Circe: My Thoughts

I don’t want to say I hate this book, but I find myself trying to go through it, and thinking about all the OTHER books on my audible cue I could be listening to instead.  Partly because I’ve been dying to read The Little Book of Hygge, and The Six-Gun Tarot since I got them, but mostly because this book is dreadfully boring as fuck.

I’ll be honest, Greek mythology is probably my least favorite mythology.  I might as well include Roman mythology in that slot as well, considering they’re literally the same fucking thing with different names.  I’ve always found Norse mythology the most interesting, followed more or less by Celtic.  Hindu mythology is also pretty fascinating in a way, particularly in how it tends to mirror the old testament in an aspect or two.  Greek mythology, though…  I remember this was the mythology they banged into my head in school, and frankly, I can only hear so many variations about the fall of Prometheus, or the story of the minotaur, or that guy who has to spend eternity pushing a giant rock up a hill, only for that rock to squash him and roll all the way back to the bottom when he gets there before it gets tedious.

The book basically tells the story of Circe from Circe’s point of view.  We hear all the stories from her perspective, such as the sentencing of Prometheus, the birth of the minotaur, the sailors she turns into pigs…  Oh, and by the way, I almost ended up putting the book down entirely out of suspicion I was about to receive YET ANOTHER god damn third wave feminist lecture on how all men are disgusting swine.  The pun is probably intended, which would’ve made it worse.

Look, I get it that this is how the original story went.  More or less.  I’m pretty sure Madeline Miller took some liberties with the myths in order to make the story make sense.  I just have a hard time believing that when the first group of sailors showed up to her island, then found out she was the mistress of the home, they went all rapy in 0.00000001 seconds.  It was literally “Hey, we’re all having fun with wine and steak!” to “Ima rape you!” in the blink of an eye.  Yeah, sailors are horny, and women are few and far in between, but that was just whiplash right there.

Then again, what the fuck do I know?  According to every third tweet on my newsfeed, I’m clearly wrong about anything and everything because I have a penis, and the fact I try to explain things from a LOGICAL standpoint is instantly labeled “mansplaining” and I should just shut the fuck up and embrace my future as livestock.  I really need to unfollow that transwoman.  Or stop getting on Twitter.


I’ve really tried to soldier through this book.  Thankfully, any hints of third waver propaganda tucked away in a retelling of a Greko-Roman myth are, at best, a phase Circe goes through as a result of meeting the wrong crew of sailors first.

If there’s really one thing working against this book…  Really, it’s just that it’s so unbelievably boring.  This whole autobiography just drags on and on, and it’s rarely interesting enough to read more than one chapter at a time.  Believe me, The Dark Backward was less of a drudge than this book.  And I actually LIKE The Dark Backward.  For some reason.

I’m not sure how much of this was the story itself, and how much of it was the reader of the audiobook.  Perdita Weeks’ performance is like one of those ASMR videos on YouTube people apparently put on their phone when they’re trying to sleep.  Say for some shouting matches here and there between characters, this reading is dull.  It’s like trying to listen to The Draconis Memoria all over again, except this time, the reader is female.  And the story is somehow MORE of a chore to get through despite being SHORTER than The Draconis Memoria.  Really, pick a book in the series: they’re all bricks, near as I can tell.

Believe me, guys, I really tried.  I really did.  Even if I’m not huge on Greko-roman mythology, I wanted to at least feel like this book was worth the read.  Unfortunately, the further I get into it, the more I find myself really wishing I was reading something else right about now.  Or shit, I could be working on MY OWN books right about now.  Lord knows I’ve been juggling projects like crazy these last couple of months.


The Aversion to Inclusion: a Theory

So yeah, how about that Last Jedi?  Never have I seen a more polarized reaction to a Star Wars movie in my life!  Usually, Star Wars is universally loved, or universally hated.  If there has ever been any polarization, it’s been a lot more civil than it has been lately.

Here and now, I don’t hear a lot about it, but when the movie was in theaters…  WOO!  People were pissed.  And everybody else was pissed that those people were pissed.  Then I joined Twitter, and found out that this was another instance of war were declared.

At first, I didn’t get it.  I mean yeah, gatekeepers within the fandom aren’t especially new to the 2010s (another reason I feel like this decade was a mistake), and I’ve seen my share of hot button topics in other fandoms.  But it seems like The Last jedi just brought out the worst in everyone.

And a popular point of debate is yet another gemstone of the 2010s: inclusion.

The Star Wars franchise has basically been the boys club for the longest time.  True, there was Leia, and…  Uh…  Whatever her name was in Return of the Jedi who was explaining the rebel forces’ mission (I seriously can’t remember her name, assuming they ever gave us one).  And that was basically it.  Leia was around, and she contributed, but all the focus was on either Luke confronting Darth Vader, or Hahn and Chewie being badass while C3PO acted like an absolute fop, R2D2 helped where applicable, and Leia…  Did stuff too, I guess.

The only woman in the prequel trilogy was Padme, and her only real contribution to anything was being Anniken’s girlfriend/wife.  There were lady jedis, but the focus of the entire story was mostly on Anniken and Obewon.

Really, the only woman who contributed anything to anything was probably either Ahsoka, or Asaj Ventris from The Clone Wars.  And that’s assuming you consider Clone Wars to be canon.

Jump forward to the 2010s, and the new trilogy.  And HOLY SHIT!  There’s women now!  Rae is not just one of the good guys, she’s THE good guy.  Holy shit, there’s multiple women within the rebellion who contribute things to the plot!  Well what about the bad guys?  Surely that’s still all dudes who…  NOPE!  There’s a badass bounty hunter who, in core concept is basically Boba Fett after getting rule 63ed, but holy shit is she awesome!  She’s got the fucking Masterchief battle armor and everything!

So yeah, there’s a lot more women in Star Wars now.  And a lot of people are pissed about it, apparently.  But why?

Well, when you take away the assholes who make up the MAGA crowd being all MAGA, and the more valid complaints that Rae basically Mary Sues her way through the force, I have a theory about this.  Is there any validity to this theory?  Hell if I know, but allow me to lay it out before you bitch me out so viciously.

Really, what makes someone a nerd?  Exclusion.  Exclusion from all the the cool kids’ activities.  Everybody wants to be the cool kid, but only a select few ever get to be.  And usually, the ones who ARE elected the cool kids end up being absolute dicks.  The cool kids only want like-minded individuals, or at least syckophants willing enough to play the part to be in their group.  They don’t want a bunch of nerdy bullshit in their club, and back then, Star Wars was nerd city.

