Thursday, December 4

Hey. Blade of Tyshalle will be released in e-book form Tuesday, December 9th.

Spread the word.

Sunday, November 16

Okay, people. I'm far enough out from under various deadline pressures that I feel the need to catch up with what's current in Our Beloved Genre. As most of you know, I tend more toward reading classics than reading What's Hot Right Now . . . so much so that I don't have a friggin' clue what WHRN might actually be.

I'm about to order 5-10 books from One will be Scott Lynch's second Gentlemen Bastards book, because I need to catch up there with the third looming on the near horizon. At least one (possibly more) will be John Scalzi's, because I've become a Whatever addict and I'm interested in seeing how he does with fiction. Another will be Steve Donaldson's latest Covenant entry.

Who should I be looking at for the rest?

(Don't bother recommending Big Gunners like Neal Stephenson and George R.R. Martin -- they are on my back-list, and I will no doubt catch up with them later on.) I'm looking for, as John Cleese would say, something completely different.

Who gets you people all hot'n'bothered these days?

Tuesday, November 4

Go vote. All of you.

Well, okay . . . all of you who are United States citizens of legal age. Go vote.

Everyone else, take the day off.

Friday, October 24

There is news.

Right now, the e-books of Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle have a tentative (repeat for emphasis: tentative) release date of November 4th.

This may be shifted pending resolution of a minor contractual issue, and/or the pitched firefight in the streets between fraudulently-registered Democratic ineligible and/or imaginary voters (i.e., Mickey Mouse) and crypto-fascist Republican vote-suppressors (i.e., Alberto Gonzales).

For you handicappers out there, here are words to live by:

Never bet against the Mouse.

Wednesday, October 22

I'd just like to touch on the question of Caine's Adventure-related POV, since it seemed to come up quite a bit in the last thread.

It's not intended to be a literal transcription of his Soliloquy; it's basically a magic trick, not unlike the illusion a first-hander is subjected to, as an Actor's Soliloquy comes to feel like his or her own thoughts--to make him feel like he is the character.

The Studio has an exceptionally powerful piece of speculative technology (direct CNS stimulation by focused induction) to help maintain this illusion. I, on the other hand, have to pull off this trick with nothing more than a succession of black marks on a page.


Some of these black marks represent Caine's Soliloquy, some reflect sense impressions and others denote visceral reactions. Some indicate other things. All of them together are intended to give you, the reader, the illusion of riding along inside Caine's head (and body). That's the whole story.

If worrying about his Soliloquy distracted you from the story, that means I (in that section, anyway, at least for you) screwed up, and let you see the Man Behind the Curtain.


I hate it when that happens. It's kind of like discovering I've been walking around with my zipper down.

Friday, October 10

Back to Ayn Rand for a moment, it's worth noting that the #1 cheerleader for the deregulated trading in derivatives that is the fundamental cause of the current global financial crisis, Alan Greenspan, is an avowed admirer of Ms. Rand's political philosophy, and spent roughly the last 15 of his 19 years as Fed Chairman assuring Congress that the "rational self-interest" of derivatives traders would "weed out" weak securities . . .

Also (speaking of libertarianism), has anybody been paying attention to this guy? It may be that I owe Cheryl Morgan (who once wrote that she could tell I'm a libertarian by looking at my author photo) an apology. I saw Bob Barr interviewed on CNN yesterday and realized (with considerable consternation) that "Holy crap! I do have a libertarian moustache."

Thursday, October 9

For the record:

Feel free to post extravagant praise of Caine Black Knife (or of anything else I've written, for that matter). You can also post less-than-extravagant praise, or even bitch about how shitty something is.

But comments containing spoilers will be summarily deleted.

You have been warned.

Wednesday, October 8

Look for "The Big Idea of Caine Black Knife" on John Scalzi's Whatever this coming Tuesday, which is -- by no coincidence at all -- CBK's on-sale date.

He's pretty effing cool.

Monday, October 6

In response to Rob Locke in the previous comments thread:

My take on Objectivism can be summed up by a paraphrase of Samuel Johnson:

"I have read Ayn Rand's work, and found it to be both original and good. Unfortunately, however, the parts that were good were not original, and the parts that were original were not good."

To put it another way: what was useful in her philosophy was cribbed from Nietzsche, and what wasn't cribbed from Nietzsche wasn't useful.

Nietzsche himself points out the inescapable flaw in rational self-interest (I am again paraphrasing here):

"Man is not 'the rational animal,' he is the rationalizing animal. The primary use to which we put our reason is to justify our irrational desires and prejudices."

Sunday, October 5

Hokay. Here's the rundown.

The medical test came out negative, which means that Whatever the Fuck is Wrong With Me is still wholly in the Whatever stage. So it goes.

However, in the interim, I have been introduced to a new medication regimen that has me feeling sharper than I have in years. So, downside: lots of pills. Upside: unlike all previous meds, these seem to be working.

In the midst of all this, I finally delivered Luke Skywalker & the Shadows of Mindor, and due to the heroic (no exaggeration) efforts of my long-suffering editor, Shelly Shapiro, it looks like Del Rey will manage to cram it through production in time for its scheduled Dec 30 release. Shelly has now ascended to my short list of Personal Heroes.

Thanks to all & sundry for expressions of support.

