Category Archives: science fiction

Despondent saith not

I gave up blogging in favor of Facebook posting years ago, but I’ve come full circle and am back to blogging instead. This form has a little more permanence, I think, and if I’m gonna be ignored, I may as well own it.

Though my first published story was in 1977, I’ve been a full-time writer for just a couple of years. I attempted to go full-time just after coming hope from the illness that caused my disability, with a big backlog of material that I fondly imagined was ‘good enough’ and a lot of ‘belief’.

Didn’t work out that way — one, I didn’t have the energy or stamina I had been used to and couldn’t maintain that schedule, and two, the material desperately needed reworking — which I’m still doing, six years later.

Hard to keep going in the face of such massive apathy. I haven’t written anything that has galvanized people into talking about it for years, though that doesn’t stop stuff from getting pirated. I’ve sold more than 5000 kindle-copies of my chapbook, mostly through direct sales. But I have four reviews on Goodreads/Amazon.

Gotta trust in the process though. I know my stuff is good enough. No editor has ever returned a piece saying “This really sucks.” Instead, “this really doesn’t fit what we’re trying to accomplish here. But good luck with this story. I’m sure you can sell it — somewhere else” is the common response.

I resist comparisons…and some of this is sour grapes probably, but I see people whose work isn’t real good selling consistently, and it chaps my ass. But I’m a middle-aged white male, and I guess I should just get used to being marginal. Isn’t like my imagination is inclined to the mainstream.

And I’m not gonna stop, though it gives me pause (and yeah, there are times when I want to stop because working in a vacuum sucks). Friends and even some objective critics have told me they enjoy the work…it’s just that it doesn’t reach enough people. And I don’t know how to get that to happen, other than to keep throwing spaghetti.

I’m not alone. There are lots of us pasta-throwers.

But I ask you — if you’ve read a thing of mine, how about some feedback? Just “I liked it” would be fine. I think you have to write a couple more words than that, but it doesn’t have to be in-depth…that’s the point. People who write for themselves rarely try to get public.

Yeah. I’m having a minor crisis. Not ‘impostor syndrome’, but ‘invisible man’ syndrome…brought on by lack of success of worthwhile material. Help a brother out if you can.

Thanks for reading.


I’ve joined the Roku generation, as of last Tuesday. A week of discovering and winnowing down, much like the first week of being on the net back in the mid-to-late 90s. Streaming media absolutely brings that to mind — it’s clearly in its infancy as a service, and will likely mushroom as more and more sponsors jump on board.
No doubt the Firestick and other streaming utilities are similar. There are probably small degrees of difference but it’s the same stuff, conceptually. I have a Roku Ultra, which cost me 75 bucks on boxing day.
Definitely going to thin the cord a strand or two, maybe unbraid it, but not cut it completely. I need to talk to my cable guy about price, as I want to keep the Contour boxes if within reason cost-wise, as local stations are not well-represented on this system and through Cox cable. May add a sports package, for reasons discussed below.
The Midnight Pulp channel, for one. It’s my favorite so far. It has a LOT of commercials (there’s an ad-free paid version, which I might spring for if they rotate content often) but there’s everything from ANTS to ZARDOZ on that channel. 
Has lots of the stuff I like and plenty of it and it’s mostly free. The number of sci-fi, noir, and horror channels in general is fantastic. Grindhouse (my actual favorite genre) is especially well-represented. Each channel has at least some unique content. There are westerns and romance and war channels, and paranormal/ufo/conspiracy channels, and lots of indie offerings and stuff like belly-dancing and yoga and fashion channels…and metric tonnes of international streaming. Many educational channels, though some of them are paid services. Still, they’re available. A host of (ssssh) private channels, with everything from Bill O’Reilly to softcore porn. Yeah, there’s pr0n too.
The streaming service itself is great. Crystal-clear HD everydamnthing and it streams content from my various hard drives wonderfully. Links seamlessly within my chain.
Little dinky remote.
Redundancy. Lots of channels are owned by the same people and it takes a while to winnow them down. The BEST content is still on Netflix/Amazon/Hulu or other paid services.
Local channel access is spotty. Sling is too expensive for what it is. It depends on the cost of basic cable being even more expensive for its existence. Lots of channels depend on your having a cable host.
When there are commercials, they’re the same ones, over and over and over and over, and then.
There’s very little sports coverage or coverage of the coverage. There is a watchESPN app, but ESPN sucks. I need me some MLB Network. I do write for a baseball blog

Full Circle?

The last post on this blog was about opening my Patreon. As I write, I’m considering killing it. Perhaps I should have built an audience first.


Eh. Was worth a try. I haven’t killed it yet, but it’s a lot of effort to maintain. I’d rather put  most of the stuff here. And there’s gonna be stuff.

Forgive me, reader, for it has been eight months since my last blogfession. Mea maximum culpa, five godfaddahs, ten lords a’leaping, and a beer. Praise cheeses.

For blessed are the cheesemakers, as the Python wags would have it.

I’ve been busy. In that span, I’ve self-published two books and a chapbook duo, and edited what promises to be one of the best weird fiction anthologies on the market, a thing called Test Patterns.tpnew

Art by Nick Gucker, cover design by publisher Michael Adams. If you click on the pic it takes you to the GoFundMe, where you can secure a copy in a variety of formats.

