Writer of comics and novels. In 2006 his first short story "The God That Failed" was published by Terminus Media in their debut comic Evolution Book 1. Since that time he has had stories published in Terminus Media's Evolution Book 2 and Evolution Special, Kenzer and Company's The Knights of the Dinner Table, and Four J Publishing's The Burner #3. Currently he is eagerly awaiting the digital publishing of his first creator-owned comic The Gilded Age #1 to be published online as well as his first novel The Dark That Follows later this year.

What If?

 

The Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake #2 is still going! Find it here!

***

I’ve talked before about how the process of In Our Dreams Awake came about all those years ago. But just like every idea, it’s meaning and purpose have changed over the years. The way the project started, and what it has become are ever changing in ways I don’t know that I completely understand.

But it all stems from this central idea I have about the What If Game.

What is the What If Game? It’s the thing that every (or nearly every) human on the planet plays at various points in their lives. It is the time we take to daydream about decisions we’ve made in the past and how they’ve affected our current state of being.

It can be very big decisions:

What college will I go to (or do I even go to college)?

Should I ask this person out?

Should I maintain this friendship?

Should I take this job or another job?

And sometimes it can be very small decisions which could add up to something bigger.

Should I go talk to the professor about my grades?

Should I spend more time working on this project?

***

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

The thing is, this is a good exercise for a person to go through. We should constantly evaluate what we have done, and look into not only the results of those decisions, but anything which might have led us to the moment. In the same way you might analyze your victories and defeats to see what you can do better the next time… the very same thing for the various life decisions we must all make.

However, it is one thing to use this in a way to better yourself. To propel you forward in your life. Like everything, it can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you use the self-reflection.

I have a friend who for many years focused a bit too much on the What If Game. They were so busy looking backwards at the things they didn’t have that they didn’t see all the gifts and opportunities right in front of them. Fundamentally their world view became a bit skewed because the path not taken was the path they thought they should be down.

***

In many ways, In Our Dreams Awake, is that idea taken to the next level. It is about a burning for something extra in our lives. Jason Byron lives his two very different lives, but he isn’t happy in either one. In the Fantasy world, he is willing to risk everything he has for an artifact of an outlawed era. And for what purpose? Because he wants to have a life different than the one he currently enjoys. In the Future world, he loves his life so much that he is trying to doublecross everyone and escape off world.

Because he is simply not happy with where he is.

He looks to the past or he looks to the future, but neither sate his appetite for much of anything. For Jason, both of these paths may lead to destruction.

***

In Our Dreams Awake is a reminder, of sorts, to myself that I should take time to be in the present. To experience things as they are and not constanly look back or forward. Time already flies by. If I’m not enjoying the present… what’s the point of any of it?

***

A quick reminder to go and check out the comic book, In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Kickstart the Comic – I Took A Hammer to Hell #3

 

Just a friendly reminder that I have a Kickstarter going right now for In Our Dreams Awake #2. Back it now!

***

Sometimes there is a plotline/story idea that catches me just right. I’ll be minding my own business (definitely not planning on buying more comic books), and then they jump me out of nowhere. I And then I’m left only trying to figure out how quickly I can get the issue in my hands (or virtual hands as the case may be).

You had me at Deal with the Devil story.

***

Cover by Mulele Jarvis

I TOOK A HAMMER TO HELL #3 (#1 & #2 Available too)

Writer – Matt Garvey

Artist – Mulele Jarvis

Colorist – Fabi Marques

Alternate Cover – J Francis Totti

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 3, 2024

 

***

The Pitch:

With nothing more than a MASSIVE hammer duck taped to his hand, Jake is going to kill the devil! 

 

The Story:

Jake made deal with the devil for his eternal soul (original I know, but wait till you read it, this is VERY different) but instead of waiting till his time is up or trying to wiggle out of the agreement, he goes to Hell WILLINGLY! 

Why on Earth would someone do this?!… Well,  he has only one goal in mind. 

With nothing more than a MASSIVE hammer duck taped to his hand, Jake is going to kill the devil! 

This comic has action, it has gore…but it also has a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

So, F#@K REDEMPTION…EMBRACE VENGENCE!

You won’t be disappointed!

 

John’s Thoughts:

So many Deal with the Devil stories are about the person trying to find a loophole to the predicament they have put themselves in. You see, it is very simple: you do the crime and then your soul does the time. And don’t get me wrong, I love those types of stories. Heck, I have a book sitting on my shelf that pretty much focuses on just that.

I Took A Hammer To Hell makes an immediate detour, though. It takes that core premise and says “what if the guy made his choice and was willing to go to Hell when the time came”. And then tried to go kill the Devil.

At it’s core, that is an interesting idea. If you had 40 years to plan your assault on Hell, what would you do? Would you train like Neo in the Matrix? Downloading every bit of fighting skills you could. Would you study with all the religious figures you could find, hoping to find some weakness for the Devil?

Or maybe you’d just strap a hammer to your hand and say f$%# it.

A sampling of the Ultimate Digital Collection

The Rewards:

Matt Garvey does his best to keep his Reward costs low, so you can pick up the lastest digital issue for £2 ($3) or even a signed copy of issue 3 for £2 ($6). If you are just hearing about the comic and want to play catch up the digital will run £5 ($7) and phyrical versions of 1-3 are £12 ($16).

The best bang for your buck though is his Ultimate Digital Package (25 comics) which will get you caught up on I Took A Hammer To Hell and then continue to feed comics directly in your brain from many of Matt Garvey’s history for only £10 ($13).

(I actually did that level on his last Kickstarter: Gangsters Versus Nazis and am working my way through all the comic goodness.)

The Verdict:

I’ve already supported the two previous Kickstarters for Issue 1 and Issue 2, so I was ready to go when Issue 3’s campaign went live. If you can handle a story about Vengeance against the Devil (and who wouldn’t want to see that), you should back this comic so that they make 50 more issues!

Make sure you check out I Took A Hammer To Hell #3!

Covers by Mulele Jarvis

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Kickstart the Comic – In Our Dreams Awake #2: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

 

I’ve been writing about it for the better part of the last month, but we are finally LIVE on Kickstarter.

For those who may be unfamilar to Kickstarter, it is a platform that allows creators to take their work (in this case a comic book) and effectively get people to Back the project by saying they want to buy the product. We do this through a number of different reward levels… some of which will just be the new issue of In Our Dreams Awake #2, others will include both issues, digital options, as well as a chance to get signed novels or signed comics from Egg Embry and my back catalogue.

I hope you will join us for the campaign!

Click here to check it out!

Cover by Moonee Art

***

In Our Dreams Awake #2: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

John McGuire – Writer/Creator

Egg Embry – Writer/Creator

Edgar Salazar – Artist

Rolands Kalninš – Artist, Colorist, Letterer

Genaro Olavarrieta – Inker

Javier Laparra – Inker

Alexander Lugo – Letterer

Moonee Art – Cover Artist

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 10, 2024.

***

The Pitch:

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next.

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both dream worlds spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

 

The Story:

IN THE FANTASY DREAM, a mage arrives at Jason Byron’s cottage with orders: Paint and document a downed flying machine before the Magi destroy the heretical technology. But, will the authorities let Jason live with this forbidden knowledge?

IN THE CYBERPUNK FUTURE DREAM, there’s a turf war in Drowned London, and Jason Byron must parley with the rival gang leaders. Can Jason make peace with the ‘A People, those mouthy cat aliens, and other gangs? Will this escalate and go to guns?

Who can say what dreams may come? Each Jason Byron works for an unseen love. Their guiding light is making their worlds better for those who hold their hearts. But can these dreampunks make their dreams come true?

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Rolands Kalninš

John’s Thoughts:

In Our Dreams Awake began with an idea of having a man dream two different lives. Egg and I then took that to the comic book pages by having two seperate artists work on the two different dreams… the two different versions of one story that we were telling.

Issue 1 started things off with us learning a bit about Jason in both his Dreams. A painter who dreams of the unknown, doing his best to keep his contraband technology a secret. A Gang Boss who dreams of a way off a drowned world, doing his best to keep his forbidden love a secret.

Issue 2 escalates that to the next level. Secrets begin to unwind and the consequences will change both his worlds completely.

 

 

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the second issue in what will be a four-issue series. Issue 2 is completely done and issues 3 and 4 are nearly complete.

We have the ptions of either the pdf ($5) or print version ($10) to send to you. We also have two different variant covers, one by Rolands Kalninš and the other by Egg Embry ($15). If you missed the first issue, never fear, we have options for both issue 1 & 2 ($8 for digital and $20 for print copies).

On the higher end, we have an opportunity to get drawn into the Cyberpunk world as a potential member of Jason’s Gang ($250). On the last Kickstarter, we had two people choose this option, so you’ll get to see them in this issue!

Finally, we have a number of add-ons ranging from Signed Copies of The Gilded Age Graphic nivel, to the Dreamr by the Apocolypse RPG Zine ($10-$20 each).

 

The Verdict:

In my completely and totally unbiased opinion, why are you still here reading this? Go and back this amazing project!

Back this if you like Dreams, Painters, Cats, Blowing Stuff Up, Aliens, a drowned London, magic, spaceships, and probably a dozen other cool things I’m forgetting about (oooh, crab people!).

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Egg Embry

***

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to check out our project. A lot of passion went into telling this story, and we hope you will join us on the ride!

Check out the campaign here!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1

 

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

I thought it might be a nice look back at the Anatomy of a Panel that I did for issue #1 (which will also be available during the upcoming Kickstarter).

***

Taken as a whole, a comic book represents the input of multiple people, multiple perspectives, and multiple skill sets before the final product is created. I’ve said many times in the past that one of the reasons I love the format is exactly for that reason. You get to feed off of the creatives who you work with. And what begins as one thing can become something completely different in execution (and making the overall comic that much better).

 

In Our Dreams Awake #1 – Page 7, Panels 7 & 8

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Letters – Egg Embry

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This pair of panels represent the end of a larger conversation within the issue. So much of this world that Jason Byron lives (dreams?) in is dictated by the mages who control everything. They ensure the chaos technology threatens to bring to the people can never exist again. They are Order.

And to go against that would mean going against everything they stand for… and that way lies madness.

So what do we see? We see that Edgar made a choice to not allow for any other colors within these two panels, but instead presented them as a pair of black and white moments. Two men, representing opposite beliefs about their world, are separated by the small table.

 

The Script

Page 7 Panel 7

Annoyed by Peter’s accusation, Jason pushes himself away from the table as if to get up.

Jason – I know all of this, Peter.

Peter – So ask me your question again.

 

Page 7 Panel 8

Same shot as Panel 7 (Jason is still sitting). Jason pauses. No words are needed.

 

Breakdown

As you can see from the script, I actually made a slight mistake between the two panels. In Panel 7, Jason is frustrated/annoyed and pushes himself away from the table. Edgar followed that showing him standing up. His body language is very tense. However, when we come to Panel 8, I note that “Jason is still sitting”…

No, John, he is not.

But Edgar went with it, and I think it actually works in this visual context because of the artist’s choice to make these mirror images of each other (in regards to the black and white). Where Jason was angry in the previous moment, he has sat back down. But instead of either of them furthering the conversation, the darkness envelops them instead pointing two the very ideas that they stand for can not exist alongside one another.

It even mocks the prompt from Peter in Panel 7: “So ask me your question again.” Panel 8 answers that prompt with silence. There is no need to push the issue any longer.

There are no shades of gray here in this place.

***

But perhaps there is another world for Jason to find peace? One he can visit while he dreams?

***

We are less than a week out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

Repost – Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

 

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

***

As we prepare for the In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter, I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the artist and colorist on the Cyberpunk portion of the comic book: Rolands Kalniņš.

 

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I’ve been working in the comics industry since I was 16 years old. And full-time since I was 20.

I’m 26 now.

 

What made you want to work on comics?

As a kid growing up in a post-Soviet country we got our entertainment(films, books, comics) much later than the rest of Europe. So I was lucky to grow up watching original TMNT, Star Wars, Spider-man and the X-men animated series, Power Rangers, Adam West Batman, Tim Burton’s Batman, Pokemon, Digimon…

These shows and films made me love these characters, and later on, I found out that many of them were based on comic books. Unfortunately, the only comics we could buy in Latvia were based on Disney and Hanna-Barbera characters aimed towards very young kids.

So I spent a lot of time drawing and creating my own comics. And when I was living in the UK at the age of 15, I had the chance to buy a lot of Marvel comics. And that moment when I first held a comic book in my hands was simply magical.

And that truly made me take the path to become an artist in the comic industry.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

Personally, I have so many favourites/inspirations. Tho the most influential artists on me were/are: Dave Rapoza, Sean Gordon Murphy, Nick Dragotta, Junji Ito, and many others…

Variant Cyberpunk Cover by Rolands Kalniņš

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

My daily routine used to be different. But for the last few years, I’m also a full-time Tattoo Artist at 2 private studios that I own. So my day-to-day is divided.

Most days I work from 8:30-11:00 on comics and tattoo designs. From 12:00-16:00, I work at my tattoo studio. 17:00-19:00 session at the gym (usually 4-5 times a week), and 19:00-24:00 more work on comics/family time.

 

How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

My process is quite simple. I read the script, gather references and inspirational images, and then I draw the pages, usually coloring them right after.

 

Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Creative relationships for me are really different with each writer and or company. On some projects, I get complete creative freedom and just create the artwork.

On others, the process is more involved and created on a step-by-step basis. With a lot more back and forth. Visuals changing as the story evolves.

And these things are different on each project depending on my involvement as well. Am I just the artist, or am I the colorist?

In some cases, I design the whole book, spine and all.

For me, the most important thing is to do the best work I can for the client.

Jason Byron makes his way through the flooded streets. By Rolands Kalniņš

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Hmm, for hurdles in creating work…

The hardest thing for me is creating art in bulk for my personal projects. Client work comes much more easily for me because it has certain direction-script, or just a description of a piece.

