In My Humble Opinion #9


So my eighth pint is going down smoothly when Tap’s mom mentions that she trusts the lot of us now. How I kept from spraying beer all over the table is beyond me.

DexCon II; or what the hell was I thinking? However, despite a near-nervous breakdown and panic attack, the second and improved version of the classic event was a complete and un equaled success. We had Australians, we had Finns, we had lots of beer, and I stayed drunk most of the weekend. Living up to the image, I guess.

It was incredible. No words could have conveyed what was happening. Seraph and I were trading quips like a typical RR, Tap is small and violent, and Lee Matthews, Redhawk, and Samy all count as geography. The number of different people, from every background imaginable, combining in one of the greatest cities to ever be blessed with me. How could you all have missed it?

Seriously, the convention, with more then 20 people attending, was a success beyond my wildest expectations. Jokes, laughter and humour was thick and furious at every hour of the day, and the sheer creative energy in the room full of writers was thick enough to cut with a knife. It was almost surreal, to have people who were no more then a few random bits of data in the electronic ether before the weekend, suddenly beside you, sharing a pint and calling the cat a bastard.

I’d have been happier if the Parakeet Song hadn’t come out...

Anyhow, the end result of the conference is that a lot of people threatened to end my life if I failed to get an IMHO out this month, so I shall again ply you with some of the new work running rampant across the net. And, DexCon ‘00, the ‘Sum of Zero’ indeed, is in the works. Start saving your sheckles and rolling those quarters, because it’ll be even bigger next time!

I suppose I’m an oddity amoungst the ‘cultural comic elite’ due to the fact that I have never picked up a Sandman comic in my life. However, some comics don’t need to the 700 issues of back story to grab you, and neither do some fics. The American Dream by Robert Morris is likely one of the most seamless crossovers I’ve had the pleasure to read. Morris takes a look at Captain America, one of the great ‘super’ superheros, and tries to explain the real nature of what Steve Rodgers fights for. The only trouble with his fight is the fact that Rodgers is already dead. And thus, Dream and Death appear to speak to the newest herald of the ‘American Dream’. The story holds the vaguely surreal nature of Gaiman, yet Cap still holds the original ‘Stan Lee’-esque heroic nature all through the work. Short and tense, the story is a joy of mixed ideas and real attempts to intelligently combine comic realms.

Fruitloops, Nutcases And Prophets by Diamonde is just another reason to visit Australia. Aussie native Diamonde has created one of the most wickedly funny stories to hit the net since ‘You Did WHAT in a Cave?!’. In this work, Cyclops is cursed with the ability to see his surroundings without the restrictions of time and is occasionally visited by faeries with questions about sex. The X-Men think he’s nuts, which is when it really gets funny, because Scott decides to accept it. Written with a puckish sense of release, the story pulses and bounces around the accepted demeanors of the X-Men. Especially with Cyclops, the most ‘sane’ X-Men as the source of madness, the tale quickly takes on an almost surreal aspect. The only jarring point is the fact that the X-Men have made little attempt to see if it is as simple as madness which affects Scott, despite obvious clues. Highly enjoyable, and designed to make you laugh, grin and, at times, spit beer at the computer screen.

Combat in fanfiction has always been a very difficult search to find good examples of. Most battle sequences are pared down or written with all the intensity and drama of a playground squabble. However, in the hands of someone like Redhawk, it can ignite like an inferno. Daisho: Fire And Fire is a story about a fight between the Silver Samurai and Sunfire; ideological opposites cast together under strange circumstances. Redhawk’s training in the martial arts is readily apparent as he writes the sparring match. Both characters act and move like real opponents on the tatami, kicks and blocks and armlocks all described in precise detail and exactitude. Even in the limited vehicle of a fight sequence, Redhawk does a fine job of dealing with the character of the Silver Samurai, oft overlooked in the grand comics scheme. A minor villian, he glows under the care of the writer; the image of an intensely patriotic yet dissatisfied man who is trying to come to grips with the nature of life in his changing country. While it’s hardly to everyone’s taste, those looking for an intelligent and authentic look at martial arts would do well to make this required reading.

