Star Trek Discovery “The Wolf Inside” Review 

All hail the Empire

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Discovery brings us an episode in which stuff happens and Reddit looks down at the unwashed masses like us with an upturned nose and a sense of superiority. In other words: Monday.

A few weeks ago I read a Reddit post that, for once, didn’t analyze a weekly show that was written and plotted in one go, essentially telegraphing certain elements of story that won’t be as noticeable during a binge. In that post, a fan complained about Discovery airing on CBS All Access, essentially removing it from the cultural discussion entirely outside of a few people. What I have to say to that is: hahaha, now you know how we feel, American pleb!

In all fairness though, it is a valid concern, yet one that, for once, I cannot share. Discovery has been the first time ever that I am able to experience a Trek show as it airs and talk about it with friends and other “people” from around the globe. As a viewing experience it’s second to none and most definitely an experience that would have been lost on us by dumping an entire season on us three months ago. Our feelings on Discovery change and evolve as the first season is still airing, while the people behind the show prepare for season 2, and while events outside of nerddom influence our opinions.

In regards to Discovery, this most recent Mirror Universe episode has proven one thing to me if nothing else: Discovery doesn’t follow very much in the footsteps of DS9. DS9’s storytelling was very deliberate (that’s a nice word for slow), it’s a couple of episodes that advance the ongoing story, then a bunch of stand-alones that build on the premise and build character to influence the next series of events. That is not the storytelling of Discovery at all. This show does very much feel like a continuing serial. It takes a lot of the high concept storylines from the TOS era and gives them some time to breath. Nowhere is this more apparent than in this series of episodes. There is a consistent theme and we are given time to appreciate it. In many ways it’s an approach to storytelling that Enterprise showrunner Manny Coto pioneered. And like with most new approaches it took a while to get it right. Discovery has. Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery “The Wolf Inside” Review “

Pariah Company (Part 2)

On to part 2 of Pariah Company Le Reject Version. If everything works out and I’m not lazy the real version might come out in Q3 2018. I like to take my time.

Here there be dragons. It had been the first thing the ship’s captain had told him the moment they sighted land. More so than any place in the world, Western Europe had been chosen by the Great Dragons as their favorite home for more than a thousand years and counting. Wherever they went, the landscape changed. Misty mountains, swooping meadows, castles in the mountains long abandoned and now nesting places for wild wyverns. It truly was a strange land of mystic opportunities and possibilities far from which Achilleos had ever dreamed of one day seeing.

He shouldered his sack from the right to the left shoulder as he walked through the forests that still marked the majority of Germania as they had in the days he had last been here. He took a deep breath. Gone was the salt of the sea, the odor of North Africa, the dry heat of Arabia, not to mention the one-thousand-and-one corns of sand still somehow stuck between his toes over nine-hundred leagues from the sands of Arabia Felix. It would do for now.

Achilleos started whistling just then. An old tune learned by heart many hundred years ago. It was the song his mother sung to him of his father, the great explorer, who never returned, a song of love and sorrow that seemed to fit the general mood of this great forest. The road was well traveled, laid out with stone no less, with wagons passing him by left and right, forcing him to dance in between, bringing to mind memories of the great feasts and dances of the Orient. Promptly he stepped off the beaten path, making his way in the undergrowth. The ground was slowly but steadily rising, coming up against the high mountain in the distance on which fate urged him to climb for which he might see the entire region and orient himself properly. He had, somewhat, missed his turn. Reorienting himself would solve this problem right then and there. His sharp eye even saw a small castle high up. It would make for a fine observation post, maybe a way to rest for the night. His walk crouched as the incline got stepper. His tune changed, becoming the call of the adventurer, a strange music played on bongos by the people of China in his honor but fifty years ago. It seemed fitting. His whistling grew louder until the birds in the trees returned his call, making the entire area fill with music.

“Quiet there, you stupid idiot,” a voice hissed suddenly.

Achilleos looked around. The voices of the birds were quickly dying down. Nothing was around him. Could the birds in this region talk? It might be so because of the proximity of Great Dragons and their fascinating magic. He shrugged his shoulders and looked back to his climb, now rising with the need of his bare hands grabbing upon granite as brown earth and trees slowly disappeared behind him. Again he started whistling.

Again came the strange voice: “Keep your fucking hole shut, do you want to get us all killed?!”

