Is our writers learning? Magicians on two different worlds

Today I look at two books from recent reading that I liked, but I thought had serious flaws (of course both authors are way more successful than me, so perhaps you should my opinions of them with a grain of salt)

After Year of the Unicorn Andre Norton returned to Estcore for WARLOCK OF THE WITCH WORLD, focusing on Kemoc, the second of the Tregarth triplets. In the aftermath of Three Against the Witch World, Kaththea has found a boyfriend, the noble warrior Dinzil. Everything about Dinzil sets off Kemoc’s alarms, but everyone tells him he’s just jealous of his sister finding someone besides him and his brother. He tells himself that’s right … but then, during one military sortie, he winds up injured, poisoned and alone. And he learns that Dinzil is, indeed, a dangerously bad dude, offering Kaththea training in magic with an eye to luring her to the dark side. With the help of the mer-woman Orsya, Kemoc journeys to Dinzil’s dark tower, picking up a magic sword along the way. Unnervingly, a seer predicts there are three possible outcomes, all of which lead to Kemoc killing Kaththea. As she can’t tell him what events trigger those dooms, he’s completely frozen in deciding what to do next (a nice touch).

The sword, unfortunately, is the book’s big flaw. It’s like a really overpowered magical item in D&D; in addition to standard stuff (flaring in the presence of evil) it can dig through magical barriers, move by itself and at the climax, when Kemoc does kill his gone-to-the-dark-side sister by throwing the sword into her heart, it’s the sword that saves her, turning so she’s just knocked cold by the pommel. That’s the part that really bugged me because it felt like a complete cheat.

AN UNKINDNESS OF MAGICIANS by Kat Howard (of Cathedral of Myth and Bone) takes place during a power struggle between the great Houses of New York’s magical community (if Howard referenced any magic outside of NYC, I missed it). Sydney is the key player among several POV characters: recently released from the House of Shadow (which imprisons mage children as a battery of power other sorcerers can draw on), she’s the champion of one man hoping to found his own house; has a hidden agenda assigned her by Shadow; and an agenda of her own, to smash the nightmare House of Shadows once and for all.

The magic system is pretty simple: apparently you just will it and it happens. As the effects are weird and colorful, this doesn’t come off as Charmed-style magic as psi-power. The magic duels are over fast, with little suspense (Sydney’s very, very good) but that’s okay as the focus is more on character and political scheming: actually winning the duels is secondary.

Where the book disappointed me is that all the character conflicts, the political scheming and Sydney’s war on shadow wrap up with about a fifth of the book left to go. The plotline veers to the mysterious malfunctioning of magic (something set up early on), a battle with one evil, ambitious schemer and Sydney sacrificing her own power so that magic doesn’t disappear completely. It felt like none of this tied in to what the book was about — Sydney’s sacrifice and the need for it came completely out of left field.

I liked both books, but I could have liked them a lot more.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Gaughan, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Right-wing defense: telling women of color to go “back where they came from” isn’t at all racist

Yeah right. Even if some in the media don’t want to say so.

As you’ve doubtless heard, Trump blasted four women of color in Congress, including Ihlan Omar, and said they should go back where they came from (and that they call Jews evil, which is a lie). Never mind that they’re all US citizens and three of them are born here. As Adam Serwer says, Trump’s harking back to the old days when it was accepted by white America that nonwhites couldn’t be real Americans: “Trump’s demand is less a factual assertion than a moral one, an affirmation of the president’s belief that American citizenship is conditional for people of color, who should be grateful we are even allowed to be here.”

This is far from the only horrible thing Trump is doing. For example, the Justice Department has redefined spousal abuse and sexual assault and not for the better (though this doesn’t actually change state laws). Abuse is only abuse if it involves physical harm rather than mental abuse or coercive control. Assault is now non-consensual acts banned by law (including assault of unconscious victims) whereas the previous definition was broader (““Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”).

