Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, February 28, 2011

everyone, everywhere in the whole internet is talking about YOU

You heard me right, kits and cats. Everyone in the entire internet is talking about you, all the time. You are totally justified in vanity googling all night long, checking Facebook feeds for veiled references to your activities. People are talking about you all the time.

So, that's why you have to constantly check. Google alerts isn't fast enough. You know that only happens as it works its way through the system of spiders and algorithms that lead to your door. You cannot check just your name, because if people are really talking about you, it's in code. I mean, when they're really, really telling the truth, they use coded language. So, you have to search around their code. Look at the edges of things where you think people you know might be referencing you. Like, how, if they say they went to get coffee today, and there was this really smelly person in line with them? You know how everyone laughs at that and agrees at how awful it was? Well, they weren't there. Ergo, they cannot agree with how awful it was. Ergo, it must be THE CODE.

Facebook must be in on it. You know how they carefully filter the news feed, these days, always adjusting what shows and when. Well, that is because they're in on it, too. They're conspiring with the people you think are your friends. This is why have to check constantly, and also click through to the actual pages of your friends to find out what messages are excluding you. If you're really good, you'll notice the codes all over the place.

Then, you need to check on google. But, not just google. Bing, too. And Alta-Vista. And maybe even AOL search. Because the information all about you is hidden everywhere if you can only look fast enough, hard enough. Then, you might find it. Maybe. Because search engines are only as good as their algorithms, and even these could easily by gamed by some trick or code or SEA marketing wizardry to exclude the things one would think when searching for your name.

But search only knows what the spiders find out there. There's stuff you can only find by really looking. Try to deduce from what you know about people to see if you can figure out what message board they might hang out at. See if you can deduce what their secret twitter identity might be. Because that's the only way to find out what they're saying about you.

Also, there's parties that happen without you. You are not being invited to awesome parties where people go and leave you behind because you are just not up to date with all the reasons why people hate you. If only you could search

Keep looking. Keep searching. I'm telling you, it's everywhere if you just adjust your own method ahead of the people who are out to get you.

Or, don't believe me. Don't believe me, and stop worrying about what google results pop in when you search for your name. Turn off your "google alerts" and only check your facebook page when you want to contribute to someone else, instead of just trolling the newsline for hints that something awesome is happening without you, or even at your expense!

I mean, if you're so insecure that you have to check everything all the time, and search for everything all the time, there must be some truth to it. That you can't really find anything doesn't mean it isn't there. It just means that your instincts are right: The system is publicly taunting you and laughing about how you don't even SEE what people are saying about YOU!

(Also, I think I'm going to be off-line for a few days, at least. I'm feeling internet burn-out. Peace out, party people, and GET OFF THE INTERNET! I'll meet you in the street! GET OFF THE INTERNET! Destroy the right wing!

Friday, February 25, 2011

SF Signal: [GUEST POST] J.M. McDermott, a Candidate for a Masters of Fine Arts in Popular Fiction, Would Like to Whisper With You

1. Be a Fungus or a Vulture, or Else You Starve

I've been suspicious of the academic system most of my adult life. You see, some of the dumbest people I ever met in life had Ph. D's, and some of the smartest people I ever met in life never seemed to need much in the way of education. I don't think I'm alone in this, either. Stupid comes in all shapes and sizes, as does brilliant. I've met janitors who could debate complex philosophical concepts, who lived quiet lives assertively saving and investing for retirement with their library card in hand. I've met security guards who could enter easily into rigorous debate with art historians about the nuances of different brush strokes and biographic details gleaned from obscure letters. I've met professors of humanities that could barely string together three sentences coherently, in three languages, and wealthy business-leaders who made their fortune not on skill but on narcissism and talking loudly. Naturally, I've also met dumb janitors, brilliant professors, and everything in between. Especially in our current economy these last ten years, education beyond high school is almost completely decoupled from our actual employment in all but a few select fields. Most of our advanced degrees exist for the sole economic sake of producing professors to teach advanced degrees in that field. It seems amazing to me, sometimes, that anyone would pursue an advanced degree in anything useful, let alone something relatively useless in the current economy, like a master's degree in the fine art of writing fiction. Better to just find work that suits your social and mental preferences to keep the lights on with a little money left over, invest your savings, raise a family, and try not to make too much noise until retirement. Lots of folks figured the whole system out, and it's working great for them.

