Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chapter V of Agent Shield and Spaceman

The fifth chapter of my web fiction "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now available. On this final day of June, things appear to be on track to keep going with the schedule.

I saw "Finding Dory," the other night which I can recommend even though the movie didn't leave me with any overwhelming need to see it a second time. It's a Pixar sequel which means the movie doesn't feel ground-breaking or original in any particular fashion. On the other hand, the story is beyond competently told, and the new characters are fun. In particular, the sea lions seemed an inspired bit of voice acting paired with some entertaining animation. In other words, your typical mid-range Pixar movie.

In my search for the "Dark Realism" literature I outlined in a previous post,  I recently finished "Roadside Picnic" by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. This intriguing bit of cosmic horror imagine a world after an enigmatic visit by aliens. After their brief stay on the surface of earth, the aliens depart leaving behind zones contaminated by their machines and technology. Some of these machines have incalculable worth to humankind, other objects are incredibly dangerous. As both a speculative thriller and a mediation upon universal truths, the novel works marvelously.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fourth chapter of Web Fiction and first foot note

The fourth chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now available! If you are just discovering this web fiction, you can start the story at the beginning, here.

The basic idea for this story comes from a role-playing campaign I wrapped up nearly a decade ago. The novel itself bears some resemblance to the first story arc of that campaign, which my friends and I referred to as simply, "Super Spies," but it has enough differences that I wouldn't describe it as a play report or anything like that.

Initially, I wanted to release this story as a kind of podcast but ran out of free time once I got my current day job, working as a history teacher. After discovering the original manuscript at the bottom recesses of my hard-drive, so to speak, I decided it deserved a chance to find a few readers.

I will confess to some conflicting feelings regarding this project. I believe in the work and feel proud of what I was able to achieve back then. I also think this piece was written in a light-hearted tone that I don't find myself employing (for better or worse) all that often. Regardless, I'm committed to polishing the 250 or so pages to make it more accessible and interesting and publishing it three or so times a week until it is done. If you like the result, leave a comment. If you don't, feel free to email me with concerns or questions.

I also plan to write "foot notes," (like the one above) on Ancient Logic every four or five chapters: just little notes about backstory and my process in writing this tale.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Seeing the Independence Day Sequel is an Easily Preventable Mistake

I am fascinated by certain things in movies regardless of other cinematic merits. Spaceships. Aliens. Ray guns. Cities being blown up. Mysterious conspiracies. Brent Spiner.

The original Independence Day met all of these criteria and more my 19-year-old self hadn't even thought of. It was the first movie I spent my hard-earned money seeing multiple times. Yes, in retrospect (maybe even while watching it), the movie is flat-out ridiculous. The plot holes are large enough to fly one of the floating death frisbees through with plenty of shoulder room to spare. The speech from Bill Pullman (President Whitmore) is more than a little cringe inducing and Randy Quaid's character annoyed the hell out of me. 

But that movie did have considerable heart for all of its silliness. And, perhaps because of the limitations of budget and special effects, the movie suggested way more than it actually showed. We never got an unobstructed view of the aliens or their mother ship or much of their society. The movie was 100% better because of that. I rewatch movies that leave places for imagination.

I think that's precisely where the sequel Independence Day: Recrudescence (possibly mistaken title)  falls down the hardest for me. The characterizations are basically as thin and superficial as the original and the ending is way, way too pat (almost to the point of self-parody) but the part that took me out of the movie the fastest was simply the sense that we were seeing all there was to see. A whole new alien species is introduced early on and we basically learn all we need to know about them by the half-way point in the movie. There was some fun stuff about how earth has adapted the alien's technology for its own purpose but the sense of a lived-in reality for the characters is undermined by scenes where soldiers point to glowing infrared dots and say stuff like, "each one of these dots is an alien."

'Aliens' -- really?!?

Not Greys? Or Squids? or Slimy Bastards?

Let me expand upon that because of all the ludricuous things this movie asks us to swallow this is the one that really bothered me. According to the movie, in 1996, a huge swatch of the planet was destroyed, a substantial portion of the population disintegrated, and yet two decades later people are still calling them 'aliens?' And then when another alien race shows up, they call them aliens too? Have the creators of this movie ever met actual human beings? There is literally no way we would call the saucer people 'aliens' after all of that carnage. 

