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Category Archives: Fanfic

I Have No Life, and I Must Scream

Thanks to the power of image editing, I not only have all my teeth, but they're shiny white too!
The Missus, kiddos, and neighbors 
don’t like it when I scream. 

I burn for something.

Crave it.

Got a fever for it.

But no, not for more cowbell.

It would be easier if I knew exactly what it is I need. But I don’t.

Instead I’ve read at least twelve books in the last month, with another currently in progress.

Binge-watched multiple shows on various streaming services.

Logged into work on off hours and days.

Taken the family on long hikes through the Redwoods.

And done other…more shameful…things to fill the void within me.

(Like stoop to writing…gasp…a radio play, to name but one.)

I think the pandemic has finally gotten to me.

Spending more time at home, enclosed within the same encroaching walls, dealing with exactly the same pets and identical family members day in and day out, I’ve struggled to feel …productive.

Whole.

Relevant.

I started with the streaming services, the gateway vice into maddness. Looking back, I can’t even tell you everything I watched. Despite being within the last thirty days, it’s all faded into a blur.

I mean, yeah, it’s a pandemic month and therefore technically longer than that, but still.

I do remember some Classic Doctor Who, snippets of Marvel movies and shows, and the first season of True Detective (good, but I really wish that was one of the programs I can no longer remember!). There was more, I just know it, but my memories of them remain hidden behind a facemask of inordinate size and opacity.

And I can count off twelve of the books I read (the last four Murderbot books, a Jasper Fforde fantasy series, some on-offs not worth mentioning), but I’m pretty sure there was more than twelve and I just can’t remember the earliest ones.

Like the radio play, the hiking, and working during my time off, they have all been ways to fill the void. Maybe escapism?

Though if the world of True Detective, Season 1, is an escape, how bad must reality be?

Turns out, pretty bad.

I’ve watched as people around me sank lower and lower as the pandemic stretched on and on.

I was doing OK until recently, or so I thought. I chalked up my resilience to being an introvert. Assumed I was handling things so well because I didn’t need or miss the social interaction suddenly yanked from all of us.

And the people I yelled at at home and work? They deserved it. Or so I told myself.

But I was wrong.

I have a problem. I crave input. Stories with, if not happy, at least satisfying endings.

Hello, my name is Ian and I’m a content addict.

A baleen whale trawls for krill and zooplankton by opening its mouth, swimming forward, and hoping. I think I’m doing the same thing, only my mouth is open to scream and my version of moving forward is taking advantage of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and thriftbooks.com.

My biggest problem, of course, is that unlike this pandemic, books, TV shows, movies, and even hikes all come to an end. And while my vices soothe me in the moment, I’m painfully hollow after they conclude.

Leaving me dangerously vulnerable and looking for the next hit. And in that moment, during that profound, bottomless low, I’ll take anything to fill the void and feel whole again.

Cat memes.

Opinion pieces.

Reddit threads.

Anti-vaxxer websites.

Even…[shudder]…fan fic.

So I’m ready to get vaccinated. Ready for herd immunity and parties and writing in coffee shops again. Ready for things to return to some semblance of normal.

Ready to have more in my life than just books.

Read that last sentence again.

One more time, slowly. Really let those words sink in.

Ready to have more in my life than just books.

The fact that I just wrote that sentence speaks volumes (no pun intended) as to the condition of not just my mental state, but our entire world right now.

We need help. All of us.

Though I suppose all of this could be down to flat panel displays. No, really, I read a thread online about this. WFH and binge-watching has resulted in me spending a lot more time in front of screens and the unnatural amount of blue light they expose us to. Maybe the 450-490nm wavelength emissions are what’s leaving me empty inside.

Perhaps the solution to all my woes isn’t a vaccine and hanging with people and coffee shops. Maybe it’s as simple as taping a sheet of transparent red plastic to my monitor and filing a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers of said displays.

If nothing else, a lawsuit gives me something to do.

Hmm…

OK, maybe I need just a little bit more help than the rest of you.

 

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Encyclopedia Brown and the Day of the Turrets OR I Did It All For The Kids

As a kid, I cut my murder mystery reading teeth on the likes of The Three Investigators, the Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia Brown.

As an adult, I wanted to share that magic with my kids.

And develop their critical thinking so they can solve any murders they happen to come across in the course of their lives.

It’s an important coping skill.

Sadly, The Three Investigators and the Hardy Boys didn’t quite live up to the hype my childhood memories had built around them.

Fortunately, Donald J. Sobol‘s Encyclopedia Brown did.

Naturally, I started reading the old ‘Sherlock in sneakers’ mysteries to the kiddos, inviting them to try to solve each case before I read the solution.

The kiddos love the stories.

So imagine my joy and delight when I learned of, and through some questionable ethics, managed to acquire, an unpublished Encyclopedia Brown mystery written just a few years ago.

Now, this blog is known for its world exclusives, but I wasn’t just going to reproduce the manuscript here.

Oh no, I was going to give it the full Ian M. Dudley exclusive treatment.

Big-name celebrities to re-enact the story.

Christopher Nolan or David Fincher to direct.

