New series deets (drumroll please…)

Hello droogs,

You might remember late last year I announced I’d sold a new fantasy trilogy to the awesome folks at St Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books. Well, I’ve been slaving like a tall, caffeine-fueled grinder monkey (minus the cute jacket and little hat) in between working on ILLUMINAE and ILLUMINAE 2, and at last, I can announce some details!

First, title!

Titles for me are one of the the hardest thing about writing a book. Summing up 160,000 words in a single line is like trying to find a single piece of hay in a mountain of particularly rusty, tetanus-encrusted needles, but at last, I found one I lurrrve in the pants. So, without further dribbling, I give thee . . .

.

dun

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dun da dun

.

.

duh

.

.

.

duh

.

.

daaaaaaaaaah

.

.

Nevernight

So this new series is set in a world that’s part of a trinary star system, and having three suns constantly wheeling across the sky means the land only gets actual, legit nighttime once every three years. Which means my heroine’s ability to control darkness isn’t all that useful, but hells, grrl, you’re in a Kristoff novel – your life isn’t supposed to be easy.

So, Nevernight. Thoughts?

Here’s the synopsis:

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

Revenge.

SO, elevator pitch is something like “Lies of Locke Lamora meets Harry Potter.” If you’re into the whole elevator pitch thang. :P

The series will begin in Spring/Summer 2016. I hope you’re as excited as I am!

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ILLUMINAE COVER REVEAL

Mobile phones off, please. Hello droogs! It is that oh so exciting time of the year when I get to show off the cover of my new bookthing! Drumroll! Curtains! Many! Exclamation! Marks!!!11! ILLUMINAE is nothing if not different from other books, and Amie and I are super jazzed to report the cover is probably different to what you’re used to seeing too, in all the best ways. It’s actually more like two covers, that combine to form one gigantic robot super cover, all stomping about the city and eating busloads full of schoolchildren. But you’ll see what I mean when you click the link below. We brought visual aids! SO, we’re revealing the cover today over with our chums at the awesome Cuddlebuggery. At the above link, you’ll find:

  • The cover(s), naturally.
  • An interview with Amie and me babbling nonsensically about the book
  • A competition to win a signed, annotated ARC of ILLUMINAE

So, if you’d like to win or just admire the pretteh, make with the clickies!


GIF WARRRRRRRR

barney

This contest is open internationally.

Hello droogs!

So, as you might know, my partner in crime Amie Kaufman and I have a new book coming out this year called ILLUMINAE. You can pre-order it here if you really wuuuuv us.

Early reviews are starting to come in, authors like Marie Lu, Laini Taylor and Beth Revis are all saying excellent things about it, and some awesome bloggers seem to be really digging it too, so we are officially excited!

The first round of Advance Reader Copies have been delivered to our doors, so Amie and I figure it’s about time to give some of these beauties away. So, if you’d like to win a signed ARC of ILLUMINAE (of course you do), read on, MacDuff:

We wanted to make this easy for you guys, but give you something fun to do, too. Something simple that’d let your personality shine through. So without further ado, we present:

The first annual ILLUMINAE FILES .gif war!

To win a signed ILLUMINAE ARC, here’s what you do:

  1. Head over to the ILLUMINAE page on Goodreads.
  2. Create a gif review for the book. Obviously you haven’t read it yet, so just make some noise about how excited you are to read it (you are excited, right?).  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to have a million gifs in it. It just needs to be cool. Or funny. Or both.
  3. Tweet about the contest! eg “Want to win a signed ARC of  and  ‘s ILLUMINAE? Make with the clickies!
  4. Aaaand, you’re done.

You don’t have to mark the gif to our attention, or indicate it’s part of this contest. Never fear, Amie and I will look at all of them!

This contest will run until Monday, April 13. Amie and I will pick the coolest gif review on that day and notify the winner through Goodreads.

Have fun!

 


Why you should see JUPITER ASCENDING

jupe

Basically, because it’s bad.

