Friday, October 31, 2014

Five things that will not actually make your movie better

Wow, this sounds like the title of a Cracked article.  This is my humble list of concepts that pop culture believes merge flawlessly like peanut butter into chocolate with any other property, but in fact, do not.

It's not a list of things that are bad. It's not a list of things I don't like because they're popular. Disliking something because it's popular is a particular trait of geek culture, and it's just as ridiculous as liking something because it's popular.

This is a list of things that I can enjoy in moderation, but they've all become so ubiquitous that they really hold no surprises anymore, and I'm less interested when I learn that one of these things will be present in a story.

Usually Bad 

1.) Zombies: Sorry, Jeremy, but oh, boy.

 Let's do an image search for "Sexy Zombie".

100 + more. Sweet, merciful Romero.

I've argued in this post about zombies and in this one about Berserkers that zombies work best as an environmental threat, something that's only dangerous if you're careless or screwed by your fellow humans. I like zombie movies, but I think zombies are only scary in the absence of a functioning society. Even the granddaddy of them all, Night of the Living Dead, recognizes this. The dead were spontaneously reanimating, and a couple people in close proximity to a cemetery had a really bad night, but by the end of it, a bunch of rednecks were making a game of killing the zombies.

Also, if all else fails, use bears.

The exception to the zombie rule is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a book shamelessly plagiarized by that hack, Jane Austen.

2.) Tesla: Not the band.

(Well, okay, the band. They suck, but they're not awkwardly shoehorned into every property imaginable.)

Need 22nd century technology in the late 19th century? Nikola Tesla did it!

He's the patron saint of geeks. He was unquestionably a brilliant scientist. Like the other items on the list, he's not good or bad on his own, but he's ridiculously overexposed. I blame Elon Musk and the Oatmeal.

3.) Steampunk: Close cousin to number 2. Sometime a steampunk aesthetic can work. The Legend of Korra is outstanding example of building a steampunk look organically. It's mixed with a 1920's Shanghai vibe that gives the series a very cool look and feel. Unfortunately, for every cool Korra mecha tank (see below),

we have three Abe Lincolns with minigun arms.

"Looks like you brought a derringer to a minigun fight, Booth."
From the awesome site, Unnecessary Steampunk.

4.) Knight Templar: Ugh, these guy. I think that each of the above properties work well in their own milieu, but I can't say the same for the Knights Templar. They never work, and they're fucking EVERYWHERE,

We still use swords in the 21st Century. 

5.) Benedict Cumberbatch: The Mary Sue used to be an absolutely outstanding site until they abruptly merged with Geekosystem. Quality fell off a cliff, and now every other article is a warbled squee of "Maisie Williams/Joss Whedon/Benedict Cumberbatch did something!!!!!"

The Internet seems to want to cast him as everyone from Luke Cage to Sharon Carter, and while TMS is hardly the only offender, they are certainly among the most egregious.


Bill Murray: A friend sent me a link with this message: "Did either of you see that Bill Murray has a movie out in which it looks like he just plays Bill Murray?"

I replied: I think we're nearing peak Murray. I love the guy, but dang, is he everywhere! I would hate to see the day when I see a headline about him and think, "Ugh, him again?", but, unfortunately, such a future is no longer inconceivable.

Usually Good

Cthulhu: The Cthulhu Mythos  is something that gets mashed up with a lot of stuff. An old acquaintance from my time at the comic store (and Jen's time at her church. You thought I was joking about Unitarians worshiping Cthulhu) wrote the 463 page Cthulhu Mythos Bibliography & Concordance. It was published in 1999, and, due to the explosion of online publishing, I'd bet that it would be twice that size if it were written today.

Opinions will differ, but I think the reason that the Mythos meshes with other properties better than the other things I mentioned is because it's not just one thing. Read the Lovecraft eZine's submission guidelines to get an idea, or Wikipedia's piece on the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole. It's more than just monsters with unpronounceable names and lots of tentacles; it's broad enough to encompass a number of interpretation, and that's why it's not a red flag like so many of the things listed. Are there terrible Mythos stories? Of course there are, but in general, it's not the Mythos elements that make them bad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 9: Flatline

Alas, this is just a placeholder post until I get around to seeing the actual episode. I hear it's good, though.