The unnamed game tie-in I'm supposedly writing is on temporary hold, as I wait for supplementary materials that the parent company has so far failed to provide. So, for now, I'm working on interviews 'n' shit in support of Caine Black Knife, including an essay for Scalzi's "The Big Idea" feature. And I'm getting back to pulling together the Revised Editions of Iron Dawn and Jericho Moon, as well as getting my shit together on the final Caine novel, His Father's Fist.

As to the similarities in the underlying philosophical stance between Cainism and Satanism, and between the Church of the Beloved Children of Ma'elKoth and Catholicism, well . . . pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Let me just say that I know a bit about how religious doctrine can be (and has been) tailored to promote secular political ends, and leave it at that.

Caine Black Knife comes out in ten days. Meanwhile, just so you know:

'nuff said.

Thursday, September 18

Hey, gang. Sorry I haven't been around lately. I've been struggling through a pretty severe attack of Whatever the Fuck is Wrong With Me, and I've barely had the energy to write, let alone enough to spare for this space.

The good news is that one of the specialists I've been consulting sporadically for the last three or four years has had a sudden brainstorm. Test results should be arriving tomorrow or Monday, and with any luck at all they will finally give me a clue to WTFIWWM.

Meanwhile, thanks to all who still come here. When I'm feeling better, I'll probably have something to say about the US presidential campaign, as well as a hint or two of "The Big Idea of Caine Black Knife."

(Yeah, I checked out Scalzi's "Whatever," and now spend entirely too much of my time and attention reading Whatever he has to say. About anything. Those of you who haven't been there yet, you don't know what you're missing. Really.)

Anyway, this was just to let people know I'm still alive, and that I haven't entirely abandoned this place.

There will be updates.

Friday, August 22

On the "my take on Jacen" question, let me quote my response from March of this year over on's Stover Forum:


I am familiar, in broad outline, with the events of the Dark Nest and Legacy series. Haven't read 'em because I've been too busy with the Prequel and OT eras.

As to the specifics of your question, however, I can't give a satisfactory answer. Part of this is due to the simple fact that neither Jacen nor Vergere was originally my character (in fact, the only characters in TRAITOR who were original to that work were the World Brain and Ch'Gang Hool, the Shaper Master -- who was basically just a walk-on, anyway -- and the various extras). Vergere was the creation of Jim Luceno, I believe, and Jacen's roots go so far back into the EU that he was already well-established by the time KJA picked him up for the Young Jedi Knights.

In the Literature forum over at TheForce.Net, there are several lengthy threads discussing the validity of the choices made for Jacen and Vergere. There is really nothing I can add to the discussion, largely because my opinion is exactly that: my opinion, no more. When you come right down to it, on this point I'm exactly on the same level as all of you: a reader trying to assess someone else's story.

But due to my privileged position as a Star Wars novelist, my opinion would be given more weight by the fans than it actually deserves -- it would tend to tip the perceptions of, at least, my particular fans, and even others would be tempted to end arguments with "Well, Matt Stover says . . ." I've decided I just have to keep it to myself.

Sorry for a lengthy reply that doesn't end up saying much. It is what is is.


And that's as far as I am willing to go on the subject.

Except perhaps to point out once more that what a story means is what it means to you as you read it. Nothing more . . . but more important: nothing less.

And thank you, Joe, for pointing out that Barra Coll Eigg Rhum is based on the Fabulous Robyn -- though the truth is deeper than that: Robyn invented her in the first place, and (graciously, at my request) gave me permission to write books about her, back in the Bad Old Days. As opposed to the Bad New Days. I used Robyn herself as the model to fill in the nooks and crannies of the character, that's all.

Monday, August 18

Just so you know:

The Fabulous Robyn, in only her second triathlon -- and only fourth competitive race of any kind -- placed fifth in her age group (out of more than seventy competitors). She was less than two minutes off the podium.

This woman is amazing.

Sunday, August 17

It's 2 AM
The fear is gone
I'm sittin' here waiting
The gun's still warm
Maybe my connection
Is tired of taking chances . . .

Or, y'know, maybe it's 4 AM, and maybe I'm up because my wife, the Fabulous Robyn, is competing in the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon this morning. This is only her second tri, and we have to get her to the staging area by around 5.

And maybe that song is going through my head because it was the unofficial theme of the Navy SEALS she used to hang out with in the Phillipines, back in the 80s, and I wish some of them could see her now. I'm pretty sure they'd be both surprised (a little) and proud (a lot) of the extraordinary woman she grew up to be.

That's all.

Friday, August 8

For Pizzone:

I've only published five short stories, so far as I recall.

"Br'er Robert" and "In the Sorrows" are available free online -- a quick Google search should be able to find a Web archive.

"Precursor" is in the DAW anthology LEGENDS: TALES FROM THE ETERNAL ARCHIVE, and is out of print.

"Equipment" is available in the back of the mass market edition of SHATTERPOINT.

And you can find "The Persian, the Coon, and Bullets" in the forthcoming CATOPOLIS anthology, because the editor's a friend and she asked nicely. And paid well.

For the record, the opening story of BLADE ("Zero") was originally sent around as a stand-alone novella, and was soundly rejected by such luminaries as Gardner Dozois (and a couple others I currently disremember). He said it was pretty well done, but not outstanding enough for his magazine. I thought he was wrong, so I put it in BLADE OF TYSHALLE.

It's still my favorite sequence of that novel.

