Thursday, May 27, 2021

Summer in the Wasteland

We're more than due for an update post, I'd say. Today will be just that. It's been quite the year so far, and I'd like to talk a little about what is to come.

The reason posts have been a scotch bit lighter here than usual is because I've been working on several different things behind the scenes, all at once. On top of my upcoming published work, there are other things going on. Two of said mystery projects are actually related to this very site. Not only that, but they will all be coming within the next two months.

As for recent projects, I just had a story in the new issue of StoryHack. This piece is called Golden Echoes, and it is one of my personal favorites that I've written. Golden Echoes is about an uncover agent on a planet in the middle of nowhere working to stop a madman from cracking the universe in two. I'd describe what happens in more detail, but I think that might give away a lot of the fun. Nonetheless, if you like action adventure stories (and if you're here I suspect you do) then you're going to want to pick up this issue. There are other tales by other others, as well. It's a great one, as all issues of StoryHack invariably are.

As for novel projects, I can tell you that Silver Empire is still awaiting cover art for Book 2 of my Gemini Man series, Gemini Drifter. Until we finally receive it, there isn't much we can do to release it. Regardless, the book will be out sooner than later and is, for all intents and purposes, done. The same goes for Book 3, Gemini Outsider. It is written--it just needs to be taken through the editing wringer by my editor so I can polish it up for you. Given how much Silver Empire has to do aside from my work I am unsure when this one will be ready. But I have been assured that it is in the works. Either way, expect both of them within this year.

I'm also 100% finished with Brutal Dreams. This one is a standalone and is much more of a horror piece with Gothic influence. Saying more than that will probably give it away, though. Brutal Dreams is completely ready and awaiting release. However, it isn't being released yet because it was meant to come out between the two Gemini Man books. I want to give you a constant barrage of material throughout the year, and it will be easier to maintain that flow of new stories doing it this way. I wasn't kidding when I said I would have at least 3 books this year, and it will happen. I am determined to see it through to the end.

When they are each ready to release I will divulge more info about them, including the cover art, but for now I can only reassure you that they will release in 2021.

There is also a brand new project I'm working on--it is a 4 book series with the first entry about 3/4 of the way finished. This project is a bit nutty and out there, but it is something I've wanted to do for quite some time now. You're going to look at my sideways when you see what it is and what it is about, but it is going to be a lot of fun. The goal is to have Book 1 of this project out by the end of the year. After that I'm planning on getting to work writing book 4 of Gemini Man.

That is all the novel work I'm planning to do for 2021, but, as you know, I don't just write novels.

On top of the above, I have a barrage of short stories to polish up and send out to those accepting, including others still to write and cobble together into collections for future use. As I write this post I'm finally finishing up a story that has been bothering me for quite some time. It's going to feel good to get this one wrapped up, I tell you what.

There is also another non-fiction project that is little more than a glimmer in my eye right now, so I can't quite talk about it yet, but it's definitely on the way. Expect this one next year, though.

So yes, it's a packed writing schedule. However, they are not the main subject of today's post.

What I mainly wanted to talk about today are the two blog projects I am working on for you intrepid readers. These are going to take up a lot of space here starting in June so I thought it would be worth mentioning now before we get to them. You're probably going to want to prepare for what is coming since it will be taking up a lot of air.

The first of the two projects will be starting next week and it is a continuation of a series most of you know very well by now. Be prepared for even more of a deep dive into corners of a fringe group that no longer really exists, at least not in this form.

That's right, the next entry in my series on Fandom is right around the corner. In fact, it is starting next week. Get ready for more genre fiction craziness!

Thanks to the suggestion of more than a few readers (some who managed to find copies!) I will be talking about another Sam Lundwall book. This time it is his first released non-fiction work, 1971's (though originally released in 1969) Science Fiction: What It's All About, a supposed summation and definition on an era of fiction that no longer exists.

