Major Hodgson Donation Announced!

william hope hodgson

WHH Jane Frank has just confirmed that she and her husband are making a major donation of William Hope Hodgson material!  The donation consists of the Franks’ WHH archive of original typescripts, offprints, correspondence, photographs and ephemera (formerly known as the Sam Moskowitz collection).

It is being donated to the University of California, Riverside, where it will become part of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the UC Riverside Libraries’  Special Collections & University Archives.  A formal announcement will be forthcoming from UC Riverside.

A special reception and panel discussion about Hodgson is planned to commemorate this event and will be held on April 16, 2014, at the Library.

In her email to me regarding the donation, Jane stated that it had always been their intention to donate the material to a college or university and that one of their primary goals when buying the collection at the…

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GoodReads

Bad Reads

Well Amazon finally screwed the pooch with GoodReads.  I said this would happen as soon as Amazon acquired GR.  Blow hards like David Gaughran who were probably already getting kickbacks from Amazon provided Amazon apologetics but I could see through the hypocrisy.

What happened?  Well last Friday, as most of the GR staff were probably hitting the freeway, GR announced a new censorship policy.  They would now delete reviews completely, without warning or notice, that were prejudicial towards authors when they felt the author comments from the reviewer were not relevant to the book review at hand or just plain hostile to the author.  At the same time they said they would start deleting user book shelves where they deemed the shelf title or shelf contents also violated this policy, say if I had a shelf which was called “worthless authors who’s books I will never buy or read.”  They will delete these completely without notice.  Oh, and if you admit you couldn’t finish the book because it was so bad, they’ll delete that review too.  You have to finish the book now to post a review that won’t get “removed.”

They provided all this information strictly through a group thread, no real announcement to anyone and had already started deleting content without warning.  The Friday “bad news” drop is a typical ploy used by government and corporations so nobody has to deal with it, it in theory has no effect or a dampened effect by Monday.  Amazon, er, I mean GoodReads employed the same sleazy tactic.

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When Evil Corporations Take Over

This entire fiasco comes out of the fact that instead of being an independent entity like GR used to be it is now essentially a division of Amazon a bookseller.  Smell something fishy in Denmark?  Do I see a conflict of interest?

Another factor was the whiny GR authors, many of whom never published anything worthwhile (GR is flooded with mainly worthless self-published authors as well as a few good ones).  These authors whined about being attacked and unfairly treated.  The fact that GR is now a division of a bookseller leads them to try to protect authors, delete negative reviews, negative book shelves, etc.  I assume the next shoe will be deleting one-star reviews from the ratings.  Who is unfairly treated now?

What can you do?  Well there are already fledgling sites like BookLikes that offer a level of competition.  In addition there is still LibraryThing.   You can export all your GR content (including all the reviews) to a .csv file that can be read into MS-Excel and usually transferred to the alternate biblio-social networks like BL and LT.

No AmazonBoycott GoodReads and Amazon.  There are alternatives to buy books from, even a lot of Kindle content can be purchased directly from publishers.  Go to an independent bookseller.  Barnes and Noble needs the money anyway if you want to see a viable alternative to Amazon in the future.

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The Horror, The Horror

Another serious one so just go away now…  Besides I already put it up at BookLikes so it’s kind of old news.  Really no reason for you to stick around.

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I’m a huge fan of horror fiction, all kinds.  I do tend to favor the more esoteric sorts of fare that don’t really have a concrete and neat conclusion, but not always.  I can appreciate a good thriller full of monsters, haunted houses, creeps from beyond the grave, space aliens.  I have to admit I’m kind of tired of the big three though:  zombies, vampires, and werewolves.  I’m also a little snobby and avoid the Dean Koontz, Preston Child, and Bentley Little fare.  I like a well written, as in higher literary aspirations, as well as a creepy, eerie, or weird story.  I will just read a suspenseful monster fest for fun however.

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H.P. Lovecraft

Horror is another one of those shamed genres like Romance, Westerns, Crime, SciFi, and Thrillers.  For some unknown reason Mysteries seem to somewhat escape this literary pariah status.  No matter how well written and thoughtful a horror novel is it will be shunned by the true literati (= snobs).  The only novels that escape this fate are those that are written by writers that are already considered literary writers and not classed with the genre outcasts.  Therefore a Colson Whitehead can write a post-apocalyptic zombie book and the literati will accept it as “experimental.”  BS flows nonetheless, such novels are sure to be overrated within the genre because of their literary cachet.  Thus Gravity’s Rainbow, as much a genre novel as anything, is classed literature, while Misery, every bit a literary novel, is not.

