Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I should be writing at this very moment. Instead, I’m typing this up and thinking about Captain Picard and varying degrees of getting published.

A story I wrote for braindouche got podcasted recently. It’s not quite the same as being published, but it’s still pretty awesome (oh my god, oh my god, oh my god—have you heard it? I squealed with joy and then listened to it a few dozen times). I even got my first rejection this year!

I could call myself lucky, but on further examination, I know it isn’t true. The places I’ve gone so far I went not simply because I was in the right place at the right time. Lots of people were there at the right place and the right time. I was the one who saw the possibilities and then put the work in to transform those possibilities into a reality.

That’s not to say that I’m just so awesome, because I’m not. I missed a lot of opportunities because I didn’t put the work in … just like most everyone else.

You have to put your foot in the water if you’re going to go swimming.

Every year, I set goals for myself rather than do resolutions. A goal is something you move toward, a resolution is something you break.

I haven’t always finished my goals, but I have always grown from them. This year, the fact that I’m a pushover became a bit too obvious to ignore. I’m making standing up for myself one of my goals and I’ve gotten an early start.

I actually called a customer service line!

That’s precisely the sort of thing I’ve never been able to bring myself to do.

So, I just want to say how much of an inspiration Jennifer Hudock’s commitment reports have been to me. Seeing the inner workings of her progress have really spurred me on to start submitting my work.

I think I’m a little too boring to bother people with regular status updates, but I put a progress box on the right hand side of the page where you can see a basic overview. I won’t put every little project in there because a lot of what I write isn’t intended to be published … at least not by other people. So, if it’s something I’m going to podcast or post up here, you won’t be seeing it there.

But keep an eye out for it and pester me if everything stops moving, ok?

(Read more!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Snow-Colored Fabrications

Your mother and I hear you want to open your presents a mere five hours into the day on which we have allowed you to believe the savior was born.

No presents will be opened before our family’s traditional hour, noon, for appropriate consciousness on that most sacred day.

We are not cruel parents. Our yearly hangover is essential to the holiday and not a symptom of regret at our having so many children.

The truth is … this year, Santa used UPS for some present delivery. The wretched UPS tracking shows that your presents are still in the south pole.


(Read more!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Patrick Stewart

The other day, I was thinking about making a change to an ongoing project at work that I inherited from a former co-worker. It’s a big change in paradigm, though not necessarily big in any other respect.

I vaguely remembered being told that things would start to take on my own personal style and that there was nothing like it.

Good advice!

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had no idea who had told me that. I couldn’t think of anyone I work with who hands out such sage wisdom.

After pondering it for a bit, I realized that my subconscious had inserted a bit of advice that Capt. Picard had given to Cmdr. Riker (probably The Icarus Factor but I’m not certain).

In a sense, that tells you just how much Patrick Stewart has impacted me. I know the man isn’t his character on the television, but the beauty of acting is that it doesn’t matter. Capt. Picard is real enough to give me advice because Patrick Stewart is that great an actor.

Now, if the writing had been crappy, I probably wouldn’t have remembered the advice positively, but it was Patrick who took that good advice and made it real to me.

If this was just a personal reflection, I wouldn’t bother posting it up. However, there’s a rumor going around that Patrick Stewart may soon be knighted. I hope the rumor is true. I think he deserves it, and it seems the Queen is a fan of him too, so chances are good.

So, what other advice does the Captain have for me this year?

I’m ready for my own ship. Having authority has never been an interest of mine, though I certainly “step up to the plate” when necessary. But that’s ok because it’s my own ship. Not a ship that involves giving orders, but a family working toward common goals.

And, of course, the fearless exploration of the culture and universe we live in.

Because that’s how we do things on the U.S.S. Badass.

Speaking of that grand old ship, braindouche produced an audio story I wrote. It's called Good Will. Check it out!

(Read more!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tactical Highlighter #13

This week has been kinda crappy. The culmination was getting stranded by the bus on Friday … in the snow. It blazed on past me, and ignored me running after it.

I didn’t do much actual writing. I finished plotting Terms of Service and started plotting DSOAW. Part of the reason I haven’t been writing is because I don’t want to start a long project before editing Edgar Kennicot but I don’t quite feel ready to edit it yet.

