Before I begin, I wanted to call attention to the Book Launch scheduled at BookPeople (Austin, TX) on August 11, 7pm. Hopefully, I'll see y'all there if you're in town. Okay. On to the snippet. Today, I think we'll go with a bit of something from Nels's point of view.
Today is an important date in the United States. It's the date Americans celebrate the process that made slavery unconstitutional and illegal throughout the nation. However, as it turns out June 19, 1866 isn't the exact date of the emancipation proclamation (that was September of 1862--four years before) nor is it the date that the 13th Amendment was ratified (that was Jan. 31, 1865). June 19th is the date that Texans were ordered to comply with the law. The delay was, in part, due to the civil war. It wasn't an instant change either. (For more information, see What is Juneteenth?) I confess, today is the first time I've ever looked up the details. That, my friend, isn't a good thing. [sigh]
Today's videos: I wanted to learn about comic book heroes who happen to be black women. So, I've subscribed to this podcast. (Yeah, I'm late to the party per usual.) I recommend it.
And now... links.
So... Grenfell Tower (London.) I'm horrified, but not surprised. My hope is that no more residents die and that the survivors get whatever they need in order to recover both medically and financially. My hope is that the owners of the building who opted to save 2 pounds per square foot (I understand that's about £5,000 total) by not using regulation fire proof materials during the recent remodel are prosecuted and sued. They chose to risk murdering people in order to save £2 per square foot. The fact that the people at risk were poor was most definitely a factor.
This is why regulations are important. It's why regulations must be enforced. Business must comply. Cutting financial corners until they squeak is not something that should be encouraged. It isn't admirable. Combine a miserly perspective with the "Free Market" and it results in disaster. It isn't good business. In fact, such thinking kills economic growth dead. Business grows via investing.
Greed is a killer. Humanity has known this for quite some time.
Americans shouldn't breathe any sighs of relief. More stories like this one are in our future because the austerity mindset is at work here too. It's being used as an excuse to cut government programs, lay-off government workers, and gut what few advances we've been able to make in healthcare. Our infrastructure is crumbling as a result. When healthcare is cut, people will most certainly die. Largely, the entire GOP platform is about racism right now. They don't care who they hurt as long as they tear down everything Obama did. They don't care about anything else. Straight up. That's their motivation: racism. It isn't really about doing what their constituents want or saving government money. It's that they can't stand that a black man became president and did a brilliant job. It's why they can't seem to put any energy toward building--only destroying.
We're definitely living in an era which will usher in positive changes. Eventually. My hope is that those positive changes come sooner rather than later. May we all learn the lessons we're here to learn, faster. Please. Because so many people are being harmed. Too many.
 You've heard of the Seven Deadly Sins, right? How about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire? Businesses can and do kill their customers and employees, given the opportunity.
I have officially learned how to add files to my website. This means that I've uploaded my work samples for you, Dear Reader, to enjoy. (Or not. But hopefully yes. :)) So, the first chapter of Blackthorne can be found in the sidebar--freshly edited, unlike that in the back of the paperback of Cold Iron. Yeah, yeah. Blackthorne changed a lot over the time it took to write it. It happens.
Now, for those of you who've been with me for the long haul...I've a surprise today. That is, a fresh new snippet from Blackthorne. This time, from Suvi's perspective. So, have this scene--where Suvi meets her spymaster, James Slate, for the first time. Oh, also, SPOILER ALERT if you haven't read Cold Iron.
I have to fan girl squee for a moment. ANGELA BASSETT IS GOING TO BE IN A COMIC BOOK MOVIE! YES! (She's playing Ramonda--ick, I hope they don't go with that back story. The above image is of Shuri, T'Challa's sister. And I love her already.) There's a lot to celebrate when it comes to Black Panther. Just in case you are one of the few people who didn't see the trailer, here you go.
