Adventure Short Review: Two on Trinity

From Adventure Magazine, February 1911
Available for free download here

“In all the seas there are few more beautiful spots, none more lonely, than Trinity Island.  It lies in the high longitudes and the low latitudes, and is a mere horseshoe of coral rising out of the fathomless black water, overgrown with plume-like coconut palms, and a hundred long Pacific leagues from other land and from the beaten roads of ocean traffic.  Beyond the occasional smoke trail on the sky of a distant warship or a misguided tramp steamer, navigation never comes near Trinity Island; nevertheless, years ago, a great naval Power saw fit to seize upon the spot for a coaling station.”

So begins a brief tale of man driven mad by solitude.  Coulson, a young man, volunteers to serve as light house keeper on the deserted island.  After a few months, he begins a relationship with an unseen entity whom he calls simply, The Man.  The author never states outright that The Man is nothing more than a figment of Coulson’s imagination or alter-ego, instead he leaves it up to the reader to make that connection.  That’s a great trick – allowing the reader to understand what the perspective character cannot – and it works well.

Together, Coulson and The Man plot vengeance on the world, which good fortune enables by the chance drift of an unspent torpedo near the island.  Weeks later a passing tramp steamer stalls out within sight of the island, and Coulson sends The Man out with the torpedo to sink the steamer for no other reason than their matching sociopathy.  He/they arrive just in time to meet the re-starting propeller of the ship, which sends him/them to the bottom of the sea.

It’s not a long tale, nor is it overly complex, but the writing shines.  As a ten minute quick read it delivers everything you would want in a story, suspense, mystery, and a grisly, well deserved death.

If this is the caliber of ‘trash writing’, sign me up as first garbage man.

Cirsova: A Contemporary Pulp Magazine

Great stories published back in the day are all well and good, but isn’t there a contemporary source for that old time fun?  Yes, there is, but as is so often the case these days it comes out of the crowd of true rebels.

To use a high school analogy, it isn’t the people rebelling against Dean Wermer in carefully constructed and socially acceptable ways.  It isn’t the jocks thumbing their noses at an administration they know needs their on-field talent.  It isn’t the cool party types or even the counter-cultural types of The Current Year (be they hippies, slackers, or Berniebros).

It’s the nerds.  The guys who might care about social acceptance or fitting in or even dropping out in the right ways, but for whom all of that takes a distant back seat to an interest in ideas, theory, and a quest for knowledge. Those guys, the ones who go off and do their own thing and the world can go hang, those are the ones pushing boundaries today.  The first biggest rejection of SJW entryism wasn’t sports, it was video game nerds.

Turns out the poindexter crowd has learned some valuable lessons and. Not content merely holding the safe ground of video games, they are moving to recapture lost ground in a variety of areas.  To the surprise of no one, literature – and specifically sci-fi and fantasy – is near the top of the list.

With the major publishing houses going full retard a huge untapped market has developed for stories written to fit the aesthetic of sff from back in the pre-golden age days.  Filling that need, a challenger enters the arena.

Cirsova.  A magazine of sc-fi and fantasy.

A hundred pages of short fiction that includes everything from Conan-style barbarians, to long form epic poetry (that had great rhythm and that rhymes and yes that is important), to Burroughs style planetary adventure/romance, it has everything a fan of just plain adventurous fun could want.

Cirsova doesn’t play games with gender or lecture the reader about politics.  It just gives you a string of good men struggling to do the right thing in the face of evil.

The first issue of Cirsova was so much fun, I threw down ten bucks to support the Kickstarter for the next issue.  Forget ‘on a scale of 1 to whatever’, on a scale of ‘would you pay good money for more of this’, Cirsova rates a solid YES.

Footnote:  Despite sci-fi/fantasy being my first love, and that so many of the big classic pulp titles are sci-fi/fantasy, I don’t intend to spend much time talking about those sorts of genre fiction on this blog.  With so much great commentary and analysis available at Jeffro Johnson’s Blog and at Castalia House, there isn’t much to add.  The focus here is on detective, crime, and action/adventure  stories written for an unapologetically male gaze.

Read What They Read

God bless this modern age of ours.  The last few posts here have been railing about how they just don’t make them like they used to, and it turns out that we can still read the Narrative-free tales of yesterday without combing the used book sales and flea markets of today.  An outfit over at the Pulp Magazines Project has a number of old adventure magazines scanned and ready for download.  It also includes a host of links to other archives where you can grab a copy and read it for yourself.
 
