Saturday, 27 September 2014

 "They are deceived who flatter themselves that the ignorant and debased slave has no conception of the magnitude of his wrongs. They are deceived who imagine that he arises from his knees with back lacerated and bleeding, cherishing only a spirit of meekness and forgiveness. A day may come - it will, if his prayer is heard a terrible day of vengeance, when the master in his turn will cry in vain for mercy." 

- Solomon Northup, 1854

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

BREAKING: Internet Freethinker Bewildered By Dual Spoolpidgin Posts, Elects To Misquote For Simplicity

"This is what SF writer James Worrad describes on his blog as the"genre's Caucasian bloat." I find it sad Worrad considers the NBA and hip-hop culture guilty of black bloat, or that there may be Jewish bloat, or female bloat, or gay bloat, or that there is such a thing as ethnic bloat. That was a sad refrain in beer gardens in the 1920s as I recall. A strange view for a man who accuses another author of being "racially insulting." Right after that Worrad then weirdly insults himself by writing "if you say something racist but don't SAY it's racist the PC brigade can't touch you." Of course, for the self-insult to work, I'm assuming Worrad thinks of himself as not being a racist. If he thinks he is a racist, then it's all fine... or something."

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Spoolzine Issue #3: LONCON SPECIAL

Loncon:  Where dreams come true

 Drowned Puppies (Editorialzzz)

Sad Puppies huh? What-the-Christ-on-a-unicycle was that about?

Now I'm in no position to argue the toss either way (though I'm probably biased against any endeavour calling itself Sad Puppies or any other cutsie internet bullshit, even if it were a kickstarter for an ebola cure) but I do believe in diversity in SF.

Unlike swathes of my leftie comrades, however, I don't fall off the diversity-moped three-quarters down the lane:  conservatives should have a say about the future and, if a groundswell of rightwing SF authors and readers believe themselves disenfranchised we should at least hear them out (we can always wipe the foam off our shoulders later), but...

But style, as Flaubert observed, is everything. 

If Mr Correia had actually meant any of what he claimed he'd have approached the more respectable end of the conserva-skiff-irati (David Webber, say, or Gene Wolfe or noted libertarian Yogi Bear), convinced them of his point and then collectively presented their case in a reasonable way. Yes, of course the notion would have been mocked by the left, but it might have swayed a lot of the middle ground. It might have worked, or came close enough to Hugo-snatching that it de-facto worked.

But not our Larry. No dice. Why go to all that moderately hard work when you can figuratively waltz into the party and call everyone a c*nt? Strangely, this tactic put a lot of people's backs up, people who normally wouldn't be arsed to vote but now did. Severely.

The result? An almost entirely progressive award handout and a Worldcon that suddenly felt vital and empowered (Trust me, I was there after the ceremonies:  it was like Woodstock with shitter T-shirts). So the (uh...) 'Sad Puppies' campaign made the Catiline Conspiracy look like Tom Clancy's Rainbow-fucking-Six and conservative SF as a serious voice was damaged. And yet...

And yet it probably raised Six-gun Larry's brand awareness as a WWF wrestler-themed, take-no-prisoners, 'stop-yet-gibber-jabber' sort of author. Which, consciously or not, was probably the whole point.


Congratulations to Kameron Hurley for winning Hugos for stuff. Y'know, whenever I look at this publicity photo I think I've just said some ill-thought comment that I'm about to bitterly regret. Which, now you mention it, I may well just have.

Mind you, with this one I feel like I'm explaining to Damien Walter that the huge drugs shipment me and my thugs were picking up from the docks got blown up by a mysterious masked vigilante. And now I'm concerned by the large automatic pistol on his desk...

And, er, the least said about this one the better...

Which Reminds me... Drowned Puppies II

Of course, the moment Larry Correia truly dropped trouser and plopped in his own cornflakes was when he put bigot and moral weakling Vox Day (Soon to be played by Dolph Lungdren in the motion picture 'Universal Prick') on the (Christ...) 'Sad Puppies' slate.

Or, arguably, that was when Larry shat in Vox's porridge instead (not an image you want to see on Deviant Art any time soon). Why? Because Day is the only individual who came out truly badly in this. Think about it:  remember how scary Lord Gaga was before this years Hugos? He seemed almost a threat didn't he, almost? Because he had the biggest blog-followsip in SF, remember? Six million people had bought his books...

