RESPONSIBILITY OF THE THRONE: One Week to Go!

So, the novel launch should have been today, but my editor was doing very important things at 20BooksTo50k, a wonderful Las Vegas conference that I hope to be able to attend someday. That means it gets pushed back just one week, so not really a big deal. But, to tide us over, I’m going to give you a sample snippet of the book. I’d also like to point out that those who receive my newsletter (hint, hint!) have already seen this snippet. You can be added to my newsletter here.

Azriyqam lowered her voice. “I do have news, but not from my father the Crown. I assuredly want your attention, but I do not want it overly focused on me. The dragon that I arrived on, do you know his name?”
     “There are so many dragons, who could name them all?” said Tselah.
     “He’s one of the Knights-Commander, I believe,” said Elam. “I’m going to get this wrong, but I have trouble with your right name, too. It’s… Coo-ree…ark, isn’t it?”
     “Almost. Sir Cooriarh. He is one of the chiefs of the Throne’s guard. He is circling us now, and will land in a little less than two hours unless I walk out before that time.”
     Elam sat back and folded his arms. “You know, Haraad used to threaten people before they’d offered him any harm, too. I’m not going to flatter you by pretending that I ever particularly admired you or thought of you much at all when you were just the Responsibility, but I never thought you one to be like him.”
     A spike of icy rage shot through her at that, but when she saw Tselah’s smile at her reaction she bit down on the angry response she felt coming. “I would prefer you to consider it less a threat than a warning, in case you should be tempted to consider… desperate courses of action.”
     “And why should we be tempted to do any such thing?” asked Elam, quietly. “Is your father or the throne planning something that should make us despair?”
     “No. Or at least, that very much depends on what you say next. You wish to know why dragons have been stopping and examining your ships. I will tell you: they are looking for a missing dragon.”
Azriyqam watched closely for their reaction…

RESPONSIBILITY OF THE THRONE! (Or: What I Have Been Writing Instead Of Blogging)

This is my first ever sequel release, just over a year after the release of the original RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CROWN.

It comes out one week from today, available at Amazon.com and from New Mythology Press, an imprint of Chris Kennedy publishing. There are no preorders, but I will blog again when the book is up.

There’s no way, here, to explain how much I have learned in the writing of this sequel. It is completely different from writing an original novel. It’s like balancing a whole future on the tip of your finger while dancing. The book that will release a week from now is not the same book I started writing in July of 2021. That book will be – well, to be honest, it won’t ever be written, because I discovered about 40,000 words into it that it was fragments of the third book in the series, which, by the time book two was finished, I realized would be changed a great deal by the events in this novel.

Right now, I am working on yet another sequel, specifically the long-awaited further adventures of James and Harriet, which will be titled ALL CREATURES IN HIS THRALL. Progress is slow, but steady. I’m afraid that one of the reasons it has been so long in coming is that I started writing book three of that series as well. I think that book will, indeed, be published someday, but first I am going to have to finish this one. It turns out that I am still pretty new at this author thing.

One funniest things that has happened during the blog hiatus is that this blog has gotten an insane amount of traffic from a completely facetious post that I did about a year ago concerning my completely fictional and humorous take on the script for Top Gun: Maverick. It seems that there are many many fans and possibly pirates who have been trying to get their hands on the script for this movie, and a number of them have found their way to my blog. I hope it gave some of them a laugh. And, if they were pirates, I hope it wasted their time and frustrated them. In any case, I would like to say thank you to all my fans for hanging in there and for giving Responsibility life. I am so glad you have enjoyed flying with her.

I Believe In Obi-Wan…

If there’s filking at LibertyCon, I’m trying this tune that came to me while scrolling…

(sung to the tune of “Yesterday” if this wasn’t obvious…)

Obi-Wan

He’s the reason half my body’s gone

He was angry ’cause I killed Qui-Gon

So I need revenge on Obi-Wan.

