Death and the Writer

It was my grandfather’s death that made me commit to being a writer.

I always wanted to be a writer. That didn’t mean I was all that regular about it.

Let’s see. There was Batman adventures on the blackboard when I was young. I had my two stories published in the local paper when I was thirteen.

I wrote a couple of short stories in high school. One about aliens coming into the Solar System, discovering that it was already occupied, and not having enough resources to leave. So they were basically parked out in the asteroid belt with no place to go, waiting for us to eventually find them, and not looking forward to it. There was another story about a society of sentient elephants who had banded together to try and escape a failing environment, only to discover that they were living in a giant experiment.

There were a lot of stories in my head, planned, sometimes outlined, sometimes started. Sometimes just rolling around in my head. I spent a lot of time in my head. I’d make up stories, when I was picking up garbage at the drive in theatre prior to showtime, or pumping gas or sweeping floors at the garage.

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Your Heroes Were Monsters

I’ve been meaning to write about Lovecraft and his racism. I think that maybe there are interesting things to say about that subject. Fair warning, this essay will be rambling and meandering. I’m working through ideas. Take it or leave it.

But instead, what set this off was Isaac Asimov. I think if you’re an average lay person, you’ll probably go ‘Who?’

But if you’re a science fiction nerd, he’s practically god. Born in 1920, Asimov was a biochemist, eventually a professor of biochemistry. Selling his first story in 1939, he was an incredibly prolific science fiction writer, with a career that spanned literally hundreds of stories, dozens of novels, the Foundation Future History series, right up to his death in 1992. On top of that, he was a critical editor. His name was on a leading science fiction magazine. He wrote mysteries. He moved into non-fiction and became a science populariser and general writer. He’s credited as the author of over five hundred books. That’s stunning.

Within the sci fi community, he was incredibly active, friendly and popular, and accessible. He was a charming guy, not retiring like Clarke, not arrogant, not weird. Just fun to be around. Any narrow field is rife with backbiting, with feuds, with dirty deals, and people getting screwed over or doing the screwing. But not Asimov. Everyone seemed to like him, no enemies, which is remarkable

He cultivated this avuncular, charming public image – the fiendishly intelligent, but friendly and approachable guy, with muttonchop sideburns and black rimmed glasses. Not threatening, not intimidating, just… likeable.

Not the best writer in the world, but a hell of a guy, and as I said, practically a god in the Science Fiction community, and well liked.

Also, it turns out, he was a serial harasser, a regular groper, who constantly sexually propositioned women, whether his advances were wanted or not. He groped breasts, he groped ass, he put his arm around women, he didn’t ask permission, he just did it. For some it was welcome, for many it wasn’t, but he just didn’t care. He reveled in it, he wrote a book called the ‘sensuous dirty old man’ about his career and joy in sexual harassment.

None of this was a secret. He was a staple at conventions. Everyone knew he did it. Men, women, women who’d been groped and accepted it, women who’d been groped and didn’t like it. Everyone knew. The behavior was there, no question, and it was normally unacceptable even for the standards of its time.

So now, finally, twenty-eight years after his death, Asimov’s reputation is finally crashing.

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Rethinking It: The Inhumans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Spiderman? Great. Captain America? Terrific. Iron Man? Brilliant. Even the Hulk and Captain Marvel have their favourites.

But then we come to the Inhumans. This was the MCU’s big fiasco. There’s a lot of history with the Inhumans, and it’s pretty much all crap from start to finish. Let’s work backwards.

The Inhumans appeared in theatre as an MCU movie notable for being cheap looking, plastic, with mediocre special effects, costumes, and sub-par acting. After a couple of disastrous week or two in the movie theatres, it played on television as the pilot to an eight episode series. Now this isn’t the first time that a television pilot was released theatrically. Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica got that treatment. But it’s generally not a good idea.

