Welcome to the Fantastique

I’ve created a new set of pages for my Fantastic Four recaps that I hope is a little easier to navigate and organize, and won’t clutter the main page for the odd person or two who wanders in here from my regular fiction writing. You can find them all under the “Critique Fantastique” drop-down on the upper right there. Probably I’ll have to further nest the menu to keep it usable, as we get into the double digits, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

People seem to like them, so I’ll keep it up on as regular a schedule as I can manage. It’s actually a lot more work than it seems, so I may have to settle down to doing them every two weeks.

In writing news, I just the other day sent in a few minor corrections to Bill over at Big Pulp for Mercier’s Flight. Mine is the very first story in the issue! Probably it’s just an alphabet thing, but whatever. I’ve seen the cover and it’s pretty awesome.

I have two other stories out looking for homes at the moment. More on those rejections as they appear.

She’s got jokes

A bit of the old non-genre today! You should head over to Every Day Fiction for an excellent reading of “Monologues” by the (still) incomparable Folly Blaine. (It is entirely possible that I just copy-pasted my last post and changed up the links.) Previous link with a little behind-the-scenes if you missed it before.

I was worried this one wouldn’t work well in audio, but Folly pulls it off, as per standard operating procedure. Any flaws in the work are my own.

Side note: hearing your story read aloud, even by someone else, is exactly like hearing your own voice on an answering machine and is super weird and mildly embarrassing.

In other news – we are about a month or so out from the publication of the next volume of Big Pulp, in which my “Mercier’s Flight” will appear. I’m excited!

Also, I have…I think two stories out looking for homes right now. Hope to have more good news for you guys soon.

Also you should go see Guardians of the Galaxy because it’s great.

That is all.

Wait…

No yeah, that’s it.

Wait, oh! I’ve started using Scrivener lately, as a replacement for Word, and it is pretty damned sweet. It is entirely possible that I have put together a project labeled “Chaykin - novel”.

I have been listening to a lot of Sparks Nevada lately (my wife suggested that Thrilling Adventure Hour is like Prairie Home Companion for nerds and I’ve never been so insulted in my life).

Revolting(ly Awesome)!

So if you like putting things into your ears, as all right-thinking citizens do, you should head over to Every Day Fiction for an excellent reading of “The Fimbulvinter Revolt” by the incomparable Folly Blaine. This one is a couple years old now, so this is a good chance to check it out if you missed it before.

Trivia on this story: this was the last story I wrote before my daughter was born, just a couple weeks prior, written as a story I put into our Christmas cards that year (because obviously I wasn’t busy enough with a baby about to be born). Later (much later, because I had to wait for the season to roll around again), I polished it a bit and sent it in for publication. It’s a fun story, and one that marks the beginning of my somewhat more radical political storytelling voice that would continue in stories like “It Could Be Us” and “For the Empire.”

The Bots of Old

Way back in 2008, a handful of you may have read the first story I ever sold, “Shades of Red”, in the (web)pages of the sadly defunct A Thousand Faces. It was this big superhero epic that was probably too much story for the 8 or 10 thousand words I crammed it into, but that’s neither here nor there.

One of the characters was Asta, a private detective who happened to be an android. I didn’t really get into his origin much (maybe a hint or two) in the story, but I had it in my head. There are some drafts in my laptop somewhere of his story, a noir detective story featuring Asta’s first case, which was solving the murder of his own creator. Off the top of my head, I remember a disgraced former cop with whom he teams up, a lesbian black widow character, and a climax in which Asta has to battle a giant robot. Set in 1930s Chicago.

Anyway, like a year later Penny Arcade came out with Automata, which is extraordinarily similar. I think there are significant differences (my world isn’t flush with robots, for example, so Asta doesn’t face the animosity Carl does – however, in my story, his human detective pal is Jewish and that was going to be a thing), so I guess if I wanted to every blow the dust off Asta and get his motors firing again I could.

There’s been a resurgence in this sort of pulp sensibility over the past few years, so maybe it’s something I could finish and sell. Still, seeing such a similar concept done so well by Mike and Jerry pretty well eroded my desires to do so.

