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Monthly Archives: June 2014

I’m happy to announce that my short story Specimen 25 is going to be published thanks to the Bookies–Angela, Lana, and Sue–over at Here Booky Booky!

You can read the official announcement on their blog: http://www.herebookybooky.com/announcing-the-2014-mini-e-book-award-prizewinner/

I’ll be keeping you up to date on the latest details as they become available. I can’t wait to see what the finished product looks like!

Until then, I’m working on some extras leading up to the release of Specimen 25 for everyone to read here at the blog. Keep an eye out for those, because you never know what might show up in one of my late-night posts.

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Have you read The Beam by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant?

The Beam

No?

Noah Fucking West! What’s your excuse?

I’ll admit that I’m way late on this one. The Beam came out last summer and I only started reading it about a month ago. I can’t believe it took me so long to find this series. The Beam: The Complete First Season was my first time reading anything by the Realm & Sands duo, and I was not disappointed.

This is sci-fi supercharged with adrenaline, bursting with charisma and characters, and thrown into blender with some philosophy, politics, violence, cyber-intrigue, and even some techno-mysticism.

Platt and Truant have created a world that feels more like science-future than science-fiction. This is a future that seems all too plausible—a scary proposition, I would say. If you follow technology news at all, you’ve probably heard people use the term, “the Internet of Things.” In the world of The Beam, the Internet of Things has been fully realized and the people of the NAU live in a state of hyperconnectivity. Everything is tied into The Beam, and every surface can become a window into its expanse. The seductions of that digital realm pull in people of all kinds, offering an escape from reality and an electronic pacifier to many. A whole segment of the population is plugged in permanently, choosing to live in a virtual playground that’s only limited by imagination. Why would anyone ever want to live outside The Beam, when it can take you anywhere, show you anything, and allow you to be whatever you desire?

People are not necessarily what they appear to be in the real world, either. Nano-technology has forever altered the landscape of the NAU and given its citizens access to superior intellect, enhanced creativity, and a whole host of other abilities. You wouldn’t ask, “Is there an app for that?” but instead, “Is there an implant for that?” You want faster reflexes? What about resistance to diseases and the ability to rapidly recover from injuries? Or maybe you just want a watch that’s implanted in your hand so you never have to take it off?

There are so many different aspects to this story that I couldn’t possibly tell you about them all in this blog. I think what impressed me most was the way that I slipped so naturally into the setting. The care and attention to detail in the text allows for layered reading. By the time I got to the end, I knew I would have to read it all over again soon. There’s so much to discover in The Beam that I was sure I missed something important, some nugget of backstory or world building that was slipped into one of the narrative’s frenzied moments. Aside from one slower (but extremely important) segment involving the creator of The Beam, the pace of this story is wonderfully insane.

And I haven’t even said anything about the characters!

I highly recommend you go and check out The Beam, because it’s an entrancing read filled with disturbing yet believable horrors of a future that doesn’t look too distant from ours. If you follow the link above you can find out how to download the first episode for free, so you have nothing to lose!

The Beam: The Complete First Season is the start of what looks to be an epic journey. I give it high marks for its bold, in-your-face approach to science-fiction and a world so convincing that it makes me fear what the future might hold for us as we continue down the rabbit hole of innovation. Somebody needs to make this into a TV show, too, because it’s already got all the ingredients you need for a hit.

Season Two of The Beam is next up on my list.

The following is an excerpt from Primordials, Their Cults, and Histories: A Primer for Advanced Study from The Worlds Consortium University.

Before considering any serious study of this subject, it is imperative that certain facts are made evident.

Until recently a majority of scholars at WCU subscribed to the prevailing opinions of the Inter-world Society of Cosmoanthropology regarding the prevalence of cultures that actively engage in the practice of primordial worship. In short, the IWSC asserted that the rise of cults, religions, and other organized bodies portraying the primordials as living beings and/or deities was a rare occurrence across the multiverse. New research has shown this theory to be absolutely false, and provided some of the data needed to begin a more measured approach to the topic.

There are approximately twenty million worlds, an estimated 20-30% of all known universes as of the time this resource is published, in which the belief in primordials extends beyond the boundaries of mythology and into the lives of the intelligent species inhabiting those realms. The peoples of these worlds do not separate myth from history—chaos and order begin with capital letters, they are said to walk amongst them in the skins of lesser creatures, and the oldest stories these societies pass on tell of a war between the two. Often the totality of these beliefs fuels the development of entire cultures, shaping their worlds in diverse and unpredictable ways.

