Monday, August 30


On TV last night, I saw something I never expected to see. Never ever.

Are you ready for this?

I saw Dick Cheney TELL THE TRUTH.

Speaking at a party-faithful gathering (which, I guess, is inevitable, because neither Bush nor Cheney ever appears in front of an audience that hasn't been thoroughly scrubbed of liberals, intellectuals, agnostics and other dangerous elements) about the RNC in New York City, Dick Cheney said,

". . . we will come together in New York City for a single purpose: To make sure that George W. Bush is President for the next four years."

He didn't say: "We will present a vision for our nation's future."

He didn't say, "We will prove to the nation that Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn't just a vanity war that has diverted the bulk of our military resources away from the War on Terror."

He didn't say, "We will show the country that George Bush has made us safer, and that his policies have rescued our economy."

Shit, I could make a whole list of the damn lies he's been spouting for three years that yesterday he managed to leave off.

This time, he told the plain unvarnished truth:

"The Republican Party doesn't give a shit about anything except power. Fuck the country, fuck the world, fuck the poor, fuck the old people and the boomers, slaughter civilians by the tens of thousands, let Osama run wild, let the Taliban take over half of Afghanistan, give the militants Fallujah as a permanent base of operations. Fuck everybody. We just want to stay in power."

That's the first time since Bush I I've ever heard Cheney tell the truth.

Sunday, August 29


Another question from a Concerned Reader:

-- Do sympathize with Vader more now, as GL said we might, or has the work (not yours, but the films, and cartoons, and comics also also) cemented your dislike for Anakin Skywalker? Because, either way, there are people that love and hate both him and his alter ego, or vice versa. I always liked Vader, he was always my favorite character. I believe he has the most depth of any SW character. --

I'm glad you asked this, because it's not only a salient question, it's something I can actually comment on.

I've NEVER disliked Anakin. Never. And I certainly don't now. Your opinion that Anakin/Vader has the most depth of any SW character is very likely shared by Mr. Lucas, since he saw fit to create the Prequel trilogy in order to recast the entire SW saga as the story of the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker.

On the other hand, I don't necessarily share the opinion myself, and I'll tell you why.

One of the cool things about Star Wars is that all the characters are so strong that they can carry however much depth the writers are willing (or able) to give them; I mean, jeez, look what was done with Wedge, who had, what? eight or ten lines in the whole OT?

So, yes, I see deeply into Anakin (in my opinion, anyway), but I see just as deeply into Obi-Wan, and Yoda, and Padme and Mace and even Palpatine and Dooku. It's just a question of how far a writer is willing to go -- how much brain sweat we're willing to invest -- because these characters are alive in a way that is not wholly explicable in rational terms. They are real.

We've made them real.

And I'm not talking only (or even mostly) about Mr Lucas and the Usual Suspects of writers, editors, artists and designers. I'm talking about the shared imagination of the billion-something people who carry these people around in their heads and in their hearts.

That's where the GFFA is. That's where all these people live.

And I think that is just so incredibly goddamn cool that words can't really express it.

(Aside to C-Wedge: Thanks for the heads-up; I'll have to check out his comments. So far, all I've gotten from Skywalker is a Thundering Silence while the ms works its way up the chain of command . . .)

Friday, August 27

Yoda gas

This from a concerned reader:

<< Mr. Stover, ugh I feel so stupid doing this, but there's no other official venue that will answer me.

People are all up in an uproar over this rumor concerning Yoda and something he does in Episode III: he farts while riding on chewie's back.

Seriously, do we have to deal with toilet humor again in this upcoming prequel movie???? Please say no.

And sorry for posting it as a comment to your update -- I haven't been able to find a contact email for you (which is probably a good thing for you!) And I've exhausted all other venues.>>

Once more, with feeling . . .

I can neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of any character, plot point, device or other feature, actual or imaginary, in any Lucas-created or -licensed property that has not yet been released, previewed, and/or published.


Which includes the presence or absence of fart jokes.

Which is a fancy way of saying No Fucking Comment.

Not now, not ever.



Oh, okay, I'm not sorry. You should know better than to ask. You really should.

Tuesday, August 24

more dog shit

John Wayne's dog in BIG JAKE was named Dog.

And yeah, Malamutes are protective, and can be very dog-aggressive; fortunately for us (and for Aias) we knew that going in, and so Aias has been spending his evenings at various dog-parks since he was twelve weeks old. He's now three and a half, and is the cuddliest, most friendly teddy-bear of a 135-pound timber-wolf-loooking beast you can imagine.

Except for the time I was attacked by an enormous (85-pound) pit bull whose name was, curiously enough, Caine. Aias landed on him like a fucking meteor strike, and when the pit bull bit him instead of submitting, Aias decided he had to die. I had to tackle him and pry his jaws off the pit bull's throat, at which point the pit bull decided he'd had enough and ran like hell.