And I mean terrible. I saw it last weekend, and it’s a clusterfuck of epic proportions. A film so charmless it makes the VHS footage from my 11th birthday party (spoilers: we had cake) look like a contender for Best Picture at the Oscars. I did an impromptu survey outside the cinema afterward, and 84% of attendees said they’d rather be kicked in the groin by a mad Irish woman than see the film again. I will go on record now: if you think JUPITER ASCENDING is a good film, you are demonstrably wrong.

But you should still go see it and here’s why:

ASCENDING cost 176 million spacebucks to make. That’s a greasy shit-ton of spacebucks. It pulled $18 million on it’s opening weekend; a kick to the lurve machine even by the Warner Brothers’ meager estimations. It’s being touted as the film that will send the Wachowski’s big budget career up in gouts of hellish green flame, and you know, there’s a drunken argument to be made for that. I thought CLOUD ATLAS was a work of unsung genius – say what you will about the movie’s treatment of race, it was still a masterfully executed piece of film, successfully balancing not only multiple themes, but multiple genres (scifi dystopia, post apocalypse action, spy thriller, slapstick comedy, period drama). But CA was based on the David Mitchell book, and it still bombed like the Enola Gay at the box office. Maybe the Wachowski’s don’t have any more good original ideas in them? Some people only have the one. Fair enough.

But here’s the thing – the failure of ASCENDING will not just be ringing alarm bells for any studio exec who wants to hire the Wachowskis for a big budget spectacle film again. It will ring alarm bells for any studio exec that wants to tackle an original science fiction script at all. It’s a brave studio that tries to make original sci fi these days to begin with. A squeaky peek at the list of top grossing sci-fi films shows a fairly obvious pattern to anyone with those eye-things in their skulls: the vast majority of these titles are sequels or based on existing IP. And some of these films seem to succeed in spite of being really shitty movies – the big budget, braindead spectacle of the TRANSFORMERS franchise, the STAR WARS prequels (“I find her . . . intoxicating . . . “), MAN OF STEEL, etc. It seems mainstream audiences are still willing to march like neckbearded zombies see a poorly reviewed, badly made shitpile with a familiar name than risk wetting their pantaloons on something they’ve never heard of.

This is the age of the reboot. STAR TREK. INDIANA JONES (fuck me, really?). GHOSTBUSTERS. ROBOCOP. MAD MAX. These are films I loved as a kid. And the thing is, studios bank on my bullshit sense of whiteboy nerd nostalgia. They know the average 40 something neckbeard with 2.5 sprogs loved Star Wars as a kid, so of course he’s going to drag those sprogs along if the studios vomit out another Star Wars film. The truth is, we need another Star Wars film like we need a fucking hole in our collective heads. The first one was made nearly forty years ago. There’s been more bad Star Wars films than good ones, and yet audiences keep flooding back like junkies. Full of  rose-colored remembrances of that first wonderful high, and indulging the doomed quest to feel that magic once more by doing the same thing over and over again.

Here is truth, people: that magic doesn’t lie in a fucking reboot. Or a re-hash. Or another goddman sequel. It lies in original film-makers like the Wachowskis. But this breed of filmaker? It’s a dying one. Young and promising directors who step into the sci-fi arena usually get snapped up by the studio system and put on regurgitation duty within one or two films. Any of you beautiful people see CHRONICLE? Sensational, right? A truly original take on the superhero genre. Cleverly shot. Directed exceptionally. What’s Josh Trank’s follow up? The FANTASTIC FOUR reboot. Niell Blomkamp explodes onto the scene with the brilliant rust-punk madness of DISTRICT 9. What’s he working on 5 years later? The fucking ALIEN reboot.