 

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love working on indie comics.

Of course, a dream of mine is to do a Batman book, but for the most part I’m most comfortable doing creative horror books in the indie scene.

The thing I like the most is the “out there” ideas and that there’s no limit to the craziness of the stories I could visualize…

 

What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

Best advice is to learn the basics first.

And that doesn’t mean human figure, faces, etc… It means drawing straight lines, perfect circles, cubes… and only then applying those skills to draw objects, and characters.

And of course, drawing non-stop, but doing illustrations, pages, and panels, not just studies for study’s sake.

Applying knowledge and learning on the go is key. Many things I learned over the years I learned on the job doing the actual work.

And of course, finishing things. Many up-and-comers tend to sketch a lot and never do finished work, which grows into a boatload of bad habits.

 

Are there themes and/or subjects/genres you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

My favourite genres to create for are usually pulp-fiction, neo-noir, cyberpunk, and horror type of work.

But I love doing most genres.

But dark fiction and psychological mind-bending work suits my style best in my opinion.

Jason Byron and Fem’A Lin kiss. By Rolands Kalniņš

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Hmm, I would probably say to myself to never stop drawing and don’t give up. Things will go your way eventually…

And don’t let anyone talk you out of anything career-related.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I have many upcoming books and personal projects, but I can’t really talk about any of them due to NDA’s. Only thing I can say is that “The Pandora Window” a book I’m co-creating with Ray Chambers is finally announced and being drawn as we speak. And many other projects with Adam Barnhardt of Sh*tshow fame. Hopefully, soon they’ll be announced.

For hobbies, I tend to have many, but the most important ones are Powerlifting and reading. For me, it’s a way to clear my head. And of course, a healthy mind and body are key with this type of profession.

I personally believe you’ll go crazy quite fast if the only thing you do 24/7 is draw. It can become more of a detriment than a strategy to become successful.

 

Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

I’m most active on my website(portfolio), Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.

https://rolandskalnins.carbonmade.com/

https://www.instagram.com/marvelzukas/

https://twitter.com/marvelzukas

https://www.reddit.com/user/Marvelzukas/

Jason Byron’s intense stare. By Rolands Kalniņš

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article?

My name is Rolands Kalniņš

I’m an illustrator, concept artist/designer, colorist from Latvia.

I’ve worked on many projects for different publishers and kickstarters.

Scout comics: Red Winter.

Fracture Press: Tales of Fractured Mind, Tales of Fractured Worlds, Soul of The Sea, The Burning Memory

Tpub: Transdimensional.

Source Point Press: Sirius

Frank Martin’s Pipe Creepers

Scapegoat Press Inc: Pcycho Path, Aeonian.

Roy Burdine’s Reapers.

VMComics: Hotel Hell

Musicians: Varien, Hellhills, Manic, Toracha, Cream of Cthulhu, and many more.

***

I want to thank Rolands Kalniņš for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. Remember to go to the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Odd Synchronicity?

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

There are little things in our everyday world which sometimes lay out a message you might be on the right path. Small reminders, universal beats as it were to help subtlely (and not-so-subtlely) guide you. Then again, it could be more that these are the very things which seeped into your subconcious to begin with to create the path in the first place.

As we close in on the launch date for In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2, I began looking through the old emails, trying to find little bits and pieces that I had forgotten in the meantime. The back and forth in the very early days between Egg and myself as we worked the story, bouncing ideas off each other, trying only to improve upon the blocks of the story each time. Discovering things about the characters and what their goals may or may not be.

***

Things in the original breakdown:

The very first outline was 9 issues of story. Talk about being overly ambitious on what we might be able to do all those years ago… not that long out of college. 9 issues… good lord.

Jason Byron was originally an important man… perhaps a Duke of some sort.

In the sci-fi story there was a moment where he was going to have something similar to an Office Space style futuristic job. There was no Cyberpunk gangs. No angry cats (see issue 2).

Jason has more of a comprehension of what is going on between the worlds earlier on in the process. As seen in issue 1, these two worlds are tied together by him, but as things begin to spiral a bit, those world can start to bleed over.

There was an assassination attempt on Fantasy Jason. Totally didn’t remember that one at all.

As opposed to splitting issues between the two worlds, it would be full issues spent in one or the other. So a lot less flip book.

***

So what are the guideposts that helped us along?

Henry David Thoreau’s core quote. Egg discovered it somewhere and suddenly we had a proper title for the story.

I received a series of post-it notes from my parents as a gift and one of them was the Poe quote which again felt like they had read our emails.

Even stranger than that was a random listen to a Van Halen song which felt like it too was written about Jason Byron two decades before he ever took shape:

Love Walks In – Van Halen

Contact is all it takes
To change your life to lose your place in time
Contact! Asleep or awake
Coming around you may wake up to find
Questions deep within your eyes,
Things you’ve never realized

CHORUS:
So when you sense a change
Nothing feels the same
All your dreams are strange, love comes walkin’ in
Some kind of alien
Wait for the opening
Then simply pulls a string

Another world, some other time
You lay your sanity on the line
Familiar faces familiar sights
Reach back remember with all your might
Ohh there she stands in a silken gown
Silver lights shining down

CHORUS

Love comes walkin’ in

Sleep and dream is all I crave
I travel far across the Milky Way
To my master I become a slave
Til we meet again some other day
Where silence speaks as loud as war
And the earth returns to what it was before

CHORUS

Love comes walkin’ in

***

At the end of the day, the story is one we felt compelled to tell. In our email exchange 20 years ago, Egg asks a key question about the story “Is this a story of hope or failure?”

And I like my response, because even through all the tweaks and changes to the very first kernel of an idea, I think we’ve kept to this guiding light:

“The story, at its core, is probably a little of both (failure and hope). Hope that our lives can be brighter than they are but also failure in the risk of not living in reality. Plus, there’s the issue of what reality is truly. Is it what we perceive, or is it what others perceive?”

***

We are less than a month out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: Sleep, Perchance…

Make sure to sign up for the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project goes live by clicking HERE!

***

I feel like In Our Dreams Awake comes from the same place the following comes from… that frantic, unsure thing where we have this thing (SLEEP) that we must have but area always cutting short with everything else in the world.

***

Alarm off. A slow glance at the clock. The time flickers a thought in my head.

That can’t be right. Close my eyes again as if the sheer act of doing so will change what they witnessed. A slow peek before I’m careening out of bed. A mad scramble of clothes and contacts and “did I shower last night?” and deodorant and shaving and finding a shirt and…

Dragon Clock

It’s already past the countdown clock moment. Now it becomes the beginnings of a true decision. Formulas scream through my brain.

How long is the trip?

When is it too late?

Damn… missed class again…

***

Many years ago Chad told me that he preferred nightmares to pleasant dreams. The very concept made little sense to me at the time.

“Why?”

“Because when I wake up from a “great” dream, I’m back in the real world where things are inevitably worse than the worlds I had just visited. But with a nightmare, I have absolute and utter relief, because my waking life is so much better then any nightmare.

“Suddenly I’m happy to be awake!”

***

I struggle to fall asleep. Not stay asleep… oh, no. That is well taken care of. I tend to stay up too late and want more than my allotted eight hours the next day.

***

Henry Rollins said that you either sleep or you don’t – but you can’t catch up.

***

I respectfully disagree with that sentiment.

***

Your body knows when enough is enough. When you’ve pushed yourself. When you have burned that candle down to nothing but a pool of wax and a long-forgotten wick.

That’s when you need to let yourself catch up.

candle-579580_1920

***

Tonight, I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay up, looking down the internet rabbit hole – wondering where it will take me. I wonder if ancient scholars had the same feeling reading the same obscure text.

Sadly I’m reading about football or baseball or something else not quite so grand.

My nightly ritual where I put it off as long as possible. One more minute. Five more. Let me just finish this article. Where is that link going to take me? What about this video on something from 1 year ago. Five years ago. 100 years ago.

Yeah, I could wait until the next day, but then the information couldn’t swim through my head waiting to greet me in my dreams.

I need to know RIGHT NOW!

***

Reality vs. Dreams? What is the difference really? What if the world ceased to exist when we closed our eyes? And then the very act of opening them created a whole new world?

city in the sky

***

In dreams we are the creator, not always in control, true, but building.

Yet, I have to wonder. Is that actually a truth or just something I believe without real proof?

If that was true, why would I set the clock to a point where I’m late for class? Why torture myself when it is nothing but mental 1s and 0s of my own personal Matrix? What good does it do my body to send that familiar rush of fear and anxiety through my body?

***

What if it were the opposite? What if we are only the creators when we are awake? What if when we shut our eyes that was the real world(s)? That’s why we don’t have control over it. That’s why we can’t get off the railroaded path provided to us.

As strange as that reality might be where physics no longer works the way you think it should. Where people you’ve not seen in years suddenly have different personalities than you are used to. Your wife recognizes you, but she’s different and the same and…

***

We have to follow Alice down that damn rabbit hole no matter what.

***

Another friend in high school once commented that he woke up early (most weekends) because he was afraid of missing something. Better to be awake for whatever exciting/important/whatever thing than to not be.

As if the world ceased to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

The world continues to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

Doesn’t it?

***

We have been working hard to get this issue ready for public consumption. Over the next month or so, I’ll have preview pages, behind the scenes looks, and probably some random other stuff that I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’ll join us on another great comic book adventure!

Remember to sign up to the Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project launchs on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #2

 

We are less than a month out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

As a comic book writer, we are doing the best we can to take the thoughts and images in our head and describe it in a way where the artist can have some idea of what we originally meant to show up on the page. The amazing thing about artists, though, is they take that mess of words and somehow (through magic is the only way I can figure) create an image (or series of images) which end up being a way better version of whatever I had in my head to start. Those are some of the best days, when you open up your email to get a new page and it leaves you speachless. Where you want to go back to your script to see how in the world they made it so much better.

 

Page 16 Panel 1 Pencils – Edgar Salazar Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta Colors – Javi Laparra

 

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Colors – Javi Laparra

Letters – Alexander Lugo

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This panel represents a bit of the calm before the storm. At the end of last issue, Fantasy Jason spotted this very same spacecraft in his (illegal) telescope. Now he finds himself commissioned to draw it. In so many ways, this is exactly what his curious mind truly wants to do. Somewhere inside him is a person who wants to see the strangeness in the world. The very truth of things which cannot be obscurred by those in charge.

Here we are with our artist sitting on top of a hill, trying to draw this literal alien craft as the workers go about disassembling it. He’s not sure whether this thing will be studied or destroyed, so it may be his pictures will be all there is left for anyone to know this machine existed.

 

The Script

Page 16 Panel 1

Jason has paint on his clothes, face, and has various sketches, scroll casings, and papers lying all around him. He has a sense of wonder and awe at what he is witness to. Magus move past him with pieces of the ship.

For this panel, the time is 13:00.

Caption – Early Afternoon.

Peter (caption) – It will eventually be dismantled, so we need accurate records.

 

Breakdown

Edgar and Genaro did a great job here really nailing this moment. The butterfly fluttering just above Jason provides a very relaxing moment in the midst of the overall craziness which is not only occurring in that moment, but really has been occurring since the day before (Issue 1) and is a bridge to what awaits our hero throughout the remainder of Issue 2. He placed the papers on the ground beside him, so the reader can see that he has been hard at work for a little while already. And he has an in progress piece on the easel to his left.

On top of that, Javi’s colors are perfect here. The greens, browns, and blues put the characters and the reader at a sort of ease (hopefully).

And while I haven’t shown your the entire page here, the overall feel is much the same as Jason pours himself into this project. Maybe even forgetting for a moment that this craft from his dreams is actually real and true.

Lost in the moment. Lost in the painting.

 

***

Be sure to sign up for the upcoming Kickstarter by clicking the image below!

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2 – Kickstarter Prelaunch

 

The Kickstarter Prelaunch Page can be found here!

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next.

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both dream worlds spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

***

In Our Dreams Awake comes from co-creators John McGuire and Egg Embry. The second issue of this 4-issue mini-series features two dreams, the first illustrated by Edgar Salazar with the second by Rolands Kalniņš. With covers by Moonee Art, Rolands Kalniņš, and Egg Embry, this is a comic written for fans of love stories, dreampunk, steampunk, and cyberpunk, this series promises an engaging mystery with amazing artwork. This story is about love and loss and asking the big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? Who do I love?

***

IN THE FANTASY DREAM, a mage arrives at Jason Byron’s cottage with orders: Paint and document a downed flying machine before the Magi destroy the heretical technology.  But, will the authorities let Jason live with this forbidden knowledge?

IN THE CYBERPUNK FUTURE DREAM, there’s a turf war in Drowned London, and Jason Byron must parley with the rival gang leaders. Can Jason make peace with the ‘A People, those mouthy cat aliens, and other gangs? Will this escalate and go to guns?

Who can say what dreams may come? Each Jason Byron works for an unseen love. Their guiding light is making their worlds better for those who hold their hearts. But can these dreampunks make their dreams come true?

***

We have been working hard to get this issue ready for public consumption. Over the next month or so, I’ll have preview pages, behind the scenes looks, and probably some random other stuff that I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’ll join us on another great comic book adventure!

Remember to sign up to the Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project launchs on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reason Why – The Last Stand

Back at the beginning of this journey, my brain was looking for any way to get a comic done. Of course, at that time I was recently married, just beginning my career in Civil Engineering, so I didn’t have a ton of disposeable income. Which is a nice (or just honest) way of saying I couldn’t pay an artist.

Not the best place to be.

At this point Terminus had gathered a bunch of artists up to do their first anthology, where I had my first published work: The God That Failed. It wasn’t enough. I went online to see what things might be out there. Various contests for artists, but very, very few which had many opportunities for writers. The best I could find was a couple of short contests where you entered your script and if they liked it, you’d get matched up with an artist.

I didn’t win the couple I entered.

Then came an anthology built up to support the victims of the 2004 Tsunami which hit southeast Asia.

