Archive for December, 2012
The theme (obvious though it was) has been the end of the world.
We’ve talked about a lot of things, you and I, and how they related to that possible end. We talked about how we raise our children and thus our future. We talked about aging. We talked about creating things not of flesh. I wrote you many stories. I hawked them ad nauseam (because that’s part of it, too).
Obviously the world hasn’t ended. I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve, and it’s not yet midnight in the hemisphere of the Mayans, but I’d take us making it to tomorrow in the points if I were placing a bet.
It did end for a lot of people. You knew some of them. You read and watched endless news coverage of others. Most of them you have no idea are gone, and that’s shitty and probably entirely necessary (and that’s even shittier).
The simple truth is I have nothing meaningful to say about the overall state of the world and/or mankind. I’m one more guy perpetually caught up in his own bullshit. I wrote about my 2012 writing highlights over on my Tumblr. I meant all of those things, and all them are meaningful, but they’re only meaningful to me and those who love me (couldn’t fill an elevator with ‘em. I’m just saying).
Good things happened to and for me. More than bad things did. I think that’s the best thing to be able to say about any given year in which you find yourself living. I made massive strides with my screenwriting and, most unexpectedly, returned to my fiction writing, as well. I saw Indie Game: The Movie (a beautiful and extremely well-crafted documentary which should be on far more top ten lists than it is) and it was one of the things that inspired me to create and release more of my own work. Which I did, successfully, in more ways than one.
I also turned thirty this year. I spent a decent portion of my relatively (in geologic terms, certainly) short life convinced I wouldn’t live to see this age. I even courted my own destruction for a long time in a hundred different ways.
I’m happy I was wrong. I’m happier I was wrong whenever horrible things happen to others and don’t happen to me because it reminds me of the truth of that.
I also feel a genuine connection to and sorrow for those who didn’t make it to my current age and never entertained the notion they wouldn’t.
The portion of the lives they lived I pretty much squandered. I sometimes feel like it’s wrong that I should get to enjoy this part and all the parts to come when they can’t, because they did the real work to get here.
And they got solidly fucked out of it.
The truest thing I can say, without the barest molecule of irony or saccharine or self-interest, is for them I will try to do better.
I’ve always measured my life in the goals of the next moment. When I first began training to become a professional wrestler I was instructed in the old school. I began on mats; lumpy, dirty, olfactory-offensive mats on a cement floor. We weren’t allowed beyond those mats until we learned to (shocked gasp) wrestle. The actual ring, four-posted and resplendent with canvas and embossed apron and turnbuckle covers, was this mythic dais to which I aspired; it was literally ten feet away and yet totally forbidden to me. I spent month after month of torture on those mats, popping blood vessels when other teenagers were popping zits, with one eye on the ring. It was all I dreamt about.
And yet as soon as I stepped through those ropes for the first time, the moment I attained my goal of entering that ring, my only thought was, “I want to have my first match.”
As soon as the bell rang on my first match, I wanted to work my first professional match. As soon as I had the cash in my hand from that milestone event, I wanted to work a bigger show for a bigger promotion. Then I wanted to work in another state. Then I wanted to work in another country. Then I wanted to work abroad.
On and on to the next moment.
Writing was the same way. I could only dream of a time when someone would pay me to publish one of my short stories. When that finally happened it felt like the barest stepping-stone. I wanted a pro sale in a bigger market. Then I wanted an anthology. Then I wanted a book. Then I wanted a screenplay deal. Then I wanted a movie.
I would imagine that’s the majority of the world, whether the goal of that next moment is one of career or of love of just of finding your next meal. A lot of people never have the option of living or perceiving reality any other way.
If you do, then you should.
This year, these past couple of years since I moved to Los Angeles, I’ve forced myself to fully perceive and enjoy every moment. And rather than constantly chasing the next, I’ve finally started playing the long game. And by “game” I obviously mean “life.” I see a sustained future in my career, in my personal life. I never really looked at that before.
Now when I make a decision, write a story, plan an evening, I do it with one eye on the moment for what it is and one eye on what it might mean ten years down the line.
It’s a good way to be, a good way to make the most of this linear existence into which we are born.
I highly recommend it.
Oh, and speaking of our linear existence, a brief note about the past: it should only be fuel for the present and future. Well. Maybe not “only” fuel. Reflection and remembrance can be better late at night than a shot of something warm and soothing from a bottle. But it also can’t be an albatross tethered to your every fucking joint, weighting every movement in any direction save backward.
I’m still working on that.
You cried this year, I’ll wager. You laughed. You came (on average probably more than you cried or laughed, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing). You bled. You shed enough cells to create entire galaxies of yourself. You spoke and wrote millions of words, 90% of which meant absolutely nothing. You loved someone to a sickening degree. You hated someone to an equally sickening degree. You did NOT swallow eight spiders because that statistic is bullshit. You did swallow many things of which you will never and should never be aware.
You’ll do all of this again next year.
