Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Eighteen

Striated marble gleaming of alabaster, storm-grey, and basalt adorned the temple’s grand exterior, evidently all derived from the same quarry in attempt to preserve the striation’s long rivulets that ran the whole of its sparkling surface, an exultant testament to the glory of the undying sky, but it was obvious that she had fallen on hard times.  Certainly dwarfing the myriad temples ranged all about, she had not been so much maintained as merely swept, stone figures of rampant templars collapsed and left in the weedy foregrounds, face-first in the dirt to ruminate ever-after below the paddling of alien soles beating the accumulated dust and collapsed masonry into a conglomerated powder that glinted nevertheless ever-so-slightly in the still lingering innocent eye of a passing child or a surreptitious cavalier carefully striding by, fearful of being noticed.

“Carefully maintained and respectfully preserved?  You know, if I weren’t so peaceful a man, I’d actually be mad.”

“Oh oh oh, it’s not that bad,” she remonstrated.  “Our own temples devoted to our own deities have always respected the pre-eminence of Brassos.”

“And you think that’s sufficient?”

“Skilled craftsmen are nowadays few and far between.  It would take an act of will to secure such resources, certainly of anyone capable of reproducing such ancient style.”

He paused, surveying the wreckage, before shaking his head.  He strode before the vaulted entrance concealed behind weather-beaten wooden slats adjoined with a long metal chain and a welded iron lock evidently untested in lifetimes.

“The god’s temple is to ever remain open,” he moaned through sibilant teeth.

“There was a difficulty,” she replied, her eyes wandering to the mundane, “with vandalism against the temple, the local Ivederenghoi having taken issue with the perceived silence of their deity.”

“And you couldn’t maintain a permanent vigil, place a guard at the fore?”

“I confess, few so ordained were willing to remain for long.  Even upon its edifice it bears an alien countenance and decibel silence menacing from within from an impenetrable darkness that swells before the eyes.  You yourself have spoken of the god’s preference for his children.  It is not bluster.”

“My word,” he replied, “how can I argue with that?  All heresy and hearsay vomited from the mouths of scaly brutes.  I should make a contention, but I confess, somewhat darkly, my curiosity has gotten the better of me.”  He wiped the sweat from his eyebrows before again glancing up to absorb the facade of the forgotten stained-glass elucidation of the knighting of Saint Aloisius.  In a practiced motion, his blade danced outward from his palm and promptly returned within its wooden domicile, neatly bisecting the welded lock which finally permitted the guardian rungs, with a gong, their final respite on the sandy floors to be joined shortly with the splinters of weather-beaten wood caved inwards under his forceful boot-heel.

“Coming?” he asked, smiling to one ear alone.

They shied away, recoiling against the sense of extraterrestrial boiling with long unreciprocated hatred within, but they nevertheless slowly followed his treads as he made his way amongst the darkness as if swimming in the light of day.

The State of Literature in the West

It’s an absolute disaster, I’m going to say first and foremost, reminded to me with some horseshit of which I had the significant displeasure to make acquaintance just recently on Twitter.

Running your own business is a dirty, soul-crushing affair, and being a writer is not much different.  Thanks to the nature of the medium, many would argue that it’s more challenging than other similar career paths.  As such, writers are always on the lookout for a grand opportunity, that one essential connection that will drive them from ignominy into the limelight.  Getting to the point, there was a hashtag trending on Twitter–I can’t remember the name of the fucking thing–in which editors and publishers tweeted out messages of the sort of transcripts they’re looking for and accepting.  There’s nothing wrong with this in and of itself; it provides another way for aspiring writers to connect with the publishing world even if it does leave all the power in the hands of the latter.  Some publishers and editors were really looking for nothing more than genre-specific cues, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Different publishers focus on different genres; no big deal; it’s what they specialize in.  What got to me were some of the more specific requests.  I can remember most notably something to the effect of “A story about a woman with a crippling disability who can use magic, but can’t use that magic to cure her crippling disability.”  That’s not really a genre, is it?  It seems like someone’s fanwank.  But it gets worse.  Most of these calls were for such subject matter as would particularly appeal to some massive edifice of our current zeitgeist.  There were a lot of vampires; there were a lot of edgy teenagers [the call for young adult literature might as well have been a fucking avalanche]; and there were a lot of homosexuals and sexually confused superheroes.