For Snooty English Major --

Thanks. I mean it. But sign your posts.

For all the rest of you folks:

Yeah, Star Wars is good entry level stuff -- and if any of my original work sold that well, I'd be a much, much wealthier man. Which is my point. I'm limping into middle age, and I'd like to get Robyn and myself that little acreage with a nice house and lots of trees. And maybe a swimming pool . . . and, yeah, I wouldn't mind the helicopters and the armored fortress.

A thank you to everyone for the kind words and assorted ego-boostage. Which will likely trigger another mini-essay on The Tyranny of Praise . . . which relates, oddly enough, to the King quote.

Hmm. Something there, I think. Check back later.

Thursday, August 7

In response to Tim's question in the previous Comments section:

There are a number of female HD fans (judging by my fan mail and store-signing experiences), many of whom seem to be particularly engaged by Hari and Shanna's unhappy relationship, and Hari's damn-the-torpedoes commitment to it.

Women sometimes seem to have a more difficult time with BLADE, though a substantial percentage of the positive reviews that book got came from female reviewers.

The real problem with gathering feminine readership for the Acts of Caine, it seems to me, is that HD depends on an SFF-savvy reader -- for it to have full effect, the reader should already be well-versed to the point of exhaustion with the various tropes that the story is twisting into less-familiar shapes. Which seems to be more of a guy thing, overall.

Make sure the woman you lend the book to has already read Conan and Bran Mak Morn, Elric and Hawkmoon and Fafhrd & Gray Mouser and the like, and I'm pretty sure she'll like Caine.

This is a problem with male readership as well. As one editor at Del Rey told me:

"What stops Caine from being more successful is that he's only accessible to people who are already hardcore fans. Write something 'entry-level' -- not necessarily Harry Potter, but even more grown-up entry-level like most of Jonathan Carroll or Neil Gaiman, something where someone who knows nothing about SF and fantasy can enjoy it -- and you're golden."

Unfortunately for me and my career, I've never been able to pull something like that together, outside of Star Wars.

Though I haven't given up on it. Not quite.

Wednesday, August 6

Hmp. Looks like the ARC seller is an actual fan.

His testimony . . .

Go figure.

Now I feel bad for all the nasty things I've been thinking about him. Mostly.

Hey, I don't want to discourage fan activity; I need all I can get. But selling ARCs in advance of the book's release is still a Major No-No.

Tuesday, August 5

Here's the poop on the Blade of Tyshalle reprint:

I just heard from my editor that the current market conditions for mm reprints makes a re-issue of an 800-page novel from 2001 kind of problematic. (My understanding is that minimum print run is something like 5,000 copies, and none of the big chains can be counted upon to carry a re-issue.)


It looks like he's gotten the go-ahead to produce an e-book version, and also format it for print-on-demand. So some version of the novel should be available (provided any and all potential contractual issues can be swiftly worked out -- because the contract for Blade is from 1998, before there were such things as e-books and POD) for those folks who really, really want to read it before they pick up Caine Black Knife.

So, overall, not bad news. As news goes.

By the way: some turd is spamming Stover-related sites, selling discounted ARCs of CBK off eBay.

Screw this guy. He's taking money out of my pocket.

ARCs sold as collector's items are one thing. I'm okay with that. But selling discounted ARCs as a substitute for the actual book costs me money that I just can't fucking afford. If any of you feel the need to actually grab one of these, do me a favor and buy the real one too.

That's all.

Monday, August 4

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died yesterday.

I know, he was a difficult man to admire unreservedly. He had opinions (especially about Western culture, the United States, and certain ethnic groups) that many people found -- and still find -- troubling.

But the books --

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch marked me for life.

An anecdote from the NYTimes profile by Michael T. Kaufman:

"Mr. Solzhenitsyn was banished to a desolate penal camp in Kazakhstan called Ekibastuz. . . .

"At Ekibastuz, any writing would be seized as contraband. So he devised a method that enabled him to retain even long sections of prose. After seeing Lithuanian Catholic prisoners fashion rosaries out of beads made from chewed bread, he asked them to make a similar chain for him, but with more beads. In his hands, each bead came to represent a passage that he would repeat to himself until he could say it without hesitation. Only then would he move on to the next bead. He later wrote that by the end of his prison term, he had committed to memory 12,000 lines in this way."

Also from the profile:

"Grigori Baklanov, a respected novelist and writer about World War II, declared that the story was one of those rare creations after which 'it is impossible to go on writing as one did before.'"


"He wrote that while an ordinary man was obliged 'not to participate in lies,' artists had greater responsibilities. 'It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!'"

I am humbled by his passing. He is one of the writers who can remind us why the shit we do counts for something.

Tuesday, July 29

Speaking of covers:

Check this out

I can only admire the dedication of some of Caine's fans. I sent this on to my editor, too, in case he really wanted to put a new cover on HD but just couldn't come up with sufficient inspiration.

Still haven't heard about the Blade of Tyshalle reprint; my editor was out at ComiCon, and was supposed to noodzh his boss during booth hours out there, but he's been back a couple days at least and I still don't have an answer. So it doesn't look entirely promising right now (though of course there are a multiplicity of potential reasons he might not have emailed; I haven't heard from him at all, so here's hoping all's well with him . . .).

