The other day, after months of work and many edits, I’ve decided that I had done a worthy job of revising my very first novel, the Sci-Fi/Fantasy thrilled Pillars of the Kingdom: Volume One, “The Forming” (POTK1). This revision was was originally intended as an after-a-decade effort, but family difficulties and career responsibilities held up its release until this week. Nevertheless, with cover art that serves as a helpful map of the Kingdom of Emor and honors the original artwork by the talented Jennifer Souza, this book promises to be a much neater version of the first – or, at least, I promise you that it is!
Combining the feeling of Japanese Animation along with Final Fantasy, PotK was my very first venture into the world of writing. The series, as yet incomplete (a good book needs time to inspire it), is centered around three vital characters: Branden Frost, Clarice Saffron, and Jacin Lancir. Each is from a different walk of life within the multi-state Kingdom of Emor: Branden is a highborn elite from Icebridge in Gatamene, a warrior whose speed knows no peer and who wants the best for the common man even as his allies are on the precipice of staging a coup; Clarice Saffron is from Coaslund, is also a warrior, but struggles with her love for another woman in a society that questions such things; Jacin Lancir is a young Gataminian recruit who never aspires to be a hero, but finds out that his ancestors determined his destiny as much as he ever could.
Each has friends, foes, and fears to deal with, but they are joined together by their king to protect their nation from the greatest existential threats they can discover. Whether its foreign invaders, domestic treason, or even evil demigods seeking to re-create ancient cataclysms, the bonds of this team being formed – later, to be called the Pillars of the Kingdom – will be tested and re-aligned over the course of your adventure with them!
For only a buck, why not take a day off and read this massive, 100,000+ word endeavor by Jesse Pohlman, available digitally only via Amazon’s Kindle! Don’t have one? Just run a google search for, “Kindle for my phone” and you’ll probably find one for free!
About four years ago, in May of 2012, I made the last modification to an Epic Poem I was developing. Because of an imminent shoulder surgery and other obligations, I never returned to work on it. Today, I’m releasing the first chapter of it just as sort of a, “how does this sound to you, dear reader?” type of thing.
It’s very different than any of my previous work, or any of my work since for that matter, so check it out and let me know what you think!
Wherein the Sisters escape from the Tower. They are pursued,
but are unsure whether it is by friend or foe. They determine
how compromised the Tower they built is, and must decide
who they can trust with their vow to reclaim it.
The shouts of treason and the
Trumpets of war echoed against the endless night.
Swords were brandished and bandied,
Spears were readied and raised ,
Arrows, freshly loosed, flew into
The impenetrably dark sky.
Acrimonious roars accompanied the cocking
Of rifles and shotguns, weapons from the World Before,
Lost to the Torrents of Fire which shaped our world anew.
Oh, Muse! Grant me the illustrious wisdom,
The powers of description and visualization,
Needed to describe the Two Sisters descending from
That most hallowed of Towers; their true names lost
Forever to the flow of history, forgotten and fully
Replaced by the justice they forged.
“Sister,” spake the First, her feet gracefully
Brushing over the broken concrete floor surrounding
The Tower they had raised. Their great descent was
Without speed, however, as they landed this figure,
Short and slender, clad in the darkest of robes and
With fibrous obsidian replacing hair, dropped to
Her pale knee. A hand, delicately running along
The shadowy fabric, found a hole over her shoulder
And felt the moist crimson of her lifeblood draining
From a seemingly mild wound. “I must rest,” she
Stated, as teeth gnashed her bottom lip. “I have
Been marked – I do not know by who.”
The second figure, a contrasting visage of
Platinum-colored hair and the brightest of blue
Eyes, folded her arms across her chest. Tall and
Consumed, it seemed, by flowing white cloth, she
Could not resist a frown. “Please, Sister,” implored
The Bright One, “We are far too near the Tower to sit
Idle. Our flight must be now!”
A nod of acceptance adorned the figure of
Night, as her eyes matched her Sisters’ brightness
With an unsatisfiable, dark void. She brushed
Fingertips over that cruel wound, probing its
Depth. The deceit of the one who dealt it was
Deeper than the injury itself. But was it
Poisoned? She could not know.
“We move on,” the Sister of Night proclaimed,
Rising to her feet and standing close to the one of Light.
The white-robed woman made no motion, no
Gesture, yet the winds lifted the graceful pair high
Above the un-reclaimed courtyard of the Tower, and
Carried them well over its tremendous walls, unseen,
Due to a swiftly summoned sphere of shadow formed
From but a whim of the wounded one. They drifted
Passing over their city and resting only upon rooftops,
Only for the most meager of moments. The winds
Carried the Sisters across the boroughs they build
And led them toward the final, exterior walls of
Their home. The gusts scaled them effortlessly, and
Not one guardsman saw them through their shadows.
The surrounding countryside consisted of
Farms, with tiny hovels hosting peasant families
Who loyally worked the lands and fed the city. Under
The Sisters, they had earned a fair wage in return for
Their foodstuffs; a share of their meals and of the
Material wealth of the City. Most of all, they had
Received the protection of the Tower itself, and
Of the residents within. The Sisters themselves
Had made this bargain, yet now they fled across
The lands they had sworn to protect.
Beyond the farms and fields, and far distant
From the wilder lands and rivers that bordered the
Kingdom of the Sisters’ Tower, the concrete remains
Of the World Before, after the Fire Torrent, greeted them.