Want to read the rest? Go here:

SF Signal: [GUEST POST] J.M. McDermott, a Candidate for a Masters of Fine Arts in Popular Fiction, Would Like to Whisper With You

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Maze is Coming...

Cover art by Katja Faith

Monday, February 21, 2011

GUEST POST: Zachary Jernigan Wants to Talk About the Oddly Charitable or Merely Petty Phenomena of Amazon Reviews

(Joe says: So... Basically anything I've posted for the last couple weeks has been scheduled way in advance. Some of them scheduled on the wrong days, in fact.

I'm still busy. Here's a post by Zachary Jernigan. Don't know who that is? Well you should. He's got stories coming up in Asimov's. Good stories, too. I hear he's working on a novel, now. Right, on to the guest post...)

I'm so in love with people who review books on Amazon. I want to give them all the biggest hug in the world and make them a cake with fireworks inside. I've been reading a lot of their words lately—mostly in response to various fantasy novels, as until a few days ago I was in the process of writing my own epic-fantasy-with-dwarves-and-flaming-swords—and I'm consistently stunned by how much freaking work these people put into them. It's a full-time job, crafting these fine or amazingly petty or just plain idiotic reviews.

Do I write reviews for Amazon? I'm not being paid for it; it's not to my ultimate benefit as a writer. Shit no, I don't. I'm selfish. I use the reviews to see what bothers people about books they read—no, not so much what they like—and then ask myself whether or not I'm doing those things in my fiction. (The answer to which is: Of course I'm doing those things. Mistakes all over the place!—but hopefully I'm learning to watch out for common problems.)

Maybe to some this is an odd writing tool to use, especially considering I've dropped $50,000 on grad school. (More like $70,000 after I'm done paying off the loans.) Perhaps they suspect the real reason I'm doing it is to validate my own skills (yes, you got it: I'm talking about both the Amazon thing and grad school).

I'll be honest; I do that a little. I've been an absolute bitch during the whole process of writing a novel. (A first for me. No, not being a bitch. Writing a novel.) As a writer who would like to someday make money off of his writing—correction: As an incredibly self-conscious, whiny writer who would like to someday make money off of his writing—it's been oddly comforting to know that a lot of bad crap gets published by big publishing houses.

I tell myself, "Gee, if thy published that load of garbage, they'll have to publish my load of garbage!" Obviously, this is a lie one tells oneself. Most likely, my load of garbage stinks five times as badly as that book 5 people criticized and 2000 people loved—a book, I might add, that I got a mere one page into before throwing down in disgust, my every suspicion of its horrendosity (definitely not a word) validated.

But it's really so much more me putting down others to make myself feel better. No, it doesn't have to be more—plenty of people get their jollies by putting other, more talented or simply harder-working people down—but for me that sort of thing gives only a vicarious thrill. I want to be the guy making loads of money, inspiring people through my words, using Cristal to make ice cubes, and generally living the life of an awesome writer. I—me! me!—want my book to be amazingly well received, reviewed by a billion people on Amazon.

Which will, surely, result in my hatred of all the people reviewing on Amazon. I will, like I imagine all other incredibly self-conscious and whiny writers do, open the page featuring my book and cry tears of cheap vodka and spite when I see that somebody has given me ONE STAR and written a really, really cogent review, highlighting everything I obviously did wrong but somehow got ignored by everybody else. They can't all be good reviews, even if you're an awesome writer like Stephanie Meyer. (Ooh, am I making fun of her or am I serious? I really don't know anymore...)


