A Brief Interruption of Your Regular Programming

Recently my sister alerted me to the existence of Storium, a free online game that basically gives rules to the creation of a collaborative novel – you come up with a world, create your characters, and then work together on a story. There are things like challenge cards, subplots, objectives – all the things needed to create a great game. And you can follow along with a game’s progress even without participating – which is entertaining in its own right!

I started a game recently known as “Jenkins’ Renegade Wizards” recently. The concept is inspired by – but not based on – Miyazaki’s version of “Howl’s Moving Castle”. Here is the description:

The kingdom of Velia is a prosperous kingdom, readily embracing new technology and the dawn of a more fast-paced and industrial era.

It is also a kingdom at war with itself.

Both Queen Isabella the Great and King Justianian the Noble claim their sides to be righteous, but the truth is far less certain. The Wizards, men and women who have dedicated their lives to the study of magic and sorcery, have done as ordered: Reported to their rulers and chosen sides in the conflict…or most of them.

The Wizard Jenkins, the oldest wizard in Velia, detests the pointless and barbaric war, and the destruction it inflicts on innocents. Secretly he recruits a group of renegade wizards to aid him in his efforts to protect civilians from harm.

But Isabella and Justinian aren’t ready to cede control of their wizards just yet. And what they have planned next may be more than Jenkins’ Renegades have bargained for. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the dragons…

The “cast” is great and made up almost entirely of professional writers, including me, my brother and sister, Josh Young, Corey McCleery, and David Hallquist. Scene one was only recently posted.

Check it out! Looks like it’s going to be a fun time. Feel free to comment in the lobby.

The Superversive in Games: Final Fantasy XV and the Power of Brotherhood

Final Fantasy XV took a decade to get to market. Its time in Development Hell is legendary, even for a business notorious for long delays and other production problems. When it arrived this year, the hype train had built up quite a bit of steam and its demo had shown some serious promise of both fun gameplay and a story that you will invest in. I won’t be talking gameplay here; that’s for another venue. Here, I’m talking story.

Is the story in this game good, as it “well-done”? Yes, to the point where some players who really ought to know better actually miss its key points due to their subtlety. I won’t name the guilty here, but one woman who finished the game had a ranting melt-down during her livestream while the credits rolled because she couldn’t get why the hero and his companions were so choked up at the end.

It’s Superversive because of two elements: the story, brick-to-face in its obviousness, is about sustaining and rebuilding the fundamental cultural institutions against a wicked enemy bent on their destruction. Your character is the crown prince, and his story involves undergoing the changes necessary to attain the maturity that a true and faithful king must possess to successfully fulfill his duty to his people and country. His companions are life-long friends, with him through thick and thin, even unto the end of all things.

The game’s theme features the power, strength, and necessity of brotherhood in the development of boys into men- such that the cultivation of virtue (without which overcoming the villain is impossible, thematically) is difficult, if not impossible, without it. If I recommend anything, it’s for fathers to play this game with their sons, because there’s something so strongly inclined to the male experience that it would be a waste to not take the opportunity to use this story to show what being a man is about- and that you should not do it alone.

Superversive? ABSOLUTELY! (The gameplay is solid for the franchise, so don’t worry there.) And once you hear Florence Welch sing “Stand By Me” at the end, you will never forget it. Best use of licensed music in a videogame this year, by far, and once you get to the end you will understand why. Recommended. Totally.

Astounding Frontiers Issue 3 is Out Now!

Astounding Frontiers Issue 3 is out now on Amazon. Experience post-apocalyptic battles against carnivorous chickenmen, razor storms, vicious chitinous cave creatures, being trapped at the bottom of an impossibly deep ocean, a motorcycle chase across the plains and valleys of Mars, and more!

Grab your copy now

Buy Now

Wonder is the Fire Fueling the Superversive

You’re wanting to come join to the party, eh? Well, this pool gets pretty deep, so you’re going to want something to use as a diving platform, and that something is “wonder”.

