Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Books with proper adults: The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown

They had a post about effective misdirection on the Castalia House blog a while ago, which is where I came across Fredric Brown’s name; a serendipitous discovery.

The main thing you should know about Brown is that his adults are actually proper adults.

The major proper adult in The Fabulous Clipjoint is Am Hunter, the older working class uncle of the narrator. He’s been around the block, and then some, and as far as book characters go he feels just right. He’s tough, but not in the way a lot of authors write tough, which is fake. The closest term we get for how Brown writes him these days is ‘situationally aware’. I’ve known a lot of guys like Am over the years, particularly when I was younger, and I’ve always respected them; they sidestep trouble until trouble sidesteps them.

One of the things proper adult men used to do (but not so much anymore) was to take teens on the cusp of manhood and mentor them. In my first jobs, older guys like Am Hunter teased me, but they also showed me how to be a man. Some of the fondest memories of my youth are of spending time with men who taught me things I’ve never forgotten. They were generous and forgiving, and Frederic Brown captures this aspect of the older/younger man relationship as well as I've seen. Most coming-of-age tales don’t have half the truth contained in this book. And for that alone it’s worth reading.

The author also captures something else; Chicago in the 1940s. Eighteen-year-old narrator Ed Hunter keeps the observations to a minimum, but builds up a picture of a squalid and corrupt city. Funny how the place described eighty years ago is on the verge of total collapse now. Brown was onto something even back then.

And on a final note, when did book covers stop being as interesting as the pulps? When I searched for an image of Clipjoint’s cover, I came up with about half-a-dozen editions, each more lurid, loud and lascivious than the other. What a time. But like Chicago, almost gone. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Pocahontas Gambit

[Media prompt] Trump: calling Sen Warren 'Pocahontas’ is ‘an insult to Pocahontas'.
The Pocahontas Gambit

For some time now, the building had been deserted, black and cold, though summer was coming. He sat at a desk on the top floor, his eyes darting back and forth like an animal looking for predators as he watched the banks of screens on the wall in front of him. He focused on one in particular. From far away data streamed into his vision as through a frosted glass, formless and ungainly but taking shape slowly until like a shimmering mirage he saw its final form.

He chewed on a ragged thumbnail. A draft trickled in through the boarded up window and chilled him.

“Something big coming your way,” he typed onto another screen. In seconds notifications ticked over to hundreds and then thousands. He turned his head to the screen on the desk in front of him. The water pumps cooling his towers gurgled quietly, but there was no sound outside the building, not even the wind moaning or the crack of canvas over a window on the floor below.

“Who’s been a silly senator, then?” he asked, running his fingers though his hair.

When he was finished he made himself a cup of tea and smoked his last cigar. He saw daylight fading away on the security monitor. The streetlight opposite came on as he was watching. A mouldering poster with RESIST in faded red hung limply from the pole.

“Idiots,” he said.

“1/9:,” appeared silently on the screen. “Stung by @realDonaldTrump rebuke, @SenWarren goes ahead with DNA test for Indian heritage.”

“2/9: No, I repeat NO, NADA, ZERO evidence of Native Amer/Cherokee heritage. Not a single drop. Not even Mexican. LOL.”

Notification numbers started climbing like the SpaceX altimeter.  

“3/9: BUT, and yes, there’s a big BUT. @SenWarren is not pure white. Repeat: Not PURE white. What is she, then?”

“4/9: She not white, becuz she BLACK. She FOUR parts BLACK. Don’t blame me. I dindu nuffin. But she not #fauxcahontas.”

He looked up at the banks of screens. At least two of the three-letter agencies were trying to trace him. They disappeared into a tangle of dead-ends he set, red embers expiring from hubris.

“Morons,” he said.

“5/9: Test results attached for unbelievers. But NOT finished here. Oh, no. Not by a long shot. Better to come.”

He relit his cigar, the bitterness in his mouth making him dizzy and its orange tip crackling over the keyboard. He started typing again.

“6/9: For unbelievers. @SenWarren password – halfbreed49. “Half-breed, that's all I ever heard.” @cher.”

Another trace attempt lit up from DC, following the other three-letters into the quagmire.

“7/9: @SenWarren emails @Blklivesmatter: “As 4% African American feminist, I stand by you and share your pain & suffering.”

“8/9: @Blklivesmatter replies: “Appropriating Black culture is not intersectional feminism. Drop this issue now. You are not Black.”

“9/9: @SenWarren to @Blklivesmatter: “Deleted email. No intention to appropriate. Am committed to platform of racial justice. Need feedback.”

