The Martian Theory

While hauling my earthly goods from California to Colorado, I listened to the audiobook version of The Martian by Andy Weir. I was intrigued by the self-published success story, and decided to give it a go. You should too, it’s a fantastic book. Here’s a blurb, paraphrased from the Amazon product description:

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, [astronaut Mark Watney] finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive…. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”

My wife and I loved the central character so much, we started saying I was Mark Watney-ing whenever I’d creatively solve a problem around the house. It’s the new MacGyver-ing.

Now then, beyond a simple book recommendation, I have a theory about the book. Very, very minor spoilers follow. As someone who hates spoilers, trust me, you’re fine.

I originally described this book to friends as, “a near-future where we’ve started manned missions to Mars,” but upon further reflection, I’m going to update that stance. It’s not a near-future, it’s an alternate-present. All the technology for these fictional Ares missions currently exists. The only problem is that we haven’t spent billions of dollars on space travel and Mars research.

Here it is, my theory on The Martian: In the story-world, the September 11th attacks never happened. Instead, we spent all of those billions of dollars funding NASA and manned missions to Mars.

Think about it. There’s never a mention of a terrorism. There’s never a mention of 9/11. There’s never a mention of tightened regulations, security, or a slashed NASA budget. The world comes together on a cooperative level with such ease, it fits the political atmosphere of an America that hasn’t been at war for well over a decade.

The Martian takes place in a parallel universe where there is no Global War on Terror.

For those who’ve read the book, I’d love to hear what you think about my theory, or if you have any theories of your own. Do you think it’s an alternate-present where there was no recession either? And if you haven’t read the book yet, don’t forget to check back in once you do!

Your Life as a Comic Book

I’ve had STAR WARS on the brain a lot lately. In fact, tonight I’m going to watch the three-prequels-in-one film, Turn to the Dark Side that I managed to download off vimeo before it was yanked down. But enough about that for now.

With this blog post, I’d like to assure my die-hard Click Your Poison readers (you do exist, right?) that I’m still hard at work on CYP#3 — SUPERPOWERED — the title that asks if you’d be a hero or a villain if you had fantastic skills. Well, I am still hard at work. And as part of my process, I found this hilarious collection of faux-comics featuring “real life” supervillians. Check it out, they’re great:

download1download2download3download4download5download6

(Originally found via College Humor)

Oscar Pool 2014

It’s time once again for the SuperBowl of Cinema!

I love movies. If you put a gun to my head and told me to choose between movies and books, I’d probably tell you to just go ahead and shoot me.*

*(NOTE: If I ever get famous enough to have rabid, crazy fans, please do not track me down to try the aforementioned hypothetical.)

If you’re like me, you’ve got your predictions. Come March 2nd, you’ll be around a TV, computer, or projector watching the Tinseltown’s big night.

So why not make it interesting? Standing offer: If you can beat me at predicting this year’s winners, I’ll gift you (or a friend) a free copy of either one of my Click Your Poison ebooks. I’ll post my picks just before the event starts, so please send me your own choices before that to qualify. All you have to do is fill out the form below.

The complete list of the nominees (with trailers!) are here.

STAR WARS Myers-Briggs Personality Chart

Too cool not to share! I found this on Geek in Heels where it looks like it’s going viral. What’s your type? If you want to take the test, you can do so here.

I haven’t taken one of these tests in years, so I took it again and got INTJ… I guess as someone who plots multi-universe books, I probably could have guessed I’d get “The Mastermind.” What about YOU? What character are you?

When Do You Dump a Bad Book?

They say breaking up is hard to do, and I know I’ve suffered many a bad relationship with books and movies. Rarely, if ever, do I quit before I’m finished. Because of that I try to be more discerning before I dig in. What about you?

Over at book-rating site Goodreads, they did a user poll and came up with some fun data. Check it out:

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I honestly can’t think of the last book I quit. Actually, wait, I can. It was a self-published Iraq war memoir that shall remain nameless and was a chore to read. Movies, I’m getting better at dumping. I’ll sheepishly admit the last I turned off was Zombie Strippers. I was looking for camp well done and didn’t find it.

What about you? What books or movies have you abandoned? Why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

PS — If you haven’t used Goodreads, it’s pretty useful and a fun way to find new books. I’m on there as an author, if you want to connect.

Chance to Support Indie Gaming

Aim for the head in the upcoming indie FPS, Deadly Walkers — due out Fall, 2013.

I’ve been following the progress of Deadly Walkers for a while now, ever since game developer Francesco Calvi contacted me to see if I’d be interested in some cross promotion.

Specifically, he asked if I’d be willing to create a series of ‘newspapers’ for the game detailing how a zombie outbreak might progress in London. It seemed like a neat project, and I’ve always wanted to work in video games, so I accepted.

The first two newspapers are out now:

2 Day Before Plague (Click to Enlarge)
1 Day Before Plague (Click to Enlarge)

You can read the full story as it’s released (there should be a new edition today) by clicking HERE.

And now YOU can support indie gaming too. They just started their kickstarter campaign this week, and for only $10 you’ll get a full copy of the finished product. Check out their full list of pledge incentives at the Deadly Walkers Kickstarter.

Support indie artists!