  • n. One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration; a marvel: “The decision of one age or country is a wonder to another” ( John Stuart Mill).
  • n. The emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding, or marvelous: gazed with wonder at the northern lights.
  • n. An event inexplicable by the laws of nature; a miracle.

You’ve got to bring the wonder. It’s part-and-parcel of the Superversive, and the audience you’re looking to court wants it, seeks it out, and cherishes it as if it were a newborn child. Wonder is priceless, and in that moment of wonder you can do something so profound for the reader that–in satisfying their desire for entertainment–you give them something True and Beautiful, even if your work is a tragedy.

Go back. Look again at all your favorite stories, artworks, music, etc. and pay attention to those moments of wonder. Remember how you felt the first time you experienced those moments? Take another look above at those definitions; that’s your desired outcome from the reader. Pay that experience forward; give them the wonder that your predecessors gave unto you.

Don’t worry about how you’ll make that happen. You’ve got friends here, and you’ve got friends elsewhere who are no less dedicated to bringing that wonder back. Just ask, and we’ll find a way to help you learn how to bring it to the people.

Wonder shared is wonder multiplied, so share yours today. Join the Superversive chorus.

Tales of the Once and Future King pre-order is Out!

Tales of the Once and Future King by [Marchetta, Anthony, Marchetta, Mariel, Nealen, Peter, Schmidt, Matthew P., Newquist, Morgon, Finn, Declann, Shipley, Jonathan, Nachampassack-Maloney, Mandy, Daue, Katharina, Brumley, Bokerah]Tales of the Once and Future King, the new collaborative novel edited by Anthony and Mariel Marchetta and co-written with a combined 20 authors, is coming on September 30, and can be ordered on Amazon today!

Featuring eighteen stories by as many authors interspersed with a post-apocalyptic fairy tale, “Tales of the Once and Future King” is ambitious, fun, and something you don’t want to miss!

It is said that King Arthur will return in Britain’s hour of greatest need.

That time is coming.

Four travelers, searching for the Pendragon, are quickly embroiled in a plot to rescue the beloved of a banished forest lord. And while they concoct their desperate plan a Bard, the new Taliesin, regales them with stories: Tales of Knights, yes, but also tales of robots and vampires, music and monsters, airships and armies – tales to inspire heroism and hope. And when all seems lost, perhaps these tales will be their salvation.

This book is an anthology.
This book is a novel.
This book is a romance
This book is science fiction
This book is a fantasy

This is “Tales of the Once and Future King”

Pre-order your copy now!

A Review of the Death Note Anime

After encountering the trailer for the Death Note for Netflix, I looked up the general premise. Then I looked up a video on YouTube.Then I ended up binging the whole bloody show.

A Shinigami (A Japanese god of Death) named Ryuk is bored. His world is a mess, a disaster. On a lark, for something to do, he takes his death note–a black notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written down in it–and throws it down to Earth, just to see what happens.

Enter Light. Light Yagami is about to graduate high school. The son of a police officer, he finds the world grim, unchanging, and … boring. And then he finds this little black notebook. The Death Note comes with instructions, written in by Ryuk.Light reads the rules of the death note, and first tests it out on a hostage taker, and then a rapist in progress… and five days later, he has filled the Death Note with hundreds of names.

When Ryuk comes to Light to find the death note, and see what’s become of it, Light assumes a deal with the devil, and declares that “I will happily sacrifice my soul to make a better world.” But Ryuk explains that, no, the Death Note will not come with selling his soul, but “merely” forfeiting his place in Heaven or Hell. With that bit of new information, Light’s mission becomes all about him becoming a god, out to start the creation a new world, free of criminals. There’s little buildup to Light’s declaration. It’s just that sudden. But we have a show to start, and all of this is episode 1.

After the first thousand dead criminals, it becomes obvious to all that it is the work of a mass murderer, and he is labeled “Kira” — killer.

