Miskatonic Manuscript, Q&A part 3



(This follows part two in our week-long Q&A with Vin about his new novel, “The Miskatonic Manuscript.” Part two is here.)

Q: It’s interesting how many people seem to judge a book by its cover. Many people, looking at the Testament of James cover art, assume it’s a religious tract. Others, reacting to the Miskatonic Manuscript cover art, have assumed it’s pornographic — although in my opinion, it’s an artistic nude, beautifully done by a highly skilled artist, and it also fits the theme nicely — though there’s really not a lot of sex. Will those presumptions influence your choice of cover art in the future?

A: Thanks in large measure to our cover designer Bear Bussjaeger, both these books have beautiful covers, and they fit the books -– Saint Jerome Translating the Bible by Matthias Stom, the seventeenth Century Dutchman, for “Testament,” and our naked jungle girl by the great contemporary fantasy artist Boris Vallejo, for “Miskatonic.”

I’ll admit when I hear complaints or something akin to lascivious eye-rolling over Mr. Vallejo’s cover painting I find myself wondering if we’ve entered a real time warp. “It’s a nude!” “It’s a nude!” Golly, grandma, is it 1956, when Hugh Hefner’s centerfolds used to be so carefully posed to hide what he was supposedly revealing that he probably could have slipped in RuPaul or Frank Marino without our noticing? Or is this 2016, when any 9-year-old can go online and find you photographs of couples — hetero-, homo-, what-have-you — humping and waving around stuff that used to be airbrushed out of even the anatomy textbooks, now probably displayed in 3-D?


I was in Las Vegas not along ago. I noticed a billboard the size of a barn for one of the casino nightclubs. It showed a couple from knee to shoulder, from behind. They were fully clothed. In fact, they were in fancy evening clothes, standing in a hotel corridor in front of the gentleman’s door. The gentleman’s left hand is using his card-key to unlock his hotel-room door, his right hand rests on the small of the lady’s back, and the text, as I recall, promised “Always a happy ending.”

I don’t think we were supposed to presume this was his wife. I think the message was that if you go to this nightclub and drop a couple hundred dollars you’re guaranteed to find a compliant lady who’s willing to go back to your room with you. And I’m not here to accuse them of false advertising.

I don’t remember any letters-to-the-editor; I don’t remember anyone complaining that was dirty or obscene or tasteless. In fact I presume most adults found it rather clever. Which is not to say there aren’t plenty of advertisements in Las Vegas showing groups of ladies bent over, pushing in your face shapely butts of various skin tones that are “clothed” in nothing but G-strings. They’ve got those on top of the taxi cabs, for heaven’s sake.


I’m not complaining about any of this; my only complaint about Las Vegas is that it pretends to be a whorehouse when it’s really mostly an expensive tease. My point is that — after a number of potential readers turned out to have presumed “Testament of James” was some kind of born-again Christian tract because of that cover art, we decided to pay for a very professional painting by the world-renowned fantasy artist Boris Vallejo for “Maskatonic,” a painting for which I believe he may have used his daughter-in-law for a model, a painting which matches an actual scene in the book, neither depicting nor implying any sexual behavior or sexuality whatsoever, a painting that shows no nipples, no pubic hair, nothing that any child isn’t allowed to see and hasn’t been allowed to see for the past hundred years when viewing the Greek statuary room of the very proper and refined Metropolitan Museum in New York, or the British Museum in London.

So what on earth is this all about?


In fact, I find most cover complaints and criticism amusing, if not downright goofy. “The Godfather” was a huge success. The original Putnam edition showed the hand of a puppeteer with strings descending, presumably toward the people who were manipulated by the Godfather like a bunch of marionettes. OK, Vito Corleone could call on some judges and politicians and a singer who resembled Frank Sinatra for favors because he’d helped them with their careers, like any other rich man learns to do. But otherwise the book is about a bunch of people he doesn’t control, some of whom actually try to assassinate him.


In a very important speech he makes clear the heads of the five families have chosen their livelihoods because they’re men who refuse to be controlled by the political class. So the cover is a little bit dumb; someone was given a 30-second plot summary and they got it a little bit wrong. Doesn’t seem to have stopped the book from selling millions, and they used the same not-quite-right art for the movie posters.


“The Bourne Identity” was a huge hit; the original cover art showed a nail through a seashell. What the hell does that mean? One of the great successes of American packaging is the Coca-Cola bottle, which was designed by someone who tried to make the middle of the bottle look like a coconut. You know: as in “Coco-Cola.” But it’s not “Coco-Cola,” is it? He was supposed to make it look like a Coca leaf; it was all a mistake. I’m told Gerber’s couldn’t figure out why their baby-food jars with the picture of the fat smiling baby (now-89-year-old retired English teacher Ann Turner Cook, actually) sold well everywhere but in Africa. In Africa it turns out literacy rates are so low that cans and jars always have a picture of the product inside; the Africans worried the jars might contain ground-up babies.


I’m told other than babies the image that sells products the best is the kitten; on the next book I think we’ll have an image of a cute little baby being eaten by a kitten the size of an elephant. It’s foolproof.


Q: The orbs play a small, but perhaps pivotal role in the TMM story. Why bother to include the photo section? Are you concerned that some readers will inevitably laugh about the orbs, as there are so many sites dedicated to debunking them?

A: They might as well debunk the idea that when you look through a telescope you can see that the planets are discs, big round balls of different colors. The solution of Galileo’s cohorts was simply to refuse to look through his telescope; the answer of the civil authorities was to make it legal to use a telescope to figure out how many troops were in the other guy’s army over on the next hill, while they made it illegal to use it to look up at the sky. Instead of a “War on Some Drugs” it was a “War on Some Uses of the Telescope.”

