August 2004

Notices Books Received

ComiCon/Rocket eDeath/Potatoe-a-la-Bouche

Publisher's Note: The personal views of the publisher, expressed here, do not necessarily mirror those of other contributors to this magazine. This is strictly my personal rant.

Annual San Diego ComiCon, a world event ComiCon International San Diego A Huge Success—As a San Diego resident, I can tell you that this is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the city each year. T-shirts and other apparelThere were ComiCon banners flying all up and down Broadway. There were folks (tired, bleary-eyed, but happy) wandering dazedly through the city's hotels and restaurants and streets—anyplace one could find a drink, something to eat, or a place to sit. DC Comics dominated at the 16th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, taking half of the awards. Click on the image at left for the official website, which has lots of interesting information. Lots of stars attended—organizers claim "Hollywood moved 120 miles south for four days." They couldn't have said it more eptly, or is that aptly? Just kidding. Been speaking English all my life, and I still wonder why we park on a driveway, yet drive on a parkway, and other mysteries of our lingo.

Sighco.com sighco.com. All original designs delivered promptly. Visit the website and order what you like. Good pricing. Lots of Goth and Dark or SF T-shirts and other apparel in evidence, usually with gripping decorations on black backgrounds...reminds one of wandering sf/f/h web pages. The icon at left is just one example of the vibrant artwork of Brian Callahan and Gwen Crowley Callahan. Brian contributed memorable artwork and book covers at Clocktower Books. Brian and Gwen are building a successful T-shirt business with distributors around the country. He was in town in July 2004 for the ComiCon, where we caught up with him for a little visit and photo op.

The Growing Success of Artist A. L. Sirois—Speaking of happiness and success after many years of hard work, congratulations are in order for Al Sirois, the Critic at Large of this magazine, who has sold seven beautiful paintings just in the past several weeks. Al is a multi-talented guy who accomplishes great things in all he touches. He's a musician, author, and artist. Take a look at his stories and his paintings. It will be well worth your time.

The Growing Success of Media Critic John K. Muir—A discussion of our talented staff must include congratulations and kudos for media critic John K. Muir, whose readable yet authoritative books are increasingly drawing praise from readers and film connoisseurs. John has been authoring books about old and new films and television programs for many years. Recently, Comic Buyer's Guide commented on John's 2003 book about Kevin Smith, An Askew View: The Films of Kevin Smith, that it is 'a legitimate film book, written by an accomplished film journalist.' The same publisher, Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, has also released John K. Muir's Best In Show: The Films of Christopher Guest and Company (2004) and The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi (2004). Visit John's website and read all the strongly positive critical reactions and learn about John's many other published books. Far Sector SFFH is proud of you, John Kenneth Muir!

Remembering Rocket eBooks—I've been predicting, and continue to predict, the demise of print publishing. This will happen, not because of wishful thinking by technophiles and unpublished novelists, but because of economics. Why hasn't it happened already? Because the world is run by idiots who mismanage everything, and because the real e-book reader isn't here yet. The unimaginative say things like "Oh but I love to curl up with my mouldering cube of pulp smeared with messy ink and glued together with dead animal hooves" but the real e-book (in the lab, soon to come) will give them something to really curl up with. My point, anyway, is not to make another rant about e-books. I'm happy to publish in both media, and I don't care that much about the details anymore. I'm enjoying the best of both worlds.

My point is, for those who were in on the early web-publishing days, I just visited the Gemstar website. I checked for signs of the old Rocket that many early adopters loved. What's interesting (to a former Rocket eBook publisher and author; in fact, after free HTML, that was my baptism into actually selling books on the Web back in 1999) is that there seems to be no mention anymore on the Gemstar website of the e-book. It's all gone—not only mention of the RCA 1100/1200, but the whole list of books being offered by the Gemstar conglomerate (not to be confused with the Rocket Library of Nuvomedia fame). I'm sure there will long be a secondary market in used Rocket eBooks, and a continuing market in Nuvomedia files for them. For a while, a few little guys had fun with a revolutionary little toy called the Rocket eBook. Those who staked a lot of themselves in the Rocket got badly hurt. Well, you know, we live in a society that takes our tax money to wage preemptive wars on a whim, but doesn't feel we should use our own tax money to have health care. Go figure. Oh, and the new owner of Gemstar appears to be Rupert Murdoch, purveyor of tabloid sleaze and mouthpiece for the neocons. From bad to worse.

