LEXX, a personal story

Here I am working on the fourth and final book of LEXX, and it’s a bittersweet experience.

I’m going through old notes, re-reading interviews with Lex Gigeroff and John Dunsworth, hearing their voices in my head, the friendliness, the enthusiasm, the sheer joy of life, and it saddens me to know that they’re gone. That now those voices are only in my head, triggered by the words on screen. The world is a little smaller, a little duller.

With the fourth book, I’m coming to the end of my own long journey with LEXX, and that’s also a little sad I suppose. It’s been with me for such a long time, and finishing this book, setting it loose in the world, will mean the end of something personal for me.
I’ll take a moment and be completely honest. I’m doing a bit of huckstering. I’d like to sell a few books. Honestly, I’d like to sell a lot. But I’ll settle for a few. And hell, maybe even interest some of you in some of my other work. I’m a writer, so I figured the best way to do that is to write something. Offer up something to people that they haven’t seen with LEXX, something that’s just not another publicity photo of Eva or a screen cap of Michael. Offer up myself.

You see, I genuinely believe that LEXX really was something special, something unique. That it was visually innovative and startling, that it plumbed depths or surrealism and absurdity. Everyone knows Vadim for Barbarella, or Jodorowsky or Bunel for surrealism, or Ionescu for the Rhinoceros or Ubu Rex. They teach courses in these guys, they have classes, they’re studied, people do Masters degrees and PhD’s, and I honestly think LEXX is that calibre, that innovative, that subversive and ground breaking. That LEXX is that significant, and the story of LEXX is fascinating and important.

So yes! Yes I want to sell books. When I released the first volume, I just wanted it out of my hard drive, and out in the world. But now, years later, putting all the work into it again and again, damned right I want people to read it!