Anyway, this is one of those movies that I am condemned to watch even if it scored far, far lower on Rotten Tomatoes. You are not me and I hope you draw more lessons from the past than the humans in this movie did. 

Do not watch this movie, especially in the theaters. If you absolutely have to watch cities get blown up and aliens get punched in the mouth, just watch the original movie. I guarantee you will have a better time.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Third Chapter of Web Fiction Now Available

The third chapter of Agent Shield and Spaceman is now available! The action now shifts to Marcus Delacroix, AKA Agent Shield as he scrambles to defuse an explosive situation. 

Currently listening to the incredible new Swans album: The Glowing Man. If you are any kind of fan of this band, you need to pick this one up. So good! 

I am honestly very surprised by Brexit. I'm not sure I have any other wisdom to add to the situation other than to agree with Mr. Trump. He owes his own improbable rise to the same broad forces that just ejected Britain from the EU: nationalism, ignorance, and fear. Unfortunately for The Donald, I think these are emotions that are a lot easier to summon AGAINST something than FOR something. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Second Chapter of Web Fiction is up

Good morning folks,

The second chapter of Agent Shield and Spaceman is now up! Follow this link below to continue reading.

Now that my day job is on break for a few weeks I can focus my attention on this project and a few new short stories. As far as Ancient Logic goes, in addition to my monthly post on speculative fiction, I'm going to revisit Fallout 4 which still occupies a ridiculous amount of my time as well as a few television shows and books that have caught my attention recently.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

First Chapter of Web Fiction

As mentioned earlier, Ancient Logic will start hosting a serial web fiction called "Agent Shield and Spaceman" starting today. The plan is to publish three chapters a week until the whole story is done - sometime around November. I hope you like it and feel free to give feedback through comments!

Link to Chapter I

Monday, June 6, 2016

What I Read in May

As the school year winds down, my time for fiction grows a little short. But here a trio of stories well worth your time to track down.



  1. Left Behind by Cat Rambo. (Clarkesword) A melancholy and sober work about the nature of the singularity as lived by one down and out mind palace engineer and an old woman who is being forced into a virtual retirement by her awful kids. There should be more of these types of stories - not tech fantasies but not quite dystopias either.
  1. No Matter Which Way We Turned by Brian Evenson. (People Holding) Short marvelously creepy story about an alien abduction mishap. Apparently inspired by a photograph.
  1. The Universal Museum of Sagacity by Robert Reed. (Clarkesworld) I've read a few of Reed's elegant character driven works but this one really got me. Its vast and achingly personal narrative inspires in the way great SF does: spawning dreams as close and welcome as a first kiss.


I hope to have a few more stories to recommend next month. In addition, you might have noticed a new addition to the tabs at the top of my blog. "Web Fiction," refers to a serial novel I will publish here at Ancient Logic, starting later this month. At the moment, I'm planning to release the first chapter on June 22nd and then keep publishing two or three chapters a week until I'm done. Keep tuned!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Marissa Nadler "Strangers"

Gothic folk-singer Marissa Nadler's release "July" was one of my favorite albums of 2014. Eerie, soaked in existential dread, the album still sounds like the soundtrack to a nightmare guest-directed by David Lynch. That's meant as a compliment, by the way. As a big fan of weird fiction as written by Laird Barron, John Langan, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Jeff VanderMeer, this is as close to the unsettling power of cosmic dread as I can imagine outside of electronica or ambient tracks.

Broken Fence by Morgan Crooks 2014

In retrospect, "July" is also one of the most straight-forward of her works, a strange thing to say about music so subtle and understated. But yeah, I'll say it - songs like "Drive" and "Dead City Emily," had the force of quiet manifestoes, assertions of haunted misery.

"Strangers" is nowhere near as bleak as her 2014 album but also not nearly as accessible. It's great stuff and recommended for lovers of folk, goth, and alternative music but the tone has shifted. The music sounds freer, looser than before - almost as if the singer is carrying a secret smile she's only now considering revealing. Some of the songs reference heartbreak or solitude, but the experience seems distant, the singer's attitude toward it more reflective and abstract.

In particular, give "Divers in the Dust," "Waking," and "Shadow Show Diane," a listen for their slow atmospheric beauty.