You know perfectly well if you take a modern electronic camera out in the back yard just after dark and point it up at the sky, at the tree line, and fire off the flash and take 20 pictures a night, keep going out and doing it for five or 10 clear nights in a row, you’ll get pictures of orbs. That’s exactly how we got the orb photos in the book. So what is there to debunk?


Sure, you’re free to roll your eyes at some grandma who claims the pink orb is the soul of her dead cat Fluffy. You’re free to express some skepticism about anyone who sees an unexplained phenomenon and concludes it’s caused by gray aliens all set to get busy with their anal probes. But all we’ve got here is an observed phenomenon in need of investigation. People ridiculed folks who came back from visiting the geysers at Yellowstone in the mid-nineteenth century, talking about a stream where you could catch a trout in cold water, and reel it in through the boiling water so when you landed the fish it was cooked. Ha ha ha! But it was true, wasn’t it? All they had to do was go and look.

Just when the scientific method appeared to have conquered all challengers, scientists made three or four huge mistakes.

First, they allied themselves to government, which is a bunch of lying crooks by definition, because that’s where the money was and is. Scientific whores now accept government money to tell us man-made global warming is a huge danger that requires we give our government masters enormous new powers to regulate every industry – declaring carbon dioxide a pollutant, for God’s sake — when in fact there’s been no warming in 14 years, and shutting down every factory in America wouldn’t change the climate. Government-whore scientists tell us we need to get the cattle off the range because the cattle harm the desert tortoise and the little sage grouse when that’s utter crap.


The grazing-land ecosystems developed with big ungulate grazing animals wandering around, when you pull the cattle off the land you get wildfires and deserts, as the Africans learned the hard way. If you want more tortoises and sage grouse –- a questionable goal since you’d just be re-creating an artificial imbalance that prevailed for a short time in the 1930s -– all you need to do is go back to shooting ravens and coyotes. Note I’m not recommending that. Coyotes have eaten some friends of mine but they were here first and I respect them in their proper place. Ravens are voracious but them I actually like. Coyotes and ravens have much to teach us.

Then these folks who still want to be called “scientists” continued that error by again going where they money was. There’s plenty of science still to be done in areas people could understand -– reproducible stuff dealing with radio waves or electric fields or unexplained phenomena, maybe looking for ways to move electricity through the earth or the atmosphere the way Tesla said we could, instead of through these white elephant towers with their tons of copper wire. But no, “scientists” had to apply for the big grants to build windmills that kill protected birds and can’t survive without ongoing subsidies because to maintain constant grid loading they require expensive, quick-start natural gas backup generators, windmills that now sit idle by the thousands.

And meantime when confronted with all kinds of interesting health phenomena that get reported by people who are going back to eating natural plant foods divorced from industrial farming, or information coming from people who take inward journeys by using plant helpers like peyote or LSD or DMT, they scoff, they ridicule. RBGH dairy products? Wonderful! GMO corn? No problem! Microwave cell phones and towers? Couldn’t hurt a fly! Vaccines? Perfectly safe! Just ignore those billions of dollars in damage awards paid out with your tax dollars through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund to protect the vaccine makers from liability suits. What’s a few hundred cases of permanent brain damage between friends?

The first requirement of a scientist is curiosity, but these people don’t go, “How strange; bee hives dying out near corn fields? Strange glandular swellings in women drinking RBGH milk? Let’s investigate!” Or “Let’s lay in a supply of this DMT stuff and see what it’s all about.” No, they’ve become professional debunkers, dismissing anything that sounds wacky to them with a superior wave of the hand, like physicians ignoring the perfectly good science of William Harvey on the circulation of the blood because it disagreed with the best known authority who they’d had to memorize in school, that cat Galen.

It’s too bad, because the scientific method, if applied objectively, really does work. But the current generation of so-called “scientists,” aren’t. When Andy Weil asked the Centers for Disease Control to investigate reports that Asians who ate a lot of a certain wood-ear fungus had lower rates of certain cancers, they cut up some wood-ear fungus and put it in a Petrie dish with cancer cells and reported, “No, it didn’t kill ’em.” Well, he didn’t say it was a toxin. They’re discrediting themselves, taking money to keep propping up a corrupt and increasingly discredited status quo, insisting the king’s invisible new clothes look just great!

A huge number of people are now willing to disbelieve anything they’re told by a “scientist” -– especially a government scientist. I’m not saying this is good. I’m saying it’s an observed phenomenon.

If “scientists” are more interested in debunking orbs than investigating them, and a couple of amateurs with nothing but a basic Nikon point-and-shoot camera with a surprisingly good lens can put out a book with dozens of lovely color photos of orbs floating all over the nighttime sky, as photographed, nothing Computer Generated, no Photoshop manipulation . . . maybe readers need to ask what else these people are ignoring.


Note: Part 1 of this Q&A series is here, part 2 is here, and part 4 can be found here. Questions and comments from readers invited, below.

One Comment to “Miskatonic Manuscript, Q&A part 3”

  1. MamaLiberty Says:

    I was mostly curious, and even amused by the cover art. Knowing Carl, I was not in the least surprised. 🙂 Even though I have no interest in looking at “pron” of any kind, I don’t have anything at all against nudity or sex among consenting folks, so I got a big chuckle out of that part of the story.

    Looking forward to the next episode… 🙂