Last week, my mother was cleaning out the house where I grew up, and she found this:
...in the fourth grade, we had to make a fake magazine for a school project. I created this masterpiece, a laminated edition of Time from the distant future year of 2019.
The cover story is my creation of a genetically engineered hybrid between dog and rabbit, which is clearly a huge breakthrough in genetic science. In this article, I make sure to reassure the reader that this mutant creature is very safe and will not break out and harm anyone. As would be any person’s reasonable fear.
I stand by this prediction of the future, which means I must learn a lot about genetic engineering in the next couple of months.
EDIT 5/14: Wow, this has generated SO many comments. I'm diving in.
Over the last few weeks, I've had a couple of phone meetings with Michael J. Sullivan and his wife, Robin (mostly Robin), and they've had great success Kickstarting print runs of their books.
They suggested Kickstarter as something I might consider, so I thought I'd bring the idea to you, the fans.
Here's the concept: I don't need funds to write a book (the reverse, really: I need to write a book for funds), so I wouldn't be Kickstarting a book so much as special-edition print runs of that book. So there might be a limited-run signed hardcover version, paperbacks with alternate covers, whatever. Exclusive stuff.
If we Kickstarted something like Cradle #7, Uncrowned, the Kickstarter audience might even get the book early.
But these are all ideas at this point. Just dreams floating around in the ether. The compelling part of this to me is that Kickstarters are fun, this gives an opportunity to get fans involved, and it allows me to try projects I normally wouldn't, like limited-edition hardcovers.
What do you think? How would you feel about a Kickstarter? What sorts of things would you want to see as rewards? How was your week? Has everyone seen Endgame yet?
Like many of you, I saw Avengers: Endgame last night, so I thought I'd briefly share my thoughts (without specifically referring to anything in the movie for those who haven't seen it yet). We can talk about the movie specifically in a few weeks, when more people have seen it, but for now...
What an amazing experience. It's hard to compare it to any other movie because the universe Marvel has created is so unique, and the characters are so well-established at this point. The result is that Endgame is an unprecedented achievement of storytelling. It's twice as long as a normal movie, but it seems to tell as much story as any four Marvel movies put together.
By far the greatest element of the movie is how it manages to cram in so many stellar character moments. Every character--like, every character--gets their moment in the spotlight, and it's a triumph for the characters and the audience both.
Before watching the movie, I didn't know how they could possibly create a worthy successor to Infinity War, but I was okay with that. Infinity War would have remained great anyway.
But they actually did it, and I can scarcely believe it.
P.S. Writing continues. I'm going on another writing retreat next week, during which I expect to make significant progress.
I don't have any significant news to share this week, and yet I'm trying to blog more frequently than twice a month, so as promised, here's a review!
There were a few requests for "my favorite roguelike" and other similar indie game requests, but I'd really like to review Risk of Rain 2 because it's what I'm playing now and it's great.
The first Risk of Rain was one of my favorite games. I'm not a completion player, but I played that one to 100% several times because you unlock new things as you complete achievements.
It was a 2D platformer with light roguelike elements, which here means your whole run ended when you died, so you had to start over, and the levels were randomly arranged (though not randomly generated). Basically, you ran through each level killing enemies and collecting items, which were permanent passive buffs to your character. Each character you picked was different, and the items drastically changed how you played, so you ended up with some wildly different builds by the end of the game.
The signature element of the Risk of Rain series is a real-time timer at the top right-hand corner, which steadily ticks up the longer you take. Every second, the game gets harder. So if you spend your time scouring the level for every item, you might get stronger, but your enemies do too. You have to strike a balance between progressing quickly and getting strong enough to handle the next level.
The gameplay sunk its hooks into me pretty much immediately, and I played the crap out of the first game. If my copy were a book, it would be worn and dog-eared, with a broken spine and faded ink.
When they announced a sequel about two years ago, I was delighted! And then they said it would be in 3D, and my heart sank.