With Nature’s own green reclaimers creeping cunningly
Up the dull gray slabs, crushing stone into sand
And returning ruins to wilderness, the Sisters
Sought solace from their surprisers. They at
Once found a sturdy enough looking structure,
One which would enclose them on three sides
With stable shelter, and would conceal them from
The pale, dark one promptly sat down in
A rough manner, resting her legs and examining her
Shoulder as best as she might in the dark of night.
She sustained the cloak of shadows which had
Permitted their egress. Her Sister, gracefully,
Advanced to assist her opposite; her white gown
Descended nearly to the dirty floor, yet abstained
From being stained.
“It does not appear deep,” the tanned one
Of light whispered, observing the severity of the
The Sister of Darkness sighed. “You
Are correct, Zephyr,” she answered, finally
Speaking the name of her most Beloved
Sister. Oh, Muse, they could only have used
Their chosen names, donned as a depiction
Of their destinies. They could Never have
Used the names they were once known as,
From before they became our Great Heroes.
For we could certainly never have heard them.
“It is a most ordinary wound, and it poses
No great danger to me.”
“Delivered,” answered the Sister of
Light, “with the most unbelievable scorn and
Deceit.” Zephyr could not help but lower her
Eyes, those pale, gray-blue orbs, in dismay.
“To think that our Tower would be taken from
Us, after all we have done for its denizens.”
Zephyr’s Sister gazed upon her injury,
Observing as striking crimson slid from the slit
And descended down her supple arm in an
Inconsistent, wavy line. “They will come for
Us, if they are partners in this crime.”
The lips of Zephyr were a dark red,
And they turned toward the most dour of
Frowns that man had ever seen. Her beauty,
Great Muse, could only have been diminished
By this self-inflicted, sorrow-spawned sight. “Yes,
Crash,” she answered her Sister, using the donned
Name of the Dark One. “Or if they are compelled,
As our most loyal, yet mortal subjects were.”
“So you believe it to have been the work of
William, Zephyr?” asked Crash, invoking the known,
Formal name of that Great Betrayer of the Sisters.
“Has Will, taking advantage of his capability to
Corrupt those of others’, destroyed our Tower?”
“William broke the wills of many of our men,”
Zephyr answered cautiously. “Some may have conspired,
But I could not bring myself to end them with so little
Discrimination between the enslaved and the evil.”
Crash exhaled, staring at the blood trailing down
Her arm. “Generous of you, Sister, but it nearly led to
Our unexpected demise. We might not be able to afford
The price of our subjects’ lives should they come for us
Again, their minds conquered, or not.”
Zephyr sat down next to her Sister, tearing a tiny
Piece from her robe as if it were a crystal from a gown
Made of snow. She applied it to the injury that Crash
Had suffered, stymieing the bleeding even as it stained
The white cloth red. “It is more a concern for our
Fellow Endowed to bear. Without the benefit of their
Cruel surprise, our lesser subjects will not have
The tools to harm us at their disposal. They are
Simply not capable of it, anymore.”
Zephyr’s words were calming, and were
Meant to alleviate the worries of her beloved
Sister. Crash, as she listened, did not seem to be
Convinced that they were so impervious to the
Harm that a normal man could inflict. The Dark
Sister set aside her concerns. “We must extend
Due vigilance toward our brethren, then. If they
Were found unable to defend against William’s
Sinister influence, they will be a danger. If they
Cooperated, even more-so. It is worst to imagine
How the threats may arrange themselves. If the
Old Man assails us, even, we must be strong.”
The Sister of Light allowed her slender
Shoulders to rise and fall, softly. She looked
Upon her Sister’s torn sinew once more, and
Felt for a moment a pang of anger that reminded
Her of the past, long ago – and of their uprising.
She quickly suppressed this emotion, and in cold
Logic considered the circumstances. “Well, we
May safely know that Retro and Wisher would not
Fall under his influence. They are our greatest
Friends and assets – but they may be forced, in
The cruelest manner, to serve William’s sinful,
Crash concurred quietly, her eyes
Remaining open as their pupils devolved into
Dark pools of obsidian. “There are many of our
Apprentices who, loyal or no, will be facing us
Shortly. If Retro and Wisher remain free, than we
Have hope of reuniting our broken kingdom. Now,
However, we have more pressing matters.”
All the wisdom of you Muses must have flowed
Toward the Sister of Darkness in that moment, for
She could not have predicted with greater accuracy
The true nature of the situation. Without warning,
A dark duo appeared at the entryway to the cavern
Within which Zephyr and Chaos, those who Liberated
Us from our weaknesses, dwelled. The Dark One
Knew of Their intrusion immediately, for the shadows which
Concealed the two ladies were reporting the nearby
Violators of that shoddy cement sanctuary.
“It is as I expected, Sister,” quipped the
Dark One, “Sparrow is here. With another.”
“Sparrow?” Zephyr’s voice was tinted with
Concern. She assessed where she stood and drew a
Deep breath, preparing herself for what war the birdlike
One might bring to their doorstep.
A calm voice echoed into the charred hulk of
The building the Sisters sought refuge in. Oh, Muse, it
Was a nervous tone, one that was so far removed from
Violence that the Sisters almost felt it must be a trap.
“Sisters,” Sparrow called, boldness overcoming
Fear at what their wrath may bring, “Do not attack! We have
Come to aid you! It is Sparrow! I come with Sandy! We
Seek only to uphold your righteous rule, and defeat the one
Who deceived our fellow subjects!”
The two ladies, our Heroic Sisters, gazed upon one
Another with suspicion. The one who claimed to aid them
Was bold, to defy this devilish villain; yet they knew with
Full certainty that if they were tricked – if Sparrow was not
Acting of his own will, but of Will’s – that he might well
Know his doom to be impending, but unable to resist. The
Sisters decided his fate.