I needed to figure out something that would be a little uplifting, maybe having to do with the sea, maybe something from a dream, maybe… maybe… maybe.

I gathered up three artists to do the 4 pages I’d written about a kingdom dealing with the oncoming storms which threaten everything they’d built up. And those same artists took my still very early script and turned into a lovely little story about endings and beginnings.

Sadly, I’m not sure if that anthology ever actually came to pass, or if they just passed on my story… it’s been nearly 20 years.

But the work still stands as one of those first things which I poured myself into. One of those first stories where I am grateful for each of the artists who have their time to a project that ended up not seeing the light of day for a while.

In fact, it wasn’t until Egg Embry was putting together an anthology many years later (The Burner) that the story finally found a place to call home.

***

That story is my reminder that comics are a collaborative process. Every set of hands helping to bring these stories to life which is simply amazing.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Everyday – Part 16

Seven years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. For the past six years, I’ve shared a few from the book around the holidays.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

Part 8 is here.

Part 9 is here.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

Part 13 is here.

Part 14 is here.

Part 15 is here.

 

 

January 27

It’s like, it’s not even real to me. It’s like my life isn’t even real to me unless you’re there and you’re in it and I’m sharing it with you.

Gilmore Girls

 

February 13

It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.

Agatha Christie

 

March 12

You’re my favorite reason to lose sleep.

Anonymous

April 10

When you think you’re not happy with your life, always think someone is happy simply because you exist.

Anna Kendrick

May 17

Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

 

June 24

There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Vincent Van Gogh

 

July 29

I could not tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth. But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince

 

August 26

Loving you is like breathing – so effortless, so natural. And so essential to life.

Anonymous

September 24

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The loves, the dreamers, and me.

Kermit the Frog

 

October 30

But our love was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we

Of many far wiser than we

And neither the angels in heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

Edgar Allan Poe

 

November 10

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.

Martin Luther

 

December 11

One love

One blood

One life

You got to do what you should

One life

With each other

Sisters

Brothers

One life

But we’re not the same

We get to

Carry each other

Carry each other

One… life

U2, One

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 8

Image by piviso from Pixabay

She Knows Where You Live

During 2020, I was lucky enough to have the type of job where I could work from home. However, the job wanted to make sure we still felt some level of connection with the rest of our coworkers even if we weren’t seeing them regularly. So we ended up with Zoom call happy hours where we would chat… it was actually nice. However, what always cracked me up was one of my coworkers would normally ask a question about where someone lived and from that appeared to hack into the government database to discover all sorts of things about you that you didn’t think was out there.

It became a running joke for any new employees to warn them that if they gave her any information, she’d have their addresses within the hour.

 

I’m Having a Problem With My Computer

We once had a Temp employee who was helping us out on a series of deadlines wih the goal of hiring them on full time if things worked out. At that particular job, I was the one who they designated to help them out on any problems they might have with our network/computers/jobs/etc. I didn’t mind doing that at all (I’ve come to realize over the years I really like helping the junior engineers, so in some ways this was one of the steps down that path). After a couple of weeks of the Temp working on any number of projects, they came over to me and said there was a problem with their computer… it was crawling.

I walked over to their desk and saw it was really slow. Like slower than I’d ever seen any of our machines run. I start doing some digging and I realize what the problem is – the computer is out of storage.

Then I dig further.

The Temp had been saving all the files they’d worked on to their computer as an extra level of backup in case something went wrong. Now, I can understand some things you might want to do that with… and maybe they’d had a nightmare scenario at a previous job which caused this behavior… but this was above and beyond. It was as if ANY file they touched at all got backed up to their computer.

After a conversation about the companies’ backup procedure, we managed to get the machine cleaned up enough… for like a week. And that became a weekly routine of trying to explain that not everything needed to go on their computer.

Every week.

Owen Wilson

At the various holiday parties and monthly lunch and learns, there are moments which hit you out of the blue. I can’t recall what we were having lunch for in particular, but a series of stories were being shared. At the end of one of them, one of the engineers made what can only be referred to as an “Owen Wilson WOW” sound. At that point, I started paying attention to her reactions and sure enough Owen Wilson Wow made multiple appearances. With the best moment being during a meeting where some rather uninspiring thing was being shown for the group and I heard a “Wow” from two rows behind me and nearly lost it right then and there.

It has now entered my own lexicon throughout my daily life. Anytime anything deserves a Wow… Owen Wilson gets his kickback.

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Free Short Story – Piece By Piece

I sometimes forget that I should be promoting myself, things that I’ve done, or books and shorts that I’ve written. I end up more passive than I would like to be by including it into my signature at the end of the blogs. But it occurs to me that maybe people aren’t reading those things. And it also occurs to me that being passive isn’t the answer. As I get ready to launch some more work into the world, I need to remind people what is already available as well.

I wrote this a few years back, but it is available for Free. And if you liked The Dark That Follows, it features Jason Mills doing his psychic thing (and if you haven’t read The Dark That Follows, you could do worse than having this short be your introduction into the world).

***

I’m trying to figure out this publishing thing. I’ve got the book, got a comic, got a little novella, but I know I need to do more. The chances of anyone having just one thing out there in the void and suddenly hitting it big are pretty low. And that’s fine with me. I know it is a marathon and not a sprint (to borrow that old cliche’). Still, the projects I’m working on don’t really feed the beast of The Dark That Follows. And while I have ideas for the sequel, I’m not ready to really dive in (too many other projects that must get done).

So how do I fix that? How do I get potentially more eyes on this book I wrote without writing another book in the same world?

writing

I’d been thinking about a story, but I really wanted it to tie into The Dark That Follows somehow. Have a place where they could get the short for free and if they liked what they read, maybe they’d check out the book. Something extra. And a story began to shape itself in my mind.

A short story.

This is the old two birds one story idea. And while I didn’t name it Tessera or Tesserization or Tesselation or… (well, you get the idea), it does take a little bit of inspiration from trying to see a bigger picture from little bits of information.

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

So without further ado, I present to you Piece by Piece. You can find it here on the site, and shortly you should be able to find it for free download on the various other platforms… but you can get it first!

***

The Song of Your Life III

In the movie, Before Sunset, Ethan Hawke is on a book tour where he is talking about his next project: this idea of a song transporting you back in time. How it grabs you and can make you remember things you’d forgotten – all of it locked within a song.

I feel the same way, where the music moment can transport you back to those memories you might not always have right at your fingertips. Things you thought had been lost are now crystal clear once again.

***

Image by Mollyroselee from Pixabay

Def Leppard – Hysteria

One of the first albums I ever owned, I nearly wore out the cassette tape as it would play behind me while I shot baskets throughout so many afternoons. But more than anything it transports me back to a particular summer where I’m maybe 12 or 13 at my grandparents’ house in south Georgia. My sister and I would normally spend two weeks with them every summer and hand out with our cousin. The thing was that south Georgia heat is nothing to play with. We’re talking 100 degrees easily during most afternoons, and in the area I’m talking about, it was probably closer to scrubland than woods sometimes (so not as much shade to potentially keep you cool). We tried to stick to the indoors as much as possible, but even back then the adults were always wondering why we weren’t outside playing (I wondered if adults didn’t feel heat in the same way, but now, as an adult, I know it’s certainly not the case). So I took a basketball out to the weathered and battered goal and turned on Def Leppard and cooked in the heat.

Good times…

***

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain

When you are a poor high school student, you really depend on tape trading with your friends in order to experience anything more than what your own feeble funds might allow you to purchase. One of those tapes was a copy of Use Your Illusion 1 (and 2 as well) which Chad Shonk had made a copy of for me. I devoured that tape over the course of many weeks before I finally decided to just go and get the CD. Imagine my surprise when this song Novemeber Rain came pouring through my stero… a song I did not recognize at all. I popped back on the tape, fast forwarded to where the song appeared and got a weird gabled version of the song that was abruptly shortened as well. So it was that one of the bands greatest songs finally managed to be appreciated by me… months after the album had been out.

***

Korn – Blind

Right after I graduated from high school, my parents moved the family up to Richmond, Virginia, leaving their oldest in behind in Georgia to begin college at GA Tech in the fall. It was a great summer as for many weeks I pretty much was by myself. My dad would be down about every other week, but otherwise I was on my own (luckily for them, I was anything but a wild kid – I wouldn’t have known how to throw a party even if I’d wanted to). Just before the end of summer, the movers came and packed up all our worldly items and off we went to Richmond, where I think I technically lived for about two weeks.

It was there I discovered a record shop a couple of miles away from the new house. Every couple of days I would pop up there to see if they had anything of interest. And one day they had these sampler tapes from a band named KORN. Free means go ahead and grab one just in case. I got home, popped it into the stero, and was blown away by what I heard. Suddenly, a random trip to the store had introduced me (and my friends shortly thereafter) to not only a brand new band but the beginnings of a whole new music (Nu Metal).

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

 

I don’t have the email anymore where I first pitched Egg the basic idea behind In Our Dreams Awake. I basically remember that I had hit upon this idea of someone having to live two different lives, one when they slept and one when they were awake. I know that it happened around the Winter of 2004-2005 in one of many of our daily emails back and forth to each other. Those emails served as both catch-up on the day/week and also a dumping ground for us to share potential writing ideas.

You see, the goal with Egg and I always was to find a way to write comic books. During college, there were many, many, many weekends the two of us would journey from one comic shop to another looking for back issues. And during those trips, we’d talk story ideas. They ranged from some take on whatever Marvel or DC or Image might be doing at the time all the way to our own comic ideas featuring our own characters. But this was in the days before something like Kickstarter existed, back in the days when we were going to have to find a way to do things on the “cheap”.

Egg’s always been good about looking at potential story ideas and breaking them down into a format that might be a little different. And In Our Dreams Awake sent his mind going.

I know/remember a few things about this time:

Egg found the title from a quote by Thoreau.

Egg pitched the idea of the two of us writing portions of the story. One of us would take one dream and the other would write the other.

Egg found both the artists to do what would become a 4 issue mini-series: Edgar Salazar (pencils) and Genaro Olavarrieta (inks) for my “fantasy world” dream and an artist for “futuristic world”.

So we started on the scripts for issue 1. And then the pages started rolling in… this was working… we were going to have a comic book!

We quickly got scripts going for all 4 of the issues, as Edgar and Genaro were rocketing through their work. I learned how to color on the computer (which is a story for another time). Egg’s artist was turning in good stuff. The tone felt great… all we needed to do was find a home for the comic.

We approached Image, I think we sent it off to a couple of other places, but nothing ever came of it. I was working with the Terminus Media guys at the time and had learned enough to know how to get the book printed, but we realized we probably needed to have a complete book before going down that path.

And then Egg’s artist fell off the face of the Earth.

He’d done around 20ish pages out of the 48 or so we’d need to finish things up. But we couldn’t find him. He didn’t return email. I think Myspace was a bust (remember Myspace?). Months went by, which became a year, which became two years. Edgar and Genaro finished their pages and moved on, but we felt hamstrung by this artist. It was weird that one of the original reasons for doing the comic with two artists was so that it would half the load. We thought there was a chance that if an artist disappeared (or ghosted us) that it would be relatively early in the process. Maybe they’ve done 1-5 pages and then make like a wizard, but he’d done enough for 2 issues.

We scrambled. Egg came up with an idea to split his dream in two with the already finished pages and then get a new artist (potentially himself) to do the last 24 pages. We toyed with some other thoughts, but time went on, and like so many things…

In Our Dreams Awake passed into legend…

It nagged at me. Tugged at the back of my mind. Every year I’d look through my files and see the pages and think about what could have been. I wrote the Gilded Age and The Dark That Follows and still, it was there. Egg moved on to RPGs and writing for so many websites that I can’t even keep up with his output these days.

When we were first working on the comic, Egg found the Thoreau quote and it fit perfectly. But randomly during that same Christmas, my mom got me post-its with quotes on them. And while they didn’t have the In Our Dreams Awake quote, they did feature one from Poe that seemed made for our comic:

Things had lined up perfectly until they didn’t.

Then March 2020 happened and the world changed. We had time on our hands. And In Our Dreams popped up in my dreams again. So I reached out to Egg. Told him I wanted to make a go of it. That we knew so much more than we had nearly 2 decades earlier. The biggest obstacle was always having product, but in this case, we had 1/2 the story already done. There was only one hurdle to go: we needed to reach out to Egg’s artist and see if we could use those pages or if we were going to start over.

And after many weeks, we decided to go with someone new.

The thing was, I’m a part of a couple of Facebook Groups where artists post their work looking for their next gigs, so I’d been saving posts of anyone who caught my eye. So when we decided to move on, I shared all the potentials with Egg, and very quickly we identified Rolands Kalniņš as the person who could bring the sci-fi/cyberpunk dream to life. And Rolands has done that and more. And all of a sudden we had issue 1 ready to go.

All of sudden… after 17 years… we had the first issue.

