Monday, 11 December 2017

Dangerous Moderation

Now readers, I normally don't like to comment on issues directly pertaining to the alt-right or radical left since I don't want to help disseminate their views, since this is not a zero-sum game. Here however, someone who is directly in my generation is engaging in some appalling hypocrisy so she can peddle ideas I find morally abhorrent. So briefly, I shall highlight one modern alt-right commentator I have seen over the last two years, and would like use this as an example why I don't subscribe to any of the ideologies on the extreme end of the political spectrum.

I will note that I will not link directly to any of the commentators material (I will not give them exposure that way) but will provide links to where I learned more about this issue. Starting with this Salon article on the subject.

Recently, notable alt-right commentator Lauren Southern posted a video on her Youtube account where she lamented recent attacks (or trolling) by members of her own movement against her perceived hypocrisy of preaching traditional values, and not following them herself. Of course, she asked for amnesty from her followers pleading that she was "only 22" and needed time to sort her life out, and might not be ready to get married and have kids, or even know her place in the world yet. This of course, despite many happy years of denying similar choice or amnesty to transgender persons, rape victims, and her ideological enemies. In effect, she has undertaken some special pleading to exonerate herself from the toxic attitude towards women that members of her own community regularly espouse, while seeking to continue to belittle and deride women who are her ideological enemies, despite those very same women wanting the same things she wants.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Change in My City

Change is sometimes dramatic, but it is often a subtle thing. The change I noticed yesterday was probably not overly dramatic, but definitely a very subtle part of the changing nature of this beautiful city of Ottawa.

Since I have lived here there has always been the light rail system. It was a constant companion to my movements for many years and helped me go in a rather limited series of directions up and down the city. They are building a new Confederation Line now to help move people to the other end of the city, which should be interesting, if still yes useful than our bus system.


However, for the longest time you didn't really have to pay for the train. There were ticket stations, but most people ignored them (and students didn't have to pay), meaning people usually just wandered on to the train. I often figured that the city probably lost a fortune on that deal. It seems though, that with the construction of this new line under way the city is looking to recoup some of that lost revenue. Part of me thinks that it is about time the city got around to this since it will be making them money, but another part is sad to see that almost anarchist system of train fare go by the wayside.

Now this isn't a big deal, as the train does need money. I just happen to remember when you could just walk down to the tracks like it was no big deal and not have to worry about anything getting in the way and hop on the train without much fuss. At the station I most often got on there was a dirt path worn down by countless feet that had scurried down that little hill running to catch a train. It's a nostalgic thought, but one which I hold fondly on to.

It is nice to see the city generating some additional revenue with these machines, and it will be fascinating to explore it on the new line as well. However, I couldn't help but reflect on the change that this has wrought, even in the smaller ways.

Change really is fascinating.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Lord of the Rings Prequel courtesy of Amazon

Thanks to the invaluable resource that is the Wertzone and Adam Whitehead, I have just learned that it is confirmed that Amazon (in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate) will be working on a prequel series seemingly designed to bridge the gap between the Hobbit trilogy, and the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

I have mixed feelings on this.

Source
Many people believe that prequels don't work very well as a medium for story telling in an established universe. One need look no further than the Star Wars films to see how divisive an issue this can be. However, this concept also comes with a basic story telling problem.

In a prequel we usually know for a fact that there is a preordained ending shaping up, and that something bad will happen to the characters if they seem to be going against the ending we know will happen. In that way a rather gloomy sense of inevitability might permeate the series as potentially new characters are introduced, only to be stomped on and crushed while we see them struggling against inevitable corruption by Sauron or Sauruman. It is difficult to build characters up to viewers only to see them fall to the inevitable.

The other problem this creates for story writers is that with already established characters you have to take pains to keep their actions in line with the original canon if you want your whole storyline to make sense. In the Hobbit films it makes some sense for a shout out to Gimli to be present, as its a one off no one would likely remember. However, say if in this series you suddenly had Gimli and Aragorn meet and interact, it would be impossible for them to not remember that in the Fellowship film, and would just take a steaming dump on the original canon of the books and film if that were the case.

My fear is that there will be many liberties taken with this, in a way that there were numerous unadvised liberties taken with the Hobbit films to stretch it into a trilogy. One would hope that the Tolkien Estate and the writers of the series will do their best to simply make this a faithful new addition to the Lord of the Rings filmography. Otherwise we could end up with opinions as bad as those of the Star Wars prequels.

