Or Maybe a Muppet Vampire…

The larva of a bluebottle fly pic.twitter.com/mvxLtgcNBh


— Microscopic Images (@MicroPicz) August 13, 2014


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Steal the Fire

A few words here on the subject of Hero Worship, and the pain and disappointment that some of you will always feel, if a culture hero proves to have feet of clay…or be standing waist deep in manure.

Fair enough. I understand you’re in pain. I am sorry that Marion Zimmer Bradley has been indicted for child abuse. That Orson Scott Card is a virulent homophobe. That many great authors in my genre have charges of sexual harassment logged against them. That many of the great authors in ANY genre have histories of domestic violence, deviant sexual practices, criminal acts, even murder. And that this can be true of “Great” people in any field of human endeavor.

And I also understand why you don’t want to believe that your favorite pop star beat his wife or girlfriend. Or abused children. That your favorite athlete is a rapist, or a drunk driver. It hurts you, inside–and you want to show loyalty by refusing to believe it. The way you would with a person in your real personal life…someone you know well.

For the record, I do think love and loyalty are admirable qualities. I even think that stubborn refusal to abandon who/what you love in the face of opposition or detraction is not the worst quality a person can have. I admire that quality in you; I can be guilty of it myself. The closer I am to someone personally, the more I am likely to stand up for that person and try to see only the good in him/her, even if I know that he/she has faults. My inner child prefers to love all things in a simple, uncomplicated way.

I do not have the same relationship to art and other achievements that I admire, that I do with people whose kindness, courage, personal warmth and respect for others merit my real personal love and loyalty, however. I am very ambivalent nowadays about “Greatness”, for want of a better word, as a quality that earns deeper emotional engagement and personal loyalty.

The reason is simple: part of me has had to grow up, over the years. My innocence and the uncomplicated love and fierce loyalty that goes with it have been burned back to a stump, where Greatness is concerned. My engagement, my own fierce desire to be the best artist I can and to learn as much as I can from great art remains…but that deeper uncomplicated personal love is very much reserved for people I know on a personal level.

People are just people. Giving strangers the status of deities is not necessarily a kindness. Being told that they are Great, being worshipped and told they can do no wrong…is not necessarily a healthy thing for some people. It can bring out the worst in them, in truly sickening ways. (Women as well as men–Tiptree and MZB, ’nuff said.)

If I have been less than tactful at times, in defending the rights and dignity of “little nobodies” who are trampled by the Great, and in opposing the unrealistic idealization of the Great Ones among us…in denying hero worship to the great Artist, the great Author, the great Athlete, the great Comedian, the great Scientist…it is only because I have first-hand experience of how a person who has a self-perception of Greatness can ruthlessly abuse other human beings. My father was a great scientist; my grandfather was a great diplomat; I had at least one mentor years ago who was a truly great author.

Oy. No details. Just…oy.

For the sake of my own sanity, and to make the world a better place for “nobodies”, I choose not to worship people for the quality of their work anymore. I engage critically and sometimes cynically. And I am prepared to hear that exceptional people can have extraordinary flaws. I do not attempt to evade my perception of those flaws or shut down their critics or accusers in public.

Unconditional love is for children–specifically mine. No one else deserves that from me. Including my culture heroes. Including my mentors. Including great artists who have a great fire of talent and craft that lights the world.

I try to be Prometheus, not a priestess of Zeus. Steal the fire, warm the people. The gods are often douchebags.

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Throwback Thursday – 1993



There’s been a round of cleaning recently at the Tribe House in Vancouver, and last night Mister Bear handed me a card that he had found, tucked in with the old paperwork and keepsakes.

It’s a Christmas card from 1993. It was still in the envelope–it had been sent to an old address in Seattle and forwarded to the new one. I must have received it right after New Year’s Day in 1994.

My friend Nathan was still living in Durango that year. The note he’s written on the interior says, “I’m still alive, this card is proof of that. I’m still writing and will send work as proof upon request. You should like my latest, ‘Love, Death and October Coffee’…”

There’s more, of course, but it’s personal stuff. A note from a friend who missed his old friends. He wished good things for me and my new family. He told me that my friendship had value–that’s a message I hadn’t received often and still don’t receive often, which is probably why I held onto his card for over 20 years, hidden away among the birthday greetings and the love letters and the hand-made Valentines from my daughters.

Historically speaking, Nathan Crowder wouldn’t stay much longer in Durango, Colorado after writing this card. He moved out West soon after. Nowadays he’s the one who lives in Seattle, but some things don’t change. We still haven’t met face-to-face in years–neither one of us ever seems to have the time and money for personal visits. And he remains to this day one of the most dedicated and passionate writers I know.

He’s published four (or is it five?) novels at this point, has four collections of his shorter work out, and he’s sold to a dozen interesting markets in the last six years.

I wish I had a copy of “Love, Death, and October Coffee” in my collection of Nathan memorabilia, but I don’t. Looking into my storage media, I find that the earliest work I have from him is dated 2005. They’re the early drafts of stories now published, “Fists of Felt”, “Kid Gloves” and “Memory in the Time of Bones”.