The result? Almost sod-all votes. Out of five nominees he came sixth, below 'no award', quickly earning him the borg-name Six of Five.

Vox argued that winning was never the point and, to be fair, at no point did he ever claim he would. However, the Hugo fiasco has deeply hamstrung Vox's overall strategy. For years he's been pushing the absurd myth of an SF blueshift/pinkshirt divide (I'd say he was more blackshirt meself), a concept very much built on the fascist three-point shimmy, i.e.:

1:  Talk up a lost golden past (old-school SF) 
2: Claim historical humiliation by a secretive cabal (Liberals, feminists) 
3:  Promise a return to said golden age through triumph of will (currently still pending).

This triumph would surely happen, we were told, for the statistics could not lie. Most SFF fans were 'blue shirts' (Here VD was most definitely wrong; I've performed a survey and, by any metric, 100% of SFF fans are too busy whacking off to Oglaf). And, lo, every one of us waited for the novelette award with baited knickers.

And the result came through and Vox Day is happily now irrelevant (Hugo awards have a way of reputation-popping blogarseholes. Requires Hate stopped blogging fairly soon after an independent campaign failed to even get her nominated). Seriously, how is Vox gonna top the last year? And when was the last time you checked his blog since the Hugos? Bluff well-and-truly blown.

Ultimately, I think, he and his 'Dread Ilk' were the hopelessly romantic side in this little war. They honestly believed they would just somehow... overcome. For once, the left (and the middle) were the pragmatists.


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There are Loncon members with OCD still trapped on these stairs as I write this.

Look at this smug bastard. He visited Loncon in this robot avatar while still safely squatting on his sofa at home. Be funny if someone had rushed in and shot him and then his avatar was going around in circles and no one at Loncon cared. Wouldn't it? Wouldn't that be funny? Yeah? OK, so he nicked my girlfriend. I'm not bitter...

A great time wuz had at Loncon by all. Tragically, though, we all ended in the acid-stewed belly of this vast metal caterpillar.

Meanwhile, Journalist Laurie Penny was at Loncon. But never mind that. Here she is using the #Ferguson Twitter hashtag to really drive home the injustice of the Ferguson shootings and subsequent police brutality:  


Dear Spool,

Loncon made a big huzzenfuzz about achieving gender parity on panels. But as this photo shows, Fantasycon achieved parity in all departments.

Stuff in up your bum, Loncon. Right up.


Michael Fantasycon (Fantasycon chairman)


Dear Pidgin-man,
                              I write regarding the letter above in this issue. Perhaps if Mr Fantasycon has strong feeling about panel parity at cons he'd like to discuss it with a snooker ball in a sock round the back of his head in a dark car park when he least expects it.


Cynthia Loncon (Loncon enforcer)

(Spoolnote:  Next years Fantasycon and Worldcon will be held simultaneously on the Jeremy Kyle show) 


So me and Geoff Ryman go ahead of the gang to see if the bars still open in the hotel next to the centre where Loncon's being held. Giddy with booze but good long striding legs the pair of us. 

I've only really just met him. Geoff's just finished presenting the Hugos and is buoyed up by the sense of a duty well-performed. He's got this damn fancy burgundy suit and a tiara some convention once made for him. It's about as masculine as a tiara can get, or maybe Geoff just lends it a masculinity. Anyway, he's like a lounge version of Tywin Lannister (i.e.: cool).

Inside the hotel bar the air is warm and the music bassy but low. The bars stopped serving yet everyone's just hanging around, languishing on sofas or floating by the bar. No sharp movements, everything like a tableau.

'Check this out,' Geoff says to me. 'What's going on here? Every classically goodlooking member of the speculative fiction community are here.'

True enough. Looking around, I see that Dutch writer with the cheekbones; they glint like a stealth cruiser passing some alien sun. Sublime faces and toned biceps all around. You'd think this was a GAP advert, not a con.

'The beautiful people,' I mutter. 'We can't possibly stay here.'

Geoff smiles at me, his tiara reflecting the neon of beer adverts above.

'Speak for your fucking self.'  



