Saturday, May 28, 2011

Free is a pretty good price for SF&F Ebooks

Don't ask me how I got sucked into an Internet wormhole, but while looking up stuff about press releases and marketing, etc. etc. blah blah blah, I somehow stumbled across the Baen Free Library.

There is some really cool stuff there. I remember reading Inherit The Stars by James P. Hogan when I was a kid. I always thought the cover with the skeleton in a space suit was very creepy and way cool.

Now it's been, um, a reallllly long time since I originally read it, but I do remember that I liked it, and it was the first book of a series. I'll definitely be putting it on my TBR list. I think it's pretty amazing that it is a free Ebook. The Baen Free Library books come in all the usual formats, so you are pretty much good to go with any kind of device you have, or you can just read it on-line. Of course there is also nothing stopping you from making a donation or buying the non-free versions.

A lot of great writers have free books there, including Lois McMaster Bujold, Mercedes Lackey, Keith LaumerElizabeth Moon, Harry Turtledove, and a bunch of others -- Yes, I too, would hate to be lumped in to the "bunch of others" category, but this is just a heads up, not a directory. Check them all out for yourself :)

I better get back to "work." Hmm, maybe I should be a copycat and have something free on June 1st...

(That's a hint. And a subliminal plug. June 1st. There, I did it again.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Weird Thursday - Here Come The Anomalocaridids

Today's weirdness is a make-good. Due to an increased workload in the CDJ (cool day job) and final preparations for the June 1st release of Mythik Imagination #1, ye ole' Mythik Blog has taken a back seat. But never fear, weirdness junkies, for we have a special Thursday edition of Weird Wednesday.

Behold, the Anomalocaridid! It would certainly seem to fit the part of a devious alien mother-ship occupant intent on summer blockbuster box-office domination. Actually, it is believed to be the world's largest predator in the late Cambrian and early Ordovician periods, about 472 - 542 million years ago.

The fearsome looking Anomalocaridid might have been up to 6 feet long and was at the very top of the food chain until more advanced creatures such as the way cool Sea Scorpion knocked it into oblivion.

But maybe it didn't quite happen that way. Maybe the Anomalocardids evolved and decided they needed a change of scenery from their muddy ocean floor abode. Possibly tired of dining on starfish, mollusks and the occasional crustacean, maybe they decided on the stars as their destination. After waving goodbye those silly Sea Scorpions and their ilk, could our wily Anomalocardids have tested out their newly invented hyper-drive? And now, after all these years, maybe they've come back to check out the old neighborhood and perhaps experiment on a few cows and express their artistic abilities in wheat fields.

Or not.

So the next time you are feasting on some succulent shrimp, just remember: 500 million years ago, the roles could have been reversed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weird Wednesday - The Voynich Manuscript

Elvish script?
Happy Weirdsday! Today's tidbit of weirdness is the controversial and extremely mysterious Voynich Manuscript. Take a look for yourself at the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and see if you can decipher it.

While the true origins (and purpose) of the book are unknown, it is believed to have been written in the 15th or 16th century. It is divided into six parts, including a botanical section, astral charts, bizarre interconnecting tubes & miniature women, pharmaceutical drawings, and of course cryptic (and so far undeciphered) text.

Suspected authors include Roger Bacon and John Dee, a couple of chaps fully capable of mysterious weirdness. The book bopped all around Europe for hundreds of years, and there are large gaps in its history.  It has been owned by an alchemist, the Jesuits, and Ethel Lillian Voynich (author of The Gadfly and daughter of George Boole, the inventor of Boolean Logic, without which you would not have the computer you are looking at right now,) before finally ending up at Yale University.

Multiple universes connected by wormholes?
A navy cryptogropher believes it was written by more than one person. Other theorists believe it is a hoax, filled with meaningless gibberish. Yet another school of thought believes it is far too sophisticated to be just a simple 15th century hoax.

Another idea is that the real information is contained in microscopic markings in the letters themselves. Or maybe it is really an invented alphabet for a known language.

And what about all those crazy pictures and the little women?

Maybe it is a step by step guide for the construction of a hyper-dimensional star gate.

So come on and figure that thing out. I want to know what the heck it is!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

June 1st is right around the corner!

A quick update of Mythik covers & content. For some reason, it really helps me to see what the end result is while I'm working. Don't tell anybody, but I even cut & pasted my thumbnail covers into the Kindle Top 10. That's right, I'm visualizing my way to success ;) Hopefully people will like the stories, too.

Okay, we've got a preliminary cover for issue #3.

And this is how the thumbnails will look:


I've also sent off the files for a test print of the old-fashioned dead-tree version of issue #1. Hopefully it will look sufficiently pulpy, yet readable.  With Baxter's help, I've mapped out issues 4 - 6, too.