So I ask myself, as I do every day: Why do I even want to be a writer when a simple review could crush my self-esteem? Man-oh-man, there are so many jobs out there. Unfortunately, I'm not suited for any of them. I'm not even suited for writing, but at least I've kind of committed to it. I long to be part of the writer community, even if it's just tangentially.

And in this light, the whole Amazon thing becomes clear. By reading reviews, I ground myself in the perceived realities of writing—the street level of publishing, if you will. After reading a good, well thought-out review, I feel closer to being a writer. Not because reading (or writing) a review makes me more qualified to write and sell a book, but because it puts me that much closer to understanding the elusive, frustrating mind of the "normal" reader.

But here again I have to be honest: I think very few of these weirdoes on Amazon are in any way normal.

- Zachary Jernigan lives in Portland, Maine with his girlfriend, her cantankerous daughter, and a cat with an eating disorder. He has upcoming fiction in Asimov's and Murky Depths. If anyone wants to buy his novel for an ungodly amount of money, that would make his day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Never Knew Another Preview | J. M. McDermott | Flames Rising Horror Webzine

Free Preview of NEVER KNEW ANOTHER over at Flames Rising.

Never Knew Another Preview | J. M. McDermott | Flames Rising Horror Webzine

Thanks for the shout out, Monica!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In All This Excitement...

...Let Us Not Forget That Maze Is Coming:

Maze is a beautiful, frightening, exhilarating novel that twists ancient
mythological archetypes into bold new patterns. With this second novel J.M.
McDermott proves that the brilliant Last Dragon was no fluke. He's as
important an author as this country has produced in decades.
--New York Times best-selling author Philip Athans

Link: Some Interior Art by Angela Giles

I've mentioned some things before about this book that's coming.

I've been wrestling with it a while, now.

But it's coming out, from Apex Books

Watch out for that ghostly light. If it comes for you -- whatever you do -- never, ever put it in your lung. No matter how much it begs for it.

And if you do, do not breathe deep.

Do not.

(April 2011)

GUEST POST: Comic-Book Writer Adam Gallardo Shamelessly Plugs His Wares

(Joe says: 'Sup. 

I turn my thesis into my adviser in five days.

In the meanwhile, some of my friends are sending me things to post. Adam Gallardo would like to tell you about his comic books...)

First, I want to thank Joe for this opportunity to shamelessly self-promote myself and my books here at his blog. I am usually only able to do this at my own blog , on my facebook page , and on my twitter feed . Joe has graciously invited me to expose you to my wares.

And what wares would those be? I have been writing comic books for going on eight years. Some are more successful than others, commercially, but I am proud of them all. Please let me tell you about them:

Star Wars: Infinities -- Return of the Jedi  Art by Ryan Benjamin
My very first published work. Also the most awkwardly titled. It's an alternate-universe take on the third of the
Star Wars films (or the sixth if you are a heretic and consider the new trilogy worthy of the canon). This book is perfect for the sci-fi-loving geek in your household. Consider this a What If? Version of the classic film.

100 Girls  Art by Todd Demong
My first creator-owned titled. Originally published by Arcana Comics, it was later collected by big-time publisher, Simon & Schuster. This one is near and dear to my heart. It's the story of thirteen-year-old Sylvia Mark. She's the product of a government-funded experiment and she can totally kick your butt. Honestly, my favorite thing about this book is
Todd Demong  's art, which evolved over the course of our doing the book together (as a bonus, if you follow the link to Todd's blog, he posts the occasional sketch of characters from 100 Girls). It (Todd's art) starts out great and moves on to face-meltingly great. This is recommended for teens as there is a fair bit of violence.

Tales of Hot-Rod Horror  Art by Justin Nitz
An anthology of indie horror comics featuring some very cool cats (Rick Geary is at the top of that heap!) and published by my good friend Devon Devereaux. Buy this book and see my riff on classic EC horror tales of old. There's a lot of fun stuff here for those who like their horror mixed with black comedy. This is definitely suggested for adults.

