23. Juni 2014

So, recently, Jeff Strand, who, as many of you might know, is my favourite writer of all time, of ALL time, made this terrific offer of getting his new novel Kumquat as a preview, for free, and the only thing I had to do in return is consider saying something nice about it on the internet, which, of course, I would have done anyway, so I volunteered, and he sent me the file, and I read it, and …

Well …

It’s a story about a guy, ordinary guy, not very ambitious, kind of a slacker, really, but very nice, smart, funny, you get the picture, who meets a very special woman, finds out she’s going to die from an aneurysm, possibly soon, falls in love with her, and they decide to take a trip to a hot dog stand very far away.

I’d go into more detail, but I don’t know how much I’m allowed to tell you, so I’ll limit myself to this short summary. Also, there’s really not much more to tell, because … well …

Do you know that feeling of listening to a podcast by people you really like? You don’t particularly care if they talk about interesting stuff or if they convey relevant information or say particularly smart things, but they’re reasonably funny, and you like them, so you enjoy listening to them, but if someone else would ask you, you probably wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend the podcast, because … well, you might even feel a little embarrassed, because deep down, you know there’s not a lot worth recommending?

That’s Kumquat for me.

Not a lot happens in this book, at least not a lot that’s interesting, and while I found some humor in being led on to expect some big development again and again, only to find it resolved two pages later, this started grating after a while, and the end was a complete disappointment to me. Yes. Still. I read the whole book and was still disappointed in the end. I still thought he might turn this around and give me something great. That’s how much I love Jeff Strand, and that’s how much I trust him. Goes to show what a great idea trust is.

Oh, but wait, there’s one thing that I wholewheartedly loved about Kumquat. It’s this quote:

The only reason people eat escargot is because it’s socially unacceptable to just drink a cup of garlic butter.

That quote alone was worth the time. To me, at least. It’s pure genius in its simplicity and truth. So that’s something.

But talking about quotes, I just need to mention the Exit Red quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Exit Red is a fictitious SF series which both protagonists consider the greatest thing since the separation of heaven and earth and follow religiously. It’s kind of important to the plot, for certain values of „plot“.

„Infinity is a hell of a long time to live with regrets“

„I think you mean eternity.“

„Shut up.“

–Exit Red, Season 6, Episode 6

I learned to hate those, although I have to admit, this might just be my thing, although I don’t think they were particularly entertaining, but mostly it’s because I hate this tumblresque hyping of TV series (even fake ones), I don’t have any rational argument against it, it’s completely alright, and I realize I should be glad that other people find joy in their fandom, but I can’t help it, it simply makes my blood boil. It might be because of Breaking Bad. Because I hate Breaking Bad. I fucking hate it. So much. Wait. This doesn’t have anything to do with Kumquat anymore, does it? I’ll resume talking about Kumquat now. Sorry for this.

So, here’s what I have to say, in a nutshell: I love Jeff Strand’s style. I love his humor. I love how all his characters share that sort of humor, and how their dialogue and their actions reflect this. And if you love all of that as well, then by all means, buy Kumquat. But if all this is true for you, you’d have bought it anyway. If you’re not yet a fan, first: What’s wrong with you, moron? And second: Please buy another one. Buy Dweller. It’s a wonderful, funny, bizarre, sad, surprisingly touching, wonderful, extremely wise story about friendship with a monster, romance, and probably life in general, all rolled in one. Or buy Wolf Hunt, it’s quite possibly the best werewolf story ever written. And if not that, it’s the funniest, for sure. And then, once you are a fan … you’re going to buy this book, and maybe then you can come back here and tell me what’s great about it, and what I missed. I hope you’re going to like it more than I could. I hope you’ll give it the love and understanding it needs and quite possibly deserves, but I was unable to give. I’m sorry, Kumquat. I’m sorry, Jeff. I let you down. But we’re still friends, right? Still meant for each other, right?


Angelic Duties (22)

16. Juni 2014

There’s another one. For some time, I thought it might even become the last chapter of our serialized novel Angelic Duties, but it won’t. The next one probably will be, though, so this might be your last chance to share your ideas with me – for this book, at least. Because Angelic Duties will certainly not remain a single-volume-story.

Anyway, here’s your new chapter. Enjoy!

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Butt up Crime! Rise of the Wombat

26. April 2014

Although my respect for Sexy Cripples Wolf and Kim has seriously suffered from their disdain for McDonald’s and Burger King whom I hold in great esteem, Kim’s idea of drafting a screenplay for a superhero not based on spider, bat or wolverine, but on a wombat (or sloth), has stuck in my mind, so last night, I decided to have a look into the cute little wombat’s wikipedia entries, to see if it has any impressive superpowers.

If you’re no experts im wombatology, you might be just as surprised as I was, but I found out that, indeed, it does, and the script almost writes itself. So here we go. Enjoy my trailer for

Rise of the Wombat

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Angelic Duties (21)

21. April 2014

Thanks for waiting. I hope it’s been worth it.

Enjoy the new chapter of our serialized novel Angelic Duties!

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Angelic Duties (20)

10. März 2014

Just for future reference: Do you like me to go on apologizing for the long delays, or is this about as embarrassing to you as it is to me, and we’d all rather just pretend nothing’s wrong?

