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Top Ten #9

Top TenThis morning, when I tried to log into the back end of my site to write this post, I got some weird internal server error. Is this a GoDaddy problem? I don’t know – it’s a mystery – but whenever it happens, I worry that a) my site is somehow borked for all time, and b) the thousands of people who read each post I write, hanging on to each word, lips slightly parted as they unconsciously mouth each carefully crafted sentence, are being denied (this is, in case it doesn’t translate, a joke; my feelings are a lot closer to WTF? Why am I paying for this if it’s down?). At any rate, sometimes I think I should switch providers (especially when I keep losing connection, like today), but is one really better than the other? Past personal bias? And what a pain it would be, to switch! Wouldn’t it be better to surrender to inertia? Blargh. Anyhoo, here’s the biweekly top ten!
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Man versus Man: Four Forms

Man versus ManA lot of people, myself included, grew up on heroes and villains, good guys and bad guys. There’s a certain clarity of worldview that comes with a hero going up against a nemesis, whether it’s for the greater good, retribution, or as likely as not, both. Of the major types of narrative conflict (Man versus Nature, Man versus Self, Man versus Society, and Man versus Man), I think that Man versus Man is the one that most proliferates, and on the surface is the most obvious, though if I’ve picked anything up from writing about narrative conflict, it’s how often the lines blurs, depending on how complex the story is. read more…

Top Ten #8

Top TenWhat could be spookier than Monday the 13th? I heard somewhere (maybe in a dream) that this year, Halloween was going to fall on a Friday the 13th, and I think that in some corner of my mind, I believed it for the last week or so. Do you ever get that? Where you believe something that makes no sense, but it lingers there, at the edges of your conscious mind until something forces you to examine it? I wonder how many things we ten-percent believe, that instead of getting examined, sink down into the general miasma, and end up internalized as true. Humans. Amazing we’ve made it this far. At any rate, here’s the biweekly top ten, with extra ghost peeps.

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Science Fiction Isn’t Predictive, and Never Has Been

predictivePredicting the future (or trying to) is something that human beings love to do. It’s the realm of fortune tellers (i.e. con artists), futurists, and some would say science fiction writers. Whether it’s Jules Verne predicting men on the moon, or Mark Twain (or Douglas Adams, or Arthur C. Clarke) regaling us with stories about a not-yet-created internet, there are multiple cases of science fiction writers seeming to predict the future – or at least a small set of examples, referred to again and again in an attempt to keep the idea alive. Saying that science fiction is predictive isn’t just untrue, it diminishes the genre it’s trying to elevate. read more…

Top Ten #7

Top TenThis weekend I went to the City Museum in St. Louis (sorry, no link, my weird compulsion to not include any links except the top ten links continues), and if you haven’t been there, I’d strongly recommend it. There’s a spiral slide that goes from the roof to the basement, and a series of caves, and lots of climbing for both adults and kids. St. Louis is wonderful, anyway, just for the gooey butter cake. Bring knee pads. At any rate, today’s top ten is a bit image and video heavy, as are they all. Sometimes I feel a little melancholy that so little of what I like the best online involves writing. Other than short articles (and top ten lists, of course), the internet just isn’t the best place to read material much longer than around 1,000 words. That’s what books are for.

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On Writing a Mixed Review (at

Bookworm BluesMy review of Angus Watson’s Age of Iron is out today, and though I’m thrilled to be guest posting at Bookworm Blues, I’m sorry that the review itself couldn’t have been more positive. I know that I can be picky, but I’m (mostly) at peace with that; I’ve written before about the culture of criticism, and how I think that genre suffers when reviewers choose being positive over giving authentic critiques. As a reviewer, I owe the author a thoughtful read, with the understanding that every time I pick up a new novel, it’s with the hope that I’ll enjoy it; as a writer, that’s all I could ask.

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My hope is to use this blog as one of a few ways (along with fiction, essays, and articles) that I study and think about mythology, magic, and monsters. I won't write about everything I come across - just the stuff that seems a little more obscure or that makes me think. I'll review the works I read as I go (using the category Syllabus), in case anyone wants to read more.
Mythology, Magic, and Monsters
I pulled the above poster from an issue of Dynamite magazine in 1978: the spookiness, the monsters (both visible and hidden) seemed somehow significant to me at the time. Thirty-five years later, not much has changed.