Monday, July 28


Anyone who wants to read the stories I would have written if Caine had been inspired by MacGyver can just go ahead and pick up Daniel Keys Moran's Trent stories (start with EMERALD EYES, which isn't actually a Trent book but introduces the character, and go on through "The Star" and THE LONG RUN and THE LAST DANCER).

The best way I can describe Trent is that he springs from the tradition of Simon Templar (that would be the Saint, for you heathens out there) and Robin Hood -- the lone thief/freedom fighter/general do-gooder -- but who finds himself facing dilemmas that really challenge his moral convictions.

I know you meant that comment as a joke, but I can't pass up the chance to plug Dan's stuff. Trent is one of the few SFF characters I've come across who deserves broader exposure even more than Caine does.

Gio --

I'd love to see Caine come to whatever screen might be available, large or small; he is, after all, designed as an action-movie star (more or less). The aforementioned Dan Moran, by no coincidence at all, has a Caine treatment out there. There's another friend of mine named Moe Suleiman who's been trying to pull together a Heroes Die animé series. My own endeavors into screenwriting won't be Caine (unless I'm just collaborating with Dan, or somebody like him: somebody with some perspective, not to mention experience and actual screen credits).

But Caine doesn't have any traction in Hollywood. He's just not famous enough.


Caine has another issue, too: he's not a superhero.

Sure, he does superheroic things, but the defining characteristic of the superhero is that he (or she) is essentially unmarked by his adventures. Emotional scars are largely relegated to origin stories; each new adventure begins afresh. And I'm not talking strictly about comic-book underwear-on-the-outside types. James Bond is a perfect example, as is Indiana Jones. Even (most) long-running detectives.

To get a look at what happens when the scars actually accumulate, check out John D. MacDonald's Travis Magee books. They are as compartmentalized as the Bond novels, but there is just enough carry-over that each book finds Travis a little older, more tired, more cynical, less resilient . . .

These are brilliant stories, among the best hard-boiled detective stories ever written. But nobody's ever made a really successful Travis Magee movie (there was a TV show in the 70s, but it kinda stunk), because a lot of Travis' power as a character depends on the feel of that long and painful history.

The Acts of Caine takes this all a bit further. They're not self-contained at all, though each is its own tale. I think of the AoC as a single biographical series; each book is an episode that's only part of the story-arc of Hari Michaelson's life.

As Hari himself puts it, in the first chapter of Caine Black Knife:


Everything I've ever done pursues me. Like a doppleganger, a fetch, my past creeps up behind and strangles me in my sleep. When hunted by a monster in your dreams, you save yourself by facing the monster and demanding its name. In learning the monster's name you rob it of the power to haunt you. But I was awake. And anyway I already knew my monster's name.
It was Caine.

Somebody may very well be able to capture Caine in a movie or TV show . . . but I don't know how. And even if the script managed, it would still take a hell of a fine actor to pull it off.

Anybody got Robert Downey Jr's email address?

Sunday, July 27

This is response to gio's observation in the comments section of the previous post, that Heroes Die was published before Survivor hit the air (the comment presumably inspired by Del Rey's cover copy for Caine Black Knife, which emphasizes the Reality TV aspect of the Adventures Unlimited Studio system.)

This is a instance of life imitating art, I think. The inspiration for the Studio system in the Overworld novels was not reality TV, but instead role-playing games and regular old action movies and TV shows . . .

It probably, as much as anything else, was the result of a doink! moment I had while watching an episode of the old TV action series THE EQUALIZER (in which Edward Woodward played a retired covert ops guy, trying to atone for his violent past by helping out people in trouble).

Somewhere in the middle of the second season, I realized this particular Good Guy hero would shoot, stab, blow up, defenestrate or otherwise kill two or three Bad Guys in nearly every episode. So I'm sitting there watching this show, and it suddenly strikes me that this particular hero had killed something like fifty men in less than a year -- !

How does he fucking SLEEP?

Which got me thinking about the disposable victims who are a staple of every action movie from The Public Enemy through James Bond on up to the present day -- not to mention the hordes of hapless enemies cheerfully dispatched by Dungeons & Dragons player characters -- and how much fun it is to watch the extras die (or, in the RPGs, to pretend to be killing them ourselves).

So I wasn't really thinking in terms of Reality TV as much as I was Just Plain Reality . . . including the reality of human nature. I just wanted to think about what it'd be like if the heroes and villains and disposable extras were all real people . . .

I also, as a number of people around here already know, was working on a personal theory of character in literature -- that readers don't much care whether your hero is likeable, or admirable, or even a tolerably decent human being. That people don't identify so much with a character as with the character's struggle. I wanted to find out, so I cast as my protagonist a chronically depressed thug who kills people for other people's amusement.

Then I discovered I liked the guy.

Friday, July 25

Sign your comments, people. Even if you don't want to log in, you can put your name (or a name) at the bottom.

I sign everything I write, and I require that commenters here do the same. I know some of you folks are new(ish) around here, and I don't want to delete friendly comments just for being anonymous.

But I will.

Saturday, July 12

On a happier note --

While I was eating lunch today, I happened to turn on Turner Classic Movies, on which happened to be The Battle Of Britain with Lawrence Olivier and Christopher Plummer. This flick happened to be in the middle of one of the big Spitfire vs Nazi Bomber scenes, which I watched with growing delight.

"Holy Shit!" quoth I. "It's the assault on the friggin' Death Star!"

