Tag Archives: Scott Sigler

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.

Bookstuff: Podiobooks in Print

Jack Wakes Up by Seth HarwoodI arrived home this evening to find a soggy package from Amazon.com on the front stoop. Fortunately, the cardboard box had not allowed any of the damnable rain to seep through and damage my copy of Seth Harwood‘s novel, Jack Wakes Up.

Harwood is the latest Podiobooks.com author to land a book deal and see his novel—which is still available for free in audio form at Podiobooks— in print. When the novel was released, March 16th was declared PALMS SUNDAY; Harwood’s fans (myself included) mobbed Amazon.com and pushed Jack Wakes Up to the top of the Mystery charts there.

From the back cover of Jack Wakes Up:

What does an action movie one-hit-wonder and ex-drug-addict do when he’s cleaned up, down on his luck, and running out of money?

In the three years since Jack Palms went clean—no drugs, no drinking, no life—he’s added fourteen pounds of muscle, read 83 books, and played it as straight as anyone can ask him. Now, when an old friend from L.A.calls, he hits the streets of San Francisco to help a group of Czech drug buyers make one big score, a single drug deal that he hopes will set him up for life.

But, when people start turning up dead, and an old nemesis on the police force calls, Jack finds himself with just 24 hours to track down San Francisco’s biggest drug supplier or face charges that will put him behind bars.

Only an Oscar-caliber performance will get him through this alive.

Infected by Scott SiglerThe next Podiobook to see print is Scott Sigler‘s Infected (originally titled Infection when released as a podcast novel, but changed in the print version for legal reasons). Sigler is the author of several other podcast novels, including EarthCore, Ancestor, The Rookie and Nocturnal. The last of these is—as of this writing—in progress, with Sigler releasing a new episode like clockwork every week even as he pimps the hell out of the April 1st release of Infected on Amazon.com. To quote a certain wizened old Jedi Master, “he’s more machine now than man; twisted and evil“.

How twisted is this guy? Well, he’s been putting audio versions of his novels out on the Interwebs for a couple of years now, and he’s somehow bamboozled his publisher into giving away the PDF version of Infected for free until Monday, March 31st! That’s right, if you’re not reading this from the far-flung future, you, too, can get the entire text of Infected at absolutely no cost. Nooooo! It’s the future! You’ve missed it! Go back! Go back!

Why in the name of sweet, money-lovin’, capitalism would Scott do such a thing? Because he’s not right in the head. Or maybe, just maybe, he thinks that if you like his stuff you’ll think it’s worth dropping a few bucks to get a shiny and oh-so-tangible print copy. He’s either a flaming lunatic or a freaking genius. Either way, download the PDF. What have you got to lose? Oh, and tell your friends to download the thing, too. Don’t just send them the PDF; that’s cheating, you bastard. Besides why should you make it that easy for your buddies? What have they done for you lately? They can click on the link just like you did. But tell them to do it by Monday, or they’ll be left with nothing but regrets and an empty feeling inside. Oops! Too late! The hour has passed, and that hollow feeling in your gut? Yeah, I tried to warn you about it. Now you’ll have to buy the book.

Are you still reading this? What’s that? You want a synopsis of the book before you download it for free? Fine, here you go:

Across America, a mysterious disease is turning ordinary people into raving, paranoid murderers who inflict brutal horrors on strangers, themselves, and even their own families.

Working under the government’s shroud of secrecy, CIA operative Dew Phillips crisscrosses the country trying in vain to capture a live victim. With only decomposing corpses for clues, CDC Epidemiologist Margaret Montoya races to analyze the science behind this deadly contagion. She discovers that these killers all have one thing in common — they’ve been contaminated by a bio-engineered parasite, shaped with a complexity far beyond the limits of known science.

Meanwhile Perry Dawsey — a hulking former football star now resigned to life as a cubicle-bound desk jockey — awakes one morning to find several mysterious welts growing on his body. Soon Perry finds himself acting and thinking strangely, hearing voices—he is infected.

The fate of the human race may well depend on the bloody war Perry must now wage with his own body, because the parasites want something from him, something that goes beyond mere murder.

Bookstuff: Ancestor

Ancestor, the popular podcast novel by Scott Sigler is now available in print at Amazon.com. When Sigler originally released the novel in serialized audio form, it had an audience of over 30,000 listeners, including me. I got started a little late, but quickly caught up and—like so many other “ancest-whores”—found myself waiting very impatiently for Scott to release the next chapter.

Ancestor is best described as a blend of science-fiction and horror. Scientists attempting to create an animal whose organs can be transplanted into human beings inadvertently create a pack of monstrosities whose ravenous hunger leads them on a killing spree that leaves the snow-covered ground of a remote island in Lake Superior soaked with human blood. It’s exactly the type of story you’d expect to see featured on The Most Dangerous Night of Television, SciFi Channel’s weekly Saturday night monster movie marathon.

Ancestor is the second of Scott Sigler’s novels to see print; Earthcore (also originally presented as a podcast novel) is also available at Amazon.com. All four of Scott’s novels (including Infection and The Rookie) are currently available for free in audio form.

Netstuff: Stranger Things premieres with “Sacred Cow”

Stranger Things is the brainchild of writer/director Earl Newton. With the help of some very talented people, Earl has created a free monthly television series that can be downloaded with software like Democracy and iTunes and viewed on your PC, iPod, or other media player.

