Notes from New Sodom

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

With Halloween on the Way...

How To Find A Masculine Halloween Costume For Your Effeminate Son


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Home from Helsinki

And too whacked to say anything more than how awesome it was, and that from now on I am to be known as Moominhal. Cause trolls can be Scottish too, right? Or do I have to move to Finland to qualify? Cause, yanno, I didn't want to leave. There were tears at the airport; I shit you not. Ask Moominhanna.

Anyway, before I crumble into bed and sleep for... well... all the time I have before heading off to France, I thought I'd let you know that "Jack Scallywag" is also now available in epub, Word doc, and rtf.

At least, it should be if my brain isn't so pickled that those links don't work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jack Scallywag at Large

Yes, that last wee reminder seems to have done the trick. Got the final few donations needed -- the last one just coming through five minutes ago -- to tip us past the $200 mark. Which means that "Jack Scallywag" is now available for free download too. So go, take, read, and hopefully enjoy. And, yes, there's another story all set to go. If folks who were waiting to try before they buy step up and push the donations up by another hundred bucks, I'll happily make it available, with the usual preview, of course. But, yeah, in the meantime, have some fiction free and gratis; and if ye do like it but ye can't afford to bung us some dosh for it, well, spreading the word is always appreciated too.


Almost There

It's been a week since the last reminder, "Jack Scallywag" is real close to making the publication target now, (less than three pints of Guinness away, indeed,) and I'm off to Finland tomorrow, so I thought before I head off on me own adventuring, I'd throw out a wee reminder of the Grand Experiment, see if I can catch anyone what might still be swithering or might even have just missed what I'm trying out in online fiction terms. For the benefit of the latter: paid for by the Paypal donations of readers, a 3000 word short story, "Scruffians Stamp," is freely available in pdf form for download from that there linkee. Take it, read it, and if ye like it, well, there's more where that came from. Right now, all's you gotta do is chuck a few quids (or bucks) my way via the "Feed the Madman" button and you get a spiffy pdf of the 6500 word short story "Jack Scallywag" (preview here). No minimum donation, every donor gets a copy sent ASAP, and if donations reach the set target of, in this case, $200 (basically 2/3rds of the 5 cents per word pro rate set by SFWA,) then the story gets made available to one and all, to all and sundry even. You can, of course, hold off on the principle that others will chuck in that last three Guinness-worth what's needed, but if everyone waits, well, nobody gets. And since I'm testing out strategies here, one of em strategies might well be the odd story as incentive/bonus for them as donates. So go on. Ye know ye want to.

More Musicality

Got pretty much the final recording for Nowhere Town done with Maestro Williamson tonight, so having cobbled together the rough mixes of the last three songs what were waiting to be done, I thought I'd share them with yez. So, we has Incubation, which if ye've read the libretto ye'll notice has quite different lyrics than are in that. It took me a long time of prevaricating, but I finally decided that I had no idea what possessed me to go for a godawful rap/metal style of shite and clearly that rap had a silent c in front of it. So I decided, fuck it, and rewrote the thing entirely. The old Incubation, it really just needed to be put out of its misery. So here's the new one with the aforesaid Neil W on vocals -- lacking a wee bit of funky backing from the Fates, but essentially there:

Then there's Junkie for the Sound, which may or may not be missing some additional vocals. It's certainly missing some extra voices, cause it's really intended for Puck, three Regulars at the Vinyl Fix record shop and Jack, and all's we had was Francis as Jack and one regular and poor Neil trying to be everybody else at once. Anyhow, this is how it was pretty much written, but I started pondering on whether it was really building the way I wanted it to, and ended up trying out some fancy malarkey with verse lyrics for Puck to sing in countermelody to the Regulars verses. Reckoned that was a bit too ambitious for the noo though, would take a fair bit of hammering out and might not work in the end anyways, so we went for the basic original version.

And finally, of course, it's the finale, the grand medley/reprise/ensemble number, Love Lost and Found, which has always been sort of my favourite, on account of it being so shamelessly... well... musical-theatrical. I mean, come on, who doesn't love a good medley/reprise/ensemble number? OK, don't answer that, those of you who have no souls. Anyway, yeah, here it is:

We'll make it to Broadway yet, I tell you. Broadway or bust!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Upcoming Events

The Helsinki Book Fair is getting very very close now, so I thought I'd post what I have of my schedule, though I think a lot of the times are still provisional.

