Friday, February 18

Trust Me

Here I am, trying to calm people down, and I seem to be whipping them up.

Does it work the other way, too?

Anyway, here's the Real Fucking Deal:

Trust Me.

You Will Not Be Disappointed.

I Do Not Hold Anything Back.

The point is that I'm just Better At Shit now than I was when I wrote HEROES DIE. I'm better than I was when I wrote BLADE. And I have absolutely no interest in repeating myself in my work; the lovingly pornographic violence in HEROES DIE is there for a reason. If I need it again, I'll use it again, but I have, I believe, since developed new and more powerful techniques for achieving emotional and intellectual affect, and I'm gonna use them. All of them.

That's all.

Fear Not, Beloved Readers.

Shit, folks, remember that I am the author of the Dead Cities Artists' Pledge.

Those of you who don't know what the fuck I'm talking about should run, don't walk, RUN, on over to [dead cities ver3.0] right now.

right here

I'll see you there.

Thursday, February 17


I'm issuing an official correction . . .

I think some people got the wrong idea from yesterday's post.

Look, nobody at Del Rey has insisted or demanded that I de-violenciate CAINE BLACK KNIFE. There has been some discussion about the level of graphic description of violence in the Overworld stories, but much of it has come at my own instigation.

I am very aware that CAINE BLACK KNIFE and DEAD MAN'S HEART are Caine's Last Best Shot at Making It . . . if he doesn't break out, he -- and Overworld -- are dead, as far as the publishing industry goes. So I asked Chris Schleup (my editor at Del Rey) straight out what he thought I could do, as a writer, to help prevent CBK from becoming the same kind of spectacular flop, sales-wise, that HEROES DIE was.

He told me that Del Rey is aware that the floppitude of HEROES DIE had more to do with marketing and packaging failure on their part than with the quality of the book itself (which is why they plan a re-package in conjunction with the release of CBK), but that he and the Powers That Be are of the opinion that some people are turned off by the exceedingly fierce and graphic descriptions of violence and suffering in HD and BLADE.

This, my good friends, is something we all know to be true.

Most people who read fantasy are looking for THE WIZARD OF OZ -- y'know, Baum wrote those books because he thought that traditional fairy tales were too scary and violent? If he'd lived to see the film made from the first of his Oz books, he would have sued the fucking studio for making the Wicked Witch of the West so, well, wicked, and for making the flying monkeys give kids nightmares . . .

So I've got a double-switch going in CBK. I've learned so much about controlling esthetic distance and using psychological closure while writing these three Star Wars novels, that I get to do shit in CBK that's actually WORSE than most of the stuff in HD or BLADE . . . but I get to do the RESERVOIR DOGS thing, where the worst of it happens in your imagination . . .

So I get to look at the beancounters and say, "Graphic violence? Where? Which sentence?"

"Well, okay, that one . . . but that's an isolated case. Except for that one there. Okay, there's one more, but really . . ."

It's honestly not a question of standing firm. This isn't about artistic integrity. I don't have any.

I can only write what I can write. I literally CAN'T do it any other way . . .

I am who I am.

Wednesday, February 16


One of these days I'm gonna have to learn how to actually USE a computer, as opposed to just typing on one.

One of those old Mac macros would be useful, so I don't have to type Great Friggin' Gonzo REVENGE OF THE SITH Tour Blog Entry #Whateverthefuck each time I update it.

Anyway, TheForce.Net reports that I now have five cities confirmed on the Right Coast, and the GFGROTST is spreading toward the Left like one of those virus projections on 24 . . .

So that's all. No real news, other than I just cut 20000 words out of CAINE BLACK KNIFE.

Yes, that's the right number of zeroes.

Twenty thousand fucking words.

My recon/retcon of the story has rendered superfluous a great deal of the shit over which I have squeezed blood from my own eyeballs to create.

