I’ve read a million time travel stories… and even read a million variations on time travel stories that try to be “different,” but I don’t think I’ve ever read any that are different in quite this way. While it settles uncomfortably next to very serious and even tragic things, the story’s humor is quite pronounced. … And it does an excellent job of creating an air of danger, and thus interest, due to the well-realized sense of actual traveling in (and perhaps getting lost in) time, as well as the criminal aspect and what they’re doing to the people in the past and how those people might react. It’s also a good vehicle to address issues all the way from existential bad faith to religion possibly being the amphetamine of the masses.Jason McGregor for Tangent Online
The images below are taken from Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child’s Book About Satanic Ritual Abuse. This is a real book that was earnestly written and actually published, then presumably read to actual children (who, one presumes, were duly traumatized) in order to help them cope with having not endured fake things that never happened to anyone (see also “Satanic Panic”and D&D as thrill-kill gateway drug—and recall, these were current events, reported in the newspaper, recounted in measured tones on the evening news, endlessly explored on the afternoon talk shows I watched while my folks were at work. I was a fat, gullible, ill-monitored Jewish pre-teen at the time. These cases enthralled and terrified me.)
The craziest thing about all this, to me, is that the author and publisher really did have their hearts in the right place, I think. In contrast to most materials surrounding the issue of Satanic Ritual Abuse, this wasn’t an attempt to bait the hook of Fundamentalist Christian propaganda or Normative White bigotry with raw meat ripped from the tabloid headlines.
This book comes from the “Hurts of Childhood” series, which honestly and directly tries to address real burdens that many children really face: parental alcohol abuse, sexual assault, traumatic family situations, and so on. Yes, every single title in this series is just as maladroitly handled—but, jeez, at least they were trying.
Let me stress: This stuff looks silly and ghoulish and comically naive now, but we actually believed these things were happening back in the 1980s. Real people really went to prison—and stayed there for years—having been accused of heinous abominations and convicted of committing a type of crime that hasn’t ever happened:
The survey included 6,910 psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers, and 4,655 district attorneys, police departments and social service agencies. They reported 12,264 accusations of ritual abuse that they had investigated.
The survey found that there was not a single case where there was clear corroborating evidence for the most common accusation, that there was “a well-organized intergenerational satanic cult, who sexually molested and tortured children in their homes or schools for years and committed a series of murders,” Dr. Goodman said.
Many psychotherapists who have been vocal about a supposed epidemic of sexual abuse by well-organized satanic rings have grown more cautious of late. “There’s clearly been a contagion, a contamination of what people say in therapy because of what they see on TV or read about satanic ritual abuse,” said Dr. Bennet Braun, a psychiatrist who heads the Dissociative Disorders Unit at Rush-North Shore Medical Center in Chicago.
In just a few hours the Makerspace Humble Book Bundle closes.
- SHORT VERSION: pay what you want, support excellent charities, get up to 21 awesome DIY/maker books from No Starch Press (including both my musical instruments book and hella-rad geeky craft projects book).
- LONG VERSION: Here’s my spiel from before.
Get good books, support good work; it’s an easy win-win.
The Humble “Makerspace” Book Bundle from No Starch Press is live an insanely good deal! Pay a buck, and get six rad DIY-ish books (including my first book—Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred—as well as a few of my No Starch favorites). Pay $8, and get another six books (including my second DIY book, Junkyard Jam Band). Pay a bit more…well, you get the picture. All in, you can drop $20 and get more than $400 worth of DIY while supporting excellent charities.
There are so many books I love in this one! Yoshihito Isogawa’s LEGO Technic books are both amazing and agelessly inspiring, Carlos Bueno’s Lauren Ipsum has been huge for my son (he read it twice in a row when it first came out, and still hits it again a few times a year now—it’s like the Information Age’s Phantom Tollbooth), No Starch’s Scratch and Arduino books are rock solid, and Jason R. Briggs’s Python for Kids is an excellent intro to Python for everyone (i.e., it’s how I learned enough Python to work on a documentation project with a U-M roboticist last year).
Also, I’ll level with you: These bundles (and book/game bundles in general) are a huge boost to authors/creators, both in getting our names and ideas out there, and in getting money into our pockets. When you buy a bundle like this, you’re doing a Good Thing™ for the dissemination of new art and human knowledge, in addition to getting a good deal.
Three offerings today—and you can get ’em all for less than a Subway sub:
- My most recent novella, There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House is now available as a standalone ebook. Read the horror tinged “Non-Euclidian architectural petty-crime adventure” that’s racking up kudos and five-star reviews at a humbling clip. (If you want backstory on the story, here’s an interview I did with F&SF about it.)
- Price drop on my novelette “The Traveling Salesman Solution.” A time portal story, and also a grim moral koan. If I’ve ever written a story I think everyone in America should read, it’s this one. For a limited time this lil fella—my first sale to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and only true hard-SF tale—is just 99-cents!
- FREEBIE ALERT!!! From now until Monday my time-travel novelette “There Was No Sound of Thunder” is free on Amazon! This is the story that introduced the Parable of Too Many Hitlers. Read the story Locus magazine’s Lois Tilton called “Stoopid” (although, in all fairness, it was also a finalist for that year’s Asimov’s Award so maybe check it out and make the call for yourself?)
I know a goodly portion of you have already read one or more of these stories; all are woeful shy on Amazon/Goodread reviews. If you wanted to swing by and leave your thoughts, it’d be much appreciated. Thanks in advance for helping nudge the wheel!
- There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House (coming soon?!)
- “The Traveling Salesman Solution“
- “There Was No Sound of Thunder“
This is a commercial/charitable fundraising situation. The Humble Bundle folks and No Starch Press have bundled together a bunch of awesome books. Pay as little as $1 to get a few, $8 to get a bunch, and $15 to get them all. If you go in at the $15 level, you get ~$300 in books (all digital, all in multiple formats, all totally DRM-free, so you can read them however and wherever you like). It’s a really awesome deal (I bought plenty of Humble Bundles way before I ever was part of one—and, I’ll be straight with you: Being part of one as an author is a really big boon for me, too; my last Humble Bundle put an additional 30,000 copies of my book in front of eager makers, and helped me make enough money to stay afloat that year).
Even if you only drop a buck for the first five books, you’re getting some great stuff—Medieval LEGO is fun, the Scratch book is solid, and my son loved Lauren Ipsum (which is sort of a modern computer-science take on Phantom Tollbooth; he’s easily read it a half dozen times). Moving up to the $8 tier doesn’t just get you my book (which regularly sets you back ~$20), but also two of my favorite intro programming books (I learned Python from Teach Your Kids to Code, and Scratch Programming Playground is what taught my kid to code) and a really great manga book that’ll explain electricity to anyone. And, of course, going whole hog just piles on the awesomeness (again, I’m especially pleased to see a couple DIY hands-on electronics books here, especially since Arduino has gotten so dirt-cheap to get into). Every purchase doesn’t just benefit my publisher and me, but also Teach for America.
This is worth it just for the Waldrop and Link, which you can get for as little as a buck! Howard Who? and Stranger Things Happen are great collections.