Linkdump has a Headache

I’ve got a headache of the nasty, stab behind the eyes sort. Probably an early sign of the upcoming weather change, I tend to get headaches when the weather changes.

So here’s just a quick linkdump:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch explains why short story markets are thriving and how writing and publishing short stories can help both indie and traditionally published authors.

The Guardian interviews authors David Moody and Barry Eisler on their decision to self-publish.

Spider-Man is dead, for now, apparently perished at the hands of the Green Goblin. Of course, it’s only Ultimate Spider-Man from the continuity-free reboot from the early 2000s that I could never get into, so Spider-Man proper is still somewhere out there alive. Never mind that comic book deaths almost never last, unless the character was a serious liability (hence the continuing deaths of Bucky, Gwen Stacy and certain annoying X-Men characters).

Finally, actor Peter Falk died on Thursday aged 83. He is of course best remembered for playing Inspector Columbo, an ace detective “disguised as an unmade bed” (unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read that description, but it’s spot on). There’s a longer obituary here.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, the entire Columbo series up to that point was rerun at least once a year in Germany, usually as a summer replacement program. And if there was nothing on, Columbo was always worth a watch. I’ve seen every case at least once, many of them two or more times. Because even if you’ve seen a particular Columbo case before, it doesn’t matter, because in all but two (I think) of Columbo’s cases, you know the identity of the killer going in.

The Columbo films were reverse whodunnits. The viewer knows whodunnit, the big question is how Columbo will find the truth and prove it. And through it all, the cases were cleverly constructed and well-plotted puzzles with barely any gore and violence. Columbo himself was immensely likable for all his rumpled and unkempt appearance. He never fired his gun in 33 years, he did not need flashy CSI technology to solve his cases (and in fact went up against a forensic specialist in one memorable case), he just relied on good old-fashioned brainpower. What is more, at a time when investigators on TV were either unmarried playboy types or mourning the aftermath of bitter divorces, Inspector Columbo was happily married (to a wife we never saw), had a dog (named only Dog) and a large extended family.

There are spiritual heirs to Columbo, investigators relying more on brains and clues than on violence and technology, entrapping suspects who are duped by their eccentric behaviour into not taking them seriously. Characters such as Monk, the frantically neat OCD detective, or the fake psychics turned detectives of Psych and The Mentalist owe a lot to Columbo.

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