Read more

The Nazification of the Republican Party

THE NAZIS HAVE COME OUT OF THE CLOSET
Strong words? Yes they are. But well deserved. I know that some will think I’m overstating it, or that I’m trivializing the historical Nazis, after all, the Capitol Insurrectionists were just a small group.  It’s not like we’re looking at concentration camps and gas chambers.
But then, for much of their history, the Nazis weren’t about concentration camps and gas chambers.  That sort of stuff came later, when they were fully in charge, and no one could stop them.
Before it got to that point though, between 1920 and 1933 when they took over, the Nazis spent a long time becoming what they were, and building and bullying their way into power.  These are the Nazis I’m talking about.
January 6, 2021, and the days that follow have been traumatic. It’s one thing to worry about the direction things are going. It’s one thing to watch the Republicans get crazier and crazier, going from Global Climate Change is a hoax, to Russian hoax, Coronavirus hoax, to watch them politicise everything, to embrace a culture of lies and spin and perpetual rage.  It’s one thing to watch with profound disquiet as a man who campaigned to lock his rival up and openly suggested a ‘second amendment solution’ or assassination for her systematically tear down democracy.
But it’s still stunning to see full fledged Nazism rear its head.
It wasn’t even the coup attempt, although that was bad.  It’s painful to see America turned into a trailer park Odyssey, to see Congress overrun by a collection of privileged millionaires, yahoos, loons, white supremacists, the stupid, the bad and the ugly.  It’s shocking to realize how close these people came to murder and hostage taking, and how much worse this could have gone. It’s appalling to see the signs of tacit support for the coup all the way up to the President.
But the Nazism part?  That was the reaction on the right to the coup.
Let me explain?  In 1995, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols, ex-soldiers, white supremacists, toxic loons, got all hopped up on crystal meth and on a book called The Turner Diaries, and decided to strike a blow against the Clinton administration.  They blew up a federal building in Oklahoma city with a fertilizer bomb, murdering over 400 people, including all the children in a day care in the building.  It was the worst act of terrorism on American soil, right up until 911.
But in 1995, when Tim McVeigh bombed a building, murdered 400 and killed everyone in a day care…. the right wing and the Republicans turned their backs. They backed off. They were outraged and horrified. They were human. There was an appreciation of right and wrong.
And this time….
This time in the face of an outright Coup attempt, a bloodthirsty campaign to overthrow American democracy and commit murder… this time, the right didn’t budge an inch.
In fact, polls show that between 18% and 45% of Republicans outright supported the coup attempt. That is they were saying “Yes, these people tried to overthrow the government, or riot and threaten people, but we’re okay with that.”
As common sense kicks in, and the weight falls heavy, that proportion of support will probably drop. Maybe. But in the meantime, and for the forseeable future, a sizable chunk of the right wing supports a failed attempt to overthrow the government.
That naked brutality, that amorality, is utterly chilling. That’s full cold blooded Nazi. That’s amorality, and viciousness, and utter indifference to the values that make America.  These people just don’t care. They want power, they deserve power, they’re entitled to it, and anyone in their way just isn’t an American any more.
But there’s more to it. You see, the Nazis of the period 1920-1933, and in act right up to the end, were utterly cynical.  They were amoral.  They were relentless liars.
Joseph Goebbels was the pioneer of all that. Back in high school, a long time ago, I read his diaries.  He struck me then as an appallingly ordinary man, deeply cynical but pedestrian. But between him and Hitler, there was a cold and unyielding contempt for the truth. They pioneered the ‘big lie’ – which is really simple.  Just lie, lie without shame, tell the biggest most outrageous lie, and never stop lying.
It was the secret to Nazi success.  Even if you got caught red handed, you simply lied. Even if it was an obvious lie, it put people on the defensive, reacting to it.  Even with an obvious lie, you’d always find someone gullible enough to believe it, you’d find people fair minded enough to be confused by it. You divided and subverted your enemies that way. You kept on lying, always attacking, always lying, never giving an inch. That way you kept your base loyal and angry, and bit by bit you advanced.
It’s what Nazis do, it’s what makes a Nazi:  Lie, lie, lie and never stop. Attack, attack attack.  That’s all.
The Nazis went out and attacked jewish merchants, burning them out, smashing windows.  They blamed the communists and socialists.  They went out and murdered their rivals, and blamed the communists and socialists.  They robbed, they raped, they committed crimes, they were caught, and even when they were caught, they just kept on lying. They did all kinds of horrible things and never admitted or acknowledged any responsibility, they just kept lying and attacking.
And low and behold, that’s what we see here.  In 1995 Tim McVeigh murdered people, and the right wing turned its back.
This time, instead of turning its back on the coup, they all linked arms and marched in lockstep.  The right came out swinging, straight out of the starting gate, immediately claiming it was really Antifa. That was an obvious, idiotic lie. But they went with it.
And listen, it was a deliberate lie. Everyone who was claiming it was Antifa as it was going on, in the hours that followed, there was no way they could have known that, there was no proof, not a shred of evidence. The only evidence was a Trump demonstration that had gone violent. Hell, even Trump was endorsing the insurrection, telling them he loved them.  The Antifa was a conscious decision to lie, to shift blame. It was conscious, deliberate and malicious. And that lie is still being peddled by some, despite the nonstop arrests of Trump supporters.
Then they claimed it was no big deal. It wasn’t a coup, it was just a riot. Not a riot, just a demonstration that got out of hand. It’s all harmless. People are over-reacting.  That line is still being sold, albeit less and less successfully. No, the more we learn, the more disturbing it gets.
