Bjorn Berrserk of Baby Barbarian

Patriarch of the Baby Barbarian family

People have asked me: why make the focus of your story a boy?

a barbarian boy atop of a radiant geometric design
a barbarian boy atop of a radiant geometric design
Brom Berrserk AKA Baby Barbarian

The easy answer is I have two sons, and sons are what I understand.

There’s more to it than that, but to make sense I’m going to have to tell a story about elephants and rhinoceroses.

There was once a diminishing elephant population that, thankfully, increased in numbers owing to the hard work of researchers, government, and (of course) the elephants themselves.

Because of the artificial manner by which the population increased, there was a preponderance of young male (i.e. bull) elephants.

Inexplicably, as the the bulls matured, they started attacking and killing rhinoceroses. This was not natural.

Soon scientists…

We cannot cede our symbols to the Far Right.

I cannot find attribution for this image!

It was bound to happen sooner or later…

I don’t mean just the tRumpian-inspired storming of the Capitol. That was something many people anticipated, at least those of us who took tRump’s MAGA movement mythically.

I mean that amongst this throng of thugs and maniacs, there would be a ‘Viking’; or at least someone who coopted the trappings of the mythic ‘Viking’, in the same way that putting on a headdress in the old days denoted ‘Indian’, or wearing a kilt shows one’s Scottish pride.

Speaking of the Scottish…

…When COVID forced everyone inside.

Lineup of the Berrserk Family: Brom, Bjorn, and Brunhild

Like a lot of people, I’ve held a lifelong love for comics & graphic novels. They had an outsized influence on me as a kid, and many prickly subjects that I might not have encountered at home or school were broached in this ostensibly silly medium. It was in the X-Men for example, that I first became aware of issues of social justice and discrimination. Writers like Alan Moore and Frank Miller interrogated the mandate of power and corruption.

In short, although I hid my love for the genre, it sustained into adulthood. I had always fantasized about writing my…

Chill on the Netflix

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Even before the Coronavirus arrived and utterly disrupted our world, I was beginning to think that as a society we’d become too fixated on the Apocalypse.

Worries about the end of the world are as old as history. The word ‘Apocalypse’ comes from ancient Greek, and, though it has passed through many languages to arrive at the present day, something about the sound of the word—its three plosives and abrupt accents —lend the word an ancient gravitas. For three thousand years, its imminence spooked our ancestors.

But in modern times, stories, books, movies, and television shows have begun to not…

Part One: Learn to Listen to Experts Again

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We need to welcome back into our hearts and minds that most-maligned individual in the Trump era: the expert.

It is becoming clearer day by day that humanity is in for a long-haul hard-look in the mirror. Pandemics are nothing new in the long arc of history, but very few people alive today have experienced one.

Nevertheless, we have survived thus far and we will survive this.

If like me you are lucky, then you live in a place with a functional government. I have recently returned to my hometown of Seattle in the beautiful state of Washington. recently returned…

Hint: It had everything to do with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

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I received a tweet from a publisher that I really like on February 21, 2020.

It read: “Are you a writer with a completed novel you’re ready to submit? John Joseph Adams Books is open to submissions form now until March 2.”

Here’s the thing: I had been working on a fantasy novel for over five years. I had started it before enrolling in my MFA program, where I was steered away from focusing on “genre” (my favorite “genre”) for all the typical “literary fiction” reasons, and I had continued working on it after I’d completed and received my MFA…

A prepper's guide to a world pandemic

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Ever since Trump finagled his way to an unforeseen presidential victory, the deleterious effects of living under the influence of an unrepentant narcissist have begun to show on two members of my extended family: Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam.

Trump’s reprehensible — and often darkly comic — behavior has triggered just about everyone who has ever been demeaned, derogated, or denigrated by a privileged white cisgender man. As one observer noted of his policies: “The cruelty is the point.”

If there is one silver lining to take away from his (hopefully) soon to end four-year-national nightmare, it is that, thanks…

Plus: the secret origin of plot vs. character

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As we are all pressed for time, I’ll summarize here what I learned from reading Terry Eagleton’s somewhat accessible book: The English Novel- An Introduction.*


Eagleton covers writers that fall within the period bridging Realism to High Modernism which ended around WWI. Most will ring a bell: James Joyce, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, among others.

Novelists that came to prominence during the 20th and 21st century or who are not British, Scottish, or Irish are not covered.

As a scholar, Eagleton is fairly typical of the post-modern, post-colonial, Marxist humanities professor that has dominated Academia for the last…

What it is might surprise you

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Anyone who has read my work on Medium will know I am obsessed with ways to overcome feelings of personal powerlessness and trauma.

I wrote here about the German Romanian writer, Herta Muller, who created literature out of necessity in a brutal totalitarian regime in order to find her voice.

I followed with an article about how the post-WWII German writer, Gunter Grass, saved the his language from the ways it had been weaponized by Nazi propaganda. His seminal masterpiece, The Tin Drum, reinvigorated not only the German language, but the novel itself.

I believe that the written word can…

W. Alan Gosline

Writer. Educator. Prognosticator. Check out my upcoming Tween Graphic Novel

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