And just for your possibly welcome reassurance: This current ebb of activity here is not because something’s wrong. I’m fine, just otherwise occupied, sometimes even pleasantly so, and the final chapters are always the most difficult because I can no longer just fantasize away but need to pull the threads together and lead them all to a more or less satisfactory conclusion, which is, as you might have noticed, not so much my strong suit.


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Angelic Duties (19)

26. Januar 2014

I have a new chapter for you.


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Neither do I.

19. Januar 2014

I can’t exactly say why, but I’m following samizdata. I don’t really agree with them, because they are slightly too fundamentalist libertarian for my taste. On the other hand, they are not outrageous enough to provide the entertainment I used to get from Jesus.de, for example, before they kicked me out. Still, one of the main reasons might be the hope that I might one day find the occasion to write a post like this one, demonstrating that my criticism is not limited to people whom I fundamentally disagree with.

Rob Fisher writes

The state does not care about you

Doing the rounds on Facebook is a story about a cancer patient told by the Department of Work and Pensions that she contributed to her illness and therefore does not qualify for some amount of welfare payment. One commenter points out that she probably broke some rule, such as drinking too much or not going to some medical appointment or other. Debate ensues about whether such rules are fair.


A government department can not know exactly how ill a certain individual feels today, and it will not visit you to find out why you did not attend an appointment. […] so it must make rules, write letters and feed forms into computers.


It is much better to look not to the state for help, but to one’s friends and neighbours. […]  If you want to look after the poor and the chronically ill, be a libertarian: take the money and the power away from the heartless state and leave it in the hands of people who care.

And this is, I’m sorry to say, almost exactly the kind of position I’m routinely criticised for and to which I sadly will no longer be able to respond to with something along the lines of „Who wants this? Show me an example! I don’t know anyone who remotely seriously would claim this kind of“ Well, to be quite honest, I couldn’t have said that, anyway, because this is not the first time I’ve read this, but whatever, this is the occasion I choose to make my stand. Here goes:

No. I call bullshit. We don’t get this easy way out. It doesn’t work. As a society, we can’t just rely on this unfounded conviction that every person has a friend of a neighbour or a relative who cares enough about him to personally take on the responsibility to provide the help this person might need one day when he or she gets into trouble. Just typing this out makes me grimace in frustration that anyone would seriously propose this as a solution.

To be fair: I’m not sure Rob means it quite so simply. He might not really think that everyone should look to individual other persons for help and trust he’ll find someone to provide it. He might think, like I do, that we don’t need the threat of violence to force people to help each other, but that we can establish reliable voluntary systems based on the realisation that we all need help from time to time and that it makes sense for a society to provide ways of getting its members back on their feet whenever they stumble, and not just leave the lying on the ground and march over them.

But if he does, I think his argument doesn’t work any more, because any such system, to be reliable and not just a matter of luck and knowing the right people who care enough about me to sacrifice significant parts of their own time and money in my interest, needs rules. And it needs exactly the same kind of rules that a government-based non-voluntary system needs. And it will not work better just by virtue of being voluntary. The only advantage it will have by virtue of being voluntary is no longer being based on force and the threat of violence, which, in my book, is more than sufficient to make it desirable. But the rest will not come automatically. There would need to be rules, just as there are rules now, and all we can hope for is that we will be able to make better rules, on a more rational basis, than our system does now, so we will truly enable those members of our society in need of help (which are ALL OF US) instead of degrading them and making them feel dependent and useless.

So, yes, the state does not care about you. It can’t, because it’s an abstract principle. But no, I don’t care about you, either, but I still understand that it is necessary for a functional society to provide help to you if you need it, and that we have to find a way of offering it (mostly) to those who do and not making it too easy to abuse for those who don’t. This challenge is easy to state but very very difficult to overcome, and we will not be able to shirk it by just claiming that everyone has parents or a brother or a friend who will certainly know what to do, and of course be willing to do it.

Bullshit. Just try asking your brothers and friends and neighbours for help when moving, and see how readily they make sacrifices for you. Furthermore, you might notice that poor people, as a rule, have poor friends and neighbors who can’t even afford to make great sacrifices for them. The system we have now is stupid and unethical, and it doesn’t work. But that doesn’t mean no system at all would work better. What we need is a better system. A system that does not depend upon anyone caring for me personally, but upon rationally crafted rules.

There is a difference between a society without rulers, and a society without rules. As libertarians, we strive for the former, but not for the latter, and since no one else seems to understand this important disctinction, we should make sure that at least we ourselves do.

Angelic Duties (18)

31. Dezember 2013

I seriously can’t believe it’s been more than two freaking months. Where has all the time gone? Whoo. But I guess we’ll be getting back to business as usual here, right about now, but you know how this works, so no promises and


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Angelic Duties (17)

23. Oktober 2013

Much as I may regret this, three weeks seems to be the period it takes for me between episodes of our fabulous serialized novel „Angelic Duties“. And they’re getting shorter, too. Well, at least it gives me something to talk about in the introduction, doesn’t it?

I’m trying, and I thank you for your patience.


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Angelic Duties (16)

30. September 2013

Yes, the episodes are still too far apart, but at least they’re good, and if you ask me – though why would you? – we have a particularly fine one today, so enjoy the new part of our serialized novel „Angelic Duties“!

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