Now, it occurs to me that this is hardly unknown among all you SW geeks out there, as I seem to recall, on further reflection, having read something about that very influence in one of the old Lucas interviews.

But it was still very, very cool to come to find it unexpectedly staring me in the face.

That's all.

Friday, July 11

Come on. Really?

I know very few people come by here very often any more (not even me), but no tribute to TMD? Not even one?

Camp Concentration
On Wings of Song


Even The Dreams our Stuff is Made Of, which is non-fic, but still . . .

Wednesday, July 9

Thomas M. Disch shot himself on the Fourth of July.

This had me on the verge of in tears, if only because that should be the first line of a new Disch novel. He was the best of the New Wave. The best. Which is probably why he ditched SF almost 20 years ago.

Yet another guy who died before I had a chance to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.

God damn it.

Wednesday, May 28

To continue a previous thought, and answer a comment from Modi, below:

Really, [the following poster] Robert has the right of it here. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.

As for my seeing the world from an American perspective . . . well, that's unavoidable. I'm American, and though I'm rarely (these days) proud of what my country does, I am a passionate believer in the ideals upon which this country was founded. It is the gap between those ideals and our current reality that I find so saddening. I don't think America is "better" than your country, whatever that might be. America is America, which is sometimes a good thing, but more often not.

On the 4th of July (America's Independence Day) a few years back -- not long after the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq -- I found myself watching one of the few surviving Cagney song & dance flicks, Yankee Doodle Dandy, a biography of the unabashed patriotic super-booster, George M. Cohan.

It had me in tears. Because I just can't imagine any more what it must be like to have that kind of uncritical faith in the fundamental rightness of this nation.

When I was in Washington D.C. on tour for Revenge of the Sith, I took an afternoon to walk around the Mall and visit the memorials to by two favorite presidents, Lincoln and Jefferson. I won't go into detail here . . . but I couldn't even look their statues in the eye. Out of shame for what we've let the Bush Administration do to our country.

However: we love who and what we love, despite their flaws. Sometimes because of them. Because we're still a work in progress.

Monday, May 26

I'm not entirely sure what I want to say today.

This, as anyone who knows me will attest, is an unusual state. But I feel I should say something, because today is Memorial Day.

It's common, on Memorial Day, to honor Our Brave Soldiers' Sacrifice for Liberty--usually in the Big One, known in classrooms as Word War II. I'm all into that; my father and mother both served in the Army in the Big One, though neither saw combat (my mother served in the WAC, and my father was invalided out with the initial attack of the rheumatoid arthritis that plagued him for the rest of his life.) Oh, y'know, a couple of my uncles flew bombers, and one even trained guerrillas behind Japanese lines in the Philippines, so the family story goes--these uncles having passed on some years ago, I can neither confirm nor deny these tales, but that's not the issue.

A few weeks ago, the Fabulous Robyn and I passed through San Diego on our way to my sister's wedding on Mount Palomar. Since TFR and I never get a chance for actual vacations, we took a day in SD to do some vacation-y things, including visiting Sea World. So we went to the Shamu Show (the orca performance, which is pretty damned cool, but not germane to the story I'm telling). San Diego, for those of you who don't know, is also home to one of the largest US Navy bases in the world. So as one might suspect, Sea World gets a lot of business from sailors on liberty, and they try very hard to cultivate that business, in a very respectful way. One actually gets the impression that the Sea World management means it--that it's not a cheap-ass marketing ploy. At the Shamu Show, the presenter (who is also the head trainer) came out before the show and asked that all the current soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the crowd stand up to take a round of applause.

They looked a little embarrassed, but they did it.

Then he asked the families of these service members--and the families of all current servicemen and women overseas--to stand up and take their own round of applause. Some of them were crying. I was close to it myself.

Then they asked for all the veterans, and families of veterans, to stand. And damn near everybody was on their feet.

And I still don't know what I want to say about this.

I guess I just think that the best way to honor the sacrifices of our veterans, and the service of our soldiers, and sailors, and marines and airmen, is to not ask them to be killed or maimed in a war we should never have started in the first place. To end the Russian Roulette of tour after tour after tour in a combat zone we should never have created. To outlaw the stop-loss process, so that our All-Volunteer Military can actually be all volunteer. To give these valiant men and women the chance to defend us from the real enemies of America, in Afghanistan and on the Pakistan border and beyond. To give them a real G.I Bill, because a college-educated veteran is the best investment we can make in the future strength and prosperity of our nation. To fully fund and staff the Veteran's Administration, so that our returning veterans can get the medical care so many of them sadly need.

To never, ever, ever again allow a rogue administration to use them to invade a nation who never attacked us. To hold accountable the criminals who wrap themselves in the flag while wiping their asses with the Constitution.

That's all. I guess.

Monday, April 28

This from a long-time friend, the novelist Yvonne Navarro. It's worth your attention.

So I have to ask: Would you think that being fair is good... but only for SOME people?

On Wednesday, April 23rd, the Senate failed to pass the Fair Pay Act. What was almost worse than that defeat were the out-of-touch, old-fashioned-- and downright insulting-- statements about women. Senator John McCain (come ON, Arizona!), who didn’t even come to vote, said that instead of legislation allowing women to fight for equal pay, they simply need "education and training."

