Stuff I Like: Tekdiff

I never did finish my month of positivity, so as I use this blog more, I'll keep talking about Stuff I Like. Today, the subject is Tekdiff

Short for "Teknikal Diffikulties,"  Tekdiff is a podcast written, produced and performed by Cayenne Chris Conroy. (You may recognize his name from his sound effects work on The Thrilling Adventure Hour.) For eleven years now, he's been creating audio comedy that moves at lightning speed, like a one-man Firesign Theatre.

This would be impressive enough, but a few years into the show's run, Conroy began a show within Tekdiff called The Account: A Tale of the Waking World.  This ambitious story, which has stretched across several arcs now, follows a human, Hanover Phillips, an accountant in a world that's a mix of high fantasy and hard sci-fi. After discovering a mystical error in the figures, he's drafted to become a corporate knight and sent to solve the problem. With him is his goblin "squire," Nyro Guillaume, who's taking a sabbatical from her career as an assassin for hire. The Account is by turns hilarious, exciting, and terrifying, but what really makes it work is the chemistry between Nyro and Hanover. It's very easy to forget that they're being voiced by the same person.

Eleven years is a long time to do anything, and Tekdiff is even more impressive because it's a solo act.  It's really good stuff. CCC just posted his 11th Anniversary Special, and you should click those words and check it out.

 

Please Give

My friend Matt needs your help. He is going through a rough patch, one that involves having needles inserted into his eyeballs. Not a word of that is hyperbole. Let him tell you.

Matt is my co-writer on our current project, and more important than that, my friend of more than 20 years. He has been there for me during some of the roughest times of my life. It would mean a lot to me if you would visit his GoFundMe page and help him out as much as you can.

 

Progress report: rewrote a synopsis for the first book. Recorded 7 chapters today. If I record at least 6 chapters a day, I'll be done recording on February 29. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sick of Myself

I'm kinda in the weeds right now. 

The problem is not a lack of work. Oh, no, not at all. The problem is getting out of my own way and actually doing the work. 

Very little has gotten done so far in this calendar year of 2016. There are external forces at work, of course. Family stuff, personal stuff, things you don't want to hear about and I don't particularly want to discuss.

I'm not interested in assigning blame. It would be easy to do so, to make my first blog post in 2 and 1/2 months be a mea culpa on my part. Who needs it?

The question, the only question, is how to get out of this rut. The answer is, of course, to shut up, buckle down, and do the work. You know this, I know this.

The problem is: Inspiration doesn't last. 

At nine o'clock in the morning, I'm at my most awake and alert, running on all cylinders, full of energy and ideas. I'm also at my day job, where I can't work on any of those ideas beyond taking notes. 

By five o'clock at night, however, I'm a frog in a freezer. I'm just not as fast as I was earlier in the day. I need to find a way to move that inspiration to a point where I can use it. 

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about Resistance.  

As powerful as is our soul's call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We're not alone if we've been mown down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here's the biggest bitch: we don't even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.

I've read that book several times in my life, and every time I do, it gives me a shock of energy, a desire to defeat Resistance.

But here we are.  And maybe here's a good place to be, really. Maybe I should start posting word counts and chapters recorded. Maybe I should do what the title of this page says and talk and write, defrag my headbone some. I know I feel better for having written this.

I'm not going to make any promises; they're too easy to break. I'm just going to say that I'm trying, and hopefully you'll see more from me in this space soon, more of my writing, more of my voice.

It's time to do the work. 

Your Basic Sitrep

Well, as you can see by the date of this update, the Month O' Positivity didn't quite pan out. Things are much improved now, and I will tell you of them.

My colleague Matthew Rossi and I finished a book. Finally. At this point, we have thrown out several drafts of several hundred thousand words, but we have at least one book with which we are happy, and we are now shopping around.

