2019/11/29

Black Friday Book Sale

Black Friday

My good friend and fellow author Hans G. Schantz is running a Black Friday mega sale this weekend only.

Get a ton of outstanding books by superb newpub authors, each for just 99 cents!

Featured books include:
  • Maxwell Cain: Burrito Avenger by Adam Lane Smith
  • The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • For Steam and Country by Jon Del Arroz
  • War Demons by Russell Newquist
  • Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
And my own Combat Frame XSeed

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/28

Have a Cozy Thanksgiving

With the Groypers

Thanks be to God for my family, my friends, and you, my cherished readers!

May all your Thanksgivings be cozy.

And for those with long car rides or layovers this holiday weekend, escape into adventure with the captivating Soul Cycle!

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/27

Books Are Not Head Movies

Head Movie

A number of readers have asked me to explain my frequent editing advice against writing by playing a movie in your head and transcribing what you see.

To complement the inherent advantages the novel has over film as a storytelling form, here are a few proscriptive reasons to avoid approaching novel writing like screenwriting.

Overreliance on visual description

This is an oversight that pops up again and again in new authors' manuscripts. Almost all of the setting and character descriptions will be visual.

When you consider that a novel can convey information from every sense, limiting yourself to visual details only leaves a wealth of sound, scent, texture, and even taste sensations on the table.

Immerse your readers in a vivid world. Include at least one detail from a sense other than vision in every description of a new setting, object, or character.

Play-by-play style action

Rendering action blow-for-blow in minute detail doesn't make the action realistic. It makes it tedious.

Yet almost all new authors write action--or fight scenes at least--like a boxing announcer calling a fight.

This rookie mistake is a telltale sign of a writer transcribing a head movie.

Avoid this mistake. Keep your readers engaged. Set the scene so the reader clearly understands where every character is in relation to the other combatants and the setting. Then paint the action in bold, broad strokes. Start with short sentences. Steadily build up to longer ones.

Joss Whedon dialogue

You could also substitute Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino dialogue. This literary misstep is less a result of transcribing head movies than of having movies as your major influences instead of novels.

What is Joss Whedon dialogue? It's try-hard edgy, painfully hip, and snarky to a fault. You'll know it when you encounter it. So will your readers.

The equal and opposite error is trying to write dialogue that "sounds real".

Writing effective novel dialogue is a balancing act. It should neither be so snappy as to remind the audience they're reading fiction nor so "realistic" as to bore or confuse them.

Read the transcript of a podcast or YouTube video sometime. Most people are just plain bad verbal communicators. Almost everybody uses lots of vocalized pauses, repetition, and clunky phrasing that we're so used to hearing as to gloss over it.

The same doesn't hold true when real life speech is transcribed verbatim. Seeing the words brings the faults into sharp relief.

Novel dialogue should be the "best of" real speech. Imagine if you could hire a professional writer to come up with the perfect comebacks for you to use when someone cuts you off in traffic.

Your characters do have a professional writing for them, and it's you. Proceed accordingly.

How do you learn to write good novel dialogue? There's on one way. You have to read novels by authors who write good dialogue. Accept no substitutions!

You can start with the award-winning prose of my thrilling Soul Cycle!

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/26

Student Debt Jubilee Now

Student Debt



Zero Hedge reports that college tuition has grown at more than double the rate of inflation.
As the issue of college affordability continues to be a prominent talking point on the campaign trail ahead of the 2020 presidential election, a new study shows that the cost of a college education is still increasing at a rate that far outpaces inflation.
The study, put out by the financial technology company Self, found that on average, college costs have risen $2,835 since 2015, increasing 112 percent more than the rate of inflation during the same period.
This remorseless gouging of those least able to afford it is unjustifiable graft. And it's no use trying to use colleges' own rising expenses as a shield.
Texas education watchdog Mark Pulliam told The College Fix in an email that the increase in costs in Texas was likely due to an increase in bureaucratic hirings.
Schools are financially crippling eighteen year-olds for life to set up cushy sinecures for bureaucrats who play no role in educating those students.

Being duped into paying money for no gain used to be called fraud.
What’s more, Texas colleges and universities are not alone, he added, noting that while 40 years ago faculty outnumbered administration by roughly 2 to 1 nationwide, today the proportions are nearly equal.
Generation Y and the Millennials, the two cohorts that have been most screwed over by academia's greed, will soon be the largest voting bloc in America.

If I were a presidential candidate in a tight race, I'd make a student debt jubilee a key plank of my platform.

And in any case, I recommend that you check out my award-winning Soul Cycle.

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/25

Rights and Responsibilities

Bill of Rights

Liberalism is America's state religion. Most Americans might practice Christianity at home, but our elites certainly don't, and they've taken pains to make sure Christians' beliefs have a negligible impact on public policy. You can threaten the president with impunity, but refusing to celebrate sodomy is grounds for losing your livelihood.

This is as intended. Defanging Christianity was the whole point of Liberalism, after all. Here's establishment bag man Bret Weinstein straying far outside his stated profession of biology to tell Christians to shut up.

Bret Weinstein

Weinstein conveniently ignores the fact that the West had a shared set of values, rules, and assumptions called Christianity. Of course, he can't mention that because the Christian faith is an obstacle to his paymasters' immanentization of the eschaton.

Liberal professions of faith like the above always contain a germ of irony because Liberals must embrace a core set of values, ground rules, and assumptions while staunchly denying there are any. The foundational assumption of Liberalism is that freedom is absolute. It reduces all values to preferences, and its only rule is that no one may impose one's preferences on another.

Most people don't notice that Liberalism is a particular belief system with its own quirks and flaws. Even most Western Christians are so immersed in a Liberal worldview that they take its basic assumptions for granted. But this is an intellectual blind spot that non-liberalized Christians can exploit.

All species of Liberal--be they Progressives, Libertarians, or Conservatives--are so conditioned to accept unlimited freedom as a basic premise that they don't know how to react when someone questions it. Try asking any of the three kinds of Liberal, "What good does your proposed policy serve?" Watch him sputter.

Some among the Libertarian subspecies have tried to answer that freedom itself is inherently good because the freer people are, the happier they are. Like all utopian ideologies, this one falls apart on contact with reality.

