Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FeNoWriMo: A Retrospective

So I can't write 30,000 words in a week, even if I clear my schedule.


I made over a third of that target, a longer narrative than I've ever completed before. And this is Jesse Lucas copy, just excellent stuff, you're going to love it. It will be completed and it will be completed soon, this I promise.

FeNoWriMo: Not going to make it, also, going to make it

I'll put together a post on my thoughts on this experience, but right now my wrists hurt. I'm at 11,270 words, and the plot's come together much, much better than I expected it to. This is gorgeous, this is going to be a great book, it'll probably be 25,000 words max.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Punching Vs Not Punching

 I know this isn't an original concept and I would appreciate links that talk about it.

I'm currently taking a Sabbath break from my pig-headed vaunt to finish a 30,000ish-word novella in the remaining month of February (did I specifically promise that week? I don't want to check), and so rather than an update on my writing I'm giving some comments on writing in general.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

FeNoWriMo: Saturday

I had hoped to have more by now. I suppose it's back to regular programming tomorrow, I'll try to transcribe my Sacrament meeting talk.

Goals for this week: not met.
February: not over.
Groundwork for a complete novella to be published before 3/3: laid.
Word count: 8,404.

It feels about a third done. 30,000 is a target, but I won't complain if it comes out complete at 24,000.

Friday, February 24, 2017

FeNoWriMo: Friday

I don't understand how I can have so much fun writing this but feel so burned out so often. The only way out is forward. 5,230.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

FeNoWriMo: Thursday.

3,662 and a major breakthrough on the secondary viewpoint.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017

FeNoWriMo: Monday

Viewcounts are down. That's fine. I'm gearing up to pound out an incredible number of words incredibly fast. I should have done that today. Wordcount up to 1,069. Watch for the spike.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


I will write, procure cover art for, and publish a novella of at least 30,000 words by the end of February. The stars have aligned to give me the freedom to work on that this week and next, and I have a well-developed outline. Let it be done.

Current word count: 305

There Are No Girls On The Internet

Back in 2012 I had a final project I procrastinated where I needed to film a video presentation on... I forget. Anyway I pushed it back and pushed it back and finally I checked into a hotel in south Los Angeles, filmed it, threw up, and fell asleep for fourteen hours (there were other things going on).

Here's the script.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Giant's Heart by George MacDonald

Artwork found at http://www.russitch.ru/?cid=1159
The second story in The Light Princess and Other Stories shows off MacDonald's skill in developing sympathetic yet evil villains. It's shorter than the others, and wastes no time in sending our two child protagonists into a child-eating giant's house. Watch MacDonald show us how the giant justifies himself:
To be sure he did eat little children, but only very little ones; and if ever it crossed his mind that it was wrong to do so, he always said to himself that he wore whiter stockings on Sunday than any other giant in all Giantland.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Child of Record Baptisms, North Las Vegas, June 2010

The meetinghouse was packed on a Saturday morning. Every child of record in the North Las Vegas Stake was there to be baptized, with their families and extended families and primary teachers and primary presidents and for one little girl the missionaries who had taught her, which was how I learned of this strange custom.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reprint: John W. Campbell, Traditional Values

The following article was written by Mr. Campbell for the February 1970 issue of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact just over a year before his death. His forceful personality and reductionist editorial style had long since divided and conquered SF; the Golden Age was long passed, New Wave was ascendant, and the cinematic pulp revival spawned by Star Wars was years away. Campbell here comments on the ill-planned destruction of tradition.

Traditional Values
an editorial by John W. Campbell

Any fundamentally sound idea can be carried too far and become a fanaticism - and the essence of any fanaticism is, simply, that there is Only One Right Way and We've Got It.

Even the objective physical scientist can get suckered on that one - because while his field of study may be objective and physical, he remains a human being whose mental nature is inherently subjective. As a scientist who bases his thinking on careful laboratory experiments - a sound method that has yielded immense and reliable benefits - he displays his human tendency to fanaticism by holding that only laboratory evidence is sound data. That something which cannot be confirmed by repeatable experiments in a laboratory is not usable information.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017



I have seen visions.

