Monday, April 29, 2024

Superversive & the Strong First Week!

I didn't expect to make this update so soon, but it is quite some good news I wish to share! In less than a week of the Star Wanderers campaign we have not only reached 80 backers but we've made it to around $1800 of our $2500 base goal!

In other words, we are alarmingly fast to funding our base goal in a mere week! That is quite the reception from readers and interested backers. Thank you for your interest. I can safely say we are very humbled by the great reaction we've received so far.

As a consequence, we are right now looking into some potential stretch goals for when we hit that base goal. We'll try to put out something fun for everyone. Once again, thank you very much for your support!

Until then, I was on the Superversive podcast last night to help promote Star Wanderers. We also talked about a few other things along the way like the state of publishing and even movies. Check it out at the top of the post above or on their channel here!

That's all I've got for today. I really didn't expect I'd be making this post so soon, but it's thanks to you that I can do so at all. You have my thanks and I will see you again later this week! Perhaps by then we will have reached our funding goal.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ The House That Arkham Built

Welcome to the weekend!

It's time to travel back to the past and dive into an interesting bit of history in the world of books. Let us head back to when OldPub was not only viable, but the only game in town, and when authors themselves had to get involved in the system.

We're going back to that seminal year in 1939. This was back when Fandom were holding conventions and looking towards the glorious utopic future. Meanwhile, a set of writers were more concentrated on preserving a past in danger of being forgotten.

This is the story of Arkham House!

There is a lot to say about the state of stories in the modern age, from its detachment and complete disinterest in the increasing distress and despair felt by normal folks, to its unwillingness to find ways to help said people escape or work past it. More and more it looks as if writers want to write stories to elevate themselves above said people more than they wish to connect with anything else.

Unfortunately, that attitude has split the already small reading market into tiny factions. These segments battle between those looking to the past for inspiration and those who want to completely abandon it for dead trends that are the "future" but actually expired years ago. This disconnect has only succeeded in walling everyone off from each other even more.

As a result, the lack of unified front in the industry has left everybody twisting in the wind and most potential readers moving to other mediums like video games and manga. At the same time, older readers decide to stick with tried and true classics instead. For newer writers, though it isn't a problem exclusive to them, the race to be seen as relevant and to check the right boxes is more important than the wonder of it all. The ambition has been replaced with pandering.

But back in the day there was a publisher that sought to bottle that wonder almost lost by the early death of a titan of creativity. They wanted to bring it to a wider audience and created a whole independent publishing house to do just that. 

For those unaware, Weird Tales is the most important magazine the United States ever produced and HP Lovecraft is one of the most important writers of the 20th century. They would go on to influence countless writers and creators in just about every medium under the sun. 

But we didn't always know that.

The Arkham House logo

Enter Arkham House!

This is where things get interesting in the world of publishing. While the magazines had first rights to print new stories (as they still have to this day), there wasn't much left for the stories after they were bought and initially printed in the magazine. Because the pulps were seen as completely disposable, no one thought there was a market for the stories beyond that initial run. So what were writers who wanted to write beyond the pulps to do? Were their stories truly just throwaway, or was there something else here?

Publisher Arkham House, founded by the ever resilient August Derleth and with much aid by Donald Wandrei, was created to take what readers of the pulps already knew was true (that these stories had value) and bring them to wider audiences. This small publisher not only helped bring HP Lovecraft to the world and inspired an entire era of storytelling, but it also brought others into circulation, including publishing the first book by one Ray Bradbury. It might be the most important publishing house of all time, and the above video goes into just why that might be.

Look into it yourself and learn about one of the greats that almost wasn't. The publishing industry is a mess, and probably always had, but there was a time when ambition and passion could be enough to help carve out a place for yourself among the mechanized trends of OldPub. It was one of the first influential indie publishers for a good reason.

Arkham House might be gone today in every way that matters, but it's influence lingers on and probably will for a very long time. It's good to remember why that is.