And you know what? That’s awesome. Awesome in the sense of the universe. More than we are capable of understanding let alone appreciating.
It’s the best carnival ride there is. It’s always the same and it’s always different. It’s not just a ride, it’s the ride. And it’s worth repeating. Several dozen times until you haven’t the strength or mental facility to run the loop again.
I believe our world ends every year. I believe it begins again every year. I believe we create that perception of it in our minds. I believe this is a wholly necessary process.
Welcome to the end of the world.
In 2007 one of my absolute favorite podcasts was Decoder Ring Theatre.
A lot of people were using podcasting to reintroduce Old Time Radio shows from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s like The Shadow, X-Minus One, and Bulldog Drummond… but Decoder Ring was actually creating new ones. Based in Canada and populated by a supremely talented acting troupe, they wrote and produced original series in the vein and exact style of the Golden Age of Radio; the cases of hardboiled dick Jack Justice and Trixie Dixon, Girl Detective; the adventures of masked hero The Red Panda and his sidekick The Flying Squirrel; big audio productions with full casts and great effects… just amazing, transporting content executed superbly well on all fronts.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to create and write two half-hour episodes of literally anything I wanted for their Summer Showcase series. I chose to do a science fiction serial. That serial became Deck Gibson: Far Reach Commander. It was filled with everything you’d expect; bubble helmets and ray guns, rocket ships and jet packs, reptilian space pirates and beautiful alien princesses.
But I also tried to add a little more. My goal wasn’t to write a parody or a satire or a pastiche… it was to write a genuine and truly awesome Golden Age of Radio-style pulp science fiction series. I wanted to combine the style and aesthetic and innocence of the radio plays of the era with the influences and sensibilities of the serialized science fiction I loved today—shows like Farscape that focused so much on the wonders and possibilities of our universe awaiting us Out There.
The series takes place in a future in which Earthlings have become a race of xenophobic conquerors. All contact with alien species is strictly, brutally forbidden. Deck Gibson is an elite fighter pilot in their feared Quasar Corps when his starfighter is blown off course and drifts beyond Earth’s borders. He’s rescued by Control, a mysterious entity who speaks to Deck only as a feminine voice over a comm. She commands the Far Reach Fleet. It’s the mission of the commanders and their interstellar rocket ships to explore, to discover, to defend. Deck becomes the greatest of the Far Reach Commanders and encounters a universe full of wonders neither he nor any Earthling could ever have imagined.
Deck proved so popular in their Summer Showcase that head Decoder Ring honcho Gregg Taylor asked me to come back and write an entire season of the show for their next year’s schedule. I wrote six full-length episodes, including a two-part season finale, all of which were wonderfully cast and gorgeously produced by Gregg and his people. Time constraints and personnel changes/availability prevented us from doing a second season, but I loved the series, and I still do.
I’m not alone. Behind the Failed Cities, it remains the most popular thing I’ve done. I still get e-mails and tweets asking when we’ll see more Deck.
On January 23rd I will be collecting all of my original, unabridged scripts from the entire run of Deck Gibson and releasing them as a new, full-length ebook.
DECK GIBSON: FAR REACH COMMANDER—THE COMPLETE SCRIPTS will also contain brand new content, including the first new Deck Gibson stories since 2008, as well as that absolutely beautiful new cover you see designed and created by Richard Roberts for this edition (I fucking love that thing).
I’m very excited about this book. Like THE FAILED CITIES, it’s been a longtime coming and something I’ve really wanted to see done right. I’ve worked just as hard as I did on the Definitive Edition of that book to give Deck the treatment he and the rest of the gang deserve.
I hope the fans of the original series will dig having this book, as well as the new Deck Gibson stories they’ve been asking for (even if they’re taking a different form). I also hope those of you who aren’t into audio fiction or drama or radio plays will finally be able to enjoy these stories. It’s a big, sprawling, adventurous universe, and they’re a lot of fun to read and create in your head.
I’ll be releasing more details on the contents of the book in the weeks to come. DECK GIBSON: FAR REACH COMMANDER—THE COMPLETE SCRIPTS will be available directly from me as a digital bundle. It will also be available in the Amazon Kindle Store.
Come fly with me, kids.
I love the holidays. All of them. Even Kwanzaa (HARAMBEE!). It’s the one time of year when I hate all of you people just a little less.
Not a lot less. But a little.
So the other day I was trimming my tree and watching the Duck Dynasty Holiday Special (best sitcom writers on television, that show has) and thinking on how I could express that less-than-marginal reduction in my general ire for the Human race.
Then it hit me: monetarily.
As my gift to you this most festive of seasons (except for Roller Derby play-offs, natch) I’ve created The Failed Cities Holiday Bundle. Here’s the deal: for the next two weeks you can purchase the Definitive Edition ebook of my novel THE FAILED CITIES for just $6.99—that’s 30% off its arbitrary retail price that I set myself. It contains all of the versions—PDF, MOBI, and ePub—included in the regular bundle for all your digital reading device needs.
