About the work


Let’s call this my mission statement. It differs from my ‘about me’ page, in that you might not care who I am or what I think, but if you’re here, you care about the work I am doing. So what am I doing here? Amusing myself. That’s essence of it. Hopefully, I am amusing others, too, but that was not my primary motivation in the beginning. I just wanted to read some stories that I liked, and no one was writing them.

Well, to be more precise, no one was publishing them. I couldn’t buy the sort of entertainment I preferred, so I had to write my own. I’ve tried to shop a lot of what I have here to a number of publishers, but they are simply not interested in the sort of fiction I want to read and write. The criticisms are never, “Well, your writing is bad. Get better.” No, it’s generally, “This isn’t the sort of story we think our readers will appreciate.”

The irony is thick, here. There are so many complaints these days about the fading of the written word, and how kids are dumbed down by television and video games. The folks in the ivory towers, the gatekeepers of lit-rah-chur, would blame the children, the culture, anyone but themselves, and maybe they are half right. Society has a lot to answer for. But the other half is simpler. SF Publishers of the written word have become insular and jaded. They publish nothing to draw newcomers, preferring convoluted, esoteric, ponderous tales to simple action and adventure, and then wonder why their audience keeps shrinking.

When I was a kid, there were stories, man! Conan beat the hell out of evil wizards and chumps who called him ‘dog’, and made no apologies for being a badass. Elric carved up whole legions, stacking bodies around him like cordwood as his opponents climbed his makeshift walls only to meet their doom at the kiss of Stormbringer. Johnny Rico dropped from orbit in powered armor, blasted bugs, and as he was showering up explained why a military dictatorship just worked.

What do we have now? Sexually confused Mary Sue half-heroes begging bisexual unicorns to fart rainbows that make their enemies love them. Politicians spouting flower power hippy dogma to overcome backward troglodytes with kind words and understanding. The orcs are just misunderstood, and if only everyone would be nice to them, they’d stop pillaging and raping.

In film and games, Obi Wan Kenobi and Annakin Skywalker arc in opposite directions, lightsabres flashing, stark, powerful black and white as opposed to fifty shades of gray. Master Chief lays down the law on the Flood and Covenant forces with extreme prejudice. Starbuck grudge fucks friend and foe alike, punches out officers, sucks down half a bottle of whisky and a couple of fine cigars, then gears up and flips everyone the bird as she rolls out to blast Cylons. Darth Vader, Annakin that was, trains his student Starkiller to use the force to pull a Star Destroyer from orbit!

What are we offering up, compared to that, to make people want to read at all? Other media has it figured out: good and evil, locked in battle over terrible stakes, the hero myth writ large, unashamed, is an evergreen story. They make money and they entertain. Is all of it top notch? Of course not. But there needs to be something for everyone, and products to entice newcomers, or the whole business withers and dies.

Meanwhile, Written SF is busy playing hipster and sneering at all of the things the ‘common’ people like. Oh, and by the way, if you go for coffee with him, you’re gonna need to treat because he doesn’t have any money, either. He suffers so for his art.

These are the tales our ancestors told over fires in the cold and dark, in an attempt to make sense of the cruel and random nature of the universe, to push back against the darkness and uncertainly with inspiring tales of the one man who, with courage and resolve, made a difference. There is a reason they speak to us. They are wards against the inevitable crush of entropy. They are candles lit against the darkness. They are affirmations that, in the face of disaster, there is always hope. The least of us, if he is brave, might make a real difference, but only if he is willing to fight, and only if he can endure adversity and temptation.

I’ve no aspiration to create great literature, or appeal to the jaded and ever-shrinking audience that the self-appointed gatekeepers of SF struggle desperately to appease. I write for me. I write to widen the eyes of the young and the young at heart, who have yet to embrace cynicism and deconstruction as the only valid forms of expression. I am tired of angsty, navel gazing feebs as heroes. I want some badasses, too. Can they be complex? Absolutely. But they can also stand head and shoulders above ordinary men, because they represent something we’ve forgotten is of value in our culture: an ideal to which we ought aspire, even if we can’t reach it.

Maybe that leaves me with an audience of one. I don’t care. Maybe you don’t, either. If so, then listen, and toss another log on the fire. I once heard of a great hero, who stood against long odds, with only his blade and his courage as allies. He did not start as a hero. But he became one….