Religion

“Battlefield Earth” officially the suckiest movie ever

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March 29, 2010

This month, Battlefield Earth, an absolute bomb of a movie based on the novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, won the Golden Raspberry Award, or Razzie, for “Worst Movie of the Decade.” J.D. Shapiro, the film’s (first) screenwriter, who also wrote the screenplay for Robin Hood: Men in Tights, has subsequently written an open letter via The New York Post to apologise. His article opens:

Let me start by apologizing to anyone who went to see “Battlefield Earth.”

Clearly anything as heavily reliant on Scientology mythos and involvement is bound to start stinking up the place pretty quickly, but Shapiro is quick to point out that his original screenplay was very different to the movie that eventually got made.

It wasn’t as I intended — promise. No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn’t really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those.

However, I have the utmost respect for the guy’s reasoning:

It started, as so many of my choices do, with my Willy Wonker.

It was 1994, and I had read an article in Premiere magazine saying that the Celebrity Center, the Scientology epicenter in Los Angeles, was a great place to meet women.

Trying to get laid eventually led Shapiro to an offer to write a movie and lunch with John Travolta. Anything that starts with you trying to get laid and leads to John Travolta should automatically set off every warning bell you’ve ever had, but there you go.

It’s a long and very amusing story – follow the link above to read the whole thing, it’s well worth it – but a few key lines really stand out for me. There’s this:

A few days after I finished the script, a very excited Travolta called, told me he “loved it,” and wanted to have dinner. At dinner, John said again how much he loved the script and called it “The ‘Schindler’s List’ of sci-fi.”

After a couple of rounds of changes to Shapiro’s original screenplay he was expecting everything to be wrapped up when:

I got another batch of notes. I thought it was a joke. They changed the entire tone. I knew these notes would kill the movie. The notes wanted me to lose key scenes, add ridiculous scenes, take out some of the key characters. I asked Mike where they came from. He said, “From us.” But when I pressed him, he said, “From John’s camp, but we agree with them.”

I refused to incorporate the notes into the script and was fired.

Shapiro kept his name on the movie to get paid, and no one can blame him for that. And he is also pretty philosophical about it:

Now, looking back at the movie with fresh eyes, I can’t help but be strangely proud of it. Because out of all the sucky movies, mine is the suckiest.

I like this Shapiro guy.

(Thanks to Chris for putting me onto this story!)

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Ah, the juvenile fun of it all

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March 29, 2010

My mate James pointed this out to me and I did laugh. There’s been some news lately about the Vienna Boys’ Choir. To quote the Times Online:

The most famous choir in the world has been caught up in the wave of paedophile scandals sweeping Germany and Austria, with eight former choristers denouncing their teachers in the past few days.

This stuff is just hideous and not at all funny. But this particular article is hilarious when you read the byline.

vienna boys choir roger boyes Ah, the juvenile fun of it all

Vienna Boys’ Choir caught up in sex abuse scandals
Roger Boyes, Berlin Correspondent of The Times

I know it’s juvenile, but you can’t write comedy like that.

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My podcast interview at The Creative Penn

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March 3, 2010

I was interviewed recently by Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn website, for a podcast. Joanna blogs, podcasts and video blogs on all aspects writing, publishing and promotion. In this podcast she asks me about all kinds of things, from the nature of writing with religious mythology and the trouble it can cause, to the nature of blasphemy and offence, to writing fight scenes, indie authorship and more. It’s surprising how much stuff we cover in the podcast, which is only a bit over half an hour.

I love the fact that the post introducing the podcast carries a warning!

This fantastic podcast roams over some interesting topics so I hope you enjoy it!

Warning: There is some questionable language and talk of horror, violence and religion so please don’t listen if you might be offended.

Yeah, that’s my kinda podcast. Talk about author branding.

So, head over to this post and download the podcast if you’re interested to have a listen. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

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Call out for Aust Spec Fic blog carnival

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March 1, 2010

I’ll be hosting the Australian Spec Fic blog carnival in March, posting up a loads of stuff on March 15th. If you have any posts you think are relevant, please let me have the links. It can be anything spec fic related, about writing, books, movies, TV or anything you can find even a vague relevance for.