“Sparrow, you come with Sandy? You may enter,”
Offered the Sister of Darkness, Crash, as she withdrew that
Blanket of Night which protected them from Sparrow’s own
Capability. As the shroud fell backwards, two figures took
Their first steps into the Sisters’ hiding place.
The first was a male, short; with dark hair and eyes,
He looked very much like a bird. His chosen name, one
Selected for the speed it inferred, was represented by his
External presentation rather well.
The second was a woman with skin that seemed to
Be made of small granules of sand. Grainy flesh was
Accompanied by light, brown hair and adorned in a brown
Robe. She entered with her hands clearly visible, and
With no sign of hostility in her eyes.
“We have escaped,” this woman stated firmly,
A look of pain flashing across her rough face. She
Was older, perhaps, than the Sisters or the Sparrow, but
Carried herself with what looked much like health.
The Sister of Light nodded and exhaled, relief
Shining in her sapphire eyes. “It is good to know we
Have the aid of some of our fellows, even still. Our flight
From our city is not so lonely!”
Crash, of Darkness, added boldly; “And our return
Shall not be lonely, either.”
“I had hoped to hear such high dreams,” agreed the
Woman calling herself Sandy. “May I provide furnishings?”
Upon the consent of the Sisters, Sandy fell to her knees and
Touched her hand upon the cracked concrete. The damage
To the building, caused so long ago when the world was
Torn asunder, were quickly sealed back up as bits of dirt
Worked into the cracks and congealed, forming new
Stone. Then, without notice, a quartet of gently-sloped
Seats seemed to grow from the very floor. They were
As comfortable as crafted rock could be, with each
Refugee’s form taken into account by the one who
Sculpted it. Upon resting, the four were then
Separated by a summoned table.
“Does he know you have left?” the Dark
Sister asked the birdlike one.
Nodding twice, Sparrow spread his hands
In an open gesture. “It is impossible to hide the
Facts. Sandy and I claimed pursuit of you, and
He accepted. Either he is happy to be free of us,
Or he is convinced we are under his control.”
Crash’s eyes narrowed in disgust, but
Zephyr, the Sister of Light and wielder of the
Winds, frowned sorrowfully. “I am glad to hear
He might believe you to be lost to him in honorable
Chase. It will make this task much easier, the
Reclaimation of our great City and Tower.”
“We wonder how many others have left
Us for dead,” added the Sister of Darkness, eyes
Falling upon Sparrow and Sandy. “We must be
Willing to seize what we built. Our brothers
And sisters must join with us in number, for Will
Must have subdued our rank-and-file. We must
Prepare for the worst, even as we hope to resolve
This second horror without bloodshed.”
I pray, Muse, to properly tell this tale. I
Invoke upon these pages only what is needed to
Justly portray what these sacred Sisters experienced
In their second war against injustice and the
Exploitation of the Human spirit. It was after her
Gracious Sister expressed again her fears of
Violence that the Sister of Light finally could
Not control her sentiment.
“We failed!” Zephyr conceded with a
Brutal wail, her eyes closing tightly. “We,
Endowed with the hope of our kind, have let
Only the darkest parts of our blessing lay
Claim upon our Tower! We, by pride, did not stay
Vigilant; we did not remember our past, Sister,
And we have lost friends as a consequence!”
Crash, for all of her beauty, appeared
To reflect ugliness in her thoughts. “We have
Fought oppression before, and we have slain
Those who sought to own us. I must remind
My beloved Sister, for I fear she has forgotten
That which first made us, each, of Light and Dark.”
Jesse Pohlman is an educator and author from Long Island, New York. If you enjoyed this short sample, why not check out his latest novel, Protostar: An Automatic Apocalypse, available exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle! It’s a sci-fi space opera that both questions the nature of humanity and embraces space warfare!
I know this is a bit overdue, but technical circumstances can be a pain. At the start of December, and just in time for the Holiday season, I released the second novel of the Protostar series, An Automatic Apocalypse! It is the direct sequel to my best-selling novel, Protostar: Memoirs Of The Messenger, and besides being a kick-ass sci-fi story it also explores themes important to the human mind: What is a “soul,” and can machines have them, too? What makes for a “just” war, or a “just” imprisonment of someone who cannot remember her crimes?
I hope you’ll click on the picture below to whisk yourself over to the Amazon website and pick it up for your Kindle, today! Don’t have a Kindle? Download one to your phone for free, using this part of Amazon’s storefront as a jumping off point. They have them for I-Phone, Amazon, PC, Mac, and more; and it’s all free! There’s no excuse for you to avoid Protostar: An Automatic Apocalypse!
Lahira Ocean is the Captain of the Messenger, a cutting-edge Cruiser defending Humanity and its allies against an alien race called The Orphans. After a hectic battle at the planet Gagarin, Lahira awakens from a two-week long coma to find two strangers carefully awaiting her recovery. The first is clearly from the upper echelons of Earth’s government who calls himself Herodotus Fork; the second is distantly familiar to Lahira as a woman named Amber, an ambassador from the Automatons, a ‘species’ of alien who are fully artificial intelligences. Neither are happy to be sitting over her hospital bed.
Lahira is suspected of being involved in an unprecedented attack on an Automaton: During the Battle of Gagarin, Lahira’s ship emitted a strange signal which seemed to corrupt the mind of an elder Automaton, and Amber has been assigned to levy judgment about what happened. Unfortunately for her, the chaos of the ensuing melee led to the Human receiving serious injuries: She was mentally connected to a computer system which shorted out. These injuries – along with others lurking deeper under the surface of her thoughts – have induced retrograde amnesia, meaning she cannot fully explain the events leading to her role in the brawl.