***

Suddenly

I’m not half the man I used to be

I have issues when I need to pee

Due to a lightcystectomy

***

Why… I… parried not

I don’t know, I couldn’t say…

Because… I on-ly had three lines

‘Til my body parted way-ay-ay-ays…

***

Obi-Wan

What the hell? He’s just a padawan

But the plot proclaimed I must be gone

So I got slain by Obi-Wan…



AAR: LTUE 40: Life, the Universe, and Everything

Me, M.A. Nichols, and Janci Patterson heading up the “Copying Someone else’s Process” panel without a moderator.

Well, it was an awesome convention these last two days. Let me rephrase that: it was an awesome “KHAAAAN!-vention.” Yes, I got to unleash my history nerd and fantasy nerd simultaneously and open the convention with a panel on the rise and fall of Genghis Khan’s empire. I learn so much about my own profession every time I do that, though it saddens me that in all my research, while I uncovered the names of many of the Khan’s personal enemies and rivals, I was unable to uncover even one whose name was Khiruq, Khurkh, Qirkh, or anything similarly suitable.

Highlights of the convention included getting to know much-more-famous author M Todd Gallowglass and attend his private writing workshop, which he hosts at random places and times throughout the convention (look for the weird flyers!) As well, I got to meet Jody Lynn Nye courtesy of Writers of the Future, and serve as a mentor to some writers even younger than me. I may share some of the thoughts that came to me in future blog posts. And for any new followers who may look at this blog after having heard or met me, I encourage you to click on the writing tag if you’d like to see my elaboration on any of those points.

I sold half my stock of ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS at the con, and got to sit on two more panels devoted to writing process and asteroid colonization. All in all, it was a wonderfully successful con, and i look forward to coming back.

And as a final note, I would like to extend my public thanks to Joe Ficklin, a chair emeritus of LTUE and Provo resident. When I was too late to book a hotel room, he opened his home to me, and was kind enough on top of that to give me rides to and from the con each day, as well as ferrying me to and from the airport. As well, he headed up the filking each night, and I enjoyed getting to learn some of the old classics of fandom. It wouldn’t have been the same without him.

For Reacher Or For Poorer (SPOILERS)

So, having Amazon Prime, and having had it recommended to me by someone whose taste I generally appreciate, I decided to semi-binge REACHER this week, the adaptation of the Lee Child character of the same name. Reacher is an ex-Army major who headed a Special Investigations unit in Iraq. He’s kind of a cross between Sherlock Holmes and The Terminator, and he is arrested for the murder of two men, one of whom ends up being his own brother.

Oh, Reacher. There is SO MUCH to like about this show. The pacing is excellent, building tension and maintaining suspense. The characters are well-developed, portrayed by a wonderful cast. Alan Ritchson plays the title role like a laconic Chris Evans if he looked the way Starlord wanted to when he met Thor. Malcolm Goodwin is essentially reprising his brilliant role from iZombie, but played straight, and he’s his own variety of cultured badass. Willa Fitzgerald’s Roscoe Conklin is dangerous and sexy as hell. The dialogue is clever to the point of brilliance. To take one of my favorite examples:

Town punk: “You’re about to get your ass kicked.”
Reacher: “No. I’m about to break the hands of three drunk kids.”
Town punk: “There’s four of us.”
Reacher: “One of you has to drive to the hospital.”
Three broken hands later
Last punk: “I know where the hospital is!”

But then we get to the gaping, gaping problem. Which is, for want of a better way to say it, the way the world works. We are asked to believe that Joe Reacher is an agent of the Secret Service. Not just an agent, though, but the director of the entire anti-counterfeiting branch (which is, of course, one of two things the Secret Service absolutely specializes in), and he’s taken this case himself.
As it develops, Joe was chasing down a huge counterfeiting operation inside the United States. We are asked to believe:
1) That Joe Reacher had NO subordinate agents working for him on this.
2) That when Jack and some city police officers call the Secret Service to report this to another agent, that agent immediately tells them all about what Joe was doing, and is willing to bring them his private files. Because apparently, security clearances aren’t a thing.
3) But most of all, that when a Secret Service director is murdered, and THEN another Secret Service agent is murdered, Homeland Security’s reaction is apparently nonexistent. They just… don’t react.

