Notes from New Sodom

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Caledonia Dreamin' Review

Caledonia Dreamin' is a unique and well edited anthology of strange fiction of Scottish descent. It's a daring and original glimpse into Scotland, the Scots language and Scottish culture. Each story is based on or inspired by a Scots word.

It was truly a pleasure to read this anthology, because I don't remember reading anything similar ever before. There have been plenty of anthologies about different themes, but this is the first time that I remember reading an anthology that contains stories based on by Scots words.

Clearly it is the week of reviews here in New Sodom.

Also... Damn, if only I'd had a novel coming out right now, it would totally be like ONE OF ALL THE THINGS! IMMA MAKE ONE OF ALL THE THINGS! IMMA MAKE A SHORT STORY COLLECTION! IMMA MAKE A NON-FICTION BOOK! IMMA MAKE AN ANTHOLOGY! IMMA MAKE... and so on.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review for Rhapsody

Hal Duncan, in Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fictions, turns a critical eye to the genre of SF—considering not just the turf wars and definitional spats, but also the deeper functions and facilities of the “strange fiction” mode in literature. Employing sardonic and often cutting analysis delivered within convincing theoretical frames, Duncan deposes various received-wisdom ideas about the genre and offers in their place a well-reasoned, thorough conceptualization of what it is we’re talking about when we talk about SF.