In other news, since we started the Star Wanderers campaign, support has been unexpectedly strong out of the gate. We have just under $1k left to go to reach funding and we are at almost 70 backers! Can we reach the goal in record time? There is usually a lull in the middle of any such campaign but maybe we can blow past it. Who is to say?

Check out the campaign and see for yourself to catch a glimpse of 8 stories of swords, bullets, sorcery, and The Unknown. I'm more than pleased that reception has been so positive and supportive this early on. Here's hoping we can keep this streak going!

As an aside, I personally recommend the pocket paperback edition, as that's the sort of book this was always designed to be like, being one to carry around and pull out when you want to read the next exciting story. Though of course one should look into whatever format you want. The options exist for a reason, after all. We've all got our preferences.

That's all for this week and the month of April! I'll see you in May and hopefully with more stable weather. I know I'm ready for some real warmth in these chilly times.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Star Wanderers Kickstarter is Go!

Today is the day!

For those who have been waiting for the moment, Star Wanderers, a project long in the making is now finally making its way out to readers. You can find it in the new project launched by Cirsova here today!

I am beyond excited to finally get this one out and available to readers. It's been a long time coming. Join in for some adventures of action and intrigue!

As the campaign description states:

Detective Ronan Renfield is a Galactic Enforcer sworn to protect the innocent and bring evil-doers to justice to maintain order throughout the stars.

The Agent is a nameless knight errant tasked with hunting the most brazenly wicked and blasphemous who threaten order and nature across the cosmos.

Alone, they face strange and diabolical horrors on backwater worlds and the corrupt and dangerous criminals who threaten civilization.

Together, they are the Star Wanderers!

This collection features eight thrilling tales of raygun adventure, swashbuckling sword fights, and cyberpunk mystery, including four never-before published adventures!

Of course that's just the general gist of what's going on. I'll bet you want to know what stories are included!

Back this project and you will get 8 tales of mind-bending mayhem and weird action across different planets, realms, and even slipped between reality itself!

Here are the stories:

  • Dead Planet Drifter - Ronan Renfield lands on a swampy world that has been overtaken by death and decay-worshiping cultists! [First Published in Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense, Vol. 2 Issue 11, 2022]
  • Cold Heart of Ouranos - The Agent travels to the ice planet Ouranos in pursuit of a genocidal mad scientist who has holed up in a lost city! [First Published in Planetary Anthology Uranus, 2020]
  • Golden Echoes - Ronan faces down a diabolical terrorist leader who uses illegal technology to carve a mystical paradise out of reality itself! [First Published in Storyhack Action and Adventure, issue 7, 2021]
  • Armageddon Spring - A cursed sorceress queen is doomed to conquer and seek revenge her wrongs, driven by a mysterious entity known as the Artisan! [All New Story!]
  • Cold Finger Girl - A young woman barely escapes the twisted human experimentation of the supposedly peaceful Plateau and it is up to Ronan to keep her alive! [All New Story!]
  • Judgement Sun - The Agent fights to protect a wayward prince from the undead cyborg minions of a necromancer intent on breaking the royal line and dooming a world by fulfilling an ancient prophecy! [First Published in Planetary Anthology Sol, 2020]
  • Midnight Machineguns - Ronan investigates a series of terrorist attacks carried out by exploding cyborgs, and the trail leads him to an apocalyptic transhumanist cult! [All New Story!]
  • Slow Death on San Sebastian - Detective Ronan Renfield and the Agent team up in an epic clash against a rogue elemental Knight who desires to warp the soul of an entire planet! [All New Novella!]

You might recognize some of those titles, but you definitely haven't seen them all! There's a lot more to see that has never seen the light of day before now.

This project was in the making for ages and I'm more than happy to finally be able to fully unveil it to you all today. All this exists on top of the add-on for Jacob Calta's original music for Star Wanderers. Be sure to check it out today.