From what I can piece together, this was a book meant to introduce new readers (particularly younger audiences, given the reason the author was chosen) to the wonderful world of genre. Despite that, finding information about this one was rather rough and the few reviews I've found range from praise from people who consume books like this on the regular to normal consumers who didn't find the book very helpful. What it actually is we will soon find out for ourselves.

Of course, there's a lot of crossover with his later work, being that it was written by the same author on the same subject, but this one was being pushed by figures such as Donald Wollheim which gives it a special status the other book didn't have. This book was published a good deal before the last work I covered from this author, and you can definitely feel that Lundwall was not even in his thirties when he wrote this one, but it also is even more illuminating than his later work is. Possibly because this one is far more brazen in what it is attempting to, especially being propped up by older gatekeepers from the post-pulp days of OldPub. Essentially, it was an attempt to establish a narrative. Not a very good one, either.

This book was an attempt at revisionism at a time when Fandom's power was probably at its peak in this declining ghetto of a genre. I say this because the lack of editing on this one harms the work if it is attempting to be a serious scholarly work. Whether it be through repetitive passages and examples or outright moronic claims that should have been gutted by an editor who wasn't grinning with glee as the past was being torn down, it doesn't really matter. The final product still suffers. In essence, there is a lot to sift through here and it's taking a lot of time.

And to get it out of the way, this book was considerably harder to write on than the other one was. Not that I couldn't figure out how to respond to some of what was being written, but that it took so long to pour through these pages that it began to effect my mood and even tire me out. As silly as it sounds, this series was rather difficult to write. I'm still editing and writing it as this post is being published. It's taking much longer than I would like, and not entirely by choice.

The problem is that since my first post on the subject I have learned a lot more on the subject of Fandom, including the cliques outside of genre fiction. As I'm writing this, the pop culture landscape is owned by corporations endlessly rehashing the past by injecting it with modern poison, essentially an attempt to use brand worship to enforce values the originals were not made to prop up. All of this is being defended by the bugmen in charge who see this as an opportunity to propagandize with creations that aren't theirs.

The age of Fandom has let to the era of Fanfic storytelling. Fanatics ruin everything yet again.

Amazon buying the MGM catalogue is proof of this. Jeff Bezos himself even described why they wanted the library:

“The acquisition thesis here is really very simple. MGM has a vast, deep catalogue of much beloved intellectual property. And with the talent at Amazon and the talent at MGM Studio, we can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21st century. It will be a lot of fun work and people who love stories will be the big beneficiaries.”

In other words, they wanted MGM to make more modern crap featuring old IP you remember being good by gutting the original and skin-suiting their own junk inside of it. He expects you will buy because Brand and you are loyal to Brand. He does not expect you to buy on story quality. If you actually loved stories you would want new stories, not old ones repackaged to you forever. They simply take the old thing and wrap it in modern tropes and ideas no one likes, causing arguments between people with no taste and brand loyalty against those who just want good stories. This will continue indefinitely until the industry finally collapses. This is your Brand future.

The old properties are finished, it is time to move on to new things. This is the future of your nostalgia obsession--to be used as a tool to make the usurpers of industry richer. It isn't about storytelling, and it hasn't been in a long time.

To get back on topic, the reason they are doing this is because Fandom's original creations, such as the ones Lundwall rave about in his book, were failures in regard to cultural impact. They didn't accomplish the mass brainwashing they were created to do. Therefore they needed to seize control and subvert the actual successful ideas and use those against you instead. You will see this mentality show up several times in the book as I go through it.

If you can't beat them, sneak in and destroy them from the inside. Trojan horses have always been effective strategies for a reason. Why else do gates even exist?

And this is where we come full circle.

That said, the conclusion I came to after reading this book is probably going to annoy more than a few people. It can't be helped, though. Some folks get angry when you say 200 page pocket paperbacks should be standard again. It's just the way it is. However, complaining about reality isn't going to change the truth of the matter.

If we're going to move into a 21st century world we have to move on from 20th century mentalities and frames. This includes leaving behind harmful attitudes towards art and entertainment that have diluted its impact and reach. The 20th century looked down on everything that came before it, and attempted to destroy everything good it did manage to create, so to keep going in this direction is self-destructive. I would rather uncouple that flaming caboose from the rest of the train so we can achieve maximum speed again. We can start with storytelling.

