fear, love, obscurantism, neuroscience, and the watcher in the water


I’ve talked a little bit about Wattpad, but possibly not enough. It’s a social network for writers; I have some free work on it, and I’m a little bit active in a couple of discussion groups. The guy running those discussion groups, Jason Howell, was kind enough to ask me a few very sharp and kind questions about my own writing; inexplicably, on reading the answers, he decided to publish them anyway.

Part 1 of the interview is here. You don’t need a Wattpad account to read it. However, you do need one to vote and comment. Votes are the Wattpad version of “likes,” which is to say the currency of the realm, and Jason has done a lot to enrich other Wattpadders. If you really enjoyed the interview, it would be kind of you to join up and vote (which vote will go to him, not me).

If you already know you like my writing, you might also check out Jason’s, either on Wattpad or at his own pad. He works short, so the ante’s modest, and he’s tricky.

“keynote speech…” free on amazon through monday!

For anyone who missed the free promotion of BLOOD, WAX, MIRRORS, I’m now offering the first story, “Keynote Speech: Fourth Annual Symposium on Information Toxicity, Inaugural Section on Reverie Syndrome” at a 99-cent discount from its usual price of 99 cents until Monday, August 12. Here’s a brief passage:

I blame my wife for Kieran.

I’m not saying it’s fair. I’m sure I’d find my own excuses if it’d been my womb he’d grown in, and God only knows the Internet has said some uncharacteristically accurate things about my own role in the whole nightmare. I’m not saying you should blame her. But I do.

I’ve done this enough, I should be better at it. Here we go: Thank you, Dr. Desai, for your gracious introduction. And for such a distinguished physician-scientist to say such things about a humble carpenter, well, the heart just swells.

I am here behind this lectern because I famously sued several flagships of the insurance industry to medicalize reverie syndrome, an act of ham-fisted legal terrorism that Dr. Desai has elegantly edited to suggest that I was trying to set something right in the world. This, naturally, is arrant bullshit. Dr. Desai seeks to elevate both our fortunes by representing that we are in some alliance to improve your lives, him through medicine and me through stumbling around drunk on stage and telling you horrible things about my son. But I am impoverished by this ordeal, and I wish only to get paid—a disposition, incidentally, not entirely alien to Dr. Desai, who makes a fuck of a lot more from insurance payouts at his glittery new practice than he ever did running his cute little patient studies at the National Institutes of Mental Health.

So perhaps you now have some idea where I stand.

Should you download it, read it, and enjoy it (a tall order, I know, but I have faith), please consider following the blog for future announcements, purchasing the collection in which it skulks, or writing a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks!

zomg john scalzi lieks meeeeee

So, over on John Scalzi’s blog yesterday, he was all like this:


And, knowing his commentariat and being a man of his word, was soon motivated to make slight emendations to a comment he found less than salubrious, resulting in this:


Which, perhaps predictably, led me down a dank, winding corridor of eldritch and disturbing thought culminating in this:


To which Scalzi, bless his heart, responded quite kindly with this!


Which cheered me greatly.

But there was more to come! For he then went on to pen the following post:


In which he made the following announcement:


Thereby promoting my insurpassably original idea from the mire of the comments section to the Frank Lloyd Wright penthouse of the main blog, on the comfortable yet stylish black leather sofa of John Scalzi’s delight. In consequence of which I am now, for somewhat liberal values of “FAMOUS,” INTERNET FAMOUS.

I will be happy to furnish a standard 15% commission to anyone who can turn John Scalzi’s undying love for me into cold, hard cash. Or, failing that, beer. Consider this the JOHN SCALZI INTERNET FAMOUS BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION. Just don’t expect a quick turnaround on your applications—I’m absolutely inundated with hits and comments.

Well, I will be. Any minute now.

“I’m awed at how much time I’m spending on MySpace lately”

At the urging of Phil Tucker in a previous post’s comments, I’ve gone over to J. A. Konrath’s blog and downloaded the free PDF of A NEWBIE’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING, which is to say the blog in PDF format. I’m enjoying it, but a few things there are howlers by today’s standards. A few pages ago he suggested bundling multimedia material with books on a CD. I was just informed that “blog” is short for “web log,” and that MySpace has four times as many hits as Google.

I don’t begrudge Joe this stuff — he’s offering the book for free, so he’s under no obligation to keep things up to date. And one of the things he mentions a few times in the book is how swiftly things had been changing even as he wrote — “two years ago, almost no one had heard of a podcast or a blog” and so on. It’s just funny.

There is a fair amount of thought-provoking stuff in the book/blog as well. Much of the advice boils down to “Write well” and “Persevere,” which it always does. But there are some specific ideas, mostly in the vein of self-promotion, that are interesting and plausible and would not have occurred to me. I’d be interested to hear what agents think of his querying advice, since it seems to flout every set of querying guidelines I’ve seen. But he may have been writing before email queries were a thing.

google: pwned

I may have zero readers and zero comments (plus or minus epsilon), but Googling my pedestrian-ass name now yields this blog on the first page of results. I’m going to roll with the idea that that’s a good thing, for now.

i’m huge in china

Alvin Yan has graciously translated “Statler pulchrifex” into Chinese. My plans for domination are proceeding apace. (Thanks Jiaying!)

