With and Without Magic

Time to dig into some ‘Merican history! Two books on the same subject, the Lewis and Clark expedition.

One is factual and enlightening, the other is a whole boatload of magical brouhaha and is entertaining.

Gear up for the 4th of July by catching that seasonal spirit. (You’ll need time, UNDAUNTED COURAGE is a chunk of a book.)

https://anchor.fm/brotruckbooks/episodes/Ep-040-With-and-Without-Magic-e3vh22

Also on Google, Spotify, iTunes, frigging everywhere just search for it.

End of January Report

Sup homies

January was productive. Fell short of a few goals, started some habits, failed to start others, February is a reset button.

I did 10 episodes of the Brother Trucker Book Club Podcast, to which you should subscribe. Only great things in the future there.

Several old Engines of Liberty drawings are on my Instagram page, you can see them there along with new works in progress.

I am still writing SLEEPLESS HOLLOW, my intended release for October.

There are other work-based considerations taking up my time, but forward movement is still happening, stay tuned here for details.

Peace out.

My Best Reads of 2018

With 6 days to go, my stats for the year are as follows:

Total books read: 138

Print/eBook: 38

Audiobook: 100

Re-reads: 14

Did not finish: 27 (adjusted total 111)

And now for the best!

Calvin, by Martine Leavitt. A schizophrenic boy is convinced he can make his visions go away if he crosses Lake Erie on foot and meets Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson.

Iron Gold, by Pierce Brown. Fourth of the Red Rising series, first in the follow-up trilogy. Gush gush gush.

Thunderhead, by Neal Shusterman. Second in his Arc of a Scythe trilogy, and worthy of its incredible first installment. My only knock was that it felt like the third act of the story was derailed by a need to add allegory to the 2016 US presidential election. Still, Shusterman told his story well, as always.

Shatter, by Aprilynne Pike. Second of two in AP’s excellent future corporate regency tale, billed as “Marie Antoinette meets Breaking Bad.”

MHM Sinners & Saints, by Larry Correia and John Ringo. Counted as one because of the series factor. I love Correia’s MHI world, and was shocked to find that I love Ringo’s take on it…almost more than the original. (Don’t shoot, Larry! I’m sure you agree.) A great tie-in trilogy with a stunner of an ending.

Quiet, by Susan Cain. Superb book on introversion, what it really is, how it manifests, why it is a benefit to society, and why all those Facebook pages kissing up to it are crap. Read this instead.

Only Human, by Sylvain Neuvel. Though this trilogy experienced a sophomore slump, the third installment brought it back around to greatness. Weird and unique, but ultimately brimming with imagination and an interesting view of life.

The Vanishing American Adult, by Ben Sasse. Did you watch those insane hearings this summer for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh? I mean before all the bogus rape accusations. If you remember the one Senator in the chamber who was saying anything at all that made sense, that was Ben Sasse. Read this book.

The Fantasy Fiction Formula, by Deborah Chester. Recommended to me by Lisa Mangum, this was a belter of a book that will one day make me a million dollars.

Dry, by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman. Hey, it’s Neal again! Dry talks about what would happen if southern California suddenly ran out of water. Crazy book, made all the more horrific because its premise isn’t that far off. While the actual occurrences are debatable, the self-interested human nature depicted in it is not.

80 years ago this Christmas, Karel Čapek died. So what?

Think about what sci-fi would look like without the term “robot” in it. Think of all the properties that would be vastly different, or gone altogether.

No C-3PO, and maybe no R2-D2 either.

Image result for c3po and r2d2 No Terminators, which probably means no breakthrough role for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Image result for schwarzenegger terminator

No Optimus Prime, no Autobots. No new Bumblebee movie this weekend.

Image result for optimus prime and autobots

Nope.

Image result for robocop

Sorry, childhood.

Image result for iron giant superman

Will Robinson died because nobody was there to warn him of danger.

Image result for will robinson robot

Virtually no career track for Isaac Asimov, as presently constituted. The dude wrote an entire library of robot stories.

Image result for isaac asimov robot books

Not to say someone else wouldn’t have eventually come up with the idea of man-shaped machine that could think for itself, and give it a name that would become universal around the world, but we’re going off of what did happen in our timeline.

The writer responsible for this massive genre cornerstone was none other than Czech author Karel Čapek, pronounced “kuh-RELL CHAP-eck,” who died on Christmas of 1938. Here is his Wikipedia article, and a picture of him.

Karel-capek.jpg

The term “robot” comes from a Czech word for “labor,” which was a central theme of the play he wrote, Rossum’s Universal Robots, set in a future where the robots performed manual tasks for humans, then eventually rose up and took over, and achieved sentience bit by bit.

Image result for karel capek rur

The play is about 60 pages long, and I meant to have read it before doing this post, but work and life have taken my focus and it fell down the list of priorities. Nevertheless, as we humans like to celebrate round numbers of anniversaries, I wanted to give his legend a boost on his 80th.

Personally I’m grateful for his work. Transformers and Terminator both came out in 1984, the year I was born, and they’ve had a massive influence on my creative work throughout my whole life. Robots have always been my thing and I’m sure I’ll write a lot of stories about them in different ways.

Between Stan Lee and Karel Čapek, I’ve been thinking a lot this fall about what kind of mark I want to leave on the creative world during my time. It will be a lot harder than it was in their day; competition is stronger and more plentiful, and it’s hard to stand out. Will I ever revolutionize sci-fi and fantasy like these men did? It is my hope, and can only happen if I work at it.

I do have the great fortune to stand on the shoulders of giants in my time. Thanks for your stories, Karel Čapek. Keep resting in peace, and Merry Christmas to you all.

Now get back to work.

Reading Roundup, Christmas Edition

Ever since I got a Deseret Bookshelf account, I’ve been blitzen’ Christmas books WHOOOOOO that’s a solid Dad Joke.

ALL MADE OF HINGES, edited by James Wymore. First of a three-volume set of “Mormon Steampunk” short stories, and many of these were very inventive. I personally enjoyed “Napoleon’s Tallest Teamster.” Full disclosure, I have a story in this series, but not in this volume–mine comes out in March.

CHRISTMAS BY ACCIDENT, by Camron Wright. Basically a cheesy Hallmark story, but it’s pretty meta because it’s about a dude who gets fired from his job and decides to write a Christmas book because he “can write this crap.” Which has to be what Camron Wright was thinking when he wrote this, and he did a very good job.

CHRISTMAS EVE 1914 by Charles Olivier. Excellent full-cast narration of the events leading up to the Christmas Truce between England and Germany in WW1. I had heard this story before, but this was the first time it was REAL to me.

LIEUTENANT TERRY’S CHRISTMAS FUDGE, by Gerald Lund. True story of an Army Air Force bombardier pilot whose plane crashed in France, and he subsequently became a POW mere weeks after getting married. While his wife was pregnant, he was locked up by the Germans, and spent Christmas 1942 in a camp. The eponymous fudge comes into play then. As “true meaning of Christmas” books go, this one is great.

We are coming up on the end of the year, peeps. As of today I have read 133 books, and finished 106 of them. I will give a full stat breakdown after Christmas.

Not that any of you out there are reading this blog. Get back to work.