Monthly Archives: July 2016

My Lafferty Shelf

I took me a while because I had to be talked out of removing the books from the plastic. But here they are in their bookness doing what books do while they are not being read, talking amongst themselves waiting to be read. Actually I am fitting in stories from Does Anyone Else have Something Further to Add? at the end of my study day. I have read a number of them before, but that is no reason not to read them again, silly. And this time it will be from a themed book!

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And yes, that is also a crucifix on the top shelf and on the bottom shelf a picture of the me (when I had hair… miss the hair sometimes…) and the missus from 23 years ago. Also on the bottom shelf is Thomas A Kempis’ My Imitation of Christ.

These things are not out of place on a Lafferty shelf.

There is some overlap in this collection. I have three Past Masters, two Aurelia, two Serpent’s Eggs and a few others. None of the real rarities overlap though.

I also have back East of Laughter which I had gifted to author John C. Wright a year or two ago. I regretted that because I grew to be such a Lafferty fan.

I’ve been thinking about starting a spin off blog from this one where I do commentaries on Lafferty stories. I am just not sure I can do the work justice (or pull off intelligence) given my present schedule.

For instance, last night after pumping in eight hours of study that took fourteen hours to finish (the day’s normal demands plus school demands = more time than you’ve got) I reread About a Secret Crocodile. There is something very representative in this story. It is Lafferty’s ability to perform modern surrealist (surrealist is sometimes too light a word, is it not?) fantasy with subtle and obvious humor while making poignant arguments or observations about our world and our time. About a Secret Crocodile is certainly that kind of story.

Of the surrealist element… I think if a film adaptation of one of Lafferty’s works were ever made, only animation (and creative animation at that) could do it justice. Perhaps the French could pull it off or Terry Gilliam…

I remember in my Randroid days we would find inexhaustible conversation time discussing who would play what part, or who would direct a film version of Atlas Shrugged. Suffice it to say we were all wrong when the hilariously bad adaptation did see the light of day! But I think that would be even more fun with Lafferty. Who could direct Fourth Mansions? What screenwriter could transfer that to an intelligible script? Most fans find it rough to penetrate.

What the hell was I talking about?

Anyway, I have to study. See? No justice to the material.

Just a few more months…

Have I not said that before?

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Scrivener for iOs

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That is not a picture of my set-up. I, ready to jump into the whole mobile writing thing, to be a jet-setting, on the go pep in the step writer, got an iPad in the summer of 2014. That was in anticipation of the Scrivener ios release. Now, almost two years to the day, I have neither the time nor the money for it. School sucks 7 to 8 hours out of all seven days at the moment and that is not even enough.

I thought medical coding was something relatively easy! Program can be finished in as little as four months! LIES! LIES!

Anyway, if you’re an iPad mobile scrivener, I can certainly attest to its parent program for the Mac. It is, the Mac version, the best writing app out there bar none. It does do a lot more than I would ever need.

In fact I think it does too much more than I need nowadays. My whole philosophy to writing changed radically a little before I made the dumbest move in my life and pursued medical coding. I was reading a Lafferty essay (interview? I can’t remember and it was less than a week ago) where he was describing his writing process. Basically you start an idea until you hit a wall, shelve it, start something else, then dig the first thing out again later. That was pretty much how I was thinking about it before I made the most stupid… ah, hell, I’ve been belching that bitch of a yarn out a year or more now.

I think when I do finish school and get into the field and just simply work like everyone else, I am going to move away from the whole Scrivener thing anyway. I’m not investing in $1500 machines anymore. For what? Most everyone puts stuff in clouds now. I’m just going to buy a Chromebook, keep my stuff (very well organized) on Google Drive (and a memory stick – gotta cover your ass) as well as the paper copies I like to keep because I love buying printer cartridges and paper.

Alright, I actually do love buying paper.

But if you are one of those (and I was too) that likes to keep all their notes in the same place with their audio files and the links and annotations and etc, etc – well, then, Scrivener is for you.

Here is the thing though. I did find, and I did enjoy, that I spent almost as much time tinkering with the software and my writing planning as I did writing. Probably more so since I was such a fusser over plot points and theme points. You know, I think you can get a lot more done (and learn so much quicker) just throwing all preparation into the wind and diving into that plasma pool and letting it take you over. Forget the damned condoms, boys! You’re already married, dive into the river!

You know I am completely sober for every single one of these posts…

Anyway I highly recommend Scrivener and I am sure they took very good care to release a good ios product as well.


Lafferty Collection

I did a major upgrade to my R.A. Lafferty collection last week. And, unfortunately, probably the last for awhile. Now I have to get a job! I have nearly everything that is currently out there to be had.

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I’ve known for some time that Lafferty, later in his career, languished in the smallest of the small presses. But upon getting some of the smaller small press works it made me a little angry that he had to suffer that fate. I do not really know how he saw it. But the way I look at it is I see the mountains of shit that makes up “literature” and science fiction and he is relegated to obscurity because it was not what everyone else is writing.