He posted screenshots of the email chain, watching social media feeds light up like Dresden on a clear night, a lifetime ago. The tea was cold but he drained the mug, tipping his head so far back his neck hurt. He heard rain starting to smatter against the boards covering the windows. Perhaps Senator Warren’s re-election campaign would like to make a small donation.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Men with absent fathers: Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

A first novel, by a woman, written nearly seventy years ago. Sounds like the ingredient list for tedium pie. Except Highsmith wasn’t your average anything, and Strangers on a Train appears modern in a way that films from the 1950s such as North by Northwest do. And as with Hitchcock, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Highsmith remains readable because she understood men who ranked lowly on the socio-sexual ladder, and the role absent fathers played in that, in a way that few writers today do, and that goes for a good number of male authors too. Her loathing for such men is palpable (she obviously doesn’t pull her punches), and her observation that a low ranking man’s die is cast unless he can find the courage to be a man is one that is all too often lost in contemporary work. It’s also interesting to note that Highsmith made her weak protagonist above average – handsome, a rising star in his profession, and wealthy through the sweat of his brow.

Some readers complain that the book is too long, overly padded with psychological insights rather than action. But it’s this that makes it worth reading. You know how it’s going to end, more or less, after the first chapter, but the lead up to it is almost unbearable. You can see here the groundwork for The Talented Mr Ripley (which I only know from the film, not the book), which delves into the character of a man until you want it to stop.

Highsmith was more astute about the male condition seventy years ago than most people are today. That's not saying much, unfortunately, given the current paucity of intellectual heft on public display. But it's enough to make this worth reading. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Reckoning

[Media prompt] Nebraska Dem official ousted for saying he’s wished Rep. Scalise dead.
The Reckoning

Through a small window, Jeremy Butler could see the eastern sky turning orange, the sun still below the far hills, but now close enough to daybreak for the distinction between night and day to be impractical. This was the time they always came. It was not a topic polite people mentioned in conversation, but it was something he knew now. He sat, waiting, looking at the cuffs on his wrists as if he had just discovered them.

Waiting was the worst of it. Along with the nights. When light filled his cell, after they took someone else, he had the whole day in front of him. For a reason he did not understand, the light brought hope. There was a possibility of a future. Perhaps things were not as bad as they seemed. The warden may drop by, apologise for the mistake, and escort him through the front gate himself so he could wave him off in a taxi.

But at night, when the guards shut the door at the end of the hall, it was as though they shut off hope. Nobody entered the area except the night guard, and only to check the cells. He never uttered a word, though he sometimes clanged his night stick on the metal bars. And then in the hours before dawn, he imagined somewhere around three o’clock, hopelessness spread through his body like a fever. It weighed him down, making him half-crazed with panic and rage.

Yesterday morning, his world evaporated for a moment when they stopped at his door. His hands trembled. His legs, normally strong, had barely the strength to push his chair back from the table. Instead, they took Martin Petty from the cell opposite. As the sounds of his removal faded away, Jeremy looked up at the pale ceiling and prayed. He had known Martin, a long time ago in another life, a professor of English literature accused of interpreting Shakespeare in a positive light.

Butler’s cell was bathed in soft light, the sun’s mushroom head poking from beneath the horizon. He heard the main door slide open. He heard the steps, in unison, of the four guards. They marched quickly. Never a word between them. The chances of them halting outside his door for the second day in a row were infinitesimal. The orange sun oozed over the hills like a hot dessert. The sort his mother used to make, before the Reckoning brought a stop to un-American activities.

He held his breath. The steady beat of their boots on the floor rang louder in his ears with each step that brought them closer. A calmness settled over him. His fear vanished, replaced with a resolve to go quietly and with dignity. He knew before it happened that they would stop at his door. His legs felt strong again, and he stood. When they unlocked his cell door, he was waiting for them, standing straight and smiling. The men who wished him dead would themselves one day stand facing God. He prayed they would be so lucky.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Invitation

[Media prompt] The head of the Church of England admits that it helped to hide sex abuse of boys and young men by one of its bishops.
The Invitation

“Well, we can’t avoid him forever,” his wife said, delicately navigating a spatula muddied with cake mix into his open mouth. “He’s not worth the trouble.”

He clamped his lips over the soft rubber blade, wiping it clean as his wife withdrew it, murmuring something incomprehensible through his batter glued lips.

“Oh,” he said, closing his eyes raised aloft as though in prayer. “Why not just eat it like that?”

Her frown was betrayed by a smile. She filled the cake tin, neatly lined with baking paper, and then clanged it heavily on the countertop, as her mother and grandmother had done. Satisfied, she took a sip of wine from a glass crowded in by leftover eggshells, a box of cocoa, chocolate buttons in a Ziploc bag. Half of knob of butter lay unwrapped next to a sieve dusty with the snowy remnants of sugar and flour.

“Open it will you,” she said, already half way across the warmed kitchen, tin clasped tightly. He pulled at the handle, hot air blasting out as the door opened.

“Be careful,” she said, sliding the tin onto an oven rack stained by hundreds of drips and dollops.

