Coming Soon: More Karl Barber

Thank you everyone who purchased my first independently published short story, Hot Sun, Cold Fury.  The second title in the series is available…now.

Pennies on a Scale follows Karl Barber on a planned expedition to a remote corner of Cambodia where he finds himself outnumbered, outgunned, and almost out of time.

This time Karl has more time to prepare, more time for romance, and more time to get himself into trouble.  The world may be too big for one man to save, but Karl knows that small actions can have big consequences, and so he sets out through the remote jungles of Cambodia to tip the scales back towards the side of the good guys.

It’s been available for pre-order for a while, but now you can purchase it here today, and look for the third title in the series, Bring Back Our Girls, coming in the next week or two.

Where You From, Baby?

My page view recently experienced a significant spike, due mainly to my review of a little thing called Cirsova.  Driven mainly by links from the Lead Editor, and Hugo Nominated author Jeffro Johnson*, it may be time for a quick, but more detailed introduction to Seagull Rising.

This is the personal blog of a guy starting a second career as a writer.  My writing seeks to fill a void left behind when the publishing houses adopted a business strategy dominated by a hunt for the female dollar.  To better understand how fiction of the past was written to appeal to us menfolk, I’ve recently been inspired by/stolen a plag from Jeffro’s book, and undertaken a mission to read more pulp magazines.  Where Jeffro’s focus has been on the fantasy, sci-fi, and weird fiction side of things, I’ve been targeting the more grounded real world adventure marked by seedy detective and man-against-the-wild stories. 

Men’s adventure magazines have a bad reputation in today’s world, but it is possible that the same sort of dry-erase version of history applied to sci-fi has also been applied to men’s adventure magazines.  The only way to be sure is to read some of them for myself.  It’s a journey I’ve only just begun – I haven’t even figured out the traditional place to put the apostrophe in the phrase “Men’s Magazine” – so definitive answers are still a ways off.  Despite that, reading these old tales is shaping up to be a fun adventure in its own right.  You’re welcome to join me.
Eventually, I’ll have a library of my own titles, but as a guy just starting out, you can count on my early work being a bit rough around the edges.  This is a marathon, it’ll get better over time, but you have to start somewhere.

Be warned, I’m a lifelong tabletop gamer who occasionally flirts with the lovely Vivian James, so you’re likely to encounter some digressions into the realm of gaming nerdery.  I’m also heavily influenced by this weird amorphous thing metastasizing out of the intersection of the manosphere and the alt-right, so regular readers are probably going to be exposed to the cheeky sort of Platonic rhetoric and casual disdain for the Overton Window that drives the tubby rainbow haired brigade back into their safe spaces.  I try to dump the worst of the political stuff onto my alter-ego, but it’s part of who I am, so some of it will inevitable bleed through to these posts.

Consider yourself warned.

*If you guys are reading this, thank you for the free publicity!

Why We Can’t Have Nice Guy Things

Via Pulp-O-Mizer

In an effort to get a better handle on what people think of the old Mens Adventure Magazines (not sure if capitalized), I’ve been poking around the social media scene and running the pulp searches on the search engines.  There are ple
nty of resources out there, the aforementioned Pulp.org being the best I’ve found so far, but not nearly as much discussion as there is on the pulp sci-fi and fantasy front.

One thing I did find is a fairly recent article at Splice.com, and it comes so close.  It almost commits to the genre before pulling back at the last minute and throwing a number of sops to the feminine imperative.

The title, Hard Case Crime: the Beauty of Male Passion, is a complete tease.  It extolls the virtues of male passion and sneers at the sensibilities of modern SJWs, but as is typical, feels the need to reassure ‘my lady’ that his fedora doth tip for thee.

Let’s back up a step.  The story is actually about a modern publisher, Hard Case Crimes, which is now on the official watch list for this blog.  Hard Case Crimes publishes new works written in the old post-war style, complete with tawdry titles and lurid full color cover art (see every picture in this post.)  The publisher has been successful enough to land a TV series, and even published novels by Mickey Spillane (The Consumata), Gore Vidal (Thieves Fall Out) and Steven King (Joyland).

