Queer Magic Part 4: Going to the Red Room

Let’s recap for a second.

            The Good Night is a place for my kind of people. Those in the Biz. Which means that it isn’t open to just about anyone, just a select crowd. To get into the Good Night, you have to be invited specially, and that isn’t going to happen unless you know someone on the inside. For most in the Biz in the City, that’s not a problem. There’s enough folks around as knows Jessie’s place, and one of them will have a friend of a friend of a friend who can get you in for cheap.

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Things I’ve Read: Making a Monstress

What do you do when you don’t like the protagonist of the story you’re reading? Most readers I know what put the book aside. Like it or not, likability is something that attracts most people to books (which is why most thrillers focus on the capable detectives rather than the murderers, I guess), and spending time with an unlikable person isn’t high on most people’s to-do lists.

Now, what do you do if you’re not supposed to like that protagonist?

Monstress, Image Comics, 2016

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Queer Magic Part 3: Cigarettes, Coffee, and Other Bad Decisions


Last time we talked, Eoin, a man who lives mostly in dreams, was summoned by the Ambassador of Many-Paws, Queen of All Cats, to attend her and help in the search for her missing daughter. Eoin reluctantly agreed, so off he goes.

I kicked through my room, looking for order in the ephemera of my life. My world’s viscera of clothing, books, and cutlery, was scattered like corpses after a flood. No, that’s rude to viscera and corpses both. I lived in a state of emergency, a refugee camp of one squashed into a room thirty feet square.

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And What A Rebound

Just a day after I write about trying to figure out how to think about racism in Spec-Fic, N.K. Jemisin wins her third Hugo award.

If you haven’t read it, her book The Fifth Season was excellent. I haven’t read the other two yet, but something tells me I will be soon.

And it feels good to see some evidence that we don’t live in the worst possible world. That’s a comforting thought. Thanks for that, Ms. Jemisin.

The Thing on the Doorstep: Reading Howard’s N-Word

I avoid reading The Classics. Not by desire or design, but I’m just so strongly opposed to the idea that there exists a Classical Canon that Serious People Ought To Read for so many reasons (too European, too white, too old, not enough lasers and dragons in them, etc.) that whenever I reach for anything with a Penguin on the cover, I hesitate. But rebellion has its price and the end result is that I haven’t read many of those books, for better or worse. When I moved to Sweden, I decided to do a little reading up on The Classics, if only because they’re books I don’t care as much about leaving behind when I move (which is a lie, because I absolutely must own every book I read, so the fact I can buy them for cheap when I get back helped that decision too). Having not read a horror story in a dog’s age (the last was probably The Wake, but horrifying for its existential bleakness than for any monsters, Norman or otherwise), I decided to start by reading some Lovecraft.



When I finished my first foray into H.P. Lovecraft, I put the book down and had to think for a bit. If you don’t know, Howard Phillips Lovecraft is a controversial character, as well known for his genre-defining contributions to horror as his monstrous racism. So at first, I didn’t know what to think. I mean, it wasn’t that racist, but then I did some reading, and did some more, and tried to understand some of why modern thinkers really don’t like him. I was struck because I didn’t come away from my reading with a sense of revulsion or obvious discomfort, and as a result, I don’t know where to come down in the discussion. That makes me feel about as uncomfortable about when I read about a cat he owned named Ni**er-Man.

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A Great Hand, Reaching Out

Connections have been on my mind lately because I’m losing the ability to talk to people that I don’t agree with.

I want to blame this on the tenor of the times, but I know people have been disagreeing about a great many important things for a long time. What I think is that when we think about the great historical disagreements, the lines and issues are already drawn and the shouting is (hopefully) over. It’s so easy to place ourselves on one side or another without being sucked into the emotional space between. Nowadays, in the noise and the mess, it’s so hard to see those lines (or it isn’t because one side you have racists and on the other side you have people who want to live in peace) and understand the discourse.

Fundamentally, I think it’s a problem of courage. We know that people who think brown, black, queer, Indigenous (etc, etc, etc), the other is lesser and ought to be oppressed is a wrong and bad and evil person. Anyone who wants to oppress others is, by definition, Very Bad. But it takes such a huge amount of courage to overcome the moral inertia and stand up and say “no, don’t do that”, that we muddle the issue so it’s not so clear who or what we are standing up against. That maybe the issue Isn’t All Bad. I should know: I’m one of them. We all are. It’s so easy to look back and say “Look how bad and wicked and naughty those Nazis were,” and with the same breath, ignore that you work with people who, y’know, aren’t against immigration per se, but…

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Queer Magic: Part 2, The Cat and Mouse Game

Last time we talked, Ihavegonetoofar and Dog, two strange beings living in the City, took refuge in an equally strange bar on a cold night. There, the bartender offers relief in exchange for stories about the people in the bar. Ihavegonetoofar accepts the offer. It remains to be seen if it was prudent to do so.

Once, there was a mouse and a cat.

The cat stalked the mouse. It used the magic of Walking This Way, which is known to everything that hunts on four legs and which is why Man does not know how to walk like cats. It followed the mouse, which had magic of its own. Move Quiet Quiet, See Without Sight, and the strongest magic of all, Fear. The mouse did not know it was being stalked, but Fear worked its spell and so the Mouse always thought it was followed. Even safe in the nest it would look over its shoulder with eyes that did not see, smelt with noses that listen, and listened with ears that tasted. There was nothing behind it. There is everything there, Fear whispered to the Mouse, and suddenly there would be. But this time it worked the magic of Want, which drove away Fear, and which drove away safety.