The subsequent series was basically more of same – crap CGI, crap characters, crap costumes and acting. It might have had a moment now and then, but it was shabby. And it undercut itself – Medusa the lead inhuman with the octopus tentacle hair got her head shaved. Karnak, the ultimate martial artist got a concussion and lost his skills. So these ‘special attributes’ are barely introduced then written out? The series died hard no one cared.

Behind the scenes, it seems like the Inhumans were the pet project of Ike Perlmutter, who was one of the people behind the MCU. The general consensus is that Kevin Feige is the brilliant pilot of the MCU. Perlmutter was the racist, sexist, cheapskate troll who was eventually forced out of the movies and exiled into the television branch, where he could only mess with Agents of Shield. He also pushed the Inhumans there to.

Why did Perlmutter push the inhumans? Because way back in the day, when Marvel was having a hard time, they sold their most lucrative property, the X-Men. Now that they’re a big thing, they can’t get the X-Men back.

The X-Men were about mutants, regular people who got all these fantastic weird powers and amounted to another race alongside humanity. That’s pretty much the same basic description as the Inhumans. So Perlmutter basically figured that the Inhumans could be replacement X-Men.

Not quite.

Okay, let me show off my Nerd Cred by giving you a little of the background of the whole Inhumans shtick.

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Dawn of Cthulhu and other stories….

Are you a Lovecraft fan? Can you pronounce Cthulhu? Do you recognize the guy with the tentacles? Azathoth? Yog Sothoth? Leng? Mountains of Madness? Shoggoths? Innsmouth?

If any of that meant anything to you, the answer is ‘yes.’

If it didn’t, stick around, you might find this interesting anyway.

Or you could go back and read my blog post, H.P.Lovecraft and Me. Seriously, it’s worth reading.

Anyway, I’m a writer, and something of a Lovecraft fan. I’m not blind to his shortcomings either as a human being or as a writer, I certainly don’t endorse them. Lovecraft’s strengths and weaknesses as a person and as a writer both deserve attention and consideration. There are things that can and should be condemned, but at the same time, I think that nuance is appropriate. In the end, all our ancestors were monsters, and all their works are tainted. Yet we live in the world they made, and we build our houses upon their rocks.  There’s a blog post I’ll get to.

But Lovecraft did do some things well, Lovecraft was influential, and deservedly so. I certainly have, in some ways, been influenced.

I’ve actually written two major Lovecraft stories.

I will caveat that – not major in the sense of setting the genre on its ear, winning awards or even getting much notice. But major in the sense of being very large works, the two stories together probably run better than 25,000 words, and which, I think have unique but effective and interesting twists on the mythos. Maybe someday they will get some notice.

One of these is called Life, Love and the Necronomicon, its psychological horror exploring the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred and his world. You can find it in Giant Monsters Sing Sad Songs.

The other is The Secret History of the Cthulhu Cult, one of three long stories found in Dawn of Cthulhu. I don’t think I need to explain what it’s about. The three stories are about Cthulhu, Lost Continents, and Muppets.

Yeah, you heard me. Muppets.

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Prisoners of Trump’s Ego

I think it’s worth discussing Donald Trump’s peculiar, even bizarre history with the Coronavirus.
 
Trump supporters of course agree that the President did everything perfectly, everyone else is to blame, the Chinese lied, governors undermined the country, the WHO is corrupt, and no matter how many die, the President has done and is doing a terrific job, better than anyone else. Nonsense of course.
 
But it’s worth going back and taking a deeper look. What exactly happened? Why did the United States do essentially nothing through January? Why did the President spend most of February and early March minimizing the issue? Why does the United States continue to flounder today?
 
Admittedly, not everything can be blamed on the President. Most of the nations of the developed world have been slow off the mark, criminally so. In the United States, there’s an outbreak of what can only be called idiocy as Governors, states, state populations, communities and people just refuse to appreciate the risk – how else to explain mega-church services, or public beaches open in Florida, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Spring break parties, and what appears to be a right wing cause in rejection of social distancing. There’s a lot of blame to go around, especially in the United States.
 