It is a testament to just how good this show is that this does not ruin the entire thing for me. I have quit watching lesser shows in the middle for this kind of bullshit. I’m sorry, but the idea that criminals or foreign nationals could simply murder a law enforcement officer of this rank to zero reaction from the federal government is almost equivalent to Pearl Harbor being bombed and the United States ignoring it. They just couldn’t do it, at least not without serious justification.

Anyway, despite that, I’m hooked. This is the first show since Stranger Things I’ve binge-watched this fast. Hope Season 2 is even better.

Life, The Universe, And Everything: Who’s Going?

Hey, everyone!

If you’d like to meet up at the Life, The Universe, and Everything conference in Provo Utah next week, I will be there! This is my schedule, and if I know you from online, real life, or even better, if you’re a fan, don’t forget to grab me and say hi! I’m expecting to have a lot of fun and be at a lot of panels besides the ones I’m speaking at!

G. Scott Huggins (400) Friday 1:00 PM45minBryceBuilding Your Process by Copying Another’s ProcessPanel
G. Scott Huggins (400) Thursday 9:00 AM45minMapleKhan! The Rise and Fall of the Mongolian EmpirePanel
G. Scott Huggins (400) Friday 5:00 PM45minElmWhy So Ceres-ous? Homesteading Asteroids and Dwarf Planets!Panel

The End, A Beginning, and Responsibility

Dear Friends and Fans,

I’m embarrassed that it has been so long since this blog updated. Really? Over four months, and THAT was a reblog? That’s just sad.

Although this year has, in many senses, been a triumph in the worlds of my writing — one novel released, one major (for me at least) award, and two anthology invites — it has also, by other measures, been a very hard year. There have been losses in my family. I’ve been on the same pandemic ride with the rest of you. Conventions have cancelled, plans didn’t work because someone got sick, might have gotten sick, or just decided differently, and recently, a major writing hope… went away.

However, if there is one piece of wisdom I have gathered over this “career” of mine, it is this: it will always be harder than you think. It will take more work than it “should,” and it won’t be “fair,” however that useless term is defined. So, we go on. We just go on.

And, we find new things to do, too. We go back to old things and remember the joy they gave us. So here, I leave you something new: I’m not an artist, not really, but this is the closest I can give you to a visual of what Responsibility, the Princess Azriyqam looks like in my head. Hope you like it:

And may all our 2022s be better.

ATTENTION PARENTS! COMMUNIST PLOT TARGETING YOUR CHILDREN: Goodnight Moon.

Having read the classic children’s story “Goodnight Moon” to my son for many many nights now, I am most disturbed to report that I can no longer expose my son to this horrific piece of propaganda. Its innocence belies the sheer malignity of its purpose, which is no less than the complete destruction of American society, and the establishment of a godless and communistic State. In order to appreciate fully the subtleties of the work, I will need to reproduce the text, here. I cannot do the same with the pictures, so just grab a copy and follow along… IF YOU DARE.

Page 1

“In the great green room
there was a telephone
And a red balloon.
And a picture of–“

Okay so firstly, why does a child of this one’s age (less than five, I would think… would an older child actually be talking to inanimate objects?) require a telephone? An intercom might be understandable, but a telephone? Surely if the child had an important phone call, his mother, or at the least the mysterious “quiet old lady whispering hush” (q.v.) would wake him. Therefore the reader can only presume that the entity responsible for the installation of the telephone was one that both wished direct access to the child at all times, and was powerful enough to demand it, i.e. the State, which is seen as normal and even comforting in this tale of innocence at bedtime.
It is perhaps also interesting to note that the room is described as GREEN. Why? The walls are green, yes. But the curtains are yellow, and the floor and furnishings are red. Obviously, this is an attempt to make green into a friendly and unthreatening color, and an attempt to foist a radical anti-capitalist environmentalist agenda onto American youth. And the red floor? Obviously a code showing that all such politics must spring from the firm foundation of Marxism-Leninism.
The balloon is another communistic reference, possibly calling for immediate war with the west, as in: ‘the balloon is going up.’ If so, the authors’ opinions seem to vacillate as the balloon disappears and reappears throughout the work.

