We also serve Martians (boiled, fried or wrapped in duct-tape and barbecued)

We also serve Martians!

We welcome free-spending apocalyptical looters and overlords with green skins. Come in and get a little something for the lovely tentacle-haired one in your life and your little bloodthirsty spawnlings, so you can go next time again!  Tasteful multi-armed T shirts in many charming garish colors inscribed with ‘Martian, go home’ in several now-extinct earth languages. Well-tuned decorative nose-flutes, with a full range of delightful nails-on-blackboard shriek tones. The spawnlings will love them.  Models of artistically dismembered of earth-native life-forms, commemorative ray guns and other humorous nick-nacks like the ever-popular exploding Sydney Opera House.

Please leave your war-machine outside. Anything you incinerate or vaporize, consider it bought by you.

  Is your gift too big for the war-machine?  We can send it home for you by Australia Post.

(Absolutely not the door label on a famous emporium in the bustling metropolis of Whitemark (pop.170, including the dog and the ducks), Flinders Island. Which has fine products in good taste, and is run by a friend of mine, if you should want any of these. She regretfully informs me the exploding Sydney Opera House is not available. Sorry and all that.)

So, we live in interesting times. Which, I’m afraid, brings out my dubious sense of humor. You don’t have to read it.

Heaven knows how we’d cope with real Alien invasion. Maybe better…

They’ve just banned all non-essential travel here, and, to protect the public from the ravages Wuhan flu, our ever-well informed Parks and Wildlife Service just closed access to all the parks and conservation areas under their control, listing everything including the virtually inaccessible, such as Gull Island, 50 miles from the nearest human habitation, and with no easy safe landings, where, likely as not, no human has set foot for ten years. Your risks of infection are carefully assessed and of paramount importance – and carefully researched and well-thought out, as you can tell.  Much better to concentrate people into smaller areas, and keep them away from places where contact with another human is unlikely, as a technique to aid in viral spread prevention.  Sigh. When I wrote about bureaucracy as the enemy of mankind (and rats and bats – but they too are human) in THE RATS, THE BATS AND THE UGLY it was supposed to be satire. Like the Babylon Bee, who are finding today’s satire is tomorrow’s news, reality is not kind to sf writers.

Anyway, as my wife works in the surgery, and I am one of the Volunteer Ambulance Officers, I suspect not even moving to Gull island could keep me from meeting this virus. Well, what happens, happens. In the meanwhile I’m wrestling with gutters and downpipes, and trying to order plumbing supplies on a creaking delivery system (must be all the parcels from Whitemark, Flinders Island heading for Mars) and trying to write.

Like most of us, I am finding it hard, with worries about my family, about the economy, to say nothing of the news-bombardment, and the stream of e-mails and messages from bureaucrats who obviously need to be seen to do something… about something they know nothing about and can’t understand (even if it is the wrong thing) (gee, I wrote just that in PYRAMID SCHEME nearly 20 years ago.) to focus on my writing. Our PM does advise staying indoors. But also taking some exercise. But keeping social distancing (but not in remote places with no people in them, because we’ve closed those (most have no fences, visible delimitations or personnel, so I am stuffed if I know what they’re closing. But they’re closed.).

Seriously, it is time to step back. The news probably won’t help. Switch it off. The bureaucrats will keep piling on the being seen to do something in various ‘hold my beer’ efforts. But it’ll probably be something different tomorrow, so…

Read a book. Not a comfort read. Read something that you tossed aside because it managed to irritate you in the first ten pages. Persevere a little. It may well improve, in which case, a win. But it is more likely to continue with the path modern trad publishing loves so much.

And that will guarantee before you get too far, you throw the book at the wall, and say ‘I can do a lot better than this’… and prove it.

That’s a win too.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay


  1. I’m doing edits right now, mercifully, because one can edit during social distancing. And when the edits are done there are taxes. As my own tax department for two different businesses, taxes take me a lot longer than I want them to.

    I’m having trouble getting a handle on the plot of the next book, but maybe I’ll go finish a short story instead.

  2. Well, blast it.

    I was worrying about you, for what it’s worth– y’all in are not quite in the same situation as my folks and my dad’s family (Stay in the house! Yes, you haven’t seen anybody who has seen anybody who has seen anybody who isn’t from the same **** valley for three weeks, but stay in your house unless the animals will starve!)

