Friday, April 29, 2011

eBook Cover Art & Release Date

Happy fantastic friday.  The underwater cave-dwelling sea-monkeys in the 'ol Mythik Art Department have been hard at work.  They've put together a rough composition of the Mythik Imagination #2 cover.  It is a work-in-progress, but here it is so far:

What do you think?

All three stories will follow a Weird West theme.  Everybody may be gaga over Cowboys & Aliens and Cowboys & Zombies and Zombies and anything, etcetera, but "The Silver Skull" will tell the tale of a Bounty Hunter who doesn't hunt zombies, but IS a zombie.  'Tis sort of a Zombies Are People Too kind of perspective.  "The Schofield Crew" is about a scientist in the 1930's who sends a detective back in time to the wild west to investigate one of the world's greatest mysteries.  "Requiem For The Wild West" shows us what happens when an elderly gunfighter has a showdown with a Nazi officer in WW2 era France.

I know what you're thinking.  That's great, but what about Mythik #1, right?  Well that's the second part of today's post.  The official release date for Mythik Imagination #1 is June 1st.  Kind of like a space shuttle launch, I've been setting dates in my head and then postponing them for various reasons.  But now it's official and no more postponing!  Wahoo, June 1st.

And finally, I've decided that Mythik #3 will also follow a theme:  Savage Sea Stories!  Yep, pirate ships and UFO's and a lot more ;)

Thanks, be Mythik and stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weird Wednesday - Lake Vostok

Let's take a journey to the frigid wasteland of Antarctica.  Like the cold?  Imagine -132°F!  The coldest temperature ever recorded on our humble little planet also happens to be right above one of the true last frontiers on Earth:

Lake Vostok, a freshwater underground body of water the size of Lake Ontario, lies beneath 4 kilometers of ice. What's the big deal? I go ice fishing all the time, you might say.  Well it could be "one of the biological finds of the millennium."

The ancient body of water is considered a "fossil lake" and the water has been undisturbed for 10 to 25 million years.  It is like a doorway into the dim, distant past, and nobody really knows what might be down there.

Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory think conditions in Lake Vostok could be similar to a hypothesized underground water ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa.  And if you've ever read Arthur C. Clarke, you know what could happen to Europa.

The mysterious lake is the center of controversy, with debate over whether humans should risk contaminating such a pristine environment in order to study it.  There's also the possibility that whatever lives in the lake (if anything) could be dangerous, because the modern world might not have any immunity to organisms that are millions of years old.

Whether the lake contains Godzilla eggs or is connected to a certain Loch in Scotland or is just a big, dark, empty ice puddle, it is definitely something you should keep your eye on.  Who knows what might happen if and when we probe its icy depths.

If your pockets are nearly as deep as the ancient lake, check out the book The Antarctic Subglacial Lake Vostok: Glaciology, Biology and Planetology by Igor A. Zotikov.

I have to admit, I haven't been willing to spring for the 128 bucks.  If you do, let me know how it is!

Should we leave Lake Vostok alone?  Or dare we take the risk and explore it?  What do you think?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Evolution of The Story - Part 1

From the Maggiecakes blog post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling where she asks the question:
"Now can someone please make an evolutionary chart that shows the progression of storytelling mediums from cave paintings to twitter?"
Hmm.  Well I'll let somebody else add beautiful images, but here's a handy flowchart of the Evolution of The Story:

When - 3.2 million years ago
Who - Australopithecus Afarensis
Where - Etheopia
Story Medium - Unknown, but possibly used gestures and some vocalizations, probably with much more sophistication than modern stereotypical "cave-men."
Most Famous Storyteller - Lucy 

When - 40,000 years ago
Who - Pre San-Hadzabe people of Africa
Story Medium - A "click" language, useful for telling stories to pass the time while hunting, apparently because the click sounds wouldn't scare away the critters being hunted.
Most Famous Storyteller - Unknown

When - 17,000 years ago
Where - Lascaux Cave Paintings in France
Story Medium - Cave paintings on the walls tell the tales of bulls, a bear, felines, a bird, a rhinoceros, and a human. Also possibly includes Neolithic star charts, or maybe just hallucinations caused by trance-dances.
Most Famous Storyteller - The artists who painted their handprints on the walls.  Hopefully that wasn't graffiti added later.