There was no way it could be good. Design elements almost never survive the transition from 2D to 3D, and no doubt they knew that, but they wanted to challenge themselves. I could respect that, but I was still disappointed. All I wanted was Risk of Rain 2: More Risk of Rain.
So I paid halfhearted attention to their development over the last couple of years until they surprise released their sequel on Steam about two weeks ago.
Lo and behold, the game is fantastic.
They managed to capture the same feeling as the original, despite having to re-design practically everything to account for a third dimension. The same enemies have new attacks that take advantage of the 3D space, new enemies work with new mechanics, and the shooter gameplay is smooth and well-polished.
It's only in Early Access for now, and I hear they've promised to add an endgame like the last one had. Right now, unless you voluntarily end your run, you just loop levels over and over until the difficulty is so crazy that you have to die.
I can't wait for the ending, which was one of my favorite parts of the old Risk of Rain, but already my friends and I have over 20 hours into it.
Oh, did I mention it's multiplayer up to four players? It is.
Give it a shot.
I hope you guys enjoyed my totally real schedule for the next 60 years, but Andrew Rowe really beat me this April Fools' Day.
I've already linked it on my Facebook, but I'm putting another link here. It must be shared.
[EDIT: April Fools...OR IS IT?]
I've been consulting with THE TEAM, and after months of planning, I'm happy to announce our tentative schedule for the remainder of the year and forward (as far as we know it).
As always, these dates are subject to change, but this is the plan we'll be working on going forward.
March 1, 2019 - Cradle 6, Underlord (complete)
June 1, 2019 - Elder Empire delayed
August 1, 2019 - Cradle 7, Uncrowned
December 1, 2019 - Elder Empire delayed
March 1, 2020 - Cradle 8, Bloodfallen
June 1, 2020 - Traveler's Blade Trilogy 1, Daughters of the Wind
August 1, 2020 - Elder Empire delayed
September 1, 2020 - Cradle 9, Northstrider
December 1, 2020 - Elder Empire delayed
March 1, 2021 - Cradle 10, Nethergate
June 1, 2021 - New Series: I Reincarnated into an Online Game as a Healer
September 1, 2021 - Elder Empire delayed
December 1, 2021 - Cradle 11, Mazerunner
March 1, 2022 - Cradle 12, Breakingdawn
September 1, 2022 - Traveler's Blade Trilogy 2, All The Travelers Die
December 1, 2022 - Cradle 13, Slipperylip
February 1, 2036 - Earth invaded by slug-people.
September 1, 2079 - Elder Empire completed
It's a rough plan, but this is the goal we've set ourselves. Personally, I'm optimistic we can make it.
The last post has way too many comments, so we need a new blog, but I've been so busy that I don't have a whole lot to say.
That sounds contradictory, but it's true.
I was going to do a quick review of Us, but that's not really a whole blog post so much as two lines: "All the acting, directing, and dialogue are excellent, but the rules of the world are vague, confusing, and contradictory. B+/A- depending on the degree to which world-class acting and writing can make you forget that what's happening doesn't make a whole lot of sense."
So in that case, I turn to you! What movie (or game) would you like me to review next time I don't have any news for the blog?
I'll review basically anything except books. I don't want to use this space to pick on other authors, so the only time I'll review a book is if I think it's fantastic. But I don't mind tearing apart movies or games...or praising them if they're awesome.
Anyway, tell me in the comments which filler content you'd like to see! Go!
And, of course, real news will be the priority if there is any to share.
As most of you know, I took last week off for a post-book vacation. It was awesome, very refreshing, and I only had to wrestle 3-4 manticores. Usually I have to take care of at least five a week, so that was a nice break.
But since I got back, things in my personal life have been hectic. Nothing dramatic. It's just a mix of prior commitments, catching up on what I missed while I was gone, and some random crap hitting my family all coming this week.
Bottom line: this week was a lot harder than I expected. However, catching up on work has meant also catching up on the fan response to Underlord.