Ultimately, Lahira has to confront her actions during the Battle of Gagarin while recovering from her wounds. She can’t even remember the conflicts she charged into with her top crew-mates, and digging into her recent past only brings up reasons for guilt to weigh her down, making the depths of her pain medication’s buzz more and more enticing. She finds herself in theological debates with a machine who has just as much faith in God as any 25th century Human she’d ever met, in ethical arguments with spies over how wars are fought, and in romantic entanglements with those she’d never imagined she’d developed an interest in.
By the time the conspiracy unravels, the masterminds responsible for Lahira’s turmoil have presented themselves, and Lahira’s ship is assigned to guarantee Humanity’s innocence in the attack. After finding herself to be all-too-Human, can she establish her species’ friendliness to strange alien entities who appear, at least on the surface, to be vastly superior to her? How will she survive the latest round of chaos in one piece?
So, uh…Bear with me, here, because this is a bit nuts, but it’s worth considering.
This website (www.DeportRacism2016.com) was promoting this ridiculous idea of paying any random person $5,000 to interrupt Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Seems like a dumb stunt that can get you in some moderate amount of trouble with SNL Security and trespassing laws, right? Really dumb, but the kind of dumb that enough people heard it that it must have gotten to SNL itself, yeah? ‘Cuz Larry David interrupted him to claim the $5,000! But who came up with this silly scheme?
I saw, earlier, that the owner of DeportRacism2016 is a gentleman named Luke Montgomery, owner of another group called BillForFirstLady. This is, essentially, a conspiracy theory in and of itself – Montgomery raises funds to promote Hillary and other liberal causes; and, now, he’s attempted to spend some cash to attack Donald Trump during a comedy show on national TV. Weird as hell theory, right? This guy is essentially funding his own pro-Hillary moves through T-Shirt and other merchandise sales! Boy, it’s a good thing SNL covers the internet, caught the covert campaign, and countered succinctly by deploying David.
Yet, it serves as just one sub-conspiracy of a much larger article I came across on Reddit.com earlier (since deleted from /r/technology), an article published on Medium.com by a one-day old Anonymous account, and including alleged screenshots of some FEC filings establishing other connections I don’t have the technical knowledge of PACs/SuperPACs/FEC filings to confirm. I’m not kidding – it’s a one-day-old account on a website I don’t usually hear of any spectacular campaign-finance chicanery undergoing exposure on, let alone, you know, anything else? That’s pretty spur-of-the-moment, and we read it as a joke. The best understanding I can gather of the grand scheme looks (and sounds) like this:
Hillary attacks The Donald wearing a Bernie Sanders Mask.
Mr. Montgomery allegedly placed a placard of text on DeportRacism2016 that suggests Bernie Sanders’ campaign, or at least allies, were supporting it. Whether this was simply an advertisement space that got locked up by Bernie’s side, or whether it – as the Anonymous accuser alleges – is a site stealthily owned by Luke Montgomery himself, this sounds absolutely bizarre. Bernie is direct, while an advertisement network might plausibly decide to spend his ad buys there, the idea of him funding this back-handed attack is ludicrous. Sanders has had no trouble directly attacking Trump before. Why this elaborate scheme, right?
Well, guess what? I just checked the FEC filing for Feel The Bern. Its treasurer is a fellow named Luke Montgomery, a fellow who happens to live in the same Ohio zip code as the Luke Montgomery who owns DeportRacism2016. Now my ears are pricked. That a huge, huge Hillary supporter would suddenly be backing Bernie Sanders is interesting, but not impossible – frustration with politics-as-usual is a Bernie Sanders symptom! It’s bad enough that this guy owns so many various political groups that he embodies the dark-money hydra his newly claimed leader rejects, he is so zealous to fight Trump’s racism while Sanders on the side that he forgets that he’s this amalgamation of political fundraising machines to attack Donald Trump in the name of justice?
Bernie is openly against all types of this bullshit, avoids such direct personal call-outs to save attention for larger issues, and when he attacks he does so directly. It sounds highly unlikely that Luke Montgomery is Bernie Sanders’ henchman, but that’s vaguely what he’s portraying himself as when he’s talking through the lens of Feel The Bern. In fact, this set of screen-grabs contains a lot of other strange information, but if you find that top-right picture on www.deportracism2016.com, it does indeed link you to feelthebern.org. Okay, now you have proof Montgomery is bashing trump while promoting Bernie.
So next up comes the big step down the rabbit hole: If it’s not Bernie’s doing, is it just this guy in Bernie’s camp looking to benefit from this deed? Does he somehow think he’ll make Bernie look good in this exchange? And what, again, does Larry David have to do with this? The Medium article that started all this, that at first seemed so hard to believe yet is so far proving to make some credible links between Montgomery’s various shell-groups, is far worse than simply hypocritical. As with all things Bernie opposes, it’s also bought-and-paid for by the people giving it campaign donations.
It gets worse, and my night of sarcastically looking at a conspiracy theory to pick apart in order to promote a book partially about a global conspiracy is now over, isn’t it?
So, Mr. Montgomery was campaigning quite hard to get Hillary to run in 2016, putting together (if not releasing) some interesting ads asking people to sign a petition that Hillary would get! Does it sounds like he really made a huge turn to the left all of a sudden?
There are accusations of e-mail sharing between his various website, a bit of a no-no. If I’m signed up to FeelTheBern I don’t want e-mails from Deport Racism! Not unless I deliberately sign up there, too! But that’s petty poop.
This link contains an alleged letter from the FEC to Mr. Montgomery informing him that he had of failed to file some receipts and other disbursements in August of 2015. Still kind of petty poop, although this again embodies everything we should hate about the American political system. Typically, I’d assume this ends in a fine and a, “don’t do this shit again” warning.
Except our original Anonymous accuser gets pretty specific.
Is Clinton Smearing Sanders?
This file from the FEC alleges that Hillary for America (Hillary’s PAC, also known as www.hillaryclinton.com) paid Correct The Record (correctrecord.org) a princely sum of over $200,000 for “research.” Research? Well, if Correct the Record is, as their “About” page says, a rapid-response team for attacks on Hillary, 200G’s sounds like a reasonable-ish amount. Our Anonymous conspiracy-unveiled disagrees, saying at most there should be $90,000 for 3 months of work, but maybe the team at Correct The Record was huge. Assuming this document is legitimate, it means CTR made some bank on some big project. That’s all. It’s shady that one PAC is paying another for “research,” but what can ya do, right?
The Anonymous accuser makes even further strange allegations, that Luke Montgomery works with or even owns Correct The Record. But I am not alone in failing to find actual evidence of this claim. The best guess one can get is that the Feel The Bern website and Correct The Record are both very similar in design. But that’s hardly an excuse! In fact, it’s deliberately exposing oneself to the danger of being caught out running two competing sites!
Ah. It seems like this is, for now at least, our trail grown cold. Perhaps I’ll go back to promoting my novel, after all, but let’s break down what we’ve got so far!
Luke Montgomery is like Montgomery Burns. He’s got his hands in a lot of pots and some of them are very strange. We’ve got Donald Trump getting “heckled” by Larry David to keep him from being heckled for real, but…
…Wait. Larry David? Heckling Donald Trump? At the behest of Luke Montgomery, the Hillary Clinton fanboy who owns a Bernie Sanders site?! Isn’t Larry David looking kind of familiar in those shots from the other night? Yes! He’s the guy who played Bernie Sanders in SNL’s mockery of the Democratic debate!
Holy cow! SNL is in on the conspiracy! Get your tinfoil and run for the hills! Only you can decide if there is more to this than meets the eye, or if this is just a few steps on the other side of the crazy train’s tracks!
When not over-analyzing conspiracy theories with only shreds of evidence, Jesse Pohlman enjoys writing sci-fi novels. Check out The Physics Incarnate Series on Amazon’s Kindle or on Facebook today for more intricate conspiracies that control our world!
It’s been a long time since I hit this website with an update, but it’s high time I do so.
The Protostar Indiegogo!
First of all, and quite unfortunately, the Indiegogo campaign to raise money for my next novel, Protostar: An Automatic Apocalypse, failed rather painfully. Part of the issue was that I started a new job and didn’t have the time to promote it properly, but that’s how these things go. The money raised will be going to pay my partner Cecelia over at Artistic Chaos Studios, who most definitely deserves something for the effort. This is an especially bitter defeat going into November, when National Novel Writing Month is in full effect. Previously I’d been doing one-year-off, one-year-on with NaNo, and I’d been writing new Protostar books, but…I just don’t have time with this new job. I want to, and I have some days off where I very well could sit down and write five to eight thousand words a day and be done with it all…But that’s not realistic.
That said! I’m looking at having a few days off on November 26th and 27th. One of those days is, naturally, Thanksgiving, and that means there’s no way I can do work on my novels. However, I’m planning to spend at least one day in that time-frame (26th-28th) working on some finishing touches for An Automatic Apocalypse. It will see only a Kindle release, at least until it has raised enough money to warrant a hard-copy distribution.
It appears as if my current goal for the Protostar release is November 31st!
With that in mind…
I’ve put out a few articles at The Daily Kos, with the latest being my assessment of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as being an “Eisenhower Democrat.” If you’re interested in politics, check it out! It’s a bit old, but it’s definitely worth the read since it’s a comparison of his politics to Dwight Eisenhower’s, and not anything dated.
Next in line? You may remember me mentioning that I had done a second edition of Pillars Of The Kingdom: The Forming. It’s definitely a back-burner project, but I’d be willing to put it out on Kindle. When can we expect me to get to it? No idea. If my final pass on Protostar goes well, I might even get the Pillars book started for digital distribution.
For fans of the Physics Incarnate series, well, lest you fear I’ve forgotten you, take heart! I have not! In fact, I have been mentally processing various ways to finish the final book out, and I definitely know how it will go. The biggest challenge is having time to sit down and write it. Again, new jobs and new responsibilities are quite overwhelming.
I also wrote a short (very short) story some time ago. It was rejected from its intended publication outlet, but that’s fine – I might give it a final pass and post it up here, for free!
Well, that’s all for now, folks. Take care!
In 1908, Anna Jarvis created the de-facto American Mother’s Day, and she was soon followed by Grace Golden Clayton in creating a Father’s Day. The modern-day commercialization of these holidays is sarcastically best symbolized by the miles-long line to the mall, but at the bottom of the arbitrary nature of holidays is, unmistakably, love for our parents. Whether they are still with us or they’ve moved on, most of us love our parents. True, I have friends who have no love for one parent or another (and for damn good reasons), but most of us can say they’ve at least had a good relationship with their parents.
So, what exactly is the follow up you, dear reader, should expect from an inflammatory, click-bait headline like that, huh?
This year is a very special Father’s Day, for me. In November, 2012 my father was diagnosed with serious liver cirrhosis secondary to Hepatitis C. He was placed in the care of a doctor whose best medical advice consisted of diuretics – medication that increases urination in order to decrease the amount of fluid in the body – and the reassurance that he would live to be 90 years old. For a time, this prediction seemed like it might hold true! For those of you who don’t understand the progression of this disease, as I didn’t at the time, allow me to cast some light on our outcome:
He received a liver transplant on the morning of December 7th, 2014.
As you may have guessed, I’ve left out a lot of steps ranging from “cancer” to “weekly minor surgical procedures.” To paraphrase Hugh Laurie during his stint as the ‘misanthropic’ and titular Dr. House: “You can’t live without it, it’s in the name.” In a much vaguer approximation of something House would say, “Death is never pretty.” By the time of his transplant, under the care of a much better doctor (rather, team of them) at a world-class facility, we knew that he was close. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), as of June 15th, 2015 there are more than fifteen thousand people waiting on a liver transplant; in 2014, only 6,792 were performed.
Not all of the organs donated are viable for transplant. as what happened to us the first night we got “the call.” I was evaluated a potential “living donor,” a surgery where a willing person has a lobe of their liver removed and transplanted into a sick person. While I proved to be a match for him, 72% of my liver is in my right lobe, meaning that my left lobe was too small to sustain a person on its own.
Then there was the surgery, itself: It actually went very well, and the physical procedure was as perfect as humanly possible. There were snags along the road, but they mostly arose from the relatively harmless concerns of balancing post-transplant medications, and those aren’t problems in the grand scheme of things.
Six months and a few weeks later, and – surprise! – it’s Father’s Day. It’s a Father’s Day filled with joy! He is alive and, while there are certainly bad days and difficulties, I will repeat that he is alive! He can throw a frisbee and was able to return to work, which is downright incredible!
It’s a Father’s Day filled with difficulty because he has only just begun treatment for the Hepatitis C, a treatment that is still cutting-edge and is very effective, but can cause headaches, exhaustion, and the kind of insomnia that makes someone feel dead, or at least makes them feel like they’re dying.
Then again, it’s a Father’s Day that might have been spent mourning him, instead of being with him. We’re truly lucky that he’s still alive, kicking – and, of course, complaining cantankerously!
I suppose what I’m getting at is that, yeah, people are prone to last-minute shopping; yeah, these holidays (in fact, just about all of them) are co-opted towards consumerism and generating windfall profits; yeah, some day down the line I’m gonna forget to get a card or get into an argument with my dad over something-or-another…
But Jarvis and Clayton weren’t wrong to say that, on the whole, our parents deserve a special day to themselves. Happy Father’s Day, dad. I love ya.
This may be a bit belated, but my sci-fi space opera, Protostar: Memoirs Of The Messenger is now available in paperback!
Here’s a five-star review from artist Cecelia Ivy Price: “It’s like Ghost in the Shell meets Outlaw Star (For any old school anime fans.) Intergalactic warfare and furtistic weapons. Get read, highly recommend it!”
Ensign Lahira Ocean is the chief navigator of the Human battleship, the George Washington. Born on the world Magellan, she hails from a wealthy family, and joined the fleet as a precursor to her future as a trade magnate. Aside from astronomic charts and hyper-drive calculations, she studies history as both a pastime, and a lens to understand her life’s path. She regularly muses about retirement, despite her incredible skill at military affairs. Fate intervenes when scanners on a Human-held planet, Hudson, pick up an approaching group of alien ships. The George Washington is deployed to supervise this initial contact, but the greeting Mankind gets is as horrifying as it is stereotypical of a 20th or 21st century science-fiction epic!
Now, Lahira has little choice but to accept command of a brand new generation of star-ship, a cruiser called the Messenger, and is charged with recruiting subordinates of her own. Bringing together a hard-nosed specialist in military doctrine, a free-wheeling former space pirate, a nonchalant communications expert, and hosting her former academy rival as her own chief navigator, can the now-Captain manage to survive her own crew long enough to face the alien menace? What has made these foreigners so ready to wage war against any organic species it meets? Is she up to the task of leading the Messenger on a counter-attack against these mysterious marauders which humanity calls The Orphans?
Last night, my girlfriend and I had the unbelievable pleasure of going to a movie premier in New York City. Even better, we got the pleasure of going to see Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie! I’m a huge AVGN fan; I even brought my Ghostbusters NES cartridge to get signed. I had to leave before I could get that, however; my dad had a medical procedure the following morning, but damn I wanted it! Why? Mainly because I am an independent author, AVGN’s company Cinemassacre is an independent studio, and in many ways he is an idol of mine. The bulk of the movie, after all, was crowd-funded by his fans through IndieGoGo!
For those who don’t know the Angry Video Game Nerd, well, it’s a self-explanatory name for a character. James Rolfe created a series of you-tube videos where he plays a video game nerd who is angry about bad video games. He reviews those games, or in some cases entire game consoles, demonstrating all of their bad design choices. He also curses them out, and often destroys their physical copies, frequently talking about either feces or bizarre anal sex acts. There, done! For those of you who are familiar with him, his style and the entire culture of internet reviewers (including, to a lesser extent, me!), well, you also already know what you’re getting! That is a great thing, overall, but it’s also a little lacking in some areas.
The plot of the film is pretty basic: In all of his one-hundred-plus Youtube videos, The Nerd has never reviewed the game “ET” for Atari (called EeeTee in the film). Yes, it is based on the Steven Spielberg movie of the same name; no, it isn’t good. For years, now, fans have begged Rolfe to review it. In-character, he has refused, claiming the game is just too horrible. As you might imagine, by the end of the movie, the fans get their wish!