Another Sort of Con—As an aside, I just got several lengthy and official looking e-mails about some prestigious sounding literary award competition. I won't give their name, but their pseudonym and chief attribute is "Legion." My personal policy is never to pay money to enter a competition. I'm not saying it's always a scam, but it usually looks like one. Anyway, to wade through a mile of tiny black ink, I did a search on "$" and sure enough, they offer a thousand dollar first prize, but you have to pay fifty bucks to enter. I didn't look further, but I assume they encourage you to enter as often as you'd like. Let's see...hmm...if I sent them 20 entries, at fifty bucks each, and if I won the grand prize, assuming they really give one out, I'd break even—except for my time, envelopes, and postage. Sounds like a pyramid scheme to me. If 5,000 victims send money, they gross $25,000 and (maybe) pay out $1000. Not a bad deal for them. A lousy deal for me or you.

click for more info Aside: A Note About Content. (2022) A few of the editorial comments by JTC during the early 2000s were political in nature. Those represent purely my own opinions stated at the time, and may not have agreed with the opinions of my esteemed team members. Explanation follows. Click for more INFO.

My Monthly Plug for John Kerry—Speaking of Rupert Murdoch...There is a poignant moment in Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 in which a young woman, obviously either totally uninformed about the world or else a 'Fox news' watcher (same thing), who seems unable to accept that the woman in front of the White House really did lose her son. She screams at the bereaved woman, refusing to believe her, and ultimately can only yell insults after her as the woman hurries away. This signifies to me the great disconnect between Americans and reality that could ultimately doom our democracy.

Consider for a moment that so few Americans actually have served in the military, or even know anyone personally who has (this may change with Bush's personal vendetta in Iraq (grinning: "after all, they tried to kill my daddy," nevermind he tried to kill his old man at age 19 coming home very drunk and offering to bash Bush Sr.'s brains out on the family lawn—like so much, a matter of public record and published in the non-Fox, non-Limbaugh truthful news (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, etc.). Many people think patriotism is about listening to stupid TV shows, yelling insults at others who don't agree with cynical talk show agitators, and running others off the road in one's SUV.

For these people, reality is not something that happens to them. It happens only to people on TV (like in fake, staged 'reality shows'—no wonder the angry young neocon babe in Moore's flick yells at the poor mother that her son's death is 'staged' and presumably a libburrul sham designed to undermine Ammurrikuh. In this climate, where only half the people vote, and only neocon votes are counted where it counts, it's no wonder that so many lost souls, without a moment's thought or brain function, swallow the Fox/Bush pack of lies that Kerry somehow is not a patriot, and Bush is a "warrior president."

The real culprit, however, lies in the media. We now have a time when the checks and balances are gone, and the government is wholly owned by rightwing extremists (neocons) who falsely style themselves as "Christians" and "conservatives." The neocons (neo-Confederates? neo-conjobbers?) control both houses of Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, and even the Fed in the form of Alan "Irrationally Exuberant" Greenspan. Let's understand the extent of neocon duplicity: running on a platform of 'States' Rights' (read: segregationism), yet when the Florida Supreme Court ordered a recount that would have rightfully given the presidency to legitimately elected Al Gore, Bush and his lawyers ran to the Federal Supreme Court and got their stooges there to overturn the state supreme court; and yet millions of neoncon dupes continue to believe that the newly neocon Republican Party somehow represents the interests of conservatives, Christians, and states' righters. The Republican Party in fact has generally in its history sold out to billionaires. Other than, like the industrialists of Hitler's time aligning themselves with dangerous rightwing extremist elements, there is nothing new in today's Republican stance. The disconnect that puts lies over truth, anger over thoughtfulness, insults over debate, ignorance over wisdom, and ultimately despotism over democracy, ultimately falls upon the shoulders of those most entrusted to uphold the truth—the media. The cornerstone of neocon depravity has been their relentless assault on the media, branding them a tool of Libburruls (read: 1930s, Germany, 'Chooz') while in reality the media are now and have always been owned almost exclusively by wealthy conservatives. If the American people are the victims of Goebbels-style dupery that makes cowardice, selfishness, and dishonesty(Bush/Cheney/Limbaugh/Fox/Murdoch/News Corp) the equal of heroism, generosity, and truthfulness (Kerry/Edwards/McCain/many older Republican and Democrat leaders) then the failure must be laid at the feet of those elements at CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and so forth who have not more vigorously stood up to the depredations of the neocons. Both in political and economic disaster, the American people as a whole will pay for the failure to contain rampant fascism in the U.S. in the new millennium. With our government no longer checked and balanced, only a free press remains to rescue us from tyranny.

