Category Archives: Research

Honor / Dishonorable

The concept of “honor”  – in the sense of ethical in conduct, meeting expectations of behavior, being an honorable person, etc. – is complex. The idea of “fairness” is pretty basic, one a couple of two year old’s being forced Mom to share a cookie understand can grasp; they know getting the smaller portion is unfair, regardless of the details. But “honor” comes in so many flavors – at least one for every culture and subculture – that defining it and explaining why it’s important is difficult. What is expected and honorable in one culture may be anathema, disgusting, and disgraceful in another. Continue reading Honor / Dishonorable

Power of the laugh track

Pointed to it from Vox Day’s blog, I just finished listening to Owen Benjamin’s description (show number 494) of the sit-com Seinfeld and how the laugh track destroyed our culture. Pretty deep  stuff. But is it over the top? One thing that it brought to mind was how the Japanese military conditioned their soldiers.

It’s not a normal act to stick a blade into someone and be OK with it. So they’d tie up a prisoner (POW or civilian, made no difference to them), perhaps put them in a trench where they could not run away or retreat, and order a soldier to bayonet the victim to death. While he did that, his squad-mates would be standing around him, cheering him on, laughing, clapping, making a joke or game of it. They’d already done the same, or soon would be. It conditioned them to think it was normal, and fun, and it dehumanized the victim. But it was the cheering, laughing, and open mocking of the dead and dying while their mate butchered a man… or woman, or child… that made it such a powerful social pressure.

It was murder with a laugh track, and it was undeniably successful at its intended mission.

Yes, what Owen says is spot on. Not over the top. It’s psychos conditioning a whole generation. No wonder there are so many people today who need a shrink. Or, better yet, to purge their lives of screens.

Monkish questions

I’m up to about 90K words on the founding of the monks of St. Possenti.  I think I’ve covered most of the bases as far as how they came into existence and how they developed some of their idiosyncratic methods and traditions. Are there any that bugged you when you were reading, and made you wonder where/when/how they came into being? If so, now’s your chance to ask, so I can make sure I’ve got a fairly complete back story. I’ve still got a few minor gaps to cover, I know, but its mostly there.

So: anything you wanted to know about them?

Not a biblical scholar

I’m not a biblical scholar. Heck, I’m barely more than Biblically semi-literate.

So, of course, in my odd little corner of the universe, it makes perfect sense to write a SF book about the founding of a new order of monks, the Monks of St Possenti. This puts me in a bit of a quandary. I like the stories I read to be plausible, and require suspension of disbelief on only a few things, but not everything. If you want to stipulate FTL in violation of current known laws, great, run with it. But what I hate is when a story is purportedly in this universe’s future and it gets a lot of basic facts about physics or history or people totally fouled up. So when I’m writing it only seems reasonable to get what facts I can correct, so that others don’t have that same “oh, heck, not that silly and often-disproven trope again!”

So I need a little help here, by readers who are also familiar with the Bible, and hopefully a few that are specifically intimate with Catholic canon and monastic orders. Continue reading Not a biblical scholar

Any sailors out there?

Looking for anyone with experience building and sailing smallish sailboats. I’ve done a little bit, but it’s not been my main thing. I’d like to run the plans of a possible scenario by someone with more experience. I’m pretty sure they are not absurdly stupid, but I want to make sure they are better than the “Hollywood-smart” sort of things would only work on McGyver’s 17th take.

Short version – as a “graduation test” kids dropped with the basic supplies (like food and hand tools) and a tight schedule need to make a boat largely with local materials. Is a small gaff-rig (using tent canvas) trimaran a stupid way to go?

Casting

Anyone out there personally familiar with home casting metal, either or both bronze / iron / steel ? I’m working on a scene in another book and want to get some of the details right on how a couple of guys doing semi-primitive casting of those metals might work, and problems they have to deal with (no electricity or gas – wood / charcoal and bellows for heat). I have a rough idea, but I’m sure there are tidbits I’m missing that would add authenticity.

Oddly, right now I’ve got two and two/halves of books in editing / awaiting cover art, and one getting illustrated, while I work on another. Eh, just the way things have worked out, I guess.  Once the art-flow picks up life will be better.

How did you find this book?

I’m curious, to any and all who drop by here: How did you find the book? Link in from somewhere else, browsing the Amazon top (whatever) list (which one?), an Amazon recommendation, or something else? As a first time author, I’m new to all this, too, so any and all feedback about how you came across the book or what specifically struck you as most interesting is welcome. I don’t do FB or Twitter or the rest because I hate datamining, so the only thing I care about your post is what you say in your post, not all the background metadata.

For those that are curious, I am working on another book, but it might not be the one you are expecting. I could easily outline a dozen books that tie into this one, but I plan on writing books that will stand alone just fine, but will enhance each other.

Interesting numbers

Ry forwarded this link to me, a report on author earnings. Some interesting numbers. It’s only Amazon data, and it isn’t sliced and diced in all the absolutely perfect ways for my tastes, and it’s got some serious caveats, but it’s data, a lot more than any publisher or book-seller makes public easily anywhere else.

The take-away is that ebooks can make some significant money, and the industry is changing, but it’s not an easy path because there is a lot of competition and it isn’t an unlimited supply of buyers. But I think it means that getting a big name publisher is not nearly as necessary for success as it used to be, at least not in those particular genres that this report looks at.