The Final Stand

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t written a lot about the writing of A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller, even though it came out for rerelease this month. Looking back over my blog, I never really discussed the construction of the novel the first time through, either. As I tend to write more about writing than anything else (after all, I will only discuss politics if I’m pissed off) I’m a little surprised.As Stand is book three of a trilogy, there are, of course, some spoilers.

When I first started on The Pius Trilogy, my thought process was fairly linear. The solution was cui bono: who benefits? In the case of A Pius Man, who benefits from destroying the Catholic church? I can come up with a list of nation states, a few dozen dictators, and every Left-wing organization in America, and that’s before I even start writing the fiction. In choosing the villains for book one, Russian mercenaries with old Soviet ties felt right — jihadis aren’t organized enough for what I had in mind, and Russians have just the right level of Byzantine thinking. And after 80 years of old Nazis being the only acceptable villains, I think it’s time that someone looks at the Soviets as actual bad guys for a change.

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Ironing out A Wrinkle in time

The novel A Wrinkle in Time is a classic of children’s literature. Perhaps the proper new term is “Young Adult,” but, as with Narnia, they are books probably too good for children. In my estimation, while they are not Narnia or Middle Earth, author Madeleine L’Engle is right underneath, if not side-by-side with, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.

It is the story of Meg Murray and her little brother Charles Wallace, and the search for their father, a scientist who vanished. Joining them is the popular kid in school, Calvin O’Keefe as well as Weird Sisters (TM, Will Shakespeare) Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which. These three are older women — one as very old, one as plump, and one as a ball of shimmering light / traditional Margaret Hamilton.

To find their father, Meg and Charles must travel to an alien world via folding space and time (hence a “Wrinkle”), fight an IT that makes Stephen King’s alien clown look like …. a clown… and his henchman, a man with glowing red eyes who looks like Satan’s understudy.  There’s good versus evil, saving those you love, sometimes through the power of love, and while there are Christian themes, if they didn’t bother you in Narnia and Tolkien, they won’t bother you here — assuming you even notice as you’re reading.

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The Planetary Awards are in

So, the Planetary Awards are in for the best SFF stories of 2017.  Anyone who has a blog, podcast, or YouTube account can vote. Which is most of the people I know, come to think of it.

Short Stories / Novellas
  • “Acadie” by Dave Hutchinson
  • “The Bitten Body” by AC Spahn
  • “Death on the Moon” by Spencer Hart, found in Cirsova issue #6
  • “The First American” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Cirsova issue #5
  • “The Pilot” by Andrew Mayne, found in Predator: If It Bleeds
  • “Trouble in an Hourglass” by Jody Lynn Nye, found in Straight Outta Tombstone
Kneejerk reaction?  Jody, hands down.
If other people, who read this blog want another suggestion? …. it’s a tie between the two Cirsovas.
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“Annihilation” and My Spiritual Journey


About halfway through Lent, I decided to check out a new sci-fi horror film called Annihilation, which follows a group of scientists on an expedition into a mysterious “shimmer” that has already swallowed up multiple military teams. It’s an excellent film with the best cinematography I’ve seen in sci-fi since Arrival (which admittedly wasn’t that long ago) and a superb main cast (including Tessa Thompson in a role I only recognized during the closing credits). This isn’t a review, though. My review is “good movie, check it out”, whereas this post…is more of a discussion of some things I took out of Annihilation.

Content Advisory: blood, violence, body-horror gore, briefly-depicted sex scene with nudity, depiction of suicide

I’ll be discussing specific details from the movie, including spoilers, so I highly recommend that you watch before reading, particularly because it’ll help give you context for many of the things I discuss.

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Steel Yourself for the Live-Action Fullmetal Alchemist

Live action version of Fullmetal Alchemist character Maes Hughes

As you might expect, I approached Netflix’s live-action version of Fullmetal Alchemist with some trepidation. Sure, it’s far from my favorite anime, but a guy can worry. After all, there’s not exactly a stellar track record for live-action versions of anime. Well, the American ones, anyhow. Fortunately, this adaptation was handled entirely in Japan, so maybe there was a chance this would be good? Continue reading

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Catholic Geek Lecture on the Hero’s Journey

This Saturday (yes, it’s short notice; sorry about that), I’ll be giving an online lecture through the Catholic Writers Guild. The topic is on the Hero’s Journey, a concept invented and popularized by Joseph Campbell. Here’s the blurb:

March 24 – 7:00 p.m. EST
Writing the Hero’s Journey
Presenter: Matthew Bowman
A look at the “Hero’s Journey Format,” based on the work of Joseph Campbell; why it works with the audience, why it’s so prone to failure, and how to adapt it for your own story.

To sign up, you can click on this shiny and well-crafted link. Admission is very affordable: $8 for CWG members, and $10 for non-members. All you need is a device capable of loading AnyMeeting software, which at most means a browser plugin that you can delete later.

I give a lot of convention lectures, but this is the best chance you’ll have of getting to listen to one of them for a whole year, unless you’re going to be at AwesomeCon next week or you’re a student at Christendom College — or if the Guild has me back before then, which in part depends on the success of their new online lecture program. So drop by, have a listen, and see what else they have to offer.

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To the Stars: a Quick Take on “The Expanse”

Cover spread for the novel "Caliban's War"; features a spaceship in orbit over a world

This series has been on my radar for a while, despite my not knowing very much about it, other than the fact that it was a TV series on SyFy. I eventually got around to watching the first season, and shortly thereafter, I found out that it was adapted from a book series. Naturally, I had to investigate. What did the two versions look like? Would I find one to be more compelling than the other? Well, uh, spoiler alert–I quickly plowed through six books of the series, so that should already give you some idea.

The Expanse (the official title of the entire book series, also used as the show’s title) is a gritty near-future sci-fi story that deals with politics, the harsh realities of space exploration, and glimpses into the great unknown. Mars has been colonized (and is slowly undergoing terraforming), the Asteroid Belt is populated with miners who grew up in low gravity, and Earth is striving to maintain a grasp on the solar system, which gets increasingly more difficult as humankind expands (I PROMISE THAT WASN’T A PUN) across the Solar System. Now toss in one of the most naive-and-noble characters in all of literature, and watch the fireworks. Continue reading

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