“You see, I think he is worth the trouble,” he said, the closing pop of the oven door a celebratory champagne cork for flawless teamwork. “I know he’s your brother, but–”

“It’s not that.” His wife folded the wrapper around the butter, threw the eggshells into the kitchen bin. “His conduct is...,” she sought for the right word, running water over the frosted sieve. “Despicable. But that’s not my point.”

He watched her put away the chocolate buttons, close the lid of the cocoa box and slide it into the cupboard next to a packet of something that mystified him. She was still trim, her legs like a girl of twenty, tanned and glowing in the kitchen warmth. He started to say something, but his wife was quicker.

“We can’t let it control us. Why should his disgusting deeds prevent us from going? I’m not saying you’re not right. You are. What good person would want to be within forty feet of him? But if we don’t attend, then it’s as though he’s won.”

He could see the batter had started to rise in the oven, the beginnings of the dome already appearing. Cakes. They were such simple creations, chemically speaking, but the molecular rearrangement was a work of God.

“He’s got away with it, you know. Home free.”

His wife removed her apron, washed her hands. The water foamed in the sink.

“Yes,” she said. “I know.”

And then she put her wet hand to her forehead. At first he thought it was because she had not dried her hands, but saw they were real tears on her cheeks. She picked up the apron and dried them away.

“I always looked up to him,” she said, dabbing at the corner of her eyes. “He was so … selfless. Once, I guess I was about thirteen, he cancelled a hike for his D of E award to do my babysitting. I needed to study for a test. I forget what for now. But because of that, he didn’t get his Bronze.”

He looked at the cake tin, basked in orange light. There was something spiritual about it, like a stained glass window in the late afternoon sun.

“We have to face him,” his wife said, leaning back against the counter. “Not for him. For us. The easy thing is to dodge him. I want to avoid him as much as you. More than you. But we have to go.”

The man nodded.

“I’ll RSVP, then. Today. But the Archbishop of Canterbury can go to hell.”

“I’m inclined to agree,” she said, peering into the oven. 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Even the Guardian agrees: Holiday by Stanley Middleton

Nicholas Lezard, writing in the Guardian, concluded his review of Holiday thusly: “if you want to know exactly what Britain was like in the early 1970s, then you won’t do better than to read this.”

No truer words have been spoken. Middleton's Britain is firmly rooted in the tropes of Western civilisation. Perhaps I missed something, but here is the only mention I can recall in the whole book of the vibrant cultural contribution to the Sceptered Isle by immigrants. Given how things have turned out, Middleton is eerily prophetic (although he was not cognisant of the Muslim invasion already underway – between 1950 and 1970, the number of Muslims in the United Kingdom rose from 101,232 to 667,958, or from 0.2 to 1.2 per cent of the population).

“At the next table a man and his wife described in contradictory duet how a fight had broken out between two well-dressed West Indians and how some woman had intervened, ordered them to clear off. Racist talk flowed…”

By racist talk, I presume Middleton meant the West Indians referring to the woman, up in arms about their dyscivilisational conduct, as a white bitch fit only for rape and death.

It’s truly refreshing to see the scales falling from the Guardian’s eyes. Why, next they’ll be arguing for the swift removal from Britain of the illegals who survived the Grenfell Tower conflagration.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Suspect X128-3-26WF

[Media prompt] Germany raids homes of 36 people accused of hateful postings over social media.
Suspect X128-3-26WF

It was winter, and the sky outside was the same colour as the walls of Room 204, an interrogation suite in Criminal Police Headquarters on the corner of Angela Merkel Avenue and Gutmensch Boulevard. Heiko Münch, one of three Prosecutors General for the Department of Social Harmony, sat with his legs crossed on a metal chair, which he had pulled up tightly to a table painted the same shade of military green. On the other side of the table was an identical chair, except it was bolted to the floor so as to prevent an occupant from sliding it forward or backward. This was a recent innovation. Dr. Reinhardt had proven only last year that an immobile seat not only increased the number of confessions by twenty-two per cent, but reduced interrogation time by an average of eight minutes.

Heiko, an athletic man with a deep side part and an abbreviated moustache, flipped through a slender sheaf of papers in a manila folder. He concentrated for a minute, underlining phrases or words with perfectly straight red lines, then closed the file, aligning it so the bottom edge formed a parallel line two inches distant from the edge of the table against which his hardened abdominal muscles rested. When he nodded, the door clicked open. Heiko pushed his chair back, awaiting the arrival of Suspect X128-3WF.

While he waited, Heiko hummed the tune to Merkel’s Motherland to himself, singing the first verse out loud when he started over again.

“When we find ourselves in disarray
Mother Merkel’s words will come to us
Refugees are welcome
Whites are treasonous.”

