Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Random Fragments

As ye may have noticed, I've been pissing about with the blog again, rather than actually updating it with actual information about what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks. It's partly because I've been busy being Best Man for my mate Nick who just married my cousin Kerry (and it was a great pleasure to give the happy couple a hearty roasting -- sorry, toasting). Three less suitable people for organising a wedding would probably be hard to find; I mean, there's Nick, who I actually had to remind to get dressed 20 minutes before we were due at the registry Office, Kerry, who quite happily admits to living in her own wee Kerryworld rather than consensus reality, and me, whose second most-used phrase (after "fuck that shit") is "Was it more than a minute ago?". But somehow -- God knows how -- everything went without a hitch. And a good time was had by all. Me on dance floor:

Yes we're going to a party party!
Yes we're going to a party party!

Then there's also the fact that I've been busy scribbling out replies for an interview for Outland, Ottakers' in-house SF magazine. And doing the edits for a wee story of mine that should be appearing in Strange Horizons some point soon. And falling in love with Rufus Wainwright (I blame it all on Paul Bloody Cockburn for piquing my interest then evilly lending me Want One & Two). And discussing yet another future novel idea (current count: 7) with my mate and military advisor, Jim. And doing preparatory research after getting my preliminary schedule for WorldCon, where I'm on two cool panels -- one on Slipstream (with a smashing line-up including Kelly Link and Elizabeth Hand, whose stories in Conjunctions #39 I just finished reading) and one on Queer SF (with the afore-mentioned Mr Cockburn and Jed Hartman of Strange Horizons, funny enough).

But as well as the time thing, I have to admit, it's just the anticipation of WorldCon that has me by the short and curly attention span, dragging me off into a constant:

Yes we're going to a party party!
Yes we're going to a party party!

See, I'm looking forward to blathering on about the whole criss-cross-genre, interstitch-up, slippery-streaming fiction that interests me the most on one panel. And, better still, on the other panel I get to rant about the bloody bisexploitation nonsense that is Anne Rice's "ooh, aren't we such prettyboys with lusciously long lashes; let's gaze longingly at each other" fucking glorified slash fanfic. And on both panels -- hoorah! -- I get to go on and on and on and on about Delany's Dhalgren until the moderators tell me to shut the fuck up now! With both panels on the Saturday, thankfully the first isn't till two in the afternoon, because -- and this is what's got me really excitapuppy -- Friday is the Pan Mac author's party which I intend to get very, very drunk at, partly because IT'S A PARTY! And partly because Friday, being the 5th of August, is the day that Vellum is officially launched. Yes. Back to wee happy dance with song:

Yes we're going to a party party!
Yes we're going to a party party!

Yup, I'm really starting to get to that kid in a candy store level of excitement now, what with people wanting interviews or saying really rather nice things about the book (really rather ridiculously nice things, in some cases). Of course, one down-side to this antsinpanticipation is an utter inability to concentrate for more than five seconds on --

Yes we're going to a party party!
Yes we're going to a party party!

-- things like finishing fucking Book Two, Duncan!

Hence the ADD-stylee faffing and fiddling with the blog, and the addition of a "Random Fragments" section of links, for various bits and bobs of writing I've posted up here in the past. It's basically a wee sampler for folks what might be interested -- some stuff from Vellum and Ink, and some scraps of prose or poetry. Random Fragments from an increasingly random and fragmented brain. Man, I need to switch off the phone, disconnect from the internet, ignore all emails and get on with some bloody-

Yes we're going to a party party!
Yes we're going to a party party!

The Face Of The Divine

On The Banks Of The Adji Chay

I found Enoch in a small village in Azerbaijan, on the banks of the Adji Chay river which runs east from Lake Urmia, through a fertile valley walled in by the Savalan and Sahand mountains. The Tigris and the Eupharates rivers rise in that region. The Araxes has its source somewhere to the north, in a region once known as Cush, while to the south the Uizhun flows through the land of Havilah, rich in gold, obsidian, onyx, lapis lazuli and other gemstones.

We sat on a rug in his one room hut, drinking coffee, tar-black but sweet with rosewater.

The Hushed Breath Of The World

He took a sip of the dark liquid.