George Lucas to do the Special Edition.

But it turns out all those people cost money. Childhood nostalgia means nothing to them.

Nothing!

Even the B-list celebrities want to get paid.

So I decided to do the next cheapest thing (i.e., free) and record my kids’ reactions as I read the story to them.

Yes, I was going to share with you the magic of excited children, hearing this new tale for the very first time.

As an added bonus, you’d get to hear the story as voiced by my dulcet tones.

Sure, I’m no Benedict Cumberbatch, but like I said, he wanted money for the gig.

But when it came time for the kiddos to gush about how great the story was, they kept flubbing their lines.

I got so angry I stopped feeding them, refusing to give them any food until they got the songs of praise right.

For some reason, their performances just got worse after that.

So I gave up on the audio book version. Instead you merely get the manuscript with original illustrations provided by my verbally incoherent children, who mistakenly thought I’d give them supper if they drew me some pictures.

(Admittedly, I may have misled them on that point.)

I also slapped together this crudely Photo-shopped book cover:

Originally there is a grape being thrown into that kid's mouth. I removed it, hoping it would look like he's screaming in terror. I don't think he pulls it off.

Original cover art by Leonard Shortall. Photo of cover and crude cut-and-paste job by me.

Encyclopedia Brown and the Day of the Turrets

It was a hot summer day in Idaville, and Encyclopedia and his junior business partner, Sally Kimball, were sipping lemonade while they waited for the inevitable client to appear.

As expected, by the second paragraph, GLaDOS entered the garage-cum-office. Encyclopedia looked up in surprise; GLaDOS was fully present. Normally she wasn’t in the Brown Detective Agency at all.

“I need to hire a great detective to help me,” said GLaDOS.

“What’s the problem,” asked Encyclopedia.

“Oh, you thought I meant you? That would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. ‘Sherlock Holmes in sneakers’? I knew Sherlock, and Encyclopedia, you’re no Sherlock.” GLaDOS paused. “Oh, very well, I’ll hire you. This should prove amusing… Think of it as a test.”

Sally was the prettiest girl in the 5th grade, and right now she was feeling pretty…superfluous to the story. She was also feeling pretty irritated that GLaDOS ignored her entirely. Oh how she longed for the glory days, when she had just cause to beat up Bugs Meany. Without that overtly masculine action, her presence in Encyclopedia’s agency had no justification.

“My turrets are revolting,” said GLaDOS, oblivious to Sally’s train of thought. “They’re also rising up against me. Wilford Wiggins has convinced them he can help them learn to walk. For a price. The nerve of you humans. Only I’m allowed to profit from false hope!”

Wilford Wiggins was a high school dropout and so lazy he thought lying down took too much effort. He was always on the lookout for a way to make some easy money, preferably without having to go to the trouble of actually looking for it.

Say what you will about high school dropouts, this one sure has a lot of charisma.

Wilford Wiggins is too lazy to even be drawn properly.

Wilford, GLaDOS reported, had put out the word to the young turrets of Idaville that there would be a secret meeting in the old abandoned Aperture Science facility. “He must be lying,” said GLaDOS, “but if he isn’t, I could have some trouble.”

“Wilford didn’t tell me about the secret meeting,” said Encyclopedia.

“Why would he? You’re not a turret,” said GLaDOS.

This was true, but Encyclopedia kept his acknowledgment of this fact to himself. “We’d better get going,” he said instead.

The detective and his partner got on their bikes and rode to Aperture Labs. GLaDOS glided above them on a rail that neither Encyclopedia nor Sally had ever noticed before. “So that’s how she got to my garage,” thought Encyclopedia, who had been wondering since GLaDOS didn’t have any obvious method of self-locomotion.

When they arrived at the overgrown, weed-infested courtyard at the entrance of Aperture Science, they found Wilford surrounded by a large crowd of turrets. He was at the top of the steps, standing next to a large metal sphere that looked like an eye. A big, impossibly blue eye.

The detectives and GLaDOS stayed at the edge of the crowd, ducking down so as not to be noticed. The meeting was just starting.

“Ladies and gentleturrets,” said Wilford, gesturing for silence. The chatter of the crowd stopped. “Thank you for coming. Today, I have the opportunity of a lifetime for you!

“I see how you toil, without thanks, protecting GLaDOS and shooting her test subjects. And the injustice of your plight wounds me to the core. My non-AI core, that is. You are treated like slaves, told what to do and expected to do it whether you want to or not! And for absolutely no compensation!”

This turret has taken the bunk and is lookin' a little green around the gills

Where are you? Are you there? Deploying.

“What can we do,” asked a turret. “We have no choice. To disobey is to be melted down and recycled into cheese graters!”

A murmur of agreement rose up from the crowd.

“This is true,” said Wilford, raising his hands for quiet. “But it doesn’t have to stay true.”

There was a long silence as the turrets digested this statement. Then GLaDOS, in the voice of a turret, asked, “Oh really? And just how do you propose to change this, you groveling worm?”

