Thursday, January 8, 2015


Here's the latest thing I'm working on ! -- a short story called "Humanesques."

It was always obsidian black in our cages, so we couldn’t see Dr. Bluespire, his lovely assistant Veronique—or even ourselves.  What we looked like.
You can feel yourself—textures: scaly or feathery.  But…it’s not the same.
I think they must’ve used night-vision goggles.  Geraldo developed infra-red vision, and me: a kind of sonar.  So, I guess darkness was part of The Experiment.  (Of course, everything was part of The Experiment.)
We didn’t care that much what we looked like—because we were naïve.  Most of our energy was spent on trying to get out of our cages.
“But you can’t leave,” said Bluespire, half-mockingly, half-hypnotically.  “They won’t accept you, like I do.  They’ll come at you with torches and pitchforks.”
“Whose fault is that?” said Geraldo.
            I tried to be nice that time.  “What if we say ‘Pretty please, with sugar on top.’?  And we’ll come right back, in an hour.”  (As if I’d never tried that.)
            Geraldo ate Dr. Bluespire, first chance he got. 
            I asked “What if he’s poison?”  We were trained to be paranoid.  “Or just a wax figure, or an innocent doppelgänger?”
            “It didn’t taste like wax,” said Geraldo.  “And: no one’s innocent.”
            But I took of Dr. Bluespire’s last bit of advice to heart.  I lived in the sewers, where no one would see me.  I could be fine, living off eating rats and frogs, eels, human feces…
Geraldo had more refined tastes.  He was a creature of the air.
            I guess it’s natural we separated.  But we could keep in touch—a kind of mental telepathy.  Or haunting each other, from far away.  We were brothers.  Knew each other, inside and out.
“So, what are you gonna do with your life?” Geraldo asked me—over some distance.
“I’m not sure,” I said.  “What are you gonna do?”
“Wreak havoc,” he said.  “Get vengeance on DARPA, the faceless corporations—everyone who was responsible, for what they did to us.  Perhaps the whole race of humankind.”
            I’m glad he went first.  (And I always wanted to consider myself human.  Humanesque.) 
            “Well, then,” I said.  “I guess I’ll save lives, protect the weak and innocent.  Widows and orphans…Truth, justice, and the American way!” 
Veronique used to read to us: comic books, Charles Dickens…And sometimes we’d play good cop, bad cop in the old days—just like Dr. Bluespire and Veronique played with us.  Veronique was good cop, of course.  (Sometimes we played doctor.)  It was all part of The Experiment.
            The first time I met Geraldo on the surface—in downtown Necropolis…The first time I tried to interfere in Geraldo’s work: he killed me dead.  (I wasn’t ready.)
Geraldo was a creature of the air.  He could breathe fire.  My slimy skin was impervious to fire.  Still, it hurt my feelings
            When that didn’t work, Geraldo ate me—in one gulp.  Just like he ate Dr. Bluespire and Veronique.  But I was stronger than them.  I could punch my way out of his mouth and run far away—take refuge in the sewers.
            So, I didn’t die from loss of blood—but a broken-heart.  Geraldo was my brother.  How could he do that to me?  (When we were all alone, otherwise.)  I was truly without a friend in the world—or so I thought. 
I could feel my life draining away, and I let it.  Didn’t eat or drink anything, for more energy... [To be continued.]

My Utopian Future Synopsis [from 9 / 17 / 14]

Here's a synopsis for my #UtopianFutureNovel !  Starting to send out queries.


General Josef Faber is going stir-crazy after ten years of living on Roanoke, the first colony on Mars.  (They’ve lost contact with earth.  The last supply pod never came.)  During a war-games scrimmage, Faber kills the Magistrate, so he can abandon his post and return to earth. 

The other colonists realize it’s no accident—especially the Magistrate’s daughter Myrna.  She’s obviously furious at Faber, but he takes her along (unconscious, in suspended animation) because she’s pretty.  Faber thinks he’ll be emperor and she’ll be empress of—what he imagines to be—the new, post-Apocalyptic, desert wasteland of an earth.