When - 12,000 years ago
Where - Göbekli Tepe, an ancient sanctuary in Turkey
Story Medium - Monolithic, 3 meter tall limestone T-shaped pillars inscribed with pictograms of lions, scorpions, ants, spiders, snakes, bulls, foxes, gazelles, and vultures.
Most Famous Storyteller - The joker who covered the entire place with dirt about 10,000 years ago.  No doubt a critic.

When - 4,500 years ago
Where - Ancient Egypt
Story Medium - Heiroglyphics and a giant, 5.9 million ton pyramid shaped structure.  The Great Pyramid could be considered the world's first Tweet, but the effort needed:
  1. Either 20 years of backbreaking work by 100,000 workers, or
  2. Helpful assistance in levitation by friendly, obviously bored aliens...
proved to be impractical at best.  Many centuries would pass before the perfection of the Tweet.
Most Famous Storyteller - The author(s) of the Book of the Dead and Pharaoh Khufu.

When - 4,000 years ago
Where - Sumeria
Story Medium - Cuneiform tablets
Most Famous Story - The Epic of Gilgamesh, the story of an ancient king with dubious ethics and bad luck.

When - 2300 years ago
Where - Ancient Greece
Who - Aristotle
Story Medium - Papyrus

Famous For - Breaking down basic plot structure and genres of stories.  The first really outspoken critic. Complained that nobody was writing original stuff any more and wondered why all the sequels and tired, re-used ideas.

That's it for Part 1.  Next time we'll get closer to modern times.  Feel free to chime in!

Mythik Science Fiction & Fantasy Soundtrack

Back by popular demand!  No, I'm kidding; this is the very first time for the Mythik Science Fiction & Fantasy Soundtrack:

It's an eclectic playlist (we used to call them mix-tapes) of songs to write by.  A sort of soundtrack to an emerging story.  Or, it could even be a soundtrack to read by.

I am not one those music experts who can tell you who the second drummer was is every band since the dawn of time.  I'm also not a music snob, and I don't care if you make fun of my eclectic collection.  I bet you may not have heard of some of them, though.

Most of these songs were imprinted on my youthful brain sometime in the last century.  You know, like when there was still a "record" section in the music store.  Umm, when there were such things as music stores.  Even then, I was high-tech, because I listened to cassettes on a Walkman.  It was kind of like an old-fashioned iPod that only held a few songs at a time and took forever skip ahead to the next song.  It also tended to eat tapes a lot.

I like making soundtracks to my stories as I write, and sometimes the correlation between story and music isn't obvious.  Sometimes I don't even understand what the connection is, but it definitely is there.

The Amazon player widget thingy doesn't always play the best parts of the song, and for easier reference here is the playlist to my Mythik SF/Fantasy Soundtrack:

Children Of The Sun - Billy Thorpe
Skullbucket - Southern Culture On The Skids
Night Boat - Duran Duran
Why Me? - Planet P Project
Supernature - Cerrone
Godzilla - Blue Oyster Cult
Sausalito Summernight - Diesel
Blue Highway - Tony Carey
Another Heart Breaks - ELO
For A Few Dollars More - Ennio Morricone

What kind of music do you like to listen to when you write or read? Or do you prefer the sound of silence instead?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Weird - April 20, 2011

Today marks the first of a weekly series that will examine interesting (or maybe even weird) real life things that could also spark ideas for possible SF/F stories.

From Idea #41 in Ye Ol' Idea List, we have the Georgia Guidestones. Erected over 30 years ago in rural Georgia at the behest of a mysterious individual known only as R.C. Christian, this enigmatic monument purports to be "...guidestones to An Age of Reason."

The guidestones weigh in at about 120 tons, stand 18 feet tall, and provide 10 helpful tips on achieving an "Age of Reason" in eight languages.  My favorite is #7: "Avoid petty laws and useless officials."  Tip #1 is somewhat more sinister: "Maintain humanity at 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature." Hmm, that would seem to leave most of us 6,800,000,000 people out of balance.  Although I suppose if some non-existent planet-X destroys most of the world in 2012, then you've got built in balance right off the bat.