-- Once, he began, to the west of this valley lay the meidan of a powerful adonai, a man of fabulous wealth and power that stretched out all across this land. In his domain no-one could hunt or fish, harvest wild grain or gather forest fruit without his word. It was said that in his realm the rain itself would not fall without his permission, that when the morning mist rose, forming dew upon the grass, this was the moisture in the hushed breath of the world as it waited for his command.

Gods Of The Rains

-- As if the water answers to anyone, he smiled, man or god. All rains fall from the sky and soak into the ground, or flow in rivers, streaming down into a lake, a sea, an ocean. Springs rise from the abzu underneath the land. We dig our wells down into it. Yet we mumble tales of this god of summer rains or that god of the storm, a god for each river, and then gods for all the seas. Surely we should have gods for every shower, every rainfall, every drop of water, every bead of dew... or for none.

Stories Are Like Trees

-- But no. They say the adonai’s word held such command that on his death the shabti shaped from clay to serve him in the netherworld echoed his last word. As they laid it in the grave beside him, it still whispered, so they said, as if his breath still moved in it, his will within the breath.

He smiled wryly, mischievously.

-- But stories are like trees, growing into vast canopies from a single seed or from a broken branch that takes root in the right soil. They grow wild and proud, but sometimes, sometimes, they should be pruned back, no?

The Darting Silver Of A Fish

-- I remember my father walking with me beside Lake Urmia once, pointing to the reflections on the water. The sudden splash of it torn by movement underneath, the darting silver of a fish, a surface rippled by the wind... and yet a mirror of this solid world surrounding it. He used to say that we were also mirrors. He would tap the side of his head, and the side of my head, then point down at our images in the water. And as he blew on it, the image rippled.

-- That is the face of the divine, he would say.

The Garden Of My Birth

-- The adonai had a walled garden filled with every tree of fruit and flower, every bush and herb of the known world, sight and scents and tastes more exquisite than any artisan of paint, perfume or pot could ever hope to imitate. A freshwater spring rose from deep within the heights of Mount Sahand off to the south, babbling down through the foothills clear and cool, to the edin, the valley floor, to feed the garden of my birth.

-- My memory of this is... mist though. I had not reached my first year when my family left that place forever.

Signs In Rocks

-- My father loved learning with a passion equaled only by his love for my mother, and he used this knowledge in the service of the adonai, keeper of his gardens, managing the meidan with care. This was no simple work of gardening, for within those grounds the adonai had specimens of even the very rarest plants and trees, prized for their aphrodisiac or medicinal, perhaps magical properties. My father prized only knowledge.

-- He was a curious man, my father, a teacher and a thinker. He looked at rocks and read signs in them that the earth had once been liquid.

The Two Trees

-- In the centre of the garden, by the stream, there stood two trees. One bore a fruit that gave wisdom to those who ate it, while the other bore a fruit that gave eternal life itself. So it was said; a lie can hardly be shown-up until it’s tested -

-- But you must know this story of the adonai's wayward son, the baal, and how he led my mother astray. I imagine you know as much as I; neither my mother nor my father ever talked of the great shame that sent us out from there into the land of Nuadh.

Marks In Red Clay

-- I told you that my name is Enoch; that is not quite true. My father had a way of naming things with marks, you see. Each animal, each plant, he made a sign for in the red clay that was such a part of him he is forever known by it; and in these marks he wrote my name in two parts, En and Ki. As I travelled down into the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, where I built a city, a whole civilisation, I taught those who asked me that those marks meant Enki, or Enoki... Enoch.

Eyah Asher Ea

-- After Eridu in the marshlands of Iraq, I came to be called Ea. Eyah asher Ea, I said when they asked. I am that which is called Ea. But that is not the name I was given at birth either; I have not answered to the name my father gave me since the day I heard it as a curse. Not En Ki, but Ki En. My true, my oldest name, is Kien, or quayin. It means craftsman in our tongue. It is a name I wear carved on me to this day.

- I understand you usually pronounce it Cain.

The Face Of The Divine

Later, he was to tell me of the others, of Adad and Rapiu, of Shamash and Irra, and of those who would be known, in Torah and Koran and in the Bible, as the angels of fire and ice, destroyers of cities, Gabriel and Michael. We sat in his hut, drinking coffee and talking until, with the setting of the sun, he lit a fire. I listened to his voice, old and sad, and watched the golden glow of flame that flickered in his eyes, across his weathered, scarred face, branded, marked with its curse, the face of the divine.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


You are Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.







