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Posts Tagged ‘The Forms of Things Unknown’

It’s been three years since I stopped publishing “fictional interludes” on a monthly basis, and more than six years since I stopped doing “My Favorite __________” columns.  And yet last week I started deeply missing that feature, and wishing that I could produce them as often as I used to.  That mood inspired me to pull out my own copies of Ladies of the Night and The Forms of Things Unknown, browse through them, and reread a few of them, and that in turn inspired me to make a list of my own favorites from both collections (and a couple which will be included in my next collection, Lost Angels, which I’ll probably compile in another year or so).  So without further ado (except to encourage you to support my work by buying them if you don’t already own them, and reviewing them if you like them), I hereby present my own personal top 10, in order of publication, with a short comment on each.

1) Pearls Before Swine

Perceptive readers have certainly noticed my love of mythology in general and Greek mythology in particular; a number of my stories have themes, titles, settings or characters borrowed from it.  This one has only the last, and yet its title is scriptural and its themes eternal.  And its Southern Gothic setting is, in many ways, one that fits the character almost as well as the one she’s usually associated with.

2) Bad News

While it’s not uncommon for my stories to feature dry humor, I have difficulty performing this one at book readings without giggling.  Even if I were restricted to five selections, I think this one would still make the cut.

3) Visions of Sugarplums

As befits a Christmas story, this is certainly the lightest, most sentimental, and most optimistic tale on this list.  And the protagonist is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever (literally) dreamed up, partly because rather than being a goddess, witch, villainess or femme fatale, she’s just an escort of rather nervous temperament who finds herself in well over her head.

4) Rose

This isn’t my only story which treats seriously a topic I usually make fun of in my non-fiction, nor my only story based on a poem, nor the only one featuring very dark humor.  And did I ever tell you that the unreliable narrator is one of my favorite literary devices?  Because it is.  Read this one and maybe you’ll understand why.

5) Millennium

A tale of First Contact seen through an extremely cynical lens.  You’ve probably never seen aliens portrayed quite like this before, and the fact that you probably haven’t may tell you just how cynical.

6) The Sum of Its Parts

I’m not really very good with pastiche; the only author whose style I can reasonably approximate is Maggie McNeill.  And that’s probably why I like this one so much; it reads very much like a pulp tale from the 1930s, and the characters and dialogue are, in my own admittedly-biased opinion, some of the best I ever wrote.

7) Knock, Knock, Knock

I’ve written scarier things than this, and more personal things than this, but none both scarier and more personal.  And I still don’t like thinking about it when I’m alone late at night.

8) Lost Angel

This is not a tale of horror, at least not the usual kind of horror; it is, in fact, pretty squarely in the genre generally known as “science fiction”.  Nobody dies violently or suffers some other awful fate…so why do I always experience a pronounced frisson when thinking about the ending?

9) Trust Exercise

Many of the stories in The Forms of Things Unknown are, in a way, autobiographical, but none more so than this one.  It’s about love, trust and other scary things, but it can’t possibly scare you as much as it scares me because I know what it all means.  I still think you’ll enjoy it.

10) Wheels

While “Trust Exercise” is a scary story about love, it’s not the love that’s scary; that is definitely not true in “Wheels”, the distillation of some themes that have haunted me for almost four decades and finally demanded I explore them in a more traditional narrative form.

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As the Beatles said in a song that isn’t the one this column is named for, “I get by with a little help from my friends”.  And that’s what this is; a request for a little help from you, my readers and friends.  Of course, the most helpful help is usually monetary, but I’m aware that many of you may be suffering from giving fatigue lately; therefore only the FIRST of these requests is for monetary help.  The other two won’t cost you a cent, though the second one will cost you some time; the third only requires a change in the way you do things.

First, as is not unusual with GoFundMe projects, mine is stalled at just over the halfway mark.  So if you haven’t contributed yet, please do so by clicking here!  And if you already have, please consider doing so again, or subscribing to my blog by clicking one of the handy buttons in the margin.  So far, your contributions have enabled the burning of DVDs (which should be delivered to us this week), getting The War on Whores onto Amazon (where you can watch it for FREE if you’re a Prime member), and doing several sponsored screenings for groups which couldn’t otherwise afford it.  Please keep us going so we can get on iTunes and keep doing those sponsored screenings (next ones are coming in Florida in only two weeks)!  And even though I’m not allowed to advertise gifts directly on GoFundMe, there are indeed gifts and you can see them here.

