OK, Cupid, What Are You Trying to Say?

A couple years ago, I created an account on OK Cupid just to check it out. I've never really done anything with it, but every once in a while I'll get bored and check it out, see what sort of women the system recommends I meet. When I checked last spring, the site identified a really bizarre hippie woman (as in she identifies herself as a "feline sapien" and has pictures of herself licking grass) as someone I should go out with -- I don't just mean she was my top match, but the system singled her out and said I should totally send her a message -- and in fact, she ended up sending me message soon thereafter. Now, I like crazy women, probably more than is healthy, but even by my standards "feline sapien" is too kooky. But even ignoring that, there was another problem in her profile -- you see, she's married. Her profile says it's an open, polyamorous relationship, but y'know, that's just not my thing. Good luck and all, hope it works for you, but I have no desire to be named in the divorce suit if it falls apart.

Flash forward to this week when I check out the site again, and what do I find -- a recommendation for yet another hippie chick who had rated my profile four-stars. And once again, she's in an open, polyamorous marriage.

Apparently there's a check-box somewhere that I didn't click that will limit my matches to actually single women. But leaving that aside, what does it say about me that a dating website thinks I should hook up with married women, and that the married women agree?

Hey, It's My Blog, I'll Use It for All the Shameless Self-Promotion I Want

Another new short story is up, "The Testament of Lady Silvie," in which I retell Cinderella from the POV of the kinda bitchy but not really wicked step-mother. Once again free on Smashwords and $.99 on Amazon..

Here's the cover:

I found the image on Shutterstock and knew it was perfect for the story. Unfortunately the red and gold patterning and the dark shading on the dress makes it damn near impossible to put the title on the image -- the only colors that didn't blend in to the picture clashed horribly. White was the only thing that worked, and that made the cover look cheap. Putting the title sideways in a black band is the best fix I could come up with. It works pretty well, I think -- the text is pretty small on thumbnail images, but the model stands out.

And the story's only been on Smashwords for twelve hours and it already has two five-star reviews, so I got that goin' for me, which is nice. ("False Colored Eyes" also has a five-star review.)


Gape at My Amazing Psychic Powers

On a certain webforum that I frequent, there are some foolhardy individuals who post asking advice about their love lives. Why they do this, no one knows -- it never ends well. About half the people in the forum respond with good advice -- which usually amounts to, "Dump her. Dump her now, then take off and nuke the site from orbit" -- while the other half offer suggestions that, if followed, would end with the original poster in jail. The OP usually ignores all advice and ends up being dumped in favor of an ex-con five days after paying the girl's rent and buying her a new laptop (that is not a made up hypothetical).

Recently, one of these threads took a truly spectacular turn. Back in December, a poster named mhg83 met a girl while waiting for a commuter train. He saw her on the platform. She smiled at him. He went over to talk to her. She ended up giving him a handjob right then and there. He got her number and asked her on a date.

After reading this story, several people responded, "You know she has a penis, right?" A couple weeks later, we got a followup in which he confirmed, she did indeed have a dick. But mhg83 was down with this and soon enough he had a new girlfriend.

Artist's recreation based upon one of mgh83's postsArtist's recreation based upon one of mhg83's posts

On New Years Day I posted in response to his story:

I dunno. A girl who hangs around train stations waiting to give hand jobs and god knows what else to random Republicans -- what are they teaching in gym these days? Three months from now, we'll be diagnosing what STD he caught.

One month, 25 days later, mhg83 posts a new thread entitled, "YASTDT: Diagnose Me":

So I'm at the gym today getting my workout in when i get a text from my gf:

"I have a question do u have an std'i noticed something on your palves on sunday? It did not look like a rash."

Okay what the hell is palves??? she has yet to respond when i asked why the fuck she didn't say something on Sunday and waited this long?! imo waiting five days of not telling me is a sign of guilt!

So i looked and the only thing i see is three red spots in the middle between my belly and penis. I have no irritation in the area but i'm still gonna get it checked out to be on the safe side.

So diagnose me otter. What do i have?

There's nothing wrong with dating trannies, as long as they aren't the sort who cruise public transit.

Suck it, bitches. I'm a veritable Nostradamus, just like my great-uncle Bill who was a psychic for the Natioanal Enquirer.


Our Musical Savior Is Come!

So Rufus Wainwright and Lorca Cohen just announced the birth of a baby girl. (Yeah, I'm scratching my head over that one.) So the kid is not only the son of Rufus, but the grandson of Loudon Wainwright III and Leonard Cohen. If Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sean Lennon would get together and have a son, we could breed the Kwisatz Haderach of music in another generation.


Buy My Book! Buy My Book!

For the past few months I've been reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog posts on the future of publishing. Recently she's taken the view that new writers should put their efforts into self-publishing and then see if they can get a good print deal once they've established themselves. So, what the hell. I'm currently polishing off some of my short stories and putting them online.