What happened to our sense of adventure? What happened to the mindset that gave us films like ALIEN? THE TERMINATOR? PLANET OF THE APES? TRON? And yes, even STAR WARS? Out of the box, genre-defining films that broke molds and expectations and linger in our collective consciousness decades after they were made? You think you’re going to feel the same sense of wonder watching yet another Indiana Jones film as you felt when you first saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC? I have a bridge in Sydney I’d like to sell you. The dream is over, nerdkid. Open your eyes. Open your mind. There’s incredible, original stuff being written out there, and it’s within your power to see it get made. But here’s the thing. Studios won’t be looking for the new STAR WARS as long as audiences are satisfied with just another STAR WARS.

Seriously? Fuck STAR WARS, people. You deserve more.

We should demand the new. The bold. The brave. We should reward filmmakers who try to give us more than the same old rehashed, rebranded, nostalgia wankery. Even if they fail. And yes, they will fail. The Wachowskis just did. Walking into unknown territory means that will happen sometimes. That’s the risk you take. But unless that risk sees some kind of reward, the accountants of the Hollywood green machine will  give us a world where the new is feared around the boardroom table. Seen as too frightening. Not worth taking a chance on. Films like TRANSFORMERS 17: RISE OF THE PROFIT MARGIN will continue to get the big budgets. The big marketing. Great scripts with new ideas and unfamiliar names will never make it out of development hell. Promising new film-makers will get sucked into the regurgitation machine with the lure of big money, and never be seen again.

And our art, and our imagination, and this amazing nerdy culture we’ve built will suffer for it.

So please. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

Go see JUPITER ASCENDING.


Fish, chips, cup ‘o tea

IMG_2604Quick one, because I’m on deadline and books don’t write themselves. It’d be kind of awesome if they did, but then I guess I’d be back on the dayjob and wowwww is that a thought that makes me want to stab myself in the face with this keyboard . . .

But what’s not depressing enough to inspire death by laptop?

FOREIGN RIGHTS SALES, BABEH

So! I’m very pleased to announce to all my UK fans that rights to ILLUMINAE have officially sold in the UK! Huzzah! Jam and Crumpets! Scones for all! Pip, pip, what ho old bean!

Publication date is September, 2015, just a few weeks after US publication. The UK edition will have its own fancy pants cover, so if you’re one of those people who needs to own every iteration of a Thing (and oh, how we love you guys), here’s another pokemon for you to collect.

In other ILLUMINAE news:

  • An awesome author whose work Amie and I both love has just finished reading the book and lurrrrved it. So looks like we’ll have a few more nice blurbs for the cover. More deets soon.
  • Speaking of covers, we should have a final one for you soon, too. We’ve seen preliminary designs and they’re cooler than a penguin with his pants off.
  • Early reviews from the first round of ARCs are coming in, and they’re AWESOME.

I think that’s it. Back to work.

*smoke bomb*


Newsflash: the Firefly guys were villains

firefly-wall-cast1 copy

 

Update: I’m told there was Cracked vid posted late last year that covered this same topic. And here I was thinking I was being all original and shit. Tune in next week when write a 70,000 word thesis about how the rebels in Star Wars were the bad guys in Return of the Jedi only to find out Kevin Smith did that shit back in 1994.

Hello droogs.

So. This started as an idle tweet a few days back and devolved into a drunken conversation in which me and a buddy both proved we’ve spent waaaaaaaay too much time watching Firefly. And I’ll preface this waaaaaaay too long blog post by stressing that I lurrrrrrrve the Firefly series and Serenity movie. I love them in the pants. Were I unwed, I would take my Collector’s Edition Boxed Set in a manly fashion.

…wait, ew.

I genuinely believe Firefly is the best thing Mr Whedon has ever given us, up against some stiff competition. So I don’t want anyone thinking I’m a Whedon hater or this comes from a place of anything but love for the dude’s work. I’m just a nerd who likes to spitball about this stuff. And while, like many of you, I’ve got nothing for lurrrrve for Firefly and the crew of Serenity, I’ve got some bad news, droogs:

Mal Reynolds and the crew of Firefly were the fucking bad guys.

