The Friday Challenge continues at its new home, TheFridayChallenge.com.
Practical discussions of the craft, trade, and business of writing.
No politics. No gossip. No cute cat stories.
'The President in particular is very much a figurehead—he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.'Nixon finished his recitation, smiled, and then set down his glass and clasped his hands in his lap. "Hence, President Barack Beeblebrox, and Secretary of State That Woman. You are definitely living in some very interesting times now. It was a good decision on your part to close The Ranting Room. You wouldn't have been able to maintain your No Politics rule much longer, and sooner or later you'd have written something that would have gotten you into real trouble."
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
—Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man in the Arena"
A well-executed creative project is like great sex. Always end with a good climax and leave 'em complaining you finished too soon and begging for more, not complaining that you went on too long and begging you to stop already.
The new site looks a lot like the old site. I expected some different furniture and paint on the walls. Does anyone have an opinion on Blogspot vs. Wordpress?I'm impressed by WordPress. It's a powerful tool that enables you to do some amazing things. There's no question but that WordPress can be used to create a gorgeous blog, as a few minutes spent snuffling around their Showcase proves.
CORRECTION: The foregoing paragraph is true for WordPress.org. WordPress.com, which I was unfamiliar with, does provide free hosting and does not require installation on your own host. Thanks to Michelle and Randy for the correction.Blogspot, on the 'tother hand, is completely free and hosted by Google, so basically all you have to do is switch it on. Granted, the standard issue templates are pretty homely, and customizing them ranges from being a bother to a nuisance. But it is the easiest and fastest way to get a site up and running, especially if you're trying to run a blog with multiple contributors.
[Sidebar: By now at least a few of you are wondering what my problem is with socialism and communism. We've been through this before and I really don't have the time or patience to go through it again, so go back and read Scaling Socialism. After you've done so, I still won't feel like talking about it.]There is a reason why there is only one science fiction publisher today known for releasing libertarian-leaning titles, and why that same publisher is regarded as a pariah whose hard SF offerings are routinely denounced by all properly thinking peoples as "war porn," "gun porn," "crypto-fascist wet dreams," and so on. There is a prevailing orthodoxy in the science fiction publishing world, and it's been firmly in place for the past 75 years.
"This paperback edition, and no other, has been published with my consent and co-operation. Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it, and no other."Catering to the growing fantasy market, the publishers reissued everything they had in back inventory, and Robert E. Howard's old Conan The Barbarian stories, written back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, proved surprisingly popular. For a time it seemed the challenge was to find a new or reissued book in the SF/Fantasy section that did not have cover art featuring a bare-chested guy wearing a fur-lined jockstrap and holding an impossibly large broadsword. If Fabio had been around then he could have made a fortune posing for cover art.
J. R. R. Tolkien
As Sir Epididymis squirmed on his rude straw bed and sought warmth in the tattered rags of his old saddle-blanket, he caught a glimpse of the rising harvest moon through the stable window, and once again the vision of that jaundiced, pock-marked orb reminded him of his lost love, fair Princess Gwenrowundelwynne, she of the twelve teeth. Oh, happy the legions of lice who dwelt in the forest of those greasy golden tresses!That's this week's challenge: what happens next? I'll spot you a few more words, if you need them:
His view of beautiful Luna was eclipsed by the short and stubby form of the farmer, who like many of the peasants in North Umborgringlugrand had the gift of understanding the language of the animals.
"Sorry, guv," the farmer said, as he leaned in through the window. "I'll 'ave to ask you to move to the sty. The 'orses are complainin' about 'ow you smell."
The next morning...Well? What happens next?
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.
"As you know, Robert, the cornerstone of our modern world of perfect peace and universal prosperity is the Treaty of London, which was written when all the world's kings and presidents gathered together in the Crystal Palace and passed a law abolishing war forever."Some transcend mere infantile dreckdom, though, and reach the heights of pernicious, and yet, in their day, highly influential agit-prop.
"Thereafter, with the subsequent outlawing of money, private property, greed, illness, marriage, unlicensed childbirth, and organized religion, Man was at last set on the path to the shining city on the hill; the glorious future we all enjoy today!"Sorry. I couldn't resist.
"My word!" Robert ejaculated, "that does sound frightfully exciting! So where is this shining city on the hill? Beyond that foul-smelling clutter of tumble-down pig-pens I espy yonder?"
The Traveler from Utopolis smiled wanly. "Actually, that is the city. We're not quite done with the latest Five Year Plan yet."
Jets blasting, Bat Durston came screeching down through the atmosphere of Bbllzznaj, a tiny planet seven billion light years from Sol. He cut out his super-hyper-drive for the landing... and at that point, a tall, lean spaceman stepped out of the tail assembly, proton gun-blaster in a space-tanned hand.That's right. While it was Hugo Gernsback who named it science fiction declared it to be a genre apart, and John W. Campbell who rejected the idea of there being any possible crossover between science fiction and other forms of fiction, it was H. L. Gold who gave that rejection its enduring name. Bat Durston first appeared in the pages of Galaxy—but not in an actual story. "Bat Durston, Space Marshal," was a full-page advertisement, which appeared under the headline, "YOU'LL NEVER FIND IT IN GALAXY!" and ran repeatedly throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The rest of the ad copy went on to ridicule the idea of "a Western transplanted to some alien and impossible planet" and extol the virtues of Galaxy as being a magazine that published only stories "by people who know and love science fiction"—by which Gold meant authors who would never be caught dead crossing genre lines. Ergo, to answer the question we asked at the beginning of this essay: Why?
"Get back from those controls, Bat Durston," the tall stranger lipped thinly. "You don't know it, but this is your last space trip."