Thursday 22nd

10-11 am I've got a press conference at the book fair apparently. Coooooool! "Press conference" makes me feel all presidential. I wonder if I can slip in "I can neither confirm nor deny that rumour."

From what I understand the rest of the day will involve interviews and touring at the Book Fair, so I guess that means, if you see me and I'm not blathering into a mic, feel free to come and say hi.

8 pm Book fair party. If you're there, again, feel free to come and say hi. I'm really quite approachable. I don't know how late this goes on, but I understand Helsinki SF Society is meeting that night, so we'll see if there's time to swing by after.

Friday 23rd

16.00 Interview at the stage Aleksis Kivi.

16.30 Helsingin Sanomat stage interview.

17.30 Like stage/signing.

And after that? Well, the cool news is I've got crash space for the whole weekend with the charming Hanna, so I'll be looking to catch up with all them what was at Åcon. Toni, Tero, Jukka, Sari, and so on -- you know who you are, and if ye don't get an email from me in the next day or so trying to organise some catch-up, it means either I've lost yer address or I just didn't get the time. Looks like I might be out and about at the Book Fair again on the Saturday though, so yeah, I'll really be hoping to see yez or at some point before I head off.

And after Helsinki, I have one day in Glasgow before flying out to Nantes for Utopiales! Hurrahs! Mostly, of course, you can expect to see me in either the con bar or the hotel bar (or outside smoking,) but in terms of official schedule, we has:

Saturday 31st

1.00 pm –Shayol area
The 21st century: spiritual or not?
With : Jacques Arnould, Pierre Bordage, Andreas Eschbach, Jean-Philippe Jaworski, Hal Duncan

4.00 pm – Miss Spock’s bar
Presentation of five named for Utopiales prize
With : Stéphane Beauverger, Andreas Eschbach, Hal Duncan, Jean-Philippe Jaworski, Ian McDonald

And there'll be various signing sessions in the dealer's area, of course. I'm fully expecting to be losing the Prix Européen Utopiales, natch, and to be drowning my sorrows in red wine, so come join me if ye spot me. :D

Anyways, that's it for the moment. Will update you with any additional info as and when it comes, if and when I can.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An Open Letter to Jan Moir

Dear Jan Moir,

We, the Elders of Sodom, are writing to you in the hope that you'll reconsider your response to the widespread criticism of your Daily Mail article, "Why There Was Nothing 'Natural' About Stephen Gately's Death" (subsequently retitled "A Strange, Lonely and Troubling Death".) We'd like to point out to you that when you say, "Some people, particularly in the gay community, have been upset by my article about the sad death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately," our own immediate response is, "No shit, Sherlock." When you say, "This was not my intention," our immediate response is, "Fair enough. This is where you say sorry, right?" When you say, "Stephen, as I pointed out in the article was a charming and sweet man who entertained millions," our immediate response is, "and... and... come on, you can say it... and was dearly loved by his family and friends to whom I apologise unreservedly for tarnishing his memory in their hour of grief by insinuating death-by-moral-turpitude."

We'd like to point out that this really isn't very hard to say. It's quite simple and straightforward, Jan. I. Ah. Pol. Oh. Gise. That's five syllables, Jan. I mean, I know you're a Daily Mail columnist and therefore find even two a stretch, but if you break it down into manageable chunks, concentrate very hard, and sound it in your head, I'm sure you can do it. And it really would be smart to do this before trying to justify yourself by explaining how your actual intention was to... well... to be honest, it seems your actual intention was indeed to insinuate death-by-moral-turpitude, so you might want to rethink those justifications too.

See, you start your defence by pretty much dismissing the criticism as the product of misreading or partial reading. When you say "the point of my column-which, I wonder how many of the people complaining have fully read - was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions," you're trying to undermine the legitimacy of grievances by characterising them as at best missing the point and at worst (possibly, probably, maybe in many cases, you insinuate) no more than the mob mentality of morons jumping on a bandwagon, condemning you on the basis of secondhand accounts without actually reading your article.

