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Raunch Review: Foundation

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


The Author: Isaac Asimov

Work in Question: Foundation

The Profanity: “Space!”


Look, I realize that Isaac Asimov wrote the first Foundation stories in the nineteen-forties, and the first book didn’t arrive until the nineteen-fifties. I also recognize that white Americans, in particular, like to pretend that this was some glorious era of American history where the nuclear family was the norm, everyone washed their hands before dinner, and children always called adults “mister” and “ma’am.” But, I also know this is an era where terms like FUBAR and SNAFU were invented, and a glance through the Green’s Dictionary of Slang records plenty of new vulgarities emerging. So, it’s important to acknowledge that the wholesome mystique of the fifties is mostly myth wrapped up in attractive propaganda. Foul language was common even then, despite what folksy feel-good television programming would like to tell us.

All that said, there’s a reason why that propaganda is effective. Much of the content from that era seems clean—but, publishing was operating under different rules in the middle of the twentieth century, and censorship was in full swing. Publishing something even mildly vulgar was difficult—J. D. Salinger notwithstanding. But that’s not an excuse when it comes to fictional profanity, which makes Asimov’s choice of “space” for a futuristic oath a bit silly, even for its era.

Throughout Foundation, it’s common for characters in the book to shout out a “No, by Black Space, no!” or “Great Space!” and every time it stands out a little more than it should—coming across more cute than effective. I’ve talked about the impact of oaths in the past, especially oaths that are blasphemous, and how they tend to extend beyond the standard lifespan of your typical run-of-the-mill profanity. That’s not what’s happening here. The concept of “space”—at least within the first book—is never treated with a particularly deific reverence. The titular Foundation’s faith is based on knowledge and nuclear energy/power. So when the “space” oath gets referenced, it feels out of place and awkward. Even swearing by “nuclear” or the “atom” would make more sense within the story’s context, and neither would have come across so twee.

Final Score: 2.5


🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


GLEAM UPON THE WAVES, One Week Old

It’s Tuesday, which means Book IV of The Bell Forging Cycle, Gleam Upon the Waves, has now officially been out for a week! 🥳 There’s always a bit of trepidation launching a late-series book. Series are fickle, and sales tend to drop dramatically between each installment. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised! Sales have been solid. And, based on early feedback, people seem to like this one. Hooray! So big thank you to everyone who’s picked up a copy of Gleam or dropped me a note. It means the world to me, and I hope you enjoy your time in the Territories.


Finished? Leave a Review!

Already finished Gleam Upon the Waves? Please leave an honest review either where you purchased the book or over on Goodreads. (Or both! Both is great.) Not only will your reviews help me out, but they’ll also assist your fellow readers in finding books they’ll enjoy. Oh yeah. Tell your friends! Word of mouth is key to any books success.


DEAD DROP Live Returns Tonight

It’s Tuesday, which means tonight I’m going to do another live stream. Please join me from 6–7 PM PDT over on twitch.tv/kmalexander. I’ll be giving a behind-the-scenes look at the different work that goes into creating an Old Haunt and answering any questions you might have. Should be a good time and you should come.


Signed Copy Update

Right now, Amazon is telling me I’ll have my copies in mid-April. (Right around the 15th) Signed copies will be available in the store immediately after they’re received. Thanks for your patience. I know a few of you are as eagerly awaiting this shipment as I am. I wish it could be faster, but I couldn’t order copies of Gleam until the book went live, which delays their production and shipment.


I know I sound like a broken record when I tell you how much I appreciate your excitement and passion about my weird little series. But it does mean a lot, and it keeps me going. Thank you for making Gleam Upon the Waves one of the books you chose to read this year. That is an honor I don’t take lightly. I hope you enjoy your time with Wal as he embarks on his latest adventure. There’s more to come and I cannot wait to sharing it with you.

DEAD DROP Live now on YouTube

I’ve shared a recording of last week’s DEAD DROP Live on YouTube. (And it’s embedded below.) The fun starts at the 11:00 mark (otherwise, it’s just a chill “stream starting soon” countdown). This was my first attempt at streaming, and while I think it went rather well, I’ve already made some adjustments for the next stream to make it easier to watch after the fact. Next week I’m planning on giving a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into creating an Old Haunt. So come join me and watch live on my Twitch channel next Tuesday, from 6–7 PM PDT. Should be a good time.

