The Pulp Curios Collection will be sold on Etsy and cost something like 15 bucks or less or as cheap as I can make it after I figure out how Etsy works. It will be a limited release and will include the following:
Buffalo Bill in the Gallery of the Machines Description: Buffalo Bill drinks whisky as the star of his Wild West show, Boneshriek, threatens to leave to help out Edison with one of his diabolical experiments. It’s written and designed in the style of the original dime novels. Numbers sold after four years: Not counting the free Kindle version, I’m at about 11. Retail Price: $5.99
Les Toilettes d’ Alcatraz Description: An amateur photographer named Mark Rapacz tours Alcatraz, takes a bunch of photos with his crappy smart phone, and then leaves an entirely changed man. Through the lens of Instagram filters, he descends into what he calls the “Maniacal Oblivion” and documents his journey in photo, photo caption, poem, story, conjecture, and essay–primarily using toilets as his subject matter. Numbers sold after a year and half: 2, though I gave away about 20 as Christmas presents in 2014. My mom traded me a beer for a couple copies at a reading back in December. Retail Price: $9.99
Tongue-Cut Ninja Description: Told in a series of vignettes and from a number of points-of-view, Tongue-Cut Ninja is the tale of two boys as they train to be ninja in imperialist Japan. There is deception, love, a talking rodent, a blade through a mouth, a killer sister, an evil mage, an honorable master, a fable, and a shit-ton of KA-POW. Numbers sold after three years: Technically zero for reasons not worth getting into. Retail Price: $7.99
A teaser sheet of my choosing. You will either get the stars or the stuffed space dog in a glass cube (see above). I like them both for the exact same reason. Retail Price: $1.99 … I’m as surprised as you at the astronomical cost of a flyer.
An original drawing from the author himself who has not only created the only three masterpieces of the pulp curio movement, but is an accomplished artist as evidenced below. Retail Price: Somewhere in the ballpark of a gajillion dollars.
The manic genius that is David James Keaton brings you a risible struggle between love and subversion of the western genre, Pig Iron takes place in the town of Aqua Fria after the wells run dry, where townsfolk drink whiskey instead of water, priming their bodies, as well as their situation, for combustion. Myths are exploded, horses are treated with little respect, atheist preachers hurl Bible quotes without irony, and villains and heroes sweat booze as their time runs out. They have only three days before they die of dehydration. Three days to search for illusive treasure, right perceived wrongs, and battle murderous hallucinations. With a glossary of western terminology, real and imagined, this violent yarn is Deadwood meets A Clockwork Orange, with a shot of wry.
Pig Iron is almost here! And, besides my dad, and the horses I’ve misjudged throughout my life (particularly at my undergraduate Western Horsemanship class at BGSU), I would like to thank my favorite westerns, or any movie that deep down inside wanted to be a western, but especially westerns with spaghetti sauce all over ’em, including Per Un Pugno Di Dollari (a.k.a. A Fistful of Dollars), Per Qualche Dollaro In Più (a.k.a. For a Few Dollars More), Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo, (a.k.a. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Giù la Testa, (a.k.a. A Fistful of Dynamite, a.k.a. Duck, You Sucker, a.k.a. Once Upon A Time: The Revolution, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Yojimbo, Last Man Standing, The Quick and the Dead, Unforgiven, Dead Man, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Deadwood, Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Appaloosa, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Mission, Tombstone, Utu, Undead, (or anything else with a four-barreled shotgun), The Outlaw Jose Wales, Duel in the Sun, Major Dundee, Ravenous (now that’s how you introduce a hero), Django, Django, Kill! (If You Live, Shoot!) (a.k.a. Oro Hondo, a.k.a. Se Sei Vivo, Spara), Django Unchained, most of the Djangos really, The Way of the Gun, Westworld, Wild Bill, The Proposition, Lawless (and anything else Nick Cave writes in the future), Heaven’s Gate, half the Zulu movies, Extreme Prejudice, C’era uno Volta il West, (a.k.a. Once Upon A Time In The West), C’era uno Volta il Amerigo (a.k.a. Once Upon A Time In America, Once Upon a Time in Mexico (a.k.a. Everybody Hates That Movie, but fuck it, he shoots the cook, and you need a trilogy to restore balance), Le Dernier Combat (a.k.a. The Last Battle), The Searchers, Kung Fu Hustle (a.k.a. King Fusion, such a western), I Quattro dell’apocalisse (a.k.a. Four of the Apocalypse, Geronimo, Open Range (for the candy-bar scene alone), Six-String Samurai, Giant, High Noon, Outland, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Jonah Hex, Black Robe, The Long Riders, Mannaja (a.k.a. A Man Called Blade), El Mariachi, Desperado, The Rundown, One Eyed Jacks, Pale Rider, Run Man Run (a.k.a. Corri uomo corri, a.k.a. Big Gundown 2), Sukiyaki Western Django, 3:10 to Yuma (both versions), Junior Bonner, True Grit (both versions), Quigley Down Under (not both versions, just the one with Magnum P.I.), and all three Young Guns films (I’m being optimistic).
