The Last Alicorn (illustration showcase)

The scanning and messing around is done, and now I’m waiting for Kindle Direct Publishing to process the monstrous 67 MB file I sent them for the illustrated paperback. It hasn’t crashed as of time of posting, so hopefully it’s going to work.

As promised, here are a few of the illustrations I am hoping to put in the book.

The glorified Drakspar “statue” from The Riddlespawn.

Captain Judderone Pelsworthy of the Boze, Space Adventurer. Wump requested a fennec fox, and I am quite pleased with the result.

Praxulon the Mad from The Blind Time Traveller.

Wicked Mary and Squirty Pete. I’m just going to leave this one unexplained.

To be continued.

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Leaving Facebook

Facebook’s got a lot of problems. Facebook’s problems have problems. They’re nothing really that we haven’t known about for years, and mostly they’re fine if you’re not a moron, but I’m not going to sit here and say I’m not a moron. Not 100% of the time.

But their crappy new UI layout was what broke the camel’s back for me. See, told you I wasn’t not a moron 100% of the time. Seems like a pretty frivolous reason, right?

To be honest, the biggest pain of deleting my Facebook account is losing Messenger. There are a few people and groups I want to stay in touch with and I don’t know if they’ll be able to find me anywhere else.

But look, WordPress’s new UI lets me put a WhatsApp button!

I want to keep in touch with my friends both foreign and domestic, but to be brutally honest they should all know where to find me by now if they want to. I’m here on WordPress, I’m on Twitter, I’m on Gmail, Signal, Amazon, Goodreads, Fandom, LinkedIn, Usenet. You can google me. I have a phone.

I’ll be curious to see what new social media appears on the horizon. There will always be something. And I’m not going anywhere. With any luck, this will leave me with fewer distractions. Fewer things making me pointlessly unhappy.

Let’s see.

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Tales of the Always Night, a teaser

I finished editing today, and I have seven illustrations left to draw before I’m ready to go to print with the proof copies.

Hopefully it’ll be a fun read.

More news as comes to light, and as I promised I will scan and post some pics when I get a chance. This is just a teaser. I mean, given that I already posted some of the actual stories I guess a teaser is redundant but oh well.

In other news, my fucking God is the new block editor for WordPress a pain in the balls and I hate it. And they seem to be adding more and more steps to enable me to go back to the “classic” editor too. Why can’t UI designers just fucking stop? I know they need to get paid, but can we maybe pay them to not update our shit once it’s fine?

Grr.

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The Check-In: October 2020 Edition

Who’d’ve thought we’d still be dragging ourselves along as winter closes in on the northern hemisphere and summer, I can only bitterly assume, bathes the southern hemisphere in its warming rays?

Haven’t heard from Mr. Holston in a while, and several of my esteemed Hatstanders have been asking about him. Damon, you still with us chief?

Things are pretty busy at work but generally good. And my writing enjoyed a little shot in the arm over last weekend, as I took Wump and Toop to Hoplop[1] and sat with my phone and iPod from 11:00am to 15:00pm and wrote several new chapters of The Last Days of Earth. I’m still confident that’s going to get finished in the next couple of months but I really need to focus.

I’m editing The Last Alicorn steadily too, and getting the illustrations done. Maybe I’ll put one or two up on the blog. I tell you, if I had to do it all over again, I would definitely make Molren less difficult to draw. Four arms, webbed ears and a big smiling mouth with fangs is just way too much.

What else is going on? Finland is currently in about as bad a shape, coronavirus-wise, as it was at the very peak of the first wave … but we have hardly any hospitalisations so I don’t know what that means. Lots more people wearing masks, and lots of pointless and shitty raging about the government[2] doing various things regarding masks and closures and the granting of special powers to local authorities to control gatherings. And it is concerning – mainly because any powers put in place now will also be available to the Perssut, aka. the True Crims, if and when they ever come to power. Worried that authorities taking a hand in the preservation of the citizens under their care is a slippery slope to authoritarianism? Oh boy, wait until you find out about actual authoritarianism, which is not about the collective good.

Edpool came perilously close to voicing his full and unfiltered opinions at least a couple of times this week.

