Thursday

RATCATCHER




A black panto; a bouffon rumpus through fairytale plaguescapes where obedient consumerism and celebrity worship are the whole of the law. Baroque violence and existential comedy combine in a punk grand guignol for the jilted generations.

Like Endgame meets Punch and Judy...


Fri 27th July: 6:30-7:15pm
Sun 29th July: 6:30-7:15pm
£5

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Performed by Ali Maloney and Mazz Marsden
Sound & Music by Owen Green
Live visuals by Jess Holme
Lighting design by Sarah Edwards
Written by Ali Maloney
Costumes by Mazz Marsden


SERIAL: THE DAY THE SUN DIDN'T SHINE - PART VII - FINALE



Harlequinade's sprawling, Orphean parody of Dante concludes! THE DAY THE SUN DIDN'T SHINE is a surreal, metaphysical horror tale following the exploits of TD, an anonymous innocent-abroad who gets drawn deeper and deeper into a netherworld of freaks, grotesqueries and philosophical paradoxes. Is he descending into hell, or exploring the recesses of human consciousness? Is he dreaming or tripping? Has he penetrated beyond the veil of tears we call 'reality' to the core of its meaning, or has he simply gone mad, and left reality altogether? YOU DECIDE! This is the final chapter of TDTSDS, and we'd like to extend a special thank you to Harlequinade, aka Ali Maloney, for letting us publish his saga. Harlequinade is a cross-discipline theatrical performer and writer - if you're in Glasgow, you can see his grotesque, touching, hilarious play 'The Ratcatcher' at this year's SURGE Fetival, at The Arches, on Friday 27 and Sunday 29 July (Event page on Facebook / Book tickets).


The deafening passage soon opened out into a vast cavern, unfathomably huge. In the middle was a vast, pulsing and oozing black heart tended to by a wild array of clockwork contraptions, steam vents, pneumatic pumps, wires, valves, dials, exhausts, tubes, spiked apparatus, pendulums, chain pulleys, leather harnesses, giant syringe needles pumping green and blue liquids, and assorted automota. Around the black heart was a huge control panel cluttered with a mess of display screens, readouts, oscillating gyroscopes, clocks, levers and buttons. ...READ 'THE DAY THE SUN DIDN'T SHINE - PART VII' NOW!


READ FROM THE BEGINNING



Tuesday

NEW SERIAL: ELKWOOD

Canadian writer Zach Leverton joins the Weaponizer team to start a new, ongoing dark fantasy tale: ELKWOOD. Deep in the frozen wastes, strange creatures inhabit the caves and dells of a dark, mysterious forest. A hunter comes with his faithful companion to track the most noble of all forest creatures - a giant Elk.  Alone against the elements, facing the ravening, nightmare creatures of the forest, and with memories of his distant home fading into the white, he tracks the Elk relentlessly. Combining the gritty fantasy of Game of Thrones and the epic, prehistoric narrative of Quest for Fire, Leverton's ELKWOOD is a thrilling new series to add to the Weaponizer canon.

The Elk was enormous; at least nine feet from hoof to antler, its fur a golden brown, its chest a perfect, shimmering white. Small plumes of steam rose in soft rhythm above its snout as it stood perfectly still. It was easy to see why it was here, still alive, saved from wolf and ogre and troll and dragon and all the secret horrors of the mountains. Old things, impossible, wretched things, things my forefathers fought with their swords, their guns and their dogs, back when they first came to this infinite place. Things that craved all the blood in the world ...READ 'ELKWOOD - PART ONE' NOW!

Sunday

SOLARPUNK

No, not the latest music genre, Solarpunk is the term being applied to a particular brand of thinking relating to a future that is a possible result of a combination of any number of grim-meathook future bearing issues - overpopulation, post-oil/fossil fuel shortages, resource scarcity, water supply problems, global pandemics etc.