Kaboom! ARCADIAN GATES launches today. Drink the green beer, buy the book, read the book … Master world-builder T.A. Wardrope brings you this epic sci-fi tale. It’s big, complex, and moves like lightning. Enjoy it, good people.
Debut Blastgun author T.A. Wardrope is the kind of obsessive world-builder who creates from the ground up. He’s sent me maps, schematics, and, yes, an entire glossary of how he created the world of Arcadian Gates. This is all purely for reference, but I thought it was so amazing that I wanted to share it with you all.
It’s the kind of behind-the-scenes legwork that the best filmmakers go through to make their fictional worlds come alive. I half expect Wardrope to send me a sketchbook filled with ideas that would make Guillermo del Toro flip his lid.
Before we launch Arcadian Gates, I want you all to get to know some of the characters, the crazy-awesome technologies, the more sinister mechanized population control vehicles, and, yes, future drugs that reveal a psychedelic world that interacts with and exists just below the reality of the average Ringsider.
Enjoy it as you await our early 2015 release of Arcadian Gates.
Glossary of the World of Arcadian Gates:
A-Core: The Administration Core, the area dedicated to the official business of the Administrated Republic.
AdComm: Interactive digital advertising. A single technology that fulfills the roles of billboards, posters and other messaging in First World.
Administrator Kerrick: A high-ranking official that is loyal to Malnorel and a key asset to his near-term strategy. He believes technology can replace humans for any role within the Administrated Republic.
AI Blood: Advanced technology which replace hard tech with a programmable, conductive fluid that powers and controls drones.
Akiry: Low-level smuggler and drug dealer, Platformer, one of the few who are able to remember events prior to Prepravinlol-12.
Arcadian Park: Those outside of MCity5 know the area as Arcadian Park, a giant forest preserve that stretches for miles of protected land. A digital illusion makes the city appear like this. Every major city has this cloak.
ARD: Administrated Republic Dollars. This is the currency managed by Administrated Republic. Hard ARD are viable global currency, soft ARD are for district use only.
Ares: A leading military technology company.
Argentine Research & Development: Argentine is the leading technological company in Administrated Republic. They produce and control Lethemol, in addition to many other systems. The line between this corporation and the Administration is very blurred.
ARMARKT: The largest consumer outlet in the Ring. This business is so dominant that many think it is an Administration enterprise.
Asp: A light attack/transport helicopter used by Security Administration.
Blue Sky: Malnorel’s purge plan and team.
Cian: A former PreCast agent. Now retired, he is a “fabricator”. A fabricator is someone who collects items from the world before Reconstruction. He is inadvertently drawn into Malnorel’s plan.
Copperhead: A UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) drone with sufficient artificial intelligence to operate autonomously most of the time. These are scout and attack aircraft.
Council of Seven: The seven leaders of Administrated Republic, led by a strong Supreme Administrator.
Diamondhead: A UCAV for heavy combat. Tilt-rotor aircraft with several weapons platforms and targeting.
Dragon I: UGCV (Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle), three axle armored vehicle with quad flechette guns.
Dragon II: UGCV Artillery variant.
Dragon III: UGCV: Missile system variant for anti-aircraft or ballistic missile.
