adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

crumbs tanka

my trail of bread crumbs
leading back to you has fed
the hungry nestlings

someday I might follow them
when at last they take to flight

Stephen Brooke ©2017


a poem in the tanka form—whether it could actually be considered a tanka is up to the reader (I might argue that any true tanka, haiku, etc. can only be composed in the Japanese language)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hank WIlliams, Updated

Hank Williams, Updated — to the tune of “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)”

Today I passed you on the street,
And you posted an angry tweet:
“Why can’t that crazy stalker leave me alone?”
Somebody else stood by your side,
And he held you as you cried,
“Why can’t my crazy stalker leave me alone?”

A memory from the past when you betrayed me
Came as I stepped in your no-harassment zone;
Then suddenly you found your ‘Mace’ and sprayed me—
“Take that you crazy stalker and leave me alone!”

I know I may have stepped over the the border,
And then the cops had me handcuffed and prone;
But it’s hard to stick to that restraining order—
Why can’t this crazy stalker leave you alone?

Stephen Brooke ©2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Of Fiction and Politics

I’ve little doubt that many of my friends and acquaintances think I’m some sort of moderate liberal. If they read my books they might change their minds about that — I don’t talk much about politics in ‘real life,’ preferring to put that sort of thing into my novels.

But there it is characters speaking their various views about things, and those views might or might not be mine. In truth, I reckon that life and the human race are going to muddle on and the politics doesn’t really mean that much. It can be an interesting show in the meantime.

Let us say that I am definitely not a libertarian — though I have a certain fondness for the TRUE libertarians, that is, anarchists. Still, I don’t have enough faith in human nature to desire an anarchist society. I threw some anarchists into the mix in my recent fantasy adventure, THE EYES OF THE WIND, and admittedly poke a bit of fun at them even while admiring some of their ways.

I tend to poke fun at lots of different sorts in my fiction. People generally make that rather easy. Too easy, some times! It’s not good to take shots at the easier targets, and one is too likely to fall into clich├ęs and caricatures when one attempts it (this is one of the criticisms I have of Mark Twain).

So what am I, actually, from a political viewpoint? It doesn’t matter. Humanity is best observed and understood from a variety of vantages. An agenda only serves to get in the way of that. And I am very much aware that there is no perfect way of life, no ideal system. Imperfect humans create an imperfect society.

A society and a culture that constantly changes. This too must be recognized. Lord Doufan, in my DONZALO’S DESTINY epic, says, “History is a runaway horse and most of the time all we can do is to hold on. But now and then, perhaps, we may find ourselves able to give a little tug on the reins and turn it, ever so slightly, in our desired direction.” It is how we ride that horse that most interests me.

May we all ride well! *

--------

* Ha, this reminds me of a song I wrote thirty years ago. One of the very few that was ever recorded by someone other than myself!

THE RIDER, THROWN

Faith doesn’t come easy and the truth isn’t free;
Answers aren’t handed to you and to me.
We spend our lives searching for something to trust,
Hoping there’s more than ‘dust unto dust.’

But the knowledge we seek has been well hidden,
For life is a steed not easily ridden.
Though some may ride far, in the end it is known
Each man is unhorsed, each rider is thrown.

So try to ride boldly and try to ride well,
Keep firm in your seat where other men fell;
Then maybe before you go down to the dust,
Before you go down as all of us must,
You’ll have learned just enough to know the time’s near
To let loose the reins and to go without fear.

When we take the long fall from saddle to earth,
Can it mean the end of all that’s of worth?
Believe what you will, but the truth won’t be shown
Till we share the fate of the rider, thrown.

Stephen Brooke ©1987

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Arrows Blurb

A rough blurb for the upcoming fantasy novel, ‘Arrows of Heaven’ (which now will probably appear before the mainstream ‘Asanas’):

The end of every epic is the beginning of another.

Who was Teme? A noble girl, sister to the High King of all the Mora, and of an age to marry appropriately? Yes, she was this, but also a renowned archer, acclaimed by her people as a hero of the recent civil war, named in the epics bards sang across the land.

Warrior or woman? Was it possible to be both? Through intrigues and adventures in the realm of the Mora and beyond, Teme has one quest above all others — to learn who she truly is.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Vast

The universe is vast, incredibly vast, beyond any human understanding vast, yet finite. But consider that there may be an infinite number of universes. That is larger — infinitely larger!

Do they exist? Maybe, in that magical quantum sense, they both do and don’t. Or we might say they exist in potential. All that is the language of guesswork, essentially. In that, in a philosophical (or even religious) sense, I accept the concept of infinite being, the idea of infinite universes seems to follow.

So what do we call this infinite array? I am not fond of the old term multiverse; there is nothing wrong with it but a multiverse could be finite. Infiniverse is better, even if it sounds clumsy and many won’t get what the word means. Or we could simply call it the cosmos, perhaps. Any way it is named, the idea is the same: infinite being in infinite variation, one universe differing from another is as tiny a difference as the position of a single sub-atomic particle.