Page 2
“The cow jumping over the moon.”

Goodnight Moon was published in 1947. The cow jumping over the moon symbolizes the author’s hope that Soviet Russia would win the Space Race.

Page 3
“And there were three little bears sitting on chairs.”

The three little bears are obviously a reference to Russia as the leader of the Communist movement. Lenin and Stalin would be two of the bears. The third may be Trotsky, but it is more likely that the author at the time believed that Mao Zedong would continue to foster tight relations with Moscow.

Page 4-5
“And two little kittens
And a pair of mittens.
And a little toyhouse
And a young mouse.”

The kittens, significantly, are black and white, signifying the “black” capitalist forces fighting Mao’s armies and the “white” forces already defeated in the Russian Civil War. Their reduction to annoying housepets suitable for distracting the people is very much in the style of Socialist Realism’s heavy-handed satire. The mittens and the socks are pink, considered an appropriate color for the child, whose very thoughts will soon be clothed in socialist-leaning terms. The toyhouse is also, significantly, red. The mouse, of course, would be considered dangerous vermin in most cases. Obviously the authors realized that Soviet housing was rife with these pests and are conditioning their young readers to accept them as inevitable.

Page 5-6
“And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush.”
“And a quiet old lady who was whispering, ‘Hush!'”

Why a comb AND a brush? The redundancy is unquestioned. One of these objects is probably a listening device of some kind. Again, the child reader is being conditioned away from questioning such cognitive dissonances. Most chillingly, the “quiet old lady” makes her first appearance. She is not named as any relative, nor does she have any interaction with the child but to silence him. Obviously, the authors wish to instill silence as a virtue in the compliant subjects of the State, and to accept any authority figure presented by that State as legitimate ipso facto. She knits a green cloth, the makeup of which the black and white kittens attempt in vain to tangle.

Nothing further seems to be going on for the next four pages, but…

Page 11-12
“Goodnight light
And the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs”

Note the child’s body position, here, kneeling on the pillow before the seated bears. Communist “prophets” are being substituted for bedtime prayer, and elevated to godlike status.

Page 13-14
“Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens”

What happened to the socks? They have disappeared from the rack. They show up later, of course, but this again reinforces the idea that the State alone will choose the context and syntax of information shown to its subject. Consistency is not required.

Page 14-15
“Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks”

As a child this age, I don’t believe I had one clock in my room, let alone two. the child is being trained to conform to the cold, mechanistic schedule of the State, and accept it as natural.

Again, nothing significant for the next four pages, but then…

Page 19-20
“Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush”

The child says goodnight to “nobody,” an indication that agents unknown are always watching and should be accounted for by the wise (read “terrified”) subject of the State. And of course the “mush” again, is conditioning the child to the reality of collectivism: bland porridge will become the staple meal of the populace, as it is one of the cheapest foodstuffs that any society can produce.

Page 21-22
“And goodnight to the old lady whispering ‘hush’

Again, the acknowledgment that the servants of the State, seen and unseen, are always with us.

Page 23-24
“Goodnight stars
Goodnight air.”

This looks innocent, but in some ways is the most haunting propaganda image of all. The stars and the air, two things that even the State knows it cannot hope to control, are presented. Alone of all the full, two-page illustration, this one is colorless, a washed out and Siberian snowscape. The message is plain: an escape to nature is an escape to sterility, exile, and death.

Page 25-26
“Goodnight noises everywhere.”

Noise, and any form of rebellion, is, chillingly, everywhere extinguished. The “quiet old lady’s’ eternal ‘hush’ has succeeded in stilling every form of dissent. And this is presented as a comforting truth to put children to sleep with. A few other factors deserve consideration: Note that the telephone alone of all the objects named is never said goodnight to. Obviously, it is for the State to contact its subjects, and not the other way around. Also, the books on the bookshelf move around, a reminder that knowledge is under the sole control of the State. It may change at any time, and these changes are not to be questioned.