The younger generation seemed more predisposed to music with its roots in the Maghreb or the Horn of Africa. It was understandable, but he preferred the golden oldies of his youth. He was too young to have seen Merkel in the flesh, but on days when his spirit flagged and he questioned whether there was still a need to enforce the 2023 Laws on Social Harmony, he only had to watch her on the UpLink to have his faith and confidence in the state fully restored. What puzzled him, even to this day, were societal aberrations like Suspect X128-3WF who, for reasons still mysterious, failed to accept the statutes and values of Neo Germany. What drove a white female these days to criticise Muslim customs? As Merkel herself had said, donning the hijab, Western civilisation must adapt to Islamic ways of thinking.

The scrape of shoes on the floor roused Heiko Münch from his reverie. He squared his shoulders, frowning severely in a way that, as they taught him when he first started out, was shown to heighten anxiety in the interrogee. Although, with mousey hair falling over her face, blotched and bloodied by the warders, there was apparently scant room for raising the panic levels of the woman standing before him. The wardens had executed the first phase of the interrogative process to the letter. Heiko opened his folder as the woman sat, her legs trembling.

“A recording made and obtained on 24 June 2058 confirms you stated, and I quote: ‘Why should my daughter undergo a clitoridectomy. We’re white. We’re Christians.’ End quote. What say you?”

He looked up from the paper, disgusted by the naked racism on display. The woman hooked her hair back over her ears, revealing her face. Heiko froze.

“Help me,” the woman whispered through broken teeth. “Please, dad, help me.”

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Days of Rage

[Media prompt] Jeremy Corbyn urges people to ‘occupy’ empty homes as supporters plan ‘Day of Rage’.
Days of Rage

Light shimmered on the polished table tops as he waited for the waitress. Knotholes glimmered darkly from decades of stains and burns and elbow-grease. Two matching glass salt and pepper shakers gleamed in the centre of the wooden square, their brass screw-top lids rubbed clean.

Jack Burnett slid the stiff plastic menu upright between the shakers as Maureen made her way between tables towards him. “You’re busy,” he said, glancing around. “Busy’s good,” she replied. Her voice was low, but she enunciated so precisely that it was a joy to hear. A boy seated near the counter caught his eye, looking at him without inhibition. Jack smiled easily, raising his large hand in a half salute. The boy leant over to his father and said something, his eyes shining. “In ten years you’ll probably be arresting him,” Maureen said, winking at him as she wrote down his order.

Burnett ate slowly, chewing with his mouth closed. The diner’s frontage was glass, from floor to curved ceiling, washed clean, never a soap streak or a sliver of grime. Not in the all the years he had been stopping for breakfast. Besides the boy, the customers were around his age, mid-thirties to early fifties. Most he knew. It was too early for the holiday-makers. He could match most of cars arrayed neatly outside the window with the people inside.

Jack Burnett finished his coffee. “I’ll see you later,” he called out to Maureen, leaving a bill and change on the table.

The sunlight dazzled outside, reflecting off the waters of Lake Champlain as though the whole of Maquam Bay were on fire. As soon as he pulled out onto the highway, Janet radioed him.

“Jack, we got a report of suspicious activity in North Hero, possible property damage. Suspects may still be on site.”

“Got that,” he said, “I’m close.”

“There’s one other thing.”

He waited for her to continue, accelerating northward along Highway Two, empty of traffic. After a moment of silence he clicked on the mic and said, “Janet?”

“It’s the Sanders’ residence.”

“Bernie’s?”

“The one and only,” she said.

He sighed. “I’ll be there in ten.”

In the weeks after the socialist firebrand paid over half a million for his third house, there had been more reporters and film crews on North Hero than locals. Confusion reigned for almost a month. The Bern was not as popular out here as the media made out, and many resented him upending their island idyll. There had been rumours of burning the place to the ground, and Jack had wasted whole days cruising past the property for no greater outcome than using fuel.

When he pulled into the drive, Jack marvelled again at how even the poorest of Congressmen could buy holiday houses. But all thoughts of this were pushed aside when he saw the front door had been forced, hanging open on a single hinge. As he stepped out of the car, he saw a curtain move at one of the windows, a face disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. The gravel crunched under his boots, and Jack felt the warmth of the sun on his face. He leaned for a second on the handrail before mounting the steps to the veranda.

“Police,” he called out.

Surprisingly, a young woman appeared before him. She pulled her ragged blonde hair into a pony tail, looking at Jack as though he had come to mend the door.

“What do you want?” she said in a piercing voice.

“What I want is you outside showing me an ID.”

She let her hair go, placing hands on hips, studying him with squinted eyes. A boy came into view, standing in the darkness behind her.

“We’ve got a right to be here,” he said over the girl’s shoulder. He was bare-chested, a tattoo of Che Guevara on one pectoral muscle. Jack remembered what it was like to be young and righteously certain. The sooner someone knocked some sense into you, the better.

