Friday, February 12, 2016

Smoldering.

Yeah, it has been that kind of day.

Watch the fuck out.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tryin'

Run, Run Rudolph.
by
James Robert Smith.



If you can't be immortal

Be famous.

If fame is denied you

Be notorious.

Failing that

Become an asshole.

Just a nice guy?

Don't get

involved in

the race.




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More Southern Dialect

Sometimes within the context of a story or novel I prefer to write a character's dialogue in dialect. In the old days this was often done with lots of hyphens and apostrophes. If you've read much of H.P. Lovecraft's work then you will have encountered this type of dialect written into his fiction. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this method of illustrating dialect kind of sucks. There are generally so many little marks and squiggles in the form of those previously mentioned apostrophes and hyphens that it seems as though what you are trying to read is hieroglyphics rather than English letters.

I try to avoid that method for transferring dialect to the published page.

For years I would work in some apostrophes, avoid hyphens, and then just use phonetics to translate the sounds. The first few editors to whom I submitted did not seem keen on this tactic and they tried to school me on writing dialect. Most of the time their advice was for me to just cut it the heck out and forget about dialect.

Yeah. Well. Fuck them.

Sometimes dialect is really hard to convey. The types of dialect I try to use in my work are the types of dialect I encounter in my life--mainly various southern dialects. One kind that is really hard to show on the page is one that I hear when I'm dealing with people who live in the lower foothills of Appalachia. Yeah, that's right. There are actually variations of the dialects of the mountain-speak one hears in the higher mountains. I suppose these are people who either went no farther than the upper edge of the Piedmont and were influenced by folk from lower elevations, or they are people from the Piedmont whose speech patterns have been altered due to relatively recent contact with those moon-shine makin' butt-fuckers from the mountains. Either way, it's a funny dialect that is so unique that I find myself wanting to use it in my fiction.

But damned if it is very easy to do. These people tend to make two syllables out of one-syllable words. Simple words like "and" become "AY-and". While "pan"turns into "PAY-an". Or "bit" is pronounced "BEE-yit". If you try to write anything like that within a line of dialog you are going to run into a Jupiter-sized world of trouble. So the best way to get the idea across is the all-knowing narrator to mention the facts of life of the speech patterns one or two times so that the reader gets it locked into their mind's ear, or to have one of the other characters think to themselves how the speaker of this dialect enunciates their words.

However, for sheer effectiveness, the best method I see is to write stretches of dialect phonetically with no goddamned apostrophes, hyphens, or commas that muck it all up so that the lines end up looking like something Jackson Pollock dribbled onto the page.

I had almost gotten it right a few times when I combined phonetics with apostrophes. My mistake was in allowing the apostrophes at all. The idea first hit me when an old friend of mine from Atlanta was showing me a batch of Civil War letters he had purchased in a collection. These were genuine Civil War letters written by a Confederate soldier to his family back home. In those days a lot of people were only mildly educated unless they could afford advanced schooling. What you ended up with were men and women who had a rough understanding of the written word but not the finer details. In those cases those people wrote phonetically. I'll give you an example from one of the actual letters I was allowed to read. It concerned the outcome of a horrible battle in which the soldier had been involved, and I will quote him exactly as he wrote the line.

"They was considerbel many killt today."


Now...we all know what he meant. What an educated man would have written was: "There were considerable many killed today."

And his letter went on and on in this way. Words like "Yalls" for "your", etc.

When I read this letter I knew how I'd write dialect from then on. The first story I wrote after that was set in the 1870s and was created using snippets of letters from a man in Colorado written to his parents in Tennessee, along with scenes of action and dialog between his compatriots. All dialog was written just as they would have said it--in phonetics. I did not use hyphens or apostrophes to butcher the written words as the characters were slicing and dicing the English language. The reactions I got from editors were less kind than my other methods--they all seemed to prefer Master Lovecraft's manner of conveying dialect.

Some years later I encountered the work of writers like Cormac McCarthy and Harry Crews who were penning critically acclaimed fiction using just such a technique as I had envisioned. This felt good and I knew I had been right all along, and that the editors I'd encountered who had complained were full of shit.

Or SHE it, if you will.

