Snakes alive

A fun day getting sunburned yesterday in the foothills beyond Taipei, somewhere east of Danshui, which is north of Taipei, while cycling with Troy Parfitt, fellow author, recently returned to these climes. A series of 45 degree slopes and constant reassurances that 'this is definitely the last hill, I swear', did nothing to detract from my suspicion that this was some carefully orchestrated murder plot.

Then I nearly decapitated a snake. Damn think looked like a big green leaf rolled up on the road. The road was surrounded on all sides by, essentially, jungle. Troy shouted a warning from behind me, I looked down, and thought: that's no leaf. I yelped and swerved and, apparently, avoided crushing the damn thing's head by about a millimetre.

I am assured the snake was a lot more freaked out than I was. 


Some Thoughts Regarding the Cancellation of Community

Community is one of my favourite things. Or was, until I read the other day it had, at last,  been cancelled. But I've followed the show from the start, and am willing to say that when it was at its best it was quite possibly the best thing on television, period.

(As a brief aside, if I had any criticism at all, it was that the show did suffer at times from a very American addiction to 'lessons': characters learned 'lessons' in the course of their adventures in a way that causes almost anyone outside of the USA - and, I suspect, a great many within that country's borders - to throw up in their mouths a little. The one great, uh, lesson American television comedy gained from Seinfeld was how much better a show could be when lessons were resoundingly given the boot. But Community's saving grace was the singular genius show-runner Dan Harmon brought to the mix.)

Now there are suggestions the show could conceivably be revived for future seasons through online services like Netflix, Hulu or even Amazon, a strategy that has apparently worked for other shows. I can't say how successful that's been for those shows, because I never watched them. But it happened, and continues to happen, and so there can be life after apparent (network) death.

Now I'd like to make a proposal regarding Community's future, and how it could be kept fresh for further seasons, should they ever come to pass. It does struggle, at times, to find ways to justify the continued presence of much-loved characters within the bounds of the college in which it is set. Which makes me think about the British TV series Skins, which would, every season or so, replace its entire cast.

Its entire cast.

How to keep Community fresh? Replace the entire cast with new admissions to the college. Give that study room to a batch of new students. Some faces may remain the same: Jeff Winger, now a teacher at the college. The Dean. One might even see the possibility of a future return for Donald Glover's Troy as the new head of building maintenance. Assuming there's any need for multimillionaire heads of building maintenance (assuming he completes that round the world trip).

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for something you really love, and that's already given you enormous returns, is to wipe the slate clean and find a fresh cast. And just to remind you - in no way is this a criticism of the current cast. They're fantastic. But if Community were truly to continue, one thing the writers should at least have on the table - next to the coffee and the doughnuts - is a question: who are the next batch of students?

And if it doesn't continue, well, that last episode wrapped things up nicely for all of that. 


Upcoming: Extinction Game & Marauder paperback.

Things are quiet here while I blast through the (mostly completed) first draft of the sequel to Extinction Game, which itself isn't due out for another couple of months.

People often ask, what's your next book? When's it coming out?

And I say, well there's this one, that was out six months ago; but there's also this one, that's coming three months from now. And right now, I'm writing a sequel to that. Also, I should mention that about the same time as the new one comes out in hardback, there'll be a paperback edition of the one out last year...'

...and then they get this kind of glassy-eyed look and back away.

I'm finding it harder these days to say so much here in the blog because anything I can talk about, a hundred people are already discussing. There's a crapload of stuff I could talk about, but...I just don't have the energy to get into arguments. There are plenty of people out there far more skilled than me at stating their cases. I could, but that's time and energy I could use instead on writing stuff for which I actually get paid. And I'm not in the habit of stating my case regarding anything until I've researched it thoroughly, or at least feel I have a solid grasp on it, and that preference itself precludes much of what I could say from being said.

Sometimes, I start writing essays, on things I think are interesting, but they often wind up as half-finished drafts because what I want to say, I want to say right. And then I run out of time, or simply forget about them. And by the time I remember, the internet has moved on.

So for the moment let's just say things are rolling along, and I'm settling into the apartment I now live in, in Taipei. So there's that.

It's that time of year when I do tell you what's coming next. July sees the publication of the paperback edition of Marauder, which first came out last year in hardback. Here's the cover of that forthcoming paperback.

After that, in September, the hardback of my next, and newest, book comes out: Extinction Game. You've already seen the cover.

 Here's the outside cover blurb for the hardback (ie what goes on the back cover when you pick it up and flip it around):

There’s an old story I once read that starts like this: The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door. Except for me it wasn’t a knock, just some muddy tracks in a field that told me I was not, as I had long since come to believe, the last living human being.
But before I found those tracks and my world changed in ways I couldn’t even have begun to imagine, I stood in front of a mirror and wondered whether or not this would be the day I finally blew my brains out.
Click, bam, and no more Jerry Beche. No more last man on Earth.
Just an empty house, and the wind and the trees, and the animals that had inherited the deserted cities and towns.

Essentially, it's just the first few paragraphs of the book. But it feels really effectivc, I think, isolated and put on the cover like this. Here's the Amazon link, although obviously you'll be able to find it plenty of other places as well from which to buy it.

Here's the inside flap blurb, which is the same as you'll find on its Amazon page:

Jerry Beche should be dead. But instead of dying alone, he's been rescued from a desolated earth where he was the last man alive. He's then trained for the toughest conditions imaginable and placed with a crack team of specialists. Each one is also a survivor, as each one withstood the violent ending of their own versions of earth. And their specialism - to retrieve weapons and data in missions to other dying worlds. But who is the shadowy organization that rescued them? How do they access other timelines, and why do they need these instruments of death?
As Jerry struggles to obey his new masters, he starts distrusting his new companions. A strange bunch, their motivations are less than clear, and accidents start plaguing their missions. Jerry suspects the organization is lying to them, and team members are spying on him. As a dangerous situation spirals into fatal, who can he really trust?

In the meantime, I'm working on the sequel to Extinction Game. The working title is Extinction Road, but it's highly unlikely to have that title by the time it reaches publication. It might be called The Heim Sphere, or Pathfinders, or The Novy Empire, or something entirely different: hopefully inspiration will strike before that point.