Second:  speaking of Amazon, their algorithms dig up things a lot better if they have more reviews; would you please consider reviewing The War on Whores, The Forms of Things Unknown and/or Ladies of the Night for me?  More reviews could result in more sales, and more sales not only means more money, but more exposure.  Since all the items are linked by my name, increased attention to the books could also mean increased attention to the film, which will get the message out that much more.  And since the film is being considered “adult” by search engines, that’s extra-important in these days of shadowbans, hidden content and de-weighted search results intended to bury anything sex-industry-related where it can’t disturb the sleep of prudes and prohibitionists.

And that brings us to number 3.  Due to Twitter shadowbanning sex workers (removing us from search results, etc) my follower count has been stalled for a very long time.  So what I need is for those of you who follow me there to consider replacing some or most of your “likes” with retweets.  “Likes” are nice, but they don’t put my tweets in front of more eyeballs, and since I’m fortunate in having a very large fraction of my followers come from outside the demimonde, retweets allow my tweets to be seen by people who might not otherwise have seen them.  More viewers = more readers = more exposure for my writing, speaking, etc, including The War on Whores.  And because of that war, we whores need all the support we can get.

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Remember the special edition Ladies of the Night with a unique hand-drawn sketch by Chester Brown, signed by both Chester and me?  Well, there are only two of them left!  The sketches are the ones shown here, and they’re available in my store.  So if you want one, I wouldn’t wait much longer!  While you’re in the store, you might consider buying an autographed copy of one or both books, assuming you don’t already have one.  And just in case you missed it, I have a new story out as of last month; if you’re a patron you should have already received a PDF copy; if you didn’t, please let me know!  And if you aren’t already a patron, you can become one by clicking one of those lovely buttons under “Become a Blog Patron” in the right-hand column.  Or if you just want to read the story, you can get it on Kindle for only 99¢.  Anyhow, that’s all I have to say for now, at least until I get the next book (an essay collection) out sometime this year.

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Did you notice that just over a week ago, I changed the picture at the top of the right-hand column to the cover of my new book, The Forms of Things Unknown?  That wasn’t just a cosmetic decision; I did it to draw attention to the fact that I now have an onsite store of my own!  I’m not very good with computer stuff, so even though I decided to do this soon after the book was published and solicited (see what I did there?) some advice on how to build it from a gent knowledgeable in such things, it took me until now (and a bit of arm-twisting by Lorelei) to get around to actually doing it.  Really, PayPal makes it pretty easy; I’m just very easily overwhelmed by complex protocols with which I’m unfamiliar.  But anyhow, if you just want a regular paper or Kindle copy of the book, it’s easiest just to go through Amazon.  But if you’d like an autographed copy of either this one or Ladies of the Night, or one of the signed and numbered copies with unique sketches by Chester Brown (and signed by both of us – there are only four left!) just click on the little picture to visit my store, and don’t forget to add a note telling me how you’d like the book inscribed!  Later I plan to add other merchandise to the store, but for right now let’s just be glad I was able to get it set up in the first place; you could encourage me (and help support my activism) by buying something today, and leaving a review on Amazon too.  Just sayin’.

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Were you a little surprised that I didn’t mention my trip to Philadelphia last week, then there it was in this week’s diary?  That’s because I typically write my diary columns on the previous Friday or Saturday, and I didn’t book the gig until Monday.  Yeah, I could’ve altered the column to reflect it, but the details weren’t worked out until after publication time on Tuesday so I didn’t want to.  Though standby travel has its drawbacks (such as the probability of being bumped out of first class and the possibility of being bumped off of a flight altogether), it’s wonderfully flexible and I didn’t even bother to make my travel arrangements for this flight until the weekend.  Yes, I said “this flight”; I’m writing this somewhere over the Dakotas (I think) and I took my second Valium about 20 minutes ago.  I only wish I knew how long Zofran is supposed to last; Mistress Google tells me that the half-life in women is roughly 2 to 6 hours, but that’s pretty damned broad range so I’m not sure if I’ll need a second one for a five-hour flight after taking the first one an hour before scheduled takeoff (which was about 90 minutes before actual takeoff).  And all the literature I can find seems to assume I’m taking chemotherapy, so it contains phrases like “take one an hour before radiation treatment and another 8 hours later”.  So will one be enough?  Who knows?  Let’s hope the flight is smooth enough that I won’t find out; it was a bit bumpy until we crossed the Rockies but it’s been smooth for a while now, and with any luck it’ll remain so until I land.  Except for the landing itself of course; landings are the worst, most interminable, scariest & most nauseating part of the flight even with my dope.  Still, my discovery four years ago that pseudoephedrine will clear up the aftereffects of vertigo pretty quickly (despite being powerless to prevent it) has made a huge difference; whereas a vertigo attack used to mean that I’d need to crawl into bed as soon as possible, cry myself to sleep and then wake up hungry in three or four hours, eat a light meal, then go back to sleep for another six hours or so, now it just means hiding in an airport bathroom toilet stall for about half an hour while waiting for the evil, evil pseudoephedrine to take effect (it’s a controlled substance, you know) and then being a little woozy and unhappy until I get to a safe place and get something to eat.  I’ve also discovered that Lorelei’s caresses speed the recovery process, but she’s not with me today so I’ll have to make do.  Anyhow, this is what I write like when under the influence of 20 mg of Valium and no liquor; maybe I should try to do a story this way sometime.  If you’ve already read “Trust Exercise” from my new book, The Forms of Things Unknown, you already know what it looks like when I write part of a story under the influence of edible weed.  And if you haven’t read it, why haven’t you? Go buy it on Amazon, pretty please!  And review it too!  Maybe I’ll try a series of stories written on different drugs; the one on MDMA should be adorable if incoherent, and the one on acid should be interesting indeed.