This here is a house I encountered one day in 2008 when I was hiking to the top of a mountain in western North Carolina. Why is it here? Because the South, goddammit. This is an area where you can hear some really amazing, kick-ass dialects, while at the same time seeing some tremendous scenery where ol' Mother Nature works overtime. (On a side note, I have never wanted to own a house so much as I did when I set eyes upon this one. I stood at the edge of the fence and took photos and didn't approach any closer because southerners know not to encroach on private property--it just ain't done. But I would have bought this house instantly if it had been for sale and I'd had the money to complete the purchase. It remains the most ideal home in the most perfect of spots I have ever seen--at the edge of field and forest, just below the summit of an impressive mountaintop.)

This video has nothing whatsoever to do with my blog. I do listen to this guy's videos on YouTube from time to time because he talks often of camping and woodcraft. Also, I love the guy's dialect and try to think of how to translate it to the written page.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Rick Grimes. The Real Rick Grimes.

Imagine you have spent years and years honing your craft and building a career in the graphic arts. You write strange stories and create unique and disturbing images that are singular. No one else in the world does this type of thing and couldn't really duplicate it if they wanted to.

Then one day you discover that the name you were born with and by which your work is identified has been absorbed by a fictional character. Anyone searching for you on the Internet or typing it into Google or any other Internet search engine finds endless links and notations for a man who doesn't even exist. And yet...there you are. Such is your fate.

I first encountered the work of Rick Grimes back in the 90s when Stephen R Bissette noticed my own stories and decided to publish some of them in his legendary comics horror anthology TABOO. Grabbing issues of TABOO as it appeared I was always delighted to see material from Grimes. How does one describe the work? One cannot. How can I explain its effect on me? I've found that this is impossible. Usually all I could do when recommending his comics was to tell people about it, how to find it, and point them in the right direction.

Reading a Rick Grimes comic is not like anything else. Nothing I'd encountered in that format before, or since, has even the remotest resemblance. The best of the underground comics artists who dwelt in drug-fueled madness might have done something mildly similar on their best days--but not really. You have to see it to believe it and to...take it in. (I wanted to say 'enjoy', but that's not really appropriate.)

And so...here is the artist whose singular work is being buried by the Internet robot stacking images and words from a fake person on top of a real one. This is a wrong that must be righted. To add my name to the fight, I give you Rick Grimes. The real Rick Grimes. The one who writes and illustrates some of the most thought-provoking and unique and (yes) disturbing comic stories that I have ever seen.

He deserves to be a hell of a lot more famous than that fake thing. Last month I convinced Rick Grimes to create a "self-interview". That is, he made up the questions that he wished people would ask him if he were being interviewed for publication. So here we are.




self interview for James Robert Smith     mid January 2016


James Robert Smith has kindly invited me, Rick Grimes, to a reflective interview. Familiar with the territory, I quickly agreed to irresponsibly duplicate myself. We met at dusk, in an undisclosed location...

Rick Grimes: It's so good to meet you at last.

Rick Grimes: I think we've passed each other often at the Piggly Wiggly.

Rick Grimes: What are the top five questions you most expect to be asked?

Rick Grimes: How much money do you make? Who the f@#% are you? If you're so great, why don't you do more so I've heard of you? And you call yourself a cartoonist? Will you get out of my way?

Rick: For those new to your art, what would you recommend they take a look at first? 

Grimes: The home page of my website for starters. It may look like there's no art there at first, because of the header menu, but there are some excerpted panels, with live link titles, of some of the stories I'm proudest of that will be a good lead in to my 'bestest' stuff.

There are scores of pages there, many full stories. You just have to browse around. You have to.
Everything is there, background and so forth. There's not a lot of room or reason to repeat all that here. Frankly, I don't have it in me anymore to restate it all anywhere else. Most all one needs to know, Grimeswise, is there. Probably too much. If I'd've been better left a mystery, it's too late now to rebottle that genie.

The Puzz Fundles is possibly what I'm best known for, from what others have said to me, on Facebook or whatnot. They have their own section now. All those pages are there in full, the initial six (from Rick Veitch's The One). And some teasers to others not yet published.

My more disturbing stories, mostly beginning with my contributions to Taboo complete on the website, are accounted for almost to the present. (I'm in the process of catching up on the news posts).
I was heading in a completely different direction at the time, the early '80s, than horrors, toward benign, overimagined, confuddling character displays . There are a few examples of those.
Many odds and ends even I can't remember. You've got to root around there awhile. A lot of my output, old and new, is hard to obtain, or problematic. The site is meant to remedy that.  

