07
May
18

Goodreads Review: Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping BeautiesSleeping Beauties by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t know what went wrong, here. I suspect the youngest King sibling just isn’t up to the snuff of his father and older brother.

While reading this, I frequently felt as though the two authors were fighting for control. One would go off on a tangent of limited importance, often garbled by what felt like overblown political correctness, and in the next handful of pages you could almost physically feel someone grabbing hold of the helm and dragging it back to course… painfully, and not always successfully.

The premise – every woman in the world falls asleep and goes into a cocoon, what happens now? – is interesting enough, but I felt the execution was frequently lacking. Most sequences felt as though I’d seen them, in better shape, elsewhere; by the halfway point I was wondering if Owen dug through dad’s junk drawer, pulled out a pile of random first draft pages of other books – especially Under the Dome, The Stand and Cell – then asked dad to help him glue them together somehow. It sounds kind of harsh to put it that way, but…

I found the whole thing difficult to care about. There were dozens of characters, but unlike other King works where a large cast – like The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot, or the Dark Tower saga – features, I had difficulty telling them apart. Most of them were faceless and interchangeable, and descriptives for the majority of them only came when a hammer was about to be brought out for a bit of virtue signaling. Clint and Lila are well done and interesting, but their marital conflict feels forced and stupid, and blows over way too easily, leaving you asking yourself what the point of it was.

The last gripe about the characters comes in the form of who one might arguably call the “main” character of the book; Evie Black. Without spoiling much, she’s the key to everything, and has the standard set of mystic mumbo-jumbo for the magic MacGuffin. She has the potential to be interesting, but despite having several chapters from her POV and multiple other characters commenting on her emotional state, we never really get to understand what she’s doing. She seems to be playing both sides against the middle for no reason, despite obvious distaste for it and sympathy on both sides. If there was some more insight into her motives, her nature, or what the hell she was actually hoping to accomplish, it might have been better off.

And then there’s the ending. We’re treated to roughly twenty pages of staccato notes on what everybody did after things were resolved, feeling like one of those 80’s movies that puts text over still images of the main characters, only even less satisfying. It’s not their fates that are the problem; it’s the presentation.

All in all, I feel this wasn’t really worth my time. It was… okay, at best. Maybe worth grabbing if it’s on the cheap or you absolutely MUST have everything King has written, but probably skippable otherwise.

View all my reviews

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06
May
18

Reblog: Cemeteries & Churches

It’s no secret that despite my own mishmash of beliefs, I adore religious architecture and symbols… here’s quite a few great photos of them from a very talented lady. (May I also suggest her shades of grey and water world galleries? I shall.) Comments are disabled here, so please stop by and give a like or comment on her page.

06
May
18

New Video: Speaking with the Spirits?

I got a new app a couple of days ago, and have been fiddling around with it; decided to share some of the results.

Have some other suggestions for me to potter about with, or something you’d like to see me try with this one? Let us know down below!

 

KA Spiral no signature

05
May
18

Haunts and Hoaxes

With my continuing illness, I’ve found myself poking all over the internet. I think I’ve almost reached the end of it. Given my natural proclivities, I find myself watching paranormal television shows and tons of YouTube videos on the subject; while I tell myself at least some of it is “research” for Smoke & Mirrors and Believe Me, part of it is also just for entertainment.

But it’s not that entertaining, sometimes. Mainly when it delves into the land of pure stupidity, suspension of disbelief on the level of thinking that humans can actually fly or subsist entirely on sunlight, or so patently false that I have to wonder if I’m being trolled or if people are genuinely that nutty.

I know it sounds silly to some, who would lump all things paranormal or supernatural into the category of balderdash, but I’m sure even die hard skeptics can agree there’s a difference between fanciful concepts that still rely on “if A then B” logic versus things that are completely batshit insane.

In that mindset, I felt like sharing some of the supernatural items that fascinate the world but that I think are utter hogwash and should be buried, forgotten, and left to die before any more idiots take up the cause and do anything else psycho believing in it.

Amityville – It’s been done to death, and I’m sure most folks reading this know my position on the matter. But in my opinion, there was not a goddamn thing that happened in that house that even vaguely resembles what was in the book or film. Actually, you can extend this one out to cover pretty much anything Ed and Lorraine Warren were involved with. If they’re around, expect things to get blown way out of proportion, utterly BS claims to be made, and a book deal waiting somewhere in the background.