Edossiers: An update of First World technology that consists of a flexible membranes that contain all the information assigned it within an interactive interface.
Elysium Park: A city that is neighbor to Arcadian Park.
EN1: EnfoComm Channel One. The primary AR media outlet.
EnfoComm: A hybrid wireless entertainment and information technology. Often embedded in the owner’s body and powered by thermal energy.
Eryx: Lightly armored patrol cars used by Security Adminstration.
Expat13: A dissident political group. They seek to replace Administration with something closer to the European model.
Fabricator: The AR term for someone who collects illegal artifacts from First World. These items are considered not real, and are “fabricated”.
First World: The world before Reconstruction. A constantly shifting narrative that is controlled by AR Cultural Administration.
Flechette: Projectile weapon used by Security Administration. Rather than firing slugs, this weapon uses magnetic energy to propel hardened needles at very high rates of fire. These needles emit very low heat and noise.
Gaownt: A state of being and a being. After a user has been completely addicted to Lethemol and find themselves without a supply, their body will gradually mutate. Ingesting Lethemol becomes a priority over biological drives.
Inferno: A conflict between SA-S forces and various warlords who are trying to control/defend areas of Pan-Asia.
Intel/Clone: A general technology company that operates in a niche between Ares and Argentine. Most famous for manufacturing Puzzlers.
Internal Bright: A mythical and shadowy secret police group within Administration.
Jamis: A SA covert operative who works in the Hole.
Jerry: A PreCast agent who was the lone survivor of Malnorel’s attack.
Jeremiah: The Gaownt messiah.
Krait I: MGCV (Manned Ground Combat Vehicle) Tracked tank with crew.
Krait II: MGCV Four axle armored personnel carrier (APC).
Krait III: MGCV Four axle artillery w/Surface-to-Air and HEW (Heat Energy Weapon) variants.
L3: Lethemol, Version 3
L4a: A variant of the Lethemol, Version 4 formula.
L4b: A variant of the Lethemol, Version 4 formula.
Laboratory: The science, research and development district. Many corporations have satellite offices here to be close to the A-Core as their research gets closer to the final product or becomes highly classified.
Lethemol: An advanced technology that uses nanochem to manipulate human thought processes. A “smart drug”.
Lyserbarbithol: A hallucinogenic truth drug with chronic and painful side-effects.
Mamba: A heavy helicopter transport used by Security Administration.
Nanochem: Microscopic nanotechnology embedded in chemical compounds.
Necker Device: A mechanism that causes time/space distortion if used in conjunction with Lethemol. Named after “Necker Cube” which is a famous optical illusion.
NeoLeth: A replacement chemical for Lethemol.
Operational: A Security Administration enforcer. Boots on the ground.
OutRing: The area beyond the Ring. Areas of OutRing have not been Reconstructed and remain as they were in First World. Only certain Administrated Republic officials may travel through these areas.
Pan-Asia: A geographical area that contains what used to be Middle -East, but also reaches over what used to be Turkey, the “’stans” and western portions of India and China. Much of this area is known as “Inferno” due to the constant warfare throughout.
Patrons: A mysterious group known only by high-level Administrators that provides advanced technology as part of a trade agreement.
PD-120: Platform District 120
Personal ID (PID): An external technology that contains all the vitals of a citizen of the Adminstrated Republic in a single wafer of plastic material.
Plasmatic: A combination of plasma and plastic. Used as a flexible and intelligent data interface.
Platform: A broad elevated area that encircles the edges of the city. Trains run through the center of it and towards the center of the city. This is the home for the lowest social classes of the Administrated Republic.
Platformer: A resident of the Platform, lowest-class citizen.
Prepravinolol-12: The chemical weapon used throughout North America that destroyed long-term memory of anyone that came in contact.
Puzzler: A device that uses Artificial Intelligence to generate various puzzles and riddles. Each puzzler has a personality that actively seeks to defeat the user. Lethies use them to sharpen or occupy their minds during recreational Leth trips.
Python: A helicopter gunship used by Security Administration.
Raksha: Akiry’s older sister and only known family member, one of the lucky Platformers who have a job in the Ring.