Bush's trail of lies is long, and wide. Consider for example, that George W. Bush, during the 2000 campaign, when challenged for the nomination by John McCain (ditto-dopes listen up: he spend 5 years in a Communist prison under torture after being shot down over Vietnam, and courageously acted as leader for his fellow prisoners, the kind of stuff Oxycontin-addict Limbaugh will never tell you about) falsely accused McCain of having fathered a black baby out of wedlock and not supported that illegitimate child; when in fact the McCains in their enormous moral compassion and kindness actually adopted a black child whose way they are generously paying. That's just one example of a thousand. Bush represents an endless chain of sleazy lies and ruthless elbows in the eye to win at any cost, always the dirty and dishonest way. Think of him as a dumber and cruder Nixon. Because his wealthy family, who always bail him out, have surrounded him with misguided talents like Rice and Baker, among others, he never lacks for surrogates to both rescue him and do his dirty work for him. In the 2004 campaign, he already planted lies about a Kerry extramarital affair (not true, and denied definitively by all involved) using one of his many surrogates on line, Matt Drudge.

Potatoe, Part II, or: My Monthly Plug for John Kerry—It's impossible to understand how Bush could have been the Republicans' best man for the job. I admire John McCain. Much as I liked Gore, and voted for Gore, I might have voted for McCain. John has really flubbed the chance (like another good American hero, Colin Powell, awash in loyalty but not the best common sense) to serve the broader American public and his own interests—which I believe are conservative, not radical. Among those who bother being informed, nor choose to be misinformed Fox folowers, Bush has a seamless lifelong record of mediocrity and failure, and an equally seamless record of having others from mom to Cheney bail him out of all his self-induced problems. Well-documented problems include being a de facto self-admitted cocaine abuser and a times violent alcoholic; being a failed businessman who dumped his stock not once but twice (he didn't go to jail thanks to his family's influence, but Martha Steward will—let's call it what it is—blatant corruption); being a bad governor of Texas; and more. It's all available in the news and online. None of this is fake or staged.

Bush really was the worst possible result in 2000, whether you do or don't agree he wasn't even elected. He showed up once for a free dental exam while skipping over a year of his National Guard duty, which itself was a sham designed to keep him from serving in Vietnam (he was in an air defense unit guaranteed never to go overseas, and filled with rich kids, and even then he paid to get in ahead of hundreds of others on the waiting list; this is the story of Bush's entire life, including his sham presidency). Bush hid out for days after 9/11 and then showed up for a few minutes to wave a little flag on a fire engine and grin like an idiot before going back into hiding. That's a warrior? But why go on? The list of Bush failures is endless. There are no Bush accomplishments, unless it's spelling 'potato' correctly (maybe; Quayle had it as 'potato' and made a fool of himself on world television). Trust me on this—vote for Kerry. It'll be the smartest thing you ever did.



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For historical information, visit the Clocktower Books Museum Site. Far Sector SFFH (formerly Deep Outside SFFH) was an imprint of Clocktower Books, our umbrella small press publishing house in San Diego, California USA. Our original motto: "Clocktower Books means Exciting Fiction For Avid Readers—On The Web Since 1996." This was digital publishing at its best in that day, including digital and print editions of many titles. Visit John T. Cullen's Webplex for info about Clocktower Books today, plus his continuing books and projects.