I wrote a vicious criticism in reply, which received a lot of attention, none of it good, but that’s neither here nor there.

And so I reiterate that literature is dead.  Reading has often been a form of entertainment, but I don’t think it ever tried so hard to eschew the artistic.  Worst of all was how utterly cynical were these calls.  They don’t care about producing great literature; they care only about the bottom fucking line.  It makes me wonder why they got into writing in the first place.

What follows may not seem tangential, but it is.

I would hesitate to reply if a reader asked me my greatest writing influences, even though they’re freely available on my Goodreads author’s page.  That’s not because I’m ashamed of the authors that have made me what I am, but I’m afraid it would illustrate a gulf between myself and my audience that neither of us would be entirely comfortable with.  And this isn’t an insult, but it is a difference.  The vast majority of writers who have influenced me are dead, some of them by thousands of years.  There’s probably only or two writers among them that are still alive, and they’re all to a fucking T white and male–the dead and the living.

Now, I don’t want to brag too much, though I can get away with a little, but when I pick out something I want to read, I want to pick out something I can learn from–and learn as much as possible.  I’ve found the greatest success in appealing to the glorious legacy of western literature heading back all the way to Homer’s Iliad, the very beginning.  In a lot of ways, I’m a hide-bound traditionalist, and I find myself disgusted with my peers, who are always and always and always more interested in the action in a narrative rather than the form of the narrative.  If all you care about are outrageous draws, then make B-movies.

I recently gave people advice about being an author.  I wish I could follow it myself.  My brain is apparently aging prematurely and will continue to do so until I’m dead.  Unrelated.  I don’t even know what that means; I can’t gauge how serious that is.  My parents both were and continue to be dangerous workaholics–rather monkish in nature–and have preferred to live through their labor rather than their lives.  I’ve always had the same sort of problem.  I don’t feel like I’m worthwhile unless I’ve done something I can be proud of.  And while you might ask me what I’d done in the past, I’d retort, complaining bitterly about what I’d done lately.  My dad’s retirement age, and he’d retire but for the fact that he’d have nothing to do.  The man lives and breathes his job, and if he gave it up he’d likely just resort to alcoholism, which wouldn’t be ideal at his age.  I want to be different.  My mother, after retiring from a very stressful job she worked for thirty years, twelve hours every workday, took up a retirement job a year after her retirement, which seems to have helped her unrestricted well of energy, but even this galls here.

I don’t want my life to be a list of goals completed but a recitation of performances completed.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 6

Midshipman’s Log Part 96

Gregory Samuels

September 27, 1252 CNS

post-it_06 formication    Can’t get over how itchy I feel.  I mean, I’m not delusional—not seeing insects crawling over every surface and up the inviolate walls of my skin hungry for my eyes.  No bumps under the skin blistering forward with a legion of hungry baby spiders.  I’ve had to restrain myself, for otherwise I’d end up covered in lacerations boiling into infections.  I’ve considered cutting my nails painfully short, even at the risk of the draw of blood.

I’m sorry to begin like this.  I should pretend that I’m in better condition.  I just don’t care anymore.  I should pretend, but I just can’t maintain the façade.  I’ve never been so lonely, and I’ve long thought myself a lonely man.  Primary and secondary education, you see, were an absolute terror as regards my own comrades and most catastrophically the opposite sex.  For years I thought the only woman I’d ever kiss would be my own mother.  So you’d think I’d be up for this.  There are other men in history that have withstood long periods of isolation with their sanity largely intact.  I just don’t feel right, and I think it’s beginning to manifest physically.  I think I spent three hours solid scratching my throat.  On the one hand you’d expect a man, all alone in a big ship like this, would lose himself a bit, see things in the corner of his vision.  Happens to people all the time.  It doesn’t actually mean anything, long as it doesn’t bother you.  But.  It.  Does.  Bother.  Me.