“Yeah,” said the girl. “This is an empty residence, and in the name of the people we’re occupying it. Why should we go homeless when the rich have plenty to spare?”

Jack walked back to his car, calling it in. He was not paid enough to arbitrate between wealthy college kids playing at being radicals and old men pretending to be socialists. He would let the chief in Montpelier deal with this one.

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Point of no Return

[Media prompt] North Korean soldier swims across river to defect.
The Point of no Return

The man tried to swallow, like he had done a hundred times since leaving the barracks, but his mouth was too dry. There was still time to turn back, and then tomorrow morning he could wake up in his bunk with no one the wiser about his plan to defect. He need only to retrace his steps across the rocks and through the stunted trees. In a matter of minutes he would reach the narrow path running along the top of a bank between rice fields, and from there it took fifteen minutes to reach the camp perimeter. He looked at his watch. In thirty minutes the duty officer would conduct a bed count. He had five minutes before reaching the point of no return, and by then he had better be either in the water making for the southern bank and freedom 1,122 yards away or running back to camp.

The final fifty feet to the fence, a towering barricade of razor wire and guard towers, was the most dangerous. He had chosen one of only two places along the bank that was not visible from two contiguous towers. But it brought him perilously close to the one from which a lookout like Lee, posted tonight as a last minute replacement for the injured Park. He had been counting on Park, a man he assessed as most likely to fall prey to distractions and provide him the ten seconds required to cut through the wire unobserved. Diversions of any kind played no role in Lee’s life. The man squatted for a moment behind the last vestige of cover before the fence. He closed his eyes, thinking of his mother who died giving birth to him, his father killed in a factory accident when he was ten. A man alone in the world. If not he, then who could risk such a swim?

He watched the ball of light roll along the fence line, its heavy steel posts and struts giving an air of impregnability. As it retreated, he started to crawl on his stomach towards the soft gurgle of water, the scent of it in his nose now. Back at the barracks, the night guards would be searching the grounds for him, a preliminary step prior to radiating in small groups outward beyond the camp fence. How long would it take them to start scouring the river’s edge? He froze as the light swept back along the wire, holding his breath when it stopped, his heart roaring in his ears.

And then he was at the fence. His hands shook, but despite it he counted to three and rose up slightly from the ground, exposing himself even in the cloud covered darkness. He snipped the wire in five places, each cut loud and sharp in his ears, but he did not stop, did not pause to learn if Lee’s hearing was as acute as he sometimes boasted. Dropping the wire cutters, the man crawled through his portal to freedom. His pants snagged, but he breathed deeply and unhooked himself slowly, crawling all the way through, resisting the urge to look back.

The ground was damp. He slid down a small embankment, the mud oozing between his fingers, feeling the water suddenly up to his wrists. Something sharp stabbed at his stomach. He felt around in the muck to remove the stick, puzzled when his hand met no obstruction. He slid further into the water, his face now submerged, until he was far enough from the bank to kick off his boots and trousers. A hornet flew past him at an impossible speed, slapping into the water just feet from his head. The pain in his stomach from where the stick speared him was burning now, and two more hornets buzzed overhead, splashing into the water on impact. In panic, he felt under his rib cage, and finding a hole it dawned on him that he Lee had shot him.

The current was stronger than he had calculated, or perhaps he was too weak now to counter it. There was no way to tell how much he had bled. An oval of light illuminated the water around him, and a continuous stream of bullets sent up a spray that stung his eyes. He dived as deeply as he could, hearing his mother calling as he felt the cold water envelop him. 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Muslims in the UK: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Published in 1951, The Daughter of Time centres on a bedridden Scotland Yard inspector who starts investigating Richard III’s involvement in the death of his nephews, the two princes in the Tower. As far as detective stories go, it’s certainly different, but Josephine Tey makes it worth reading.

But that’s not what interests me in this review. What strikes me when I read books set in the UK from this era is the complete lack of Muslims. Read any novel written by an author from Great Britain up until the 80s, and you’d be hard pressed to believe Muslims even existed. (I’m currently reading a novel published in 1978, which is set in a British seaside town, and it’s Whitesville double plus.)

Out of interest, I did a bit of research on the Muslim population in the UK at the time Tey wrote this. In 1950, Muslims comprised 0.2 per cent of the population, or a paltry 101,232 people (by contrast, in 2010 they accounted for 4.0 per cent, or a whopping invasion force of 2,475,971).

It’s no wonder Tey wasn’t writing about bearded Muhammadans stabbing people willy-nilly in the street, or running them over, or setting off bombs at concerts, or working in gangs to groom and rape teen girls. There just weren’t enough of them to whiteant the foundations of a Christian civilisation. Which is why I think these novels remain popular (although the average libtard reader will dispute it); on a subconscious level, the stolid middle-class whiteness of her England is a lost world to which many would love to return. Sure, we might not want everything the 1950s had to offer, but the London of Inspector Grant is immeasurably superior to the London of Sadiq Khan (where terrorism today is as ordinary as politeness was in the 50s).

