Writing is tough. Especially when you've got a job and a family. So, it is with great pleasure that I can firmly say that Book 2 of the Three Spheres Trilogy, tentatively entitled Terra Firms, will be out soon. By soon, I hope in the next few months. The final draft is making its way around to various trusted people. But soon, it will be in your hands! I promise!
So, for the first nearly 80 years of its existence, the Pulitzer Prize for music only went to what was either classical or abstract music. In 2018, it goes to Kendrick Lamar. That's not something anyone was expecting. Were they?
I'd bet someone somewhere was taking bets on this year's winner. And I would guarantee that not one person put money on Kendrick Lamar. But why shouldn't he win? Musical innovation? Why not? I don't think he set out to win a Pulitzer, but he deserves it as much as anyone else.
A guy in Canada named Terry Miles has helped usher in some great new podcasts. Over the last few years he and various associates have created some of the most compulsively listenable podcasts.
Set up in the guise of radio reporting, the hosts of the various shows explore phenomenon that are unusual, supernatural even. The Black Tapes podcast was first, i believe, but shuttered last fall with a fizzle that truly disappointed the fanbase.
Tanis is back for its fourth season and The Last Movie, a six-episode exploration of a film that is akin to that in the movie The Ring, was recently released. Rabbits, which had its initial season is hopefully coming back with another.
The shows have an interesting pace, which made the sudden ending of the Black Tapes all the more surprising. Not sure why they ended the podcast, which, of all of them, seemed to be on track to have the most compelling finale. The Black Tapes was set around a mysterious professor who explored and debunked supernatural phenomenon, all the while covering up his true fascination with the subject.
Tanis' pace remains slow, and though there seems to be an end point in the distant future, the lack of urgency to reach a conclusion, given what the listener knows about Tanis and its origins, is all the more strange. Set around the pacific northwest, as all of these podcasts are, Tanis explores the host and producer's relationship with a strange phenomenon occurring in the woods and the various personalities interested in closing the portal that allows the phenomenon into our world, as well as those who want to open that portal wider.
Rabbits is about an unusual game played by unusual people, with life or death consequences. For me, this is the least interesting of the podcasts.
The exploration of weird phenomenon, and human attempts to conjure supernatural beings is rooted in the real life activities of some people, including L Ron Hubbard and Rasputin. The blending of real life events and fictional storytelling is compelling. But it's beginning to feel like, more and more, there is no endgame. The exploration is the game. And that's fine. But all of it is beginning to feel like Lost. And Lost was great. I loved it. Even the last season. But that's because there was an actual story. These podcasts all have a premise. But the further they go along, the less they seem like stories. Each episode seems designed to advance the narrative as little and as slowly as possible.
So while I still love them and love to listen to them, if for no other reason than I end up googling something that I had no idea was real, or a person who I was familiar with who tried to conjure beings from another realm, I hope that the producer returns to telling a good story. Because soon, I may stop listening.
The title and premise seem a bore. But the show isn't. Darkness and mysteries and lost memories. That's what it's about. A brilliant cellist and her man on the piano go to explore the life of a missing girl after the suicide of the cellist's mother. Too squishy? Seems like a tear jerker? Maybe, hard to tell at the jump. Six episodes of nearly an hour, and though there is a hint that the supernatural is afoot, it's not until well into the series that it's clear that what's going on is not the result of human beings. Well, maybe it is partially, but human beings who are being manipulated by some outward power, of which they don't have the slightest idea.
It looks to be received with only a shrug of the shoulders, but if there were to be a second season of Requiem, I would, without question, watch it. Not saying it's going to keep you up at night or have you looking over your shoulder. Just that it's a good time. Nothing more.
Sometimes I think about what it would be like to live in a dystopian reality. But then I realize that, for much of the world's population, dystopia is daily life. Imagine living in a slum in the midst of high-rise buildings where people live who make ten million times the amount of money that you and your family do.
We don't have to conceive of future technology to consider the reality that people are cruel to one another and will justify their abhorrent behavior with any old flimsy excuse. We live in that right now. We have world leaders who are doing that right this very moment.
So, happy Friday everybody!
A little over a month ago, a friend of mine send me the preview for Altered Carbon, the show that was recently adapted from the novel. "Isn't this the same premise as your book?" he asked. It's true. Altered Carbon has a similar premise. And for a while before it came out, I didn't think I would watch it. I thought that maybe it would contaminate my writing.
But, of course, being the weakling I am, I gave in.
I watched the first three episodes in three days. I enjoyed it. Having never read the book, I had no expectations. But then I got sick and decided, during my time on the couch, I might as well plow through the rest of the series in a day.
That probably wasn't the greatest idea. Altered Carbon was not a show that I should have binged. There are twists and turns, as there should be. But ultimately, the show drags, slighting the story for combat scenes.