And I don’t mean in a Loveable Rogue archetype kind of way. I mean they were the straight-up villains. They’re the kind of people who, if you read about them in your holonews over your morning bowl of Jupiter Loops, you’d thump the table, complain bitterly to your lovebot about the slow collapse of civilization and demand to know WHAT THE FRACK your taxes were paying for.

. . .  sorry, wrong universe . . .

But I mean, really, THINK about it for a second. You’ve got a collection of ex-soldiers, fugitives, psychotics and ragtags now operating as a mercenary band, paying no attention to laws and regulations that govern civilized areas of space. They willingly do business with pimps, organized criminal cartels, corrupt bastards and full-tilt, pants-on-head-crazy sociopaths. And worst of all, with the exception of Simon and River, this is a life they CHOOSE. Mal, Zoe, Wash, Kaylee and Jayne are career criminals, who believe that the rules applying to everyone else in the universe simply don’t apply to them. People who freely lie, cheat, steal and murder their way across the galaxy in a desperate and misguided attempt to remain “free” from Alliance “control”. Because fuck you buddy, you can’t take the sky from me, and if you try, I swear me and my pretty floral bonnet will end you.

Now. The justification we’re given to excuse Mal & Co’s flagrant disregard for the laws of civilization are that the Alliance are “bad m’kay”. But what evidence are we really presented for this rationale?

Most Alliance people we meet in the series are just soldier boys doing their job. Space cops, basically. If they get given a galactic APB on some wanted fugitives, they don’t question the proofs of the case. There’s no galactic equivalent of the Serial podcast, through which the Alliance goons can sit around debating the merits of the evidence against Adnan . . . I mean River and Simon. They just do their damn job. Arrest the criminals, and trust the system to bring justice, because that’s the system their society built.

Now let’s talk about that system for a minute. From what we see of Alliance controlled space, it doesn’t seem all too PUREST FUCKING EVIL™ to me. They don’t have Universal Kitten Drowning Day or insist everyone listen to Top 40 radio. In fact, Alliance space seems pretty awesome. First off, it’s a democracy, as evidenced by the existence of a Parliament. People actually get a say in who governs them, as opposed to the outer rim. They have public heath care (as evidenced by the Alliance troops escorting medical supplies in the Train Job) and freedom of religion (Book follows a judeo-christian theology whereas Inara’s religious activities in Serenity seem more in line with theologies like Buddhism). They have a police force that protects and serves on a galactic scale. An administration large and efficient enough to successfully govern dozens of civilized worlds (ponder the size and complexity of a government that manages a single planet for a second, let alone dozens) and an economy that’s prosperous enough that even a wandering space prostitute can make a decent living.

Compare this to what we see of uncontrolled space. We have the areas controlled by Niska – a mass-murdering psychopath with a fondness for electrocuting people’s groins. We have Patience – a double-dealing warlord who “got herself elected mayor” and rules by the law of the gun. We have Ranse Burgess, who owns the local authorities and brutalizes a brothel full of space hookers with his laser pistol and rather unconvincing landspeeder . Time and time again on the fringe, we see examples of people with superior firepower or money terrorizing the members of the local populace. The areas where Alliance presence is thin or non-existent, ie, areas that by Mal’s rationale are “free”, are lawless wastelands governed at the point of a laser or car-battery connected to your joy factory. But oh wowwwww, they have ponies so I guess they’re the liberated ones.

Example – compare and contrast the way sex workers are treated in Alliance and non-Alliance space. In Alliance space, prostitution is legalized, regulated and considered an honorable vocation. Inara is treated with respect, and her companionship a sign of prestige. In fringe space, sex workers are treated, omg spoilers, like absolute shite. Brutalized and murdered by anyone with some pew pew at their disposal.