But as Serwer says, the president’s attack on “the Squad” is still horrific. And unsurprisingly his worshippers have picked up on it, chanting “send her back” at an NC rally, the way they chanted “lock her up” about Clinton.

But not to worry! Trump bootlicker and NC Senator Thom Tillis assures us the chants weren’t Trump’s fault, telling reporters “any one of y’all that have been to a rock concert or other venues, somebody starts up, somebody else thinks . . . I mean, to be fair to the audience, they’re in a mode where they’re energized.” Right, senator. Trump says we banish a US citizen, the crowd takes his side, total coincidence. Tillis, I should add, is all-in on Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda despite occasional hand-wringing. To his credit, he did co-sponsor a bill to end family separation at the border but his latest newsletter announced his current goal is a bill to ban sanctuary cities from not cooperating with ICE. Because you know, he’s totally concerned with breaking the law ! Our other senator, Richard Burr, is even worse.

No surprise Tillis considers North Carolina’s traditional population to exclude blacks and Hispanics.

And then we have Rush Limbaugh, who bigotsplains that this totally isn’t about race, it isn’t even about Omar: “Our founding is being stolen. Our way of life is being stolen. Our resources, our middle-class status, middle-class incomes — our goodness, our morality — is being stolen, and it’s being stolen by people like those four women in ‘the squad’ and the Democrat Party at large. So these reactions are totally understandable to me.”

No, Limbaugh, it’s not the Squad or Democrats that are causing the erosion of the middle class. If that was the issue, they’d be targeting Trump and the Republicans, not singling out a Somali Muslim immigrant who’s just one member of Congress. And Trump voters are motivated much more by status anxiety than economic hardship — as many pundits have pointed out, black and Latino working class Americans are just as economically stressed as whites, but they’re not swinging to Trump the same way. Limbaugh, as usual, preaches bullshit.

And if they’re that miserable, why aren’t they going back to the countries their ancestors came from? It’s the same logic Trump’s using on the squad, after all but no — it’s almost like his supporters feel they have more right to be here than Omar or A-OC do. Or that white immigrants have more right than non-whites. Even though, as someone said on FB last week, we probably have at least as much in common with Mexican culture than, say, France.

And we’ve still got a year before Trump’s campaign gets really cutthroat.

 

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Batman, Black Panther and of course testosterone: Books

I knew the big spoiler for BATMAN: The Wedding (Tom King and multiple artists) was that it didn’t come off, but given King’s best work has been the Selina/Bruce relationship I thought it would still be fun. Nope; we have an idiotic Booster Gold plotline, then we get into the non-funny, non-interesting 21st century Joker crashing the wedding (Greg Hatcher at Atomic Junkshop lays out what’s wrong with that) and finally Selina walking away thanks to some manipulation by Bane. It’s that last part that annoys me — walking away without at least talking to Bruce about it is cheap TV soap crap. Thumbs down.

BATMAN: Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando, multiple co-writers and artists was surprisingly enjoyable though I’m not sure it’s actually good.  Hugo Strange creates an army of monsters (this is based on a Golden Age story that already got rebooted once in this century) to destroy Gotham, so Batman has to draw on all his allies, including Batwoman, Nightwing, Spoiler and Gotham Girl to save the day. I think it’s maybe seeing all the Bat-family together and Batman not acting like a complete tool that made me like it, because that’s rare these days.

BLACK PANTHER: Panther’s Quest by Don McGregor and Gene Colan brought McGregor back to T’Challa for the first time since the 1970s Jungle Action run. The plotline tackles the question of T’Challa’s never seen mother, who it turns out vanished in South Africa years earlier. Now T’Challa has a clue to her whereabouts, but unsurprisingly, some powerful people don’t want her found. This results in a real-world look at South Africa before apartheid collapsed, and McGregor does a good job showing an ugly regime without going over the top (a lot of comics in the 1980s treated South Africa like Dr. Doom’s Latveria). However the naturalistic story, in weekly installments is slow-paced, and the heavy narration overwhelms the story in a way it didn’t in Panther’s Rage.

