Pleased to announce that KIM OH 6: REAL DANGEROUS RIDE is now available for the Kindle:

Kim Oh 6: Real Dangerous Ride

From the description on Amazon:

Kim’s got a delivery to make – if she can survive that long.
Hired by a mysterious venture capitalist to transport a sealed backpack from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Kim’s expecting nothing more than an easy ride and a fat payday. But she soon finds herself being hunted down along the way by two different high-tech outfits, both of whom will be happy to kill her in order to get their hands on what she’s carrying.
Before she reaches her destination – if she can – Kim will have to deal with murderous muscle cars, deadly drones, and conniving ex-cons. And she quickly starts to suspect that what’s in the bag might be even more explosively lethal than the other threats on the road…

So more lethal fun with our Kim – click HERE and check it out!

Girls With Guns — Reviews Kim Oh 1: Real Dangerous Girl

The charmingly titled website Girls with Guns takes a look at Kim Oh 1: Real Dangerous Girl:

The guilty had better watch out

My favorite line from the review:

Some of the same appeal of “primitivism” that readers find in Burroughs and Robert E. Howard is present here, with a protagonist who’s challenged to make her way in a world where the outward conventions of civilization no longer apply. And she gives voice to the anomie of vast numbers of contemporary Americans in her generation, growing up bereft of community and moral/spiritual guidance…

Yeah, I’ll go with that. Kudos to the GwG folks for catching the drift. Find the ebook here, if you haven’t already —

Kim Oh 1: Real Dangerous Girl

Lilo & Stitch, Katniss & Kim — How the Orphans Learned to Kick Ass

With KIM OH 5: REAL DANGEROUS FUN available now at Amazon, I’m on a bit of a roll — KIM OH 6: REAL DANGEROUS RIDE is already underway, and should be finished (I hope) in a month or so.

In a lot of ways, I suppose Kim and her brother Donnie seem like family to me — I hear more from them than I do from anyone in this, the supposedly real world. I enjoy spending time with them, and I’m glad when readers tell me they do as well. Every time I write about Kim’s adventures and her dogged determination to make a place for herself and her brother, it reminds me of how powerful this notion is, of siblings who look out for each other, against all odds. And how much we all wish our own lives could be like that.

Of course, the dramatic notion of siblings who form a mutually protective bond against a hostile and even lethal environment — “just the two of us against the world” — goes a long way back; you can find traces of it in ancient mythology. Richard Wagner mined it pretty deeply in Die Walküre, with his depiction of the embattled twins Siegmund and Sieglinde. In true operatic fashion, things don’t go to well for that sibling pair, maybe because they got just a little too close to each other.

I remember when I was a kid, back when old silent movies were sometimes shown on television, I saw the great American director D. W. Griffith’s 1921 classsic, Orphans of the Storm, and I’ve been haunted by it ever since. In some ways, it’s a forerunner of the modern dystopic genre that’s become so important in movies and Young Adult fiction, though the dystopia is the historical French Revolution rather than some imagined science-fictional future.

Henriette, played by Lillian Gish, goes through a lot of period melodrama to save her blind sister Louise (played by Lillian Gish’s actual sister Dorothy; this was the last Griffith film to feature the two of them together). The protectiveness shown by Henriette is pretty fierce — there are enough twists and turns in the story that Henriette nearly winds up going to the guillotine, being saved herself only at the last minute. That’s entertainment, as we used to say.

It’s a story of its own period, the very early twentieth century, and it reflects that time’s gentler notion of what female characters were capable of doing. Henriette is strong, and she’s able to save her sister, but her strength is that of moral goodness. We live in tougher times now, and if Orphans of the Storm were to be re-made by a modern action director — Michael Bay or somebody like that — Henriette would probably triumph at the end by pulling out an anachronistic rocket launcher and blowing up Robespierre and the Revolution’s entire Committee for Public Safety. I’m not sure if that’d be an improvement, though it would probably do well at the box office.

A more contemporary version of the mutually protective orphans theme is the 2002 Disney animated feature Lilo & Stitch.

The growling animal noises emitted by the younger sister Lilo is the real tip-off that the eventually redeemed alien monster Stitch is the surrogate id for both siblings. In Jungian terms, he carries the shadow for Lilo and her older sister Nani, performing all the violent, kick-ass action that’s needed to save the little “us against the world” band of orphans.

By the time you get to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, both the 2006 YA novel and the 2012 film based on it, it’s pretty clear that the world we live in has reached the point where a story’s female protagonist doesn’t need a Stitch-like surrogate. If somebody needs killing, the girl can do it herself.

Of course, the protective sibling theme is crucial to the heroine Katniss’ story — she sacrifices herself to protect her younger sister, entering the lethal games in her sister’s place.