Gear School  Art by Nuria Peris, Sergio Sandoval and Studio Fenix
Another creator-owned title, this one published by Dark Horse Comics. It features a young girl in a world where giant mecha are the principle war machines. Children are taught to drive these machines at an early age. I've always thought of this series as
Digrassi High meets Mobile Suit Gundum. It's high melodrama in a futuristic high school and features the occasional alien menace. Yes. And it also features gorgeous art by a team of Spanish artists. Suitable for younger teens or anyone who was once a young teen.

MySpace Dark Horse Presents volumes 1 & 5
I have one short story in each of these volumes.
Volume one  features a Gear School short story with art by Nuria and Sergio. Volume five  features a new character, Dalton, with art by Todd Demong. Both are fun little romps surrounded by an eclectic collection of very cool comics. DHP has always had a reputation for publishing some of the finest comics in the business, and the on-line incarnation was no exception (my own contributions notwithstanding). Get these for anyone who is looking to be exposed to a lot of new titles. Probably rated PG-13.

Gear School volume 2  Art by Nuria Peris, Sergio Sandoval and Studio Fenix
A follow-up to the original Gear School, this book features more of everything you (well, maybe not you) loved in the first volume -- romance, rivalry, giant robots beating the snot out of each other. Buy this for anyone who loved book one or buy both for a great little set. Again, suitable for young teens and up.

Arcana Team-Up  Art by Todd Demong and mumble-mumble...
This is an odd little number, but of potential interest to some folks out there. This book collects some team-up stories featuring characters that Arcana has published over the years. One of these is a
100 Girls story which is  published here for the first time ever. It was written and drawn years ago and fell into a pit of legal darkness when the character with which Sylvia teamed up had her company go bankrupt. Some deft maneuvering on the part of Arcana makes this story's publication possible. It's a 48-page story told in two parts. Part one features art by Todd Demong, part two by a fine young man whose name I've forgotten and can't find record of. C'mon, it was like four or five years ago. Buy the book and you can look it up yourself. Recommended for older teens.

And that's it, so far. Not a ton of output over eight years, but, as I like to joke, it's more books than Harper Lee ever wrote. And sometimes quantity over quality id the name of the name of the game...

Monday, February 14, 2011

life of the artist and what the artist needs in life

i read the first enderby novel, "inside mr. enderby", by william s burroughs, acquired from ye ol' local library.

a tale of the artist, and what the artist needs, and the development of the artist. i'm down with burroughs and much of what he suggests if i'm reading it about right, is that a sensitive soul, a poet of grand worth and institution, is lost somewhere inside his own head, and somewhere inside what other people expect of him. posterity arrives early on in the form of time travelers, who do not wake the sleeping son of a bitch. if not for the cue that this poet was indeed a great man, he'd seem like the emotionally stunted lunatic the world around him. even the future imposes upon the man, when the teacher leading his students to this alter of greatness invite the students to celebrate the dyspeptic emissions and kiss the unclean knuckle of the sleeping man. no saint of art, he is a psychotic in need of therapy, not aggrandizement. in poor health, and poorer mental state, he huddles into his lavatory and creates poetry as if defecating the waste and illness of his broken soul into sound. some of these poems, decided to be not masterpieces, are flushed like toilet paper down the loo.

the story of enderby, then, is the story of the man being healed of the wounds that bleed, by the society that adores the poetry. he is offered, first, the acclaim of the academy through an award. he is quick to flush that right down the toilet in his own way, and abandon the academy for good. he is then offered the love and adoration of a beautiful, desirable woman. this, too, is flushed away when the real needs of the woman, a honeymoon in rome, a fine life, and the healing of souls done by the church are abandoned. the final opportunity of healing, at last, comes in the form of destruction, but i will not tell you exactly how.