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Monster Fest – Robert McCammon’s Stinger

Wherefore does this nonsense arise, I ask?  Partly it is reliance on the short story in the horror genre.  The short story is actually the lifeblood of the horror genre and it has always been the red headed stepchild of what is considered true literature once the novel became the dominant fiction literary form.  Short stories are almost a literary genre unto themselves, treated as a sort of sub-literature or novelty for short attention spans.  This persists even though snob rags like The New Yorker have printed stories and novellas as high brow fiction for decades.  They get away with this by pretending the writers of these shorter bits are really serious novelists just moonlighting in shorter magazine fare.

CoyeNow that we’ve disposed of this bit of silliness, what is left?  Well I think the shunned status is partly also caused by horror being about unreality that largely doesn’t conform to a defined “art” category like surrealism say.  “Literature” is supposed to be about real or possible things.  This obviously is not always true, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, and Franz Kafka are again notable exceptions.

However I think the main reason horror literature is snubbed is because these fears that we entertain are formed in early childhood and somehow intellectuals think we should be largely beyond these things as adults.  To enjoy, or maybe I should say, savor and ponder these symbols and subjects is considered a sign that we haven’t grown up.  After all grownups don’t believe in ghosts, monsters, aliens, or haunted houses.  The fact that these can be deep seated symbols worth considering is dismissed.

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Pickman’s Ghoul – H.P. Lovecraft

Many horror writers and fans attempt to artificially jump out of the genre by referring to it as “dark fiction” as scifi tried to unsuccessfully re-brand itself as speculative fiction in the ’60s and ’70s.  I’m from Chicago and I believe you should call a spade a spade; used cars are not pre-owned cars.  Like Bentley Little, if a horror writer tries to tell me he/she is a dark fiction writer bad things will result.  Horror fans who want to be called dark fiction fans have an inferiority complex when it comes to their “literature” brethren but this doesn’t justify painting over the genre label.  Get used to it, you are a horror fiction fan and certain types aren’t going to want to discuss your reading list whatever you brand it.

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Thomas Tessier’s Remorseless: Tales of Cruelty

Labels are useful things.  They help us to define and choose what we want.  They provide a convenient place in say a bookstore to filter what we want to look at.  If all books were filed together the shopping experience in a used bookstore would be infinitely more difficult.  Dark fiction isn’t an accepted genre, so filing said books in with regular fiction is silly no matter how inferior the writer/fan feels for having to shamefully go to the horror section, even for a literary masterpiece.  There is little purpose beyond snobbishness for shucking the horror label.

The horror, the horror.

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(Un)Employed

wordsI know that last blog entry about the word thing sucked bad. Talk about bottom of the barrel. I almost deleted it but I figure someday long after I’m gone these little gems are going to bring me the fame and recognition of greatness I never had in life and it would be a shame if even the Dminus efforts were not included in my ephemera and marginalia, seeing that they are still certainly better than most of the hot air out there today.

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Retirement

Let’s talk today about unemployment or as I like to refer to it: “coincidental early retirement.” I think the government should shift towards using this term and let the “unemployment” defined rate gradually fade to near zero. Everyone in our free and classless society would be pleased by this. Think about it, if the government would just assume that no one over 65 wanted to work anyway (drop them from the “unemployed”) and assume that anyone who has exhausted their benefits are just lazy and shiftless and wouldn’t work at any job no matter what, now we have the retired (over 65) and the early retired (the lazy and shiftless) off the unemployment statistics. If we go one step further and assume the disabled are going to forever be unable to work, then there you have another big chunk out of the “pie of idlers” as I like to call it.

UnemploymentOffice_Forwardstl_FlickrNow before we…, Whoa you over there, don’t get up out of that chair while I’m talking and don’t you dare heckle me. I’ll come right over there and smack you. Before we go any further, to avoid any misunderstanding here, I myself am currently in a temporary bout of “coincidental early retirement.” So there. Now sit back down and shut up. You know what happens when you assume…

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Where was I, oh yeah, like most things in the media, business, or government, we haven’t made any real changes to the physical world here. It’s all a matter of perspective (= spin). We’ve now got our new unemployment rate down way low, near zero (Somebody is going to start talking inflation now so we may have to add something back into our statistic. There’s always a pessimist around.). Voila! Everyone feels better. Okay maybe not everyone but a lot of people. Those that don’t feel better are just going to not really care and that doesn’t count. These are mostly the lazy and shiftless that I mentioned above and nobody listens to them anyway and most don’t vote. So now I’ve proven that either people don’t care or they are way happier about our new unemployment statistic now so on average (and remember 50% of people are always going to be above average!) I think we can agree that the day is just a little sunnier now. What’s so bad about feelin’ good? Isn’t that what we yearn for most in life, feelin’ good? If you can do it without moving anything, so much the better. Why work so hard (see the “Dminus Principle”)? Anyway I’m doing all the heavy lifting here so just pay attention.