Monday, October 27, 2014

In which Akinator the Web Genius tries to guess Zelazny characters

A friend turned me on to Akinator the Web Genius and I've played with it on and off for a couple years. It's an online program that plays twenty questions with you, and, while it's not infallible, it's pretty good at guessing, and getting better.

I decided to see if I could get it to guess Corwin.

1.) Has your character ever really existed? No.

2.) Is your character from a TV series? No.

3.) Has your character ever been in a movie? No.

4.) Does your character have dark hair? Yes. 

5.) Does your character wear shoes? Yes. He's not a hobbit. 

6.) Is your character from a video game? No. There was the Nine Princes in Amber Computer Game, but we all like to pretend it never existed. 

7.) Is your character a female? No.

8.)Does your character live in America? No. This is a judgment call, as Corwin as Carl Corey lived in America, but I thought answering Yes here would be misleading, and the program is only as good as its information.

9.) Is your character from Homestuck? No. 

10.) Is your character from anime (Japanese animation)? No. 

11.) Is your character less than 25 years old? No. 

12.) Does your character have magical powers? "Misli, gammi gra'dil, Strygalldwir" Yes.

 13.) Is your character a human being? I answered "No" the first time I tried this exercise, as humans generally don't live for hundreds of years and aren't capable of lifting a Mercedes, regenerating their eyes or walking between dimensions, but Akinator hadn't guessed after 43 questions, so I went with "Yes" this time.

14.) Does your character fight with a sword? Yes.

As the rider advanced, his ruddy gaze flicked over my person and halted when it fell upon Grayswandir. Whatever the nature of the mad illumination at my back, it had tricked the delicate tracery on my blade to life once more, so that that portion of the Pattern it bore swam and sparkled along its length. The horseman was very near by then, but he drew back on the reins and his eyes leaped upward, meeting my own. 

His nasty grin vanished. "I know you!" he said. "You are the one called Corwin!"

But we had him, me and my ally momentum.

15.) Is your character more than 40 years old? Yes. "I was older than I appeared to be. (Thirtyish, I'd seemed when I looked at me in the mirror--but now I knew that it was because the shadows would lie for me.)"

16.) Has your character been into space? No.

17.) Is your character an assassin?  No. You're thinking Brust, not Zelazny.

18.) Does your character have a brother or sister? Yes. Getting warmer...

19.) Does your character have a sister? Yes.

20.) Has your character lost their memory? Yes! You're on fire!

21.) Is your character the main character of the work in which he appears? Yes. 

Well done, web genie! I like the picture too, from the Visual Guide to Castle Amber. The genie guessed Roger Zelazny after about 25 questions, but couldn't get Dworkin. I think the problem with the latter is that one of the questions was "Does your character have a last name?" and I answered "Yes", because Corwin names him Dworkin Bariman in 9PiA. "Bariman" is obviously an anagram for "In Amber", (see also "Rebma") but I always assumed it was actually Dworkin's family name and that there is a Barimanways in the Courts of Chaos.

It's a fun way to pass the time. Try it with other Zelazny characters and let me know the results!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tale of the Toilet

I've mentioned in the past that I used to work in Competitive Intelligence. I kept it vague, for a couple of reasons. One of them is that I have a distinctive name, and should I ever return to the field,  this will serve as a record. Another is that the more vague I am, the more interesting it sounds. I worked in the field of Competitive Intelligence, yes. On its own, it sounds all high stakes baccarat and spy pens and femme fatales. It's considerably less interesting if I mention that it was the Construction market. More specifically, plumbing. Even more specifically...toilets.