Then they went ‘whatabout.’ Whatabout what Pelosi said. Whatabout Kathy Griffin. Whatabout BLM. And with whatabout, there’s massive dishonesty – two wrongs don’t make a right, so it’s irrelevant.
But worse, no one was celebrating or advocating BLM riots. So in whataboutism, they’ve doubled down on the lying, accusing Democrats and the left of a new multitude of sins.
Whataboutism isn’t just a cheap attempt to change the subject, or evade responsibility, it’s a new tidal wave of lies and progaganda.
This is the thing about defending evil. No one directly defends the rapist, the child molester, the murders. These things are evil, and indefensible. Yet these things are defended, excuses get made. There’s denial, “It didn’t happen!” “It wasn’t so bad!” “Blame someone else!” “Point at someone else.”
What we saw from the Republicans and the right wing, was not a human reaction, not a reaction involving a recognition of right and wrong. It was standard Nazi tactics. Lie, deny, evade, attack. It was defence of evil through denial and evasion.
And at the same time, bizarrely they showed pride, they supported it, they didn’t back off an inch.  A lot of the same people, in literally the same breath who blame Antifa, or claim it was no big deal, or go ‘whatabout BLM’ will show a strange pride, that people stood up and showed congress what for.  You can’t have it both ways – either it’s one or the other, but oddly, many on the right maintain contradictory viewpoints, both denying and blaming, and adopting and proud.
We’re hearing threats of a new violent campaign being promised. Someone actually said to me ‘this was a first amendment demonstration, next week, it’ll be second amendment’ – by which they mean he wants lots of guns, lots of shooting, and lots of dead people. We’ve been hearing about that all week, as those on the extreme right, excited and encouraged, promise more demonstrations, more occupations of State Capitols, more violence, a cordon around government offices and chambers to weed out Democrats, a bloodbath to start from January 16 right up to Biden’s inauguration on the 20th.
And not a lot of consciousness of the contradictions. They throw up contradictory excuses, they simultaneously deny and boast. In fact, there was a kind of cynical recklessness at work.
Individuals simply threw out the various denials and boasts, one after the other, sometimes simultaneously. For some of them, they were simply lying, and they didn’t care, they just wanted something that worked. Some of them believed it, and lied to themselves about contradictions.
If they acted like humans, that would be one thing.
But the right has gone full Nazi. They came out of the closet. They made it official.
They’ve been going that way for thirty years. But up till now, they showed humanity in extreme circumstances – like Oklahoma. They were prepared to debate, to discuss, there was the steadily eroding veneer of rationality.
But somewhere along the line, they stopped. They stopped being rational, and just pretended. They stopped debating meaningfully – it was just a tactic now to paralyse their enemies.
In August, 2016, Trump publicly mused about assassinating Hillary Clinton. Nobody blinked. He spent 2015 and 2016 repeatedly talking violently. No body blinked. He campaigned on imprisoning his rival. Nobody blinked. Suddenly, all of these things that were obscene and unheard of were just acceptable discourse. It was okay for him to talk this way, and if you complained, you were laughed at and mocked.
I feel that the last four years have been Nazis play acting at being human beings. That we all sat there appalled as they systematically dismantled society, slowly turning it into a twisted reflection.
George Floyd got murdered horribly livestreamed across the country for ten minutes. The last right winger I talked to insisted he died of Natural causes. And that he deserved it. No sense of dissonance or contradiction, just cruelty and arrogance.  Some of the same people are now claiming that the murdered policeman on January 6 died of natural causes.  There’s a hateful cynicism at work there.
We’ve all been frogs, sitting in pans of water being brought to a boil, cooked alive.
It’s almost a relief that they finally showed their true colours. They came out, inexcusably, undeniably as Nazis.
We know from history what they’ll do next and where they’ll go next. When you’ve gone full Nazi, there’s no room for guilt, or second thought, or sober reflection. There’s no room for morality or ethics. Even when you fail, when you’re caught red handed, you just play the victim, you lie and you keep attacking.
We know from history that Nazis see dialogue is a weapon, compromise as a means to stab in the back. They’ll call for Unity and Healing, but they’ll never admit fault, and they’ll never stop attacking. Unity and Healing just means giving in, letting them get away with it, overlooking their sins while they lash you with accusations.  There is no integrity, there is no decency, no humanity.
They will bargain, in order to demand concessions. They’ll always offer compromises and demand concession after concession, they’ll accuse their enemies of bad faith and demand concessions as show of good faith. They’ll demand concessions on any plausible or implausible reason, or just demand.  But they won’t give a damned thing, they won’t make any deal that they’re not intent on breaking the minute it suits them. Deals, reconciliation, compromise, unity and healing, all these things are just tools, weapons they use to get what they want, designed to be discarded at the earliest opportunity.
All they want is power. There’s no morality, no decency. Instead, they just swallow their own lies and hatred, tell it to their base, use it to justify their excesses.
And inevitably, in history, when extremists amoral ideologues get power…  Be it the Nazis, the Fascists, the Falangists, Robespeare, the Bolsheviks, the Ayatollahs, when these people get what they want, when they get absolute power….
That’s when the real dying starts.  That’s when the real cruelty and horror starts, the disappearances, the mass graves, concentration camps, the purges, the tortures, the gulags and secret prisons.  All the pieces will have been put in place.  The real dying starts, and it doesn’t stop.
They’ve shown their true face. Our backs are against the wall.
This is real.  I don’t think that Americans can compromise with the Republicans. They can’t reason with them.  All they can do is hold the line, stubbornly, without giving an inch, until the Republican’s own lies and hatred catches up with them, until they