Here's the tentative plan:

June 1 - Issue #1
July 6 - Issue #2
August 3 - Issue #3
September 7 - Issue #4
October 5 - Issue #5
October 28 - 10 Guns Against the West (Mythik Weird West Novel - crossover from characters & story in issue #2)
November 2 - Issue #6
December 14 - Secret Novel (sword & sorcery crossover from characters & story in issues #3 & #4)
Some time next year - Secret Novel (science fiction) & more Mythik Imagination

Also in there somewhere will be a graphic novel (or is it comic book?) and podiobooks. The podiobooks should come relatively soon.

There, now my vast multitude of fans know what to look forward to! Ha ha.

Hmm, I suppose I should get back to working on actual content ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine Blogfest

Happy Monday, everybody. Thanks to Lydia K at The Word Is My Oyster, the ol' Mythik blog is participating in the Laughter is the Best Medicine Blogfest. Woohoo, prepare to be hilarified.

Today's mythik comedy gold is brought to you by my writing partner, Baxter. He is about 8 inches tall, has lots of hair and weighs in at about 6 pounds (again, mostly hair.)

Baxter loves to smile, has a never-ending sense of humor, and is quite the practical joker. One of his favorite things to do is to steal something, then let everybody know he has stolen it, then play keep-away.

One time we had just come home from a trip. The suitcases weren't even unpacked. That evening we were having dinner with visiting in-laws. Everything was going great, and everybody marveled over how cute and smart and well-behaved our lovable little dog was. And it was true, he was on his best behavior. The perfect little gentleman.

The dinner was good, everybody was having a wonderful time. Then we noticed Baxter had disappeared. That was odd. He always has be right in the middle of whatever is going on. He's a very active participant in our little family and does not believe in the "I'll just lay around and sleep while the humans are doing their boring stuff" philosophy.

Then he suddenly reappeared.
Apparently, he had opened a suitcase and rifled through it until he found something he thought would have the maximum impact at the dinner table. The perfect purloined item turned out to be a maxi-pad. This, of course, generated the proper amount of excitement and interest from the humans. Forgoing the usual game of chase, we immediately paid the requisite ransom of two Baxter-Treats and made the exchange for the maxi-pad.

Basking in the glory of his successful heist, the daring dog then kicked back on the couch to watch TV.

Baxter chillin' on the couch while watching a show about Bigfoot (a suspected relative) on the History Channel.

Hopefully Baxter has made you smile, too :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Weird Wednesday - Coral Castle

Today we look at some weirdness in the Sunshine State.  Florida is regarded by AOL as America's Weirdest State.  Then again, that is AOL talking... Anyway, weirdest or not, Florida does have some weird things. One of my favorites is Coral Castle.

Built by Edward Leedskalnin over the span of nearly three decades, Coral Castle (originally called Rock Gate Park by Leedskalnin) consists of massive stone structures with an average weight of about 15 tons each. The largest stone is 30 tons and the tallest is 25 feet tall. Coral Castle merely laughed when Hurricane Andrew huffed and puffed in vain in 1992.

The question, of course, is how one frail man, working alone by lantern light in the dead of night, was able to move such gigantic stones. Leedskalnin simply said that he had discovered the secrets of the pyramids. He was also supposedly cured of tuberculosis with the aid of magnets and sold pamphlets about magnetic currents. Did he invent some amazing gizmo that levitated 50,000 pound rocks with ease?

Or, maybe he just had a remarkable engineering talent that combined single-minded determination with preternational patience and a genius's understanding of the potential of levers and pulleys.

Unfortunately, Mr. Leedskalnin died in 1951 and never revealed his secret. Coral Castle will long be a moment to his amazing achievements, whether accomplished by anti-gravity rays, aliens, or good old human ingenuity and elbow grease.

How do you think Coral Castle was built?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Laughter and Fun & Games

Everybody could use a good laugh, right? So here is a blogfest to laugh with.

Check it out at The Word Is My Oyster, by Lydia K.

A lot of people are taking part so far, and it looks like it should be a lot of fun.

What kind of hilariously laughable things will YOU come up with?

Let's see...  A vampire, a werewolf and zombie walk into a bar...

And if that's not enough, check out The "It's All Fun & Games Blogfest" from Alex J. Cavanaugh.

What are your favorite games?

We'll all find out on June 6th.

I like the idea of these blogfests because it is a great way to see new blogs and meet new people. There's a ton of stuff  on this here ol' internet, and sometimes it's a bit overwhelming to keep track of it all. But events like this provide a good way to focus on something and have fun at the same time.

So, mark your calendars and stay tuned :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How Thor and the Comic Universe Will Take Over The World

Every time I pass a bus stop, Thor is looking at me. The problem is that his face is covered by words that look like some kind of super-heroic acne. So, we begin another summer with another comic book superhero movie. How is Thor a superhero, anyway? Obviously I don't know much about the comic, but yeah, I always did wonder how a deity fit into the Marvel Universe. Is Asgard really an alien planet or something?