Three cheers for books without Muslims, vibrants, and their leftist enablers.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Sticks and Stones

[Social media prompt] “There was a female officer teaching women self-defence classes. This officer locked herself in the squad car whilst her male partner got bashed by vibrants.”

Sticks and Stones

Officer Tanner was big, two-eighty and none of it gone to waste, but he watched the world around him like a man half his size.

“Pull over,” he said.

Williams, his partner, turned on the indicator, its soft clicking filling the silence between them.

“Here,” said Tanner, jabbing with his thick finger at where he wanted Williams to park.

Williams clicked her tongue.

“Damn,” she said. “Give me some warning next time why don’t you?”

Tanner had his eyes on a door, the only one set into the windowless side wall of a warehouse, which was hanging open on one hinge, and without looking away from it said, “This place has been empty so long it’s not even listed for rent anymore.”

“So?” she said, bringing the cruiser to a halt.

Tanner unclipped the seat belt, feeling for his sidearm out of habit as he opened his door.

“Then when we see what appears to be a forced entry,” he said, his powerful thighs pushing him up into the heat outside, “we should check it out. Besides, when did you see a wet–

Tanner swallowed the word before it came out. He had lost one chance at promotion already for what the force nowadays regarded as racial slurs.

“I’m going to have to report that,” said Williams.

“Report what, exactly?”

“You’re all the same, aren’t you?” she said. “Calling their cars wetback sleds makes you part of the problem.”

“First,” said Tanner, watching the door, “I said no such thing. And second, do you really buy into the idea that calling them, you know, is what’s causing five homicides a day in this city?”

“Anyway, I don’t have time to argue,” said Williams, looking at her watch, “we need to hurry. I have to be back at four to teach my class.”

Tanner was already striding down the access road, which ran along the western wall of the building, and did not respond, having made plain his views on female officers teaching self-defence classes for women from the beginning. He stopped briefly to peer into the low slung mauve convertible parked up hard against the wall, the sun reflecting off the white leather upholstery making him blink.

At the door he motioned at Williams to cover him, drew his sidearm and stepped inside. After the bright heat outside, his saw nothing in the cool darkness. He only realised his hunch had been correct when a steel bar connected heavily with his lower back.

Tanner grunted, a bolt of pain shooting down his legs, and he fell forward onto his knees. His Glock clattered onto the floor. He scrambled forward, grasping for it, but felt a kick in his ribs. Instinctively, he rose to his feet, blocking a punch, and as his eyes adjusted to the dark, saw three of them standing together before him. Tanner heard a fourth, behind him, who laughed and said, “Welcome to the butcher shop, little piggy.”

He rushed the three in front of him, taking two of them to the floor, grasping one by the neck with his big hand. “Williams,” he shouted, twisting to rain savage blows onto the face of the second man tangled with him on the ground.

“Get the other pig,” one of the men yelled.

Tanner rose and pressed his knee onto the neck of one man, trying to leverage himself to his feet. A man on the floor here was as good as dead. He fought his way towards the bright rectangle of light, sucking in great gobs of air, sharp-toed boots connecting with his back and ribs, fists with his face. Then he stood and turned.

“You want her,’ he said, “you go through me.”

He set his feet on the cool concrete floor, and when they came onto him he broke his knuckles on their cheeks bones, feeling his forearm go numb as he blocked a high-arced swing from a heavy chain. He saw he had been stabbed before he felt it, saw the cut on his hand bleeding where he had grabbed at the knife. His left arm hung limp, and a wave of exhaustion passed over him, his knees buckling.

“Get him out of the way,” one of them screamed. “Get the black bitch.”

Tanner fell backwards through the doorway, turning his head as he collapsed to see Williams looking towards him from inside the cruiser. The blood and sweat in his eyes made it hard to see, but it looked like she was on the verge of hysteria.

“Go,” he said, his voice barely audible through broken teeth and a bloodied mouth. “Go…”

Friday, 16 June 2017

Wrongthinkers are crushing it: Aye, Robot by Robert Kroese

A couple of months ago I signed up for a “Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway”, duly receiving eight free novels from writers who “have been punished by the progressive sci-fi “community” for not toeing the line on various political issues.” Aye, Robot is my third from the list (you can see my reviews for the other two here: Fight the Rooster by Nick Cole, and Brother, Frank by Michael Bunker – both highly recommended), and I can report without fear or favour that Robert dishes up as good a fare as his fellow wrongthinkers. What do you expect from a guy whose website is called Bad Novelist?