***

We’re in the process of putting the 2nd issue on Kickstarter very soon, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have quite as long of a break between issues from now on. Be on the lookout for the prelaunch page coming to your screens very shortly.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Rebooting the Marvel Universe

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Looking through my Twitter Feed a month or so ago, I came across the following tweet from Sean Taylor’s:

“You’re given the task of making a clean break (a la DC Golden Age to DC Silver Age) for Marvel and can only keep four existing characters to continue unscathed into the new Age. Who are they?”
***
It started the wheels turning in my head. And while Sean was only wanting a list of characters, I began sketching up ideas for who would be there in this fictious future version of the Marvel Universe.
The interesting/funny thing here is that they sorta have done this at least 2x already. When Marvel launched the Fantastic Four ushering in their version of the Silver Age, this was an effective launch/relaunch of their existing universe. And while maybe continiuity was fairly fast and loose back then, it wasn’t long before they brought back a couple of characters from their Golden Age stories. You had the Human Torch as a part of the Fantastic Four – a direct call back to the Golden Age Android version and in some ways more along the lines of how DC Comics seemed to update their characters with Flash and Green Lantern.
Avengers 4 then brought back Captain America making it a more direct line to the 1940s (even if he’d had an ongoing comic book throughout the 50s as well).
Finally, the other “main” one was Sub Mariner who, in a twist, they brought back as a villain. And while the years have softened that version of him, he still wins the award for most likely to find himself hanging out with other big named villains more so than any other hero in Marvel.
***
The second time they did this is with the 2099 launch in the mid-90s. There they had 4 titles. Spider-Man 2099 was a brand new version with no real ties to Peter Parker other than taking up the mantle. Punisher 2099, who in the regular universe was one of their most popular characters (he had 3 ongoing series at one time), received a version of the character who I honestly don’t know enough about to talk about. Doom 2099 who either was the Doom from our time and was time-displaced or was someone who thought he was Doom from our time and was time-displaced. I’m not 100% on where we ended up with that one to be honest. Finally they had Ravage, a brand new character to help usher in this new line.
***
In both cases those 3 or 4 characters really helped jump start their respective universes.
So going along those lines we could go a few ways:
Think about who the most popular characters are, and then make sure you have updated versions of them. This helps to solve the problem of not having someone who can sell comic books.
Who are Marvel’s best sellers right now? Spider-Man, Wolverine, Venom, randomly Moon Knight (the comic is really good right now), X-Men, Daredevil… those are the ones I see in the top 25 of sales. Maybe you could throw Deadpool in just due to the movie side of things. From a movie point of view, you would have to include pretty much any of the Avengers and Guardians (basically anyone who showed up in Infinity War and End Game).
However, even before we get into that, we should probably think about the situation. Is there a potential time jump that we have going on here? Has 20 years passed since the last generation of heroes? Is this more of a thought process where we have to save Marvel from flagging sales (maybe along the lines of their Ultimate Universe in the 00s)?
It’s also one of those things you don’t want to copy things specifically because it has come before without some form of a twist. With the Marvel Silver Age, those other characters were enhancements to all the new ideas which eventually led to the juggernaunt that it has become.
***
Strictly speaking, if we are going to go with the best sellers approach then my list might look something like this:
Spider-Man has to be there in some form or fashion. He is the heart of the Marvel universe. In we have the time jump version then perhaps he can now be the retired hero we were all hoping for with wife and kid(s) that eventually can be the one that trains the youngsters? And that doesn’t consider what happens if we use Miles for this…
Wolverine is your immortal character who can kind of swiss army knife things in this new world. You need to older teacher, got it. You need a wild man out in the wilderness who needs to tracked down? Got it. You need to touch on the Mutant side of things, he’s your connection.
Iron Man – This one I can see as the inheritor/pure update to the old idea. It’s either a long lost relative to Tony Stark or perhaps even better he is a relative to one of Stark’s enemies who decides to do something good with the suit of armor. Maybe even set this up as a bit of a mystery at first with him (her?) showing up in the other books before finally revealing the person under the armor and launching their own book.
The fourth character feels like it should be someone low key. Someone who in current comics isn’t a big deal but now in this new world could become that new hero. Or potentially someone who never got by before and now could go on to the villain (or at least anti-hero) side. This would be the someone like Elsa Bloodstone or Speedball or something like that. I don’t have anyone specifically in mind here.
***
But then it occurred to me, one of my favorite things about the Marvel Universe is that it can be so many different things to so many different people. So what are the main pillars of the Marvel Universe? And then which characters let us focus on those ideas and build?
In my mind, the four major pieces of the Marvel Universe are the following:
Cosmic
Mutant
Magic/Tech
Street Level
Those you pretty much touch nearly all the characters who currently exist within the comics. And while it is a little bit of a cheat to lump Magic and Tech together, given that so many quotes from the comics and movies talk about how Magic is simply technology we haven’t figured out the science for… I’m going to say it works.
With that in mind, here are my four leads:

Silver Surfer

He’s such a singular character within the greater framework of Marvel, and he allows you to tell as many adventures as you’d like throughout the cosmic side of things. He is an immortal style character, so whatever time jump might have happened, he might have been there at the EVENT.
When written well, he becomes a focal lens for all the cool stuff you can do in comic books.

Storm

Allows you to have those true connections to the Golden Age of X-Men while not leaning on Wolverine for the 1000 time. She could allow you to have an X-Men style team with her role as more in the Prof. X stylings. This would be a woman who perhaps has learned the original Dream is dead, but that doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t still ongoing.

Dr. Doom

My favorite character in Marvel, I would be remiss if I didn’t include him in some way. That said, this would be a version of Doom that we only ever get to see glimpses of most of the time. This is someone who finally decided to put the pettiness behind them and actually strives to be something better. And that all came about because Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme (whether he died or retired or whatever would be a portion of the story). Doom then assumes this mantle and with it the responsibilities it requires. You wouldn’t have the FF “baggage”, at least at first, and could focus Doom on things again we don’t see a ton of – the magic side of things.

Daredevil

This would be my brand new person wearing the suit slot. A new ‘Devil’ for Hell’s Kitchen to lend some hand to the little people. Not sure they’d need to be a lawyer, but whatever their profession it should give the writers something to play with as that’s one of the things the Daredevil character does the best – weave his daily life into his night life.
***
Of course, if I thought about this more, I’d probably come up with about ten other combinations of characters to restart things with. That’s really the beauty of the comics, anything can find a way to grab a reader and never let them go.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Turn the Page on 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

I normally like to take this first blog of the new year and do both a look back and look forward on the various projects I have been working on. However, 2023 was an odd year in that I’ve been working on things, but overall it has probably been one of my least productive years in some time with no good milestones of releases to kind of mark my personal progress. It’s likely to a lack of discipline to sit my butt behind the keyboard and do the work, mixed with some shiny object syndrome, and some real life events that made it where many nights I just wanted to veg out rather than be productive.

So, with that thought I think a better use of my time would be to look forward to 2024 and see what possibilities lie in front of me:

In Our Dreams Awake

In 2022, Egg Embry and I launched a Kickstarter for the first issue of In Our Dreams Awake. Due to various reasons (some hinted at above), we weren’t able to get to the second issue Kickstarter within the 2023 calendar year. However, issue 2 is complete and ready to be unleashed into the world during the first quarter of the year. In a perfect world, I’d like to see all four issues get their Kickstarter runs while still allowing for maybe a final shorter Kickstarter in 2025 for the trade. I’ve never run more than one crowdfunding campaign in a year, so this may be easier said than done. Still, it would be nice to bring a story to a close after nearly two decades.

 

The Crossing

In 2020, Robert Jeffrey, Sean Hill, myself, and 133art came together to tell a story which was a sort of love-letter to the Dimension hopping stories of science fiction (think Sliders or Exiles). Then the pandemic happened. Then Sean Hill got himself famous with Marvel work. And the project kind of got back-burnered. After some discussions late in 2023, we have new pages and are looking to potentially having a path to wrapping up the first story in what (hopefully) could be a much larger sandbox. Assuming things go well, I could see us having a Kickstarter for this during the second quarter of 2024.

Another Comic Project

I look at everyone who is doing independent comic books and notice that they have multiple projects going at various stages of completion. And while I have that in some ways (see the above), I also need to look towards the future and not just 2024. It is all fine and well  if I have 3 issues of In Our Dreams Awake come out and maybe two issues of Crossing this year, but what then? Do I kill any momentum I might have gathered during 2024 and 2025 becomes a waiting for the artwork to get done type of year? Or could I start the wheels turning this year so that when Dreams is done, I’m immediately ready to launch the next project into the world?

So that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out in this last week. Some of it depends a great deal on whether I’m successful with Dreams and the Crossing. If those fail or even just squeek by… it could change the entire equation. But if you are going to take a leap of faith, I could see worse things to do. I have two projects that would make a decent follow-up, so the only question is which one to attack first.

 

S.O.U.L. Mate

I swear this is my white whale. I have a full draft of this one. I have done a first pass of edits. But it is still missing something. It’s nothing big, the overall skeleton is there, but I think there are a few places within the draft where things need to be punched up and/or elaborated on (fleshed out). Editing is the least fun part of things sometimes just due to the time investment on my side. If you think about it, when you read for pleasure a 300 page book can take days/weeks of reading (according to how fast you read). With editing, I’m having to reread the work but with an eye for where the weaknesses in the manuscript might be and then make the edits. An hour of editing might get me through 1 chapter. And if I’m editing, then I’m not writing anything else… very much a push-pull effort on my time.

The other thing is when this thing is ready to get released into the world, I want it to actually do more than any of my previous works. Now I’m not delusional, but I’d also like it to do more than pizza money. I really need to have my marketing strategy down pat when I put this one out (really that goes for everything though).

Image by G.C. from Pixabay

Untold Series

I jump around genres. That’s a path to failure. So I’ve been working on a series of books (and novellas and short stories) to try and get a proper release that will take hold and maybe grow the audience with each release. This won’t be ready for release this year. At this point I have 2 1/2 of the novels done in what I see as a 6ish book series. I have notes filling up pages of notebooks. I have worlds being created and destroyed. But this big push for this one is consistantcy in writing on the series so that perhaps 2025 might see the release of Book 1. No matter, if I make more and more progress on this insanity, I will be extremely happy.

 

Hollow Empire

Mr. Neill and myself wrote a serialized story set in a world where the Black Plague event happened twenty years eariler and the world was still picking itself back up from getting punched in the teeth. We did 6 episodes and collected that as a full-length novel (Season 1). In the years since, I’ve wanted to go back to this story, but have always back-burnered this in favor of something else. However, Jeremy has written 2 additional novellas in the world in the meantime.

It is like an itch I need to get at… I have one novella ready to go, but need to finish the next two before I do any releasing. Regardless, more work on this is needed this year.

Short Stories

At some point this year I wondered about both my published and unpublished short stories. I have a few building up in my folders, so I started putting them all in a Scriviner file to see where I was in a potential Anthology. I was pleasantly suprised to see I had about 40,000 words over around 10ish shorts. And I have about 4 other stories that would be really good fits in there that are in progress. This is another “make progress” as I wouldn’t want to try and put it out this year but maybe in 2025…

***

So that’s a look toward my writing future. I’m optimistic that come this time next year a whole bunch of these items will have a big checkmark beside them. Fingers crossed.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Everyday – Part 15

Seven years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. For the past six years, I’ve shared a few from the book around the holidays.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

Part 8 is here.

Part 9 is here.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

Part 13 is here.

Part 14 is here.

 

 

January 25

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

Dr. Seuss

 

February 12

You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.

E. M. Forster, A Room With A View

 

March 29

Time is

Too slow for those who wait

Too swift for those who fear

Too long for those who grieve,

Too short for those who rejoice;

But for those who Love,

Time is not.

Henry Van Dyke, Music And Other Poems

April 22

If anything happened to you, I’d be so destroyed they’d have to strap me to a bed and feed me through a tube. After five or six years, I might be capable of taking care of Rex. In the interim, you should assign a guardian.

Janet Evanovich, Fearless Fourteen

May 16

Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.

Katherine Hepburn, Me: Stories Of My Life

 

June 17

Whenever you are confronted with an Opponent. Conquer him with love.

Mahatma Gandhi

 

July 11

One day spent with someone you love can change everything.

Mitch Albom, For One More Day

 

August 10

You don’t marry the person you can live with…

You marry the person you can’t live without.

Anonymous

September 25

What greater gift than the love of a cat.

Charles Dickens

 

October 28

Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere.

Vertigo

 

November 9

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

Carl Sagan, Contact

 

December 7

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.

Roy Croft

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Survivor – What’s Your Path to Win?

Watching this season of Survivor brought me to a weird conclusion about games in general. For those unfamiliar with Survivor, each week someone is voted out, but there are items which can grant you immunity if you find/earn them. During this season, one of the players, Bruce, made the decision to trust someone and opted not to play his immunity idol… and was promptly voted out. Now, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in the history of the game. In fact, there have been many times where the players have commented no matter what, they weren’t going to be dumb and go home with the idol in their pocket.

In the past, I would have definitely been railing against this player… why on earth wouldn’t you play this idol if you had any inkling you were next to go? I’m pretty sure I have done just that while watching past seasons.

Yet, this time something else occured to me. What was his path to actually get to the end of the game and win?

Just because you can make a move in any game doesn’t always mean that you have to make it. In fact, I’d argue that doing something because you don’t want to look stupid not doing the thing is likely just avoiding failing versus actually trying to win.

Let’s say that at 8 players left, he plays the idol and makes it to 7 players… isn’t he just as likely to be the number one target next time? Yes, he’d have an opportunity to win a challenge (which he had done twice already) to protect himself, but if he doesn’t do that… he’s toast.

How does Bruce get to the end game?

Image by Erik from Pixabay

To get to the end game means not using the idol at 8. He has to put his trust into someone at some point. And the path he needs to take requires him having that idol in his pocket at least one more vote. If he survives the vote at 8, then he can now use it at 7 if he needs to. However, the thing is, if he survives the vote at 8, then the game has likely pivoted more in his favor anyway. Suddenly, he may not be worth the bother anymore. There may be someone on the other alliance who needs to go first. There may be a bigger threat. Or, given that he wasn’t well liked… sometimes those people become assets as you assume no one will give someone who annoys them 1 million dollars.

Obviously, no matter what game you might be playing, you don’t want to get to a position where you are hoping for the narrow path to possibly win, but I believe it can be a good exercise to employ. When you win, how does that most likely occur? In Poker, it may be getting someone to pay you off on a big hand or it may be getting someone to lay down a big hand. In Magic the Gathering, it might be a series of counter plays where you find a window to play a threat and protect it at all costs.

Once you can start to see how the win comes, you can craft your strategy to get there better than if you are just allowing variance to control your fate. And that may mean taking an unorthodox line of play, knowing that yes you might not be successful, but at least you didn’t let the game dictate to you. At least you took as much control as you could.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reason Why – The God That Failed

 

How do you write a comic book?