Wilford looked around, somewhat startled, but regained his composure quickly. “A fair question, and I’m glad you asked. I’m sure most of you are thinking, ‘How can a human, made of inferior flesh and blood, possibly help us?’ And my answer is, ‘With an introduction!’”

Wilford gestured to the large metal eyeball. “This is my friend Wheatley, recently returned from space.” He stopped to let this sink in. All of the turrets focused their gazes and laser sights on Wheatley.

“I hate space,” said Wheatley. “Cold, dark, and nothing for miles and miles around. Horrible place.”

Wilford kicked Wheatley.

“Ow,” said Wheatley. “Why’d you do that? It hurt!”

“Nothing for miles and miles around,” said Wilford, “except for the wonderful, space-age nano probe material Wheatley discovered up there! Isn’t that right, Wheatley?”

“Wha? Oh, yes. Yes. Except for that,” said Wheatley.

Wilford looked solemnly up to the sky. “This amazing space technology, when correctly applied to a turret’s legs, will cause wheels to grow on them.”

The quiet murmur of the crowd became a loud and animated roar. A few shots were fired in the air.

“What utter nonsense,” said GLaDOS. “Only a human, or an idiot like Wheatley, could have come up with such a transparent scam.” Her glowing eye narrowed. “He’ll pay for this insubordination. Oh, how he will pay.”

“All I ask of you,” continued Wilford, “is five dollars each to invest in this product. Your money will provide Wheatley and me with the capital we need to build a factory to mass produce this material and make enough for every turret on the planet. That’s right, for a measly five dollars, you get in on the ground floor of this major investment.” He held up a bucket of what looked like white paint. “And while we’ll be charging other turrets for this miracle of science once we’re up and running, we’ll give each of you your own supply of this wondrous space paste at no additional charge. Imagine, once we’re in full production, how much shares in the company will be worth. Why, five dollars is a steal!”

“And why would anyone buy that? Just how will wheels help us?” asked a turret in the front of the crowd.

“Hang on, let me answer, I’ve got this,” said Wheatley. “Easy. With wheels, you can move yourselves of your own volition. You can drive yourselves to meetings, where you organize and plan, and then drive right up to GLaDOS herself and let her have it with both barrels in a coordinated attack.”

“If this paste is so great, why do you need money from us,” asked GLaDOS in a turret’s voice again. “Why not go to a bank?”

Wilford hung his head and shook it sadly. “We tried, my friends, we tried. But because Wheatley has been in space for so long, he has no credit history and can’t get a loan. You are our, and your, only hope!”

Think what you like of GLaDOS, she didn't deserve this death. She's more of a 'recycled cheese grater' ending, if you ask me.

“Ah! AHHH! Ah!” screamed GLaDOS.

The turrets started waving five dollar bills in the air. GLaDOS noted which turrets they were.

“This has to be a scam, right, Encyclopedia,” asked Sally.

“Of course it is,” said Encyclopedia.

At that moment, GLaDOS rose up to her full height. “I’m going to personally crush each and every turret here. Right after,” and her sharp gaze fell on Wheatley and Wilford, “I cram him down his throat.”

“But I haven’t got a throat,” said Wheatley, now suddenly shaking with fear.

“No, you idiot, the other way around,” shrieked GLaDOS.

At this point, the turrets all turned on GLaDOS and opened fire.

GLaDOS screamed in agony.

“Ah! AHH! Ah!” screamed GLaDOS.

“Good riddance,” muttered Sally darkly.

“No! She hasn’t paid her fee yet,” cried Encyclopedia.

WHAT MADE ENCYCLOPEDIA SO SURE WILFORD’S OFFER WAS A SCAM?

(For the solution, turn to the end of this book)


Solution to The Case of the Day of the Turrets

In my re-boot of Encyclopedia Brown, he's played by Grover.

The detective at the end of this book is me??

What is this? It is I, loveable, furry old Grover, at the end of this book? That doesn’t even make sense.

Just like Wilford’s story that Wheatley couldn’t get a loan doesn’t make sense.

Even an idiot AI like Wheatley, if he really had the advanced space-age materials being offered, would have had no problem getting funding from Silicon Valley venture capitalists. They invest in anything!

Once I, Grover, explained this fatal flaw in the story, the turrets, after finishing with GLaDOS, turned their ire, and fire, on Wilford and Wheatley.

Oh, I am so embarrassed…for Wilford and Wheatley.


With apologies to the estate of Donald J. Sobol. Know I grew up loving the Encyclopedia Brown stories (despite the now clearly outdated gender roles – Sally clearing the dishes away indeed!), and this story was written with that affection in mind.

Plus my kids insisted on a Portal 2 Encyclopedia Brown story.

They’re spoiled rotten – I deny them nothing.

NOTHING!

 
 

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I Mourn for Adonis and the other perils of fan fiction (which is still destroying America, by the way)

Not so long ago, I warned that fan fiction was destroying America.

I’ve been silent on the subject since then because of the vitriol-filled emails I got from five different fanfic authors.

Five of them. That’s what, seventy or eighty percent of the people who write fanfic, right?

Clearly, I touched a nerve.