We can assure you, Jan, that we've read the full article. We rather suspect that most of those complaining have too. Do a Google on your name and you'll find it rather high on the hits, which rather implies it's getting a whole lot of readers, dig? This is the 21st century, baby, and when you say something fucktarded -- particularly when you say something fucktarded in a prejudicial way, something gobsmackingly racist, homophobic, misogynist or whatever -- lots of people link to it, saying, "look at this fucktardery!" Then lots of other people click those links and read the fucktardery, and they create their own links, saying, "look at this fucktardery!" And that way you get a whole fuckload of readers mouthing off about your fucktardery, so many you might well be shocked. They can't all have read the article, can they? Trust us, Jan. If you're "wondering" how many of the people complaining have fully read the article, the answer is simple: most of them, dumbass; that's how the interwebs work.

But leaving aside that aspect of your asinine defence, Jan -- your attempt to dismiss the complaints as insincere, not even caused by your words but simply... dogs barking because other dogs are barking -- leaving that aside, when you imply that those complaining are missing the point, it really doesn't help that your explanation of your intention "to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions," is blithely oblivious of the fact that this is exactly what people are pissed off about.

You see, we got that, Jan. Gately's death raises "questions" for you. For you. For you it seems "unlikely... that what took place in the hours immediately preceding Gately's death - out all evening at a nightclub, taking illegal substances, bringing a stranger back to the flat, getting intimate with that stranger - did not have a bearing on his death." For you it seems "unlikely" that a pulmonary oedema, a heart failure leading to build-up of fluid in the lungs, would not be causally related to "dark appetites" and "private vice" -- which is to say, going out clubbing, getting a bit high, and hooking up with someone you've just met. For you, it seems likely, I guess, that when friends, family and doctors say he wasn't some party-to-excess wild child, but rather just someone who had a bit of night out, smoked some grass, fell asleep on the couch while his partner was having a wee fling with someone they brought home, and had a seizure as a result of a previously undiagnosed medical condition, well, they must be lying about the extent of his debauchery.

Never mind what the coroner says. Never mind what the medical expert says. Never mind what friends and family say about his lifestyle or about relatives suffering the same condition. Never mind that any purported marathon drinking session is, by all accounts, no more than unsubstantiated rumour, entirely out of character. Never mind that his drug-taking that night extended, as far as we know, to getting a bit stoned. Never mind that not having met the mother, grandmother and maiden aunts of someone you bring home for a one night stand or a threesome does not actually exacerbate the risk of heart failure. No. You know better, don't you, Jan? He was dancing, drinking, toking, might even have kissed some guy he didn't know very well, might even have kissed him somewhere other than the mouth. And all of this... "At the very least, it could have exacerbated an underlying medical condition."

Wow, yeah, Jan, that raises serious "questions."

If, that is, the simple notion of a gay couple inviting some cute guy back to theirs for a bit of fun automatically, for you, pegs them as wildly debauched libertines for whom a night out... well, that must mean getting shit-faced on scores of long vodkas, double-dunking ecstasy plls, snorting bottle after bottle of poppers, hoovering up lines of coke as long as your arm, of course, then sordidly latching onto the nearest sleaze-monkey and dragging them home so you can bring out the gimp mask and harness and have yourself the most depraved spit-roast ever. Cause that's what those gays do, right, Jan?

You see, Jan, it's precisely the fact that you read Gately's death in terms of "dark appetites" and "private vice" that led to the uproar against your article. What people object to is the fact that you jump to conclusions about his "damaging habits," lumping him in with your Heat magazine hit-list, your celebrity Dead Pool of "Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney, Britney," projecting rampant decadence, and all on the basis of "circumstances" you find "more than a little sleazy." Because obviously if him and his partner were "sleazy" enough to bring another guy home with them that night one can only assume a life of absolute abandon. Cause having an open relationship, yeah, that's basically the same as having an addiction to drink, coke, smack, prescription medication or all of the above.