These eight tales are the culmination of a lot of wandering, pondering, and cranking out high octane action, to try and best fit a niche I didn't really know existed before or not. Whether you like space cops, sword and planet, cyberpunk, sword and sorcery, weird horror, or just plain straight-out blood-soaked knock-down fighting, then you will find something here you've never quite seen before.

Trust me, it get strange, and that's the way I like it.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Disintegration

Welcome to the weekend! 

Fair warning, though. This edition is going to be a bit darker than our usual entries on this topic. Today, I wanted to step back and cover the fall of a comedian from the 1990s, a cautionary tale of self-destruction that happened out in the open for everyone to see.

Those who lived in that time remembered the 1990s as an era of rebels, how cool people were here and who they didn't take no guff from anyone. We'd lived through the stock times of safe pansies and The Jocks, and now we were going to redefine not only what Normal was, we were going to reach that utopia of alcohol and pills, and all we had to do was check our boxes, dot our i's, and cross our t's along the way. It was all so simple.

All you had to do, was look away from the ugliness. Just pretend it wasn't there and it would just fix itself.

The above story is a perfect example of the hidden darkness of that era. There you will see that the so-called Edginess of the 1990s was the precursor to the PC era it also brought in due to the abject cowardice lying at the heart of the mainstream. Just ignore it, man, it's just a joke. He'll learn his lesson next time. Don't take everything so seriously. What are you, some kind of ist or phobe? Very little has changed except to replace the vapid coolguy posturing with vapid shrewish librarian-level lecturing.

As a result this long documentary also feels like it highlights the death of the 1990s and where it all ended up, showing the logical progression of the decade of Not Caring and rebel posing. The main subject aside, it also highlights the failure of peers, an entire system, and even the legal system, as they just stand by and let a man self-destruct and take down anyone he wants along the way. As I said, there is a sickening cravenness at the heart of things from back then that I don't think we've fully explored yet.

Only those who were kids at the time miss this era

Of course, one must also mention the staple of Current Year entertainment: the grifting. You cannot escape it. Mindless Mammon worship is everywhere and so blatant that it tends to come across so bluntly and without even a hint of shame.

You even see how internet streaming plays into the "drama" for fifteen minutes of fame to profit off the self-destruction and even throw fuel on the fire. The documentary covers just how far this world has decayed since its peak back in the 1990s where poisoning yourself was cool and knocking down others along your way was worth a hearty chuckle and a shrug. It's all just silly, so don't worry. He will obviously figure it out himself!

But, of course, that isn't what happened. The only memories of the 1990s left are those trying to throw the era under the bus to keep the cultural Eye of Sauron away from them, and those who want to return to it as some era of bootstrapping paradise where everyone was left alone to implode and that made things better.

The truth is that the decade was neither and it was only not noticeable because the pining party was either too young or lived in an isolated area where the destruction and decay had not already set in. Looking back now, however, all the signs are there and it all logically lead to the mess we are in today.

There is no going back to that time, no matter how much you miss the entertainment or your sixth grade classroom.

The fact of the matter is the past century has mostly been spent, not so much going in the wrong direction, but alternatively barreling downhill and letting our foot of the gas to let the momentum take us instead. And now we're paying for it with death worship, misery, and general mistrust, in place of the values we used to understand so intimately.

In fact, now that I think about it, I'm not so sure the above is a cautionary tale so much as a sum up of what the past three decades have logically brought us to. The worship of vice, the dehumanization of our neighbors and the desire to be Left Alone, the loss of trust and general hope for better days, and the craving of fame at the cost of self-respect and fulfillment. It's just the story of where we ourselves have let things decline to.

Make no mistake, there is more this than the self-destruction of one minor celebrity from his peak a quarter of a century ago. It's also the story of how cowardice and emptiness was allowed to fester, eventually eating the insides until nothing was left but the shell--that same shell being used as a skinsuit to lecture you today.