Rhapsody, though it is Duncan’s first long-form critical work, is a strong and elegant—and sometimes wickedly crass—project, complexly argued and incisive while also managing to remain eminently readable and engaging.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Sing of the angels of Moloch
     vomiting word infernal
     snake-jaws dislocated
     wrenched as backs arched in purgation
     spasms of napalm fire-hose
     hurled forth to incinerate fair citizens of my
Sodom the abomination in steel eyes
     of a clockwork Tetragrammaton
     gazing down from hypoxian Himalayan perch
     in onyx vaulted heaven a-spatter
     with starlight of seraphim
     hung on meathooks
Sodom the stain of blood clay brownstone
     city subway ploughed by firstborn fratricide
     outcast in cornfield dreams
     stumbling scarred as I
     from the car accident death of pride
     stumbling scarecrow with a sickle
Sodom the throne of Og archaic Titan
     miscegenation of cherub jism and ape cunt
     keelhauled under the ark
     half-drowned helplessly witnessing
     drunken incest from afar
     under a new aeon's rainbow
Sodom the crystal skulled nous implicate
     in grains of a skyscraper sandcastle
     kicked to four winds in Babel
     echoing inside with every
     forked tongue lie to be silkspun
     from now to the end of human resources
Sodom the abomination the abomination
     of desolation
     in the valley of saline flats
     fixed in vision so frostbitten and surgical
     even Abraham meek to slit his firstborn's throat
     haggled mercy at dawn
Sodom the murderous inhospitable kirk
     where I was fourteen
     in my royal blue Hitlerjugend uniform
     of a Boys' Brigade Lance Corporal
     as the mob battered Sunday School doors
     to rape exquisite strangers
Sodom the market of muscle
     spurning virgin daughters pimped
     and so piety lashed with tabloid tongue
     the wrath of hysteria
     HIV the MAD of a cold war on fuckery
     and nuclear winter everafter
Sodom the San Fran Seventies
     Golden Gate vaporised in neolithic Nagasaki
     saunas all swallowed into dead sea
     boiling tears to coke-rock white
     cracked down to crumble
     cut with stain-scouring detergent
Sodom the city we fled
     as teenage slaves of Lot
     her holy whores and eunuchs of the heart
     sworn to Astarte and Baal
     all tomorrow's beloveds deserted
     to a hospice holocaust of salt and sarcoma
Sodom the home I was led from
     bound in blindfold law
     gavelled in witch's parliament
     to save my arse from phantoms of pillared perversion
     forever and ever amen to Section 28
     amen to the TV tombstone
Sodom the home I was whipped from
     iron gag clamping tongue
     not to question the scourging
     of schoolbooks and sanctuary
     not to debate with teachers in the temple
     afraid of guillotine sacking
Sodom the devastated!
     Sodom the destitute!
     Sodom the handful household
     of errand boys clutching harps
     as the 80s dragged us onward into exile
     speechless at the melted plastic blitzkrieg of identity
Sodom the beautiful!
     Sodom the glorious!
     Sodom the sacred!
     Sodom the city of breath in flesh socketed in flesh!
     Sodom the idyll I lament laid waste before
     my broken voice could join its beaded choir!
Sodom the cursed the reviled fornicating
     faghag diva of scarlet and purple bosom
     who cradled cocksucker lambs
     in black sheepskin afghans
     who loved scapegoats
     in kidskin leather jeans
Sodom my Sodom
     where now shall your kindred shelter?
     Where shall we little big spoons
     awake canoodling lips to neckfuzz
     now Mother Sodom is gone?
          Into oblivion!
               Sodom is gone!
Sodom my Sodom
     where now shall we be native sons?
     What tents and suburbs of marching tribes
     will not disown feral archers of desire
     to the housing schemes of
     Irvine Paisley Wishaw and Canaan?
Sodom my Sodom
     where now will spectacled runts in peacock motley
     freewheel Raleigh Choppers downhill
     hurtling crash into puberty and
     thrown ragged to the pit of fear
     be tended by brothers?
Weep for our Sodom
     you cuckoo queer hatchlings
     fostered in bowers of Egyptian reed
     fledglings ever aflurry from fire or Pharoah
     forty years migrating
     and with no milk and honey homeland promised
Weep for our Sodom
     my nameless nation of slaves to slaves
     who slipped Akhenaton's thrall
     to call our city into iniquity
     rank us with mildew rot and insect shellfish
     monstrosity! unclean! unclean!
Weep for our Sodom
     you deviant diaspora to be born
     blank of heritage erased in assimilation
     to be rebirthed each generation
     in the furious keen brows of a prepubescent
     shepherd winding slingshot truth
Weep for our Sodom
     and strum her psalms to every Saul
     anointed king or agent of Empire
     hurling javelins or epistles
     while his son breathes deep
     the scent of your t-shirt and semen on his skin
Sing how there could be no Salem before Sodom
     no assalaamu alaikumu
     until a multitude of horny youths
     ululated gifts of profanity
     strange peaches for guests to unwrap
     from palm frond hallelujahs
How the gang-rape mob was an orgiastic dance
     for soldiers for glories of stallion sweat
     we yearned to yearn to crave
     peeling helm and armour
     down to socks and jocks
     their cocks to be anointed with spit
How we only pounded the doors of a schoolyard gatehouse
     suddenly airtight in agitprop
     a Moebius wall of labyrinth State
     where bull-headed beauties
     of athletic grace
     tried us with certainty of scorn
How we only stole a glance not even a kiss
     in changing rooms of furtive erections
     torments of showering myrmidons
     we prayed oblivious outside
     our Sodom of reveries
     where ephebes rutted indiscriminate
How we only grabbed a chance
     from angels cruising our park but
     were led to bleak October to
     pistol-whipping hilltop murder
     echoing excuses of panic in defence
     of crucifixion and cigarette burns
How we demanded nothing
     but offered everything in silent Mass
     fallen breathless from summer to our knees
     before buff idols with dirty Adidas boots
     ready to share our bread bed body bliss
     and destination
How we tore up crumpled and tossed our child selves
     into furnaces crying
     Moloch! Melech!
          King of the gods!
          God of the kings!
     a soul tax exacted for seed swallowed in passion
     but all of us was never enough
How we were cursed to history
     speared on standards
          burnt at the games
     lynched from the rafters
          shot in the parks
     gassed in the bathhouses until
     broken to see the stones stakes pyres gallows woods and
How the concentration camp was
     constructed cold in every swimming pool shower
     we bit into apples crunching
     juice almond-flavoured with cyanide
     and died and rotted a year
     and wholly howled howled
How wholly fucked we were
     how fucked the fuckless and feckless brethren
     scattered to the corners
     of our blank-walled bedrooms
     with no secret language of handkerchiefs
     for the orphans of nowhere
How we had only guttural native tongues
     of a new town housing scheme
          foreign as our families
          thick and dry as
     talking adolescent lusts
     we swallowed he and him
     in a pronoun game no homo ever won
How we lived each tick-tock of almost confession
     a thousand repeats
     a thousand futures crushed in a trial's heartbeat
     and every outcome a murder
     of the schoolboy mirrored
     in the gaze of friends
How we lied to live in death
     not to smash a painted ceramic citizen
     of Ayrshire or Arizona
     not to sledgehammer idol innocence
     and rise from eggshell ruin
          afire as phoenix
          where ego was
               now id
How I never ached for your shrug
     never cursed off armour and wrestled
     monstrous idiocy to my own naked defeat
     never bit my lips to blurt revelation
     not to a sun god leonine and alien
     hunting beyond
How eight million minutes were a blink
     just a razor edge of months
          slicing passions open
     sibling war still undissolved
     so I never turned my head to alliance
          never dared it
     so you died to a stranger
How a score of summers--more--have burned away
     but still verse will not loose me
     to name your shadow
     not to mewl at light's cheap echo
     mocked in photograph's painting
     imaged in dreams unremembered
How I cannot sully your name in this song of Sodom and self
     but flail my brother
          my brother
          and you and I
     in vain a failure of words to thresh words
     to undo the thwart of lie I lived
     till your hospital end
How I thrash in a straitjacket soul
     that I never strode my ceremony of assumption
     wearing feathers of your puzzled smile
     a prodigal released from choir of kin
     to explore alterity
     and never can but must
How I have to come out to you my brother
     proclaim in shreds
     that I have fucked and been fucked
     in the Sodom of angels
     in a footballer's Hilton room
     or the bed of a bone doctor with a cock curved outward
How I have to be known to you my brother
     conjure a gulf of nightly decades
     in this rite of song
     echoing down deep to your silhouette
     the truth untold in sham of a mitzvah
     one quarter century overdue
How I have to be known to you my brother
     without a grave to kneel at
     or a ghost to listen
     or gates out of senility to an orchard
     mirage of trees we climbed apart
     in some wide snapshot of infant holiday
How I have to be known to you my brother
     without the unicorns and apples
     pretence of eternal Heaven
     or elsewise June
               in 1988
               in Kilwinning
     in the Zion daze of dog days
     before the knock on the door
How I have to be known to you my brother
     and cannot
               not now
               not ever
     cannot ever be known
     by the zeroed pin prick outline erased
     the never was
               nor is
               nor will be
     no way and no how
How? how my brother
     how can I conjure Sodom's boom from dust
     without the blank slate clean page fresh loam
     story's end rolling away forever
     coffined with your corpse
     into the crematorium's gullet?
     answer me
     reveal it
Sing to me nothing
     hollowed singularity of timeless death
     without a moted eye or bloated tongue
     in silent answer to all pleas
     mute oracle of absurd inspiring
     trumpet nothing through me as a horn
Sing to and through me nothing
     to salve with nothing's scentless liniment
     dissolved always already in absentia
     you uninstanced speck of slaughter's void
     to seed in the nullity of past
     the potency of future
Sing for my brother nothing
     as you crooned to his dead brain
     engulfing every chant and cheer
     consuming memory to a dot clicked off
     and I will echo your whitespace
     of a beat skipped forever