Anyway, on to the audio.

  • Pseudopod’s Napier’s Bones by Stephen Gaskell. I’m not a huge horror fan so it took me awhile to get around to trying any of Pseudopod’s work. As it so happens, their definition of horror is usually pretty far removed from the Saw and Hostel variety conception. This story is awesome. It has references to John Napier, inventor of logarithms. And, in a way, it’s about performance enhancing substances. Sort of. Haha.
  • LibriVox’s recording of Captain Stormfield’s Visit To Heaven by Mark Twain. This is a very amusing take on what heaven should be like. Well, if Mark Twain is telling it anyway. This is one of the things I really like about LibriVox. I probably wouldn’t have read this story on my own. The fact that someone was reading it to me meant I was more willing to experience something that I had never heard of. Sure, Mr. Twain is pretty famous and I might have gotten around to it eventually, but there are plenty of works that I definitely wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.
  • Variant Frequencies’ Naught But Ash by Ann Stringer. This story is very much like a Twilight Zone episode. But not the Twilight Zone episode you might think. In fact, it’s like someone found a missing episode. I came away with questions. It’s a nice puzzle.
  • StarShipSofa’s The Angst of God, I Kid You Not by Michael Bishop. This story is darkly humorous and puts forth a point of view I completely disagree with. It’s kind of like Pink Floyd’s Fletcher Memorial dipped in Kurt Vonnegut from a demented universe. The story starts at 17 minutes and 30 seconds.
(Read more!)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Awake

The parole officers released the ghosts and there was no way to put them back. It wasn't even possible for them to commit crimes anymore, so they couldn't be re-jailed.

I was awake when they came. Out of my dreams and into my living room. It felt like a thousand years ago, but it was just five weeks.

I didn't really mind. They could watch me eat my frosted flakes every morning for all I cared.

They weren't haunting my dreams anymore, so who was I to argue with a ghoulish breakfast?


(Read more!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tactical Highlighter #12

No excuses for this week, I’m just plain late.

The writing front went pretty well this week. I finished the first draft on my Tony Cello story this week. I also have a decent title for it now: The Transported Town. It’s a bit Philip K. Dick considering it’s a paranormal mystery, but Philip can infect my titles with awesome any time he feels like.

I also started plotting for Terms of Service. I had originally wanted to do a full length novel of it, but based on my experience during NaNo, I’m not sure what I have right now can actually be stretched out to novel length. I may go with a ten part serial (20K total according to my current theory) instead.

  • Atoms, Motion, and the Void did a story awhile back called Dinner in the Dark by Sherwin Sleeves. AMV is a public access radio program produced in New Hampshire. Their release schedule is a little odd, but Sherwin is an incredible story teller with an amazing voice. I’m very grateful to Braindouche for introducing me to this podcast. The story itself is a melancholy look at the past and the confusion that comes with the passage of years and the cultural myth that’s built up around it. But you can enjoy it without putting all that thought into it.
  • Dunesteef: Final Exam by Edward McKeown. Excellent nostalgic science fiction piece with more than a little 50s era nostalgia. There’s also a hilarious intro by Rish and Big, and a bit of discussion about optimistic SF. If you’re interested in optimistic SF, you should definitely give Shineanthology a looksie. Optimistic SF is not my bag of rice, but it might be yours.
  • Poul Anderson’s Security … read by Gregg Margarite, one of my absolute favoritest LibriVox readers ever. This is a great story, and a really great reading. Despite the fact that it was written in 1953, the story is pretty good about not being misogynistic.
  • Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, read by Karen Savage. This is one of my favorite books ever, and I’ve listened to this version of it at least five times this year. Karen Savage does a brilliant job of reading it and if you have any interest in Jane Austen at all, you should definitely listen to this version.
(Read more!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Invaders

The invaders weren't bad once you got to know them. The pale ones were a pasty fright, and most were too tall and thin to avoid physical revulsion.

They were obsessed with a convoluted series of inter-operating databases which they insisted contained money. Absurd.

But their grains could be fermented to make a beverage they called “beer,” and that was almost enough to forgive the rest of their offenses.


