Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus have a sword fight

I’m a big fan of the site 27b/6. The guy is very funny and sets up all kinds of awesome correspondence where his irreverance holds sway. I’m sure he’s actually a really annoying guy, as one of the commenters (fiona) on his site says:

“i have a feeling that i would want to stab you in real life but on the internet i want to marry you.”

He earns a place on my site here because everything he does is an example of great writing. His turn of phrase is often exquisite. He’s excelled himself with this one and I couldn’t help sharing. The exchange in question begins with this email to his kid’s school’s Christian Volunteer:

From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 10 March 2010 7.12pm
To: Darryl Robinson
Subject: Permission Slip

Dear Darryl,

I have received your permission slip featuring what I can only assume is a levitating rabbit about to drop an egg on Jesus.

Thank you for pre-ticking the permission box as this has saved me not only from having to make a choice, but also from having to make my own forty five degree downward stroke followed by a twenty percent longer forty five degree upward stroke. Without your guidance, I may have drawn a picture of a cactus wearing a hat by mistake.

As I trust my offspring’s ability to separate fact from fantasy, I am happy for him to participate in your indoctrination process on the proviso that all references to ‘Jesus’ are replaced with the term ‘Purportedly Magic Jew.’

Regards, David.

You can just tell it’s going to be fun, can’t you.

Read the whole thing here.

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Lost – it’s finally over

lostAfter six mind bending seasons, Lost is finally over. I’m sure I’m about the slackest viewer there is when it comes to watching this show, but if you haven’t seen the finale yet and are still trying to keep any surprises fresh, then don’t read on – there will be spoilers in this post.

So was it worth it? Lost was a show that had all the best and the worst of big budget serial television. I don’t care what the writers try to tell us, they didn’t have a clue what they were doing when they started out. I’m quite prepared to believe that they had a basic story in mind, with a basic resolution, but then they got all crazy and kept sprinting off in random directions with no end point in sight. When people started wandering away from the show in droves because it was disappearing up its own arsehole, the writers suddenly had a panic and said, “No, wait! There’s a real end! A definite, no questions finish and it’ll be in… err… 2010. Yeah, 2010, at the end of season 6. Bear with us, it’ll be worth it!”

Following that annoucement they must have sat down around a table and said, “Fuck! How the hell are we going to tidy up this mess in two more seasons?”

Pretty much everyone was guessing around the middle of season 2 that the island was actually some kind of purgatory. All the key characters had something in their background that led them to a place where they needed some kind of redemption before “moving on”. The ridiculous “multi-denominational church” at the end was so lame. I’m using quote marks because it was clearly a Christian church and one tiny stained-glass window in a back office somewhere with symbols of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism along with a Christian Cross does not a multi-faith temple make. Especially with Christian Shepherd in the house. At least Kate was decent enough to point out how dumb a name that was.

lamechurchThe truth is, this story could have been really good if they had written it specifically for a two or three season run. They could have really developed the redemption required of the characters, the story of Jacob and the man in black (why doesn’t he have a fucking name!?) and the nature of the island without all the crazy Dharma Initiative stuff and random polar bears. Or they could have gone with the mad Dharma stuff and not had the purgatory island story at all (or post-island real world purgatory). Or the whole Charles Widmore situation that never really resolved into anything and supplied no answers whatsoever. But they had massive viewing figures and a massive budget and they went a little mad.

If Lost was a novel, the editor would be pulling their hair out. They’d need an entire box of red pens, desperately striking out filler, searching for a solid story. Of course, we want subplots and intrigue, threaded cleverly through the main narrative. But with Lost it’s like the writers regularly sneezed new stories into the pages of the script and just sat back to see what would happen.

The end result is a generally unsatisfying finale that took an easy route for all the characters but left numerous questions unanswered. I’ve been having a little look around the interwebz and there are a lot of Lost apologists desperately trying to shoehorn some kind of explanation into the story, but even they have to regularly say things like, “The writers clearly decided to let this story thread slide.” Which is a real shame. That’s why I say that Lost shows us the best and worst of big budget serial television. They had a potentially great idea, but no clue how long they’d have to run. So they just ran and ran until they had to suddenly tidy everything up. I would much rather have seen the show run for half as many seasons and tell a decent, coherent story that was pretty much planned and written from start to finish before production even started. Sadly, that’s not how serial TV seems to work these days.

Of course, many series have no end point and you have a set of characters and a situation and you tell many short stories with a handful of over-riding story arcs that occasionally get resolved. Things like Star Trek work that way and you keep making stories with the charaters and settings until viewing figures drop so much that you get canned. But Lost wasn’t like that. Lost was clearly one over-riding story that needed to be told, but never really was.

A few of the things left unanswered really stick out. Were the characters all killed right away and everything on the island was purgatory? If so, that’s one twisted deity playing crazy games with people. Or was the secondary timeline, with all the characters back in the real world in season 6, the actual purgatory (as seems to be the generally accepted case)? What about the time travelling? What did that actually have to do with anything? If nothing on the island really happened, why were they all in the church at the end as the most important people in each other’s lives? If the island stuff did happen, then that clearly wasn’t purgatory and all that crazy stuff with the light and the island’s powers has gone completely unexplained. What about Desmond? Seriously, what the hell was he supposed to be? Some kind of “failsafe” apparently, a fixed, unchanging point… in what? And so on and so on. That’s barely scratching the surface of the unanswered questions.