Like her Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine’s TESTOSTERONE REX: Myths of Science, Sex and Society does an excellent job deconstructing Men Are From Alpha, Women Are From Beta myths about humans, such as the argument that natural selection evolved males to be more promiscuous (the advantage is considerably less than pop-science cliches imply, nor is male polyamory or female fidelity a universal natural norm); that men are natural risk-takers (studies show people of either gender tend to take risks in some parts of life and caution in others) and claims that women are neither competitive or sexually lustful. This also covers some of the same territory as her previous book, showing how much of male or female is perception (gender performance goes up or down depending whether a task is typed as male, female or neutral). Very good, and obviously useful for Undead Sexist Cliches.

THE MASTER OF DREAMS: Book One of the Dreamscape Cycle by Mike Resnick isn’t as bad as I found his The Doctor and the Rough Rider, it’s just dismally bland. Protagonist Eddie Raven gets sucked into dreamscapes resembling Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz and more (with enough changes to avoid copyright problems) where his dream girl keeps turning up, but can he defeat the Master of Dreams beside it all? While I like this kind of jumping-int0-fiction story (I’ve done something similar myself), Raven’s extremely passive and never seems to feel any urgency about getting home; the book reads like Resnick thought the settings would be enough to wow us, and they’re not.

#SFWApro. Cover by Bill Reinhold and Veronica Gandini, all rights remain with current holder.

 

 

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The Twilight Zone, a tree and the Incredibles: TV and movies

With S3 of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, the bloom is definitely off the rose with way more flops than in previous seasons. E.g., Cavender is Coming, The Shelter, The Passerby, Still Valley, Dead Man’s Shoes, Four o’Clock and Showdown With Rance McGrew. Some are preachy and heavy-handed, some are unfunny comedies, some just fill a half-hour of TV and accomplish nothing more.

That said, the season also had some terrific episodes. Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles Bronson give solid performances as post-WW III survivors in Two, which opens the season. Donald Pleasance gives a moving performance as an aging teacher in the final S3 episode, Changing of the Guard. In between we have It’s a Good Life, the anti-Nazi drama Death’s Head Revisited, Five Characters in Search of an Exit and Person or Persons Unknown. It’s worth sitting through the mediocre to get to the good stuff. I’m not sure I’ll feel that way about S4, the notoriously unsuccessful switch to hour-long episodes (I think mediocre-to-bad episodes are the majority) but I won’t turn back before I finish the whole run (are you impressed at my heroism?).

CHARISMA (1999) is a confusing Korean thriller in which a cop is put on mandatory leave after a botched hostage crisis, travels to a small village and winds up obsessing over a mysterious tree in the arae. I’d assume my utter lack of interest in this (I checked out after about 40 minutes) was due to a culture gap if I hadn’t watched and enjoyed so many Korean films for the time-travel book.

THE INCREDIBLES 2 (2018) picks up immediately where the first film wrapped up, as the family’s battle against Undermind creates so much wreckage it looks like superheroes will stay on everyone’s shit list. A billionaire superhero comes up with a solution, using Elastigirl to fight crime on camera so that viewers will see how much good they do; Mr. Incredible, being overly prone to collateral damage, has to become the stay-at-home parent. But a villain named Screenslaver has a plot that may destroy the family for good … This was a lot of fun, and I give them credit for showing Mr. Incredible as a competent parent rather than a complete inability to handle the kids. Jack-Jack isn’t as cute as they think, but overall this makes me hope for Incredibles 3 some day. “Let’s not go testing the ‘insurance will pay for everything’ idea all at once, okay?”

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A time hack that works? Could be

I hate working on the weekends. But last Sunday I put in three hours and it went well. And by so doing I was able to take off the last hour of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday without coming up short.

