In Lieu of an Afterword

A month ago I published The Same Story Told, a pastoral post-apocalyptic fantasy retold six times in a row. I didn’t include an afterword at the end of the book, because I didn’t want to distract from the formal strangeness of the novel. The book already has six layers of overlapping, diverging narratives, plus a frame story, and I didn’t want to toss a totally non-diegetic commentary on top of all that. So this post is in lieu of an afterword. As with the afterwords for my short fiction and plays, I’ll talk about the origins of the book, and the process of writing it. If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry, there’s no spoilers! You can’t spoil a book that delivers the entire plot in the first thirty pages and then repeats it five more times! ūüôā

That said, I dunno how interesting or intelligible this will be to someone who hasn’t read the book. Proceed at your own discretion, and if you do want to read the book, you can buy it on Smashwords, or read an excerpt of it here.

The initial idea for TSST was not fantasy, but sci-fi, though the core concept was the same. A spaceship crash lands on a distant planet. There’s only enough oxygen and food for a few people, so some are put into cryo-sleep, alternating throughout the years as they struggle to gather enough resources to repair their ship. Or something, I don’t really know‚ÄĒI brainstormed a lot of different possible scenarios, but pretty quickly gravitated towards a fantasy setting, with a world struck by plague instead of a distant lifeless planet.

Right from the start, I had the basic structure of the different character’s stories‚ÄĒone person asleep for all of it, providing a sort of historical perspective; one person awake for all of it; one person continuously awake at the beginning and end, but with a big gap in the middle; and two people alternating each year. I drew out graphs to visualize how each of these characters would age over time, the dynamics of older and younger shifting.

Read More »

New Publication: The Same Story Told

TSST-c-9The time is now! My novel,¬†The Same Story Told, is now available on Smashwords and Amazon! Pick it up, or read an excerpt here. Here’s the synopsis:

Whistlers normally draw power for their incantations from the microbial sappers that infect their own bodies, but an incantation to infect others with sappers has been discovered, and the resulting plague has devastated the world. The only immunization against this plague is to be infected by a Whistler with a little more control over the bacterial life they create. Of the survivors gathered at the Academy of Sibilant Arts, Klobs is the youngest Whistler. At 14, she‚Äôs been entrusted with infecting just four people‚ÄĒher older brother Binlev, her mentor Daltob, and two friends from another academy, Hakleen and Boos.

These five are sent to reclaim a farming township, but soon a hostile group of Whistlers raids their food stores. Without enough food to make it to the harvest, Klobs uses her sappers to place Daltob and Hakleen in deep sleeps. Working in year-long shifts and year-long sleeps the five can conserve food, but each member of the group experiences a unique fragment of the same struggle, deviating, merging, echoing.

The Same Story Told tells each fragment one after the other, as well as the apocryphal legend that has arisen about the ‚ÄúLost Expedition,‚ÄĚ changing format and style to portray the same post-apocalyptic pastoral fantasy six times in a row.

The Same Story Told: Excerpt

TSST-c-9So I haven’t actually announced this on the blog, but I will be publishing¬†The Same Story Told,¬†a novel(!), in just a couple weeks! The Same Story Told is a post-apocalyptic pastoral fantasy told six times in a row. After a gale of sappers has devastated the world, a group of five friends attempts to rebuild a farming town. When their stores of food are raided, the Whistler of the group must place some of them in a magically induced deep sleep to conserve resources, alternating in year-long shifts. Each member of the group experiences unique fragments of the same struggle to create a sustainable source of food, deviating, echoing, altering format and style. You can read a bit more about it and preorder it on Smashwords or Amazon.

The book is divided into five sections, one for each of the characters, and a sixth section for the apocryphal legend that has risen about “The Lost Expedition.” This sixth section is actually the first in the book, so to give you a look inside the book I’m posting it here in full:

The Lost Expedition

In the year 1,240, the same year that yits lit all the streets of Opasis, the same year the harvests overfilled the storehouses of Nesten, in the year 1,240 Bellengrew gripped the Seedlings with a rigid claw, then fell, and cracked, and desolated the world. The infectious sappers that had brought prosperity and advancement to the other city-states, Bellengrew used to raise enormous fanged animates and roll bombs five feet in diameter. The incantation for infectious sappers, a guarded secret entrusted only to the most sage scholars, the most loyal civil whistlers, was passed around loosely between the power-hungry commanders and captains of Bellengrew, until finally a spark caught within that overstuffed tinderbox, and burned across all the Breath.Read More »

New Publication: Red, Her Hand

Wow it’s been a while since one of these, but here we go, “Red, Her Hand” is now available at Amazon and Smashwords! (And because I’m participating in Smashwords’s Authors Give Back sale, you can currently get it¬†free¬†from Smashwords!)

