New posts about to release for Nine Streams of Consciousness
I and my fellow writers from the Nine Streams of Consciousness anthology have written marketing blurbs for each of our individual stories in the book. I am in the process of creating images and art to go with them. The intent is to post the series one at a time on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and test if promotion of the individual stories in a series of posts over a number of days / weeks will be of more interest to potential readers than a promotion of the overall book in general.
I am releasing these six as a sneak preview of those posts coming later this month.
I rated The Martian Chronicles at three out of five stars, but maybe 3.5 would have been closer to my impression if we could do half stars. I wanted to read The Martian Chronicles due to fond memories of the 1980’s TV Miniseries. It was interesting to see how the miniseries slightly modified and blended the short stories which make up the book. Some were reproduced very close to the original stories and some were not, but are still recognizable. The mini-series also did not cover all the stories in the book so, it was fun to have a few tales that I had not heard placed in between ones that were more familiar.
Bradbury and this book are considered “classics” in sci-fi, albeit a bit dated due to limited scientific knowledge at the time. Readers who want “hard sci-fi” tied to a current understanding of Mars, beware, these tales are based on many speculations (like the “canals”, breathable atmosphere, and the assumption of plant and animal life assumed to have existed at the time.) If you are okay with a little suspension of belief regarding these elements, you might enjoy this more.
The Martian Chronicles is a series of short stories tied together loosely as an overall narrative about the exploration and attempted settlement of Mars by humanity. It also presents a native sentient Martian culture on Mars. The stories all feel a little like Twilight Zone style tales. They’re short, strange, with a twist of irony, and maybe a touch of morality-play in them. While I am a fan of the Twilight Zone’s masterful style, these stories seemed a bit more cartoonish to me in some ways. The writing seemed to vary a lot to me. Some stories felt spur of the moment with shallow character development, while others had an interesting writing style and held my interest. It is possible that some of my impressions were colored by seeing the TV Mini-series too.
I think the story/chapter “There Will Come Soft Rains” as the most poetic and interesting writing. Other tales like “Usher II”, “The Earth Men”, “The Third Expedition”, “The Silent Towns”, and “The Off Season” feel very Twilight Zone but kinda campy in ways. “The Martian”, “Night Meeting”, “The Long Years”, and “The Fire Balloons” were some of my favorite stories in the book.
Overall, I guess it has to be taken as a classic that has not necessarily aged well, at least for me. There is actually one chapter not in this version (and other more recent publications of the book) which was removed because of some of its stereotyping of black culture (“Way in the Middle of the Air”).
I read Herbert’s DUNE right before this book and the difference in style and storytelling between them made Martian Chronicles feel even more campy and simplistic in its writing and story telling. Maybe that colored my perceptions of the book unfairly but… it is what it is.
I’ll excuse you if you can’t believe I’m a fan of science fiction and yet I hadn’t read Frank Herbert’s novel Dune until now. I decided this was the time, since the upcoming 2021 movie version is about to release.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel, although it was a bit of a steep climb at first. The depth of world building, the unique characters, and the societal/cultures Herbert envisioned is amazing. I can see why it’s often called the “Lord of the Rings” of science fiction, due to its world-building complexity. Yet this science fiction book does not focus on the technology as much as some might expect. It almost blurs the line into fantasy.
In Herbert’s futuristic universe, mankind has already overcome the threat that other sci-fi novels often explore. The almost over-used trope of a war against rebellious artificial intelligence has already been fought, long centuries before the start of Dune’s story. Computers and “intelligent technology” have been banned. Humanity has instead worked to enhance their own skills and mental abilities in place of computers and “thinking machines.” These seemingly super-human skills feel like they step over the line into fantasy or even what we might consider magic.
The beginning of the book caught me off guard, but not because of the blurring of the line between the Sci-fi and Fantasy genres. It wasn’t simply the unfamiliar words and complexity that made the reading slow-going either. Just a few pages into the novel I was surprised to discover the narrative style Herbert was using. He had the point of view jumping from character to character. The thoughts of various characters in the same room were fully on display to the reader. How could such a well known novel violate this “rule” of writing so blatantly!
Dune is written in Third Person Omniscient, a style which isn’t common in most modern novels. Third Person Omniscient was more typical in the Victorian era. Herbert was switching (“head hopping”) between characters in what seemed to me a modified Third Person style. This left me a bit dumbfounded – seemingly in basic violation of novel writing advice that I had heard over and over from various teachers of the writing craft.
Eventually, I became used to his style. He actually wielded this method with skill. Although it was not how the book might be written today, I had accepted it as his style and it fascinated me how he made it work. There was enough to focus on with all the unfamiliar terminology anyway. The growing list of characters, the unique technology and culture of the story became my focus. Deeper into the novel I started to understand why he chose this narrative style. The story was as much or more about how the other characters reacted to the main protagonist, as it was about Paul Atreides himself.
