Throwback Thursday: A Cold War Vocabulary Lesson

I was scanning around for a topic to write about this Thursday and wondering if I was going to do something historical like “how to make daggers” or “the first fanfic G ever wrote” when the most Evil of Space Princesses posted this on her blog.


Really? Seriously? This level of ignorance is the product of an advanced educational system?

Suddenly, I knew what today’s entry had to be about. So, let’s all hop in our time machines — be they TARDISes, telephone booths, funky-looking steampunk chairs, or DeLoreans — and set the dial for August 27, 1980. We’ll avoid my neck of the woods since this trip puts me in my own time-line (I’ll be 24 hours old) and instead go hang out someplace cool. I’ll supply the chameleon circuits so we can waltz into the HQ of USPACOM without being noticed. Just remember — don’t muck about.

Things seem kinda tense, don’t they? Hear that chatter from EUCOM over in Stuttgart, Germany? And the calls from RDJTF — which will soon become CENTCOM — about the problems in Iran?

Oh, man, if only the poor bastards knew…

Notice how all the focus is on Europe and the Pacific, though? Now, guys, I know it’s been a while. Keep listening. Yep. There it is. I notice some of you look a little confused. West Germany? East Germany? What the hell?


Back during the 1980s, I often wondered where North and South Germany were. My excuse was that I was under the age of ten. I’m uncertain what someone who was born in 1969 would have to offer as a similar excuse for such breath-taking ignorance.

It’s 1980. The Cold War is still on, guys. There’s still a USSR in this time with missiles pointed at the US. There are tanks all over the Eastern Bloc nations. We have our own bases and our own forces in Europe to keep the Warsaw Pact from invading. NATO is a big deal instead of the joke we all know it will become. Article V of the NATO Charter is the life-line that Western Europe has clung to and the reason our boys are still there even though the Nazis were defeated well-nigh on forty years ago. It’s also the reason we have bases in Japan and the Japanese are praying we’ll keep the Chicoms from invading them and the Taiwanese (the Republic of China) is counting on us to help them keep the Chicoms from crossing the Strait and subjecting them to the good Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward that left millions dead.

Chicom? I see some of you looking confused again. Chinese Communist. It means “a person who is loyal to the People’s Republic of China — a communist government that uses repressive means including (but not limited to) censorship, state control of the media, re-education camps, imprisonment, torture, secret police, internal and interior-focused spy organizations, centralized control of the food supply, and centralized control of the economy in order to completely dominate the people it governs.” The PRC at this time does not allow people to practice religion, the press to report anything unfavorable to the government or to the Communist ideology, or the people to communicate freely with citizens of other countries. Chicoms are, by and large, ethnically Chinese but may also be Caucasian, Russian, Serbian, Arabian, Persian, Iberian, Hispanic, Chicano, Latino, African, Korean, Japanese, Amerindian, Indian, Vietnamese, or any other ethnic group or sub-group. Their primary identity is their loyalty to a political body — the PRC.


And, like these guys, they’ll kneel to whoever orders them. Unfortunately, there are no real-world Captain Americas, Thors, and Tony Starks to save them and those who wind up as collateral damage from their own raging stupidity.

They were not good guys. They were not sweet, cuddly kittens. They were brutal, murderous, power-hungry asshats who enriched themselves at the expense of their people. They gorged themselves on power and wealth while the average Chinese citizen went hungry. Their so-called noble ideology (which doesn’t scale at all beyond devoted communities such as monasteries where there are methods of population control and a larger community that isn’t bound by that ideology to support them — just look at places like Mount Atheos) led to the deaths of tens of millions of people.

Calling them “Chicoms” isn’t an insult. It isn’t a racial or ethnic slur. Anyone who thinks that is either 1) too young to have lived through the Cold War at all, 2) too stupid to use Google and therefore too stupid to be referenced as an expert on anything, 3) looking for a reason to be offended, or 4) some combo of the above.


Brought to you by…someone educated by hard-working teachers in the Poorest State in the Union™.