I had crafted terrible, terrible stories throughout my youth. I have a blue beat-up notebook with the ongoing tales of the Threats based on the adventures of my sister and friends. I had various files on the computer with a bullet list style outline of ideas here or there but there was never a real chance to actually get a comic going. And then somehow I found myself with a very random opportunity after spending a few months talking about writing in the back of a comic shop.

There were some artists who met up there as well and somehow there was an opportunity to do something short. 8-pages.

I didn’t go back to any of my old ideas. In fact, I wasn’t really sure how to go about writing a script for an artist. I don’t think I’d really seen anything at that point. But there was a bigger problem:

I didn’t have an idea.

It was a struggle to try and find some kernel of an idea. Sure I had 60 issue epics planned out, but only 8 pages? What in the world could I tell in such a short amount of time?

And then it hit me one day while I was at work. Over the next 10 minutes I roughed out the full script on a bunch of scrap papers. The idea of having a hero who had a very limited time in the world. I don’t know if I was feeling my own mortality as I approached my 30s or if there was something about comic book heroes never getting to see the last of their stories, but that’s what I set out to do.

Again, it was a bare bones script at best that I handed the artist, John Etienne, the next meeting. He might have asked a couple of questions, I can’t remember. All I knew was there was a chance this bit of words on a couple of pages might get transformed into something bigger.

 

Evolution-Book-one-cover-lo

Since the internet loves a list, here are 9 things (Why 9? Because that’s how many I came up with!) about my first comic that might strike your fancy, a behind the scenes, if you will:

1- John Etienne was the artist on the story. The only reason that Etienne was my artist is because I had approached him a couple of months earlier, before the idea of doing an anthology was even a real thought in anyone’s head. However, it wasn’t because I had this story lined up. No, instead I had wanted him to draw an 8 page Moon Knight story for me (not sure what my goal there would have been). Lucky for me he didn’t have time right then to work on anything, and when the anthology project was finally launched I had a story of my own.

2- John Etienne happens to know my Mother-in-Law. She played a trick on him once the comic was out by telling him that not only had she gone to Dragon Con, but she had bought this comic book and wondered if he was the artist on it. “I always go to Dragon Con, and I love comic books”. After a few dumb-founded seconds she fessed up, but both of them later relayed the story to me (and the look on his face as he wasn’t sure if he’d stepped into Bizzaro world or not). I believe Etienne’s words were to me that he just couldn’t see her at Dragon Con. Though, I would pay good money to see her downtown on Labor Day weekend.

3- There was some debate about the order of the stories within the book. I generally like to be the nice guy about most things, but by my thinking I believed you either wanted to be the first story or the last story in the book (actually we all may have thought those spots were the best). I ended up with the last story position, but when the first story ended up delayed (or abandoned, I can’t remember) everyone agreed to put The God That Failed into the first position. Again, I have to thank Etienne for actually being the first one finished with his pages which made the choice fairly easy plus they looked pretty damn good as well, which did not hurt our cause).

4- I mentioned in the blog that my favorite superheroes are Spider-Man and The Flash. The God That Failed was my idea of what would happen to a guy who received the abilities of The Flash, but that power was burning him up inside.

TheFlash

5- In my original script, page 7 was actually page 6, and page 6 was page 7. Given the way the narration was done the story wasn’t as much linear as it was a guy talking about his friend who was disappearing from the world. When I actually saw the finished pages I had those two flipped given the way the story played out. That being said, page 7 is a “what if” moment, not something that the character actually did (he didn’t need to get more power, he already had way too much).

6- Though I love the serialized format of comic books, this was always a stand-alone story… a cautionary tale, a new myth or something. Thus began my apparent need to tell complete stories (done in one) in comics. That continued with The Gilded Age. But the real reason that I didn’t want to have him as a new hero for future stories was that I had no idea if or when I’d ever get a chance to do more comics. And as a reader there is nothing more frustrating than buying a comic that says “To Be Continued” and then not ever finding the rest of the story.

7- The main character’s name was John Smith; however, it wasn’t because two Johns worked on the story. I wanted a generic name, someone who might be easily forgotten regardless of all the good deeds he might have done. That fear is something that I know I have and I was channeling that fear into John Smith. This is really summed up to me on pages 5 & 6 but mostly in panel 4 on page 5. John carving into the Easter Island statues is not him destroying something precious; it is his attempt to prove that he existed at all. I sometimes wonder if he did that all over the world.

8- The title is taken from the title of a song on Metallica’s Black Album. I just liked the way it sounded, and since superheroes many times are considered gods, it fit exceptionally well in my mind.

Now I probably owe them money or something.

9- My favorite page of the story is the last one. I think (I hope) that I dodged becoming too preachy by having that last panel thrown in there. I love the idea of another what if… this one being, of course, what if John Smith had lived. The shot of The Fruit Fly conjures up memories of a 10-year old me. I think he would have gotten a kick out of that.

***

I’m not sure John truly knew how excited I was to start seeing those pages. And while the narration and idea was mine, it wouldn’t be anything without his wonderful artwork. He took a bare script and made it look like a true comic story. And when he was done, that’s when I got that first true rush I hope everyone who creates something gets when they see it finished. It’s an odd moment where you know no matter what else happens, a little piece of you exists in the world. Something permanent which sprang from your mind.

My own Easter Island carving if you will.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Blank Page

The scariest thing about doing this writing thing is always the blank page. Whether it is a blog or a mailing list email or a short story or a novel or a comic script…

Every movie or tv show you’ve ever seen has the wadded up pages scattered along the floor near the wastebasket (never in it unless it is completely overfilled… a very all or nothing scenario I suppose). But that image is what’s going on in your brain the whole time. A metaphorical throwing away of the pages.

The white page/screen stares you down. It dares you to try and fashion something coherent. It annoys you with its stark nature. Mocks you into thinking you won’t be able to write the THING. Whatever that THING happens to be this time. It reflects that not-so-little voice inside us which trys to remind us we are frauds. Why would anyone bother reading anything you’ve written?

To start a new THING is a bold and scary thing. Even the act of hitting that NEW button of your writing software. The very act which summons your ancient enemy. It’s all a part of the process.

But push past that initial fear and there is an odd freedom to what lay before you. I mean a blank screen can also represent something completely unknown to you in the moment, but it is also a promise of something to come. True endless possibilities. The opportunity to write and discover the secrets you’re unearthing.

That, too, comes with obstacles. Just because you’ve started and managed to get some words on the screen, doesn’t mean you have accomplished your goal. The thing is, ideas can be squirelly to nail down. I have folders of partially written blogs and short stories where I got off to very strong starts. Thousands of words littered across the pages. The characters becoming more and more real with each line of dialogue or discription. Then it just stops. It becomes a slog. You’ve lost the thread. You go back and read what you’ve written and begin to have the doubts again. You can’t abandon all this work, but you know it isn’t going anywhere either.

Click Save and move on. It’ll remain unfinished.

Or will it? Maybe that start is all you needed? Maybe you can come back to it? Maybe you can harvest that THING for use in another THING? Maybe it can be the inspiration for something even bigger and better?

Maybe… maybe… maybe…

Sometimes all you need is a little kick in the rear in order to get going. Most of the time I search for inspiration in any place I can think of. I have the habit of writing ideas, bits of dialogue, random notes or what have you on pieces of scrap paper.  Because the truth is you don’t know when the next bit will happen. The story well may have run dry for a while, but all it takes is one little bit of light to shatter the darkness you find youself in.

That’s the key. You have to allow yourself to dream. To mentally go down wrong pathways before you can discover the true nature of the THING.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Everyday – Part 14

Seven years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. For the past six years, I’ve shared a few from the book around the holidays.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

Part 8 is here.

Part 9 is here.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

Part 13 is here.

 

January 9

What I really want to do with my life – what I want to do for a living –  is I want to be with your daughter.

I’m good at it.

Say Anything

 

February 27

Doubt thou the stars are fire;

Doubt the sun doth move;

Doubt truth to be a liar:

but never doubt I love.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

March 30

 

The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love.

Henry Miller

April 20

 

Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.

Jorge Luis Borges

May 15

You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won’t tell you that he loves you, but he loves you. And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired.

You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you didn’t even have a name for.

Richard Siken

 

June 10

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

Judy Garland

 

July 25

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.

Charlotte’s Web

 

August 15

 

But love doesn’t make sense! You can’t logic your way into or out of it. Love is totally nonsensical. But we have to keep doing it or else we’re lost, and love is dead and humanity should pack it in.

Because love is the best thing we do.

How I Met Your Mother

September 13

That’s when you know for sure somebody loves you. They figure out what you need and they give it to you – without you asking.

Adriana Trigiani, Very Valentine

 

October 27

My only nightmare is waking up in a world where you’re not mine.

Anonymous

 

November 14

With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day, so you can see what you meant to me.

Jarod Kintz, This Is The Best Book I’ve Ever Written, And It Still Sucks

 

December 5

Woman is sacred; the woman one loves is holy.

Alexandre Dumas, The Count Of Monte Cristo

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Movie Review – The Marvels

There is a ton of talk about this movie online. Honestly, it is to the point that I’m wondering about that old saying “whether it is bad or good… as long as they are talking about you” still applies. After one weekend, this has underperformed at the box office, and while many people have listed their own theories about why this has occurred (smarter and dumber people alike), it seems to me we’ve gotten away from the key part of watching a movie.

Did you like it?

Yes.

***

Thanks for coming to the blog!

***

OK. The first Captain Marvel really occupies an odd place in the MCU as it came out after Infinity War but before End Game but took place in the 90s, which put in a position where it didn’t really fit into the current storyline and acts as a prequel to much of the MCU (other than say the first Captain America movie). It introduces more of the Kree (since Ronan in Guardians was really the only Kree we’d met otherwise) and sets up something that within the comics is a HUGE deal: the Kree/Skrull conflicts.

I enjoyed the first one, but I must admit, I haven’t gone back to do a rewatch so it might have been seen through rose-colored glasses as we all waited for End Game.

***

With Marvels, my concern was how well would people who haven’t watched the tv shows understand who these characters are. We’d watched WandaVision, so Monica’s story was familiar to us, but we haven’t had a chance to watch Ms. Marvel. And while I am familiar with the comic version, I haven’t really read much with her in it. Luckily, I think they did a pretty good job of introducing both, even if Monica has a leg up due to Captain Marvel being Aunt Carol.

The sequence which gets the movie started is them switching places whenever one of them uses their powers at the same time as another of the trio. Which creates a breakneck series of fights which does a nice job of illustrating each of their power sets. When the three are finally all together, the embarassingly cute interaction Ms. Marvel has with the other two women is infectious. It also does a nice bit of contrast to one of the things people complained about with the first one – that Captain Marvel was too stoic. In fact, that is kind of her character arc here. Someone who has seperated herself from the rest of the universe, someone doing a job only they can do, and just being utterly alone. Faced with a “team”, she balks at it because it is so against her nature. Yet as things continue, she has no choice but to literally and figuratively embrace these two souls. It was this underlying thread that still made it HER movie in so many ways.

Dar-Benn

On top of everything else, though, this movie feels like something where everyone is having fun. The actors look like they are into it. The writer clearly understood this was supposed to be more about the three heroes and their developing relationships between one another rather than the larger plot. Which may be the one bit of “bad” about the movie for me.

I don’t know if they completely knew what kind of villain they were portraying here? Is Dar-Benn your classic cosmic world destroyer in the vein of Ronan? Is she someone who is only trying to do her best to restore her homeworld back to from the brink of annihilation? Or is she someone who is bent of revenge against a sworn enemy?

Now, that sounds like the beginning of real depth for Dar-Benn, but it is here that things seem to get confused. She is all these things, but we only find out about the revenge against Captain Marvel near the end of the movie which makes it seems like it was her ultimate motivation. However, this came across as more of a “oh, ok” moment rather than a “WOW” moment. I wish they would have put something more into that, even an exchange between her first officer saying something about getting revenge is how she’s picking her targets.

***

The cosmic side of Marvel has so much to explore and these characters could allow them to do just that. And could even seed some additional ideas for a Fantastic Four movie (Annihilus is out there).

The comic book nerd would hate for the lower box office to hurt these explorations in the future. There is a ton to enjoy about this movie, and if the first one didn’t quite hit right, this one has a feel very different to that one – it may be more in your wheelhouse.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Editing and Editing and Editing

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I’m always trying to find better ways to write. Trying to figure out tips and tricks that might help me as I wrap up the next story I’m working on (whether that’s a short story or novel or series of novels). And even when the last words are written on the page and I can put THE END at the bottom… it only means that a whole other thing has to be done.

In movies it’s said that the film is really made in the editing room. That with a good edit, even the worst subject matter and story can come out smelling like roses. And I think it is the same in prose writing as well.

I treat my first drafts as just that: First Drafts. Which means I try not to worry too much about making mistakes or poor word choices or even character names… my goal is to get it on the page. By taking this approach it means that after the first draft is finished I still have a good amount of writing and rewriting to do. Now, luckily, I don’t believe I’m just writing a ton of stuff which will have to be overhauled by any means. The core is certainly there. However, it needs to be massaged and cleaned up.

And at some point I have to go through and start using the word search so that I can get rid of my crutch words. So I can get rid of the filler words. So I can get rid of certain turn of phrases which aren’t needed.

Image by DeSa81 from Pixabay

Things to Excise:

Adverbs – Anything that ends in “ly” is fair game for elimination. However, as with all of these words or phrases, I do a reread of the paragraph and see if it really warrants extinction. Sadly (hey, there’s that “ly”), adverbs most of the time don’t add as much as we think they do.

For example: “The girl ran quickly.”

Well, how else might she run? Typically if I wanted to imply that she was really pouring it on I’d opt for something like: “The girl sprinted.”

That – This is my absolute favorite one to get rid of. Most of the time the word “that” can be eliminated. Flat out. Read your sentence with “that” and then read it again without “that”… no difference (I’d say 75-80% of the time).