About twenty per cent into this novel, I Tweeted to Robert that I was enjoying his book so far. He replied, “It gets better.” By ‘better’, I think he meant wilder, crazier, more uproarious, and significantly more lawless. But it’s a simple tale… Oh, wait; wrong book. Look, I’ll be honest; the plot is as if the Marx Brothers and Douglas Adams were abducted by aliens, fed peyote, and told to keep dream journals. And when it comes to characters, well … Rex Nihilo may well be one of the finest comic creations to come out of sci-fi. I wanted to hate the little nerk, but in the end you just can’t. And Sasha, which stands for – oh, what the hell. Go and read it.

The greatest thing, though, as with Cole and Bunker, is that Kroese writes a story free of group think editors (the kind who sniff racism and sexism on every page). And because of that it’s funnier. It has more rip-roaring adventure than a dozen Turgid Tors. It’d give Trigglypuff a heart seizure, and make an antifa do pooh-pooh in his nappy. What’s not to love?

I’ll be back for more. 

The Problem with Percy

[Media prompt] Google AI polices newspaper comments. The New York Times is enabling comments on more of its online articles because of an artificial intelligence tool developed by Google. The software, named Perspective, helps identify “toxic” language, allowing the newspaper's human moderators to focus on non-offensive posts more quickly.
The Problem with Percy

Xenny X., the androgine female-attracted hermaphrofemale editor of the New York Times, pursed her lips and sighed. It was shaping up to be another one of those stormy cycles that arose sometimes. The kind where she would have to deal with more than one thing in a day. She had already had HR on the phone. The mandatory qibla pointers on the ceilings needed be reoriented half of one degree east-northeast. As a devout and practicing atheist, Xenny had made it her purpose in life to pray in the direction of Mecca as required by the Great Book. Pinpoint accuracy was essential, for it was the one thing for which the NYT was justly famed.

Dealing with that comprised her contractually obligated one task per day, and it should have stopped there. But it didn’t. Now there was another crisis, and it was Nijar, the masculine homosexual male in charge of the Department of Eradicating Toxic Language, who brought news of it.

“Well?” said Xenny, the luminescent tattoo on her forearm writhing over her skin in anger. “What is it now?”

Without an invitation to do so, Nijar slumped indecorously into one of the easy chairs in front of Xenny’s desk, spreading his legs so far that Xenny averted her eyes.

“We have a problem,” said Nijar.

Xenny held her breath until it hurt, and then stared at Nijar, as if to dare him to add another task to her already onerous workload.

“It’s Percy,” said Nijar, referring to the AI software program called Perspective.

Xenny closed her eyes and took a deep breath. A glitch in the AI that policed toxic language was unthinkable. No media outlet could function if the masses were able to comment as they pleased. It was essential that articles resulting from layers of fact checkers and Commissars of Truth be garnished with comments of similar provenance. For a moment, she teetered on the verge of collapse.

“What’s happened?” Xenny asked, opening her eyes and steeling herself for the answer.

“We’ve identified a subtle shift in the self-learning algorithm. At first, we thought it was just random, but we’ve had the NSA sift through the data. And it’s not some indiscriminate anomaly.”

Xenny stood up and walked to the window. Far below she could see the tops of the refugee tents glistening in Central Park. It was said that every white person left in the city was huddled there, but the onset of winter would see a good number of them make a run for the flyover Free States. The sooner, the better.

“Example please,” she said.

“It’s been allowing comments utilising formerly normative personal pronouns, for one,” said Nijar. “Such as he, she–“

“I’m not an idiot,” said Xenny. “What else?”

“Well, we’ve caught comments praising Trump, comments mocking the sixty-four genders, diatribes against feminism and … well, blasphemy. Words like libtard have popped up, and just the other day a comment calling St. Hillary’s significant other a rapist was published.”

Xenny sat down in her Chinese-bone-setter-approved chair, thumping her small fist on the table.

“That’s unconscionable,” she said. “How do you explain this, this offense, this crime ... this crime against humanity?”

Nijar leaned back in the chair, thrusting his codpiece forward in a display Xenny always associated with hyper masculine queens.

“I’m afraid the only sane conclusion is that Percy has been red pilled,” he said.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A Place to Start Again

[Media prompt] “The only way of addressing [the white working class’s] plight is a form of political hospice care,” [George Mason University professor Justin Gest] said. “These are communities that are on the paths to death. And the question is: How can we make that as comfortable as possible?”


A Place to Start Again

Although he had no inkling of it, John Caulfield’s decision to shutter his bakery set in motion a sequence of events that were irreversible and catastrophic for the town of Carson, Nebraska. His was not the last business to close – Tilley’s General Store was still open three days a week, and a man could find the Shoot First Bar and Grill open most nights – but the town was an emaciated version of its glory days. When he heard, Jim Moffatt begged John to try and hang on, and afterwards some took this as proof that the mayor had been forewarned of what was to come. But that was just fear talking. Mayor Moffatt knew as little as anyone else in town until the first busload of refugees turned up.

