Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

No less than a kingdom.

City of Roses, the first season.

Have some books. Wake up…” collects chapters 1 – 11; The Dazzle of Day collects chapters 12 – 22; the first season omnibus, Autumn into Winter, collects all 22 in one handy ebook—so you should get the two, or the one, but not all three, unless you’re feeling especially generous. —You can buy copies through Amazon, or Smashwords, or Payhip, or (of course) me; you can add them to your Goodreads or LibraryThing shelves; you might, if you need a little more convincing, read some reviews and interviews first.

No. 21, “Gallowglas,” will see its free online premiére on Monday, April 21st, with no. 22, “Maiestie,” to follow. Until then, you’ll need to secure a copy of The Dazzle of Day or the omnibus (or the paper chapbooks, of course) to read them. —And after that? Well. Whatever comes next is after that.

That drama place.

“I have some beef with your article about Frozen,” said occasional nemesis and friend of the pier, Ben Lehman. “Want to get into a twitter argument about it?” And I had a database cooking, so what the hell, right? —I can’t manage to get Twitter and Storify to agree which tweets were tweeted when, or even exist, but you can at least start here and follow some of the chains of replies and counter-replies that resulted between meetings and phone calls. —Suffice to say we didn’t manage to convince each other, but his reading is an important counter to mine, obsessed as it is with overturning the fantasy conventions that bind it; still, I think, in the end, he limns another story it would’ve been better and more powerful to see, than the straitened one that’s ended up onscreen. —Also, Becky Hawkins points outLife’s Too Short” is essentially a Disney princess take on “Take Me or Leave Me,” which, yes. —And, finally:

Damn skippy.

“Did I say he called out these fading powers? Rather, he tosses them into the air like confetti and dances underneath.” —Sessily Watt, “Nothing New Under the Sun: Reading Urban Fantasy

Blogging's dead.

Let’s see. The graphic novel got dropped, but might get picked up again by somebody else, and at least I got paid; the first book of the serial’s almost done, though it’s taking longer than was expected; the twitter, the twitter’s been fun, I guess? And I sold a story I wrote almost ten years ago? —At least there’s the blog, right? Right?

2014, everybody.

So we’re at the New Year’s Eve party last night. So the five-year-old suddenly says she has to go to the bathroom. The downstairs bathroom is occupied, so we make our way to the upstairs bathroom, past the mound of coats on the bed, and you should understand the five-year-old’s wearing her classy black party frock and silver-and-grey cowboy boots.

So the five-year-old says, I need some space, when we get there. So I let her go into the bathroom by herself, and close the door. —I’ll be right outside, I tell her.

So I hear an alarming clatter in the bathroom. So I knock and I say Taran? and I throw open the door and she’s standing there, one of her boots in her hand, tipped over.

What? she says. I had ice in my boot.

(Confidential to our hosts: I got what I could into the sink.)

Revolution no. 80.

In fact it will be amazing (only to us imagining it now) how quiet a world it will be. A woman awakes in her house in Sitka, Alaska, to make tea, wake her family, and walk the beach (it runs differently from where it runs today). After meditation she enters into communication with the other syndics of a worldwide revolving presidium, awake early or up late in city communes or new desert oases. Nightlong the avatars have clustered, the informations have been threshed: the continuous town meeting of the global village. There is much to do.

—John Crowley, “The Next Future

So many little countries, all mindful of death, each disinclined to long journeys. I want to go to there.


In 1964, Nikolai Kardashev, an astrophysicist involved with the Soviet SETI effort, devised the Kardashev scale: a method of measuring, on a cosmic scale, a civilization’s technological advancement based on the amount of usable energy that civilization has at its disposal.

A Kardashev Type I civilization has at its disposal all of the energy that impinges on its home planet. Using an equation suggested by Carl Sagan, humanity could be rated as a Type .7, as of the 1970s.

Not much has changed in forty years. On a cosmic scale.

A Type II civilization is any civilization capable of harnessing the total energy output of its home star. If we were to unravel the clouds of Jupiter, for instance, we could spin a globular shell one astronomical unit in radius that would be five meters thick, and trap every erg the sun beamed forth thereafter.

A rigid sphere that large would require materials far stronger than any currently known, of course. We might, instead, use swarms of orbiting solar panels to sop it up.

A Type III civilization is any civilization in possession of energy on the scale of its home galaxy. —Those civilizations which originate in dwarf galaxies or irregular clusters are at a significant advantage, here.

