Jason K. Chapman

Site owner

Cacodaemonia's final cover art for the Satirica anthology is just fantastic. There was a long collaborative process involved in choosing the artist and general direction for the book jacket, but in the end, it rides on Cac's talent. As far as I know, we're still looking at an availability date somewhere around late August to early September.

I've read most of the stories and virtually know many of the writers in the TOC. Here's the full line-up from the Cowboy Logic release:


    1. ImagineThe collection opens with a sublime alternate history by Edward Morris, in which we learn what our world would be like if Ronald Reagan had been assassinated by a disgruntled rock musician whose career he had destroyed.
      Previously published in Interzone.
    2. Some Things Never ChangeTomas L. Martin takes us on a surprising journey into an alternate present, in which a young English soldier yearns for a glimpse of true sorcery in the war in Iraq; if he can survive the experience.
    3. Perfection (convenient, chewable, indispensable)In the first of two stories, David Thorpe offers up a disturbing and surreal satire filled with social commentary on multiple levels, far beyond its surface theme concerning designer drugs.
  1. Aliens Attack!RJ Astruc provides us with a thought provoking examination of the senselessness of war, in which tiny green aliens fall like snow from the skies. But are their intentions peaceful or malevolent?
  2. Thank You, Death RobotA soldier returning from war abroad encounters and befriends a death robot. What happens when he discovers that it is responsible for his fiancee’s murder? Victor Giannini provides us with the startling answers in the first of his stories.
    Previously published in Silverthought: Ignition, Silverthought Press.
  3. The Babies at Nae-longJohn Parke Davis offers up a dark examination of child soldiers in an Africa in which the Globalista forces have retreated from whence they came. But do those who remain any longer know what they are fighting for?
  4. Another Man’s TerroristTwo young freedom fighters seeking refuge behind the lines arrive upon a space station now in enemy hands. In a true satire for our times, Bill Housley describes a brother and sister’s struggle to escape from the shadow of their terrorist past.
  5. All For OneIn a quirky satire filled with social commentary, Steven J. Dines takes us on a journey through the future of road rage, and government efforts to quash it...sort of.
    Previously appeared in Darker Matter.
  6. Miss Gohrman’s TripJoshua Allen examines Miss Gohrman’s fate when the representatives of a newly formed police state knock upon her door. But are they any match for a little old lady whose favorite cat has just been killed?
  7. The Book of New ManIn his first story, Dudgeon examines a world in which a young gang member struggles to understand the unfortunate truth, that religion truly is an "opiate for the masses."
    Previously published by silverthought on-line.
  8. Printed MatterIn a tale of psychological horror, Gary Cuba examines the unusual life of a bibliophile who is prevented from reading by an extreme form of dyslexia, and the lengths to which he is willing to go to create a book of his own.
  9. In Your BoxMike Philbin relates the story of a loner’s transformation into a pet fetishist, as he searches for meaning in a world where humans have become "a grid of drug-softened pulp being squeezed out of a factory’s rectum like societal spaghetti."
  10. Kubla KhanIn a fascinating satire of the future of gaming, Kevin Spiess takes us on a surreal journey through designer drugs and virtual reality, in which the line between game and reality blurs to gray.
  11. VisitationIn a captivating story filled with vivid imagery, Roger Haller examines the nature of crime and punishment in an alien society, where one’s rehabilitation may take more than one lifetime.
    Originally published by silverthought on-line.
  12. Strings AttachedWhat happens when you awaken with blood on your hands? Jason K. Chapman provides the answers in this dark examination of a new form of cybernetic prostitution, in which a "Mario" struggles for his life and freedom.
  13. Brain Takes A Sick DaySometimes taking a day off can be the best career move you can possibly make. Dan Kopcow explains in a delightfully funny satire of the corporate world, which is laced with so much irony and coincidence that a more detailed review could not do it justice.
  14. Doc Chaos: The Last LaughDavid Thorpe’s second story provides us with a dark and cautionary tale of nuclear apocalypse resulting from the "peaceful" uses of atomic energy. But who will survive to tell the tale?
  15. The Ambassador of HateIn this dark satire concerning the psychology of interplanetary travel, and the politics of social control through drugs, Paul Mannering examines the nature of both madness, and revenge.
  16. Human TransferIn a chilling examination of the effects of desperation on society, Lawrence R. Dagstine takes us to a dark future in which population control measures have become so extreme that they can turn family against family.
    Previously published in Escape Velocity.
  17. The Shark Engine EnigmaA surfer dude’s untimely demise is just the beginning. Victor Giannini’s second story takes us beyond fear, suffering and superstition, in search of the ultimate truth concerning the enigmas of life and death.
  18. A War Beyond War, and I Am the Only SoldierIn a brilliant satire of Christian mythology, we journey with Anden Sharp to 13th century France, where a young monk is called upon "for a work even more important than Our Lord’s." But this is just the beginning in the eyes of those around him.
  19. ForayWho will survive a trip clinging to the world cliff, looking down upon the madness of Hades below? In this dark tale of Social Darwinism, Dan Marcus provides the answers, and they are not what you expect.
  20. Return to OzRoger Haller’s second story is a delightful little satire with a twist: the tale of Earthers’ return to their slowly recovering, ecologically devastated planet of origin in the far future. But do they deserve a second chance?
    Previously appeared in silverthought on-line.
  21. The Pembina Valley Mushroom MassacreFinally, a young man who embarks upon an unconventional vision quest gets more than he bargained for in Dudgeon’s second tale. We join him as he struggles to come to terms with the shocking truth concerning humanity’s future...and his own.