That is one way I look at it at least.

Ah, yes, it is easy to uphold a neglected genius and to throw my feces at James Patterson. But throw I shall. MAD MONKEY ME! MAKE BOOM BOOM! One could say that it easily butters the soft side of one’s ego, but being a Lafferty fan is hard work. If ease of comprehension is a virtue, Lafferty was a most wicked man. And maybe he was in the good way some wicked people are.

I just wanted to drop a tear when I saw some of his later work look like it was typewritten and stapled in someone’s garage. That is no loggerhead to the fine gentlemen that likely made nothing publishing him when no one else would. I read in one of the introductions to one of my new acquisitions (I think it was Michael Swanwick in Iron Tears) that the big houses wouldn’t publish him in the end because there was no money in it.

It is contemplating such stark realities that makes me wonder whether all our freedom isn’t a road to hell. There’s no money in it. I used to study economics – I agree with what used to be called the Austrian School. There are laws of economics as unflappable and sure as any in the halls of physics. And don’t let your local palm greasers sell you any other brand of soap. I get it. But for Random House (or fill in your big man) to let one of our most gifted authors just whither into obscurity because “there’s no money in it.”

Who did it? That is the question that sets the wrench free. People have pointed to the capitalists before (for I am not near the first person to pose the question) that they cater to an ever lowering bar. I don’t believe such answers are holistic enough.

All sufficient answers are wholly holistic. Or, as Hegel (who I dated in an earlier incarnation of myself, btw) said:

The true is the Whole.

Just as long as we understand that is probably the only true thing Hegel ever said!

Maybe we really are in the Day After the World Ended as Lafferty said. Although he said that in 1979, so it’s now several days after the world ended. If you’re not familiar with the concept (and why would most of you be, it is an obscure concept) I will be covering it at some future date. I agree quite a lot with his position that the world ended sometime in the 20th century. I also love the idea like an adopted child because it is an idea (or a finding) that I had not the slightest inkling of before he told it to me. Usually I have to go to the Bible for such things.

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Holy crap, it is past midnight! I never stay up this late anymore.

One more pic!

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Tomorrow, Tomorrow!

Ah, man, my Lafferty collection arrives tomorrow. Well, scheduled to arrive tomorrow. That is a lot faster than I imagined. I figured a package from France would be a couple of weeks. I didn’t know I was getting such good treatment! Actually, I didn’t know $60 of shipping for 10 pounds of books bought you that much speed.

I was doing an inventory of what my collection will look like when this arrives. It is going to look pretty good. I will have roughly 98% of what has ever been out there. The only glaring holes are in the Argo series (although I think I need something close to cartography lessons to map what all makes up the Argo series) and the Elliptical Grave.

I’ll have Dotty, though. I have never seen that for sale. And trust me, I have my ear to the floor. Now that I think of it, I don’t believe I have ever seen Iron Tears for sale either.

The great thing is I haven’t read a good chunk of what I have had sitting on my bookshelf. I still haven’t cracked books 2 & 3 of the Centipede Press editions on account of school, nor have I touched Easterwine or Klepsis. (Oh, here’s a link if ya don’t know what I’m rambling about…) Nor have I touched Camels or Sinbad.

 

I’m going to start drinking a little faster now. I never really thought of getting (nearly) everything.

I can’t wait, I can’t wait!


Addendum to Previous Post

I wrote in my previous post about my premature evaluation of The Platypus of Doom and Other Nihilists:

They seem to live in a far future where space is no longer a hostile environment to man and yet they seem to live communally and under some sort of soft dictatorship.

They seem to… This is a great way of writing that too rarely done. Too many times I think an author tries to give the reader an absolute. It is “The Cat is on the Mat” style of writing which may work for children since their imaginations can take the most flat and literal expressions and make them into wonder.

I don’t care that I don’t know exactly, at least not yet, how or what these people really are. Those are questions that keep me going forward. Sort of like the questions of life itself, no? There are two ways to do this by the end of a story, and I’ve seen it done right both ways. You never really find out or the vagueness is used to reveal as we go on.

Now this is material I’ve covered before elsewhere but here it is for the purposes of a book recommendation. One of the best constructed books I have read especially of science fiction. The author, Brian Aldiss uses this technique with the best skill I have ever seen.

The book is Non-Stop (otherwise known as Starship) by Brian Aldiss. His technique is comparatively easy to do on film, not so easy to pull off on paper. But he does it. It is not a deep book, no meta-ethic or anything, just great technique. Or, perhaps, I was so engrossed in his perfection of technique, I missed anything wider. Entirely possible…

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The Platypus of Doom and Other Nihilists

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I saw this at the bookstore a couple of months ago and my wife got it for me as an early birthday present because I was so intrigued by the title. It is a little rare to find – $60. I decided my breakfast book could not be the current

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(which, btw, is so far great – a mix of Catholicism, spiritualism, psychology, physics, cosmology – its first of a four part series of books by the former president of Gonzaga University) because it is too technical to read over the morning news and my wife getting ready for work. So I decided to take Platypus out of the plastic and dive in.