The reductionist perspective, so helpful in seeking the mechanisms by which God effects change in our lives, would ask me: "Could those not have been mere hallucinations, not revelations from God but misfirings of neurons, drawing together vision and meaning and carving them into your fleshy tablets?"

Of course I'm sure they weren't hallucinations. They were daydreams. From time to time, and mostly years apart, an image cycles into my mind that resonates there, one that I cannot keep myself from contemplating. It will draw on available material from my imagination and memory and share traits with dreams and hallucinations, in that not only sensory data but semantics are encoded in it; a flash of enlightenment, you could say.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game is our Great American Novel. The American story is most definitely science fiction, and it's fitting that a story of a gifted, stunted child describe us, a prodigy among the nations, old while young, spoiled by victory, a product of a great industrial machine that paradoxically regresses mankind to our basest, most animalistic emotions. It's understandable that such a work is so widely read, and so widely read intentionally. For many people, it's the only book they've read on their own.

I recently reread the three sequels, properly a trilogy in themselves, though lacking important context without Ender's Game. I found them to be breathtaking examples of one of our greatest storytellers acting in his prime, and I'm going to attempt to share with you some of my thoughts and emotions about them, in this and following posts. I will assume familiarity with the novels and their plot twists.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday School: "What is the role of agency in learning the gospel?"

I taught the third February lesson from Come, Follow Me today. Seven kids showed up, we kept a decent focus through our class time, and we were able to cover the driving question pretty decently while touching on a few other relevant topics.

Notes on Alma 34

Alma 34. :9 hardened, fallen, lost,all things that fruit can be. Fallen = ripe before our time. Tough fruit. It takes a lot to put fruit back on the vine. How to avoid Catholic toppery? Infinite, eternal. It must fill the definition of sacrifice in every way for every thing. Follow the metaphor of vines. Much is sacrificed for the good of the vine. Branches are cut off, other life is fed to the roots. All of that is not enough to return fallen fruit to the vine. Of course this is impossible, not available in the terms we have used to describe it.

:11 Even if a man wished to take his brother's place on the gallows, the law could not properly choose to take that life, not if it were just. If the life were taken, justice would not be fulfilled. The law would still thirst for the murderer's blood, and we would be out an innocent man. Therefore

:12 Someone needs to stack-overflow the law. Jam the law with atonement. But justice doesn't want atonement. Justice is content. It's math, open-shut. There's no room for atonement. Somehow the wires are crossed, justice's mouth filled forever. Now our sins are in Christ's hands. Speculation: Christ's atonement applies to terrestrial realms, and if we follow him to celestial realms without being first cleansed then justice catches up with us. Not true, could be worked on.

:13-14 The law itself was written with an atonement in mind. It doesn't want your brother's life, but there is a place for the life of the lawgiver. Christ doesn't fight justice, he is justice, he is the law. He was all along. He condemns us for not following it. His atonement fulfills his own terms. He is ultimately the creditor as well as the mediator.

:17 Exercising faith is granted by God. Face value: assumption that the state of righteousness in all is declared from God. Alternative: Hope that God will still allow circumstances that enable you to seek faith, rather than turn you into an object lesson.

Commandments to pray. Linked with atonement. It is by crying unto the Lord that we apply for mercy. As we cry unto the Lord we begin to be/convince ourselves to be/show that we have become converted.

:29 The enemy of charity is forgetfulness.

:35 The gardener can reattach fallen vines, because he is the gardener. If we have not made good fruit, why should he? That would be stupid. Perhaps the hardened, fallen fruit caused a separation. If the gardener notices good remaining in us we can find a place on the vine again.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Short Fiction: I Do All My Own Stunts

We called him Lucky. He was our thirteenth. He was the last of the first batch cloned when our Prime was five years old and a successful child actor. He still walked with a limp from jumping off a building, but he had only retired as a stuntman after a close call with a rifle blank left a facial scar the doctors couldn't hide.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kansas run, February 2014

This event was exactly three years ago today, and I composed the following at that time. The weather is, ironically, abnormally mild in most of the Lower Midwest right now.