"Good merchant Vama, wait! I would have words with thee." 
"Yea, Kabada. What wouldst thou?" 
"It is difficult to find the words I would have with thee. But they do concern a certain state of affairs which hath aroused considerable sentiment on the parts of thy various adjacent neighbors." 
"Oh? Speak on then." 
"Concerning the atmosphere ... " 
"The atmosphere?" 
"The winds and breezes, perhaps ... " 
"Winds? Breezes?" 
"And the things they bear." 
"Things? Such as ... ?" 
"Odors, good Vama."  
My boss at the job was certainly the smartest person I know personally, he holds several patents, and invented the toilet seen here. He has a background in math and accounting, but not in engineering. He taught himself the principles required to design a new type of toilet from the ground up. He's the person narrating this video.

"Odors? What odors?" 
"Odors of, well, odors of, of fecal matter." 
"Of ... ? Oh! Yes. True. True enough. There may be a few such. I had forgotten, having grown used to them." 
"Might I inquire as to their cause?" 
"They are caused by the product of defecation, Kabada." 
"Of this I am aware. I meant to make inquiry as to why they are present, rather than their source and nature." 
"They are present because of the buckets in my back room, which are filled with such, items." 
"Yes. I have been saving the products of my family in this manner. I have been doing this for the past eight days." 
"Against what use, worthy Vama?" 
"Hast thou not heard of a thing, a wondrous thing, a thing into which these items are discharged, into water, and then a lever pulled, and then, with a mighty rushing sound, these things are borne away, far beneath the ground?" 
"I have heard some talk of such ... " 
"Oh, 'tis true, 'tis true. There is such a thing. It has but recently been invented by one whom I should not name, and it involves great pipes and a seat without a bottom, or a top, really. It is the most wonderful discovery of the age, and I will have me one within a matter of moons!"

Despite my theoretical toilet expertise, I don't have a lot of hands on experience. I'm a bright-ish guy, but I'm not handy around the house. However, my mother was coming up for her first visit in years. We performed some extensive work on the bathroom, and we decided that the old toilet would have to be replaced. It looked like the toilet from Trainspotting.

"Thou? Such a thing?" 
"Yea. It shall be installed in the small room I have built onto the back of my home. I may even give a dinner that night and permit all my neighbors to take use of it." 
"This is indeed wondrous, and thou generous." 
"I feel so." 
"But, of the, smells ... ?" 
"They are caused by the buckets of items, which I am preserving against the installation of this thing." 
"I should rather have it on my karmic record that this thing was used for these items beginning with eight days ago, rather than several moons from now. It will show my rapid advancement in life."

One of the advantages to living in 2014 is that there are tutorials for everything. The instructions for installing the toilet were clear, and the videos helped clarify anything that wasn't. I might not be handy, but I can follow instructions.  The biggest problem was getting the floor bolts loose, and after that, it was simply a matter of plug and chug.

"Ah! I see now the wisdom of thy ways, Vama. I did not wish it to appear that we stood in the way of any man who seeks to better himself. Forgive me if I gave this impression." 
"Thou art forgiven." 
"Thy neighbors do love thee, smells and all. When thou art advanced to a higher state, please remember this." 
"Of course." 
"Such progress must be expensive." 
"Worthy Vama, we shall take delight in the atmosphere, with all its pungent portents."
I was really amazed by how simple the entire experience was. It feels pretty good to improve something around the house like that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stuff Josh Likes: Period Pieces

As the title suggests, I enjoy period pieces. It's no coincidence that my two Lonesome October stories The Great and Groovy Game and Mother of Monsters  are both period pieces, being set in 1974 and 1955. (Single White Necromancer is set in 2001, but there is nothing really to indicate this beyond the days of the week).

I was watching Mad Men recently, and I don't think I'd like it nearly as much as I do if it were set in modern times. 

I also like the movies Jet Li did back before he came to Hollywood, the crazy colonial China martial arts epics. I suppose a big part of the fun is discovering things about the past ("The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.") Period pieces seem richer in meaning somehow, because everything has a meaning. I always like discovering new things, and there is always ample opportunity. For instance, Mad Men had a throwaway line about a Unitarian Minster who was killed in Selma. That was enough information to find James Reeb, a figure in American history of whom I would have otherwise been ignorant.