Cirsova has been doing a bang up job writing short reviews of one in particular, Planet Stories.  We’ll leave the fantasy and sci-fi market to guys like he and Jeffro.
 
My first foray into short reviews of the pulps – tune in next post – will be “Two on Trinity,” from the February 1911 issue of “Adventure”.  Before we get into that, how’s this for an odd bit of synchronicity?  A month ago an aunt of mine recommended a book, Prestor John, by John Buchan.  The “Coming Next Month” blurb for this magazine announces the first installment of that series which was presumably later published as a novel.  The full novel sits on my Google Drive waiting for a read.
 
That’s a great sign.  Proof positive that these works are still floating about, being read and enjoyed more than a hundred years later.  Granted, there’s going to be a lot of wheat in the chaff, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth looking.  After all, half the fun is the thrill of the hunt.
 
This is going to be even more fun than expected.
 
 

Why Johnny Doesn’t Read, An Exercise

Let’s run a little experiment together, shall we?  Open Google, and enter, ‘Why Men Don’t Read,” into the search bar.  The first few articles should be worth a laugh.

Color me impressed!  I was ready to rip into the first five articles for their blatant misunderstanding of and contempt for men, and instead get a reasonable story from a reasonable guy.  From the Huffington Post of all places!  Will wonders never cease.

It’s not perfect, or we would have nothing to talk about.  First problem is that the author feels the need to include the obligatory sop to the ladies in the audience.

I was hesitant to write this article, mainly because in no way do I want to be perceived as diminishing the talents of many, many brilliant women in publishing,

It’s an article about men, and he still felt the need to talk about women.  Of course he did.  These days, you can’t say anything nice about men without covering your six by complementing women.  Compliments are a zero-sum game.   The modern religion of secularism has its forms and protocols that must be adhered to lest you be cast out as an unclean heretic, after all. 

He also downplays what we now know to be a deliberate and malevolent cultural shift when he says,

nor do I believe that there is a true ‘gender bias’. A bias insinuates some sort of malice, a purposeful exclusion of a segment of society for selfish or ignorant reasons.

1911, Courtesy,
http://www.pulpmags.org/

Give him credit, this was written in 2011.  The mask has slipped since then, and the publishing industry, in line with the rest of the coastal cultural pioneers, continually signals its desire to see masculinity replaced by a tepid uni-sexual market that presents a monocultural diversity.  The order of the day is making men more feminine and women more masculine for reasons too deep to go into here. 

Those complaints aside, it’s actually a very good article that throws stones at a publishing industry (and its media allies) who don’t understand men, who don’t cater to men, and who just plain don’t like men, but who then go on to blame men for turning their backs on an industry that has no use for them.

To use a recent example, take Melissa McCarthy’s brilliant marketing strategy for the Y-chromosome-free rehash of Ghostbusters.  The water carriers in the media leapt at the chance to write virtually identical stories quoting her disdain for potential customers when she called them friendless losers.   Good call, Mel, keep on proving the critics right, that’ll put butts in seats.

Back to HuffPo, the writer points out that most of the publishing houses are dominated by women, and that the product and the marketing serve women.  Which is fine, good luck with that.  He makes a strong plea for more resources dedicated to male readers when he says,

Publish more books for men and boys. Trust editors who try to buy these books, and work on the marketing campaigns to hit those audiences. The readers are there, waiting, eager just under the surface. And I promise, if publishing makes an effort to tap it, they’ll come out in droves.

But he doesn’t understand those women any more than they understand him.  His advice is sound.  It is logical and it makes good business sense.  Those two arguments work on logical men engaged in productive business, but the emotive women engaged in business for fulfillment rather than profit won’t listen. 

They didn’t listen.  The article was written five years ago and little has changed in the big publishing houses.
 
But much has changed down in the swamps at the feet of the dinosaur publishing firms.  They are no longer needed.  Men who read are taking matters into their own hands and producing their own works.  We’ve done what we always do – found an exposed flank in our enemy’s defenses and ruthlessly exploited it.  In this case that flank is self-publishing.

 
There is more men’s adventure fiction being written than ever before, and all the publishing apathy in the world can’t stop the onrushing tide.  It’s early days yet.  The word hasn’t fully gone out, the structures aren’t fully developed, and the filtering of the good from the drek has a way to go, but men’s adventure writing will soon make a huge comeback.

