Friday, June 14, 2019

Writing the Prepared Professional

One of the reasons I love thrillers is the genre's dedication to authenticity. Cops talk and act like cops, spec ops guys see the world much differently from ordinary people, and so on. The genre provides a dramatised window into the lifestyles and activities of these professionals, and how they see the world.
Key to portraying an authentic violence professional is preparation, both mental and physical. People who do bad things to bad people know the costs and consequences of violence, and prepare themselves accordingly. They tool themselves up to meet the threats they expect to face, and seek out training to expand their repertoire. Done properly, a writer can awe the reader by demonstrating the triumph of the prepared individual even in the most extreme of environments.
Conversely, when not done right, it leads to many eye-rolling moments.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Designing for Games vs Designing for Stories

A week ago, PulpRev author Jon Mollison wrote a Twitter thread about the role of clerics in Dungeons and Dragons. Among the key insights was this:
Wrong. Clerics are a great #dnd class because they fill a proper function within the game - secondary brick with defensive tac support.
Designing the class to reflect a literary archetype puts the horse of post-game rationalization before the cart of the in-game game.
He nails it on the head. Designing for games is vastly different from designing for stories.
Readers engage a prose story through the plot, characters, and prose. The writer guides them on a journey in the mind, directing the story from start to finish.
Gamers engage a game through its mechanics. By playing as their avatar, they create their own experience.
Readers and gamers have different ways of approaching their chosen media. The requirements of these media lead to different design choices.

Friday, May 31, 2019

New Release: "Reavers of the Void" by Bradford C. Walker

Reavers of the Void, Book One of the Star Knight Saga, is live. You can buy it at Amazon here, in electronic format. Link embedded in the cover art embedded below.

With this release I take my place alongside my fellow #AGundam4Us and #PulpRev authors and raise my flag along with theirs. Space Opera for those appalled by Mouse Wars. Mecha action for those aching for more. Action, romance, giant robot combat, and DEUS VULT! Yours for $2.99 today.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

DUNGEON SAMURAI VOL. 1: KAMIKAZE now available on Amazon!

Yamada Yuuki is an ordinary college student with an extraordinary hobby: the classical martial art of Kukishin-ryu. Until one fateful day when a demon rips through the fabric of space-time, abducts everyone in his dojo, and transports them to another world.
To return home, Yamada and his friends must join forces with other displaced humans to conquer the dungeon that runs through the heart of the world. Standing in their way are endless hordes of bloodthirsty monsters and countless traps. Armed only with steel, faith and guts, they must battle their way through the winding catacombs to confront the demon waiting at the bottom floor.
Yamada was once a student. Now he must become a samurai.
It is my great honor to announce that DUNGEON SAMURAI VOL. 1: KAMIKAZE is live exclusively on Amazon!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Logistics of Dungeon Warfare


Amateurs talk tactics. Professionals study logistics.

Fantasy authors ignore both.

While (probably) an exaggeration, rarely will you find fantasy stories that pay attention to the logistics of supporting a military. Even in allegedly military fantasy tales, you'll find stupendously huge armies that require neither salaries nor supplies, ridiculous tactics that work because the plot demands it, absurdly fast (or slow) travel times, and other such tropes. It's bad enough that Alexandru Constantin dedicated a whole blog post to this.

Most fantasy authors aren't formally-trained military personnel, or even enthusiasts. They just write what entertains them and the audience. This may be enough to satisfy their audience. But not me.
When writing DUNGEON SAMURAI, I set out to incorporate logistics and strategy as an integral part of the story. With professional soldiers running the campaign, failure to do this would fatally break immersion. At the same time, DUNGEON SAMURAI was conceived as a fast-paced action series, and very few readers enjoy reading ORBATs, logistics arrangements, strategy meetings and other such necessities of war. I didn't want to bog down the story, and the reader, in minutiae.

To reconcile these requirements, I aimed to incorporate logistics and tactics as an integral part of the story.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Pulp Classics Reading Club

We like to talk about the pulps and revolutions, but how many of our readers know what we're talking about? To the modern reader, the pulps are obscure, something something about barbarians and detectives and Star Wars.

The Pulp Revolution requires new stories, to be sure. But we also need both authors and readers who have reconnected with our lost history.

At the very least, PulpRev authors need readers who can laugh at our obscure inside jokes!

The first Conan story appeared in 1932, 87 years ago. Sam Spade debuted in 1930. Those characters took on a life of their own thanks to the power of their portrayal and have been kept alive by more recent movies.

Most folks, if they recognize those names at all, will likely think of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Humphrey Bogart rather than Robert E. Howard and Dashiell Hammett.

These are powerful cultural touchstones, saved from the wreck of 20th century publishing. But even they are fading.

We're sitting at an interesting place in history.

30 years ago, you had to work to find an original Conan story. You had to wear out shoe leather searching libraries and used book stores.

Today, you just have to trawl through Project Gutenberg or Wikisource.

But in either case, you have to know that Conan exists before you can search for him.

30 years ago, we had Arnold to remind us.

Today, Arnold is just the aging former governor of California.

Conan is a comedian.

Nobody except film buffs watch Bogart movies.

And nobody's heard of First Lensman Virgil Samms or Eric John Stark, Man Without a Tribe.

They're there for the reading, but who's going to read about them without first knowing they're worth reading about?

Don't worry though, I've got a plan.

I'm starting something I'm calling The Pulp Classics Reading Club. It's pretty simple: a free mailing list. Sign up and you'll get a classic short story in your inbox every Friday.

Each short story is a gateway to discovering a new author.

My goal is to reintroduce readers to the breadth, the depth, the excitement, and the fun of the pulps. One author at a time.

So if someone asks you, "What the heck is this Pulp thing you keep gabbing about?"

Send them my way. I'll show them.


DUNGEON SAMURAI was an experiment.
In 2018, I enjoyed a moderate degree of success on Steemit. After earning a hefty chunk of change from publishing short fiction online, I decided I would take the plunge and publish a full-length fiction piece. A web serial, a modern-day incarnation of the serial pulp novels of the 1930s.
I set myself several stringent criteria. Each chapter must be reasonably short, no more than 3000 words apiece without justification. Relentless forward momentum. Realistic combat and military strategy. A fairly popular genre that would attract a lot of readers.
Meeting the last criterion came easy. Isekai stories, stories in which a Japanese character (usually a male high schooler) is transported to a parallel world of fantasy and adventure, were, and are, extremely popular. But I find them to be utterly unrealistic, overly focused on fanservice and pretty special effects than tactics or characters or even storytelling.
I wanted to write my own isekai story. A story of a young man transported to a horrific death world and forced to fight through a terrifying dungeon populated with endless hordes of monsters, utilising classical Japanese martial arts.
And thus, DUNGEON SAMURAI was born.