Nodded, Smiled, Laughed, Sighed, Shrugged, Shook, and Grinned – These are really more like placeholders for me on that first pass. I can’t always think of great things for someone to do, so I slot these in initially, and it is on this pass I begin to alter them into something a little… classier maybe. “She grinned.” vs. “She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.”

I just need something different that 1000 instances of “grinned” and “nodded”.

Just – I probably use this more in my dialogue than in my prose, but it does sneak in there as well. Another word to be deleted.

He said aloud – Another placeholder, waiting to grow up and become something better.

Cliches – These vary from project to project, and I’m not going to claim to find them all, but most of the time I try to avoid them: Needle in a haystack, grasping at straws, get out of dodge, and fast and furious have managed to infiltrate my prose on more than one occasion.

***

Character Names

I use placeholders for character names. Which has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is I don’t need to waste a bunch of time when I might be in a good flow to figure out whether the name should be Keith or Kranston. They just get a nickname or more likely something like XXX or YYY (easier to find in word search that way). However, in my current series, I called one character Big Boss for so long I literally couldn’t tell you what name I landed on. Even as I type this up I’m straining to figure it out and nothing is coming to me.

Of course, with that character, I don’t think I came up with a name until I was writing the last couple of chapters… so his name might as well been Big Boss.

The other thing I try to remember is not to pick names with the same starting letter.

I noticed when I was reading something I’m still learning everyone’s names at the beginning of the book. At some point the main character just becomes Alden or Harper and we’re good to go. The problem is when you want to have the entire cast all have names in the same range of the alphabet. I see Aaron and Alden and now I’m trying to remember which character is which. Maybe it is just a me problem, but the least I can do is avoid a similar problem in my own work.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

***

Using Less Words

This isn’t simply about erasing filler words, this is about the economy of your prose. One person I read mentioned an idea to go through every paragraph within your book and see if you can cut a sentence and still get the same point across. Can you tell what you need to tell in 10 words rather than 20?

This is a place where I think that yes, I can do that, but sometimes there needs to be some level of flowery language in there. If everything was See Spot Run, then reading would just be too boring. We’re trying to build worlds and characters who are complex and need to have room to breathe.

Still, after editing your work should be a little trimmer, a little lighter on its feet. It’s not a full diet, but just a couple of days of a good cleanse.

***

I’m still at it within Nanowrimo, even if my writing time has been as much as I would like. I’m hopeful the next couple of days can be very productive ones and help me catch up to where I should be.

November is speeding by awfully quick.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – Prepping for Nanowrimo

I attempted this last year and while I didn’t hit the 50,000 word goal, I still managed over 30,000 words which considering the last week or so is extremely hard to get much in the way of words with travelling and spending time with family. So I considered it a success.

My wife asked me if I was planning on doing it again, and the answer was yes. I’ve been making notes, outlining, and all the other things begining on the first. Plus, October has been a bit random with good writing nights. I’ll hit two or three in a row and then not be able to get much done for another two or three… for pretty much the whole week.

Anyway, I wanted to reshare some of my prep from my post last year as I focus on this next month!

 

So I’ve decided that this is the year that I’m going to give this Nanowrimo a shot. Of course, I’ve thought about it over the years, and I think I gave it a start a couple of years ago, but life got in the way. This decision means that I’m a little bit behind the eight ball, as it were because I made the decision all of about 7 days before the end of October. So I did what anyone might do, I started with some old-fashioned research on what things I needed to do to have the best chance of succeeding with my goal.

This list has been cobbled from my reading so many blogs out there. I tried to see what were the common themes that I kept seeing repeatedly. The biggest thing was asking the big question:

What am I getting out of this? What’s my goal beyond just having 50,000 words written at the end of the month?

Part of me is curious if I can do it at all. I’ve talked about this idea that if only I could keep my butt in the seat, then maybe I could write more than 1 draft in a year. I want to get going on book 2 of this series. I’m excited to push to make sure that the work progresses. I also know that my bigger goals only work if I can increase my word output. And finally, I just spent the weekend at a convention where I got to see all these people displaying their dozens of books, and I had my three plus a few comics. While I’m proud of the work I’ve done, I need to catch up!

Set up your calendar.

This is obviously a big one. Trying to figure out the days I’m available and the days that I certainly won’t have time to do much writing. It is not for the first time that I wonder whose bright idea it was to do this during a month with only 30 days and with a major holiday at the tail end of the month (you know, probably the time when you are going to want to play a little bit of catch-up). Looking at it, I definitely need to account for the days I can write but especially figure out those days when I cannot.

It breaks down like this: 50,000 words in 30 days = 1,667 words/day

That’s a bit intimidating.

November-2022-calendar-b18.jpg printable calendar

Clear the calendar of the to-do lists.

Some items cannot be cleared. Others will need to be juggled a little bit. One of the things I do every week is the blogs for TesseraGuild, so I sat down over the last couple of days and wrote out all the blogs for the remainder of the year. In fact, it might be the furthest ahead I’ve ever been since I started doing this.

 

Set up your Nano account

Need to set up my nano account (I guess). I saw this a bunch about having a group to help build friendships and discussions and whatnot for encouragement. It can’t hurt!

 

Outline the book.

I’m lucky in that I know exactly what book I’m going to be writing for the project. I also have already begun working on the outline prior to the start. However, I have plenty of blank spots leading into this that I will need to fill in.

For the first book, I did something called 40 sentences, where I basically had a beat sheet or plot sheet broken into 40 bullets, with the idea that each one would be a chapter (I don’t think that’s exactly what I ended up with), but it worked well to have that roadmap to fall back on, and it is interesting to review to see where I departed from the original breakdowns.

Some of this also falls under the list of having your title, having the story idea, having your characters and who they are. This is book 2 in a series, so with that comes a couple of known characters (my two POVs), but I do need to take a little time to flesh out some of the supporting cast for both.

 

Writing the story logline and/or pitch.

I don’t know that I’ve ever done this upfront, but then I realized that I basically have done it when I’m pitching the various ideas I have to my wife. She listens to me stumble around, trying to figure out the exact way to frame whatever it is, and generally is a good sounding board. For this story, I haven’t really told her much about it because she’s read book 1, she knows how things ended, and I kind of want to keep it all as a surprise. So I’ll need to do this on my own.

Have a tracking system

I have been tracking my writing over the years with a simple excel spreadsheet. I figure if it ain’t broke…

 

Research

Normally research is something that is a nice break from the actual writing process, but it also becomes this not-so-fun time sink. However, when writing the first draft, I mostly don’t concern myself with too much on the end of the research. If it is something that is only going to slow me down, then I should probably cut it for this draft and worry about it when I go to do my first editing pass next year. However, I did see something that talked about images (which I already use), but maybe spending a little of this prep time to grab some more for the story might not be a bad thing.

Another thing that enters into this is the idea of making a cover for your potential book, which is another rabbit hole I could definitely spend a ton of time diving down.

 

Notebook

I need to keep one of my notebooks with me at all times during November. I have a couple that are blank, so they might make the best ones to use for this exact process.

 

Mindset

I’ve seen in more than a couple of places talk about getting into the right mindset. This is truly a marathon (but perhaps one made up of a bunch of sprints). This is something that many attempt and don’t end up getting to that mythical finish line. So if I’m going to have a shot at writing that much during this month, then I need to prep my brain to get onto the good path.

***

Anyway, here I go. Wish me good luck!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Free Short Story: Til the Last Candle Flickers

From the Machina Obscurum Anthology:

 

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

* * *

Til the Last Candle Flickers

 John McGuire

Dave Simms wished the world would just end already. He didn’t care if it swept away in an enormous tidal wave that washed everything from the land. If a meteor struck his very spot in an extinction level event, he wouldn’t have minded. If the dead clawed their way through filth and earth and wooden coffins into the sunlight with a new desire to eat the living’s flesh, he would sigh in relief.

For then, maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t have to put up with people like Steven Kingsley anymore.

“The world’s supposed to end this week, right Dave?” The nasally sound of Steven’s voice boomed across the hunting store causing Dave to gnash his teeth and clench his jaws.

Though, hunting store wasn’t the correct term for this place. Part hunting shop, part grocery store, and part gas station, the Tilly Mill Shoppe sat at the edge of civilization. Old highway twenty no longer roared with traffic the way it might had some thirty years earlier. Like most places just outside the suburban beltline, this area was wilderness for most city-folk. The store would be crowded with customers traveling north to the mountains from Atlanta on Friday evening, their trucks towing a boat, or a camper, or just hunting equipment. Each of them convinced they were recapturing some primal essence long since lost to them in their weekly routine of desks, emails, and deadlines. This place represented the last stop before complete anarchy. Somewhere the strong ate the weak. So the store would be very busy nearly every weekend. Filled to the brim with patrons trying to reconnect to that lost animal inside.

Those very reasons summed up why Dave only visited during the week. A trick he used so that he only needed to deal with the regulars. Maybe give a few of the old timers a nod as they lived out the last days of their lives, sitting outside, swapping stories, and counting every car which drove past.

That was, of course, as long as they weren’t giving Dave grief. Three of them had left their perch outside and followed him in, ever curious about his plans. He’d dealt with their type his whole life. In high school, they were the jocks, the cool kids, and he was the nerd who needed to be pointed at and laughed at for being different. Scrawny, glasses wearing, wimp of a kid, they saw him as weak and it was a moral imperative to ensure that they terrorized him throughout his adolescence.

“Big day for you, huh Dave?” When he made no move to acknowledge the comment, Steven cleared his throat and tried again. “This is the week, right?”

Dave looked up quickly, taking care not to lock eyes with Steven before immediately dipping his head downward again. Under his breath, he muttered. “Yes, sir. Noon on Saturday.”

Steven grinned, flashing his yellowed teeth back at Rick and Sam. “You hear that, fellas? We best be saying our prayers if ole’ Dave is to be believed.”

Rick decided to join in on the fun. “You ask me, the apocalypse happened a couple of years ago. Whole world’s going to Hell.”

Somewhere, along the shelves in the back, Dave Simms examined his shopping list a little closer. In front of the squirrely man stood the shelf with various dried packaged food, and he didn’t need to grab anything that might not sit well with his nervous stomach. His eyes darted from shelf to paper and then back again before he made his decision. His arm shot out and proceeded to scoop a dozen packets into his basket. A few more passes up the three aisles the small store offered and Dave sifted through the basket once more before grunting his satisfaction at his haul.

Rick chuckled and reached into the front of his shirt pocket to find the dip can waiting. Using two dirty fingers, he pinched a piece and set it between his front lip and gums. “Well I got ah question for you, Dave. How is it that about every three months or so you come in here and stock up on all sorts of,” he grabbed one of the pouches from the shelf, “Re-hydro-ized vegetables?”

Sam interjected, “That’s not real food. You know that.”

Dave remained silent, waiting for Rick to finish whatever point his feeble brain was trying to make. He kept his hands at his sides, fighting the urge to clench and unclench them with every word spat his way.

“Every three months you think that the world is going to end, and every three months go by and we’re all still here.”

Dave could tell that a reply was required. “That is true.”

Steven broke into a big grin before pointing to the radio sitting on the counter behind him. “I sometimes listen to those late night shows, you know with the crazy callers about aliens and the like. And they talk about the end of the world too. Ain’t none of them mentioned this particular time though. Why do you think that is?”

Rick poked him in the chest with the pouch. “So how is it that the world hasn’t ended if you’re so sure that this is the time. Last time was the time. And the time before that.”

Dave did his best to keep his expression neutral. “I only have to be right once.”

“What’s that?” Steven cocked his head and for a moment looked more like a confused dog than a man.

Dave spoke the words a little louder, a little clearer. “I only have to be right one time.”

The three men exchanged looks before they each let out a howl of laughter. Dave couldn’t blame them for their reaction. He took their jabs because he knew that it didn’t make sense. None of it made sense.

They weren’t wrong about his previous predictions. A quick bit of math told him that he’d made almost thirty-seven different predictions about the end of the world. He was far past crying wolf. Nobody would believe him, and if he were being honest with himself, he no longer believed it either. Yet he continued to make his weekly visit and monthly predictions.

*

The first message came to him through the direct service his work employed. A cryptic line that only gave the score of the next weekend’s Falcons’ game: 24-10. Dave didn’t pay it much mind. To be honest, he wasn’t much of a sports guy, knowing just enough about the goings-on with the various ball related sports to contribute one or two lines of dialogue to any conversation which might have the misfortune to spring up around him. It wasn’t until he arrived to work on Monday morning that he thought about the note again and rechecked the final score: 24-10.

The next Friday afternoon he received the scores for every football game on the weekend slate, college and professional. They all matched… every single one of them. By the end of the weekend, he was watching the Sunday night game with a measure of both astonishment and disbelief. He cheered as hard as he could against the picked winner. Even if every other game had been right, somehow he just needed one to be incorrect. It wasn’t possible to have that level of accuracy in such things. But when the final whistle blew and he double and then triple checked the scores, they all matched.

He seriously thought about calling in sick that next day.

*

“Hey! You three better stop harassing our customers!” Dave hadn’t noticed the woman behind the counter when he came into the store. The nice thing about small town grocers was that things never changed. The bad thing about small town grocers was that things never changed.

Every week it was the same elderly man, Mr. Jacobs, who sat and listened to the police scanner, a spit cup resting alongside him on a little ledge behind the counter… not quite out of sight of the customers. A heavyset man, Mr. Jacobs never said more than a couple of words in his mixed mumble speak, and Dave was never entirely sure if he actually hated the customers or just didn’t care to engage any of them in conversation.

Dave liked that about Mr. Jacobs.

Yet, here she was, someone new, someone he’d never met before.

“Sorry, Stacy.” Steven cast a dirty look Dave’s way, but led his cronies back out the front of the store.