So, there go you. A new vocabulary word for you! Now, let’s go back to 2015. I need to see a man about a flying car…

— G.K.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Starting the Rebuild

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Starting the Rebuild

Okay, so far we’ve covered a lot of ground in just surviving and eking out a safe space to keep on surviving. By this point, you’re well into the Zombie Apocalypse and it’s time to change the game a bit. Instead of just surviving, you want to begin focusing on living, growing, and thriving with an eye towards rebuilding a viable civilization and reversing the Zombie Apocalypse.

So, how do you do that? Well, it’s not that easy. It took humans well over one hundred thousand years to develop civilization. It took us close to three thousand years to build a society that was capable of technological, legal, social, economic, and political change and adaptation without constant bloodshed (hat tip to Greece and Rome for pointing us in the right direction). Luckily, we don’t have to re-invent everything (we already know a lot and have the whole “writing” thing down) but we will have to regain a good bit of lost ground. Things are going to go backwards for a while — they’ll have to. Our current system relies heavily on electricity and the wonder that is the internal combustion engine. Those things go “bye-bye” during the Zombie Apocalypse.


Oh hell no…you mean to tell me there aren’t any showers up in here?

Some of you probably laughed when I suggested raiding a library or making certain you stole or “gathered in” as many books as you could. Well, get ready to eat those giggles. Those books are going to teach you things like “how to find metals,” “how to smelt and forge metals into tools,” “how to generate electricity,” “what electricity is and how it works,” “why you really want to try to set up base not too far from a nuclear power plant because that sucker will *still* be generating electricity and all you need to do is figure out how the controls work to harness it,” as well as “how to build a sewage system (and you will need one),” and “how to deal with tainted water.”

This is the point in the Zombie Apocalypse when, if you’re recruiting people, you’ll want to risk reaching out to lone wolves to see if any of them are just gun-shy individuals who possess a lot of knowledge or useful skills but might not be able to small-talk their way out of a paper bag (like me). Case in point: if you need a system (damned near any kind of system) worked out or you need to understand how one worked before, I’m really good at that. I have a talent that borders on “freaky super-power” for seeing how different parts/units/things/subsystems are composed and how they interact with each other in the larger system. Computers, computer programs and languages, computer networks, legal systems (the framework, not the actual practice), medical devices, surgical procedures, organ systems, communication and transport networks, molecules, galaxies — to me, they’re all just different kinds of systems organized of various components and sub-components with certain behaviors and rule-sets that interact in predictable and logical manners (with the occasional emergent property or three) and they can be deciphered, understood, and explained. That means they can also be harnessed and manipulated (with stipulations).


…Dammit, tell Daryl not to bring back any more systems nerds unless they have their manuals or a translation guide with them.

But if you ask me which shoes go with a certain purse or to comment on the latest celebrity sex scandal…well, I’m less than clueless there. I have finally learned who the Kardashians are. I’m still not certain who Taylor Swift or Kayne West is, though, other than that Kayne interrupted some awards ceremony because he really likes Beyonce (who is a singer…I think). I don’t know what clothes look good on me; I care very little about that. I know a handful of actors’ names and it’s because they’ve played characters I really liked. Trying to engage me in small talk is…just don’t do it. It’s not a good idea for you or for me. Conversations heard in my house (I had to move back in with my parents) often go like this:

Me: *staring into space* What’s the oldest civilization? When was it started? The Egyptians were, what, 4000 BC?
My mom: I think they were around 2000 BC so civilization would be 4000 years old (she’s used to my random questions)
Me: Actually, wait…didn’t the Chinese have a dynasty that was a few centuries, maybe a thousand years before that?
Mom: I don’t know. But I don’t go into all that lost civilization from 10,000 years…
Me: No! Neither do I. I’ve got this idea for a sci-fi story set 10,000 years in the future so I’m trying to find a data point to extrapolate from on how garbled events from the current era would be to people living in 12,000 AD. Because even with video…
Mom: Well, even with video, that’s no guarantee. I have 8-track tapes that I can’t find a player for. There are VHS tapes but no one has a VCR these days…
Me: Yeah, true, but going digital did eliminate *some* of that. Still, there would be a lot of telephonic garble.
Mom: Okay…
Me: Because history is often like that telephone game. You know, where a kid whispers something to one kid who whispers it to another and another…
Mom: Yeah, I know.
Me: I guess I’ll go with the Chinese, then. Better chance for a closer data point to extrapolate from. Also, the language is more unified — modern Chinese is closer to ancient Chinese than modern English is to ancient Egyptian. Less drift. Makes them a better example to work from. Thanks!
Mom: …did you finish cleaning the kitchen?