Type IV civilizations arbitrage speculative crises in what are to them immaterial commodities, selling short whole Local Groups. They can be detected by sudden changes in the redshift values of various economic indices.

Type V civilizations subsist entirely on the notional energy of Type I civilizations, scheming to become Type IIs. (Civilizations of Type II or better have mastered the art of radiating notional energies at frequencies too low to be heard.)

Type VI civilizations are indistinguishable from nature, and spend their time dreaming of butterflies, or are themselves butterfly-dreams—or the nearest local equivalent, of course.

(Nothing is known of Type VII civilizations. It is best not to consider them.)

When you finally come to understand dark matter, you will have the merest glimpse of the capabilities of a Type VIII civilization.

A Type IX civilization is any civilization that can successfully conceive of a Type X.

Strong female characters.

So Taran is, of course, named for a certain Assistant Pig-Keeper, from the Lloyd Alexander books that were important to both me and Jenn growing up. —It’s not the only reason she’s named Taran, but it’s the first and foremost.

You should also realize that she’s a huge fan of Batman, mostly because of the Brave and the Bold cartoons she’s seen. —She knows from Spider-Man and Wonder Woman and the Tiny Titans are a perennial fave (“Aw, yeah,” she says feistily, and one’s heart swells), and she’s already mastered certain arcana of these proprietary, persistent large-scale popular fictions that I never knew, but it’s Batman that’s captured her heart more than anyone else; go figure. (Her two imaginary friends currently—entirely imaginary, as opposed to the complex society of ponies and fairies and stuffed animals she oversees from the throne of her bed—the two imaginary friends most likely to show up these days are Batman and Moomintroll, which makes sometimes for interesting arguments in the car.) —Being such a fan of Batman, and dealing as she is with certain intimidating big-person tasks as potty-training and such, she’s come up with an alternate persona: Batmangirl (as distinctly opposed, you must understand, to Batgirl)—whenever she feels called upon to dig deep and do the right thing, she’ll puff up and proclaim: I’m not a little girl! I’m not Taran Jack! I’m Batmangirl!

It is solemnly agreed amongst all of us that Batmangirl would never pee her pants. As a for instance.

Now, Taran is aware of the books from which she got her name; once or twice I’ve read the first chapter to her, but that was back before she was tracking much of anything that didn’t have many or any pictures. But ever since the Moomin books went over as well as they did, she’s been more adventuresome about longish chapter books as read-aloud material at bedtime. (The Very Persistent Gappers of Fripp is another of her favorites.)

So the other night she pulls the Book of Three off the shelf and looks at the cover—

The Book of Three.

—and says, this is about me.

And I (solemnly) agreed: yes, it is. This is the book about Taran.

That’s not Taran, she said, suddenly, pointing at Taran in the ragged tunic, the Prince Valiant bob, brandishing a dagger so bravely against the Horned King. —That’s Batmangirl, she said. She thrust the book at me. —Read it, she said. Read to me about Batmangirl.

So I did.

Batmangirl wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of her education, decided on horseshoes. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long. Batmangirl’s arms ached, soot blackened her face. At last she dropped the hammer and turned to Coll, who was watching her critically…

(I’ve genderflopped books before, like Yolen’s and Teague’s dinosaur picturebooks, where the fact the dinosaur’s always a boy gets slightly in the way of reader-identification for those not so much; this still felt—different. Further bulletins etc.)

Pareidolic purple car.

But I can tell you anyhow

I used to drive back and forth to Seattle a lot more than I do now. And every now and then, I’d see one: a white, late-model sedan, riding low in the back like something’s heavy in the trunk, driven by an elderly couple, both of them wearing those bulky black protective sunglasses that wrap around half your face. Sometimes there’d be another elderly couple in the back seat. The men were always wearing Kangol caps.

One trip, I saw three. Different cars, I remember that. And anyway they’re always driving under the speed limit. I was always passing them.

This was all some time ago. I don’t drive up to Seattle and back nearly so often anymore.

Thinking about it, they were always headed south.

I saw another one today, is the point, between Portland and Salem: white, late-model, riding low in the back. Headed south. I was passing on the right, a couple lanes over, headed for an exit; a semi drifted between us before whoever was in the passenger seat could look over in my direction. So I don’t know if they were wearing the glasses, or the hat.

I’d rather see than be one

Homiletic truths hard-won through too much wasted effort:

It is easier to clean the kitchen if you keep the kitchen clean. —There is something deeply unfair about this fact.