Weird Dick & The Professor was what I had thought I'd be known for by now. But, their story is vast, made of many parts that could arbitrarily go here or there, so it's been an odyssey I'm still on. Check them out, tho'. You'll see more of them some day. Real pages do exist no one has seen yet.

For those that weary of all the blah blah, I have an art blog. I don't post on it much anymore, because the following was always limited. But there's no text there besides an occasional image title. It's linked in the Blogs (List) section.



Rick: How or whereabouts do you place yourself amongst horror artists or writers? It would seem, for good or ill,  that you--your disturbing material, that is, occupies a side niche neither comics nor literature nor film ever touch upon. You seem to conjoin things that don't belong together commonly, then experience a certain amount of obscurity because of it.

Grimes: Yeah, so it would seem. First off, I really don't suffer much scores of other oddballs aren't also experiencing from society one way or another. So, i don't mean to play 'poor me'. I can also be a very half hearted, lazy person with no knack for self promotion; and when I do work it's like lining little planets up inside to get it out right. All of which has served me in great stead (whatever that is) over the decades: I'm blummablupp years old, fundamentally unemployable, and less known now than before if that's possible. Someday, in the Other World, I'll probably find it all quite hilarious. Or maybe not.

The fact is, I probably don't belong amongst such vaunted company anyway. I never intended to become a horror artist of any sort. I enjoy the various things available. But, I was never going to imitate any of it especially, or try to carve out a place for me amongst it. My real creative roots are in animal cartoons and crime or monster movies. Obscure character actors, and TV/film comedy, if it's oddball funny.

When the Taboo anthology presented itself, I took the notion at its catchword and tried to think of whatever I could that would bother people. I do have an impudent aspect to me, and an excess of self loathing I've wrestled with, so it wasn't that hard to accesss such territory. Merely a step to the side. 
Veering as I was from a wearing out of other creative areas at the time, it helped me to invent negative stories.

In fact, for every one that was published I invented at least a half dozen others that never got done, if they were ever even begun. I was almost compulsively frustrated at finding one good enuff, that is, nasty enuff in the right ways that friend Bissette would like it, and actually pay me for it, justifiably, with no regrets. Their peculiarities were a bonus, a necessary 'evil', or 'collateral damage' if you like, from having come through my brain.

Once I got each one done, I was and am like a kid showing it to my mom or sister or someone: 'Here it is! Why don't you get it right away?' It's like it's all become, by then, self evident propositions to me. And I'm ever after surprised it's not as clear to everyone else as I think it is. The plight of the artist. Ha.

As to all the elements themselves in the stories that are disturbing or off putting, they probably all should be. I don't indulge in a lot of evil activities myself. Or any activities. Horror fiction isn't a recommendation of how to live. If anything it's the opposite.

I'm proud if I disrupted anyone enough that they saw something as awful they hadn't even thought of yet. But not if they took it as advice on how to live. There are even particular ideas I will never do, such as forms of suicide, that I just don't want to be responsible for someone imitating.

I went for obscure zones and notions to amuse myself and stimulate myself enough to do the things to completion. The stories that got in the books are the ones I could finish.

All of the oddity and unfamiliarity of it to readers is greatly because people don't use their imaginations quite enough. They haven't happened to put themselves in such mental places before.

There are many further glaring details of revolting occurrences and so forth we'd all rather not involve ourselves in or ask to have expanded upon. My stuff only hints at them. Real mayhem is beyond good people's ability to tolerate. I dare say there are many artists out there who even gross me out. Which is fine, if it keeps them from murdering somebody.

What people get up to in real life can be even worse. I hardly think my little outings should be equated to anything truly vile. Often they include some redemptive aspect, as well. Honest. I don't always know offhand where it is.

My inking style is very weakwatered compared to many others. I don't even use heavy shading. Nothing gothic about it at all really.

I do have to cop to the stories coping with loads of my own variety of tangled and twiddled pain and fear. How can I deny the obvious? I'm a garden variety, American neurotic.

But comics have so much more potential than many artists are getting out of it. I want to do as much crazy crap as I can before I've croaked to get somebody to see what they, too, could try.  

To finish my answer here, if anyone is interested in more such stories from me there are a number of them linked to and written about on the website in the Stories sections. Not so many full on reposts, but in most cases you can still find where to look for them. And read about why I did them.