On a personal level I would feel far more comfortable if they instead opted to tell contemporaneous stories within the original trilogy. The War of the Ring had many fronts, and they could easily be explored within a television series. Heck, the story of the Blue Wizards could finally be put to paper and adapted faithfully. There's loads of stories to tell in Middle Earth, one needs only the will to write it.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Change in Fantasy

A broad title, but one I thought I ought to address after reading both this recent piece by Christopher Nuttal, and the attendant piece he was writing based on. The idea of course raises some interesting questions regarding a sort of stasis in Science Fiction and Fantasy, whether that be Medieval Stasis, or simply technology and mores being stuck Twenty Years in the future or in Modern Stasis.

For this article though I will be examining only the idea of fantasy being stuck in medieval stasis, and the sort of changing social mores that we might associate with medieval society.

This isn't just technology mind you, but the world as we understand it with the divine right of kings, an all powerful nobility, and the common display of peasants and landowners who struggle against the upper classes. Often times, we find this exact paradigm present in fantasy, or at least a rough facsimile of it in a written work. A sort of "standard fantasy setting" if you will.

Picture it; a number of rural villages, big castle overlooking them, and in the cities nobles and merchants squabbling over money with the king. Knights in armor ride around alternatively slaying dragons or oppressing the peasantry. Dirty hovels cling to the roadsides and inns pander to wayward travelers (which oddly enough, is something of an anarchism in itself). Sometimes monsters stalk the night, and demons terrorize the land. These will either be dismissed or hindered by a stand in for the Catholic Church. And of course, everyone will speak with an English accent.

This of course, is an error in fantasy.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembering Passchendaele

Today, on November 11th, we solemnly remember the men and women who have given their lives year after year in service of our country. This year however, it coincides with the 100th anniversary of a brutal blood letting which enveloped France exactly a century ago. This was of course the three month Battle of Passchendaele.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This bloody contest over a sea of mud for little gain was actually objected to by the commander of the Canadian Corps, Arthur Currie. He predicted that the battle would cost 16,000 Canadian casualties and was eerily accurate as it wound up costing 15,654 causlties to the Canadians.

It was an awful slog. One Canadian would say "The ground beggars description. The strongest and youngest cannot navigate without falling down."[1]. Indeed that is almost an understatement. The battlefield was a sea of mud which drowned men, mules, and horses, saw supplies simply sink into the mire, and sucked at men's legs like glue. Truly the sea of mud defies description or belief, especially belief that someone would think such a mad attack would succeed in anything.

In the end the Canadians prevailed, and the village was captured. The outcome though, has been debated back and forth for a century at this point, and it is doubtful that any consensus will ever truly be reached on the matter.

What cannot be doubted however, is the courage, valor, and unrelenting heroism shown by the Canadian Corps. They played a key role as shock troops for the Entente across the Western Front all the way to the armistice that was signed 99 years ago. Since then Canadians have been active on battlefields from France to Africa, giving their lives in the name of peace.

The valor of Canadians then and now should not be forgotten. The continued service of our men and women in uniform should be praised and acknowledged for what it is, and we should never forget those who have given their lives in service to this country at home or abroad, now and forever.

We remember.

-----

1] Pierre Burton, Marching As To War, Page 185, Doubleday Canada, 2001

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Disappearance of Wilson

This is my first "published" short story. Put here for free on my blog for Halloween. 

A bit of back story, this is a piece of Flash Fiction, written in a single sitting. Though it is technically a short story I like to think it came to me in a flash. I thought of it while out in the Northern Ontario cottage country, going on a Lovecraft binge, which surrounding by picturesque nature and country made me think the Canadian wilderness probably had many secrets to hide. 

In a restless night I sat down and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it were) and the story poured out over the course of a few hours. There was some minor tweaking in the later stages as I adjusted the plot, and a few amazing beta readers helped out with some of the language and words. However, this is probably the most I have written in a single sitting, and I hope to write more. 

I also happen to like this one as it happened to top out at exactly 3,000 words. A small something, but it gets a chuckle from me every time I see it.

Hopefully I can scare people with more as I write, but I want to write other fun things too. For now though, join me as we take a journey through the history of this small town that inexplicably vanished into the night...


The Thing In The Woods

With 2017 we have another delightful tale of horror from writer Matthew Quinn. I've been pleased to review some of his work on this blog before, and I can tell you with supreme confidence he is an excellent writer. His latest offering of terror comes to you from the South in Georgia. Get ready dear readers as we journey south, deep into the wilds, and confront the murderous cult that supports, The Thing In The Woods.