The “real world” stuff in season six was referred to as a “flash sideways”. Producer Damon Lindelof said that term was used to imply “that one of them isn’t real, or one of them is real and the other is the alternate to being real.” What? You mean you don’t have any more of a clue than the rest of us about what’s going on. Apparently the producers have said since the finale that everything on the island was real and the people that got away (Sawyer, Kate, etc. on the plane and others before them) lived out their lives while others died on the island, but they all met up in the lamechurch at the end because “there is no now here”. Ooh, way to get all metaphysical. But it doesn’t really add up.

The most likely explanation is the one given by Jack’s dad in the alternate timeline – that is, the whole alternate timeline thing was a reality created by all the characters, with the exception of a whole bunch of characters for reasons unexplained, as a place to meet up after they all died, whenever that happened to be. So presumably Kate never loved anyone again until she died at some indeterminate point when she met up with Jack in the afterlife waiting room of the lamechurch. Same for Claire, who met up with Charlie again. These are just two examples – you have to feel sorry for anyone they might have fallen in love with since the old exciting island days that never got a look-in after the final curtain sometime in the future. So you see, it is the most likely explanation, but it’s actually bloody awful as explanations go.

On the whole Lost was a clever and interesting series while it played out. I watched regularly and I enjoyed it. I’m glad it’s over, because it was getting to the point where plots were running into each other like blind people at an amateur barn dance and it was just getting plain silly. It was clearly going nowhere. I do feel a bit cheated that the whole thing was wrapped up as it was, with no real explanation except vague hints that don’t make sense.

Then again, that’s pretty much in keeping with the whole premise of the show since day one.

If you want to read a highly entertaining wrap of the final episode, I suggest this by Ree Hines. There’s also the Lostpedia, for all the answers you’ll ever need. (No, of course that’s not true, but the Lostpedia really does exist).

Regardless, there’s one thing we can all agree on and all be thankful for. Lost is finally over.


Lost – it’s not a Christian allegory. No, really, it’s multi-faith. Honest.

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Great RealmShift review at Scary Minds

Scary Minds is “horror’s last colonial outpost on the internet.” It’s a very slick website that dedicates itself to all things horror from Australia and New Zealand. It’s “unapologetic in dedicating itself to purely local content.” Sounds bloody good to me.

They’ve just posted a review of RealmShift and it’s a great review and possibly the most thorough I’ve ever had. Here’s a selection of choice comments from it:

Baxter doesn’t waste much time ripping into things as Isiah is immediately battling the forces of hell, due to being a thorn in the side of Satan. From here the book doesn’t lag at any stage and actually cranks up the pace as things start rocketing to Mayan Pyramid central, the reader will tend to get swept along in the flow, so just go with it. Alan Baxter has a keen eye for pace and lets his writing style reflect the race against time that his protagonist is consumed by…

Don’t expect the normal horror tropes to be renting a room in this particular Hotel, Alan Baxter has thrown a particularly nasty curve ball at us…

I had a whole bunch of fun with this novel, and yes really dug the philosophical side of things Alan Baxter was sending my way…

An invigorating read that will have thriller fans high fiving each other, and horror fans grooving to the beat.

It scored a very humbling 8 out of 10 stars. The whole review is far more in-depth and you can read it all here.

Very nice. While you’re there, check out some of the other content on Scary Minds – it’s a great site.

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Read my novella on real paper pages

Interestingly enough, after mentioning this in my previous post just minutes ago, it’s now official. My serial novella, Ghost Of The Black: A ‘Verse Full Of Scum, is now available in print from Amazon.

I originally posted this story in weekly episodes right here on my website throughout 2008. It’s still available here for nothing on the Serial Fiction page. I then released the ebook version through Smashwords, which made the whole novella downloadable as a single volume in a variety of ebook formats (including Kindle compatible .mobi and so on.) You can still get that version from Smashwords for US$0.99c here.

However, several people have asked me if a print version was going to be made available. Well, what’s the point in running a small press if you don’t pimp your own goods? So I’ve made a hard copy of the story available. It’s a 30,000 word (roughly) sci-fi novella that follows a bounty hunter called Ghost as he tries to track down a rogue, murderous magic user. It’s got a noirish vibe and blends elements of sci-fi, fantasy and religious themes. Buy a copy now, and buy copies for your friends and family. Spread the word. It’s just US$7.99 from Amazon.com and £4.99 from Amazon.co.uk. The UK version is still waiting for the cover image to upload, but the book is available anyway.

Can you do me a huge favour if you’ve already read this story? Drop in to your local Amazon and give it a star rating and/or review? I’d be very grateful if you did.

And actually, while I’m pimping stuff, don’t forget that my dark fantasy novels RealmShift and MageSign are now available from Gryphonwood Press, also easy to get via Amazon. Click on any book covers at the top or sidebar here to get all the purchase links, previews, reviews and so on.

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It’s Easter – time for Christian hypocrisy

It would be funnier if it wasn’t so fucking tragic, but you can always get a laugh when the Christian bigwigs come out with their Easter messages. My favourite so far this year is this one from Anthony Fisher, the new Archbishop of Parramatta (NSW, Australia):

”Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating,” he said.

”Nazism, Stalinism, Pol-Pottery, mass murder and broken relationships: all promoted by state-imposed atheism or culture-insinuated secularism.”

As opposed to the great successes of previous, godfull centuries like, say, The Crusades? The Inquisition? The Witch Hunts? Or even recent years with those not falling to godlessness, leading to suicide bombers, murder of doctors and “honour killings” of women among many, many others?

Sure, Anthony Fisher – it’s the last century of “godlessness” that was devastating.

What a fuckwit.

There’ll be more, I’m sure, but we’ve started well this year.

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