The nerds, dejected by their failure to belong, seek escape.  Star Wars provides them with an escape.  It gives them Luke Skywalker.  Or shit, maybe even Anniken!  I’ve heard that attitudes towards the prequels are starting to soften.  Or at least, towards episodes 2 and 3, anyway.  But I digress.

The nerds embrace this franchise because the characters are relatable, the story is epic, and it provides them with something that gives them comfort, and maybe even a reason to live.  Yeah, the cool kids won’t let me drink beer with them at Vince’s house, and the hot chick won’t let me anywhere near her because I wear glasses, but here in the Star Wars galaxy, I can fight stormtroopers and hang out with an awesome wookiee companion!

High school ends, and time moves forward.  The nerds discover that computers are becoming more and more commonplace in society.  Furthermore, the guys who were the cool kids in high school suddenly begin to realize that once we’ve exited the aquarium known as high school, and entired the ocean…  Well, the ocean isn’t nearly as cool about things as the aquarium was.  The nerds have all the power, and the cool kids are basically pumping gas for a living.  JUSTICE!

But despite this paradigm shift of sorts, you never forget your roots.  You and your friends went from the geeky kids getting swirlies in the trrlet, or getting bodychecked into the lockers for not being cool like us cool kids, to the thirty-somethings doing computer stuff that makes you the most useful dudes in society.  Maybe you’re working on top secret computer equipment for the CIA or NSA.  Maybe you just got hired to fix Ms. Johnson from next door’s computer, and found out the only thing wrong with it was that she switched off the powerstrip by mistake.  Either way, you nerds of yesterday have more influence now than you used to.  Hell, the cool kids of the current generation hold significantly more respect for nerds, knowing that they may have to depend on you one day.  Now it’s the theater kids’ who get swirlies in the trrlet, and bodychecked into lockers.  But that’s beside the point.

Regardless of what you do professionally, you never forget.  You and your friends still talk about Star Wars to this very day.  You check out all the new movies and TV shows, you post fan theories on message boards or Facebook groups…  Hell, maybe you even write fan fiction.  The important thing is Star Wars was the geeky little obsession that helped you cope.  It gave you something to look forward to when you got back from school, it gave you something to talk about with friends, and it factors in to your identity as a human being.  Because apparently we do that now in the 2010s, hyperfocus on our identity.

And speaking of the 2010s, the 2010s come along, and you begin to notice a new trend: inclusion.  You’re starting to notice more media is beginning to include black characters, gay characters, trans characters…  And yes, even nerd characters.  This seems fine.  These communities have been pretty poorly portrayed on screen over the years, and you can sympathize with the fact they’ve ALSO been excluded, or portrayed as the punchline of every joke about their community.  So good on them for finally getting some positive portrayals in media.  I mean yeah, there’s The Big Bang Theory, but everybody hates that show.  It’s like the Will and Grace, or BET of nerddom.

But then, Hollywood discovers the delicious flavor of memberberries.  They become addicted to the delicious taste of nostalgia, and begin remaking movies left and right.  Including several nerd franchises like Transformers, Robocop, and so on.  These remakes all suck.

As time progresses, the remakes only get worse.  Furthermore, the inclusion concept becomes less of a concept, and more of a fad.  Suddenly, all the Ghostbusters are chicks, Dr. Smith from Lost in Space is a girl, the yellow ranger from Mighty Morphing Power Rangers is sort of an allegory for transsexuality (according to a fan theory I read once), a popular British comedy movie gets remade shot for shot but now has black people instead of British people…  Not only do these remakes suck out loud, but inclusion slowly but surely becomes a dirty word.

Hollywood isn’t interested in catering to the fanbase it established with its original versions.  Rather, they’re interested in bringing in NEW fans.  Specifically, bringing in a variety of new fans.  Including the very people who used to give you swirlies in the trrlet and bodychecks into the lockers.  Suddenly, the franchises you’ve known and loved are now the stomping ground for the very people who made it their mission in high school to ostracize you, exclude you, and remind you that you’ll never be one of them.

Star Wars too falls victim to remakxploitation.  Episode 7: The Force Awakens, is basically episode 4 with better special effects and, gasp, inclusion!  There’s a lot more women than there used to be, there’s black storm troopers…  I vaguely remember the fan community theorizing Po and Finn were going to shack up at one point, but I think The Last Jedi shattered those hopes the moment Rose got introduced…  But I digress.

You have been conditioned to hate inclusion, because inclusion is a gateway for those very people who hated you, ridiculed you, and made you unwelcome in an environment you had to go to come in to YOUR domaine.  So what do you do?  Well, you COULD be the bigger man, and welcome the new fans with open arms…  Or you can do what the vast majority of Twitter seems to be doing, and keep the gate.

And thus, we find ourselves where we are now.  The nerds have become the cool kids, and the cool kids have become the nerds.  In this new age, words like DIVERSITY and INCLUSION have become dirty words.  Because according to the current gatekeepers, “where the fuck was all this inclusion and diversity when I was the one getting my ass kicked?  Huh?  Where was inclusion when I was being excluded from literally everything, you fucking dicks?”  And as a result, we find that no real peace has been established, but also, that the pendulum has swung to the other side.

But that’s just my theory.  This is coming from the guy who was absolutely wrong about the summer of 2018 being “The Summer of Math Horror”, after all, so maybe take this with a grain of salt.

Nevernight: My Thoughts

“It’s like Harry Potter, but with assassins instead of wizards,” was how a member of my book club described The Nevernight Chronicles.  Why not?  They sold me Space Opera by telling me it was basically that episode of Rick and Morty with the giant head shouting “SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!”.  So I burned an credit, and bought myself a copy.

I’ll admit, I was keeping my expectations fairly low when I went into this book.  Primarily, because I’m pretty sure this same member of the book club recommended another book for the club, and I don’t think I liked it.

Also, I’m fairly certain this book is young adult, and if there’s anything I find more tiresome in the 2010s, other than Dubstep, using high tech state of the art gaming consoles to make 8-byt Metroidvanias, “trap” music, the rise of memberberry culture, the Trump presidency…  Huh.  You know, this entire decade seems to be pissing me off, come to think of it.  But another bulletpoint on the list is the young adult genre.  Not DEMOGRAPHIC, but GENRE.

The young adult genre anymore can easily be defined as “Oh boy!  I can’t wait to see how the pink-haired protagonist escapes their dystopian situation while simultaneously juggling a love triangle for an entire fucking trilogy while writing in the present tense this time!”.  Although in more recent entries, I’m noticing the whole “writing in the present tense” thing is dying out.  And thank god.

Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight has hints of young adult cliché within it…  And yet, I ended up loving this book.

Nevernight takes place in a universe with three suns, no moon, and the actual concept of night (IE, true dark) is a rare occurance.

There’s a lot of lingo to learn in this book, but it rarely fills like an infodump.  Even when the author himself is going out of his way to infodump.

Half the time, though, I have to wonder if the new lingo is all that necessary.  True dark and nevernight make perfect sense, but then you get into words like justikis, and emperitor.  Oh, and I’m making educated guesses on those spellings on the grounds I had the audiobook.  But seriously, what was wrong with emperor?  What was wrong with justice?  I can’t tell if we’re trying for pseudo Lattin, real lattin, or if Kristoff felt like he had to make this world as alien as possible.  In the case of the third…  Fair enough, but there’s something to be said for “keep it simple, stupid”.

The balance between humor and dead seriousness…  Could’ve probably used some tweeking in spots.  I understand the need to explain certain elements of the universe (IE, what is a “sand kracken”), but a lot of the time, I feel like someone REALLY wanted to be Douglas Addams.

There are a couple clichés that made me sigh in annoyance.  IE, the FRIangle: my most hated of tropes.  I didn’t predict right away that Tric was going to be the forced romantic interest, but it reached a point where the writing was on the wall a few chapters before the the main character and her FRI are forced to boink.

And can I just say: holy fucking hell the sex was graphic in this!  Believe me, I’m no prude.  If anything, I probably included WEIRDER shit in my fiction (my inner critic still insists I have a foot fetish after The Gael Saga).  At the same time, though, the last time I encountered a sex scene this graphic, I was still reading fan fiction.

Five bucks says he probably included the pairing of Tric and Mia boinking so the fanfic writers wouldn’t feel obligated to ship them themselves.  Then again, there’s probably that one weird group of writers who think Mia and Jezemin (again, I’m guessing because audiobook) should be a couple.  Trust me, they’re almost definitely out there.  And they vote.

It sounds like I’m giving this book shit, but trust me, I actually liked this book a lot, despite these complaints.

Also, as far as cliché goes, the book goes way out of its way to swerve you.  There’s really no way to explain this without giving away a spoiler like “don’t get used to Tric”, or the old cliché of the bitchy rival character stealing the main character’s notes after fooling her into thinking Tric wants to spend the evening boinking…  Only to find out that the notes they’d stolen weren’t the right ones, and they end up dying in poisons class as a result.  That one actually made me very happy: partly because I just wanted to see that asshole get his come-uppins, but also because I actually didn’t see that one coming for a change.  I’d say more, but I fear I already spoiled too much.

The audiobook is read by Holter Graham.  I feel like I’ve heard that name before.  For sure, he sounds like the kid with the pop-collar shirt in Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil.  In any case, he does a pretty good job.

If not for the beginning and ending of the book, though, I’d have found it surprising they picked a male reader to read a book from a female protagonist’s perspective.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve encountered this, but it’s a pretty rare occurance these days.  Hell, even in the dark days of four-sided cassette tapes, I rarely encountered this.

All and all, the book isn’t perfect, but I still enjoyed the ride from start to finish, and I still recommend you check it out.  Apparently, book 3 doesn’t come out till 2019, which, if nothing else, gives me yet another thing to look forward to in 2019.  In the meantime, I think I’ll give book 2 a try.

Announcements, cancelations, and speculations

I’ve had several thoughts, announcements, and the like regarding my writing all bouncing around in my head that I’ve had to hold off on due to having to promote Realm of the War Pigs.  It’s been a week, and for the most part, and I think enough time has passed to talk about something OTHER than what I published recently.  If I’m wrong…  Well, that’s probably another reason I have to self publish.

My announcements are as follows.

First off, the next book in The Highway Men is already under way.  As of this writing, I already have three chapters and a prologue.

In my blueprint, I had originally planned on book 2 simply being called Unfinished Business.  According to that blueprint, it’d be another story from the perspective of Kaitlin Klein, and it’d follow up on any loose threads book 1 left behind.  Somewhere around the second draft of Realm of the War Pigs, though, those plans changed drastically.

As of this blogging, book 2 of my series is titled Realm of the Mushroomheads.  Kaitlin does appear in the book, but now, the story changes over to a different character.

I’d alluded to a Cousin Bailey in Realm of the War Pigs, but never really went into detail on her.  Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler.  Nor is anything I’m about to talk about for the most part.

Funny thing is that Cousin Bailey and Cousin Sasha were just random characters that weren’t really meant for anything but to expand on Kaitlin’s background.  Hell, their NAMES were place holder names.  I looked over at my TV while I was writing (this was back when I had cable), saw Bayley and Sasha Banx were about to have a segment on WWE Raw, and just wrote those names down in the manuscript, thinking that if nothing else, I’d change them later.  I never did, I realize, and now it’s too late to change it.  Whatever, I’m rambling.

Realm of the Mushroomheads is told from the perspective of Bailey Boxberger (last name subject to change): Kaitlin’s cousin, and a native of Nevel, Kansas.  Unlike her older cousin, she’s never left town, and, in my opinion anyway, is more in touch with what the locals have to say about all these newcomers moving into town, and going over to that mansion.

So far, that’s all I can say about Realm of the Mushroomheads without spoiling things.

I have no idea when this project will be finished, but I can say with certainty that it’s probably going to be 2019 before you see it.  WHEN in 2019, I don’t know, but I doubt highly I’ll be able to finish this, get another glorious book cover from Cartoonist Mark himself, and get this out by 2018.

Especially because of item number 2 on my list of things to talk about.

I’ve been keeping this mostly to myself, largely because I have no idea if this is actually going to happen or not.  All I can really say for sure is I’ve been recruited to write the script for a potential graphic novel.  So far, all I can say about this project is about ninety-nine percent of my time on this project has consisted of researching a psychotic amount of obscure mythology, and the other one percent has been dedicated to trying to remember what comic book pages look like.

Yeah, somewhere around 2007-2009, I thought my blind ass could get into the comic book industry with all my ingenious ideas.  Perhaps Marvel or DC, or even Image (assuming that’s even around anymore) would be a longshot, but I was looking into smaller, but equally noteable publishers like Darkhorse, or Antarctic Press at the time.  Those plans went to the wayside.  Partly because I realized I was a lot better at pros.