Suicide rates serve as effective shorthand for a people's misery. If Liberals are right, and freedom produces happiness, we'd expect Russian suicide rates to climb under communism and fall after the end of the Soviet Union. Instead the exact reverse happened.

The truth is that freedoms aren't self-necessary. Every freedom has a proper end, and the intrinsic value of its end determines the conditional worth of that freedom.

This is why every right has a reciprocal responsibility. The Framers of the US Constitution gave a nod to this reality in the Second Amendment. The freedom to own guns exists to obtain the greater good of security. This relationship inescapably implies a duty on the part of gun owners not to wreak mayhem. Only the Second Amendment states what its enumerated right is for, but using the same interpretive key, it's not hard to see the duties implied by the others.

As Clown World slouches on and suicide rates in the US rise, we get a different picture than Liberals paint of what really makes people happy. Turns out that unbounded, undirected license isn't the key to a thriving, fulfilled life. What people want is order--the kind of order those old Christian rules and values used to provide.

Christianity creates the conditions within which people can flourish. That's a good indicator that Christianity is right about human nature. It's only natural that people would hunger for a Christian order, despite the Liberal worldview they marinate in.

I'll close with the prophetic words of Benedict XVI:
But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
Please consider supporting my work.

2019/11/22

Combat Frame Data: AZC-105S Dragonfly Space Type


AZC-105S Dragonfly Space Type
  
AZC-105S - Wings Closed
Fighter-bomber configuration

Technical Data

Model number: AZC-105S
Code name: Grand Dolph - Space Variant
Nickname: Dragonfly
Classification: mass production, transforming space use combat frame
Manufacturer: Zeklov-Astraea
Operator: Systems Overterrestrial Coalition
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19.2 meters, 21 meters with nosecone 
Weight: Dry weight 65 metric tons, full weight 113 metric tons
Armor type: titanium alloy/palladium glass/ceramic composite
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 1906 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 32,000 kg, 4x 21,750 kg; top speed 2605 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 23, 180° turn time 0.88 seconds; legs: top ground speed 194 kph
Sensors: VISOR (Visible & Infrared Scanning Optical Receptor) mounted in head
Fixed armaments: Plasma sword, power rated at 0.47 MW, stored in recharge rack on back, hand-carried in use; x2 Dragonfly cluster missile launcher, back-mounted, holds x680 missiles in expandable carbyne frame
Hand armaments: Grand Dolph machine rifle, loads 70mm graphene-coated tungsten rounds, magazine-fed, 100 rounds per mag, or belt-fed, 1000 round capacity

Fighter-bomber configuration with Dragonfly missile array fully deployed

Length: 17.2 meters, wingspan 10.2 meters
Weight: 113 metric tons
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 1906 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 32,000 kg, 4x 21,750 kg, 2x 15,500kg; top speed 2825 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 25
Sensors: VISOR (Visible & Infrared Scanning Optical Receptor) forward-mounted
Fixed armaments: 70mm autocannon, mounted atop fuselage; x2 Dragonfly cluster missile launcher, wing-mounted, holds x680 missiles in expandable carbyne frame

General Notes

Whereas the AZC-105A excelled at close air support in an atmosphere, the AZC-105S  was designed to fill a similar role in outer space. Like the XCD-102 Emancipator, the Dragonfly could transform into a fighter mode capable of unassisted atmospheric entry. Armed with a Grand Dolph machine rifle and an expanding lattice of 680 missiles--including nuclear warheads--a single AZC-105S packed enough firepower to take down a warship.

I hope you enjoyed our final CY 40 Second Coming Build-a-Mech! To see more awesome reader-designed mechs in action, read Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40!

Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40 - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/21

The Prodigal Chicken Returns

Chick-Fil-A

Leading fast food chain Chick-Fil-A dismayed its largely Christian customer base earlier this week by announcing that they would no longer make charitable donations to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This announcement evoked much gloating from the Death Cult, since both charities adhere to correct Christian doctrine on sodomy.

Chick-Fil-A's decision was stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that giving the Death Cult an inch only encourages them to demand a mile.
"In addition to refraining from financially supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations, Chick-fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents," said Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response.
More importantly, caving to the Cult undermines the reason why Chick-Fil-A has thrived while other major brands like McDonald's have hit a rough spot.

McDonalds' enjoyed explosive growth in the second half of the 20th century because of their child-centric marketing. Little Timmy would see a McDonald's commercial on Saturday morning and pester his dad to buy him some nuggies, fries, and a cheap plastic toy. Dad would grab a Big Mac while he was there. It was a classic loss lead-upsell strategy, and it worked.

What happened to McDonald's? Demographic decline. After the Baby Boom, each generation has had successively fewer children. They tried roping adults in directly with the Dollar Menu, but instead of buying a $1 burger and adding higher-margin sides, customers just bought three $1 burgers.

By contrast, Chick-Fil-A appealed to the only people who are still having kids--Christians. This is a demographic that's already fed up with being villified and ignored. Spurning its core customers' beliefs while taking them for granted is a recipe for disaster.

Luckily for them, Chick-Fil-A seems to have reached the same conclusion.
... after widespread outrage from conservatives who called the end of the donations “tragic” and a betrayal of loyal (presumably anti-LGBTQ) customers, Chick-fil-A has clarified that it still might donate to anti-LGBTQ groups in future.
“Our goal is to donate to the most effective organizations in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger,” Chick-fil-A President and COO Tim Tassopoulos said in a statement. “No organization will be excluded from future consideration – faith based or non-faith based.”
Of course, the Death Cultists reporting on this story couldn't resist sniping at Chick-Fil-A's loyal customers for upholding the laws of nature and nature's God. But one group accounting for 60% of the population is passing on its tradition to the next generations, while the other represents 1-2% of the populace and defines itself by participation in sterile and high-risk sexual perversions.

It doesn't take an accountant to see which group should be catered to, strictly from a business perspective. Chick-Fil-A's renunciation of Satan's empty promises should encourage Christians. We are still a majority, and we still have power to consecrate the world to God, if only we heed Christ's command not to fear the world's wrath.

Anyway, no good deed should go unrewarded. I advise showing solidarity with those who share your values by partaking of the Lord's Chicken tonight.

And by buying my pulse-pounding military thriller Combat Frame XSeed now!

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/20

GO FASTER, FASTER, FASTER!

