I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. 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.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

And this is different how?

The news this week has been about the stunning corruption of Illinois governer Blagojevich. I admit, when I first heard the quotes from Patrick Fitzgerald, it was pretty jawdropping that he'd been so open about the financial advantages of the appointment. But, my second, more cynical reaction is, how is this different from politics as usual throughout government? How many congressmen, senators, and members of the executive branch leave office to take positions on the boards of corporations who at one time they held some power over? Or, if not them, their spouses? When former presidents leave and go on tours to give motivational speeches for a million bucks a pop, do you think it's really their tremendous oratory skills that earn them those fees? How many ambassadors and department heads have no skills directly related to their current positions, but did show skills as a fund raiser or campaign organizer? What was it on Micheal Brown's resume that got him top spot at FEMA?

We have laws that discourage nakedly handing politicians money on the front end, but once they are out of office and out of the spotlight the money always seems to flow their way. We, the public, just shrug it off. What can we do? It's not like we can vote them out of office once they are out of office. Prosecutors aren't going to chase them. It's not illegal, after all, for an ex-politician to take one of these high paid jobs. One reason it's not illegal is because the politicians have carefully crafted the laws to make sure it's not illegal.

I hate to be so negative. This is the point of the essay where I'm supposed to say, "The situation is rotten, but here's what we, the public, can do!" But, honestly, I don't have a clue how we get our way free of this stuff. Any legislation that politicians write to reform the system is going to be designed to create a new system of graft.

For those of you who'd like some sliver of hope, I'll reach into resources as a science fiction author and offer you this: There is always hope of an alien invasion. Yes, they may raze our cities and devour our children, but perhaps they'll be honest about it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Curious Art

I've been thinking today about the curious disconnect that exists between the act of producing writing and the act of consuming it. Artists of other media have the potential to watch their art being consumed. A singer can look out on the audience as she sings. A painter can stand in the gallery as people look at his paintings. A movie director can sit in the movie theatre and see if the audience is laughing or crying where he intended.

While a writer can read his work out loud, for the most part this is just a variant of acting; he's reading a script, and the success of the reading will depend not just on the words but tone, inflection and body language.

But the one thing a writer would almost never have the chance to do is to watch someone sitting silently reading his book. I suppose it could happen every now and then by chance that a famous author might be on a plane and spot someone reading their latest best seller. But, even then, reading is such a silent, internal process... how does the writer know what the reader is seeing and hearing as the pages turn?

Each story we write is only a message in a bottle. We will never know where it may wash ashore.