To study the role of primordials, their cults, and their vast histories, an awareness of these facts is required, in order to both contextualize the information as it relates to its origins and also avoid the natural tendency to minimize the importance of practices which we do not inherently understand. WCU recommends a complete reading and review of the supplemental documents at the end of this chapter, which include a series of myth-cycles from various worlds, a collection of images from the WCU archives and highlights from a number of histories.

I like words, and I enjoy talking about their pieces and parts, what they sound like, and how we got them. This is the first in an ongoing series of posts about the etymology of words in the English language and how the origins of words relate to the ways we use them. If you’re a lover of language like me, keep reading. If you’re curious why we choose one particular word over another, this is the place to find out.

Today’s word is reckless.

Where does this word come from? A look into the OED’s entry on the word shows us that the modern form of the word ‘reckless’ was derived from the Old English recceleas (some other early versions of this word are reccileas, receleas, recelæas). There are cognates in both Dutch and German, as rōkelōs.

In case you’re a little rusty, the OED defines reckless as, “Heedless of or indifferent to the consequences of one’s actions; lacking in prudence or caution; willing or liable to take risks; rash, foolhardy; irresponsible.” Nobody wants to be seen as reckless, because as you can see the word carries quite a lot of baggage with it.

Let’s take it a step further. The ‘reck’ in reckless had to come from somewhere, right? Well there’s ‘reck’ as a noun, meaning, “Care, heed, consideration.” Or there’s its cousin, the verb form of ‘reck’ which is defined as, “To take care or thought for or notice of something, along with inclination, desire, or favour towards it, interest in it, etc.; to think (much, etc.) of.” Language is a strange beast, because there’s also another definition of the verb ‘reck’ that is, “To take notice of or be concerned about something, so as to be alarmed or troubled by it, or so as to modify one’s behaviour or purposes on account of it.” So which is it?

When was the last time you heard someone say that they ‘recked’ something? Never? That would make sense, considering it’s now an archaic and largely forgotten word.

With all of this mind, consider what it means to call someone or something ‘reckless.’ For example, can we call skydiving reckless? No. According the definition (see above), we can’t. Nobody goes skydiving without a parachute, or some other kind of safety device, because they don’t plan on dying when they do it. All the necessary precautions are taken to make sure that, assuming nothing too crazy happens, then the outcome will be the same every time: a safe landing. Yes, it is taking a risk, also part of the definition of reckless, but let’s be honest: in practice when we use the word we mean more than just risky.

OK, so what if you called someone reckless for skydiving? Then you’d be making a judgment about that person, not based on fact but on your opinion of their choices.

It is not reckless to go skydiving as long as you do it the correct way, but it is reckless to drive drunk. See the difference?

Are you engaging in reckless behavior? How often?

And if you are, would it make a good story?

I have this odd habit, not exactly sure where it came from, of viewing objects and events in my life as signs. Sometimes I see something and I can’t help but think, ‘What could that mean?’ Maybe it’s a byproduct of my writer’s brain, but I am always looking for the significance of a thing beyond what it is–even though I often find myself wondering if there truly is any meaning aside from that which we impose upon the world.

Why am I babbling about this?

I’ve been seeing lots of frogs lately, and it keeps reminding me of an idea I had for a story. I started writing the story a couple of nights ago, and today while I was out working I saw yet another frog.

Maybe I think too much, but I looked at that frog today—it was brown in case you’re curious—and to me it was a sign that I’m on the right track.

Now, here’s the thing: I realize that it might sound ridiculous, or delusional, but I think that if you keep an eye out for signs around you then you’re more than likely to find them. Whether they actually mean anything at all is another question, one that we simply cannot answer. Unless you’re convinced that our existence, our entire universe even, is absolutely random and holds no higher truths. I’m not convinced of that yet, signs or no.

A couple of years ago I went to interview for a new job and this subject came up. I don’t remember the context, but I do remember why I mentioned it that day: on my way to the interview I saw two dead birds, side by side and all smashed into the road. I had seen a dead bird in the street before, but never two like that. I wondered what it might mean, and I told my potential employer about it. He was intrigued and he told me that he’d never considered it before.

Perhaps it meant nothing at all, and the dead birds were exactly that and nothing more, but I got the job and then got fired a week later.

For whatever it’s worth, I haven’t seen a pair of dead birds since.