Once upon a time, before Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace, there were newsgroups. And these operated outside the world of the world wide web and were often accessible from e-mail clients such as Outlook.

As the internet’s presence grew during the 1990s, Newsgroups actually grew from strength to strength and were saved from an early demise by Google who purchased Deja News which was a kind of newsgroup aggregator.

At the beginning of the century, I discovered Newsgroups through Google (where it was once given far greater prominence than it is these days) and discovered some interesting newsgroups including, which was otherwise known by its initials ASSD.

It was a lively newsgroup with some interesting participants among the usual suspects, but even in 2002 I felt that I’d missed its Golden Age. This was a period of activity which produced some very interesting activity including an amusing weekly story review magazine, attracted some genuinely talented writers and had a real sense of purpose. And so it was that at the tail-end of the newsgroup’s Golden Age I got involved, having already earned my membership by posting stories to and ASSTR. It was through ASSD that I also got involved in Ruthie’s Club, Stories OnLine and other websites.

However, even in 2002, ASSD was a minefield which had to be navigated with care. For a start, all posts had to have headings that began {assd} to be distinguishable from spam. Once you’d got past that hurdle, there were still trolls, egos and dross to negotiate before you found the good stuff.

However, I got steadily more bored with the newsgroup over time and my participation dwindled to virtually nothing. Of course, I wasn’t alone. There’s a good reason why newsgroups are hardly at all promoted by Google any more (even though it has essentially been their saviour). They are all dominated by spam and trolls, of which there is considerably more of the former. One or two decent newsgroups no doubt still exist, but on the whole like any chamber with few participants the newsgroups have become more a window on a world of squabbling die-hards than one onto an expanding world of opportunity (as once upon a time it used to be).

I couldn’t recommend anyone a visit to any of the newsgroups any more: not even ASSD. That is unless your idea of fun is reading the same crappy spam that your spam-filter protects your e-mail account from. It’s now nothing more than a kind of relic of an earlier age of online adult fiction which as far as I can see has not yet been bettered.

And so, as this is a blog about sex fiction, here’s an image by the interesting 3d erotic artist Erogenesis featuring his intriguing character Lali:

Lali's Sock Puppet (Erogenesis)

Lali’s Sock Puppet (Erogenesis)


Terrorism. What is it good for?

So, we’ve had a recent attack of what might or might not have been an act of terrorism. At the moment we can’t be too sure how much it conforms to the accepted definition, but in the public mind it’s already a terrorist outrage because of the randomness of its choice of victim and because, unlike the acts of pointless carnage that America’s gun culture is so famous for generating, the perpetrators weren’t taking obvious pleasure in the realisation of their murderous fantasies like the now almost routine high school massacre that attracts  progressively less outrage.

Obviously, it goes without saying that I’m very sorry for the families and friends of the dead and of course for the often-forgotten survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing. But it still needs to be questioned as to who or what ever benefits from an act of terrorism.

From the point of view of the terrorist, I guess there’s probably a moment of satisfaction when something that’s been plotted and planned reaches fruition. I’d have thought that very few terrorists really believe the nonsense that might have been inculcated in them or which they might have half-digested in their private research. I suspect in most cases it’s all about that final blaze of glory and a perverse wish to be remembered in some way. And let’s not forget that there may well be some terrorists who get some kind of orgasmic pleasure from killing or harming other people. It’s been an aspect of humanity for a hundred thousand years or more that,a proportion of the population get a real kick from hurting others so it’s something that’s unlikely to have changed now. And no doubt the worse the violence, the bigger the turn-on.

Who benefits in the long run?

The most obvious beneficiaries are those in positions of power who now have a very good excuse to further ratchet up their repression of the greater population. And as we know from countries like contemporary North Korea, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, when there aren’t enough terrorist acts to justify the repression they wish to apply, then just invent the risk and torture people until they confess to it.

