Signal Boost: Drown the Cat: The Rebel Author’s Guide to Writing Beyond the Rules

Amazon: Drown The Cat: The Rebel Author’s Guide To Writing Beyond The Rules

Drown the Cat is a complete guide for the fiction writer who wants to develop an individual voice and understand the reasons underlying the so-called rules of writing. Although a few rules really are necessary, the vast majority are either dogma or passing fads. Worse, so much advice like “show don’t tell” and “open with action” is often poorly explained and entirely misunderstood, causing writers no end of problems.

Drawing on fifteen years of writing, critiquing, editing and mentoring experience, Dario Ciriello explodes writing myths, shreds conventional wisdom, and dissects the often misleading advice and diktats shouted at writers by books and blogs, agents and publishers. Drown the Cat gives authors the necessary tools and insights to retake control of their story and make it unique.

Whether your interest lies in novels or screenwriting, Drown the Cat shows you how to tell your story in your voice and place it before your audience, eschewing formulas and cookie-cutter fiction to remain true to your own, exceptional vision while adhering to the few rules that actually matter. Because writing isn’t about prose wonks and industry insiders: it’s about the reader, and most of all it’s about telling a story. Your story.

Drown The Cat hits the points that every new writer should learn in their journey, most importantly encouraging writers to be themselves. It’s very easy to read, and well organized and formatted. There are some standard writing points in there, but this encourages you to stretch your mind more than follow everyone else in the field. You can read some of Dario’s thoughts over on the Hugo-nominated Castalia House blog.

If you don’t know who Dario Ciriello is, it’s a shame. He is one of the best editors in science fiction and fantasy, and very few have heard of him. If you can hire him, do it, you won’t regret it. He’s edited Doug Sharp’s Channel Zilch, which is one of the most unique and innovative science fiction works of our time, as well as Bonnie Randall’s Divinity and the Python, of which is a great work of horror/romance fiction every writer could and should read as a study in how to write characters readers connect with. He’s got his own fiction as well, of which I equally hail. Bottom line is, if you want to improve your fiction fast as a new writer, you should listen to his writing advice.

Eta Cancri review

Please welcome Xewleer to Superversive SF, he is a new reviewer and you can expect a lot more from him. His review is cross posted from his blog

Spoilers! It’s a great book, and worth reading.

I just finished Eta Cancri by Russell May. It was, surprisingly for an author who was not on my radar before, an excellent read chock full of delicious theology. It was a treat, to be sure. The characters are living and breathing with distinct personalities. The descriptions are on point. The science is a good medium-hard, with just the right amount of give for philosophical and theological conversations the teeth they need to grow. Ah… that more stories which pride themselves on science and philosophy would take this route!

The book switches through various characters’ POV. My personal favorites were Ed and June, along with the AI Archie. Each one has a solid voice and drive that breathes life into this book more than could be expected. Indeed, books that switch perspective live and die on this sword. I could tell that the POV shifted through the author’s choices in word play, character focus and other hints almost instantly.

The conceit of the story, which involves demonic possession, bacteria and genetic modification, was well done and quite unique to this author from my experiences. Though I have experimented and read up on demonic possession and stories about it, this is the first time I’ve seen it used in such a broad and interesting way. Nothing triggered any sort of violation of the suspension of disbelief. It holds up the story incredibly well. This is dreadfully important in this genre as Russell did it. If the suspension of Disbelief is violated, then the entire book will fall over itself and the threads that he depends on to carry the story forward logically will be lost, unable to be gained back.

Though there is no part of the story I groaned at the reading of, I did feel fatigue about halfway through on chapter 3 or 4 (?). The story before and after focuses on multiple characters, the evil of the Demon Legion, the science, philosophy and theology mix and POV shifts. This middle bit has nothing that really sticks out too hard. The story sticks to Pierce the techno-everyman and doesn’t shift too much. There’s just too much dialogue and not enough cool stuff to give us a rest between theological questions. Not that I was exhausted by the questions, I just wish the heady brew was cut a little with soda. Even a bit where Ed deals with his crazy and preps for the ship coming in, or June sees something which heightens our horror at the actions of Legion would do much for the pacing and general interest. I’ll point out that Ed has no reason to not succumb or struggle with Legion’s influence and a decent POV could have been written comparing and contrasting his belief in Dame Fortune and the belief in God, which is touched upon later but not to my satisfaction.