RHH-c-1‚ÄúNow the real power isn‚Äôt predicting the future. The real power is predicting the prophecy.‚ÄĚ

Gailee is a poor girl living in the Predestined Empire, where prophecies, written centuries ago by cloistered prophets, dictate all law and governance. Gailee provides for her family by working as a transcriber in one of the courts that interprets these prophecies, and as a straw dealer to noble kids. Tuuqoi, one of her buyers, is a young noble fated to become a prophet soon, whose most daring transgression in life is steaming straw with Gailee. His life takes a turn for the roguish when Gailee, overcome by a sense of calling, enlists his help to fulfill her destiny and become a prophet herself.

In addition to this novelette, this publication also includes an afterword by the author about the inspirations that mixed together to make this story.

manifesto for a speculative theatre

Get excited! These are the plays I write and the plays I love to read, this is why they’re great, this is why you should write them too! I wrote this a year ago, edited it a lot more recently, and I’m publishing it now! These are strange times but they won’t be the strangest, let’s go! Download the manifesto in these formats: PDF ‚ÄĒ Epub ‚ÄĒ Mobi¬†‚ÄĒ Docx. Or read it below:

preamble

audience

This manifesto addresses itself to two groups of people‚ÄĒplaywrights, and writers of science fiction and fantasy.

People who can call themselves both are its intended result.

claim

Theatre enriches science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction and fantasy enrich theatre.

Very little speculative theatre exists; very much should.

speculative

For the purpose of this manifesto, I distinguish the type of work I am calling for, ‚Äúspeculative theatre,‚ÄĚ from the already existing vein of theatrical works which merely incorporate science-fictional or fantastical elements (e.g. the angels in Angels in America, the ghost in Hamlet.) As well, I use ‚Äúspeculative‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúscience fiction and fantasy‚ÄĚ interchangeably for convenience.

The majority of plays which utilize SFF elements do so only as an outgrowth of character, theme, plot, adapted myth, etcetera.

In a ‚Äúspeculative‚ÄĚ play, as I define it, character, theme, and plot spring from the SFF world (or the SFF element, though it often implicates the entire world.) In a ‚Äúspeculative‚ÄĚ play, the world extends beyond characters, story, and even author.

Both types of play create a world or redefine our own, but speculative plays use the invented world as the foundation, and then speculate, while non-speculative plays use their SFF element to point back to characters, plot, theme, or the real world.Read More »

Review: Island Book by Evan Dahm

island book cover
Cover courtesy of First Second

How have I not talked about Evan Dahm before? Evan Dahm is one of those creators I just can’t get enough of. I’ve read all his graphic novels at least twice, and that includes this, his latest completed graphic novel,¬†Island Book.

Island Book¬†tells the story of Sola, a girl living on an island in a vast, unexplored ocean. Many inhabitants of the island believe she is cursed, because of her strange connection to a giant creature simply called “the monster” which lives in the ocean, and which devastated the island when it attacked years ago. So one night Sola steals a boat and sets off into the ocean, hoping to discover the mystery of the monster, and why it seems drawn to her, for herself. She soon learns that there are other islands out there, populated by different peoples, some of whom join her in her quest to find the monster.