For example, in my orginal (now vanished) version, Act One consisted of interleaved episodes from the "modern day" [some 3 years post-BLADE] and flashes of the uncut, unedited Master of RETREAT FROM THE BOEDECKEN, the Adventure that made Caine a star, in roughly 15 - 20 page increments . . . just enough to deliver quick smacks of action and emotional content . . . and they were arranged in such a way to elegantly contrast and comment upon each other, to set the older and theoretically more mature Caine against his 25-year-old self . . . it was all very artistic, and literary, and would have given someone a swell subject for his or her masters thesis in Litcritshit a hundred years from now.

But y'know, screw that shitpile.

The other day I decided to see what the story would look like if I put all the RETREAT stuff together. Right in a row. Which is not how I wrote it to be, but what the hell.

It turned out to be eighty pages that literally had me jumping out of my chair. Jesus, what a vicious little sonofabitch he was . . .

On the other hand, The Powers that Be -- who were hoping that the violence would be toned down -- well . . .

It IS toned down.

As long as you don't have a vivid imagination.

As Caine would say, I am who I am.

Fuckin' sue me.

Saturday, February 12

And they're OFF!

The Great Friggin' Gonzo REVENGE OF THE SITH Tour log

Part One

Seems early for Part One, don't it? I thought so too, till I checked in over at The Force.Net in my author thread, there to find, much to my surprise, that the tour will begin . . .

Yes, We Have a Winner -- check your office pools -- the tour will begin . . .

(wait for it . . .)

April 2 in Raleigh-Durham, North CAROLINA!


Now, if I can just get them to tell ME this stuff . . .

Friday, February 11

Y'know, I don't want to harp on the political shit, but Jesus CHRIST, look at what they're doing to my country:

Hey, We Fucking Torture Innocent Civilian Citizens of Friendly Countries Tra La

[html tutorial courtesy of the inimitable Chris M. (Ticketman) Billet.]

George Bush's first term made me embarrassed to be American.

His second term is threatening to make me furious.

How long beffore we start doing this to our own citizens? Oh, wait, sorry, we already have -- a kid who got shipped to Saudi Arabia.

If I disappear sometime this year, look for me in Syria.

Monday, February 7

Anybody not smell the swastikas yet?

Thanks to Shevchyk yet again for the following, which I'm reposting for those of you too lazy to read the comments.

You have to read this essay. It's the GODDAMN AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, for Christ's sake.

It just goes to show that I've been tell the fucking truth all along: that this is not a liberal issue.

Shit, I'm not a liberal. I'm an American.

Every goddamn public school and courthouse that wants to enshrine the Ten Commandments should erect, instead, stone tablets engraved with a vastly more important document: the Bill of Rights.

The Declaration of Independence is a more important statement of human aspiration than the Sermon on the Mount.

And the Bushitters are killing them. Both.

Funny thing is, this is a running theme of my fiction, too. It's that blind god thing. The hunger for easy answers. "They're EEeevil and Must Be Destroyed!" The need to belong. The willingness to be lied to, as long as we like the lies . . .

The simple need to be told what to think.

Try the following on for size, the true story of three innocent British citizens imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, without trial or legal recourse of any kind, for nearly two years.

Wake up and smell the swastikas, indeed.

Friday, February 4

We are the Empire.

Is anybody out there?

Is anybody LISTENING?

Jesus CHRIST. What does it TAKE for people in this country to WAKE UP AND SMELL THE FUCKING SWASTIKAS?

But Wait, There's More!

A relevant quote:

Two years ago, an unnamed Bush aide told Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

You can find the rest in Jack Shafer's article at the address below.

Does anyone out there still think this is just some kind of fucking joke?

Wednesday, February 2

So this guy writes in to my forum over at SFFWorld. (This is not, by the way, the set-up to a joke.) He's been hearing about me, but he's never read me. He's been through the current crop of Quality Shit: Tolkien, Martin, Hobb, and he confesses to having read Eddings and Feist in his misspent youth. And he wants me to tell him why he should read my work.