What caused the backlash is exactly what you identify as the point of your article, Jan. It's the fact that no matter what anyone says, you remain suspicious, cast aspersions. The fact that his family knew him well enough to say his death had to be natural even before the toxicology reports were in -- to you this is them "perhaps understandably" seeking to maintain a public image which you assume is false. The fact that the coroner's verdict was pretty cut and dry and came in pretty fast (which is hardly surprising if pulmonary oedema runs in his family and Gately's sudden death was, in fact, just as simple as that) -- to you this means it's all been "handled with undue haste," which frankly sounds like you're impeaching the coroner's integrity, insinuating that they've too-quickly written off the causal factor of... um... wayward living in a death you insist is not natural. What pisses people the fuck off is you opening your fat mouth to say the whole story has been "shaped and spun"; you characterising the bereaved as at best manipulators of the truth, at worst outright liars, "sugar coating" the "bitter truth"; you making this all about the "ooze" of a "dangerous lifestyle" that has "seeped out for all to see," when in fact it's only a certain type of person -- people like you -- that project that "ooze" into this sadly sudden death.

Let's get this straight, Jan. It's you who's putting a spin on this story, shaping it into your own sick little fantasy of death-by-moral-turpitude, twisting it into an example of the terrible fate that goes with a "dangerous lifestyle." To you this is an event from which "lessons could have been learned," and the key lesson seems to be one of how those gays just put the lie to the "happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships" with all their partying and their causal sex. You can wave your hands about it as you do in your response, claim that you're only saying those civil partnerships "have proved just to be as problematic as marriages," but that's not the focus of your article. See, here's where you really put your big foot in your big mouth:

"Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships," you say, cause, yes, us faggots are always, endlessly, interminably being so uppity as to demand an ounce of fucking respect; so we're always saying our relationships should be afforded equal status, "arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages." That's the story shaped and spun by those gays, right? As you put it: "Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael." Not that you'd be so homophobic as to deny this outright. "Of course," you say, "in many cases this may be true."

May be true. (Or may not?) In many cases. (But not all, not most?)

Anyway, that's the case made by those gays, but unless the following sentence is a complete non sequitur, the lesson you want us to learn from Gately's death seems to be that this just ain't the way it is. "Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened."

And why exactly is Gately's death even comparable to McGee's suicide? How exactly do the accounts of McGee's self-destructive coke addiction relate to the picture we have of Gately? Unless, of course, you take this one little "sleazy" detail of Gately and his partner bringing someone home from a nightclub as validation of the entire fucking stereotype of gays as being lecherous drug-fiends with no control over any of their "dark appetites" at all?

And that, Jan, is what you're doing. That, Jan, is why people are complaining loudly about your fucktarded article. Because your prurient, prudish projections of "private vice," of that "very different and dangerous lifestyle," are all too clearly born of a preconception -- a prejudice -- you yourself apparently don't even recognise. Gately was gay. He had sex with guys. Might even have had an understanding with his long-term partner that allowed for a bit of playing outside the relationship. And for you that invalidates any assertions that he wasn't a party animal, renders suspicious all the testimony of friends, family, even an official coroner's verdict.

Let me put this bluntly, Jan. You don't know shit. You don't know shit about Gately's lifestyle other than a few dodgy rumours and an overwhelming mass of sincerely shocked statements from those who knew him that he wasn't at all comparable to Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger or any of those other celebrity self-destructors you lump him in with. You don't know shit about what he and his partner might or might not have actually got up to with that guy. You don't know shit about whether this was a regular thing or a one-off experiment. You don't know shit about whether he had a bucketload of long vodkas and ten bongs of squishy black or a few glasses of red wine and a couple of tokes on a joint. You don't know shit.

So shut the fuck up, bitch. Cause frankly, your response simply compounds the offense in the utter absence of an apology and in the utter obliviousness of what exactly it is people are complaining about. Worst of all, though, is your closing line. Yes, that final sentence where you have the temerity to claim vicitm status for yourself, to characterise the outrage as "clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign." Cause that backlash couldn't actually be spontaneous and sincere, right? When people read your fucktardery and call it fucktarded, it couldn't be because hey think it is fucktarded, right? No, it has to be a bandwagon of fools who haven't actually read the whole article, fools who haven't understood the article properly, and -- Jesus Fucking Dolce and Gabana! -- an actual malign conspiracy of Evil Forces deliberately pulling their strings, pushing their buttons, orchestrating the outrage. Yes, Jan, the Elders of Sodom strike again!