LEXX Unauthorized – Reviews

Generally, I get these books out, and then I don’t think about them too much.  Nobody else does, so it evens out.  But uploading the Latest LEXX Unauthorized, I was startled to discover that I got reviews.  So, I thought I’d share them.  Apologies to folks if I’m violating someone’s copyright. But really, I’m flattered, and frankly, it’s a lonely thing to be a writer.  So here goes…

FROM AMAZON

LEXX UNAUTHORIZED, Volume 1
Abraham
Reviewed in Canada on June 18, 2020
Verified Purchase

Read more

LEXX Unauthorized, Series Three: It’s Hot and It’s Cold

Fire and Water, Heaven and Hell

Cause it’s hot and it’s cold
It’s “Yes” or it’s “No”
It’s in if it’s out
It’s up but it’s down
It’s wrong or it’s right

It’s black and it’s white

                                                                                        Apologies to Katy Perry

SERIES THREE OF LEXX, when everything radically.  Gone were the Sci Fi adventures from planet to planet, the dark, funny, furious adventures.  In it’s place was a thirteen part serial in which the LEXX was trapped in orbit around two warring planets, Fire and Water, and the crew journeyed between them, solving the mystery of Heaven and Hell. Behind the scenes, the genesis of series three was just as topsy turvy, with story roots going back before the first series was even released, driven by the crises and struggles of the second season, and wrestling with financial cutbacks. Volume three covers everything and anything to do with the third series.

WHAT IS LEXX: A ground breaking Canadian sci fi television series, created by Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff and Jeff Hirschfield, shot and produced in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by Salter Street Films, that ran four seasons between 1996 and 2002.

Read more

Local Heroes: David Perlmutter’s ORTHICON

David (D.K.) Perlmutter is another local genre writer. I first ran across him through his vividly written ‘American Toons,’ a nonfiction history of animation in America that was fresh, lively and engaging. It is perhaps not a surprise that his debut novel, Orthicon, draws on those sources, following in the footsteps of Roger Rabbit…

Imagine you live a relatively normal life, in a relatively normal place. Then, without warning, you are abducted, and sent to live in a distant place, far off Earth. It gets stranger still when you find out you are not human, or animal, or whatever you thought you were, but completely alien. And your entire life, past, present and future, has been shaped by forces beyond your control, with no way for you to control them.  Save one…

Named one of the top 50 Best Indie Books of the Year by Read.Freely.com, “Orthicon” is a revealing narrative told in many voices, coming to only one conclusion. A revealing debut novel with an intriguing premise: who decides what is real, what is human, and what is otherwise.

I’m a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The first major book I had published was America ‘Toons In: A History Of Television Animation (McFarland Press) in 2013; the title is self-explanatory, I think. I’m currently working on an updated second edition of that.  I’ve also written a reference work, The Encyclopedia Of American Animated Television Shows (Rowman and Littlefield).

Read more

And the winner is not….

…me.

Oh well. Boo hoo and all that.

The finals have been announced for the Booklife Contest.  As per previous blog posts, my novel, The Princess of Asylum had made it to the quarter finals, and then the semi-finals. Really good review, really good score.  Check it out here:

https://booklife.com/project/the-princess-of-asylum-49518

Alas, not quite good enough.

The Finalist, Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror for is E.M. Hamill’s Peacemaker.  You can check it out here:

https://booklife.com/project/peacemaker-46487

E.M. Hamill, according to her bio on Booklife is  “a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and whenever she can steal quality time with her laptop. She lives with her family, a dog, and a cat in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.”

Read more

The Past is a Horrible Country

I was recently on an alternate history panel for the World Fantasy Convention. Technically, it was about alternate history and fantasy, to wit…

“Alternate history has long been the domain of science-fiction writers, but it is now being enthusiastically colonized by writers of fantasy, who are bringing in magic, dragons, and the full panoply of the uncanny into what used to be an orderly and rational sub-genre. Who’s doing this and what’s going on?”

Actually, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. A lot of alternate history has had or assumes magical elements. It goes all the way back to Robert Heinlein and his story, Magic Inc. I’m not one of these guys who draws hard and fast lines between fantasy and science fiction, or fantasy and magical realism, or whatever. All of Speculative Fiction simply assumes that at least one thing, and sometimes many things, goes unnatural and you take it from there.

I just want to talk about one thing that struck me during the panel, that I never got a chance to talk about.