This story is set in 2010 in the fallout of the Great Recession which has raged across the globe, in the little town of Edington. The story is very much driven by that backdrop, driving the leader of the cult in his devotion to protect the town. Our main character is forced into the poorer section of town by the loss of his father's high paying job and into dire economic circumstances.

Thing explores the story from both a Lovecraftian perspective (the unknown horror in the Woods and its unfathomable goals) and the cultural perspective. The methods of the cult are by no means commendable (blood sacrifice to an eldritch horror) but the desires are. The cult seeks to protect Edington from outside interference, and of course, keep the horror from eating everything in the immediate area. However, perspectives on how good this is vary, even inside the cult.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Necronomicon

The Necronomicon is a name that sends chills up the spine. Penned in the 8th Century by the Mad Arab Abd-al-Hazred, it contains the chilling secrets of the Old Ones and their blasphemous powers. Despite numerous attempts to suppress it and the knowledge it contains, it continues to crop up across history in the hands of those who would use it for ill.

A very troublesome book.

Monday, 2 October 2017

October Time!

Hello everyone! It's that time of year again, and Halloween is fast approaching. I however, have some big plans for October. This month I will be reviewing four fantastic terrifying tales, one each week. These books are ones that are either near and dear to my cold dead heart, or ones that I think are worthy of recognition.

I will also have a bit of a surprise for everyone of my own. It's a little one, but one that I intend to top off the month with by putting out! Until then I'll just tease you with this image to give you some ideas!



Stay tuned for my big scary reveal October 30th!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Guest Post: Donald Trump, Liberal Millennials, and THE THING IN THE WOODS

Though the 2016 election was a surprising turn of events for people all around the world as the unexpected candidate Donald Trump snatched the Republican nomination from out of nowhere then created the greatest electoral upset in nearly a century; it is not as surprising as finding a Lovecraftian horror infesting the woods near your where you live. Though maybe for some of you it was. Here author and fellow blogger Matthew Quinn lays out how some of his characters from his recent novel, The Thing in the Woods would most likely have acted if this story were set ten years further on in history during an election year. Being set in rural Georgia (a state which Trump carried with over 50% of the vote) it is easy to see how the ages and occupations of these characters set them out in support of nefarious goings on, or bias them against it and how such biases can be used to make excellent conflict in stories. I'll let Mr. Quinn take it from here and show you what he means.


The 2016 presidential election was, at least in part, a generational conflict. A significant chunk of Donald Trump's support came from older, more traditionalist people who disliked recent cultural and economic changes. Fears of "cultural displacement" motivated members of the white working class to vote for a man one would think resembles a particularly boorish boss instead of a champion of the little guy. A great many self-identified Christians supported Trump despite his history of rancidly un-Christian behavior for much the same reason.

Monday, 28 August 2017

So About John A. Macdonald

So it came to light recently that following this interesting trend in tearing down statues in the United States, some bright minded people have decided the best thing to do is try to remove the name of our first PM from some schools for reasons which seem rather far fetched. Felipe Pareja, who put forward the motion claims: "it might be difficult for Indigenous students and teachers to go to a school named after someone who he says was complicit in the genocide of Indigenous people."

Felipe Pajera is clearly not a historian.

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Dark Tower

Well having dipped my toes into the world of Stephen King's Dark Tower in dead tree format, I decided to jump in and see the film version on the big screen. I came away both impressed, and disappointed. Why you may ask? Well join me now as we journey through Keystone Earth and out onto the many spokes of the Dark Tower, and through many worlds.

Jake Chambers dreams of a Tower which a sinister Man in Black hopes to destroy, he also dreams of a mysterious gunslinger who fights him. This leads to him being seen as crazy, but soon those dreams become all too real and he is caught up in a plot to save all worlds from being consumed by darkness and fire...

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Terrorism By Any Other Name

I was deeply saddened to read of the events taking place in Charlottesville Virginia this weekend. The violence and simply shocking outpouring of hatred by the radical right white supremacists seems like something out of another age, and the events leading up to the terrorist attack of that day can only have belonged in another era. Surely we in the West are more enlightened?

Of course not.

From nebulous cloud

It is disturbing to note a rise in hate crimes and racist violence, the outright terror attack this weekend is something else.