SPOOLZINE: Laughs because it chooses not to cry.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Spoolzine #2

Sniffin' Battenburg ('n' getting high...) Editorial

Spoolzine:  A New Kind Of Dignity

Bumped into a mad theory about The Prisoner TV series (SPOILERS!) Patrick McGoohan was a devout catholic. His character is called Number 6: traditionally the number of the Devil (666 etc). The number seven (the number of God) never appears in the series (aside from Number 73: a woman who throws herself to her death to escape the Village).
Number 6 then, is (literally or metaphorically) the fallen angel Lucifer, who 'resigned', ie: fell from heaven and the series is him coming to terms with the fact he's the master of hell (qv, last episode).

Most likely bollocks, of course, but it's wonderful this most enigmatic of television programmes can still generate such things. Lost, by comparison, has dropped off in people's fascination in a much shorter time.

People were furious over the last episode of The Prisoner (legend has it McGoohan had to go into hiding) but, with hindsight, its unintelligible madness was a master stroke. Remember, we GOT our answers at the end of Life On Mars/ Ashes To Ashes. A great series, but people don't talk about it so much. We got our answers and moved on.



Amir al-Mu'minin Caliph Ibrahim's Writers Of The Future Competition

"When I began the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria with a view to creating a modern Caliphate, I took SF Grandmaster Robert Heinlein as my influence. Now I want to give something back!"

-Amir al-Mu'minin

Are you a budding SF author? An artist of strange visions? Someone who calls out published authors on some mild political infraction but sees nothing wrong in being bankrolled by an institution with alarming human rights records? Then you could see your story/art in print and win $10,000* (*Used notes and gold fillings)!!!!!

"I'd recommend ISIS Writers Of The Future to any ambitious young SF author with no thought for the suffering of real women and minorities as opposed to those in books by politically problematic babyboomer authors."

-Alliette DeBoddard, ISIS Writers Of The Future Winner, 2011

"I, too, had second thoughts about entering the ISIS Writers Of The Future Competition, but then it was explained to me that there's a professional and ethical 'firewall' between the competition and its sponsor's horrifying actions in the Levant. I remind myself of that fact every time I see the good ISISWOTF does for emerging genre writers. And every time I stare at my reflection in the dark cold hours.

-Patrick Rothfuss, ISIS Writers Of The Future Winner, 2007


Local Events This Week: 

 'Leicester In The Great War:  "One Look And F*cked Off"'  (Talk, 18.30, Tues) 



Dan Gilbert writes:
"There should be a thick tax.
 It occurred to me that there is loads of stuff in life we take for granted that is only there for the benefit of the thickos, and I think they should be taxed for it. Would advertising exist without thick people? What about those health and safety vids you have to watch at the start of any job explaining why it's a bad idea to stick you hair in a toaster? How many hours of our lives in total are lost to people that have to repeat the same thing four times over in a slightly different way in conversation? 
This would also be a good way of punishing the dead weight without being too elitist; no-ones saying you have to explain how a particle accelerator works, merely get from one end of a kitchen to the other without bumping into things or referring to Google regarding correct tin-opener use."

Earthlet Dan Gilbert wins £5!



(Courtesy of Saladin Ahmed)


The woman in the flat upstairs seems to have bought one of those rock singer console games and is now proceeding to screech over the same repeating song while I try to write and listen to Classic FM. The sooner these people get next-gen technology they can plug into their heads and drool in a corner the better.


Spoolzine:  For When The Battenburg Doesn't Work

Dreamed I came back to the flat to find the four main characters from The Wind In The Willows all dead. No idea why. (Overdose maybe?)

It's Ratty's blank dead eyes staring at me that linger most in my memory...

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Spoolzine: Facebook thoughts trapped in Blogger amber


Imagine if we cured all insanity one day, all neurosis. Bang: all of us sane forever. Would the knowledge we can never escape into madness, that that option, that port from the harsh storm of responsibility was forever denied us send us all... well what?

Not mad, certainly: that's been cured! Hyper-sane perhaps?
Hyper-sanity might be the most terrifying psychosis of all...


This Israel-Gaza conflict has to be the most bullshit-prone war of my life. Every news item from every source has an angle or an axe to grind. 