a comic novel, full of profane and grandiose figures that overshadow enderby with their own emotions and forceful personalities, enderby is the put-upon matyr of all the ills and agonies of the world around him. he stoically shoulders the pain and casual violence and love and guilt and shame of a confused nation, all who know nothing of poetry and nothing of the man, except that enderby must be a great poet, a very great poet indeed.

even the time-travelers are not so all-knowing in the arts, as they also visit a major literary figure who is in all the anthologies, and who is an utter, complete failure. his poem is stale, and his fame is a product more of personal aggrandizement and marketing than actual talent.

enderby, the man at the center of all that madness and confusion, has only one way out.

funny, witty, and bleak bleak bleak. william s. burroughs has done much more than feed the hollywood movie machine.

On writing and eating

The mind is connected to the body.

I eat junk food when I get stressed out. It's my bad habit/coping mechanism. For a minute or two, I feel better. But, then I try to write. It doesn't work so good. The whole whitebreadsugarprocessedcornsyrup food diet of modern america does not help my art. I bet it doesn't help yours, either.

You can get a hangover from sugary, fatty foods. You can feel terrible followed by the rush of joy on a sugar hit.  Maybe you can ride it out.

Yesterday I was baking a lot and nibbling on sugary treats while doing so, and I woke up feeling like I had a hangover. I certainly didn't get as much writing done as I'd have liked.

This morning, though, after my sugar hangover and after my hearty, wholesome breakfast I already feel more focused and alert. My breakfast was oatmeal mixed up millet, quinoa, barley and cooked with dried fruit and greek yogurt. I've already written more this morning than I did yesterday when it was not easy and my head ached and I couldn't seem to focus on anything and everything was insurmountable. Today, it's not so bad. It started bad, but then I ate my breakfast of wholesome, nutritious grains. In a minute, I'm going to pull out the juicer and make something with carrots and cucumbers in it. I'm going to go for a long walk. Lunch will be salad. Dinner will be brown rice and vegetables. Healthy things, all.

The head is connected to the body. What is bad for the body is bad for the head.

Writing much? Making art? Eat right, and exercise. Don't give in to the sugar traps, the grease traps. And if you do, (because we all do), don't let yourself linger in them. Recognize the signs in how you feel and pull out before it's too late.

The one thing you don't want to lose, when writing, is momentum. Sugarcrash, and telling yourself that you're writing and need that little extra something, a little extra comfort, is actually not comforting. It's horrible, and it will do terrible things to your art. Like drug use, junk food only works a little bit, for the period of the rushing high, but immediately changes into darkness.

If you get stuck? Don't go to the kitchen. Go for a walk.

The mind is connected to the body. The soul is, too.

(It wouldn't surprise me to learn that some intrepid sf writer has set up his laptop at a treadmill to keep his feet moving while he writes...)

(This is excellent advice, and I know that I will be ignoring it again, sometime soon. I will give in to my dark cravings...)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let's Clear Out All These Announcements and Whatnot in One Big Post

First, I guess I shall mention some reviews. (Hooray!)

Second, I guess I shall mention things that are now available, or will be available very soon. (Hooray!)

(Note to livejournal, facebook, and etc.: I'll be posting lots of links to things, and those don't usually feed through the RSS. Do click through to for the whole heap of links!)

Reviews, reviews, reviews... This is the exciting time when such things start popping up all over.

Let's see... The Book Smugglers did a dueling review, and both gave NEVER KNEW ANOTHER 8-Excellent


Ana: The more I think about Never Knew Another the more I appreciate the intricacy of its narrative and storyline and the strength of its characters. Can I also just say how much I love the title and how when it is revealed to the reader what it means I got goose bumps?
Thea: Agreed! This is one of those rare books that gets better the more that you reflect on it. I loved the nested storylines and the tangled characters; I loved the intricacies of this world, and the author’s distinctive writing style. I cannot wait for more from the talented J.M. McDermott. Absolutely recommended.