It also enables tricks you can't play with contemporary stories, like in Shada, when the Doctor brings a cassette of Bonnie Tyler's greatest hits back to 1974,  

In general, period pieces tend to be crafted with fussy, meticulous care, which is something I like in a story, and which is why I give them an edge of their non-period counterparts. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Let's all lose our shit about Ebola

My mom is flying up for my birthday. It will be the first time in five years that we'll be seeing each other in person. And yet, the other day she asked me, "Do you think I should cancel the trip because of Ebola?"

I sent her this chart,

and said, no, it's been completely blown out of proportion, and more people are going to die of the flu this year. Certainly, it's extremely dangerous under certain circumstances, but fear of Ebola is going to be more dangerous than actual Ebola.

I don't normally watch the President's weekly address, but a friend pointed it out to me and I thought Obama had some really salient points.

From the address:
First, what we're seeing now is not an "outbreak" or an "epidemic" of Ebola in America. We're a nation of more than 300 million people. To date, we've seen three cases of Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them, and we're doing everything we can to give them the best care possible. Now, even one infection is too many. At the same time, we have to keep this in perspective. As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu. 
Second, Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It's not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus. The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms. I've met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who've treated Ebola patients. I've met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office. And I'm fine.
I'm occasionally critical of Obama's presidency, but it's hard to find fault with any aspect of this address. This is what real, actual leadership looks like.

And in related news, I read this from the local news site.

Ebola scare temporarily closes Hackettstown pharmacy

From the article:
Police said they and the Hackettstown Rescue Squad responded "in reference to an ill male who was possibly showing the signs of Ebola."
"signs of Ebola".

Considering in its early stages, it's pretty indistinguishable from the flu, is it really so unusual to see someone with flu-like symptoms in a pharmacy?

Man, what the fuck is wrong with people?

I assume the EMTs are obligated to take the call, and I further assume that their response was to smack the caller upside the head, and tell him to stop wasting their time when they could be out actually helping people. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Phone Home

I'm not old yet, but I'm not young either, except in the sense that, were I to die tomorrow, people would (hopefully) say "He was too young to go!"

The Lidless Eye
I am old enough to have grown up in a world without ubiquitous cellular phones. I was thinking of this when I was trying to figure out why my phone kept rebooting. I googled my problem and tried the various solutions I found.

Nothing worked. I'm not eligible for an upgrade until the end of the year, but the phone, while not quite bricked, was so unreliable as to be unusable. I was considering transferring my account to the phone I'd had before the upgrade when I solved my problem. I deleted apps, one by one, and when I got rid of the Weather Channel app, my problem stopped.

There's always the possibility of coincidence, but I'm proceeding under the assumption that it was in conflict with something else on the device, and removing it resolved the conflict.

And I was thinking that I still need to replace the phone, since the number two thing I use it for (after checking the time) is checking the weather (Making telephone calls is about seven or eight on the list) .And the thing is, I can still check the weather. It's just slightly less convenient to do so.

It just struck me how dependent I'd become on the stupid thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

The cold open on this was really solid. Journey to the Center of the Dalek was my previous high water mark, and this blows it away. In rapid succession we get a close up on an old timey analog clock tickers, a flickering light, and a hissing mummy, followed by a stopwatch. This was very nearly perfect in establishing the elements in play for this episode.

The mummy then advances through a train towards an old woman, who is the only one who can see it, and kills her at the end of the 66 seconds. Very stylishly done.

She dies, we see the train is actually flying through space,

Back in my day, Astrotrains transformed into robots!
 and credits.

The Doctor is taking Clara on one last hurrah before she quits traveling with him, and Jenna Coleman is normally a very attractive woman, she's stunning here.Unfortunately, this scene is marred by the way the Doctor treats Clara.