There’s not a lot else going on. A recent climate crisis demonstration was met with police pepper-spraying in direct violation of regulations and EU / UN guidelines, but I’m sure that’s fine. I want to add to the demonstrators’ numbers, ensuring that the next time it isn’t just a rag-tag group of leftists, anarchists and students … but I also want my citizenship in the meantime. Because if I’m going to wind up with black marks on my record, I don’t want to be a resident.

It looks, no surprise, like the next battle of the war against extreme-right fascism is going to be fought on the environmental front. And, as I’ve regretfully had to say on several occasions lately, Finland is by no means a safe and civilised haven from this sort of thing.

At the same time as the extinction rebellion demonstration, police stood by and did absolutely fuck-all while an actually outlawed neo-Nazi group assembled illegally in Tampere. Probably not a pattern though, because I’m a fucking imbecile.

Let’s hope this is a blip, and not the beginning of a trend. Only way we can ensure that is to condemn loudly and unequivocally, the moment it happens. No mumbling bullshit, no excuses. Just say it’s wrong and we won’t stand for it. That’s all any of us can do.


[1] It’s an indoor fun park and all-you-can-lick padded surfaces smorgasbord, but they’re at least trying to make it safer by only having a set number of kids in there for controlled amounts of time, and it wasn’t very crowded. Still probably not great, but oh well.

[2] I tell you, a coalition led by a leftist Socialist woman in her 30s from an LGBT+ family really can not do anything right according to some people.

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Daily Drool

I found this link courtesy of my most excellent cover artist and friend, Gabriel.

These are the silly pretty things that make me happy. Enjoy.

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I Started This: My Lazy Entrepreneurship

A friend of mine from Inklusiiv was looking for entrepreneurial stories to share as part of their I Started This campaign to encourage young people to pursue their dreams.

I, uh, alright. Alright, let’s go. Big boy pants: on.

So what is an entrepreneur? I never really knew, to be honest, aside from the hilarious urban legend that stated it was a thing the French had no word for.

I looked it up, and found that in general terms an entrepreneur was a person who starts up a small business, taking on most of the risk and thus most of the reward.

Well, by that standard I am an entrepreneur … aaaaand I’m not.

For as long as I’ve lived, I’ve been a fucking space cadet. As soon as I learned to read, that part of me took over irretrievably. And as soon as I learned to write, that was it. End-state Andrew Hindle is me sitting with a pencil and pad, or planted in front of a screen with a keyboard under his hands. This is me until the day I keel over in the middle of a coffee run.

So naturally, and by every metric offered to me by the wisdom of BuzzFeed and departments of employment in two hemispheres, I became a writer.

But am I an entrepreneur?

Kind of, I guess. When I got cancer in 2011, I made a book out of the social media posts I’d made and the replies I’d received, from earliest symptoms to final clean bill of health. I considered trying to get it traditionally published, but decided I didn’t want to have to ask approval from anybody else, or suffer editing from someone who had no clue. It was too personal, and so I published through Amazon.

Entrepreneur!

Public service announcement by way of interlude to break up the wall of text.

Since then, I’ve released a lot of other stories on Amazon, although I bent a little on editors and am still casually interested in pursuing a traditional author career. It comes down to a paradox:

  • Some people say that if you find what you love and get a job doing it, you will never have to work a day in your life.
  • Others say that if you find what you love and get a job doing it, then what you love will become work.

They’re both right.

I reap a lot of the reward for my storytelling. Amazon is big and ugly and faceless and its ruthless business model gives small-time creators the chance to make a bit of money – and big-time creators a lot of money. I flew my family to Dublin for five days, airfares and accommodation included, in 2019, just on my Amazon royalties. It’s still definitely small-time, but it felt good.

But risks? No, I don’t take risks. I work a day job. I like to say I write books that few read. Because I don’t want my family to starve, I write instruction manuals that nobody reads. There’s nowhere near enough chance of success for me to drop my work as a technical writer and pursue my dream of being an author. It would be irresponsible. I’m locked into the capitalist system and I have bills to pay, damn it.

As stated here by Asim Qureshi. I don’t think there’s shame in taking advantage of the privilege of risk, but it is a privilege. If the only harm is to yourself, the rewards can be well worth it.

