I’m Luther Siler.  I’m a writer and an editor.  Welcome to my blog,

I’m the author of Skylights, available for $4.95 from Amazon, and The Benevolence Archives.  Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 is 99 cents from Amazon.  Volume 2, The Sanctum of the Sphere, is $4.95.  All three books are available in print as well, and the print edition of Sanctum includes BA 1 as a bonus!   My newest book is a nonfiction memoir about teaching called Searching for Malumba: Why Teaching is Terrible, and Why We Do It Anyway.  The ebook is $4.95 and the print edition is $15.95.

Autographed books can be ordered straight from me as well.

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Thanks for reading!

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Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: SARAH & DUCK


Sarah & Duck has been on constantly at my house for… oh, ten years?  Fifteen?  A hundred and twelve?  How old am I?  What year is this?  What century?  Did we elect a plant President yet?  A real long damn time.

Sarah & Duck’s theme song plays four times an episode, since each episode is broken into two little mini-episodes and we get the theme song played at the beginning and the end of each, meaning that in the middle you get to hear it two times in a row.  Picture these words chanted in a charming middle-aged British accent over gentle guitar music:

Sarah and duck.  (quack!)
Sarah and duck.  (quack!)
Sarah and duck.  (quack!)
Sarahandduck.  (quack.)

Quack isn’t actually a word; that’d be Duck quacking.  The only difference is the cadence; the fourth Sarah and duck is faster than the other three.

So, yeah.  Sarah & Duck.  Here they are.  Try to guess which one is which:


The artwork might remind you of South Park.  I doubt that’s intentional, as it would be impossible for any animated program to be farther from South Park in tone and execution as Sarah & Duck.  Sarah is a girl.  Duck is a duck.  They’re both very, very, very British.  There’s also a nameless, disembodied narrator, who not only narrates but talks to both of the characters.  They talk back.  He’s very British too, and says things like well done and have a go and Tuesday and Bobber-clobber, which is probably an ethnic slur, all the time.

Sarah appears to have no parents, but she lives in a nice house with Duck, who has his own bedroom.  Adults are occasionally present as side characters, and then there’s the narrator, but he doesn’t have a body so he doesn’t really count.  Other things talk, but not all of them.  Duck only quacks.  This is Plate Girl:

Picture Shows: Plate Girl squeaks her plate to speak to the lost plates.
Picture Shows: Plate Girl squeaks her plate to speak to the lost plates.

I want it noted for the record that I didn’t know that picture had a caption until uploading it, and I’m keeping it there, because that’s the kind of show this is. Plate Girl has a plate with her all the time. The plate doesn’t talk.  There was an episode where she lost it in the fog, and she was very sad, and eventually Sarah figured out that she accidentally set it on top of a giant tortoise who happened to be walking by when Plate Girl set her plate down so that she could open the gate into Sarah’s “garden,” which is British for “front yard.”  I have not seen this “lost plates” episode yet, somehow.

This is Scarf Lady, who seems mis-named:


You will note that Scarf Lady’s handbag has a face, and talks, and generally seems to not actually like Scarf Lady very much, which I would think would be a more salient characteristic than her everpresent scarf.  But no, she’s not Talking Handbag Lady.  She’s also not Keeps a Cthulhoid Sentient Pile of Immobile Yarn Captive in Her Horrifying Knitting Abbatoir Lady, but she does that too:


Oh, and there are talking shallots in Sarah’s garden.  By which I mean an American garden-garden, not a British lawn-garden.  The shallots are the only thing growing in the garden, and the British pronunciation of “shallots” is different enough from American pronunciation that it took forever for me to figure out what he was saying.  They talk too:

imagesAnyway, Sarah has adventures, and they’re whimsical and British– did I mention this show was British?– and fun, and occasionally slightly entertaining, and the way she has to sound out long words can be really cute at times, and the show’s harmless and sweet and actually not very annoying at all.

Until the Pink Episode.  Which starts off typically, but then goes off the rails completely for a moment, in a way that will have you questioning your own sanity and the show’s entire premise.  Watch this to the 1:49 mark and then pause it:

You see what I mean here?  The weird look on Duck’s face, the creepy bells, the sudden horrified silence of the narrator as the show implies that Sarah is about to  carve her own heart out to make sure she’s as pink on the inside as she is on the outside?  It’s the most WTF moment of any kids’ TV show I’ve ever seen.

The show is, uh, not normally like that.  But that’s what got it reviewed.  Because it ain’t a kids’ show until somebody’s threatening to disembowel themselves, right?

Two thumbs up, but one of them is severed.


The_Girl_with_All_the_Gifts.jpgThis has been, in general, a pretty goddamn good year for reading.  I’ve been trying to aggressively diversify the authors I’m reading; my goal is that at the end of the year 75% of my books will have been by women and/or people of color, and so far just under half of the books I’ve read this year have been by authors that I’d not previously read anything by.  So I’ve been doing a lot of “Let’s read this person’s best book!” so far this year, which leads to a lot of good books.