The analysis starts out great:

The simplest explanation for the popularity of Hard Case Crime is that the books, like most pulp fiction and the film noir movies it inspired, are about animus—the Jungian term for male passion. Like a Scorsese film, they depict men on the edge when the world is increasingly hostile to dangerous and flamboyant men. In the 1950s, writers like Jim Thompson and Dashiell Hammett brought readers into a world where carefully manicured lawns, Jell-O and white picket fences hadn’t taken hold.

Explains why these works are popular and compares them to the modern media’s favorite punching-bag version of men:

Hollywood films, from American Beauty to Foxcatcher, neuter men who are passionate leaders in fields of the military or sports. Every sitcom dad seems to be an ineffectual schlub. 

Then devolves into standard apologies for non-apologetic men with this:

They aren’t liberals, but they also aren’t lad culture conservatives—juveniles like Gavin McInnes, always dropping his pants to get a reaction from the feminists.

And this:

Of course, a man must be able to read a woman’s signals, and it’s a good thing that feminism is teaching young men that no means no and yes means yes.

There’s absolutely no need for that sort of, “an’ it please the missus,” forelock tugging, cringe.  If you’re going to celebrate a more masculine form of literature, then be a man and celebrate it already.

Still and all, you have to give credit where credit is due.  Mark Judge may be a bit too obsequious to be an fully effective apologist for that old time religion, but at least he’s trying.  And it’s hard to come down too hard on a guy who ends his analysis with this sort of conclusion.

Hard Case Crime, and pulp fiction in general, is…an expression of authentic male passion, of sweaty sexiness, in a world of pajama boys, government-mandated health food, and reactionary conservaive blowhards.

Speaking as a conservative blowhard: Brother, you’re half right and half go-kill-yourself, ya coward.

Grown Up Book Report: Free Speech Isn’t Free

Roosh V’s Free Speech Isn’t Free, an autobiographic account of the author’s attempt to host an independent book and speech tour in the face of overwhelming opposition by hordes of outraged feminists (are there any other kind), their brave Sir Mangina lackeys, and the political apparatus of two large North American cities.

For those who aren’t familiar, Roosh V is an American born Persian who made a name for himself in the pick-up artist community, raised a few shekels writing guidebooks for travelling men interested in pick-up artistry, and raised a few hackles with provocative internet articles encouraging fat shaming and discouraging rape.  In the latter case he made the mistake of overestimating the intelligence and honesty of the fragile feminists by writing an article satirically suggesting that legalizing rape on private property would reduce the incidence rate of rape by forcing women to take extra precaution to protect themselves from being raped.  A slight clue to the underlying meaning of the article lay in its blunt title, “How To Stop Rape“.

Free Speech Isn’t Free is Roosh’s first-hand account of his experience at the center of a modern day witch hunt.  In it, he recounts the low lead in, the cloak and dagger lengths required to give a simple speech to a handful of men, and the effects the event has had on his worldview.  The tale starts with his first few uneventful talks, held in Berlin, London, Washington D.C., and New York City.

If you’ve read the ‘legal rape’ blog post linked above, you
know this headline was written by a liar or an idiot.

When his tour arrived in Montreal, all hell broke loose.  A left-wing mob, whipped up by the dishonest Canadian media and unscrupulous local politicians, mobilized social media and hordes of angry mobs to stop him from saying things that might hurt their feelings.  Despite the lies, threats, and physical attacks, Roosh persevered and hosted the two talks, only to have the process repeat itself on a global scale a few months later when he had the audacity to suggest that groups of like minded men, fans of his writing, might want to get together and talk with each other sometime.

The monster.

National governments mobilized resources to stop his book club.  Media worldwide published hundreds of suspiciously identical articles condemning him for writing a pro-rape article that never quite found the space to mention its title.  Which you will remember was, “How To Stop Rape”.  Although the global panic managed to forestall most of the meetings, enough slipped through the cracks to count the fight for and against men getting together a decided draw.