You can leave links in the comments section here or you can use this fancy Google document form thing that collates everything into a neat spreadsheet for us. Spread the word and hit me up with links to include.

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New RealmShift review at Horror Bound

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February 28, 2010

I was very pleased to read a new review of RealmShift over at Horror Bound today. Among other things, the reviewer said stuff like:

“You’ll be hooked. And then, you’re in for a fast-paced, white knuckle ride.”

“Alan Baxter excels at writing action.”

“All in all, Realm Shift is a worthwhile read. At the very least, you’ll have explained to you, in depth, an interesting theory for why the gods exist. At best, you open this book, and you’ve punched your one-way ticket aboard a runaway hell train on a raucous ride you’ll want never to end.”

Blimey. I’m happy with that. You can read the full review here.

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Scientology Quote of The Week

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January 22, 2010

It’s been a while since I posted a quote of the week. However, sitting there this morning, reading the Sydney Morning Herald while enjoying my wife’s wonderful poached eggs, I did laugh when I read this one. (By the way, I wasn’t eating my wife’s breakfast. I was eating the eggs she so kindly made for me. She was enjoying her own breakfast. Aaaaanyway.)

Here in Australia, Senator Nick Xenophon is calling for an inquiry into the tax-exempt status of the Church of Scientology. He claims that it’s not a religious organisation but a criminal one. (At the very least it’s a very dangerous cult.) You can read plenty about the whole Xenophon thing in various places online.

In support of Xenophon’s campaign, Gerry Armstrong, a leading critic of Scientology, is coming to Australia. Armstrong is a guy that was a Scientologist and decided to write a biography of L Ron Hubbarb (the Founder of Scientology) to put to bed all the lies and misrepresentations about the science ficiton writer that once claimed the true path to wealth was through starting a religion.

Not surprisingly, when Armstrong began investigating all these “lies” to refute them, he found the opposite to be true. Armstrong says:

”There was all this material about him that had been discovered and I thought getting a biography published would be a a way of taking care of all the black propaganda, rumours and lies that had been published about him.

”Of course I discovered that the lies that I was trying to debunk were actually the truth and that Hubbard had lied to me and to all of us Scientologists and to the whole world.

”His whole history was a lie. His education, his military record, the antecedence of Scientology, his inveiglement in the occult prior to his creation of Scientology, his family, his daughter, his wife, his expeditions.

”He claimed to be a nuclear physicist – that had a lot of significance to me. The truth was that he flunked the one course in molecular phenomena. He never made it out of second year university. He was not a physicist, he was not a civil engineer, he was not a doctor, and he claimed to be all these things.”

He tried to have the church correct its records and the church in turn sued him. They lost the case with the judge deciding:

”The organisation clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder. The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements.

”The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile.”

And then we come to the bit that really made me chuckle. In defence of all this Armstrong business, the church brushes it off claiming that Armstrong is a “disgruntled apostate.”

You think? It’s not like he was disgruntled and made up lies. He discovered all the lies and became disgruntled. There’s a fairly significant difference there.

Anyway, I’d like to see the Church of Scientology investigated for its tax-exempt status, but I won’t hold my breath. It would pave the way for all the other cults (like Islam, Catholicism and so on) to be investigated for their tax-exempt status.

While we’re on the subject. Well, I am anyway, I’d be surprised if anyone else is still reading. I have a plan for a better, fairer relationship with religions. Instead of automatically giving them tax exempt status, which is grossly unfair and anachronistic, have them pay tax and fill in a tax return like every other person and business. Then they can claim all their charitable acts back, same as any other person or business. It’s bollocks to consider their very existence and everything they do as charitable.

Just some food for thought.

For a good round up on what Scientology is all about and how it operates, here’s a fairly short yet detailed article, also from the Sydney Morning Herald today.

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Blasphemy laws in 2010? Oh yes

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January 2, 2010

This is astounding, especially from a developed country in the year 2010 CE. I picked this up from the Metamagician blog. I’m basically just reposting the information verbatim as Russell did, because it speaks for itself.

The short version is this:

From 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.