Be sure to watch out for this upcoming new series. It's going to be quite a lot to go through, and I'm still parsing through the thing right now. Once again, we are starting next week.

After our look at Lundwall's book, we will be charting new territory on Wasteland & Sky. Switching gears, the next post series after it will be new to Wasteland & Sky. For the first time on the blog, I will be posting a serialized story!

Here is the "cover" I created just for this occasion:

Here is the description:

"In 1995, Ray's summer vacation is turned upside down when he hears a radio broadcast from a dead rock star. Reality turns on its head. In his quest for the truth, he finds is a hidden world that shouldn't be. And where did his cousin disappear to, anyway? 
"Y Signal is a story about a world that shouldn't be in a world that no longer is. Can Ray accept the way things are, or will the Y Signal wreck everything he knows? Only by facing the darkness can he learn the truth."

Y Signal is a good bit different from the other stories I've written in that it was made intentionally to be serialized. I wanted to write a tale that could have ran in an old pulp magazine, but not like a pulp magazine that actually existed: more like one that specialized in bizarre stories of the late 20th century. Y Signal is an attempt to be a weird tale period piece. For those who know the era, you will recognize certain things, but those who don't can still get a fully satisfying story out of it. Maintaining that balance was key for me.

I wanted to create a story that took place in the 1990s, but I didn't want it to be pandering or pointless chrome-plating. When you write a story, every piece has to contribute to the whole, including the setting. In Y Signal, the setting and time period is paramount for it to work. It should also be mentioned that pieces of this story actually go far back in my own history. In a lot of ways, this is the first story I've ever written, though I never actually wrote it down. It's always been an idea in the back of my head, but I could never figure out how to flesh it out.

Well, now I have.

Period pieces are a sort of story I've avoided doing as it's not usually my style. In this case, after all the Gen Y discussion we've had all over blogs and social media, I wanted to enshrine that particular era of youth in my own fiction without sacrificing the weirdness of my other stories. This is every bit the sort of weird tale you can expect from the dude who wrote Grey Cat Blues and Golden Echoes. The intent and setting are just quite a bit different.

As a result, this isn't so much a nostalgia piece, but one where the setting is needed for the theme to be fully realized. This story wouldn't work so well if it were set in other time periods, because the plot wouldn't turn out the way it does. Nonetheless, if you remember the 1990s, or are just interested in it, Y Signal will give you that glimpse into a dead world.

The 1990s are both lionized and reviled to this day, so I wanted to capture that balance, and show a specific period in time that no longer exists anymore. In order to do this I had to put my mind way back and pull from it. This won't be a joke like OldPub or Hollywood's attempts to build a revisionist decade. It's just the 1990s as they were to those of us in Gen Y.

On top of that, there is still plenty of adventure and danger to be had! I am JD Cowan--I will never abandon action and adventure. So don't miss this brand new serial! This series is going to be a lot of fun when we get to it.

All in all, Y Signal consists of 4 parts and will be posted right after we finish with the Lundwall series of posts. This is about two months of material coming up. It's a packed summer we've got ahead of us.

So that is the update I wanted to share with you. As you can tell, there is quite a lot coming down the pike in the near future, and that is just from me. There are plenty of other writers and artists out there with material for you to enjoy, and that flood of good stuff isn't stopping any time soon. NewPub's got you fully covered.

Summer's on the way, and it's going to be a hot one! I just can't wait for what's coming next.


  1. I'm looking forward to your posts about Lundwell's book. You're totally right about original stories being repackaged by corporations to reflect today. It is overdone and often at the expense of new work (stories). It seems like every other movie made today is a remake. It's made me wonder if Hollywood is just too cheap to hire writers with original ideas.

    1. JD

      I’m intrigued by your upcoming serialized story. It sounds very much like an homage to Frequency.

      I can’t wait for the next Gemini books.