I’m great with systems and I know a lot of things from books. But I am so not the person you invite to a social occasion that doesn’t involve sitting around a table rolling polyhedral dice and arguing over saving throws. That’s why, in a Zombie Apocalypse, I’ll probably stake out a place as a lone wolf or with a group of people I know very well.


I am so going to have this printed on a t-shirt one day. Anyone else want one?

Funny thing is, weird, quirky people like me generally wind up being damned useful at rebuilding. So, you have to go out and find us because we are not going to be looking for you. We’ll build our own slice of heaven and fucking. stay. there. Forever.

And speaking of finding and recruiting people…now that you’ve established a base camp worth defending, maybe it’s time to come up with some hard-and-fast rules on how people can join your merry little band of survivors?

— G.K.

MRSA and Marx — the Hugo Aftermath

MRSA and Marx -- the Hugo Aftermath

Sorry for the silence last week. My friend and business partner Vic, the founder and majority owner of Rooster and Pig, had a stroke back at the end of July which means that I’ve been stuck with the fun of formatting all the books slated to go out now as well as handling all of the Q2 reports, trying to get the royalties and the staff paid, and trying to port the company to a new website since we’ve long since outgrown the system we’re on. Vic is handling all of this with his usual inability to chill the hell out and let someone else worry about everything so those of us who are his not-real-but-kind-of-really-real family get the fun of dealing with him both IRL and via the Internet.

Vic’s one of my buddies. He’s been there for me when no one else was. He knows that I’m quirky and weird and that, on some political issues, he and I are complete opposites (I want a government too powerless to do much of anything; he doesn’t). End of the day, we’re friends and I’d do anything for him. Race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status, the kind of books we read and write — none of that matters because he’s my friend.

And, by the way — he’s a gay, black, Messianic Jewish Iraqi era veteran who reads and writes a lot of gay erotica. Hell, I’ve edited some of it and spent hours wondering “can you actually do that though? I mean, wouldn’t it hurt if it got bent and twisted around like that?” Which is why he and I always have a little chuckle when folks like John Scalzi, PNH, TNH, and more say that I must be racist and homophobic. It’d be kind of difficult for me to be in business with someone like Vic if that were true.

But then, truth matters little to these people. They’re impervious to it the same way that MRSA is impervious to penicillin. All of the women writers in the Sad Puppies group (and there are a lot of us) could stand up naked to prove our womanhood and we’d still be told we were men. I can go hang out with my lesbian sister or my gay business partner and I’m still a homophobe (and a racist). We can gather all of the black, Asian, Indian (subcontinental), Native American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Hispanic, and Chicano authors we can find (not to mention a few of us who are from areas that are actually so poverty-stricken that they’re routinely cited as “one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States”) and none of that will matter. We can writer stories involving women (have done), gay characters (have done), minorities (check), overcoming great odds (CHECK), and very long-lasting and their actions here in the immediate aftermath are doing a lot more to discredit their side than the Sad Puppies ever could.

So, the question becomes: can WorldCon and the Hugos be salvaged? At this point, it’s debatable. Sarah Hoyt, Kate Paulk, and others intend to try next year with SP4 and I’m volunteering to help out. Maybe if we show them an effort led completely by women that will be savaged by men, it might just cause enough cognitive dissonance to wake a few people up. That said, I’m not going to put all my eggs in that basket because, like the Eloi, I don’t think the Hugos are going to last that long. I think that at this, the first real show of resistance on the part of the over-arching geek culture, WorldCon is just going to whither away and die. Sarah, Kate, et al are trying to save it but me, after seeing the way the Puppy Kickers acted this year and behaved at the awards ceremony?

Fuck that shit. Let the fucker burn and sow the earth it was on with salt. I’m going to help out with SP4 in hopes of convincing them to consider launching a parallel convention system that would actually bring in the rest of the fandom that WorldCon shuts out. You know — the comic geeks, the gamers, the Trekkies, the dabblers, the people who got into sci-fi from something that the CHORFs think is “lame,” (like The Walking Dead or Twilight) — the folks who are keeping the geek culture going with new ideas, new stories, new mediums, and more. Those who could care less about politics and who want a convention that is fun and welcomes them instead of telling them they’re WrongFans having WrongFun.