Lilly Ledbetter, whose Supreme Court case led to the creation of the Fair Pay Act, didn't need "training". She needed Fair Pay. Women today make up 56% of college graduates and nearly half of the labor force in this country. Yet women make only 73 cents to a man's dollar, and mothers only make 60 cents, for the exact same job.

Please sign the petition below in support of the Fair Pay Act. And for good measure, send Senator McCain your resume. Our goal is to send him 100,000. Think he'll get the point?
We Need Equal Pay for Equal Work--it is good law, make it enforceable.

Here's where it gets personal:

The above is taken almost word for word from a Fair Pay Act website. What you'll read below, what I HOPE you read below, are my words, my story. An absolute, God's truth slice of my past:

When I was 18, I worked for a real estate firm in Chicago called Frank M. Whiston & Co. I was an accounting clerk, and I made $380.00 per month, BEFORE taxes. For this $380.00 per month, I opened, counted, and reconciled rent checks from various Chicago properties. Eight feet away from me sat a young man about the same age, and his name was Ray. He did the exact same job that I did. And for this job, Ray made $500.00 per month. He was single, so having a "family" wasn't even a flimsy excuse. He made more than me because he was a man. Period. And while I always found myself borrowing a few bucks from my coworkers every week so I could buy cigarettes (I was a smoker back then), the amount that Ray made more than me each and every month would have literally paid my entire rent.

That was in 1975. Come on, people of America. I really thought we were past that sh*t by now.

But thank you John McCain, who has informed me in no uncertain terms that I do not need equal pay for equal work. I need education and training. May I take this to mean I need MORE education and training than my male counterparts to do the SAME job so that I can earn the SAME amount of money? Perhaps, then, my male counterparts would like to PAY for that education? If being a woman means I am not entitled to equal pay, then being a man should mean men pay more taxes. Pardon me, but both make the same damned amount of sense.

If you are a woman, please go to the link above and sign the petition. If you are a man, before you close this email and forget about it, think about the women in your life. Your mother, your wife, sister, your daughter-- all of these women whom you claim to care so much about will be faced with this. It affects the woman in the next cubicle who struggles to make daycare payments and can't afford family medical insurance. It affects the friend from work you have lunch with in the plaza-- you know, the gal who brings her lunch most of the time and who can't afford to go out to lunch while coworkers of a certain gender eat out 4 or 5 times a week. The world would be a better place and politicians like McCain might actually wake the frack up if their male counterparts added their voices to the "THIS IS NOT FAIR!" scream.

It's not hard to figure it out. Fair should be fair for everyone, not just a few someones.

Thanks for reading this, and for your support.
All best,

Yvonne Navarro


For those of you unfamiliar with the backstory on this, Lily Ledbetter (for whom the Fair Pay Act is named) was a management executive at Goodyear; after putting in twenty-some years there, she received an anonymous e-mail revealing how much the other four executives at her level were being paid -- it had to be anonymous, because discussing executive pay at Goodyear is STRICTLY VERBOTEN.

What the e-mail revealed was that the least-compensated of those co-workers (all men), who was a number of years behind her in terms of seniority, was being paid thousands of dollars more per year than she was (despite her years of promotions and excellent performance reviews). She sued Goodyear for discrimination, and received a substantial jury award -- which was overturned on appeal . . . because, under federal law, a discrimination lawsuit must be brought within six months of the discrimination's FIRST OCCURRENCE. Note that the fact this discrimination was a corporate secret -- concealed by explicit company policy -- is irrelevant. This view of the law was upheld by our Supreme Court (in a majority opinion written by none other than Samuel J. Alito, if memory serves).

Congress undertook to rectify this manifest unfairness by writing a law which would set the deadline for discrimination lawsuits to six months after the discrimination is discovered by the injured party, as opposed to its "first occurrence."

Seems simple, yes? Simple fairness. But in today's America, nothing is ever that simple.

This law sailed through the House of Representatives, but was blocked in the Senate by Republican filibuster. Mitch McConnell, minority leader, claimed that the Republicans stood against it because this law had been specifically designed purely to enrich trial lawyers by unleashing a flood of lawsuits. (Never mind the finding by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office of just the opposite.)

It's worth noting, here, that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took a day off from their respective presidential campaigns to return to Washington so they could vote on this bill. (For the record: both voted in favor).

Senator McCain was apparently too busy to make the trip.

That's all.

Monday, March 31

To answer Steve's question from the previous comment section:

Some of The Lies of Locke Lamora may have vaguely reminded you of my style because Scott Lynch was, at the time of its writing, still a pretty hard-core Caine fan . . . but mostly, really, it's just that Scottie's a fuckin' genius, and great minds sometimes think alike.

I've said it before: Scott Lynch is what I'd be if I were younger, smarter and better looking. Since I am none of those things, I am forced to settle for being me.

I never recognize my own style in other people's writing; to me, I don't even have a style. I just try to write the best I can. I suspect Scott works the same way. I mean, if it wasn't for my name on both covers, I seriously doubt many people would have tumbled to the fact that Heroes Die and Revenge of the Sith were written by the same guy. Maybe if some hard-core Lit Geek were to analyze the word-frequency and check for my own coinages and shit -- like they do when they're trying to figure out if Shakespeare's plays were written by Shakespeare or by another playwright of the same name -- they might come up with some kind of positive match, but short of that? I dunno.