Apart from the obvious contradiction, where any religion claiming to be the only truth while all other religions are hocus pocus is blaspemy in itself, this is a very dangerous step towards the throttling of free speech. In response, Atheist Ireland has published a list of 25 blasphemous quotes along with a demand for the repeal of this law. It’s this that I’m reposting in full below. Whether you’re a religious person or an atheist or somewhere in between, this is a law that is no good for anyone. It’s the start of something terrible that will catch up with your particular group in the end, one way or another. Here’s the full text from blasphemy.ie:

From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.

This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.

Publication of 25 blasphemous quotes

In this context we now publish a list of 25 blasphemous quotes, which have previously been published by or uttered by or attributed to Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mark Twain, Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, James Kirkup, Monty Python, Rev Ian Paisley, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Frank Zappa, Salman Rushdie, Bjork, Amanda Donohoe, George Carlin, Paul Woodfull, Jerry Springer the Opera, Tim Minchin, Richard Dawkins, Pope Benedict XVI, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, Ian O’Doherty, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Dermot Ahern.

Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them, and we unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalised, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.

Campaign begins to repeal the Irish blasphemy law

We ask Fianna Fail and the Green Party to repeal their anachronistic blasphemy law, as part of the revision of the Defamation Act that is included within the Act. We ask them to hold a referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy from the Irish Constitution.

We also ask all TDs and Senators to support a referendum to remove references to God from the Irish Constitution, including the clauses that prevent atheists from being appointed as President of Ireland or as a Judge without swearing a religious oath asking God to direct them in their work.

If you run a website, blog or other media publication, please feel free to republish this statement and the list of quotes yourself, in order to show your support for the campaign to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and to promote a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.

List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes Published by Atheist Ireland

1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.

2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.

3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.

4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy – he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.

5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”

6. Randy Newman, God’s Song, 1972: “And the Lord said: I burn down your cities – how blind you must be. I take from you your children, and you say how blessed are we. You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind.”

7. James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: “While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death’s final ejaculation.” This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

8. Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

9. Rev Ian Paisley MEP to the Pope in the European Parliament, 1988: “I denounce you as the Antichrist.” Paisley’s website describes the Antichrist as being “a liar, the true son of the father of lies, the original liar from the beginning… he will imitate Christ, a diabolical imitation, Satan transformed into an angel of light, which will deceive the world.”

10. Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1989: “In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: ‘Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.’ Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.”

11. Frank Zappa, 1989: “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”

12. Salman Rushdie, 1990: “The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.” In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

17. Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera, 2003: “Actually, I’m a bit gay.” In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.

18. Tim Minchin, Ten-foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins, 2005: “So you’re gonna live in paradise, With a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins, So you’re gonna sacrifice your life, For a shot at the greener grass, And when the Lord comes down with his shiny rod of judgment, He’s gonna kick my heathen ass.”

19. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that “it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.”

20. Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim body, said it was a “character assassination of the prophet Muhammad”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said that “the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created.” Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence”. The European Commission said that “reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.”

21. Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great, 2007: “There is some question as to whether Islam is a separate religion at all… Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require… It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing-absolutely nothing-in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.”

22. PZ Myers, on the Roman Catholic communion host, 2008: “You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university… However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel.”

23. Ian O’Doherty, 2009: “(If defamation of religion was illegal) it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad. All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other.”

24. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2009: “Whether a person is atheist or any other, there is in fact in my view something not totally human if they leave out the transcendent… we call it God… I think that if you leave that out you are not fully human.” Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection, we include the statement here to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.

25. Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Justice, introducing his blasphemy law at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting, 2009, and referring to comments made about him personally: “They are blasphemous.” Deputy Pat Rabbitte replied: “Given the Minister’s self-image, it could very well be that we are blaspheming,” and Minister Ahern replied: “Deputy Rabbitte says that I am close to the baby Jesus, I am so pure.” So here we have an Irish Justice Minister joking about himself being blasphemed, at a parliamentary Justice Committee discussing his own blasphemy law, that could make his own jokes illegal.

Finally, as a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.

Pass it on.

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Slice Of Life by Paul Haines – review

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December 26, 2009

slice of life 196x300 Slice Of Life by Paul Haines   reviewI’ll start by saying that I’m lucky enough to call Paul Haines a friend, so I don’t want any accusations of friendly bias. Think what you like, you cynical bastards.