How many times do we have to tell you people, Jan? How do we get it through your thick skulls so you can actually retain it in that little pinheaded pointy bit? We do not lurk in the shadows waiting for some fucktard to accidentally say something that we can twist into a slur on all faggotry. We do not latch onto every unintentional hint of a slight, just for the pleasure of tarring and feathering some poor innocent soul who didn't actually even say the wrong thing anwyays if you only read it properly. We do not orchestrate internet campaigns to ritually humiliate journalists just cause they write for a rag like the Daily Mail. We are not fucking puppet masters, we Elders of Sodom, setting hordes of unthinking peasants upon you for no reason other than malice, and when you play the victim card by casting the outcry raised by your article in those terms, as an "orchestrated... campaign," this is just evidence of how deep your fucktardery is writ into your being.

Wake up and smell the 21st century, Jan. It's called Twitter. There's no orchestation here, no organisation, no conspiracy. We, the Elders of Sodom, don't need to manipulate people into a mob, baying its empty outrage. You just open your big fat mouth, put your big fat foot in it, and the more fucktarded the things you say, the more people notice them. You're just going to have to deal with that, and the best way of dealing with it, in the first instance, is not with ill-considered self-justifications that make no apology, dismiss the validity of criticism, repeat the offence, and compound it by casting yourself as the victim of an organised attack. The best way of dealing with it, in the first instance, is by shutting the fuck up.

Stop. Think about what you said. If you should happen across this letter, think about how we're telling you -- sincerely, honestly -- your article and response read to us. We've done our best to outline why and how people are seeing it as homophobic. Don't just jump to the "I'm not homophobic" defense because you think homophobia means a Westboro Baptist level of hatred. What we find repugnant in your article is not some "burn all faggots" rhetoric of revulsion; it's this ugly little preconception of a prejudice, this blunderingly tasteless and tactless presumption of "sleaze," these suspicions and insinuations that seem sourced in little more than your inability to imagine that a gay couple bringing a stranger home from a nightclub doesn't automatically equate to drug-fuelled orgies to put Caligula to shame. It's the fact that by voicing those suspicions you were, to all intents and purposes, calling the bereaved liars before Gately's body was even in the ground.

Do you get it now, Jan? Can you face up to the idea that the outrage was not just spontaneous and sincere but entirely founded in what you actually said, in the very point you think everybody must be misreading? Cause if so, well, you can always have another shot at that response. And if not... just shut the fuck up, Jan. Just shut the fuck up.

Love and kisses,

The Elders of Sodom

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Talking of Virtual Fiction...

... the Paper Cities e-book, Kindle edition, has now gone live on


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Direct Distribution Experiment

Hmmmm. As I suspected would be the case, Paypal donations for "Jack Scallywag" have been substantially fewer than those for "Scruffians Stamp." There's plenty of freebie downloads of "Scruffians Stamp" going on in the meantime, but that clearly ain't converting into support. Yes, you get enough folks donating that it works as a one-off, but it's not looking terribly sustainable, I gotta say. The second story hasn't done too badly, but it's a good way from being made available to the public, so while I've got another three stories done and dusted, ready to be let loose in the world, it's not looking like this is a viable way to release them, to be honest.

Anyways, while I consider potential ways to give the whole thing a kick up the arse, those of you what have downloaded "Scruffians Stamp" without donating, those of you who's tempted by "Jack Scallywag" but hoping that others will make it reach the target so you don't have to pay, and those of you who're just a bit too used to the Age of Free Fun... well, go read Amanda Fucking Palmer on the subject of artists asking their audience to pony up. Anyways, those of you who's wavering, do bear in mind that there's no minimum donation.

As you were.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Last Drink Bird Head