Martin told us to set up our own award. Well, why the hell not? And why not make the voting pool so massive it can’t be gamed, make the thing so open it’s financially solvent, and make it an actual stamp worth having on your book cover. The Hugo used to be that way — back when WorldCon wanted to have a larger audience. Obviously, they don’t want that anymore so screw ’em. Let the Hugos become exactly what the WorldConners want it to be — an award given to old, white Marxists by other old, white Marxists for books written for the enjoyment of other aging, white Marxists. Meanwhile, we work on making something where anyone can win it — not just the Toads at Tor who think anyone who lives outside of the Coastal Enclaves should be subject to summary execution for “lack of diversity.”

Imagine a con that embraces the audiences of Comic Con, BlizzCon, GamesCon, DefCon, and LibertyCon instead of a con like WorldCon that says hangs a sign on the door and says “Non-Marxists Need Not Apply.” Which one would you go to? And more importantly — which one would you take your children to (because the future belongs to those who bother to reproduce, yo).

— G.K.

The State of Fandom and the Hugos: Category Error

The State of Fandom and the Hugos: Category Error

I mentioned this monster post in a comment at Sarah Hoyt’s this weekend. Here it is. Grab something to drink because this one’s a doozy, mes amis.

So, the Hugo voting period ended and the winners will be announced soon. There’s been the predictable resurgence in Puppy-related topics recently with the mainstream press parroting the press releases from Tor et alia to the effect that the Puppies and those of us who think they have a point are evil, racist, sexist, homophobic, hateful people who want to build new Dachaus and gulags in order to ensure that only white heterosexual men can own property while the rest of the world is enslaved to them. Those of us who know better, of course, just roll our eyes and wonder why we’re always the ones being accused of planning to build the concentration camps and gulags while the ideologues the Puppy-kickers uphold as being morally superior seem to be the ones who manage to actually have such things turn up in their back yards.

…but I digress.

For decades, there have been award ceremonies that attempt to showcase “the best” works in a genre. The Hugos, once upon a time, (arguably) were the premiere award for science fiction works. However, back in the days when the Hugo was a worthwhile award, the voting pool for the award was much larger, making it much less susceptible to industry or pool capture. WorldCon attendance would have been much higher as well and overall membership (even non-attending) would have been higher. But, over time, the publishing industry captured WorldCon and the Hugos which turned them from a fan award into a marketing stunt.

Don’t get me wrong — the bylaws and the rules are clear. No, what happened is very subtle. It probably started back in the late 1970s to mid 1980s at the earliest, early 1990s at the latest. The houses themselves were being taken over by liberal art majors who, having grown up steeped in the mythos of “the men who took down Nixon,” came into the publishing world with the same zeal to change the world instead of to help find great stories that people wanted to buy. Factor in the rage many of them had felt throughout the 1980s over Reagan’s cowboy diplomacy, his Brandenburg Gate speech where he had the audacity to demand that the morally superior USSR tear down the Berlin Wall, the cognitive dissonance that they felt when the Eastern Bloc collapsed and the USSR voted itself out of existence…and these were hammers desperately in search of a nail. The publishing world was just that nail.

They honed in on science fiction and fantasy specifically because it was future-oriented. Also, because it didn’t require a lot of experience in scholarship or other fields already (try getting into biographies or academic publishing with just a degree in English). Ideologically, they’d already begun taking over a lot of other places — schools, colleges, the art world, film, television, music — so publishing was just the next step.

Now, this wasn’t some organized take over with a great conspiracy where a secret cabal issued diktats — I’m not a tin-foil hatter. It was a long-term underlying trend that was baked into socialism and progressive philosophy.

So, once they’d gotten into the top spots of the big houses like Tor and the fantasy/sci-fi imprints of the other big six, they started making it difficult for anyone outside of their social circles to work there which slowly ensured that agents pushing authors whose politics differed would go nowhere. The stories became homogenized as well, following a set formula with characters that were uniform, uni-dimensional, predictable, and uninteresting. Readers revolted and stopped attending the conventions. But the publishers kept going to the conventions and kept sending their star authors (which dragged out some fans) which led to…the conventions being captured.