By different “peoples,” I mean different fantasy races. If you’re familiar with Evan Dahm’s work, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I believe he refers to them as “kinds” rather than species or races. Basically there’s no humans or elves or dwarves (though Sola’s island’s islanders are fairly close to human.) The character/kind design is an outgrowth of the island they live on‚ÄĒor maybe it’s the other way around. Anyway, this means all the islands are incredibly uh guess what insular, on a design level. Motifs of shape and color are repeated in the look of the land, the island’s ships, and the islanders themselves. For instance, “Fortress Island” is inhabited by these big, hulking turtle people, with ships that look like ironclads. Likewise, the cultures of the islands harmonize with their iconography, and the whole color palette of the book changes from island to island.Read More »

Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This was originally going to be just part of a “What I’ve Been Reading” post, but it turns out I have a lot to say about this book, so now it’s just its own review post.

cover_277
Cover courtesy of DAW

The Name of the Wind¬†is the first book in Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles, and it describes the early life of the first-person narrator and alleged Kingkiller, Kvothe. To describe the plot generally would paint this novel as clich√©d. I guess that’s because it is, in its broad strokes. An exceptionally talented, fast-learning child lives a comfortable life as a player in his father’s troupe of traveling performers. When the troupe takes on an arcanist, young Kvothe is mentored by him in Sympathy‚ÄĒa kind of magic based on intense concentration and mental gymnastics. Eventually the arcanist leaves, and soon after the Kvothe’s father begins work on a ballad involving the mysterious Chandrian‚ÄĒmythical superhuman superevil beings, probably just fables. Then the Chandrian murder the entire troupe, leaving only Kvothe alive. For years Kvothe survives by the skin of his teeth, hitchhiking, begging, stealing, though he eventually determines to go to the University, to utilize its massive archives to research the Chandrian. Demonstrating exceptional intelligence and knowledge of sympathy, Kvothe is admitted to the University, where he spends the remainder of the book having adventures and misadventures, and trying to gain access to the archives.

Yes, with the exception of a few creative flourishes, the book traces a familiar arc. Where it stands out, or at least justifies its position as one of the most popular fantasy novels in the past decade, is in the execution. The book reminds me of a 19th-century serialized novel, like¬†Great Expectations¬†or¬†Count of Monte Cristo‚ÄĒboth of which, in their broad strokes, also rely on clich√©s, despite being terrific works. The pacing is tireless, each chapter lurches into the next as new dilemmas arise and Kvothe sets his sights on new goals. There’s a large cast of characters, but they’re all memorable, and you love to love the ones you love, and love to hate the ones you hate. Name of the Wind¬†manages the great trick of being long and reading fast.Read More »

2017 Holiday Sale!

holidaypromo2018-1.jpg

Merry whatever and joyous thingummy everyone! All of my ebooks are on sale on Smashwords for the month of December! Most of them are 50% off, and the newer releases (19¬†and¬†19,¬†“A Clash at Grozny Airfield,” and Suggest the Empire¬†once it’s published later this month) are 25% off. And “Just Dig” is 34% off. Cause it wouldn’t let me do 50%, cause the price is already almost at the minimum.

Happy solstice y’all!

New Publication: Boom Town

I’ve just published “Boom Town,” a short story available on Smashwords and Amazon.

boomtown-4The story takes place in a small town on the living planet of Eltru, when a vast reserve of fuel is discovered beneath the town. Katherine, a young girl whose family lives on a spice farm over the fuel reserve, quietly observes her parents as they struggle over whether or not to sell their land to a mining corporation, and move away from their home. She relies on her close relationship with her brother to help her understand the secret conflicts and tensions between the adults, and ends up keeping some dangerous secrets of Julian’s herself.

The publication includes an afterward where I describe how¬†subscribing to¬†Asimov’s influenced¬†the story, and my writing sensibilities as a whole.

Harry Potter and the Holistic Review

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_CoverI just finished¬†Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and I feel like it was one of the most multi-layered reading experiences I’ve ever had with a contemporary work. By multi-layered I mean that I was thinking about, and analyzing meta-textual elements while reading it‚ÄĒwhich is a common enough experience, when I’m reading old literature for my english classes, but pretty rare with recently published¬†books and plays.¬†So, rather than just reviewing the play as I might review¬†Mr. Burns¬†or¬†Water by the Spoonful, I’m going to review the play¬†in all it’s aspects‚ÄĒthe things I noticed as a reader, as a writer, as a theatre person(ish), as a fan of the original books, and as someone interested in the publishing industry. I’ll mention plot elements throughout¬†this post, so if you don’t want the play¬†spoiled, halt now.