I don’t think I’ve ever had genuine comrades—maybe Taticius, maybe another boy in school.  But he saw it, didn’t he?  Taticius, before we he went silent.  Strange then that such a helpless misfit like me’s the lone survivor.  I can’t help wondering.  It’s been a constant thought on my mind.  Can it kill me?  It was fast, wasn’t it?  It took them before they could react?  But would it have to be fast to do that?  You’d think but—wouldn’t I have been taken as well?  I’m no magnificent soldier, and I think in general that I’m a fair bit less agile than my fellows.

Yesterday, I went to the mess to collect a day’s rations.  While I was reheating a freeze-dried package of roasted chicken when what sounded like the discharge of a firearm went off on some deck overhead, but before I could investigate, this pain right behind the eyes, and I was blind.post-it_07 conversion syndrome  Completely blind.  Stumbling about, trying not to fall face-first onto my steaming-hot victuals, I was completely blind—fifteen seconds I think.  That’s never happened to me before.

I ran back to the safety of the crew quarters as fast as my legs would carry me.  I didn’t even eat.  It was two hours before I could work up the nerve to investigate, finger quivering over the trigger of my rifle against the regs.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  I thought it was a little more humid than it should have been, but that’s not unreasonable considering how long we’ve gone without maintenance.  Just hope atmospheric filters hold up long enough till the end of the journey.

I’ve got the door shut, locked, and I’m considering a barricade.  I’ll report as soon as I’m able.  Somehow writing about it makes it seem not so bad.  Should be added to the regs.  I wouldn’t mind a manual citation.

Salutation not Valedictions!

Look at that little button on the side labelled “Subscribe.”  You know you totally want to smash that… thing.  You’ll get updates of all my work when the work gets posted.  Don’t miss out. [You don’t need to be subscribed to be a member.  You don’t need to be a member to be subscribed.  But you do need to be a member to post.]

Welcome to the Works of Robert Madsen, the home and online heart of the various writings of the author Robert Madsen and the occasional artist of his association.  I, the administrator, am the completely unpaid exponent of the writer in question, chained now for nearly two years upon this work-station and to be occasionally savaged with the lash when the wages of my continuous exhaustion and near-starvation causes me to roll my face across the keyboard. Read More …

Another Book Giveaway

A monument to sacrifice.

Five copies! Five paperback copies of the legendary “Goliath Thunder: Sacrifice” signed by the author himself, Robert Madsen, five copies all a wondrous collection of four short stories illustrating the horrifying heights and lugubrious lows of the pilots of the titan war walkers of an utterly new millennium, struggling against the miserable cast of fate with a slaughterhouse suite of superlative firepower. Military Science Fiction occasionally dragging into the dark and sometimes even grimdark that will leave no eyes dry!

Enter now for your chance to win one of five copies! The contest will run from February 28th to March 8th and will be available to entrants within the United States.

Anyways, I’ve been instructed to announce that there will be a book giveaway starting at the end of this week starring five hardcopies that will be available through Goodreads.  The book in question is Goliath Thunder: Sacrifice, and the giveaway this time will only be available to residents of the United States.  You have to have an account to participate, I’m afraid, but if you’re a reader the platform is actually very convenient–most of the time.  It’s a bit of a labyrinth to a writer, with all the tools at my disposal, but that’s neither here nor there.