Aias favors the wolf-blood side, though he's 100% Malamute. Mals seem to come in two flavors: ones that favor the mastiff side (big square heads and dewlaps) and ones who, through a trick of atavism, look exactly like wolves. The only visible differences between Aias and a timber wolf is that Aias is a little shorter and more powerfully built, and instead of a light tail with a dark tip, Aias has a dark tail with a white tip.

And he's very independent-minded; he's not obedient, just cooperative. He's like a bright eight-year-old; he's got plenty of opinions and he expects me to listen to them -- but then he abides by what I decide. He reminds me a lot of Graegduz, from the Barra & Co. books. He's not tame, just respectful.

You get the impression I love my dog?

Monday, August 23

My dog

Gotta write this quickly, beffore my dog notices I'm in my office.

Apparently my suffering these past few months, as I struggled to produce REVENGE OF THE SITH as fast as possible, had become so papable that my dog decided my office is bad for me. Now, whenever he realizes I'm in my chair in front of this computer, he barges in and leans on me and drools on my keyboard and does whatever is necessary to prevent me from working. If I'm anywhere else in the house, doing anything else, he'll just go lay down and go back to sleep.

Fortunately, I have a laptop, so I can go work in other rooms if necessary (so far, as near as I can tell, the dog hasn't made the connection with the computer itself, only with the envrionment).

That's all. I just think it's funny. And I love having a dog who has decided he must protect me from myself.

Thursday, August 19


On the Great Bring-SFF-into-the-Mainstream (or, at least, Profitability) struggle --

That's it. The war is over.

We lose.

It's a simple, blindingly obvious fact of human nature, that came out while I was at the dog park tonight, chatting with a new friend who's even older than me, an even harder-core RPG geek, and big-time SW fanboy. I was telling him that I ended up in SF because my big brother had a huge collection of sf paperbacks, plus subscriptions to WORLDS OF IF, GALAXY, and ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION. I mentioned that my mother had a huge library of detective and mystery fiction (roughly five hundred back issues of ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE), and a whole bunch of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stuff, and how I almost ended up a detective/crime writer, because I love that shit too. It's just that I have too much imagination to settle for our everyday consensual reality.

And that's when it hit me: why we'll ALWAYS be the ghetto. Because there just ain't enough imagination to go around.

The fact is, you have to be SMART to read SFF. It's that simple.

It even explains why SFF films can earn more money than Stephen King's, John Grisham's and Tom Clancy's fondest wet dreams COMBINED, and SFF will still be a tiny little corner of the bookstore, mostly ignored.

Because movies don't require imagination. They lay it right out in front of you. They pry open your mouth and force-feed you everything that a novel can only spark in your imagination.

If you have an imagination.

Which most people, frankly, don't.

That's why you see SFF on the NYTIMES Bestsellers list once in a blue moon (okay, maybe twice, if it's a Star Wars tie-in and Harry Potter), but on any given day half to two thirds of the titles on the fiction list will be detective-suspense thrillers -- usually shitty ones -- with the balance made up of Oprah Book Club-style Learning-to-get-right-with-your-personal-relationships crap.

Like I said, we're permanently fucked.


Game over, dude.

The worst of it is, I knew this already. So do you. All of you.

We just wish it could be different.

But it won't.


Wednesday, August 18


I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining. I'm not.

Writing is HOW I rest. Sort of. As long as it doesn't need to be done on a whipcrack deadline.

Getting paid for what I do is a privilege, because I'd still be doing it even if I weren't getting paid.

I'd just be even crankier.

btw, the ms of REVENGE I turned in is about 115,000 words, which will make it roughly the same size book as SHATTERPOINT (within 30 pages or so), depending on design and typeface.

Tuesday, August 17


Earlier this afternoon, I delivered the manuscript of REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Let me state here and now, with my customary modesty, that it is a work of goddamn genius.

Or something.

At least it's done.

Until the kind folks at LFL and Del Rey editorial deliver unto me their list of revisions.

I was planning to take at least a week off. Laze around, watch TV, start reading non-SW books again, hang with my wife, play with my dog, that kind of thing . . .

But I've got this Caine-shaped itch that I just can't scratch.

Monday, August 9

I just had to share

Okay, here goes (with thanks to Kathy Kozan, who forwarded this one to my wife):

How many members of the Bush administration are
required to replace the proverbial light bulb?

The Answer is SEVEN:

(1) one to deny that a light bulb needs to be

(2) one to attack and question the patriotism of
anyone who has questions about the light bulb;

(3) one to blame the previous administration for the
need for a new light bulb;

(4) one to arrange the invasion of a country rumored
to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs;

(5) one to get together with Vice President Cheney and
figure out how to pay Halliburton Industries one
million dollars for a light bulb;

(6) one to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush
changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight
suit and wrapped in an American flag;

(7) and finally one to explain to Bush the difference
between screwing a light bulb and screwing the

So, okay, it's not really funny. It's too true to be funny.