So far it is different which is one of my key qualifiers for new work. Put it this way, I have no interest in ever reading the James Patersons or Nora Roberts or John Grishams of the world. Stephen King? Sure. Although I prefer his less popular works like Tommyknockers. He calls it his worst novel. I loved it!

He, Cover, is not stylistically inventive in any particular way that jumps out but the subject matter and approach of story is. They seem to live in a far future where space is no longer a hostile environment to man and yet they seem to live communally and under some sort of soft dictatorship. Or a hard dictatorship since those in control can direct your soul where they wish after you die. Or at least the people think they can.

And now the leader says that the Black Pirates are to have their champion fight the Black Pirates champion and the winner will be visited by the dreaded Platypus of Doom!

And this was after the lead character’s girlfriend was killed by a meteor and one of the members was telling him how ugly his girlfriend had been and how revolting it must have been to have entered her. And how he should bed her daughter.

Quite unusual.

There are no technical explanations of how, for instance, the lead character (he has no name as yet) is able to get away from it all by, basically, willing himself to a different galaxy. You just accept that these people have this ability. It is that sort of “soft” science fiction that I usually prefer.

Only 8 pages in and I can give this one a recommendation. One of the tests of recommendation, I think (meaning, would I recommend a work to someone) is: does the material stay in the mind? Will the material stay in the mind? There are many a Pohl and even Heinlein story that I can remember nothing of.

I’ll remember, if nothing else, these first eight pages. So if you run across a copy, snatch it up!

Oh, and the author is not English. You’d think with a name like Arthur Byron Cover he’d be from across the pond!


I’m like a Cat!

R.A. Lafferty

And I’m gonna pounce! Meorrw! Raaarrreee! On the Lafferty collection on auction that is. I have my timer set to swoop in at just the right time. The bidding at this point is real low for the market value of these works as a whole. The only regret of the collection is that it does not contain More Than Melchisedech, thus leaving the Devil is Dead collection incomplete. Although I don’t think it exists out there as a whole yet anyway. Sort of like his Coscuin Chronicles. And More than Melchisedech can sell for $200 – $400.

Also missing is the IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND Elliptical Grave. A few others are missing as well; like Arrive at Easterwine, but I have most of those already. I have 20 of his books with some overlap per the Centipede collections. What I don’t have is any of the $200 and up titles, rarities, and a lot of the really small stuff like the Drumm series. Although I did snatch Horns on Their Heads a few years back. Sometimes bookstores have no idea what is on their shelves.

Ah, I see it is now under an hour now. Watch out, little ones, the cat creeps silently closer to its prey… one big paw at a time. Watch out! I’m comin to getcha!

I’m really assuming the obscurity of my blog in posting this. With an average of 3 – 5 hits a day, I’m thinking I’m safe.


Rork!

Rork

This was my first foray into the world of Avram Davidson. Not so sure about this guy. The writing style was competent, the story… not very memorable. It certainly fits into its time. You know if a man lands on a planet and slips pretty easily into two or more vaginas within the first 50 pages (to be fair though the book is only 148 pages… alright now I’m laughing) you are reading a book written by a creepy white dude in (probably) America in the 1960’s or 1970’s. There is almost a pathology to it. It is almost incidental. The words related to any fornication could be substituted for relative words for eating a meal together and it would have so the same impact on plot and their lives.

They do the same sort of thing now but we are bored by something as commonplace as free-love, or consequence-free sleeping around with easy women. Instead we get rape and incest a la George RR Martin and sundry types. We’re all John Norman now!

If you contemplate this may all be wish fulfillment… you want to back away… slowly…

Anyway, I am not sure if Rork! represents a nadir in Davidson’s career. A simple “meh” moment, or he simply isn’t that good. I have a couple other books of his that I got off a personal library clearance.

It just wasn’t that special.


The Forever Goal

I am still… yes, still plugging away at this medical coding thing. I finally finished that wretched ICD 10 training. And am now entirely not enjoying CPT coding. I was at first because if you need to look up a procedure, you look it up by its actual name. You do not have to interpret it into a bunch of words as you would for ICD PCS. For a reconstruction of the ulnar nerve you look up Ulnar Nerve – Reconstruction. Pretty easy. I’m not going to give the procedure for ICD PCS because it is ridiculous and I don’t feel like going through it. But, in short, you will not find that procedure by that name (along with 99% of all other procedures) in ICD PCS. You can construct a code for it, but you’ll probably get it wrong if you haven’t performed or assisted in the surgery before.

Then in CPT, after a short happiness, I came upon E/M (evaluation and management) coding. What a freaking subjective and confusing mess. I even managed to get a 64% on a review. My first sub-90 score. Screw the 80’s & 70’s, I’m going all the way to the 60’s!

Now I have to go back about a week and start it all over.

I’m hoping to get done by my new December goal. That will make it two years.

I could have gone to actual school for something interesting.

Ah, I remember when I used to be into interesting things.