(Read more!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tactical Highlighter #11

I’m doing things a little bit differently this week. After the recommendations, I’m going to have a review of a movie. That’s the primary reason this week’s Tactical Highlighter is a bit late.

It’s more indepth than my mini reviews and the movie I’m covering isn’t terribly obscure. So, let me know if you liked it, or disliked it or just plain didn’t care.

  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (LibriVox). Unlike a lot of the stuff I link to, this one is not only safe for kiddies, it’s actually read by a kid. It’s a ten chapter book, and none of the chapters are very long so this might make a fun book for a road trip or bedtime story for a week and a half. I don’t think it will be too annoying for adults either, so even if you don’t have kids, you should check it out.
  • Variant Frequencies’ Fuel Pressure by Dennis Egan. A curious little story about spite and the end of the world.
  • StarShipSofa’s Child of an Ancient City by Tad Williams. StarShipSofa is really an audio magazine, so there’s a lot here you might not find as interesting as the main story. Helpfully, they’ve included the information in the show notes that the story starts at 51:00 minutes in. This story is in the tradition of classic frame stories (such as Arabian Nights). It’s a really phenomenal story. However, if you dislike Arabian Nights, you’ll probably dislike this one.
  • Dunesteef’s His Poisoner by Sean Eads. This is a really intricate and multilayered story that can be enjoyed without getting into the intricacies. I’d love to say more about it, but it would require spoilers and this story is all about the journey.
  • PodCastle’s Marsh Gods by Ann Leckie. I’ve apparently run out of mana for describing these. Let’s just say it involves old gods and very clever little girls.

Now, for this week’s feature presentation:

Mutant Chronicles: A Review

Mutant Chronicles is based on an RPG of the same name. Appropriately, there are a lot of interesting concepts here.

Unfortunately, that’s probably the nicest thing I can say about this movie. It has Ron Perlman, and while normally that would be a plus, in this case, it’s a downside: It proved to me that it was possible to have a Perlman movie I didn’t like.

At first, they seem to want us to believe that Perlman’s character is a man who has more faith and hope than anyone else. However, as the movie progresses they let us see that he has lost the sense of humanity that would be necessary for him to have that faith and hope. What he really has is a desire for glory. That would be interesting if it had not been for horrible pacing and writing.

I think that’s ultimately where most of the problems in this movie come from. The movie tries to play as an ensemble cast, but we are never really given a reason to care about any of the characters.

A character is introduced early on who appears to be there simply so he can be found later on and play a part in the group getting ambushed. One of the ensemble is given a very Nazi air for no discernable reason other than having a minor redemption of a Nazi-like character.

Devon Akoi seems to be in the movie for no better reason than to have her reprise her role as Miho from Sin City. Anna Walton is in the movie to be a critique of blind faith, but at the same time a psuedo love interest for Thomas Jane’s character.

I really could go on and on with that, but I think I’ve covered the character aspects well enough.

There’s a bit of character development via brick bat as well, but it’s really not the worst part of the movie.

The worst part is that so many of the awesome concepts are never brought to any good use at all. The alien artifact was almost certainly not intended to be used for what it accidentally ended up doing, but we’re never given any idea of what it was intended for. Thomas Jane’s character almost had some drive, but aside from being the most “in the moment,” human character, we’re never given any indication of what that might be.

The world is drawn up into four corporations instead of nations (like the capitalistic version of 1984), but we don’t see how that has changed society in any real measure. War is still conducted in a more or less conventional way, even though dividing the world into four companies would probably have a change on that as well.

There are mild steampunk elements, but nothing is really done with them either.

My last thought on this: I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the quality of the special effects on this movie. I disagree. I really don’t know what people are complaining about on this one. The special effects are pretty decent and would be completely unnoticeable if the movie itself wasn’t so bad.

(Read more!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Stars

There can be no life without death.

The first stars are made of light elements that cannot produce life. Their deaths produce the heavier elements that will fuel the life that grows around their descendants.

It is messy and heartbreaking, but Chaos loves her children and if they have a few hairs out of place or a curious number of limbs, she knows it's for the best.


(Read more!)