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12/20/02 Total Recall: This is Not Science Fiction: IAO and Disk Books Make Speculative Fiction Seem Tame

Entrances to Hell in the UK

In a bit of emergency posting for the readers in the UK, I had to pass on this URL from the fortean list. It offers pictures of entrances to hell. What more can you ask for in a website?

Entrances to Hell in and around the UK

Just another public service of The Agony Column!

Total Recall: Illuminati Awareness Offer
"Surf now, read about it later on our website!"


Readers might recall a recent column of mine about conspiracy theory, 'None Dare Call it Bullshit'.  If you think that this means I'm a total skeptic about conspiracy theories think again. Nobody has to be a skeptic to worry about the Information Awareness Office. Run by a convicted felon, aimed at creating a massive database of American's buying and web-browsing habits, the Information Awareness Office makes Orwell's Ministry of Information look like a bunch of milquetoasts. But when you visit the URL above, you'll no longer find the original banner or logo created for this realization of science fiction's worst nightmares. Courtesy of The Memory Hole, I've helped to preserve these graphics for your delight and terror.



Fans of Robert Anton Wilson's will know that stuff like this doesn't get designed by accident. You'd have to have read his works about the Illuminati to put this sort of thing together. In fact, you'd have to be a pretty serious fan to have done this. If the people running this office are fans of Wilson's time and continent spanning conspiracy fiction, well -- maybe they should be reading this column. In any event, they are now!

But wait -- there's more!



Yes, the Banner's gone as well, with that nifty little slogan -- "Scientia Est Potentia',"Knowledge is Power". In this case, buying, selling and blackmailing power.

Now in case you're wondering how it all works for you, here's the ORIGINAL Powerpoint Presentation. Please note that the US government -- and all US based businesses -- are now required to use Powerpoint to present planning data. Also note the broken chains, the fingerprint, face ID (we know how well THAT works), the transactional data -- they're watching your schooling, travel, finances, medical, veterinary, housing and communications. I feel so safe!



It's just so great for us in the SF&F world when you don't have to make this stuff up. Come on Poindexter -- you're making it too easy for us. What's left for the FICTION writers? Below is the new graphic. Note what's MISSING here. There's a hint of the new logo -- check out that sleek pyramid in the upper left-hand corner. They just can't give that up, can they? Those darn Illuminati! They really slicked this baby up and all thanks to Micro$oft! Thanks, Bill!



In one of those weird concidences, the gent who alerted Memory Hole to this change is Morgan Woodson, a former co-worker of mine. Thanks Morgan, from The Agony Column.

 Holt Uncensored on Iraq Attack Non Fiction

If you're not subscribing to Holt Uncensored, you had better get cracking and start enjoying one of the best literary and publishing newsletters you're going to find anywhere. Pat Holt, one-time editor for the San Francisco Chronicle Book Reviews has engaged in a one-woman crusade to bring some sunlight into the hallowed halls of publishing and writing. Her latest column, #353, "The Value of Dissent: Four Books and a Movie" delves into some recent releases on the edge of speculative non-fiction. I'm talking about the infamous French writer Thierry Meyssan's '9/11: The Big Lie' and 'Pentagate'. Holt is the most utterly reasonable person in the universe, and thus one find it interesting that she'd cover these hysterical exposes of conspiracies that verge on IAO territory. There's been a solid push to discredit every aspect of Meyssan's work in the US, even though they're massive bestsellers abroad. Publishers usually don't discriminate on content. They just want your money. But as the recent brouhaha revolving around Michael Moore's bestselling 'Stupid White Men' shows, they are on occasion willing to bet against what turn out to be cash cows based on content.

Here's in part what Holt has to say about Meyssan's work. It's an excerpt, and best read in its entirety on the website.

"I don't agree with Meyssan's conclusions, but what keeps bothering me is the all-too-tidy fit of the Bush administrations' (elder and junior) obsession with oil and the the present *use* of the 9/11 attacks to follow a conservative agenda to subvert civil liberties, especially freedom of speech and privacy.

And it certainly seems more than a coincidence, as all the books mentioned here observe, that this Bush administration has led us to the brink of war in January of 2003, just as the previous Bush administration led us to the brink of way in January of 1991. I know all the theory about optimal winter conditions for U.S. nighttime technology - that's a strategy, not a reason.

Thank heaven a number of books besides these show us how to listen and think critically about a war that the traditional press seems to be cheering on, if not helping to sell. On the Internet, aside from, and other challenging commentary and news gathering, there is also that brilliant digest of alternative news sources, All prove that dissent is both healthy and important whenever we are told to jump on a bandwagon racing to war."


Don't take my word for it -- go to Holt Uncensored, and subscribe ASAP. It's without doubt the best place for unbiased insight into the publishing industry.

Disk Books Make Horror Fiction Seem Tame
Having addressed the requirements of science fiction readers, let's get on to ensure that horror readers get their fill of non-fiction nonsense. In case you're suffering from a bit of demon possession, Disk Books has the answer for you. Yes, it's J. F. Cogan's 'Demon Posession Handbook for Human Service Workers', and it's just the book for anyone who suspects that those around them might be posessed by demons. Just listen to the kudos this book has received. I've reproduced the huge red lettering used on the site itself. Had I seen this site earlier, I might have redesigned my own earlier. I've preserved the spelling and format for your enjoyment.