I’ll point out that, theologically, what we call Dame Fortune is the Will of God. That the saved man has free will is not something I debate or question. I question how much Dame Fortune impugns it. (I use Dame Fortune as a conceit from the story. Mentally, I use the term ‘Fate’) Does a belief in Fortune change how free will operates as we continue in Christian Free Will or Willfulness Against God? I think that there might have been an excellent few points to be made there between Ed and Father Justinian, more than was done in story. Though, there is a sequel in the cliff hanger, and I will be purchasing it as soon as it comes out.

I also wanted a little more debate on the nature on Transhumanism. I am not fond of it, as I believe that the body has the critical mass to keep the soul ‘Human’ and that, at a certain point, the ‘I as I’ that is ‘You as you are’ becomes warped into something that could be described as ‘ME’ 2.0. Also, what is morality to someone who is neither permanent or baseline human? (Though those points are touched on) June seemingly has no contrast in character, but rather is June personality as June soul is June without much debate despite much lycanthropy. Various ideas are presented with authority, but I don’t feel it is earned. The matrons producing ubermenschen in the asteroid belts are not properly repudiated in a manner that I call an argument. Rather, it is just presented as wrong. I dig, but I’m really hoping for a similar thing to Ed in the sequel.

I’ve not gone into the plot because it’s quite simple. A colony goes dark and a ragtag group of cyborgs, everymen and mercenaries go to figure it out and cleanse with fire whatever’s in there. Just about right, really. You don’t need fancy pants intrigue for stuff like this. Most of the characters are moral, upright and probably one of the best portrayals of Christians I’ve seen in Science Fiction. I’m sorry John C. Wright, but sort of randomly turning Mickey the Witch into the Space Pope of the Seventh Humans because of his wife without a redemption scene just doesn’t compare to baptism after flamebroiling demonic abominations with improvised explosives created by a literal Biblical evil. But it’s different scopes. That scene doesn’t compare to the Cathedral of Luna in the 4th book of Count to Eschaton. Ahhhh it’s perhaps differences in scale. But I’d be very interested in talking with Russel May some time to break down what he believes and what his reasoning is.

I wanted MORE, if you could believe it. I find that I have a hard time reading philosophy directly, so I have a better time consuming it if its regurgitated through literature, especially when the author provides examples within the story to provide a more definite framework for the reader to investigate. It really does wonders for the most artistically inclined philosophers, who may not be able to as readily read the great works directly. Of course, this assumes the reader is able to properly manage things that are presented vs. their origin points. Counter and counter-counter is appreciated through the characters of Archie, Father Justinian and even Legion. Legion’s absolute Nihilism is well presented without the usual tropes in plain evidence. There’s always a fresh horror from him. His unfetteredness and nihilism make an excellent baseline for the ‘evil’ of the universe. Nihilism is a hell of a drug, kids, and leads to madness.

I also think the book is missing a carnival scene. But then again, I’m a sucker for them. I also wanted more crazy bomb stuff fight scene flip outs from Michaud and Lars, but ah.

The combat scenes are fresh, well done. The weapons properly treated with excellent extensions of characterization through them. The creativity that Russell displays drives the story forward with brazen steps. Lar’s and the rest of the characters’ spirituality treated so delicately as to be art. Ah! There are few flaws and many boons to reading this book!

Overall this book is mos defs a purchase soft-cover, maybe hard-cover kinda book. Sadly, there are only kindle copies available at this time. It is worth a read! It is SUPERVERSIVE. I hope with fervent prayer that we are coming to an era where the dominant voice in Sci-Fi is Christianity! If Russell May joins the luminaries of the Superversives, Castalia House and others, shall not the glory of God be expanded in this genre of atheists, science worshippers and deviants?  DEUS VULT!


I, even I, drink ink like wine.

Review: “Daredevil: Underboss”

Image result for daredevil underbossBIG spoilers throughout, if that matters to you. Just so you’re aware.

After re-reading “Born Again” and reminding myself just how good a Daredevil story could really be, I’ve decided – with some misgivings – to seek out some more of the character from non-Miller writers. Specifically, I decided to take a look at Brian Michael Bendis’s run, which is almost as critically acclaimed as Miller’s. I started off with a story of his titled “Daredevil: Underboss”.