I've been meaning to pimp this for ages, cause: a) I'm in it; b) it's for a good cause, a literacy charity; c) I'm in it; d) there's lots of other people in it too, really cool writers like Daniel Abraham, Michael Arnzen, Steve Aylett, KJ Bishop, Michael Bishop, Desirina Boskovich, Keith Brooke, Jesse Bullington, Richard Butner, Catherine Cheek, Matthew Cheney, Michael Cisco, Gio Clairval, Alan M. Clark, Brendan Connell, Paul Di Filippo, Stephen R. Donaldson, Rikki Ducornet, Clare Dudman, Hal Duncan, Scott Eagle, Brian Evenson, Eliot Fintushel, Jeffrey Ford, Richard Gehr, Felix Gilman, Jon Courtney Grimwood, Rhys Hughes, Paul Jessup, Antony Johnston, John Kaiine, Henry Kaiser, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Tessa Kum, Ellen Kushner, Jay Lake, Tanith Lee, Stina Leicht, Therese Littleton, Beth Adele Long, Dustin Long, Nick Mamatas, JM McDermott, Sarah Monette, Kari O’Connor, Ben Peek, Holly Phillips, Louis Phillips, Tim Pratt, Cat Rambo, Mark Rich, Bruce Holland Rogers, Nicholas Royle, G Eric Schaller, Ekaterina Sedia, Ramsey Shehadeh, Peter Straub, Victoria Strauss, Michael Swanwick, Mark Swartz, Alan Swirsky, Rachel Swirsky, Sonya Taaffe, Justin Taylor, Steve Rasnic Tem, Jeffrey Thomas, Scott Thomas, John Urbancik, Genevieve Valentine, Kim Westwood, Leslie What, Andrew Steiger White, Conrad Williams, Liz Williams, Neil Williamson, Caleb Wilson, Gene Wolfe, Jonathan Wood, Marly Youmans, and Catherine Zeidle; e) I'm in it; f) it's now available for pre-order!

So, yeah, I've been meaning to pimp it for a while, but I'm limited to interwebs in cafés at the moment (which is doing wonders for my productivity, it seems, in terms of writing, yes, actual fucking fiction (or OK, recording forty-odd verse sea shanties.))

Anyway, yes, consider yourself hustled. Go on, you know you want a copy. For any number of reasons -- the least of which, actually, is the fact that I'm in it. Cause... yanno... Michael Bishop and Gene Wolfe? Nuff said.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mind Meld, Matelotage and Mutiny

The latest Mind Meld over at SF Signal is on the book that introduced you to fantasy. I've got me own contribution up there, a general raving on the wonder that is THE BORRIBLES. This may not come to much of a surprise to them what's read the book(s) in question, especially not if ye've read "Scruffians Stamp". And even less so if ye've ever heard me rant about these books in person (and there's a lot of you who have, I'm sure.) Cause, yeah, these Scruffians are pretty openly influenced by Michael de Larrabeiti's Borribles, and I ain't ashamed to admit it. Hell, soon as I can think of how and where I'll be working in a little tip of the cap to de Larrabeiti in one of the tales.

Talking of downloads, I got an unexpected request the other day from someone who'd come across "The Ballad of Matelotage and Mutiny" in a web search on "matelotage" -- which, as any Scruffian of the Seas should know, is both a) a weird form of art/craft made by knotting of frayed rope-ends, and b) the gay marriage of two mateys, as practiced by those of the piratical persuasion. Anyways, this chap turns out to be a collector of bawdy ballads, and he asks if by any chance there's a recording of it. Well, no, I thinks, but after all the work I've been doing on NOWHERE TOWN it occurs to me that GarageBand might exist in the manifesting of such musicality. So I spent the other night getting into the spirit of it with a hearty amount of grog and snout (well, OK, it was red wine with the fags, but it does the job,) and came up with a version of it.

A thirty-five minute version of it.

Well, I suppose it is forty-odd verses long. Still, this is probably at the idiosyncratic end of my output. Four hundred thousand word, two volume magnum opus of cubist fantasy? Check. Forty thousand word irreligious John Carpenter homage? Check. Gay punk Orpheus musical? Check. Forty-odd verse, thirty-five minute long sea shanty? Check. Hey, predictability is for physics experiments.

Anyway, I stuck it up on the fileshare site I normally use, for this chap to download, so I thought I may as well, punt one of the embedded doohickey things up here, for anyone what's cracked enough to want a copy, or who has a spare thirty-five frickin minutes to listen to me play at being a pirate. I mean, I suppose it does constitute a reading and all, given that the ballad is highly narrative, basically a wee story told in song. So, yeah... enjoy?