 

I have a new audiobook for you to buy! It's called Reich, it's by Donald Allen Kirch, and it's about Vampire Hitler. I do not feel I need to explain further. This is a special release for me, as it's the first pro audiobook I've done solely on my own. Click on the picture to hear a sample. Or just buy it. You know what, just buy it.

And I am working on another audiobook for the good people at Radio Archives; don't look for it anytime soon, as it is astonishingly long. I'll let you know when it's ready for your ears.

In the meantime, if you don't hear from me, enjoy the holidays to the best of your abilities. Hug some people. Well, I mean, ask them first, don't be that guy. Cheers.

Stuff I Like - Redshirts

For reasons too stupid to go into here, a lot of people are either boycotting or buying Tor books today. I come down on the "buying" side of this debate, and since I've already told you about The Incrementalists, published by Tor, I shall tee off on another of their fine books.

Redshirts, by John Scalzi, has a premise so good it's surprising it hasn't been done before.  On the starship Intrepid, nothing permanent ever happens to the bridge crew. No matter how many times they travel to a hostile planet or take on a warlike alien race, they come out fine. But at least one member of the ground crew, one of the seemingly endless ensigns, always dies. Andrew Dahl is a new arrival on Intrepid and learns this fact of life, then organizes the others to find out why.

Scalzi takes a jokey premise ("Hey, what's with all those guys getting killed whenever Kirk goes to a planet? And what's the deal with airline food?") and spins it into something truly wonderful. Redshirts would be excellent if it were simply a meta action-comedy, and this section of the book reminds me of Terry Pratchett in its escalating stakes and logical leaps. But it's the codas where I feel Redshirts truly shines.

The original full title was Redshirts: A Novel With Three Codas, and the final third is made up of three short stories about minor characters from the main narrative. By the time the codas are done, what was an amusing sci-fi story has become something much different, something deeper and more meaningful. I can't really describe why without spoiling the story's surprises; all I can say is it hit me pretty hard, much harder than I was expecting. There's a reason it won all those awards is what I'm saying.

I also recommend getting this in audio; it's read by Wil Wheaton, who, in addition to just being really good at audiobooks in general, lends the story an extra level of metatext just by showing up. 

Stuff I Like - The Newsflesh Series

I've been running behind on this, obviously. Suffice to say, I have not been in the mood to be positive about much of anything. But we push on, yes we do. 

I thought I hated zombie stories. Zombies are the big thing nowadays, and I am not a fan, because they all seem to be the same... A small group of survivors has survived the zombie apocalypse and must defend themselves against an ever increasing horde of the ravenous undead. Oh, and most of the survivors will be just raaaaging assholes because apparently that's who we believe will survive the zombs. It's just not my jam. 

The Newsflesh trilogy--Feed, Deadline and Blackout by Mira Grant--are another animal entirely. It's set twenty years after The Rising, the point at which two airborne viruses combined into one zombie-creating pathogen. And the world has kept turning; civilization hasn't collapsed, but adjusted to this new reality, in which a failed blood test can mean instant death and journalists are the new rock stars. Georgia and Shaun Mason are two such; she's the Newsie, an investigative reporter, and he's the Irwin, a sort of extreme nature documentarian who picks fights with zombs. When they're chosen to accompany Senator Peter Ryman on his Presidential campaign, it quickly becomes apparent that someone doesn't want them there, and is willing to shed blood to be rid of them.

Feed and the rest of the trilogy are much more about journalism and the human need to know than they are about zombies. The living dead are simply a fact of life, but they aren't the driving force, people are. There are no straight out villains, no screaming sociopaths, just people who believe themselves to be right, and often those we look at as our heroes are the ones in the wrong. The author excels at both characterization and worldbuilding, and she is so, so good at both ratcheting up the suspense and breaking the reader's heart. You want these books. Go get 'em.

(When you're done, AND ONLY WHEN YOU'RE DONE, check out Mark Oshiro's chapter by chapter reviews and watch a man nearly lose his sanity. Heavy, HEAVY spoilers, read the books first.)