"...and it's hard for a good man to be king." I love that. Wow. It gives me chills. I've seriously enjoyed watching the reactions from people of color. (see also) It makes me cry--particularly on the heels of Wonder Woman. Because I can relate. And I'm thrilled to death that another group not usually represented in comics gets to feel that same joy of being invited to the party. Joy shared is joy doubled, y'all. Even though after Iron Fist I kept running across people who say they're getting Super Hero Movie fatigue. I suspect the issue is more specific. (I know I've gotten white dude super hero fatigue.) Most genres seem to start out with the white dudes. And as that story-mine is tapped out, writers begin to explore outside that narrow mindset. A certain set of writers get more creative. Every time this happens there is a rebirth, and the genre is richer for it. People who don't stick around for the second act, disturb me--I'll be honest. They're only there for the standard stuff. They end up only supporting the white male stories. So, have fatigue if you wish, but you're going to miss out on the best the genre has to offer. And...well...I might give you some side-eye, depending upon your attitude.
And now for the rest of Feminist Monday. :)
Some friends, Dane, and I get together every once in a while to drink, nibble cheese, talk, and play "new to us" music at one another. This is a thing I've been doing for at least 20+ years. One of my best friends, Thad, used to be a professional DJ, and I'm certain that this is a factor. Each of us loves music and each of us has favorite genres we like to explore. There's a great deal of wonderful music out there. And there's no way any of us will hear it all. But we can try. :) Anyway, over the years it's evolved into kind of a game. Each of us brings a selection of songs--usually 20-40, knowing perfectly well that we won't play them all. These songs are either new favorites recently discovered, or old favorites we want to revisit via Thad's Monster Sound System From Hell™. Understand, we've no idea what the others will bring. (Dane hides his list from me and I, mine, from him.) Everyone takes a turn playing a song off their list. The trick is to respond to the previous song by matching it either tonally or rhythmically kind of like a DJ would. If you can stump Thad (that is, bring a song and/or introduce him to a group he's never heard of before) you get bonus points as is were. (His music library is VAST.) You "win" the evening. Sometimes, you get stuck and you've nothing that matches the previous selection. That's when we playfully curse and play something totally different. Thus, starting the chain over. It's a lot of fun. And none of it is done with a malicious attitude. This is honestly about sharing our favorite kinds of music with one another. (Much the same way one would do with books.) Every time we introduce someone new to the "game" they're justifiably nervous. It can be a bit intimidating. But inevitably they have a great time because...well...we know a lot of amazing people. That said, here's most of Friday's track list behind the cut. (We went from 8pm-3:45am.) Enjoy!
Here's the link: Star Trek: Discovery and the Clueless. I hope you enjoy it!
August is swiftly approaching. So, I thought I'd give you some snippets from my new novel, Blackthorne, once a week. The second novel has extra-added points of view--not merely Suvi and Nels--because Eledore kind of isn't any longer. (There's so much more going on than the fall of Eledore--kind of the definition of Epic, really.) There is more of Dylan and the Waterborne in this one. Therefore, the following bit is from Dylan's perspective. It's also much longer than I normally post.
Good morning, y'all. And since there might be one or two of you who don't already know this... I saw Wonder Woman on Saturday.