Go Faster

Another report of high strangeness comes to us courtesy of a reader who was reminded of the incident by this story.
This actually reminds me of the night my family drove through a hollow in the little Mazda pickup truck. My sister was in the front with Mama and our older brother Mark was in the back with our dog, Frodo. Suddenly they heard Frodo going berserk, so Mama started to slow down, but Mark threw himself against the window and yelled for her to GO FASTER, FASTER, FASTER! Then he lunged back towards the tailgate to grab Frodo and keep him in the truck bed. 
Mama hit the gas hard, even though the road was curvy and when she got down the mountain to a well lighted area, she stopped and got out to see what had been the matter. My brother was white faced with terror and said that something with red eyes had tried to catch up to the truck and nearly succeeded when she'd slowed down. We never figured out what it had been, but Mark said the red eyes had been higher than the tailgate of the pickup. To this day, if I go through that hollow at night, I go fast! 
I can't remember the name of the road, but it was in the shadow of Hanging Rock in North Carolina. Oh and I remember my brother saying that he could hear the sound of, whatever it was, running, but it wasn't a hooves striking pavement sound when someone suggested it was a donkey, mule or horse. We knew that sound, having had a pony or a horse for all of our lives at that point. He said it just sounded big and it's feet slapped the pavement loudly, but didn't clack like hooves.
For more vicarious thrills and chills, read my sci fi-horror novel Nethereal.

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/19

No Company for White Men

Best selling author Jon Del Arroz relates the cautionary tale of Spencer Ellsworth, a promising author who put his career in oldpub's hands and had to watch helplessly as they threw it away.

First a little background: Spencer made his oldpub bones writing articles for cult agitprop organs like Bleeding Cool and Tor.com. In 2017 he landed the coveted Three Book Deal with Tor/Macmillan, who made no appreciable effort to promote him. As a result, his series wilted on the vine. If the oldpub meat grinder does its thing--and it usually does--not only will he never work in their town again, he'll face an uphill battle if he tries to get his rights back.

Spencer Ellsworth series
What oldpub marketing looks like if you're a straight white male not named Brandon Sanderson.
Sadly, Spencer's woes don't end there. The accelerating death of he mid list, compounded by B&N's slow motion collapse, has slammed many doors in aspiring oldpub authors' faces.

Spencer Ellsworth

This stringing along of hopeful talent while stating no concrete terms and slowly cutting off communication is known in the business as the slow no. Beware of it!

Spencer Ellsworth 2

Schadenfreude aside, Spencer's tweets lift the veil on the Death Cult's internal workings and mentality. Let us hear no more of profit motives. Here is an author who left a consistently well-paying gig for an industry that used him like a Kleenex--solely because they professed the True Faith and Card didn't.

But the most significant insight from a normal person's point of view is how the Death Cult's complacency and inability to build or maintain institutions is coming home to roost. They put their heretical faith before any practical consideration, but that childlike faith is insufficient to stave off the gods of the copybook headings.

That's not to sound triumphal. The Death Cult still controls every cultural institution. But note that even the mightiest converged organizations can't operate without money.

The first lesson, once again, is don't give money to people who hate you.

A close second is support creators whose main goal is entertaining you. Read my military mech thriller Combat Frame XSeed now!

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/18

The Fap Cult

flynn - fap cult

Regular readers will be familiar with the Pop Cult and the Death Cult. The Libertarian hysterics in response to rising Christian nationalist calls for a porn ban suggest we need a third entry in our unholy trifecta.

For those who've just joined us recently, I and others have made the observation that contemporary political and cultural movements operate like cults. You have the Death Cult, which Progressivism has been all along. It worships unfettered personal indulgence and fanatically seeks to destroy any impediment to its members' self-defined self-expression. The biggest obstacle in the Death Cult's way is the truth, so it's their most hated enemy.

Another cult that's emerged more recently is the Pop Cult. This is the phenomenon of mostly younger adults--particularly generations X, Y, and Millennials--attempting to fill the God-shaped hole in their lives with Hollywood, Big Two comics, and AAA gaming product. "Don't ask questions. Just consume product and get excited for next products," is the Pop Cult's creed.

One thing both cults have in common is their elevating of personal preferences over the good. Fundamentally, they do away with the concept of objective value altogether and seek validation solely from their choice of weird sexual hangup or entertainment product. Nor will they countenance neutrality. You must join in their liturgies and partake of their sacrifices. Just try pointing out that transsexuals are mentally ill or that Big Brand X is a shame ritual that bilks money from paypigs for the pleasure of insulting them.

Libertarianism is a cult for the same reason. It tries to uphold freedom per se as the highest value. Never mind that freedom lacks intrinsic value and its worth depends wholly on the objective value of what it grants access to. Again, go tell a Libertarian that the purpose of liberty is to pursue the good, and there's no such thing as freedom to do evil. Then duck.

The crowning irony is that the current dustup arose over porn. It's truly a case of God making His people's enemies ridiculous, since Libertarian political aspirations can only be called masturbatory. But for whatever reason they feel the need to cloak their arguments in the fig leaf of free speech instead of just admitting they like to fap.

What we're dealing with here is a group of people reacting to the dawning knowledge that their ideology has become totally irrelevant. The Left has amply shown that victory comes from gaining government power and ruthlessly wielding that power to reward their friends and punish their enemies. Libertarians and Neocons endlessly tell us that such methods are evil. Yet they never explain their moral criteria. Instead they harp on dissenters for wanting to "Censor speech they disagree with," all the while assuming there can be no sound cause for disagreement. That's cult mentality 101.

In reality there's nothing wrong with government exercising its authority to secure the common good. That's what government is for, and that's what Christian nationalists like Nick Fuentes advocate returning to. Question the motives of anyone who vehemently opposes pursuing objective good on the grounds of dubious freedom.