If it ain't anti-Semitic it's Islamaphobic, if it ain't pro-Hamas utter nuttery it's pro-Zionist self-righteous swagger, if it ain't western-'splaining it's Russian equivocating. All of it topped off with a zillion web yahoos with their own 'modest' proposals of how they'd sort it out if only they were in charge. You cannot get the straight dope with this one.

F*ck it I'm gonna have that second slice of cheesecake...

Has science fiction become decadent? Lost its way? It's a question hovering over British fandom of late, and one hard to refute when our leading authors see nothing wrong in receiving fellatio mid-interview...


You say 'Bowie SF song' most people go 'Space Oddity' but I've never been a big fan. Too obvious, too conscious, too Arthur C Clarke. 

Lyrically, I much prefer the abstract stuff, the one's that suggest apocalyptic futures with a few half-seen glimpses. Your brain has to fill out the rest: Diamond Dogs, Drive-In Saturday (which if you ignore the 50s doo-wop vibe is actually too nightmarish to consider for too long), Five Years, TVC 15.

I learnt from him that world building ain't all about drawing maps and detailing planetary orbits etc. A lot of its throwing fishing hooks into the murky waters of your mental abyss and reeling up strange, strange beasts.


Tales From The Nightshift:

20:00: Guest, a builder, tells me I have strong thighs.

20:30: Man asks me to book room. Room is in our Newport, Wales, branch.

21:30: Sit down for coffee. Suddenly realise that nearly twenty years ago my young naive self unwittingly turned down sex. And in a way that must have seemed immensely arrogant.

21:35: Buy chocolate from machine.


I've noticed a funny thing. I listen to a lot of old radio comedy on me, er, radio and I've noticed I don't find anything before 1952 funny. It's as precise as that: 1952. It's like that's where a socio-cultural sheer drop is, an event horizon my funny bone can't cross. Weird.

Believe me I WANT to love ITMA, if only for the fact is confused and disturbed the Nazis (Goebals had his people conduct investigations as to what this 'peculiar Anglo-Saxon propaganda' was all about).

It's an oddity alright.


If Leicester was a coastal city there'd be an HMS Mardy by now.


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bad Shoes In The Underworld

An innocent enough looking warehouse, out on Leicester's inner city ring road.

In times only recently past--presumably before we started using the web to get our news--the warehouse would keep copies of the Leicester Mercury by the metric ton, ready to be disseminated across the city.

Not anymore. Now it is an empty concrete shell; a claustrophobic, New Brutalist hellscape that even Mad Max would think twice about parking his ride in.

Perfect for Badshoes Films' needs.   

I can't really tell you about the plot of Atonia, the film script Lucy Wade and I wrote. But what I can say is I couldn't have pictured a better location to film it in.

Dust is a problem however. At one point during filming I have to run outside and cough like crazy. The actors have to be kept pristine in a green room whenever they are not on set. Apparently the Leicester Mercury might sell the place to a go-kart company. 

'This is got to be one of the most complex shoots we've done,' says director Keith Allott. 'But we've an incredible team. Really committed.'

The truth of that becomes clear to me while watching the lighting crew. Bill Newsinger, director of photography, will say into his walkie talkie that something is not quite--not quite--right and the lighting guys will move a light by an inch and then Bill looks again and it all begins again. It's a slow system but it works very well:  they always get their shot.

I can't help but feel responsible. The whole story requires an abstract look, and that in itself requires dedication. I see one of the crew, Mbili Munthali, on top of a concrete alcove-cum-bunker, its roof covered in debris. For the life of me I've no idea how he managed to get up there. Next time me and Lucy will write a kitchen sink drama, I tell myself. 

Actor Jess O'Brien's mum, Emma, offers to make me a coffee; an offer I leap on since I've been up all night at work. 

In the green room there's a bunch of young girl's covered in flesh wounds. Cosmetic wounds, I hasten to add. They're loving it of course. The make-up artist, Ketna Butron, shows me how to fake dirt-caked grazes and strangulation marks. She tells me she rarely gets to break out the whole make-up box like this.

Jess, Atonia's lead actor, knocked everyone for six yesterday, Keith tells me.  Tears, real tears, right when they were needed. It set off a domino effect, with full grown men trying not to blub and ruin the sound. 

Later that week I'll watch the rushes and understand where they are coming from. I've damaged my characters in stories; ruined their lives, laughed and walked away to have tea. Seeing one of my creations made flesh and visibly suffering has a profound effect on me. Finally:  my comeuppance. I'm a monstrous bastard.

