Friday, August 30, 2013


I dream of a billion years from now, when the earth is more bone than dirt, when the weight of the myriad dead have slowed the world’s orbit to a standstill. Half the planet lies nighted and frozen. Half burns. I wander this wasteland, clothed only in ashes. The cold I hate. I cannot abide there; it is too much like people I have known.

It is not pleasant, either, to see the sun hanging crimson and hungry over the day lit half of this place. That orb is swollen with its own rot and licks its lips in anticipation of the feast to come when the earth spirals into its mouth. But at least then I will be able to rest. Only another billion years to wait. 

Monday, August 26, 2013


Behind the bright sky and sun, I see a tattered velvet darkness that no one else sees. It hangs like a shroud, with diamond dust glittering at its trailing edges. The darkness does not lie empty. Sometimes there are eyes. They are hollow as gun barrels, though down them I think I glimpse the shine of jacketed slugs that point at me. I wonder if one of those bullets has my true name scripted upon it. Perhaps they all do.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Things I Simply Don’t Understand

Point 1.  Ben Affleck is named as the next Batman and the internet goes into a tizzy.

Point 2.  Patton Oswald posts a blog saying don’t hate on Ben Affleck and many haters, go, “Wow you’re right. I won’t hate on him anymore.”

I don’t understand number one for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s an effing movie. More than that, it’s a “Batman” movie and we’ve had how many of these things already? Now I like Batman. I liked some of the movies better than others. I’ve expressed my opinions here and there. But do I lose any sleep or waste any energy wondering, Oh My God, who will they cast as Batman next? Will my world continue if they choose someone I don’t like? I suspect you know my answers to those questions.

Second, I don’t understand what Ben Affleck has done to deserve that hate. I haven’t watched a lot of movies with him in. I was never overly impressed with his acting talents. I didn’t like Daredevil. But he seemed middle of the pack to me. But suddenly he seems to have become identified as the world’s worst actor. What appears absolutely clear to me is that someone decided to hate on Ben Affleck. Someone else decided to join in. And soon we had a whole movement in which it is suddenly cool to hate him. Let me state it very clearly: Most of the people who supposedly “hate” Ben Affleck do so because they want to be one of the “cool” kids. There is no logic behind it, no rationality. It’s simply part of a need that people have to be “one of the group.”

Third, say you really really hated Daredevil, just as I really disliked the recent Judge Dredd. How is it that you so closely link Ben Affleck to that hate? I don’t find myself disliking Karl Urban because he played Dredd in a movie I didn’t like. Don’t you think that it was probably more the directors, editors and writers that were at fault for a poor movie than the acting itself?

I suppose my comment about the need to be one of the group sort of answers my point 2 at the top. Apparently some people read Patton Oswald’s blog and decided that it wasn’t cool to hate on Ben Affleck anymore. Well, another celebrity, who is thought by people to “be” cool, says not to. Is that really all it takes to change your mind? If I really didn’t like Ben Affleck, then Patton Oswald’s opinion would not matter a whit to me. How in the world can people change their minds just because a celebrity (or politician, or newscaster, or athlete, or popular singer) tells them they are wrong?

Here’s some other things that I think. 1). Most people never question why they feel the way they do? 2). Many people essentially have their emotions handed to them by outside sources. In other words, they don’t have any feeling one way or another about the Ben Affleck’s of the world until someone says, “Ben Affleck is horrible,” and it clicks in their head and becomes their feeling. 3). Many people will do just about anything to be “cool.” 4). Many people are far more influenced by ‘prominent’ people (who they don’t know from Adam) than they are by people who are less famous but might actually know something on the subject.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back to School

Today is officially my last of summer break. Faculty meetings start tomorrow, and registration begins Thursday. Classes start on Monday. That means less blogging and visiting blogs. At least for a while until I get a new routine established.

It was a fairly productive summer. I did finish a book, although I'd hoped to do a few short stories too and did not accomplish that. I did sell a few reprints, which is always nice. I also did not get as much reading as I would have liked done, and that is largely due to playing lots of Skyrim when I took breaks from the writing.

Unfortunately, next summer will not be as free. Given an analysis of my sales, I realized that I can't really afford to take entire summers off to write anymore. I'll be teaching at least half of next summer. Just too many costs and not enough going in to the coffers. I hope I can maintain at least half the summer free to focus on writing.

Off to visit blogs now on my last free day. Then I've got errands to run and some preparations to make.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bruce Boston's Dark Roads

Bruce Boston. Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems, 1971-2012.  Colusa, CA: Dark Renaissance Books. 2013.156 pp. ISBN 13: 978-1-937128-90-6. Illustrated by M. Wayne Miller.

Bruce Boston has been writing for many years but I only discovered him about fifteen years ago when I joined the Science Fiction Poetry Association. I was immediately struck by Boston’s ability to evoke images I’d never experience before, and by his immense vocabulary and a talent for wielding words with the delicacy of an épée. Since that time I’ve eagerly awaited every new poem he’s released. I’d have no idea of the count of individual poems that Boston has published, but there are more than forty collections of his work. He has certainly been productive.

Recently, Dark Renaissance Books released a selected collection of  many of Boston’s best “long” poems published between 1971 and 2012. I’m not sure exactly how they define long poems but all the ones here are at least two pages of material. Most are quite a bit more. Some are certainly epic in length as well as scope.