Full disclosure: Following the Canadian debacle in real-time, and seeing first hand the way the media spun lies out of whole cloth, I attempted to join the local meetup as a show of support for freedom of speech.  Unfortunately, a heavy security presence at the scheduled meetup had spooked whatever local guys might otherwise have shown.  Score one for censorship.

The story reads like a spy-thriller – one man and his ragtag bunch of misfits against the combined might of a totalitarian regime –  let down by a storyteller in desperate need of an editor.  Roosh has a strong conversational voice that often drifts too far into the informal.  At times this book reads as though it was dictated live, and that he skipped a second pass to clean up the language.  In a way, that adds to the immediacy of the story, but more often than not it distracts the reader’s attention away from the tale.

That complaint aside, the book is a fascinating read for its inside look at what it’s like to be the victim of a media firestorm.  Roosh is a very candid author, revealing more vulnerability and self-doubt than one would expect from a man capable of staring down the political machine of an entire Western nation.  Although he has many strong opinions, the book is littered with admissions that he does not have all of the answers.  He is clearly a man trying to find himself, and trying to figure out the sort of world for which he wants to strive.  His tour may have been dedicated to offering advice to men around the world, but this book suggests that Roosh may have learned more from the men who risked their jobs and reputations to listen to ideas their fellow countrymen believed to gorgon like – too dangerous to even glimpse lest their turn you to stone. 

Here is one of those dangerous bolts of insight that should resonate with anyone who has wondered why the inmates appear to be running the asylum these days:

When more pictures of [the protest in Queen’s Park] came in I thought, “I’ve been hiding from these people?”  They were a collection of overweight feminists and limp-wristed men who have never been in a fight in their lives.  I couldn’t believe that because the received the support of media and government, I had to use guerilla tactics with multiple operations on several fronts to evade their efforts to cancel the event.

Why are the West’s institutions elevating the weakest citizens while attempting to silence the strongest who are most free-thinking, independent, and self-reliant?  The answer becomes easy when you ask yourself which group of people is more likely to resist unjust state authority.  It’s not the man holding a sign that says “Consent” or “no means no”, but the one who works out, takes care of himself…owns a gun, and is not deceived by invented hysterias.  The class of losers being elevated in Western society is specifically the class that poses absolutely no threat to state power.”

And it’s that reason right there that I find Roosh such a fascinating author.  Where I would reject outright the sleazy provocateur training men how best to seduce young women of his past, I’m taken in by the aging lothario looking for ways to add real meaning to his life of his present.  His ongoing search, much of it laid out in detail in this book, touches on everything from free speech to gender roles to self improvement.  At this point, he seems to be on the right path towards a healthier lifestyle filled with the love of a good woman, a crowd of little Rooshes tearing around his ankles, and a strengthened commitment to help other men find a better path through life than the one peddled by the mainstream media.  Only time will tell, and I hope to follow his journey as it progresses.

Regardless of how you feel about Roosh’s past writing or about his heel-face turn, if you love liberty, and support man’s Creator-endowed rights to free expression and free association, buy this book.  Like the author, it’s not the perfect book to read, but it may just be the book you need to read. 

New Release: Hot Sun, Cold Fury

The tagline of this blog is, “A Corporate Drone Learns to Leave the Flock”, and by now you should know that it tells the tale of one man’s attempt to make an honest buck for himself, rather than for an(admittedly very nice) corporation.

This post celebrates the first concrete step in that direction with the release of a self-published short story, Hot Sun, Cold Fury.  The first in a series of short stories featuring the kind of hero that you don’t see much of any more. 

A strong man dedicated to doing the right thing, no matter how inconvenient, and one not paralyzed by crippling self-doubt.  He knows what needs to be done and he just goes out and does it – violently, if necessary.

This is no hero’s journey where the protagonist learns a valuable lesson about himself.  Instead, it is a hero’s journey where a hero goes on a journey.  He doesn’t need a journey to grow into a hero, because he’s already there.

Priced at just under a buck, it’s 20 pages of fast action and fun adventure, so give it a shot

And thank you to all the great guys around the manosphere whose inspiration made this possible.

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.