Thursday, September 27, 2018

Appendix N: Robert E Howard, Masculinity and Morality

Robert E Howard stands astride the world of American literature as a forgotten titan. With hundreds of stories and poems to his name, he built a bibliography that dwarfs any ten modern writers by the age of thirty. He wrote in a vast array of genres, from Westerns to spicy romances, light-hearted humourous tales to gritty detective tales. Most of all, he is remembered for creating the genre of sword and sorcery, in the colossal figure of Conan the Cimmerian.
There are many reasons why Howard is recognized as a grandmaster of the pulps. His prose is vivid and masculine, engaging the senses and focused on driving the story forward; his long experience crafting poetry lent his best stories an air of glamour, exoticism, and haunting, otherworldly beauty. His characters are memorable and the action scenes unparalleled. Whatever he set out to accomplish in his fiction -- to transport the reader to a land beyond the reach of recorded the history, to excite him with tales of derring-do, to inspire passion and romance and laughter -- he achieved. His sheer output alone cemented him as one of the most prolific writers in history.
But beyond the surface, Robert E Howard provides a vision of moral clarity and masculinity.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Lessons from Short Manga

Japanese manga is (in)famous for long-running series. Popular titles like One PieceHajime No Ippo and Naruto span hundreds of chapters and dozens of volumes. Even lesser-known titles may be graced with lifespans running to the low hundreds. This phenomenon is perfectly understandable: in the cut-throat profit-driven world of Japanese manga, the easiest way to make more money is to extend a well-loved series indefinitely. In such an environment, it's easy to overlook short series. Yet short series, done well, offer an experience refreshingly similar to the old pulp stories.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Green Bliss Part 11


11. The Green God

The Temple of Aruk was unlike any temple James Wood had ever seen.
A mossy mound four stories high, from a distance it looked like a hillock, one of countless others in the forest. But it was no natural feature: it was a face.
First he saw the mouth. A gaping cavern that fed into the darkened depths of the temple. A faint light emanated from the mouth, illuminating yards and yards of vines and roots spewing from the hole and crawling across the ground and the mound, as though in imitation of a scraggly beard. More vines burst from a pair of smaller openings above the mouth, flowing around the mouth to form a moustache of vegetation. Two larger holes went where the eyes would be, overflowing with leafy branches that curled up to crown the mound. Deep within the eye sockets burned hellish red light.
And the vegetation pulsed.
The branches and roots and leaves and veins shifted and rustled and twisted and writhed in unison, their movements rippling across the mound, as though moved by the beating of an unseen heart, or in syncopation with an unnatural breath.

Wood’s insides squeezed tight. This was no temple. It was the living face of Aruk.

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Green Bliss Part 10


10. Godtech

Nobody fucks with the Guild of the Maker.
As the team flew back to the island, Wood reviewed what the STS knew about the Guild. It wasn’t a pretty picture.
The Singularity Network was obsessed with transcending the human form through cybernetics and with creating the hardware and software needed to upgrade the Will of the Net into a full-fledged Deus Ex Machina. The Guild took that same obsession and applied it everywhere.
Construction, biochemistry, cybernetics, weaponry, the Guild had members in every industry, driven to build and build and build. To them, the act of creation was an act of worship. Building things, inventing new things, discovering the processes that enabled creation, these were the supreme pillars of the faith. Unlike the Sinners, the Guild had a god. A god who listened.
Every so often, the Maker touched the most pious of his believers, inspiring them to feverish heights of genius and insanity. The Elect of the Maker secluded themselves in workshops and laboratories and factories, working day and night to manifest their vision of the divine, the Maker in the machine. Some burned out, died or went insane. Those who survived produced works of irreproducible and incomparable genius.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Green Bliss Part 9


9. The Mark of the Maker

“You don’t do anything halfway, do you?” Commander Joshua Gregory said.
Yuri Yamamoto shrugged. “We didn’t have much choice.”
Gregory sighed and shook his head. “This is not good. Not for us, not for STS.”

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Green Bliss Part 8


8. The Betrayal

“No,” Yamamoto said.
“You’re not in a position to say no,” Matthews said.
The four deputies approached, hands resting on their weapons.
“Iota Omicron Seven-Two-Eight is a Federal prisoner—” Wood began.
“There are laws higher than human ones.”
Wood narrowed his eyes. “The Maker?”
Matthews nodded. “He who made the world also laid down his laws.”
Yamamoto barked a laugh.
“What?” Matthews said.
“Your Maker is but a twisted shadow of the One who created the universe. Even he shall bow to the Almighty.”
Wood froze. His face went pale. His jaw set.
“You dare—”
Yamamoto stepped in and kicked him in the groin.