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The Sky Roads

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Despite all associated tribulations, airships will always be my first love.

Done with MyPaint.

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Hindenburg, again

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Well this feels familiar.

I never formally announced that I’d signed a contract with Book Smugglers Publishing to release my serial novella collection Zeppelins are what Dreams are Made of. It was set for publication in 2019.

Unfortunately, the Book Smugglers are scaling back operations and will no longer be publishing novellas.

All rights have reverted back to me.

This is, of course, the same collection I sold to Eggplant Literary Productions back in 2014 shortly before that press shut down.

It is now almost nine years since I wrote the first story. I’ve become so disconnected from this work that I really am not sure what to do with this collection next, if anything.

All systems read

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Martha Wells has a talent for crafting a perfect first paragraph.

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It has been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure. (9)

That passage encapsulates the main character of All Systems Red (2017) far better than any summary I could give. Continue Reading »

The other thing I’ve been up to this month, in order:

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Hat

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All of these are abandoned paintings or sketches – two from over a year ago – that I finally went back to and finished.

All you need is art

Some points of interest from the past month: up this time are a novel, a webcomic, a cartoon.

All you need is…to take a break from video games

51djxql872l-_sx326_bo1204203200_I got Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill with the intention of writing a full review, but after breezing through this it just didn’t stir much in my brain. There little more to it than the core premise: a soldier in a future war gets the ability to loop back in time and is reborn to the same morning whenever he dies, eventually using what he learns to become an unstoppable seasoned combat savant. There is a level of personal horror inherent in this what if but Sakurazaka only touches on it lightly. The main inspiration for the novel, its main obsession, and its central metaphor is video games. That’s not a bad thing; the experience of playing video games has become an immense part of some peoples’ lives and shouldn’t be dismissed. But Sakurazaka mainly skims off the surface, and it becomes uncomfortable when he imports the culture of online multiplayer deathmatches as manifesting in both the behaviour of the Japanese soldiers and the main character’s relationship with the only other character of note, the “Full Metal Bitch.”

There are a few moments of meditation in the face of destruction and some melancholy pieces near the end, but in this (thankfully) short novel those end up drowned in the noise of combat as filtered through a flickering screen. Continue Reading »

Turning thirty

I spent my thirtieth birthday today with the worst cold I’ve had in recent memory, so not much to report there. It’s shaping up to be a beautiful autumn in the Yukon at least – sunny days and beautiful fall colours.

I was at Edmonton Expo last weekend. It was my first time going to a comic book convention; I attended some panels and saw two of the Doctors, but spent most of the time just wandering around looking at costumes and the artwork on display at the tables. I highly recommend going to a sketch duel if you have the chance. But the real highlight was walking away with some beautiful prints from artists (and sisters) Sabtastic and Stingraych. Go check out their work, they’re both amazing.

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Martha Wells wrote something called The Fall of Ile-Rien and it’s my big obsession now. The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, The Gate of Gods – remember those titles. I check in on r/fantasy on Reddit pretty regularly and it’s choked with discussions about the same fantasy series that are all by guys with beards and are all unfinished and now I’m wondering why they’re not talking about this, which is a complete trilogy with a satisfying ending and is pretty much perfect.

I mean this has wizards who dress in tuxedos or flower print dresses in a 1920s-ish kind of central Europe and there are sentient magical spheres and culture clashes with matriarchal tropical island people and there are airships, so many airships, and war and adventure and romance and portals between different dimensions and giant ruins from long-dead ancient civilizations, and it’s all just beautifully rendered and evocative and imaginative. But it’s not just the world(s), which are intricate and detailed and feel alive, but after reading so many books lately where the characters are all kind of nondescript reflections of each other, Martha Wells breathes life and personality into everyone; her characters are so well-formed and complex and distinct whether good or bad and watching them interact is a huge pleasure. But mainly there are sorcerers flying around in zeppelins and that’s exactly what I needed in my life right now.

So, The Fall of Ile-Rien: you should read it. I’m leaving everything vague because I really do want people to go in blind and enjoy it fresh. It’s all the good parts you remembered about 90s fantasy including the zeppelins. It is distilled excellence and me blabbering too much about it would ruin it. So just go and read it.