As a result of this being a “selected” collection, I’ve previously read many of these poems. I believe this actually increased my enjoyment of them. Boston’s poetry is so rich that I’ve often found myself rereading his work anyway. The first time through I’m swept up by the imagery, which is always perfect but seldom what you expect, and by the joy of the word play. The second time I read for meaning, and though I’m not always able to extract a coherent meaning, I’m always left with a sense of ‘resonance,’ a sense that truth lies within if I but had the breadth of experience to grasp it.

It’s hard to pick favorites from such a collection, where every page holds gems, but I have to call out two particular poems, the multiple award winning “Pavane for a Cyber-Princess,” and “She Was There for Him the Last Time.” Here’s a fragment from “Last Time.”

she was there for him the last time
in the bombed-out city
where the decimating trajectories
left their scars upon the earth
like sabers crossed and waiting

I highly recommend any and all of Boston’s work. You can pick Dark Roads up from the publisher:

You should certainly check out Boston’s website, where you can access some of his work online:  

I’ll end with a quote from another poem in Dark Roads, “In the Short Seasons of a Long Year without You.”

This sheet of broken lines

I leave for you to find.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Opinions Are Like *****: Everyone’s Got One

Lana and I watched the new Judge Dredd movie the other night. We both thought it was one of the god-awfulest pieces of crap we’d seen in ages. Normally I’m more tolerant of movie dreck than she is but in this case I was the first to state my opinion on it. It was the slow-mo, you see. At least at first. Slow-mo is over used but I don’t mind it under certain circumstances. Lana and I also watched “The Warriors” and there’s a scene where a guy gets thrown through the wooden door of a bathroom stall in slow-mo. I thought it worked well. We both like that movie quite a bit, although are under no impression that it is high art.

The problem with the slow-mo in Judge Dredd was that it went on and on and on. It was tied to the use of this drug that slowed down time for people, and also apparently made everything sparkly. I think the drug was pretty clearly modeled on heroin. I suppose the connection between the drug effects and the slow-mo made sense, but what we’re treated to is people smoking “slow-mo” pipes and then everything gets really…well, slow. There’s one scene where the bad woman is taking a bath while smoking, and we get a couple of minutes of her sweeping her hand through the water in slow-mo while her hand makes sparkly splashes. Later we get to see a person fall from a 200 or so story building in slow-mo. I can hardly overstate how boring that was. Slow-mo for 5 seconds of a guy getting thrown through a door is far different from 2 minutes of someone taking a bath or falling.

There were plenty of other things about Judge Dredd I didn’t care for. First, it was basically a Dirty Harry movie, which, for me, made everything 100 percent predictable. Second, the special effects were generally “meh,” and the sparkly stuff reminded me personally of Twilight. Third, they kill Judge Dredd at one point. Only…not. A bad guy shoots Dredd through a wall with an armor piercing round. We clearly see blood start to pour from Dredd’s chest on the right side under his armor. We see him slide to the ground. There’s a hole the size of a man’s fist in the wall where the bullet came through. But it turns out that it’s just a flesh wound through the lower right side of his body and he slaps some first aid stuff on it and then gets up to wipe out more bad guys. Sorry, you just can’t do that.

I was reminded of trying to watch one of the early SF TV serials once. They were running the episodes back to back so I knew I could catch them all. One episode ended with the intrepid hero tied up in a rocket sled rushing toward a cliff. The sled went over the cliff and exploded, indicating to everyone that the hero had to be dead. Except! In the sequel episode, we saw the same exact scene with the rocket sled rushing toward the cliff, except this time a previously invisible door opened in the side and the hero leaped to safety just before the sled went over the cliff. This was the equivalent of that.

And yet! When Lana went on Internet Movie Data Base she saw the movie was rated at 7 of 10 stars. And people I know and like and whose opinions I listen to have told me they liked it. How can this possibly be? How can my observations and opinions on a movie be so diametrically opposed to those of other intelligent people?

Sometimes it’s kind of depressing to be so at odds with the world. 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Three Poems, and Other Things

Three of my poems are running today over at Beat to a Pulp. I hope you'll stop by and give them a read. These are some of my favorites among my own pieces.

Also, of course, "A Whisper in Ashes" is still up at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.

Hope your Sunday is going wonderfully!


Friday, August 02, 2013

New Sword and Sorcery Story Published

We interrupt the normal multiple-day lag between posts for breaking news of interest to...well, me. Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Issue 17, has just been published and contains a story by me called "A Whisper in Ashes." This is the first appearance of a heroic fantasy character named Krieg, who I hope to write much more about eventually. I had started two previous stories about a character with that name but they never quite gelled. This one finally did and I think I now have a handle on the character that may let me write more. The character is certainly in the tradition of sword and sorcery heroes like Conan and Karl Edward Wagner's Kane.

I hope you'll give the tale a read. It's free to readers after all. The direct link to the story is:

The link to the magazine home is here:

A couple of people have had the link to the magazine not work this morning. I had some trouble with it as well. Of course, it's probably due to the huge number of people trying to access my story. Don't you think? :)
The link has always come up if I waited a bit, though, so I hope it's a minor glitch.