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Here come the naysayers. I’ve got my usual on target answers for them. The first thing that is going to be said is it is “different” than what we do today. I say: “Is what we’re doing today working, huh?” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I say: New Way, New Result, because what we have now obviously isn’t working. Second, the economists and statisticians are going to say that the new stat is going to skew things or under report the real situation. This is maybe the worst argument ever. The current old unemployment stat we use is a made up number too, I’m just offering a clearly better pretend number. A more optimistic made up number. Remember: perspective = spin.

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c = speed of light

Third unemployment statistics aren’t like physical constants like Avogadro’s Number or pi or the speed of light, they are just made up numbers by people to measure some thing in some way with a certain perspective (remember: spin). Why shouldn’t we use new ways of calculating statistics that put our current situation in a better, more optimistic light? I say change it again if circumstances change. Remember nothing has changed in the universe except a lot of people are a whole lot happier and the rest (the ones that don’t matter anyway) are just the same as they were before; net gain. Economists will squawk from both sides but when were economists ever right and therefore why would anyone pay any attention to them? When was the last time a tax cut “trickled down” to you or a tax hike created any jobs that the lazy and shiftless defined above would take? Huh? Never! QED!

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The other thing to remember in all this is even as the old unemployment statistic creeps down most of these jobs being taken are much lower paying than the ones people had before the crash. Most former auto workers in America are now slingin’ hash and they both count as employed but the latter just barely. Most former rice slingers in China are now making autos. But why rain on the parade? The new unemployment number takes care of all that. It is virtually unaffected by the quality of the jobs that the few outside of Wall Street work at. How better to measure a half-empty statistic?

I can see that some of you are still not on board with me.  How about this:  let’s measure the employment rate instead of unemployment rate.  Now we can crow about our 93% employment rate instead of pity-partying about the 7% unemployment rate and we haven’t even played the numbers game.  How ’bout dat?  I bet if you showed somebody a picture with 93 guys in it then showed them one with 100 guys in it they wouldn’t be able to tell which was which.  They sure would be able to tell the difference between 7 and zero.  Real life is the same.  Perspective and spin.  Is your day getting any better yet?

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The last argument will be that other countries don’t measure it that way. What? When did we ever worry about what foreigners, especially ones that don’t live here, think? Why would we behave like these lesser lights that we have to bail out globally like a drunk every New Year’s Eve? Remember WWI, WWII, Vietnam (France), Falklands (Great Britain), Kossovo, (remember that film Behind Enemy Lines with nutcase Owen Wilson as that downed NATO pilot) not to mention keeping their oil safe for them in the Middle East. We can measure unemployment any way we want. Besides when other countries see how low our unemployment is they’ll want to measure their’s the same better American way like they always do with things.

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Full Employment Pot ‘o’ Gold

I still apologize for that last post about words. It was really awful. I had a sort of writer’s block thing going on, but now the meds are starting to work. Hopefully this post will make up for it.

Hijacked

One thing that pisses me off is words that have been hijacked and/or rendered unusable by the ignorant politically correct crowd. These are perfectly good words that you might find in early 20th century or 19th century literature but have somehow been hijacked or otherwise consigned to the scrap heap of literature.

Hijacked Words:
Queer: queer used to denote odd, strange, or eerie. Somewhere along the way it was purloined to mean a homosexual, usually male. To use queer now in a sentence where the object is a person is to be perpetually misunderstood.

Gay: A gay person used to be a happy soul. The “gay” community stole the word to mean a homosexual of either gender but usually male. I hate particularly that this word was hijacked because it always was a useful synonym. To use gay in its original sense in a phrase is to almost always invite misunderstanding now.

Faggot: A faggot is a bundle of sticks period, as in “There’s a faggot in the woodpile.” to denote a thing out of place. I still use this word in its original sense just to piss people off.

Dike: an obvious hijack from its original meaning of a dam or seawall of some sort, as in: “Did you hear the one about the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the seawall to stop the flood? No but there’s nothing I like better than a good dike story.” He, he, he.

Tit: a tit is a bird. A teat is a mammary gland. ‘Nuff said.

To “come” is to arrive or journey to somewhere with a purpose, not an orgasm. I love to use this in a double entendre sense as well.

Corn hole: Where did the prurient sense of “corn hole” come from? It doesn’t make any sense. Corn hole is a bean bag game, like bean bag toss.

Words pc idiots have taken out of general usage since the stupid have misconstrued their real meaning:

Denigrate, to belittle. The obvious misunderstanding I attribute to the flaws in our education system.

Probably the worst misunderstood word in the English language is “niggardly.” It means miserly and always did. It was never applied in a racial sense, never. Again I blame the school system and the fact that even most teachers don’t read anything anymore. I have even heard of kids being chastised for its use, where in fact they should have been praised for their upscale vocabulary.

And finally, words that are just misused, gambit for gamut, could for couldn’t etc. These are just too countless to really go into.

Finally, a “safe deposit box” is an armored container in a vault. I’m not sure what a “safety deposit box” is, maybe some sort of container you put safety items in for a rainy day like ropes, reflectors, and flares. Look it up.