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.