Cultural Creative










What is Your World View? (corrected...again)
created with

Personally, I take issue with that. I'm a Modernist. It's just that I'm a nihilist Modernist.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Dust Jacket

Arrived home today to a wee jiffy bag with two dust jackets. I think this is the finalised design for the cover, and if it is I'm well chuffed with it. The paper has a matt finish, slightly textured (like the proofs but not quite as gorgeously tactile), and the black lettering is embossed and glossy, almost metallic sleek -- like, I dunno, evil oil. I did really like the white-hot title on the ARC's but I love the look they've come up with for it here. I can't help thinking that Vellum would look great as a tattoo running down the inside of my left forearm (leaving the right one free for Ink, of course). Hell, I could be a walking advert during the summer months... assuming Glasgow is ever actually hot enough for me to shed my usual five layers of t-shirts, tops and various jackets.

Plus... it has my picture on the inside back cover. OK, that may be a reason for everybody else to not buy the book, but it'll give me endless narcissistic pleasure.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Am I Famous Yet?

OK. This is just getting silly now.

I mean, £82.00 !

Eighty two sodding quid for the latest bound proof to go on eBay! I mean, yes, it does have that gorgeous touchy-feely textured cover and all but... eighty two fucking quid!

So, um.... yes, I've been watching eBay. Call me sad; I don't care. The first one to be auctioned off went for £22.50. Couple of weeks later one went for £52.00 -- which was kind of a holy fuck moment fer me -- and then a couple more appeared. How could I not keep my eye on the interweb to see just how much someone is willing to pay for one of the bound proofs? And clearly I'm going to be puppy-piddling-the-carpet-excited at the fact that people are paying over a hundred fucking dollars. And then, you also get to see what they put in the descriptions... you know... "the next Jonathon Strange" or "hailed as the next Harry Potter" or "ALREADY nominated for THE Most Over-Hyped Book OF THE CENTURY award!!!" You know the kind of shit I mean.

So yeah. Other writers watch their Amazon rankings; me, I just check in on eBay every week or so to see if any of the proofs are changing hands, and if so for how much. Hey, everybody likes validation, don't they? It's not like I need it. No. I can quit any time. I can just walk away... waaaaaalk away. Anytime. Aaaaaaaanytime now.

You know, there's gotta be a horror story about some writer glued to his PC watching the interweb, second by second, Googling his name, checking Amazon rankings, watching the eBay auctions, not eating, not sleeping, just hitting the Refresh button again and again and again, and thinking, Am I famous yet? Am I famous yet? Are they reading me? Do they crave me? Do they want me? Am I famous yet? I wonder if that's a typically writerly paranoia or if it's just the particularly attention-seeking wannabe rock-stars like Yours Truly, Sad Bastard who have that desparate craving for the next fix -- a few words here, a nod there -- as if without that validation it will all just flit away in the cold breeze of disinterest. I think in that horror story the writer would just watch the Google results whittling down gradually to a couple of pages, one page, a few hits, one hit, and then nothing. And a lone scrap of blank white paper, the first page of the novel the writer should have been spending his time fucking writing, would blow from the desk where the writer had been sitting... and was no more.

But, man, the point is, now I understand the whole Amazon ranking obsession thing that other writer's have mentioned to me. That shit is addictive. And while I haven't got hooked on checking that yet, rightly or wrongly, there's a buzz about Vellum that means it's selling on eBay. And seeing people bidding for your book - fuck, it's like a big pile of Grade-A coke sitting on the glass table, all cut-up and sorted into smily faces with shit-eating grins that just say, Snort me. Go on. Pander to your most arrogant pretensions. Revel in your over-inflated ego. Dive right in and frolic in the attention. Man, this shit is top-notch. Eighty-two fucking quid. That ain't no cheap speed cut with detergent, boy; that's a fucking pure-as-the-driven-snow, white-powder-of-ego all time fucking high.

Someone needs to start a Betty Ford Clinic for attention junkies, swear to God. I'll be the first customer.

Bollocks, I think I'm going to have to cut this entry short. I need to check how much the Vellum postcards (postcards?!?! WTF?!?!) are going for now on eBay.

Come on. Come on. Am I famous yet?