Skip to main content

Chapter VIII of Agent Shield and Spaceman

The next chapter of Agent Shield and Spaceman is now available.

With Chapter VIII I've now reached the part of the web fiction that motivated me to revise and publish this work - the Burmese Tiger Snakes. Honestly, I'm not sure where these creatures came from but once they sunk their fangs into my head, nearly a decade ago, they never really let go. I'm reasonably happy with the Smithsonian episodes and hopefully a reader is beginning to notice some forward momentum in the plot. For better or worse, these chapters are more representative of the rest of the work than the four chapters before it.

As always, I greatly appreciate you reading this web fiction and your comments are welcome.

In other news, I am currently listening to "Micro," Michael Crichton's last work. Man, I read just about every single novel from Crichton back in middle school and high school and I still get a comfy glow of nostalgia listening to his stories now. Crichton's project, updating HG Wells and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's pulp sci fi for the late 20th century, was always a curious one. On one hand, by so conscientiously basing his thrillers in the techno-obsessed present, he was able to create hordes of outlandish yet plausible monsters. On the other, relentlessly tying his imagination to current technology or scientific understandings makes for tortured plotting.

In Micro, which was completed by Richard Preston from notes left on Crichton's hard drive after his death in 2008, I see the best and worst of Crichton. The parts that really interest me involve the bizarre and beautiful descriptions of the Micro-world: soil as a living mush filled with alien creatures, the detailed effort to hunt a katydid, and the possibilities and terrors of life at the microscopic scale. I've also long been a fan of Crichton's unromantic and visceral approach to nature and man's role within it. You know the unsettling reaction many have to seeing a spider devour a bird? There's a lot of that sort of gruesome role-reversal in Micro.

I'm less tolerant of Crichton's blunt and clumsy prose. Characterizations begin and end with job descriptions and the dialogue is as obvious and purely functional as a group of chat bots interacting with each other.

Still, I was struck again and again by the thought - this would make a decent movie. Obviously Hollywood agrees with me - plans for a cinematic version of the novel were announced in 2015.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

Even 23 years later, I remember 1994 and Kurt Cobain's death. I experienced that moment as a kind of inside out personal crisis. I felt ashamed by his death. As though his exit in someway indicted my own teenage miseries. "I wish I was like you," goes the verse in 'All Apologies,' "Easily amused." I felt as though a check I hadn't remembered writing had just been cashed. 


SP Miskowski's book, named after the first half of that line, is in the words of another reviewer, a novel that shouldn't work. The narrator is unlikeable, unreliable, and dead. The plot is almost entirely told as a flashback and long sections of the novel concern the inner processes of the writer. The daily grind to summon up enough self-esteem to carry a sentence to its logical conclusion is a real struggle, people, but it ain't exactly riveting.

But the thing is, this novel works. It is one of the best things I've read all year and a real achievement in weird ficti…

What I Read in 2017

The third in my series of year-end lists is literature. As in past years, I've divided this post into two categories: Novels and short stories. Each of these stories made 2017 just a bit brighter for me and I hope this list includes at least a writer or two new to you.


Novels:
I Wish I was You by SP Miskowski: This was the subject of a review earlier this year. The way I feel about this novel, the tragedy of a talented person crippled by anger and regret, transformed into a monstrous avatar of wrath, has not really left me. Beyond the perfection of its prose and its preternatural subject matter, I feel like this is one of the best evocations of the mid-nineties I've seen published. There's something about this book that lingers with me long past the concerns of its plot and characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is this work moved me. 2017 would have been a lot dimmer if I hadn't read this work.New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson: Robinson writes next-level sp…

Review of "Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste

Part of the reason American Gods works is that it offers a kind of reward to folk lore mavens and religious study majors. Do you have a working familiarity with obscure Northern European mythologies? Are you able to describe what Neil Gaiman got right and what he fudged a bit in terms of the Egyptian religion? Then the guessing games of that novel - just which Middle Eastern Goddess is this? - magnify its other charms. 
"Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste (released by Broken Eye Books), is a novella for people, like me, who are waiting impatiently for the next season of Bryan Fuller's show. It's not set in that universe, certainly, but approaches the question of folklore from a similar perspective. Namely, that myths have a definite, physical explanation and your knowledge of such things will expand your enjoyment of the work. In the case of Pretty Marys, the stories are urban legends and nursery rhymes about young women. The main character, Rhee, is named…