It has these in it:


We’re doing the final proofs this week. I am all tingly. I could piddle. Santa is breathless.

And this is still out there:


Just the perfect stocking-stuffers in any of their forms, I assure you.

If you go here, you can get a copy of the fabled Test Patterns Teaser, where three of the stories and three of the poems from the anthology smolder and glower. The chapbook will be retired when Test Patterns is published.



Any of these are available in ebook form to reviewers.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with somethings for your ears.


I’ve finally broken down and put together a Patreon page. It’s just a beginning — I don’t know exactly what to do yet…so I’m offering a story or a piece of a wip each week, plus access to music that then public won’t see for a while and the opportunity to have me write something from your story prompt.
Just part of an overall effort to organize and focus. I’d welcome participation and suggestions. Thanks for reading!

Accepting Authority

The final two pieces of the “Area X Trilogy”: I’d have to recommend reading the series at least once, but I’m not happy with the level of resolution.

Authority (Southern Reach, #2)Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t like the main character’s nickname. It’s as bad as Hiero Protagonist. “Control” is cutesy. It’s a shorthand way of imputing that the mc is the normal one, the one that doesn’t get the drugs or the treatment or whatever, and misleading in that regard.
A good part of this book seems based on department infighting and the other half goes a little Rogue Moon if Algis Budrys had written the Manchurian Candidate into the story.
It’s odd, and there’s enough conflict on various levels to be effective, and yes, weird stuff happens and characters undergo mindbending changes…but it’s a bit numbing to me because I didn’t really like any of the characters. They all seem to operate at a remove, and the narrative works at arm’s-length too.
And there’s little exposition in a narrative that seems to call for it. I’m gonna go with Aliens did it.

View all my reviews

Acceptance (Southern Reach, #3)Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a lot of trouble getting through this book, the second time. I found it unsatisfying, ultimately. The reason why Area X exists is never explained. What Area X actually is remains mysterious. Some of the character arcs are completed, and there are hints of resolution, but they’re only hints.
The tone continues to be the same scientist-as-hero that gives this series its Golden Age echoes. Events unfold, to a point, but one gets the idea that the author is holding back a lot of information, and also setting up for more stories in this milieu.
It’s effective enough, but I was left wanting.

View all my reviews

annihilation nation

I couldn’t sleep. Strange things happen when I’m sleepless, which happens entirely too often. I am very bad at sleeping and have periods where I might sleep two hours at a time for weeks, or stay up three or four days.
It’s been that way since I was very young. I missed about two weeks of third grade because I wasn’t sleeping well enough to move around safely on my own.
Reading has always been my fallback. If I can’t sleep, I read, first. I like a little noise when I read, but just a little, and it has to be familiar, comfortable. Old sitcoms or crime shows will do. I need the rhythms. Talking-head shows work too.
annihilation_by_jeff_vandermeerI’ve been re-reading the Area X trilogy, these last few days. I have the kindle versions, so I can turn out all of the lights except the tv and greedily drink the words. Jeff VanderMeer is one of those practitioners of the “weird” that comes from sf, like I do, and I very much enjoy, in fact prefer, that approach. Jeffrey Thomas, too, has those echoes, the clanking rhythms of cyberpunk informing his harrowing parables. VanderMeer is the co-editor of the Big Book of SF, about which more will be said, in another post. His stuff has more New Wave in it…the world of the Southern Reach being a fine example. Annihilation, the first book of the trilogy, is not the first of the author’s books that I’ve read, but so far, it’s the best. I put it on my ballot for the Hugo nomination. We all know what happened there, and I’m not going to get into it…anyway, I thought it the best work of the year.
I loathe using comps to make my points, but I’m going to have to either resort to that or do out-and-out spoilers, which I hate worse. So comparisons it is….Michael Bishop’s anthropological pieces, especially Death and Designation Among the Asadi, his 197- award-winner, have this same sort of straight-up Scientist-As-Hero, performing-a-survey trope going, and deploy a similar air of strangeness, of menace, just offscreen, or in so strange a form that it goes unrecognized. I am  minded, also, of Kate Wilhelm’s The Clewiston Test, and Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, which had similar main characters.
Of course the mc is also exploring the interior landscape at the same time. It goes with the territory. Even though the biologist is working with others, at least initially, she’s always alone, remote.
It turns out that some of this anti-teamwork is the result of hidden persuaders, in a nicely-Dischian. way. Good. Very subtle. The second read reveals the process of hints and allegations that lead to that conclusion, but on the first encounter, it’s almost subliminal.
It takes a practiced hand to do that. Reader manipulation on that level isn’t done often.
Outstanding book. Really good. The main character is interesting enough to listen to, the story has psychological depth, strange detail, interior travelogue, and an inevitable if slightly maddening conclusion. Five stars.
Another tomorrow.


I got a little bit exercised today by this article, about the “8 Tribes of Sci Fi.”
Rubbish, absolute rubbish. An ill-considered word salad.

To start with, it considers “sci-fi” which I consider to be the z-movie mentality that pervades tv and pop movies. And it calls the wrong things “sci-fi”. The article might fare better if it were said to be talking about “fantasy”, the umbrella term for science fiction and other related imaginative fields, or about “speculative fiction”, a higher-brow way of saying the same thing.

Read the thing for yourself. Feel free to regale me with your version. Or not. Continue reading