Building on ideas espoused by Bruce Sterling, and as described by Justin Pickard in his Gonzo Futurist Manifesto (STOP READING THIS POST AND READ THAT NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY) that, instead of a firm road-map into the future the best we have are a way-markers, Solarpunk confronts the possibilty that the relative comfort the developed world has enjoyed since the industrial revolution is not necessarily guaranteed.



First coined (in this context, the term has been in use since at least 2008 but not related to this subject) in a short post on The Splendid Vagabond, there is now the attendant Tumblr blog (what new movement would be complete without a dedicated tumblr?).

A key piece of thinking behind Solarpunk is that progress and growth are not synonymous, as stated in a post on the tumblr: "Progress/development not same as growth, and an integral thesis of solarpunk should be about decoupling the first from the second. More is not better."

It's still in the early stages so far, but for further reading on the subject (apart from the aforementioned tumblr) there are some posts by Charles Martin Reid on low power/no power computing and networks that are well worth reading

Certainly this is a movement that I'll be keeping a keen eye on.

Monday

SLEIGHT OF MIND: UNCOVERING JACK




In the latest transmission from his regular column, K.PATRICK GLOVER, author of A WICKED LITTLE TOWN, turns his sights away from politics to examine a controversial and enduring true-crime mystery - the identity of Jack the Ripper. What's more, he reckons he's cracked the case...

In the autumn of 1888, Jack The Ripper brutally murdered five women in the east end of London. It is a murder spree that remains officially unsolved to this day. Over the past hundred and twenty plus years, literally hundreds of theories about the crimes have been proposed. I believe them all to be wrong. I also believe I have uncovered the identity of the killer. I’m going to share my thoughts on the subject with you now.

First, let’s set the stage. The east end of London was one of the most extreme examples of squalid poverty imaginable. Vastly overpopulated, with a high percentage of immigrant families, many of them Russian Jews fleeing oppression, and an even higher percentage of unemployed people. The filthy tenement houses of Whitechapel were a fertile breeding ground for crime and horror.

As is often the case in such environments, anti-authoritarian political organizations thrived. Socialist, Labour, Democratic: however they chose to label themselves, in scare tactics familiar to anyone who pays attention to modern politics, the opposition lumped them all in with what they considered to be the most frightening of the bunch, the anarchists.

In November of 1887, the Social Democratic Federation, in partnership with several other radical, left-leaning groups, organized a protest against Irish coercion in Trafalgar Square. The protest turned into a bloodbath when Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Charles Warren sent 5000 officers and troops to quell the protest. The resulting riot killed three and sent two hundred more to the hospital.

The radicals blamed Warren and were determined to see him removed from his position. Other protests followed and the police response was much the same. Tensions between the police and the population of the east end grew. It was a powder keg, waiting for the match to be lit. That match was Polly Nichols.

Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols’ body was discovered in the early hours of the morning on the 31st of August, 1888. Her throat was severed down to the vertebrae and several other incisions had been made to the abdomen.

It’s instructive at this point to watch the response of the local press. For the first day or so after the murder, the story is everything. Huge headlines and lengthy reports sensationalize the crime. But the murder of a prostitute in the east end is not so uncommon an occurrence and by the end of the week the story is reduced to a couple of paragraphs reporting that no progress has been made.

Annie Chapman’s body was discovered at 6:00AM on the morning of September 8th. Like Polly, her throat was cut to the bone, however her other injuries were much more severe. Her intestines were removed and left on her shoulder, her uterus cut out and taken away.

The press, of course, went ballistic, but it’s important to note that the killings were being referred to as The Whitechapel Murders and were even being lumped in with several previous killings, not in a way that implied they were all committed by the same man, but that they were all symptomatic of the poverty and crime of the east end; a sociological problem. A political problem. No mention was yet made of the name Jack The Ripper.

As with everything, the press eventually tired of the case and by the end of September the coverage had gone from the sensational to the mundane, with the press reporting matter-of-factly on the findings of the inquest.