As a bonus, enjoy the segment where a supposed edgy shock jock gets infuriated and offended over being called an offensive name despite the depraved acts and disgusting things his dirty hands and stained soul have profited off of over the years. How dare you offend him! As mentioned before--this downfall isn't only about one man's destruction. There is much more going on, as there always is, which lead us to this point.

And that's where I will leave you for this week. Today's subject might be a little dark, but you have to remember that it's simply the bottom of a downhill slide we've been on longer than many readers of this post were even cognoscente of life itself. This means little for the future as long as we take stock in these failures and correct them in the times ahead.

This isn't meant to be a downer, a way to say there is no future ahead but bleakness. The above is some objective fact of life being miserable and hopeless but that it is the obvious endpoint of a time that merely squeaked by on momentum and the hard work of others to sustain themselves. Now that this era is over, it's going to require a mindset shift and the effort of everyone to push hard on the other direction--to forcibly build instead of allowing decay to fester on.

It's going to take some time, but it can be done. We're just going to have to learn from the past for once instead of ignoring or demonizing it.

Don't ever forget the mistakes we made, otherwise we can't even begin to fix them. And it's something we can no longer afford avoiding.

That's all for now, and I will see you next time.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Cereal Adventure!

Welcome to the weekend! A pretty quick one today.

Back in the '90s, it felt like something new was coming out about every other day. Which, it was. People have described it as every day feeling like Christmas, which isn't entirely inaccurate, but a sign as to just how much was being put out at the time by the gatekeepers.

Today I wanted to highlight one such interesting project, which was released by the cereal brand Chex back in the mid-90s. This has always been a fascinating case.

Everyone alive today knows how popular DOOM was when it first released, pretty much singlehandedly reshaping the PC gaming scene in its image and truly kickstarting the FPS genre. One of the games that came in its wake, and one still looked back on as a favorite from that day, was the project called Chex Quest.

Essentially one of the first top tier DOOM mods before the scene really got well known, Chex Quest was an entire child friendly mission pack given out for free in cereal boxes. That's right, they gave out entire games as free bonuses back in the day. Not only that, but Chex Quest was actually really good. Such a thing is unthinkable today.

There was also a second episode released by Chex and, eventually, a third one was put out for free online to complete the entire adventure. To this day, Chex Quest is considered one of the defining FPS titles from its Golden Age. And it was given out for free by a cereal company.

Check out the video above for more information. If you're a genre fan and haven't given it a shot, now is your chance. It's also perfectly safe for kids, too. There isn't really anything violence to be found, despite the genre it takes place in.

Again, this was a much different era than the one we live in now. Something this is unthinkable today, especially when every company is so aggressive against their perceived outgroups, but Chex Quest is a pleasant memory to when things were a little different and when possibilities in the mainstream were a lot more open to things than they are today.

It truly was a different and long over era. Oh well, we'll just have to work even harder to make the next one even better.

That's all for this weekend, and I will see you next time.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Star Wanderers!

Time for an update! I know some of you have been waiting for this one since the teaser a little while back, and now I'm ready to share more.

Today I'd like to present the cover for Star Wanderers! The full reveal was put out on Cirsova's site here, but I wanted to talk a bit about it here. The art was done by one Anton Oxenuk, a prolific artist of the weird and the strange. He was obviously the perfect artist for Star Wanderers as you can clearly see for yourself! I specifically asked if we could enlist his services on this project and he thankfully agreed to contribute.

There is some info on the project to share as well. I know some have been curious on what exactly this project is about. Wonder no more! The description has been revealed, and now you will get a taste as to what Star Wanderers is all about!

Beware the Unknown!

The info:

"Detective Ronan Renfield is a Galactic Enforcer sworn to protect the innocent and bring evil-doers to justice to maintain order throughout the stars.

"The Agent is a nameless knight errant tasked with hunting the most brazenly wicked and blasphemous who threaten order and nature across the cosmos.