I don't want it to seem it all ends with Taboo. There are a lot of such things I did afterwards and may yet do from my various notes. But I still don't fully accept the mantle of 'horror artist'. Maybe a horrible one.

Mostly, tho I sound otherwise going on about it, such stuff isn't meant to be taken too seriously. If I make anybody feel anything, when we're all fighting Death dumbness every day of our lives on Earth, i guess that's a plus. So they say.

Rick: Why do you think some people find your work so hard to understand?

Grimes: I could tell you've been aching to ask me that one. Ya got me. I like to think I speak English;
that I at least have the one language. But comics is another language.
It rather amazed me when Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics came out. It'd not occurred to me there was that specific a need for a remedial breakdown for non readers. There were always people that 'didn't get it'. But I hadn't really thought of breaking comics elements down that way, nor of anyone needing such hospice. I always just took comics reading as a natural act, like breathing and eating and et ceterae.

Consequently, I've apparently been more than negligent about breaking myself into enough 'bite sized minis' to rightly serve human inanity. My most humble apologies.
Perhaps what I do really is worthless. Maybe people are right to avoid it. Chicken scratches to no purpose. Yet I stagger on.

I create with an audience/single reader (really myself) in mind. I think I'm being clear. But I have an innate love of overcomplication, especially if it's to a humorous or 'artsy' end. If it's both at once, so much the better, says I. Life can be so dull without it.

I'm not always out to trip people up. I want to be understood. Contrary to the ambience of some of my more disturbing stories, I am a mere human, putting my pants on three legs at a time.
Even relatively accessible, for a hermit. Not a black ops agent poisoning the family Jiffy Pop. 

I also like to think people have minds they can still understand things with, without always being told how Sally shot Sue. Tho' I know that's too much to expect in the United States these days.

Rick: What's missing from other areas of our so called culture that you find in those who love comics as the Art it always has been?

Grimes: Patience, curiosity, and egalitarianism. Even if someone's comics are offensive, more or less on first sight, I still look for other things to like or even love about 'em. Anyone else could apply the same notion to that and other facets of life.

There are a million nuances just in the output of one artist. For the 'Great Unwashed' that don't care or never learned to read comics to go on ignoring such a now vast landscape of hills, vales, mountains, and swamps of creative worlds is a crime.

Not like boiling babies. But it's an aesthetic self-deprivation, and is sort of sad to me.

Even the most famous comics artist of any agreed upon merit is likely still essentially ignored beyond a certain 'impressive' number of readers. The entire population of comics lovers is still more finite than we all like to believe. Not only am I on the fringes, the entire enterprise of comic art creation is, and apparently ever  destined to be marginalized by mass 'culture' and 'history' as well. No matter how much money is made off some of us. Or what publishers and popular comic artists may tell themselves at fan shows.

But, on the other hand, you can't really envision a world where everyone everywhere does everything everyone else does. Unless it's unhappily marching in lockstep and hating contrived enemies on cue.
And comics creators may bicker amongst themselves more than most; and childishly so, about their likes, dislikes, and misunderstood intentions.

Assuming openmindedness is there, tho', the rest of the 'art' world could learn a lot from embracing us more, and shedding their colo$$al preten$iousne$$. Maybe we're better off without them.

Rick: Have you ever tried much simpler work? Like comic strips?

Grimes: Well, the newspapers are in deplorable shape, and probably deservingly overall. But the comics in them would be better served appearing on snack wrappers in vending machines. The old guys I loved as a kid that were still around, like Gould and Kelly, would spin out of their swivel chairs if they saw it. They'd be doing their own comic books, (assuming they weren't 150 years old). 

Pardon me, "graphic novels".

I couldn't fit in that world. I'm too pokey for one thing. Back in the early '80s i tried a real (Sunday only) strip, and what did I do but pack it with the same densities as ever, knowing it was never really likely to fly with any publisher. I've tried reductive experiments at certain points in my past. What you wind up losing of yourself trying to be 'more marketable' isn't really worth it. It feels like when you smile at someone you don't like.

I am hopelessly obtuse to read, I'm afraid, even at smaller scales and doses. So, tho I have a number of nice starts on boiled down ideas, none of it is anything that should or will ever become a 'mission to change' to, beyond my initial self-censoring folly. They can exist as curious relics of my self doubt.
Besides, I'm very good at self sabotage. What my subconscious knows my ego has no business doing will inevitably be subverted one way or another so 'we' don't have to really do it. Apart from the intrusion on my vain plans, that can be a good thing, returning me to my real nature so I don't waste yet more time in fields I don't belong in. I eventually go right back to the more ponderous stuff I was doing before.