You know, actually I do sorta wish I knew a folk-punk band who could do a proper version of the music, and some crazy animator folks who were up for making a 35 min movie just for the sheer WTFery. Cause listening back to it meself, I couldn't help thinking that you could make a kinda cool wee short.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Jack Scallywag

Well, cool! Allowing for one pledge what ain't quite come through yet, but which is from someone as I know will be chucking the money in shortly, it appears as how "Scruffians Stamp" has made the pro-rates mark of $150. Which means to things: 1) at least some folks will (can afford to) still throw some cash into the hat. (And those who maybe can't afford to contribute (and trust me, I know times is tight all round,) if you enjoy the story, you can always do yer bit by giving it a nod on yer blog, LiveJournal, Twitter or whatnot.) and 2) it's time to, as agreed, make another story available for all who donate from here on in.

Now, this one's chunkier, at about 6400 words. Actually if you exclude the titles, it's exactly 6400 words, same as "Scruffians Stamp" is exactly 3000 words. Cause those little sections are all 100 words exactly. No, don't ask me why I does it that way; buggered if I know, I just find that mad constraint somehow working for me. It's the same with "The Disappearance of James H__" and "The Toymaker's Grief". No, really, I don't know why. Some weird formalist impulse? Some poncy Oulipo malarkey? It just works for me, OK?

Anyways, at 5 cents per word that length works out at $320, which is a substantial chunk of money, right? So, I reckon for the moment, I'll stick with the approach adopted with "Scruffians Stamp," setting the initial target at two-thirds pro-rates. In other words, if donations reach $207, this story goes up on a fileshare site, for all to download. In the meantime, all those who donate will get a pdf sent through to them toot sweet. I've got to admit, I'm not at all sure the higher target will be reached, given the fact that I'm not expecting contributors of larger sums for "Scruffians Stamp" to repeat those sort of donations. But part of what I'm curious here is to see the limits of this sort of approach. So sod it; let's give it a shot, eh, and see what does happen?

So what's this story? Why, this is only the tale of "Jack Scallywag", the finest Scruffian what ever lived. EVER! But rather than blathering about it, as before, here's the opening as a wee taster:

Jack Scallywag

Hal Duncan

Ace Jack, King Jack, Queen Jack, Fool.

Poor widow's son got beans for a bull.

How many beans did the Scruffian get?

One, two, three, four, you are het!

In Which Our Hero is Interduced

Once upon a time, there were a poor widow's son what lived out in the forest with his mum. He didn't have nothing to his name -- couldn't have nothing to his name on account of he didn't have a name. See, his mum were so awful sad at her husband's death, all's she ever called him from the day he was born was Poor Dear. You want fed again, she'd say, Poor Dear? How'd you get the busted lip today, she'd say, Poor Dear. The other boys calls you a bastard, do they, she'd say, Poor Dear? Yer don't say?

Mostly though, what the other boys called him -- what everyone in the village called him -- was Parish Fool. Cause his mum didn't have no money to dress him in aught but a suit of rags, stitched up from scraps of handmedowns and castoffs what had been worn to nothing and chucked away. A right motley it was, in every sodding shade under the sun. Every shade what's been faded and filthed to a shade of dirt and dust, that is. So they calls him the Parish Fool for it, shouts, Where's yer bells? and, Tell us a joke! Fucking cunts.

But we don't call him Poor Dear or Parish Fool, us Scruffians. Don't call him none of those names the groanhuffs use in their stories about him neither. Cause what do groanhuffs know? All's they've done is heard our tales and passed em along in a game of Chinese Whispers, getting em all mixed up, like. Peer-a-Door and Pierce-a-Veil, they calls him! Dozy twats. Still, we gots to call him summat. Hero needs a name, don't he? So we Scruffians calls him Jack, cause that were a word for any Scruffian-to-be in those days.

Anyways, one day, Jack's out poaching rabbits in the wild woods when these knights ride up, all grand on their gallopers, armour gleaming in the sunlight. Jack, he ain't been schooled, so he don't rightly know what an angel is, but he's seen pictures and carvings in the church, right? Fine looking fellers with breastplates and helmets, swords and shields, you know? So Jack, he falls to his knees, thinking it's Judgement Day itself, praying for mercy. Course, the knights all have a right good laugh at that. No, says they, we're knights, lad, noble-born but mortal as you.