2019/11/15

Combat Frame Data: AZC-105A Dragonfly


AZC-105A Dragonfly
  
AZC-105 Dragonfly

Technical Data

Model number: AZC-105A
Code name: Grand Dolph - Close Air Support Variant
Nickname: Dragonfly
Classification: mass production, transforming close air support combat frame
Manufacturer: Zeklov-Astraea
Operator: Systems Overterrestrial Coalition
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19.2 meters, 21.5 meters with nosecone 
Weight: Dry weight 65 metric tons, full weight 104 metric tons
Armor type: titanium alloy/palladium glass/ceramic composite
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 1906 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 32,000 kg, 4x 21,750 kg; top speed 2605 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 23, 180° turn time 0.88 seconds; legs: top ground speed 194 kph
Sensors: VISOR (Visible & Infrared Scanning Optical Receptor) mounted in head
Fixed armaments: Plasma sword, power rated at 0.47 MW, stored in recharge rack on back, hand-carried in use; x6 cruise missile launcher, shoulder-mounted; x21 pocket missile pod, mounted on arms; x2 hypersonic nuclear missile launcher, leg-mounted
Hand armaments: Grand Dolph machine rifle, loads 70mm graphene-coated tungsten rounds, magazine-fed, 100 rounds per mag, or belt-fed, 1000 round capacity

Fighter configuration

AZC-105A Fighter Configuration

Length: 17.2 meters, wingspan 17.0 meters
Weight: 104 metric tons
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 1906 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 32,000 kg, 4x 21,750 kg, 2x 15,500kg; top speed 3020 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 25
Sensors: VISOR (Visible & Infrared Scanning Optical Receptor) forward-mounted
Fixed armaments: 70mm autocannon, mounted under nose; x6 cruise missile launcher; x21 pocket missile pod; x2 hypersonic nuclear missile launcher - all missiles mounted under wings

General Notes

Zeklov Astraea built the AZC-104 Grand Dolph as the answer to hard-to-kill limited run CFs. The Dragonfly line was their answer to hard-to-kill ground targets and spaceships. The AZC-105A specifically addressed the former.

At first glance, the Dragonfly appeared to be a Grand Dolph packing an alternate weapons loadout. More than one HALO and Wehrbund Bavaria pilot would make that fatal mistake.

The AZC-105 was the first mass-production combat frame to feature a transformation system. Similarly to the XCD-102 Emancipator, the Dragonfly Close Air Support type could shift into a high-speed fighter configuration. The graphene-tungsten bullet-firing autocannon retained from its Grand Dolph roots and the vast arsenal of missiles--including nuclear warheads--it carried made the Dragonfly a nightmare for elite CF pilots and ground forces alike.

Featuring a smart interlocking design, the AZC-105A's missile pods could detach to save weight or for use as handheld missile launchers in CF mode.

Hats off to our fifth CY 40 Second Coming Build-a-Mech backer! To see more awesome reader-designed mechs in action, read Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40!

Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40 - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/14

Everyone Already Home Schools

homework

... so why pay the state to propagandize your kids for an additional seven hours a day?

Author and educator David V. Stewart lodges this objection--among many others--to our schools' pointless habit of assigning children homework.
I think that the benefits to homework are pretty much nil, and it's nothing but negative consequences. But it is a thing which has been so heavily ingrained into the American academic experience, people can't think of not having homework. Parents can't think of their kids not having homework. If their kids don't have homework, then maybe the teacher's not doing enough. Teachers can't think of notgiving kids homework because, "What if somebody judges me negatively for not giving homework?" And of course students don't want homework, but I don't need to say any more about them. 
Well, I think homework is something that is for the birds. I don't think that teachers should give it, and let me give you a couple of reasons why.
So first of all, built into every homework assignment is the claim that the school day is not long enough. There's been some some legislation introduced recently, in couple states I think, to lengthen the school day to like eight or ten hours. And people find this abhorrent. They're like, "No, you can't make kids go to school for ten hours!" 
We already make them go to school for ten hours. They just go to school with the teacher for like seven and a half hours and then with their parents for two hours. So yes, parents of public school kids, you are still engaging in homeschooling because you have to teach them how to do their homework when they come home.
Meanwhile, homeschooling parents finish their kids' entire school day in the time it takes parents of public and private school kids to help them with their homework. Yet homeschooled students have long outperformed their Prussian model counterparts.

David's highly insightful video is well worth watching, especially for any parent who still has kids in the public school system.


The real reason that social engineers and their willing tools like Kamala Harris want to lengthen the school day to ten hours has nothing to do with academics. They want even more unfettered access to your children so that intellectually and spiritually, they may become their children.

2019/11/13

Strauss-Howe Revisited

Strauss-Howe

Owing to the sizable number of new readers who probably aren't up to speed on the updated generational theory popularized on this blog, I thought this post would make a helpful refresher.

If you frequent social media and dissident blogs, it's hard to escape the phenomenon of people getting woke to generational differences. Much is made of Strauss-Howe generational theory. Some claim they can predict where the country's heading based on the age of the people in charge cross-referenced with the general cultural mood when those leaders came of age.

Some folks take Strauss-Howe to an extreme, as if it were some kind of generational astrology. For my money, the most significant fruit of generational wokeness has been an increased awareness not of where we're going, but of how we got to the point we're at now.

What was the culture like when your dad was coming of age? How much was college tuition when he went for his BA? What was the state of the economy when he applied for his first real job? The rising tendency of people to ask these questions is important because the memory hole is a central feature of the Left's ideology. When your worldview is based on the airy fantasy of progress, it pays to discourage people from thinking about the past, lest unflattering comparisons be made.

Another key windfall of our enhanced generational awareness has been the rediscovery of previously forgotten generations. For some reason nobody talks about, the mass media have a decades-long habit of tagging certain cohorts with ready-made labels, popularizing the term, and suddenly shoving it down the memory hole. Remember the MTV Generation? Sometimes previously unknown generational divisions are identified, as in the case of Generation Jones.

One such discarded generational label is Generation Y. Bear with me as I go into some depth on the subject, because it's the cohort I belong to, so it's the only one I can speak on authoritatively in detail.

"Generation Y" was to go-to label for the children of younger Baby Boomers and the younger siblings of older Gen Xers. I remember hearing the term frequently until the latter half of the 90s, when some Madison Avenue type came up with the buzzword "Millennial". Both tags existed side-by-side for a while, with Millennials understood as the children of older Xers and the younger siblings of Ys.

Then one day, the term "Generation Y" was stricken from the public record. The decision to sunset that label is especially odd considering that everybody calls the generation following the Millennials Gen Z. Then again, we live in a post-literate culture.