"I came upon your site while doing occult related research and went through the exerpts from your book. I'm an investigator certified in occolt crime control "prevention, investigation and analysis", much of which time is spent profiling. The exerpts are an excellent reference and resource, both professionally, and personnally. ... many questions were raised that were tough to find answers to without a lot of Bible searching. ... Your writings cut to the chase. With topics and answers which are easy to understand, and scripture references to back it up. It is a definate asset to students, practitioners and inestigating researcers like myself. I truly appreciate your work. Keep it up!"

Who ARE you gonna call?


12/18/02 Actual Neal Asher News, Another day, another book in the mail

And now a few words from Neal Asher:

"News... As I said, Brass Man had just passed the 90,000 mark with only a few thousand dead, but plenty of mayhem caused by psychotics of every description, flesh-eating monsters, and also in a retrospective storyline concerning the title character.

Cowl, the book that comes after Line of Polity, has gone through a substantial rewrite, and is presently sitting in my computer while I try to forget as much of it as possible before having another look at it. It is a story unrelated to the universe of the other books, concerns time-travel, some pretty nasty far-future humans, and I can guarantee dinosaurs and big guns."

Well, I must say this all sounds quite wonderful to me. It would be my intuition that Asher could very well become a huge seller in the United States. As long as I can get the books, I'm a happy reader.



Occasionally, a day threatens to go by when a new book does NOT arrive at my house via mail or my own bad buying habits. Yesterday, however, was not such a day, though it threatened to be. Nothing from morning UPS...looks bad. Then, all we got in the US Mail was a package from one of my wife's vendors. Hmmm...was it sausage and cheese or candy? Seemed a bit heavy for either. It turned out to be this cookbook, which is just dandy for me. While I sometimes let the other members of the family cook -- they're all quite skilled at it, mind you, I'm usually in there bustling away before anyone else has a chnace to volunteer. I've never reviewed a cookbook before, and I don't guarantee that I will now. But stranger things have happened. At first glance, I like the layout and design of the book. It lays flat, which is most importnat when one is using a cookbook. If it won't stay open to the recipe page, how are you going to get anything done? Stay tuned...

12/17/02 Terry Pratchett Serialized on BBC Internet Radio, (hopefully) Neal Asher News, New Charlaine Harris Southern Vampire novel

Terry Pratchett's 'Guards! Guards!' is currently being broadcast by BBC Radio 7, in their '7th Dimension' page. Coming up is another Pratchett dramatisation, 'The Wyrd Sisters'. The URL for these is:

Pratchett is also available in Child-size portions from BBC 7, with his 'Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents', available here:

The guy is like a one-man entertainment industry. One hopes that there will be an effective adaptation of his work for the movies soon. If it's not good, however, the providers of such a movie should fear the wrath of his millions of fans!

Harris's Anthony award winning Vampire debut.

The follow-up to 'Dead Until Dark' - coming in May, 'Club Dead'.

The new Charlaine Harris Southern Vampire / Sookie Stackhouse novel is out in May. It will be titled 'Club Dead'. My reading buddy Jan, eternally picky, read these books and enjoyed them. Thereore, if southern vampire novels sound like your cup of tea, then I suggest you might as well. Charlaine Harris just won the Anthony Award for her first Sookie Stackhouse novel, 'Dead Until Dark'. Damn, another one in the reading queue. Eveyln Wood, here I come!



I'm hoping to have news about Neal Asher's latest today -- by that I mean the novel AFTER the upcoming 'The Line of Polity'. I have 'The Line of Polity' and should be starting it shortly after 01/13/02. I suspect that it and the newest Richard Morgan will be two of the big novels of next year. Steve Rawlings, who does Asher's cover art is really something -- to my mind he helps get Asher's work into the hands of those who would enjoy it. Yes, I'm fixated on book covers -- I have enough of them about the house!

12/16/02 The Mournful Absence of Mickey Spillane-style Paperback Book Covers

 Somone once described the work of P. N. Elrod to me as "Mickey Spillance does vampires". That sounded like a pretty good thing to me, or at least, my cheese-loving alter ego. That may be the case. If it is the case, then why, oh why are the covers so deficient in the base-cheese appeal department? When I was about 12, we used to go on vacation to the Sacramento River delta and stay in a friend's houseboat or cabin cruiser. One of the highlights of these vacations was the reading material to be found aboard such vessels. Mad Magazine, and copies of these Mickey Spillane novels which, though they may be read cover-to-cover, had more eye-time directed at the cover than the contents. Compare the centerpiece P. N. Elrod cover to the flanking Spillane's. Look, there's a place for class. And there's a place for -- Spillane-style covers. I can't remember the last time I heard someone emphatically say "Streets sell!"


I do believe that I read this edition of this book aboard a cabin cruiser on the Sacramento River Delta.

As an inveterate fan of the vampire-as-PI TV series 'Angel', I suppose I should give these a try.

This cover has at least some aspect of class. I'll leave which aspect to the reader.


As my fantasy reading list grows by leaps and bounds, and if it must do so, then at least I have the good fortune to get books like the latest World Fantasy Award winning work by Ursula K. Leguin. This remarkable author has been fantastically productive, single-handedly trying to drag up the genre from the slums towards which it slouches, waiting to born.