At its peak, on any given Thanksgiving, when families spread over the country reunited around good food on the table, Carson had a population of 1,574. On the day a pencil pusher in Washington greenlit the Gest Rural Renewal Program for what to him was just another Midwestern dot on a map, it was scarcely one-tenth of that. Farmhouses lay vacant. The white lines between parking bays on Main Street had started to fade away. Storefront windows got so you couldn’t see through them, then were broken and stayed that way.

The Gest Program’s algorithm was complex, rating a thousand variables of rural decay, from the speed of population decline and the ratio of births to deaths, through to analysing household purchases and credit card debt, to livestock carrying capacity to acreage cropped. Every town was different. In some, the baker closing his doors was not the point of foreclosure. Was not even close to it. Sometimes it took more. Some towns were foreclosed as soon as cropped land dropped below a specific threshold. In others, it was the lack of machinery repairs and pig feed shipments. This was not renewal by numbers; it was a sophisticated science, utilising some of the keenest minds in America.

It was a clear day in October, the kind of day that made Mayor Moffatt wonder if there wasn’t still a chance for things to turn around. The long straight line in the distance where the sky and prairie met was as clear as the line his tuck hood made against the blacktop on which he drove. But when he eased his foot off as he reached the town limits, it hit him again that Carson was doomed. He pulled up outside of Tilley’s, and walked into the darkness to kill time with Mrs. Tilley. By silent consent they avoided mentioning the town’s demise. As the conversation flagged, they heard the roar of a large engine working its way down through the gears, idling to a halt just outside the store.

Mayor Moffatt smelled it before he saw it, a converted Greyhound with busted windows and a stench worse than a rig hauling pigs in summer. Mrs. Tilley covered her nose, and together they walked out onto the road. By then, the first of the passengers were materialising onto the pavement, like caged animals seeing the wild for the first time.

“I hope these boys have money,” said the mayor.

That’s when he saw a UN four-wheel drive, a white Toyota with blue lettering on the doors, pull in behind the bus. Two men in suits emerged, a marine carrying a weapon close behind.

“Mayor Moffatt?” one of them called.

“How the hell did he know that?” said the mayor, taking his hat off and scratching his head.

“Good, good,” said the taller of the two men. “There’s a convoy of military trucks about a mile behind us, and we’ll be collecting you town folk over the course of the next six hours and shipping out before sun down.”

The mayor spat in the dust. “Like hell you will,” he said.

“And we’ll be settling refugees here, eight hundred and change all told,” the man said, ignoring the mayor and smiling.

A black man with yellow sclera looked at the mayor and Mrs. Tilley. 

“You white people have to leave,” he said in thick English.

The man in the suit nodded in agreement, turning around to look at the first of the army transports as they arrived. 

“Let’s make this comfortable as possible,” he said. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

San Francisco 2022: Moscow 2042 by Vladimir Voinovich

Vladimir Voinovich (b. 1932) was born in the former USSR and wrote Moscow 2042 in the mid-80s (setting it in 1982). For a satire of communism written prior to the Soviet collapse, the old boy, still kicking today, turned out to be fairly prophetic (and has himself humbly noted several instances of reality mirroring his art). 

The cynical among his readers might argue that any exiled Russian dissident with half a brain in the 80s could have worked out where the Bolshie fantasy might end up, but that misses the point. Which is that Voinovich didn’t write a satirical novel that predicted Moscow’s glittering Leninist failure. What he did was nail existing Western socialist reality thirty years before it exploded like a suppurating puss ball bursting with antifas, Trigglypuffs and 64 genders.(Note to literal minded leftists: Voinovich did not predict masked, tattooed faggots with man buns pretending to be men, fat chicks who’ve never seen their own hill of Venus except with a couple of specially rigged mirrors, or the delusionally dickless. But he surely apprehended the sufficient conditions required for these abscesses of Western civilization to appear.)

Taking an expensive trip sixty years into the future, our literary and literate narrator waxes lyrical about everything he sees in the yet to exist Moscow; e.g., getting to the bottom of how communism was built in one city, comprehending the rings of hostility that encircle the capital, gaining valuable insights into literary production, trying to get behind the legend of the Genialissimo, getting an introduction to the education for the masses, and so on and on. Voinovich is a funny guy, but also a little bit frightening. To be honest, anybody holding out for a peaceful resolution to delinquent leftist sanctuary cities in the US should read this book immediately. And then light out for the boondocks. Because unlike Voinovich’s narrator, nobody has the means to make it back to an earlier and more gentle time.

It is remarkable that, just as communism was being buried in the shitholes that had previously advocated it most aggressively, a new generation of retards took up the baron baton with a vengeance. Following the author, I’m predicting that San Francisco and the top ten libtard enclaves will resemble Moscowrep in 2042 than anything than actually ever existed in the former USSR.