Welcome!

I'm James Maxey, the author of the Dragon Age fantasy series of Bitterwood, Dragonforge, and Dragonseed, the Dragon Apocalypse series of Greatshadow, Hush, and Witchbreaker, as well as the superhero novels Nobody Gets the Girl and Burn Baby Burn. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Total collapse

Finished this week with 15 hours overtime, assuming I don't go in to work more this weekend. Totally exhausted, though I had a nice caffiene-like jolt when I got my paycheck from the last two week period. I had 15 hours overtime on that check--this week I've matched that, and still have a week to go. It helped that I finally got a raise after a year and a half since my last performance review. Way back then the company was going through belt tightening and there were salary caps set at ridiculously low levels that I had long since passed. I was shocked to get any raise at all back then--and insulted that the raise was a dime. Seriously. Ten freakin' cents. Why bother? My raise this time is nothing to brag about, but it did manage to squeak above the level of insulting. It more than makes up for the fact that driving to work costs twice as much as it did a year ago.

All week long I've had serious insomnia. I thought I'd be collapsed long before now. I've been sitting around playing Spider Solitaire and singing in an off-key country twant to They Might Be Giant's "Cyclops Rock." "You turn around and break my heart" is part of the lyrics, and that's just about as country as you can make a lyric, in my opinion. I feel drunk. In conversation at dinner, I felt like I was in pure babble mode. I'm probably babbling now.

Man, I need to sleep.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

SWEET!!

Man, I got home today totally wiped out. I left work at 1:30 am--after clocking in at 10am. 15 1/2 hours of my life I'll never get back. It's Tuesday, and I've already worked 24 hour this week, with another 27 scheduled. I drove home completely brain dead--and found the December issue of Asimov's in my mailbox, containing my short story "To the East a Bright Star." Sweet! Now I can quit my day job!

Oh, wait a minute. I've already spent that money. Ah, well.

Curiously, during the summer, when work was kind of slow, I was writing very little. Now that September has hit and half the staff quit, forcing me into long, stressful hours, I'm writing pretty steadily. Unfortunately, I'm not writing science fiction. Having made two sales to Asimov's I'm really wanting to send them more SF, but all my story ideas lately have been mainstream and horror. The piece I currently have submitted is only tangentally SF, and probably more deserving of the label "fantasy" since it has the angel Gabriel as one of the characters. I wish now I hadn't sold som many SF stories to Phobos for their anthologies. I've published some pretty good stories in books that barely sold a thousand copies.

Okay, 2:30. I'm tuckered, even with the Asimov's jolt. Best go to bed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Libertarians in 08! Rah, rah!

Speaking of doomed love, the Libertarian party in NC has been decertified. My registration has been switched by the state from LIB to IND. I wish I could work up more of a sense of outrage about this. A lot of libertarians I talk to are truly convinced that if people would only hear their ideas, they would win elections. The ultimate Libertarian campaign slogan would be "OUT." As in "Out of Iraq, out of our bedrooms, out of our wallets." To me, this is a very atractive proposition.

Out of Iraq (and Germany, and Korea, and Japan, etc.). We shouldn't be using our army for anything but defense of our own borders. The case was never made to me that Saddam Hussien was a real threat to America, and to the level that he was a threat, there are a half dozen other countries more deserving of our attention as breeding grounds for terrorism, places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, our supposed allies. Not that I'm advocating invading any of these places.

Out of our bedrooms: The level of hostility some people feel toward sex is astonishing. I would say that a firm majority of people would strongly agree with the statement, "Sexual activity should only take place in the context of a monogomous marriage." And I would say that a large majority of people who strongly agree with that statement had premarital sex or had affairs. I'm not opposed to people holding this point of view, by the way. To each his own. But the government shouldn't be involved in regulating consensual sexual activity.

Out of our wallets: The first two outs get a lot of liberals excited. But the last out pisses them off. The income tax needs to be abolished. The notion that if I work a 10 hour day, 3 of those hours are mandated at gunpoint to be worked for the financial benefit of others is outrageous. We wouldn't need an income tax if we didn't feel compelled to station troops all over the world, and to fund massive entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The real work we need government for, crime fighting and road building, is a tiny portion of our national spending, less than a tenth. We could fund it with a lottery and bake sales.

Did I have a point to all this? Oh, yeah. The point is, Libertarians don't get votes not because people don't hear thier positions, but because they hold positions that almost all conservitives and liberals rabidly disagree with. Conservatives oppose cutting our military and letting people sleep with whoever they want to sleep with, liberal oppose eliminating the income tax and entitlement programs. The only way that libertarians will ever make it into power is for our candidates to lie through their teeth at every opportunity and tell people what they want to hear.