I’ll start it off bluntly: I’m just not a fan. “Daredevil: Underboss” was an odd read. First off, I’m REALLY not a fan of Alex Maleev’s art. Part of this is that I was recently spoiled by the near perfection of Mazzuchelli, but even so. I like dark and gritty as much as the next guy, but we’re a step beyond that here. I was sitting in a perfectly well lit place and still felt as if I had to squint to work out what was happening. And when it comes to expressing body language and facial expressions…well, Mazzuchelli was a master at it, so I may be being unfair here, but it’s not even close.

He’s having a rather bad day.

The comic produced a rather weird effect for me. By the time it ended, when I looked back over it I realized a good deal had actually occurred…but when I read it, I was just bored and impatient. The plot: The Kingpin is betrayed by a group of conspirators, among them his own son, who attempt to assassinate him. He survives, but goes into hiding. Meanwhile, a mysterious man has put out a hit on Matt Murdoch – not Daredevil, Murdoch. Matt believes it’s the Kingpin at first, but when he discovers otherwise it sets up a mystery: Who else knows Daredevil’s secret identity?

The story has a lot of potential. Were I writing it, it would be structured as a mystery, with Daredevil working through the criminal underworld, trying to piece together who could have figured out who he was. Perhaps he would enlist the help of reporter Ben Urich, whose investigative skills could be a highly useful asset.

But that’s not what we get. From Daredevil’s end we get several boring scenes of Daredevil going around, grabbing people by the collar, and shaking them. It doesn’t work, probably because it’s stupid. The more interesting story – told via flashbacks, which was a mistake and which interrupted the flow of the story several times – is about how the Kingpin is betrayed, and how his wife takes revenge. I say “more interesting”, but it’s only marginally so. There’s nothing clever going on here. A guy shows up. He offers something better than the Kingpin. He convinces them to try to kill him. Ta-da. It’s the same old story. The only moderately interesting twist is that Fisk’s son is the architect of the plot, but even that’s old news; even Fisk’s backstory in the Netflix series involves him murdering his father.

They know who he is now…

The story ends with Daredevil’s identity outed to the police. It’s not as if there wasn’t potential here, but it needed to be a mystery, and Daredevil needed to be smarter. It probably should have taken several issues, perhaps as traps and assassins close in on Matt Murdoch’s life and friends. It’s all right there! But instead we get a boring story that doesn’t break new ground and is told in  an annoying fashion.

It’s not exactly “bad”, however I make it sound. The dialogue is fine, occasionally great. The art is overdone but well executed. The ending reveal is juicy and looks to set up for some exciting plotlines. It’s just…I’ve seen some people claim that they like Brian Michael Bendis’s run even more than Miller’s, but from where I sit there’s no comparison. I think people forget how highly regarded Miller used to be. Some were declaring him perhaps the greatest comic book writer of all time (he’s still high up on that list). And “Born Again” was written when Miller was at the height of his creative genius; it’s a tour de force, a masterpiece. So the impression I get is that Miller and Mazzucchelli  were playing chess while Bendis and Maleev were stuck at tic-tac-toe. It’s a well-played game of tic-tac-toe, but what Miller and Mazucchelli accomplished was more ambitious, more exciting, and just generally better executed than what Bendis and Maleev did. And frankly, I really don’t find myself particularly excited to read the rest of their run, however well received it is critically.

So it goes.

I’m currently watching Star Trek Enterprise

What are you watching? I’ve started watching my way through Star Trek: Enterprise again and i’m really enjoying it, getting near the end of season 1.

I always thought season 1 wasn’t much good but i’m really enjoying it. Like most first seasons of Star Trek it is a little slow in places but overall it is engaging and entertaining. From the launch of the NX-1 Enterprise in Broken Bow and as we watch the temporal cold war get hinted at and unfold, the series just keeps drawing me in.

Do you have a favourite Star Trek series? What TV series do you like to watch through every so often?

What i’m currently reading, Origins of a D-List Supervillain

I currently reading Origins of a D-List Supervillain the sequel to Jim Bernheimer’s Confessions of a D-List Supervillain and can I say I am enjoying it throughly.

In the first installment Calvin Matthew Stringel, “Mechani-CAL” tells of his adventures and how is winds up in a globe spanning plot, but that is Volume 1. In Volume 2 we meet Calvin as he gets set on the road to being a supervillian, his first faltering steps as Mana-CAL. I’m enjoying it throughly and would recommend both volumes to anybody. I will need to do a more through review when I am finished.