 We don’t need their help.  We’ll do it on our own.

 

 

Johnny Got His Paperback

The world needs more men’s adventure fiction.

You’ve probably seen at least one click-bait article featuring a series of garish and campy covers for the men’s adventure fiction magazines from the 1950s and 1960s.  They feature bright colors, exclamation points, and outrageous article titles, “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” being the prime example.  We’re supposed to look at those magazine covers and laugh at the naked salesmanship of their creators, and the crass simpletons who consumed them.
Well not this lug, sister.  Go peddle that smoke water somewhere else, because those who sneer at the once-popular and now maligned men’s adventure genre are fools.
To start with the easy observation, the men reading those magazines were reading.  That’s a huge point in their favor right out of the gate.  Their attention wasn’t yet snared by 100 television channels, video games, the modern day news cycle, cell phones, and of course the internet and blogs like this.  Criticizing them for reading the wrong way is a lot like criticizing them for eating the wrong kinds of vegetables. 
Sure, they were reading, says the cynic, but look at what they were reading.  That was trash with no redeeming value.  Those stories represented simple fare for simple minds with simple tastes.
 Au contraire.
The men reading these magazines were former GI’s, the men who came of age wading through the surf surrounded by death and flying lead.  They spent their young adulthood crawling through mud, holding dying friends in their arms, and chasing exotic women through strange foreign lands.  They learned more about the world and about life through a year of direct experience than most college kids learn in a decade of classroom study.  When it was time to relax, they sought out reading that would help them recapture the thrill and excitement of those formative moments, and materials that reinforced their self-image as brave men fighting the good fight against long odds.

The stories in those early men’s adventure magazines, regardless of how well written they were, were not just empty brain food.  Instead, they served to reinforce the cultural ideal of hard working and (generally) honest men fighting their way through a hostile world.  These were tough men facing difficult times – as we all do – who read as a means of reconnecting with the masculine need to strive, to build, and to protect.
Today the illiterati turn their noses up at the very idea of a masculine ideal, and it is this rejection of the western approach to manhood that leads them to reject stories of violent defense of the innocent, of struggle against the odds, and of brotherly camaraderie.  The tough guy tales of the past have been ejected from the universities and the schools by weak minded people who cannot even recognize what a man is, let alone why trying to be a better one would be something worthwhile.
We’re not done here.  We’ll go into this in more depth in later posts. For now, just remember that your reading tastes could do a lot worse than emulate guys like these.
 
Be a man.  Read more manly.

Being a Better Writer

This post isn’t about better writing, it’s about being a better writer.
 
As I write this, the TV above my head is blaring the tedious drama of ghetto dwelling reprobates.  Two more of that ilk sit across from in in the auto shop waiting room. Their undisciplined children are doing their level best to dismantle a wire frame toddler toy, banging on it with whatever comes to hand. The second family’s kids are licking the vending machine glass, adding a fine patina of saliva and snot to the display.
 
A retreat to Twitter or quick raid before the Clash of Clans war would help pass the time in this torture hall, but there’s something else to be done first.
Write.
 
One of my major weaknesses for a long time was an inability to write until the conditions were just right.  Late at night, peace and quiet, 10 minutes of warm up.  You know the drill.
 
Those of us writing for the enjoyment of it have to carve time out of busy days, so we can’t wait.  We better be able to toss out a couple hundred words on a lunch break, on the bus, you name it.
 
The words might not be great.  They may come slow.  They may never see the eyes of a single reader.  They are still worth it.  Each one takes you closer to David Edding‘s ‘million written words to proficiency’.
 
So next time you have a few minutes, no matter how loud or obnoxious the ambiance, add a few words to your novel, bang out a blog post, just get something down.
 
Prove to yourself writing is more important than social media, video games, or whatever other waste you normally use to kill time.  Writing is not what you do, it’s who you are.  So be a writer, get writing, and keep writing, whenever and where ever you can.
 
This environment is about as bad as it gets.  A man who can write here can write just about anywhere.  
 

That’s all I have time for.  The mechanic is here and he has the grim visage of a veterinarian who has to tell the family it’s time to put Rover down.  Appropriate given that I drive a Land Rover.

Worst. Ex-President. Ever.