The Doctor: You're doing it again.
Clara: Doing what?
The Doctor: The smile.
Clara: Yeah, I'm smiling.
The Doctor: Yes, the sad smile. It's a smile, but you're sad. It's confusing, it's like two emotions at once. It's like you're malfunctioning.
Clara: Sorry.

And she actually lowers her eyes at this point. I don't think the writers understand how emotional abusive the Doctor's behavior is. They don't understand that Clara is the victim, and like a lot of victims of abuse, she returns to the abuser because he gives her something she needs (or thinks she needs). Ugh.

They begin investigating the murders, the Doctor on his own, then with the ship's engineer, Perkins. Perkins is an interesting fellow, maybe more than he seems. Clara meets up with Maisie, the dead woman's granddaughter, and they break into a secure area with a sarcophagus, before being locked in.

"Oh, snap!"
Meanwhile the Doctor chats with Emil Moorhouse, Professor of Alien Mythology. and I think that a Professor of Alien Mythology is going to be my next Delta Green character. The Doctor offers him some jelly babies. They discuss the Foretold, the Mummy. During their conversation, the Mummy kills a cook.

Masie and Clara have a conversation about Masie's grandmother. Meanwhile, the Doctor begins confronting the Captain for information, but the Captain sticks to protocol. As the Doctor leaves the Captain's room, Perkins is waiting.

Perkins:  Passenger manifest, plan of the train, and a list of stops for the last six months.
Doctor:  Quick work, Perkins.  Maybe too quick.
Perkins:  Yes, sir.  I’m obviously the mummy.  Or perhaps I was already looking into this.

Clara and Maisie then talk about Clara's relationship with the Doctor. The Doctor, Perkins and Moorhouse examine the footage of the death, and find it consisitant with the myths.

Moorhouse:  In all of the accounts conventional weapons have no effect on the Foretold.  It’s immortal, unstoppable … un-killable.
Perkins:  Can we get a new expert?

Man, this episode is full of great lines. The Doctor calls Clara, she tells him that she's trapped, he goes to rescue her, but the sonic screwdriver won't work. He asks the computer, who prefers to be called Gus, but Gus refuses to open the door. The lights flicker again, the sarcophusgus opens, but is empty save for bubble wrap, and the Captain arrives and arrests the Doctor and takes him away while the countdown runs in the corner of the screen.

As they take away the Doctor, he asks the Captain how many people have to die before he stops looking the other way. The Foretold kills another person, right in front of the Captain and the Doctor.  The Captain uncuffs him and says, "It turns out it’s three.  The amount of people that had to die before I stopped looking the other way." I liked that a lot too.

The Doctor then announces his deduction, that the passengers have all been unwittingly assembled for the purposes of studying the Foretold. The period decor drops, revealing advanced scientific equipment. Gus addresses the crew, confirming the Doctor's conclusions, and telling them to get hustling if they want to live. The lights flicker, and this time Professor can see the Mummy. The Doctor tells him to start describing the monster, eventually leading to this exchange.

Professor Moorhouse: I don't know what you want me to tell you!
The Doctor: Listen to me. You can see this thing, we can't. Tell us what you can see. Even the smallest detail might help us save the next one.
Professor Moorhouse: The next one? You mean, you can't save me?
The Doctor: Well, that is implied, isn't it? Yes, this is probably the end for you. But make it count! Details, please.

The Doctor calls Clara, but Gus coerces him to hang out, by ejecting the kitchen staff. They get back to work, eventually figuring out that the Foretold picks out its victims by targeting the weakest. The Mummy attacks again, this time killing the Captain. He fires at it, saying "What kind of soldier would I be, dying with bullets in my gun?" I like this whole part, because the Doctor is constantly experimenting, gathering data, telling the Captain what to do, and the Captain does it, giving back a constant stream of information.

The Doctor and Perkins conclude that the Mummy kills by phase transfer, which takes about 66 seconds, and further, Masie will be the next victim. The Doctor convinces Gus to release the pair.