    I left at ten minutes to three. I savored the quiet of the night and drove off, stopped for gas and prayed on the road. It was quiet till Parsons, when the snow began to fall faster, turning the semis into muddy comets, throwing slush on my windshield when I got too close. I pulled into a gas station and found one window cleaner with a puddle of cleaner. I passed a snowplow thinking, "I wonder where he's going." As I drove west I composed stories in an old style about the wonders of our civilization, where a man could go a thousand miles in a night but was very careful not to get too close to other travelers.

    The lines on the road grew dim. If a car passed the other way we had a sort of communication, an ad-hoc lane. For a while the highway expanded to a four-lane, with the snow on the left lane completely untouched. I pulled into that lane and felt the joy of first tracks, tapping my brakes to watch the cloud billowing behind me. Convoys of slow-moving vehicles would pass me eastbound. I saw a light ahead, as if a locomotive were stopped sideways on the highway, and as it stayed the same size as I traveled I discovered that it was a semi, and I followed it for a long time. Its lights were goblin faces through the comet's tail. I was in no hurry, and I was grateful for my traveling companion, ensuring that a lane was formed that I could be safe in. As light returned to the sky and I grew tired I noticed that ahead of the semi was a snowplow, which I had been following the whole time, and its snow plume and blade made curious reflections in the light of the semi.
I approached a rest stop around seven, at a most convenient time, and through the haze I found a parking spot, bundled up, read from the book of Jacob, and lay down in my reclined drivers' seat. I awoke to coldness and a white marble.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

In Praise of Hypocrisy

Cognitive dissonance doesn't get enough credit. Why would our minds have the ability to believe contradictory things? That's certainly not how we train our robots. The ideal is to believe in no contradictory things, to never contradict yourself in speech, to shun hypocrisy. In practice, hypocrisy and contradiction are everywhere. I've seen this explained as an evolutionary priority to decisions being made and a sense of rightness being felt, no matter the truth of it, which leaves us as stunted, truthless beings. I'm going to argue the opposite.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We Don't Need Haruhi S3

We understand that the most basic needs of a story are a beginning, a middle, and an end, and we teach that to children. A child's story is a rambling stream of consciousness, referencing details only known to them. Why, for a species so dependent on storytelling, is it not more natural? We don't have as much trouble teaching children to understand stories. It's not like parents have to translate what they tell their children into child-style stories.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Light Princess

The Light Princess is much shorter than The Day Boy and the Night Girl, and more whimsical in tone than it or the other two stories it's anthologized with. MacDonald takes up the ironic tone common to Victorian fairy-tale parodists of the time, eyes rolling as he tells you that of course everybody knew about fairy-tale rules but this sort of thing happens anyway.

This princess is cursed by a jilted aunt, also referred to as a princess (reminding you that princess status does not equate to goodness) to be unaffected by gravity. MacDonald's science fiction credentials are shown here, as well, as he works through the consequences of this anomaly. The princess is weightless, and does all the fun things we see astronauts doing in space, but not only is her body disconnected from all weight, in good MacDonald fashion so is her heart.

The princess can't take anything seriously. She's never sad, but she's never truly happy - her laughter lacks inertia. This is shown as a terrible disability, much worse than simple weightlessness, and there is a delightful cameo from a pair of Chinese philosophers attempting to help her father fix this. The princess is not massless, though, as she finds by accident that while submerged in the lake by the castle her weight returns, and she is able to think heavy thoughts.

Then she falls in love with a prince, and her wicked aunt gets even more wicked, and we reach a denoument that's all the heavier for the flighty, drifting introduction. Highly recommended.

This story was my introduction to MacDonald and seems as good a place as any to start with him.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Short Fiction: Native-born

The merchant was short and red-faced, with thick brown hair combed back in an unruly tangle. He was in the process of unhitching a tarp-covered trailer from a minivan as she approached. She put out her hand. "Jenny Siddiqui, special inspector."

He looked around, set the trailer's neck back on the van's hitch, and shook her hand. "Thomas Martin, Sony UK," he said, in a subdued American accent. He returned to the trailer and turned it. On the other side of the van an old man was attaching a trailer pull to a mule's harness. She had her badge out, but the two men were concentrating on getting the trailer attached.

