The History Behind “St. George and the Dragon (Revised)”

As I point out in the introduction, my story featured on Book View Cafe today — “St. George and the Dragon (Revised)” — was originally written as a gift for my fellow students in a self defense course.

The course — then called Model Mugging, now called Impact — uses an intensive process to teach students successful responses to attack. Not only do participants learn some practical fighting skills, including fighting from the ground, but they learn them in a way that incorporates them into body memory. Plus they learn various appropriate non-fighting techniques, from paying attention to yelling “No” instead of “Help” if you’re attacked.

Although some of the programs affiliated with Impact nationwide offer some classes for men, most of the students are women. The chief instructors are also women, but men participate by acting as “muggers” — donning huge padded protective costumes so that the students can actually kick them in the groin or gouge their eyes. The idea behind the class is not just to teach women to fight, but to show them they can fight successfully. Continue reading


So What Happened to Mundane SF?

It created a flap, a few people signed on, most everybody missed the point, so now what? First off let me say that I’m not sure science fiction needs another sub-genre. It’s getting a little ridiculous with such labels as steampunk, new weird, chickpunk, slipstream, or the silliest of all: military sf. (Isn’t it all military sf, or almost all?) So in the end, I’m not sure that I care that the mundane sf movement never got any traction. How do I know it didn’t get any traction? Well, the mundane sf blog hasn’t been updated since June. Since half a year in Internet terms is way dead, apparently the very promoters of the movement don’t care about it anymore. I’m guessing that no one else does either.

I have to say, though, that I do care. Continue reading


Macrobiotics #2: Tea is the staff of life! (And, when prepared properly, so are grains – and I don’t mean beer.)

Access to nutrients. That is a big part of eating in a macrobiotic manner. Roasting, toasting, soaking, and in some cases boiling all allow the food to be digested swiftly, gently, in its best form. If your gut hurts right now, raw food is probably the opposite of what you should give it. I may say “Macrobiotic Diet” but what you should hear is, changing your eating habits so you are nourishing body and soul in celebrating what you eat.

Kukicha tea and Roasted Barley tea are constants in the day of someone living a macrobiotic life.

Westerners enjoy drinking Kukicha and Roasted Barley on ice in hot weather, while Asian cultures prefer drinking it as hot tea (which is not drunk at boiling temps at all, by the way). The Japanese now often enjoy these teas in tea bag form – so convenient – while other countries lean toward preparing them in large quantities, like I’m currently doing. Bulk preparation is much cheaper for Kukicha tea. Since I am doing this not only to change my relationship to food, but to heal myself of disease, I drink almost no water – I drink these two teas, made with filtered water. They nourish, they help with toxins, and they will satisfy a lot of western cravings. Continue reading


The Salamander’s Eternal Flame

Sekhmina, the Salamander of the Red CityI have only seen the magnificent Salamander, or Sallymander, once. It is said that in the whole Wide World, there can be only one such creature, and should there be two — well, we could hardly predict the results, so vastly would this disturb the balance of magickal power.

A quiet, self-possessed creature was the Salamander when I saw her. This is a likeness which I drew from memory, so perhaps she was a bit rounder, or perhaps a bit more reddish around her delicate little feet.

From such a tiny creature, one might imagine that little magickal power could arise. But never in all of my travels have I known greater power to exist in a tiny frame. Should you chance upon the Salamander, do not be deceived by its innocent mien, or gentle, soft voice. The Salamander burns with an unquenchable, eternal fire. Should it question you, and it is a curious beast, beware that you tell the truth in all regards. For the Salamander knows truth from falsehood instantly, and as for liars — they will be instantly burned to cinders. Doubtless, this was the source of the many dark, ashy and oily spots here and there in the Salamander’s chambers when I visited her those many years ago. It is very well that I had no inclination to dissimulate, or I would not be here, telling the tale of her charming demeanor and visage today.

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BATMAN #681: A Very Short Review

This issue is the conclusion of the BATMAN R.I.P. arc, and so is not the place to jump on. In fact the entire arc is tailored specifically for people like me, who have been reading Batman since the ’60’s. It is deliberately, self-indulgently arcane and obscure, as if to repel everybody who isn’t already deeply into all things Bat — a terrible marketing decision IMO.

Furthermore, analyzed purely as a story, the thing is elliptical, with many confusing cuts, flashbacks, unidentified characters, and allusions to things that may or may not have happened. Oh, and did I mention that Batman himself suffers a major mental breakdown and thus is the most unreliable of narrators? It might be best to wait for the inevitable trade paperback, so that you could read all the issues in order at one sitting; this would be your best prayer of figuring out what is going on.

I would have guessed this script to be unsaleable and unpublishable, except in a year where a blockbuster Batman movie came out. There is a balance between telling the reader all, and keeping all the cards close to your chest. This arc is a fine example of failing at the latter.


Iceoglyphs, by Vonda N. McIntyre

Triple Arches Bridge--Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Photo courtesy
Library of Congress

Under rehabilitation: Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Leading east/west through the middle of Glacier National Park, the road is an amazing creation, a project of the WPA, dedicated in 1933. Park displays include photographs of workers hanging from hemp ropes next to sheer rock faces, building the arches of Three Arches Bridge. When I drove the road, and admired the bridge, I thought, “This is the sort of project that will never happen again.” I was glad to see the road being maintained, because the budgets for most of our national parks have been whittled away during the last eight years. The deterioration is heartbreaking. Continue reading


Exploring the First Contact Cafe

Greetings from the Dragon Lair of Irene Radford aka P.R. Frost, aka C.F. Bentley, Phyl to my friends:

Today the first of my short stories rotates to the front page of Book View Cafe. “It’s A Con World Afterall” first appeared in a highly abbreviated form in the program book for RadCon in 2003 when I was Guest of Honor. At the time, RadCon was still primarlily a regional gaming con with limited guests and paneling, 12 guest and about 800 members. Wow has that con changed in 5 short years. In 2008 the convention hosted about 2000 members and 175 guests. To tie in with the dominant membership in 2003 I wrote the short story based upon a world I’d created for an anthology and is now a featured part of my newest series “The Confederated Star Systems Volume #1: Harmony,” by C.F. Bentley from DAW Books August 2008.

Let’s back up a bit to another con. Continue reading