Although I do my best not to re-review writers in the normal fan fiction reviews, I found myself forced to do that very thing by two absolutely fantastic works which appeared the same day on my e-mail and just would not release the hold they had on my literary pancreas.

I am not generally a great fan of the Common People Arc; not due to the fact that it lacks well written stories or any such worry such as that. My trouble is that it tends to inspire the gut-wrenching, Gambit on the roof style angst which, in my mind, is the artistic kudzu of fan fiction. So, when someone like Thomas Wilde appears with a short, fast piece like In Transit, the first alarm bells go off like a shoplifter in Fort Knox. Well, shame on me. The piece, all about a version of mutant cabbies, is both comical and refreshingly everyday. The plot is simple, the characterizations brief, and the point simple; which is why it works so well. Nothing in the piece rings untrue, crouched within the Marvel Universe as it is. In fact, the ending, with the reflection on the experience is one of the crowning scenes of the piece, using all of Wilde’s naturally introspective style writing talents to their fullest.

I swear that if I ever meet Amanda Sichter, I’ll buy her a beer and then soundly cuff her upside the head for messing with my feelings. Remembrance is a story that catches low in the bowels and tears every emotion up through the chest and out the throat. It’s like a fine crystal glass; flawless in it’s symmetry and construction. Elegant without ostentation, and sheer perfection. The agony of Cyclops and his fear of the absence of the pain is a grim fact which is immediately recognizable to those who have suffered the loss of a life dearer to them then their own. I refuse to refer to call it an angst piece, since to me, angst is contrived writing to generate an emotional response due to writers tricks. The stark honesty of "Remembrance" is all that is required to translate the oceans of pain to the reader. Sichter has a well justified reputation of excellent writing and brilliant first person delving into the psyche of characters, yet this piece carries everything to a new level.

And again, you are all forced to listen to me tell you what to read, listen to, and visit. Isn’t tyranny great?

Recommended novel for this month is the ever spectacular Harlen Ellison’s short story collection: "Angry Candy". Prefaced with one of the greatest rants against death and God since John Donne’s ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’, Harlen snarls his way through 17 brilliant stories about the nature of life and death. His normal eclectic and raw style of writing is scored with an undertone of menace on a universal level, as if with this, he’s cast down the gauntlet before death, with a sneer on his lips. Of all of the stories, the opener ‘The Paladin of the Last Hour’ is the strongest. Set with an atmosphere of brutal fatalism, it opens gentle rays of sun into lives of quiet desperation. Ellison has always tried to debunk racial stereotypes by placing two different ones in conjunction, and in this work, he evens makes the age difference significant. Gasper is the paladin, and Billy is his pupil; but both reverse roles at various times, creating an interaction which is brilliant and possessed of incredible depth simultaneously.

The recommended CD for this month is from Capital’s Ultra Lounge series, called "Wild, Cool, and Swinging Too!". It has a line-up of greats like Bobby Darin, Louie Prima, Julie London and Peggy Lee, and songs like "Wives and Lovers", "Call Me Irresponsible", and "Frenesi"; and if you have no idea why these are all good, shame on you. And, believe it or not, it has direct relation to fan fiction and it’s writers as well. For example, despite numerous death threats, I’ve been calling Tapestry a ‘Snootie Little Cutie’ for weeks...

And the recommended website is Trisha Sebastian’s Author's Spotlight. Not only is Trisha one of the sexiest writers to hit the net recently, but she’s also a damn fine journalist. Her interviews are in depth, insightful and marvelous in scope. And, she has a knack of digging out some of the most interesting types in our genre to haul to the rack. If you read this, and you aren’t reading the Author’s Spotlight, you’re only getting half the story and twice the calories.

And another column draws to a close. As always, comments, feedback, flames, ferrets and other alliterative responses to me at this address. And, as I always have to mention in my most dulcet and pitiful tones, reviews of my work are also accepted here...

And now I have to go try and match each member of Madness up with major politicians. Do not weep for me.


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