Pushing the kettle too far.

Muzzy-headed, bleary-thunked, pre-coffee. Awoken by the yowling feed-me cats from a half-dream, half-Gedankenexperiment: an unknown dignitary (perhaps a FIRE executive) was tweeting snapshots of their 12-course dinner from a trendy SoHo hotspot (Toronto was rather obviously standing in for New York). A free-speech zone had been barricaded off for protests six blocks or so uptown, in the nearest available public open space; anyone caught on the streets around the restaurant by the dignitary’s security cordon was being pre-emptively detained. —Unless, of course, you’d submitted yourself already to background and credit checks (the results keyed to your genome through Xe Monsanto’s patented Trust But Verify® process) and were paying the yearly subscription fee, and so could show the cops your Presumed Innocent® citizen’s ID card—

Dialing the phone like this.

Eh, you know. February. —Mostly I’ve been busy with the city, finishing off no. 17, thinking about the end game. There are quite a lot of plates spinning, aren’t there. Hadn’t really realized just how many till the last little while. Hmm.

I was intereviewed by Joey Manley (no relation) as part of a series he’s inaugurating on webserialists; lots of backstory, if you like. —And also I reveal the title of a putative volume three, about which there has been little to no comment, as yet.

And I should probably get back to the Great Work, shouldn’t I. (Further; talk; ambit; obversity; anent; parts.) —Trouble is, it’s time to take up the role of gender for real, and tackle the safe word, and my initial angle of attack’s over a year out of date. (Does that even matter?) —Trouble also is, Requires Only That You Hate has me instead musing over a thing that might compare Bakker’s Folly with a cheap Utena knock-off; that, however, would require reading Bakker, which has not begun well. (Petty? Perhaps.)

The other day Taran told me with the indescribable solemnity of a three-year-old that, while she was a cat, and Mamma was a cat, that I was a dog, and I’d have to stop meowing. I tried to explain how gender is performative, and meowing is a learned response, but I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet.

—On the other hand, presidents crawl on the table and have sharp teeth like beavers. So there’s yet hope?

Up to now.

2002 – 2004; 2005 – 2007.


Hope is not a plan – They’d enjoy eating, take pleasure in clothes, be happy with their houses, devoted to their customs – You can feel the end even as we start – People of quality – Say nothing – Any sufficiently advanced art is indistinguishable from poetry – 20 weeks out and counting – Always already – Hope is the new bleak – Let comics be comics – Proper


Descriptivate, don’t prescriptivate – Otto’s rede – Appropriative – The essence thereof – The paradoxical genius of modern conservatism – Tlön, Uqbar, Custodis Tertius – Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? – Cross-pollination – On a clear day you can see the ambiguous heterotopia – Crap – Upton’s rede – John C. Wright is recoiling in craven fear and trembling, and I don’t feel so good myself

From November 2009 until July of 2010 there was another interregnum.


And I will spit on your grave – Why SF doesn’t work any more – I’m trying, honest, I am – Sacramento Morty’s – So, yeah, about that Patton Oswalt essay


Trapped—in a world he never made! – Vive la différence – Truth in Typesetting Department – In Soviet criticism, terms come to you! – Testing elephants – Stupidity – My last political post – Then and back again – With thanks to Liz Wallace – Gramarye

The Great Work (2010 – 2011…)

The Great Work – Further up; further, in – What we talk about when we talk about what we’re pointing to – Ambit valent – Obversity – Anent the preceding – You can add up the parts; you won’t have the sum

Tin and diamonds.

The tenth anniversary retrospective, cont’d:

The Tomorrow File (2005)

And it came to pass – Could be belongs to us – The fulness of time – Unheimlichsenke


The enemy is life – Like a seed dropped by a seabird – Those who forget are doomed – Upon hearing once more the serial bangs and muffled thuds of our crack circular firing squad, the words of—I believe it was Kissinger?—are called to mind – To Robbie Conal, “America’s foremost street artist” and staff caricaturist to the LA Weekly, on the publication of your profile of Portland’s own Mercury Studios (and guests) in Portland Monthly

From March until December of 2005, there was something of an interregnum.