Anyway, I just happened to come across a link to Automata and it reminded me of all this. Carry on.

Golem Detective

Deep, jagged scratches in the pavement. A little blood. There was more police tape than evidence.

“What do you think?” Finley asked, gesturing at the grooves. They were clustered together, overlapping, like someone took a construction digger to the street but gave up when it turned out to be more work than they thought. Five or six feet long, and nearly as wide. Shain ran a gloved finger down the shallow trenches, pebbles scattering before her hand reached them.

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“Claws,” she said. “Something big. Made of metal.”

“We didn’t find anything nearby.”

“No body, either?”

“No.”

She nodded. “It took the victim. We’ve got a kidnapping here. If it were a murder they’d just let the golem collapse after the kill.”

#

Citizen Journalist

I have a photo and a blurb I wrote about my commute up over at the esteemed Guardian. Check it out!

In other news, the writer’s group critique of my latest story went really well. I have a bit of work to do to polish it up, but I’m looking forward to you guys getting to read this one. It’s a lot of fun.

Other thing I learned from the meeting? Apparently lady-on-dinosaur erotica is a thing that exists. I will not link to any of it for fear of ruining your fragile, delicate minds, and can only recommend that you heed my advice not to look it up. Now it’s on you if you decide to look up “Taken by the Pterodactyl” on Amazon. Perhaps it was naive of me not to assume long ago that it existOH god, oh god, there’s a “Taken by the Minotaur” someone please kill me.

Lairs

On Wednesday nights I seek out the solitude of my favorite local hit-or-miss-coffee-but-good-wifi-and-plenty-of-wall-outlets joint, and there I toil at this writing business. Of late there has been a group of Magic the Gathering players squatting at one of the tables near the front. This is offensive to me, as I am clearly several levels above them on the unwritten but universally understood hierarchy of nerds. Still, I push past their “tapping” and cries of “land!” or whatever and work. It is thankless work, but I do this for you, my gentle readers. Why they can’t play a proper game like HeroClix or Star Trek Attack Wing is beyond me.

Also, if the coffee is bad that night the beer is exceptionally cheap.

I finished up a rough draft of a new story last night. It is good, and fun, and involves sex with a beautiful alien space man. It’s about 1,200 words or so at the moment, so I’ll need to decide if I can whittle it down to 1k for flash or expand it a bit for short-story size. I will say that when I go back to trim things I keep adding more, so we’ll see.

While I was out I stopped by the greatest used bookstore in north Texas just down the street and nabbed these for a buck.  If you ever think you’re writing something too weird or crazy for a broad audience, just remember someone probably got there first, they probably won a Hugo or something for it, and don’t worry about it so much.

photo

Bendy

I’m super looking forward to Captain America: Winter Soldier and am glued to every little image that comes out for it. They just released these new posters, and I had two immediate reactions to this one:

If you're into that sort of thing.

The first was: aHOOOOga *pant pant pant*

The second was: hold up, how did a Black Widow image that doesn’t feature her twisting her torso to show every single part of her anatomy off at the same time slip through? Someone is losing their job over this.

(Neither here nor there, I still can’t give my daughter a Black Widow toy because they all have her toting giant guns. If someone could fix that next, I’d appreciate it.)

Anyway, you should go see Her, because it is incredigood and I’m not sure why anyone would have the gall to ever make another movie about relationships again.

Deep Inside

I managed to get out and see Inside Llewyn Davis this weekend and it’s fantastic. A must-see for anyone involved in the artistic endeavors. It covers the hunger to create something great, the struggle to survive off that hunger in a society that’s largely bent against the commodification of creativity, and the inevitable failures most of us will experience in the attempt. How rare it can be to find that person who fits you and gets you, creatively. It’s a devastating movie.

Partial-soundtrack-cover-for-Inside-Llewyn-Davis-photo-Nonesuch-458x276

So, yeah. Go see it. But it’s a Coen film, so I didn’t really need to tell you that, right?

