William's home for discarded gems and concepts-in-progress.

Welcome to William Van Winkle's blog, home for everything from notes on his latest ebooks to leftovers from his articles in CPU, Tom's Hardware, Smart Computing, and other media outlets. Check out his author pages at Amazon and Smashwords!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sci-Guys Short Shorts: Lacuna and Serial

Wanna hear four guys rip Dark Shadows a new one? Then check out the newly posted Sci-Guys podcast #098. And if you want to stick around for my Short Shorts reviews of David Adams's Lacuna stories and Blake Crouch's "Serial," look for it to start at the 41:00 mark. If you happen to be challenged of hearing or simply impatient, here's what I had to say:

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Hey, this is William, and something’s been bugging me. You know how everybody says that self-published ebooks are junk? Well, here’s some news. Remember Hugh Howey’s Wool, the self-published Kindle book I talked about last time? It turns out that 20th Century Fox is now turning Wool into a movie, with both Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian, the guy who won an Academy for his Schindler’s List screenplay, attached to the project. So for all those who think that short fiction ebooks are crap, think again. If you keep your ears and eyes open, you’ll find loads of awesome fiction out there – no big publisher required.

Case in point, check out this 27-year-old guy from Darwin, Australia named David Adams. He’s a software programmer by day who’s been writing Star Trek fan fiction for years – just for the hell of it. Last year, he started cranking out a story series called Lacuna. Check it out at lacunaverse.com. Long story short, you’ve got aliens blowing away 50 million people because humans developed a technology they’re not supposed to have, and this is the story of humanity fighting back. Now, I haven’t read the two Lacuna novels that Adams has out, because I’m ridiculously busy. But I did buy the two 99-cent short stories, and this is my point. His short stories told me two things: Adams can spin a good tale, and this Lacuna universe is a place I want to explore. I now have his books on my wish list because I was impressed with his short stories, which functioned as sort of a teaser. This is something you rarely saw in the old world of print. You don’t have to risk 5 or 10 bucks on a paperback blurb anymore. Put a dollar on the table. Take a chance. You might just discover a new voice and a new world filled with adventure, moral dilemmas, great science, and badass aliens.

Now, out of the thousands of new ebook authors out there, where else do you start? Usually word of mouth, just like me to you, right here. But I also keep up on several ebook-related blogs and forums. Through one of these, I found Blake Crouch and the short story "Serial," which he co-wrote with Joe Konrath. In a nutshell, we know that hitchhiking can be dangerous. The guy who picks you up could be a serial killer. But so could the hitchhiker, right? This story asks: What happens when the driver and hitcher are both serial killers? For five bucks you can get Serial and nine other short stories in Crouch’s insanely good collection, Fully Loaded. [Edit: It's four bucks. What is it with me and ebook prices?] You might call this suspense or thriller fiction rather than horror, but I would argue that monsters come in all shapes and sizes. To me, the unsuspected monsters strolling right next to you on the sidewalk can be more terrifying than anything covered in slime. Horror can happen wherever you find cracks in reality.

So... Sci-fi. Suspense. Horror. Self-published and totally awesome. Go get it. Again, this is William Van Winkle, and thanks for checking out my Short Shorts.

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