SFSignal's Peter Damien gave NEVER KNEW ANOTHER five stars out of five and offered this basic breakdown before his more in-depth write-up:

PROS:A clear, unfettered prose style, allowing for moments of poetry without becoming florid or overwrought; an inventive story which takes a fairly simple pair of ideas and builds a complex narrative out of them; the length.
CONS:The structure of the novel, the stories within stories, might make it hard for readers to instantly pick up, but will reward them if they do; dialog is sparse throughout the book, excellent when it appears, but I wish there'd been more.
BOTTOM LINE: A powerful, visceral fantasy novel which has at its heart the a tragical love story, well-populated by people you cannot help but care for. Strong language and writing makes this a book to revisit.

Right... so, onward to other things worth mentioning.

The Raleigh Review has gone live with their latest issue, and I am told a print version will come out later this year. In their latest, though, do check out the very short little story Gaia. (Also check out Renee LaGue's flash story. It's a good one!)

I've written a lot of fabulist, surrealist re-imaginings of women and monsters from Greek Mythology as part of this integrated collection my agent's looking at, at the moment. Gaia is the first of these to see print, and I doubt it will be the last. The whole collection of short stories, monologues, novelettes, and etc. is called Arias for Women and Monsters, and if anyone is interested in more of these things, well, drop me a line and I'll see what I can send your way. I've got quite a few of them making the rounds, independent of the whole collection.

Apex Books, fine publishers of all things dark and speculative, have started an Alien Shots program, offering 99 cent short stories for ebook readers as a means of previewing the work of Apex authors, including Dru Pagliossotti, Gary Braunbeck, Matt Wallace, and me. I'm certainly going to give my colleagues an alien shot by reading these stories!

Apex is also reprinting LAST DRAGON, and all pre-orders done through the publisher will be signed by me before going on to you. Unfamiliar with LAST DRAGON? Well, it was one of's Year's Best SF/F of 2008, shortlisted for a Crawford Prize, and on Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading List. I hear it's pretty good. Not convinced? Here's a preview

Last I checked, Barnes&Noble is apparently convinced everyone should buy the reprint of LAST DRAGON, because -- again, last I checked, it was 8.39+shipping. Not bad, no?

Okay... Lemme check the open tabs and see if I forgot anything... OH, YEAH!

Friend and first-time author Stina Leicht's book OF BLOOD AND HONEY has finally arrived, and I expect to curl up with it this weekend. I think you should too. So does Omnivoracious, the books blog of So, if you already didn't have enough books, there's one more you should definitely check out.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

GUEST POST: Squishy from Space Squid Speaks, "bzrblzrblzrbl...SUBMIT TO SPACE SQUID...brzblblrzrblrbl

(J M McD sez: Toda's regular blog post has been circumvented in favor of the important message from Squishy, President of Space Squid, Inc., and all Intergalactic Cepholapodiumic holdings, May He Reign in Ink. All below is the translation efforts of his loyal earthling meatbag scribe, Matthew Bey.)

When we started Space Squid, we had the idea that we were taking things into our own hands. It was clear to us (Steve Wilson, D Chang, and I, Matthew the freaking Bey) that sci-fi was going down the tubes. Nobody wanted to read sci-fi short stories, and who can blame the readers? The ruling elites of the genre had grown old and dull. Science fiction had become the literary equivalent of folk music in an elevator.

Five years later, and everything has changed. Space Squid has grown to become the defining publishing instrument of the new millennium, consistently redefining science fiction in new and exciting ways. Our particular cocktail of sci-fi, cartoons, and sultry cover models has woken up a sleepy little literary genre consistently spurned by the likes of Margaret Atwood. We have published groundbreaking works by successful authors like J.M. McDermott, Patrice Sarath, and Chris Roberson and various unnamed other people. And most importantly, we have stood by our burning hatred of Mikal Trimm against all odds and reason.