Also, in recent years…  Well, a lot of this is basically third-hand information at best, but I’ve generally gotten the impression PC culture has the comic book industry in a stranglehold.  Things like diversity are more important to the big boys than actually telling a halfway decent story.  Or at least that’s the case with Marvel.  I couldn’t tell you anything about DC anymore, other than they eventually abandoned New52, and at one point, there were apparently three different jokers all running around like they do.

Basically, I’m having to learn, and relearn the ropes of comic book writing in order to make a halfway decent graphic novel.

As a result of this graphic novel project getting dumped in my lap, I have to manage my writing time, and shelf some potential projects.  The most prominent of which, unfortunately, is The Helen Tamzarian Papers.

Truth be told, I haven’t given up on The Helen Tamzarian Papers as a book just yet.  As a SERIES…  I’m suddenly a little less interested in pursuing that idea.  Really, if anything, Helen Tamzarian IN GENERAL is an idea I’m not quite as enthusiastic about these days.

I’m putting this project on the shelf for the time being.  I’m not really abandoning it like past projects, but I’m not necessarily going to be picking this up any time soon, either.

Another project that ended up getting shelved before I could even start it was another Novella of Highfill, Kansas.  Yeah, I know.  Just when I’ve convinced myself this one’s the last one, I come up with a new idea.

The thing is, though, I only ever write out Highfill, Kansas novels when I’m in the deepest depths of the backward dark: that horrible void where the voices assure me that life is meaningless, the universe is apathetic to my existence, and everybody around you is a selfish fucking prick who wishes you’d just hurry up and kill yourself already and spare us all the pathetic fucking sadboy posts on Facebook/Twitter.  Except I generally keep my Twitter professional, outside of some sports commentary and a couple dumb observations.

Thing is, life is actually pretty generous to me lately.  I mean yeah, I’m dirt poor at the moment and scraping by on rent and bills, but honestly, a change of scenery was probably what I needed.  New place, new part of KC, new challenges…  It might be too early to make this declaration, but I’m pretty sure I can add new girlfriend to the list as well.  The only real downside so far has been having to rehome my cat, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s for the better.  Both for me, and for the cat, but mostly for the cat.It’s a long story.

So yeah, that’s basically all the news that’s fit to dish for the time being.  Sink your teeth into that, and I’ll see yall next time.


Space Opera: My Thoughts

Boy, someone REALLY wants to be Douglas Addams.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things, you could do significantly worse than Douglas Addams (Elron Hubbard comes to mind almost immediately), but there’s showing influence, and then there’s outright ripping off.

The concept of influenced by Vs. ripping off has been a topic of debate on the internet forever.  There was a time when making game reviews on the internet meant thousands of idiots would accuse you of ripping off The Angry Video Game Nerd, even if your style was nowhere near the loud, profane, fecalphiliac style of AVGN.  If you wanted to be a ranting raving lunatic with his own website designed in the most basic HTML, you were accused by thousands of ripping off The Best Page in the Universe, even if you didn’t copy his misogynistic, egocentric style.  Those are just two examples of this debate that I’m VERY familiar with.  I’m sure it goes on to other platforms, other mediums, and other creaters.

And a book like Space Opera gets me thinking more or less two chapters in that the comparisons to Douglas Addams are inescapable at best.  So is Space Opera a ripoff, or is it just heavily inspired.

Honestly, I’d go with the heavily inspired route.  Largely because while Catherynne M. Valente clearly goes out of her way to incorporate Douglas Addams esque narration about outer space and its various residents, the plot doesn’t even come close.

Space Opera has been described in one of two ways to me:

A. Eurovision in space.

B. That episode of Rick and Morty with the giant head demanding “SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!”.

I’m not especially familiar with Eurovision, but I’m assured by friends within my book club that it’s a glorious trainwreck.  B was what ended up selling me on it.

Aliens gather far and wide to perform on the grandest stage of them all.  A stage so grand, Vince McMahon’s WrestleMania looks like a Podunk house show in a stinky old armory out in rural Kansas by comparison.  A stage so grand, various species have been known to convert entire planets into musical instruments just to stand a chance.  And every grand prix, new species are brought to the stage to determine whether or not they’re worth keeping around or not.  New contestants don’t have to win in order to avoid absolute annihilation, but survival depends entirely on avoiding last place.

Naturally, Earth eventually gets discovered, and is invited.  And after learning that all of Earth’s greatest musicians are dead (my favorite being The Insane Clown Possy ending up killing themselves as a result of something to do with magnets), Earth’s only hope ends up being Decibell Jones and The Absolute Zeroes.

Comparisons to Douglas Addams aside, this is an interesting challenge.  How the hell does one write about music?  Music is purely an audible experience, while reading is visual.  I’m going to take a wild guess and say Valente didn’t include sheet music in the print copy.

The story mentions several hybrid genres like barber shop quartet death metal, and symphonic dubstep just to name a possible few.  I would legitimately like to hear how all of these sound.  Even if dubstep is for pussies, integrating it into several other genres would be interesting to see.  The whole concept of mishmashing genres was really what made nu-metal so appealing to me.  True, every third band in the subgenre ended up being a collective of whiney bitches in hindsight, but that aside, combinations and mashups have always fascinated me, and I’d love to hear some of these genres.  It’s too bad that this is a BOOK, or else someone would probably try.

And no, there’s no attempt at replicating what these genres MIGHT sound like in the audiobook.  in fact, Valente really kind of just glances over the genres, or just mentions them off-handedly more than anything else.  Sure, they’re good for shits and giggles, but I’m that guy who has to actually ask out loud, “I wonder what that would sound like?”

Speaking of the audiobook, the audiobook is read by Heath Miller.  He does a pretty good job with the source material, reading it in that sort of dry style that makes British humor so great.

Any downsides to the story has less to do with the performance, and more to do with the source material itself.  I understand that it’s important to get a history of The Glactic Grand Prix, but this seemed to be the part of the book that got exceptionally old in a hurry for me.  There had to be a better way of emplamenting all this instead of making every even numbered chapter a brief history of this alien race or that alien race.  Surely!  It reached a point where these chapters felt like the single most elaborate form of padding I’d ever seen.  For all the impact the “knifeosaurus” people, or the 321, or ninety percent of the other aliens had on the overall story, I found myself wondering at the end just how necessary this information was.  Then I came to the conclusion that the book would’ve been, like, ten chapters if they weren’t in there.  Nothing necessarily wrong with ten chapter long books (Simon R. Green’s Nightside novellas almost never make it past ten from what I remember of them), but I remember trying to get for-real published means having to meet a very specific wordcount.

The book overall…  Is okay.  It had parts I liked, it had parts I could’ve done without.  The worst I can say about it is that it’s harmless.  The best thing I can say is that I’m glad I read it…  But I don’t see myself picking it up again in the distant future.  It killed about a week’s worth of boredom, but that’s about it.

That being said, I’d still recommend checking it out.

After On: My Thoughts

Whew boy, this book was an ordeal.  People who follow me on my Twitter (@ThomasJBlack1) watched me struggle with this one in realtime, but for those who don’t give a fuck about Twitter and prefer blog posts featuring paragraphs of text all in one place…  Yeah, this book was a chore.

I’ve mentioned before that nonsequential story telling is a pet pieve of mine.  Admittedly, this one does it better than most…  Sometimes.  As far as Mitchel’s high school romance storyline goes, at least I had warning that we were going to be spending several chapters jumping to the past.  More than I can say for the unfolding epic of’s demise, anyway.

This is one of those stories where they just dump a bunch of random shit in your lap in the early going, and expect you to figure out how to put it together as the story unfolds.  I seriously thought the epic saga of Brock Hogan was happening in reality alongside Mitchel’s company getting eaten by Phluttr Inc.  Only to figure out later (several chapters before the book just outright tells you, mind you) that Brock Hogan is actually just the CEO’s terrible scifi creative writing.  The reviews included in the book, while amusing enough, take a while before you figure out what purpose they serve to the plot.  Before then, they just feel intrusive, and maybe even counterintuitive to the story.

Another pet pieve of mine that I might or might not have gotten in to in this blog as a whole is present tense narration.  Plenty of GOOD stories suffer from this pet pieve of mine, and a lot of them are very noir esque.  This seems to be a trope of the young adult genre, and it just reaks of laziness.

In the case of After On, the present tense narration is compounded by the fact the narrator is FUCKING ANNOYING!.  Eventually, you figure out the artificial intelligence that eventually becomes known as Phluttr is the one narrating.  That doesn’t improve anything, but…  Well…  No, that doesn’t improve anything.  Seriously, the narrator for The Powerpuff Girls wasn’t this fourth wall breaking and excessively biased.

I’m aware that unreliable narration is a concept, but much like nonsequential storytelling, it’s one of those things that needs to be done right in order to work.  William fucking Faulkner couldn’t even make it work, and I love Faulkner.  After On is no Faulkner, though, and I’m made aware of it with every paragraph.

This book was featured in my scifi-fantasy book club.  Other criticisms, such as the author’s unhealthy obsession with “info dumping” were brought up.  I personally could look past the fictional disease of the protagonist (Folkenberg’s Syndrome, I think it was called), if only because of all the things that annoy me about this book, that one annoyed me the least.  It’s not a real condition, but whatever.  Don’t care

One person in the group even went on an EXTREMELY long tangent about how Phluttr could communicate with every country in the world, and understand every culture’s language querks and cultural taboos was flat out absurd.  Seriously, the last time I heard someone go on a tangent this long and ridiculously over thought out, one of my best friends was trying to explain how Ron and Hermione should’ve never ended up together on the grounds “opposites attract” is pure and absolute bunk.  In his defense, though, he has aspergers syndrome, and really wanted Harrymione to be a ship (I guess).  And in defense of the person arguing the Phluttr case, foreign language is apparently the thing she nerds out over the hardest.  She herself even admitted it on at least three occasions since I’ve met her.

Still, that may be something to keep in mind.

The audiobook is read by a ridiculous amount of people.  I’m going to guess January LaVoy is the one who reads about eighty-five percent of the book.  It also features Felicia Day: famous for…  Uh…  Some reason.  And I’m sure this was the case BEFORE she appeared on the reboot of MST3K, or her appearances in Ninja Sex Party videos.  I guess she hosted a podcast or something?  In any case, Day reads all the Netgrrrl posts, and she reads them all through a voice filter.

My favorite of all the narrators of this book, though, has got to be Jesse Cox as the guy who reads all the Whistleblower posts.  This guy right here steals the show.  You can just hear the capslock key being glued permenantly to the ON position once he starts up.  Whistleblower ITSELF is like listening to Alex Jones, if the roided up gorilla knew the first thing about computers.  Considering he doesn’t know the first thing about FROGS, I imagine he doesn’t stand a chance, but I’ve been proven wrong before, so…

So yeah, they really went all out with this audiobook.  It’s just too bad this thing ended up being such a fucking headache to get through.  I’m genuinely impressed with myself that I made it through this book.  If it weren’t on my cell phone, I’d have probably chucked this fucking thing against the wall at least twice in the process of reading it, it was so tedious.

I can’t recommend this book.  At all.  Don’t get suckered into the dare.

Oh yeah, this book actually dares you to read it at the beginning.  Did I forget to mention that?  You know you’re going to be in for a bad time when the author of the book has to DARE you to read his own book.  You DARE people to read Battlefield Earth.  You DARE people to read The Naked Lunch (spoiler: it’s not as sexy as you think it’s going to be).  You DARE people to read Confessions of an Economic Hitman.  You DARE people to read The Satanic Bible.  You DARE people to read Atlas Shrugged.  If you have to DARE people to read YOUR BOOK, that doesn’t reflect all that good on you as an author.

So yeah, don’t accept the dare.  Just walk away, and find something else to read.  It’s not worth it!

The Golem and the Jinni: My Thoughts

I pose this question to you, dear reader: Have you ever read a book that had a good idea, an interesting story, and had everything going for it…  But you just can’t get in to it despite all that?  You know in your heart of hearts this story is good, but you just can’t get anything out of it?  This is basically my relationship with The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

The plot is pretty straight forward.  Some guy in…  I guess it’d technically be Palastine at the time the story takes place?  Either way, he makes a golem: a construct of clay and other assorted materials that is brought to life for the single purpose of serving its master.  Unfortunately, this golem’s master suffers a heart attack on his way to America, and now the golem is forced to wander around 1910s New York wondering what it ought to do with all this confounded freedom.

Elsewhere, a jinni from the Syrian desert is released from his prison, and finds himself just as puzzled about what to do with his newfound freedom.

Eventually, the two meet…  And that’s about as far in to the story as I got.  I don’t know why, but despite this interesting premise, I just couldn’t get in to this story.  I ended up setting the book down around chapter fourteen, and I haven’t picked it up since.

This isn’t really a review, so much as it is me wondering out loud if I’m weird.  I’m sure everybody’s encountered this at least once with a book, or a movie, or a TV show, or literally any other form of entertainment. This happened to be mine.

Furthermore, I’m apparently the weirdo because literally everybody else I’ve talked to loves this book.  Even if they didn’t finish it at the time I spoke to them, they just adore everything about this story.  And the strange thing is that I agree with them on just about every point.

The only real negative I can think of is that the story has a hard time staying on topic.  Yeah, ME, the guy who prides himself on his barely coherent stream of consciousness both in his blogging and his podcast, is criticizing someone for drifting off topic.  But I stay pretty coherent in my story telling, at least.

This book will focus on the golem, or the jinni, as it should.  It’ll also focus on the golem’s maker, and the man the jinni is working for in exchange for room and bord, which is understandable.  I’m going to guess people like the Syrian doctor turned ice cream maker has something to do with the plot, because diversions like his seem flat out unnecessary.  The author explains his story from his days as a doctor all the way to how he came to live in New York making ice cream, and all I can think is “Um, weren’t we talking about a fucking golem and/or a jinni three pages ago?”.

I am on record saying nonsequential story telling is a bit of a pet pieve of mine.  Flashbacks are fine (lord knows I’ve used flashbacks in my writing before), but for fuck sakes, tell the story in order!  You’re not deep, you’re not smart, you’re a pretentious douchebag!

Other than this major nitpick, though, this is a story I know I should like…  And yet, I don’t.

The audiobook is narrated by George Guidal.  I think he’s narrated a couple other books I’ve reviewed here, and liked, which is equally puzzling.

This might be one of those moments where I suggest just picking it up for yourself.  Clearly, I’m no help.

Realm of the War Pigs Sample Chapter!

When it comes to sample chapters, this one was a hard one to choose from.  Out of an entire manuscript, I usually have a good idea of what I want for a sample chapter.  Barring that, I have two candidates, and I usually keep the runner-up for something like a change in schedule, or if a cover artist can’t make the deadline for some reason.

This time around, though, I found FOUR POSSIBLE CANDIDATES!  I might even post the other three if I think they’re worth it.  Right now, though, I finally decided on a sample chapter, and I’m posting it here for all of your viewing pleasure.

DISCLAIMER: the following text comes from my second draft.  Upon publication, it is very likely that the version of this chapter that appears in the final product may not be exactly like, or ANYTHING like the chapter featured here.  Also note that, since this is the second draft, there are probably some typos I haven’t gotten around to cleaning up just yet.  It isn’t perfect, but for those wondering what’s in store, this should give you a good idea.









It came as no surprise to me that the lights had been cut off. Grandfather was deceased: deceased people have no use for lights. I had hoped that he’d gotten the bills paid for at least one more month, or even one more week, but it turned out that this was asking for too much.

Dan and Hamburger turned their cell phones’ flashlights on, and proceeded with caution from that point onward. They pointed them every which way as they investigated. I wasn’t entirely certain what the two were looking for, but it was clear to me right out the gate these guys knew what they were doing. They talked about that Satannic cult like it was all part of the job, whatever that might be.

We looked through the kitchen, but all we found was that the refrigerator and cubbards had been emptied. Hamburger made a remark about ordering pizza as they continued their search. The living room seemed okay. The bedrooms, both upstairs and on the ground floor, seemed fine. The study was okay, despite a few books being scattered about the place. It wasn’t until we checked the basement, though, when we found something.

My grandfather really only had two major rules in his house: no pets, and stay out of the basement. I wasn’t sure why, but assumed he had his reasons. Uncle Roy, tactless and vulgar as he could be after a couple beers, assumed Grandfather Klein kept his pornography in the basement. I didn’t believe him, but I didn’t exactly dispute this claim, either, figuring it wasn’t impossible.

Sadly, what we found was far worse than pornography. Really, putting aside my prudishness, pornography wouldn’t have been all that bad. Especially compared to what we ended up finding down there.

The basement seemed darker than normal. Even taking into account that it was pretty much evening, the basement had no windows, and the electricity had been cut, it seemed dark. Like somehow, the darkness was an entity unto itself that somehow made it even darker.

Also, there was a smell. An overpowering oder that threatened to make me wretch my guts out wofted through the basement. Suggesting that something died might not have been out of the realm of impossibility.

“Yip,” said Hamburger, shining the flashlight around. “This is definitely the source of it all. If we were using torches right now, the dark would’ve snuffed them out the moment we hit the bottom step, I reckon.”

“What have we got?” Dan asked.

Hamburger shined his light around. The walls were stone, gray, and dull compared to the more vibrant colors upstairs. Something caught my eye, though, and it caught Hamburger’s as well.

Throughout the basement, someone had apparently drawn on the walls with chalk. It didn’t take a detective’s sharp vision to figure out what had been drawn. Whoever had been down here, doodling on the walls, they’d drawn large rectangles on several spots. They started at the floor, and went way up over my head.

“Oh boy,” said Hamburger, dreadfully. “Looks like someone’s been experimenting with doorways.”

“Doorways?” I asked.

“We’ll explain later,” Dan said before Hamburger could answer. “We need to finish looking around here first. How many doors are…”

“Oh shit,” Hamburger interrupted. “We got a blood door.”

Dan and I walked over to where Hamburger was standing. He was shining his flashlight on another rectangle drawn on the wall. Unlike the others, though, it wasn’t drawn in chalk. If I had to guess, it was drawn in red paint.

“This just got serious,” said Dan.

“Oh golly jeepers gee fucking whiz, you think?” Hamburger replied, more concerned than anything else. “You don’t fuck around with the kind of things that can use blood doors, you know.”

“Oh I know,” said Dan.

“Bad enough he was making chalk doors,” Hamburger mumbled. “If it were up to me, nobody would be fucking around with that sort of magic either, but at least with chalk doors, nothing especially nasty can pass through it. Best case scenario, he probably just used these things to visit friends who live in other parts of the country.”

“And the worst case?” I found myself asking.

“Worst case scenario, he punched a hole into an alternate reality. But even then, it’s one of the safer alternate realities. Well, unless the reality where Benito Mussolini’s Italy became the world’s greatest superpower after World War II counts as safe, but that’s probably a matter of perspective. In any case, that’s the worst of the chalk doorways. The blood doorway…”

A loud, inhuman shriek of a noise cut him off, and demanded our immediate attention. We all spun around, and Hamburger pointed his light at what had so clearly made that horrible sound.