Our only two demonstrable examples of “the Alliance is bad, m’kay” are the project that spawned River Tam, and the Miranda disaster. And yes, these are some pants-wettingly awful things, but hold your fucking space ponies, kids. Alliance space is vast. The number of people employed in the bureaucracy must be in the hundreds of thousands, if not in the millions. The Serenity movie goes to great lengths to explain how ultra tip-top secret squirrel both these projects were. Can the actions of an obviously covert, off-the-books cabal within the Alliance leadership be used as excuse to write off the entire system as some kind of evil totalitarian regime? In an administration of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, can you honestly expect there not to be a few bastards? How do we know the average member of the Alliance parliament wouldn’t have condemned the actions at Miranda? How we possibly imagine they didn’t? I mean, our only clue is that the “Top Member of Parliament” who came to inspect River knew about the Miranda incident – for all we know, he/she could have been the toe-cutter who came in and kicked heads and imprisoned/disappeared all the bastards involved after the Miranda project went hell in a space handbasket? Do we honestly believe Parliament is sitting around twirling their mustaches, stroking hairless cats and pondering ways through which to make the universe a crappier place to live?

Now, we’re TOLD that the Alliance fought a bloody war for domination of the settled worlds. But who tells us this?  Mal and Zoe, who both fought against the Alliance and lost. Their point of view is naturally going to be biased. The actual reasons for the war are vague and hand-wavey, basically coming down to “they wanted to control us, and we fought back”. But Whedon has said repeatedly that the Firefly crew were inspired by tales of the American civil war – if we take that comparison to it’s logical conclusion, the Alliance are the Union states (since they, you know, WON). Meaning the Browncoats were the fucking Confederacy. And I’m sure if you asked the average Confederate soldier why he was fighting, he’d have regurgitated the exact same mouthful of monkey jizz that Mal spouts – that they were resisting an oppressor who wanted to subvert their way of life. Take away our freedom. “Control” us. Right?

Looking at the state of the ‘verse outside Alliance controlled space, exactly what kind of “freedom” were the Browncoats fighting for? The right to hitch people’s testicles up to car batteries and make mud for a living?

So. The Confed . . . sorry, the Browncoats lose the war. And what does Malcolm Reynolds do? Does he sit back and decide that, hey public healthcare and an organized police force that applies a universal system of law and order doing away with oppressive local warlords and ushering an age of stability and economic prosperity sounds like a fan-fucking-tastic idea? Hellllll naw. He stamps his feet, buys a spaceship and decides “Fuck the law. Fuck the Alliance. I want to do what I want, when I want, and if that means I have to become a criminal, it’s better than being oppressed by the man and his pinko public medical aid bollocks. Fucking socialists.”

(I’m joking about the socialist part. Mal is more of a fascist)

So. Let’s look at our (lovable, very lovable, I really do love these guys, folks, i’m not even kidding) crew:

Zoe. A loyal 2IC who attempts on repeated occasions to convince Mal what a colossal bleeding asshole he’s being, Zoe serves as a kind of She-Ra/Jiminy Cricket hybrid, demonstrating time and time again she has a conscience in between her bouts of ass-kickery. And yet, she continues to ride with Mal even after his stubbornness and inability to accept any kind of governance drives them repeatedly into danger, eventually resulting in the mass-slaughter of thousands of people and the death of her husband. Her loyalty to her Captain is admirable on the surface, but the longer you stare at it, the more it starts to appear like some bizarre form of space Stockholm syndrome.

Jayne. A mercenary who sold out and murdered his former employers after the offer of more money from Mal. A killer who repeatedly demonstrates a total lack of morality, who delights in the prospect of violence. The kind of man who who’d happily trade a human being for a gun, and names his firearms. Yeah sure, he’s got some good one-liners and a sweet hat, but the dude is a dead-set FUCKING SOCIOPATH.