I hope you enjoy the reading and the Q&A session. If you haven’t nabbed your copy of Gleam Upon the Waves you can do so via any of the links below. Signed-books are coming soon. (I’ll post when they arrive.)

Buy the paperback:

Amazon – Barnes & Noble – IndieBound

Buy the eBook:

Kindle – Kobo – Nook – Apple Books – GooglePlay
Gleam Upon the Waves sticker set

Behold the GLEAM UPON THE WAVES Sticker Set

While the news on the pandemic front has been positive. We’re still a ways away from in-person conventions and meetups. That doesn’t mean I’m slacking when it comes to swag. Like the titles before it, Gleam Upon the Waves will have its own swag pack, which I’ll eventually give away at conventions and over on my store. I’m excited to share it with you. First up: the new stickers.

These will be 1.5″ vinyl like the others. I’m really pleased with how well they turned out. And those Clark Ashton Smith fans out there will appreciate my not-so-subtle reference. Bookmarks are still in production (trying something new), but I should be able to share the new button real soon.

15 days, roaders!

What if THE STARS WERE RIGHT was a comic book?

My pal, Mal Jones, surprised me today with this incredible comic-book approach to the cover of The Stars Were Right. It’s phenomenal. I had to share it here (well… everywhere, really) as I knew y’all would be as impressed as me. I love Mal’s style. The half-tone shading he’s using here works really well. His take on Wal, Zilla, and Peter Black is fantastic. Honored to have such an amazing depiction. Makes me want to do a comic book.

If you like this, Be sure to check out Mal’s other work, and follow him over on Twitter and Instagram. He makes cool stuff. I particularly like his Potboiler project and have a copy of Nomencreatures sitting on my shelf. He’s also got prints for sale, and you should buy one.

Raunch Review: Star Trek

Raunch Review: Star Trek

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


The Author: Gene Roddenberry & Ronald D. Moore

Work in Question: Star Trek (Specifically, TNG and beyond)

The Profanity: “petaQ”


Universal Translators are a finicky class of technology. It seems like they’re incredibly accurate until the speaker uses faux-profanity. Suddenly, the translator ceases to work and interjects the untranslated word in the selected dialect. It’s handy from a writing perspective as a particular malfunction like this allows a writer to interject a little alien cultural spice without much effort. It’s convenient in a plot-holey sort of way. 

Generally, Star Trek has done a decent job managing to avoid this awkwardness. Most cursing in the series is mild, and easy enough to slip or shift that it doesn’t jump out. With one exception that first appears in season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That word? The Klingon curse of “petaQ.” The word’s spelling is as varied as is its use ranging from “Pahtak,” “Pathak,” “p’tahk,” “p’takh,” “patahk,” “pahtk,” “p’tak,” or “p’taq” allow you to choose your desired amount of vowels and apostrophes. (Though I will be using the official Klingon Dictionary spelling going forward.) So what exactly is a “petaQ,” well, according to the aforementioned Klingon Dictionary, it’s translated to something akin to “weirdo,” stemming from the verb “taQ,” which translates as “to be weird.”

It’s easy to dismiss this. “Weirdo,” even as an insult, is relatively mild in English. However, often translations lack nuance. Translations tend to be very direct, and they can ignore the significance placed on the word. They can lack the weight of cultural history. This isn’t uncommon in translation and is why a good translator doesn’t do a one-to-one translation, but instead works to carry the significance and meaning from the original work into the translated text.

As we’ve seen in real life, words can pick up extra meaning. What one generation thought of as mild could become strikingly offensive to the next. The same applies to cultures. There’s nothing unsurprising in this—language never stops evolving. It’s malleable. You can see this with “petaQ,” where the word serves as a severe cultural insult among Klingons, the sort that drives a warrior to violence. A substantial bit of faux-profanity with well-constructed history, and as a result, it scores well.

Final Score: 4.0


🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.