Time marches on. After almost twenty-one years I still have this card…and I still look forward daily to the status updates and blog posts and Twitter comments that give proof that Nathan is still alive.

I maintain a lively interest in love, death and all caffeinated beverages. Especially coffee.

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Throwback Thursday – 1982

Throw-back-Thursday-DAZZLERRemembered a happy moment of my childhood today, which is not that common. The year was 1982, and my mother and stepfather had taken me to Knoxville, Tennessee to see the World’s Fair.

While we were visiting family in the city, we did some shopping in the downtown core. My Aunt Barb was stuck watching me for some reason, and I (predictably) dragged her into a comic shop. I had just started buying some X-Men comics and a few later issues of Dazzler.

In the comic shop they had all the back issues of Dazzler, and I had probably five dollars to spend. I took all the issues of the comic that I had not read out of the long box in their bags and laid them out, trying to make a decision based on the covers and characters which precious few issues I’d be able to afford. I imagine every kid who loves comics has gone through similar rituals. There is always more to read than a kid can afford.

Anyway, God only knows how long Barb watched me doing this. I will never know what was going through her mind when she finally came up to me and looked at the pile of comics with the roller-skating laser-blasting Disco Barbie on the cover. But what she said was, “Do you want all of these?”

As a child, I was seldom asked what I wanted. I can imagine I must have hesitated, but I must also have nodded or said “yes”, because with a few brisk efficient movements Barb gathered up the whole pile, took them to the counter, paid for them, and gave them to me.

I still keep a few boxes of comics that I’ve saved over the years. Most of them were acquired after age 21, but the old run of Dazzler 1-28 is still in it, along with a few Spider Woman and Red Sonja comics I bought as a child. At age 12 I was looking for a female-bodied idol, someone I could aspire to be. But that day, Aunt Barb was my hero.

It remains to this day one of the most affecting memories of adult kindness I can recall.



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Ground Pounders is Out!

We’ve been tinkering with Ground Pounders a bit longer than we planned at the studio, but the day has finally come to push it from Early Access to Release.

I’m really pleased to have implemented the missions of the Sol Force campaign, which cover the early military career of one of my favorite characters from the SotSverse: Edward Alton McKenzie, a.k.a. “Mac”.

For those interested, Ground Pounders is an in-depth strategy war-game for mobile, PC, Mac and Linux platforms. Your support and feedback is always appreciated; there’s no game that we cannot make better when we hear from you.

Thanks for everything, folks. Go Ground Pounders Go!


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News for July 2014

2) ginormasaurus

I have been a bit quiet lately, but there is news to report.

First: my company had our first fully-funded campaign on Indiegogo! Our revised project pitch for Kaiju-a-Gogo, our latest light strategy-action hybrid, wrapped last night. For the first time ever, a campaign pitch was 100% funded–116%, to be exact.

This was a much lower budget and the game will have a different release plan, but we made it, and we had the largest number of supporters we’ve ever had on Indiegogo–this is our third campaign there.

What this means in practical terms is that we will have to pay much less in overhead to Indiegogo for hosting the campaign, and more of your support will reach us. It also means that a 51-day struggle for crowd-funding dollars is over, and that I can direct my full attention to other struggles, including the completion of my Sword of the Stars Lore Book projects and the Clarion West Write-a-Thon.

For those who wish to support my independent fiction and science fiction publishing, I will be working on some personal projects when the current work cycle is complete. I am pushing toward print on the giant Lorebook and half-way through the production process of Black Section, so there will definitely be some lovely things to share in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, those who would like to encourage me in my writing can make a small tax-deductible donation to charity, and receive free new fiction from me. If you donate $20 or more, you get the chance to download a .pdf of the Premium Lore Book, which is nice for those with a low budget, or just people who like to have a digital copy of things.

Here’s my Clarion West Write-a-Thon page. Pledges are up to $455 this week, so my first free fiction is going out next week. I hope you all enjoy it.



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Your Daily Otter

Ludovic Mercier is right: if this otter tried to hitch a ride back to my house, I would TOTALLY want to keep him.

I particularly love him rolling on his back on the seat and grabbing the steering wheel.


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Kaiju-a-Gogo Some More!


Our crowdfunding campaign continues! New pitch, new perks, new plan, but the same delicious, city-stomping, kaiju-loving fun.


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We Are This

Photo main

Fifty years from now, someone in Korea might complain that Syrians who practice Taekwondo have committed an act of Cultural Appropriation.

We sometimes forget that not every exchange is a robbery. Very often, it is a deliberate gift from one individual acting with enormous agency.

The thing about cultural heritage is that everyone who belongs to the culture owns it equally, and is equally entitled to sell or gift it to others. They paid the price of admission by being raised in the culture. And it is impossible to limit the number of times that valuable knowledge or ideas can be shared and imitated, especially if the gift of culture willfully includes the permission to spread these ideas.

This Korean school could have powerful, long-term impacts on Syrian society and culture, and that would be an intentional outcome of the time and money spent to make this cultural gift possible.

Click the image to watch the movie. It’s worth the two minutes.

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Manta Rays Attempting Flight





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