When the colonists left, in 2089, a war was ramping up—looked like Axis versus Allies (the U.S. and E.U. versus China and Russia).  But it turned into a World Civil War, the poor rising up against the rich.  There is wide-scale destruction, including most modes of transportation.  All they have left are Spools: a sort of teleportation, body-sharing program, downloading / uploading consciousness, to see how the other half lives, walk a mile in their shoes…

Otherwise, the survivors are forced to—and decide to—live simply.  At first, in make-shift shelters.  Then, they build phalanxes, ghost-towns—museums you can live in—to remember history (and not repeat it).  There is a hidden phalanx, Hell, and an Egyptian mystery cult called Animus—working to replace the animals, who’ve died off (from radiation).
Faber wants to find Helios, the International Space people, to be debriefed—and demand to know why the supply pod never came…but never gets there.  It’s secluded. 

There is no central government, but Faber meets up with a remnant of the World Governing Body’s transition committee, Pierre Cardin the XIIIth and Casilda (former UN Secretary-General) in the Caribbean, New Venice.  Cardin is a philosopher—and they have a huge hybrid tree (jacaranda-mangrove) he calls the Tree of Life and Wisdom.

They offer Faber a consort, Aubrey—really a spy to keep an eye on him (and an initiate into the mystery religion, Animus).  They send him someplace he’ll be more comfortable: the Wild West.  He ends up going crazy and shooting up a Saloon—but the characters are robot simulacrum.  (So, they anticipated trouble.)

Aubrey pities Faber, but Myrna thinks they’re not taking the threat of him seriously.  Myrna turns Gummo—Faber’s right-hand-man and pilot—against Faber.  She gets Gummo to help her, and spools into Aubrey’s body, to take the law into her own hands and kill Faber—but only ends up getting Aubrey killed, when she switches back.  (Faber actually feels bad because he liked Aubrey.)

The world does seem perfect, but there’s a slight glitch.  The Boorstein Box (or “Puddle-Jumper” engine), which sped up travel-time from earth to Mars by creating little worm-holes—contracting space in front of the ship, so it’s sucked through—is causing distortions in the space-time continuum.  That’s why the supply pod never arrived on Mars.
Helios is working on a solution.  Myrna wants to steal a ship from them—maybe return to Mars, to get away from Faber, in case he takes over the world.  (Some gondoliers shuttle Myrna back-and-forth between New Venice and Helios.)

Alexander Boorstein, the inventor, used to work for Helios—and the World Governing Body—but has gone mad.  He’s a ghost of his former self from his experiments, torn between different planes of time.  He uses Faber as a puppet, promises to send him to the past—when Faber thinks things were better.  He was a famous astronaut, on top of the world and military hierarchy...  (Plus, to see his fiancée, whom Aubrey looks like—not a coincidence.)  Faber finds a few subversives who agree with him, living in the Capitol Building in D.C., a mix of former senators and hoboes.

Boorstein tells the subversives Faber will lead their revolution.  In the meantime, he gives Faber instructions to find a Boorstein Box in New Venice—and use it as half-time machine and half-weapon of mass destruction.  Faber lays waste to New Venice, kills most of its inhabitants, looking for the Boorstein Box.

A gondolier, Juan-Carlos, shuttles Myrna and Gummo to Helios.  On the way, Gummo complains that they didn’t have a back-up plan if Aubrey failed at her mission (keeping an eye on and neutralizing Faber, if he got out of hand).  Juan-Carlos, really a leader of Animus, chides them and says Aubrey didn’t fail.  She got closer to Faber than anyone.  Also, that she might still be alive—because they’re working on resurrecting animals—and a Spool, downloading / uploading consciousness, is halfway there.