You may remember that I was going on about the X6 novella anthology from Coeur De Lion earlier this year. There was this post about the book and this post after I’d been to the official launch. Paul had a novella in there called Wives. It is, without a doubt, the best thing I’ve read this year. Buy X6 just for Wives if nothing else. Here’s hoping it gets that Aurealis Award it’s been nominated for.

Anyway, a while ago I picked up Paul’s collection of short stories published through The Mayne Press called Slice Of Life. This, his second collection, comprises seventeen short stories, sixteen reprinted from a wide variety of original publications, and one shiny new one. Well, maybe not shiny. Kinda tarnished, with spots of something horribly unidentifiable on it. But it’s a new one. Another friend once described Paul’s work to me as “stories you can smell.” It’s a good description.

Paul’s stories are visceral, horrible, bile coated things swollen with fear and paranoia. They’re also darkly funny and uncomfortably honest. If you think he’s going to take you somewhere pretty nasty, he probably is. All the stories in here are speculative fiction, but there’s a wide range of styles – fantasy, science fiction, horror, “Paul Haines”. He really should be a genre unto himself. Especially as he casts himself as the protagonist in most stories.

The writing is excellent, the ideas bizarre and profound. Paul is a sick fuck, and I know he wouldn’t mind me saying so. In fact, he’d probably consider it a compliment. The thing that makes Paul’s writing great is that he’s fearless. If he’s following a theme, he’ll follow it to the hideous, bitter end. These are not stories for the faint-hearted or easily offended. They are stories for anyone with a love of powerful, engaging writing. I loved every yarn in this collection, though my favourites would probably be Inducing and A Tale Of The Interferers: Necromancing The Bones. The Slice Of Life stories themselves, a series of tales interconnected, are also excellent. Paul says of the stories: “Explicit, violent, mysogynistic and nasty… stories are heavily cemented in my real life, and I love blurring them into the unreal.”

Other people have said:

“Exhuberant, profane and totally whacked out” – Ellen Datlow

“visceral and thoughtful, unashamedly masculine and unabashedly emotional, and beautifully and meticulously crafted” – Martin Livings

“the anxiety in these stories is palpable. Love the paranoia! Love the self loathing. Love the psychosis” – Aurealis: Australian Fantacy & Science Fiction

Do yourself a favour. Buy this book and see just what is possible with spec fic. You’ll be supporting small press in Australia and you’ll get a great book. On top of that, all proceeds will go to Paul to help him fight cancer. Good on ya, Paul – nice work.

Get the book here. Do it. Now!

EDIT: Here’s Paul’s own website. Check it out.

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Irony of the week, from Peter Jensen

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December 25, 2009

Ah, this did make me laugh. It’s the belief equivalent of “my dad can beat up your dad”.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

[Sydney's Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen] Speaking to the congregation at St Andrews Cathedral on Christmas morning, he said recent polling showed Australians were religious and still looking for an answer on the purpose of life.

“But many of the answers are superstitious, such as astrology,” he said. “Superstition can never satisfy the longings of the human heart and they cannot mend our brokenness.”

Not superstitions like astrology, anyway. Superstitions like Christianity, on the other hand, are the perfect solution. In something that seems like it was written for comedy, something that surely can’t possibly have been said without a wry smile, he added, “Again, those who seek for truth and insist on the highest standards of truth are to be commended.”

Try reading a different book for a change, Jensen. That would be commendable.

Happy Christmas, everyone! *sigh*

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I’m starting a movement

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December 23, 2009

And no, before anyone gets smart in the comments, not a bowel movement. More a movement in response to the season (which is a kind of bowel movement in itself). Christians are always bleating on about “Put the Christ back into Christmas!” I’m sick and tired of that.

I’m starting a new movement:

Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus!

Who’s with me? It makes just as much sense as the Christians harping on.

Anyway, here’s hoping that this season of manufactured madness doesn’t drive you all completely mental and I hope all readers of The Word have as happy a time as they can. May you all be safe and well and enjoy a happy, healthy and productive 2010.

See you on the flip side.

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Welcome

The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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Australian Dark Fiction News & Reviews



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