"Alone, they face strange and diabolical horrors on backwater worlds and the corrupt and dangerous criminals who threaten civilization.

"Together, they are the Star Wanderers!

This collection features eight thrilling tales of raygun adventure, swashbuckling sword fights, and cyberpunk mystery, including four never-before published adventures!"

As for what those eight stories are? They will be revealed when the campaign is fully revealed later this month. All the included tales were chosen for inclusion for a very good reason, one that will become very clear once the ending is reached. I've been working on this one for a good while for a very good reason!

Suffice to say, there are still a lot of surprises in Star Wanderers as this is a project I've been engaged in for a long time. I'm happy to finally be able to unveil it to you all, though we aren't quite done yet! This is just the start.

Who are these two mysterious protagonists and how do their separate journeys intersect with each other? What awaits out there in the Unknown? You'll just have to wait and see. There are some surprises still to come, both with the stories and the campaign ahead. So be sure to watch out! Cirsova and myself have got a few tricks up our sleeves.

And here is one.

Before I go, I'd like to reveal one more tidbit you might have missed during the recent reveal. This is a pretty big one!

That's right, there will be a special soundtrack created by Jacob Calta of 365 Infantry fame for Star Wanderers! He put his all into this one and I can't wait for you to hear it. Once again, more will be revealed when the campaign opens up later in April. We've got some fun stuff planned to celebrate this project.

As you can see, there has been quite a lot going on in the background getting this campaign together for you, the readers. We're almost ready to reveal it to you. It's just a little bit longer to go!

Beyond this, I'm also working on another project for release this year, but I will wait to reveal that for after the Star Wanderers campaign is complete and delivered. For now, just enjoy in the space madness! I guarantee you're going to have a blast with this one, just as I had with writing it. Just be sure that there is still more to come.

That's enough for this update, and I will see you next time!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Interface

Welcome to the weekend!

Not much this week to share, other than I wish the weather would settle down. It's been all over the place and very hard to do anything because of. It's a shame because after a winter that was far less intense than the last few I was hoping to get into the spring easier. But alas . . .

Anyway, this week I wanted to share a bizarre animated film shared with me called Interface. It's a throwback to the old cable TV and rental store days with both its animation style and aspect ratio. It feels like both an obscure lost VHS movie and a modern generation flick at the same time, which, if that's what you go for, might be up your alley.

I'm not sure how many people who visit Wasteland & Sky might be into this, but if you remember finding this obscure animated movies in the corner of your old rental shop where the grey carpet was a little stained and you could smell the rain leakage in the ceiling, this might jolt you back to a different time and place. Even if you weren't there, Interface has such a strange style that evokes both lost eras and uncertainty for the future that it's hard to not give it a recommendation. A story of missing self in a world that has both changed and not changed, has moved on yet remains stuck, it's a fascinating look into a present that doesn't exist but also does.

Again, if you don't like dry humor and slow pacing, or story that relies almost exclusively on visual and obscure dialogue to carry you along, Interface might not be for you. But I quite liked it, and that's why I'm sharing it with you today. This early spring time with uncertain weather is probably the best time to give it a viewing.

That's all for this week! As you know by now, I've got a project I'm putting together with Cirsova called Star Wanderers, and it's almost ready to unleash on the world. Until then, I'm still scrambling behind the scenes to keep up with myself. 2024 has been all over the place so far. Here's hoping it straightens out a bit as the year goes on.

Have a good weekend, and I will see you next time!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Star Wanderers?

You might have caught this project recently announced by Cirsova with my name attached. Perhaps you have an inkling of what this might mean, perhaps not. Either way, it will be fully unveiled very soon, so be sure to sign up early to be notified first!

I have a few things I would like to share with you about it, but I'd rather wait for the project to be fully revealed before we get started on that, so I will refrain from posting about it for now.

Until then, sign up for the Star Wanderers crowdfunding campaign here! With Cirsova and myself, you know you'll be getting something truly out there.

And that's all I'll say for now.