Tag Archives: Amazon

Trump Temptation: The Billionaire & The Bellboy: A Book Review

trumptemptationsIn spite of my nationality there’s very little I’ve been able to do to avoid news about the presidential nominees in our neighbour to the south. While Donald Trump hasn’t yet risen to the absurd heights of celebrity that Obama did shortly after his inauguration, it’s more than fair to say that he’s been creating an indelible mark on pop culture for far longer, for better or for worse.

Given his general notoriety, especially of late, it’s not particularly surprising that comedian Elijah Daniel was compelled to pen what I’m going to generously dub a novella about the businessman. While he was originally inspired by a Huffington Post article surmising that Trump had paid off a secret gay lover [unavailable at the time of this writing], the truth is that there are sex scandals announced all of the time. No, there’s something particularly special about Donald John Trump. Something special enough to skyrocket Daniel’s ten page tale to the top of a handful of Amazon charts.

Now I don’t want to go too deeply into exactly how Trump Temptation was written, especially when you can see for yourself by checking out the author’s very own explanation on Twitter. Feel free to check that out before coming back to this review, because I’m about to dive headfirst into some LGBT erotica. Continue reading

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Re: Do Western Christians Want Martyrs? – Yes, They Do

Yesterday, CWR’s own Kat posted “Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?”, a short post questioning the motivations behind the recent outpouring of Western sympathy for the plight of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, currently being massacred by the forces of the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS. That post prompted the following comment: “[it] seems a bit sick to turn this into a critique of Christians or Christianity… what is it in you that wants to make this a critique of Christian hypocrisy?

Now I don’t think it was Kat’s intention to downplay the genocide in progress in the Levant and it certainly isn’t mine either. So why critique Christians?

Because Christians are guilty.

No, they’re not pulling the triggers or wielding the swords, but the actions of Western Christians have contributed not only to the slaughter of Iraqi and Chaldean believers, but the persecution, suffering, and misery of the church  all across the world. And even as Western Christians switch their profiles to the Arabic letter “nun” for “Nazarene”, the self same people continue to be part of the problem.

Let me show you a picture:

These are the first of the first. The oft-forgotten Christians of Palestine. The descendents of the very first followers of Christ. These people are literally Nazarenes.

Where is their defense? Continue reading

Shame Day: The History Channel

shamehistoryWhen I was growing up in Syria, we had two channels. One was the state-run propaganda channel, the other was the same channel, but with slightly less static. When my family did make an infrequent trip out of the country, the first thing on my agenda (after ratcheting up the AC to somewhere between “high” and “arctic gale”) was to plop down at the end of the bed and flip on the TV to see if they had Discovery or National Geographic or- best of all- The History Channel.

Of course, this was back before.

[Editor’s Note: Since 2009 The History Channel has gone by the one-word name “History.” Gordon will continue to refer to it by its original name for old times’ sake]

Now when I covered webcomic Sinfest for a Shame Day, I directly addressed the comic’s creator, Tatsuya Ishida, in the off-chance that he might stumble across what I had written. While I don’t think (1) anyone from the History channel is going to come across this post or (2) give a flying **** about it if they did, talking straight to the source came pretty naturally, so I’m going to be employing the same technique again. Continue reading

Shame Day: Save the Pearls

So the other day a friend told me about this new teen fiction series called Save the Pearls by Victoria Foyt. I’ve included the premise of the first book, Revealing Eden, as stated on Amazon below.

The picture featured on the cover of the book

Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she’ll be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she’s cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15%? In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden’s coloring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she’ll be safe. Just maybe one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land. Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity’s last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her “adopted aunt” Emily Dickinson.


Continue reading

A Space Marine By Any Other Name

Space marines. I can’t speak for most people, but when I hear those two words two very distinct images come to mind, which have thankfully been drawn together thanks to this image I found on dorkshelf.com:

On the left, a Terran Marine from the popular Blizzard RTS franchise [real time strategy game] StarCraft. On the right, an Imperium of Man Space Marine from the universe of Warhammer 40,000, by Games Workshop. Yes, the are both traditionally depicted as wearing blue armour. It’s fairly common knowledge that Blizzard owes a great visually creative debt to Games Workshop while still branching out on their own, but that’s not the point.

The point is that author M.C.A. Hogarth wrote a novel called Spots the Space Marine. On January 3rd of this year he received an email from Amazon telling him that they had stopped selling his book due to Games Workshop accusing him of infringement on their trademark of the word “space marine.”

To quickly explain the legal nitty-gritty of all this, in the US Games Workshop owns a trademark on the term that covers “board games, parlor games, war games, hobby games, toy models and miniatures of buildings, scenery, figures, automobiles, vehicles, planes, trains and card games and paint, sold therewith.”

It turns out that in Europe they have a Class 16 trademark, which includes, among a whole slew of other things, “printed matter.”  With that in hand Games Workshop brought their complaint to Amazon Kindle Publishing UK, which then caused Amazon Kindle Publishing US to block the e-book in all countries everywhere. A later update states that since the company has since delved into e-books themselves, they own the trademark in that respect as well.

Now let’s put all this legal business to the side for a while and concentrate on what Hogarth has to say about the term “space marine” means to him personally:

I used to own a registered trademark. I understand the legal obligations of trademark holders to protect their IP. A Games Workshop trademark of the term “Adeptus Astartes” is completely understandable. But they’ve chosen instead to co-opt the legacy of science fiction writers who laid the groundwork for their success. Even more than I want to save Spots the Space Marine, I want someone to save all space marines for the genre I grew up reading. I want there to be a world where Heinlein and E.E. Smith’s space marines can live alongside mine and everyone else’s, and no one has the hubris to think that they can own a fundamental genre trope and deny it to everyone else.

Space marines have been part of the sci-fi cultural landscape for decades at this point, going as far back to Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers [later adapted into a film in 1997]. While Bungie’s Halo franchise concentrates on their Spartan supersoldiers, fighting alongside these technological titans are members of the UNSC [United Nations Space Command] Marine Corps. In Gears of War the protagonists are infantry soldiers known as Gears, clad in bulky armour and waging war against the same sorts of extraterrestrial terrors the aforementioned servicemen do.

Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2, lines 43-44:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

Science fiction has long been about exploring what lies beyond the Earth’s gravitational pull, and where there is the unknown there often lies danger. To put together a military force similar to what exists here and now while using the same naming convention simply makes sense.

What Hogarth wants is for science fiction authors, video game creators, etc. to be able to continue use a term that was long made available to everyone. It’s like saying that Blizzard and WarCraft placing a trademark on a term like “paladin” or “shaman,” or Star Wars placing one on “bounty hunter.” Space marines should be free to defend humanity on Tarsonis, Sera, Reach, or Macragge, and go by that title if they wish.

Monsters: A Book Review

I don’t normally review books in soft-copy. It’s difficult to read from a computer screen for that amount of time, and I find it easier to relate to a book’s solid permanence; if I can pick it up to hold and read, maybe you can [and should] too. That aside, I agreed to review something a friend had written, so here it is in all its candidness.

Monsters: a collection of short stories is exactly that, seven tales penned by  Caleb Bollenbacher, a 2011 graduate from Baylor University. Only available on Amazon for the Kindle, an excerpt of the book’s description is as follows:

Nobody yearns to be a monster. But sometimes it works out that way.
Sometimes you merely find yourself looking into the face of one.
Sometimes that face is your own. Continue reading