I'll never out-Bushmiller Bushmiller. Readers will just have to make more than a cursory pass. If my style is immediately off putting, take a few beats and give it a chance. Get past the quavering lines. It's not all made for passing glances. You don't have to read it on the bus to work.
And if you absolutely can't handle it, there's always Snuffy Smith.

Rick: What sort of writing do you do?

Grimes: To start with, it reminds me of that boring old flippity-do question Larry King used to ask a
million times that he thought was clever, like: "Are you a cartoonist who writes, or a writer who cartoons?" (Tho' he'd proabably say draw-er). I'll always be a cartoonist first, who likes to play around with writing.

It's also a good 'out' if I do it too badly. 'Hey, I'm just a cartoonist farting around. Have mercy.'
I love words, and admire all sorts of things, but don't aspire to write banal, plotted fiction. I really don't give a toss for plots. The idea of having to write how Pfinster put his shoes on one at a time and spoke to his friend on the phone about toast crumbs just to get him out the door to a set of time-regulated, instructive disasters, bridged and padded with yet more interstitial mediocrity, makes me cringe. I'd rather just write about the crumbs, or the shoes.

I must add here, I don't mind if someone else can do it, fine. There are novelists I like that play it 'by the book'.

Maybe I'm just not as good at that; still stuck in grade school mode. Sour grapes, an' all that. You will see me trying some of it sometimes.

As the guy shouts in W.C.Fields' It's a Gift, "MORE POWER TO YA!!", if you can do it.

But, even in comics I can't fathom how people can do endless panels with next to nothing but ordinary moments happening in them. Or just draw humans as we see them and as we live ourselves every day. I can see why they might be after some noble point. But, you can draw, and you're just going to do humans? At least make them goony looking. Or freakish.

I have scads of characters ambling about for my comics stories. They generally live in places and do
things already. But I don't have to verbally set them up as much as one would have to do in a conventional novel. And I use up most of any desire for standard plotting on them.
So, I'm left with little interest in writing 'normally'. Instead, I'm much more of an experimenter.
I've used found words a lot, and have my own method for using the English parts of foreign language dictionaries.

Or redacting pages of lousy books until they're broken down into reusable components I can then make into original phrases. I always favor nouns and adjectives, as they're the most there visually. People barely know what an adverb is anymore.

Some works are just long lists of such things. Even any characters that emerge may be treated as things in such lists. Some I'll go back and rewrite, in further combinations, keeping all the variations to make a whole longer and longer. It's all imagism. Surrealist, if others think so; I'd love to be placed belatedly amongst such.

I don't care for all the in between claptrap. There's enough people in every generation already doing that. It will go on forever.

Rick: There are some examples on your website...

Grimes: Some of those are converted dreams. I try not dare to use the word poem too much, 'cause I know there are still a few sticklers out there who just hate it when people like me that know or remember nothing about formal poetry call their random blatts >poems< . But there's no other good word for 'em.

I like the idea of 'sudden fiction', too. Those limited stories that are nothing more than one or a few sentences. But, that's not always the right term either, and they likewise don't really have an agreed upon name. Microliterature. Whatever.

Some of the other older ones on the site so far are from the mid '80s. I had so many cartoon project ideas by then that a few I would just sort of 'give up on' and allow to be text only. Or years later I'll go back, and, realizing I have no visual memory anymore what the notes originally were as comic images, rework them into words alone.

Anyhow it's fun. I have some projects from way back that aspire to appear as novels, but even they are really like collages. Gatherings of image flashes nesting under a sort of story theme. I rather love (and fear) the idea of making someone slog through it all, baffled as to where the plot is. And stubbornly waiting for something to 'happen'.

Many such things will never make it onto the site because they're not only too long already, they're also not done yet. I used to 'start anew' alot. I get bored with a game once I know how it works. A couple are actually finished. But not typed up.

Rick: What have you been doing lately, creatively?

Grimes: I've got a Puzz Fundles comic going! All new material. Two of the stories, eighteen pages, are done!

