Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Keep An Eye on the Underground

I have neglected to mention, but am happy to announce, that Subterranean Press bought my story “The Boy Who Followed Lovecraft” a couple weeks back.  I think it will be appearing at Subterranean Online as part of the Winter issue.

This is the last strictly Lovecraftian story I intend to write.  It’s a period piece, not a work of fantasy, so it was hard to find the right home.  But I can’t think of a better place for it than Subterranean.  Their books are beautiful, and their online fiction top-notch (as you will see if you browse the list of online stories).

My thanks to Bill Schafer for taking a chance on this one.

Facebook Meme, Ready for Pasting into Your Notes


Have you read more than 100 of these? If not, you must take at least 15 minutes to add 100 more or you will break this chain and everyone on Earth will die (eventually). Bother your friends and complete strangers too. No tag backs. Tag all your friends. Tag no one. Some will regret friending you, as you have me. Facebook may collapse under the weight of this astonishing venture, but I think it will agree that is a small price to pay for having friends.

1. Frittering Haights
2. Gone to Be Slaked Now
3. Sophy’s Curse
4. The Complete Wharfworks of Wharfham Wharfsphere
5. The Great Gallumphrey
6. Prude and Pruneface
7. Lay It on Thickly, Roofer
8. To Kill a Mockingjaywalker
9. The Bibul
10. I Walked with Jayne ‘Ere
11. Wharfhamlet
12. The Miserable Lesbian
13. Charles, Chuckles, and the Chocolate Chippendale
14. L41N14L
15. The Bed-Springs of Bed-Stuy
16. The Dunderbluss Hat
17. Down Boy!
18. Facts About Wasps
19. Li’l Prin’ess an’ the Ol’ Bu”ery B””
20. The Darkest Dark of Darkness
21. Adventures (all)
21. Five Books You Must Never Have Read
21. Wed, Wed, Charlotte You Must Wed
22. Van de Camp’s Ovaries
23. Finely Fairly Foully So
24. Whatever’s Left’s 4 U
25. The Cladded Clapboard Claddagh
26. I Spose
27. Germinal Faire
28. Whither Vanity?
29. Wither, Vanity
30. Chastity Intact
31. Christ and Carroll, Lewis
32. Makepeace Tanqueray
33. Odysseus Swallowed
34. Stoatula Unbound
35. My Terwilliger
36. The Morbid Hick
37. The Jarring Bell
38. Dimbulbs at Dawn
39. Jonesin’ for Dairy
40. Jub the Preferable
41. Soft Shoulder
42. Count on Monty
43. Floyd in the Time of Sclera
44. Curious J in the Night Kitchen
46. Same Old Same Old
47. Two Tales of A City
48. Mouse on Man
49. Dunny Brook-No-Harm
50. Sensible Pets (sometimes published as Sensible Pest)
51. Pilot Life
52. Manteca: The Lard Files
53. Atonally Intoned
54. A Sensitive, Handwrung Boy
55. We Didn’t Mean It, Said the Mob
56. Grable’s Stables
57. The White Women’s Wilkie
58. Perfectly Mercurial Albacore
59. War and More
60. You’ll Wonder Why
61. The Hype Handler
62. Shotgun Memories
63. A Very Small House
64. Wife Travelling Time
56. The Robbit
67. The Baby-Proofed Nightmare
89. Great Scott, Fatso!
90. A Little Slumming
91. Trendsong
92. Darken Not My Door, Darling
93. A Wind in The Hind Quarter
94. Angry, Angry Waters
95. A Case of Canned Karenina
96. Copperfraud’s Caseload
97. The Comicles of Norn (all)
98. The Comicles of Norn (vol. 3)
99. The Master’s Masterpiece
100. Lay I Mean Lie with Me

Steampunk Revivified

Steampunk Reloaded is now available.  This contains my story “Great Breakthroughs in Darkness,” along with a number of other reprints, and a great deal of original work in the steampunk vein.  I was an admirer of the steampunk novels of Jeter, Powers and Blaylock, felt there was no way I could compete with them although I loved the circuitous sentences these sort of stories allowed, and only dabbled a little in imitation.  By the time Gibson and Sterling had published The Difference Engine, and Paul Di Filippo had put out his Steampunk collection, I figured it was all over.  Little did I know.

Pokky Mash

Now that Classics Mutilated is in print, Anna Tambour has posted a quite Tambourian look at “Pokky Man” at her blog, Medlar Comfits.  Anna was the first reader of the story, and a staunch champion who convinced me not to rewrite it into paste, but to leave some lumps in.  It is an honor to think she spent so much of her intense intelligence on this odd little story.  But Anna likes odd things.