Wash. Poor Wash. A loveable manchild, who remains largely shielded from the day to day brutality of his wife and her comrades’ wetwork inside his cockpit with his toy dinosaurs. Who, when he meekly voices his unease at the increasingly amoral actions of his captain, is told to just shut the up and fly the ship or get out and walk. Who’s loyalty to his wife, and thus, inadvertently, his captain, ultimately gets him playing the role of Special Guest Protein in a rather surprising shish kabob. D:

Kaylee. Another babe in the woods type, mostly insulated from the carnage inflicted by her captain and crew. A young woman of little education (her mechanical skills are self taught, she just has a “gift for it”) who gravitates to the trappings of actual civilization whenever exposed to them, eg, her wistful obsession with Inara’s tales of her clientele and visits to civilized worlds, and her infatuation with cultured society’s trappings in Shindig.

Shepherd Book. Another of Mal’s Jiminy Crickets, who’s repeated failed attempts at providing his Captain with moral guidance see him eventually throwing his hands in the air (wave em like you just don’t care) and leaving the crew for greener, less blood-soaked and dodgy-as-fuck pastures. Oh, and then he gets murdered for hanging with them anyway. You’ll note that Book, who more than anyone else on the crew has actually spent extended periods of time in Alliance space, doesn’t seem to be possessed of the same blistering hate-induced boner of rage Mal does when it comes to the Alliance or their “control”.

Inara. Another member of the crew who spends extended time in Alliance space and seems to have absolutely no problem with it. A cultured and learned woman, who really only seems to stay with the crew because of her fondness for Kaylee and her feelings for Mal. You’ll notice the two people on Serenity who actually demonstrate some degree of education and aren’t wanted fugitives, Book and Inara, freely intermingle with Alliance society and don’t seem to have any real dramas with the way Alliance space is run. And like Book, Inara eventually makes like a well-dressed space tree when Mal gets too frothy at the mouth.

River. She goes where Simon goes. She has no choice. I’ll note again however, that her treatment at the Alliance’s hands is one of our main pointers towards them being made of pure Puppy Kicking Evil™. But again, we only get River’s side of this story, and she’s an unreliable narrator at best. What if the project that spawned her was an attempt to control her powers, which, if manifested without some measure of training, could result in a Tetsuo-style meltdown and the deaths of millions of people? What, if left untrained, she’d be a danger to everyone around her? We don’t know, is my point. We only get her hand-wavey hysterics and Simon’s assurances that they cut out bits of her brain. And yes, she did go through a very un-fun time. It sucks. But it’s better than her blowing holes in the moon, is all I’m saying.

Simon. A nice guy who gave all he had to rescue his sister. But why? River’s hidden messages in her letters to home were his first clue all was not well with her supposed school. But what if River’s increasing psychosis was a result of her developing powers? What if the damage to her amygdala (which he discovers in Ariel) was actually a symptom of her mutation, rather than a result of the project she was enrolled in? We know sweet FA about what happened to River, or how, or why. So while Simon’s actions might be admirable from a certain POV, he may be operating on a baseline assumption that is inherently flawed. All that aside, Simon IS a character with a moral compass, and he also demonstrates an increasing level of discomfort with the actions of Mal and his crew, eventually, AGAIN, leading him to GTFOASAPKTHXBAI in Serenity.

Do you notice a pattern here? Virtually everyone in the series with an education and a demonstrated sense of right and wrong end up bailing on Mal because he’s an amoral prick.

Which brings us to

Captain Malcolm Reynolds. You want to talk about ruthless totalitarian authority? Forget the Alliance, my friends. Look no further than Mal. This is a guy who tolerates zero insubordination on his ship. Who, when questioned by his crew in Serenity – people he claims to love and/or care for – actually threatens to fucking shoot them if they get in his way. A man whose desperate and misguided attempts to resist Alliance “control” and live a life of “freedom” sees any kind of moral compass he might have possessed completely erode. In the Firefly pilot, he tells Simon that, if Kaylee dies after Simon operates on her, he and his sister will be murdered shortly thereafter. In a later scene, he actually tells Simon that Kaylee did indeed die, inducing a moment of slow-mo, trouser-browning panic in the boy just to get a fucking laugh (and hell yes, it was hilarious, but woe betide you if  you believe these are the actions of a balanced man).

