Breaking Up With Obama

I gave money to Barack Obama for his campaign. I stood up for him to Hillary Clinton supporters who were insistent that his presidency was going to be disastrous and that it was better to elect John McCain than Barack Obama. I voted for him and I used my voice to encourage others to vote for him. As of right now, I'm planning on looking very closely at the entire field of potential Democratic challengers to his candidacy in 2012, because frankly I think that Barack Obama has let me and every one who worked so hard to get him elected down.

I say this for three reasons; the failure to push for meaningful healthcare reform in the face of the health care mandate, his failure to follow through on his promises to repeal don't ask don't tell; and his failure to understand that the people opposed to him are not dealing in good faith and as such he needs to do everything he can to minimize their impact rather than pretending he is working with adults who actually care about anything other than playing a petty game of political one upsmanship.

If he's playing a long game that I don't yet see, he can still win me back.

As of right now, I'm skeptical that he deserves a second term.

Less than a year into his first term, that's a bad sign.

Weekday Reading

Facebook worsens its despicable privacy problems which makes me glad I deleted my FaceBook account some time ago.

Go watch Dash Shaw's brilliant science fiction animation The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century produced by the Independent Film Channel.

Our greatest literary critic, Tom Bissell, reviews Jorge Volpi's Season of Ash: "It has been a long time since a novel of such unmistakably serious intent has been this unintentionally hilarious."

Jason Sanford points out that the recent handwringing over pay-rates for short stories in certain quarters misses the point: so-called "professional wages" still aren't professional at all.

The Atlantic is Publishing Two Stories a Month -- But Only for the Kindle

Like many, I was sad when the Atlantic decided some years ago to stop publishing monthly fiction, making the number of magazines paying real money for short fiction countable on the fingers of one hand. (My count is currently Harpers, The New Yorker, Playboy and Esquire. Am I missing any?) Apparently, Atlantic has started buying short fiction again twice a month for release on the Internet, which would be wonderful, except it's exclusively for the Kindle. What's worse, according to the New York Times, "Although the authors may at some point obtain the rights to republish the stories as part of a collection or in another magazine, the stories cannot appear in any other e-reader format." So it can NEVER be available for a device other than the Kindle?

You know, the short story audience is small enough without putting extra barriers in the way. The Kindle may currently be the most popular dedicated ereader, but as someone with a Sony Reader myself, and with the Nook on the horizon, it strikes me that limiting your potential reader base this way is the height of stupidity.

Slow down

There's going to be a slow down of posting here this month as I focus on writing as well as the ordinary distractions of the holidays. There may be one or two posts, here and on the writing blog and I may finally get the Michael Moorcock interview up before the end of the year. Keep your feed-readers peeled.

News and Fun Stuff

Joss Whedon's TV show Dollhouse has officially been canceled. While I'm sad something I actually watch (and I watch less and less television these days) has been shitcanned, at the same time I'm surprised a show about brainwashed rape victims and their sociopathic handlers lasted as long as it did. And I liked the show.

Michael Moorcock will be writing a Doctor Who novel. Pretty unusual for a writer I like to be working on a licensed property I like, so I'll be looking forward to this one. Though it begs the question, why doesn't Moffat just have Moorcock write an actual episode of the show? If The Wire can bring in great crime novel writers I see no reason why Doctor Who can't bring in great sf writers.

Other fun stuff: new fiction by Matt Cheney online for free, always a reason to celebrate.
And some videos:
Every time travel cliche in one video!

Awesome soviet animation! This is apparently based on a Ray Bradbury short story. (Ray Bradbury seems to have been very popular in Soviet Russia.)

A Brief Excursion Into Panentheism

From time to time I delve into the nonsense of religious speculation.

I have been thinking lately about a particular occult philosophy that belief is a tool to be used to effect change in oneself and in the world. In particular, I have been thinking about this in connection with John 8, the woman caught in adultery. I believe that the evangelicals and catholics, and to a lesser extent all mainline christians, have fundamentally misunderstood the meaning of this myth.