So okay, I just came back from a one-hour diversion to Twitter since writing the last sentence, and we’re supposed to land in about an hour and a half, and it’s getting kinda bumpy again (Lake Michigan maybe?) so I’m going to wrap this up.  I’d take a picture but my phone is too low on battery & this plane has no power outlets, so you’ll just have to take this entirely-appropriate substitute.  And if this dude behind me keeps kicking my seat he’ll soon get a free helping of verbal abuse.

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Last week was such a busy one!  On Wednesday I flew to Chicago, on Friday I had a reception at which I spoke and sold some of my books, and on Saturday I brunched (lightly!) with the people working on a brand new escort advertising site I’m very excited about (and will tell you more about as things develop) before flying home.  And in between Wednesday and Saturday, I visited with several gentlemen in private.  See, y’all, that’s how you can get me to visit:  set up a decent-sized event for me (or even a couple of smaller ones), give me the time to set up a few appointments, provide me with lodging & meals and I’ll fly out to your city, where you can also see me in private if you like.  Interested?  Let me know!  On Sunday I also marched with the SWOP contingent in Seattle’s Pride parade (somebody has to represent sex workers since the mainstream LGBT organizations won’t), and I’ll have some good pictures of that for you later.

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In folklore, fantasy literature and occult thought, it’s possible to conjure beings from spiritual realms or other planes of existence or whatever to appear before one by various means, usually some sort of spell.  In the case of truly powerful and malevolent entities, it might be as simple as saying the being’s name (hence the phrase “speak of the Devil”), but usually there are conditions that have to be met – a sacrifice or some such – in order for the invocation to work.  Well, I’m neither an angel nor a succubus, but in response to a number of requests over the past couple of weeks I’m going to provide you with a not-so-mystic formula which will enable you to summon me to your city.  Normally, the process would involve contacting me via email, offering me a booking or bookings totaling up to the round-trip travel time to wherever it is, and then paying a deposit on that time; for example, it’s a four-hour flight each way to Chicago, so I’d need eight hours of work to justify travel.

Now, I recognize that a booking that long might be outside of the budget of many of you, but while I’m hawking my new book, The Forms of Things Unknown, I have an alternative means of summoning me anywhere in the US (and maybe other countries later, but we’ll talk about that when it materializes).  All you need to do is this:  contact a local bookstore or bookstores to find out if they’d like me to do a reading, and how much advance notice they need.  Then figure out a venue for me to do some kind of talk – for a university, a women’s group, a sex worker rights or libertarian group, etc – and talk to whoever you need to get a general idea of how to set that up.  Then contact me so we can agree on some tentative dates, and set up the events firmly.  Finally, arrange for a place for me to stay while in your city…and poof, I’ll magically fly through the air on the appointed day and appear at the events you’ve set up, and you can book a normal-length appointment for me instead of having to shell out for a long one.  I know this may seem like a lot of work, but am I not worth it?  Some folks in Chicago evidently thought so, because I’m heading there Wednesday; I’ve also spoken to sponsors in Washington DC and Tampa, Florida.  What have you got to lose?  Make a few phone calls at no cost to yourself, exercise your planning skills and summon the Whore of Babylon without all that seal-breaking and goat-sacrificing rigmarole.  You’ll be glad you did.

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