Look, it's a highly entertaining premise. And the acting is solid. Above average cast. But by the end, it seems to not matter what happens. Or rather, it's easy to tell that there will be a happy ending, and that there really was no need for the drama leading up to it.
When they make a show or movies out of The Three Spheres Trilogy, I'll be sure to recommend that they don't telegraph the ending.
Like most people interested in the subject, I was surprised that the NYT picked up, followed, and published a story about a Pentagon program that is studying UFOs. Equally interesting was the accompanying article about two Navy pilots who encountered a UFO off the coast of California.
When important people, particularly political people who have access to more information than you or me, like former Senator Harry Reid take this subject matter seriously, we should all pay attention. The government is likely continuing the program, even though Luis Elizando, the former head of the program resigned in protest because it was not being taken seriously.
What conclusions can we draw from the publication and positioning of this article on the front page of the paper? Probably not much, other than that there are unusual things happening that the government doesn't understand and doesn't have control over. What I have always believed is that much of the hype around the government working with aliens and having a handle on this issue is garbage. No government wants to admit that, when spending hundreds of billions of dollars per year, there is a phenomenon that they don't understand, but which may pose a threat.
This is a topic that is looked upon with deep skepticism. There's good reason for that. However, we are at a point where too many people who are reliable, who have spent lots of time observing the skies and technology have seen unusual things. Hopefully, the study of this phenomenon will continue.
Every once in a while, a show comes along that surprises. I'm one of those people who tries to keep up with what's getting released on Netflix, because I think that Netflix is producing some of the best shows out there.
But prior to a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't heard a word about the German sci-fi show, Dark, which recently appeared.
If you haven't seen it, please do. Time traveling, relationship-bending, and depressing could all be used to describe Dark. It's German, after all, and though you could partially mistake the first episode for a rip-off of Stranger Things, given that a small town abuts a secretive operation, it really isn't.
Suicide starts the show, and so if you're not prepared, which I wasn't, and you really don't want to watch anything "heavy," you could let that scene keep you from watching. But that is just the beginning . I won't try to explain the time-bending relationships that take place. But I will say that a mysterious man called Noah is trying to do something strange with time; activity, which he describes as a fight between good and evil.
But at no time is it apparent who is evil and who is good. We see protagonists do bad things, and we see deeply flawed antagonists whose actions become more clear over time The characters are complex, and the story moves. But watchers must be patient. At the end, we find there is more to come, that time isn't a straight line, and that it's not clear which characters are merely pawns, and which are brilliant strategists.
I have always loved Star Wars, even when I haven't loved Star Wars. Yeah, I know, not a very original perspective. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 were childhood. Episodes 1, 2, and 3 were mediocre. And now, we have seen two thirds of the third trilogy, which isn't the final trilogy, but which will likely be one of a dozen trilogies, which will be made over the coming decades.
There's no reason to be romantic about Star Wars anymore. When George Lucas re-released Episodes 4, 5, and 6, anyone with an ounce of thinking ability could have seen that it was all about making money, and that he would pursue this goal ruthlessly, even to the point of nearly destroying the truly remarkable universe he created. And in spite of excitement about the prequels, Return of the Jedi should have been a sign to anyone with a memory what Lucas wanted to do.
I don't need to provide a full review here of Episode 8. Not going to go through the plot points. What I can say is that i the last vestiges of George Lucas are gone from the franchise, except for the characters and the general philosophy universe. Lucas couldn't have made the past three movies (including Rogue one). He was trying to appeal to the widest age range possible: newborns to those on their deathbeds. This made it untenable for him to continue to make these movies on his own. They'd grown beyond him.
So it is with this one, which, though it is a Star Wars movie, feels very much different from what Lucas had in mind. It is true that though there are references to the Aikido-esque quality of the universe. But these movies are more character-driven, less spiritual, and more influenced by the last thirty years than they are on adhering to Lucas' ideals.
Perhaps it's because i don't feel invested, but I am not insulted that a director or a writer wouldn't do exactly what i want them to do with a movie. My goal watching the Star Wars franchise has always been to be entertained. That doesn't mean that I don't look back on episodes 4, 5, and 6 with fondness. But even when I watch the now, I can't watch them with the same reverence I did when I was a kid. I just can't.
I was fully entertained by the Last Jedi. I have not contextual support for this, just my word. It is fun and it is joyful, and I don't care whether people who hate political correctness are outraged that the white men are bad and the people of color and women are good. I just don't.
That is all. I'm sure you've seen it, so if you disagree, let me know.
It's never surprising that Hollywood looks to the past for inspiration. But this particular trailer, well, it looks much better than before. IT. Scary as hell:
about the world then when a man gets dragged off a plane because the airline wants their staff to get where they're going. Fuck the paying customer. Let that dude get bloody. Sure, poison gas and bombs and all that, too. Are we already living in a dystopian society?
