Scott Sigler is one of the reasons I have a job. I Should Be Writing, Variant Frequencies and Scott’s Ancestor are the three podcasts that got me into the industry. Scott’s brand of foot on the accelerator, heavy metal SF remains one of the most fun games in town and it’s a pleasure to see him make ten years in the game. It’s even more of a pleasure because for one day only he’s giving away free stuff to celebrate.
A sneak peek PDF of the first fifty pages of the rewritten EARTHCORE
That’s the five books of the GFL series plus various novellas set in that universe (Featuring Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace too no less) and the excellent Bones and Blood horror anthologies. Oh and the first fifty pages of EarthCore which, along with Ancestor, remains tied for my all time favorite book of his.
The kicker is that link is only good until 11.59pm on Monday March 23rd. That being today.
It’s an interesting time to be a comic reader. There are some brilliant, shining examples of the medium being published at the moment and I could spend ages listing the fantastic books you need to be reading. Likewise, I could go into detail about the various scandals and outrages, some small, some not large enough, that have rocked the industry in the last couple of years.
But other writers have written better pieces than I could about that. And, one one case, drawn them.
Ronald Wimberly’s piece Lighten Up, was published at The Nib this week. It’s an elegant, polite and horrifying look at racism in modern comics. It’s beautifully drawn, beautifully written and punches way above its deceptively light touch would have you expect. It’s also this week’s Sunday Moment of Zen. Lighten Up
San Francisco is magic. I09 highlighted how Toby Harriman, using time lapse and some very smart soundtrack choices, proves that. He turns a city defined by its size and space, by the bay that it wraps around and the bridges that connect it into a still beautiful but darker place. The sort of place that gets the hero it deserves rather than the hero it needs. This is San Francisco as Gotham City and this is your Sunday Moment of Zen.
Jen Williams is one of a small, elite group of authors who’ve turned me round on fantasy fiction. Along with compatriots like Andrew Reid and Den Patrick she writes stories about refreshingly normal, flawed people faced with impossible situations. All three authors have a tremendous ear for a good bit of profanity, all three have excellent comic timing and all three have unique perspectives on the genre. I’ll be talking about Andrew and Den’s stuff later in the year, but Jen’s up first thanks to having two stories out in 2015. One, Sorrow’s Isle, is a prequel to The Copper Promise, her 2014 novel. The other, The Iron Ghost, is the sequel.
RedEye has set itself a difficult task; produce horror that’s YA suitable but remains true to the needs of the genre. Lou Morgan’s Sleeplessdid an excellent job of showing how this could be done picking apart of teenage expectation and pressure with the twin scalpels of horror and insomnia. It’s a Hell of a book and, in Simon Cheshire’s Flesh and Blood, it’s got good company.
The more I play Dying Light, the more I’m impressed by the humanity of it. The characters in the game are just that; characters. Real, flawed, occasionally deeply weird people who’ve carved out a life for themselves in a city where life is very much at a premium. Interacting with them is much more fun than dodging the zombies and that’s a problem we’ll talk about another time. But for now I want to talk about three of the perople I’ve met and what they say about the game.
Specifically, the moon of asteroid 2004 BL86 which passed close to the Earth late in January. ‘Close’ this being space, was three times the distance between Earth and the Moon. That being said, the Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, got some amazing footage not just of the asteroid but it’s moon.
That’s an 1100 foot wide space rock with a 230 foot mini moon shooting around it. Or a UFO. Or a secret multinational lander making it’s run on a desperate mission to save us all. Or a Sunday Moment of Zen. Yeah, let’s go with that last one.
You just bent your knees a little, didn’t you? Instinctively bracing for the weight of a couple of thousand pages, spread across a dozen volumes. Endless description, constant character shifts and a never ending parade of exposition surely await you. There will be a prologue, maybe more than one. You will find out more than you ever wanted to about the food the characters are eating.
There will be a map.
None of this is bad, but all of it is work. So, you bend your knees and you brace for impact.
And that’s when Mirror Empire kicks your legs out from under you.
This is the cover to Victoriana: The Concert in Flame. It’s a campaign for the Victoriana RPG, published by Cubicle 7 and written by Walt Ciechanowski, Chad Bowser, Lynne Hardy, Andi Newton and me. Illustrated by Scott Purdy and fellow former Traveling Man Jon Hodgson it’s the story of a race across Europe to stop an elaborate plan to raise an ancient Death God. Victoriana‘s an amazingly pretty, fun game and this is exactly the sort of high density, idea-heavy stuff that it excels at. Here’s the inside, plus a cameo appearance by my fingers.
Thanks, fingers. You rule.
I’m really proud of my work on this and it was an honor working with such a kickass group of writers and artists.. It was also an interesting and valuable learning experience as a writer. A lot of my concepts and story beats are in here, but not as many of my actual words typed by my actual fingers (Including the ones in that photo) made it into the book. Given that my professional confidence meter is, for a variety of reasons, not high right now, that knocked me sideways for a couple of hours.
What turned me around was my friend Mur Lafferty. Mur is one of the smartest, most switched on people I know and she pointed out that while my disappointment was understandable it also wasn’t necessary. My work helped build the book, my ideas helped shape the book, I got paid for having worked on the book and now I can hold a copy of something I worked on, with my name on the front, spelt right. That’s four different shades of win however you cut it.
So, thanks Mur for not letting me kick my own ass on this one and realize I’m allowed to be pleased that I made an awesome thing. And it really is awesome; classic ‘head long sprint across Europe against impossible odds’ stuff. Plus there’s weaponized classic music and in particular a weaponized proscenium in there which remains one of my favorite ideas EVER. As for the steam organ that turned into a battle mech with steam throwers for hands?It’s day will come…
I’m playing Dying Light at the moment. It’s a first person survival zombie game set in the fictional city of Harran, which has fallen victim to a zombie outbreak. No one’s said zombies, not yet, but the shambling hordes filling the city are pretty clearly post-mortem. Dropped in to by a humanitarian organization to retrieve an embarrassing set of documents, you’re attacked, rescued and find yourself working for the group of survivors who saved your life. And the group who tried to kill you. And the organization who sent you in… I’m about six hours in at this point and enjoying it more and more. The reason for that, rather appropriately for a zombie game, has crept up on me.