Each month, Stranger Things will present a 30-minute story “about ordinary people stumbling into the secret worlds of the demons, aliens, shamans, and angels. The stories expose the bizarre and the extraordinary things happening all around us, everyday.”

The first episode, “Sacred Cow”, is based on an original story by Scott Sigler, author of the podcast novels Earthcore, Ancestor, Infection and The Rookie. In the realm of podcast novels, Sigler is arguably king; he was recently featured in a New York Times online article ((Newman, Andrew Adam. “Authors Find Their Voice, and Audience, in PodcastsNew York Times 1 March 2007. 1 March 2007)) about Podiobooks.com, where his first three novels are available as free, serialized downloads. If you’re the type who prefers ink-and-paper novels, Earthcore is available in paperback and Ancestor is slated to be released in paperback next month.

Gordo Gordon (David Chancellor) is an autistic genius who has been in the care of Father Ralph Antonini (Elliot Stegall) for the past twenty years. When Gordo learns of research proving that prayer causes specific chemical changes in the brain, he creates a device that can “see” and record the flow of energy created when the parishioners in Fr. Antonini’s church pray during mass.

When Gordo discovers that the prayer energy is focused upward by the high, pointed ceiling in the church, his quest to discover where the energy goes uncovers a horrible truth that could undermine the faith of billions around the world.

“Sacred Cow” is an excellent debut for Stranger Things, showcasing the level of quality that Newton and company can deliver. From a disturbing story to fantastic special effects, an eerie theme song by cellist Zoe Keating and solid performances by the cast, the show’s production value rivals that of most anything found on network television today. I’ll definitely be tuning in next month for the second episode, titled “Discontent”, about a man whose wife wants him to clone her dead mother.

Netstuff: Podiobooks article in the New York Times online

There is an article in the Books section of the New York Times online today about one of my favorite websites, Podiobooks.com.

Podiobooks combines the concepts of audiobooks and podcasts to deliver free, full-length novels (fiction and non-fiction) in regular, bite-sized installments to your favorite podcatcher (I use iTunes).

After signing up for a free account, you can browse the site and subscribe to more than 90 titles. Once you’ve subscribed, chapters from the novel(s) are delivered to your podcatcher on a weekly basis. Feeds are customizable, so if you want to receive chapters more frequently you can tweak the delivery settings to meet your preference.

With most podcasts, when you subscribe your podcatcher downloads the latest episode; if you go to J.C. Hutchins’ 7th Son website right now and subscribe to his feed, you’ll get the latest episode of the second novel in his trilogy, which is definitely not where you want to begin listening.

On Podiobooks, when you subscribe to Hutchins’ first novel, 7th Son: Descent, (and you should), you get a custom feed that starts from the beginning of the book and delivers a new chapter on whatever schedule you like. That’s what makes Podiobooks unique.

Read the article, then go sign up for an account at Podiobooks.com. If you want some recommendations, I can suggest a few titles:

  • Ancestor by Scott Sigler.Am I the only one who finds the idea of Scott Sigler recording in a closet absolutely hilarious? I hope not. I want a poster made of that photo! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read the New York Times article, dammit! Most of the action Sigler’s second podcast novel takes place on a fictional island in Lake Superior, where scientists are hard at work creating beastly critters that want to eat us all. I enjoyed the hell out of this book, but I have one bone to pick with Mr. Sigler: No self-respecting Yooper would name his dog “Pasty”.
  • 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins. I’ve talked about this book on KJToo.com and on The Round Table more times than I can count, and with good reason: it rocks. After a four-year-old boy kills the President of the United States, seven men are suddenly ripped away from their ordinary lives to discover that they are all clones of the man responsible assassination, and only by working together can they stop him.
  • The Red Panda Adventures by Decoder Ring Theater. Radio drama in the style of The Shadow and The Green Hornet. The Red Panda and The Flying Squirrel use clever gadgets, hypnosis and fisticuffs to fight crime on the streets of Toronto. By day, the costumed vigilantes are actually one of the city’s wealthiest menUnless I missed something, The Red Panda’s alter ego is never named throughout Season One. I only realized this about halfway into the season, so I’ll admit I wasn’t listening for the name in the first few episodes. Very clever. and his sassy driver, Kit Baxter.
  • Voices: New Media Fiction edited by Mur Lafferty. A collection of previously-podcasted short stories from authors like Cory Doctorow, Tee Morris, James Patrick Kelly and Patrick McLean (whose “Death of a Dishwasher” is one of the collection’s highlights).
  • The Curious Education of Epitome Quirkstandard by A.F. Harrold. How to describe this one? At the risk of insulting the author and the citizens of the United Kingdom, I’ll call it “very British”. Epitome Quirkstandard is an English dandy who — thanks to World War I — finds himself without a cadre of servants waiting on him hand and foot. Simone Crepuscular ran away from home to join the circus and accidentally joined the army, instead. After a long tour in India, Crepuscular leaves the service and travels across Asia and Europe, eventually returning to England where he self-publishes an astonishing number of pamphlets that contain the length and breadth of his considerable knowledge and experience. When the clueless Quirkstandard passes out near Crepuscular’s pamphlet shop, it marks the beginning of his curious eduction.