It’s unlikely that terrorism ever actually furthers the nominal causes that the terrorists subscribe to, which are generally noble and Utopian ideals such as world  peace, the universal adoption of one religion or another, or better understanding of one community’s plight over another. It might generate debate in generally liberal countries like Britain or Sweden or the Netherlands, where intellectuals agonise over an acceptable solution, but it’s usually the breakdown of civil society that best appears to benefit the nominal cause (whatever it might be) by strengthening the grip that a handful of people who guide the ideology (such as imams, party secretaries or charismatic leaders) have on the movement so that when they take power, if the society they are threatening is sufficiently weak or stupid,they can become the Khomeini, the Stalin, the Kim Jong-Il or Mao Tse-Tsung of that movement.

And to illustrate the type of person who most benefits from terrorism, here’s a picture by the Chinese artist Liu Dongzi, otherwise known as East Monkey:

Pig and his Girl

Pig and his Girl


Doubly Endowed (Illustration by Jaxtraw)

Doubly Endowed (Illustration by Jaxtraw)

Those who aren’t British or who have never lived in the blessed isles must sometimes wonder at the fellow feeling there is between Brits.

Well, in a web world dominated by adolescent morons and American right-wing lunatics, can you blame the few remaining sane people for seeking company amongst those who aren’t so clearly unhinged?

And so it is that I am plugging yet another Brit, this time the cartoonist Jaxtraw. Actually Jaxtraw and I have a history that goes back a long time. And it’s not just because he’s a Brit and that his sense of humour and mine overlap in very many places.

I first came across Jaxtraw’s illustrations many years ago and I liked them so much that I used a thumbnail of a picture I especially liked for my sex fantasy novel Innocence Lost. As you can see it makes no bones about what kind of illustration it is, and that’s one of the things I liked about it. It is also quite clearly the work of a talented cartoonist who knows enough about the technical details of his art to give a very convincing rendition of a very unlikely thing. And this was an illustration I saw before the huge growth in Futanari pictures all over the internet and to which it doesn’t really pay any homage at all.

Since then Jaxtraw and I have collaborated on the illustration for Doubly Endowed which is the very good picture which I’ve used to head this blog.

I’ve always enjoyed cartoons. It’s something about the economy of line that has attracted me. And a cartoon doesn’t have to be technically or stylishly accomplished to be good (viz. Dilbert), but it is a delight indeed when it is.

Jaxtraw’s art has become ever more impressive over the years. The artwork on his Lucy Lastique comic series on his website, Jaxtraw Studios, is well worth exploring. And it’s also worth checking out his blog, Jaxtraw’s Blog, to further sample his artwork and find out more abut the man.

A Perfect World

Zaporizja by AleksCG

There is a kind of half-acknowledged view amongst those of us who understand at least some science and have some kind of anchorage in the real world that those who hold the most absurd opinions on creationism, climate change and whatever other nonsense currently promulgated by the well-financed American right-wing that in the long run intelligent rational opinion will prevail. Eventually, even the Bible Belt will have to accept the very nearly self-evident truth of natural selection and will appreciate the absurdity of denying climate change when there is little left for actual events to do to provide yet more conclusive proof. After all, the argument goes, the resistance to the abolition of slavery eventually gave way when the views about the relative status of the various races of humanity was discredited.

Nevertheless, we know about slavery that it lasted substantially longer than the founding fathers of the United States expected (and still continues illegally throughout the world particularly in the sex industry). And we know that the ludicrous nonsense that is used to justify racism and the attendant genocides it justifies has lasted up to the present day (most obviously in Rwanda, Nazi Germany and Apatheid Suid Afrika).

And as an example of how self-evident nonsense can retain its pull, we need only look at modern orthodoxy in the all-powerful world of finance which despite the evidence of many meltdowns, crashes and the like (such as the DotCom Boom of the 1990s, the crash of the late 1980s and most recently the market meltdown from which we are all of us suffering), there is still a belief in monetarism based on the ideal of a perfect market place and an absolutely well-informed buyer.

And this despite the overwhelming evidence that greed, corruption, fraud and stupidity are what best characterise the market economy in which we all have (like it or not) a huge stake and in which our savings, our pensions and the continuance of modern society are totally committed.

Reliving One’s Life Over

I’m sure it’s a fantasy we’ve all had. What would it be like to relive your life but this time  with the benefit of hindsight?