    1. They folded. We can go fishing. Not diving, because that’s for spiny lobster, which is not food, it’s a luxury. Only it is cheaper than beef, right now. ;-/ Consistency is not their friend.

  3. I’m working both jobs from home. Day Job is . . . very very difficult for me to do well through the written word. And recording myself to broadcast . . . no, I need live feedback so I can see what’s working and what went “thud.” I miss the little social contacts of co-workers, people in shops, and other things. On the up side, I’ve lost 6 pounds from stress and not having snacks on hand like those seem to appear on a weekly basis at Day Job.

  4. Being part of fire prevention, I am considered “essential” so I am at work, eating lunch at my desk (Here I got a desk!).
    Bit tired as I ain’t sleeping well. Partly, like Sarah, more than a bit miffed, and partly dealing with a feline who is more than the usual pest. No cases here I know of, and we have a goodly transient population with a Shipyard doing Navy work.
    I often feel we are slitting out throats to stop an infected paper cut.

  5. Well, I have worked mostly from home for ten or so years now – so nothing much new for me. A little writing now, a prospective editing and formatting job for a Watercress Press client … and a couple of hours at the sewing machine, making masks to donate to the local FD and a clinic who is in crying need of them, and don’t care if they are home made.
    I have a feeling that this is rather like knitting socks for soldiers in WWI and WWII … a gesture of some use perhaps, but more for the morale of the knitters…

    1. MomRed’s doing masks. In part to keep from going stir-crazy, because she’s in the high risk, high-risk pool.

  6. It has come to strange times, to say “still working, as normal”… and it be an abnormal thing. I put as much cheerful normality forward to all my clients as I ever have, and if it takes somewhat more acting skill than it did before? It took acting skill on my bad days back when the world was normal, too.

    And some of them cling to that cheerful normality like it’s a rope thrown to a drowning man.As though a calm voice of the phone, out there, were as essential as the service I provide.

    And then I come home, and struggle a little further along on the work in progress. I don’t listen to the news, much as I can avoid, because the strum und drang they are stoking to fever pitch kills my tolerance for other tension and drama… and I need that tolerance! Because I’m getting to the final fight in the book!

    1. News you want to hear, the FDA has approved Hydroxychloroquine cocktail for use in fighting the Wuhan Flu, as it seems to have been close to 100% effective at keeping people alive.


      News you don’t want to hear, pretty much everything else on TV/radio/web. Drudge Report has become a garbage fire lately, I hardly ever look at it anymore. Also, the more I hear about the doings of the Canadian government, the more depressing it is. They act like high school students. Stupid ones.

      On the writing front, I finally started typing new words a couple of days ago. True to form its all sexy banter between characters misbehaving for a laugh, but words are words. Presently proper scenes will be getting completed.

      Sitting here with the drawbridge up at Chez Phantom, about the only thing that’s changed is I don’t go to the store for junk food anymore. -Making- proper meals the way you’re supposed to is a discipline, and for me about the only good thing to come out of this whole cluster-farce. I lost 10lbs from worry and not having chips. Stupid way to lose weight, but I’ll take it.

      1. Fluff, action, warm fuzzies, and humor are all going to be big sellers.

        Revenge too. But you have to pick something people want revenge on. Everybody who doesn’t want the revenge will probably get mad.

        1. Ah yes, sweet revenge.

          Somebody in my WIP needs a hearty conquering. Its getting near the end, and their misbehavior has included mind control, slavery and summoning demons. Due to my bass-ackwards writing method, I still don’t know who they are. But they have Korean henchmen.

          I’m thinking an undisclosed dictatorship in the Far East might be getting a visit. It was originally going to be North Korea, but since China has been so epic lately I think the Norks will just be muscle and plausible deniability.

          Some desolate coastline with a top-secret lab on it is going to have fusion-powered war machines crawling up out of the deeps and setting up camp in the parking lot. That will bee the clean-up crew. The actual assault will be… subtle.

  7. Dave said: “And that will guarantee before you get too far, you throw the book at the wall, and say ‘I can do a lot better than this’… and prove it.”

    Yep. That’s why I write now. I read something disturbingly bad back around 2012 or so, and decided if that guy’s sorry crap made it to print, I could certainly do better. So I did. Going by most of this year’s Nebula nominees, that continues to be the case.

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