Knights of Sidonia, etc

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Today, I’d like to talk a little about anime. I’m an anime and manga fan, and there are a few things going on at the moment which I find really exciting.

Knights of Sidonia is a spectacular sci-fi manga written by Tsutomu Nihei. This is the longest thing he’s written, but everything he does is larger-than-life ambitious. His first series had a 10 volume run, Blame! which is, unfortunately out of print currently and a little hard to come by. He followed that up with a six volume run of Biomega, continuing on a theme of mysterious protagonists exploring archaic sci-fi megastructures, with brief glimpses into the Toha Heavy Industries corporation. Knights of Sidonia is his most accessible work to date, incorporating a wider cast of recurring characters and a deeper investment into their relationships, while also maintaining his signature style.

Knights of Sidonia has recently been adapted into a 12 episode anime, the American rights to which has been bought by Netflix as a “Netflix Original” anime series. I believe this is the first of its kind.

As Tsutomu Nihei is one of my biggest inspirations, and Knights of Sidonia is one of the few manga series I’m keeping up to date with, this is so exciting for me. I watched the first episode today and it was goddamn fantastic.

And it’s been renewed for a second season, which will go to air in Japan towards the end of the year.

Anime fans will no-doubt be aware that Attack on Titan has become really popular. I was late to the party. I’m currently about 11 or 12 episodes into the show. When I found out about it, however, I began with the manga and read about 7-8 volumes in before picking up the anime series. It’s got great action and plotting and to me it feels like it has a similar appeal to something like Claymore.

And I love how great the animation quality is. It was directed by the same guy who did Death Note and Highschool of the Dead, and the quality shows. I have also seen that there is a live action film planned, as well as two animated feature films in the near future.

And then there’s the work of Shinichiro Watanabe. The dude who introduced me to anime in a big way. Cowboy Bebop was the first anime I watched. Shortly after, I watched Samurai Champloo. Both are great. I would highly recommend both of them without hesitation.

Those series came out in 1998 and 2004 respectively, and then he didn’t do any more shows for another eight years. Then came a show about kids and jazz. No crazy genre action and heavily stylized soundtracks. Cowboy Bebop was this wild space adventure with a loose jazz soundtrack, and Samurai Champloo was an edo period rogue samurai series with a hip-hop soundtrack, and Watanabe comes back with Kids on the Slope. It’s this coming of age romance/drama about kids who love to play jazz music.

The soundtrack is so intricately tied to the plot, it produces this very particular aesthetic that lacks the edgy humour of Bebop and Champloo. It was its own creation, and it felt very much like a passion project not just for Watanabe, but for Yoko Kanno, the soundtrack composer who crafted that iconic Bebop jazz all those years ago. But in Bebop, you don’t get scenes like this:

I love it for completely different reasons.

At the start of this year, so soon after Kids on the Slope, Watanabe came back with a sci-fi action comedy. It sounds like a dream come true for Bebop fans. I watched one, maybe two episodes a while ago, and Cowboy Bebop it aint. Space Dandy is about an alien hunter called Dandy, and he loves boobies. I hesitate to judge before checking out more of the series, but it doesn’t hook me in like Watanabe’s others. It’s got a second season, currently airing now. I just don’t know. Maybe it’s just too much comedy for my liking.

What really has me excited for Watanabe’s recent return to anime is yet another show which will be starting very soon, Terror in Resonance. The humour has been dropped in favour of something more… dramatic. It seems to be set in the present, more ‘grown-up’ I guess you’d call it, than Kids on the Slope, and I’d say it shows a lot more ambition. Where his other works have been genre or historical pieces, this one looks much more ‘real’. The trailer reminds me a little of Eden of the East. I don’t know too much yet, but I’m excited, and I can’t wait to check it out.

You’ll never guess what books these readers also bought!?!

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Or maybe you will.

Amazon has started to show me a list of books people have been buying alongside Day of the Milkman, and I just thought I’d highlight some of my favourites and include a few comments.

For paperback:

The Cheat Code for God Mode by Andy De Fonseca
She is part of the 2013/14 New Bizarro Author Series. I assume some people buy my new book because of an ongoing interest in authors who go through the NBAS. Last year was my year, and it’s great to see that people are investing in NBAS authors both old and new. Andy wrote a fantastic book, and already I can tell that her year will be far more successful than mine.

Quicksand House by Carlton Mellick III
This guy is a major influence. He is the reason I started writing bizarro. And this book. This. Book. There are no words to express how beautiful it is. I encourage everyone to read it. It is magical.