It works for the other two parties.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Still more God and Hurricane Yammering

So, of course this morning I notice yet another article on World Net Daily making the claim that Hurricane Rita is God's way of communicating to America that we are a sinful, sinful, nation. A letter to the editor yesterday argued that because we were a wicked people who had lost our way, God had lifted his protective hand and, while not sending hurricanes, he also was no longer stopping them.

Some people have noted that Las Vegas never gets Hurricanes, so God must love gambling, but I think they overlook the continuous drought that plagues that city, which is plainly God's judgement.

I will note that God apparently loves commies, since when they ruled the Soviet Union, I can't think of a single istance of a hurricane striking that country. But maybe they just hushed it up, sneaky bastards.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I don't understand the internet at all....

So, of course, I just posted a note about my lost posts, which I believed to be forever lost, and suddenly they pop up. I just don't understand the internet at all....

Well, bummer

So last night, I wrote a fairly long blog about my usual list of random stuff, and saved a draft on blogger, and today it's gone. The title of the post is still there, but the post itself can't be recovered.

Among other things, I was writing about the notepad I keep by my bed. I jot down quick notes when I wake up in the middle of the night and stumble onto some "brilliant" idea. I started doing this when I wrote Nobody Gets the Girl, and it worked well then. I was actually jotting down stuff that proved useful in writing the story. Ever since, not so much. Currently I have a column down the edge of one page where I've written--

nothing
nothing
nothing
nothing

-- and next to this I've written the words "thin nog" and underlined it three times.

I wish it meant something, but, alas, the nothings probably mean nothing.

I've toyed with the idea of writing a novel entitled "Nothing." I already have published a novel about "Nobody." I could write a third book called "Nowhere" and have a nihilistic trilogy. Maybe I shouldn't feed reviewers such easy straight lines though.

There was also a bit about the Justice League in the lost post, but I'm bored with the idea right now. Maybe later.

The stuff I jot down while I'm not sleeping.

I keep a notepad next to my bed where I jot down stuff in those dark hours of the night where I wake up and can't sleep because I have some story snippet or idea going through my head. I usually write without glasses or light, so some of my scrawls are indecipherable. Others can be ciphered just fine, but still don't make much sense. On my current page, I've written "nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing" in a column down the page, then next to the column I've written "thin nog" and underlined it about three times. Why? My head and my hand generated the words. Shouldn't they make at least some sense to me? Admittedly, I write about nothing a lot. And, I have toyed around with writing a book entitled "Nothing." I've already published a book about Nobody. I could finish off the trilogy with Nowhere. Sell the three together as a boxed set of nihilism. Somehow, though, the "thin nog" makes me suspect I wasn't thinking of the philisophical implications of the word as much as I was viewing it as a rack of Scrabble tiles.

Also jotted on the current page is a story idea about a man who is living in a friend's house, and the friend doesn't know it. He hides in the attic and basement, in the crawlspace in the walls, and only comes out to use the bathroom and kitchen when his friend's at work. That's it. That's all I've got.

Finally, for some reason, at 3am on some recent date, I felt compelled to jot down "Every member of the Justice League has been replaced." This wasn't a plot idea, just an observation. Superman was replaced by several different characters in his own books during the "Death of" storyline. One of his replacements, Steel, went on to join the League. Wonder Woman was replaced by some red-haired chick whose name escapes me. Hal Jordan Green Lantern has had three different League replacements, Gardner, Raynor, and Stewart. Green Arrow was replaced briefly by his son. Flash was replaced permanently by Kid Flash, who is now Flash, and has a new Kid Flash replacing him in Teen Titans. Batman wasn't replaced in the League, but he was in his own book for a while by Azreal. Hawkman--well, his continuity is so messed up, as near as I can figure, he was replaced by himself. Same with Aquaman--orange shirt Aquaman was replaced by no-shirt, long-haired Aguaman. The Atom was replaced by a second Atom in the pages of Suicide Squad. His replacement croaked, a common fate of replacement heroes, unless they are replacement Green Lanterns, in which case they hang around forever, drinking the League's beer. Only the Martian Manhunter has escaped the "let's swap the old one for a new one" plot line. This excludes, of course, a long list of minor Leaguers like Zatanna and Vixen.