We have seen this kind of tactic used in foreign terrorist attacks. Now we see someone, of a different ideology, driving a vehicle with deliberate intent into a crowd of ideological enemies and mowing down more then twenty before fleeing. Thankfully the assailant was arrested, and the violence in Virginia has ceased. But will it end here?

I am sad to say I think it will not. That is by and large because of the simple lack of response from Mr. Trump regarding these events, and then his broad blanket condemnation of violence and bigotry from "many sides", and his subsequent refusal to even condemn the racists and Nazis directly until  two days later. It screams of a pathetic dog whistle attempt to keep the radical right on his side, and that is simple moral cowardice.

What gave me cheer was seeing that despite the violence and rhetoric, the Nazis are condemned broadly by both political parties, and society at large. I think that means that we are truly moving away from that particular mistake of the past, but I hope that their hate and radicalism doesn't simply become attached to another cause in the future.

Let us hope and pray for a brighter future.

Monday, 14 August 2017

House of the Proud (A Shattered Nation Novel)

In a stunning sequel to the epic alternate history novel Shattered Nation, Jeffery Brooks spins an intriguing tale of political intrigue, racial tensions, and geopolitical rivalries. I can happily say that I enjoyed this book just as much as his previous works, the first of which I reviewed in order to pave the way for this review. The book is a fascinating look at a world changed by the vortex around Atlanta in 1864 and set in the not too distant future of 1867.

As a note, there are slight spoilers for the previous installment, Shattered Nation, as I'm writing this I am assuming readers will be familiar with that book and so feel no compunction about some spoilers. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you do.

So join me now as I examine a world where the United States is a shattered nation, bordering a House of the Proud.


                                                            Credit to BiblePic.com

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Shattered Nation: An Alternate History Novel of the American Civil War

Just recently I finished re-reading a book I picked up a few years back by fellow alternatehistory.com member Anaxagoras, otherwise known as Jeffery Evan Brooks, which is (if you haven't already guessed) an interesting take on an alternate ending for the American Civil War. Now, most Civil War novels will tend to focus on men like Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, the great commanders of the South, and even then they will largely focus on the events of 1862-63, with things like the battle of Antietam or Gettysburg and all of these become major war winning victories. This novel, does things a little differently.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Castlevania (2017)

There's a new animated series out on Netflix, and in it we get a glimpse into some things behind the long running Castlevania franchise of video games. In a night of sleeplessness I was able to watch the whole series from start to finish. It is only 4 episodes long, but it almost feels like it is 4 episodes too long really.


So is this Netflix series worth a watch? Well, let's just say if you were looking for something original, interesting, or even well paced, you've come to the wrong place.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Sailing to Sarantium

Recently I just polished off a pair of books I hadn't read since grade school. Those two lovely novels were the apart of the Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay, and they were Sailing to Sarantium, and Lord of Emperors. Each is a tale of travel, self realization, passion, and ultimately, betrayal. Sarantium, is ultimately a city of wonders. Join me now as I describe this world and how it all ties together in one great journey.

Credit to harryguinness.com

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The World Without Gunpowder?

Recently I saw a discussion about whether it was possible to have industrialization without the discovery of gunpowder. This idea got me thinking, and it is impossible not to say that gunpowder changed much of the modern world as we know it. We owe much to its development. Not just in terms of warfare, but in the changes that wrought in government, social mobility, economics, and technology.



The question is though, what might a world without gunpowder look like?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Beautiful City

Many days I wake up and look out my window and I have to smile, because I live in a very beautiful city. Canada's capital may not be as old as say, London, New York, or even Quebec City, but Ottawa is still a very beautiful place.

Originally known as a lumber town more notable for the scope of the violence between its French and Irish lumbermen, its choice as Canada's capital was a compromise which satisfied no one and displeased many. Almost until the last minute people were hoping minds would be changed and that the capital could be moved somewhere else rather than this little hilly city which it seemed was only fit for habitation by swine and lumber barons, and the two were not necessarily mutual exclusive. However, the city stuck, and just in time in 1867, the Parliament Building was completed

Just in time

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Uncle Sam and the Kaiser

A few weeks ago I discussed the starting of the Russian Revolution. Today I would just like to make a small discussion on a moment one hundred years ago, which brought the largest nation yet uncommitted in the Great War to the battlefields of Europe. Today, one hundred years ago, The United States entered World War I and declared war on the German Empire.