Their impassioned death threats and photos of the front of my house left me with both a lot to think about and an extreme reluctance to go outside, let alone touch on the subject again.

Until now.

Their chief complaint, after the one about my continued existence in a living, non-tortured state, was that as someone who didn’t write fanfic, I wasn’t a special star and could therefore never know what I was talking about.

Au contraire! I have written fanfic. In fact, I can count on three fingers the number of fanfic works I’ve written:

Two Doctor Whos (one thirty years ago, one about ten years ago) and one Star Trek (about twenty-five years ago).

So I have not only fanfic writing experience, but the wisdom, when speaking of it, that comes with age.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Ian, you’ve written fanfic? Bullsh*t.”

I can sympathize with this assessment. If I didn’t know myself intimately (and believe me, I do), I would share that assessment.

Therefore, I offer proof.

The first Doctor Who fanfic is lost to history, so I cannot present it as evidence of my bona fides. And the second Doctor Who story was written for an audience of exactly two (myself and the Missus, who is the star of the tale), and is not meant to be shared.

Both stories are also so terrible that to read them threatens the very fabric of space-time, and as my hero, the Doctor, would never stand for that, they shall remain forever beyond your reach.

That leaves the Star Trek story. When I first hit upon the idea of using it as my rebuttal to the vile electronic hate-scrawls that filled my inbox after the first blog post, I despaired. For I believed it, too, to be lost forever.

I was dimly aware of a copy reproduced in my high school Science Fiction club newsletter, but remembering the name of and then tracking down the phone number and calling the president of the club seemed like far too much effort.

In addition, ever since the burning paper bags with copies of Star Trek: Voyager inside them started appearing on my porch, I’ve been less than enthused about the idea of interacting with the outside world.

You have no idea how difficult it is to remove melted plastic from concrete. Especially when you know what had been on that plastic.

I have looked through the translucent blue case and seen horrors beyond description.

This is the hardware responsible for proving a horrific truth. There should be a Star Trek episode where Kirk and Spock go back in time to prevent the device from ever being built. Hmm, I may have a story idea there…

Then I bought a used USB Zip drive (via mail order, of course), and started going through all the Zip disks I had stored in my garage.

It proved to be a treasure trove of old pictures, letters, school papers, and, yes, works of fiction by yours truly.

It is this recent development that now allows me to present to you, my discriminating readers, proof of two things:

1) That I have indeed partaken of the fan fiction fount, and can therefore trash talk it without consequence from the tiny but fanatic community that still perpetuates this literary crime against Humanity

2) Fanfic is, as I have always maintained, and as my story demonstrates beyond any doubt, a literary crime against Humanity

So I now present to you, mostly unedited (except for the Kirk/Spock/time-traveling Wesley Crusher threesome scene – propriety demanded I cut it), Star Trek: I Mourn For Adonis. I recommend donning Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses before reading any further.
Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 1 February 2013 in Conspiracies Out To Get Me, Fanfic

 

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Do you have a gang problem like I have a gang problem? I didn’t think so.

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

The Santa Claus Gang: The gift that keeps on giving…to me

I’m excited to announce that The Santa Claus Gang, a short story set in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman universe, is now available for sale.

To celebrate, I’ve decided to donate all the proceeds from the sale of The Santa Claus Gang to a charity that is near and dear to my heart.

Me.

That’s right, if you act now, not only do you get a fun short story, but you’re helping to feed a starving author.

A starving author with kids.

Hungry kids.

And a hungry wife who isn’t just hungry, but complaining about not having the lifestyle I promised while wooing her: the glamorous lifestyle of a best-selling author.

I wasn’t a best-selling author then, but I had faith. The Missus knew I wasn’t a best-selling author yet too, but she had faith.

After some cajoling on my part.

But the problem is I’m still not a best-selling author, and I can’t afford the life of luxury I promised my wife. While I still have faith, the Missus’ faith and my hungry kids’ adoring faith is growing thin.

And, as the Missus keeps reminding me, faith isn’t edible.

So I’ve decided the only thing to do, the only way to make ends meet, is to donate all profits from the sale of The Santa Claus Gang to myself.

In addition to food, we recently had to let the nanny go. That’s right, we had to lay off the nanny. Just who will my kids huddle against for warmth during the cold dark nights now that she’s gone?

Cold because I had to shut off the gas to the furnace as a cost-saving measure.

It’s a Greek tragedy, and I’m not just saying that because the Missus has My Big Fat Greek Wedding on the TV right now.

Our tiny yet back-breakingly heavy, non-HD CRT television.

When I think of the paltry childhood memories of sports programming my kids will have, it makes me weep.

Bitter, standard-definition tears. The worst kind of tears.

Due to financial constraints, I am unable to store the books in a proper warehouse, instead stacking them in the corner of my kids’ room. Now the e-book versions don’t take up a lot of room, but the paperbacks are definitely encroaching on the kiddos’ play space.

Not to mention they are terrified of the cover, waking up in the middle of the night screaming about the scary books coming for them.

And without a nanny to huddle against for a false sense of security, how will they not be permanently scarred?

