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Showing posts from August, 2016

New Chapter for Agent Shield and Spaceman

A new chapter is available for "Agent Shield and Spaceman." In this chapter, Agent Shield decides that he would rather not watch Frankie Two-eyes die in a pit-fight and follows an employee of Thulewaite pharmaceuticals to discover the source of the Burmese Tiger Snake venom.

I hope you enjoy the new chapter and feel free to comment or ask a question through this blog.


Various Updates

First off, I have the next chapter available for "Agent Shield and Spaceman." In this chapter, Frankie wakes up in Waco, Texas oddly refreshed until he remembers that this is the day he must enter a pit-fight with a bunch of deadly snakes. Other than a few glimpses, this is the first time our heroes get a good look at the serpents and the impression, perhaps needless to say, is not favorable.

Summer is over.

I had a really great one. My wife and I renovated the upstairs, went camping, saw plenty of friends and family. I did my writing thing, drafting four new stories and revising a few others. When are they going to be appearing, you ask? Not sure. The simple fact is that none of my stories has been accepted this year. I've made my peace with the fact 2016 might slip past without one of my stories appearing outside of Ancient Logic. I can't remember which writer said it but some years you flap and some years you soar. I think this is a year where I'm doing a lot …

The Circle

As the title says, I'm currently listening to Dave Egger's "The Circle," on audio CD. I might have more to say about this book when I finish it but at the moment I can absolutely see how it got a go-ahead for production as a movie. There is something smack dab in the middle of everything about this novel. A way-too-good-to-be-true company pressing for the end to privacy. The snappy "Social Network" dialogue. The futurist optimism about technology and social media. The dystopian terror of the same. Afghanistan, health care, Syria, and kayaking. 

Okay that last part is more about what's going on in my life, but still...

After a summer reading some really heavy speculative literature, the nicest thing about "The Circle" is how it echoes the themes of other books I've read recently without ever losing its sense of charm. The characters in this book feel very real, very familiar in this hyperkinetic, chatty style that probably took an enormous am…

"The Grace of Kings" and Uses of Perspective

Ken Liu's massive silk-punk epic, "The Grace of Kings," is the kind of novel that requires a significant runway in order to achieve flight. The books isn't just long, it's also deliberate and thoughtful in a way at odds with any expectation for instant gratification. Although the pleasures of this book are commensurately immense, it takes a while for the true force of this story to unfold.

As I've said to a few friends when discussing this book, "The Grace of Kings," is in certain respects the "Into the Woods," of fantasy epics. The initial set-up will be familiar to anyone who's read Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or Suzanne Collins. A tyrannical ruler causes greater and greater burdens on the people, inspiring a few desperate rebels to resist. This rag-tag collection of heroes experience great adversity and loss until they finally defeat the Evil Empire in one final battle. This is a story as timeless as the Aeneid and Star Wars.

It's also …

Listing for "Agent Shield and Spaceman" on Web Fiction Guide

My web fiction, "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now listed on Web Fiction Guide, a community-run listing of online fiction. In addition to providing a platform for stories, Web Fiction also features reviews of work. If you have a spare second and you've read a few chapters, please consider adding a review (good, bad, whatever) to the site.

As I reach my last week of summer vacation I'm attempting to get as much basic revision done as possible so I can keep this going into the fall. Keep checking back here and on "Agent Shield and Spaceman," to catch updates!

Thanks for reading! Web Fiction Guide (online novels, reviews)Novels Online

New Chapter for "Agent Shield and Spaceman"

Good morning folks!

I have a new chapter up for "Agent Shield and Spaceman," my espionage web fiction. Frankie Two-eyes, already at the Thulewaite party starts to mingle and quickly gets himself over his head.

Other than that, my mind has been preoccupied in recent days by the superlatively good epic 'silk punk' fantasy novel "The Grace of Kings" by Ken Liu. Ken's name has come up a few times on this blog because I have enormous respect for his talent and the clarity of his ideas. This novel is door-stop and I hadn't had enough time to really launch into a massive fantasy epic until this summer. I guess at the moment, all I have time to say is that I'm blown away by it. I think it's easily one of my favorite fantasy stories and ranks pretty high up in terms of general works as well.

I could probably talk for a couple of days about all the reasons I think this novel succeeds at everything it sets out to do and writers of speculative fiction have…

Chapter Twenty for "Agent Shield and Spaceman"

We've reached chapter twenty in "Agent Shield and Spaceman," and the rest of Section Starfire Agents (the premier anarchist intelligence agency of the United States government, lest we forget) infiltrates Gunther Thulewaite's social gathering. Marcus Delacroix gathers information important to the mission from a source close to the Anti-cerebrist threat.
This chapter is pretty much the same as when it was written a decade ago. That will not be the case for ones following it. Part of my revision effort centered on making the novel flow better. A lot of this early part of the novel went deep into the backstory of Section Starfire, the Anti-Cerebrists, and Gunter Thulewaite. While interested in that stuff back in the 00's I'm thinking it's better to just keep the story moving now. 
It's a tough balance though. The difference between a successful novel and one that drags (in my opinion) is how to strike the proper balance between significance and momentum.…

I Am Thinking of Ending Things

Ian Reid's "I Am Thinking of Ending Things," is one of the most haunting novels I've read this year. To say too much about the novel would give away the pleasures of the story but it's enough to say that it concerns an unnamed narrator's drive through a snowy evening to visit her boyfriend's family. During the drive, she considers breaking up with him.