After a moment's thought, this strikes me as an entirely legitimate question.

What makes me think I'm so special, anyway?

Well, I started to compose my standard lecture on the Consolatory vs. the Subversive in art. Those of you who've been around here for any length of time know that it's an article of faith with me that all honest art is inherently subversive; to paraphrase Tan'elKoth, "It is a truism that to a hammer, the world looks like a nail; the glory of art is that it can show this hammer how the world looks to a screwdriver. And to a sculptor's chisel. And vice versa."

Consolatory fiction (I can't bear to refer to it as art) is in the business of telling all the hammers out there that everything really IS a nail -- to suggest otherwise runs the risk of softening their solid steel heads . . .

[Which, of course, is exactly what got me into trouble with so many Star Wars fans -- and why so many of them hate the NJO in general. Star Wars was, for them, the ultimate in Consolatory Fiction. Opening a Star Wars novel was like sitting down to a Hollywood version of Thanksgiving dinner: no surprises, no danger, just a tasty feast that'd leave you sleepy and content. Nothing upsetting. Nothing to think about.

Which is why the climax of VECTOR PRIME resulted in Bob Salvatore getting death threats.

Which is why -- may the gods have mercy on their poor pathetic souls -- some few fanfreaks have gone so far as to claim that George fucking LUCAS is ruining Star Wars with the Prequels . . . because it's not spotless Dudley Do-Rights inevitably triumphing over irreedeemable Snidely Whiplashes . . .

Shit, some kid got so freaked out by TRAITOR that he wrote into The Force.Net BEGGING me not to ruin Star Wars with relativist heresy (not that anything in TRAITOR advocates relativism -- just the opposite, but plenty of people just aren't bright enough to figure that out) . . . and even the possiblity that there might be anything resembling moral ambiguity in the Galaxy Far Far Away was so upsetting that it completely blew this guy's mind. Poor bastard. They all want Player's Handbook Universe -- y'know, as long as you never actually throw Force Lightning, you haven't fallen yet . . .

What none of these guys realize is that Star Wars was never as black/white as they pretended it was -- it's not about the triumph of the Rebellion, it's about Luke's triumph over himself. " . . .remember your failure at the cave . . ." But that's a subject for another post -- probably to wait for the REVENGE OF THE SITH release.]

Anyway, here I was ramping up to unleash the long version of this lecture upon the unsuspecting head of this poor bastard, when I realized that I'd better shut the fuck up about it.

Here's the thing: I realized that at this point in my career, people who've read me faithfully -- especially the Caine books and the SW books -- can now, at least in theory, find my own fiction just as consolatory as any installment of the Young Jedi Knights.

You all have a pretty good idea how I see the world. Opening one of my books brings you into a reality where you -- through prior experience of my writing -- have a pretty good idea of what the rules are [i.e. victory is expensive, pure intentions count for fuck all, it's good to be skilled but it's better to be lucky -- y'know, the usual crap.).

Since most of you know this shit already, before you ever crack the cover -- since most of you crack that cover at least in part BECAUSE YOU WANT TO READ A STORY WHERE SHIT WORKS THAT WAY . . . my work isn't actually subversive anymore. Not for you.

Which is giving me kind of a pain in the crack.

Because I like to shake people up a little. Make you question your assumptions.

But on the other hand, what the hell can I do about it?

Write a fucking Quest Against the Dark Lord?

I don't think I can lie in a novel. Not well, anyway.

So what the hell do I do to shake up the people who already agree with me? What do I show people who've already seen what I've got?

I am not asking for answers, here. Nor am I fishing for "Buck up, big guy," comments.

I am merely relating the story of an uncomfortable revelation, which leads me to the reply I gave the guy over as SFFWorld. I told him --

I don't think you "should" read me. I think you should read what you like.

And I don't have a better answer than that.