This is a notion that is currently exercising the imagination of top-ranked Stories OnLine authors. I notice that the top favourite downloaded on-going series on this website are all concerned with this conceit. It seems that this is now an even more popular subject of fiction than post-Apocalyptic cave-man fantasies, nudity at school fantasies or even mind-control.

It’s not a fantasy that I’m ever going to write about, but it is fascinating that it’s now so very popular. The top of the heap is A Fresh Start by rlfj. I’m not going to comment on his writing style, his use of dialogue or whether the story held my interest (though I suspect rlfj’s opinion of my fiction will be very similar to my opinion of his), but I was interested to see from scanning through the chapters that this story appears to be mostly a vehicle to present a rather right-wing view of American politics (where the rest of the world is at best a nuisance) and in which the protagonist is able with the benefit of hindsight to ensure that America swings even further to the right on some bizarre vendetta to crush the disadvantaged to provide a privileged minority with the untrammelled freedom to own guns and avoid taxes. Why, if you’ve been on the winning side of America’s history since at least the 1980s, would you think that it would be desirable to stack the odds even more in your favour?

The other two top time-travel stories by SmokinDriver and Phil Brown seem very similar at a brief glance, though whether they share rlfj’s political views I don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me. The majority of successful prolific writers on almost all the sex fiction sites I’ve come across are beyond any pale that I would normally encounter. They probably think Thatcher and Reagan should become saints and that President Obama is some kind of Muslim Kenyan socialist.

If I could go back in time and start again, what would I do? I really don’t know. History is a strange thing. Since the 1970s, the right has definitely been on the ascendency in Europe and America. The wealthy are wealthier. The poor are poorer. And we are in many ways more self-centred and uncaring. On the other hand, technology has advanced to everyone’s benefit, social attitudes towards homosexuality and women’s rights have demonstrably improved, and America did manage to elect a black president even if he is rather more conservative than anyone could have expected.

Much as I despair about the right-wing tendencies over here and (in some kind of comic-book form) in America, and the destruction of the environment that may well bring the entire edifice tumbling down whether or not the missiles are let off first, there are many things to be grateful for and we may actually live in much better times now than we might have done if things had been different in the past in any one way.

And for those who wonder what America would have been like if humans had never arrived either 500 years ago or 15,000 years ago, here’s a picture of a High Arctic Camel by Daniel Eskridge:

High Arctic Camel by Daniel Eskridge

High Arctic Camel by Daniel Eskridge

Iain (M.) Banks

Economic Collapse - Patrick Lambert

Economic Collapse – Patrick Lambert

I’ve always enjoyed Science Fiction, as is fairly obvious from the fact that I’ve chosen to add my own fiction to the established canon (most notably The Anomaly). I’ve always been attracted to fiction that is set in a different place, at a different time, and forces us to address difficult questions with at least some grounding of scientific plausibility.

Unfortunately, I’ve also mostly been terribly disappointed by the majority of the Science Fiction I’ve read. I don’t mind escapist nonsense in the context of a movie or a television series, but in a sense I expect written fiction to offer just that little bit more and most Science Fiction I’ve read has been terribly short on whatever it is I’m looking for.

And that’s a shame because I desperately want to enjoy what I’ve read. But so often a combination of wooden characters, uninspiring plots and banal socio-political views leaves me wondering why I ever bothered. Science Fiction is supposed to draw you in; not drive you away.

However, there are Science Fiction writers I enjoy. Margaret Atwood. Doris Lessing. Malcolm Bradbury. Frederik Pohl. Brian Aldiss. Ursula Le Guin.

And the now soon-to-be-late Iain (M.) Banks.

I don’t know why Iain M. Banks is a favourite, but he is. His utopian vision of a possible future, coloured by a realistic view of the problems attendant on any political solution and his attempt to keep at least some of the science on this side of plausibility are amongst the reasons. He isn’t a great stylist, but he is a pretty good story-teller. Some of his characters are memorable, although most are not, but his uncompromising steady gaze on the human condition and the greater scale of the universe allows the reader to ponder not so much on the players in his novels but the greater setting in which they operate.

In short, he is a Science Fiction novelist whom I will truly miss.

And his non-Science Fiction novels are pretty good as well.