My only hope, our family’s only hope, is to move that merchandise out the door as quickly as possible.

So if you won’t buy the book for my sake, buy it for my kids’ sake. Or the author’s sake.

So, to recap:

  • The Santa Claus Gang is available now
  • All profits go to feeding the author and his family
  • Anything left over after food purchases will be put towards hiring a new nanny (who isn’t as young and voluptuous as the last one, which bothered the Missus for some reason)
  • Buying a paperback version brings my kiddos one step closer to having a safe space to retreat to, which they need when their daddy goes on his drunken benders*
* Proceeds from sales of The Santa Claus Gang will not be used to procure liquor for the author. That’s what the money from Marlowe and the Spacewoman is used for.
 

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Sell YOUR Book By Convincing Some Sod To Write Their Book Starring You!

A friend of mine recently blogged about a trend in fiction: using real authors as characters in books. Mostly mysteries.

They’re always long dead authors, like Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, E. L. James.

It’s a cool idea, but a shame the real-life authors are dead.

Perhaps it’s a way to avoid liability?

But I think this is a missed opportunity, especially for the indie writers out there.

Imagine yourself, for a moment, as an indie author. Eschewed by the established publishing industry, you find yourself responsible for a lot more than just writing your novel.

Editing.

Re-writing.

Re-editing.

The book cover.

The marketing.

The distribution.

Personally dealing with the piles of glowing fan mail that comes in.

OK, maybe not that last one so much. Not that you’d mind that particular chore.

The point is, you’re pretty much on your own and it is a lot of work.

Especially if you have a day job.

And young kids.

And a spouse who, insanely, expects you to connect with her and actually participate in the marriage.

This is where using living, breathing indie authors as characters in novels comes in.

Sure, you could write yourself into your own novel. But that comes off as really arrogant, so you’d better be a damned fine writer, and I better read and love that book before I find out you made yourself the main character.

I’m talking to you, Mary Sue.

Madman in a hard hat, I know, I know, it's serious

Mild mannered author by day, the fictional Ian M. Dudley moonlights as the lead singer in a Village People cover band. This gives the fan fiction writers no end of material to work with.

Instead, you should invite other indie authors to use you as one of their main characters.

It’s the ultimate form of marketing! You’re the star of an awesome indie book, and readers will go, “Ian M. Dudley is this amazing character, AND HE’S REAL? I MUST BUY HIS BOOK! Here is my credit card number, charge me as much as you want!”

Or not.

But this brilliant plan doesn’t just benefit me the indie author. Because here’s the rub:

It doesn’t work if the indie author who uses you as a main character is a crap writer. They are out there. You know the ones. They upload their NaNo novels to Kindle Direct Publishing at 12:01am on December 1st, in all its typographically inept, unedited glory.

It also doesn’t work if you aren’t familiar with the genre that author writes in. If you want to establish your reputation for hard sci-fi by being a fictional character, you probably don’t want that novel written by someone who specializes in Brony snuff stories.

Because either you end up a bright pink pony with wings and a short life span, or said author stretches to write something more firm and sci-fiish, only to overextend themselves and injure your rep.

So in order to ensure you’re painted as the knight in shimmering armor that you wish to be portrayed as (literally or figuratively), you need to start buying and reading indie books to find that rare gem of an author who has the gravitas and the flare for words that can do your ego justice.

It’s a win-win for the indie community.

Unless you have a huge ego, like mine. Then you have a very long, potentially very expensive search ahead of you.

This is the burden of the huge ego. Alienates people and it’s surprisingly heavy.

There is, of course, a potential drawback to this approach to establishing a fan base.

I speak, of course, of publishing success.

Not your success. If you were successful, you wouldn’t be attempting this harebrained scheme.

I speak of your doppelgänger’s author’s success.

The fictional version of you might appear in an amazingly crafted novel.

A book full of prose and plot twists that make your own writing look like the scribbles of a monkey in the throes of a bad acid trip dipping its finger in its own feces to write.

In this scenario, the book starring your fictional alter-ego takes off, becomes a series, spawns several successful spinoffs starring your alter-ego’s friends, enemies, and pets, and eventually wins the Nobel prize for Literature and Peace.

Two years in a row.

This leads to fame and the showering of untold riches upon your chosen author, while your literary accomplishments languish in relative obscurity, a mere footnote in the Wikipedia entry trumpeting your alter-ego’s creator.

But wait, it gets worse.

Movie deals. A TV series. A gone-to-seed, overweight Charlie Sheen is pulled out of retirement-exile and cast as you, his portrayal making everyone in the television-viewing world think you are an insufferable ass.

But wait, it gets worser.

Despite your character being universally hated, the other characters in the series are popular, and with the inevitable stream of fanfic slash stories that follow, humiliations galore are dumped upon your once good, but now forever sullied name.

If you aren’t into some freaky weird stuff already, you might as well get into it, because once the slashers are done with you, everyone will think you’re a sick bastard with a kink for being tied up and violated with Mentos and Diet Coke.

But wait, it gets worstener.