I'd like to steer myself back more to such humor work as I know I'm best at that. Tho there are still those various uncompleted projects of the darker sort from my past I could wind up doing over coming years, so it may not always seem like funny's what I'm doing.
Sometimes what can reach the public next isn't exactly what you'd prefer. Or where you're at anymore.

I'm probably going to run off a mixed bag comic myself. Just a limited number to give away to friends.

With maybe an extra they can pass along to someone I don't know. I'm going to print them off at home, so I don't really have all I need to do it yet, and some of the pages aren't done.

Like most things, it will undoubtedly take me longer than I think it should. This is not the same project as the Puzz comic.

The new website is about 95% complete now. A few things have been delayed, of reposting the old pages.

There's a New Stuff page, for handy reference in the 'Walk' About heading, where you can also read the why of the old site's demise. [Eternal thanks again to Ryan Heslin, the original instigator, for everything thus related].

Rick: Seeing as how you're still presumably obscure to most, is there anything else you'd like people to know about yourself?

Grimes: Actually I'm learning to count my lucky stars that I never became one. When I was a teenager, or perhaps even younger, I just wanted that rush I got seeing the art I loved to be true of
mine. Then your deprived ego takes off with that during your early adulthood and you forget what you're doing it for. You have to deliberately remind yourself that adulation is not only fleeting, it hasn't much at all to do with the slow pains of making something complete, in this heavy material world.

I want to count myself blessed to be well enough to do anything. And reach the few I can while staying a conundrum. It seems inevitable anyhow, so I'm resigning myself to it.

Once I'm gone, no one will know what I was much anyway, except throo my work. Just think how little we really know about some cartoonists of the now far past. If it wasn't for the internet, we wouldn't even be getting to do this. No one would ask.

Rick: Are you surprised by the endurance of any other artist's characters still around today?

Grimes: Other than repeatedly forgetting The Simpsons is still on the air, I can't believe that
Kramdenesque wad of mucus is still waylaying people in the store aisles. (I wouldn't talk to him). He even has a family. I couldn't recall the expectorant(?) by name. I seldom listen to a word the ads say.
Here's an amusing blog post, by some ad guy, that's seven years old already and the green blob was well established by then... Mr. Mucinex. He's also in magazine ads. It sort of irked me to see one of those in a doctor's waiting room.

It's all pretty ridiculous, really. What offends me more than he does is that if one of us fringe comics artists had come up with something like that, there'd be nowhere mainstream to even go with it. 

Except maybe Adult Swim. And it's a very trifling way of crossing a line.

But drug company ads have a notoriously immoral lunacy to them. So nobody cares.
The funny thing is, if they were simply some other color, and not green, he and his snotty relatives could appear any place cartoons could go. Toys and spin offs would abound.

Rick: Have there ever been any toys made of your characters?

Grimes: Not really. Larry Loc gave me an awesome plastic figure of Weird Dick he hand made once. Unfortunately I didn't have it for long.

A set of Puzz Fundles would be dodgy: Thripey's hair points would be eye hazards in a fight; a Malloon would get lost all the time; and Meemo's heads would break off. We can dream, tho'.

Rick: Thanks. It's been cloud-partingly awesome. So to speak.

Grimes: You're not as bad as some have said yourself.                            

--Jan, '016

'Our' website is Walk A Mile In My Eyes at Grimes Comics

Excerpt panels and self interview Copyright 2016 Rick Grimes. 



Monday, February 08, 2016

Up and Running.

THE CLAN serialized novel is up and running at the Channillo website. When all chapters and bonus story have been added enjoy over 90,000 words of fiction. Suspense, Intrigue. Cryptozoology. Join the surviving characters who were introduced in THE FLOCK on their newest adventure!

THE CLAN. Available now in serialized format at Channillo!

The Game Sucked for Panthers Fans

Short blog today. We went to see Faye, my mother-in-law yesterday for her birthday, (her 84th!). Our intention was also to watch the Super Bowl game. Now, under normal circumstances neither my wife nor I am in the least bit interested in the Super Bowl. But this year the local team (Carolina Panthers) represents the NFC, so we figured we'd watch. However, the Panthers were playing so poorly that we left to head back home shortly before half-time. And Carole's mom was really tired after the birthday celebration anyway.

Don't forget...the serialization of my novel THE CLAN is available at Channillo. You can grab subscribe at this website.

Carole decked out in her Panther stuff. Dig that crazy hat!

I got a hat.

