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What’s In A Hero?

Yesterday was fun. I saw Mrs. Dave off to work, as I usually do, then placated the Wee Horde with flesh of beast, and imbibed the brew of the bean. As I was turning my attention to the doings of the day, however, I noticed a spot of glare in my vision. I couldn’t remember looking into any bright lights (some of you will already have guess where I’m going with this, or rather where this took me) and the morning was rather overcast. I experienced a distinct sinking feeling as the spot spread to cover a large portion of the right side of my field of vision. I had a migraine. I spent most of the day dealing with the fallout of that, rather than getting anything done. Consequently, I’m struggling to come up with anything useful or interesting for you. Read more

Portmanteau – A Guest Post

A guest post from the delightful and witty Rob Howell is always a pleasure. So let’s go play with our words along with him! What is your favorite to create after you read this? 

You might know that portmanteau is a great word, but do you know just how wondersational it really is?

In medieval French, portemanteau meant “the “court official who carried a prince’s mantle” as of about the 1540s. This is fairly easy to see. “Porte” is the imperative of porter, which means “to carry.” Hence we get porter. “Manteau” is simply mantle. Read more

A Bonfire of Vanities

As we seem to be caught up in a bonfire of vanities (in Savonarola sense rather than the Tom Wolfe novel) where anything that might lead people to ‘sin’ (in the eyes of the modern fanatic, of the new ‘religion’) must be destroyed, I’m wondering how long before they come for books, and the authors. The authors who are part of the Woke cult are already much under its sway, but that’s because the esteem of their co-religionists is so important to them, and to be ostracized from the cult is worst of possible of possible punishments. This is why ‘Requires Hate’ and her little coterie of nasty camp-followers and disciples – an irrelevant group with no influence outside their little circle of fellow believers, were able to wreck careers and lives… inside their circle. They tried on those outside… and found their accusations and demands laughed at by people who placed no value on their or their cult’s regard. So they used their power where they were powerful. Read more

But I repeat myself

A couple weeks ago, in one of those digression to the tangential comment conversations, I finally realized that my writing reflects my reading, and my reading style isn’t necessarily like other folks. I tend to pick up details on the first round, and incorporate them into building out the world and my expectations of the story.

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Tactical Romance

This is a subgenre I want to see exist, and be written more of. No, I’m not talking about how to romance a woman with tactical correctness (although there may be a hint of that) ala Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign. I’m talking about books that are about tactics first – action! Adventure! and proper trigger controls, ambush points, and E&E – and romance blooms into the story. There’s love between two practical, competent adults, with none of the lust-fueled idiocy you see so often in romance novels. Competence porn, but without the explicit sex (because frankly sex is sexier when you leave the mechanics to the reader’s imagination).

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Is telling the truth now safe only in fiction?

I was struck by the recent brouhaha over J. K. Rowling’s comments about transsexuality and female identity.  I won’t repeat all the details here, but those who didn’t follow the controversy can find the details in these articles:

J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues

J.K. Rowling slammed for defending concept of biological sex

Eddie Redmayne speaks out against JK Rowling’s trans tweets

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Rinse and Repeat

While trawling KU for something new to read, I recently picked up an urban fantasy that seemed to have a promising start. OK, it wasn’t exactly groundbreaking; an informal, totally non-precise study shows that 66.66% of contemporary urban fantasy novels begin with the (of course) magically talented protagonist fighting for her life against attacking demons / werewolves / evil whatevers. But this fight scene was well done, with flashes of humor that made me enjoy spending time with the heroine, and curious as to what came next.

Five chapters in, the action had been virtually non-stop but I was beginning to lose enthusiasm for the story.

40% in, I was beginning to think, “Meh, I’ll do another Duolingo Czech lesson before I read the next chapter.” And it’s not like I’m that fascinated by Czech. Read more

Blast from Antiquity – Overthrowing the Evil Tyrant

It’s been a bit of an insane week at work (or rather, at my desk at home, working), with the inevitable result that I am not braining right now. ‘Tis a sad fact of my existence that the more intense things are at work, the less I can brain outside work.

So, have a blast from the past that’s a bit more than 10 years old (ye dogs! It doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing this for that long, it really doesn’t) and lightly edited to clean up the nastier typos and whatnot.

Overthrowing the Evil Tyrant

And why it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.

We’ve all met them. Usually male, although the Evil Empress or Queen occasionally gets a look-in, the Evil Overlord, whether the CEO of Evil Inc. or the Emperor of the Galaxy, or a petty prince of some forgotten nation in Fantasyland, is something of a staple in science fiction and fantasy. Usually he, she or it exists mostly to be overthrown.

When you come down to it, it’s usually pretty easy. Not necessarily easy at the “toss a trinket into a volcano” level (yes, I know I’m oversimplifying. Shut up.), but there’s a big Final Battle of some description, the Evil Overlord dies, and all is happiness, sweetness and light. As often as not, the Evil Overlord is some kind of kludged-up metaphor for the hero’s journey to some kind of enlightenment (something the hordes of Tolkien-imitators usually fail to notice is that Frodo did not gain ‘enlightenment’ per se. He was irreparably wounded by the trials of his journey, and ultimately unable to remain in/on Middle Earth. There was a happy ending, but it wasn’t for him.).

So why do tyrannies in the real world last so long? Read more

Ground Control to Major Tom

A topic that comes up frequently on my radar is, how does the human race leave Earth and settle other planets? I usually bow out of these discussions because a) I have no intention of settling on another planet and b) no space colony would take me, so it’s rather a moot point.

But the subject came up yet again, and I don’t have anything better to write about today, so, let’s talk. Read more


Writing is a lot like flying a plane.  If no one you know has ever flown a plane, and the entire concept is a little hazy, but you know that birds fly and there must be a way, and therefore you assemble a plane out of duct tape and bale wire.

Needless to say most such contraptions — and novels — never work. That’s because people writing them are writing because they-once-saw-something-like-that and think they can make it work. But that is not the point right now– the point is that there are things and ways to help you make your little novel — or plane — fly. And there are others who will only ensure that any lift you get is temporary, and that you crash and can never rise again. Read more