But wait. There’s more.
As a bonus, The Failed Cities Holiday Bundle includes a PDF version of my short story “Sundae” that I released back in June. “Sundae” has rapidly become one of my best-selling pieces of fiction ever, but until now it was only available for the Kindle. Now you can read it on your desktop or print it out at your convenience. For free.
So… if you weren’t in for ten bucks when THE FAILED CITIES (DEFINITIVE EDITION) first dropped, now’s your chance to pick it up. If you were planning to buy it as a gift for somebody or bodies, consider the discount and extra story a thank you from me.
And guys: please remember to download the bundle from the page UPLOADnSELL takes you to after you buy. The link is right there for you on the page after you complete payment. It couldn’t be simpler. I have no sympathy or time to deal with people who don’t take the extra two seconds to read the whole page before closing it down and then bugging me because they weren’t e-mailed a file. It’s one more click. Don’t be a moron.
And by all of that I obviously mean MERRY CHRISTMAS!
The Holiday Bundle evaporates on Christmas Day, so get in on this now.
I’ve had a lot of fun this year working with Scott Sigler on his Galactic Football League series of fiction. The universe is everything I like; it’s pulp, it’s crime, it’s sci-fi, it’s full-contact sports, it’s blood and guts, it’s spaceships and alien cyborg gladiators and tough guys and girls with deep tough guy and tough girl pathos.
The GFL series is also a completely homegrown franchise. I like that most of all. Sigler rakes in mainstream dollars and glory writing best-selling thrillers for Crown, but he also owns and operates his own Dark Øverlord Media imprint. The backbone of that imprint is the GFL. Sigler’s novels THE ROOKIE, THE STARTER, THE ALL-PRO, and the latest volume in the series, THE MVP, have built a mini-empire of fans and readers and filled it with merch, podcasts, audiobooks, ebooks, and ancillary fiction that fill out this crazy as balls, fun as hell setting.
TITLE FIGHT is my latest contribution to all of that. Sigler and I actually began this as a podcast series back in 2010. TITLE FIGHT takes a look at MMA (mixed martial arts, or the stuff they used to do in the UFC before it sucked) in the far-future, alien-populated, bloodsport-obsessed universe of the GFL series.
We also wrote this one like a high-impact sparring match. Each of us created and took the perspective of a fighter in the titular bout (mine is that awesome freak of nature on the brand new cover for TITLE FIGHT created by Scott Pond) and traded chapters back and forth. The plot evolved from the conflict of that exchange, and what it became is a story about two extremely complex and terribly simple warriors of different species dealing with every possible obstacle, personally and professionally, en route to the fight of the millennia.
It’s a great and bloody piece of business, and the best part is you can now read TITLE FIGHT for the first time ever as a quality ebook from Dark Øverlord Media. Get it for four bucks for your Kindle in the Amazon Kindle Store, or for your other preferred digital reading device from Sigler’s store.
Fans have also been digging THE DETECTIVE—the other GFL series ebook I wrote with Sigler that came out this year. Although it’s firmly rooted in the plot of the novels, it also explores the life and times of the first openly gay character in this universe where the Human race is a brutal and borderline-medieval xenophobic, homophobic theocracy. I’m very proud of the character work I did there, and equally proud of all the insane planet-hopping action and intrigue I created in-between.
I’d encourage all of you guys to get into the GFL series. They’re fun, interesting, action-packed books. You can listen to a lot of them for free as podcasts and audiobooks without having to pay a dime. I’d like you to be able to read and enjoy the work I’ve done for the series, and I know that’s tough with it being so in-world and unapproachable without the context of the novels.
So give it a shot.
It’s always a nutty ride playing in someone else’s sandbox this way. I’ve written fiction for a fair number of other author’s worlds, and each one presents its own set of challenges. As do the authors themselves. Sigler may be the worst of them because he’s like a small, fervent machine when it comes to the work and he’s also not afraid of me, which is rare and leaves little room for compromise.
Writing GFL fiction is challenging because, for a series that’s about aliens five-hundred-years in the future playing football, Sigler is compulsive in his meticulous attention to authenticity and detail. History, technology, science, biology… he’s a freak for all of those subjects and he’ll brook nothing less than logistical adherence to those aspects of the story.
I love all of those subjects, as well. But I love lying and making shit up at my convenience more.
On the other hand, writing for this universe is incredibly liberating because all of the heavy, building-the-pyramids-block-by-block lifting has been done for you. I didn’t have to create a dozen alien races and cultures from the dawn of time to date and millennia of Human history before I could start telling the story. My gig was to shade existing worlds with blood and warrior pathos. I was handed a ready-made arsenal and unleashed on the battlefield with very sparse marching orders, free to create wanton mayhem as I saw fit.
You’re basically being paid to come in, destroy worlds and slay legions, and leave without having to clean up after the party.
It’s good work if you can get it.