But right now, I can have my cake and eat it too. The higher education I received in pursuit of my end-state of perpetual writing? It just happened to drop me into the weird, delightful little world of technical documentation, a career I greatly enjoy and can do as naturally as breathing. And since I get paid for it, I don’t need to wring every last drop of joy out of my storytelling in order to convert it into capitalist nightmare fuel.

I write. And in my time off, I write. Find what you love, and get a job doing it.

End-state.

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My Ridiculously Photogenic Children, Again

It’s been a while since I posted anything and things have been pretty crazy, as always. I’m actually starting to get some proper writing done and am feeling good about it, hopefully I’ll have something to share soon but in the meantime I’m just starting a whole lot of draft blog posts and leaving them to ferment.

We sent Wump and Toop off to mommo‘s for their annual photoshoot with Super Otus Oy yesterday, and the pics are here. Here’s a little highlight reel.

Giving off a kind of a Shining vibe, but more goony than creepy. Toop’s face here is one she calls the “Happy Apple”, because it looks like a bath toy of the same name. It’s eerie as fuck.

Fun with trampoline.

Toop at maximum Toop…

…and Wump and maximum Wump. This needs to be a political campaign poster. Vote Wump for President of Earth. You think she can do worse than we already are?

That’s it for now, hope it brightened your day at least 3% as much as it brightened mine.

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Thank you, Mister Boseman

It’s been a while and I haven’t written anything about this, because it almost seems redundant. I processed it and am still shaken and saddened, and it didn’t seem like any words I might toss on the pile would mean much. We’re all on the same page here. Chadwick Boseman was nothing less than an inspiration, an icon of the early 21st Century. He deserves remembrance. He deserved better.

Kathryn H. Ross, a fellow writer I am happy to call a friend since we randomly and virtually bumped into each other at a Zoom party in the summer, has put it to words – and since the impact to her and her community was so very acute, I can do no better than to boost her signal here.

Guest Opinion: It Matters | Kathryn H. Ross: The Black Death

Obviously my own personal response to Mister Boseman’s death is less to do with his colour than it is to do with the monster that took him from us. Again and again I am reminded how very lucky I was to survive and bounce back as well as I have. Bowel cancer is one of the “better, more survivable” cancers and if you hear that enough, you sort of forget that it’s still fucking cancer. And it’s appalling.

I can’t begin to imagine the struggle of Stage Four, while continuing to work and smile and be this amazing beacon in the lives of so many people. The strength of this man. My God.

I can say nothing more, except thank you, Mister Boseman. What you gave us, and what you went through to continue giving it right to the end, is … you were an inspiration in life, and you will continue to be an inspiration for as long as your family, friends, and countless admirers live. Rest in power, sir.


Kathryn has written a collection of essays on the black experience and I highly recommend it. I’m still reading and digesting it myself because it’s very challenging, but I will do my best to review it when I’m done.

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A Tale of Two Survivors

I was interested, in the sort of ghoulish dark-humour way that seems to be the standard way of being interested in things in 2020, in two very different worldviews I’ve seen on display recently. It’s about authoritarianism, and it’s as polarised as everything else these days.

It’s no shock that the US is descending in a graceless shitshamble into utter latter-day capitalist feudalism of the worst kind, aided by a truly pathological leadership and enforced by police and militant groups who murder with impunity. Standing before this rising wave of fascism, there is this article written by and on behalf of the survivors of fascist regimes across the world:

We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying.

It is a frightening and sobering read, and I urge you to take a look. Of course, if you’ve read even a small amount of the Hatstand’s political rantings it will come as no surprise to you that the spectre of right-wing authoritarianism looms over me and worries me a great deal. Whether it’s happening in Finland, the US, Australia, or anywhere else, it seems like a rising tide and it’s getting more and more difficult the more universal and government-approved it is. Soon we will look back and wonder where the line even was.

Then there is Victoria, Australia. The state that Melbourne is in, for those of you who aren’t up to date on Eastern States wank-demographics.

In Victoria, as in a lot of places, there are mandatory lockdowns and controls over the number of people permitted in a gathering. And a lot of people are up in arms about the draconian regulations and enforcement that is taking place.

I’m not even saying they’re wrong. If one thing has become very very clear to me, it’s that no country has handled this well – and if they have, we can’t trust the data we’re seeing so the best bet is to just focus on our own problems. I don’t like that but it’s the only approach left to me that feels rational.