It’s never too early to start looking forward to the end of the Obama reign. As that blessed day draws near, let’s take a look at what his ex-Presidency holds in store for the world. Traditionally, out of respect for the newly inaugurated President, history, and the American people, ex-presidents shut up and get out of the way. On those rare occasions that an ex-President does come out of the shadows to make a public appearance or to give a speech for donations to a “foundation” (heh), they generally stay out of the public political fracas of the time. When on those even more rare occasions that they do get involved, the press has generally rolled their eyes and lent very little credence to it.

That is a generalization, of course. Reasonably justifiable exceptions occur. Bill Clinton campaigning for his wife serves as a timely example.

For a host of reasons, this makes sense. It helps to maintain the peaceful transfer of power that plays such an important role in the smooth functioning of the nation. It reinforces the trust between the populace and the government they serve. It’s a way for an ex-President to signal recognition that his time on the stage is over, and that the responsibility for rule now falls on the shoulders of another man. There are more, but you get the idea.

 Does anyone really expect President Obama to pull a slow fade?

The narcissism he has displayed throughout his Presidency provides countless clues to his behavior post-rule. Surely the weight of tradition, the importance of a transition of power, and the smooth functioning of the FedGov are vastly outweighed by Obama’s supreme intellect and the world’s need for his gentle command. He may have to turn most of the reins of power over to President Trump, but it’s a safe bet that he clings to the powers of the bully pulpit with a death grip.

Does anyone really expect the press to call him out on it?

The media has called out former presidents Carter and Bush the Elder for shooting off their mouth about policy set by current Presidents, but after eight years applauding Obama for breaking tradition, it’s hard to believe they would grow a spine and call him out for breaking with tradition. Even if they wanted to, any desire to criticize ex-President Obama would have to break past that tiny voice in their belly whispering the R-word into their psyches.

More to the point, the election of Trump marks a sea change in that for once the transition won’t be from one wing of the uniparty to the other.  The tradition only holds because for decades the transition from Red to Blue has marked a change in direction for the ship of state of mere degrees.  The uniparty expects President Trump to grab the wheel and give it a good solid spin.  There’s less incentive than ever for an ex-President to behave himself, secure in the knowledge that his legacy is safely ensconsed in the policies of his replacment. Especially when that President’s policy rests on ground as shaky as Obama’s.

Of all the ex-Presidents, Obama’s legacy has been built on the sandy beach of executive orders and executive branch seat fillers.  A President Trump can wipe out the vast bulk of Obama’s legacy with the right Cabinet appointees and a few sweeps of a pen.  The normal process of writing history while the ex-President is still around to reward his water carriers in academia is going to have work overtime to get that first pass written as fast as possible, and they’ll need all the help they can get.  Which is where Obama’s attempts to cling to the spotlight will be directed – establish all the good of his term that is being summarily strangled in the cradle by a successor too stupid to wait the five years until Obama’s policies could really take effect. Or 10 years.  Or 20.  It’s like global warming – it’ll happen if we just waited long enough.

All that bluster will be great fun to watch. More grist for the meme mill. You won’t see any jokes about this from Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show, but these days all the best humor comes burbling up from the dank corners of the internet anyway. That’s one thing that isn’t likely to change for a few years yet.

Bookmark this page. Come back mid-2017. Tell me I’m wrong.

On Fiverr

If you are an independent writer, and you’re chucking self-edited works into the marketplace, then you should be ashamed. Professional editors are some of the easiest things in the world to find. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to Fiverr.
  2. Search for Editing.
  3. Pay around five bucks per 2,000 words you have to edit.
  4. Release a book free of typos and stupid grammatical errors.
  5. Retire to your own private island.

Fiverr is a website for quick and dirty jobs done cheap. Most of the editors on the site want to work a quick job, make a few bucks, and move on. The ads all proclaim quick turn around on small jobs, but the first step in each transaction is contacting the seller to let them know what you want. You can always ask for more or less, and negotiate terms on your budget and timescale.

For my work, time was not of the essence, so the message sent to my preferred editor was a request for a little more editing done at a much slower rate. In my case it was edit 12,000 words over a week at a ‘buy five get one free’ rate. Of the two editors priced this way, one was going on vacation and wasn’t taking orders over 2,000 words, and the other accepted within eight hours. Deal.