The label is gone, but the people it used to describe are still around. Media types don't know what to do with members of the former Gen Y, so they get lumped in with either Gen X or the Millennials depending on that day's coin toss results. The incoherence of this makeshift solution is obvious when you apply a modicum of scrutiny. There are millions of people born between 1979 and 1989 who are nothing like Xers or Millennials.

These differences come to the fore when you consider each generation's besetting vices. Everyone who takes an interest in generational trends knows the stereotypes. The Greats are diligent but emotionally distant. Boomers are inveterate narcissists. Xers are cynical to the point of paralysis. Millennials are developmentally stunted snowflakes.

For those members of Gen Y who are enjoying a chuckle right now, you're not getting off the hook. If my generation can be said to have a general vice, it has to be that we're collectively naive, approaching the point of obliviousness.

There's an explanation for everything. In Gen Y's case, we grew up largely unaware of what was going on because our elders subjected us to a ubiquitous and extended gaslighting campaign. Our childhoods mostly happened in the 80s, which were the eye of a cultural storm that started in the 60s and is now rending Western civilization stone from stone.

Generation Y came up in an era that still had something like a functioning economy. In terms of race relations, America was as close to colorblind as we've ever gotten and are ever likely to get. If you were in second grade ca. 1988, you didn't think anything of hanging out with the black kid in your group. He wasn't a POC or even necessarily an African-American. He was just Mike.

Millennials never had that experience of minorities. They were indoctrinated with intersectional race theory, which didn't really come in until Gen Y had left grade school. On the flip side of the coin, older Gen Xers remember the urban crime waves and riots of the 70s, even if they're politically on the Left.

While not as spoiled as Millennials, Ys were members of the first generation born after wages froze and mothers were universally ripped from their children to join the workforce. As a result, GenY's parents embraced the practice of bribing their kids to make up for not spending time with them. These payoffs usually came in the form of toys, and it's hard to complain because the best toys ever made were produced in the 80s.

That's not bragging. The mind-blowing quality and variety of playthings that Ys were constantly plied with goes a long way toward explaining why we've been wandering down the primrose path ever since. Getting a new NES cart or going to Chuck E. Cheese for no apparent reason really did make every day feel like Christmas. Gen Y got started on the hedonic treadmill early.

Last but not least, the internet had none of the accessibility or utility for countering the official narrative that it has today. You had your parents' and teachers' word, textbooks, and TV, and that was it. Everything was fine and would continue to be fine.

Surrounding a generation of kids with a false picture of the world produced a whole cohort of sheltered adolescents. We honestly thought things were OK and would keep being OK in perpetuity. The warning signs were hidden from us, ostensibly for our own good.

It's no wonder why Gen X turned out so cynical. They had the personal context to see that the relative peace and prosperity was fleeting, and that the 80s were a small island in an angry sea. They had the advantage of setting out into the real world while Gen Y was still in school, and they got intimately acquainted with reality.

In contrast, I liken the typical Gen Y experience of growing up in America to the harrowing experience of Michael Douglas' character in 1997's The Game. To Gen Y, America's decline felt as sudden as going to bed in a mansion in a gated community patrolled by armed guards and waking up in the trash-filled gutter of a third world shit hole. The transition has been disorienting to say the least, but like Gen X icon Tyler Durden before us, we're slowly realizing what's happened. And we're getting really pissed.

2019/11/12

If Conservatives Fought

Crusader LARP

It should be no surprise that we had to wait for the perverts who run Hollywood to implode--while they kept abusing women and children the whole time--when conservative leaders have made it clear that they have no intention of challenging Leftist cultural dominance. The only thing conservatives want to conserve is the cultural Marxist status quo.

Some of you are still in denial or a bleary state of Netflix and football-induced hypnosis, so to drive the point home, I've prepared a little thought experiment. For your consideration, here's what it would look like if conservatives fought to preserve our culture as hard as the Left fights to destroy it.

Republicans would hit Hollywood in the wallet.
Lighting Cigar with $100 Bill

When Democrats are in control of the levers of power, they have no qualms about weaponizing the IRS against their political enemies. This is the most effective tactic on the list. As John Marshall said, the power to tax is the power to destroy.

And as Glenn Reynolds points out, Hollywood has a specific and easily exploitable weakness in this regard.
The first such proposal would be to restore the 20 percent excise tax on motion picture theater gross revenues that existed between the end of World War II and its repeal in the mid-1950s. The campaign to end the excise tax had studio executives and movie stars talking like Art Laffer, as they noted that high taxes reduced business income, hurt investment and cost jobs.
The movie excise tax was imposed in response to the high deficits after World War Two. Deficits are high again, and there's already historical precedent. Of course, to keep up with technology, the tax should now apply to DVDs, downloadable movies, pay-per-view and the like. But in these financially perilous times, why should movie stars and studio moguls, with their yachts, swimming pools and private jets, not at least shoulder the burden they carried back in Harry Truman's day -- when, to be honest, movies were better anyway.
For extra fun, they could show pictures of David Geffen's yacht and John Travolta's personal Boeing 707 on the Senate floor. You want to tax fat cats? I gotcher "fat cats" right here! Repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts!
Repealing Hollywood's outdated 20% tax break should be a no-brainer for Republicans (but I repeat myself).

Conservative businessmen would take over the studios.
If the film industry's debauchery isn't sufficient motivation for conservatives to act, Hollywood's nosediving profits definitely should be. After all, conservatives might not care about art, but they're downright fanatical about money, right?

Not when it comes to money plays that involve risking their reputations with the lefty arts crowd. Roger L. Simon notes that conservative investors now have a once in a lifetime chance to buy out the whole film industry in one fell swoop. But they won't.
If conservative investors had any courage, this would be the time to make a hostile takeover of the movie business.  Unfortunately, they don’t.  I know this from bitter personal experience. Wealthy conservatives are delighted to support the Philharmonic, but when it comes to popular culture they turn away, as if afraid to get their hands dirty.
That this is a huge mistake should be obvious.  They have abandoned the culture -- and our children -- to the creepiest people imaginable.  What is going on in Hollywood is far from being just about Harvey. It’s approaching a pandemic. So many previously silent assaulted or raped women are coming out of the woodwork, it seems like a long-belated remake of “Cheaper by the Dozen.” No one knows who will be next or if it will stop at Harvey.
It won't stop at Harvey, and the self-styled moral conservatives who could have stopped it will incur a share of the blame.