The giveaway to commence on Tuesday, February 28th, and it will run through to March the 8th.  That way there’s no rush.  In any case, the link is at the following [https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/225292-goliath-thunder-sacrifice], but the giveaway, as aforementioned, won’t actually begin until the 28th.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Goliath Thunder by Robert Madsen

Goliath Thunder

by Robert Madsen

Giveaway ends March 08, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Seventeen

“My goodness, just…  goodness!  I mean—my my!  Unbelievable, just unbelievable!  If my mother could have seen she’d…  she’d,” Rina gushed, percolating upwards upon bubbling heels of lethally honed ungula.  “I mean my god!  My gods!  I confess I’ve seen a man killed before, mostly executions; I’ve even seen a guard struck down in the fullness of his youth in equal combat, but that was utterly baseless.  There’s no other was to describe it.”  She stopped dead in her tracks, and the inexorable tug on his shoulder necessarily stopped him, as he struggled to remain upright without betraying his sudden weakness.  Before he could find his bearings his shoulders thundered involuntarily upwards, his rising lips crashing like the very tides upon her own, as she commenced to consume the whole of his lips and run her slithering tongue playfully about the gates of his esophagus, as if something deeply erotic.

His eyes locked with her own, as he struggled to wipe clean his face of her maw’s digestive secretions but succeeded only in smearing the whole of his countenance in the musk of her erotic display, as she rejoined, giggling like a schoolgirl, “Time enough later to mark yourself.  Goodness gracious me what a time.  And besides!  And besides!  You have to tell me.  You make it look so easy, so thoroughly easy; don’t whisper this to my bodyguards, but I have the fullest confidence they’d prove in no way your equal.  Just how do you make it look so easy?  I’ve never seen a man killed like that before; I’m not sure anyone has, and so much it was a shock to them that their hands quivered like grain in a bluster.  Slaughtered to a man before the magistrate-men could even arrive for inspection.  Barsica is flying high today!  High indeed!”

“They weren’t soldiers,” Arius grumbled, as if spitting out bile from between his teeth.  “They were assassins inasmuch as I’m an honest man,” he whispered malevolently, “abounding in the blisters that plague these so-called ‘Ivederenghoi.’  He only paused inasmuch as the strangely alien spectacle of the magnificent dome strode further into view arriving with every bounding step an iota further, and he shortly continued, “Their blades were rusty, in more ways than one.  It was no issue; it was no struggle.”

“Oh but surely you’re just being modest.  There were a score or more of them and the bare three of us!”

“A throng of people is no more an army than a collection of building materials a house.”

“Philosophy?” she quizzed.

“Something my mother used to say.”

Short Announcement

To infinity!

The release schedule is going to continue starting tomorrow.  I didn’t think it appropriate to recommence on Presidents’ Day.  From now on, my own website www.worksofrobertmadsen.com is going to function as my central hub, from which all my content is automatically disseminated.  I’m going to be honest.  It’s just too much work keeping track of my various social media individually.

Anyways, that’s all for today.  Have a marvelous holiday.

–Madsen

Author’s Update: Can’t Sleep Edition

I’m not sure how to go about saying this.  I’m not a well person.  A chronic physical ailment for which there is currently no cure but fortunately treatment.  It means that I’ll never be healthy, but with effort I can approximate something very close to that.  The problem lies in when I fail in that responsibility.  Two months of physical illness and various different stresses with which I coped magnificently poorly, and my health approximated the abysmal very rapidly.  So how do I say this more simply?  My life began falling apart and I collapsed.

Anyways, this made for a slow week of long reflection.  I don’t regret it either.  The things I’ve seen and considered will hopefully prove fundamental.

The least of which is that I simply need to master the marketing side of this arrangement.  I do the vast majority of my own marketing.  It’s not a thing like writing.  There are so many pitfalls for which I proved woefully unprepared.  Anyways, I’m just going to restrict my engagement to something manageable.  I’m also looking into alternative media–something aside from Twitter and Facebook.  The first is dying, and the second frankly doesn’t want me there.  I have to go where goes my audience, and while Facebook has some of them, it’s really not their collective heart.