Of course, it isn’t so simple. The plot unravels around an evil corporation that descends like vultures upon the trend of gamers playing bad games, gamers such as The Nerd. They intend to use our favorite Nerd as a marketing ploy for an ET Sequel, namely by forcing their way into his life and annoying him until he cooperates. Said corporation (‘Cockburn,’ of course) also investigates a popular video game legend: That Atari buried millions of copies of ET in a New Mexico desert because it was such a bad game. Naturally, since this is in New Mexico, it attracts the military’s attention because they’re talking about “ET’s” and digging about in the desert, and, well, something-something-Area 51.
Coincidentally, at the same time the AVGN movie was nearing completion, it was revealed that this legend was – in fact – true! There are actually a bunch of old (and terribly designed) games buried in the desert! But, by now, my own review is buried in the plot of the movie it’s about, so let’s get to some actual critiquing!
The Angry Video Game Nerd Makes Me Happy
I want to start with the good, both because I always do and because there’s a lot of good to be had. The comedy comes mostly from making fun of common tropes. The film takes situations frequently explored in other movies and “Nerdifies” them, complete with the vulgarity and excess that AVGN is famous for. Oh! Look! There’s the AVGN and his female gamer playing a game, but being misunderstood by the old man downstairs! We’ve seen this scene before, but Rolfe and his co-writer Kevin Finn make it funny by slipping in double-entendres that catch viewers off-guard. In a scene where two girl characters are fighting, there is a significant sense of sexual tension and a lead-up to some sort of cat fight that ultimately gets a brief acknowledgment before being thrown away. It was refreshing that they didn’t lean on girl-on-girl action to attract too much attention!
The visual effects are worthy of mention because so many of them are what Rolfe considers “practical.” He doesn’t just rely on fancy computer graphics; he actually built tremendous set-pieces just to have a guy in a suit destroy them on camera. It was a throw-back to old Kaiju films like Godzilla, another favorite topic of Rolfe’s. Some of them were deliberately-horribly done, such as one scene involving what appeared to be a micro-machine on fire. It earned a hearty chuckle and some crowd applause! One of his favorite tales of practical effects gone wrong involves the accidental triggering of a fire alarm by his set lighting. Go figure. The bottom line was that when the movie needed to look good, it did. When the humor called for it to look goofy, it didn’t stray too far into the absurd.
The characters were, for the most part, enjoyable. Even Cooper, played by Jeremy Suarez, was generally charming and funny! I have no idea where Cooper came from, since as a fan of the show I am stunned by the idea of AVGN having a side-kick, but that’s part of the point of the film. It’s a spoof on film expansions to TV series or video games (or vice-versa!) where new, seemingly-vital characters are shoehorned into the plot. Speaking of shoehorned, Mandi – seemingly the obligatory love interest for the Nerd, played by Sarah Glendening – actually comes off as fairly charming, and while she makes some of those “classic movie mistakes,” like leaving the safe-house to make a useless phone call, she succeeds in avoiding any one stereotype. By and large, every other actor was appropriately over-the-top for their character, had witty lines, and made themselves stand out.
I think the final note I want to hit is that, at times, I was impressed by how the movie really got its timing down. Many of its cameos (we’ll get to some of them) were timed perfectly, and made sense within the movie’s continuity. Getting the actual programmer of the ET game, Howard Scott Warshaw, to appear in the film? That was genius. One of my favorite AVGN characters, Shit Pickle (I know), is featured on a billboard on one of those incredibly detailed Las Vegas sets that Rolfe built and had destroyed. Pat Contri (Pat the NES Punk) does a fantastic job as an AVGN groupie.
The Shitty Side of the AVGN Film
Okay. It’s not shitty, but if I’m watching and talking about the AVGN, I’d better fucking swear.
My number one complaint with the film is that it leaned heavily on its audience’s knowledge of the series canon. Some of the jokes – invisible blocks obstructing a player’s progress – were obvious. Others were nothing more than a token appearance by The Nostalgia Critic, who has served as an internet video enemy of Rolfe’s and, well, doesn’t contribute much except to be a face on camera, briefly. Then again, I’m a hypocrite – the very next scene is a similar cameo from Lloyd Kaufman, creator of The Toxic Avenger and a guest in one of AVGN’s episodes, and I liked it very much. The difference, I think, was that Kaufman actually did something. He had a line. He had a role. Nostalgia Critic? I love you, but no.
Speaking of “having a role,” who the fuck is Cooper?! Look, no offense to Jeremy Suarez – again, he did a great job – but the AVGN already has back-up. In the real world, Rolfe is teamed up with his childhood friend Mike Matei to produce his videos. Why couldn’t Matei be the side-kick? Instead, he and Kyle Justin – the musical mastermind of the series – have little cameos at the AVGN convention. Kevin Finn, a frequent guest and also-friend of Rolfe’s, has made appearances in the series but seemed content to co-write on this ride. I know we’re all supposed to wonder where this Cooper guy came from, but it all feels like it stretches what we AVGN fans know a bit too thin.
Speaking of thin, the biggest serious critique I have of this film is that the movie’s last half hour feels like a complete mess. There were moments where I looked at my girlfriend and fought back the urge to ask, “did I miss a scene?” I had absolutely no idea why, at the end of the film, the soldiers are cheering for their general’s demise. I can extrapolate that the officer in question is a complete jerk, but I don’t get why his men have transformed their mission from “crowd control” to “insane mob.” This is the biggest and most severe weakness the film suffers from: A spasticity in its progression.