Which is what happened to WorldCon and the Hugos. The Hugos aren’t a fan award these days. They haven’t been for the better part of nearly thirty years now. They’re a publisher award because it’s been the publishers who were controlling the voter pool because the voter pool was less than 1000 people. Of course they were in political lockstep and of course they were pissed off when Correia and the rest of us Puppies came in and proved it.

But now on to the real problem. That’s right everyone — 700 words to get to the point of the post. We’ve been accused of destroying the Hugos and we’ve accused the others of destroying them. However, the real problem is CATEGORY ERROR — we’ve never really defined what the problem is. Oh, we think we have. We’ve intuitively got a grasp of what it is. We agree that there is a problem. But have we defined it? No. Not so much.


Category Error — having stated or defined a problem so poorly that it becomes impossible to solve that problem, through dialectic or any other means. Also, not quite as cool as Loki’s Wager but still a good excuse to run a graphic with Tom Hiddleston, yo

So, what is the actual problem? The actual problem is that what the Hugos were created to recognize no longer exists. Back when the Hugos and WorldCon first started, an avid reader could go through every sci-fi book published in a year. But these days, “science fiction” is a massive genre that has spawned dozens of child/sub genres. It’s the same story in the fantasy world. And the publishers and the folks who captured the Hugos over the past few decades represent a tiny sliver of the fanbase and readership — the sliver that aspire more towards the once academic, avant-garde literary-chic style of writing. This group is also incredibly active and activist which is why they have a tendency to take over many other conventions and force out groups they dislike (which is why the Honey Badger Brigade got shut out and nearly arrested for showing up at Calgary Comic Con).

The WorldCon/Hugo by-laws make it very difficult to change and recognize the new reality and…well…doing so would cost the publishers and the lit-chic folks their powerbase. Therefore, if those of us on the Puppy-side want to really fix this and have an award that is meaningful, durable, not subject to capture by one group or another, and represents the best works without showing the divide between works that sell well and works that win awards that the Hugos have shown in recent years, then we have our work cut out for us. The first thing we have to do is actually start defining stuff. I’ll expand on this further in later entries but for now, here are some of the child-genres I’ve noticed in science fiction and fantasy that we should consider:

Science Fiction:
Space Opera
Dystopian
Cyber
Military
Zombie Apocalypse
Superhero
Hard sci-fi
-Physics
-Chemistry
-Biology
-Astronomy
-Space Exploration
Post-Apocalyptic
Medical
Literary
Expanded Canon
-Star Trek novels
-Star Wars novels
-Halo book
-StarCraft books
-Halflife books
-Dune novels
-Doctor Who novles
-The X-Files books
-Batman comics
-Marvel: The Avengers comics

Fantasy:
High Fantasy
Epic Fantasy
Swords-and-Sorcery
Nordic
Shamanistic
Native American
Medieval
Urban
Dark
Surreal
Dystopian
Superhero
Romance
Literary
Expanded Canon
-Warcraft novels
-World of Warcraft novels
-Diablo novels
-Legend of Zelda comics
-Thor: The Dark World comics
-Doctor Who novels

Look, the simple fact of the matter is that our genres are growing and this is a good thing. We need to define the child/sub genres and start expanding awards to include them. And, we may need to give up on the idea of there ever being a single “best science fiction for the year” award ever again. It’s become a bit like trying to decide which vehicle is the best for a given year these days. Yes, some are objectively better than others but when you’ve got so many doing so many different things… it’s difficult to say “this is the best OVERALL” without actually defining what in the name of Issac Asimov you’re talking about.

Category error, guys. Let’s start fixing it, shall we?

— G.K.

Friday Review: After The Blast

Friday Review: After The Blast

This week’s review is a short work from my friend and fellow author T.L. Knighton. I grabbed it with my Kindle Unlimited and am planning to get the second book in the series already to add to my “to read” pile. After the Blast is a nice, quick bit of light reading that sets up a series quite well. I’m looking forward to learning more in the second book.

The premise of the novelette is this: there’s a nuclear attack on the US. How extensive it is, who launched it, and what the international response is are never covered in the story. Instead, the action focuses on the main character, Jason, as he makes his way to join his family in north Georgia. He encounters some good folks and bad folks on his journey and transitions from being a menial office worker to being something of a badass by the end of the story.