And for you my brother who is nothing I will sing
     And for all
          who are nothing
          I will sing
     And for all Sodom
          every Sodom every son and brother
     every daughter every father every mother
          I will sing
And I will roar the city from a grain of salt
     in every village of the Empire
     flying flags of rainbows or Olympic rings
     for queers in Russia
     stripped and lipsticked
     drinking Facebook shame of fascist piss
And I will rest my head as faggot Judas on your breast
     beloved nothing
               abolitionist of sacrifice
     alone of all the painted gods
     embracing nothing as a gift
     and gifting nothing in response
     who seals existence in a kiss
And I will carry quietude in every breath
     to frame a word a phrase a song a life
     to speak of the hollows where we built a den
     one strutting cockerel of Arcadia
     one cuckoo out of Sodom
     straight and queer
And I will go with the seed of silence as a stone
     to lay upon a monument unbuilt
     and build memorium upon the rock
     and under it you will be there
     as nothing
     foundation of a Sodom for us all
And I will go wild from our home
     as we have ever flown we sons of Sodom
     ever estranged as pilgrim libertines
     treked to salt shores of the dead
     gazing past baptisms
     the memory of nothing at our backs
And I will go before you into Galilee
I will go before you out of Ethiopia's ark
     into the crescent and the caverns
I will go before you out of Ur of the Chaldees into Canaan
     out of Canaan into the world
I will go before you into Glasgow and London
     Paris, Berlin and Helsinki
     and New York New York
     carving eternal wake I swear
I will go before you into my twenties
     and thirties
     and forties
     ever glancing back
          at where you stand
I will go before you into grief's abyss
     the raw murder of aeons
     falling fire bright in a city of endless angst
     crying for a dead faggot's dead madhouse muse
     made of words words words
          hell made of nothing
          and so dissolving
I will live ever leaving and returning
     ripping time to the thirteenth day
          to summer sun and the car
               the curb
I will enshrine in you all who've gone before
     and all now who are nothing yet
     the unsparked multitudes of butterflies
I will envision all mobs of you and I to come
     and call them you
     call to them you
          and drum
And I will go before you into Sodom.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Caledonia Dreamin' Review