But a very excited one. I can't wait to see Atonia. I need a time machine, a suspension capsule, a montage that cuts to the premiere.

Eventually I leave. The metal garage door rises and the light pours in. I'm like Orpheus leaving the underworld but decidedly more pleased, I suspect, than he ever was. 

I walk back through a warm Summer sunday. I see people buying ice cream, people laughing on benches. And yet I know somewhere, deep in the city, Badshoes Films pursue their craft in a concrete night land... 

(All photos by Hal Coley)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Message Left For The Weakling Vox Day


Just read this*. When you sat down, switched on your computer and typed this did the thought "I am seriously messed up" pass through your skull? A bit? Slightly?

My sketch-type-video-thing obviously stuck in your craw. It must have done because you're lashing out at people not me (the clue's in the link to Damien Walter's site). 

Clearly you're not the big man you purport to be. Larry Correia, I suspect, would just laugh it off. Hell, he'd probably roll with the ball entirely. So too John C. Wright.

But you? You fester and boil (much as how Requires Hate did tellingly) because you've no idea what whimsy and non-snide laughter- the healing laugh-- is and it scares you. Scares you to the point where you have to visualise yourself sexually molesting the dead body of a writer and human being who you dimly sense is a thousand times your worth. 

Oh you love it when a leftie blogs something angry and vitriolic about you. You can work with that. But come the day someone doesn't take you seriously, points out your daft absurdities, you smoulder and stink. You bawl and you plot impotent mouthy revenge.

Anyone with the slightest sense (and I would credit at least some of your followers with that) reading your above comment now has the measure of you: a pompous ageing thug picking fights with a nobody like me.

 Strip away the swagger and the rhetoric and that's all you really are. 

Because your ego is easy to cave in. So damn easy. Because in your heart, your very core, Theodore...  you are weak. 

But you know that.

*(Reader: No way am I linking to that comment. No way)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Bye, Bye, Spool Pidgin (For A Bit)

Pidgin donated by Tiffani Angus

Of late you may have noticed the tumbleweed passing through this blog; the dust settling; the pile of crinkly plastic jaffa cake wrappers squatting on the coffee table. Technically it's called neglect.

There's a reason for this (aside from a habitual slothfulness that would make Leviticus drop its good guy act and get really huffy): I've got other stuff happening. Don't judge me; it's a malady that can strike anyone so I'm told.

Firstly I want to get on down with writing a novel--a space opera affair, working title Sisters In The Head (a working title because it's too much Like Aldiss's Brother In The Head) and I'm about twenty thousand words in, thanks for asking--and on top of that there's this wonderful world of independent movie making that keeps giving me popcorn. Creativity popcorn, lightly salted.

Something's gotta give. I'd rather put Pidgin on hiatus, end season one if you will, than carry it on as a lame, emaciated fowl. I haven't got a huge following by any means, but the stats dashboard and general online chat suggest a fairly loyal bunch of visitors and I respect y'all too much to ladle out thin, tepid gruel.

Trust me, it's better this way. The desire to write essay things and generally 'muck about' (another technical term) will hopefully propel me to finish the first draft of my novel at speed and, by the time I DO, Spool-P should come back with a whole heap of stuff. Ideas are being scratched down on notebooks and envelopes as we speak.

And, in truth, I imagine it won't be a total immersion in carbonite. I'll occasionally post self-serving pieces (notifications of new stuff coming out, places I may be etc), but not the self-regarding ones (everything else).

And we'll always have Twitter (@jimworrad).

But we've had good times, huh? Maybe?

Well sod you, let's have a retrospective regardless. There was that time Spool Pidgin:

I hope you imagined that wobbly-wobbly reminiscence camera effect whenever you hit one of those links. Adds +5 to your nostalgia roll.

I'll miss blogging-proper. I believe blogging is an art form (yes I went there) that speculative fiction writers have thrived well in. I also believe we have far from mapped out its full potential and that we shouldn't rest on our laurels (to borrow a first century cliché). Arguably, as Spec-fic scribblers, it's one of our many duties.

So explore, my comrades, push! Make beautiful blogging mistakes! You have nothing to lose but your rants.