How the Smut Arms Race Destroys Fiction

September 11, 2014 in General Topics

Rotting BooksRecently I viewed a Netflix original series and nearly found myself as distraught as its protagonists. One might read that and think it’s a good thing. It isn’t.

Hemlock Grove is a series drenched in all-American, old school Gothic horror. When it’s working well, it’s a brooding, atmospheric throwback that reminds me of the made-for-TV movies and miniseries spawned by Stephen King’s books. Watching it felt like coming home. The series has the substance of so much TV and film I devoured in my teenage years.

The first few episodes had their problems–uneven acting, dangling plot lines and inconsistent cinematography–but high points as well, such as one of the best werewolf transformations I’ve seen, and I believed firmly that Hemlock Grove was going to be a wonderful diversion. Lately, though, I’ve found my interest in the show waning. It’s in part due to its uneven quality.

But also the fact that Hemlock Grove is just the latest show to become an active participant in the smut arms race.

To wrap your head around my point, I want you to think about what defines premium content on the top-tier subscription cable channels, and then keep that in mind while I continue. Read the rest of this entry →

“The Outlaw Contractions” is Now Available!

September 5, 2014 in General Topics

"The Outlaw Contractions", coverI know many of you are chomping at the bit for the conclusion of the Beacon Saga Serial, and I understand. But while you wait these last few weeks for the finale, I’ve taken a little time (as the Serial’s conclusion isn’t in my hands at the moment) to release something that might hold you over for a little while.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “The Outlaw Contractions”, a short story that I was determined to release. This window has given me the perfect opportunity to do so. Check it out over on its page. The book is Kindle-exclusive, will set you back just $.99, and is free if you are signed up for Kindle Unlimited. Read the rest of this entry →

#DS91sttime: Season 4, Episode 19, “Hard Time”

August 24, 2014 in #DS91sttime, General Topics

"Hard Time", Season 4.

Prison Moses. Season Four, Ep. 19, “Hard Time”

There are times when I wonder if I’m being too negative in this review series, particularly when I see the reviews of others online. Then I have to remind myself that the kind of person leaving a glowing comment on an episode review on some random website probably had a strong response to the episode in question anyway. Those with “meh” opinions wouldn’t circle the web to comment on an episode, and generally those that found an episode tedious or flat wouldn’t drop in to comment either.

And then, of course, the response people have to a work of fiction is often colored by their own experiences. There’s nothing overtly remarkable about “Accession”, for example–I’m objective enough to realize that it was good, but not great television. And yet, that episode was the perfect episode at the perfect moment in my life, and as such it resonated with me.

I suspect it’s the same with “Hard Time” for a number of people, particularly those who have experienced long-term trauma. I get why it creates such a response in some viewers. Read the rest of this entry →

The Rise of Emotoporn and 21st Century Grief

August 10, 2014 in General Topics

Americans have a problem. We’ve been bombarded and over-saturated with information to a greater extent than our ancestors. Our fading idealism is on display on Facebook; our angst is broadcasted within Twitter’s character limit. We are a generation that encounters soft-core smut as click-bait on news websites, and we’re driven to consume #trendinghashtags and viral videos. We’re not only living through Andy Warhol’s famous claim, but propagating it in status updates and the almighty share button. We’re wallowing in a constantly-connected world that has geared us to expect short bursts of hyper-focused data.

“Just one more click,” the Internet says.

We are now trained to see the world as a stream of content. And yet, we are increasingly disconnected from that world, experiencing it more and more through a screen accessible everywhere we go. The 21st century digital boy compulsively checks his smartphone. If he isn’t addicted to porn, there’s a fair chance that he’s addicted to the Internet in general, but he’s largely a functional addict, and so it goes. Read the rest of this entry →

#DS91sttime: Season 4, Episode 18, “Rules of Engagement”

July 21, 2014 in #DS91sttime, General Topics

Rules of Engagement, Deep Space NIne

So bored. DS9, Series Four, Ep. 18, “Rules of Engagement”

What’s big, brooding, and looks confused all over? If you said Michael Dorn during his tenure (as of this episode) on Deep Space Nine, you wouldn’t be half wrong. And he doesn’t seem to be the only one that’s a little lost. After an electric presence in the season’s opener, and somewhat slipping importance since then, Dorn’s Worf is now subjected to “Rules of Engagement”. The plot is, essentially, that Worf is accused of being too Klingon to belong in the Federation and on DS9. One wonders if this is a kind of Freudian slip; a reflection of the showrunners pondering if Dorn’s character belongs in the series at all.

I know, I know. Meta discussion is bad. But if there’s one character on Deep Space Nine that just keeps inviting it, it’s our favorite Klingon. I just can’t help but draw comparisons to the way O’Brien has managed to gel with the show from day one, whereas everytime Worf is on screen, he just screams “I was brought in because the show was on the rocks!”. Read the rest of this entry →