I can now call myself a published author

Yep, that’s right. I actually made a sale. One of my short stories was accepted by the online sci-fi magazine Ray Gun Revival (www.raygunrevival.com), and it will be published soon. The pay was small, but the validation and encouragement more than make up for it. I’m really excited. I’ll post more when I know more. So, for now, know that I’m one happy guy.

Also, I’ll be off this weekend to Comic-Con in San Diego (which in German means a whale’s vagina – true story). I’ve been looking forward to this since I failed to go to last year’s Comic-Con. I purchased four day tickets for my wife and myself as soon as they were available. I’m hoping to sit in on a lot of panels, and maybe get an interview or two that I can play on my podcast. Wish me luck! Either way, I know I’m going to have a good time. I’ll also be snapping pictures like crazy, so expect to see some of those.

Anyway, bye for now!!

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Ten Writers I Enjoy And Admire – Entry 4

Robert Heinlein. The man is a Grandmaster of science fiction, and in my opinion one of the greatest writers of American letters yet born. For me, what he did best was to put humanity back into a genre that is too often accused of being cold and technology oriented. His stories were always about the people, about the human condition, and sci-fi was just the setting he chose to do that with, though he does use plenty of science and technologican themes as well, but always and only in service to the people. I wish I’d been able to meet the man before he left us.

Now, as for which of his works that I liked best, I have to go with “Time Enough For Love.” A lot of people mention “Stranger In A Strange Land” or “Starship Troopers” as being favorites, and both of those are great novels, but I always liked his Lazarus Long character the best, and “Time Enough For Love” is the best of the LL stories. “To Sail Beyond The Sunset” is another great novel, and it is a LL book once removed (it’s about his mother), and I also enjoyed “Fear No Evil” (the story of a rich old man who has his brain transplanted into the body of a young woman – he doesn’t know that’s where he’s going when he dies – and finds that her spirit is still in the body).

Let me end this post by saying that I adore Heinlein, I wish I’d known him, and I can only hope to one day be a fraction as good as he was. Everyone should read his work, even if they aren’t sci-fi fans.

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Ten Writers I Enjoy And Admire – Entry 3

Today I want to talk about J. Michael Straczynski. The man is a prolific writer, involved in projects in just about every medium you can imagine, but for me his greatest achievement is, and always shall be, the television series “Babylon 5.” For those who never watched it (and shame on you), Babylon 5 was the story of humans and aliens trying to build a future together on a space station. The first three Babylon stations were destroyed while being built, and the fourth one mysteriously disappeared just before going live, but Babylon 5 made it to completion, and it served as the platform for communication and understanding. When JMS created the show, he envisioned it in its entirety as a five year story, and that was how he pitched it to Warner Bros. And, incredibly, they said yes. Of the show’s 110 episodes, he wrote 91 of them, and he oversaw damn near every aspect of every episode. Sadly, even though the WB said they would give him his five years, later on they cut it to four, so he had to radically alter his timeline and change a great number of elements. In a strange twist, the TNT cable network picked up the show and gave him his fifth season, but of course that was after he’d truncated the five year story to four, so he had to take stories he’d removed and rework them for that final season, which in the end gave the show an uneven feel. Be that as it may, I think Babylon 5 is one of the greatest science fiction stories ever told, and certainly one of the greatest TV series. I think only the new Battlestar Galactica trumpts it in the sci-fi genre.

Now, what is it that made me love Babylon 5? First, it was the fact that JMS never let it JUST be a sci-fi story. I always felt like it had more of a “Lord Of The Rings” feel than anything else. The stories went to places I never imagined they would go, characters actually died off, and the stakes were always incredibly high. I loved the different characters, and each of them was true to their motivations, even if if made them do bad things. JMS never compromised his story or his characters to make them more palatable. And, I think most importantly for me, he had real vision. An example of that are the two big alien races in the story. On the one side of the conflict you have the Vorlons, who are supposed to be the good guys. In the show, their philosophy is represented in the statement, “Who are you?” On the other side of the conflict you have the supposed bad guys, the Shadows. Their philosophy is, “What do you want?” Now, those seem like simple questions, but they really aren’t, and how you answer them says everything about who you really are. And, by the end of the show, who is good and who is bad is not so easy to say.

Anyway, I loved Babylon 5. I thought it asked questions that no other show asked, and it told its story with characters who were real, who were epic, and who surprised you. If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend you do so ASAP.

JMS also wrote a comic book series that I greatly enjoyed called “Rising Stars.” “Rising Stars” was about a group of people who were born with special abilities after a mysterious ball of light flew over the town their mothers were in while they were in utero. It followed their lives, showing how a world would react to people with super powers, and how those “Specials” would react to that world. As with JMS’s other work, the stories and characters all felt honest and true, and the writing was top notch. There have been parallels drawn between Rising Stars and two TV shows – The 4400 and Heroes. And, I have to say, if JMS ever wanted to sue over it, he has a strong case, and some situations and characters are too similar to be coincidence.