My suggestion to first-time readers of Dune would be to push through the beginning of the story rather than stopping to over-analyze it too much. If you find it too difficult to do this, then make use of the included terminology appendix in the back, but the meanings of most unique words can generally be understood from the context. It will become more apparent as you read on. I’m thinking I might even go back and re-read some of the beginning again to get a better feel for the subtleties of the story now that I finished the book. Some critics have stated that this is a flaw in Herbert’s writing, but I think it drew me into the story environment more, not having any info-dump of background in the beginning.
Another thing Herbert did in the book was lead off each chapter with quotes that are from inside the story’s own universe. They’re all attributed to a character you do not meet until nearly the end of the novel. Each quotation is related to the next chapter you’re about to read. In some cases I found this to be too “telling.” It kinda felt like these were giving away what would happen in the following chapter. If you find them helpful to get your bearings in the first chapters then by all means read them as Herbert intended, but if you find them giving away too much in later chapters, skip the quotes from Princess Irulan. I think you can enjoy and understand it just as well skipping those pre-chapter quotes if you find them too telling or spoiler. I believe these quotes are meant to imply the overall story is being recounted by the writer of these quotes, but I am not sure they are necessary. Yet it was interesting to finally meet the character from whom the quotes originated. It made her late introduction in the book feel like you knew something about her already.
Despite some of my criticisms, I did enjoy the story and I am inspired to read the rest of the Dune saga. I’m hoping this upcoming movie version of Dune can do the story justice. I’ve seen clips of the previous attempts to adapt it to film and they are pretty terrible. From what I’ve seen in teasers of the 2021 version, it looks like it will be mostly faithful to the novel but we shall see.
Our first Amazon review of “Nine Streams of Consciousness” is in! Thank you “Anne” – a reader in the UK somewhere. Five stars too. It is very nice to see she commented on the continuity that we worked so hard on to connect all our individual stories. I hope that makes our little anthology a little unique since they are stand alone stories but are connected more than just a common theme like most anthologies. We wanted it to read like a full length novel.
From other comments I have heard, readers seem to “leave wanting more” after each story which I think is a good thing. Hopefully this little beginning will inspire all nine of us to go on to write more solo projects. I know my current work in progress will be a lot of fun and I look forward to getting it published in the near future.
The paperback version is due out in two weeks, at the end of April 2020
I began watching Drew Wagar’s Twitch stream on its second episode. He started out by teaching viewers the basics of good story telling, and his personal process of writing. Through his weekly streams I rediscovered a love for writing which I had set aside years ago. Soon I began to consider the personal challenge of writing a novel myself, but that seemed like an insurmountable mountain to climb.
Drew decided to offer a new challenge after we had gone through most of the basics of good writing. Rather than learning in a lecture / question and answer style presentation, he suggested we could collaborate on a sci-fi anthology. We could learn what it takes to create a book by participating in it hands-on. That was an easy choice for me. I was all in. The idea of contributing a short story or two, supporting each other under Drew’s guidance, and assembling and actually publishing a book was an exciting, reachable goal.
We began by brainstorming, envisioning new worlds, and creating a timeline of events into which our individual stories could be grounded. The goal was to write a series of independent short stories, told in our own personal styles, that could stand on their own – yet be interconnected in a grand plot.
We began the process of individually writing our first drafts. I read and re-edited my initial story over and over. Edit after edit, revision after revision, would I ever rid it of the flaws that popped up like weeds? We each experienced the challenge of critical review before our peers. It was a vulnerable feeling, but we realized the critiques came from someone who had our best outcome at heart. We learned to edit and integrate our stories together, to bridge the gaps, and connect them. We learned how to work together.
My favorite part of the creative process was seeing ways that we could insert references of events, places and characters into our stories, tying them together into a complete adventure. When we finally got them all assembled, we had a novel-length book.
Those of us who were new writers had no idea how much effort it would take. However, as I look back on what turned into a year and a half long project, I’m proud to have seen it through to completion. I know I have personally grown from the experience, and so have my fellow authors (wow, we can call ourselves authors now!) I worked with a great group of strangers from across the globe, strangers whom I now consider good friends.
Thanks Drew, for the inspiration and the willingness to share your gifts and skills.
I created two promotional videos for our anthology and have been posting them on Facebook and Twitter. I am trying to walk the line between putting them out for marketing purposes and going overboard and spamming. Here they are for your viewing pleasure. Publish day is coming!
The publish date for our sci-fi anthology, Nine Streams of Consciousness is set! The plan is to release the e-book format for Kindle on Amazon – March 30, 2020, and in paperback book on April 27, 2020.
“A collection of science fiction stories from new and established authors, brought together through the Twitch streaming platform.“
I have four short stories in the book. All stories follow a collective timeline and overall story. So each of us wrote stories to fit into the timeline and move the overall plot forward . This is a bit different from other anthologies where the only connection between the stories is a common “theme”, but are otherwise all unconnected.
There was nothing left we wanted to discover.
Complacent, we turned inward.
We had given up on our quest to learn our place in the universe.
Then our hand was forced by fate. A calamity unforeseen.
In the struggle to survive, would we lose ourselves in myth and ignorance, or seek the answer to the greatest question: Are we alone?