I've said this before: I'm not a Wonder Woman fan of old. I'm not. So, it says a lot that I am now a new convert specifically because of this film. A great deal has been said about the film: How 'Wonder Woman' Tackles the Superhero Movie's Greatest Foe: Sexism, 'Wonder Woman' Shatters Records With $200+ Million Worldwide Opening, The Triumph of ‘Wonder Woman’, How a First Nations First World War hero from Alberta helped Eugene Brave Rock find his character in blockbuster, Wonder Woman. Thank the gods, most of it is good. My favorite scenes involved the island of Themyscira (the first part of the film had zero men in it and I could've sat through two hours of story on that island alone--hell, they wiped out a group of soldiers with arrows, shields, horses, and swords!) and the bit where Diana takes a stroll through No Man's Land. I bawled as I watched her plow her way through clouds of bullets, bent behind her shield and striving to move forward anyway. She is all of us women (and those who identify as women) in that moment. The world of men is throwing everything they can at her to stop her. The men behind her who supposedly support and care for her are nowhere to be found. She's alone. And she's fucking standing in a land they've blasted to pieces--not only that, she's making forward progress and most of the men behind her aren't even witnessing it. Now, read HOW WONDER WOMAN’S NO MAN’S LAND TELLS A RADICAL STORY ABOUT TRUST. Yep. That. Another reason I adored the film is that she never once gave up her femininity--unlike most of the female heroes in SF. She's vulnerable and empathetic. She stops to coo over a baby. All these things and she never once stops being a warrior. I adored that. In any case, none of this AMAZING has educated the sexists. (see How not to review ‘Wonder Woman’.) That is, of course, not a surprise.
Good gods, it's June already. Wow. Am feeling pretty great this morning. The timing is perfect. I've a lot of work to do. Blackthorne comes out in August! That's just a couple months away. I kind of suck at the promotion thing. (Bad, I know.) So, bear with me as I go into book promotion gear.
I'm excited about this one. It combines some elements of SF with the Epic Fantasy--specifically one of my favorite science subjects: genetics. As it happens, I got my love of SF (and genetics) via a novel about a JFK clone. I studied it in college/university and even wanted to be a geneticist. Unfortunately, I had a rather terrible Human Anatomy and Physiology professor, flunked it, and well...that killed that idea. I'm still fascinated by genetics. In fact, one of my favorite films is Gattaca.
The idea of wedding SF with Epic Fantasy came to me when I read The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. If you haven't read it, do. Yes, I know it's YA. However if you ask me, it's one of the most under-rated novels ever written. Semi-based on true events, it's about a slave who is used in an small pox vaccine experiment by a group of naturalists. I also have read a great deal of True Crime--specifically, serial killers. They are one of the well-documented sources of what realistic evil looks like, after all. In this case, it caused me to do further research. You see, most of the time in Epic Fantasy we see a great deal of Evil with a capital E. That is, obvious evil. Everything is firmly delineated. These are the Good Guys and these are the Bad Guys. I wanted to do something a little different. So, one of the characters is based upon a Soviet serial killer: Andrei Chikatilo. One of the most fascinating aspects of the case is the fact that the Soviets insisted there could not be a serial killer outside of a capitalist country. It was seen as a capitalist problem. Thus, state denial of reality added to the body count as it often does. In case you're curious, there's an excellent film about the case called Citizen X. It's Hollywood-ed up a bit, admittedly, and it plays fast and loose with certain facts. But it's a fun film.
 Sadly, there is a distinct lack of POCs in that film. (Except for the genetics doctor.) In a way, it works because the people are like the setting: sterile, steel-like, and white. But still...no. On the other hand, if broadly implemented eugenics were a thing, racists would be all about a strictly white population. Wouldn't they?
 Pox parties did exist. And the novel is extremely well researched. I'm not sure that scientists secretly tested vaccines on slaves, but honestly, that isn't a small leap of logic there. Medical science has done similar things in more modern times. See the Tuskegee Study and Loretta Lacks. And that's just the two that are famous/infamous. I've no doubt that there are more. See ‘Explosive’ Growth in Foreign Drug Testing Raises Ethical Questions.
 See the state-created famines in the Ukraine during Chikatilo's childhood. In spite of what you might discover via an internet search, this isn't the first instance of a state-created famine. The UK created The Great Famine in Ireland using the same exact method. [sarcasm font] Odd that it got the same result. Ah, colonialism. Ain't it grand? [sarcasm font end]
 Am I thinking of Climate Change Denial right now? Fuck yes, I am.
 Russians going on about how wonderful the US's FBI is might be one of those instances. [innocent whistle]
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.