Category Archives: Incidentals

Shirley Jackson

Use Fear

“I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”

Shirley Jackson


Most of us have read Jackson’s famous short story, The Lottery. But, since it’s October and the perfect season for spooky reading, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, easily one of the greatest ghost stories ever written.

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Raunch Reviews: A Song of Ice and Fire

Raunch Reviews: A Song of Ice and Fire

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Reviews: A Song of Ice and FireThe Author: George R. R. Martin
Work in Question: A Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones
The Profanity: “Seven Hells”

It’s easy to dismiss George R. R. Martin’s epic as just another fantasy. After all, it has all the trappings. But Martin likes to ground these in a grim reality that make the struggles and conflict on the page feel real—almost historical. This is especially incorporated through his in-world religions as well. From the strange faces of the old gods carved into the sides of weirwood trees, to the Drowned God of the men of the Iron Isles, and to the Andal’s Faith of the Seven—with any faith, oaths generally follow. So it’s no surprise Martin went with “seven hells” as his inworld mild-profanity replacement.

As a mild oath, it’s fine. Seven kingdoms, seven gods, seven heavens, seven hells—it makes sense. Likewise, it doesn’t stray too far from English’s own oaths, so there is a recognition factor that comes into play. The familiarity of this profanity is understandable, as in his writing Martin tends to stick reasonably close to actual real-world history and mythology in his work. That makes his bleak world feel more adjacent to our own which works in its favor. All that said, while this is recognizable, it’s not especially original. But it’s not a word to pull you out of the story. Instead, it allows you to glide right past one grim tragedy and onto the next.

Score:  (3.0)

Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Happy October

Happy October

It’s raining outside and my favorite month of the year is finally here, so I’m in a pretty good mood this morning. October is also the month where I usually debut new stuff. While no new books are coming this year, I do have a few announcements I’ll be making. Those lucky Dead Drop subscribers will get to hear it first, and you still have time to join their ranks.

Until all that happens, here’s a fantastic interview with Aldous Huxley that everyone should take time to watch. (Hat tip to Mike Glyer over at File 770 who shared this yesterday.)

Happy October folks!

The Midsommar Dream

The Midsommar Dream

My friend Redd Walitzki is a wonderfully talented artist who blends watercolor, oil painting, and mixed media on laser-cut panel to create detailed and incredibly vibrant works of art. On September 22nd she launched her latest solo show, The Midsommar Dream at Haven Gallery, in New York. It’s stunning and worth checking out.

I’ve long been a fan of Redd’s work, but this series, in particular, stands out. There is something personal at play in each piece, but that intimate disclosure interlocks with a compelling narrative. The series is more than just magical creatures dancing through a lush dreamscape, Midsommar serves as a treatise on reality itself and the dreams that push at its boundaries.

I’ve included a few of my favorites below. Click on any of them to view larger. Be sure to head on over to Haven Gallery’s website where you can see the whole show.



The Midsommar Dream runs through October 27th, so if you’re in the New York area (particularly Long Island), then I highly recommend visiting. Redd’s use of vibrant color is beautiful on screen but it strongest in person. Be sure to contact the gallery with inquiries about any particular piece.

You can see more of Redd’s past work at her website. Also be sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and make sure you subscribe to her newsletter.

Register to Vote

My Fellow Americans, Register to Vote

Today is the fourth Tuesday in September, that means it’s National Voter Registration Day here in the USA. If you’re a US citizen and you haven’t registered, take some time and do it today. Registering to vote is super easy (usually only takes a few minutes) and it’s essential. Your voice is valid, and it matters now more than ever.


There are a few ways to register, but here are a few of my favorite resources:

  • Vote.org
    This is my favorite. Here you find tools to register, and you can check the status of your registration. Be sure to do the latter, some states (Ohio) are trying to purge voter rolls for inactivity.

  • How to register to vote #RegisterToVote
    Google has a handy tool to help you figure out how to register. Just simple search for that phrase (or click the link above) and all the information is at your fingertips.

  • Rock the Vote
    This nonprofit and nonpartisan organization focuses on increasing the turnout for younger Americans and has been around since 1990.

I’ve said this before, but today is an appropriate day to restate that anyone trying to prevent or making it difficult for citizens to vote are the bad guys. In an era of voter disenfranchisement, suppression, and gerrymandering, the people must step up and elect leaders that fight for the rights of the citizenry. Do your duty: register and vote.