Throughout his preaching, The Nazarene repeatedly returns to the notion of hypocrisy, and generally speaking I think that this has carried over into the improper, in my view, exegesis of John 8 as yet another condemnation of hypocrites. And I think that there is an element of that. But I also think it's important to note that John 8 is without parallels in the other gospels. The story is not sourced from anywhere but the Johannine community and their traditions. As such, I think it is a bit more revealing than yet another condemnation of hypocrisy.

Of all the gospels, John is the most in keeping with the Gnostic Christians like Marcion. It is also the most in line with the philosophy of stoicism, and the mysticism of gnostics from whom the notion that Jesus was always a part of the godhead and had come to redeem a world that was imperfect, is blended in John with the notions of the stoics that the ultimate truth is the knowledge of logos, The Word, through a disciplined quest for personal improvement in controlling ones passions and transforming them into a state of inner calm. The Word for the stoics was the reasonableness inherent in all things, and it was through this pursuit of reason that stoics believed the good was instituted in the soul. John identifies The Word, the logos, the reason of all things, with The Nazarene.

Weekend Reading: Online Fiction and Online Funded Fiction Addition

In a previous Weekend Reading, I talked about how surprised I was to be enjoying Queen of the Iron Sands by Scott Lynch. Sadly, that serial falls apart precipitously in chapter 3, right when the heroin arrives on Mars, but the first two chapters are fun reading.

For more reliable online reading check out Catherynne Valente's online fairy tale novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, a novel serialized weekly which is supplemental (but not directly connected to) her highly praised first novel Palimpsest. Fairyland was recently bought by a mainstream YA publisher based on its online popularity.

Hal Duncan has recently engaged in an intresting experiment, releasing samples of short stories along with requests for donations. Every donor gets emailed a copy of the completely short story, and if a certain threshold of total money is reached the story is put on the website for everyone. So far all three stories he has attempted this with have met their thresholds, and all three of the stories he has done this with are currently available for public download. Hal Duncan is the author of the novels Escape from Hell, Vellum and Ink, and he is an excellent writer.

A more remarkable case of public financing can be found on Kickstarter, where blogger Robin Sloan has raised nearly $15,000 (!) to fund the writing of his first novel. What's remarkable about this to me is that, unlike Duncan and Valente, Sloan has no traditional publishing credits, and raised this money simply on the popularity of his blog, some short stories he sold himself on Amazon, and his own pitch, which consists of text, a video, and a writing blog. For different amounts of money you can get different "pledge packs" ranging from ebooks of the novel, physical copies of the novel, "behind-the-scenes" updates of him writing, and more. $15,000 is more than a lot of first time novelists get as an advance.

For a regular source of great online short fiction, has become a consistently reliable source. One killer recomendation? Errata by Jeff Vandermeer, which alone cements for me Vandermeer's position as one of the finest writers working right now. All short stories all also available for download in various formats, including ePub for easy ebook reader enjoyment. (With any luck, as ebook readers become more ubiquitous ePub versions of online fiction will become standard.)

And finally, free ebooks are available of Soviet Science Fiction masters the Strugatsky Brothers, so get 'em while they're hot!

National Novel Writing Month Redux

Three years ago, I wrote a post on this site called "Why I Hate National Novel Writing Month and Why You Should Too". Every year since then, as November draws near, that post is inundated with angry comments from NaNoWriMo'ers clamoring about my elitism, egotism, negativity, cynicism, bitterness, pretension, and at least in one case there was an implied comparison between (my impression of) NaNoWriMo'ers and terrorists ("notify Homeland Security!"). Not to mention the various trolls who simply hurled profanities at me, comments which I then deleted. The post has become the single most visited and the many-times-over most commented one on this site. There was even a reporter from an in-flight airline magazine who interviewed me about the subject a couple years back, and asked such insightful questions as "Why do you care? How does NaNoWriMo affect you, anyway?"