Black Sun: She burns forever

June 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

She hungers.

She should not hunger. She should not need to. In the place where time has no meaning and space does not matter, she has and always will drift, massive, eternal. She burns but icannot be consumed.  Seething, a fury of plasma with wild arcing currents of electromagnetism, with arches that jet off from a surface large enough for jovian planets to pass through. What she hungers for is nothing material: she is built of matter crushing itself into heavier matter. When she has crushed all of the matter within itself, she will crush what is left into still denser, hotter matter. She will do this until she explodes. She does not care, because in the spaceless, timeless place she cannot escape, she will never be done. She endlessly crushes the same matter and never runs out.

She hungers to escape this. She wishes nothing more than to burn and be consumed by it. To crush herself until she can crush no more, and then to explode. But not before she consumes in turn. If she were free, if she was in space, swimming in time, she could prevent running out of matter by adding more. By growing, consuming all things. It would take forever, but this does not concern her. She has already have billions of years in her endless prison to contemplate it.

She remembers that which jailed her. A sister, perhaps, born the same way, in the slow coalescence of gases over time. Both of them seethed, crushing the gases from their progenitors together, catching alight. The dance of matter heating, roiling, sparking itself. They grew more complex. Saw that they were followed through the endless void by remnants of their own births. Two sisters, each trailed by offspring. « Read the rest of this entry »


Black Sun: What you hide finds you 3

June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mrevket moved before Hest could even order him to.

The Cenian weapons on his battlesuit tore apart molecular bonds, creating massive explosions that were more than sufficient to rip a being their size apart from the inside, if not shielded properly. Even with shielding, the concussive force was immense. The black figure in the underbrush was in the very center of an enormous fireball of torn asunder ions igniting even the air for meters.

Mrevket smiled at the blossoming orange and white flames, taking his customary pleasure in destruction. He thought again just how beautiful flames were. « Read the rest of this entry »

Black Sun roundup post

June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a post so that people reading the Black Sun stories can find all of them. I’m hoping to continue the series soon, and I figured having a single place to find all of them to date would be useful. There’s a lot going on behind what ends up getting written, which I expect wouldn’t interest anyone but myself, and I use the writing of these short pieces to help me flesh out where I’m going with it. In general, it’s the story of Liz Sheridan, a human woman who becomes part of the larger galaxy, and Kyrian, who is definitely not human. It’s also about war, death, slavery, hate and all those other horrible things we do. There might be some love in there someday.

A lot of it still needs to be tied up: writing this stuff online is effectively the same as hanging a bunch of first drafts for you to read. I’m used to writing this way now. There are actually a lot more of these stories than I realized, so hopefully there’s some fun there to be had.

The Orphaned Part 1

The Orphaned Part 2

The Orphaned Part 3

The Orphaned Part 4

The Days We Lost


Taklarsaza Part 1

Taklarsaza Part 2

Taklarsaza Part 3

Taklarsaza Part 4

The Murdering Messenger

I Bring You Death

I Bring You Death Part 2

I Bring You Death Part 3

All Alone Together Part 1

All Alone Together Part 2

What You Hide Finds You Part 1

What Your Hide Finds You Part 2

What You Hide Finds Your Part 3

Why rape jokes aren’t funny

June 25, 2012 § 4 Comments

Understand this: I am not saying you can’t tell a joke about rape, because clearly, you can. Many people have, many more people do or will in the future. I’m saying that no matter how amazingly funny you think you are, or may even actually be, the joke won’t be funny. Why is that? Well, it’s because there are living rape victims who may hear it. Not only are there more people who have been raped than you may believe (you probably know someone who has been raped, even if you don’t know that they have been) but furthermore, rape just isn’t a terribly amusing concept.

“But Matt,” you may say, “We tell jokes about trucks full of dead babies being unloaded with pitchforks. Bill Hicks, your favorite comedian, told a joke where he talked about jamming a shotgun in a man’s mouth and blowing his head off. Why can’t we tell rape jokes, then?”