Over time, we see that Light is possibly one of the most evil SOBs I think I’ve ever seen outside of Sauron. Seriously, there’s not one person near him he doesn’t manipulate. He drives at least one person to suicide without using the death note. At least one person he spent 30 minutes of screen time with (IE: who knows how much in-story time with) and gets to know them, connect with them, realize what a good and loving person they are … and then kills them, because there’s a possibility that they know something that might expose him. Friends? What’s a friend? Ally? An ally is just a tool, a pawn, for his own convenience. Light needs no one. Light cares for no one but himself. Even his family seem to be of value to him only as an extension of Light’s own ego, and there are points in the plot where even they seem to be expendable.

At the end of the day, Light is charming and suave, and I have read blood-sucking vampires written by Ringo and Correia that have more humanity than this guy. It’s almost like they were trying to create Satan in human form.

But good God, it is hard to tell which of these people are scarier.  Light wants to be a god, and reshape the world where only “hardworking good people” exist. Light jumps onto this bandwagon fairly quickly. He goes from killing criminals, to killing cops investigating him, to ultimately deciding with one person “You have defied me, the new god! For that alone, you will die.”

Then there’s Light’s girlfriend, Misa. Yes, his girlfriend. On the surface, Misa is every anime blonde cliche made manifest. She is bright, she is perky. She is outgoing … and she might be more evil than Light. She possesses her own death note, and is a fan of “Kira.” Because that’s what every mass murdering serial killer needs — a groupie.

But when Misa gets going, the bodies start dropping all over the place.

While Light, at the very least, makes certain the ascertain guilt or innocence of criminals who drop dead–or cops coming after him directly– Misa’s quite happy to off anyone who even expresses disapproval of “Kira.” 


While Misa comes off as a ditzy blonde, I don’t think there’s a single person in this entire series who classifies as stupid. We won’t even go into some of the various and sundry oddballs, nut jobs, and seemingly “normal” people who join Light’s team. Though it is amusing to have Light deal with girl trouble at some particularly perilous points in the story. It almost gives you hope that he’s human. Don’t worry, those moments don’t last long.

Then we meet L, the detective in charge of hunting Kira. L is the Holmes brothers, Nero Wolfe, and a stack of eccentricities rolled into one. There is an awful lot of thought put into this character, as well as the various and sundry back and forth between L and Light that would make for a great Columbo episode. Heck, there’s even a tennis match here that Alfred Hitchcock would love. The tennis matches here are interesting– but only one of them is literal. Watching the various and sundry thought processes of L and Light ping ponging back and forth between each other is particularly entertaining.

One of the things that makes Death Note particularly tragic is that, at one point, Light has to give up the death note. Without the notebook, he loses every and all memory of being Kira. During this time, we see that Light is actually not a bad guy. He’s particularly bright, and possibly on par with or smarter than L. Like Aquinas put it, the corruption of the best leads to the creation of the worst — and Light is one of the worst.

And that’s before Light starts to truly spiral out of control

The animation is largely smooth and fluid. The artwork is creative and beautiful. The faces are unusually well defined for anime. The music is great and atmospheric, and borrows from Gregorian chant.

Overall, I was surprised at how easily I was sucked into this series. There is little of the hysterics that usually mark anime, and the characters are largely rich, well-developed people, with a host of strengths and foibles. Light is possibly the best murdering psychopath since Hannibal Lecter. And yes, I have read Dexter. Light makes Dexter look almost shallow in comparison, and I enjoyed those books.

There is also little to no moral ambiguity. While the authorities first argue over whether to arrest Kira, and the argument ends with “the law is the law,” it becomes clear just how Superversive this show is. The bad guys and the good guys are clear. Light is the protagonist just like any Columbo villain is, or MacBeth — and there’s just as little confusion about the morality of their actions.

All in all, I recommend it. It’s currently on Netflix.