Happy 84th, Faye!


Sunday, February 07, 2016

THE CLAN: Answered Questions I'm Getting from Fans.

To answer the questions many keep asking, here are the details for THE CLAN being serialized at Chanillio:

I will be adding a few chapters per day. The entire novel will be up by February 28. On the 29th I add a 5500-word bonus short story pertinent to the novel.

http://channillo.com/series/the-clan/

THE CLAN, by James Robert Smith.

Dystopia and Apocalypse

A lot of science fiction writers and science fiction fans complain that both the science fiction field and fantasy field is mired in dystopian and apocalyptic books and stories. And they're right. One rarely sees a great forward-thinking novel of light and progress in either genre these days. The industry seems to be led by viruses and invasive species and reanimated dead and planet-ending disasters on a solar scale.

Gone are the days of the future as viewed through rose-tinted glasses where humans move beyond the bounds of our own planetary system and branch out into the cosmos to explore and make contact with other space-faring species. These days when there's a book about going into deep space, it's to fend off an alien invasion and grapple in a struggle that means the very end of existence of Homo sapiens.

And the epic stories of people in fantastic worlds questing across green mountains and verdant fields full of elves and dragons and fairies to find magic or treasure or love (or all three): those are dead and gone. These days it's another fight to the finish with the heroes toe-to-toe with the vilest of things, ready to take them down or see all of civilization drown in its own blood.

What happened?

Well...what I think happened is that we actually are living in at least a dystopia if not actually an apocalypse. And we might already be in the midst of that final death-affirming collapse.

Look around. What's selling in the world of fantastic and speculative fiction? People being eaten alive by animated corpses. Tales of magic and steel drenched in gore and the worst kind of fatalism with no chance of redemption or salvation. Worlds at war with one another over fertile turf with the winner getting the spoils and the losers finding species-wide oblivion. Publishers abound with Fascist tales of racist gun porn--that shit sells. Brother, does it sell!

And why is this? What's going on? Why are so many trapped so completely in these worlds of total death without so much as a glimmer of gold or life or happiness?

Again: we actually are living in something akin to what the religious call the end times. It's just not the end times their silly holy books claimed would come to us. The reality is something worse. Our planet's atmosphere is on fire around us. You can deny it, but you'd be the worst and lowest of idiots to do so. The seas are being poisoned and spoiled and almost daily vomit up immeasurable tons of their dead in the form of fish kills and whale beachings and vast tides of crimson death. Humans fell all of the forests and kill all of the wild animals and pollute all of the rivers and lakes. We even carve down the mountains and toss their bones into the valleys to bury the waterways.

We have raped Mother Earth and frankly--to paraphrase those addled street preachers of old--the end is fucking near.

People deny it. No one likes to acknowledge their own mortality. Especially if they brought it down on their own heads through the worst forms of waste and debauchery. But that's what we've done and that's where we are. And it's coming out in our popular art: films and television and books.

We go without any winters now. The mountains rarely know snow. Droughts expand and rivers dry up and the aquifers retreat to the point of no return as our fellows on this globe, the animals who have been with us for all of these many thousands of years, lie down and die before us.

Yeah. We did it and we know it's coming. We might not want to admit that we did it and that we brought it on ourselves...but we did. Our subconscious is talking to us.

So keep buying your guns. They won't do you any good unless you want to kill yourself or commit murder with them. Read your zombie novels. Those will reinforce your distrust of your neighbors and further inflame your racist madness. Dream of weapons in space, because humans aren't going on deep space journeys anymore. We made out little jaunts around Luna and that's over; that's as close as we'll ever get. So stay glued to your TV and let the propagandists tell you which nations to hate  and which religions to despise and prepare your children for war and send them off as cannon fodder. That's not going to change--we'll keep on doing that right up till the end. That crap won't stop until we've all gone down with the ship.

They say drowning is actually okay after that initial panic.

We'll find out, I reckon.

I actually liked this apocalyptic nightmare of a novel. Because this guy got it right, I think. He spelled it out pretty much the way I think it's going to go down. Not in a flash of atomic fire or because of a giant asteroid doing the smack-down. We're going to merely drown in the ecological equivalent of the pool of shit we have created.




Saturday, February 06, 2016

New Content

I'll be adding new content to the serialization of THE CLAN every day until the series is presented complete here.


THE CLAN serialization at Channillo.