If you're looking for downloadable eBook editions of The Heretic. The editions produced by the fine community at MobileRead are the only ones out there that were produced with my permission. My thanks go out to Jon Wolf for crafting and formatting them with his usual care and attention to detail.

If you're not familiar with MobileRead, you're probably not an eBook reader. The site is built around a community of readers. Not only are they among the most voracious devourers of the written word I've ever known, they also care about writers, books, and the legalities of digital publishing, so don't go there hoping to find unauthorized scans of recent releases (or discussions of how to get them).

MobileRead folks don't just stop at the dedicated eBook devices. They'll find ways to read on anything--cell phones, PDAs, and even one watch/PDA/mobile-computing-device combination. If you want news and updates about upcoming eBook reading devices, the digital publishing industry, new formats, new software, MobileRead is the place to go.

Okay--the commercial is over. Here are the links you came here for. Download THE HERETIC in:


Thoughts from a New Yorker

"I fear that all we have done is awaken a sleeping tiger, and filled him with a terrible resolve." --Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto after the attack on Pearl Habor

I'm not sure I can convey to you just how much I love the city of New York. I grew up here amid its clutter, its swirling melange of cultures, its maddeningly and intoxicatingly busy streets. I love it for what it is and for what it means. In so many ways it represents the best of what humankind can be. I'm just sorry it took something like the tragedy of September 11th for the world to see what compassionate, caring people New Yorkers really are.

What an impossible, whimsical thing is a skyscraper! It's a celebration of the human spirit that stands in defiance of geography, of gravity, of the limits the universe imposes on us. It's the embodiment of man's need to reach higher, farther, faster—to create what isn't—to do what can't be done. It is the triumph of reason over nature.

That's the spirit New York City captures—the spirit of a nation. Like the skyscraper, the United States could not have happened by accident. It didn't evolve, it was built. It wasn't formed by random chance, it was engineered from the beginning to be a land where free people could come together and, unfettered, achieve anything. It was built, girder by girder, on a foundation of reason and freedom. It is the celebration of the human spirit. It is the celebration of life.

That's why it was attacked, because it embodies the good of which mankind is capable. Those who worship death, whose highest goal is to destroy what they cannot create, whose ultimate aim is the immolation of the human spirit, believed that by destroying the results of a thing, they could destroy its cause. They were wrong.

We have the opportunity, now, to put the QED on the proof that is the United States. No clearer demonstration could possibly exist that mankind has but one fundamental choice: reason or irrationality, freedom or slavery, the celebration of life or the worship of death. There is no middle ground, no grey area, no wiggle room.