It looked like a man, but no one I’d met before. He wore a suit and tie that was caked with filth and blood. The moment he came into view, the smell of death became significantly more overwhelming than before. The light from Hamburger’s flashlight was at odds with the humanoid’s red glowing eyes.

“Get back!” Dan shouted.

Before either of us could do as we were told, he took aim with his shotgun, fired off a shot, and reduced the creature’s head to a myst of putrescence. The creature didn’t have blood, per say. Rather, a sort of black ooze and a swarm of maggots seemed to spray out from the shotgun blast.

I was already having a difficult time trying not to vomit from the smell alone. The creature’s exploding head, and the contents that spraid outward was enough to see to it that I’d lose that struggle. Suffice to say, Burger King doesn’t taste as good coming up as it does going down.

“Sorry,” I said afterward, wiping my mouth off on my forearm.

“Honestly, said Dan, “I’d have been shocked if a normy like you didn’t puke after something like that.”

I found myself immediately full of emotions and thoughts that demanded the floor, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Feelings of terror, and thoughts of what other unspeakable things lurked down here.   feelings of confusion as well as betrayal, and thoughts of what sort of reason Grandfather could’ve possibly had for keeping such things down here. It left me in a cold sweat.

“We need to go upstairs right now,” Hamburger ordered.




We practically ran upstairs after that, slamming the door behind us for good measure. The next thing I knew, Hamburger grabbed me by the wrist, dragged me into the living room, and practically shoved me onto the couch. I landed rear first on the throw pillow, giving him a look that couldn’t begin to properly convey my perplexity at this sudden aggression.

“What the fuck is your family doing?” Hamburger demanded, loudly.

“Whoa, calm down, Burger,” said Dan.

Hamburger’s head whipped around to look at Dan. “Shut up, Dan!” he shouted. He whipped back around to look at me, and it was then I realized how dead serious he was. The jovial tone that accompanied his every sentence since the moment I’d first met the man was long gone now, and in its place was a fury I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

“What the hell has your family been doing?” he repeated, more angrily than before if such a thing were possible.

“I… I don’t know!” I replied, startled. “I just thought that was where grandfather kept his pornography or something!”

Hamburger laughed. “Whatever perverted shit your grand dad was in to goes well beyond gawking at naked ladies. You don’t fuck around with the sort of shit we saw down there. We haven’t even been here an hour, and I’ve already found out your grand dad not only necromanced a guy, but he also turned his basement into a transdimensional nexus of horrors!”

“We don’t know where those chalk doors lead,” Dan interjected.

Hamburger looked back over to his companion. “Maybe not,” he replied, “but that blood door is the kind of thing that says you mean business! This ain’t no frat boy Ouija board party: this here’s some appocolyptic bullshit!”

Dan shrugged. “Fair enough,” he conceded. “That blood door is definitely cause for concern.”

“None of this makes sense!” I protested. “My grandfather isn’t some sort of necromancer.”

Hamburger laughed again. “Your grand pappy’s well past necromancer at this point,” he said. “Pretty sure somewhere down the line, he officially graduated to doomsday cult status. And I don’t mean one of them Heaven’s Gate cults, neither. I mean real life Cthulhu worshipper level doomsday cult.”

“I… But… What do we do now?” Was all I could stammer out.

Hamburger looked at Dan. “Yeah, fearless leader,” he said, the anger in his voice finally beginning to subside. “What do we do?”

Dan pulled out his cell phone. “First thing’s first,” he said. “We get the electricity turned back on, and we get the fridge stocked back up. Looks like we have our next assignment.”

“you seriously don’t think the two of us can fix all this,” said Hamburger.

“No, dipshit,” said Dan. “I’m calling in the cavalry. We’re going to need all the help we can get on this one.”

My Journey to ConQuesT

I’m no stranger to conventions.  I’ve attended Anime Festival Wichita a couple times.  I watched Anime Nebrascon go from small little convention being held in a community college to massive convention occupying an entire hotel in the span of four years.  I attended Planet Comicon last year to watch Kevin Smith and…  Uh…  The other guy (not Jason Muse), record Fat Man on Batman.  I attended a horror film convention a few years ago, and met the guy who’s distribution company holds the rights to the Puppetmaster series.

In all those conventions, I’ve seen all the usual attractions.  I’ve seen the cosplayers posing for photos.  I’ve seen the guys show off their remote control R2D2s, and in more recent years, remote controlled BB8s.  I have an autograph book that, while not exactly filled from cover to cover, has some names you might recognize if you like American voice actors, and obscure film stars.  I even contributed suggestions for an anime themed improv group’s “suggestions in a hat” game once or twice.

In other words, I’m not a stranger to this sort of thing.

However, I’ve never been to ConQuesT before.  Not until this past weekend, anyway.

I went with a couple friends, not entirely sure what to expect.  Right out the gate, they had to help everybody’s favorite professional blind guy find the RIGHT convention, because apparently, the hotel hosting ConQuesT was ALSO hosting a tattoo convention on the other side of the building.  And if you’re wondering at all, yes, there actually was a surprising amount of overlap between the conventions.

Honestly, as far as atmosphere went…  It was pretty quiet.  I did see some folks in costume, but compared to the madness of your average comic book, anime, horror film, and whatever convention, things were pretty tame.

In large part, this is because ConQuesT is more dedicated to scifi and fantasy literature than anything else.  Book people are definitely as proud, but maybe not quite as loud as some of the other fandoms out there.  Also, with a lot of books not having pictures or film/TV adaptations, cosplayers most likely have to use their imagination.  At absolute most, I saw someone with a very intricate raptor costume, and someone…  I wanted to say the polar bear from The Golden Compass, but that was mostly because one of my friends described them as big, white, and furry, and polar bears are the first thing that come to mind when I hear that description.  It would’ve been hilarious if that polar bear was drinking a Coke.  Just sayin’.

Of course, the main event of any convention is the panels.  Unlike a lot of your usual panels, though, there aren’t a whole lot of Q&A with guests.  Rather, the guests usually have a lecture prepared, or the staff had an event planned out featuring them that might or might not have been a good idea in practice.

And of course, in my attempts to become a better shameless publicity whore, I handed out cards to everybody who’d take them.  And left what I wasn’t able to hand off on some table in the lobby for guests to pick up.  Or for housekeeping to throw away.  The important thing is I got rid of them.

I attended Steven Barnes’ panel on Afrofuturism: a subgenre of scifi and fantasy focused primarily on black individuals and their rolls in society and culture.  I have to say, I wasn’t expecting it to be such a powerful presentation.  Even if there was a mix up over whether his room got the whiteboard or not.  Once we actually got in to the nitty gritty, this was the kind of lecture that, at the end, left me nigh speechless.  I suddenly felt a little bad about having never read any of his books prior to attending.