The old man sighed in relief as he straightened up, and patted the mule's neck. "Now I want 'er to be a mule when I'm back," he told Martin. The merchant chuckled. "Key's on the dash," he said. The old man tugged a forelock to Jenny as he passed, with a hand cracked and wrinkled like the hills themselves. She followed him with her eyes as he drove off.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Limhi (Mosiah 7-22)

Let me tell you about Limhi, an ordinary man.

Here's a king's son, raised in the hollow courts of decadent Noah, in a degenerate colony three generations removed from their mother faith. He knew about his father's wickedness, his crimes and heresies, but just men don't get to choose if they love their fathers. When his father gave the command to evacuate Nephi, Limhi followed.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sahara Boulevard, Spring 2010

Some days we worked our way up to Naked City. If we had dinner on the west side, we might stop in at a name nearby; occasionally we had dinner there. It had a bad reputation, which of course its residents were proud of that if only for the notoriety. The neighborhood felt somehow more sad than the rest of Parkdale, which I don't think was entirely my imagination. Street contacts were more rare and less fruitful. Above it all the Stratosphere towered, a needled tower like some kind of space ship, with a mirrored hotel at its base that dramatically reflected any clouds in the sky.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Elbow Room

Stop Me If You've Heard This One


It is the future, and Earth, humanity's home, is lost. Perhaps it was a disaster, an asteroid, solar flare, alien invasion; perhaps we used up all of our Resources and found none nearby, or were unkind to tropical forests, or used the wrong kind of spray can. Regardless, the remnants of humanity wander the universe, ever seeking for a new home - a new Earth.

We're wasting our energy making fun of go-go boots, gung-ho space captains and robots with vibrato voices. This is the dumbest, most dated artifact of primitive science fiction, and it needs to go.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Norby The Mixed-Up Robot

It's not like I ignored books that didn't have pictures in them, it's just that I went for the pictures first. And Boys' Life had pictures. I preferred the psychedelic art of Tom Eaton (Pedro the Mailburro, Dink & Duff, Webelos Woody) to the more realistic (and hilariously melodramatic) True Stories of Scouts in Action, but the gems were the comic books. My first encounters with the Odyssey, Treasure Island, and more came from the simplified, abridged versions in that magazine. Images from these comics share space in my memory with those from the Castle of Doctor Brain video game and Dunc and Amos short novels, a nostalgic place that doesn't make much sense but looks striking.

I recently discovered that the entire archive of Boys' Life through 2012 has been made available through Google Books, and so of course I've been tearing through it, again going straight for the pictures.
"Norby the Mixed-up Robot" was written by Isaac and Janet Asimov, with perfectly serviceable art by Ernie Colon. The "and" really shows. Apparently Isaac mostly had his name attached for publicity. The story takes place over eighteen chapters in seventeen months, each chapter only one page except for the double-page first issue. Jeff Fargo is a whiz kid who can hack into the Academy computers to find homework help but he's not smart enough to actually learn the subjects.

Seven Traits of the Pulp Revolution

In response to some misconceptions circling about the Pulp Revolution, I've taken it upon myself to write a few comments on the movement.

Disclaimer: This is my own perspective on the Pulp Revolution. Others with greater claim to the hashtag may have differing opinions.

1. Pulp Revolution is not New Pulp
They're doing their own thing. That's fine. We're not trying to claim their authors, style, or successes. At a basic level, New Pulp focuses primarily on the aesthetics of early 20th-century pulp magazines, while Pulp Revolution seeks to imitate the themes. I won't say more about New Pulp because I'm not trying to define them. I just want it clear that we're separate movements with separate goals and very little member overlap.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Day Boy and the Night Girl

I don't like how unknown George MacDonald is today. I wish I could have had his books on hand growing up, that I could have grown up with them. His writing is packed tight with detail and personality, equally skilled at carrying me through lush, detailed dreamscapes and searing my heart with short sentences.

I can understand why he's not widely read. He's difficult, truly challenging, strangely exhausting. I still don't have my head wrapped around the Golden Key, and I'm sure I'm still missing things about The Day Boy and The Night Girl, which review follows.