I just write it the way I'd like it to be if I were reading it instead. If Scott's style really is similar to mine, that could be part of why I like his stuff so much. It might also just be that his stuff's really good, and I have good taste.

Who knows?

Wednesday, March 19


In response to the exchange between Aaron and Songofgreyshadows:

Just so you all know, there actually is a Stover Forum on the Web -- it was set up a couple years ago by the good folks over at -- and it's a swell place to get into all the writing advice and PersonalAnecdotesAboutHowIChangedYourLife and all that shit.

The URL is, if my browser serves as a reliable memory:

Stover Forum

With thanks to Chris Billett.

Anybody who stops by will have to kick off the tarps and blow the dust away, because nobody's posted there in months. And no swearing at the President and stuff -- they have terms of service that insist everyone play nice. Which means that it's probably not the best place for Caine-Ma'elKoth slashfic, but for everything else, it works pretty well.

I also get email notification of new posts, so it's easy for me to keep track of stuff over there.

That's all.

Wednesday, March 12

Hey, everybody.

I just got my first royalty check for Star Wars on Trial, making it my second US book in a row (after Revenge of the Sith) to earn out its advance. This is a positive trend, and one that I hope to encourage.

Now, it's not a big check, but any royalty check is essentially Found Money -- extra payment for work which was done long ago.

So I just wanted to say thanks to all you folks out there who were willing to shell out 18 bucks to read Brin and me bicker about Star Wars.



Tuesday, March 11

From Robert, in the previous comments section:

-I've been wondering, is there any significance to what you refer to your characters and when? I've noticed you seem to call Hari "Caine" when you're referring to his Overworld exploits and Caine "Hari when referring to his life on Earth. Also that when you referred to Kris as "Deliann" a few posts back it was specifically when referencing a point in the story when he and Caine were on Overworld. I've seen authors who stick to a specific system with referring to their characters; Dennis O'Neil stands out as he would always refer to the DC Comics character The Question as "Charlie" even though most of the world knew him as "Vic Sage". Is this choice in reference an intended separation that goes along with your "Theory of Personality", or if it's just instinctual on your part?


Instinctual, I guess: I use Caine for the character, Hari for the Actor . . . even though he's achieved significant integration by the end of BLADE. Same with Kris and Deliann. One of the things I hope people will find interesting in CAINE BLACK KNIFE is the contrasts--and similarities--Caine Back Then and Caine Nowadays.

btw, I loved the Question. He had just returned in his own monthly series maybe a year or so before I quit collecting comics, back in the late 80s/early 90s. He was the coolest . . . and not just because he was the original model for Rorschach, either.


-Something I've wondered for a while: If authors try to implant concepts and ideas into their books and what people get from said writing is a product of their own imagination meeting the words on the page, doesn't that create a sort of paradox within the process? Just something that struck me when reading your comments (not that I disagree with them, just an idea that hit me).


I don't try to implant concepts and ideas; that way lies madness and all manner of Goodkinditude. I try to use the underlying concepts of a story in an interesting way, that's all--to let them inform and enhance the action. Scott Lynch, in a love-letter to HEROES DIE he once posted on, described it as "opt-in fiction." He was attracted, he said, by the way the Big Ideas are there, but you don't have to think about them if you don't want to. This is a model I've tried to stick to ever since (that whole Tyranny of Praise thing, y'know?), with varying success (worked out pretty well in SHATTERPOINT and REVENGE OF THE SITH, less so in TRAITOR and BLADE OF TYSHALLE, where the ideas sometimes intrude and hijack the story).


-And finally, are there any plans for you to be doing another book signing tour for either Caine Black Knife or your next Star Wars book?


Not currently. I'll let you know.

Monday, March 10

From Aaron, in the comments section:



So, I want to be more active and help you write more Caine novels. I'm sure your publicist has all sorts of data and crap...and I know you'll have a better idea, but here goes.

What do y'all think of the Asshole Maneuver:

1: Bombard popular blogs with content and quotes related to MWS work.

2: Subsidize tattoos or other forms of advertisement that will glean public attention.

3: Go from store to store inserting slips of paper into each and every book with clips from MWS work and indicate that they should read that work "or else."

4: Get published and dedicate our stuff to MWS.

5: End the war in Iraq - dedicate it to MWS. How?...

Make them all wear bikini clothes and shoot those who do not. No room for hidden bombs when you're mostly naked.

With these key points, I suspect change is in the wind my friends!


I'm Matthew Woodring Stover, and I approved this message.

Wednesday, March 5

E. Gary Gygax died yesterday.

Nearly everybody who still hangs out here should be a big enough geek to at least know who he was. As my old friend Eric posted on his blog:


And thanks.

Most folks 'round here should know, too, that the genesis of the whole Acts of Caine/Overworld cycle sprang from an attempt to "SFnalize" the experience of playing in a truly immersive AD&D campaign. In my original gaming days, our players and game-masters were all actors and writers . . . so the games were, at their best, exactly what Gygax was shooting for: interactive novels, created on the spot and in the moment by a bunch of geeks fueled by two-liter bottles of Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, and vast amounts of accumulated fatigue toxins.

I still miss them, too. As many folks around here know, I am not a particularly happy person. Those long nights hanging out in somebody's basement or living room over sheets of paper and high-impact polyhedra were pretty much the most fun I've ever had in my life, before or since.

