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Showing posts from August, 2015

Goldshader is Live!

It looks like Goldshader's website, which features one of my stories "Distractions," is now up and running. I could not be more pleased with the awesome presentation for my story, including the evocative animation for a scene in the story.

"Distractions," as befitting its inclusion in the First Volume of the Game Fiction anthology, concerns augmented reality games played between young explorers on the fringe of the known universe. My story is available in full on the website, but it is also available for purchase in print and e-copy formats.

I'm extremely happy with how this website came out and I hope you have a chance to check out the other stories featured on the site!

Suggestions for the Post-Apocalypse

After watching the majesty of Mad Max: Fury Road, I decided to revisit some classics of the post-apocalypse over the last couple of months. I’m not sure what I was looking for, precisely but my rough outline was - the work (movie, television show, book, whatever) had to involve the end of the world as we know it and spend a significant portion of its narrative examining what sort of society would exist after such an event.

Obviously, there is no shortage of the post-apocalypse. To go out on a limb, the collapse is even in a bit of a growth cycle. Before even watching Mad Max, I read five novels all published last year that addressed TEOTWAWKI in some respect. Whether following spore zombies in post-collapse London (The Girl With All of the Gifts) or the slow crumbling of social order in The Book of Strange New Things, I was already in this catastrophic state of mind.

As far as books go, the post-apocalypse has a long history. Mary Shelley wrote “The Last Man” way back in 1826 but I’d ma…

Vast Crater

This is the hole left behind by the Tianjin explosion. More than a few people have mentioned it reminds them of the Crater in Akira. It does speak to the scale of urban development taking place in China right now.

Tiajin Crater Location

True Detective Post-Mortem

Well...That was disappointing.

I actually watched the finale of True Detective's finale Monday but it took me awhile to want to sit down and discuss what went wrong with this series.

All the pieces were there if you wanted to see them. The fragments, blueprints, and characters for a truly great LA Noir story. It's like someone showed up in an abandoned lot with all of the finest timber, most exactly carved moldings, beautiful stained windows, all of the best furniture and appliances and then just dumped them in the dirt and walked away.

Nic Pizzolatto had all he needed for a great house and then he forgot to put it together.

I had some hopes for the finale. After all it was expanded to 90 minutes which I thought might allow for some truly epic storytelling. I wanted something like the 'sprawl' of the first season with maybe a bit more into the whole weird costumed cult angle.

What we got was 90 minutes of the same series we've been watching. Action, death, angst, a…

What I Read in July

The stories that spoke to me last month involved regret and longing, exploring that uneasy intersection between having too little and wanting too much. In particular, Lavie Tidhar’s piece had this really cool aspect of looking at realistic moment in the future with an eye towards fantasy, wishing for something that has already outlived its time.
Andromache and the Dragon by Brittany Pladek (Ideomancer) An unusual dragon composed of all of the inanimate and living flotsam around it terrorizes a seaside town. The dragon can feed on things like desires and in so slaking its hunger removes the wants and wishes of a town. Andromache of the title witnesses all of this, a strangely objective and patient morsel.Backpack by Stefan A. Slater. (Betwixt) A short story about disposing of fears and doubts in your own way. Dryly philosophical.The cork won't stay by Nate Southard. (Nightmare) A bleak take on mind control about the ways grief makes monsters of us, the pointlessness of existence as …

Post-Debate

Leaving aside any notion of the Republican debate being a serious examination of policies and prescriptions for the future of this country, let's appreciate it, for the moment, on the level it deserved - Reality Television Entertainment. Twitter noticed the strange production quality of the debate early: the large stage in front of a large (and fairly energized) crowd, three moderators with different versions of skepticism on each of the faces. Each of the moderators/judges provided a different challenge for the contestants/candidates: for some it was a blunt 'why are you here, exactly?' and for others it was a list of specific character flaws for them to explain. I'll will give credit where credit is due - the moderators knew their material and they kept the debate flowing smoothly (once beyond that weird train wreck of an opening). One could imagine any number of scenes falling into a loser edit when they eventually drop out.
This cross-cutting resulted in some real …

After Leftovers

My initial impression after finishing the first season of HBOs The Leftovers is basically positive, which in itself is an old takeaway from a show so relentlessly and essentially bleak. I didn't like the finale all that much and the moments of catharsis accompanied by Philip Glass arpeggios have passed the point of finishing returns to enter the realm of self-parody. Honestly how can this town even function if its citizens are breaking down every fifty minutes for a good ugly cry?
But this show works on so many levels I can't simply laugh it away. At least three of stories in season one were instant classics: "Two Boats and a Helicopter," "Gladys," and "Guest." The overall ideas of the series - the cult of depression and the crisis of a psychological apocalypse really worked for me. 
I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to the next season of The Leftovers but I'm willing to watch it be what it is.

America according to Boston

I'd love to see an updated version of this map, although this one still seems pretty accurate.

Tree of Knowledge

There's a spectacular purple beech tree in my neighborhood, big enough to dominate an entire yard, spreading those strange pewter branches out over the street. Beeches are rare in an urban setting as they are sensitive to pollution and extreme heat, but this one is thriving. The true tree of knowledge, beech bark scars easily and will often bear arborglyphs for decades (think Tom Hearts Jane). The tree has another interesting connection to learning and literacy as it's the root word for "book" in many European languages. One of the earliest texts was written in sanskrit on a beech bark page.

Occultation

Occultation, the short story anthology by Laird Barron, both broadens and deepens the author's approach towards horror fiction. In comparison to his work in The Imago Sequence, stories such as the title work and Broadsword examine similar themes, but through different voices. These stories are also longer, for the most part, than the stories in the first collection, allowing for a more nuanced exploration of worlds that always seem just on the verge of becoming something else.

Consumption plays a big role in Barron's stories, which is something commented on before. However, the carnivorous monsters of these stories are not simply interested in sustenance. Each story describes a destructive process where an old state is broken down and reassembled into something alien. This process might be supernatural in origin (The Forest) or vaguely extraterrestrial (The Broadsword) or it may even be the product of a depraved creativity (Strappado - probably my favorite story in the collect…

The Leftovers

Picking up The Leftovers because it seemed vaguely tied into my interest this year - post apocalyptica - I discovered a work of unprecedented wonder. It's a show that's depressing because it is about depression. The Departure event where two percent of the population vanished one October 14th didn't just deprive the survivors of loved ones. The show details a very special sort of doomsday: the collapse for all meaning. What seems normal on the surface is already crumbling away beneath.