That’s a very big deal. The last 90 minutes of the day are my low point in alertness. It’s worse now that we have the dogs, because I’ve often spent a couple of hours with Plushie and Trixie (adorable though she is) squishing into or around my lap. This usually results with me bending my body into positions that do not promote concentration or clear thought. Today, for example, it’s 2 PM as I write this and I already feel my brain glitching from my position.But I don’t want to just push them away so I can work.

Three hours on the weekend when I’m not worn out and the dogs may be sitting with TYG works much better. And then I can use the freed up hours in the week to read or relax, which feels great. It’s much easier to kick back and play with the pups when work finishes (with Plushie it’s more enduring his barking until Mommy comes home than actual playing) if I’ve had a break first.

Of course there will be weekends that doesn’t work or isn’t possible, but I’m going to give it a good shot.

As a result of the time hack, I had a productive week. I got my quota of Leaf articles in and a little bit more. I redrafted Death is Like a Box of Chocolates and much improved it, but the ending is still a mess. Too bad, as I’m reading it for next week’s writer’s group; I’d thought it’d be another two weeks before I read, but enough people dropped out to speed up the queue. I’ll give it another going over on Monday.

I got a little bit more done on Undead Sexist Cliches (I’m debating giving it a more serious name. Haven’t decided) but I didn’t finish Chapter Five. The amount of rape-related myths to cover is huge. It may end up the longest chapter in the book.

I spent too much time Thursday arguing on FB. One of my Florida friends, while I’ve always found her sweet and lovable, is a die-hard Trump supporter (I know possibly she’s less sweet than I thought) and she’s been posting a lot of pro-Trump, anti-the Squad stuff, so I’ve been commenting, and she’s been commenting on mine … and Thursday I wound up wasting a lot of time arguing (and by the way, calling them “the Squad” puts me in mind of the cover below, so here it is).

I also posted another Atomic Junkshop piece about my least favorite Dr. Mabuse film, Scotland Yard vs. Dr. Mabuse.

Oh, and the video I did a while back for Medscape is now online. I play Gilbert (“My blood sugars at home are ok, and I think my prostate infection has finally cleared up, but I have a new girlfriend and worry whether I am virile enough. As it is, she’s overlooking my fat belly and balding head!” [they shot me neck up, because it seems I’m not fat enough for the role. Woot!]). You have to sign in to see it, but it’s free. I was critical of my body language (some of it seemed a little melodramatic) but given I had no rehearsal, I think I did pretty well.

And now I’m quitting early for the day. Due to a couple of sleepless nights I’m actually ahead of my 35 hour quota — and as I said, I can’t keep working around the dogs much longer anyway.

#SFWapro. Cover by Mike Grell, all rights to image remain with current holder.

 

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The long hot summer

It’s been a high of over 90 degrees for about a week and a half. This absolutely sucks.

Unlike Green Lantern’s situation (evoked by Mike Sekowsky on the cover) it’s hot but not dry. TYG can barely stand even an early morning walk because of the humidity. As a long-time Floridian, I can take the moistness better than TYG; the heat, though, is miserable. My lunch and evening walks with the dogs are very short as flat-faced dogs like Plushie do not do well in heat.

The temperatures are record-setting, according to my cursory research. Our air-conditioning is in good shape (we had a checked a couple of months back) but it’s still struggling to keep up.

I’m sure we can look forward to more of this in the coming years, and worse, as Republicans remain united in opposition to believing in global warming. And even if they did, it may be too late to do much.

For now, though, just waiting for fall. Or at least a break back to normal 80 degree highs.

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Mississippi pol can’t be close to another woman without risking his marriage

So the Mississippi Today newspaper has been arranging for reporters to “shadow” the candidates in the gubernatorial race, following each candidate around for a day or so to see them in action. Only when state Rep. Robert Foster learned his shadow would be Larrison Campbell, a married gay woman, he freaked out and refused. His stated reason: if anyone photographed them together, they could smear him as an adulterer. Either the paper sent along a male reporter as chaperone or no go. The paer decided the requirement was too sexist, and using another reporter was impractical, so they said no.