I know that this post is, well, disturbing. I was certainly disturbed when the awful truth broke in upon me in the middle of reading this book to my son after two nights of no sleep and about forty-seven cups of coffee. But the awful truth is no longer possible to ignore. How Brown and Clements escaped the vigilance of HUAC in the fifties I will never know. The truth is self-evident.

Movie Reviews Far Too Stupid: Monsters and The Ruins

You know, what really makes me want to tear my own throat out as a writer sometimes is when I see that, despite the enormous number of wonderful novels that would make great movies, people keep making films based on ideas that should have been shot down in a high school Creative Writing I class. So to illustrate this, a pair of movies that I couldn’t even finish. And because they deserve no better, spoilers do exist:

First: The Ruins

This one actually started off really well, which was why the subsequent idiocy was even more disappointing: Team Disposable 5 (Jock, Nerd, Clown, Slut and Virgin. Thank you, Cabin In The Woods) go out to an old “Mayan” ruin, where Jock’s brother is supposed to be digging. They are surrounded and forced into the ruins by creepy tribal “Mayans” with guns and not allowed to leave. They quickly discover that they are under attack by carnivorous plants, and the Mayans are really quarantining them so they don’t spread the stuff. So far, it’s really good.

Here’s where I got turned off. Jock is the first casualty, and breaks his back, leaving him paralyzed. Early in the second day, Nerd (who is in med school — or maybe is just accepted to med school, it’s unclear) nominates himself the leader and decides that the only way to save Jock from sepsis is to amputate his infected legs. While they have nothing but a pair of tourniquets and a pocket knife.

Yeah, no: I’m out right there. I don’t believe this asshole could even get into med school, and I don’t believe anyone would go along with it. I don’t believe Clown doesn’t just punch this moron out an try to run for help, especially since no help is known to be coming. It’s obviously an excuse for serious gore and screaming, and I’m done.

But these guys are geniuses compared to whoever wrote Monsters.

So, yeah: a NASA space probe fell on Mexico awhile back and infected it with giant squid kaiju. The “infected zone” (i.e. Northern Mexico, which conveniently didn’t spread north of the US border) is quarantined. Gas masks are for some reason ubiquitously distributed to the poor just outside the Quarantine Zone (in case what? Someone inhales a case of kraken?) and the US military and reporters are dispatched to contain and record the invasion.

The storyline before I turned it off was that Reporter Hero is ordered by his boss, Magazine Owner, to rescue Magazine Owner’s Baby Girl (age: 22-25), who is there for No Discernible Reason and was mildly wounded in a Squid Kaiju Attack (OUTside the QZ. Why does the QZ exist, again?) and to escort her back to the USA. So, we’re supposed to believe that Magazine Owner who is willing to pay $50,000 per shot of kaiju-killed kids won’t charter a private jet with trained security squad to fly down to Mexico to get Baby Girl away from the kaiju, but instead will simply bully Reporter Hero on the scene into buying said Baby Girl a $5K ticket on a refugee ferry up the Baja coast. Sure. Because that’s what people do. In the same scene he’s buying the ticket, refugees are lined up to be “escorted” across the “Quarantine Zone” to the US.

And that’s where I was out. The producers/directors obviously don’t understand that quarantine might mean something in an alien invasion, or that rich people would spend money to save their loved ones effectively. The script also contained such gems as:

Reporter Hero: So, you’re married?
Baby Girl: Engaged.
Reporter Hero: What’s the difference?

Although I have to admit liking the exchange that went:

Baby Girl: Doesn’t it bother you that your job relies on terrible things happening?
Reporter Hero: You mean like a doctor?

Or a soldier, policeman, firefighter, safety regulator, health inspector, et multiple cetera…

Please, friends. There are ways, MANY ways to get your drama without relying on idiot plots like these.