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Showing posts from September, 2016

New Chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman"

For your reading enjoyment a new chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now available. In this chapter, Spaceman confronts the double agent Melissa LeHaze after stewing in his cell for hours. He begins to sense that the Master is not quite done with him.

Thank you for reading!

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz

For the most part I'm comfortable with a choice I've made for this blog. As some commenters have already noted, I'm more of a praiser than a critic. I like what I like and I tend to write posts about things I think are stupendous, amazing, and life-affirming. 


Then I read a novel like Junot Diaz' "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," and I feel like I've run out of credible accolades.
I've been casting about this year for main-stream, contemporary fiction books to read. Partly I felt it was time to branch out a little bit after three (five? 10?) years of hard-core speculative reading habits. Partly I thought it was my responsibility after taking the reins as facilitator for my local library writing workshop. Some of the participants write speculative fiction but most don't. Broadening the references I could use to critique stories seemed wise.
So, I did what I usually do in these situations, google the top 10 best novels of the past decade. …

New Chapter for "Agent Shield and Spaceman"

After a little bit of delay this week, I have updated my serial web fiction "Agent Shield and Spaceman," with a new chapter, the thirtieth. 

Two quick notes on this chapter.

First off, this is one of my favorites. When I was going through the old manuscript, trying to decide if this project was really worth my time and effort, this was the one that sealed the deal for me. Paradoxically, I'm still not sure if the tale of Igor Splendov really belongs in this novel. This comes very soon after the Interlude chapter which was sort of like this one in form and function. But, I think it's impact would be lost later on in the story. That said, there's something about this episode that I find compelling. Perhaps that's the advantage of this web serial style of fiction. If you'd rather not read this back-story about the Delta Omega base, you can skip ahead.

Well, not now, exactly, but when the whole thing is done, I suppose.

Okay, second note. I recommend listening to …

What I Read in August

One down side to trying to keep up on my schedule for Agent Shield and Spaceman is I've seen my available time for reading awesome short stories dwindle somewhat. I still read a few stories I think are worth your time, but I didn't get to sift through as many magazines as I normally like to. So be it.


In no particular order, here are some stories I can recommend:
The Hunt for the Leather Apron by G. Neri. (Nightmare) I liked this story. The challenge imposed by reading a text crafted with purposeful spelling mistakes, the illusion of an authentic document, mostly pays off. It helps that despite the typographical distortions, this is a very immediate and affecting tale. It's interesting that even after many years, Jack the Ripper contains yet enough juice to power genuine terror. In this case, it's the horror of how a violent act corrupts and ruins even the bystanders. The Dirty American by Lara Elena Donnelly. Reprint in Nightmare which is something I typically avoid for…

The Circle Completed

I finished "The Circle" (by Dave Eggers) yesterday, and boy was I impressed. It's a simple story, and for the most part it's told with style but minimal flourish. Although billed as a technothriller by some, it struck me as a coming-of-age story. Maybe Harry Potter and the Search Engine?

I'm going to have a tough time describing what really clicked for me about this story without delving into spoilers but I think I can describe quickly two things that any writer might be interested in.

First off, the use of comedy to sell the horrific is extremely well-done here. Eggers had any number of set-pieces relying on a slow, almost imperceptible drift towards absurdity. The bit with the ever expanding number of screens May (the novel's protagonist) uses was understated but hysterically funny. The novel straddles present and near-future, but the jokes help humanize the situation and ground the story in something approachable and relatable. Although many of the develop…

New Chapter for Agent Shield and Spaceman

Short post today, mostly to announce that the next chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is available. Today is not listed as a Chapter whatever but rather as an interlude. There are only a couple of these interludes in the novel, sections meant to broaden the scope of the work beyond the Agents of Sections Starfire. This one concerns the origin of a character increasingly important to the second part of the novel.

As always, I hope you enjoy and comments/questions are always welcome!

DnD Character Classes, Livecasts, and REM

Last night I caught the live cast of Penny Arcade's Dungeons and Dragons at Pax West with one of my friends Milo. It was hilarious and if you get a chance to see the show or just catch up with the blogs you will not be disappointed. Assuming you like stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, which I obviously do.


I also like REM which is a fact I'm not sure I've mentioned yet on this blog. Which is weird.

Maybe I don't, on a whole, say enough about my love for REM because during the course of my dinner, Milo asked me on a scale of one to 10 what my fandom for REM is. He was trying to gauge my interest in a MOTH Radio story he had listened to, the one about Peter Buck and Ambien. Anyway, I was taken aback. It made me reflect on my own fandom in an intense and powerful way.

How big of a fan am I, anyway?

I thought of last week when I went out on my porch to read and listened to Murmur. I thought of the intense awe I feel of those songs, how I sang out the choruses, hunched over w…

A Cosmic Horror Reading Guide

I don't really like what I say I do.

When I say I am a fan of Lovecraftian mythos, weird fiction, cosmic horror, cosmic dread, or Dark SF, that doesn't mean I enjoy (for the most part) work derived directly from the Mythos. I think it's safe to say Lovecraft has inspired a great many notable weird fiction writers, and some of them have even included the odd tentacle beastie, or cameo from one of HP's unpronounceable Elder Gods. It's just not what I read this type of fiction for.


What interested me about Lovecraft is the same thing that gets me revved up about Algernon Blackwood, William Hope Hodgens, Arthur Machen, T.E.D. Klein, Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, and Peter Watts - the depiction of an inexplicable universe at odds, fundamentally, with human survival. I'm not sure why this body of work appeals to me, but it does. So, this summer I did a self-directed survey course of literature in this vein, to try and figure out what exactly I like about these works a…