You all are amazing.
I came back to an endless stream of encouragement. A truly crazy number of positive reviews, messages expressing excitement, and so much discussion of the story that I couldn't read it all.
I'm just very grateful for you guys right now. You've been more supportive of me than I deserve, and I thank you.
[No spoilers, just my impressions.]
Every once in a while, when I'm watching a movie and a line of dialogue is especially wooden, cliché, on-the-nose, or just plain stupid, I say "gross" out loud. It's a reflex. I don't know I'm doing it.
I said "gross" a lot during this movie.
I'm usually not one to throw stones about dialogue, because Lord knows it's not like my characters belong in a Tarantino movie. But there were a few lines in Captain Marvel that...stood out in an unfortunate manner.
That's my least-important observation out of the way. The bulk of the movie was just forgettable. It's a bland sandwich. I can't picture myself ever watching this again, and I can't imagine a reason to do so.
There were some fundamental story issues I had with it; for instance, the film pretends that the heroine goes through an arc, but she doesn't, which robs the ending of all tension or emotional weight. She's the same person in the first scene that she is in the last, barring only superficial changes.
That's an example, and I could go on, but there's really no point. The underlying story structure of the movie wasn't as broken as many others, and that's too much of an intellectual argument anyway.
Let's get to the heart of it: it was boring. I was bored.
Most of the action sequences are chase scenes with no stakes. If the good guys fail to catch the bad guys...so what? I'm not led to believe that something terrible is going to happen. Just that the chase will go on. So the chases feel pointless.
Carol (Captain Marvel) is the strongest person around from the very beginning, so I'm never afraid she's going to lose a fight. In fact, there are a few times where the movie pretends she's going to lose, but it's contradictory to the powers she already has--she gets physically restrained by ordinary humans at one point in the middle.
Whenever we watch any solo superhero movie, we know they're going to win in the end. In that sense, there should be no tension. But there usually is, because the story is told well, and emphasizes what's at stake and how the heroes might lose if they don't dig deep and evolve beyond the person they were.
Here's the bottom line: my sister was really looking forward to Marvel's first solo superheroine movie, and she was excited to buy a Captain Marvel cosplay to wear to conventions this year. She usually goes as Wonder Woman, or Belle, or Rey.
When she walked out of the theater this time, she said, "Man, I'm glad I didn't buy that costume."
This will probably not surprise you, but to my great excitement, Underlord was the biggest and most successful launch we've ever had.
It's been vastly out-selling what Ghostwater had sold at this point, and worked its way up the Amazon rankings to the #5 best-selling book overall. Out of all books on Kindle.
More amazing than that, though (to me), was how long it stayed up in the rankings. As of this time, Underlord is still in the Top 100 on Amazon. It has been there all week. That is many times longer than any other of my books have stayed on that list.
Even on top of that, you all have been incredible with the reviews. It has surpassed Soulsmith and Skysworn in number of reviews already, and is on its way for Blackflame.
425 reviews in a week is just not right. It's too fast. You've broken some kind of natural law. And for it to still be at a 5.0 review average after 425 reviews makes me wonder if somehow a wizard got involved.
So from the bottom of my heart: thank you! I've interacted with many of you over the past week, and the response to this book has really blown me away (not literally, don't worry). I'm honored by you reading my stories at all, and the fact that you enjoy them is what makes this fun for me.
As a small celebration, we're giving away the Traveler's Gate Trilogy Collection ebook over this weekend (March 9th and 10th). So for the next two days, my whole first trilogy will be available for free. Just take it.
I'm not sure what else to do or say. This has been awesome!
P.S. I'm going on vacation for a week starting tomorrow, so I'll be out of touch. I'm therefore scheduling my review of Captain Marvel, which several of you requested, to go up while I'm gone. That doesn't mean I'm around! It just means I scheduled a post.
"The sea was empty."
84% of draft
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