The woman never took her eyes off the little crew until they were outside. Only then did she turn her attention to Dave. “Sorry about that…”

Dave focused on her. Full face, dark hair that had a little too much product in it, long finger nails, some kind of dark red, and the warmest smile he’d seen since he’d relocated to the mountains.

She took his basket from him and began inspecting his haul on the day. “Do you actually eat this stuff or what?”

Most of the conversations Dave had started much the same way. A bit of disdain dripping from their voice as they tried to wrap their brains around whatever freaky lifestyle they thought he was living. He’d been labeled a Prepper, a Doomsdayer, and a bunch of other names not fit for mixed company. A person tends to become immediately defensive regardless of anything else.

“Yes! Why does it matter?” Dave felt bad immediately upon speaking the words as it dawned on him she didn’t have that sound of arrogance in her voice. Instead, while his brain replayed the question back in his head, he heard something else… perhaps a bit of playfulness. “I’m so-sorry. Those guys, they just-“

“Push your buttons. No, I get it.” The smile returned after its brief vacation, which made him all the more grateful for it.

“So, did something happen with Mr. Jacobs?”

“What? Uncle George? Oh, no. He’s just getting a bit too old to work the full week here. And my aunt is very keen on keeping him more around the house rather than hang out with the…” she pointed to the outside. “Other nere-do-wells.”

“Oh, good then. I mean, not good.” Always stammering and stuttering around women. Dave knew he was doing it again. Couldn’t find the correct words to say if they sat in his mouth and leapt out of their own accord. Still, through it all, she just gave him another smile that calmed him once more. “I mean, I’m glad he’s doing alright.”

She finished ringing his last item. “Seventy-two fifty-five is your total. And I know what you meant.”

Dave watched as she took his card and fed it through one of those old style credit card swipes that created the carbon copy, one for the store and one for him. Stacy grimaced. “I just wish he’d have something from this century for me to use. Something with a scanner and buttons.”

*

The week after the football games, the messenger changed his style. Dave began receiving the communications on his work computer, his home computer, his tablet, his phone, and anything else that could convey the missive. Every waking moment his devices would chirp or beep in excitement at a new dispatch. And they all said the same thing:

I know the future. I know when it all ends. If you want to continue living then you must follow my instructions.

Each time, Dave would press the delete button. Yet the notes haunted him. His dreams twisted under their influence until all he could see were those words. He couldn’t focus on work. He couldn’t focus on the few friends he actually had. He couldn’t focus on entertainment. None of it could distract him from the messages. What they might mean to him, and whether or not they contained any measure of truth.

That was the thought that kept him awake more than any other.

*

Dave took his card back from her, signed the bottom of the store’s copy, and scooped up his bags. “Well, I guess I’ll see you next week then.” He wanted to say more to her. He wanted to find something to talk to her about. He just wasn’t that good at the small talk. For him, small talk was just a way to extract him from the conversation rather than ease into a deeper one. He shuffled along to the front entrance, trying to will something clever to say when he heard her voice again.

“Is it true?”

Dave turned around. “What’s that?”

“Is it true what they said? That you think the world is going to end this weekend?”

What was he supposed to say? Should he lie? Did it even mean anything? If things were about to go to pot, what did pissing off one more matter?

“Yes.”

He waited for the ridicule or the laughter or anything. He shut his eyes, not wanting to see her make fun of him. It might kill the last piece that still believed in humanity. Instead, she spoke with no hint of arrogance or irony, but as someone who was genuinely interested in the potential answer. “How is it going to happen?”

Dave shook off the shock and cleared his throat before speaking. “Have you heard about the N-778?”

Stacy furled her brow. “I don’t think so.”

“It’s a meteor. Well, more than that really. We’re talking about an object in space the size of Alaska.”

She lit up. “Wait! I know about that one. I heard it on the news late one night. Some NASA muckity-mucks have said…” she paused, and Dave could see that she was trying to make sure she got the next part correct. “That it is crossing through a trajectory in such a way that in some of the simulations they run, it collides with the Earth.”

Now it was his turn to smile. She had it, well most of it anyway. “I’m surprised.”

“Surprised that I know something about one of the billions of big objects in the sky?”

“Well, yes, but only because the rest of these people I interact with wouldn’t know a tenth of what you just said.”

“Sorry, not much to do here all day. I like the Science Channel.”

“So do I.”

“Plus considering the lot of them outside barely know how to tie their shoes every morning, that’s no surprise.” She cocked her head to one side. “Still, I’m going to take that as a complement.”

“Yes.” The words flowed from Dave’s mouth in rapid succession. “And do you remember the percent chance of it actually happening?” She shook her head. “About one in one hundred trillion of crossing into our direct orbit, and then another one hundred trillion worth that it could collide with us.”

She sighed, partially for effect. “Yet, apparently you think it is a one hundred percent chance.”

“Well, I’ve seen it.”

*

Dave couldn’t recall the exactly moment when he broke down and answered the lingering message. The days blurred into a molasses of nothingness, as if he were a stranger in his own life. He watched that version of him go to work every day and count the minutes from the time he sat down until the minute changed to six o’clock and he could head back to his home. That cold apartment never greeted him very warmly. The television never did much to enhance his life. And now, he dared not go to the computer lest the bombardment of messages face him once more.

He needed a change. He needed a lifeline. He needed something, but he couldn’t be sure what it was.

So slowly, he came around. Like an addict who had a left-over bottle of liquor hidden away at the back of the pantry. First, he slid over to the chair, his fingertips hovering over the power switch. Oops, suddenly the machine was on again. As it went through its boot-up process he thought about standing back up, unplugging the machine from the wall, and being done with it. But his feet didn’t move. His ass remained in the chair. And when it came time to enter his password, his fingers did not hesitate to type them in.

What do you want?

I want to save your life.

Why? Who are you? How did you know all of that stuff? Why me?

I know when things are going to happen because for me they are the past. You are my past.

Dave stopped typing. Did he believe it? Could he believe it? Was it possible? The person on the other end seemed to be able to read his thoughts.

It is true. It is possible. And I have already proved it to you. Or do you require more proof?

What did he require? If this was the truth, what would it take for him to believe? Why weren’t the scores enough?

I need one more piece of proof.

*

“You’ve seen it with a telescope?” Dave set his groceries down on the floor and moved back over to the counter. Stacy leaned against it.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I spotted it two days ago.”

Stacy pushed back from the counter. “So if it is going to happen, why would they say that it wouldn’t?”

“They?”

“The NASA muckity-mucks.”

Dave stood and stared at the woman. She noticed his look and blushed. “But you don’t believe them? You think they’ve got it all wrong?”

“Well, let’s look at it this way, maybe they’re right and it is going to miss us. Certainly is a long shot that we would get hit in the first place. But if they really saw that the damn thing was going to collide with us… that’s the type of information you can never let out, because if they can’t stop it, then there is no point in having mass riots and chaos for two weeks before the event is supposed to happen.”

Stacy stared at him with her mouth open a little bit. After a few moments, she seemed to catch herself and regained her composure. “That’s… probably true.”

“Yeah, so whether it is going to hit or not, we’re on our own.”

*

Within three months, Dave bought the cabin in north Georgia, quit his job, and began construction on the bunker under his house. With the money he made from the predictions, finances were no longer a concern for him. No, the only worry left was survival.

These new days brought out a man from inside him that he didn’t know existed. In the mountain air, he felt invigorated. Without the need to wake up at some god-forsaken early hour, he now chose to be up with the sun. He filled his days with work on the bunker, and his nights reading one of the many books he’d brought up from the city with him.

And when the day approached he was ready for it. He watched the internet and listened to the news from the safety below his cabin home. As the hours ticked by, he napped, calmer than he’d ever been before. Then when the day past into night and then into early morning again, the world continue to spin as if nothing had happened.

The world had not ended.

It didn’t happen.

A pause greeted him from the other side.

Hello. Nothing happened.

Hmmm.

Hmmm? That’s all you have to say? I’ve abandoned my life for this and then nothing happened? I warned the people at the shop I go to.

Why would you do that?

Why wouldn’t I?

I’m only trying to warn you. I’m only preparing you. Remember that.

But…

I was wrong this time. These things are a little fuzzy at times. But you are prepared. And I assure you, it is going to happen.

I don’t understand. I thought you said you knew what was going to happen and when.

I do and I don’t. My brain isn’t what it used to be, my memory gets jumbled sometimes on the big stuff. But I know it is coming soon. That’s why you must be ready.

*

“Show me where it is.”

Dave swallowed hard and shifted the telescope around. Stacy moved back, but not very far. He could feel her sweater brush the back of his arm. The sweetness of her breath filled his nostrils. Night overtook the day and the two stood on top of the store, her telescope focused on the clearest sky he could remember seeing. A small bit of chill in the air misted their breaths.

“There. There it is.” Dave pulled back to allow Stacy room to see. “It’s not much to look at right now, but-“

“Oh, no… it’s beautiful. I can see wisps of light trailing behind it.”

“That’s pieces of it breaking off through its trip through space. Kinda like a comet.”

“And this is the thing that is going to end the world?” This time he heard a little playfulness in her voice, but it didn’t bother him.

“I believe so, yeah.”

“That’s too bad.” For the first time that day, he thought he detected a hint of sadness in her voice. A slight quiver as she said the words.

“I’ve never told this to anyone, and I know that it’s silly, but I’m actually wishing the world would just go ahead and get it over with. It’s the waiting that’s the worst.”

Stacy pulled away from the eyepiece and smiled at him, a small amount of proof that perhaps his joke had the right kind of effect. A gust of wind whipped across the rooftop, and she moved in closer to him… for warmth. “Is this world really so bad?”

*

The world had died. Of course, that happened many years ago, though Dave Simms’ mind no longer could recall the exact date it happened. The years between had not been overly kind to his memories which disappeared as if his brain was run through a colander. Still, he had a job to do. Something to help heal his heart, even if only a little bit.

Throughout the bunker, he did his best to avoid catching a look at any reflective surface. His was a face he no longer wanted to see. Somehow, he knew exactly what he’d find. Gone would be the bit of youthful exuberance that once filled his frame. Gone would be the determination to ensure he had the right things planned out, replaced by the man sitting in front of the ancient terminal. A graying, sad, little man who struggled on his bad days not to open the sealed door.

Not let the Armageddon in.

This place now served as a tomb to the one living person who could still use it. Shelves lining the walls, once packed full of various foods and canned goods, held only dust. He had to make a trip to the far end, through two pairs of doors, to get to the last of his reserves. At last count, he probably had enough to make it through the end of the year.

It was a slow death preparing to greet him. The very reason why opening the door to the outside became more enticing every day. A growing part of him wished to see what the world looked like before his retina’s burnt away.

Beside the infernal machine’s whirling and blinking, a strained effort to keep going, was a lone portrait from the Before. Of all the objects he could have brought below with him, he cursed and celebrated his decision to bring this item. The red-haired woman smiles at him, a small amount of cotton candy stuck to the tip of her nose. Those eyes focused on a younger version of him. Somehow, she was in love with him in a way that he did not know could be possible. At the bottom there was a date, slightly smudged from his fingers. It marked those last days where he… where they were truly happy. Alongside it sat the last newspaper he ever picked up proclaiming the end of all things. Mass chaos… death… fear. The dates were only a few days apart.

Dave settled into the chair, his fingers the only part of his body that still moved with a reckless abandon. Their tips pounded away at the top of the keyboard. He had stopped looking at his fingers a long time ago, but it would do him little good to bother with such an action now. Most of the keys were blank, worn away through his furious use over the years.

Time was all he had since the End came. Dave knew it would be over, and he hoped that he managed to steer his ancient doppelganger in the correct direction for once.

I met a girl.

The words came in pieces across the screen. Dave shook his head at no one in particular and fired a missive back. He wanted to scream at the man on the other end of the line. To grab ahold of him and shake some sense into him.

We talked about this. You can’t make personal connections.

No, I know, I know. You’ve told me not to get attached, and I haven’t, but…

Dave found himself nodding. Finally, some of the words he’d been telling the man had seemed to sink into his skull.

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t really do much for me though. I’m not sure what you want me to do. You’re not right.

More anger. More disbelief. Had he really been this stubborn so long ago?

What?

I’ve lived this way for the past three years. The only people I seem to talk to are you and the few who mill around the store.

That is what you have to do in order to survive what’s to come. You can’t allow your emotions to cloud your judgment. You’ve come so far… and it is ending soon.

You know what? Those people in the store are right. You’ve repeated that same thing repeatedly for all this time. And nothing happens. You’re never right about any of it. The comet missed, the flash-fires didn’t happen. The moon is still shining on us from above. Whole. There were no grand solar flares that emitted EMP and wiped us all out. No mass of lightning strikes. Nothing!

I know, I can’t figure it out either. My brain is still a little bit scrambled, but I know that it is soon. You just have to have a little more patience.

No, I don’t. I’m just the idiot for believing you again and again. For building this shelter. For leaving my life and my job and any semblance of a real future… and for what? Because I’m too damn scared of life?

No! To survive. To find a way to go on living. That girl is only going to haunt you. She’ll be the one you can’t save. She’ll be the one that makes you think about ending it all every day of your miserable life and the one who convinces you to carry on in spite of those feelings.

You say that I would only lose them. That I have to worry about surviving. That I must worry about myself. How would you even know? What does it matter to you?

Dave reread the screen. Since his first contact with his younger version, he’d managed not to answer that question directly. For some reason he worried that it would change things if his younger self knew whom it was communicating with him. He had his reasons. A list of them he long since used for kindling. Now… now, he couldn’t remember one of them.

It doesn’t matter who I am, only that I am trying to help you.

I’m done. I’m finished. I’m done listening to you. I can’t live like this anymore. By myself, waiting for something that may or may not happen. So what if you are right? From now on, don’t try and contact me anymore.

But the end-

I don’t care. If it happens, then it happens. But I’m not going to hide anymore in my dungeon.

Don’t do this. Dave! Listen to me!

The cursor blinked, waiting to be put to use again. Dave watched and waited for a response. He screamed at the monitor, picked up the keyboard ready to launch it across the bunker, and then thought better of it.

