Music in My Scifi #1 – Primus: Menace & Whimsy

Music in My Scifi #1 - Primus: Menace & Whimsy

This is the first of a series of articles on the influence of music in the Jim Westfield series. As you may know, I’ve included a number of musical influences in the books and here’s why:

I Love Music

The truth is, I have a mild form of synaesthesia. That means that one form of stimulation in my brain (music) produces sensations in other parts of my brain (taste).  I didn’t really notice it with other sound, but right about the time I graduated high school and developed some taste in music, I noticed that certain musical pieces would actually taste like something.  Stevie Ray Vaughn’s transcendent guitar solos have a coppery, tangy taste to me. Classical music pieces are a decadent, sweet dessert. This doesn’t happen with all forms of music, but it’s certainly made me an ardent fan and that love carried over to the story I told in Flotilla. Continue reading

Science Fiction: It’s Not About the Money

Quick note before I get started – an illustrator sent this to me over Twitter and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Give him some love if you can.

Science Fiction: It's Not About the Money

As a sci-fi author, I frequently post interesting tidbits about the genre over at /r/scifi and /r/sciencefiction.  Recently, I posted an article in which someone responded ‘the debasement of science fiction continues.’  It’s a fair point: I’m just as irritated by the lack of science in our science fiction as the next guy.  I do think that it’s our responsibility as consumers of the genre to be the change we want to see in the world and so I said: ‘Don’t complain – go make something that outshines it.’  Then someone else said the thing that made me want to write this blog piece.  S/he said: ‘Just give me 200 million dollar and I go and make an awesome movie.’

Ouch. Continue reading

Didn’t Get Nominated for a Hugo, and That’s a Good Thing

I’m feeling weird today.  That emotion that comes from watching the location of a party that you wanted to go to, but were not invited to, catch on fire and burn down.  Is it grief?  Is it Saudade or is it Schadenfreude?  I’m not sure.  Such are the mixed feelings I have for watching the Hugo Awards descend into madness, Internet Trolling and a Gamergate-type squabble.

The short version of the story is that the Hugo Awards are one of the biggest awards you can get as a Sci-Fi author.  Many people want specific books or authors considered and that desire has led some to organize into a grassroots effort to ensure that outcome.  Out of that, the rest of the community has risen up, seeing this as manipulation, gaming the system or ballot box stuffing. The discussion, as many others on the Internet, has devolved into everyone’s worst dysfunctional family dinner, ever. Now we even have George R.R. Martin saying that the “Sad Puppies have broken the Hugo Awards.” Continue reading

Achieving Escape Velocity: Better Call Saul and Flotilla’s Rick


Better Call Saul just wrapped up its first season and I’m happy that I gave it a chance.  Writers need to read.  Storytellers need to hear other stories.  That’s why, as an author, part of my job is to see movies, or watch TV or read books.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Stephen King.  He tells you in On Writing how he used to see dozens of bad movies before he wrote his first novel.

As I update Flotilla for its new edition, I’m revisiting one important topic that Better Call Saul has helped me think about: Achieving escape velocity from bad life choices.  In Flotilla, Jim is escaping some bad choices that he’s made with drugs and alcohol.  As he navigates that path, he’s watching Rick, his dad try and do the same.

Escaping and overcoming bad choices in the past is very difficult as an adult.  That’s what Rick and Jimmy McGill, played brilliantly by Bob Odenkirk, have in common. When you’ve made bad choices in life and you’re trying to step up to be something more, you must contend with the ‘gravity’ of your past. Call it ‘karma’, call it ‘reaping what you sow’ … call it whatever you want.  As Jimmy McGill learns, re-innovating your life involves spending a lot of energy contending with the community of people who are unwilling to discard their established perceptions of you. Continue reading