What I haven’t really had is a book that’s fucking blown me away to the point where I was recommending it to everyone I know.  That only happens a few times a year, obviously.  Well, I’ve got my first one for 2016, and it’s M.R. Carey’s THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

Carey isn’t quite a new author to me, as he’s got a long and storied history as a writer of comic books, but this is the first of his novels that I’ve read.  And, to be honest, this is where reviewing it gets difficult, as it’s the type of book that I feel like you want to go into knowing as little as humanly possible about beforehand.  There’s a movie coming; I happened to chance upon the trailer, which caught my interest immediately, and then saw two or three positive references to the book in the same day and ordered it immediately.  I cannot wait to see this story on the big screen.  Hunt down the trailer if you want to, but I’d prefer you just take my word on it and go in blind.

What can I tell you?  Well, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS takes what has, lately, become somewhat of a worn-out genre and immediately makes it fresh again by putting a twist on it that as far as I can tell I haven’t seen anywhere at all.  And the twist makes the setting horrific as hell; the book got under my skin immediately and stayed there, and I read the whole 400+ page novel in two or three big gulps, staying up later than I wanted to on more than one occasion because I couldn’t put it down.  The book is fast-paced and action-packed, and once it gets its setting in place it doesn’t slow down for a second until the ending, which is as bleak and haunting and exactly what it needed to be as anything I’ve read in years.  This is the type of book that could easily have been ruined by the wrong ending, so it’s good Carey found the right one.

So, yeah.  I’m not going to tell you too much about this book, or why you should read it, other than it’s awesome and horrifying and you should take my damn word on it.

But you should.  Because I say so.   And it’ll be worth the surprises.  Don’t even read the blurb on the back.  Just go buy this and read it right now.  It’s the best damn book I’ve read this year.  Trust me.

I build a toy, pt. 2: The Finishening

SO the boy got home, and saw the Falcon, and immediately any thought of me not finishing it tonight went out the window.  And therefore:

IMG_4276This is the end of bag five.  IMG_4277Bag Six, mostly concerned with building out the middle section of the Falcon.IMG_4278Bag seven.  Most of this was actually underneath the ship, putting in the belly gun and landing gear.  IMG_4279Bag Eight, AKA “Build this exact same thing a whole bunch of times.”IMG_4280

And the completed Falcon.IMG_4281You can fit two minifigures in the cockpit, at least barely.  Rey and Han are piloting.IMG_4282And the top blooms out to reveal the inside.  Hi, BB-8!IMG_4283Cooool.IMG_4284

Random bits that were left, and the Lego Separator, which I’ve never used.  I took a bunch of them and just sprinkled them around the outside of the ship, especially the bright red circle bits.  I don’t know why these were extra, as I didn’t miss anything.  I swear.  The extra missile is good, as the two missiles fire unexpectedly far and they’re going to get lost soon.  The rest?  Whatever, I’ll throw them in with the rest of the Legos.

Some random thoughts and also I build a toy

Stayed up last night and livetweeted the convention up to the point where Tim Kaine’s speech finished; I’m always amazed that I don’t have a ton of unfollows during these things, as I tend to tweet a lot when I’m watching anything remotely political.  But no!  Only six people all day yesterday, which is a perfectly normal number.  I ended up liking Tim Kaine more than I thought I would– a thought that I think my Twitter feed shared.  There was a lot of making fun of him going on but it felt affectionate, if that makes any sense, and dude has succeeded in making his stupid Donald Trump impression worm its way into my brain– meaning that every time the idiot says “believe me” again, people are going to hear Kaine doing it.  He’s like Ned Sanders, but with a really sharp knife, the kind where you don’t realize anyone cut you until your head falls off.  I still would have preferred several other options, but I’m starting to think I can get to like this guy.

Anyway it’s my day off and I decided to build the Millennium Falcon.  Legos have gotten fucking complicated, guys.


That’s a lot of bags.  They are labeled 1-8, but several numbers have more than one bag, some of the bags have other bags inside them, and one bag has no number on it at all.  There’s maybe 12 outer bags.  IMG_4265That is one big-assed instruction manual.  I got through about 90 pages of it before deciding I’d had enough for the morning.

IMG_4266This is the part where I realized I’d screwed up for the first time, as you really need to pay attention to the colors in the instruction manuals and the right pieces were inexplicably in the unlabeled bag.  At any rate, you start by building the superstructure of the thing and I made mine too short.


There, that’s better.  As it worked out, this was my only big mistake, or at least the only one I’ve noticed so far.  The engineers for these things are crazy people and the people who make the manuals are crazy geniuses.  IMG_4268IMG_4269

Adding the floor.IMG_4270Finishing the first step of the build with some work on the underside.  This is crazily complicated already.  All of this was the first bag, by the way.  IMG_4271On to the second bag.  We’re making progress!  IMG_4272The end of Bag Two, which was mostly furniture and detail stuff.  Also, I got to put in some decals.  IMG_4273

The end of Bag Three.  Which, weirdly, doesn’t look all that different from Bag Two at first, until you look a little closer.  IMG_4275

And here’s the end of Bag Four, putting me halfway through the build.  At this point I realized my eyes were bleeding and decided to be done for a bit.  There are at least two more minifigures in the bags somewhere, because I haven’t found Rey or BB-8 yet.  The first four bags took about two hours, so I’ll probably end up finishing this tomorrow.  Whee!