People say to me, “Hey, dude, how is it that you managed to consistently redefine science fiction and brought a sleazy DIY zine into international prominence?” To which I reply, dude, I’m glad you asked that. The answer is simple: branding. The first step was taking the disparate elements of our business plan and amalgamating them into a quasi-anthropomorphic corporate mascot. Squishy the Squid strikes straight into the branding centers of a consumer’s brain. The wide, watery eyes trigger a basic suckling instinct, and by association, a deep desire for hard-hitting sci-fi.

The secret of Space Squid is that we have embraced the fundamental truth of the new media: People don’t want to waste their time reading. Reading involves effort and background knowledge. That’s why we have given our fans so many different ways to participate in the Space Squid experience without having to tax their pretty little brains. We organize the most decadent parties in the science fiction universe, filled with burlesque dancers, pig decapitation, and clay working. And we have funpage puzzles that are twice as fun as anything made by that bastard Will Shortz.

So as you’re reading about how the Hugo nomination went to some semiprozine other than Space Squid, you can relax comfortably in the knowledge that those old fuddy-duddies were never going to appreciate something this awesome anyways.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Word From Publisher's Weekly...

Never Knew Another 
J.M. McDermott, Night Shade (, $14.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-59780-215-4

This well-wrought fantasy trilogy launch maps the boundaries and sensibilities of Dogsland, a quasi-medieval domain that is hostile to any resident tainted by demon blood. McDermott (Last Dragon) evokes the lifestyles, politics, and attitudes of the realm through the experiences of three half-demons trying to go about their business unobtrusively: Jona, a dispossessed lord working as a noble's guard; Rachel Nolander, a cleaning maid living with her thuggish fully human brother; and Salvatore, a thief whose activities threaten to call attention to the unsavory activities of Jona's employer. Paths cross randomly and soon interesting connections develop among the characters. McDermott leaves many questions open, including the identities of the tale's wolfskin-wearing narrators, and readers will be eager to return to Dogsland in hope of finding answers


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A song while I'm busy as sin

Not so much dancing in the dark while I gotta turn in the thesis on the 20th of February. Still, hold on while I work hard, and I'll come back soon.

Guest bloggers coming up sporadically, too, as the folks I asked send me stuff.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blast from the Past: Gods of the Spiderhole

Here's something from August 2008, dredged up because I was thinking about the politics of immigration again...

"In the hills of San Diego, spiderholes and cardboard houses like the set of an apocalypse movie let men who didn’t belong there—never women, only men—hide and sleep. Fifty yards away, citizens lived in giant homes and shopped in giant stores and drove giant cars along giant roads. The citizens might as well be giants because they never saw the men hidden between the gaps in the hills with shrines to the Virgin and stories about older gods told in thick Mixtecan by men whose ancestors devoured conquistadors in rituals no Jesuit Inquisitor could completely burn away.
An anthropologist talked about the illegal immigrant problem with the people of the city. The citizens did not know how close they were to the camps. Moms in minivans shared stories about stolen things, mystified about their true value: “Somebody stole my pool cover, three bags of charcoal and the big gallon jugs of pool chemicals . . . Do you think they’re having a pool party in some meth lab?” They assumed the men had snuck up from Tiajuana and ran back south with their stolen goods.
The men lived behind the shopping center, invisible to the consumers there.
“People will steal anything,” said the anthropologist. In his mind, he wanted to ask, “Are you sure they’re the ones who stole it just because of their ethnicity?” but he didn’t want to tell people how they should think, until he finished his study.
The anthropologist could’ve told the women of the shopping center about the real value of things. Pool covers hid spiderholes. Charcoal cooked dinner, and then the ash mixed with piles of garden trimmings to mask the pool covers over the spiderholes from INS helicopters. Chemicals got dumped out, and the plastic jugs were used for both water and toilets."

Read the rest at the fabulous Fantasy Magazine: