RIP Art Bell – Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Wow – we lost a few bright sparks over the past two days. Along with R. Lee Ermey, We said good-bye to Art Bell this weekend. Ermey, of course, is near and dear to everyone’s heart but I was more affected by the loss of Art Bell. Bell, of course, was the mad genius behind the Coast to Coast AM radio show.

Because of his interest in conspiracy theories and the paranormal, Coast to Coast was destined to be outliers of radio and pop culture. Rather than running from this reality, Bell embraced it, and this gave him a certain level of freedom when it came content and programming. It worked for him too – 2.75M people still tune in every week to hear whatever junk science or Hollow Earth theory is currently popular.

Out of this carnival, Bell’s show occasionally took us on journeys that make surreal podcasts like Night Vale green with envy. Take the following clip, for example …

Bell understood that radio was ‘theater of the mind,’ and used that to his advantage. Sometimes the best storytelling doesn’t sound like a story at all.

We’ll miss you, you crazy nut. I hope they have a mic and a transmitter, wherever you happen to show up next.

New for March – Free Scifi Wallpaper

Welcome to March. Here’s another free wallpaper – this one’s been sized to work with your favorite mobile device. Been working on this one a while. I’ll see a free picture on Unsplash and reimagine it in a sci-fi context.

I started out with this picture: and now it looks like this:

From the very beginning – the boy looked like he was getting abducted by aliens or something – so I ran with that idea. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. Welcome to March, 2018.

 

 

 

Ready Player One: Bad Writing Doesn’t Matter

I was about three chapters into ‘Ready Player One’ when it hit me: Ernie Cline is the Dave Grohl of authors. As in, I love the guy, but I’m not a fan of his work. Logical dichotomies invited my geek-auteur brain to divide by zero. Thankfully, Reddit was there to help me out. I created a thread on /r/writing to talk about it. This is about everything that happened next.

Before I say anything else, let me say this: I love Ernie Cline. Been a fan of his since 2002 or so, when I fell in love with his spoken-word performances about dorky topics. Cline has a brilliant knack for tapping into nerdly zeitgeist into a Robin Williams-style stream of consciousness. You can’t help but respect that.

It should be no surprise then, that I’m happy for him and the success of Ready Player One. Seriously, isn’t that every author’s dream? Your debut novel turns into a Spielberg project. Who wouldn’t love to trade places with Ernie Cline for a day, to experience that level of ‘you’ve arrived,’ in your life?

“But you said you didn’t like Ready Player One,” you might be saying. Yes, that’s true … but that’s not the point. As one Redditor put it: “as a writer myself I know how much easier it is to trash a book than to write one. Completing a novel is a huge accomplishment.” So make no mistake: this post isn’t about trashing Ready Player One (RPO). This is about what RPO’s success can teach us.  Continue reading

Rutger Hauer Destroys Reboots in One Sentence

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Blade Runner 2049.  However, I can’t ignore the wisdom of Rutger Hauer on display in this Hollywood Reporter interview posted a couple of days ago. Even though he hated BR2049, he put a finger on why reboots and sequels aren’t working for me anymore. While everyone seems to agree that the recent trend of sequel reboots and franchises are killing original sci-fi, it really boils down to this:

Don’t lean with one elbow on the success that was earned over 30 years in the underground.

You know something? He’s absolutely right. Sequels and reboots are absolutely leaning with one elbow on other successes. I know we’re all locked into the mad gauntlet between art and commerce, but flawless execution can only take us so far. Ultimately, we’re looking for stories and ideas that take them to other places. We can only go back to that sequel/reboot well so many times.

What if you like a reboot? Or a sequel? Nothing wrong with that. Some of them are pretty good, and that’s ultimately what I’m looking for and maybe you are, too. Rutger Hauer is simply suggesting we have room in our rodeo for more than one-trick ponies, and I happen to agree.

 

Check Out Paul Chadeisson Right Now

 

Sometimes you run into an artist who is so good that it makes you question why you’re bothering to make your stuff at all. For me, I had one of those moments when I saw Paul Chadeisson’s work over at Artstation. His work is so detailed and evocative, that it reminds me a lot of Simon Stålenhag, another favorite sci-fi artist.

Artistic envy is nothing new. It’s good sometimes to look out there, beyond your horizon, to see what other people are doing. It reminds you to focus on delivering your best, while constantly refining what your best can be.

And then you get back to work.

Kids on Saturday Night – New Free Wallpaper

So here’s something free for February – a quick cyberpunk wallpaper that I’ve been tinkering with for a few weeks now. I think the original picture came from Unsplash and then I started reimagining it in a scifi context.

Free wallpapers are part of the Free Stuff I give away from time to time. All sci-fi, all made by me, because making stuff is important. Hope you enjoy Kids on Saturday Night.

SciFi Needs an Ashleigh Banfield

Whoa …

I stay out of the Breaking News section of the paper, preferring to focus on sci-fi and my personal work. At the same time, can’t ignore what’s happening within various social movements like #MeToo. It’s leading to some very positive change, and it makes me think about what that could do for the scifi community and genre. More notes below the video:

Continue reading

Why We Need Sci-Fi – Reality Is Overrated

Oof.

I know watching the news is its own form of torture but last night was … wow. Hard to contemplate that this is where we are as a civilization in 2018.

When I first created the tagline ‘Because you need a break from reality,’ I never imagined how right I was going to be. I need a break from reality. You probably do, too. It’s terrifying. It’s soul-crushing. It’s just … wow.

That’s when I started writing again. Started typing right here at the keyboard. Turn off the TV. Turn off Reddit. Get back to work.

Reality can be very dark and depressing sometimes. For a person with my personal issues, it actually puts me back as far as recovery and progress. So I have to turn it off. I have to get back to imagination … it’s the only weapon in the war against reality, as the Cheshire Cat said.

Where our world isn’t what it should be, we can fight back. We can imagine what it should be. That’s the first step toward making it so. Science fiction fills that niche for me. It’s not just about pure fantasy, it’s about a place we can get to.

Dare to dream. Dare to imagine. Dare to create. That’s what I’m doing right now. I hope you’re able to do the same.