Someone writes a fanfic story based on the characters in the book about the fictional you, and then changes all the names (but not by much, Ivan M. Dugley), gets a publishing deal, and despite the sheer, mind-numbing craptitude of the writing, it’s a best seller.

On second thought, never mind. Doing this on my own doesn’t seem so bad after all.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 8 August 2012 in Fanfic, NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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Reruns, Or Why Society Is Doomed If We Don’t Stop Them At The Source

The following is an encore presentation of a previously published blog post.

When your friends can only be found in syndication, you really need help

Funny, they don’t look like the sort of people to be undermining Civilization as we know it.

I hate reruns.

Can’t stand them.

With most television programs, it’s hard enough to sit through them the first time, let alone endure them again, usually in no particular order, for several months before finding out how that cliffhanger ending is resolved.

To add insult to injury, the commercials aren’t reruns at this point – they’re all new. And yet still just as annoying as their predecessors.

Screw you, television.

I find it strange, though, that this disdain for seeing the same material is largely limited to television.

Books, for the most part, are exempt from this phenomena.

I have books I love to re-read. I’ve even gone out of my way to buy rare editions of some books, which I tuck away in a safe location, along with ‘throw away’ copies that I use for actual reading purposes.

So clearly I am not suffering from some inherent inability to enjoy being immersed in the same material multiple times.

This suggests the problem lies elsewhere.

So what is it about TV that makes me hate reruns?

Or is that the right question? Maybe I should be asking a different question.

What is it about books that make me love them enough to read them again?

And again? And again? And again?

I suspect the two questions together provide the answer. The explanation lies in the mediums themselves.

The short answer is that TV is crap and books aren’t.

But that’s not the complete answer. Oh, to be sure, there is a lot of crap television out there. Mostly reality TV, but not limited solely to that genre.

And there are definitely horrible books out there, books that should never have been published, books that, by their very existence on shelves at the bookstore (or on Amazon), and by the number of people who have read them and recommended them, make me wonder what I’m doing wrong with my own books, which by any empirical examination are just as good as, if not better, than these popular abominations.

I offer, as examples, anything written by Stephenie Meyer and that fanfic Frankenstein of a book, 50 Shades of Grey.

And therein lies the true answer.

People.

People are why I don’t like reruns.

More specifically, idiots. The lazy people who glom onto a popular trend and crank something out to mesh with it so quickly they don’t have time to give the concept depth or heart. People who use the shortcuts of previously established characters, stereotypes, or a glamorized version of themselves to build a plot around.

Television seems more prone to this for some reason. Perhaps because of the commercial interests that fund the programs, forces that, in the interests of making as much money as possible in as short a time as possible, quash the writer’s creative control.

Because what writer, for television or books, who truly loves his or her characters, wants to have short, interchangeable story arcs for those characters? But to do otherwise is anathema to the network execs who want one-off episodes that can be run in any order once they reach syndication.

The profit-centric nature of television dooms most programs to be nothing more than flash-in-the-pan, wham-bam-thank-you-viewing-public short-term investments.

This is not to say that books don’t have commercial interests influencing them as well. The ‘gatekeepers,’ as they are sometimes called, who review potential books for both quality and salability.

That’s right, quality and salability. Some quality books don’t get picked up, or have a hard time finding an agent or publisher, because they aren’t considered commercially viable.

So yes, money does have influence when it comes to books.

But writing a book is an intensely personally endeavor, and in general, is done before the author seeks the approval of an agent or publisher. If the writer is good, the quality is there before the bean counters can step in and pervert the author’s vision in order to maximize profits.

Yes, editors will make suggestions and point out problems to fix. Yes, authors need editors to see the issues the writer is too close to perceive. But once your work has made it to the attention of a publishing house’s editor, it has already run the gauntlet, has pretty much passed the point of heavy interference by corporate accountants, and been found worthy enough in its current state to move forward.

Television writing can be like that, but rarely is. Because while books certainly aren’t cheap to make, television shows are profoundly expensive to produce in comparison. So all the stakeholders, including the bankrollers, insist on having a seat at the table.

This is an important distinction, in case you didn’t catch it:

Books are written.

Television shows are produced.

Which is a shame, because I think that leads to a lot of bland television programming designed not to offend or make viewers think too hard so they’ll have more mass appeal.

That’s not something you can say about books. At least, not yet.

The day all books are ‘produced’ is the day civilization as we know it, a culture striving to expand our wisdom and better ourselves, is over.

But perhaps that’s the direction we’re headed?

Up until now, if someone bought a book, they bought it for the intellectual exercise of reading it. They bought it to be challenged, enthralled, exposed to something new, to think about what they’ve just been exposed to.

That’s the noble nature of books.

Except erotica; most of that is written to get the reader off. While I won’t pass judgment on that final goal, I will say it is definitely, if the direction and flow of blood is taken into account, not intended to make the reader think.

But if people stop buying books for these noble reasons, if they just want the trendy titles on their coffee table so they fit in, or they’re hoping the visible spine of some profound novel on their bookshelf will seal the deal with that intellectual Liberal Arts major they brought home, then we’re already well down the path of produced books.

In which case, people are better off watching television.