Achilleos looked around once again. It had definitely not been an imaginary voice. But he still couldn’t see anyone. He climbed up again, near a pass that wound around the mountain, allowing access to the castle. He could have taken that of course, but he needed some upper body exercise. Bronze muscles sculpted by the finest training the world had to offer had to be maintained or it would bring shame on two millenia of hard work and dedication. As he placed his first foot on the path, rising to stand straight for the first time in twenty minutes of free climbing, someone grabbed him by the shoulder as he was already starting another song, roughly shoving him against the wall with a strength Achilleos, champion of the Gods of Old, found surprising.

“Not one more tone of you, man-bear.”

He stared into the muzzle of a firestick. No, musket they called it in these regions. He had seen them pop up here and there lately over the last two centuries. The mortals were funny creatures. Still, he had no idea if they could harm him, so he quieted down for the moment, if only to be polite. “Greetings, fellow traveler.”

It was a man wearing peculiar robes of green and black, with a small cloak draped over one shoulder, a sword on the side, a small fire stick on his hip, a long one in the hands, currently pointed straight at his magnificent nose. Achilleos’ face lit up, showing his teeth as pearly white as the day he left his island so many years before. “I’m sorry my music disturbed you. I assure you, there are others I have, if they were not to your liking.”

They shushed him again, the tall one pulling back the hammer. “Quiet. Do you want to get us both killed? What is wrong with you, ogre?”

“My name is Achilleos, friend, not ogre,” Achilleos offered nicely and in a hushed tone as to please the man. While he had been taught to be courteous at all times, the had learned the hard way to be much  more so when faced with the possibility of death, as unlikely as it was for one of his standing, of course. But what were manners if none paid any attention to them?

The firestick was now lowered, the hammer slowly pushed down in its resting position. The strange man rolled his eyes and rubbed his stubbled chin. It was graying as much as the hair on his head, reminding him of the offers of a spice merchant he had known in far off Mosul. “You’re not from this region, are you, stranger?”

“Indeed, I am not, friend Greybeard,” Achilleos answered in the quietest whisper his booming organ could muster. “I am Achilleos, nephew to Achilles, son of…”

“Yeah, how you’re doing, save your breath, air’s getting thin in these parts,” the older stranger said, peering up the side of the mountain, taking a knee and going for his water bottle. Continue reading “Pariah Company (Part 2)”

Star Trek Discovery “Despite Yourself” Review

Captain Killy Strikes Again

Star Trek Discovery is back and they’re in the mirror universe. That was a pleasant surprise. What was more of a pleasant surprise was seeing the reactions of people who had previously been dismissive of Discovery. Now on with the review:

In many ways the mirror universe has always been one of those concepts from TOS that nobody was able to build upon properly in the fifty years since it first appeared. And that’s because it’s kinda camp and silly. And that’s what’s so lovable about it. Deep Space Nine tried to have it both ways by being both campy and serious, but failed at it. So far Discovery seems to veer away from both previously tried approaches and goes with a dramatic serial that allows characters to experience new elements of their personality and travel down a road not taken. Bringing back the Shenzou and the characters that Burnham saw die in the pilot was a fantastic move. Now that Burnham has already made ammends with Saru and by taking down the Ship of the Dead, it was hard for me to tell what would next happen with the character. You can now see that the loss of the Shenzou and her captain is something she will always carry with her.

The episode also benefits from being part of a longer on-going story arc with the T’Rell/Tyler plot and set against the backdrop of having to return home quickly in order to save the Federation from the Klingon cloaking tech. The Tyler plot itself now seems to be exactly what Reddit suspected a good two months ago, similar to what happened with the Man in Black on Westworld the year prior… okay, here’s what I think about it: Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery “Despite Yourself” Review”

Top 5 Things I Learned About Self-Publishing in 2017

Yeah, it has come to this: a Top 5 list. Oh sue me, I need the clicks.

1.) Use your Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Days whenever you can

Cannot stress this enough: you have five days of free promotions per quarter. Use them. I used them all five days in a row this January as a new year’s present and got an amazing 205 downloads out of it. Where there were none before (20 downloads in the tree months prior surely don’t count), there are now more than 200 people who might read it one day and if only a small percentage of these people actually review the book it will have been worth it. For future promotions I would recommend going with a weekend and a long weekend spread out over the three-month period. And stay on Kindle, it is the best way to get anywhere.