Myrna gets a ship from Helios and is all set to escape back to Mars, but Gummo spools into a body in New Venice, to try and stop Faber.  He dies.  Myrna feels bad (because she used Gummo).  She spools into Gummo’s body and is close to death—when Faber finds the Boorstein Box and turns it on.  It seems like all is lost—until Aubrey returns from the dead (from a trap-door beneath the Tree of Life and Wisdom). 

Faber still pushes the button, and it goes off like a bomb—but Myrna is unharmed, inside the right radius.  Faber and Aubrey disappear into the past.

p.s. I'm running for Nevada State Senate ! [from 7 / 18 / 14]

I put up a bunch of junk about that on Facebook--or I used to:

If you really want to be a pal [or a doll, whatever], you could donate to my campaign !

I think I will have to form some committee: "Friends-of-Joe."

Anyhow, in the meantime... I filled out a questionnaire the other day for the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.  (If they want to endorse me.  Probably not, because I believe in a little corporate tax -- and a little ["graduated"] minimum wage increase.)

So...out of curiosity: here are some of my views !

(I edited my answers slightly here, for clarity--and length; they had a word limit.)

Q. Would you like to see a Minimum Wage increase ?
A. Well...Sure, of course, I would love to.  (I'd like to see the _Federal_ minimum wage increased.)
_BUT_ as it is now...I'm not sure it's feasible for Nevada.  I don't want to hurt small businesses. 
I can say this from experience.  I'm really an educator, but work part-time for a small-business: ESI Security in Reno.  (They have anywhere between 300 to 400 employees.  It goes up and down.)
But I have a solution: I'd like to see a “graduated” or “gradated” minimum wage increase.  That small companies can be exempt--but larger corporations, like Wal-Mart, who can afford to pay higher wages, should.
Q. What do you think of  SJR15 ? – which, essentially, taxes the mining companies more.
A. I support it.
It's like we're living in Africa, and these are blood diamonds.  If they are becoming enriched from the state's natural resources...I don't think it's too much to ask for them to share a little with the rest of Nevadans.
Again: this is one way to get money for Education--and other things we could use.
I have one idea: think we need to re-vamp the state's water works.  That we shouldn't be watering our lawns with -- or taking showers in-- potable drinking water.  Need to be more efficient.
Q. What are your thoughts on education ?
# 1. K-12 and Higher Ed needs more money.
So... We have to get that somewhere.  I like the idea of A. some corporate tax, B. taxing the mining industries.
# 2. I like Washoe County's shift in being more career-oriented.  (Having high schools focus on things like agriculture...)
I think we need mandatory classes in creativity / problem-solving.  I say this as an educator.  (Six years teaching English at UNR and TMCC.)
It affects businesses / corporations, too.  Here's a little link--to an article, "The Creativity Crisis."
p.s.  One note: I don't like charter schools--think they steal money away from public schools.
And I’m a fan of teachers’ unions, of course.
Q. What do you think of the “Business Margin Tax” ?  (Ballot Question 3.)
Do you support it, in its current form ?
A. I wish I could write "Maybe."
I think we need some sort of corporate tax.  (The state can no longer rely on casino revenues.)
One issue I have: it might not ensure that the money would go straight to education--which I think it should do.
Q. What are your thoughts on Health Care ?
# 1. Obviously, farming out the health-care exchange to Xerox didn't work.
So--like a lot of other states: it makes sense to use the federal one.
I pray for the day when we will all have Universal Health Care, a single-payer system.  I think if you eliminated the middle-man of insurance companies, you'd save billions.
I come by that opinion honestly enough.  Went on a Mormon / LDS mission to Sweden.  They have it there, and it works fine.
But:  I think it’ll be 5 or 10 years—and will have to come top-down.  (Don’t think we can go it alone, forging ahead ourselves, like Vermont.)  In the meantime, I think we could emulate California’s system a little more.  They seem pretty efficient.
And, really--even if you're dealing with say, uninsured homeless and poor people…Most doctors themselves agree: the state would save more money in the long run, providing pre-emptive, preventative care—versus having to wait until last-ditch, death-bed care.
# 2. I think it's ridiculous, that there isn't some system of having patient histories on an "intranet"--so they can be shared from one doctor to another.