Foster’s argument seems awfully implausible: it’s not like he and Campbell would be meeting at a cheap motel. And why should it be the paper’s responsibility — doesn’t Foster have a male staffer he can tap for the gig? And why would a chaperone help — couldn’t the paper claim they’re having a threesome? Or photograph him with a man and start a whisper campaign he’s gay — I have friends who assume any anti-gay pol (and Foster is ultra-conservative and anti-gay) is fighting down his own urges.

Tellingly, Foster’s shifted the goalposts to invoke the Pence Rule: it’s not that he’s worried about a smear campaign, he just refuses to be alone with another woman so as not to risk his marriage. As someone who’s been alone with a beautiful woman more than once since I married (friends in both cases) the only reason to worry about the effect on your marriage is if you can’t keep it zipped. Foster, however, implies Campbell’s at fault for not valuing her marriage as much, and charges “the liberal left lost its mind” because of his Christian purity.

Yeah, right. I imagine the changing rationale is pure politics — the first story didn’t play so he’s switching gears — but what’s the real reason? Is it that she’s gay?  Or that he’s uncomfortable about being shadowed and this is an easy way out? Or is it that he’s really worried he’ll do something appropriate?

Depressingly I don’t know any of this will hurt him in Mississippi.

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Wonder Woman: Earth-One, Earth-Two and After

Having wrapped up the adventures of Earth-One’s Wonder Woman last week I thought I’d take a blog post to detail the differences between the Wonder Women of DC’s Earth-One and Earth-Two. My apologies if it gets a bit nerdy.

When Wonder Woman debuted in Sensation Comics in 1942, there was no talk of parallel Earths; she was the one, the only Amazing Amazon. That continued to be the status quo even after Barry Allen discovers, in Flash #123, that the Golden Age Flash he’d read about as a kid really existed on a parallel earth. Flash #137, however, established that Earth-Two had a Wonder Woman, a member of the Justice Society separate from the one Barry worked with in the Justice League. She wouldn’t appear in action for another four years and only occasionally after that. Probably she looked redundant, being identical to Earth-One’s WW (Earth-Two’s Superman and Batman didn’t show up until the 1970s).

Where the Earth-One Flash and Green Lantern were separate people from their predecessors from the first, there was no clear sign when Wonder Woman stopped telling Earth-Two stories and switched to Earth-One. Mike’s Amazing World makes a good case it was 1958’s  Wonder Woman #98. Robert Kanigher retells Diana’s origin, but with several different details from the Golden Age version. Athena orders the Amazons to send a champion into Man’s World to fight injustice, rather than fight WW II; instead of Diana worrying her mother won’t let her go, she’s worried Hippolyta will show favoritism and pick her; and Steve only arrives after Diana’s won the contest and is about to leave for the U.S. It’s also the first with Ross Andru and Mike Esposito as the art team rather than WW co-creator H.G. Peters (is that what freed Kanigher up to change direction?).

After that it was Earth-One all the way until Wonder Woman switched to Earth-Two for its WW II retro adventures in the 1970s. Unlike the other Golden Age heroes, we still knew nothing of her life in the present; we knew Batman married Catwoman and Clark Kent married Lois but nothing of WW. That changed after Roy Thomas and Gene Colan took over the book. In #300 they revealed that Earth-Two’s Diana had married Steve Trevor and they had a daughter, Lyta Trevor, who’d inherited Mom’s special gifts, enhanced by Amazon training. We’d see more of Lyta and her mother in Infinity, Inc., a series about the children of the Justice Society; Lyta was a member of Infinity, under the code name Fury.

Thomas’s beloved Earth-Two history vanished, however, when Crisis on Infinite Earths erased both WW from existence. While Dr. Fate, the Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern and other Golden Age heroes survived largely unscathed, Earth-Two characters too close to the modern versions did not — not only Wonder Woman but the Golden Age Superman, Batman, Green Arrow and Aquaman not only didn’t exist any more, they never had (this has soured Thomas on ever working with DC again).

