Doc Wilde, A Book To Corrupt The Young (Review)

But corrupt ’em in the good way.

No, no. Not that good way! Settle down.

Patricia Scott (aka Dragonwomant) reviews my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, for BSC Reviews:

Fans of pulp stories hoping to recruit a new generation of readers can rejoice.  They now have a fantastic pamphlet they can use to corrupt the younger set in the form of Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom.

That kind of corruption. The “turning kids on to classic pulp adventure tales” kind of corruption.

Which was all part of my sinister plan…

I think that this book would be great for [those] who like adventure stories, especially if they’re very fond of Indiana Jones movies or shows about exploring far-flung locales. I also think that this book would be a hoot for reading aloud, it would certainly lend itself well to very animated story telling.

There’s a good deal more, including this great line:

The Wildes are all practically superhumanly good-looking, frighteningly intelligent, and so skilled in combat only large groups of idiots willing to fight them would even think about trying to attack them.

Read the whole thing here.

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It takes a LOT to creep me out, but…

…this makes my skin crawl. He was creepy enough when he was alive.

Michael Jackson will live on as a ‘plastinated’ creature preserved by German doctor Gunther von Hagens.

Von Hagens has caused controversy with everyone from the Pope to the chief rabbi in Israel with his practice of embalming corpses with preserving polyurethane.

Yesterday, he declared: ‘An agreement is in place to plastinate the King of Pop.’…

Von Hagens said that he spoke with representatives of the Jackson family ‘many months ago’ and it was agreed that his body will be plastinated and placed next to Bubbles, his late pet monkey who was plastinated a number of years ago and is exhibited at The Body Worlds & Mirror Of Time exhibition at the O2 Centre in London.

Von Hagens also confirmed it was one of Michael’s final requests to be reunited with Bubbles. [Source: The Daily Mail]


It’s A Hard Knock Life (for Kev and Alice)

Now here’s something you really need to see.

A blog by Robin Burkinshaw relates the poignant ongoing tale of a homeless father and daughter trying to survive in a harsh world. But the harsh world in which they live is inside a computer, and the pair exist only in that virtual realm:

This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes…

I have attempted to tell my experiences with the minimum of embellishment. Everything I describe in here is something that happened in the game. What’s more, a surprising amount of the interesting things in this story were generated by just letting go and watching the Sims’ free will and personality traits take over.

Apparently The Sims has evolved to a point in which the artificial intelligence and social dynamics systems are damned near organic. The Sims have dreams, goals, and emotions and their behavior is driven by those qualities, resulting in complex relationships and interpersonal drama.

This is Kev and his daughter Alice. They’re living on a couple of park benches, surviving on free meals from work and school, and the occasional bucket of ice cream from a neighbour’s fridge.

When you create a person in The Sims 3, you can give them personality traits that determine their behaviour. Kev is mean-spirited, quick to anger, and inappropriate. He also dislikes children, and he’s insane. He’s basically the worst Dad in the world…

His daughter Alice has a kind heart, but suffers from clumsiness and low self-esteem. With those traits, that Dad, and no money, she’s going to have a hard life.

Continue reading

A Clever Review of Doc Wilde

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Travis Jonker, an elementary school librarian, reviews my novel, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, at 100 Scope Notes, and takes an unusual approach:

Chapter 1

Travis sits down to review the new middle grade adventure Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom. He decides to incorporate the book’s cliffhanger-heavy style into the review when there is a knock at the door. He gets up as the knocking becomes more urgent. When Travis opens the door, he can’t believe what he sees.

He follows with several short “chapters” lampooning the style and structure of the book, but in a fun way (not a mean way). It’s kinda smartass. But from me, that’s praise.

There are some spoilers in the review, so be warned. His ultimate summary is:

Inspired by the Doc Savage pulp adventures from the ’30s and ’40s, Doc Wilde and his family are heroes in the classic sense: smart, athletic, strong, well-traveled, and good-looking. The author, aware of how impossible this is, presents these over-the-top characters with a bit of subtle humor, which every kid won’t pick up on. This fact isn’t likely to deter many, however.

The whole thing is here.

Do you smoke? If so, are you a dick? [updated]

And now, an actual RANT, with SCIENCE!®

Is this YOUR legacy?

Is this YOUR legacy?

One of my pet peeves is people who just toss their cigarette butts around with no consideration for the public weal, the environment, or their own basic human integrity.

I’ve been known to toss smoldering butts back into car windows, or to politely return a butt to a smoker afoot with a comment along the lines of, “Hey, you dropped this. Figured it was an accident ’cause you look like you have more class than those assholes who just toss butts on the ground.”

People respond either belligerently or sheepishly, depending on whether they give a damn about anything outside of themselves or whether they at least don’t want people to think they’re trashy.

I’m sure some of you reading this are smokers. Some of you are smokers and also friends, maybe even good friends. If you’re my friend and a smoker, rest assured that I’m very concerned about your health (though I’ll never broach the subject, since you’re not an idiot and know it’s bad for you). And I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you toss your coffin nail remnants into an ashtray or bin where they belong, rather than treating the world as your goddamned ashtray. I think well of you, and just assume you’re better than that.