Similar to "Disappearance at Devil's Rock," Ian Reid displays a subtle grasp of the tropes of the genre. Although the book is written with enough piercing observational skill to function as a contemporary exploration of relationships, it also knows how to build a sense of dread and alarm through well chosen details. The book functions like a psychological horror story where the killer, haunted house, and heroine exchange places with each other like half-remembered dreams.

I suspect readers of Chuck Palahniuk, Thomas Ligotti, and Mark Z. Danielewski will enjoy this book immensely.
***
I'm rel…

Disappearance at Devil's Rock

Finished reading "Disappearance at Devil's Rock" by Paul Tremblay and I'm going to put it on the recommended list for 2016 novels. This is one of a handful of works I've read this year that seem directly influenced or reacting to the True Detective phenomena from a couple years back. The first season, I mean, not the second.

The influence in the case of Tremblay is of an established weird fiction writer (His story "Swim Wants to Know If It's As Bad As Swim Thinks" was one of my favorites from the Best Weird Fiction Vol. 1 anthology) embracing the ambiguity of a vaguely supernatural, philosophy major-baiting crime thriller. Like True Detective, the layers of narrative and contradictory witnesses all work to cultivate doubt and suspicion. Unlike True Detective, the setting here is a very fleshed-out and specific evocation of childhood in the media inundated 21st century. Far from lamenting the presence of cell phones, internet, and the 24 hour blizzard…

No Man's Sky

Yesterday, after three years of development, hype and disappointment chasing every footstep along the way, the video game No Man's Sky was released.
I first encountered this game while researching a short story based - in small part - on procedural generation. I was flabbergasted when I saw the trailer, imagining the possibilities of a universe entirely created by the application of complex algorithms - every planet, every mountain and valley, every plant and animal. If the trailer released at that point hadn't been so convincing and frankly awe-inspiring, I'm not sure I would have credited its existence.

Now over a year later, I have it in my hands.

Is this a good game? That's a tough question. If your idea of a game is something like Call of Duty, Madden Football or Dark Souls, than this isn't going to be a game for you. There are threats and a story that sort of pushes the player forward from episode to another, but nothing that really raises your blood pressure. T…

Preacher Thoughts

Hey, the first season of Preacher's over and I have thoughts.

First off, Preacher was and continues to be one of my favorite graphic novel series of all time. I think I loved it a bit more back then (early 2000s) than I would right now but that's the thing about enjoying art as it's being produced - if it registers with you in the moment it's probably because you're in a unique moment to begin with.

The original Preacher comic was a product and reflection of the 90s in America. It's hard to understand the comic in any other way. The hyper-literate media references, the profane but somehow sincere working of Judeo-Christian mythology, and the generally hilarious mayhem inflicted on the high and mighty seemed like a pretty good summation of a time period enthralled with Garth Brooks, X-Files, Nine Inch Nails, Clinton sex scandals, and Gingrich's Contract on America. This was right before cell phones started sprouting in every one's hands and computers were …

Two Upcoming Events in Woburn

The Woburn library is hosting two events that I think might be interesting to readers of this blog living in the Northshore.

First up, this Friday the library is holding a "Board Game Night for Adults." The press release reads:
Here's your chance to put your phone down and spend a lovely summer evening playing some excellent boardgames and meeting other boardgame enthusiasts. After the library closes for regular business on Friday, August 12th, it will reopen at 6 PM, having been magically transformed into an old school gaming parlor. We'll have some games on-hand (Chess, Checkers, Scattergories, Quelf, Scrabble and Bananagrams), but we're encouraging you to bring your favorite ones from home. If the weather cooperates, this will be an indoor/outdoor event (BYO picnic blanket). Register at the main desk by August 11th, or RSVP to rmeehan@minlib.net.I'm planning on being there to bring a few Euro-style games such as Agricola, Power Grid, and my new favorite game…

What I Read in July, 2016

Now, this was more like it. The great thing about having a month off is I could really dig into my favorite magazines and journals for the best of current speculative short fiction. That luxury has produced a list of a few stories I think worth your time. At the bottom of the post, I also have a link to the most recent chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman."
"Floodwaters" by Kristi DeMeester (The Dark). A ghost story is about the past, a ghost being the literal embodiment of something passed. This story hints and suggests, slowly filling in the gaps of a family's history until the flood waters submerge everything. The language here is simple, direct, and brutal while still preserving a dark species of poetry. One of my favorite works last month and that's saying a lot. "Some Pebbles in The Palm" by Kenneth Schneyer (Lightspeed). A really excellent philosophical piece concerned with many of the same topics as Andy Weir's classic flash piece, &qu…