Unrelated, the distribution of even my hilariously minuscule blog traffic is exerting subtle mental pressure on my behavior. My most-visited post, of course, is the link to Godzilla Bukkake, long may it reign. My second is my review of Gordon Dahlquist’s book, THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS. This leaves me vaguely but perceptibly tempted to write more posts including the word “bukkake” (done and done) and to review THE DARK VOLUME, the sequel to TGBOTDE. But I didn’t like TGBOTDE that much, and bukkake does not often occupy my mind; this would seem like the first step down a slippery slope of pandering that could lead me into a morass of fame, riches, and women from which I might never…

… before we spiral down into that pathetic attractor state, let me just say that a less pandering approach would be to write a review of THE DARK VOLUME that “reproduces,” at some length, partially or wholly fabricated passages of Gordon Dahlquist’s lovingly rendered scenes of blue glass bukkake.

Look, all I did was say what you all were thinking…

a sneak peek at the cutting room floor

I don’t think this monologue is going to make it into SATORI, but I like it, even if it is an obvious product of my saturation in Warren Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson (I’m claiming affinity only here, not quality).


You’re fired, Cletus. You have two weeks to clear out of the satellite or I’ll have my good friend Don Rumsfeld shoot you from the sky. He’ll do it, too — ever since they shitcanned him, they keep finding him sitting on the new classified weapons, clad only in a raw bearskin, pretending to fire great flaming boulders of napalm at France and Amsterdam and Berkeley. He’d leap at the chance to turn you into a smoldering crater in the middle of some Stalin-worshipping mudhole in South Ossetia, mark my words.


Fuck the HR department! My hiring decisions come from the principle that preserves the universe! Have you ever heard of Vishnu, Cletus? Vishnu fires you!

I am not the first person to have this problem, I guess, but it’s a little disappointing that the main character never gets any good lines. There’s a whole Scott McCloud riff one could do on simply designed protagonists encouraging identification and so on… but Scott McCloud already did it, and I don’t really have anything to add.

… well, except the obvious literary analogue, right? McCloud is talking about art, but less articulated personalities are easier to identify with as well — every new quirk is a new chance to realize “that’s not me.” (I doubt that extension is original to me; McCloud may have proposed it himself, although I don’t remember that he did.) A person who wasn’t supposed to be writing comics right now might go in a few directions with this — for example, note that novels, at least in the literary mainstream, are usually praised for highly articulated characters. Could this give us any predictive leverage on why literary fiction is often harder to appreciate — more of an acquired taste, let’s say — than genre fiction? There are lots of confounding factors, naturally, but I’m willing to accept the premise that genre characters are often more sparely drawn than literary characters. Depending on your persuasion, you might think that this is because genre writers are hacks; or because genre is often preoccupied with conventions of plot (mystery, romance, thriller) or metaphysics (science fiction, fantasy, horror) that draw the writer’s resources away from fine characterization; or because genre writers are actually more aware of the uses of spare characterization than literary writers.

To put a fine point on it, since I really ought to be writing: Is literary fiction somehow actually less interactive than genre fiction?

updated! w/free art, prose, and video

All right. Lots of new stuff today.

Although I’m retaining ownership of pulchrifex.com in the unlikely event of commercial success at a level that would justify paying money for hosting, I’ve moved house to pulchrifex.wordpress.com because the GoDaddy banners are annoying. Since no one reads this blog, no one will care about this fact, but it seems right to record it, so the alien paleontologists will know what was going on when they begin brushing dust off the fossilized remains of the Internet in a hundred billion years or so.

More interestingly, I have media, all of it free! My experience at SPX has taught me, or at least lied to me convincingly, about the power of free; Mike and I moved 47 issues of SATORI #1 assisted prodigiously by the help of free copies of BLACK MANE. The revenue probably didn’t even cover meals for the weekend, but it did make me think that distributing more of my work more quickly might be more useful than waiting months and months for people to accept things for publication, even if it does make me feel good when an editor says they like my work. The upshot of all this is that I have three things for you.

First, Mike’s YouTube trailer for SATORI, with original music:

Next, a couple of unlettered pages (click for full-sized images):

Page 2 of SATORIPage 5 of SATORI

And finally, my own work: A 17,000-word novella, winner of an Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future contest, ANTECEDENTS TO THE RESTORATION OF THE CAMONDO CLOCK TOWER.

Creative Commons License
(ANTECEDENTS TO THE RESTORATION OF THE CAMONDO CLOCK TOWER, by Matt Weber, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.)

That’s all for now. Later, maybe some thoughts on SPX, and/or some more free fiction, like sugar cubes dissolving on your tongue.