PS: If you buy the Kindle edition of Classics Mutilated, you’ll get two extra stories that aren’t in the paperback.  But the bound volume is hefty and beautiful, and the illustrations by Mike Dubisch are fun in any event.

Pokky Man, A Film by Vernor Hertzwig (Excerpt)


In 2004 I was contacted by Digito of America to review some film footage they had acquired in litigation with the estate of a young Pokkypet Master named Hemlock Pyne. While I have occasionally played boardgames such as Parchesi, and various pen and paper role playing games involving dwarves and wizards, in vain hopes of escaping the nightmare ordeals that infest my soul, I was hardly the target audience for the global phenomenon of Pokkypets. I knew only the bare lineaments of the young man’s story—namely that he had been at one time considered the greatest captor of Pokkypets the world had ever known. Few of these rare yet paradoxically ubiquitous creatures had escaped being added to his collection. But he had turned against his fellow trainers, who now hurled at him the sort of venom and resentment usually reserved for race traitors. The childish, even cartoonish aspects of the story, were far from appealing to me, especially as spending time on a hundred or so hours of Pokkypet footage would mean delaying my then-unfunded cinematic paean to those dedicated paleoanthropologists who study human coprolites or fossil feces. But there was an element of treachery and tragedy that lured me to look more carefully at the life and last days of Hemlock Pyne, as well as the amount of money Digito was offering. I found the combination irresistible.


To be a Pokky Captor was for me the highest calling—the highest calling! I never dreamed of wanting anything else. All through my childhood, I trained for it. It was a kind of warrior celebration…a pokkybration, you might say, of the warrior spirit. I lived, ate, breathed, drank, even pooped the Pokky spirit. Yes, pooped. Because there is dignity in everything they do. When it comes to Pokkypets, there is no room for shame—not even in pooping. In a sense, I was no different from many, many other children who dream of being Pokky Captors. The only difference between me and you, children like you who might be watching this, is that I didn’t give up on my dream. Maybe it’s because I was such a loser in every other part of my life–yeah, imagine that, I know it’s difficult, right?–but I managed to pull myself free of all those other bonds and throw myself completely into the world of Pokkypets. And I don’t care who you are or where you are, but that is still possible today.


Hemlock Pyne’s natural enthusiasm connected him ineluctably with the childish world of Pokkypets—the world he never really escaped. The more I studied his footage, the more I saw a boy trapped inside a gawky man-child’s body. It was no wonder to me that he had such difficulty relating to the demands of the adult world. In cleaving to his prejuvenile addictions, it was clear that Pyne hoped to escape his own decay, and for this reason threw himself completely into a world that seems on its face eternal and unchanging. The irony is that in pursuing a childish wonderland, he penetrated the barrier that protects our fragile grasp on sanity by keeping us from seeing too much of the void that underlines the lurid cartoons of corporate consumer culture, as they caper in a crazed dumbshow above the abyss.

(I will post details on the full story’s publication when I have them.)


O’Sullivan heads west with a head full of death,
A wet-plate photographer fresh from civil war.
Years among mountains, in desert starknesses,
He hopes will serve as an optic purge. He needs
Beauty badly, without the cruel counterpoints
Served up at dawn on misty battlefields.
O’Sullivan harbors secret germs. TB.
He fights them, though, with wild joy,
Dragging boats against the Colorado, long days of
Labor, careful with the fragile plates, and
At the end of every grueling day hikes alone up
Canyon walls with all his gear, prepares the plates,
Staggers a tripod in shifting rocks, and lays
The groundwork for the scene-smiths to come after him.
O’Sullivan never sees the bald rocks crazed with snow,
Or alkali flats smelting under blazing Utah sun,
Or empty Anasazi caverns, ruined homes like honeycombs,
Without facing what lies under every vision
He has pinned to paper, with albumen plate and silver salts,
Hung on walls for all to view, though none but he can see
The ghosts that cloud his mindful eye;
They find only beauty unsullied. He’s done his job.
Tuberculosis catches him on Staten Isle, years and
Miles from fields of war or granite peaks.
Still, he was a civil servant. He lives on.
In the National Archives, O’Sullivan’s Antietam and his
Gettysburg, his Devil’s Den strewn with soldiers,
Allow us through his eyes. It’s tricky, though.
Two precious negatives, superimposed: One of rocks
Peppered with bodies, blasted limbs,
Grey rags we know are bloodied;
One of rocks sifted with snow, a rugged slope,
Twisted pines and white water whipped in a froth
And frozen like snow by long exposure.
Print the pair, or merely hold them to the light,
And you will see a gorgeous battlefield,
Mountain cataracts aswirl with corpses.
We’re in through his eyes. We’re heading west.