2.) Social Media: focus on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit

Social media is the best tool for self-promotion. I mainly use Twitter for link sharing because of the hashtag feature. Facebook and Reddit are even better tools but also multi-functional. I already use Facebook groups to communicate with far-away friends and people of similar interests and thus you don’t feel to bad to do some networking and self-promotion on top of it all. It will also mean that others are more inclined to listen what you have to say. Continue reading “Top 5 Things I Learned About Self-Publishing in 2017”

Tales from the Bin: Pariah Company (Part 1)

Since I don’t feel like wasting my reject writing projects anymore, I thought people might get a kick out of this. So I have this 70-ish page novella lying around that’s basically the A-Team that I’m not going to continue in this fashion, so I figured I might as well share it over the course of a month or two to generate at least some regular content. So have “fun”.

Pariah Company

The Multiverse (Earth 7538) – The Year 1581 A.D.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Hermann Voigt of the United Kingdom of Greater Brandenburg stepped into a stinking wyvern turd. It had just lied there, directly in front of his office. The upper-mid level bureaucrat glared left and right. Men-at-arms, handmaidens, smiths, all seemingly aware of what had just occurred and simultaneously busy looking innocently elsewhere. Voigt sighed, counted silently to fünf, and continued his walk, hastening his pace.

The city of Hamburg had never been intended to be a capital of a kingdom, and it showed these days. As such the fourth most important bureaucrat in the state had to be content with walking to the palace on foot, as the streets were blocked by cavalrymen, wyvern riders trying to pick up fair maidens, and the city watch trying to keep – and failing to – keep order. No way a litter could navigate the streets in the middle of rush hour and so he had to both walk at a brisk pace and stop every few meters to try and get the remnants of wyvern lunch from his best leather boots while not trying to step into any more.

Voigt cursed under his breath even has people made way for him, which was hard in the winding cobbled streets between all the carts and mustering soldiers, but they managed to make it worth. “Make way, make way for the deputy vice chancellor,” some helpful voice screamed in the local dialect that Voigt barely understood in anything but vague meaning. As the streets cleared for him as best as they could he could finally dare to raise his eyes from the filthy streets of hay, stone, and feces, to look up ahead where the main donjon of the new castle stood proud in the distance near the harbor: Lindwurm Keep. It was a magnificent side for all the squalor and grimness of the port town’s city center, a shining beacon for the future yet to come. If it was to come at all. It was why Voigt had no idea why the leadership had called for him at this point. Every moment away from his papers, reports, and charts was a moment the city wasn’t growing, a moment the realm was in danger of running out of money, and other hyperbolic statements he was currently preparing to throw at their lordships’ faces if it was another meeting about the gentry and merchants complaining about the new zoning laws.

The walk to the magnificent Keep took Voigt another twenty minutes in which both his boots had been cleaned by the rough streets, and his temper had cooled once again. As he approached the guards at the main gate, he was glad to see at least some of the troops had been issued with the new flintlock muskets from the Helgoland mission. They stood at attention as he passed, hiding his smile under his broad feathered hat. Last time they had asked for papers as they had not been informed that Voigt had followed the current trend of appearing clean-shaven before court. That had been fun for at least one party involved.

He was quickly ushered in through the gates and up through the several staircases, side doors, hallways, more doors, more staircases, and the grand hall itself, brightly lit at all times, as servants walked around with baby wyverns and candles in one hand and a bucket of sand in the other. What a marvelous modern age it truly was.
The footmen saw Voigt approaching from over a hundred meters away, but waited until the last moments to turn, knock, and then open the doors just as he nose came into reach, shouting: “His lordship, Hermann Freiherr Voigt, Deputy Vice Chancellor to his Majesty Leopold…”
“In, Goddammit, in with him!” Continue reading “Tales from the Bin: Pariah Company (Part 1)”

Writing Update: Historian’s Crusade on Goodreads

I swear, next time I update this site it will be an article or short story or something. But I wanted to say thank you to everyone who downloaded Historian’s Crusade over the past five days and got it to 200 downloads. I hope everyone is enjoying it.

Second: I found that I have a presence on Goodreads thanks to getting published on Amazon. So check it out if you haven’t and maybe follow the author and his put-upon illustrator:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37787876-historian-s-crusade

Historian’s Crusade Available FOR FREE – Happy 2018

Get your copy now for free on Amazon in every region

First of all, Happy 2018, everyone!

2017 was a great year for me, both on a personal level and creatively. I managed to write/complete two books, the second of which will release sometime in the first quarter of 2018. I know not everyone was as happy as me this year, and to those I want to say and wish that I believe you can make 2018 your year.

And for New Year’s Day 2018 all the way through January 5th Historian’s Crusade will be available for free on Amazon IN EVERY REGION. Get your copy, share it, have some fun on me. Also many thanks to Peter for updating the cover to make it more readable in thumbnails.