Conservative officials would lock up the offenders.
Behind Bars

If officials at the highest levels of law enforcement were serious about protecting our children (how often have we been told to "please think of" them when our betters want to further erode our liberty?), they'd leave no stone unturned in the hunt for the perpetrators of Hollywood's systemic abuse culture. Unfortunately, law enforcement's track record in this regard features a string of Roman Polanskis and Woody Allens.

Conservative patrons would support like-minded artists.
Michelangelo and Pope Julius II

The SJWs defacing pop culture have it made. Lacking appreciable artistic talent, they only need to check the right political and identity boxes to receive plush sinecures in Hollywood, the comic book industry, and traditional publishing.

Making a living in the arts has always been difficult. It's become diabolically so since the conservatives--or at least political neutrals--who used to run the film and publishing industries gave away the farm to cultural Marxists.

Make no mistake. The expulsion of non-Leftist content creators from these industries is the result of a concerted and deliberate effort to squeeze thought criminals out of pop culture. The Left has been allowed to carry out their purge unopposed for so long that the process is all but complete.

The most obvious answer to this problem on the part of wealthy conservatives who complain about the corruption of popular entertainment would be to fund non-Leftist art projects themselves. But again, as Roger Simon mentioned above, conservative donors will gladly support the converged arts but not projects that might upset the Leftists they strive to impress.

If conservatives were as serious about saving the culture as they claim, then wealthy conservatives would fund non-Leftist films, TV series, comic books, novels, video games, and other popular media projects--regardless of whether they turned a profit. Converged companies like Tor Books and Marvel Comics are perfectly willing to take major losses in the service of their crusade to destroy Western culture. Wealthy conservatives' "What's in it for me?" and "I got mine" mantras betray the fact that they don't really believe in the value of Western civilization.

Conclusion
To the struggling non-Leftist creators out there who just wanted to make art and be left alone: No one is coming to help you. We're on our own since, unlike the cultural Marxists working night and day to drive us from the market, our self-professed supporters in business and government are lying about having our back.

It's up to us to help each other sharpen our skills, strengthen our brands, and build audiences. The #PulpRev and the Superversive literary movements are good examples of fledgling mutual support networks of allied artists.

With or without support, continuing to create original, entertaining content is indispensable to salvaging something of Western culture.

I wouldn't ask anyone to do what I'm not willing to do myself. That's one reason why I've been creating fun, lecture-free stories for the past couple of years. If you're starving for unique, thrilling, apolitical science fiction, give my award-winning Soul Cycle novels a shot.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/11

Marching From Victory to Victory

Groyper Friend

The Groyper War against the shills in Conservative Inc. continues to buck the trajectory set by previous internet revolts. Like its predecessors, it started organically as a cri de coeur by frustrated youth who've caught on to the fact that organizations which ought to serve their interests are instead treating them like cattle. Unlike Sad Puppies, GamerGate, ComicsGate, etc., the groypers have beaten the odds and landed a knockout punch against their adversaries.

Now They're Talking About It

Contra the kept men of mainstream Conservative news, Don Jr. was not the Groypers' target. Nicholas J. Fuentes, the public face of the movement, repeatedly voiced support for the President's son. The groypers' main objective at UCLA--as it has been since the beginning--was establishment gatekeeper Charlie Kirk.

For those who are unaware of Kirk, he's the big donor errand boy the Conservative end of the Swamp installed to run their campus recruiting scam TPUSA. In that capacity Kirk thumps his chest about supporting Trump, even though as late as 2016 he was saying stuff like this.

astonishing Charlie Kirk

The fact that Conservative Inc. thought they could put a dullard like Kirk in charge of their campus outreach and get away with it highlights how out of touch they are. Much of the credit for the groypers' success is probably due to their opponents' incompetence.

That's not to deny the groypers their laurels for choosing their enemies wisely. From the beginning Fuentes urged his followers to focus their fire on Kirk, knowing that he's the weak link. That strategy has paid off spectacularly, not only humiliating Kirk but setting him up to make a disastrous series of unforced errors.

Kirk actually made the right opening move by initially dismissing Fuentes and the groypers as trolls there to sow mischief at his events. That was the correct response, and we wouldn't be talking about him now if he'd stuck to his guns.

Instead, Kirk let the groypers' uncomfortable questions get under his skin. Shouting down clean-cut young go-getters at a free speech event is a bad look any day. Calling Christian Trump supporters names for asking legitimate policy questions of an organization that claims to represent them drew unflattering comparisons between Kirk and the Left.

By silencing kids who came to his Q&A with tough but fair questions respectfully asked, Kirk stepped right into a classic Xanatos Gambit. He's left himself with only bad choices.

  • Continuing to evade groyper questions outs him as a fraud to more and more people.
  • Answering those questions blows the lid off Conservative Inc.'s anti-American agenda.
  • Rigging the Q&A by profiling attendees and stacking the deck with plants betrays weakness.
  • Cancelling the Q&A calls down all of the negative consequences above, in addition to ceding control of his events to the groypers for all the world to see.
Over the past month, Kirk and his featured TPUSA speakers have tried everything except for giving straight answers to the groypers' questions. They even cooked up some new gaffes by having a comedian deliver a tedious half-hour filibuster, getting a sitting Congressman to endorse infringing free speech, failing the Witch Test, and rewriting a 45-minute speech into a personal attack on Nick Fuentes.

And of course, Kirk topped his shame sundae by taking option 4.

Can't ask questions

Following TPUSA's established pattern of continuing to dig after they've hit the septic tank, Don Jr.'s doxy derided the assembled Christian conservatives for exercising chastity as befits their state in life.

The result? The groypers have gone from being dismissed as insignificant trolls to:

WaPo Number One


There's no getting around it. Fuentes has confounded the armchair pundits who discounted him as a clout hound and led the groypers to a significant culture war breakthrough. It does appear he's finally cracked the cipher that's bedeviled dissident movements these past five years.

And it's not for lack of fierce opposition. TPUSA, Conservative Inc. mouthpieces, the mainstream media, and even Antifa joined forces to break the groyper offensive.

The groypers found themselves targeted by news blackouts, doxxing attempts, and smear campaigns--any one of which easily could have sent them the way of the Tea Party. Yet the attacks rolled right off them like water off a frog's back.

