So author/director/screenwriter/all around wackadoo Forbes West made a thing. He has a podcast called Live at the Benbow Inn, which he is slowly but surely turning into a regular feature on his blog. I got a chance to sit in on an episode recently where I and other awesome people got to pontificate on our views and concerns–and some truly far-out theorizing was involved there–about what the future of Planet Earth holds and why. Give it a listen!
It’s December 24, 2015. Christmas Eve. The rain has just stopped, it’s 68 degrees in in New York City and the weather is, to put it bluntly, all kinds of wrong. Where we should be seeing snow and ice encrusting windows and burying cars this winter, we’re seeing something very different and not a little creepy. The world is changing whether we like it or not.
On another Christmas Eve many years ago while on my first trip to visit Israel, I had a particularly eye-opening experience. It was during a tour of the Golan Heights, on the country’s northern border. Syria was just a few miles away, along with batteries of artillery, miles of barbed wire, and anti-tank obstacles strewn through valleys and hills.
One fact of life in Israel is the sound of explosions: the sonic booms made of fighter planes patrolling Israeli airspace. Three, four or more times a day. The crack of thunder flies above you despite cloudless skies. Windows shake in their frames. You get used to it pretty quickly, the same way you get used to small earthquakes in Japan or even California.
As we passed through a supposedly secure part of the Heights that day in 1986, we were allowed off the bus and walked around through country that had seen awful fighting in 1967. Suddenly, booms crashed overhead. We ignored them. It had become background noise to us. But they kept coming, one after the other, precisely spaced, echoing between the hills. Radios squawked and our tour guides hustled us back onto the bus and we tore out of the area.
Later on we learned that the area we’d been walking through had been part of an artillery exchange between Israeli and Syrian forces. When you live in a war zone, you get used to things like that, too.
And yet, Jerusalem is the site of three major religions’ holiest places. Control over the city has been traded between tribes, nations, and empires for nearly three thousand years. Yet we can’t seem to stop fighting over it.
Still. The world is changing whether we like it or not.
Politics of the Apocalypse is a short story that throws religious zealotry at self-sacrificial idealism. It’s Christmas Eve and the Hordes of Hades are about to launch their final attack on the Old City of Jerusalem. Dedicated defenders of three faiths are ready to cut and run over dogma. What do they do? What would you do?
The story is live for Kindle on Amazon’s website, for 99 cents.
A while back I wrote what I consider my first story about the end of the world. I’m a comic fan, and while talking to other comic fans, the subject of Christian mythology came up. I wanted to write a sort of buddy cop story set in the old city of Jerusalem, which I’ve always felt a special connection to, although I haven’t visited there recently. The result was a short work titled The Politics of the Apocalypse and it was published in HDWP Books’ Theme-Thology: Real World Unreal. It was a ton of work, and a ton of fun to write.
Then I was pointed toward a much bigger, far more ambitious project: a shared world where each contributor could wreck the world in his own fashion. I was hooked.
I’m a New Yorker. I was born here, I live here, and I’m probably going to die here. I take that reality very seriously. I complain—all New Yorkers do—loudly and frequently about the air, the heat, the cars, cabs, trains and subways, OMG the mayor, because that’s what we do.
But what got me thinking about the end of everything was the food.
Think about it. Americans are obsessed with food. Eat more? Eat less? Organic or non-organic? Vegetarian or vegan? GMO or non-GMO? Real sugar? Sugar substitutes? Canola oil or coconut oil? Only in New York City can a diner enter a restaurant and demand to know if the salmon on the menu is Atlantic or Pacific, without a hint of irony. Only in a foodie’s paradise like Manhattan can one find a dish to tweak any conceivable taste.
Bottom line: some eat to live, others live to eat.
But what if the food were the trap? What if we were so obsessed with the process of eating–who prepares it, how it’s prepared, where do the ingredients come from–that it literally killed us?
AW: The Taste Makers is what I’m writing to find out.
The book isn’t finished–it’s close, but not just yet–and it’s gone through several major revisions so far. I can’t even tell you if “The Taste Makers” will be the final title. But I can show you the pitch I wrote that got the publisher’s attention:
Wall Street crashes for the last time as a Food Network entrepreneur and his crew struggle to survive the unraveling horror of his latest venture.
A rash of murder-suicides ravage daily life as food preparation becomes a devastating weapon that knows no borders or boundaries, under the influence of forces beyond science.
As cursed novelty knives turn foodies into homicidal maniacs and a unknown blight destroys crops, the emerging elite horde supplies as cities become death traps and the countryside starves.
The Wolf of Wall Street meets Friday the 13th as financial sharks deal with demonic slashers, backstabbing greedheads, and a sea of their past victims in a bloody conflict where only the ruthless can survive.
The action swaps between the financial district and the upper east side, from the upper reaches of the Freedom Tower to Central Park and Chinatown while a NYPD detective comes to terms with what he’s seen done to his beloved city in the name of profit, and whether he can help stop it.
A ton of work to finish, and a ton of fun to write.
Remember last week when I told you about the Apocalypse Weird fund raiser?
Of course you do. You came here and read about it. Maybe you even clicked on the campaign link and donated. And you did these things because you care about brave new ideas in the world of fiction and about my willingness to be part of it.
So here we are, with 13 hours to go before Indiegogo closes the campaign, tallies up the numbers and your change to be part of something new and awesome disappears.
But . . .
If the campaign makes its goal, then Indiegogo will keep the clock running. That’s added time to donate in exchange for outstanding perks, a heartfelt “Thank you!”, and maybe some mention of the project and books to friends who like to read books about the world ending in wacky and outlandish ways.
So this is it, The Big Push. As I write this the campaign is 66% funded. Another $3,421 puts us over the edge and allows the process to continue, giving you access to perks long after the clock stops as well as many more months of outstanding books.
But for now, the clock is ticking . . .
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Today sees the launch of an ambitious new series from Nick Cole and Michael Bunker, titled Apocalypse Weird. The concept is simple: the end of the world is very f-ing nigh and you have front row seats. Five novels drop today and join The Red King, Cole’s previously released work in this ‘verse: The Dark Knight by Nick Cole; Reversal, by Jennifer Ellis; The Serenity Strain by Chris Pourteau; Immunity, by E. E. Giorgi; and Texocalypse Now by Nick Cole and Michael Bunker.
While shared universe series aren’t new (remember Bill Fawcett’s The Fleet? How about David Drake’s Crisis of Empire?), what makes the AW ‘verse unique is the fact that Cole and Bunker have partnered with Rob McClellan’s ThirdScribe outfit to open the field to any and all contributors. So-called “Tier 3” authors are considered purveyors of AW fanfic. The stories are non-canonical, but they are also open to anyone who wants to publish them using the ThirdScribe platform. Readers vote on their favorite stories and well-received contributions get both the attention they deserve and perhaps a bit more.
The rules of the series are straightforward: in the not-too-distant-future (or past) a demonic mafia known as “The 88” have decided that they can’t sit around waiting for mankind to doom itself forever. Their solution: give homo sapiens a big push into the abyss. Their foot soldiers in this work are human servants known as “The Black Hand.” As civilization crashes and burns, individual actors, perpetrators, and survivors share talents, stories, actions, and supplies to manage their own little corners of the devastation. It’s up to each author to mix and match the mayhem according to his or her tastes and writing style. The results are brilliant, fresh, and exciting.
I’ve read Reversal and The Dark Night, and I’ll be posting reviews of those later today. But all five books are now up for grabs (and linked above). If what I’ve seen so far is any indication, this is the best apocalypse to come along in years.
Get the Books!
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