He repeatedly does business with murderers, bastards, and psychopaths. And sure, sometimes when he’s presented with face-to-face irrefutable proof of the immorality of his actions (ie, in The Train Job when told the shipment he’s stealing was, oh holy shit call the police, actually needed by the people he was stealing it from) he sometimes gets squeamish. But he still deals all the time with characters like Niska knowing exactly who they are and what they do. He knows these people are ruthless, murderous pricks. But as long as he’s not directly confronted with evidence of their brutality right in his (devilishly handsome have i mentioned i love him) face, he’d rather take the blood-soaked money of a pimp thuglord like Badger than earn a legitimate living within the confines of a perfectly regular and orderly society.

And why? Basically? Because he’s a narcissistic psycho and a bad fucking loser (and I love him, I really really do).

Seriously. Malcolm Reynolds’ twelve-headed hydra wang of hate for the alliance doesn’t come from outrage over the dubious morality of a couple of black bag cabals within the government – he has no inkling of their abuses of River or the Miranda incident until long after he turns outlaw. It doesn’t come from some irrational hatred of public heathcare or a regulated sex industry. It comes from the innate, unswerving knowledge that he knows better than anyone else. And the thing is?

Mal knows dick all about the Alliance. We’re never given any evidence that he’s spent time living in controlled space. He was a Browncoat footsoldier. A front line grunt. If the future is any analogue of the present, the dudes who get sent out to the front line to fight? They’re the poor. The uneducated. The expendable. The people who fall for the propaganda machine’s spin because they’re never taught to question. In all likelihood, Mal was convinced of the wrongness of Alliance control in the exact same way that troops who participated in the invasion of Iraq were convinced of the wrongness of the Hussein regime – a carefully orchestrated campaign of complete and utter bullshit. And the poor lad bought it hook line and sinker, suffered a traumatic and life-changing front line slaughter experience, and limped away from the war convinced that the Alliance leadership – every last democratically elected one of them – are a pack of fucking Stalins.

Mal talks about “Earth That Was” being “used up”, prompting humanity’s exploration and colonization of their new systems. He offers no real scientific explanation. Gives no demonstration of any real understanding or education about the fall. Can you imagine a character like Inara summing up the cataclysmic events leading to the fall of the cradle of human civilization in such childish, sitting-around-the-fireside-swapping-yarns kind of language? Mal is a rube. A rube who got duped into believing an enemy existed where actually there was just a differing point of view. And he picks up his hate baggage and carries it with him from that point on. He names his ship – the very symbol of his freedom – after the murderous defeat his troops suffered during the war. He nearly spends every waking moment living inside a physical manifestation of that defeat. And over the course of his journey in the series, and particularly the Serenity movie, he becomes the very monster he mistakenly beheld in the Alliance.

He’s a dictator, brooking absolutely no dissent among his people. Exercising control and demanding absolute fealty even when questioned by his oldest and most trusted friends. His actions lead directly to the death of most of his closest allies, Shepherd Book, Wash and thousands upon thousands of Alliance soldiers in the skies above Mr Universe’s lab. And why? To expose the actions of a secret cabal of black baggers in the hopes of bringing down the Alliance? Can you imagine, for one brief second, the ramifications if the Alliance government actually collapsed after the Miranda revelation? The carnage that would result if a government responsible for safeguarding dozens of worlds and the lives of billions upon billions of people fell over? Given what we see of fringe space and the alternatives – rule by warlords like Burgess and Patience or psychopaths like Niska – can you imagine what might rise in the Alliance’s ashes?

But none of that matters, see. The possible fallout from the Miranda transmission isn’t even considered by Mal. He abandons his crew to die (only River’s moment of murderous lucidity after Simon is wounded saves them all from torturous deaths at the hands of the Reavers) in order to deliver his “truth” to the universe, without even realizing that in the process, he’s drenched his hands with more blood than the average Alliance bureaucrat could ever imagine let alone match, and, worse-case-scenario, doomed the universe to a period of bloody upheaval and murderous civil war.