And, with that, I bring this entry to a close. Babylon 5 is a show that is close to my heart, and I know that it has influenced my outlook on the sci-fi genre. I wouldn’t be writing what I am today, I don’t think, without it.

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Ten Writers I Enjoy And Admire – Entry 2

Today’s writer I’m going to talk about is Bill Willingham. Now, I’m sure that almost none of you know who he is. Up until just recently, I hadn’t either. But, several months ago I started getting back into comic books, and one title that people mentioned to me over and over again was “Fables.” Figuring it was worth a shot, I picked up the first trade collection, and within seconds I was in love. “Fables” is an incredibly well written book, and the inventiveness of it makes me so jealous.

Basically, “Fables” puts forward the idea that all of the stories that we grew up with (Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Pinocchio, etc.) are all real, and once upon a time they lived in a faraway place called the Homelands. But, a terrible power rises that they call The Adversary, and they all have to flee the Homelands to live here in our world. Now they live in a borough of New York called Fabletown, living lives much like we do, though of course with a twist. The series follows their struggles in our world, with their war with the Adversary coming to a head as well. The dialogue is sharp as a knife, the characters are all well drawn (pardon the pun), and their adventures are a delight to read. I look forward to each and every trade as they come out (Volume 10 just dropped, and it’s sitting next to me, waiting…).

Anyway, every time I read Bill Willingham’s words I find myself elated and inspired. I can only hope to one day be as good as he is.

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Ten Writers I Enjoy And Admire – Entry 1

Hey robots, I thought that an interesting exercise woud be to make a list of ten writers who have greatly influenced me, who have given me the drive to hit the keyboard, and who astound me by their level of creativity and talent. This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor would I dare to say that these are the ten greatest writers ever born. This is just a list of people I admire and enjoy from a variety of fields. I also won’t be putting them in a descending order of appreciation either. I’m just going to post them up. Feel free to post your comments.

Now, on with the show…

For my first writer, I want to surprise you and go with someone that we probably have never talked about on the show. That person is Charlie Kaufman. He is a movie writer, and some of the scripts he’s penned include “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation,” “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Kaufman’s scripts are always intriguing and inventive, but it’s “Eternal Sunshine” that, for me, puts him near the top of the Hollywood heap. It is just a brilliant and searing story, one that I will never forget.

For those who’ve never seen it, “Eternal Sunshine” is a story about a man named Joel (played so incredibly by Jim Carrey) who decides that he wants to have the memory of his relationship with former girlfriend Clementine (played by Kate Winslet, one of my actress crushes) erased from his mind. In the world of this story, there is a company that can do that, and early on he finds out that Clementine had him erased from her mind. So, in a fit of anger and sadness, he goes to have the same process performed. The rest of the movie follows Joel as his memories are erased, and we watch as he realizes how much he cherishes those memories, even if they hurt. He fights so hard in the film to hold on to them, to keep his love and pain, only to have them taken one by one. By the end of the film, I was as devastated as he was, but even there, in the final minutes, you realize that there’s hope. Just an incredibly story told masterfully well, and I think it will haunt me (in a good way) for the rest of my life.

And isn’t that what good storytelling is all about? So thank you, Mr. Charlie Kaufman. Thank you very much.

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[Justin]: Not a bad weekend

Justin wrote:

My weekend started out pretty darn poor. On Wednesday (which is my “Friday,” so to speak) I had to stop and get some gas, and while I was filling up the tank I thought that it might be time to introduce something a little more solid to my diet. Truth be told, I was just […]

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[Justin]: Life, or something like that…

Justin wrote:

It seems like I’m always lamenting the fact that I don’t post here often enough. I think the reason I don’t come by more often is because I doubt that there is anyone out there who cares all that much about what I’m doing in my life. I mean, we all have lives to lead, […]

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The Clockwork Heart, an audio production by Justin Macumber

** Click HERE to download **

Hello, everybody! This is a special download for you Dead Robots, though I guess its specialness is up for you to decide. I wrote this short story a little while ago, and this past week I decided to try and make an audio drama out of it. One reason is because the story is a simple one, and it would be the easiest of my work to try it with. Another reason is that I’m thinking of doing an audio production of another, longer, story, and doing this shorter one would let me test the waters and get a little experience. All in all, I enjoyed doing this. It isn’t perfect, though. I made a few mistakes along the way. Hopefully they were all for a greater purpose. I hope you enjoy the story, and please send feedback.

You can read the text form of this story at my website.

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[Justin]: This place could use a good dusting…

Justin wrote:

I’ve been busy. Busy enough, at least, that sitting here and telling you about what was doing and needws to do seemed too time consuming. Why talk about it when I can actually just get on with getting it done, right? Right. But, now that I have a moment to spare, I figured I would […]

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[Justin]: It’s true what they say…

Justin wrote:

… art is never finished, only abandoned. That becomes more real to me every time I read my work. No matter how many times I go over it and make changes, I learn something new or realize something, and suddenly I know of a way to improve my writing. It’s frustrating, but it’s also wonderful.
I’m saying […]

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