I suppose these and other questions will be answered if I just go see the movie. I've had a troubled relationship with comic-spawned superhero movies: Superman, Batman, Spawn, Spiderman, Batman, Hellboy, Hulk, X-Men, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Punisher, Wolverine, Watchmen - those are just some of the more famous ones. Now we've got Thor and then Green Lantern and Captain America and Avengers all coming up. I'm not holding my breath for my favorite Grell era Green Arrow to show up any time soon. Gotta love the Sherwood Florist!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they are all bad. I really like some of those movies. I'm not passing any kind of judgement at all. But how far away is the day when you go to your local 24 screen megaplex and see nothing but superhero movies? It seems harder and harder to find something that doesn't follow the Hollywood secret formula to success of "Just like X, but slightly different." And that "slightly" part is becoming more and more slight, and usually involves roman numerals. See if you can guess which superhero movie this is:
We begin with an Act-1 origin. Then our hero somewhat reluctantly decides to do heroic things. Wait, a Love Interest of some sort interferes with "doing heroic things." In the first part of Act-2 our hero manages to kick some lesser bad guy butt. Here's a good place to throw in a catchy one-liner that can be used in the trailer. Halfway through Act-2 there's a bit of a reversal where the eventual Boss Bad Guy cuts the hero down to size. Some more romance. Then the hero Does Something Stupid, and actually endangers people he is supposed to protect. Then Act-3 is the big confrontation with Boss Bad Guy where the hero wins with the help of Helpful Sidekick, redeems himself and sets up all the sequels. There's probably another catchy one-liner, too. Don't forget to have something cute/cool/mysterious after/during the credits.
Even the few cool new ideas like The Matrix quickly become More Of The Same. And if that's not enough, after a few sequels too many, franchise X gets a "reboot" which pretty much ends up being the same places with different faces.

Note: this isn't some random tirade about "quality" or the lack thereof. This is more a random tirade about quantity. With Hollywood's focus on things that already have a built-in audience, maybe we are missing out on some new, original cool stuff. If you're name isn't Cameron, the soup line of superheroes waiting for studio dollars is just too long to navigate.

Oh well, they say everything goes in cycles, right? I'm sure in the not too distant future somebody will be writing a 3D Telepathic Blog complaining about the glut of 19th century period pieces. "Enough Jane Austin," they will cry, "Give somebody else a chance!"

In the meantime, pass the popcorn and enjoy the show.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weird Wednesday - Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Staying with last week's snowy, Antarctic theme, today we have the world famous Antarctic Snow Cruiser. Built in 1939, it finally made its Antarctic debut in early 1940. Here are some specs:

0-60: Don't ask.
Top Speed: 30 mph
Size: 55 feet long, 19 feet wide & 16 feet high
Weight: 75,000 pounds
Range: 5,000 miles

Cool included options are a nifty heating system, a machine shop, and a kitchen that converts to a darkroom. This 4x4 snow beast was powered by a total of six (!) powerplants: two diesel engines and four electric motors (one for each wheel.) And if that isn't enough for you, the ultimate option is an attached 5-passenger airplane. All this was only $300,000 ($4,658,517.17 adjusted for inflation.)

Unfortunately it didn't work quite as advertised. It's greatest journey was only about 92 miles, and that was traveling backwards. Apparently, nobody realized that skinny, bald tires (even if they are 10 feet tall) are not a great idea on snow and ice. Heck, I even figured that out with an old VW Bug and didn't need $300,000 to test the concept.

All that doesn't stop the Antarctic Snow Cruiser from being very cool, though. Some real science was accomplished with the ASC as its crew measured cosmic rays, took occasional ice core samples and conducted seismologic experiments. But funding was cancelled due to WW2, and that was the end of the coolest RV of all time.  Or was it?

It seems that after the project was cancelled, the ASC was just abandoned intact, like some ghost ship, a museum-like time capsule of cutting edge 1940 technology & pop culture. It has been lost and found a few times since then, but at the moment it is still lost. Depending on which side of the crack it was on when part of the Ross Ice Shelf broke off in the 1960's, it could still be buried in the ice somewhere, or it could be at the bottom of the ocean.

I was going to do a hilariously clever bit about Clever Hero and Helpful Sidekick who happen to be stranded in Antarctica and somehow manage to find the Snow Cruiser and use it to escape, but...  Something tugged at the back of my mind about how that seemed familiar.

I did some nosing around on the ol' interwebs, and sure enough, apparently the ASC makes an appearance in a Clive Cussler novel.  I shouldn't be surprised.  It's too bad, but I'll have to cross the Snow Cruiser off my list of Electro-Diesel-Punk story ideas.

Hopefully next week we can venture away from the polar regions and find some warmer weirdness!

Monday, May 2, 2011

eBook Trailer Test

Just a quick post to test out the eBook Trailer for Mythik Imagination #1:

Still needs some tweaking. What do you think?