Australians need to stop sneering down their noses at USians for “politicising” the concept of preventing the spread of a virus, though. Because they’re absolutely doing the same. You just have to look at the people in favour of letting this run its course / letting people take responsibility for themselves / not letting the economy fail, to see that there is an ideology driving that agenda. And our politics is becoming utterly ideological.

Anyway, this was a tale of two survivors. Because over in Socialist Victoria, the survivors of authoritarian Socialist regimes are warning us about going down the government-control path:

Victoria is reminding me of Poland in 1981.

Now, The Australian is about as right-wing a newspaper as you’re likely to find on the right side of the toilet bowl that is Murdoch’s playpen. And oh boy do I ever not care about the freedom of fucking idiots to endanger themselves and others. This is seat belts all over again. Just do as you’re fucking told, you fucking morons.

That being said, we are all being told different things by our respective authorities. They’re all pretty gorram shonky, and they’re all on the take from someone or other. The right-wing economic hand is easier to see. The wealthy want their slave-class to get back to work to make line go up. That’s pretty obvious, and I can’t ignore that agenda in any of these declarations of “liberty”.

But the people who believe in that shit – the one percent, the bootlickers, the sheep who’ve bought into the wolves’ scam, call them what you want – they really believe there’s some kind of threat of left-wing authoritarianism. And there have been socialist failed states in the past, I’m not about to argue that. Humans live to oppress one another. Doesn’t seem like anything is going to stop that.

I have a headache. I don’t know what I wanted to say here. All I know is it’s a lot.

But let’s start with this.

Socialists, and those who believe in a unified humanity capable of selfless action, appear to be the first and greatest enemy of the would-be dictator. If you’re denouncing them, you should probably check yourself.

Because make no mistake: The people in power, and the people who own the people in power, have done the arithmetic. And they know it’s safer for their wealth to make us go back to the way things were in 2019, than to risk an economic collapse that will leave vast numbers of us looking up from our coal-face and wondering who the real parasites are. It’s fine if a few hundred thousand or a few million of us die. That’s happened before. But an actual ideological shift? That could fuck the dragons up utterly.

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Pretty Balls At Rest

Zeegon climbed the final ramp and stepped out into the light. Already unwrapping his lunch, he ambled along the gentle slope and groaned his way into a sitting position on the warm metal. He looked up at the sky and tried to figure out when sitting down on anything but a comfy chair had become almost more trouble than it was worth.

“Man, fuck getting old,” he grumbled. “Fuck Molren and their five damned millennia. Fuck aki’Drednanth and their new damned bodies all the time. Also fuck actual damned immortals most of all,” he finished peeling open the steaming wrapping membrane as it finished transforming into leaf-pastry, and picked out a chunk of meat in gravy. “Smumbo Cups can stay, though,” he conceded, and chewed. He didn’t care what they said. He could taste the near-sentience and self-awareness of the things they made them from. And he was shockingly fine with it.

He heard the light echo of footsteps on the roof, and turned to see an alien sidling towards him.

This one was bipedal, with three pairs of small, many-jointed arms folded neatly up against its abdomen. A shiny and rather tasteless suit of metallic blue material covered most of its body aside from head and smooth grey fingers. The head itself was wide and flat, and seemed to be composed mostly of overlapping plates of grey leather with a row of beady black eyes peeping out from between them. Nevertheless, it somehow managed to look friendly.

He had absolutely no idea what the alien was. But the beauty of it was, it didn’t matter. There were no aliens out here. Everyone was one species. Corny but true.

Chuda po,” the alien said.

“Uh, Smumbo Cup,” Zeegon replied, raising his lunch in salute.

Chuda … po,” the alien repeated with clear uncertainty, and raised and waved its little column of left hands in unison.

It was clearly a greeting. “Chuda po,” Zeegon said dutifully, “but yeah, sorry, I can’t speak whatever that is. I are tiny Xidhlet,” he offered wretchedly.

The alien made a flappy coughing sound that he guessed was a laugh. “Tiny Xidhlet,” it said, switching to Xidh. “I […] this funny. Do you […]? […]?” it paused expectantly.

“Didn’t catch much of that.”

