Tag Archives: Playing For Keeps

The Amazon Rush: Comes the Apocalypse

As August of ought-eight was drawing to a close, a new composition by an enterprising and imaginitive young woman named Mur Lafferty was made available for purchase to those individuals with the means to connect their personal computational apparatuses to the Internets. The very idea that a woman would have not only the time to write a book—I suspect her child routinely goes unfed, her floors have not been scrubbed in weeks, and her husband rarely arrives home after a hard day’s work to find dinner a-table—but the audacity to publish it raises moral questions aplenty, ((To speak nothing of the home environment that allows a woman to become enterprising and imaginative in the first place.)) but that is an issue for another time. For the moment, let us allow that Ms. Lafferty has written and published a tale of sheerest fantasy, a yarn involving citizens who are possessed of extra-ordinary abilities, quite probably as a direct result of consorting with Satan; it might well be an allegory, but as it is told through the pen of a woman, the moral and metaphor—if they exist at all—have escaped me entirely.

I ought not dwell on the particulars of Ms. Lafferty’s fantastickal tale, for my purpose here to-day is not to discuss the merits and moral abiguities of said tale but rather the means by which it had—prior to appearing in the on-line marketplace—come to my attention. As has been previously noted, Ms. Lafferty is a woman of enterprise and imagination, and she posited that it was possible to increase awareness (and thus, potentially, sales) of her tale by giving it away to the public at no charge. Reckless seekers of thrill and vice who were savvy enough to access the Internets could, by means involving daemons named “Syndication” and “Enclosure” and “Pod-catcher”, freely partake of the tale as told in Ms. Lafferty’s own voice. In making her story thus available, Ms. Lafferty was able to ensorcell a number of unfortunates who would eventually become her pawns, a throng of adherents only too willing to transform their mistress’ every whim into reality. Despite my iron resolve, despite my nigh-indomitable will, despite my every precaution, dear reader, I was drawn into this web myself, a web that stretched the world wide.

On the day when Ms. Lafferty’s manuscript became available for purchase at on-line retailers, the authoress bade her disciples ((I hesitate to mention that they are often referred to colloquially as “Mur’s Bitches”, for the moniker gives rise to even further suspicions that Ms. Lafferty—and, indeed, those who supplicate themselves at her feet—truck with The Devil. The simple fact that her devotees do genuflect in her presence, coupled with Ms. Lafferty’s penchant for tiaras, smacks of idolatry.)) to engage in something known as an “Amazon rush”. This, I am relieved to report, has nothing at all to do with legions of Scythian warrior women; rather, it is a concentrated free-market assault on a single on-line purveyor of books: Amazon.com.

Set loose upon the unsuspecting merchant, Ms. Lafferty’s loyal flock exchanged the currency of the land for bound copies of her fanciful narrative. When the sun set upon this particular day of commerce, the rabid fanatics had propelled Ms. Lafferty’s manuscript to the very zenith of one particular column on the merchant’s ledgers: that column titled “Science Fiction”. In the space of four and twenty hours, the loyal adherents had made Ms. Lafferty’s tale a best-seller. In doing so (and, more imporantly, while doing so), the disciples had flooded the tubes—the very tubes that form the circulatory system of the Internets—with electronic missives acknowledging that they had complied with their mistress’ wishes and encouraging others—particularly the unensorcelled—to do the same.

It is important at this juncture to note that the concept of the “Amazon rush” did not spring forth fully formed from the mind of Ms. Lafferty. The tactic had been used with similar results (up to and including the flooding of the tubes) by several of Ms. Lafferty’s peers. The earliest documented case being April of ought-seven, when fantacist Scott Sigler encouraged a group of erudite and learned bibliophiles to purchase his tale of science-gone-awry, Ancestor. Mr. Sigler’s success encouraged other authors to follow in his footsteps, and ought-eight saw no less than four such “rushes” between April and August, including a cooperative effort from Tee Morris ((I include Mr. Morris here only out of a sense of duty to report the facts fully and accurately. While I hold Mr. Sigler, Mr. Harwood and Mr. Selznick in high esteem, the same cannot be said of Mr. Morris, for he is a unapologetic gadabout.)) and Philippa Ballantine ((Ms. Ballantine was the first female author of whom I am aware to rush Amazon.com, setting an uncomfortable precedent as well as a singularly unwholesome example for the fairer sex. However, Ms. Ballantine is from New Zealand, a country known for its loose morals and relaxed attitude with respect to the proper role of women, and I would expect nothing less from a country so perilously close to Australia.)) scarcely more than a fortnight before Ms. Lafferty unleashed her hordes upon the merchant.

Jack Wakes Up by Seth Harwood Infected by Scott Sigler Brave Men Run by Matthew Wayne Selznick The Case of the Pitcher's Pendant: A Billibub Baddings Mystery by Tee Morris Digital Magic by Philippa Ballantine Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Each of these “rushes”, as I have previously noted, caused considerable flooding of the tubes. As men more qualified to speak on the matter than I have already attested, flooding the tubes in such a fashion can lead only to disaster. When I realized that the veins and arteries through which the lifeblood of the Internets flowed were at nigh-constant risk due to these “rushes”, the scintillating threads and strands of bedazzlement spun by Ms. Lafferty began to clear from my mind and I beheld the looming peril: with the tubes so flooded, there was room for little else. In a delirious panick, I dispatched an electronic advisory to my friend and colleague, Mr. Chris Miller. In doing so, I drew back the gossamer veil that had covered his eyes and he, too, saw the threat.