Overall Impression of The AVGN Movie
The aforementioned flaws aside, I’ve spent about 1,500 words talking about this movie. If it wasn’t worth watching, would I have? Now, you might be asking yourself, “Jesse, what if the movie isn’t in a theater near me?” It’s an indie film, after all, and it’s not in mainstream movie houses! Well, in the after-movie Q&A session (which I had to leave early, sadly), Rolfe was asked what his plans for a wider release were. He intends to do a digital distribution arrangement of some kind, mentioning a date in early September, but he hasn’t got a specific plan finished, yet.
So now let me talk just a little more about what this movie means.
Yes, it’s pretty insane. Yes, it’s got flaws. However, it’s the brain-child of a man who started off making nothing more substantial than home movies. Later, he went on to create a few Youtube videos, ones that became extremely popular. He helped make Lets Plays into a major thing. He managed to generate enough revenue from his internet show to quit his day job and produce content full-time! That’s pretty much the American Dream, here.
But most of all, he created something for his fans. Yes, Rolfe goes over-board on content that makes an avid AVGN fan say, “Well, you’d have to listen halfway through episode 37 to get this joke.” However, as an indie producer myself, all I can say is, “Congratulations, man. You did it.”
Overall: 8.7/10 (8.1 for non-AVGN fans; 2.1 for non-video game fans, but then WTF are you watching it for in the first place, exactly?)
Jesse Pohlman is a writer from Long Island, New York. If you enjoy science-fiction novels, check out his Amazon Store and see if one of them sounds fun to read, to you!
Hello, fellow creators!
…And I realized I have a problem. See, I have a lot of projects on my hands at any given time. Sometimes I get commissioned to write an article, while other times I just end up in a pointless debate with someone on the internet. Most of the time, though, I’m working on a book. There are lots of them I’m working on, and lots more that I’ve de-facto abandoned. That’s probably the greatest shame, because I’ve written them all in my head! Just not on paper! This always saddens me, because I always have another great idea, another new scheme.
Unfortunately, if I were to start on them, then I’d leave other projects un-done, and therein lies one of my greatest problems as a writer.
Focus On One Thing? Hah! …How?
Some people’s first bit of advice is to pick one thing to focus on at a time. For many people, that works – and if you’re that lucky, hey, good for you! Put that exceptionally rare talent to use! Many others find themselves always waking up, each day, with a different “feeling.” Maybe some day they feel like writing, while another day they feel like painting. If they don’t write, their manuscript goes unfinished; but if they try to force themselves to write when they want to paint, well, nothing gets done except for the denial of their true desire! They spend time staring at a blank computer screen, imagining they are in front of a blank canvas, instead.
In my case, I was inspired to write this article because I was working on the cover-art for my next novel, and I realized just how disparate my goals were. There’s so much I want to get done, but so little I can. It’s a problem! Just creating a place-holder image for this article took some time. Yes, I learned new techniques for a paint program, but it was still time spent doing something which distracted me from the sheer pleasure of writing. Sometimes, the research or the image-collecting for an article simply steals the show.
So what’s my answer? Well, one thing is to try to have a schedule. “Day one, work on project one. Day two, work on project two,” whatever works best for you! Everyone has a different routine, after all. Unfortunately, we also have daily obligations. There are days when I only have 15-20 minutes of “Creative Time,” if that! This forces me to pick something I can get done quickly, or at least something I can make a major contribution towards. Being able to figure out where one left off, then continue, isn’t always so easy.
Then, sometimes I’m working on commissioned articles or promotional material, and my “Creative Time” becomes “Second Job.” And sometimes, I’d rather write about knights and dragons than do content for some band’s website. The same things can apply to painters, photographers, and even musicians. Photographers might want to shoot macro-scale, exploring the nuances of a flower petal, but instead have to do bland portraits of an average family to pay the bills. All of these things add to an already overloaded plate.
Truly, sprawl is a problem any creator has to face down.
The Answer Is Patience
Most of all, I feel like I’ll never get something done “in time,” whatever “in time” happens to be. I feel that the book cover will take so long, I don’t want to even begin. I feel like finishing a novel will take forever, and that it won’t get done. Editing? It feels like bashing my head against a brick as a little voice screams at me to work on something fun, not something old. There’s just this overwhelming feeling that if I’m not creating new work, I’m not being productive, and the stories in my mind will never get out. Ever.
And none of that is true.
See, I’m young. I’m 29, now. But even if I were 69, I’m probably not dying tomorrow. I’m probably going to wake up tomorrow and have time to work on my next idea. The biggest reason why other creators I’ve spoken to seem to collapse into working on dozens of projects at once is because they don’t know how to be patient. They don’t understand how to put their ideas on paper until the ones they’re already executing are complete, and come back to it later. That’s the bottom line – patience.
For me, it takes patience to believe that, yes, this cover-art will get done; yes, the book will be released; yes, I can edit and re-release old ones, and – finally – I can put out new material. I can clear this massive plate I have in front of me, and I can think about new ideas and not feel like I have to immediately act on them in order for them to ever happen. The key refrain I’ve discovered? If they are strong enough ideas, they will be there when I’m finished with what’s got me busy.
For others, I’d recommend the same – or, at least, a genuine evaluation of which projects should take priority, and what the subject of the creator’s effort should be. Immediate performance and financial income isn’t the only guideline, here; existential reward and personal satisfaction matter, too. Each person will be different, and there’s always some creep, but sprawl should be kept to a minimum – before it gets out of hand, and nothing gets done.
This article is adapted from an original, less-refined version, posted on my old “Ramble About Writing” blog. Enjoy!