The pacing is a bit rough at the start but once Knighton finds his stride, it’s all good. And, with it only being 0.99 (or free with Kindle Unlimited), it’s well worth it. A nice impulse buy that will get you hooked on what looks to be a great series.

    

Four and a half rainbow farting zebricorns — no major complaints but there were some editing problems (nothing major — nothing that renders it unreadable like what happened with the eBook version of The Road).

— G.K.

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Fanfic Friday -- Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Happy Friday, everyone. The latest chapter of Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation is up for your reading pleasure. Things are moving forward and we learn a bit more about T’Loran’s past and much fun is had. Okay, not so much “fun” but “setting up things” because yay for exposition.

Anyhow, I have some other work to clear out of the way so go on and get your read on!

— G.K.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Setting Up A Base

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Setting Up A Base

So far we’ve covered the preparing, surviving the early days, getting out of Dodge, who to save (or invite) for your group and who not to, and what kind of groups you’ll run into. Now let’s talk about how to decide where to set up your group’s base of operations so you can ride out the zombie apocalypse in relative safety, good health, and quiet with an eye towards re-establishing order and a stable (and sane) social base. You’ll want to do this in at least three stages because trying to do it all at once will be virtually impossible.

Firstly, look for a place that is almost already secure but would be passed over by most groups because it’s psychologically tarnished. Do not go after valuable or historically significant landmarks here. Look for prisons, abandoned armories, schools with fences or palisades (the modern high school, architecturally and structurally, differs little from a prison), state mental institutions, old forts, trailer parks, or vast stretches of farm lands surrounded by forests. Depending on which you find, your security details will be different. Avoid residential areas, suburbs, clusters of homes close together, neighborhoods and subdivisions, hospitals, historic landmarks, or areas of any cultural significance.

Prisons, armories, schools, mental institutions, and forts will all have pre-built fences. They’ll usually be double-rows of fences along the outer perimeter with another internal double-row around the buildings. There will be guard towers, look-out points, and the access roads will be easy to cut (meaning you can control access to and from the area). However, they will generally be passed over because these places are not built for comfort or privacy. You may have to clear any zombies inside them but if no one else has claimed the place, take it and make it your own. You can use its own defenses to help you take it over with a little careful planning.

Trailer parks can be easily secured by dragging the trailers closer together (don’t worry about the electrical access because, by this point, it’s shot with the grid down) or by selecting a few trailers near each other and using others as watch-out points. A rural area where you can see for a good distance is also a wise choice since you can secure a small area within it to live and let the rest act as a barrier.

Why pick these places? Because they have negative psychological value. No warlord or tin-penny dictators are going to want them. No restorers are going to fight you over them. You are deliberately choosing a shit-house (but a defensible shit-house) over a mansion because doing that gives you a greater chance of being ignored by the living while letting you focus your energy on defending against the zombies.

This is phase one. Phase two is finding some place that doesn’t suck quite so much.

With your first secure area down, start scouting for a place nearby that has access to a source of running water (a river is ideal), farm-able land, and forests with a lot of mature trees. You no longer care about how accessible it is by car — the further it is from any road, the better, actually. You’re going to be doing some very intensive subsistence-level farming and, if you’re in the South, you can probably feed about five people per one acre of farm-able land. Now, the fun part is that the land doesn’t have to be where you’re going to live — it just needs to be within a two hours’ walk. No, you’re going to live in the forest.

Specifically, up in the. damn. trees.


TO. THE. TREES. ALREADY. GUYS.

This is the part that drives me up the wall whenever I watch The Walking Dead. They spend so much time securing the prison. They spend so much time trying to repair those fences. They spend so much time building fucking walls and it’s stupid. I’m waiting for my man Daryl to have a light bulb moment and say “Hey, Rick…the dead can’t climb trees. Hell, they can’t climb ladders. Why in the hell are we living on the ground? Let’s build a bunch of tree houses all Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves style and be done with it.”


Any episode now, he’s gonna realize it and then go all “and E=mc², asshole!” and then, that’s it. I’m not sure what “it” will be but that will be it.

