Unindifferent Dept.

It's not that I don't care about the state of the world; it's that I'm not your soapboxer.

It's not that all the madness just outside my window — a demagogue plutocrat running for president, knee-jerk reactionary behavior to terror, all the rest of it — has clubbed me into silence. Whenever times get crazy, I don't tend to do a lot of outwards flame-throwing, if only because so many other people do the job far better than me, I've found. I am not best suited to being the man on the soapbox when it comes to such issues. That doesn't mean I don't care about them.

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Tags: philosophy politics

I'll Tell Me What To Do Dept.

"What kind of story should I write?" How about one that's, you know, yours?

Work, programming, and writing duties have kept me away from blogging for the last couple of days, but some thoughts for you.

One of the issues I run into most often with other people who are learning programming is how many of them have an attitude of bewilderment about the whole thing. They know that it's a useful skill, lucrative too, but when it comes to actually creating something useful with software, they haven't the faintest idea how to go about it. Their experience and their mindset just doesn't allow them to take steps on their own, to solve a problem of theirs or maybe help other people solve their problems. It's just not their baaag, maaan, and so they eventually drift away and spend their time doing something they have less difficulty wrapping their heads around. Do note that in no way do I consider this a failing; I'd rather people do something they genuinely enjoy than something they just think is what they're supposed to be doing.

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Tags: audiences creativity creators writing

This Thing You're Not Dept.

It's tempting to blame someone else for your creative failure, and also wrong.

Angst-istentialism within, so feel free to walk on by, Isaac Hayes-style, if this does you no favors.

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Tags: creativity psychology writing

Fraternité Dept.

Let's not be the things we claim to hate.

Heavy thoughts tonight, but I have no choice but to think them.

It's been said in multiple circles now that ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh's tactic is to incite hatred against itself and by proxy others easily confused with it — in short, to polarize.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was of the belief that loving one's enemies, not giving into the temptation to despise them, would have a transformative effect on both the enemy and the victim.

This is hard stuff to swallow today, when the enemy in question is hellbent on not letting us treat them like fellow human beings. If they want the gun and the bomb and the swift knife in the dark, why not give it to them? Will it be any comfort to those who stood over those gunned down if we say "No, let's find another way", instead of rooting out their nests, severing their supply lines, crippling where we can their capacity to make terror?

I know full well many of those grieving for the dead want nothing more than to see all those who had complicity for the attacks in Paris found and brought to justice — or, failing that, killed in their tracks. I am not about to tell them the way of love is better, because they would rather keep their love for the people that matter and not waste it trying to appeal to those who want nothing but martyrdom.

But there is one sense in which King is absolutely correct: hating someone dehumanizes you as much as it does the one hated. It is not that it is wrong to grieve for those we have lost, or to want justice for their deaths. It's that we shouldn't also take refuge in the need to see everyone else as a potential enemy, and therefore a potential source for a feeling of justice by way of punishing them.

If an individual person chooses to reach out to someone believed to be incorrigible with a message of love, I won't stand in their way. I wish them the best of luck; the hopeless idealist in me thinks the world needs more such hopeless idealists. But let us start by not becoming our own worst enemies.

Tags: politics terrorism

Music: Filth Pig (Ministry)

Tar-caked, blackened, lugubrious, and barbed, the long-lambasted 1996 Ministry album has held up far better than seemed possible.

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There's a curious arc that I take with some records: loathing, indifference, morbid fascination, paravritti, adoration. Paravritti is a Buddhist term for a kind of deep-seated turning-about of the soul, sometimes used as a synonym for enlightenment, the kind of total change of heart you couldn't ever see yourself having because you've transcended yourself in such a fundamental way. When Filth Pig first came out, I don't think I could have ever imagined a state of affairs where I liked the record, let alone loved it. But here we are, twenty years later, and it's my third-favorite thing of theirs behind The Land of Rape and Honey and Twitch.

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Tags: industrial Ministry music review

Music: Trevor Jackson Presents Science Fiction Dancehall Classics (Various Artists)

Lost treasures from the dungeons of the On-U Sound label, unearthed at last.

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I will be blunt: The chief reason I ordered this two-disc collection culled from the bowels of the On-U Sound record archives was because of the presence of Tackhead. They were (still are, really) the funk-tronics collective that melded the backing band of the Sugar Hill Gang — as in, the actual members of the band — with an industrial-strength drum machine, the blaring vocal assault of On-U Sound leader Gary Clail, and the grimy studio malfunctions of Adrian Sherwood. Over the years, most of their catalog has been issued digitally, but even many of those discs have fallen out of print or grown hard to find; while their landmark album Gary Clail's Tackhead Tape Time remains available as a digital download — at least, for now — too many other bits and pieces that leaked out as 7" or 12" vinyl are still only found in DJ's milk crates.

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Tags: compilation funk industrial music On-U Sound review Tackhead

Slow Motion Dept.

A rundown of the current projects, before a brief disappearance.

Next week or two is likely to be dead here as I'll be having some family stuff going on, but I'll try to sneak in some interim blogging.

The rundown for what's going on right now:

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned MeTal projects real life writing

Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: The Man With The Plan Dept.

On a 30,000-foot view of a book, versus what you see in the trenches.

OK, everything's finally disentangled on this end. I don't know what kind of mess I engendered by asking for Python 3 support, but as long as it's working and working consistently, that's all I care about. On to other matters.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned writing

Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: Start Anywhere Dept.

The first words are always the hardest with any project.

Still sorting out some of the technical difficulties on this end; evidently I opened some kind of 55-gallon drum of engineering worms at my Web host. Anyway, I can still blog; I've just been paying attention to other things in the interim. So, today's subject: opening scenes.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned writing

He's Good People Dept.

Good stories start with good characters.

Still waiting on some site stuff to be fixed; here's some interim blogging for you.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned blogging writing

See earlier posts, starting with November 2015,
or via the monthly and category archives.

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I'm an independent SF and fantasy author, technology journalist, and freelance contemplator for how SF can be made into something more than just a way to blow stuff up.

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