An hour, then two, and then four passed him by, the machine’s whine becoming the only noise in the room. It threatened to wash away his thoughts with its anger. Yet he didn’t move. He couldn’t move from this spot in front of the computer. He didn’t dare to-

A last whirl followed by a hiss. The hiss gave way to a series of pops. Those pops crackled in rapid fashion echoing off the metal sides of the tower until they climaxed into a firework finale. The monitor flashed once and clicked off, a small trail of smoke emanating from the top.

The whole process only took a minute. But in that time, Dave saw his own life flash before his eyes. He wasn’t dying, but with this last link to the outside world… even if it had been to an ancient world that no longer existed… even then it was something to look forward to every day.

Pushing away from the desk, he shuffled over to the mirror on the far wall and took that final look at himself. It was as he feared; though, his hair was much longer than he’d realized… a far cry from the short cut he preferred in his younger days.

Alongside the mirror sat his collection of water bottles now nearly empty. From his last trip into the back room, he knew that he wouldn’t find any more there. His filters went a few months ago… one of the few things he hadn’t calculated correctly.

The containment suit felt heavy today, that old easy weight pushing his frame a little lower. For a passing moment, Dave wondered if it wasn’t the suit or his muscles at all, but perhaps the planet’s gravity going on the fritz. Looking at his skinny arms and legs, it was a nice dream to clutch to. A heavy twist to the right and the airtight seal released, greeting him with a hiss. The outside world flooded into the first room, bathing it in radiation.

“There was never enough for both of us.”

The metal groaned as he pushed the door back into place. Another day in Hell, he only hoped that he could find some bit of supplies that he’d previously missed.

But hope was something he’d never been good at.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

10 Years Later – Part Two

We’re now on the other side of 10 Years worth of posts. A time where I’m hoping that I can push myself to write more on the various projects I have going. Though sometimes the amount of bandwidth feels too much. Like too much time is spent doing everything but the writing.

I think it is a good thing to reflect back on what I’ve done and accomplished through my posts. Highlight a handful of others that might have gotten lost in the shuffle over the years. So many words…

Stan Lee

Without Stan Lee I might not be a writer. His work on those early Marvel comics helped to pave my way into the fandom I have today. Though all the collecting and reading, it was comics that I wanted to write more than anything else. So without him, I’m not sure I would have gotten even half as far as I have.

30 Years Ago

I’d completely forgot about this blog post. But it is the origin story for Courtney and me. And while I don’t know every thought going on in 17 year old John’s mind, I remember enough of it to put it out there for everyone to read.

I’m The Problem

Egg Embry and I have a joke about how the two or three comics he is currently collecting is the only thing staving off armageddon for the comic book industry. And every other week there is an article out there discussing why comics are not doing as well as they used to do. Or why can’t they get more fans. Or what things could they do to improve things. I read these articles and try to take in everything I can, even if I literally have zero power to do anything more than what I am doing.

Except I had this thought, maybe I am the problem. Maybe you can pin it all at my feet. Maybe I’m the bad guy?

 

The Darkest Timeline

Weirdly, I’m writing this particular blog post in the hours after another Atlanta Braves postseason loss. Another year where they should have won more games in the post season. Career years for many of the players… I don’t get the feeling very often, but I really thought this was going to be the year. Other teams manage to do it, and yet…

(Note to self – this post was prior to the 2021 season where we did win it all, so while it is dark, it isn’t as dark as it had been.)

 

To Become A Super-Villain

Written during the shelter in place for Covid, the lack of interaction with anyone other than Courtney started me thinking that this could be her villain origin story. So this one is more of a list of things for us to avoid.

Westley

I merely clicked on the link to the one, and I started tearing up again. A reminder of the hole this little guy left in my heart. But I am especially proud of this piece because it is raw. It is as much as I could think of in those days after he was gone. The words flowed because I had to make sure I remembered everything I could… that if I did that then I could feel like others could understand how that little cat filled my life in a way I didn’t know was possible.

 

***

I hate leaving on this down note, but the last one is likely the most important thing I’ve ever written on this site for what he meant to me. So go hug your pets. Give them treats and kisses and snuggles and enjoy every moment you have with them.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

10 Years Later – Part One

In 5 days it will have been 10 years since I posted my first blog to this website. At the time there were four of us doing our best to create some content, potentially help raise some awareness about the projects we were working on, and maybe even assist each other in an “the tide raises all boats” sort of way. Over the course of ten years there have been just over 2100 posts made by the various creators. Which is crazy to think about considering it feels like a bit of a fever dream that we actually followed through on doing this.

For me, I don’t know if this ever really moved the needle much for any of my comics or books. Maybe one or two, here or there, over the years, but as time went on I came to realize the true benefit was simply ensuring I sat down at some point during the week (many times very late into Wednesday morning) and actually write something. Writing is repetition. Writing is routine. And on Tessera Guild I managed to do that in spades.

Looking at the stats, I have over 570 posts since that first blog went out all those years ago. Up until last year (I think), I hadn’t missed a week, though in the past couple of years I have done some reposts every so often of older blogs to try and get newer eyes on them.

So in the spirit of looking back, I wanted to highlight a handful of blogs that I am especially proud of:

I Should Have Paid More Attention to C. Thomas Howell

C. Thomas Howell was in a movie called The Hitcher, which was about the bad things that can happen to you when you pick up a hitchhiker. This particular post is about the time I decided to give someone a lift. If it isn’t the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, it is top 10 at the very least.

He’ll See Me On the Flipside

I wrote this as a sort of therapy for myself. A way to try and make sense of who I am and how I’ve gotten to the life I had. It hops back and forth throughout my life, sometimes connecting bits and pieces and sometimes not. But it is a quick look at how to build a me.

(As a side note about this one… there is a moment in the Watchmen comic where Dr. Manhattan’s conciousness bounces around showing how he is living simulaneously throughout the points of his life. And while I have read Watchmen, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I saw those comic pages again and then remembered this blog. An unintentional homage, I guess.)

So What’s He Going To Buy With All That Gold?

While I’ve shared other short stories on this site, this one was wholely written for the blog. I’m not 100% on how I managed it, but I think I wrote it over two nights after watching The Hobbit for about the 10th time. It is one of those questions I’ve not really seen asked or answered… we just expect Dragons to have treasure.

Creatures Big and Small

I’ve always been an animal person. I was the kid that pretty much could tame to most vicious animal. That love and caring has carried over into my adult life. And while I wouldn’t trade my time with the animals for anything, I still tear up reflecting on the ones who are gone.

New Myths and Legends

The old gods and goddesses demanded worship from their followers. They gained power as the people fell in line, but over the years those old ones have faded away. However, I think I’ve discovered a new goddess who we all have begun to let control our lives…

My Musical Love Affair: Pearl Jam

If there is something I’ve written about more than anything else other than comics it might be Pearl Jam. They are MY band. In a way, they are the true soundtrack to my life as I’ve grown from a teenager listening in my bedroom to the adult writing this post… they are a sort of constant.

Not Like This

My reflections on the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl in the aftermath of disaster. Nuff said.

***

10 years is a long time, but rather than miss out on some key posts, I’ll have part two next week.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Top 5 Episodes of Black Mirror

I’ve previously reviewed all the episodes of the show (save for Banderdash Choose Your Own Adventure episode, which I should rewatch at some point I think) here:

Season 1&2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

Season 6

But there has now been 27 total episodes of the show which feels like the right number to do a Top 5 episode breakdown, right?

Season 1 Episode 3 – The Entire History of You

This was the reason I fell in love with this show. The core idea of being able to record your life is both so simple and so ripe with possibilities that I’m somewhat paralyzed by the very idea of it. Like so many Black Mirror episodes we are led down a destructive path where the search for the truth gets in the way of being happy with your current life. While we all believe we would like to live in a world where every secret could be revealed to us, I’m not sure we could ever be prepared for the quiet truths. The truths that are spoken about us when we are not around. I think about the handful of times in my own life where I got a peek at a private moment where someone spoke their truth about me. You’d like to believe it will always be good things, but sometimes their version of reality can make you reassess your own version… and not always for the best.

Perhaps sometimes ignorance is truly bliss?

 

Season 2 Episode 1 – Be Right Back

I read an article the other day that this very idea is now being used via an app. That we could recreate a loved one through all the various writings, postings, videos, and basically anything where there might be a digital version of you. Something built out of a empathetic need to help people grieve doesn’t seem like it would be bad. But I can only wonder how hanging on to those who have passed in this way could never be mentally or emotionally healthy over the long term. Part of the process is the letting go portion, but it would be too easy, too convinent to just keep talking with them. Convincing yourself that this is them, when all it really could be was a empty doppleganger.

 

Season 3 Episode 4 – San Junipero

Sometimes Black Mirror shows us the positive side of technology. I mean, it can’t always be bad, right? Here it’s the idea of living forever in a virtual world with the people you love. Like many advances in tech over the years, allowing the elderly or disabled have a somewhat normal life, this one literally can not only do this while they are living out the last few years of their lives… but it also can be a permanent place for their minds to live on after their fleshly bodies are gone. Is that something you might want? And if the answer right now is no, what happens when you realize the end is much closer than your beginning? Who could fault someone for chosing to start fresh? And who’s to say that if your mind can survive in such a way, that your soul might join it in this new afterlife?

Season 4 Episode 1 – USS Callister

On Star Trek they have a Holo Deck which allows the crew to have some recreation time while onboard the ship. It creates environments as real as anything they can imagine. And pretty much any episode which ever featured the Holo Deck ended up having something go wrong (or at least all the ones I can remember). So it is very fitting that we have a homage to Star Trek where the Holo Deck in question is basically a recreation of a starship. However, in this version of things, it isn’t the holograms who are the problem, but the one who programmed it in the first place.  And in this particular episode, the all-powerful creator allows that very same power to lead him down some very dark paths.

 

Season 4 Episode 4 – Hang the DJ

I’ve written a book about Soulmates (currently editing it), so the idea of having a program decide not only who your lifelong partner will be, but also how long your other relationships might last… feels very much on point. Again, we have to ask ourselves what truths do we want to know. Is it better to fall in love with the hope the person is our ONE? Or would you rather know you will be with a person for a couple of years before it winds down? For many people, I could see not wanting to bother with the shorter relationships because we want to have that fairy-tale relationship. But without those other entanglements to help us grow as people, how will we get to the place we need to be for our ONE?

 

 

Season 6 Episode 5 – Demon 79

One that is less about technology advancements and more about the lengths someone would go to in order to save all of those around her. This one played with ideas on both delusion, trust, and again… the truth of the matter. So many times we find ourselves going down a path because it feels like the only path laid out in front of us. Too many times we lament not being able to make changes to our lives. Here, in this story, Nida has this horrible task thrust upon her. Does she change? Can she change in order to save the world? How much of your soul would you make forfeit? Is there a limit you might go?

And what if it was all in your head?

***

Black Mirror does a great job of not only asking very open-ended quesitons, but it also manages to show you a version of events where whatever the technology might be, it could lead you down the wrong path. And I think this is important. With everything we create we should still ask ourselves what did we mean for it to be used for and what negative things might it be used for. The show doesn’t say don’t advance… it just wants us to look before we leap.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Old Man Shouts at Cloud

As I get older, I think I’m experiencing more stupidity in the world around me. Maybe its just the stuff which didn’t bother me when I was younger now gets me for some reason. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but the following things have become an annoyance which is only growing everytime I encounter it. Maybe it is because I design roads every day, but I’m going to lose my mind.

Not Going the Speed Limit (at least)

Look, I live in the Atlanta subburbs. Everyone drives crazy. I once had relatives come down from New York and complain about our drivers. We have a Perimeter around the city which I believe acts as a qualifier for the Indianapolis 500.

So why is it when I’m driving home from work I somehow find myself behind a person who is going at least 5-10 MPH below the posted speed limit?

I’m more than willing to overlook it if I see you’re going slow because you are lost or just not sure what street you are supposed to turn down next. Because, as some point, you’d turn off the road I’m on. But that never happens. No, we pass street after street and their speed remains the same (SLOW) as it has been the whole time I’ve been behind them. For the 3 mile stretch of roadway where this seems to ALWAYS happen, I just can’t figure it out. It’s at least once a week, if not more.

Just drive the speed limit… you’re killing me (albeit slowly, but still).

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Random Stopping for Sideroad Cars to Enter Traffic

Let me qualify this by saying, if traffic is thick and the person in front of me slows down to allow a person from a sideroad or driveway to join in the fun – I have no problem with that.

What I have a problem with is the people who randomly stop (or nearly stop) for the car on the sideroad or driveway. There is no one in front of them slowing the flow of traffic. No, this is them, for SOME REASON, thinking “the person behind me will know I’m going to out of the blue nearly come to a complete stop for no good reason”.

This is a more recent problem, but over the last few months I have encountered it a dozen times. I’m not sure what people are thinking, but I’m fully sure I’m going to get into an accident because of this foolishness (and it will end up being me who gets the ticket for Following Too Close, even though I leave a ton of room most of the time).

U-Turns Are Apparently Just a Thing You Can Do Whenever

Contrary to the title of this section, it isn’t true. When you are sitting at a red light, you can’t just make a random U-turn on Red.

THAT’S NOT A THING!

I get that you don’t want to wait for the light to change and give you the green arrow (of protection). I don’t like waiting either. But it is very likely you are going to hit someone (probably me) because you can’t be bothered to follow the rules of the road.

Can You Please Pull Up While We Cook Your Food

OK. This one is roadway adjacent. I have never understood the rationale of fast food drivethru windows who ask you to pull up instead of waiting at the window when there is no one else in line behind you. What sense could it possibly make to then have to run the food out to me. I could have sat there at the window and saved you the hassle. And hey, if someone does come… that’s when you ask me to pull up. But if everything is clear, there is literaly no reason to waste all our time with such a dumb ask.

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John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com