Charlie Spider continued, in which our heroes book fancy travel accomodations

Even further months back

Charlie had lost his body. Most of it. They graciously allowed him to keep it during the game, though he had lost the legs three hands previous, and now owed them his arms and the nuclear-powered torso. The only thing he had left to him was the helmet he lived in and the little dry-erase board he kept to communicate. Zoetrope didn’t mistake this move for kindness, though; they merely granted him the opportunity to lose more.

“Hard to play cards without your hands, boy, so you hang on to those until we’re done,” the winner said, and they all laughed.

Zoetrope watched the door, fidgety, her rifle across her lap. She made like she were cleaning it, but was ready to snap it back together in an instant should the need arise.

Charlie’s opponents were a motley group. The richest among them, a heavyset fur trader from the inner worlds, sat smiling, a tidy sum still on the table before him. The other two were mercenaries who worked for the trader, guards for the rougher parts of the caravan’s journey into the boonies. One of them had done well, but the other grumbled, little better off than the spider.

“Bad enough you got the damn hat and sunglasses-” the loser whined.

“Again with the hat and glasses,” said his partner with an eyeroll that nobody could really see.

“-but the spider don’t got even a face! How can I tell he’s bluffing?”

The fur trader leaned forward, squinting at Charlie. “Jetson, this boy’s got more eyes than all the rest of us combined. Should be easy!” He and the other merc laughed.

Charlie tossed the key to his helmet on the table. The fur trader eyed the key, then eyed his own all-in bet. “I’m not sure, boy. I don’t really have an arachnid on my crew, know what I mean? Might need more than this. Or we can just call it a night here…”

Charlie hesitated, then placed his dry-erase board on the table. More than just a method of communication, it was his service. The table went quiet. The human eyes at the table went to Zoetrope, who fought to keep the panic from her face. She shrugged.

“Oh come on!” yelled Jetson.

“You in, Jet?” the other mercenary, who had already folded, grinned. He would probably walk away with most of his pay for the trip, but Jetson was looking a bit broke. But the sheer amount of cash on the table, and the prospect of an arachnid underling, was too much for him. He fished in his pocket and came up with a docking port card.

“Aww, Jet-”

“Shut up!” he shouted at his friend. He looked at the spider. “My shuttle. It’s a little old, and it’s small, but it’s in good shape.”

“I think we can all accept these wagers,” the fur trader said. His smile was frozen in place, a little tight. We’ve got him, Zoetrope thought. She saw one of Charlie’s back legs twitch and quickly looked to the others, but didn’t think anyone had seen it. It was too late anyway. The bets were made. There was only the reveal.

“Gentlemen.”

They all eyed each other. Jetson’s hands shook.

“Let’s see ‘em, people,” said the second merc, who was enjoying the game immensely more than the three people playing.

Each of them laid their hands down in turn. Expressions shifted. The fur trader looked wistful. Charlie looked…like a spider. Jetson quivered.

“Wha…wha…”

“You just won, Mr. Jetson. Congratulations,” his employer said. The trader leaned back to light up a pipe.

“What the fuck?”

“You just won, dumbass! Hah! You lucky sumbitch!”

Jetson seemed at a loss for words, evidently never having won anything before in his life.

Charlie’s leg twitched. Zoetrope clicked the rifle together. All eyes went to her, narrowing in suspicion.

“Ain’t nothin’ personal, boys,” she said.

Charlie jumped to his feet, heaving the table into the air. Chips, keys, and people flew, but Charlie snatched the ones they needed out of the air. Zoetrope leapt to the door and struck it wide with the butt of her rifle.

“Let’s move, Charlie Spider!” Charlie’s massive metal body swept past her, into the dark, dusty street beyond. The mercs and their boss scrambled to find their feet as she followed her friend out the door. She paused just long enough to deliver a shot into the control panel, and the building’s automatic defenses triggered. Heavy slabs of metal fell into place over the windows and across the entrance. She heard the bartender inside yelling about how much it would cost just to have the security system reset.

Zoetrope Jones didn’t care. As they ran for the launch pad hangers, Charlie tossed her the keycard to their new shuttle. They had a ride now.

 #

a writing sketchbook