Here's my analysis of how the groypers succeeded where everyone else failed.

  1. A clearly defined positive ethos: Too many past movements have simply been lists of grievances. The groypers are unambiguously Christian American patriots.
  2. Strong undisputed leadership: In sharp contrast to the "no leaders" directive that quickly splintered GamerGate into anti-SJW vs. Ethics Only camps, Nick Fuentes has claimed the title of Groyper Supreme Leader. He has a small cadre of generals who advise him on strategy, but ultimately Nick directs the Groyper War through his America First show and social media.
  3. Real-world impact: This was a major coup for the groypers. Nobody before them figured out how to take their internet mojo into meatspace without the whole affair degenerating into a clown funeral. Their success probably stems from the next point ...
  4. Wise choice of targets: Whereas other dissident groups tried to fight the Left's fortified positions head on, the groypers chose to attack a softer target--the Left's housebroken Conservatives. 

This last move was brilliant because it takes two to control the Overton Window. For fifty years, the Left's game has been to keep pushing the allowable limits of public discourse ever leftward while employing Conservative gatekeepers to offer token resistance. The Gunga Din Cons always give in, and the result is a ratchet effect which moves the culture gradually yet inexorably to the Left.

Now the groypers are successfully exposing Conservative Inc.'s scam. TPUSA--a major arm of that scam--was just publicly discredited in front of the President's son. They'll almost certainly be replaced with a new "patriotic pro-Trump" campus group, as Kirk's bumblers replaced YAF, but no matter. Since Kirk plunged Conservative Inc. into Fuentes' no-win scenario, the groypers need only stay the course to similarly destroy each new bowtie-wearing neck of the hydra.

The endgame would be replacing Conservative Inc. shills with genuine Christian nationalists typified by the groypers.

Imagine if instead of engaging in kabuki theater with retrograde versions of themselves from 2004, the Left had to contend with opponents who unflinchingly demanded an end to immigration, the overturning of Roe v Wade, and the outlawing of no-fault divorce.

We can dare to dream, thanks to a plague of cozy frogs.

2019/11/08

Combat Frame Data: GCD-02 Heavy Armor Gemini

GCD-02 Heavy Armor Gemini

GCD-02 Heavy Armor Gemini

Technical Data

Model number: GCD-02
Code name: Gemini
Classification: general purpose heavy armor combat drone
Manufacturer: Lunar Underground
Operator: HALO/Lunar Underground
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: x2 integrated strong A.I.
Height: 24 meters
Weight: 182 metric tons
Armor type: "1D" carbyne laminar armor 
Powerplant: x3 cold fusion reactor, max output 1796 KW, 1727 KW, and 276 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 36,615 kg, 2x 20,000 kg, 4x 36,615 kg, 4x 20,285 kg, 2x 25,000 kg, 2x 11,750 kg; top speed 3000 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 48, 180° turn time 0.82 seconds; legs: top ground speed 198 kph
Sensors: VISOR (Visible & Infrared Scanning Optical Receptor) mounted in head
Fixed armaments: x2  plasma sword, power rated at 0.52 MW, stored in charging racks on back; triple rifle, mounted on left forearm, barrel 1: 70mm autocannon, magazine-fed, also draws from internal reservoir holding 1000 graphene-tungsten rounds, barrel 2: plasma cannon, output rated at 4 MW, graphcap magazine or reactor-fed, barrel 3: 8 MW laser cannon, reactor-fed; x2 3-tube micro-missile pod, shoulder-mounted, holds 6 missiles per tube, graphcap warheads charged from tertiary reactor
Optional hand armaments: tower shield, reinforced with 200 carbyne layers, equipped with internal ion field projector, mounts x2 plasma spike, main head output rated at 1.1 MW, secondary head output rated at 0.60 MW, carried in right hand
Special equipment: Combining system, ion field projector


General Notes

On the rare occasions when the fighting got too heavy for the GCD-01A Castor and the GCD-01B Pollux to handle alone, the twins twins could play a powerful trump card indeed by combining to form the GCD-02 Heavy Armor Gemini.

The Gemini was a true titan of a machine. Standing head and shoulders above most combat frames, the combination of a combat drone with an already heavy armor-equipped combat drone produced a walking fortress impervious to all but the most devastating attacks.

The GCD-02 wasn't lacking in the offense department, either. It combined Castor's dual 70mm-plasma rifle with components of Pollux's weapon and power systems to produce a three-barreled weapons system capable of firing 1000 graphene-coated tungsten rounds, a withering 4 MW plasma beam, and an ion field-defeating 8 MW laser. Gemini also retained Castor's pair of micro-missile pods, but unlocked their full potential with a dedicated generator which charged the graphene capacitors in their warheads. Fully charged, these graphcap micro-missiles delivered an explosive punch with only slightly less overkill than the XCD-103 Eisenpferd's graphcap missiles. For close combat, Gemini carried a pair of plasma swords and mounted two plasma spikes on its carbyne and ion field-reinforced tower shield.

Though among the heaviest units in operation in CY 40, the GCD-02 boasted impressive speed and agility thanks to the abundance of drive and maneuvering rockets that studded its armored exterior. A trio of fusion reactors kept up with the enormous energy demands of Gemini's propulsion and weapons systems.

Like its constituent combat drones, the GCD-02 maintained a crew of two A.I. pilots. Brother machine intelligences Castor and Pollux used their long-practiced combat synergy to consistently outwit and surprise the enemy.


Thanks again to Build-a-Mech backer D.J. Schreffler for commissioning this outrageously cool design and to ArtAnon for realizing it! The final CY 40 Second Coming BaM debuts next Friday!

Don't wait for more awesome mecha action! Buy Combat Frame XSeed now!