It was also a transformative moment that has determined the course of my life: because one day it came to me that plotting a novel well involves the same skills as planning a campaign: devising exciting problems for your characters, and making sure they are personally invested in solving them . . . It really is a powerful defense against idiot plotting, because you can never depend on your players to do something stupid just to advance the story.

That's all.

Wednesday, February 27

They come at him one at a time, each warrior in turn charging toward honorable single combat.
They come two at a time.
By the time they begin to come in groups, they have to scramble over the bodies of their dead comrades to reach him. A pile of bodies.
A pile that becomes a wall, a rampart.
Ganner Rhysode builds a fortress of the dead.

That makes me feel inferior.

Doesn't look like much, here . . . but in context, the emotion that very, very simple, straightforward prose evokes make me wonder if I was using the same brain then that I am now.

Here's the thing:

I am very happy, and deeply honored, that my fiction has been important to several folks 'round these parts, and elsewhere. But you all should understand: it's not because I'm anything special, or because my stories have some particular depth or significance. What is special is the intersection of my words with your imaginations.

You've probably heard it said that "What you get out of it depends on what you put into it." What you may not have realized is how literally true that platitude becomes when you apply it to the act of reading fiction.

I've tried other formulations of the same sentiment, especially in Blade of Tyshalle: "What any work of art means depends on who you are when you look at it." And, once or twice, in reference to uncomplimentary reviews: "When you judge a book, the book also judges you."

These are all ways of saying the same thing. Look: a work of fiction is not words on a page, or on a screen. That's part of it, and it's not the most important part. The actual story--the Real Novel--is what unfolds in your head as you read those words.

You get it?

This is why I can find myself feeling inferior to authors some readers might not consider my equals--because their books inspire in me feelings and images and all manner of experience that I can never get from my own books.

Except sometimes, a few years down the road, when I have enough distance from a story I've penned to approach it as a reader, rather than as its author. Then I do occasionally feel inferior to my (younger) self.

So this is the thing I really want to drive home for any and all people who find something special in my books (or, for that matter, in anyone else's).

It's not the book. It's you. It's your mind doing all the work. Your commitment, your willingness to be touched, your suspension of disbelief and the power of your imagination. That's why there are many, many people who will never be moved by some story you love -- or, for some impoverished souls, by any story at all.

If you find something extraordinary in one of my books, it's because it was already inside you, and the words just helped you locate it, that's all.

And for those who don't find anything extraordinary in any of my books, fuck you anyway. Read something else, punk ass.

Monday, February 25

In response to the question "Michael" left on my last post: I don't really read much fiction any more. I recommended Scott Lynch because his publisher very considerately floated me an ARC of The Lies of Locke Lamora, which I thought was the best fantasy adventure I'd read in maybe ten years. It was, however, entirely painful for me to admit this, as Scotty is a friend of mine (as well as some fifteen years my junior) and I think he's already better at this shit than I am.

This is why I rarely read new SFF authors: professional jealousy. My reaction to a book by a new writer usually falls into one of two clearly-defined categories:

1) How Did This Pile of Dogshit Get Into Print -- and Why Is It Out-Selling My Books Ten-to-One?


2) This Is How I Would Have Written My Own Books, if I Weren't a Complete Fucking Loser.

You can see how this unfortunate quirk of psychology makes reading my peers kind of painful.

So I mostly read non-fiction, and classics. If I'm going to feel inferior anyway, I prefer to feel inferior to Hemingway, Chandler or Conrad, y'know?

Sunday, February 24

Hey, everybody.

A couple things: Caine Black Knife looks to be the shortest (in word count) of the Acts of Caine, for two reasons:

1) unlike the other two, this one is All About Caine (he's in every single scene), and
2) I'm trying something new with this novel . . . a narrative technique borrowed from comics (and minimalist fiction), one that Scott McCloud, in his seminal work Understanding Comics, refers to as "psychological closure" -- which is a term for how our minds fill in detail that isn't actually shown. Hemingway was probably the greatest English-language master of this technique, and you all know my long-standing affection for Uncle Ernie.

So, essentially, I was (and still am) trying to figure out a way to write an entire novel without any Boring Crap -- you know, the linking narration and scene transitions, the background info-dumps, that kind of shit. Now I know some of you actually like the info-dump kind of stuff (I'm looking at you, Ilya!), but personally I can't stand it . . . and it's my story, after all. If I did it right, all pertinent questions will be answered, at least tangentially. I'm just trying to distill the story . . . if Heroes Die was a sixpack of strong beer, and Blade of Tyshalle was a magnum of amarone, then Caine Black Knife will be a gallon of barrel-proof bourbon.

If I screwed it up . . . ? Well, so it goes. Del Rey no longer expects to make any kind of serious money off Caine -- as near as I can tell, they are publishing this book due to some arm-twisting by my estimable editor, and to keep me happily plugging away on Star Wars. Which works for me.

As for the Bush Administration's ass-hattery, well . . . I get tired of being angry all the time. So I've been pretty much ignoring their crap.

If any of you are interested, I voted for Barack Obama in the Wisconsin primary . . . though if Senator Clinton stages another improbable comeback and wins the Democratic nomination, I will happily support her for President. There are many things to admire about John McCain, but his politics are not among them.

Tuesday, February 12


Those of you who've stuck with me this far might still be interested: I'm proofing the copy-edit on Caine Black Knife. So it's on track for October. So far.

That's all.