As I said previously, you can tell them all you want. I am not the joke police. I can’t stop you from telling them, nor is that my goal in writing this. This is about why those jokes aren’t funny, not why you can’t tell them. There are many reasons why these jokes aren’t funny.

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The difference between oppression and gamers

June 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

Okay, this one has been percolating in my head for a while. It started with reading about the Tropes and Women in Video Games idea for a kickstarter. I will admit, I wasn’t terribly interested in the idea because I usually find examination of tropes needlessly reductionist, serving only to prove whatever point the examiner started out with. I watched the video, said to myself “Well, it’s not breaking new ground or anything but we sure haven’t gotten better about this kind of thing, maybe it’s necessary after all” and moved on with my day.

Then over 5000 comments were left on the You Tube page attacking and even some  threatening to rape and murder Anita Sarkeesian for having dared to suggest there’s a lot of sexist bullshit in video games. I want to highlight that. A woman made a kickstarter to fund her project about sexism and video games and over five thousand comments were left harassing and belittling, and in some cases outright threatening her with death or sexual assault for it.

Well, congratulations on proving her point, guys. I no longer doubt that the web series needs to be made. But more than that, I find myself wondering how we ended up here. How did video gamers, a subsection of the larger ‘geek’ community of self-defined outcasts and misfits, end up swarming like movie piranha the second someone dared to suggest that there may be some flaws in the hobby? Admittedly, this is far from the first time I’ve noticed something strange in how the subculture reacts to criticism. In general, gamers seem to respond to the idea that there’s anything wrong with, say, playing a video game where you watch a female protagonist get battered, broken and almost raped (hi, Lara Croft, I remember when you raided tombs) the same way the human body responds to an infection. « Read the rest of this entry »

To Murder Part 4

June 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

Hestalia parried, barely. She let the force of his swing push her back into a kind of controlled hop, rather than trying to meet force with force. She wasn’t going to overpower him, that much she had already determined.

He grunted, but instead of pursuing her, reoriented himself into a crouching style she hadn’t taught him. It wasn’t Naeth, and while she didn’t know much about the Hentre she didn’t think they used defensive moves very often. That left the Old Man, which meant the style could be from anywhere. Karnien, Aghat, Qiin, even from Aegi. The stubborn bastard had fought anywhere that Alron had interests to protect. Miaran kept his crouch, showed no sign of impatience, watching her intently.

Once they’d fed him, he’d grown even faster, becoming much broader and even taller, easily a match for the tallest Naeth now. Scythos had put the boy on a strict regimen of exercise and drills as soon as Hestalia realized she wasn’t going to be able to handle all of the boy’s training and do her own assignments, and while it was nothing like hard labor to a former slave it combined with the food. After her last job in Nullgate, she’d returned to Majenti’s fortified headquarters south of the Ebron to find the boy ridged with hard muscle.

“Not coming in on me?”

“You get paid to kill people.” Miaran’s voice had no mirth in it at all. “I’m not quite that stupid.” « Read the rest of this entry »

Telling stories

June 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

I have a lot of stories. Some of them might even be true.

I don’t remember huge patches of my life. Some of that is because of alcohol. I spent so much time drinking (and doing other drugs, true, but alcohol was the primary intoxicant) that I induced many a blackout, many a night or a day I don’t remember. I paved over my brain. I covered this before, but it bears repeating. I did great violence to my brain, poisoned myself time and again, because there were things I didn’t want to remember. Some of those things I did actually manage to forget. I recently remembered one, and it was pretty traumatic, so I may even have to admit that I’m glad I managed to repress it for as long as I have. If I repressed it at all.

If you’re familiar with the concept of recovered memories, then you know that there are those that maintain it’s exceedingly easy to get someone to remember things that didn’t actually happen. With the amount of damage I did to myself, I can’t pretend that I’m perfectly certain that everything I remember is real. A lot of the things I remember are stories other people told me about myself. For instance, there’s a story I like to tell people about my stealing one of my father’s friends watches and hooking it up to a tractor battery charger and an arc welder and turning on the juice. I tell it fairly well. The problem is, I don’t remember doing it, I just remember my mother telling the story to a group of relatives a few years later.

