April 13th, 2009


Amazon Rankings?

This is weird.

Something screwy is going on with Amazon's sales rankings. And their search engine. Soemthing really screwy with their search engine: I tried a search for Heather Has Two Mommies, and on my first search the eponymous book came back as the 10th result. Books unrelated to it and matching none of the words in the title, plus imitations of it and ones about it, all ranked higher. Buh?

But when I searched again, I got it as the top hit. Buh?

It also has no sales rank. Contrast this with, say, Schlock Mercenary: the Teraport Wars, which has a sales rank of #637,692, or Alysha's Fall, rank #4,559,584. I'm pretty sure it's not that Heather Has Two Mommies hasn't sold enough copies to get a sales rank.

According to Publishers Weekly, Amazon is saying this is a glitch, and not a new policy.

According to Mark Probst , Amazon Support sent him an email that it was an intentional change to delist "adult" material. (And on what planet is Heather Has Two Mommies "adult" material? O_O Daddy's Roommate likewise lost its sales rank). Probst has a link to a Playboy Centerfold special that kept its ranking, but what roaming about I did trying to find heterosexual adult erotica also came up with a bunch of no-sales-rank results. So if it's a glitch, it's a glitch targeted at pretty much anything GLBT and most (but not all) erotica.

My guess is that it was intentional, but either it was intentionally done by someone who didn't really have the authority to do it, and/or Amazon didn't expect a backlash and is now so embarrassed that they're trying to squirm out of it. :6 The "Publisher's Weekly" piece at least suggests that the rankings are going to come back. It's still annoying at best. Sheesh!

Edit: Bunch more links and info here. Also biased towards "it;s an Amazon plot" but has links on Amazon defending itself.


Mistletoe was expecting the sumptuous mansion with its twenty foot tall perimeter walls. She was expecting the tower outposts, the uniformed guards armed with automatic rifles. She was prepared for the Rottweilers, the security patrols, the cameras, the alarm system.

But she wasn't ready for the toddler.

How can you have a family? She watched through the scope of her sniper rifle as the target picked up his young son and whirled him around.

She should have been prepared for him. It was all in the dossier: "devoted father", "loving husband". She'd studied it all in detail. She'd paid enough for it; she couldn't afford to miss anything. But reading it wasn't the same as seeing it.

The target set the boy on his shoulder. The tow-headed child laughed and hugged his father's head as his sister ran up and tackled her father's legs.

How can you have a family when you took mine away from me?

It had been twenty years since she had seen him in person. She had not forgotten his face: the crooked nose, the dimpled cheeks, the warm, incongruous smile as he put a bullet through her mother's head. He had looked so happy as her father charged him wielding a kitchen chair as a weapon. He shot him six times before he fell. Her adolescent brother tried to run and he shot him in the back. Her older sister whimpered while she was hidden in a cabinet; he heard her and shot her through the door. All the while smiling and smiling, as he sprayed bullets into the bodies of her family, as blood splattered across the white lace curtains bordering the windows, as he turned their clean bright kitchen into an abattoir.

Now he put his son down on the patio of his own clean bright home. His children tugged at his hands, pulling him towards the swimming pool. A few feet away, his wife smiled at him, calling out something Mistletoe was too far away to hear.

How can you smile at him? Don't you know what he's done?

She had been hiding behind the water heater in the pantry, peering out between boxes and the crack of the door. She heard one of his men yell, "Anyone seen the last girl?" They searched for her for several minutes, while her father's last breaths bubbled out of him and his fingers twitched just a few yards away.

Then he said, "Screw it. She's, what, four? She's harmless. Torch the place and let's get out of here."

Now he put inflatable armbands around his little boy's arms and pumped up a plastic seahorse for his daughter.

Mistletoe didn't have time for this. The cameras for this spot were playing spliced loops of routine footage, but the next patrol would be by in minutes when the guards whose bodies were cooling beside her didn't check in. She double-checked the gauges for wind and distance, braced the sniper rifle, and aimed a little up and to the right of her enemy's head.

Beside him, his daughter danced with anticipation as his arms worked the pump. Mistletoe had a sudden vision of the girl, twenty years later, holding her own sniper rifle to slake a thirst for vengeance. His family will always remember this day, too.

Her resolve wavered.

Her aim didn't. Screw it. They're better off without you, you bastard. Mistletoe pulled the trigger.

As she fled the scene, the deaths of her family no longer haunted her. Nor did the image of her enemy, the back of his head shattered and fallen face-first into the pool, a red stain diffusing through the water.

But she could still hear the young girl screaming, long after she'd driven away.

abattoir: slaughterhouse

This word probably gets a fair amount of use in horror stories, but even though I'm familiar with it I've never used it much myself. It's such a gruesomely evocative word.

RL Snipers

Sometimes truth has less moral ambiguity than fiction.

Very glad to hear that Captain Phillips was successfully rescued! President Obama has vowed to halt the rise of piracy in this region; I hope all his efforts are equally successful. It's depressing to read about the hostages from other countries still being held. :( [Expletive deleted] pirates.

Edit: The Wall Street Journal's coverage, with more details. Amazing stuff. Good call on the president's part.