Zozo – Supposedly some dude found a weird Ouija board in his attic and all kinds of bad shit happened when he played with it. Now, I am not the one to say that nothing bad can come of messing with Ouija boards – I do believe they can be dangerous in the wrong hands – but the whole story of the Zozo board and the internet explosion of people claiming to have contacted the “demon” contained in it is riddled with inconsistencies and just plain stupidity that only blooms the more fanciful myths and interpretations get applied to the story. (And gosh, funny how a one-time drug addict down on his luck roadie with a vague interest in the supernatural might find a Ouija board with a made-up name supposedly written on it that uses the same symbology as one of his favorite bands, pushes for exposure on shows like Ghost Adventures, and then sells a book…)

Slenderman – Really. Let this one die. Is it fun? Yes. Is it a cool concept, giving us great games like Slender: The Arrival, awesome episodes of television shows like Supernatural‘s “Thin Man” episode, and creative projects like “Marble Hornets”? Yes. But it’s also a bloody work of fiction, created for a contest by a very creative and overachieving individual. Slenderman isn’t real. He’s not accompanied by a cadre of similar beings and demanding human sacrifice to turn people into Proxies or protect their family. It’s fiction, people. 100%. Stop it.

I seem kind of hostile, and that’s probably because I am. We have enough things to worry about in the world, and enough potentially paranormal things to investigate or consider, without piling on garbage that makes believers look even nuttier than they already do, or promotes atrocities like the Payton Leutner stabbing.

What about you folks out there? What are your favorite (or most hated) paranormal hoaxes? Got something that a lot of folks believe in but that you think is utter hogwash? Share it down below!

04
May
18

Troubling Twitter

Just a short set of thoughts and lacking my assorted devices to make this look pretty, so forgive the presentation.

A lot of us are writers, and a lot of us have stuff that people can actually buy, and that’s great. I’m sure it’s helpful to sometimes remind people of that, and it probably doesn’t hurt anyone… but when I read my Twitter feed, I have to wonder if I’m doing it wrong.

I don’t like to spam buy links for my books. I think it’s literally been a year or more since I did. I occasionally drop a link for my freebies on Wattpad and there’s links when I update “Riptide” or other serials, but that’s about it.

But when I scroll through my Twitter feed, I see hundreds of writers who, quite literally, never say anything except “buy my book!” Glancing at their Amazon pages shows that this may actually somehow work; good sales rankings, tons of reviews. Meanwhile I sit and scratch my head, wondering why people are following them if they never have anything to say beyond shameless self-promotion. There’s another handful who occasionally break it up with a retweet for cosmetics or paint mixing videos (I’m not sure what the correlation is), and a very small number who actually act like people who occasionally say “Hey, I made something, and you should buy it.”

Am I doing it wrong? Should I become a “buy my stuff” bot, or continue to just post and retweet my boring old random thoughts and video game screenshots, hoping something snares someone enough to follow the links and look at my work? Is there a middle ground? Am I the only one who says “is what I’m going to say interesting, relevant or important?” Then turns around and tells themselves “Nope” every time, thus remaining silent?

Let us know your thoughts down below!

27
Apr
18

Unique, or Part of the Horde?

Solo_Army.png

 

I spend a lot of time thinking about monsters. Kind of part of the job description, I should think. But I was mulling a few things over today while skimming Wikipedia for nuggets of lore to appropriate and hit upon this question:

“What’s scarier? A unique, solitary entity with no frame of reference, or a ‘race’ or ‘species’ of being?”

Net answer? I don’t know. It depends on a lot more than that question can easy reference; how unique are individual members of this species, for example. Does the title of “werewolf,” for example, dictate anything beyond “blend of man and wolf,” or can you start there and run with it? (Obviously, you always can do so, but I mean in the worldbuilding sense. Do werewolves in your world have a forced homogenity of any kind, and how deep does it go?)

I remember reading something in the Buffy Watcher’s Guide where they were talking about Der Kindestod, a monster that appeared in an early season of the show. I don’t recall if it was Whedon who said it, though I think it was. The gist of it was that he didn’t want to call it a “kindestod demon,”  that it was just THE Kindestod. He said he found it more frightening if it was just a solitary entity, rather than some species demon Darwinists could “collect” for study. I kind of agree with him.

I’d seen similar concepts in reference to the Antedeluvians, Malfeans, and Earthbound from White Wolf’s World of Darkness game lines; they may superficially be members of their supernatural races (vampires, wraiths/spectres, and demons, respectively) but they have gone so far beyond the “template” for their species that they can only be understood as something that has transcended that starting point, a unique entity of unknown power and quality. I think it was quote from Orpheus, but I could just be making things up, that referenced the Malfeans as each “being a nation of one, with little to no relation to its confederates.”

On the other hand, I’ve seen intstances where someone trying to go with the singular entity explanation flubs it. Being unique and alone means the creator can essentially just create the rules as they go along, which some folks take as carte blanche to delve into fanfiction levels of “nuh-uh, I win,” allowing the beastie to do anything it wants whenever it wants, instead of being subject to any kind of logic (fractured, supernatural, paranormal or otherwise) or rules.