But, you can’t take the sky from him, right?

Again. I love the show. It’s funny and smart and wonderful. I love the characters. They’re rich and layered and as fun as a game of zero gee nude volleyball to watch. I love me a good rogue, and I’m as enamored with the idea of sticking it to the man and living free and doing and saying whatever the hell I want as anyone. Mal and his crew are awesome protagonists. In their own heads, they might even be heroes. But to the average inhabitant of the Firefly universe?

STONE. COLD. VILLAINS.

Discuss.


The making of: ILLUMINAE ARCs

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Hello droogs,

Excitement afoot! My legion of flying monkeys has informed me the first ARCs of ILLUMINAE have made it out into the wild and were snatched up by a bunch of eager beavers at ALA Midwinter. Not sure what the hell beavers will do with ARCs or how they got past ALA security, but investigations are apparently underway. Hopefully some librarians and bloggers got copies, too.

Frackin’ beavers . . .

For those of you who don’t know, “ARC” stands for “Advanced Reader Copy”. They’re basically an early version of the final book, sent out to media, librarians, bloggers and nice author-type people who’ve said they’re willing to paw through the pages with the intent of giving it an endorsement (presuming they don’t open the book to discover the words are scrawled in pure suck). ARCs have usually only gone through early revisions prior to printing, which means there will be typos and formatting boo-boos inside, but for the mmmmost part, they’re 95% of the finished product.

The ILLUMINAE ARC is a little different (you’ll hear the words “is a little different” a lot when it comes to this book, my droogs). No word of jest do I speak thee when I say the production has been an undertaking of biblical proportions. See normally, putting a book together is basically a matter of cut and pasting from the manuscript, putting in page numbers and maybe some fancy chapter headers, and bang howdy, let’s all go to lunch. But ILLUMINAE?

Oh, my sweet summer child. What do you know of winter?

To give you some indication of the sheer level of whathefuckery involved in creating this beast: The InDesign documents publishing houses work with in producing book contain “tags” to identify various aspects of the manuscript file. Random House corporately works with less than a half dozen standard tags for the majority of its fiction—both adult and children’s books. Less than six. For the ENTIRETY of Random House and its imprints. For ILLUMINAE, the RH corporate pub ops team (pub ops, man they sound like badasses) created nearly 4 dozen custom tags. From scratch, just for this one book. Every single page needed to be hand crafted. All 600+ of them. We’ve had illustrators creating space ship schematics and comic strips and movie posters and all kinds of crazy stuff, a bunch of designers working on different page templates, logo designs, experimental typography, yadda yadda.

It. Is. Madness.

Amie and I send the design guys cupcakes every now and then to make up for it, but I’m sure they’re still plotting our gruesome deaths. Well . . . mine, at least. I mean, I’m the guy who used to be the Designer, so I’m the guy who is now the Pain In The Designer’s Ass. But anyway, the upshot of all this?

HOLY SHIT THE ARCS LOOK FUCKING AAAAWWWEESSOOOOOMMMMEEE.

I’ve been pawing through mine all day and grinning like a lunatic. I was so busy gawping at it, I burned dinner and set off the smoke alarm and gave my dog a heart attack. Poor little dude. :(

Anyway. Making books is a strange gig. Amie and I began writing this one in Feb 2013. It started as a half-joking conversation over brunch one Sunday morning in a Fitzroy cafe. It’s been part of our lives almost every day for two years. And through a lot of luck and the support of an amazing editor and an amazing team and literally thousands of hours of work from dozens of people, we finally get to hold it in our hands. And soon you will too. I can’t even begin to tell you guys how excited we are about you guys reading this thing.

For those of you who can’t get an ARC, I leave you with the intro letter from our amazeballs editor.

 

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