Bring us not only your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Bring us, as well, your delight in that breath for its own sake. Bring us your joy in the very act of shaping the universe as you choose. Bring us your will to create, your desire to achieve, your love of life for its own sake. Join in our celebration of Man as a noble creature and of freedom as his only rational choice.

By using this tragedy to forge bonds with countries and people from whom we've been kept by petty, irrational differences, we can make the world that much smaller. Just as the world became too small, too interconnected, to support the massive scale of oppression that was required to maintain the Soviet Union, we can make it too small to accept the existence of the death-worshippers and the destroyers. We can leave them no wounds to infect, no darkness in which to fester.

If, instead, we yield to the anger and hatred our animal instincts demand, if we simply launch ourselves on a campaign of bloodlust and revenge, of indiscriminant bombing and ineffectual shows of military might, we will be giving in to the death-worshippers and proving them right. We will be destroying everything on which this country was built. Civilization is a cooperative effort. It's not a natural resource or a gift of manna. It's a painstaking, rational process. Without thought, it cannot exist. Without reason, it cannot survive.

I implore you, in these most delicate of times, to use the one tool you have which can accomplish anything: your mind. Question everything. Look for the motives behind the slogans. Test the assumptions on which pronouncements are made. Think.

Sponsored Online Publishing

by Jason K. Chapman

It's the Content, Stupid

Content is King. It's one of the oldest saws in the Web business. It also happens to be true.

No one hangs around a Web site just because the navigation looks cool or because the background GIF is nifty. People go to Web sites for the words, the pictures, the information, the content. They keep coming back because they expect to find more of whatever content attracted them in the first place. If a site doesn't deliver, the surfers won't return.

The Scramble for Content

The deals are flashing back and forth at eSpeed. Amazon.com wants to broaden their product line with "Health and Beauty" content, so they go to Drugstore.com. Microsoft wants computer news on MSN, so they go to C|NET, ZDNet and others. Everybody has everybody else's content popping up in frames and windows everywhere. The "strategic partnership" has become the most valued coin of the realm. All in the name of content.

What's next? What happens when all the megaportals and megamalls have the same content--when the only distinguishing factor is the logo at the top and the arrangement on the screen? What happens when they've run out of content-swapping deals and are back to needing content that's new, fresh, and unique?

Fiction as Content

Magazines, the Web site's closest relatives, have had the solution for years: Fiction. Targeted-interest magazines have been adding related pieces of fiction to their content for a long, long time. Short stories and serialized novels have been published in magazines like The New Yorker, Harper's, Playboy and many others.

These magazines use fiction to help fill their need for fresh, interesting content. The author gets paid for the story and gets the added visibility and respect that comes with appearing in a major magazine. Everyone wins.

Does Online Fiction Work? (more...)

Does Online Fiction Work?

Those who have been around the Internet writing communities will be quick to tell you that the answer is "No." They'll point to self-published poetry on a Geocities Web site that gets twenty page views a month. They'll mention fiction-centric sites like Mind's Eye that had trouble making the ad-sponsored concept profitable for short fiction. They'll bring up the difficulty of generating Web traffic for any new site.

Granted. Those models don't work. Draw those same examples back into the magazine analogy and you'll quickly see why. Online fiction needs established traffic and a flowing revenue stream to support it.

Content, Meet Content Provider

When HappyHacker.org arranged to publish THE HERETIC online, the site already had steady traffic, an established following, and an existing advertising revenue stream. The content of the novel and the content of the site are a good match. It seems only natural that a computer security-oriented Web site would be interested in publishing a cyber-thriller. A royalty arrangement based on the ad revenue generated from the novel's pages sealed the deal.

So far, the novel has racked up over 500,000 page views. The royalty model is hurt some by Web cache systems and by readers who choose to surf with images disabled (filtering out the ads), but overall it works. The rest of the Happy Hacker site has maintained it's traffic level, so the novel's readership represents a net gain of 15% to 20% in traffic.

The Future (more...)