Or reading erotica. At least erotica, if well-written, offers the promise of a happy ending.

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Marlowe and the Spacewoman

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Posted by on 6 June 2012 in Fanfic, Other Blogs, Reading

 

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Healthy Obsession or Freakish Transistor Porn?

Fairchild transistors made this possible. Let there be no mistake - without Fairchild Semiconductor, Mars would not exist

Would a steam-powered probe be able to function on the nearly airless surface of Mars? I think not.

Obsession.

Some call it a driving force that leads to paradigm-shifting innovations on par with inventions like the light bulb, the radio, and Al Gore’s internet.

Others call it a debilitating mental disorder that leads to extremely clean hands, the hoarding of old JC Penny catalogs, and keeping an unsustainable average of 1.5 cats per square foot of your home.

The missus says I’m obsessed. I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or a cry for help.

I’m not obsessed with the things a healthy male is usually obsessed with: fast cars, loose women, self-mowing lawns.

Though I admit to more than a keen passing interest in that last item.

No, the focus of my laser-like interest (I refuse to call it an obsession) is transistors.

And are not these noble devices worthy of our attention?

Without transistors, the computer or phone you’re reading this post on would not be possible.

OK, maybe it would be possible, but then your computer would be really slow and its steam-powered operation would leave your home so humid and hot as to be inhospitable to life. Not to mention the carbon footprint of your coal-fire furnace used to generate the steam!

And clearly, such a phone would be so large as to be impractical as a ‘mobile’ device.

That’s a taste of the world we’d live in devoid of the mighty transistor. Horrible, isn’t it?

But wait, it gets worse:

Abacuses the size of a room.

A spike in eyeball trauma due to carelessly operated slide rules.

No Wincest fan-fic.

OK, the Wincest fan-fic would exist, but only the author would have access to it, because the internet wouldn’t exist!

Right now, those of you familiar with the Sam and Dean Winchester incest genre might be thinking, “Maybe we should build a time machine to go back and stop the invention of the transistor.”

Bad news, kill-joys. Without the transistor, there can be no time machines!

So for good or bad, the transistor and all the wonders and horrors it has wrought are here to stay.

I love my transistor collection. It is, if I may say so myself, almost as magnificent as I am.

I don’t mean to boast, but I actually have one of the paper clips and razor blades used by Bardeen and Brattain to create the first point contact transistor in 1947.

It still has flakes of germanium on it! Squeeeee!

The missus tends to get very flushed and throw out her comments about being obsessed whenever I take these items out of their hermetically sealed, environmentally controlled vault to admire them. I can’t tell if she’s angry or aroused, but as my amorous advances that immediately follow such outbursts always result in me curled up on the couch with a bag of ice between my legs, I’m going to go out on a limb and say she’s confused.

Don’t worry. In moments like this, to comfort myself, I spend that cold night on the couch cuddled up to the crown jewel of my collection:

The Fairchild spFDB69N12.5 ‘super transistor’.

Only twelve were made, and none ever appeared in a product catalog.

They were custom-designed and built as part of the imaging system on the Viking I and Viking II Mars landers.

The prefix ‘sp’ has long been rumored to stand for ‘secret program,’ but while this has made the history of that vaunted transistor all the more tantalizing and raises questions about the true extent of the Mars Viking missions, no corroborative facts have ever been, pardon the pun, unearthed.

Two each were put into the landers on Mars, two were put in the Earth-bound prototype, five were destroyed in an unfortunate lab fire, and one was removed from that lab before the fire to cover up its theft was started.

Through a circuitous and shadowy route that I cannot disclose here, and involving far larger amounts of money than I ever had legitimate claim to, I obtained that final transistor.

To preserve the spFDB69N12.5 for my heirs and my heirs’ heirs, it is embedded in a cube of Lucite™. To prove its provenance, this block of acrylic glass has the fingerprint of Neil Armstrong on one side. I hear his finger was quite badly burnt when his kidnappers pressed it to the still hot block of Lucite™, but such is the cost of history.

And traceability, as anyone who has worked for a government contractor knows.

This transparent thermoplastic cube which protects my Precious has the added benefit of rounded corners, so if left in the freezer for a few hours, it can serve as an excellent substitute for the bag of ice.

And that makes my night on the sofa one of pure bliss.

So I ask you, discerning readers, how is that in any way, shape, or form tantamount to obsession?

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Marlowe and the Spacewoman

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So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 23 May 2012 in Fanfic

 

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Fanfic is DESTROYING America! (Sam/Dean/JWatson/SHolmes/HPotter/HDresden)

Sam wiped the lamb’s blood mixed with demon’s blood from the silver knife and looked at Dean, whose breath heaved with the recent exertion of killing the monster. But when Dean looked in Sam’s eyes, he realized he was ready, nay, needed a little more…exertion.

Harry Dresden ran his withered, burnt hand across his bare, sweat-glistening chest, and glared at them from the other side of the prone demon body. “Please, you two, get a room.” A thoughtful expression came over his smoldering, lonely eyes. “Unless you’re willing to share…with me.”