Seriously, I’m sure there’s some equation to demonstrate this but the larger the perimeter’s surface (re: the circumference of the fence) then the more zombies can surround it and the greater force they can enact upon it. Hell, they don’t even have to surround the thing, just get a sufficient mass at one point and the force will cause that point to buckle. One entry point does lead to a cascade of failure points as the herd forces its was through their opening, sending shockwaves and vibrations through the weakened fence. You’d have to bury half the damned fence, making it twice as “tall,” to diminish this and it would still eventually happen. (Physics peeps and math peeps can probably back me up here).

Trees, on the other hand, evolved to deal with this kind of crap because they had to put up with the wind and floods and thunderstorms and tornadoes. The circumference of a tree trunk is not sufficiently large for a herd to cluster around it in great enough numbers to build up the momentum and energy they would need to knock the tree over. Factor in the root structure and the fact that, for all that trees seem rigid to us, they’re really flexible, and you’re a chump if you’ve not moved back into them during the zombie apocalypse!

So, to kick off stage three, select your forest near a river, not too far from where you’ll be farming. Then start digging a deep trench from the river around the initial “city trees” you’ll be building in. Instant moat. Outside of that, dig another series of staggered trenches and line them with spikes. Cover that stuff with branches. Pit traps. Inside the moat, build a fucking double palisade and inside the gap — another trench with spikes. Then start building your homes up in the trees and connect them with suspension bridges. You can use waterwheels and modified aqueducts to get water from the river up to the tree-house level. You’ll probably want to look into building a “public” bathing house and setting up latrines outside of each house (use soil to absorb the “leavings” and guess what? You have fertilizer!) You can keep domesticated animals inside the palisade and, since you’re living in the forest now, hunting is easier.

Once that’s done, expanding your settlement to include more “city trees” is easy and does not require expanding the moat or palisade.

The great thing about this is that no one is going to want this set up. Restorers won’t go for it, warlords won’t want it (too damn much work). Scumbags would have a hell of a time finding it, let alone getting in. Your community will be forced to work together doing some fairly back breaking labor (don’t wax poetic to me about the nobility of subsistence farming. My great grand-daddy was a subsistence farmer). That will help you weed out trouble-makers and idiots. However, with this set up, you will have some leisure time and you may be able to spare some resources if you have happened upon some lone wolf types who are like Milton Mamet and would be wasted in the fields but could instead invent ways to generate electricity or improve aqueducts or the like.

Another bonus — everyone can sleep a full night. The rest will help out a lot in terms of health, energy, and cooperation. Since you don’t have to worry about the zombies breaking in since they can’t climb up and get you, you don’t have to post guard as much. You’ll still need some guards but they’ll be mostly watching for humans, not zombies.

In your own tree fort city of awesome, you can begin planning how to reach out to others, get news of what else is going on in the world, and start rebuilding a civilization. We’ll touch on that next time!

— G.K.

Zombie Apocalypse Readers Rejoice: Risen Ash Updated!

Zombie Apocalypse Readers Rejoice: Risen Ash Updated!

It’s Thursday, all, which means that it’s time for a little zombie apocalypse goodness with an update to Risen Ash. Serious discussions are taking place at the CDC involving paranoia, where to find information, and if people can be trusted. Shit is starting to get real, y’all, and eventually it’s all going to come to a head. But, for now, there’s work to be done so go read and find out…

As always, don’t forget that you can back me on Patreon or support my writing habit by getting a membership here today!

— G.K.

Sad Puppies: Why I Don’t Do Cons

Sad Puppies: Why I Don't Do Cons

First, allow me to fangirl a little bit. Cedar just added me on G+ so I’m kind of doing this right now:

But then I started reading Sarah’s entry from today which led me to reading Vonda McIntyre’s entry which has led to a round of head-scratching, several cigarette breaks, a few consultations of Wikipedia’s entry on Arrow’s impossibility theorem, a lengthy session back on Khan Academy which involved a lot of swearing at parabolas (which seems to be the only aspect of algebra II I’m doomed to fail), and the realization that I’ve got a 2:30 appointment so I need to wrap this up already.