Raoul: A Platformer friend and client of Akiry. He is a renegade engineer and the creator of The Necker Device.
ReCon: Areas that have been reconstructed.
Reconstruction: The world after the attack.
Ring: Vast suburban swaths of developed land which flow from one “Park” to another. These areas are highly organized and often extremely homogeneous. Much effort goes into keeping these areas happy and distracted.
Ringsider: A person who lives in the pastoral areas outside of the city walls.
RT: Classical time based on First World calendars.
SAI: Security Administration-Investigative, a secret police branch of SA that deals with internal and external counter-espionage investigations.
SAO: Abbreviation for Security Administration Operationals
SAPID: Security Administration Personal Identification, a special form of the PID for SA personnel.
SAS: Security Administration-Strategic, the branch of SA that deals with overseas matters through a variety of diplomatic and armed methods.
Senior Security Administrator Malnorel: The highest political figure in Arcadian Park, the man in charge of the city and its Ring. He is the son of Vice-Commerce Administrator Malnorel, who sits just below the Council of Seven in AR political organization.
Severance: A group within Administration that wants to end current arrangements with Patrons.
SPIDER: A shadow project that comprehensively interpolates data from EnfoComms, SAPID and PID’s across the entire AR.
Stiletto: A manned multirole fighter airplane.
Stimuel: A stimulant drug which combines many effects of Methamphetamine and Cocaine.
Stimuexol: Improved Stimuel
Stratstat: An interactive display that gathers all relevant information for command decision making.
Studio: The creative arts district of the city. Mostly a collection of designers and cultural types who work with Administrated Republic organizations and companies.
Suit: A rebellious employee of Argentine R&D. He sells Lethemol to Akiry as an act of subversion and income enhancement.
Supreme Administrator Jefferson: A member of the Council of Seven and leader of Severence.
The Hole: A portion of the city that remains as it was prior to Reconstruction. The reasons for this are subject to speculation.
University: Higher education district that is home to the intelligentsia who serve Administrated Republic. Often serve a role in propaganda.
CITY KAIJU is my first published novel … according to accounting fascists who pay attention to arbitrary numeric delineations of the length of your story.
CITY KAIJU is something like 60,000 words, so, I guess, that passes muster. Whether there is a story in there, well, that’s a point of contention because creating CITY KAIJU has been one of the most disastrous creative projects I’ve ever pursued, and I’ve gone after some doozies that, more or less, were unforgivable disasters themselves. (see: here, here, and here).
I made 10 totally avoidable mistakes in putting CITY KAIJU out, and I fear my writing career may not recover. I will forever be that dude who wrote that monster book, or something, with that superhero (?) and those dumb kids, and it made no sense at all. What a waste.
Here lies author Mark Rapacz’s career, in this matchbox that we Elmer’s-glued a doily to and tip-tapped open to flush down the Golden Toilet of Fantastic Awesome Career of Letters.
Sniffle. So sad.
Here’s why CITY KAIJU is an unavoidable failure in no particular order:
1. I never used an editor or a proofreader or a friend I somehow drugged to agree to read an unproven work of fiction … and this is against everything I know about process. It’s not something I’m proud of, but when you already spent a few years querying agents and publishers about a book you can hardly explain only to receive countless notices that basically say, “The Chirping of Our Submissions Crickets Have Been Swallowed by the Void”, you realize your book probably isn’t marketable or, just as likely, very good. So you either scrap it or do it on your own with as little cost as possible. There are freelance editors, but they aren’t pounding on your door when you’re like, “Do you take beer as payment?” I’ve been doing this and failing at it long enough to know the importance of outside input and obsessive drafting. I spent years in workshops during my MFA, and many more years after my MFA in various writing communities. The first person to read this book from front cover to back was my friend and amazing author himself David Oppegaard (seriously, buy his books). He had some excellent notes–some very astute notes I’m going to internalize for future projects–but, as they say, this book already left the barn by the time I got feedback (Davey would’ve caught that mixed metaphor). What you will see in CITY KAIJU is a draft that is all me–all revisions, edits, and mistakes were made by me. Nobody to point to. No new intern. No frantically busy agent. No publisher demanding a deadline I was not ready for. I had no input. Nothing. Just my exhausted brain waking me every night around 2AM, “Why would someone read this?!” The obsessive revision was there, but the objective distance was not. Possibility for disaster: SEVERE to INEVITABLE.