The reasons for the United States entering the war are varied, but they largely stem from the policy of the German High Command deciding to implement unrestricted submarine warfare despite the objections of neutral nations.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Not Your Average Alien Invasion: Out of the Deeps

We all know the classic tropes for alien invasions. The Martians (or whomever) come down to earth, they begin burning our cities, slaughtering our populations, and generally taking over our land masses. They start to terraform Earth more to their liking, and humans generally must scatter before their superior technology. This is a staple set all the way back in 1898 by H. G. Wells in 1898. So we all know what to expect. Or do we?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A Fear of Endings

Have you ever been reading a good book (or a series of books) or watching a particularly good television series and then suddenly found yourself at the end? Have you found yourself so immersed in the media that you've crept progressively closer and closer to the grand finale without even realizing it?

As you come upon that ending do you suddenly find yourself filled with dread at the thought that it was done? The sudden feeling that there is no more in this world to be had and your experience with that media is now complete. In short, have you ever finished something and felt your life was meaningless?

All credit to tapastic.com and Sarah Anderson

Friday, 17 March 2017

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Trump Administration

Trump has been in office for over a month now. A month dogged by scandals, outrageous allegations, and general inefficiency. Trump, in his one month in office, has been immensely insecure, whether it was about the size of his electoral victory, the size of his inauguration crowd, the stability of his own staff, scandal with Russia, and his great plans for the country. In less than a month continuing scandal surrounding Russia has emerged, his National Security Advisor Micheal Flynn was forced to resign, and nearly all of Trump's campaign staff are revealed to have had some form of contact with Russia, and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from handling any of those investigations as he "forgot" to mention meetings with the Russian Ambassador during the campaign. Now Sessions may be excused if he met with the Ambassador as part of his duties in the Senate, but the allegations cropping up around Micheal Flynn and other campaign and staff members, are inexcusable.



However, the unfolding damage against Trump regarding Russia is nowhere near as alarming as his continued attempts to obscure the problem behind a wall of paranoid conspiracy theories.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Russian Revolution

One hundred years ago today, perhaps the greatest revolution of the 20th century shook the foundations of Europe as it erupted across the vast expanse that was then the Russian Empire. The world was engulfed in the flames of the greatest war to ever rage across the planet up to that point. Millions had died, famines had engulfed nations, and borders were changing rapidly... on the Eastern front at least.


The Russian Empire, even mauled as it had been in 1914, had been clinging desperately to life come 1917, even making limited gains through military strength in the Brusilov Offensive of late 1916. However, it was becoming clear that Russia, for all intents and purposes, had shot its bolt.

By this point the Russian people were tiring of war. Despite an enormous outpouring of patriotism and national unity at the start of the conflict in 1914, by 1917 millions were dead or dying, and the Imperial armies were being forced back mile by mile. Worse, bureaucratic inefficiency and the poor state of the Russian internal railways meant supplies were not getting to the front, and supplies were not even making it to the cities where the war industries were churning out armaments to support the forces in the field. This was especially true of food.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The 60 Million Dollar Couple

Recently this article popped up on Kindle author Christopher Nuttall's blog talking about this article which discusses Barrack and Michelle Obama signing a whopping 60 million dollar deal with Penguin Books. Now this is only a reported number, the exact number not being disclosed by any sources. If that number was true though, that would be the most expensive book deal of the century!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Cell by Stephen King

A while back now while browsing the book section at Costco I came across a novel simply title Cell. Due to its curious cover I picked up the book and began browsing. Needless to say I bought the book soon after. Little did I know this would be my first foray into the world of Stephen King.

Stephen King is of course the best selling author and horror writer who perhaps has defined horror in the last half century and thus needs no introduction.

As a note this contains mild spoilers regarding both the book and the film so consider yourself warned.




Friday, 20 January 2017

Inauguration Day 2017

Well ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. Time to do away with a popular president who is leaving the White House with a 60% approval rating, and making way for a man who is going into it with a 40% approval rating. Here goes a president who made his best effort to engage with the media, and here comes a president who calls major news agencies "fake news" for running a story about him he doesn't like. A mature and well spoken president leaves office, and in goes a childish, petty, and immature gentlemen who seems more concerned about his image than his constituents.

All in all it's a sad day for American politics I would say. The wealthiest cabinet ever will be taking office, and one which has already managed to generate more than a little controversy. It is perhaps going to be a time when the people running the nation are more disconnected from the average voter in terms of lifestyle than ever. Add to that a key member of a rabid right wing news rag being made a key White House staffer, well we're in for some interesting times as they say.