Anyone who hasn't gotten a chance to check out the new trailer for Alien Covenant is missing something. For any fan of sci-fi, the Alien movies (well, the first two anyway), were remarkably powerful. No one who was raised in the 80s or later could deny that this movie was powerful. And with Sigourney Weaver at the helm, it was an action/horror movie with a kick-ass woman.
This one looks like it's going to be something similar, though more related to the so-so Prometheus, which came out a few years ago. Regardless of the reviews, regardless of the hate, I'm still going to see it. In the theater.
Like most people I didn't do enough to celebrate International Women's Day. But should it really just be one day? Probably not. Anyway, in thinking about the day, I thought about my favorite author, Zadie Smith. No, she's not a sci-fi writer. Not at all, actually. But she was, for me, one of the people who inspired me to continue writing.
We're actually the same age, so it's a little strange for me to admit this, but The Autograph Man and White Teeth are two of the most exceptional books I have ever read. She not only hit the multi-racial themes of my own youth, but did it in a way that just left me in awe.
So, on this day after International Women's Day, I want to send my thanks and appreciation to Zadie Smith for her ongoing greatness. She's still got many years ahead, during which I'm sure we'll see more amazing work from her.
It's not that I don't love to blog. Actually, I take that back, I don't love to blog. At least not about myself. I like to blog even less about what I'm doing. But I thought it would be worthwhile for me to at least let anyone who's reading this know that I am working on Book 2 of this series.
There have been a lot of ups and downs over the last ten months, and despite trying to devote all free time I have to this project, it hasn't always worked out the way that I have wanted it to. But I'm back baby, and here I am letting you know that you mean something to me. So check back here on the regular to see what's happening.
It's not an easy thing to do. But I have taken the step of making The Second Sphere free! It will be available not only on Amazon but on iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and about a dozen other sites, including Smashwords!
I'm excited. Can't wait to get these links up here so that more people can download the book!
The internet is a funny place. Who would have thought thirty years ago that one could meet someone from half way across the world, pick up their book for a reasonable price and be able to write a review for lots to see?
I "met" RE Vance during my slog through the unsuccessful Kindle Scout Campaign. He very graciously, and very out of the blue wrote on a Kindle Scout board that he had nominated The Second Sphere. I wrote him back and thanked him for his generosity. And then I picked up his book.
RE has created a world where the gods are dead. All of them. The demigods are all that remain of that vaguely supernatural, powerful landscape of myths and legends that human beings heard tales about over the years. And there's really only one place where they're welcome: Paradise Lot.
Though it's turned into a rather seedy place since the gods went away, There's only one man left who seems to care about bringing the world together, who isn't filled with hatred toward the fallen demigods and other various creatures who inhabit the sleepy little town, and that's Jean-Luc.
Since his wife Bella died, and come back to visit him in his dreams, he's felt a strange pull to help the downtrodden demigods and their cohort, and continues to run a hotel that caters to their type. But of course, there are plenty of people who don't like the demigods and their ilk and are bent on waging a mini-war against them. Jean-Luc just wants to keep the peace.
RE has created a vivid and imaginative world from the folklore of the world, pulling creatures from all sorts of stories into his own and threading it all together with great humor. The writing is taut and smooth and the reader is immediately drawn into the fascinating and slightly insane Paradise Lot.
It's not often you can find a fun, reasonably priced book on Amazon that comes highly rated. I recommend picking up a copy. I'm on to the next book on the series!
The Second Sphere has been out for almost a month! The hardest part of this business is the writing, for sure, but the second hardest part is the promotion. When you're not used to blabbing about yourself or promoting yourself, as I am not, the entire prospect is daunting.
I'm out there a little bit. I'm doing my part on Twitter, or at least learning about it. But still, sales and downloads are slow. I don't believe that has anything to do with he quality of the product as much as it does ALL of the competition that's out there. Millions of books and thousands more added every single day.
The only thing I can do is keep my head down and push forward. Book II of the Three Spheres trilogy is in progress as we speak. And I can assure readers that this is going to be a revealing, wild ride. There is more to the story than Orion Cox ever imagined.
So with that in mind, I'm going to keep blogging as often as I can, which is to say at least a couple of times a week. Nothing too long, but nothing as short as I've done previously. I'm hoping to do some email interviews with interested authors and maybe get a guest or two on here.
Anyway, it's a holiday tomorrow here in Brasilia, but I will be working. Ah well, it's better than not working.
I hope everyone has a great day.
When you work on something like a novel for a really long time, and it's deeply a part of your life, letting it go, and putting it in front of people is scary. Maybe they'll hate it. Maybe no one will buy it. Those are distinct possibilities, of course.
Right now, I'm just trying to enjoy having the book out there. I still have to work on promotion, which is the hardest part for any writer. It may be that, in order to get people to read it, I have to do the unthinkable: make it free.