And, if some post 2012 onlooker has been away long enough not to understand the 10 tips in 8 languages, he/she/it can always check out the smaller messages written in Sanskrit, Classical Greek, Babylonian and Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

Conspiracy theories about the true purpose of the guidestones range from the predictable "they are Satanic," to something to do with the New World Order, to a novel idea somehow tying them with the world's tallest building.  On the other side of the coin, Yoko Ono thinks they are cool.

The guidestones also serve as a handy sundial.

The usefulness of a 120 ton rock Instruction Book of Reason may be up for debate now, but only time will tell...

I had planned on a couple of other weird tidbits, but sadly time is running out.  Hopefully they will last until next Wednesday and not become un-weird in the meantime.

Finally, just to counteract the weirdness or at least put things in perspective (which can be weird in its own right) here is a great resource for learning about how the universe works: Ask An Astronomer.

And if you are worried about impending weirdness of impending apocalypses, then check out 2012 Doom and breath a sigh of relief.

Have a Weird Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

eBook Review of Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker

Today's review is the steampunk novella eBook, Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker.

Set in the gold rush era 1890's Yukon, this little book is a gem, or should I say nugget?  I loved it.  The delightful protagonist, Kali McAlister, is a tinkerer.  Left to fend for herself in the frigid, rough and tumble Yukon after the death of her alchemist/steampunk scientist father, she builds amazing mechanical contraptions, much to the dismay of the local townsfolk.  Her unique skills are occasionally useful to them, so they tolerate her presence even though they suspect her of being a witch.  Her goal is to win a dog sled race with her steam-powered "dogless sled."  With the prize money from the race, she hopes to be able to finally leave the backwards little town of Moose Hollow and start a new life.  That proves easier said than done, however.  A mysterious stranger who calls himself Cedar offers the services of his Winchester and sword.  Not wanting or needing any so-called "help," she grudgingly agrees to let him come along after he saves her life.  And her life, it seems, is constantly in danger from thieves who are convinced she holds the secrets of Flash Gold, a mysterious substance invented by her late father that holds the promise of untold power.  Kali and Cedar begin their adventures in the race, where they battle the harsh Yukon elements, other mushers, and a stream of bloodthirsty bandits, gangsters and pirates who will do anything to capture Kali and possess her secrets.

Wow, this has so much cool stuff:  Pirates, airships, mechanical guard dogs, swords and a modified "Gun That Won The West," a Winchester 1873 that fires almost as fast as a Gatling Gun.  Another of Kali's inventions are smoke nuts, small shiny brass globes that, when activated, spew out smoke and --well, you'll just have to read and find out...  And, of course, there is the mysterious Flash Gold that makes "regular" gold fever seem like a sniffle.  The characters quickly seem like old friends and really take on a life of their own.  Kali is a supremely capable young lady, and she's even better at getting out of a jam with her brain than she is with her rifle.  That said, there are plenty of thrills, and nothing is ever easy for our heroes.  It seems they are always just one old-prospector-whisker away from certain disaster.

I could practically feel the chill of the cold Yukon air and snow, and the setting is more of a character than a backdrop.  I especially liked it when a behind the scenes gangster kingpin by the name of Soapy Smith was mentioned.  That sounded vaguely familiar from my own research into the wild west.  Sure enough, Soapy was a real historical figure,  a con man and criminal mastermind who had operations in Colorado before moving to Skagway, Alaska.  I love that kind of historical detail :)

Aside from the great characters and plot, formatting and copyediting are very good.  There are no annoying little mistakes to possibly take you out of the story.

You should definitely check out Flash Gold if you have any interest in steampunk, westerns, or even just want a good adventure tale.  The author states at the end of the book that there could be more stories with these characters if there is enough interest.  I hope there is!

Finally, it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway that Flash Gold is a bargain at just 99 Cents.

Flash Gold
Steampunk Adventure
18,000 word Novella
Available From:
Barnes & Noble

Monday, April 18, 2011

Science Fiction & Fantasy eBook Reviews

So I've been thinking it's about time to post some reviews on ye 'ol blog.  There's a ton of great science fiction and fantasy indy eBooks out there, of course, and more arriving every day.  I've somehow found some time to do a bit of reading (note: also need an upcoming post about time management and workflow,) so I'll review some eBooks that I've found lately that I really like.  I think my philosophy toward reviews will be this:

  1. Only review books I like.  That's not to say I won't try to be as objective as possible, but the whole point of this will be to put the spotlight on work I think deserves attention.  Hmm, not that the 'ol Mythik blog will generate much attention right now, but maybe someday it will ;) Otherwise, as they say, if you don't have something good to say, don't say anything at all.
  2. Well, there's no #2, so I guess that's it.
So, stay on the edge of your seat, and stay tuned!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Opening Scene From "The Figment of Doom"

I thought I would post the opening scene from a story in the upcoming eBook Mythik Imagination #1:
I woke up in a gutter, face down in a pool of muck.  It was a miracle I hadn’t drowned.  I spit out some sludge, coughed, slowly sat up and considered the situation.
It was raining, and I was soaked, freezing and aching all over, but especially my head and feet hurt.  It was dark, and I was on some deserted city street I didn’t recognize.  The only light came from a feeble street lamp that projected an icy cone of illumination in the rainy mist across the street.
Oh yeah, I had absolutely no idea how I got there or even who I was.  My pockets were empty.  I was wearing cowboy boots.  That was odd.  They were also about two sizes too small.  I guess that explained the aching feet.  As a matter of fact, the torn jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket all seemed too small.  Either I had spent so much time in this rainstorm my clothes had shrunk, or I was a man with a serious wardrobe problem.
Over the soft rain sizzle I heard footsteps.  I stood up and felt a blazing pain in my head.  I made a note to miss the gutter mud puddle if I fell back down, but managed to stay on my feet.  Okay, this was a headache the size of New Hampshire.  Why, did I think that?  Was I from New Hampshire?  Had I ever been to New Hampshire?  This really sucked.
I remembered the footsteps and tried to focus.  Yeah, across the street was a man standing under the light.  Trench coat, some kind of hat.  He looked like somebody out of a Mickey Spillane novel.  He gave me a quick glance and pulled something out of his coat.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easy eBook Cover Art Tutorial

You've written an amazing novel. It's been proofread and copyedited, and is letter-perfect. But now you need a cover for your masterpiece. Everyone knows you get what you pay for.  But we live in changing times, don’t we?  In our wondrous world of the future, sometimes you can get a lot for a little.  That is good news for indy authors on a shoestring budget.  In that spirit, I will show you how to make an eBook cover that is good enough for right now.  That’s an important concept, because if you have a small budget and wait for everything to be absolutely perfect, you probably won’t publish anything.  Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Golden Age of eBooks

Way back in the day, I remember reading somewhere about the Golden Age of Science Fiction, when people like Asimov and Bradbury and Clarke and Heinlein would all hang out at the same coffee shop and shoot the breeze as they worked on their stories of wonder and amazement.  I don’t know if that ever really happened, but I thought the idea was very cool:  A small little universe of fans and writers and publishers all together on the same page, so to speak, on a mission to change the world.  Then that universe expanded until everybody seemed so spread out that personal contact was mostly a thing of the past.

But today, we are in a new Golden Age.  Just like back then, the line between reader and writer is blurred.  And instead of a coffee shop, we have Twitter, Facebook and Blogs.  And everything is so instant.  A reader can post a review in no time at all, for all the world to see.  Writers post works in progress and can give day by day accounts of the ups and downs of their creative process.  You can buy a book instantly from anywhere and be reading in seconds.  Ideas flow back and forth.  You can see all sides of this wonderful endeavor, from the artistic angle to the business end of things and a lot more in between.  It is all a huge, transparent interactive world where the audience and the artists merge as genres overlap and create explosive new mixtures.

So, I think that is my hope for this little blog.  To have that kind of connection with the world.  It seems like a cool thing to me, and I look forward to this kind of future.

Thanks, be Mythik and stay tuned!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

About Mythik Imagination

So, what is Mythik Imagination, anyway?  Well I'm glad you asked.

Mythik Imagination is a nexus for astounding tales beyond belief, from distant dimensions to the far out future and everything in between.

Ha ha.  What is it, really?

I define "Mythik" as a new way for new stories to cross genres.  It's sort of an overall designation of the types of Speculative Fiction that have a pulpy core mixed with other ingredients such as:

Weird West - Steampunk - Cyberpunk - Slipstream - Scientifiction etc.

And "Imagination" is, well, creating something out of something else, I guess.  So, combine the two and there ya go...  Oh, and of course, Mythik Imagination is the main place where I can talk to YOU.