How I Spent March 2018


Spring is in the air! Well, sort of. Winter seems to be finally shuffling away from my present location, anyway. That’s something.

Aside from kicking off my series of posts on how the books of the late Jack Ketchum fared onscreen, I haven’t produced much visible work this month. As far as invisible work is concerned, though, things are different. I’ve been prepping the second issue of Midnight Widows (pencilled by the always-wonderful Marcela Hauptvogelova, inked by myself, colourist TBA) which has been taking up a good chunk of my time and shaping up to be something I am very proud of indeed. The crowdfunding drive is still on track to be launched sometime this year.

I’ve also been writing. My book Monster Hunters, Dinosaur Lovers: Speculative Fiction in the Culture Wars is still taking shape bit by bit, and on top of that, I’ve got a second book that’s about halfway finished. Announcement coming later…

Articles published elsewhere this month:

I hope you enjoyed at least some of the above pieces. If so, then a small donation to my Patreon would be very much appreciated!

Article topics for April and beyond:


Taste the Pug of Dankula


Well, as you’ve no doubt already heard, a Scottish YouTube comedian known as “Count Dankula” has been convicted of inciting racial hatred for a video he uploaded. He has yet to be sentenced, but it is possible that he will go to prison. His crime was to upload a video called M8 Yer Dugs A Naazi, in which he trains his girlfriend’s pug to raise its front leg in a vague approximation of a Nazi salute.

Much of the discussion about the video focuses on the pug and its “salute”, but this is a bit of a red herring. The crux of the matter is clearly Dankula’s speech. During the course of the video, much of his voiceover consists of “do you wanna gas the Jews? Do you wanna gas the Jews? Do you wanna gas the Jews? Go and gas the Jews, son! Go and gas the Jews, son! Gas the Jews! Gas the Jews!” as he tries to train the dog.

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Dash a Dero with the Amazing Stories Kickstarter


I’ve been running a retrospective on Amazing Storiesearliest issues for a while now, so I’m happy to report that the pioneering SF mag is on track for some new issues thanks to this Kickstarter campaign. Perks for backers include signed copies of various books, plus the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped to get Amazing back into the marketplace of SF magazines.

After all, someone’s got to keep the detrimental robots at bay…

Space Opera Archeology: John W. Campbell and The Mightiest Machine

“You interfering half-witted physicist, I’ve got to find that catalyst poison.”

— Carlisle, The Mightiest Machine

Mightiest_machineOkay, I’ve looked at Edmond Hamilton, E. E. SmithPhilip Francis NowlanRay Cummings and a selection of short stories. Now, here’s the next big name in the world(s) of pre-50s space opera: John W. Campbell. Spefically, I’m going to be looking at The Mightiest Machine,  which was Campbell’s first novel to be published in book form; it was collected in 1947 after being serialised in Astounding Stories in 1934 and 1935.

The main characters are Aarn Munro, Russ Spencer and Don Carlisle. Aarn Munro is a brilliant physicist who grew up on Jupiter, and as a result of that planet’s strong gravity, developed a five-foot waistline and oddly-shaped limbs. Russ Spencer is the heir of Spencer Rocket Co, a family-run business; his grandfather built the first rocket to reach the moon in 1983, and his father built the first Mars-bound rocket in 2036 . Don Carlisle, a chemist, rounds off the group.

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The Era of the Bizarro Cartmans


When I was doing my A-levels, I remember one day where there was a classroom discussion about film stars. One of my classmates proudly proclaimed “I like Mel Gibson, because he’s manly – he hates Jews and gay people.” Another classmate argued with him, but in a jokey, it’s-just-him-being-him kind of way. This was a generation that’d grown up on South Park, and thought little of having a real-life Cartman in the room.

South Park started out as an act of rebellion against 1990s political correctness culture, and yet here I was in an environment where that rebellion was the norm. I can remember pondering at the time whether the pendulum would swing in another direction – whether there’d be a rebellion against the rebellion, and what shape it might take. I got my answer with the rise of Tumblr culture.

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