Man, I have a lot of useless crap in my skull.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

God Could Also Use A Good Ad Agency

So last night I blogged about the in-your-face God of my youth and how the current ACLU fearing, court-order shackled God of today seems a touch wimpy. This morning, I discover a link to this book on WND: http://shop.wnd.com/store/item.asp?ITEM_ID=1676

The premise of the book is that a mighty God is striking America with hurricanes and terrorists because we've been so mean to Israel. The author claims that every time we betray Isreal, God smites us with a natural disaster.

Let us assume the author is right. Doesn't this show his God as one of the least effective communicators ever? He's trying to get his message across with wind and water--and apparently, most people just aren't able to figure him out. It turns out that few people speak tornado. This is like one of those Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus thing. God is from Heaven, Man is from Earth. They each talk at one another, but don't really have any idea what the other one actually means. God says "Hurricane," meaning, "Stop fucking with Jews." People take this message and think, "Oh no, I'm homeless, how can this happen under the watch of a just God, woe is me." People then pray, "Lord, please spare us more hurricanes and death." God hears this and thinks, "They still aren't getting it! What these people need are more hurricanes and death!" It's a sick, doomed strategy that has lead to grief for five thousand years, and will keep doing so.

God wasn't always this bad at communications. The whole Ten Commandments thing--that was pretty good. Write down the rules in stone. People can get this.

If I were an ad agency consulting with God, here would by my advice. Go back to the divine chiselling of rock. Money is no object, nor are the laws of physics, so think big. If you don't want people to mess with Israel, write, "Don't mess with Israel!" in letters about 200 miles high on the face of the moon. If we can see a giant finger as it traces out the letters in the moondust, even better. I guarantee you, it will be a zillion times more effective than the hurricanes. God gets what he wants, no humans get hurt in the conveying of the message, it's win-win all around.

So, there it is, free advice to God. Never let it be said that we atheists aren't charitable.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Got God?

You know, as an atheist of many years, I get especially frustrated when I feel like I need to explain Christianity to Christians. Tonight on the way home I was listening to a talk show host on a rant over some judge in California declaring the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegence unconstitutional. This is an issue where I normally just roll my eyes and sigh. If I were writing the Pledge of Allegience, I wouldn't put the word "God" into it. Nor would I invoke him if I were declaring independence or drafting a constitution or even designing money. On the other hand, I am not so fragile and frail in my atheism that the words "under God" in a pledge cause me to reexamine my entire belief structure when I hear them. Nor have I ever picked up a quarter and read "In God We Trust" and suddenly thought, "Oh crap! I've been wrong this whole time!"

But, evidently, quite a few people are this frail--especially on the Christian side. Tonight the talk show host said "We've banned God from schools." He went on with variations of kicking God out of schools, removing God from courtrooms, banishing God from congress, etc. And I have to think to myself--just how impotent is your God if a court ruling is going to keep him out of a schoolroom? When I was a child, I grew up in a fundamentalist church. There was a mighty and powerful God--omipotent, omnipresent, infinite and incomprehensible. He was a God who was just as powerful on the surface of the moon as he was at the bottom of the sea as he was on the plains of Africa as he was in the subway of New York City. He was a God that was just flat out EVERYWHERE, in EVERYONE'S business every single moment of the day and night and he definitely wasn't a God who was going to get discouraged by a court ruling against him. Of course, paradoxically, according to the church, he was also a God who controlled everything. Your baby died? It was God's will. You won the lottery? It was God's will. The New Orlean's flood? God guided every molecule of water. So, by the tenants of my church, it was God's will that the judge rule as he did today, and that I be a snarky atheist with an internet audience of dozens.

Alas, for the talk show host's God, he needs a good lawyer and better politicians to get anything done. If I were the host, I'd think about shopping for a new religion. Something more fundamental. Old time religion. Like volcano worship. Let's see them try to ban volcanoes from classrooms.

Comment spam???

You know, people today just have a whole different set of problems than the human beings who proceeded us on the planet. I was happy to see some comments on an earlier post today--until I discovered they were spam for some mortgage company. I should have seen this coming I suppose. Spam has already made my e-mail unreliable. My spam filters sometimes catch messages I should have gotten, and all the time my messages get eaten by my friend's spam filters. E-mail is becoming more and more like putting a message in a bottle and hoping it washes up on the right shore somewhere.