In answer to LKM, I don't really know any more about Barak Obama than anybody else; I, like most of the country, was most impressed with his keynote address at the convention. I also, again like most of the country, promptly forgot about it in the wake of a string of War On Terror announcements.

Wonder how many of those we're gonna have during the week following the Republican Convention?

Y'know, I don't WANT to be political. I don't have a position. I don't have a plan. All I have is a profound dislike for obfuscation and the politics of fear.

I hope one day to write my own work of political philosophy; I'll call it --


"I pledge eternal enmity toward every form of tyranny over the mind of man."


"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than any lies can be."

I guess my vote is pretty much always gonna lean toward whatever party comes closest to realizing that Questions are more useful than Answers.

Instead of a War on Terror, we should have a War on Ideology, and just shoot the asses off every kind of fundamentalist, religious or political. But that ends up being an ideology of its own, so I guess -- to be truly intellectually honest -- I'd have to start by shooting myself.

So it goes.

Friday, August 6

Full disclosure

Just a note because, looking back over the history of this blog, I can see how someone might get the impression that I am a die-hard liberal Democrat.

I'm not.

I am a registered Democrat, but only because I lived for 20 years in Chicago, where (if you're not a Democrat) your vote doesn't really count. Municipal and Congressional elections in Chicago were decided by the Democratic primary; nobody cared who the Republicans ran, because they didn't have a chance.

I am not involved in politics. My business -- and my concern -- is with truth. Real truth, not the kind of half-assed hedging one gets from a Bushite State of the Union reference to uranium.

I believe that the Right and the Left, in this country, have both been blinded by ideology; I believe that they both indulge in a type of magical thinking, a superstitious belief that Things Are Simple, and that Answers Are Easy.

Caine's Law: Everything is more complicated than you think it is.

1st corollary: Anyone who tells you things are simple is trying to sell you something.

For me, that's a truth that cuts across the whole political spectrum. I lean Democratic these days because I truly believe that Kerry and Edwards are more interested in asking the right questions than pretending they have all the answers. I think there's an intellectual honesty that says: This is a problem. I think I might have an answer. Let's try it and see if it works. If it doesn't, we can try something else.

That's where the Republicans are losing my vote. They never seem to be willing to try something else. They're more interested in justifying their mistakes than in actually fixing the problems.

That would be an easy way for them to win my support: Admit they were wrong, and tell me how they're going to fix it.

"Stay the Course" is hypocritical and disastrous, whether we're talking tax cuts, energy policy, or the war in Iraq.

That's truth. As close to it as I can come, anyway.


One of my friendly readers posted a question on yesterday's post; I think it's important enough that I'm reproducing my answer here.

He asked why the Bushies have been lying to us about Iraq, and what they're really after.

My response:

There are a number of possible explanations; the most generous is that they sincerely believed we would be welcomed with open arms by the Iraqi people, and we would be able to safely and easily create a stable democracy in the Muslim Middle East.

I hope that's the truth, because it means they're just stupid, as opposed to actively rotten.

There are other likely explanations; one is a personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein by Mr. Bush, seeing as how Hussein did try to have his father, George H. W. Bush, assassinated.

It's also possible that Michael Moore was right. What d'you think the odds might be that the real reason Dick Cheney has been fighting the release of records of the energy task force meetings is that they contain (hypothetical, one hopes) discussions on how to divvy up the oil fields in Iraq?

For an overview of what the American Left Wing seems to suspect, check this out:

I do not fully endorse the arguments in this essay -- but I do think they raise the important questions, and I do think the Bush Administration owes the American people, and the world, some straight talk. We just don't seem to be getting it.

Thursday, August 5


Our only weapon is the truth.

Tuesday, August 3

For the fanbeings

This is your Star Wars update.

Yesterday, reading through meal breaks and such, I finished Sean Stewart's DARK RENDEZVOUS.

It's good. Really really good.

Anybody who likes my SW stuff is gonna love this. Most of the people who DON'T like my SW stuff are gonna love it, too.

I should probably have this guy killed.

Ah, nah. With that last name he's probably a Scotsman. Shooting him will just make him angry. He also seems to know his way around unarmed combat . . .

Here's the thing: Shelly Shapiro, who (as most of you know) is the Del Rey Star Wars Guru, tells me that SW authors get a cross-over bump to their own books' sales that's between 1% and 2%. Yeah, that's right: about the same as direct mail.

This is what I think: we can do better, and I'm gonna do my part. I, for one, am about to order at least three Sean Stewart novels.

That's all. I have to go kill some Jedi now.

Monday, August 2

This Just In

For anyone who was interested in our discussion on government:

I apologize for the lack of a direct link (there seems to be a Gecko issue with, but what the hell). The essay's worth checking out, and worth forwarding to every cretin who thinks the best government is no government.