Shortly after 1:00AM on September 30th, the body of Elizabeth Stride was discovered in Dutfield’s Yard by Louis Diemschutz. Her throat was severed much like the two victim’s before her, but that was all. It appears that Diemschutz’s arrival interrupted the killer’s work.

A mere forty-five minutes later, the body of Catherine Eddowes was found in Mitre Square, throat cut and mutilated much like Annie Chapman. In addition to the uterus, a kidney was also removed and taken away.

The following day the police released to the press a letter they believed to be a fake, mostly to cover all possibilities. The letter (known as the “Dear Boss” letter) was signed “yours truly, Jack The Ripper." Although it was probably authored by a member of the press in order to amp up the story, this letter coined the killer’s name.

The coverage in the papers exploded again following the double murder and the release of the letter. Much was made of the inability of the police to solve the crimes and they were often accused of not caring about the killings because the victims were only prostitutes.

Other letters came soon after, one by the same hand that crafted the “Dear Boss” letter, another that may well have been from the killer himself and contained a segment of human kidney. All served to amplify the furore in the press, much of which was directed at Police Commissioner Warren.

It was more than a month before things began to drop off and during that time there were no more Ripper killings. Then, on the morning of November 9th, Mary Kelly’s body is discovered in her flat in Spitalfields. Her throat is slashed and her body mutilated almost beyond recognition. This time, her heart is taken.

Later that day, Sir Charles Warren resigned his post as Commissioner of Police.

Jack The Ripper never killed again.

Those are the bare bone facts of the case. Many more details are known, books can and have been filled with details on this case, from the letters written to the press to the graffiti found on the wall near Catherine Eddowes' body. The vast majority of those details, like the vast majority of the details in any homicide case, lead nowhere.

We do get several descriptions from witnesses of men that the victims were seen speaking to shortly before their deaths. As is often the case with witnesses, descriptions vary wildly, but we do get a strong inclination that the man was foreign.

However, the two most important details, or patterns, can be found in the paragraphs above. Oddly, in almost every theory of the Ripper case, they are ignored, which is why I believe every theory of the Ripper case is wrong. They all start with the same conclusion, that the Ripper was what we refer to now as a traditional serial killer and that the killings were sexually motivated.

That conclusion is erroneous.

Sexually motivated serial killers have a fairly common characteristic. Escalation. The time between murders gets shorter and shorter because the killer can’t control his impulses, he always needs more.

Look at those dates. Eight days between the first two. Twenty-two days between the next. Forty days between those and the final. It’s the opposite of what would be expected.

Why the lengthening dates? Look at the press coverage at the time and you start to get an idea. After the first, each subsequent killing happens as the coverage is starting to drop off. The more victims added to the list, the longer the coverage lasts, so you get a longer period between killings.

So, now we have a killer who isn’t sexually motivated and seems to be pushing for attention. The press coverage is drawing attention to the living conditions in the east end and it’s making the police look ineffectual. More importantly, it’s making them look like they don’t care.

So, a killer with a political motive, probably: considering the proliferation of such groups in the east end, a social radical. From the killings we can assume he had some medical knowledge or training. Not necessarily a doctor, but at least an educated man, someone who took a class or two in anatomy and such. From witness statements, a man believed to be a foreigner.

Now, let’s make an educated guess. He’s not one of the poor Russian Jews that are so abundant in Whitechapel. They wouldn’t have the necessary medical knowledge, they were mostly tailors or merchants. However, many well-to-do Russian anarchists also fled Russia following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, because of a crackdown on various socialist groups.

Educated men, many of whom ended up in London and naturally gravitated to the hotbed of socialism and anarchism, the east end. Whitechapel.

So, a well-educated Russian anarchist.

That’s a fairly specific profile and, to be honest, that’s as far as I expected this column to get. You see, none of the conventional Ripper suspects come close to fitting that description. But as I dug deeper, I went back to the original suspects, the people that Scotland Yard was looking at back during the time of the murders themselves.

Which is where I came across the name Nikolay Vasiliev.