The alien pulled out a weird little twisty device and angled it backwards and forwards between them in a lower hand. When it spoke again, it was in flawless AstroCorps standard. It even had a Volan accent. “You are one of them,” it said. “A human. A living human. Real. From the Playground.”

“Yep,” he said. “In the flesh.”

“My name is Kolak Moy,” the alien said. “It means Child of a Fallen Race, Triumphant … in a language that is a bit too old for this translator to recognise,” it added with another flappy laugh.

“Zeegon,” Zeegon said.

Zeegon,” Kolak Moy said with great relish. “What does it mean?”

Zeegon took a bite of his Smumbo Cup and chewed it as he considered his options.

“Nothing,” he eventually said.

“But you are one of them,” Kolak Moy insisted. It crept closer, and when Zeegon shuffled a little to one side and made a brief welcoming gesture, hurried across and folded itself intricately into a crouch by the human’s side. “The crew of General Moral Decay (Alcohol). From the Playground.”

Of course, Zeegon thought. They always want to hear about the brave and dashing Blaran. No, wait – the brave and dashing Molran. Anyone would think he was our Captain. Typical.

“Yup,” he replied.

“Why are you here?” Kolak Moy asked.

Zeegon looked around, taking in the slopes and curves of the shantytown that were visible from this vantage point, the infinite blue vault of the sky above. He took another casual bite of his lunch.

“I live here,” he said simply.

“Does General Moral-”

“Nope.”

“Oh,” Kolak Moy seemed to fold in on itself a little. Then it looked across at him with bright inquisitiveness unmistakable in its glossy black eyes. Zeegon looked into those eyes, and saw the gaping deformed gills of a Flesh-Eater. It only lasted a moment, and then it went away … but his hand was shaking as he raised the Smumbo Cup for another bite. “Where are your friends?” the alien asked.

“Most of them?” Zeegon said. “Dead.”

“Oh,” Kolak Moy said again.

In the silence that followed, a hopper rose from a storage block a few sections away. It juddered into the air, went vub-vub-vub-vub for a few seconds before going clonkthat’s a busted mixing vent, Zeegon thought, I could fix that in half an hour but the sketchy fucks who run the shops around here will take a week and charge fifty times what it’s worth – and labouring away across the rooftops. The hopper’s digestive issues were not quite loud enough to drown out the music playing from its open passenger window. Zeegon recognised Bonkin’ on the Wossname, by Son of Gratch. Weirdly catchy tune.

“So what brings you out here, K-Moy?” he took pity and asked. For a heap of grey leather with some black marbles folded into it, the alien’s face sure could look downcast.

“I am from the next arc across and out, and am visiting family in Turgid Stana’s section,” Kolak Moy cheered up immediately. “My second child’s third child’s second wife’s brother’s null-sibling’s contract owner is enjoying a heavy shedding, and we have a party to eat the many, many leavings.”

“So glad I asked,” Zeegon looked down, and quite deliberately took another large bite of his Smumbo Cup. “And you didn’t realise a fr – a former crewmate of General Moral Decay (Alcohol) lived nearby?”

“No,” Kolak Moy said earnestly, then flappy-cough-laughed again. “My second child’s third child’s second wife’s brother’s null-sibling’s contract owner’s workmate said to me that renowned waste sculptor Stanky Stanky Norias lives two sections over, but said nothing about there being a human from the Playground.”

“To be fair, I would’ve led with Stank too,” Zeegon said. “She’s good people.”

“I am just surprised to find you out here,” Kolak Moy confessed. “I thought you were big superstars.”

“Well, that was like a billion years ago in city-time,” Zeegon said, and popped the last folded piece of meat and pastry in his mouth. “Plus, maybe the whole superstar thing is why I’m out here.”

“I am bothering you when you want seclusion.”

“Nah, it’s alright,” Zeegon said with a little sigh. “It’s nice to talk with folks sometimes.”

The human and the alien – the two villagers – sat in companionable silence for a while, watching the endless, featureless blue. Finally, Kolak Moy gathered its nerve and spoke again.

“What is it like inside the Dest-”

Say,” Zeegon pushed himself to his feet with a muffled groan. Man, fuck getting old. “How would you like it if we went down and I introduced you to Stanky Stanky Norias?”

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