As they're walking back, Clara sees the TARDIS, but it's protected by a force field that won't let them enter. They talk, and the Doctor admits that he knew something was up, because Gus had tried to lure him to the previous cruises as an expert. Clara is understandably outraged, but the Mummy shows up to defuse the situation.

The Doctor engages in a bit of jiggery-pokery to delay it, and after asking it "Are you  my Mummy?",  he concludes it was a soldier from an ancient war, and further, the magic code word to destroy it, "We surrender." It's worth noting that he treated this soldier with more respect that he has any other soldier this season.

Gus is pleased, but the services of the crew are no longer necessary, so he begins outgassing all the air in the cars into space. However, the Doctor rewires the Mummy's portable teleporter to send everyone to the TARDIS before dropping them at the nearest civilized planet. Last quote of the post.

Clara So you saved everyone?
Doctor:  No, I just saved you and let everyone else suffocate.  Ha ha ha.  Yeah, this is just my cover story.

I like that a lot, particularly since we only see one crew member afterward. (Perkins, and the Doctor offers him a job Doctorin' the TARDIS

but Perkins declines.

Unfortunately, we end on a the low note of the relationship B story. Within the TARDIS, Clara is talking to Danny, who reminds her that the Doctor is not her boyfriend, and asking if she broke up with him. She tells him that she did, and hangs up, then when the Doctor asks what Mr. Pink said, "He's totally fine with it. Show me the planets!" That's a shitty thing to do to everyone involved, and it really does mar the ending.

Overall, I liked it a lot, except for the relationship parts. I liked how their understanding of the creature grew with each discovery they made. This is the kind of grand, fantastic, faintly absurd epic that only Doctor Who can tell.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Kurt Vonnegut was an ardent an atheist as I am. However, his description of heaven as a place where "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt." is the truest fact a human being has ever written.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 7: Kill The Moon

I can barely hate-watch this show any more, so it's going to be pretty sparse on screen caps. My friend Jen described it as the worst episode of the revised series, and I'm not inclined to disagree.

In the cold open, Clara, with some terrible eyebrows

is telling someone that they need to weigh the survival of humanity against an innocent life.

As I've observed before, Doctor Who isn't really science fiction; like Star Wars, it's fantasy with the trappings of science fiction.  However, there is a difference between glossing over the details of the science in the interest of a good story, and just not giving a shit, trying to pass off bullshit and hoping your audience doesn't care.

Kill the Moon makes Robot of Sherwood look like a TED Talk by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

This is the plot:

This is really the plot.

I'll say the one nice thing I like about this episode: Courtney Woods is a more interesting companion than we've have for the past eight years.

The Doctor uses a yo-yo to detect local gravity, but even that can't save it. Here's a bit of trivia that's more interesting than anything found in this episode, Kate Winslet's first role was in a Lovecraftian BBC series by RTD. It was called Dark Season and in her first appearance, she's using a yo-yo to test local gravity.


Sorry if I spoiled you, because that's about a billion times better than this episode. Also, the first arc is pretty much the same as School Reunion.

Blah blah, space egg, ridiculously fragile spider-shaped bacteria, oh noes, should we blow up the moon? So Clara asks everyone on the (dayside) Earth if we should blow up the moon, which will kill everyone anyway. 

This reminded me, but not in a good way, of the census taker Trevor Sigma from the Happiness Patrol. He went about performing his census by wandering around and asking everyone their name.It was ridiculous then, and it's even moreso now.

The peoples on the Earth say "Kill teh Moonz!" but Clara does not kill teh moonz! It hatches into a space dragon, lays an egg larger than itself that looks exactly like the moon, and then flies off for parts unknown.

In the denouement,  Clara rages at the Doctor, saying that he owes humanity, and he should be there to protect them. 

Clara is wrong, and the Doctor is wrong.

The Doctor says that he was trying to empower humanity by allowing them to make their own decisions, that it wasn't his decision to make. That, by itself, is correct.  I am hugely critical of the Christmas Invasion, where the Doctor dooms humanity to a dark age in a fit of spite. The best thing I  took from my time working in human services is the idea "As long as people retain the ability to make decisions, they retain the right to make bad decisions." You don't get to substitute your judgement for the relevant party, even if you think you know better.