I got to meet him afterward…  And found I had nothing to say.  I ended up shaking his hand, handing him my business card…  Then, three days later, I realized I just pointed the man who’s a driving force in afrofuturism fiction to MY work.  MY work includes The Gael Saga.  Within Gael’s rogues gallery is CharKendrick Parks: AKA, Spook.  Spook…  Well…  Let’s just say Spook is probably not going to win me any awards in political correctness any time soon.  No, I didn’t exactly hand the character a bucket of KFC and tell him to go play basketball while he and his homies listen to Gucci Gang or anything horrible like that.  However, if you’ve read The Hood and the Heroine, and read the chapters Spook narrates…  Yeah, the rules of political correctness dictate I’m probably going to hell.  And I only made it worse by possibly directing a guy trying to make a positive name for Black America without using hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter in that direction.  Shit.  Oh well, wouldn’t be the first time I accidentally burned a bridge.

Another panel at ConQuesT I absolutely adored was “Author Speed Dating”.  The premise is simple: there’s eight authors, and eight readers.  Each reader pairs off with an author, and the author tries to sell you their book.  This, right here, is an awesome idea on paper, and it did not disappoint in practice.

True, some authors were better at selling me on their fiction than others.  Sean Demory and Van Plexico were definitely my favorites, advertising such works as Polukaville, and The Sentinal trilogies respectively.

There was another author I met who’s book intrigued me, who’s condition intrigued me MORE, and…  Unfortunately, I forgot her name.  I’m SORRY!  I just remembered offering to shake her hand, and she explained she had a nerve condition that resulted in tremendous pain if someone touched her.  Even wearing clothing apparently hurt.  I can’t remember her name, and I can’t remember the name of her condition, and after pulling up a tab that had all the ConQuesT guests, I’m unfortunately not recalling anything.  Although I’M DEFINITELY positive it wasn’t Dora Furlong.  I think Furlong wrote the Monster Keeper series, as well as the Olympus Talent Agency series.  Both of which sound fascinating as well.

I did go to other panels…  But if I’m being honest, those ended up being a bit more meh than I was expecting.  They weren’t bad by any means…  But I wasn’t really feeling them at the end of the day, either, you know?

I only hung out for Saturday’s festivities due to only having enough money for one day, friends wanting to get together on Sunday, and Monday being my day to sleep in, get some writing done, then forgetting I’m a Baha’i for a split second and getting piss drunk stupid while watching The Stanley Cup with family.


I thoroughly enjoyed my time at ConQuesT.  Maybe next year, I can actually register as a guest.  It’d be fun to try the author speed dating on the author’s side.  Maybe sharpen up my sellsman skills in my quest to become a better publicity whore.

Noir: My Thoughts

Christopher Moore is one of my all time favorite authors.  I started with A Dirty Job, then read all three of the Bloodsucking Fiends trilogy, and pretty much set out to read as many of his books as I could possibly get my hands on.

Admittedly, Moore is…  Not for everybody.  Especially in recent years, with stories like Sacre Blue, and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff.  These are pretty avant gard, considering the guy had made a living telling humorous stories about either a fictional town out in the middle of nowhere, or in a fictional San Fransisco that reminds me of Kevin Smith’s Jerseyverse.  Or Askewniverse.  Or whatever we’re calling the Jay and Silent Bob movies nowadays.  The Jay-And-Silent-Bobiverse?

Also, if nothing came from the 2010s, my fascination with film noir happened in this very decade.  All you bitches feeling nostalgic for the neon-colored nightmare of shoulder pads, toy commercial cartoons, and Reaganomics don’t know nothing about nostalgia.  I was going back to the days when movies weren’t even in color!  I was going back to the days communism actually seemed like a legit threat to anybody!  I was going back to the day when a high budget movie was around six figures at absolute most!  You want to talk nostalgic?  You don’t know.

I forgot where I was going with this.

Oh right, Christopher Moore wrote a noir book!  My favorite author?  Writing one of my recent favorite genres?  I literally commented on his blog: “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”.  No really.  Look for the sample chapter for Noir on his blog (if it’s still there).  You’ll find my comment right there!


I really had high hopes for this book.  And…  Not going to lie…  It’s not one of his better books.  Yeah, I’m starting to think I might have jumped the gun on that one.  It’s fucking No Man’s Sky all over again.

It’s not a bad story by any means.  Comedy wise, “the kid” was probably the funniest thing about the entire story.  I mean yeah, the fact the main female character is named after a variety of British cheese is KINDA funny I guess, but a lot of the humor…  I don’t really want to say it fell flat, but considering I read Christopher Moore books frequently, I’m kind of familiar with his pacing, and his style of joke telling.  It’s like watching a new episode of a long-running sitcom that hasn’t managed to hit seasonal rot yet: the jokes are there, and you know they’re funny, but they aren’t really gut-busting hilarious.

The very beginning of the book is basically a fucking trigger warning to all the delicate little snowflakes out there that this book takes place in the 1940s, and therefore may use some slurs that were acceptable then, but aren’t now.  Although I got to say, I was expecting a lot worse than what I got.  Sure, he used the word “colored” a few times, and a few slurs for Chinese people.  I don’t know, maybe having friends who masterbate to Trump and praise “the glory of Kekistan” have desensitised me to the point I feel nothing anymore when I hear racist remarks.  Or maybe I don’t offend nearly as easily as this current generation of weak-willed pussies.  I’ll honestly believe either one.

Get past the trigger warning, and you get a story that is…  Okay.

Really, my only real gripe with the book is that there’s two narrators, and the second narrator waits till way into the book to introduce himself.  The epic reveal…  Honestly, I can’t decide if it’s funny, or dumb.  Possibly both, but maybe leaning more towards dumb.  It’s one of those choices that, on paper, probably sounded funnier.  And at the moment of the reveal, it DID kinda give me a chuckle.  But prior to the reveal, I found myself constantly wondering why it went from first person to third person every other chapter.

The audiobook is read by Johnny Heller.  Heller is a man of about two or three voices at absolute best, and they all have a bit of a Marlon Brando quality to them.  However, it’s a reader that fits the theme of the book just fine, so I give it a pass.

Overall, it’s not the worst book I’ve ever read.  It’s not even the worst Christopher Moore book I’ve ever read.  Really, though, I’d recommend some of his other titles before recommending this one.