That created a problem for Lyta. Thomas’ solution was to use one established Golden Age character, Quality Comics‘ Miss America and a new Golden Age hero, Fury, to fill the gap: Lyta was the first Fury’s daughter and Miss America (who took WW’s place in the JSA) became her adoptive mother after Fury I disappeared. However after Infinity Inc. wrapped up, Lyta got shitty treatment. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman killed her husband Hector off and made Lyta the mother of Daniel, Morpheus’ eventual replacement. After that she never showed up anywhere unless she was pregnant or comatose; Hector, by contrast, got to return and become Dr. Fate for a while.

And that was that.
#SFWApro. Covers by H.G. Peters and Gene Colan, all rights remain with current holders.

 

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Doc Savage finds Churchill, Hitler and … a fish?

December 1944 through February 1945 fall solidly into the realistic style of Lester Dent’s WW II novels for the series. Doc is constantly nervous, doubting his ability to carry out his missions. He’s distracted by the sexy women of the first and third book. He’s increasingly fed up with Monk and Ham’s antics, which he finds childish, and they half-concede the immaturity of their clowning and squabbling. In Strange Fish he tries to remember how to distinguish a real and fake Oklahoma accent and can’t recall the information.

THE LOST GIANT starts with Doc absolutely terrified by the scope of his mission, so much so he doesn’t trust his own makeup abilities. Instead he heads to a top Hollywood makeup artist who transforms him into Joe Powell, two-fisted adventurer. That enables Doc to attach himself to Fay, a mercenary hunting a mysterious McGuffin for the Axis. He pegs Joe as a capable troubleshooter and brings him aboard. But someone else has kidnapped Chester Wilson, the one man who knows the McGuffin’s location; can Doc and Fay find it and get their first.

This is a good, solid spy thriller, and the McGuffin is actually substantial: Winston Churchill’s plane has been downed in the Arctic Circle and Chester Wilson knows how to find it. Dent makes it clear it’s not just the blow of losing England’s prime minister that we’re facing (Churchill scoffs at the idea he’s indispensable) but Churchill’s knowledge of the Allied war plans.

VIOLENT NIGHT (released in paperback, as you can see, as The Hate Genius) has Doc now hunting for Adolf Hitler, but the premise is better. Hitler’s fleeing Europe via neutral Lisbon, leaving his double behind in his place. However he’s arranged to have the double killed, apparently by Allied assassins; Adolf figures this will infuriate Germany, driving them to fight to the last man; Germany and the Allied forces will both pay for Hitler having to flee! And the kill goes down in just 48 hours unless Doc catches der Fuehrer first.

Unfortunately the execution is pedestrian, at best. People keep revealing hidden identities or secret agendas to Doc or one of the other players, then reporting to someone else that yes, Doc Savage bought the supposed Big Reveal! Dent got very bad about exposition during this period and this is a very talky one.

It’s also annoyingly sexist. Pat horns in on the action, convincing Monk and Ham that they should make themselves targets for Hitler’s crew to distract them from Doc. With the clock ticking, Doc wastes time and manpower trying to scare Pat off by having U.S. agents pose as a creepy bunch of Nazis. When that doesn’t work, he has her shipped off to America by force, but she has a McGuffin Hitler needs so the Nazis hijack the plane.

There’s also a curious moment when Pat refers to Doc as not being really close — they’re only third or fourth cousins. That’s not accurate, but it is explainable (maybe she was being careful not to make herself look like leverage).