The Doctor says he's allowing humanity to decide, but he withholds relevant information. That's a shitty thing to do. He should have informed her of the consequences, instead of making her stab in the dark. The Doctor is right in general, but wrong on this specific. He should have told her.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Some notes on the characters from Single White Necromancer

Just a couple random notes about the characters in my story. I'll probably expand on this, and eventually give it its own page.

No real spoilers here.

Genevieve: I originally envisioned her as someone who would wear Ren Faire blouses and suchlike. That aspect got dropped early in the process, but the name stuck. I like it. Distinctive, but not so much as to be distracting

I like Genevieve a great deal. She shares a great number as a great number of my traits and personality flaws. Endless pedantry and the inability to avoid blurting out random trivia or wisecracks at inappropriate times, for starters. I liked writing her voice, oscillating, as it did, between lengthy exposition (the story does have a lot of Genevieve explaining things, but I hope she was engaging enough to make it entertaining) and sudden enthusiasms.

As the story went on, her condition increasingly became a metaphor for depression. I didn't set out to write an allegory, but that's what it became.

Charon: It's pronounced CARE-on, like the moon or the Boatman. I'd like to think that she's more interesting than she appears in the story, where she exists primarily as a foil for Genevieve. She's so perfect, she's boring. I do like the idea of a family of Necromancers, however. I imagine them along the lines of Ray Bradbury's Elliot family. Think of them as the Addams family, but played straight.

In the beginning of the story, they don't know to what extent they can trust each other, so they exchange fake names, "Karen" and "Jenny".  know two sets of Karens and Jens who are friends with each other, (which is to say I know a Jen and a Karen who are friends with each other, and another Jen and another Karen, who are also friends with each other) and while neither character is expressly based on any one person, their relationship was informed in part by the interaction between Jen Lyon (the Jen who so generously provided the cover photo) and Giraffe Karen.

Also, if you like the cover photo, she has plenty of others like it for sale at Fine Art America.

Another influence was the old movie, the Truth about Cats and Dogs, with Janeane Garofalo. and Uma Thurman. I could imagine Genevieve being played by Garofalo, though I don't think Thurman is right for Charon

Melinoe: The name comes from a Daughter of Hades (or possibly Zeus, who may have come to Persephone either in an Underworld aspect or wearing the guise of Hades, Mythological relationships being funny like that.

From Wikipedia: According to the hymn, she brings night terrors to mortals by manifesting in strange forms, "now plain to the eye, now shadowy, now shining in the darkness," and can drive mortals insane.

I like her. She was my favorite character to write, after Genevieve. Too smart for her own good.

At  one point, Genevieve calls her Mercredi, which is French for "Wednesday".

Friday, October 3, 2014


Well, this is disappointing. Due to legal circumstances beyond their control, Flatbush Pictures isn't going to be able to go through with Science Fiction Land. That's a real shame. It looked like it was going to be great, a documentary look at the events behind ARGO, with emphasis on Jack Kirby and Roger Zelazny's contributions.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Two items of Zelazny news!

For the benefit of the people who don't read the comments (and I don't know why anyone who reads this blog wouldn't read the comments, as they're about a thousand times better written and more interesting than any of the crap I post), two items of interest:

  1. Chris Kovacs has written an essay on A Rose For Ecclesiastes for the New York Review of Science fiction. Link here I haven't read it yet, but if it's anything like his work on The Collected Stories or his piece on Lonesome October, it promises to be excellent.  This issue also has a piece on Greg Rucka's Bravo, which is another reason to pick it up. 
  2. Also from Dr. Kovacs: This looks like it will be fun: Jane Lindskold has organized a twitter book club / discussion group for A Night in the Lonesome October. It will begin October 1st and the hashtag will be #LonesomeOctober

    See the details at: 
     The specific post can be found at this link.