The anthology, edited by Hal Duncan and Chris Kelso and published by Eibonvale Press in December 2013, is a well-crafted collection of seventeen stories that all have been written on the basis of a single Scottish word. The Scottish language and culture is the dominant frame of this book, but it has a broad range of themes and plots and travel across all the speculative genres. The characters in these stories deal with issues like a sudden urge to bathe in the muddy water, the complaining dead mother, the hungry newborn child, the yearning for knowledge, the fear of turning into an animal, a longing for the homeland, or not wanting to go home but to keep wandering. These tales are weird, terrifying, dark, beautiful, disturbing and funny. It was quite a thought-provoking read. Some of these stories are amongst the best stories I have read for quite a while and I recommend the book for not only the lovers of Scotland, the Scots language or linguistics in general, but for all fans of the weird and unexplainable, or people who enjoys plain good writing.

Great review for Caledonia Dreamin' from The Future Fire Reviews. Watch this spot for news of a belated launch/promo event in the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock, early April. Details forthcoming.

Song of the Stancer

I strike a stance to this or that,
a stance of recognition struck
in every disposition to
wild object of desire or dread,

in guts of all disgust or wrath,
in scrunch of balls and shivered spine,
in thrall of eyes or open heart,
first posture of the stancer's art.

In every stance I strike a stance
that this I recognise as this,
as any target of my yen
is fancied object in my ken.


I strike a stance to this and that
and that and this, a sweep of things
encompassed in my stance to all:
that they are items in a box.

Around karass or granfaloon,
I hurl the fancy of corral,
to recognise a wider this,
this cluster of specific things;

but in this crafting, as Cornell,
this cluster of specific things,
I line a paper bird, a spring,
a rubber ball or pipe of clay.


In stancing cluster, this I say,
and only this: that these are bound.
In such a stance there's no denial
that all things are exceptions, each

an object in and of itself,
each in its lineaments a quirk;
and so begins the stance to sing
--no, dance--the haecceity of things,

No quiddity in cluster yet,
no hollowing to empty frame
of ghosted form, Platonic class,
each object in its essence one.


