I’m Super, Thanks For Asking

New episode here, about superhero novels.

“Arsenal” (Full Metal Superhero) by Jeffery Haskell, no real content warning.

“Ex-Heroes” by Peter Clines, content warning for language, violence, and sexuality. It gets intense, but the story is really strong.

https://anchor.fm/brotruckbooks/episodes/Ep-038-Im-Super-Thanks-For-Asking-e3tmqv

Around here, we celebrate Dread-ful years

Woot woot, sawlid Dad Joke.

2018 sucked for a lot of people in a lot of ways, myself included. That’s just life. Then again, none of my family died, we’re all healthy and I still have a job. Not too much to complain about here at DreadPennies.

January was chill as all hell, no pun intended. I did my first ever author event at a library in Tremonton, Utah. It was an excuse to get out of town and have a quiet anniversary weekend with the wife.

February I taught at LTUE about how to wreck different vehicles in different ways. Also somebody hit my dog with their car so I hope their car wrecks.

March saw more gym time because I was a massive fatty and needed to stop the train. I didn’t lose any weight but I benched 250 for the first time.

April Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters, and the Internet was instantly flooded with dusty people memes. What a movie. Also I sold a short story.

May At work we landed a huge contract for a job to clean up a diesel spill in the desert. I would spend most of my summer driving boxes full of dirt across Utah. Easy easy money.

June My friend Ryan gave me a motorcycle. The baseline for friendship leveled up significantly.

July We took a family trip to Yellowstone for our birthdays, and I saw a bison up close for the first time! Also, the acidic caldera smells a lot like an oil refinery. Nature is pretty bad for nature.

August I finally lost weight when the wife made me do Jillian Michaels workouts in the mornings. Then a routine pipe job at work ended up dislocating my shoulder. Not my best summer ending, more on that later.

September We all welcomed the fall with open arms, and there was much anticipation for a change in the Sunday schedule at church. Also, as the dirt job slowed down, refinery work picked up. I started 60+ hour weeks.

October I did Inktober for the first time and it was a ton of fun. Even got paid to do it! I was on standby at work and had my sketchbook in the truck.

November I got paid to write! Same sitch as Inktober. Also, after looking forward to Thanksgiving for months, I got sick with strep for the weekend. Ugh. But I took the wife to see The Scarlet Pimpernel so the weekend wasn’t a total loss.

December For the first time in a long time, I think I finally found real meaning in the great Christmas holiday, without being super bummed that it was over. God bless us every one (said without irony.)

And now begins the resetting of the apocalypse clock, as 2019 rolls in and I take the long view of what I will accomplish next year.

Will I bore you with it here?

Hell no.

Just get ready for adventure. Fill your life with it. Live for something more than the grind. Strive. Struggle. Achieve.

And get back to work.

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.

So begins the avalanche of Christmas books!

When Thanksgiving lands on the 22nd, we will have what is mathematically the longest Christmas season possible at 33 days. Get your reading in.

I started with the audio of this gem by Tolkien, who wrote letters to his kids from Santa Claus and his Polar Bear. This book collects those annual Christmas Eve letters, some of which ran contemporaneously with World War 2.

Overall it was good, and some of it even ties in with his Middle-Earth races. I’ve heard the print edition is illustrated so that is cool.

That is all I really have for now, it has been a rough week for reading, but more will come.