If I had a hammer, I’d do something about all these goddamn nails – Malleability – A fitter and generally a more effectual punishment – Enter Sandman – In 1649, to St. George’s Hill – A mighty princess, forged in the heat of housework – I bet you wish you had – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – And, being troubled with a raging tooth, I could not sleep – 34°4'48" N, 49°42'0" E – First, they win. Then we attack them. Then we laugh at them. Then we ignore them – This machine bugs liberals – The grammar of ornament – Appositional

The koan (2005, 2006)

Koan – Let’s you and him fight – Bring him a penny, that he might see it

Jupiter drops (2006, 2007, 2009)

Jupiter drops (one) – Jupiter drops (some context) – Jupiter drops (two) – Jupiter drops (three) – Jupiter dropping elsewhere – Jupiter drops (some further context) – Jupiter drops (four) – Something to keep in mind (Jupiter drops) – Hitchcock, dropping Jupiter – Jupiter’s dropped


“Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” saith the Lord – After the late, great unpleasantness – Is that a 75mm recoilless rifle on your Vespa, or are you happy to see me? – Tipping their hand – Unzeitgemässe betrachtungen – This is Sparta – Bruises and roundhouses – Chivalry, being dead – The one true only – racing down tracks going faster, much faster – Magical white boy – Fascists are people; Liberals are people; ∴ Liberals are fascists

I think one more will do the trick.

Three hundred fifteen million five hundred thirty-two thousand eight hundred seconds.

Oh good Lord it’s been ten years, hasn’t it. And here’s me not even ready. Tenth is, what, tin? Diamonds? Tin and diamonds?

Ah, I get to be a little self-indulgent. How about some greatest hits? We’ll run through up to the end of 2004, to start. —If I missed anything you especially liked, maybe point it out in the comments or something? Thanks. (Yes, it’s a cash bar. Sorry about that. Whaddaya gonna do.)


Assume, for a moment, that I want to fling a haggis across a Canadian river – Boutique cynicism – Choice demographic – Ghosts – An attempt at sketching in prose what goes through my mind when Robyn Hitchcock begins to ramble in that engagingly undrunken monotone about the Isle of Wight before starting to contort a guitar in his own unmistakable, beautifully ugly idiom – It’s true. He do read wierd stuff (sic) – Fort Disconnect – Kid detectives. Also, how magic works. (Really) – Chickenhawks of the kulturkampf – What I have in common with Dylan Meconis – Ludafisk


Too much woman (for a hen-pecked man) – •––• •••–• ••••– – Mixed messages, or, The incoherent text – Hell – Gobsmacked. William Shatnered – The rules of engagement – Ax(e)minster and other inconsequentialities – When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall – À la recherche du temps perdu – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern walk into a bar – The mindset in question – Smoking guns at Sylvia Beach

2004 (Jan. – Jun.)

Mars, or, Misunderstanding – Mars, or, Mappa Mundi (the vague direction thereof) – Auget largiendo – Sexing the pronoun – Another data point in the wall – Three simple rules for talking about comics – 300 – Braiding – We are all Frank Grimes now – Negative space, or, Why I don’t trust æsthetes – Thin blue race – Rage – Maybe you had to be there

Revolver (2004)

Revolver (one) – Revolver (two) – Revolver (one, an addendum) – Revolver (three) – Revolver (four) – James Howard’s Romeo and Juliet, or, Revolver (an intermission) – Revolver (five) – Revolver (four, revisited) – Revolver (six)

2004 (Jun. – Dec.)

But what I really want to do is direct – Biff, pow, yadda yadda – Together again for the first time – Men are from Mars; women are from Mars, too, just a different part – How do you do. Welcome to the human race. You’re a mess – Doubleplus sprezzatura – Further up, further in – Premature, perhaps, but – Whipsaw – Atlas leans back everywhere – What goes through your mind

So 2004 was kind of a banner year? I think maybe it slows down a bit after that. —More in a bit.

Obligatory buzz:

If you were the sort of person to pay attention to this sort of thing, you might have seen the mention last week of this year’s publication schedule for City of Roses and, noting it begins with no. 17, thought to yourself: but! No. 16! It’s only half complete! When will it finally begin to be finished? —Well: starting tomorrow; running through Friday. Catch up (or further up) as needed.


For the brave at heart, I offer a peek at what passes for outlining hereabouts; if you quail at the thought, skip past: there’s pretty pictures afterwards. (At least, I hope they’re pretty.) —Those with a wonkish hunger for even more nuts and bolts on the publication of an episodic epic are invited to browse this AbsoluteWrite thread on the topic, and then this post, for the year-end wrap-up.