Space Walrus by Kevin L. Donihe
Kevin is a spectacularly funny and sharp writer. Space Walrus is a captivating read, a stellar work of bizarre fiction. He writes with such clarity, this absurd story seems so goddamn real.

You Are Sloth! by Steve Lowe
Another former NBAS author. Muscle Memory was one of the first NBAS books I read, and since then he’s gone from strength to strength, having a lot of success bringing his writing career to life. This is his first full Eraserhead release, and it’s just crazy comical and hilariously disturbing.

Rontel by Sam Pink
I haven’t read this book, but Sam Pink is so damn good. I’ve got a few of his others (including the Collected Suicide Notes, a giant hardcover monster). He writes about people so well. They seem so strange, yet so real, you wonder how much of what he writes is fiction.

For kindle:

Bald New World by Peter Tieryas Liu
I don’t know much about this book, but everything I hear about it is fantastic. I think I’ll have to check this one out soon. Peter seems to be making the right impressions with the right people.

Toxicity by Max Booth III
I’ve got this on my kindle, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ve read a little, and what I read was pretty solid. I’ve also heard great things about this one.

The Rotgut County Blues by Jason Wayne Allen
This is a Dynatox Ministries book. Dynatox mainly does limited edition chapbooks. I’ve got a print version of this one. It’s great to see some Dynatox titles becoming more readily available, and also that people seem to be buying and reading them.

Journey to Abortosphere by Kirk Jones
Another NBAS author. This is his second book, same as me. We’re both going through similar things in our careers right now, so I really resonate with the guy. I’m currently reading this book right now, and about half-way in, it’s crazy awesome. Loving it.

The Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones

This is one of the debut releases from independent crime publisher, Broken River Books. Broken River is a publisher where all their books look unputdownable. And Stephen Graham Jones is a prolific author whose work is so insanely widespread and universally acclaimed. I’ve read bits and pieces of his work, which reveal glimpses of his genius. Those who read him, love him.

Low Down Death Right Easy by J. David Osborne

This is the guy who owns Broken River. And all of his books look magnificent. I’ve had a struggle over the past couple of years, having a couple of his books on my shelf and made no time to read them yet. As with everything else on this list I haven’t yet read, I know I’d love this.

Pretty much what it comes down to is that people are buying lots of awesome weird books and Amazon has put together an algorithm to recommend lots of other awesome weird books. I’m glad to be part of that eclectic mix with such awesome books and people.

DON’T BUY MY BOOK, HOUSE HUNTER

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Don’t buy my book, House Hunter. I’ve got a whole bunch of them I just want to give away.

I’d like to propose a deal: If you buy my new book, Day of the Milkman, today or tomorrow, on Amazon (paperback/kindle, I don’t care!) or Book Depository, or wherever you go for books online, I’ll mail out a signed copy of House Hunter.

Once you’ve bought my book, just click the link sharing the purchase on facebook or twitter and send me a message. Simple as that!

The Milkman Cometh!

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I’m going to keep things short and sweet.

It’s been about a year and a half since my last book came out.

Now, with the fantastic support of the Bizarro Pulp Press team, I’m thrilled to announce my frothy sophomore release: Day of the Milkman.

Bask in its fresh, creamy presence.

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Available on Amazon in print and kindle and on Book Depository with free international shipping.

Vampire novella playlist

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So I’m attempting to write a bizarro vampire novella over the course of April. I’ve compiled a playlist of songs to listen to while I write. I will probably mostly just listen to these few songs for the whole month to try and keep me in the right mindset. What I’m going for is an action-packed sci-fi fantasy adventure, but I want the plot to be layered into a style of writing which is quite poetic, giving the story a surreal dreamscape quality to it. As such, the songs I’ve chosen are mostly electronic, few have vocals, all of them have a smooth, calming effect on me.

 

1: The Girl in Byakkoya – Susumu Hirasawa

2: Bob Gandhi – Ratatat

3: Snakeing – Plaid

4: Unluck – James Blake

5: Space Cadet – Flume

6: Veronika’s Dream – Floex

7: Voyager – Daft Punk

8: Flim – Aphex Twin

9: First Snow – Emancipator

10: Transmission 2 – DJ Shadow

11: Roygbiv – Boards of Canada

12: 8-Bit Cosmos – Bop

13: The Curtain Falls – Evol Intent

14: The Eraser – Thom Yorke

15: Chacruna – DJ Fresh

16: First Fires (Ft. Grey Reverend) – Bonobo

17: Aruarain Dance – Nujabes

18: Everloving – Moby