At first, I dismissed him out of hand. Although he was Russian and educated in Odessa, the early rumors (and the reason the police were looking at him) placed him in a weird religious cult that castrated themselves and despised sexuality in any form. That made sense to the detectives, but not to me, not with the profile that I had devised.

Then I got to a report from a newspaper in St. Petersburg. That report dismissed the rumors about the cult and instead pegged him as an Anarchist.

Now, it’s hard to nail this guy down. Apparently the cops didn’t consider him for long and when you start to dig for evidence the man appears to be made of smoke. There’s little to prove that the man even existed outside of the numerous reports of his name in the contemporary papers.

It’s easy to see why the police dismissed him from consideration. They were looking for a madman driven by some form of sexual rage. I have no doubts that Vasiliev was mad, but what drove him was not a hatred of prostitutes, but a hatred of government, of the powers-that-be, of the authoritarian state that drove him from his home, and of the figure that represented that same form of authority here in his new home. The man who had ordered 5000 men to brutally shut down a peaceful protest less than a year before.

Sir Charles Warren.

There’s no physical evidence to tie this up in a nice, neat package. After one hundred and twenty plus years, how could there be? I’m drawing conclusions and making intuitive leaps, I know that.

But what are the odds that, without ever having heard about the guy, sitting at my desk in 2012, I could draw up a profile of an educated Russian anarchist and then find an educated Russian anarchist among the early suspects?

Coincidence? No, that stretches credulity too far past the breaking point.

No.

I have no doubt left in my mind. Nikolay Vasiliev was Jack The Ripper.

Case closed.

See you next time,





SERIAL: CHOSEN PARTS 2 AND 3



Have we got a treat for you, Weaponeers--a double dose of Josh McGraw's nasty grindhouse tale of nosferatu malfeasance, CHOSEN! SoCal vampire voivod El Jefe might be out of the picture, but the bloody work isn't done yet!

How do I explain a world of Vampires and giant voices in my head telling me to fight evil?  How do I explain that to a woman who’s put up with all kinds of regular bullshit out of me?  If I make her think I’m fucking insane on top of everything else, I’m gonna be single by the end of this phone call. Lying would be so much easier.  Or leaving out some of the truth ...READ SERIAL: CHOSEN PART 2 and CHOSEN PART 3 NOW!

Friday

FLASH FICTION: ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOUR



A quick flash fiction from long-time Weaponizer contributor Michael Jacobo, author of Mother and Dr. Carron, about the joy of theft.

What am I doing? I don’t need to be doing this, I can resist! Yet all the same here I am creeping through the dark taking things that don’t belong to me. I told myself I would just look and keep walking, then it was just check for an open window and keep walking on. I convinced myself slipping in and walking around was going to be it. I’d go to the bar have a drink and forget about this place. This pillow case is almost full of stuff, I’m almost done. I should just drop all this stuff and leave, but I can’t. My hands won’t let me, this feeling is just too good. This is the last time, promise ...READ FLASH FICTION: 'ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOUR' NOW!

Wednesday

MUSEHICK: WEAPON ICING



Is it not weird how writing an introduction to something can sometimes be twice as bloody hard as pouring out fiction? Especially if it is to introduce yourself. I am the worst person for writing in your birthday card too - you would think I were an illiterate mute some times ... so bad are the messages I secrete in people's cards.

This has taken a dog's age to get written, and all it is is me saying hello.

Anyway  - I first became aware of Weaponizer, like many, through Whitechapel. Whitechapel under Warren Ellis was a hothouse for talent and spurred on a lot of individuals to do something they might not have done otherwise. I was a little late to the game, but I fell in love with the whole Weaponizer concept, jumping in with some flash fiction and eventually a serialised story with a punny bastard of a title which just came to me one day: 'Weapon Eyes, Sir'; a serial I intend get rolling again very soon.

So, I am going to be helping with the flash fiction section, and I am definitely going to get moving on this asap. In the meantime you can check out my books here and check out my other online writing feeding as news through here: http://eyeknew.wordpress.com/.


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