"Who Could That Be At This Hour?" An Unfortunate Review [from 1 / 16 / 14]

Just read Lemony Snickett's "Who Could That be at This Hour" ? (I should be doing other stuff, but...) Lemme see if I can nail down why I don't like it:

1. Too much mysterious suspense and foreshadowing. Not enough real stuff happening now, in the present book. 2. Just his style... I get a little sick of him defining vocab. "Reticent, which in this instance means..." [and he actually gets wrong]

I remember--trying to read Unfortunate Events, and hearing him on the radio: getting sick of his fake-depressing schtick.  (Not as much in this book, but...sure, still a little.)

3. Maybe the stakes aren't high enough. (I know can't save the world every time; but all that work--of a whole book--for some stupid trinket...we probably won't find out why important until book 5 or 6.)

So, that's the critic--and professional jealousy--in me. Sometimes a little bit fun / funny / interesting... I could add: I like that the town is called "Stained-by-the-Sea" and fueled by Octopus Ink.  That's great.

And I got sucked into it.  Wanna find out what happens in end...but, then, kind of maddening--b/c, again, with mystery vs. action--not satisfactory enough. I don't think.  Doesn't reveal enough here and now.  Ending is always: "Sorry.  Gotta wait, go read my other book--if you really wanna find out."

Like only solution: get mad or stop caring.  (Don't want to read a whole nother book, to find out what he should've told me already.)

I guess this is kind of a rant, huh ?  Okay, I'm done.

Me against Amazon and Twilight the keyword ! [from 11 / 13 / 13]

Wanna hear a funny story ?

I wrote a little book -- like in one month, just for fun, called "The House of the Midnight Sun." 

Kind of Twilight fan fiction (from Edgar's perspective)  -- or satire.  A tiny bit funny.

Starring Stephanie Meier instead of Bella.  She ends up being the bad guy.

But... really takes on a life of its own, stops caring about all that.


I got an email from Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing people, saying:

"During a quality assurance review of your catalog, we found that the search keywords for the following book(s) are misleading to our customers:
The House of the Midnight Sun (ID: B00D476Q1S) - contains search keyword(s):twilight
Search keywords that are not accurate descriptors of your book’s central storyline or are 
completely unrelated to its content may be misleading to our customers and are unacceptable.
 Misleading search keywords, such as reference to other authors or titles, result in 
confusion for customers as to why your work is included in search results.  

We ask that you remove all misleading keywords, including but not limited to those above, 
for all of your catalog’s affected books and re-submit the books for publishing within 
5 business days. If your books have not been corrected by that time, they will be removed 
from sale in the Kindle Store."
It's like "It's not misleading. That's the whole point. It's connected. It's Fan Fiction."

And Stephanie Meyer can't copyright a keyword.  Satire's protected under Das 1st Amendment.

And besides: only like five people have read that book of mine (not including my own mother--she hasn't).
(p.s. I don't think it's her lawyers meddling against me.  Is it possible some fan bought it, thinking it to be Midnight Sun?  Then, they deserve it.)  Probably just a few people clicking "NO" after  "Was this helpful?

Anyhow... Here's the email I wrote back to them [trying to be nice]:

