammed died two years after cleansing Mecca. Jesus ascended to heaven a mere forty days after his Ressurection.
  • Frodo Baggins cannot live in the Shire after the Shadow is gone and must take the ship to the Undying Lands. Eventually, all of the Fellowship save Aragorn follow him.
  • Paul Atreides conquers the galaxy in Dune, and rules it as Emperor, and is destroyed by it. Dune Messiah tells the tale of his spiritual collapse and renunciation of his status as Emperor and Mahdi. In Children of Dune, he returns incognito, only to be defeated by his son.
  • It is fitting, then, that Luke Skywalker be defeated in his effort to create a New Jedi Order, and that he should give in to despair, and recover from this at the price of dissolving into the Living Force. He gives the Resistance one last escape and then passes the baton to the younger generation. This is entirely proper.

The sub-plots were short on payoff. But at least they had a thematic purpose.

  • Poe Dameron’s plot involves him being wrong, and then wrong, and then wrong some more. And nothing he did seemed to matter at all to the outcome. That’s annoying, but at least there was a character payoff: he got the idea that, for a rebellion, survival is often the only victory available. That tiny amount of character growth was more interesting than anything Obi-Wan Kenobi (or anyone else) did in the Prequels.
  • Finn’s plot seems to have no real plot purpose, either, but it does give the SW-universe a needed piece of world-building. We see something of the class structure of the Galaxy, and are reminded that every tyranny is supported by a wealthy parasite class that profits from the tyrant.
  • Watching Benicio Del Toro do whatever the hell he was doing was a million times more fun than Sam Jackson’s numb take on Mace Windu.
  • The theme of escape as victory echoes somewhat the plot of Empire Strikes Back, but whereas in Empire it’s more a cliffhanger, here it’s central to the movie. Empire is about the centrality of Luke to the struggle between light and darkness; the Rebel Fleet escapes from Hoth and disappears from the movie. Here the survival of the Resistance in any form is called into question. And it explicitly states that Luke is no longer central, contra the entire plot of The Force Awakens. Find this annoying if you want to, but it’s different.

Rey is still the most underwritten Character in the new series, and Kylo Ren the most interesting.

  • There’s nothing to Rey. She has no motivation and nothing to seek. Luke, an orphan, wants two things, to discover who he is, and to find something to belong to. He discovers who he is by becoming a Jedi and redeeming his father. He finds something to belong to in the Rebellion and his surrogate family of Han, Leia (who, we discover, is real family), Chewbacca, and the droids. He has a momentary refusal of the heroic journey, but once that passes, he never thinks of Tattooine again, and only smirks in ROTJ that he used to live there.
  • Rey, by contrast, seems to want nothing but to return to Jakku, and gets involved in the plot of TFA more or less against her will. And why? To find parents that, we now know, are dead nobodies who never wanted her. This did provide a minor twist to those of us who were speculating a connection to the Skywalker lineage, and underscored the populist theme that the new trilogy is going for, but… it’s not like the Skywalker family are galactic royalty. Anakin Skywalker was a nobody. A slave. So who cares that Rey is a nobody too?
  • We still don’t know anything about Rey or what she wants or why. She’s generally a good person. She’s kind and good-hearted. But why does she want to stop the First Order? Why does she want to fight/save Kylo Ren? Han Solo was more of a father in a few short hours than Rey had ever known, noted. Kylo Ren killed him, noted. Is that it? Daisy Ridley is working very hard to imbue this enigma with any kind of life.
  • Kylo Ren, on the other hand, is very well drawn. He’s shown more of an arc, and more internal conflict, than Anakin did in three movies. He feels drawn to the darkness, and hungers for power, and yet feels guilt at his actions. His parricide haunts him, and he’s unable to commit matricide. His hatred of Luke is overwhelming (far more believable than Anakin turning on Obi-Wan in ROTS), and clouds his judgement in a way that serves the plot. His may be the central narrative of the new Trilogy, and I’m very curious to see how it will end.
Posted in Letters, Publishing, writing

An Update, Brief and Modest

So Party at the Last Tomorrow has had its moment. I got some good feedback on it, and I’m pleased that it picked up as much interest as it did. A Kindle Countdown deal suggested to me that I’m pricing these novellas too high. I’ve already dropped the price on The Devil Left Him to $3.99, I may drop Last Tomorrow as well, and price Void accordingly when it comes out.

In other news, I’ve shuffled something of my Medium profile around, removed some publications that weren’t doing anything, and created a new one: Pop Culture is Filth, to review and discuss the various arts. The title is ironic, I think.

Here’s a discussion of Silence by Martin Scorcese to open it up:

This is a more relevant story that it might seem at first glance: the film doesn’t just cut into the difficulties of being a missionary in a foreign land, or in the clanging misunderstandings of East and West. It cuts right into the question of how far a culture can go to defend itself. Japan in the 16th century attacked Christianity largely because it judged Christianity as too foreign to gel with its existing conception of itself. Japan would not be Japan if it was Christian, the Tokugawa shoguns determined, and those that felt otherwise were brutally suppressed. The film highlights the sufferings of poor Japanese Christians who suffered for the sake of a vision of a deity that lifted them up.

In the process, however, it rather failed to give its heroes the strength of their best possible argument, and so somewhat undercut itself.

There’s some significant changes happening to Unnamed Journal, too. More on that later.

View story at Medium.com