In Which Our Hero Aspires to Greatness

Huh? You hush yourself, scrag. Yeah, course I'm leaving bits out. These is fresh Fixed scamps, and they ain't in need of hearing things what they won't understand. So let's not confuse em with details about where the knights was headed and how's they'd decided to have some fun on the way. Besides, it messes up the story if you starts bringing in crusades and pogroms and Jack's mum getting -- whassat? A pogrom? Well... it's sort of... a monster they had in them days. Yeah, a bit like a dragon. See? Just lemme tell it simple, like, eh? Right then...

Jack, he ogles these mortals. If knights look so grand, says he, by buggery, he'll be a knight himself. The nobs near split their sides, them being nobs and all. Parish Fool, says they, there's squires and serfs, and you're no squire. Bollocks to you, says Jack. Off into town he skips. I'm gonna be a knight, says he. Parish Fool, says everyone, there's knights and knaves, and you're no knight. Fuck you, says Jack. Off to his mum he skips. I'm gonna be a knight, says he. Poor dear, says she, there's paladins and peasants, and -- Whatever, says Jack.

No, Jack won't have nobody tell him what he can't ever be, even if he weren't born with a silver spoon in one end and an Harley Street hooter up the other. He ain't secretly a prince, ain't got no sword what was his father's. And he ain't gonna make much of a knight without a sword and such. But Jack ain't bovvered. Come morning he sneaks out, whiles his mum's snoring off last night's gin, with a pot for an helmet, a stick for sword, and his trusty old slingshot. Bollocks to them all, he thinks. I'll show em.

Now, being a Scruffian at heart, even if he ain't Fixed yet, Jack ain't the most responsible type, so thieving a horse does strike him as an obvious option. But being a Scruffian at heart, he ain't the most reputable type neither, so it also strikes him as all the groanhuffs in the town would likely finger him straight off. And he's been near enough hanged for an apple, never mind an horse. So, no, he reckons, he'll have to get it legit, like. But it ain't like his dear drunk mum'll miss the old bull in the meadow, eh?


And so it goes. So, yeah, chuck whatever you feel comfortable with my way, and I'll chuck yer a copy of the pdf with the full tale of Jack Scallywag. And we shall see how it pans out this time.



I am nominated for an award. Is a cool little Bosch-birdy award too. I feel like I should say something clever now, since it's for "expanding vocabulary." But I'll just go for "huzzah" right now.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Scruffians Stamp: Sold to... Everyone!

Yep, it looks like the experiment was a success. As of today the total donations reached £69, which my currency converter widget tells me is $109. So we've hit the hundred dollars mark I was aiming for, and that means "Scruffians Stamp" is now available to everyone. There's the original pdf and, courtesy of Meika Samorzewski and Eric Rosenfield, it's also available in pdb and epub formats. Of course, just cause you don't have to donate now, don't mean I won't appreciate it; and if we break the $150 mark that basically means the story's made pro rates. Which is a definite plus point when it comes to how much I wanna try this again. In fact, I'm reckoning that might be a good Stage Two in the experiment. So, yeah, let's say if donations reach $150, I'll go for it again. Brand new story -- pdf or doc -- to all what donates, and if donations hit a decent target it goes up on a fileshare site for free download.

Cause at the moment I am interested in repeating the experiment. The results have been quite interesting -- with some rather chunky donations pushing the total up a good way towards the target (and you know who you are, and I bless you indeed, you fine folks.) Actually, even those smaller amounts donated were pretty generous for a single short story, I'd say. So, I'll be curious as to how a second such release works out, as and when I give it a go. Is it the sort of thing that only works as a one-off now and then on the basis of generosity more than anything else? Or can you make it work regularly as long as you're producing the goods?

I know I do kinda like the idea. It seems kinda old school, like being a storyteller on the streets, a spinner of tall tales sitting in the agora with a bowl in front of them. Actually, it feels sorta appropriate to a story about Scruffians what survives by thieving and begging and general low cunning. I'm sorely tempted to just do this with Scruffians stories on principle. Makes me feel right Scruffian meself, see, telling lies for a living. And while it'd be nice to just do the literary busking and trust folk to throw some dosh in the hat, this has worked substantially better than just chucking the work up for download and inviting donations on the honour system (as I tried with "Die, Vampire, Die!").

So, a huge thanks to those who've donated. Bless yez all, each and every one of yez.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

October Column at BSCReview

Notes from New Sodom: To the Water Fountains