Thoroughly Modern Emancipation

Thoroughly Modern Emancipation

Thoroughly Modern Emancipation

This post is essentially to promote my latest short story, Thoroughly Modern Emancipation. This story is one of several I’ve written which in one way or another projects an alternative present. These include Sliding Sideways, some of the chapters in Into the Unknowable but most of all Blessed by Nature. And like Blessed by Nature, this is a story that projects an alternative present day relating to the United States and its relation to the European Empires, most particularly the British Empire.

Whereas Blessed by Nature concerned a world where the growth of the great Empires of the eighteenth century, most particularly the British Empire, wasn’t troubled at all by any American War of Independence, Thoroughly Modern Emancipation concerns a modern America where there was no American Civil War and no end to the institution of slavery.

Of course, like almost all alternative histories, this story is a satire about the modern world as well as being fun speculation on how different things might have been. In this case, the title is an ironic borrowing from the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie which in an age obsessed by its own modernity was a look back at an earlier age of self-celebration, namely the 1920s. In this film, Millie (played by Julie Andrews) is a flapper who struggles to be ‘thoroughly modern’. In my short story, there is a similar attempt by a slave mistress to be similarly ‘thoroughly modern’ in an age and a society which militates against it.

The moral of the story (amongst other things) is that in a society where the social norms are in favour of even insanely immoral institutions like slavery then it is very difficult (perhaps even impossible) to take much of a principled stand or to not somehow be corrupted by it. This is a theme I’ve explored in much of my fiction (notably Party Slave), but there are plenty of contemporary examples: particularly in the way that Fox News and the Daily Mail (and many other more respectable and almost as reprehensible beacons of the world media) can bare-facedly take positions relating to climate change, women’s roles, inequality, race, etc. that are morally indefensible and bundle it up in ways that are superficially attractive and conform to society’s norms.

But we don’t need the influence of the media to persuade us to follow immoral practices. Much of the evidence is that in the 1930s and 1940s very ordinary Germans were party to the extreme acts of violence and repression against gays, gypsies, communists, Slavs and Jews. And we can see, again, how similarly unethical and cruel practices can still be promulgated by Islamic State, Boko Haram, the Wahhabi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Not to mention, the Soviet Union, Maoist China and Nazi Germany (and, let’s not forget, their willing satellites).

I don’t imagine this will be a popular story, especially not amongst my American readers, but I hope you’ll find it interesting and engaging.

 

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ASS.SEXSTORYONLINE.COM

Cards Game by Dendory

Cards Game by Dendory

Some observant readers may have been aware when googling (or binging or safari-ing or whatever) for my stories that instead of finding them hosted on asstr.org, the charity-financed sex stories site, that they find them on a server called ass.sexstoryonline.com.

This may come as a bit of surprise to such users, who may on the one hand be pleased by the faster server speed, but frustrated by the tendency for windows to appear that re-direct them to pornographic pay websites (which would never be permitted by asstr.org).

So, what is ass.sexstoryonline.com? Well, I don’t know who the mastermind behind the site is, but it is easy to describe what it is. Basically, the entirety of asstr.org up to this very day has been copied to a new server and then presented as essentially the real thing with all its disclaimers, FAQs and pleas for donations.

However, it is more than just a copy. The process has also replaced every link to a page on asstr.org to one on ass.sexstoryonline.com and either inserted or replaced existing text in the html <script> section with some new script.

On my site, this has the effect that the javascript I used to, for instance, link to e-books or format the reviews as pop-up boxes, now does not work at all. What it means for all sites (including my own) is that all HTML pages, wherever they are, now offer the following features:

  1. A link to Literotica for iPad or iPhone users to advertise Literotica’s iPhone site (“… and let us know what you think.”)
  2. A page tracker to record where a user goes when they exit the site.
  3. A Google Tag Manager which I suspect is what drives the appearance of all the adverts.

So, what is the problem with this site?

The first is, of course, that it is pretending to be something that it isn’t, even though it might be offering readers a faster download speed while also taking off some of the load from asstr.org’s hard working server.

The second is that it now does what many users probably come to asstr.org to avoid, which is to be re-directed to sites they wouldn’t otherwise visit, and to be subject to adverts and tracking software.

The third is that in the case of the very few authors who provide more than static HTML the websites now basically don’t work the way they should do. There might be some people who’ve stumbled on http://ass.sexstoryonline.com/~Bradley_Stoke who might be somewhat frustrated at their inability to download any of my e-books.

However, whatever else this website can be described as, it is certainly fast at copying pages from the original site. While writing this blog I also uploaded a new version of one of my website’s pages to asstr.org and already (almost immediately) the equivalent page on ass.sexstoryonline.com has been refreshed although not all the links work properly yet.

So, what can we do about this pirate site?

I’m not sure, but I suspect that there are many people who would be much more irate than me about the site and they are the ones who may be most likely to make the necessary stink. And, besides the administrators of asstr.org (who labour for nothing) and the authors (many of which are exceptionally easy to rile) or readers (who mostly prefer to stay anonymous), this includes Literotica who may very well object to having their iPhone website advertised in this underhand manner.

Beef

Pascal Mohlmann

Pascal Mohlmann

I have recently posted my latest short story, Beef, to both my website and a few other story sites. It’s one of those stories of mine that are not about the kinds of person to whom most of us feel sympathetic. In this case, it’s about a narcissistic self-obsessed woman who is a success in her chosen career of marketing and sales and whose driven unreflective attitude in the workplace dominates her life outside: especially in the pursuit of sex.

Already, this story is attracting rather low votes but I guess this is inevitable. In Jim Bade’s review of No Future, he criticises the novel (amongst other things) because “there was not one character that I could identify with.” This highlights an issue I’d never considered before, which is that many readers in a sense prefer to identify with the protagonists of a story and their opinions reflect not so much the quality of the story but the extent to which they like or relate to the principal characters. In Beef, the protagonist, Lin, isn’t very nice at all and so, I presume, the story is disliked because of this.

My theory isn’t very well researched and there is probably a huge amount of evidence to the contrary, but I think it is pretty much true of the kind of reader who visits sex story websites and (I imagine) similar online sources of fiction, mostly to do with fanfic, romance and science fiction. If the readers disapprove of the protagonists, they will therefore dislike the story (unless the blindingly obvious and heavy-handed moral is that such a person is wholly bad and deserves only our worst opinion). And by extension, like Jim Bade, they will probably assume the author is sympathetic to or even like the person who the story is about.

Well, I can assure you that in this case, I am most definitely not much like any of the characters in this short story.

However, having looked at quite a few stories in the sex fiction world, I wonder at the readers’ apparent identification with the heroes and, occasionally, heroines of these tales. Many of the most popular seem to have principal characters which, although we are invited to relate to them and to which many readers presumably do, are actually at least as unpleasant as Lin. They talk rather a lot (and the people they talk to always seem to agree with them). They tend to be obsessed by the very narrow and egregious agenda of the American (and sometimes British) right wing. They clearly believe that the chief function of women is to serve men, especially in a sexual sense. And what they don’t understand in the world has to be feared or condemned (particularly when it comes to women, foreigners, ethnic minorities, other social classes, other religions and any one much younger than themselves).

However, as I have said many times before, the principal reason why so many readers don’t like my stories (and for this story the usual sharp division of opinion is even more pronounced) is that I don’t write the sort of stories they like. And as was shown in my story Facebook Friend this isn’t something I have the ability to do much to remedy.