more fanbots

I’m rather enjoying the quality of spam that’s appearing on this blog, lately. A robot calling itself “Apartments in Mesa” is nothing short of enthusiastic:

Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so
much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a
bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog.

A great read. I will definitely be back.

OK, I’m a little worried that I’m reading a robot’s mind—in fact I’m worried that robots even have minds (no offence, Apartments). And I’m more than a little worried about that last part. The Terminator wasn’t even that emphatic: “I’ll DEFINITELY be back!” But maybe Apartments in Mesa will take the automated advice of its learned colleague, UV Polish:

Hello Dear, are you in fact visiting this website daily, if so afterward
you will definitely obtain fastidious experience.

That’s the thing about this new generation of fanbot: they’re definite. They will definitely be back daily to obtain still more fastidious experience from my excellent blog. Which makes me wonder if the bot known as 4Beta is being unduly critical:

I ain’t suggesting your content isn’t solid., but what if you added a title that makes
people want more? I mean whiskers. The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond is kinda plain.

Although you know what? I actually kinda like that. So forget The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond—
I hereby rename this site WHISKERS.


monday is publication day

Accepted wisdom for the blogosphere says that the big thought-pieces get posted on Monday, and the link round-ups get posted on Friday. Except that, Monday notwithstanding, I’ve got some links I’m really excited about. Accepted wisdom, accepted schmisdom.

First, the new issue of Unsettling Wonder launched today. I’m so proud and excited about this issue, it’s a really great array of talent and story and art, and if you love fairy tales and folktales and the mythic arts—actually, if you just love beautifully made stories and journals—I promise you’ll love this.

Second, if you’re looking for a big thought-piece for a Monday read, well—here’s what I wrote for the Unsettling Wonder blog on Friday. If you like what I write here, you should give this a read, because I almost posted it here—it’s par for Paradoxes, but on balance I put it at UW instead. You should be able to tell why.

And lastly, everybody but everybody that cares about writing and publishing and all related arts should read this new Interstitial Moment from Jane Yolen. She writes the truth, and beautifully.


I had a twinge of regret today as I deleted a spam comment, generated from some insentient bot spewing random words via a French IP address, bearing the following declaration:

This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

Just sayin’.

Mr Pond in Print

The astonishing Erzebet YellowBoy Carr just told me that the very first print issue of the new print version of Scheherezade’s Bequest (which I had to type several times before I spelled it right) is now available. It’s topic is the Loathly Lady, and if you love fairy tale retellings and fantasy, then you’ll live this project. It’s a great inaugural issue, and I’m happy to say I have an essay in, called ‘The Loathly Lady as Mystagogue’. Here’s a picture of the cover and my introduction to my article, for your enjoyment:


The story begins, the way many do, with a mother. The mother is arguing with her teenage daughter for not doing her share of the housework. It’s when a queen pulls up in a coach and asks what all the shouting is about that things start getting rather odd.

This story from the Brothers Grimm, ‘The Three Spinners’ (KHM 14), may not be the most obvious place to begin a discussion of the Loathly Lady motif (Thompson D732). The story seems to fall outside the pale of the usual classification; Thompson details D732 as ‘[m]an disenchants loathsome woman by embracing her’. The most immediately recognisable appearance of the Loathly Lady is of course in Chaucer, when the Wife of Bath tells her own idiosyncratic version of the tale. And it is easy enough to see what that version of the story has to say about sex and sexual attraction, and how it influences interaction between the genders. But the Loathly Lady, as a figure in folklore and fairy tale, should not be reduced simply to a metonym for gender relations. And there is, I think, an overlapping narrative function of the Loathly Ladies in both KHM 14 and D732; the question is less the disenchantment of the ‘loathsome woman’, and more the role she plays in the initiatory passage of the protagonist into maturity.

Aging, after all, and the fear of aging, is not simply a matter of changing sexual drive, no matter what Hollywood tells us. Aging turns one’s self into the other—first by the growing disparity between the image of one’s self held in the mind, and that seen in the mirror. But, secondly and more insidiously, by distancing the aged self of the present from the youthful self of the past. We forget too easily what we were like when we were young, or what it’s like to be a child. The challenge is, then, not to project our own misbegotten nostalgia on other children and young people, but to reconcile with, and understand, the other that is our self.

The Loathly Lady, then, stands in folk literature as a question and a warning. She represents the person we will all become eventually, the person we’ve seen our parents become, the person always present in every society, sometimes revered and sometimes despised. And she asks us not only how society treats the outcast and the aged, but how we treat ourselves.

advice from Mr Fun

First, a link of note: my colleague the incomparable Dr Richards has just posted a thoroughly challenging piece about writing and retelling fairy tales, at Unsettling Wonder. It’s called ‘Gilt, Alloy, Catalysis’; you can read it here, and if you have any interest in writing or fairy tales and fantasy, and how these things can be understood, then you probably should.

Second, if you like art and good-humour and animation, and especially if you like Disney lore, you’ll want to check out the works of Floyd Norman. He’s an animator, cartoonist, Disney historian and all around nice guy, it seems. Seriously, what could be more fun than Mr Fun’s Blog? It’s always a treat, whether he’s giving anecdotes about cartooning and the ‘Old Maestro’, or discussing depictions of race in Disney films, or—like today—dispensing startlingly pertinent writing advice.

Yeah, I know—writing advice on the internet? No one’s ever done that before. But it’s because there’s so much of it that’s so bad, it’s a treasure to find someone actually giving good advice. Since I guess this’ll  be of interest to you, here’s what Mr Fun had to say about writing today, taken from the link above. Pay particular attention to the closing line:

My story as an author began back in High School English Literature. Eager but intimidated, I looked forward to learning a little bit about writing in my junior year. However, my English instructors thought I was in over my head and thought a “lower level English class” was more my speed. I was hardly delighted with this decision but took it in stride. When it came to the task of writing I decided I would learn on my own. Since that time I’ve come to believe most writing classes are bunk. You learn to write by writing, and no class can ever make up for that. You simply have to do it each day. There are no shortcuts or magical inspiration that will make the words appear on the page. Like most difficult things in life you simply have
to do it.

Getting booted out of High School English Literature was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I never lost my love for books and like most students I read most of the classics. I continued to have only the greatest respect for writers and was lucky enough to meet a number of favorites during my career. Guys such
as Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison and Douglas Adams provided a fair share of encouragement. While I knew I would probably never do work on their level,
I continued to learn the craft just in case I would one day have to put words
on paper.