So, let’s begin.Read More »

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 29-30

The final chapters!

Chapter 29 –¬†The Final Battle
As the war drags to a messy, underwhelming conclusion, it is difficult to determine where the final, and supposedly decisive, battle takes place.

Chapter 30¬†–¬†The End
In an inn in Damohorskych, many years after the war, Brych, Binder, JoŇ°t and Rejzek all gather for a fry-up.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Johan Halvorsen and performed by the United States Marine Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 27-28

Just two more chapters after this!

Chapter 27 – A Pacific Atoll
The world war reaches the little island where Mr. Bondy has been hiding out, and he discusses the phenomenon with a captain who has stopped by.

Chapter 28 – Seven Chalets
In the Czech countryside, Mr. and Mrs. BlahouŇ° and their neighbor Mrs. Prouza speculate about the Greatest War, and who and what started it.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Johan Halvorsen and performed by the United States Marine Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 25-26

Chapter 25 РThe Greatest War Ever (as they called it)
The chronicler explains why this war “really was, I swear it, quite easily the greatest war ever.”

Chapter 26 РThe Battle of Hradec Králové
The chronicler uses¬†the Battle of Hradec Kr√°lov√©, where the forces of General Hampl gathered to overthrow Mayor Skońćdopole, as a reflection of world events on a smaller scale.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Johan Halvorsen and performed by the United States Marine Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 23-24

Chapter 23 – Conspiracy in Augsburg
In the course of two months, all the nations of the world plunge headlong into war.

Chapter 24 – Napoleon of the Mountain Brigade
In the mountains of southern France, Lieutenant Toni Bobinet declares war on the Absolute, and begins a campaign of sprawling conquests.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Johan Halvorsen and performed by the United States Marine Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapter 22

Chapter 22 – An Elderly Patriot
As Czech reporter¬†Cyril K√©val and his fellow journalists¬†wade through endless reports¬†of minor conflicts, skirmishes, and riots from around the country and the world, K√©val happens upon a letter from an “Elderly Patriot” calling for national unity.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyov and performed by the United States Navy Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 20-21

Chapter 20 – St. Kilda
As tension rises around the world, a global summit is convened to maintain peace and order.

Chapter 21 – A Dispatch
A postman makes his way through a blizzard to deliver a telegram to a Mr. Marek.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyov and performed by the United States Navy Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 18-19

Chapter 18 – Night Time in the Editing Room
As religions and governments all over the world embrace the Absolute, Bishop Linda berates the editor of a Catholic Journal for continuing their invective against Him.

Chapter 19 – The Canonisation Process
The Catholic Church goes through the long, unprecedented procedure of welcoming the Absolute into the church as its God.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyov and performed by the United States Navy Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 16-17

Chapter 16 – In the Mountains
Mr. Bondy and Marek meet in Marek’s house in the mountains, where the Absolute’s influence has yet to reach.

Chapter 17 – The Hammer and the Star
The brothers of the Hammer and Star lodge of the Free French Masons meet to discuss their response to the recent activities of the Absolute.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyov and performed by the United States Navy Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapters 13-15

Chapter 13 – The Chronicler Apologises
The chronicler apologizes for his inability to describe every story and character caught up in the worldwide influence of the Absolute.

Chapter 14 – Land of Plenty
The chronicler describes the obscene abundance created by the Absolute.

Chapter 15 – Upheaval
The chronicler explains the disastrous affects of the Absolute’s overproduction, and how humanity was saved from total starvation.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by John Philip Sousa and performed by the United States Marine Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.

The Absolute at Large – Chapter 12

Only one chapter today, because the next three chapters work well as a block, and I didn’t want to split them up. So, three¬†chapters next Sunday, and just one chapter today‚ÄĒthough it’s a very fun chapter.

Chapter 12 – The Private Tutor
The learned Doctor BalhouŇ° sets out to write an¬†academic¬†paper regarding recent episodes of religious fervor and fanaticism, and does so all day long, and through the night.

Also available on Podomatic and iTunes.
Find the text of the ebook here.

This recording is under a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license.
Music was composed by John Philip Sousa and performed by the United States Marine Band.
The book was written by Karel ńĆapek, translated by David Wyllie, and performed by Francis Bass.