But I would argue that in this pandemic, there is a central figure who has single handedly moved the needle from crisis to disaster.
 
Donald Trump: Essentially, he’s a poorly informed, disinterested narcissist.
 
If it doesn’t actually involve him directly, he’s not interested.  This isn’t my opinion. This is actually the recurring observation of a number of sources, including the ghost-writer of Art of the Deal. It’s a recurring observation from a number of sources former white house staff persons and insiders. He hates to read, he likes pictures, he’s uninterested in briefings, he is extremely incurious.
 
He’s literally only interested in his own initiatives and ideas, whether it be buying Greenland, threatening and then meeting with North Korea, confrontations with Iran, or tearing up trade deals and treaties. Basically, if its not coming from him, he’s just not interested.
 
This has put most of his senior cabinet on the wrong foot steadily, except for Kushner. Because anything they advocate, or initiate or any progress they make, is a threat to him, so he undermines them, or demands ingratiation, flattery and obedience. Any policy formulation or legislative development from the White House is invariably sabotaged by Trump himself.

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LEXX Unauthorized, Series 2 – The Light at the End of the Universe

IT’S ARRIVED!  THE  CHRONICLES OF LEXX SERIES TWO officially released! 

Now hear the stories of episodes dreamt and episodes realized, last minute inventions, cast changes, surrealism and sci fi.

It can be found on Amazon, Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital, Kobo and many other platforms.  It may take a little time to go through, but definitely look for it.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1012721

I hope that it lives up to expectations.

Remember, this is a small private project, so if you like it, let me know. Post reviews. Recommend it to fellow LEXXians, Cult Sci Fi enthusiasts, and just about anyone else you can think of.

 

H.P. Lovecraft and Me

Yeah, I know. H.P. Lovecraft’s star is in decline these days, what with his racism and all. Ironically, Edgar Allen Poe was a racist AND a pedophile, but he still seems to be okay.  Everyone and everything we love turns out to be horrible.

Go figure.

There’s room, I think, for a fairly nuanced discussion of both Lovecraft’s racism and the racism of his era. I’ll write about that one of these days.

Like it or not, Lovecraft was an incredibly influential writer. Just out there, his weird scary stories had generations of shy young nerds stumbling around mumbling about tentacles and yog sothoth and whatnot.

I was one of those. I’ve actually written a couple of major Lovecraft stories: Dawn of Cthulhu, and Life, Love and the Necronomicon. Major in that they’re long, and I think, unique. Not that they’re famous or anything. But they’re good stories, so check them out. This blog is about trying to sell you on my work after all.

For me, the Lovecraft story was ‘The Colour Out of Space,’ a story which if you are concerned, has no racist aspects whatsoever as far as I can tell, and can be happily read by the most woke among us.

First I read it.

And then I lived it.

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Shut Up! That’s why!

So what am I working on right now?

Well, I could be working on Lexx Unauthorized, Volume II, revising and preparing it for upload. That’s written, I just need to fine tune it. I’ll get that done soon, though.

I could be working on a short story collection called Dark Places Have No Doors , the stories are written, it’s just a matter of commissioning a cover, and getting it edited and uploaded. I’ll get that done soon, though.

I could even be working on The New Doctor, or the Greatest Unauthorized Doctor Stories, Axis of Andes, some additional material for The Luck that Lorina wants, yet another collection of horror stories, a couple of collections of humorous fantasy and sci fi,  Princess of Asylum, A Change of Life, etcetera, all knocking around my hard drive, waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.  All of which I’ll get around to, sooner or later.

But what I’m working on right now?

A novel about a 1967 giant movie monster from Korea called Yongary?

Why?  Shut up! That’s why!

Is that a good answer?

Probably not.

But bear with me, maybe I’ll have a better one.

Read moreShut Up! That’s why!