Of course, we also need infinite non-being for this infinite being to fill! I tend to refer to that as ‘the Void.’ Where do I call it that? In my fiction, reader. Where else might I write about the Infiniverse? It is a basic concept to my fantasy novels and stories (although, theoretically, a finite multiverse would work quite as well).

In an infiniverse, anything can be. Indeed, anything must be — at least potentially. As in Roger Zelazny’s similar concept in his Amber novels, if his Amberites could think of a world, they could ‘go’ there. Whether it already existed or they created it was left unanswered. But I am not fond of the twin poles of order and chaos in his version of the infiniverse; for me it is being and non-being. That is more basic than anything else, the zero and the one of a cosmic mathematics.
Never mind that I have set almost all my stories (the fantasy ones, that is) in one specific world with its own specific rules. Fiction needs its structure, its created reality, and the infinite beyond need only be hinted at. It is enough to know it is there.

Stephen Brooke ©2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Donzalo Poems

As a freebie that has absolutely nothing to do with anything I am currently writing, here are (most of) the poems that I wrote for the epic fantasy DONZALO'S DESTINY, in ebook form. Both epub and mobi are in the folder, take your pick.

Incidentally, some of these are songs and do have music. Maybe I shall get around to recording them someday.
 

Two Books

Although I intended to complete my ‘mainstream’ novel, ASANAS, I find myself simultaneously working on another fantasy adventure, to be titled ARROWS OF HEAVEN. That would be my second Mora novel, following GOD OF RAIN but with a different central character, Teme, who is also the narrator.

Teme is, for want of a better description, a ‘warrior princess.’ The princess part is a late addition to her identity, occurring when her brother Poneiva is chosen High King of all the Mora (who are, essentially, Polynesian). Primarily an adventure, the novel also deals with Teme dealing with the demands of her position and her (well-deserved) heroic reputation — a heavy burden for someone just turned twenty.

Which book will be finished first? I would tend to say ARROWS but one never knows. I am working on it on my laptop, mostly later in the day, and ASANAS on my office PC. The latter being longer and more ambitious is going to take a while. One will definitely see print (and ebook) before the end of the year — possibly both. I also should have another poetry collection out toward the end of 2017 or early in 2018. More on that later.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Caslon

I have been reading through a print copy of an older historical novel, ‘Arundel’ by Kenneth Roberts, first published in 1930 but my edition printed in the mid-Fifties. It is a decent tale of the Revolutionary War period but that is not what I wish to write of here.

What I immediately noted was the attractive typeface. It seemed — felt? — perfectly suited to the subject matter. And it was not overly difficult to identify: Caslon Old Face. As Caslons go, I would be inclined to favor it over most of the modern alternatives available from Adobe, et al. Good fonts, some of them, to be sure, but with a different feel. It would definitely be on my short list of typefaces for certain sorts of novels (including perhaps Westerns). And I do have rights to use the BitStream clone, which helps.

Caslons, in general, are good choices. More versatile than the plethora of Garamond variants out there? I don’t know, but pretty much up there with them. Caslon, in one form or another, has a long history of being a preferred nonfiction font, and has seen wide use in textbooks. Another variant of which I am somewhat fond is Imprint, a font in the Caslon style designed in the early Twentieth Century.

On the subject of typefaces, I received an order of a few copies of my novel ‘God of Rain’ a couple days ago. Now all my proofs had been perfect, as had my last order, but the fonts were messed up in the books I received this time. Why? It is hard to say but I can probably blame the Infini face I used in places — headers, footers, some titling. The text, in tried-and-true URW Garamond No.8, was fine. Lesson learned: stick to the safe stuff as much as possible for the book interiors and, maybe, avoid mixing fonts too much. It may have been a fluke, a bad printing batch, but I am redesigning GOR with pretty much all Garamond inside — that gave me an incentive to do another proofreading go-through, so that’s to the good.

Covers are, of course, another matter. Use whatever one wishes there!
It’s going to be converted to a graphic anyway. But if using the free (and sometimes less professional) stuff, be careful of kerning and so on. Anything can be made to look decent with a little effort — but a good Caslon is still a great choice.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Asanas Cover

A few  days back I posted some dummy covers I had created and rejected for the upcoming mainstream novel, ASANAS. The decision was to go with something more conventional (and maybe a tad boring?). Here's the likely way we'll be going:


It will be a while yet—and there is always the chance that the project will be set aside while I turn out another fantasy novel—but ASANAS should appear before the end of the year.

Today, June 3 2017, however, is the official release date for THE CROCODILE'S SON, a 'fantasy adventure.' Print and ebook available pretty much everywhere!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Naught, a poem

Naught

We are the glass that one day shatters,
the flame that burns to ash and scatters,
with no regret, for nothing matters.

The little mouse’s midnight patters
that, drowsy, we a moment hark
will fade forgotten in the dark.

All leave naught behind to mark
the passage; the igniting spark
dims and dies as we burn yet.

Consume, create, die, beget —
the sun of dawn must also set;
none of it matters — have no regret.

Stephen Brooke ©2017

Not my best, certainly, and something of a cliche; intended more as an exercise in form.