STRANGE FISH feels like a short story stretched out to novel length, and even given they were short novels by this point, the stretching shows. We open on Paris, a millionaire heiress/WAC, sent back from Europe after recovering from war injuries. She’s happy in New York until she sees a mysterious man following her, prompting her to fly to her Oklahoma ranch and her trusty right hand, Johnny Toms. Johnny’s a native American who amuses himself talking like a movie Indian even though he’s Harvard educated (the third such faithful but intelligent Native sidekick of the war years, following The Goblins and Secret of the Su). Unfortunately the bad guys have followed Paris to Oklahoma; Johnny tries calling Doc, who’s happy to help as an exciting break from his current plastics research (plastics was a wonder material back in that era).

The crooks try to distract Doc by convincing him Johnny’s call is to distract him from the real threat, somewhere in Brazil; Doc sees through the ruse and heads to Oklahoma with Monk and Ham. They’re almost immediately framed for murder, but it plays almost no role in the plot after that.

And what is the plot? It involves an aquarium fish everyone wants to get hold of for no discernable reason. Somehow the fish ties in to a Nazi war criminal fleeing the collapsing Reich; the fish is supposedly a clue to his whereabouts. It turns out to be more twisty than that, but not clever enough to be interesting.

Weirdly, the story seems to take place after V.E. Day, which is still several months off. There’s constant talk of Johann Jan Berlitz, the German the Allies have picked to replace Hitler. Unlike Jiu-San, it doesn’t appear to be a plan for the future; it reads as if the Allies are already occupying Germany and ready to start the new government. Did the publisher get short-handed and have to use this novel early? Or what?

#SFWApro. Pulp covers by Modest Stein, paperback by Leaf Larkin, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Some responses to the Jeffrey Epstein arrest

Michelle Goldberg: “The Epstein case is first and foremost about the casual victimization of vulnerable girls. But it is also a political scandal, if not a partisan one. It reveals a deep corruption among mostly male elites across parties, and the way the very rich can often purchase impunity for even the most loathsome of crimes. If it were fiction, it would be both too sordid and too on-the-nose to be believable”

That was the good response, and I think it identifies two key issues: gender and money. Even when he taught high school, his flirting with students creeped others out. But he managed quite nicely to purchase impunity and redeem his reputation with a mix of PR, financial donations and a feeling people had that yeah, he’d crossed some lines but he’s done his time, no big. Plus he allegedly intimidated witnesses.

You know what isn’t an issue? That Epstein is Jewish. But men’s rights activist Stefan Molyneux, points to Epstein as a Jewish guy preying on Christian children. As noted at the link, Molyneux has apparently decided saying the quiet parts out loud won’t hurt his brand as a YouTube philosopher. Anti-semitic preacher Rick Wiles claims Epstein was a Mossad agent gathering blackmail material on powerful Americans.

And smug pundit Erick Erickson, who defended Roy Moore and Brett Kavanaugh, thinks the big issue is that liberals would defend Epstein if he were gay and a drag queen. Because, of course, defending the rights of gay people and drag queens is exactly the same as defending their right to assault kids (as others have pointed out to Erickson, there was no wave of liberals defending the molesters in the Penn State scandal. Or the Boy Scouts. Or the Catholic Church). I do expect biased coverage from the right, but Erickson’s take is dumb-ass.

Republicans and even some Dems are still supporting Trump Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who gave Epstein his original illegal sweetheart plea bargain. According to what I’ve read elsewhere, some of that may be because Acosta’s not as aggressively anti-labor as his successor will probably be — although he has tried to gut 80 percent of the budget of one Labor program for fighting human trafficking. Trump’s response, though, seems to hinge on whether Acosta comes across badly on TV. But regardless, Acosta resigned last Friday.

Meanwhile the believers in the mythical Pizzagate pedophile ring are holding up Epstein as proof they’re right.

And Alan Dershowitz, Trump-supporting lawyer, has admitted he’s visited Epstein’s mansion (he was one of the attorneys on the original plea deal) and gotten a massage, but it was from a really old woman — he never saw anyone underage there, honest!

Epstein, meanwhile, is hoping for bail, while prosecutors warn he’s a serious flight risk.

 

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