It’s not just a matter of litter, as ugly as the scattered constellations of dirty cigarette butts in the street, or in a park, or just along the highway, are. It’s actually bad for the environment. Really bad.

A doctor once told me that a single cigarette butt contains enough nicotine to kill an infant. And now this is in the news:

One of the most common forms of litter are cigarette butts.  Once these butts enter waterways, they become toxic to fish.  According to a new study by San Diego Sate University (SDSU), filter-tipped cigarette butts are deadly to marine and freshwater fish.  In fact, researchers would like to have the butts classified as hazardous waste.

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. The filters are made up of 12,000 plastic-like cellulose acetate fibers that trap nicotine and tar.  There’s enough nicotine trapped in 200 used cigarette filters to kill a human!   An estimated 1.69 billion pounds of butts are littered each year worldwide, so you can imagine the negative effects these butts have on aquatic life when they wash into streams and oceans.

SDSU Public Health Professor Tom Novotny explains, “It is toxic at rather low concentrations. Even one butt in a liter of water can kill the fish in a period of 96 hours…”

Professor Novotny continues: “When they unconsciously throw their butts onto the ground, it’s not just litter, it’s a toxic hazardous waste product, and that’s what we’re trying to say. So that may be regulated at the local or state level. And we hope people will be more conscious about what they do with these cigarette butts.” [Source: “Cigarette Butts Kill Fish According to New Study,” Blue Living Ideas]

There’s also this article from KPBS at San Diego State University, and likely a bunch more.

So, if you smoke, keep this stuff in mind. You can smell bad if you like, but please don’t be a dick.

UPDATE: A very good friend who’s a vet tells me “One single cigarette butt consumed can kill a dog or a cat according to the National Animal Poison Control Center – nasty !!”

So just think, worst case scenario, a single butt you throw on the ground could kill a dog, a cat, or a baby. Nice work, kemosabe.

More Kudos For Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom!!!

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As blogged yesterday, I’ve been on a net vacation of sorts driven by my fine Celtic melancholy (that’s a poetic way of saying my shifty brain chemistry and the crap I went through in my formative years). During that time, there were a few stars sparkling out of the blackness, one of the main ones being the continued excellent critical response to my novel, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom.

I have a short backlog of reviews I haven’t blogged about yet, but I don’t want to toss them all out at once because that might be tedious for folks reading. So I’m going to parcel them out over a week or so.

Today’s comes from, and is by writer Janie Franz (author of Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid!).

Move over, Doc Savage. Get out of the way, Indiana Jones. Make room, Artemis Fowl. There’s a new adventure hero / family in town!…I was thoroughly excited by Doc Wilde and the Frogs of DoomNot only was there non-stop adventure but there were interesting characters…I can’t wait for more adventures from Doc Wilde and his intrepid family.

She also reinforces other folks who have pointed out that the book isn’t just for boys…

Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom is a great read for kids. Though some of the blurbs on the back of the book tout this as an adventure novel for boys, its appeal is certainly not restricted to them. Wren is definitely a very clever and capable little girl and just as courageous as her brother, Brian. This story will most certainly appeal to girls who are as enamored of narrow escapes, crazy gadgets, and unusual creatures.

At this point, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from several young readers (and even more grown-up readers) who loved the book, and I’ve actually heard from more girls than boys (a fact with no actual statistical bearing, I’m sure, but the girls who read it dig it as much as the boys).

I’ve quoted only part of the review, as usual. The whole thing is at this link.

I’ve Been Scarce

I’m back.

I’ve sort of been away, in that I was just completely unmotivated to get online the past couple of weeks except for an occasional cursory glance at email, and as a result I am way behind on catching up with people.

Partly, this resulted from my state of mind upon returning from a three day backpacking trip with my son in the Cohutta Wilderness. After my too-long-delayed return to the wild, I found the virtual spheres really uninviting.

But also, the old biorhythms just went splat and I wasn’t much motivated to do anything. Email, Facebook, blogging, promo work for the novel, work on the next one, time-critical paperwork for the divorce, everything pretty much fell to the wayside. I had no cranial fortitude, no mojo, to get back on the horse and get to the things that called my name.

This happens when you suffer from chronic depression. Fortunately it hasn’t been happening as often, now that I’ve returned to therapy and resumed my meds (I tried a year without them, and it didn’t turn out that well). But it does still happen.

It wasn’t a total loss. I’m well rested. Too well, actually. I took my son to see Up, and it was wonderful, full of whimsy and fine melancholy and some great pulp tropes (lost worlds, airships, strange critters). Not to mention some very entertaining dogs.

I finally got around to watching Dexter, which is now streamable on Netflix, and quite enjoyed it.

I read a few books, including a Doc Savage, a Shadow, an Avenger, and a Spider, as well as the hellaciously fun Skulduggery Pleasant. I’m now about 90 pages into World War Z, the brilliant zombie novel by Max Brooks (Mel’s son).

And, feeling ready to reconnect. Watch this space.