The Future

It's not hard to imagine the concept of sponsored online fiction spreading to other kinds of Web sites. Travel-related sites might publish travel-related stories, space-related sites might sponsor science fiction novels, a site about automobiles might publish a novel like The Betsy or a site about dinosaurs might publish something like Jurassic Park.

There are a lot of excellent writers out there producing some really good fiction. It's been proven that surfers can and will read online fiction. Web sites need fresh and stimulating content. It won't be long before the Web industry puts it all together.


Theme in Fiction

An Essay in Response to a Discussion Group Question

by Jason K. Chapman

Q: When I've tried my hand at fiction, I've always failed for one of two reasons: if I start from a great "hook" and try to let the characters show me the way to a believable ending, I run out of steam and the piece gets abandoned; if I create the ending and try to work backwards, I end up with the literary equivalent of Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs..." ...only less coherent...

This seems to be a fairly common problem. I wonder if it stems from not starting with a consistent theme in mind. In everything I write, I begin with an idea, a thought to express. It acts as the glue that bonds character, plot, and voice together into some kind of organized whole.

It works on a level above the individual elements, and affects details even as small as word choice in descriptive scenes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily talking about moralizing, here, though the difference may be small. I'm simply talking about a single idea--a one-sentence answer to the question "What am I trying to say, here?"

Since I used Les Miserables earlier, I'll use it again. It's theme might be summed up as "Dignity is a requirement for human life." This unifies the actions, and the fates, of Valjean, Javert, Fontine, and Cosette.

Valjean changes his life when he realizes that the priest has treated him with dignity in spite of Valjean's stealing from him. Javert, whose every action is bent on destroying human dignity, goes so far in his aim that he destroys his own, and himself. Fontine gives up on the very idea of dignity, by sacrificing her own in a failed attempt to win it for Cosette.

It is this kind of coherence that helps bring me back on track when I lose sight of where the story's going. Those of you who start with a good hook and characters, but can't find your way to the end might want to try it. Once you have the story's theme, you can combine it with who the characters are and what the setting is. At that point, the ending of the story becomes much clearer.

--Jason K. Chapman

(Originally appeared in alt.skunks 9/98)

"Aww, Grow Up!"-An Essay on Being Childish

by Jason K. Chapman

The day I stop acting childish is the day I die--whether my body continues or not. The phrase "grow up" is one of my pet peeves.

Children have wonderful imaginations. They aren't afraid to dream. They embrace hope and have an innate conviction that only the best and the brightest future awaits them. Children laugh with little or no provocation, finding humor and joy in the tiniest things. Children accept. They see the best in others. They trust to a fault, it's true, but they can learn the wisdom to stay safe without hating or fearing the unfamiliar for being unfamiliar.

Children look to the future without fear. They look to the past without guilt. Their expectations have not yet been dulled by those who preach that unhappiness, loneliness, and heartbreak are all the world has to offer.

Children see the world in a butterfly's hapless flight. They taste joy in the snowflakes on the tips of their tongues. They haven't learned that the nose belongs on the grindstone or that the world stops at the edges of the ruts they're supposed to dig.

They haven't learned that dreams are dangerous. They haven't fallen for the lie that hope is a futile luxury. They believe--they *know*--they can accomplish anything given time and just enough stubborn determination.

They reach for the stars over their heads, because no one has yet convinced them that they are unreachable. They listen to the wind, because they still understand what it has to say. They delight in the shape of a leaf or the sound of a horn or the sight of the sheer-sided grandeur of a skyscraper.

In their innocence, children are the masters of their world. Nothing is unreachable. Nothing is unknowable. They live to live. No other justification is necessary.

I am more a child now than I was when I met the age requirement. I had to learn to dream all over again. I had forgotten how, because I believed I had to grow up. I believed it when I was told that dreamers were fools. I accepted the chains I was told I had to wear, the blinders I was told I must accept.

The borders that hem us in, we draw ourselves. The walls that enclose us, we erect. I had to learn to tear them down, to break the chains that I, myself, had forged.

I wasted many years, but I'm past it. I won't go back. I am a child again and I will be one until I die.

--Jason K. Chapman

(originally appeared in alt.skunks 4/98)