Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Firespiders Unleashed

The firespiders are back in Astor City. Months ago an elephant-sized spider the size of, well, an elephant terrorized the downtown area and wreaked havoc on the arachnophobia of thousands. The new wave of fire-breathing, eight-legged creatures is not as large but far more plentiful.

When a cluster of dozens of spiders overwhelms a wedding party, the situation calls for superpowered intervention. Meanwhile, Dr. Terri Travers, badly injured in the first spider attack, samples a cure that her biologist father believes could repair her crippled hand – and (as usually happens when science meets superhero fable) something goes terribly wrong.

For years Myke Phoenix has been fighting the forces of evil in the world alone, commissioned by a mysterious mythical bird and endowed with the body and powers of an ancient super-warrior. Almost nothing can penetrate his skin and he has strength and speed beyond those of mere mortals, but when a college campus is overrun, even he can’t stop the menace by himself. The solution will surprise and delight.

Got an hour? Dive into the world of Myke Phoenix, and come back every month for more.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Let the seasons come

Fall sunset over the bay of Green Bay
The future is always uncertain, so quit worrying about it. Prepare as best you can for what may come, but then meet what does come with cheer.

No one can say the end will come today, but endings are in the wind, like the promise of fall, and winter afterward. In every ending is (for most of us) another beginning – the promise of spring – but first the cold, and so we gather fuel and food and shelter.

So: What provisions do you need, in case this is indeed the first day of fall, or the beginning of winter? And how are you living to make the most of the summer?

Your soul has been placed in a body that is essentially a time bomb that one day will go off, or a windup toy that will run down and stop. What will you do before then? Let your words and actions comfort and encourage and feed.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

W.B.’s Book Report: Life is short and so is this Book

… and this will be a short book review. This is one of those little books that condenses the wisdom of the ages into a very small package. And it does this very well.

Just the table of contents – the names of the 10 chapters – comprises a good philosophy of life: Create space. Try not to worry. Don’t do really dumb things. Build character and make friends. Care for yourself and others. Laugh. Do what you love. Embrace change. Learn from experience. Have dreams and work toward them.

Peter Atkins’ little book is worth reading and re-reading – it will reward you every time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

3 things to know about the next Myke Phoenix adventure

OK, four – it's got an awesome cover, as people who subscribe to the Astor City Beacon already know.

1. This is the beginning of a saga within a saga that leads into the next Myke Phoenix saga.

2. The original Firespiders had two giant spiders that breathe fire. This one has several more, as you read in the prologue excerpt the other day.

3. The most important plot twist does not involve the firespiders. Well, it does, but not directly. Well, maybe directly. (Why does the cover feature a woman's silhouette?)

I believe you'll find this one will be worth the extra month's wait.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I always thought war was stupid

Happenings around the world always remind me of the opening lines of my little  anti-war anarchist novel The Imaginary Revolution, which I was merrily writing along a couple of summers ago about now.

This was the first fragment I wrote on the ImagRev blog, and it never got dislodged as the book's introduction:

I always thought war was stupid.
I mean, think about it. You and your adversary disagree about something, and the solution is to send your citizens to fight each other to the death?
You’re never going to succeed in killing each and every one of your adversary’s citizens, so even if you win, there are thousands of people who still believe in whatever it was you were trying to obliterate.
You can’t kill an idea.
The book was told in the first person by the main character, Ray Kaliber, but on this point (among a few others) the author and his character are in complete agreement.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Firespiders Unleashed: (Part of) the Prologue

The next episode in the Myke Phoenix saga is officially one month late, but I have it on good authority that it will definitely arrive less than two months late. Because you've been so patient (or don't care to the point where you still haven't even sampled these wonderful tales), here is a significant chunk (but not all) of the prologue to Firespiders Unleashed:

. . .

Arnie Rogers was still getting used to being the sheriff of Astor County. He had been perfectly happy being chief deputy and letting his old boss Rod Skjorte handle all the administrative stuff, but then Rod had to get himself killed when aliens invaded town. That fact in itself was very difficult to accept.

It had been a weird year anyway, starting with that nutbag who walked around kissing women. That goofy superhero had to break up a fight when a bunch of angry boyfriends and husbands surrounded the guy. That was nothing next to the giant spiders that spit fire, the aliens, the big storm, the bridge collapse – what was happening to his sleepy little town?

When the phone rang in the middle of the night, it was never a good sign.

“Rogers,” he muttered into the phone, hanging onto the last shreds of a dream where he was on a Hawaiian beach with his wife 25 years ago, when they both were young and lean.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

W.B.’s Book Report: The Beam, Season Two

A mere 83 years from now, nanobots in your bloodstream can help you live young and vibrant well past your 100th birthday, and immersive computer technology can deposit you into a reality so real you can’t tell if it is. Ri-ight.

Well, why not? Eighty-three years ago in 1931, movies barely knew how to talk and the most advanced electronic device in most homes was a radio. How far we’ve come – and how far we are going.

But the vision of the future and its toys are not what makes good science fiction. It’s the stories about the people who live in that vision and play with its toys. Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant are great storytellers.

What they have created is a world where, much like today, the devices are more advanced than ever but the same old barbarism lurks in the human heart. We never manage to keep up. Humanity is still divided between those who want to earn their living and those who want the good life handed to them as a right. In the Beam World there are still those who believe they know better and deign to manipulate us into shape, with tools more capable than ever of making it so, while keeping the best of the good life for themselves. And in 2097 the manipulators still offer us a non-choice of two parties that appear, after scratching not too far below the surface, to be not as different from each other after all.