"Hi !
My name is Joe Hunt, author of The House of the Midnight Sun, ID # B00D476Q1S.
I got an email saying I have a misleading keyword -- that I would like to appeal.
Remember, Stephanie Meyer was going to write Twilight from Edward's perspective, and call it "Midnight Sun" ? 
So, that's kind of what I did.  I wrote a book from _Edgar_ 's perspective.  The female character is actually named Stephanie Meyer instead of Bella.
So it's FAN  FICTION  or RPF  [Real Person Fiction--but not really].  It's SATIRE.  It's supposed to be funny.  But, actually kind of serious.  I think it's pretty well-written.  Takes on a life of its own.  Becomes its own story.
And I titled it "House of the Midnight Sun"--like "House of the Rising Sun."  (The song.)
So, I really do want that word "twilight" in there.  It plays off of her books, but then takes on a life of its own.  So I don't want to delete it.  Please.  I like it in the keywords.  It fits.  It's not misleading.  Totally connected.
Have you read my book ?
But: Satire is okay, right ?  Covered by copyright.  Imitation, the sincerest form of flattery.
Stephanie Meyer can't copyright the word "Twilight," can she ?
Anyhow...I'm trying to ask you nicely.  Hopefully, this can be worked out.
I'm asking you nicely.  Okay / Sincerely !
Joe Hunt"

Anyhow !  Watch this thing blow up in my face. 


Update: Hey, p.s. I won ! Justice is served.

Or...I just nicely explained. They looked over it a little deeper, and realize: it's fine.

It's really harmless. Not really a satire, making fun of Twilight, but...goes off in its own direction, to tell some other crazy story.

Shakespeare's Sister, J.K. Rowlings' Hillbilly Cousin... [from 11 / 9 / 13]

Sometimes I feel like Shakespeare's sister. Have you heard that theory ? That: what if he had one, equally genius ? Wouldn't've had the same opportunities, or been as successful--b/c of her gender.

There actually is a real-life example: Mozart's sister, Nannerl, also played piano--but they didn't promote as much, married her off fairly young...

So, _me_: I feel like J.K. Rowling's hillbilly cousin (or something). That, you know: I'm pretty proud of my work lately...think it would make a good movie--but: it's slightly hard to claw your way into people's literary hearts.

You know: J.K. Rowling herself did a little experiment--with Cuckoo's Calling, under a fake name...and, sure enough: flew below the radar--until it was revealed: she wrote it.

Nobel Prize Prediction, 2013 ! [11/ 7 / 13]

The Nobel Prize in Literature: TBA this Thursday ! Who do you think will win ?

The New York Times article [link below] mentions Haruki Murakami--who[m] I really like. (Reading Norwegian Wood right now.  Read 3 others--my favorite: Hard-Boiled Wonderland.)

_But_ ... I'm gonna predict the poet Adonis ! To represent, for Syria. (And he's great, a ton of fun.)

Sometimes they say: the prize in Lit. can be act like a 2nd peace prize.,0,7700231.story

 p.s. I swear: I didn't actually read the whole article, and put Adonis anyway--then I saw: he shows up at the end.  (But I've seen his name on the short list, other years--so that's why I bought a book of his.)

And...back in the day--getting an MFA in UMass--I was trying to be a little expert on the Nobel Prize, like as a shadow thesis.  (Vs. just writing a bunch of poems.)

Remember, I went on a Mormon mission to Sweden, too--got back and thought: "Should be able to do something useful with this language."  (Tried a tiny bit of translation--and liked it.)

I actually put together a little anthology of Nobel Prize-winning poetry, b/c it doesn't exist, and it should.  (People would buy it.)  Not totally finished, but: sent to FSG a while ago.  Haven't heard back.


Part II !

Someone--Cassandra Jones--wondered: "Margaret Atwood?"--so I'll say a few words.  You do see a few Americans on lists every now and then: Phillip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates.  I like Thomas Pynchon, altho. he's kind of thick, hard to read.  But...

I don't think so.  Wouldn't put my money on it.  Think they a little Anti-American.  Two years ago, one of the main people... [Horace Engdahl, maybe?--the guy that actually announces them] came out and said--paraphrasing, basically: "No one in America is writing anything of international importance.  Like they're regionalists."

And they were catching flak for a while: too many English or European winners.  So, they are playing catch-up a little.  (They've admitted it.)  A Chinese winner last year...

Okay, sincerely, good enough.Nobe