There is also the matter of my public persona.  I’ve vacillated severally on the matter, and my conclusions are nonstandard.  Some people err on the side of caution and choose not to engage in any shitposting of any nature, specifically religion and politics; others make a career out of it.  What I’ve realized is how boring a persona can be when he’s forced to always wax vague for fear of giving offense.  On the other hand, I stopped arguing on the internet years ago for good reason.  Even I don’t know what to make of this either, but I do intend to offer more engagement to the reader, where I really should be focusing my attention.

Aside and aside, the release schedule isn’t markedly affected.  More work is completed.  As an aside, I’m contemplating putting together an amusing set of shorts comparing elements of contemporary politics to Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but I can’t even really imagine how that’s going to turn out yet.

This isn’t a scheduled communication.  I just can’t sleep, and I thought it best to do something.

Anyways, best to all of you.  Don’t neglect your health.

–Madsen

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Sixteen

“Over the hilltop of roofs, over the canopy of coral clay,” the Lady Rina pointed out, “beyond the regular refuse of the city—it’s that dome there yonder, strangely opalescent in the sun but, I can guarantee you, completely opaque from within.”

“I can see the resemblance.”  Arius replied, squinting his eyes in the strange light.  “Not at all distant now.  I assume you know how to navigate this maddening labyrinth of fractured boulevards and side-streets?”

But Gul Ladal was already poised to gently push the lady beside, faced as he was with a forest of half-rusted dagger points once secreted in the dug-out clay repositories of the abysmal country homes of Ivederenghoi.

In the unseemly familiar pidgin of the degenerates the bodyguard laid out his challenge, imprecations before five chthonic gods and a demand to lay down their weapons and surrender themselves before an expedient execution.  Nevertheless, in their throng undaunted they wailed bloody ululations that mocked the mother tongue of Braxosian, of which precious little could be translated, save for the vagaries of unmentionable expletives intended for the traveling dame, who, guarded against the vileness of the commons stood fully erect and stunned, serpentine eyes widely dilated while she drew vigorously shallow breaths.

Little could be determined of their features, clad in crudely-stitched rags that obscured all the obscenity of their firmament curse save for the desiccated blisters on their exposed digits, in truth more hospital patients than even would-be assassins.

Grinning, a lunatic having been denied his vocation far too long, Arius drew the singing blade from its scabbard, which seemed to gleam and sparkle in the approaching storm to blinding effect.  Guarding their filthy visage against the impossible luster they inadvertently gave ground on a heavy heel, until finding themselves literally up against the wall; a pair charged forwards, their implements held in a pinch-grip at arm’s length; they’d killed before, intending the heart-stroke which precipitates death in mere seconds, but in their panic they proved as careless as witless, prey of the otherworldly glow.  With peerless speed and a master’s concision, the ancient fuller drove head-first through the upper-lip and first-row of teeth of its first victim, coming to rest only after having severed the tip of the tongue far past the uvula.  It was just a flick of the wrist to cleave the wandering eyes with the otherwise undamaged skull from the sputtering bloodspray and staggering mandible of the still strutting body shortly to collapse with a “puff” in the dust.  His companion, cocksure of a clean kill, slid below and under, driving his dirk up and towards the ribs, only to be halted in the paladin’s indomitable grip which snatched the hand from the blade of his assailant before tumbling the attacker earthward, dislocating his elbow with the end of his pommel before he trammeled his assailant’s skull under the splattering weight of his boot heel, gory with his bodily excess.

Content at first to lean upon his magnificently proportioned polearm, Gul Ladal could no longer stand idle and allow the day’s glory consumed by a single man alone and heaved forward with the impossible impetus of charging horses, armored head-to-toe.  With a single swipe he severed a pair of assassins of their hairless heads forevermore, and with a succeeding spray of carmine he cleaved diagonally through the midsection of a third, his bones no more a bulwark than paper before the refined edge.

Howling disparate old country paean, the bellicose pair weaved through what remained of them to the familiar gurgling of moribund blood which ran like rivers before the inviolate arch announcing the temple district in ancient and unabated Braxosian until the assassins’ futile essay did finally make end of itself.