2. I never took any input as far as design either. I just did it, both the interior and cover. I went through roughly 50 cover drafts, the mania involved therewithin is well documented. I even contacted my illustrator buddy Christopher Coffey and strung him along for over a year, until I realized I had already sunk ungodly amounts of hours into designing a cover I was surely not going to use, and it was 3 in the morning on a Tuesday and I had a block of Velveeta cheese leeching grease stains onto my favorite pair of boxers. I had that wired sort of madness that led to me texting a thousand word apology to Coffey for not using one of his illustrations to which he said, as any good friend would, “Dude, I don’t care. That cover is sweet.” Possibility for disaster: MODERATE, not as inevitable cuz I got good cover.
3. This project was originally a comic book–as in, it was a bunch of comic book scripts. Coffey and I sat down in his Uptown apartment back in 2008 and created a few comic book pitches that would make us rich and famous. The one I started on was called MESSENGER, and it was about a mid-twenties bike messenger living in a city ravaged by giant, mutant monsters. The tale would follow him as he realized he could perhaps change things. I wrote scripts for the first few issues. Then, Coffey and I got busy. I wrote the first half of then-called MESSENGER in both script and novel form by early 2009. Then the project disappeared. Possibility for disaster: It was one … in 2009.
4. The original comic book version and subsequent novelization had an honest-to-God superhero in it named Savior, who was like Superman only he did not infringe on copyright because I craftily changed the name. The idea was that he was this nuisance to our boyish-hero bike messenger, Bram, who had some unknown connection to be revealed in the glorious conclusion of MESSENGER, Season 1. Savior, a main character, had to be written out. Possibility for disaster: HIGH, removing a central character kills the book.
5. In 2012, and in an act of total desperation because I had nothing else going, I returned to MESSENGER and wrote the second half. I had changed as a writer and a human-person-being-man-child in the 3 to 4 years since I cracked the work open, and because of this change, I didn’t sound the same on the page. I was less loose, a little tighter, so maybe better, but probably not. I was just different. Being my first novel I was going to finish dammit, I forged on, paying no mind to the 40,000 words I already had written. I remembered the gist of the world, and that’s where I lived for the second half. By the time the book was around 80,000 words, the front half made absolutely no sense with the back half. Possibility for disaster: HIGH, this was another one, The Failure of 2012.
6. Knowing how ridiculous it was going to be to return to the first half and try to revise/slash/burn/rewrite my way into sensibility, I put the book away. I hoped I would never look at it again. I had wasted a few months spread over the course of three years. So what? But then, I did something you should never do. I changed the title to MOKU-MAN. I liked the sound of that. Then, I started to design covers for MOKU-MAN. Covers I really liked. Once I had the cover, I knew I had to maybe make this thing make sense. I did nothing for a year. Possibility for disaster: HIGH, lethargy mixed with unfocused mania equals chaos in the form of self-pity. It’s basic math, people.
7. In 2013 I returned to now-called MOKU-MAN and rewrote that beginning. I rewrote the remaining comic book scripts. I pasted it all together and it still didn’t make sense, but it made more sense. The Superman character was gone. The bionic-human security force played a more prominent role. I started to really like this robo-cop dude named Steve. Spanker, the computer dork, started to call out the bullshit my book was dealing with on the page. My characters started to guide me a bit. But still, the thing made no sense. It was another wasted summer. It was going back in the “Shit To Be Forgotten” file on my computer. Possibility for disaster: SEVERE, because rewrite reconfirmed how bad the book was. Unfixable in 2013.
8. Then, before I even had a book that made sense (it still might not), I told people about it. Huge mistake. I got carried away. Everybody I knew had a novel to talk about. I wanted to join the fun because no one asks you what your story collection is about. Nobody cares about that. So I said something. And this was in print. Jesus. Possibility for disaster: MODERATE-ish to HIGH, only thing worse than private disaster is a public one.