I just published my second ebook, "False Colored Eyes," one of my stories written in frustration at the lack of fantasy that isn't set in some European expy. Instead, it's set in a Persian expy (with a few Ottoman elements) and shows why harems aren't as fun as we'd like to imagine. I like it in general, though I think the style doesn't match the setting. You can read it free on Smashwords, or buy it for $.99 on Amazon.

Here's the cover:

Purty, eh? Yeah, I wish I'd found a way to get rid of the moon, and the stem of the "y" is too dark, but not bad for someone who'd never used the Gimp before last week.

(What's that? Oh, yes, I did say "False Colored Eyes" was my second ebook. What was the first? Well, I've heard that "erotica" is the easiest way to make money with ebooks. So far I'm not seeing it, but the piece I put up is pretty short. I'm trying to come up with something in the 40k word range to see if that does better. And no, I'm not going to provide the link, pervert. :-P )


A Sad Day for Quantum Leap Fans Everywhere

The Cabal (TINC) has announced plans to shut down a slew of abandoned newsgroups, mostly obsolete comp.* groups -- comp.sys.amiga.networking, comp.sys.apple2.gno, comp.unix.pc-clone.16bit -- but they're shuttering a few rec.* hierarchy too --,,

They're all dead groups, but it's kinda sad to see the lights starting to go out on Usenet. Luckily is still a going concern -- as long as there's pervy animal porn on the Internet, Usenet will live on.

The Apex Book of World SF

The Apex Book of World SF is a mixed bag. It has a good variety of authors -- much better than the old World Treasury of Science Fiction, which had a heavy emphasis on Anglophone authors -- but many of the stories fall flat. However, the best stories -- The Bird Catcher, Wizard World, and Into the Night -- make up for the duds.

(Note: The ebook doesn't contain Compartments by Zoran Zivkovic)

S.P. Somtow - The Bird Catcher *****: A young boy in post-War Thailand befriends a serial killer. There's nothing SFnal about this story -- if anything, I'd compare it to Peter Straub's writing in the late '80s and early '90s, particularly Houses Without Doors -- which makes it an odd choice to lead off the book, though the quality of Somtow's writing make up for that.

Jetse de Vries - Transcendence Express *: You ever have that experience after finishing an anthology where you look at the table of contents, and there's one story that you know you must've read, but you have absolutely no memory of it? This is it.

Guy Hasson - The Levantine Experiments ***: Evil scientists with undefined goals keep children isolated in featureless white rooms. One day one of the girls in the experiment notices a crack in the wall of her chamber, which both terrifies and fascinates her. Conceptually this is an interesting story, but the execution is flawed. The little girl is strangely uncurious before the crack appears -- supplies are delivered to her room while she sleeps, but she's never tried to find out where they come from. She doesn't even seem to've created a story to explain it. Why would a crack in the wall inspire her imagination, but not the rolls of toilet-paper?

Han Song - The Wheel of Samsara **: A more fantastical version of "The Nine Billion Names of God," but ultimately just as silly as the original.

Kaaron Warren - Ghost Jail *: In a dystopian Fiji (sadly lacking in sheep with water wings), a couple dissident reporters hole up in an abandoned village that's filled with ghosts. Warren does a horrible job with the world building -- the nature of the ghosts remains vague despite being important to the plot; the dystopian nature of Fiji is more assumed than shown -- all we get is government goons harrassing the reporters, who are such jerks that it's hard to care (the protagonist has gone beyond aggitating for change and started burning down houses).

Yang Ping - Wizard World *****: I think we have a new genre on our hands: stories about people who play MMORPGs. We have This Is Not a Game and Deep State by Walter Jon Williams, Slum Online by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and this story. In Wizard World, Our Hero, a sysadmin for the titular game, is lured to what's supposed to be a really awesome custom level, but which appears to be a badly rendered implementation of Zork -- except the house is designed to be a virtual death-trap. Turns out there's a bug in the system -- it's possible to register a new profile in the name of a character who just died and gain access to that player's account. The window to do this is so small that the game designers decided it wasn't worth fixing, figuring it would never happen by chance and would be impossible to use in a malicious attack. They forgot the first rule of computer security: Never underestimate the tenacity of a hacker with too much time on his hands. Soon the hacker has Wizard World on the verge of shutdown, and millions of nerds cry out in agony at the thought of having to get up for something other than Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

This story is awesome. From a literary standpoint, it's not as good as The Bird Catcher or Into the Night, but it's by far my favorite story in the collection.

Dean Francis Alfar - L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars) ***: A girl falls in love with a young astronomer, but he's so obsessed with the stars that he doesn't notice her, so she asks the greatest kite-maker in the city to build a kite that she can fly on. He tells her this is impossible, but when she insists he gives her a list of necessary parts. She then embarks on a quest that takes her half a century and around the world to complete.