People: shit like this is why I don’t do cons. Okay, I went to BlizzCon (twice). I went to the WWI when it was in Paris. But for all of those — I worked for Blizzard and I was at the convention working. I’ve never been to E3, Gamescom, DreamHack, GenCon, IndyCon, any of the ComicCons, WorldCon, or WalkerStalker Con. I had wanted to go to LibertyCon this year but did not have the money. I may go next year if I can scrape together the funds and if work permits but that will probably be the only convention I’ll go to.

Why? Several reasons.

1) I hate traveling. Flying anywhere is a hassle. It’s expensive. Hotels are insanely overpriced and the food is crap (the Internet is generally shitty, too). Driving is a little better but the price of gas is insane.

2) So. Many. People. And you have to talk to them and you can’t hide from them.

3) Where there are a lot of people, there’s going to be a lot of noise. If I want a migraine, there are cheaper and more efficient methods to give myself one.

4) It’s become pretty clear that the people running these conventions don’t like people like me. If you think that the Sad Puppies had a point (that the Hugos were being given out based on the author’s politics and were going to sermon-fics that delivered a particular sermon instead of to stories/books that were well-written or told interesting stories with interesting characters regardless of the author’s politics), then you’re clearly not welcome at these conventions. At best, you’ll be just asked not to show up (and maybe made to feel like an unperson the way Johnathon Ross was). At worst — you get forced out for no reason with baseless and false (and malignant) allegations lodged against you (as happened against the Honey Badger Brigade). Being a minority, a woman, a lesbian, a non-American, or even all of the above does not protect you from this. You could be an African-born male-to-female transgendered post-operative black lesbian Rwandan socialist Muslim and if you happen to think “hey, Larry Correia had a point,” you might as well be a WASP man for all the good it will do you if you try to turn up at a con.

5) It’s actually getting borderline dangerous for those of us who don’t toe the SJW “Brianna Wu is our Goddessa and we shall sucketh Scalzi’s cocketh, Massa” line to live, let alone show up at cons. I really don’t want to get arrested, SWATTed, or have my car run off the road and die on the side of the highway.

So, I avoid them. I mean, why bother? The panels are just going to be about how people like me are evil, how stories I like are stupid, how I and my whole family should be killed, etc, etc, etc. It’s nothing I didn’t hear in the grievance-mongering circles at college. I’m not going to piss thousands of dollars away just to hear it while surrounded by cosplayers.

Still, it gets on my nerves. That one side or the other needs protection from the other. How about we all do the sensible thing and talk about the giant elephant in the room? The SJWs are crazy, they’ve got no problem with violence as a means to an end, they’ve got no problem with wishing death/torture/pain/rape/whatever on their political or philosophical opposition. It’s illogical to put yourself anywhere near them or in any place where they control ingress and egress or security. Not because they’ll kill you outright (they’re crazy, not stupid) but because they can make your life a living hell. Once you’re where they control the security systems, they can chose what the police see (and don’t see). They don’t need to win their cases in a court of law, people — for some things, the mere accusation is enough.

And you really want to go to where they’re going to be? Shit, I avoid being in the same ZIP code as them if I can. So long as I’m out in the middle of Bumfuck Nowhere, Landmassia — and can prove I’m there — they can’t accuse me of doing jack to them.

So again — do you really want to go to WorldCon and give them the chance to accuse you of theft, harassment, rape, murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking, or whatever else they come up with? Or do you want to do the sensible thing and stay at least three ZIP Codes and a time zone away from any SJW/CHORF whenever possible?

— G.K.

PS — If you must go, here’s a list of criminal defense attorneys in Spokane, WA. And, if you are going, add me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know. We can exchange contact info and I’ll volunteer to be your “one phone call” if you do get arrested on trumped-up BS charges.

Epic Fantasy: In The Shadow of Yggdrasil Updated!

Epic Fantasy: In The Shadow of Yggdrasil Updated!

If yesterday’s update didn’t quite hit the spot for your epic fantasy fix, maybe today’s will. In the Shadow of Yggdrasil has been updated! This week we see a bit more of the rescued Jotun prisoners and some hope on the horizon for them. Also, more little brother adorableness! The war is going to be tangential for a few more chapters but, don’t worry — it’s still a-raging. The action is going to pick back up soon. Enjoy the calm before the excrement hits the circular ventilator!

As always, don’t forget that you can back me on Patreon or support my writing habit by getting a membership here today!

— G.K.

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