How do you pick an editor? Maybe one editor is as good as another – I’m new at this, so what do I know? I’ll tell you what: my story is a fast-paced men’s adventure yarn, so I waded through a lake of women and soft jawed gentlemen to find a couple of blokes who looked like they’d maybe seen the ugly end of a punch at least once in their lives.

That may not be fair, and may be a bit sexist, but for a quick job like this, it’s as good a reason as any. In the end, that strategy worked out great. The editing was solid, and professional, and he will be getting more work from me in the future.

His name is daveyboy312005.  Here’s his Fiverr profile. If you have any editing work, you should throw it his way – you won’t regret it.

Sidebar: No blog posts were edited in the creation of this blog.  I pay for editing only when I charge for my writing.

On the Alt-Right and Being Your Own Man

This Evil Has Many Axes

You’re reading a guy who spent half a decade languishing in one of the internet’s ghetto’s, poking the proto-SJWs until they finally ran him off for not conforming to the “Diversity Uber Alles” party line.  After a few months of wandering the internet wilderness, he somehow lucked into the counter-culture of disaffected types who happily dwell somewhere in that smeared venn-diagram that encapsulates the manosphere, alt-right, Trump Train, and OSR* gaming of both the RPG and wargaming variety.

A year or so later, I’m in the best shape of my life, working on a second (and third!) career, own a house, and am enjoying a new found freedom to let my little light shine on like a harvest moon.

Say what you want about a Cernovich’s hucksterism or Vox’s aloof megalomania or even a Roosh’s hedonism, those guys have done more to encourage a rock solid delta like me to push harder and get better, than all the SJW types put together. 

Forget John Galt, those guys are working like the devils to show me how to cut my Harrison Bergeron chains, all the while the Diana Moon Glampers of the world, like the one shown in the photo above, are busy cocking shotguns.  The alt right pushes average Joes to get better for themselves while the SJWs demand people get worse for their the sake of others.

The great part about the alt-right is the genuine diversity it contains.  You get everybody from raw hedonists to near Puritanical “white buns => white ovens” and hard-core Catholics who look askance at this new-age Vatican II silliness.  Aside from the sort of good natured head-butting between guys who subscribe to differing subcultures – the sort that occurs any time a group of guys gets together – the divisions matter far less than the common thread of, “Be your own man,” that runs through the lot of them.

Yeah, everybody is selling their own brand, but purity just ain’t our bag, baby.

So which one am I?  Like most guys in the counter-culture, I’m me.  The sense you get from reading most commenters in the various blogs is that everybody picks and chooses and builds their own identity that incorporates elements of each one.  In short, every man in the movement is his own man.  You can bet there’s more variety even among the Vile Faceless Minions of the Supreme Dark Lord than there is at any BLM meeting.

That’s just the sort of not-really-group that a horde of not-really-much-of-a-joiner types can get into.

We’ll leave the purity tests for the libertarians.

*Old School Renaissance.  Google it.

The Deep Breath Before The Plunge

Soon my first honest-to-goodness for sale on its own merits title goes up for sale on Amazon.com.  Hot Sun, Cold Fury is the first in a series of men’s adventure stories featuring Karl Barber, a regular man of action who dives into trouble to save those who most need saving.  Nicknamed for the knife he carries, it’s a two fisted tale of bad guys, pretty girls, and one man who won’t be stopped.  You should try it, it’s only a buck.

This isn’t my first paid writing gig (my day job consists largely of writing technical reports,) nor is it my first sale of fiction work (Steve Jackson games published a couple of my articles in Pyramid Online a decade ago).  It is, however, the first time one of my baby birds has been pushed out of the nest into the cold, hard world to fly or not based on its own merits.

A ten year younger version of me would have waited and revised this story a dozen more times and then sat on it, fearful of all the negative reactions that might occur.  The fool.  Game savvy me knows that the reaction is irrelevant.  The important thing is to execute this story violently rather than wait for the perfect story next week. 

Call it the professional version of approach anxiety.  The only way past it is through it.
And that’s the curious thing about learning Game and taking the Red Pill.  For all the press it gets about being a manipulative way to bang hot chicks, it is so much more than that.  It really is a complete attitude shift.  Learning to stop fearing negative reactions from women is only one benefit that arises from shifting your approach to life, the universe, and everything.  It teaches a fearlessness and independence that surely makes the powerful men – the ones who need good little obedient children for taxpayers – so nervous.  For this writer, those days are over.

So what do you say, internet?  Howzabout you and I get together sometime?