My own Kim Oh Thrillers carries on the orphans-against-the-world mythos. Kim’s only family is her younger brother Donnie, and she begins fiercely protecting him at a young age, when she’s a child herself. She’s no Henriette from Orphans of the Storm; she’s perfectly willing and capable to dispense with traditional morality, in order to do what she has to. As one of the books’ reviewers on Amazon noted, the Kim Oh Thrillers address what he felt was still “the lack of female action heroes… without the usual formulaic plot goo of trite romantic subplots.” He’s right about this; even The Hunger Games folds in a rather standard boy-girl relationship, presumably designed to appeal to a readership of teenage girls. My Kim, for better or worse, dispenses with that; her kick-ass-ness is not just a matter of being able to bring the hammer down, violence-wise, but is also her emotional toughness. She has to deal with the consequences that everybody, female and male alike, have to deal with now, of putting their human natures aside in order to survive and protect their loved ones in an increasingly hostile world. We’re all orphans of the storm now, but being Henriette-good won’t save the day for us. If one of my readers looks at Kim and what she’s going through, and says, “Yeah — that’s me; that’s how I feel,” then I’ve hit my target.

Kim Oh 1: Real Dangerous Girl

Changing the Name — and More

Longtime visitors to this site will likely notice some changes. And they’re big changes.

And what those changes reflect is where my writing is now. For the time being, I’m concentrating almost exclusively on my Kim Oh Thrillers series. That’s where my heart is now — I believe those books are some of the best I’ve ever done, and I’m going to be doing a lot more of them.

But — they are undeniably very different from the science fiction and other books I’ve done before. That’s why I’ve decided to do them under the Kim Oh pen name — not to confuse people, but to make it easier for readers to see the difference. They’re faster, funnier, more action-oriented, but with some surprising depth to them. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

I hope you’ll stick around on this blog as well; a lot of what I’ll have to say here is pretty much what I would’ve said in the site’s previous incarnation. But if you decide to unsubscribe or just not check in as you did before, I understand perfectly, and I’m just glad you did choose to spend some time here.

Writing Lessons from Johnny Ramone

You can take a lot of the late Johnny Ramone’s comments about effective songwriting and performing, as expounded upon in what is supposedly the last interview he ever did, and apply it to the craft of fiction writing. (He looks a little puffy in the video, probably from the treatment for the prostate cancer that was soon to kill him. Remarkably good-humored, though, given that he was undoubtedly aware of the bleak prognosis facing him; no whiner, he.) The relevant material starts at around the ten-minute mark:

My transcript:

I always thought, I don’t know why bands — especially opening bands — why they wanted to play longer than they had to. They always wanted to fight for more time. And you’re always better off playing shorter. You get all your best material, you leave ’em wanting more — if you’re any good — and you don’t overdo it with mediocre material. Most bands only have a song or two that’s worthy, anyway.

To my mind, this is reminiscent of Elmore Leonard’s well-known dictum, that in writing his novels, he always tried to eliminate all the boring stuff that readers skipped over. And that’s why his books are so fast and tight and enjoyable — just like a Ramones song!

The Insect Museum of West China

I didn’t even know there was an institution known as the Insect Museum of West China, at least until it made the news for being the repository of this fearsome-looking bug:

Giant Insect

Frankly, I’m glad that the Insect Museum of West China does exist, though, and surprisingly beautiful it is, too. (Though it’s described as having 400,000 million specimens in its collection; surely a misprint? That’s a lot of bugs.) It does raise the question, though, of whether there is an Insect Museum of East China. And this is apparently the largest insect museum in Asia — where in the world is there a bigger one?

The New Punk Rock, Probably Not What You Expect

Not quite sure I agree with everything this Schlichter fellow has to say, but I admire his anything-to-stir-up-trouble rhetorical style, reminiscent of Fear’s Lee Ving baiting the audience at L.A.’s long-gone Anti-Club:

Conservatism is the New Punk Rock

Of course, the late Johnny Ramone, that notorious leather-jacketed conservative, would likely agree. Another boo-ya endorsement would come from Camille Paglia, whose taunting, incendiary essay “No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality” — which really should be required reading before any more discussions of so-called “safe spaces” continue — might well have been cribbed from by Mr. Schlichter. Per Paglia:

White middle-class girls at the elite colleges and universities seem to want the world handed to them on a platter. They have been sheltered, coddled and flattered. Having taught at a wide variety of institutions over my ill-starred career, I have observed that working-class or lower-middle-class girls, who are from financially struggling families and must take a patchwork of menial jobs to stay in school, are usually the least hospitable to feminist rhetoric. They see life as it is and have fewer illusions about sex. It is affluent, upper-middle class students who most spout the party line — as if the grisly hyperemotionalism of feminist jargon satisfies their hunger for meaningful experiences outside their eventless upbringing. In the absence of war, invent one.

Maybe Paglia’s thoughts in this regard could be re-booted as No Law in the Mosh Pit. Except then, of course, you’d lose the politically incorrect Charlton Heston reference (the original line is from the movie Ben-Hur, in regard to the necessity to put on one’s big boy — or big girl — pants, if you’re going to dive in where the action is.) Surely the Riot Grrls, if there are any still around, would agree.

In the meantime, one of the best videos for catching glimpses of Johnny Ramone’s still-astonishing right-hand technique, starting around the 1:30 mark:

Pandora for Books?

Apple just bought something called BookLamp, which is described as being like ‘Pandora for books.’ These algorithmic recommendation thingies always strike me as weird and creepy, but they apparently work, or at least enough that a significant number of people use them. The big problem, as we’ve seen with musicians discussing Pandora and Spotify, is in getting paid more than a nickel or so through them:

Pandora for Books?