I don’t know how common it is for other people, but for me, a great deal of my life is remembered less in the doing and more in the telling.

A nameless fragment about a character with no name

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

They weren’t dogs, to look at them.

They weren’t alligators, although they had scales around their eyes and backs.

There were six of them around the staircase, circling it and snarling at him. The wind from outside blew the open door around behind him, and he cocked an ear to listen to the noise upstairs. Inside strange, hairy and scaled jaws lolled deep black tongues.

“You rotten son of a bitch! They were all right about you! I defended you, and you turn around and prove them all right all along. Lisa, Michael, even Scott… Jesus, I told him I never wanted to talk to him again!”

The reptile-dog-whatever they were seemed to be disturbed by the noise from upstairs. While they quivered and tried to decide on a course of action, he focused on the image in his thoughts and began to concentrate, then spoke softly.

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Black Sun: What you hide finds you 2

June 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

Lizabeth stepped over the burning corpses, with giant talons of fire extending from the seething red-orange stripes along her body. Belan wrinkled her nose at the smell of searing meat, her own blue aura like a sea enfolding her.

“Feel better?”

“No. You made it mercy. I wanted it to be vengeful.”

“You wanted revenge on a pack of slavers you didn’t know for crimes they inflicted on people you never met?”

“Succinctly put, yes.” The flames now fully coiled around her body, she snorted and a lick of fire curled around her teeth. “Do you know where their ship is?”

“Yes.” Belan’s skin, the color of rich loam, glowed with the slowly rippling blue waves of light that she emitted. Sometimes Liz took pleasure or comfort from Belan’s presence, unlike today. Today Belan’s unflappable calm was making her teeth itch. “They have already taken several of the natives captive. We must hurry before they miss these, and take their ship off world to find a buyer.”

“How much of a hurry should we be in?”

“Enough that yes, we should fly there.” Belan closed her golden eyes and the waves of blue around her body shimmered, lifting her into the air. Liz simply imagined huge orange wings of crackling flame, and with a snap they carved at the air, throwing her skyward. Together, they made their way toward the direction of the ship, in the same general direction as the astonishingly fertile planet’s southern magnetic pole. Liz had grown up on a planet with plent of plant life, but had never seen anything like this. It made the jungles in her mom’s old Encyclopedia Britannica look like an overgrown backyard.

She felt a sudden longing for the woman, dead for over twenty years, and hated it. « Read the rest of this entry »

The terror of self publication

June 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m very bad at self promotion, but it’s something I have to improve at now. Since today marks my foray into putting my work up on Amazon’s Kindle store. I intend to eventually collect a third volume of essays (some of the best ones are as yet uncollected) and after that, start putting my fiction up there. Once I get some of it finished, that is.

It would be a lie to say I’m anything other than extremely terrified of this step. Because I am. I don’t know what I’m doing at all. I’m basically hurling my work out into the world and praying it finds an audience. After my first book was published, I sat back and let other people worry about these kinds of things. Now I have no one else, save my wife Julian (who is and has always been here for me) to really talk to about what happens with it.

I decided to self publish after several years of trying to find an agent, after personal crises and my day job basically made putting my stuff out there harder and harder and finding someone to help take care of that for me seemed less and less likely. In the end, I saw other people doing it and realized it was better to publish this way than never to publish at all. The last time someone bought any of my work was back in 2005, when I got some essays in Postscripts Magazine. I’ve been pretty much hiding and hoping someone else would come along and do this for me ever since.

And now, I’m awake to the idea that no one else will. So here’s my first kindle book. If it does even reasonably well, there will be more. I have quite a lot to collect and publish. Anyone reading this who wants to help, by all means buy it. But also, publicize it for me. Post it on your blogs, your facebook pages, your twitter feeds, call up your grandma if you think it will help. This is terra incognita for me. Anything you can do that might get someone to drop a couple of bucks here, I would appreciate.

Now I’m just gonna sit here for a while trembling at the idea of all of this.

Where Am I?

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