What about you folks out there? What’s worse? An individual entity, or a horde of Samey McSamersons with an occasional unique individual? Is it still an “individual” if it springboards off a known template, or must it be completely unexplained and seperate from more general terminology? Let us know down below!

KA Spiral no signature

26
Apr
18

Silence and Offense

Silence.png

 

I’m going to give a warning. This post is something I’ve been mulling over for a while, debating on whether or not I should post anything about it. It’s going to piss people off; I’ve just reached a point where I’m pissed off enough that I am not too concerned about it. It is entirely probable that it will be long, contain quite a bit of vulgarity, and convince people – especially the individuals who inspired this post – that I belong in some camp full of folks with assorted -phobias and -isms.

You thus have the opportunity to walk away now, pretend you didn’t see this, and be happy. If, on the other hand, you are of the tribe of special snowflakes that create this sort of cesspool thinking, I’m sure you won’t; you’ll want to continue to the end to justify your outrage. Or perhaps I’m only being paranoid. Ready? Here we go.

It’s no secret to anyone connected to social media or paying any attention to the news at all that there’s a war going on. If you have any kind of minority tag you can slap on yourself, you’re on the “winning” side, and thus “safe.” If don’t, you are the enemy. It really seems that simple. That’s not what irritates me… at least, it’s not the core issue.

The core issue is that it has gone beyond that. No more is it enough to claim one is put upon by the circumstances of birth, genetics, mental ability, race, sexuality and non-human nature. Now we have to put down anything that doesn’t come from a similar source. In the world of the arts it seems like if you don’t have a snowflake sticker, you’re actively discouraged from attempting anything at all. If you produce something or provide an opinion anyway, you will quickly be reminded how evil, patriarchal, racist, sexist, misogynistic, transphobic and theriophobic you really are. Frequently devolving into a dogpile of stupidity that results in the “offender” – who’s crime was typically being white, male, straight and/or cis – being banned, boycotted, doxxed or otherwise punished.

The best part is this is done in the name of equality and freedom, with apparently no sense of irony or hypocrisy present.

But that’s not even the core issue. The problem is this: it’s done in such an insidious, backhanded way that slowly squeezes away opportunities for creative expression and is presented in such a way that any complaint or question about the treatment only “proves” they deserve it.

As an example: Writer A tells a story. Reader B feels that there aren’t enough minority characters in the story, and is offended; it must be some form of -ism at work! Writer A, if he’s dumb enough to attempt to defend himself, will likely note that there isn’t much specificity of race, sexuality or gender because they’re not relevant to the story, and that his male/female balance is dictated by the needs of the story rather than a checklist. This will only “prove” to Reader B that Writer A is racist, and they will drag in SJWs C-Z to complain harder.

Writer A goes back to the drawing board. Tries to sprinkle some more minority influence into the story. Reader B and their backup crew will then start screaming about -isms again, tossing in the new fun one of tokenism. Now the person is -ist because they tried to be inclusive. And start back over.

Now, if Writer A, before sharing with Reader B, had included a “proper” number of minorities of all stripes, then he’s liable to take heat anyway. Why? Well, because he dares presume to know anything about that group by writing about them. If you’re not a member of the group – or one that is similarly “opressed” in their eyes – then you’re not allowed to write about them.

So what’s the answer? You’re apparently not allowed to just write what comes, as your natural -isms will come to the fore when you don’t make sure to keep a 51-50 balance of female vs. male and obsessively note every character’s race, sexuality, gender identity and species dysphoria. You’re not allowed to include people other than your own, because doing so is tokenistic and also showing racism or what have you. The message I’m drawing from that seems pretty simple: Either you don’t bother writing at all, or you sit in your corner and have hate piled on you until you quit.

What worries me the most about this is that the trend also seems to be somewhat retroactive. People claim it’s slippery slope logic, but I can all too easily picture a day in the not-too-distant future where a bunch of Antifa types are gathering up the works of Shakespeare, Bradbury and Twain to have themselves a good old fashioned book burning. People say that’s a slippery slope, and I don’t disagree, but we’ve proven a lot of those slopes are very real of late… what’s one more?

Anyway. I think I’m done for the moment. Throw your tomatos and accusations of hate speech if you will. Meanwhile, I’m going to go peck away at the next chapter of Lune de Amant, which is what prompted this little rant, since someone taking a look at it started complaining that I was racist for using a historical personage of an African American persuasion. Because apparently when you’re doing a horror story set in Louisianna, having voodoo or the self-professed voodoo queen involved is somehow morally wrong.

Anyone out there have anything to add to this? Right or wrong? What to write? Worried that book burnings are around the corner? Let us know down below.

KA Spiral no signature




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