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/07

The Death of the Mid List

funeral

... has not been highly exaggerated.
As megabestsellers command more of publishers’ marketing budgets and retailers’ shelf space, breaking out the next crop of hit makers has become a challenge.
Book publishing has long been a hits-driven business. The bestsellers, the logic went, paid for the flops. And it was the authors of those in the middle—the so-called midlist—that publishers hoped to build into the next crop of bestsellers. But midlist sales have faltered enough in recent years that there is a growing concern among publishers and agents about how the business can create new hits when the field they once turned to is, well, disappearing.
Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy, during a discussion of the company’s second-quarter results, pointed to generating interest in midlist books as one of the biggest challenges facing all publishers.
Though the hits-driven nature of publishing has not changed in recent years, the nature of those hits has. Due to a number of coalescing factors—including a shrinking physical retail market and an increase in competing entertainment driven by the proliferation of streaming TV platforms—book publishing has watched as a handful of megaselling titles have begun to command an ever-larger share of its sales.
According to NPD BookScan, which tracks an estimated 80% of unit sales of print books, sales of the 100 bestselling adult titles increased 23% in 2018 compared to 2017. All other titles ranked below that top tier either fell or remained flat. On a 52-week rolling basis through Oct. 5, 2019, the sales of the top 100 books rose another 6% over the comparable 52-week period ending in 2018, while, again, all other sales levels either fared worse or stayed flat. Taken together, sales of the 100 bestselling print books rose nearly 30% over a period of about two years, while books that ranked between 101 and 10,000 saw their total print unit sales fall 16%. Books that ranked below 10,000 remained flat in the period.
Where have we seen this blockbuster-chasing mentality before?

Oh yeah, in the likewise floundering Hollywood film and AAA video game industries.

As Western civilization rapidly burns through the cultural capital inherited from Christendom, expect to see more industries falling into hit-obsessed death spirals.

It's a seductive trap. A company stumbles upon a big hit, scrambles to replicate what is in fact a black swan event, and cannibalizes its own seed corn in the process. It's an old story.

If publishers were really in the storytelling business, they'd know how that tale ends by now.
Those suffering from the famine are, to an extent, a group once known as the midlist. Ironically, if you ask most editors or literary agents to define the term, you’re unlikely to get a specific answer. Few can say, for example, how many books one needs to sell to be considered midlist. The only thing sources agreed on is the fact that the term is negative.
“You want to be debut, literary, or bestselling; you don’t want to be midlist,” one literary agent said. “The midlist is like the middle class; it’s the group that gets squeezed. They don’t get the support from their publishers. They don’t get their due [as writers]. They don’t get the attention they deserve from reviewers. Everybody wants to break out of the midlist.”
The fatal flaw with squeezing blood from the mid list in a misguided attempt to fuel blockbusters is that the midlisters were always more profitable than the A listers. The former received more modest advances, lower royalties, and lower marketing budgets. Yet their books consistently earned out. It doesn't take a genius to understand that lower costs plus more consistent earnings at a higher percentage--from the publisher's point of view--is a healthier business model than rolling the dice on unreproducible hits.

Oldpub's current model is a scattershot Darwinian sink-or-swim meat grinder. Agents funnel starry-eyed new authors into the hopper. Acquisitions editors--and increasingly, the marketing team--consult the augurs to divine which of the fresh meat has the stuff megastars are made of. The publisher throws millions of dollars into making these hopefuls' debut books the new hotness. Out of a hundred such books, perhaps one will become even a modest hit. The authors who fail meet the wood chipper.

The received publishing wisdom invoked to justify this crab basket mentality was that the lone hit more than made up for the ninety-nine duds. That was only ever a cope, but publishers could always dip into the mid list cookie jar to keep the pyramid scheme running. Now they're running out of reliable earners to fleece.

Best selling newpub author Nick Cole's prophecy is unfolding before our eyes. Oldpub is eating their own mid list to service their A list clients. B&N won't save them. James Daunt's installation as CEO is too little, too late.

Of course, Amazon is proving a less than reliable partner for newpub authors to the right of Corey Doctorow. Independent creators are increasingly earning the bulk of their income directly from their audiences.

Just as Nick's prediction of oldpub's demise is being vindicated, so is my prediction that a new patronage system will emerge to replace the historical aberration that was the author-publisher rights for royalties model.

If you're fed up with out-of-touch New York publishers pushing books by Clarion Workshop grads who can't string two sentences together, support the fun, exciting work of newpub authors like me.

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/11/06

Unfriendly Eyes

Old Farm

It seems my High Strangeness series has attracted its fair share of interest. Today a reader relates his own encounter with the unexplained.

I have a tale to tell, similar to some of those recounted by your friends or other readers. This one comes from the mid-‘80s. We were recently married and now looking for a house, with interest rates finally below two digits.
The event happened in daylight, mid- to late afternoon, on a spring day.
Our realtor had found a property which was close to my wife’s dreams and our needs, so we went out into the country to look at it–an old single-family farmhouse on several acres, small stream, with woods around.  
It was delightful at first sight, with the usual work needed to upgrade an old house to something more modern. However, as we went through the house from ground floor to attic, I began to feel uneasy for no apparent reason, and got an odd impression from part of the big attic room.  
We had taken our time looking through the house, so it’s later afternoon and the shadows were beginning to fall in the hollow. Our last stops were outside to look at the grounds, couple of out-buildings, and the stream. Everything was fine, except a section of grass near the house that I didn’t want to get closer to.  
Suddenly I had enough, and didn’t want to let the shadows fall any deeper. I felt as if unfriendly eyes were watching from two directions on the surrounding hills. Casual looks showed no one there, or no obvious paths or gravel tracks. In one of those directions, I got a vague impression of a spectral wall rising up above the treetops.  
There was no way that I’d want to be there at twilight or after dark. I simply noted that we had to get going, and told the realtor that it wasn’t quite what we needed, and to keep searching. Didn’t tell my wife about this until recently, and I think she doesn’t really grasp the meaning behind it.
A couple weeks after we’d been shown the house, we read a newspaper account of the 50th anniversary of an infamous hex trial. On that property we saw, or at the adjacent house about a quarter mile down the road, a hoodoo man had been ritually killed and burned for putting curses on another farmer and his family. The murder trial was shocking to the local communities and opened up a lot of half-hidden folk practices. Old tomes such as “The Long-Lost Friend” were mentioned in the newspaper account and in a book written about the trial. I looked those up, and had the hair standing up on my neck from reading about the occult books. The section of grass?  That was where the witchman was burned, if I read the accounts correctly.
My thought was that we’d dodged something serious through intervention of my guardian angel, because otherwise, the property would looked perfect. Perhaps too perfect. I’m glad to have never found out.
One final note:  now that I cleared some of my required reading list, I can return to enjoying Souldancer and work my way through trans-dimensional Purgatory. Thank you for a most intriguing series.
Best regards,
Jim