My Oscar Picks for 2013

If you’ve read my last few posts, you know I’m running an online Oscar pool. As per the rules, here are my picks (you have until 5:30 pst, when the show begins, to submit your own choices).

This is based solely on my opinion. I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees (except Zero Dark Thirty) and I’ve consulted no outside source. These are just what I think deserves the award, not what it most likely to win (thus, you might find it easy to beat me if you enter).

Still, deciding wasn’t easy. Some years are filled with shoe-ins, but this time around I was split on almost every category… Okay, here goes.

Best Picture (3 pts): LINCOLN
Directing (2 pts): SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Original Screenplay (2 pts): MOONRISE KINGDOM
Adapted Screenplay (2 pts): LIFE OF PI
Leading Actor (2 pts): Daniel Day-Lewis
Leading Actress (2 pts): Jessica Chastain
Supporting Actor (2 pts): Philip Seymour Hoffman
Supporting Actress (2 pts): Anne Hathaway
Production Design (1 pt): LINCOLN
Documentary Feature (1 pt): SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Documentary Short(1 pt): “Mondays at Racine”
Animated Short(1 pt): “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare””
Live Action Short Film (1 pt): “Curfew”
Foreign Language Film (1 pt): AMOUR
Animated Feature (1 pt): WRECK IT RALPH
Film Editing (1 pt): LIFE OF PI
Sound Editing (1 pt): DJANGO UNCHAINED
Sound Mixing (1 pt): SKYFALL
Cinematography (1 pt): LINCOLN
Visual Effects (1 pt): PROMETHEUS
Costume Design (1 pt): ANNA KARENINA
Makeup and Hairstyling (1 pt): HITCHCOCK
Original Score (1 pt): SKYFALL
Original Song (1 pt): “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”

Good luck to all those who entered! Now, a little more fun– Daniel Tosh tells you everything you need to know about the Best Picture nominees:


As a final bonus, for those who are into drinking games, here’s a good one for this year: http://filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2013/02/filmdrunk-oscars-drinking-game-2013

Be safe; have fun! Winners will (most likely) be announced tomorrow.

Online Oscar Pool

Every year I have people over and we watch the Oscars. We make good food, others bring dishes potluck style, and  we bet on the outcome of awards. It’s become my SuperBowl. I keep up with movies; not so much with football…

This year, with so many of us living all over the place, and with my network ever expanding online, I’m hosting a separate betting pool on my website. And this is not just for my close friends (I’ll still do that at home)! So come one, come all.

Annnnnnd… since I don’t really know the legality of hosting a betting pool online, it’s more of a contest. Free to play, winner gets a $10 giftcard to Amazon.com. PLUS, as a bonus standing offer, if you can beat me personally, I’ll gift you an ecopy of INFECTED (if you don’t have one already).

All you have to do is fill out the form below before showtime on Feb 24th (I’ll post mine online then too) to qualify.

The complete list of the nominees are here.

Tell Me, Why Do We Love Zombies So?

This is an essay I originally wrote for zombie-guide.com and their “Zombies in Fiction” section. I also want to share it on my page because almost every time I do an interview this question comes up.

Tell us, zombie scribe. Why do the masses love the undead masses?”

So, make sure you go check out their site afterwards (lots of awesome zombie content), but here’s the article in full:

Why are zombies so popular? Well, for many, it’s a call to action. We’re Luke Skywalker, caught in the dregs of daily life, and the zombie apocalypse serves as the storm troopers coming to burn down our uncle’s homestead. Ready or not, time for adventure. Or (in case you’re not as big a Star Wars nerd as I am), let me put it this way: We’re not all the type to go out and join the military or the police force, but we’d like to believe that if danger came knocking on our door, we could rally to that call. The zombie apocalypse is when push comes to shove.

Zombie Luke Skywalker Credit: DeviantArt

It’s pure escapism. Once the zombie apocalypse happens, all the things that are important to us will fall to the wayside. Unemployment, politics, failed relationships–anything that might have you “down”–all become a moot point when the dead try to eat the living. It’s a second lease on life. You get to start afresh. This is where the true You comes out, the side that’s underestimated by coworkers, family, and friends; the side that, deep down, you know is there. The unlikeliest of heroes can now come out and save the day. Were you a pimple-faced pizza delivery guy back in the day? Well, now you’re a zombie-slaying badass and everyone’s clamoring for your protection. What about the overworked and underpaid nurse stuck on the night shift with little chance of promotion on the horizon? Well, now those skills mean you’re the most valued member of your survival team.

With zombie fiction, we can experience this release all from the safety of our own home. We can escape, if only for a few precious hours. That’s part of why with INFECTED, I made YOU the main character. You get to test that measure of your true self, if only for a bit of fun. Make your choices, then see the outcome.

Are zombies at the height of their popularity? Probably… but they’ll never fully go away, even if interest starts to wane. Like everything else in our world, fads come and go, but zombies are forever.

I Found Your Christmas Present!

A zombie pandemic, the gift that keeps on giving:

A very special THANK YOU to Mike Beeson, the talented filmmaker who put together this trailer. Yes, INFECTED is now out in paperback. I know I said it would be out for Thanksgiving, but I wanted to make the announcement when I released this spot. The more astute of you may have noticed that the paperback has been linked to the Amazon page for a couple of days now.

Now go bring some Christmas joy to the zombie lover in your life and Get INFECTED!