I really enjoyed the style of this story, which is very reminiscent of S. Morganstern without the pomposity, however the plot eventually devolves into an itinerary -- she goes here to get that, and then there to get this, but than she loses that and has to backtrack.

Nir Yaniv - Cinderers ***: A very strange story about a schizoid pyromaniac.

Jamil Nasir - The Allah Stairs ***: A very good dark fantasy about a boy who escapes into a magical realm to get revenge on an abusive father. Has the feel of Victorian weird fiction, where two guys are walking down the street and they spot something weird that they don't fully comprehend.

Tunku Halim - Biggest Baddest Bomoh ***: A poor office schlub is in love with his boss's secretary, but she won't give him the time of day. After a co-worker tells him about a Bomoh -- a magician who can give him whatever he wants -- he sets out to get a geas placed on the secretary. The story starts out well, but is ruined by a Twilight Zone ending.

Aliette de Bodard - The Lost Xuyan Bride ***: An alternate history where China colonized North America in the early 15th Century and allied with the Aztecs to keep the Spanish out. Nevertheless, the United States exists and Richard Nixon is President (well, she doesn't go that far, and she does make the US much poorer than in our timeline). Our Hero in this story is an American PI who's set up shop in Xuyan (Chinese North America), and is hired to find a runaway bride. The case leads him to uncover shocking connections between the the wealthy and organized crime, ya-dee-ya-dee-ya-da. Decent enough mystery, the idea of the alternate universe is interesting, but I think the world building could be improved. In particular, I have a problem with the idea that in a world that diverged so significantly would still have a World Wide Web that uses domain.tld/file.htm addressing.

Kristin Mandigma - Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-realist Aswang **: This story is about the thing the story is about. If you understand the thing the story is about, you will probably like the story. Me? I don't get it.

Aleksandar Ziljak - An Evening In The City Coffehouse, With Lydia On My Mind ****: Meet Our Hero, a sleazy pornographer. But unlike sleazy pornographers today, Our Hero locates attractive women online and then inserts microscopic flying cameras into their homes without their knowledge. One day his cameras discover a prostitute who has sex with exotic aliens. When the aliens find out, they send goons to kill him and he has to take it on the lam. The first 9/10 of the story were great, but Ziljak ruins it with a deus ex machina at the end.

Anil Menon - Into the Night *****: This is the Singularity story I've always wanted to read, about an old man who doesn't understand the new technology that surrounds him, who is befuddled by all the people walking around in consensus reality and having conversations with the air. That old man, the Hindu equivalent of a fundy creationist, believes his biologist daughter has abandoned her heritage and worships a Western god called Evolution. When he tries to learn the new technology, he blunders around and, in an almost Mr. Magoo like misunderstanding, ends up doing the future equivalent of hooking up with someone on MySpace. This is far and away the best story in the book.

Melanie Fazi - Elegy **: After a woman's children disappear, she becomes convinced they've been eaten by a demonic tree. Yeah. This is one of those horror stories told in a stream of consciousness style that hints at the delusional mind of the narrator. It's told well enough, but ultimately she's rehashing Poe and Maupassant.


A Lesson in eBook Marketing

Here's a book I just stumbled across on Amazon:

ATTENTION! If you have a problem with:

* Public masturbation
* The vandalizing of innocent property
* Drug use
* Cockiness and borderline narcissism
* Internet terrorism
* Misogyny, prostitution, and STDs
* The emotional destruction and belittlement of a teenage girl
* The disobeying of direct military orders
* Badly dubbed Asian movies
* Failing
* Falling from grace


This book was SPECIFICALLY meant to appeal to:

Both civilian and military men and women with a fucked up sense of humor who’ve:

* dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts
* a sense of anarchy, rebellion, or long for their individualism back
* been through any kind of special forces training (particularly for the Navy SEALs)
* an unorthodox approach to life
* a masochistic personality
* a problem being left alone to their own devices
* people with SERIOUS anger and insecurity issues
* lived in dysfunctional homes growing up
* been ashamed of their own race

As well as:

* Japanese Anime fans (Otakus)
* Gamers
* People who like reading potentially offensive controversial opinions about race, religion, & sexuality

Fighting For Redemption is an underground, self-published, anti-hero story…spun with direct and obvious influences of Japanese cartoons, video-games, and Hong Kong cinema. It is written with a brutal honesty about the main character/writer, and the other characters I encounter along the way. It’s based off a true story…but it’s DEFINITELY NOT meant for everyone.

So basically, your target audience is Eric Harris, Nidal Hasan, and Jared Loughner? I suppose this is an attempt to be so outre that someone will buy the book just to see if it lives up to the hype, but that only works if people start talking about how messed up it is. Otherwise you're left with Uwe Boll's Postal.


Important Note

Never do a Google Image Search for a cartoon character and Rule 34, especially with safe-search off. Do not search "Daria Rule 34." Do not search "Zapp Brannigan Rule 34." And especially do not search "Shrek Rule 34." Just don't do it.

You have been forewarned.