Steampunk. I find it interesting, but the entire steampunk genre seems to be in the process of being colonized by, or is entirely colonized by Fantasy. Blame it on Kim Newman and his Anno Dracula perhaps, or the novels Gail Carriger, or the Weird West subgenre. But as often as not, when you’re reading steampunk, there’s strong fantasy elements – ghosts, vampires, goblins, weird creatures, magic, etc.

I think part of that is that when you’re writing in this genre, you’re reaching back into the literary traditions of the ‘weird tales’ of the day, and it all starts to melt together.

But there’s another element to consider.

Victorian, England was a pretty horrific place.

Read more

World Fantasy Convention – Panels and Reading

The World Fantasy Convention is the great ‘Business Convention’ of the SF/F/H Literary World.  It’s not a Comic-Con, it’s not a fan con. There’s dealers, but they’re just one room.  Mostly, it’s Writers, Agents, Editors, Publishers and Artists, people in the trade, and people trying to get in the trade, hanging out, hobnobbing, socializing, enjoying each other’s company, and sometimes wheeling and dealing.

Go there, and odds are you’ll meet all your favourite writers.  You can walk down a hallway, and see the writers you grew up with, the writers that helped form your identity, the people you passed time with, the writers who were guilty pleasures, and the ones you’re reading now.  You can just go up and talk to them.  It’s a business Con, the panels are about writing, serious writing, genres, where the industry is going, insider views.

It’s the place to be if you’re dedicated to the craft.  This year, it’s in Salt Lake City, and due to Covid-19, it’s online.

I’m doing two panels and a reading!  Wow!  I feel like Pinochio when he turns into a real boy!

Check out the panels I’m on….

Read more

Booklife Contest: Update – The Luck

The review came in finally, with The Luck, my second entry into the Booklife Contest.  Just to recap, it’s a legit contest.  All the entries get a professional review, which you can use, or bury forever in a lead lined vault, depending on how the review turns out. Some of them are pretty scathing, I gather, looking at previous comments (complaints).  After the initial round there’s the quarterly finals, the semi-finals, the finals and then a First prize of $5000.00.  My first entry, The Princess of Asylum, has made it into the quarter finals.

Plot: Valdron’s The Luck is a sequel/prequel to The Mermaid’s Tale, but it succeeds as a stand-alone title. Valdron’s complex, well-woven work of fantasy immediately thrusts readers into a detailed world occupied by a menagerie of beings living at odds with, and in suspicion of, one another.

Prose: Valdron’s writing is immersive and colorful, providing a a fine blend of descriptive worldbuilding, exposition, and dialogue that lifts the storytelling.

Originality: The world of The Luck is filled by familiar beings, but provides freshness in the dynamics between these occupants and communities in conflict, as well as its mystery element. The journey of an orc and her unlikely gnome companion, is a rich and enjoyable one.

Character/Execution: Valdron’s protagonist is immensely intriguing. Her identity is slow to emerge and readers expecting a quick moving fantasy may grow frustrated. Those willing to invest in her and other creaturely characters’ story arcs, will be deeply rewarded.

Score:

  • Plot/Idea: 8
  • Originality: 8
  • Prose: 8
  • Character/Execution: 9
  • Overall: 8.25
You are welcome to use this Critic’s Report as promotional copy or as a blurb to promote your book. Please note: When attributing quotes from this Critic’s Report, you must credit The BookLife Prize.

Read more

Local Heroes: Joan Havelange and the Mystery Tour

My genre is speculative fiction. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Surrealism, Magic Realism etc.  But  there are other genre’s.  Mystery is the kissing cousin to speculative fiction.  Both mystery and horror were founded by Edgar Allen Poe, and the genres cross back and forth.

Today, I want to showcase Joan Havelange, a Manitoba mystery writer, and absolutely gracious lady, following in the footstapes of Agatha Christie.  Her sleuth, Mabel Havelock, has featured in two novels with a third upcoming, and hopefully many more. I hope that you enjoy this brief glimpse and that you search out Mabel’s adventures…

I  directed a  theatre for 15 years. I find writing is a lot like directing; only my characters show up on time and always know their lines. Although sometimes they do go off in a direction that surprises me.  All fictional stories, I think, start out as ‘what if?’ What if you were golfing and your wayward shot ends up in the middle of a dead man’s forehead?

Read more