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Queer Magic: Part 1, Looking for a Small Corner in a Big City

What is magic other than the applied use of mystery? And what is more mysterious than a city full of millions of people, each with their own stories, their own mysteries, their own magic? Queer Magic is a collection of stories about mysterious, magical people and the city they live in. 

Remember though: all magic has cost. Forget that, and you may forget what price you are willing to pay.

Part the First:

Looking for A Small Corner in a Big City


We can not stand the light.

I? Is it me? I do not remember.

We are ourselves a cockroach, a scuttler who abhors the light. We hide under bags of refuse and peer into windows, pulling our hat down to hide our eyes when the lights within shine too brightly and we must cry. We were naked until we scrounged gloves to hide our hands and dirty white shoes to hide our feet. We wear a winter coat despite the heat of the summer. The stench and filth cling to us and our withered legs, match-sticks that shiver, trying to spark a light. Our hands hurt. They always hurt.

We are. We do not know what we are.

I. I should be an I only and not a We. But who are these other voices in my head? Is it my head?

Hush. Go back to sleep.

I shall, thank you.

& & &

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Top of the Heap

No-one reads these, but I’d feel awkward not having a proper introduction. So, hello, I’m Caoimhin (pronounced “Caoim-hin”), and welcome to The Heap. It’s a blog about writing, fiction, politics, games, and a whole bunch of other stuff all thrown together eponymously. I determined that the world required another blog, and it is my solemn duty to deliver.

Alright then, what the hell is this?

I guess the question you’re actually asking (rude) is: why oh why in 2017 are you making a blog? The answer is simple: because the blog format works. I’ve tried this before, several times, and every time it failed because of my efforts or lack thereof. The Internet has changed and so has how we interact with it, but what hasn’t changed is that a blog remains the best place to write short-form pieces, long-form, post shameless pictures of cats I like, and everything in-between.

So that’s what it is! A place for me (and others, hopefully) to write short-form pieces, long-form efforts, everything in-between, and enjoy ourselves while we do it.

Why not social media? And aren’t blogs dead? I heard they were dead.

Well, sure. Maybe. There was a blog explosion in the early/mid-2000s, I would know because I was a part of it, and it’s since dwindled as Internet users have streamlined and the app environment has appeared. Why freely browse the Internet when much of the Internet is now served in bite-sized app form? And how would you find this if you didn’t know it already existed? Not to mention the sheer difficulty of keeping up a blog. Blogs of yore, even big ones, have come and gone. A Dribble of Inks death hit many of us hard. I’ve personally started and shuttered three blogs, and one can only guess how many innumerable webcomics and mommy and foodie blogs have called it quits.

But there are stalwarts who are still kicking. Whatever will keep going until the heat death of the universe, while Making Light will probably go on until the Big Crunch. Besides, what media would I put it on? Twitter, which seems to be in its death-throes every year? Tumblr, which has been dying and resurrecting for years? Facebook (I’d rather eat and then pass broken glass, thank you kindly(and please ignore the irony that I’m definitely linking this to FB))? Or let’s think of the platforms that died, taking with them works of equal and often far-greater value: MySpace, Orkut(?), Angelfire (yes, I was there too), and what else? Considering venerable (by our standards) Twitter is facing a rough death, what’s next?

Finally, I took a quick look at the most popular social media these days. Outside of Facebook, the next 14(!) had strict content standards or didn’t even allow posting of text. If you’re posting a video or images online, there are a dozen places to do it before/in tandem with a blog. Text? Especially long form? Good luck. A site, while not the most visible, is better.

Also, I can swear here, so that’s a benefit too.

Fine, I get it. But isn’t this just another writer’s blog? Don’t we have enough of those?

 Nope! We could never have enough! I think one of the greatest, if not the greatest, values of the Internet is that it gives everyone a platform. And yes, while that means a whole lot of people we don’t want to have a platform now do, it also means that we can use it to make wonderful things.

The only sin when writing (aside from not using the Oxford comma) is assuming that someone doesn’t have a story worth sharing. It’s just up to them to make it good enough to be worth the reader’s time.

Yeah, but between Netflix, Steam, and maybe reading the occasional book, there isn’t enough time out there. Sorry, you’re cut.

 And that’s a totally fair attitude to have. Hell, I’m still behind on Stranger Things. Between work and family and life (remember that?), if I’m perpetually behind on everything then I’m guessing we all are. Time is of the essence these days, and despite what they might say on Queen Street, time might be money, but money is certainly not time.

But if your argument is that that means I shouldn’t try, there’s the door. Or the little “X” at the top right of your screen. Either way, you can take a hike.

What that does mean, though, is that I have to prove myself with my work. More on that later, but I agree: I’m not here to waste your time. If you deign to give it to me, then by all that’s holy it’s up to me not to spend it frivolously. That’s a judgement for you to make, but if I can at least keep you reading this long, then that’s a start, isn’t it?

Alright, alright. I guess that all makes sense. But oh! One more point: are you at all ashamed you stole this format directly from John Scalzi’s dialogues about Trump?

 Nope! And if you’re real clever, you’ll see what I did there.

So that’s that! Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again!