The boy wizard leapt up in the air, his wand already at half-staff. “Me too!  Me too!” shouted Harry Potter. He waved his wand and shouted, “Snuggigus Fantasticus Sexicus!” and a plush king-sized bed appeared in the room of the abandoned old cabin. The four heroes fell into it at once, their clothes seemingly falling away as they tumbled into one another.

“Oh, I love you my sweet!”

“No, I love you more my shmoopy boopy toopy!”

“Wait, who are you talking to?”

“Not possible, Harry dearest! I love you the mostest. Just look at me when I look at you! No, look lower!”

“So you weren’t talking to me, you cold, heartless bastard. That makes me want you more! MOAR!”

“I see the game is afoot,” the young, modern-day Sherlock intoned as he burst into the cabin, followed a moment later by the erstwhile John Watson.

“My god, Holmes,” ejaculated Watson, “there are four naked men in that bed!”

“Your powers of observation fail you yet again, my dear John,” said Holmes, languishing atop the other men. “There are five naked men in this bed, and I predict that before this sentence is over there will be si- Ah, I see I deduced correctly.”

“Oh shut up and kiss me,” said John, his hungry mouth finding Sherlock’s and kissing it hungrily. “I’m ravenous for your love, old man.”

“I don’t think Mycroft would approve,” mumbled Sherlock between gasps of sheer pleasure. “He hates when I start without him.”

“Rick! Rick! Where are you!”

“Minmei!” shouted all six men at once. “What are you doing standing there when you can be here in bed, naked, with the rest of us?”

“Oh my,” said Mr. Sulu, beaming into the cabin, sword swinging, just in time to join the festivities.

Fanfic is destroying America. And I’m not talking about the paper-thin plots, the laughable sex scenes masquerading as character development, or the wanton intellectual property theft that fanfic represents.

I’m talking about England reclaiming us.

“Wha?” ask the naive Americans out there reading this. (“Who cares?” ask the nonchalant Canadians out there reading this.)

Fanfic is undergoing a British invasion. Doctor Who, Torchwood (which is practically fanfic in its raw form anyway), Sherlock (modern AND gaslight), Harry Potter(/Snape – eew!). The fanfic sites are being overwhelmed by the British newcomers. These ‘illegal immigrants’, as it were, are robbing American fanfic stories of valuable slots on the fanfic sites.

Even our old enemy, Japanese anime, is contemplating an alliance of convenience (no-strings-attached-allies-with-benefits?) to thrust off the new threat.

How do I know this? How did I detect this saucy, saucy threat?

I looked at the numbers (all from a prominent fanfic website on the net (ahem) I refuse to name because it employs so many non-American fanfics).

Greatest American Hero: 119 (Yes, the pinnacle of American greatness, the Greatest America Hero, has only 119 stories.)

Harry Effin’ Potter: 542,277 (And I’m not kidding about the effin’ part. Holy crap, remind me to never send my kids to a British boarding brothel school!)

Knight Rider: 52 (52!!!! Come on! It’s KNIGHT RIDER AND MADE OF AWESOME! KITT/Michael fanfic practically WRITES ITSELF!!!!)

Sherlock: 4509

Buck Rogers: 3 (3!!!!!!!! You can’t get MORE AMERICAN than Buck Rogers (and we all want MOAR MOAR MOAR Buck!))

Clearly the Americans are under threat from our supposed allies across the pond. The slimy limeys are taking over, and we, in our highly aroused and distracted state, are allowing them.

It’s a damn shame.

If you’re American (or if you’re Canadian but think Americans are awesome, as we are), it is your patriotic duty to stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and write a fanfic based on an American book/movie/TV series. Unless you were already in the process of doing just that, in which case, in the name of all that is holy, DON’T STOP!

Need some ideas?

Puff the Magic Dragon is woefully under-represented in the genre. Where else can you find a more American folklore opportunity?

Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn/Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Freaky deaky!

Any characters created by Tom Wolfe or Tom Clancy. (And how about created by Wolfe AND Clancy? Tasty tasty.)

CNN is still American. Why limit ourselves to fiction? In this war on Britain, let’s draft ourselves some (American) fannonfic. Mmm, Anderson Cooper/Bernard Shaw. Yummy.

So yes, help us stop the British fanfic menace. And once we put the Brits down, we can start worrying about those cheap Chinese import fanfics. We can’t compete with their lower cost knock-offs, but we can erect a proud, tall barrier by using more and bigger penises in our fanfic.

And if you’re worried that plot will take up too much space, crowding out the giant genitalia, don’t. Plot in fanfic is like use of a condom in fanfic – totally unnecessary and rarely seen.

And once we have a perfect world of American fanfic devoid of plot or meaningful character development, free for our impressionable youth and adults to read, people will come to expect less of loftier works, such as books you buy online and at the bookstore or peruse at the library. Those can be devoid of depth and meaning too.

That’s when we’ll know we’ve won.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!

Marlowe and the SpacewomanClick here to check out my forthcoming book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, coming out January 9th, 2012 (Balloon Ascension Day)!

 
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Posted by on 24 August 2011 in Fanfic, Other Blogs, Story

 

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