But now to this or that I stance
my role as son or steersman--strange
as it is to fit to yield, I
yield to your yen for guiding hand,

as in a waltz or tango's verve,
we stance a partnership of peers
that conjures power out of yen,
casts me as master and as slave.

Artist or audience, I stance,
but mind the crux: We each are each,
in every moment we commune
ever in service as we steer.


Still, as a child I stanced my yield,
and parents stanced in proxy roles,
and everywhere were stances struck
in recognition of their sway.

In recognition of your say
so too might they, if we were twined
in marriage, hear you speak for me,
beloved proxy of my will.

With you our union's interface,
they'd stance to you as you were me;
For chatteled wife no more, I'd note,
but me they'd stance as I were thee.


Fancy you had a hundred loves,
each in a union of all yen,
and you this cluster's proxy voice,
shop steward of the workers bound.

Fancy us each in union just,
that each may be proxy now or then,
that any may stand for this karass,
in any instance one for all.

So in this clustered throng of quirks,
when any speaks it is one voice;
the cluster sings in each refrain
if we but stance it to be so.


Now let us open up our sweep
to fancy each quirk from the karass
called forth into a stranger role,
each instance proxy, summoned voice,

stepped out to meet a stance from all
that for a masque it shall be dressed,
that in a game it shall be masked
to stand as proxy for a thing.

Fancy yourself in purple robes,
called forth to take an object's place,
a proxy in a whirling dance.
That song from the karass? A name.


Stumbling, the quirk steps out as name,
but is no name, is just a word,
and is no word, is just a sound
which, with no quiddity, is just this,

until in the ballroom of the nous
proxy by proxy, now we stance,
by echoes of the quirks we choose
and shadows left in the karass,

a template for the quirk to fit
for sound to be a word, a name,
a stance on how and what we'll stance,
to play the proxy in each dance.


And if our stance may play this game,
each quirk the instance of a name
eclipsing tone of yen or surl
to carve the blank phonetic frame,

if we can set a sound as word,
each instance echo in our nous
imagined sans haecceity
as iteration of one thing,

then now the quiddity of things
is born and every name a class,
and we have conjured out of quirks
an archetype as new karass.


Call forth a daily quirk to sing
in sunrise of Adonis. Weave
the dental D, the nasal N
with vowels to the sibbilant S,

and we shall say we've made a name,
for all each instance is unique,
and with each quirk made of a kind,
with archetype of name defined,

now we may stance all objects thus
and set this word adonis as
a proxy object in the dance
for all within a yen's karass.


But still in whim we stance a whim,
a fleeting fancy, a conceit
that for the dance we'll drape a fool
and for a little while he'll rule.

And as we whirl him in our nous,
this instanced song of a karass,
though we pretend some essence set,
we have not made of him a sign.

There is no meaning stored in name
and carried round with every step.
As if caprice's fleeting dance
has flesh beyond the flesh we stance.


There is no sign but only this
pretence of quiddity in quirks,
the phantom essence of a word
sustained in flesh sustaining stance.

This superstition of the sign
as abstract thing, Platonic form
in substance fictive as the soul,
is essence passing as a dream.

From this day on the sign is dead.
The sign is dead; long live the stance
to spring, to ball, to paper bird,
to song, flesh's fancy of a word.

Friday, March 14, 2014

First Review of Scruffians!

Scruffians! by Hal Duncan, releasing in early April from Lethe Press, is a wickedly entertaining collection of short fiction fantastical and queer in nature—full of “scruffians and scamps and sodomites,” with some pirates and fairies besides. These stories range from comedic romps to lyrical and meditative explorations on the nature of meaning-making, while Duncan’s engaging and clever voice resonates throughout as a strong thread connecting the various different sorts of pieces...

Over at, Brit Mandelo has some great things to say about Scruffians!, which is out rather soon now, come to think of it!