Together, Mr. Miller and I resolved that we would not sit idly by in the face of the coming chaos. When my impassioned pleas to Mr. Selznick went unanswered, Mr. Miller issued a statement decrying the use of the “Amazon rush”. “The danger,” his first draft read, “is imminent; the consequences, dire. This practice must be abolished at once, not only for the good of those who will yield the brunt of the coming storm, but for those who will follow us and feel its echoing reverberations in years to come.” ((Alas, the published version of Mr. Miller’s warning does not hew so close to the truth of the matter; I suspect his tone was tempered not with cool reasoning, but with cold, hard currency. His further statements on the matter lead me to believe that the veil I so abruptly tore from his face has been replaced and is now stitched to his very flesh.))

As I write this, the debate rages on. In my desire to alert the world to the dangers of the “Amazon rush”, I may have inadvertently done more harm than good, for even now the tubes fill with comments from authors and statements issued by pundits. The demise of the Internets, it seems, may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I its unwitting prophet.

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Podiobooks to Print: Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Another podcast novelist makes the leap (over a tall building) to print on Monday, 25 August as Mur Lafferty‘s superhero novel, Playing for Keeps, debuts from Swarm Press.

I read Playing for Keeps about a year ago, when a pre-overlord Chris Miller and I were asked to assist with some of the “Stories of the Third Wave” supporting material for the podcast release of the novel. Unfortunately, I had to drop out of the production after only one episode due to some conflicting obligations, but the story of super-powered people whose abilities aren’t quite good enough to make them full-fledged superheroes is right up my alley and I’ve often speculated that my own “Third Wave” power could be anything from killing hard drives to sipping coffee just before it has cooled down to the point where it won’t burn my tongue.

Here’s the official press release from the publisher:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 25 Release Date for Mur Lafferty’s Playing for Keeps

Swarm Press is pleased to announce the upcoming release of breakthrough podcaster and author Mur Lafferty’s newest novel of superheroic action Playing for Keeps. Originally a self-released “podiobook,” this new printed version of Lafferty’s novel is due to hit shelves on August 25, 2008.

Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty.

Welcome to Seventh City, the birthplace of super powers. The First Wave heroes are jerks, but they have the best gifts: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire. The Third Wavers, like bar-owner Keepsie Branson and her friends, are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, absolute control… over elevators. They just aren’t powerful enough to make a difference… at least that’s what they’ve always been told. But when the villain Doodad slips Keepsie a mysterious metal sphere, the Third Wavers become caught in the middle of a battle between egotistical heroes and manipulative villains.

Playing for Keeps grabbed me and kept me reading straight through when I should have been plotting a new fantasy series for Tor Books. Mur, thank you. Tor, however, does not thank you.” – David Drake, author, Hammer’s Slammers.

Mur Lafferty is an American podcaster and writer based in Durham, North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in English. Her nonfiction work has appeared at www.SuicideGirls.com, as well as in the magazines Knights of the Dinner Table, PC Gamer, Computer Games, Scrye, and SciFi Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in Hub, Escape Pod, and Scrybe. She was, until July, 2007, the host and co-editor of Pseudopod, and is currently the host and creator of the podcasts Geek Fu Action Grip and I Should be Writing. Visit Mur online at www.murverse.com

Playing for Keeps is still available as a free audio production at Podiobooks.com.

Audio Novel: Playing For Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Playing For Keeps

Mur Lafferty’s new audio novel, Playing For Keeps, tells the story of Keepsie Branson, a young woman with a unique ability: nothing she owns can be taken from her against her will. Unfortunately, in a world where superheroes are subsidized by taxpayer dollars, Keepsie doesn’t quite make the grade; she’s just not powerful enough to be officially sanctioned as a full-fledged hero. Denied the opportunity to use her ability for the betterment of humanity, Keepsie has opened a bar across the street from the Academy, the home base of Seventy City’s A-List superheroes. Keepsie’s Bar is a popular watering hole where Third Wavers—people like Keepsie, whose powers have been designated useless by the elitist metahuman snobs at the Academy—gather to commiserate.

Despite being shunned by the Academy, Keepsie and her friends find themselves swept up in the action as the criminal mastermind known as Doodad brings his latest evil plan to bear on Seventh City. Keepsie finds herself in possession of a strange object that both heroes and villains want, and suddenly her power doesn’t seem so insignificant anymore. Neither side can take the object without her permission, and now Keepsie finds herself in a position to help the heroes she despises…or the villains who just might destroy everything she loves.

The first chapter in this unconventional superhero tale is already available at the official Playing For Keeps website and a new chapter will be published each week. While you’re there, read the official PFK blog, listen to promos, download wallpaper and Twitter icons, and more!

Stories of the Third Wave

But wait, there’s more! To enhance the Playing For Keeps experience, Mur has enlisted the help of some very talented people and created Stories of the Third Wave, snippets of radio broadcasts from Seventh City. Tune in for morning drive-time radio, the evening news, interviews, talk radio and more! Subscribe to The Playing For Keeps Experience to receive the audio novel, the Stories of the Third Wave segments, and a PDF of each chapter that you can read on your PC.

Go to the website. Subscribe to the feed. Join the next wave of serial audio excitement!