Of course, spam exposes me as a hypocrit. I am a free market, free speech kind of libertarian. Deregulate commerce! Let people say anything they want to say anyway they want to say it! Yet somewhere around the deletion of the 10,000th penis enlargement ad, I start wondering why the government isn't shutting these people up. Bring on the jackbooted thugs! Ah, well. Consistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds, I suppose.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bad comics, bad politics, random garbage

I just got back from the mountains where I visited an old friend of mine, Eric Buchanan and his wife Suzanne Saunders. They are artists who have made their living the last decade living in New Orleans. They escaped fairly well in some respects--they got out ahead of the hurricane, they got their cats out, they had friends and family in they could turn to for help. What remains of their paintings, etc. left behind, they don't know. With luck, looters won't rob them blind--but it might take even more luck to keep mold from destroying thier work.

Eric and I are of deeply different political stripes. He's a yellow-dog Democrat who has never voted for a Republican, I'm a hard core Libertarian who has voted only once for a Democrat and once for a Republican in the last twenty years. (I voted for Jim Hunt over Jesse Helms--for what that was worth, and I voted for a Republican sherrif when I lived in Guilford county because he struck me as one of the least bullshit filled politicians I had ever heard, and there wasn't a Libertarian running.) But, we agreed on the broad issues of Hurricane Katrina--the government has blown the intitial response, and they are continuing to blow it. Stung by the criticism that they didn't evacuate the city before the storm, federal, state, and local government now want to empty the city in the aftermath--even parts of the city relatively high and dry, like the French Quarter. Yes, the city is a dangerous place right now, with the risk of lawlessness and disease. But keeping out the people most motivated to go in and clean up the mess is crazy. If this is a recovery run from the top down, it will be a disaster. Yes, there are large scale items the government must handle--pumping out the water, putting police on the street, getting ambulances and firetrucks back in business. But every home and business in New Orleans needs someone in it working to fix things on the small scale. I listened to a story on NPR about a guy whose house had been lightly flooded staying behind to pull out his carpets and swab down everything with bleach. We need guys like that in every house not actually under water. Yes, there are a lot of houses that aren't going to be saved with a claw hammer and a mop--but there are a lot more houses that could have been saved if their owners weren't kept out of the city. The government isn't going to go into people's homes and pull up damp carpets--nor should it. But it shouldn't be putting up unneccessary roadblocks in front of people willing to put their muscles and sweat into saving thier homes.

Which brings me to comic books. Actually, it doesn't--I've been so neglectful of my blog, I've forgotten stuff that I've written, and I see I had promised long ago to write about bad comic books. I wish I could say that there are so many to pick from it's hard to pick the worst--but, really, there are so many to pick from, and it's still easy to pick the worst. Hands down, "The Dark Knight Strikes Back," is the worst comic book I've ever read. Frank Miller is a comic book genius, responsible for The Dark Knight Returns, one of the highest achievements of the genre. It seems impossible that TDKSB is the work of the same man. Everything about it is wrong. The artwork is bad. While visually similar to The Dark Knight Returns, the artwork in Strikes Back is just lazy--computer generated backgrounds and special effects fill the many splash pages. And the costumes are abominable--the outfit he puts the Flash in is just embarrassing. Wonder Woman is to only character who looks halfway decent in this thing. Lex Luther is just a toadish squiggle, barely recognizable as a human being if it weren't for the coloring and the word balloons and the fact that everyone is addressing the squiggle as "Luthor." Plot-wise, the story is could be described in positive terms as "epic," but in more realistic terms as unfocused and confusing. The story also suffers from repetition--for instance, in the Dark Knight Returns, there is a cool fight where Batman beats up Superman. So, in the Dark Knight strikes back, there is a "cool" scene where Batman's army beats up Superman. Except it isn't cool, it's tedious. We've seen this before.

I have a million gripes about the book, but only have the energy right now to mention the truly horrible ending. Basicly, Batman convinces Superman to become Superfascist and rule the world. Seriously. Oh, and Batman kisses Robin. Not a friendly, "oh, it's good to see you" kiss, but a "let's get naked and make squishy noises" kind of kiss. Admittedly, Robin is female, and is probably 18, but Batman is, like, 90, and it's just wrong on so many levels.

I have one theory that about Dark Knight Strikes back: Frank Miller made it as bad as possible on purpose. I think he was harrassed for 20 years by DC to do a sequel. They probably offered him obscene sums of money. And I'd like to think he finally decided to take their money and make a book that met the contractual obligation but was so bad they wouldn't dare publish it. Only, the powers that be at DC were so blind to what makes a good comic book that the published it under the illusion that it really was worthy of publication, or else they knew it was crap, but also knew people would buy anything with Frank Miller and Batman on the cover.

Okay, so this has been a pretty random blog. With luck, I won't go 40 days without posting again, and can be more coherent next time. Or not.