9. After publicly announcing the release of MOKU-MAN and giving it a date and sending around the for-sure, for-sure final cover, I changed the title to CITY KAIJU and I changed the cover, again, if only to mislead my potential readership. Possibility for disaster: JUST PLAIN DUMB, confusing your potential readership can come off as a manipulative and disingenuous.
10. In a cheeky and subversive advertisement for a book I put quite a lot of work into, even though it’s probably not my best or most notable, I wrote a long announcement about how disastrous the process was–perhaps to avert impending criticism (and therefore doom)–but mostly in hopes that people would see that, behind the bluster and mania, there is an author who cares a great deal for his work, even the works that are broken beyond repair because he believes the ugliest things are those without blemish; and he believes in mental illness and misdirection, and in aimlessness and confusion; and while he prays for moments of pure and chaotic joy and other moments of pure and chaotic beauty, he does what he can to put all those things together in a piece he made himself because, hopefully, one day, maybe one person, somebody, will see the flaws, shrug his or her shoulders, and be like, “Well, that exists now. Cool.” Possibility for disaster: ANNIHILATION ACHIEVED, and it can be yours before the official release, right here.
Burnt Bridge & Blastgun Books (our West Coast Sci-Fi imprint) are not your traditional publishing oufits. Quite simply, this is because we do not own the books we publish; the authors do. Each author individually owns and manages her/his own titles published through our imprints.
HOW THIS WORKS:
In the age of Kindle/Ebooks, Print-on-Demand (POD) paperbacks, and massive digital and online distribution through retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, and many forward-thinking independent stores such as Subterranean Books in St. Louis, the infamous Powell’s, and Mississippi’s own, Square Books in Oxford— who all provide online ordering from their websites—, the world of book publishing and book buying are more open than ever.
Authors with BB & BG retain all rights, ownership, and control over their titles selected for publication. They work closely and carefully with their editors through the process of building the book, designing the cover artwork, writing…
This will be the last one because I think I finally stumbled upon the image that this book has been waiting for. I’ve been unable to describe it for my buddy and awesome illustrator Christopher Coffey, so I had no idea how to approach it. Tried to do it myself in about a million ways, but then it just came down to running right the hell into the image almost by accident, and then being completely blown away that usage rights were open.
This does not mean the previous cover went to waste. I did keep the chunky font idea and I also kept the colors. I kept that cool emblem and threw it on the spine and plan to use it here and there when I start building the interior. I had to get rid of the back cover description because, well, this image says way more about CITY KAIJU than anything I could condense in a paragraph or two. In fact, I think this work of graffiti art captures everything I tried to do with 60,000 words. You probably don’t gotta read the book now. Just get lost in this work.
*Ahem* … It would be nice if you read CITY KAIJU … when I finally get it out.
A couple cool things about the image:
It’s horror graffiti stenciled on a wall in central Quito, Ecuador, which really captures how I envision City Kaiju. More sprawling Latin American city than East Asian.
The image also has some traditional Manga influence, which falls right in line with CITY KAIJU, but everything is a little off, not quite hitting the themes typically present in that type of art, especially since this is actually a work of graffiti, like on a wall, somewhere only the very lucky, ambitious, or destitute get to see. It has that street grit to it. A little punk and spontaneous and temporary. Something to be viewed out a bus window rather than in your lap as you crack the pages of the latest graphic novel walking from your nearest comics shop.
I like that.
Also, the website where I found this work, epSos.de, distributes the work through Creative Common licensing and sort of has a manifesto about why opening creative works up for free adaptation is a good thing.
The concept of the image fundamentally mirrors CITY KAIJU, while the idea that this is out there for other creative folks to adapt falls in line with my ideas of where and how creative work should be received and, further, live on.
I’m really liking this one. I think this will be the final cover.
Yes, for sure, it will be.
I’ve said this before.
Cartoon horror depicted on a wall in a forgotten part of a city most of us will never visit, and which achieves some sort of bizarre and chanced-upon artistic excellence?
That’s damn near perfection and makes me so glad I stubbed my toe on this corner of the Internet.