Category Archives: Geek

I’m heading to DragonCon! Here’s where I’ll be this year.

Of all the conventions I’ve attended as an author, DragonCon in Atlanta holds a place near and dear to my heart. The organizers are fantastic, especially on the Alternate History track, and I never suffer from a lack of things to do. They always keep me busy on panels and whatnot, and that gives me multiple wonderful opportunities to meet with fans and geek out over all our mutual interests.

Plus, a lot of my author friends head out there each year, which gives me the chance to hang out with lovely, lovely people who really understand what it takes to get all these books out there into the wild. There is revelry and merriment galore. It’s no wonder this will be my fifth DragonCon in the past six years!

So without further ado, here’s my schedule for this year’s DragonCon, starting tomorrow. If you’re there, I would absolutely love to see you. Here’s where to find me!

  • Friday, 4 p.m. — Reading. (Hyatt, Marietta room) — Let’s kick this off right with a reading! This year, I’ll likely read a story from Stories and Spilled Tea, my new collection (which is out now and which you can buy here). I’ll also have some copies of MJ-12: Endgame and perhaps a few other things as well for those who stop by. Let’s hang out!
  • Saturday, 5 p.m. — Bookstore signing at The Missing Volume. (AmericasMart vendor hall, booths #1201, 1203, 1300,1302) — It’s always a huge pleasure to spend time with the good people at The Missing Volume. As per usual, I expect they’ll have all my books on hand, so stop by and get one signed.
  • Saturday, 7 p.m. — Panel: “Ahoy, Mateys! Pirates in History & Pop Culture.” (Sheraton, Augusta room) — This is always a great panel, full of great historical and fantastical discussions about pirates and piracy in literature. Talking like a pirate is almost inevitable.
  • Sunday, 4 p.m. — Panel: “Gentleman Jack: A Fan Panel on the Facts & Fiction of Anne Lister.” (Sheraton, Macon room) — And now for something a little different. I’ve always worked hard to be inclusive in my work, and I’ve really enjoyed the HBO series Gentleman Jack. So what a great opportunity to talk about this amazing 19th century LGBTQ+ pioneer.
  • Sunday, 7 p.m. — Panel: “The Secret History of Spies.” (Sheraton, Macon room) — Obviously, I have things to say at this one. So let’s go talk about spycraft and espionage through the ages! This is also another mainstay, and we have a lot of fun.

So those are the biggies. I’ll likely be poking my head into other panels, taking photos and generally enjoying the heck out of everything. If I have books left over after the reading, I’ll likely be using Twitter to do periodic giveaways throughout the convention. So be sure to follow me (@mikemartinez72) and keep a look out.

See you in Atlanta!

#SFWApro

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Stories and Spilled Tea is coming Aug. 27!

cover1Very excited to announce my first foray into true self-publishing — the collection Stories and Spilled Teacoming August 27 and available for pre-order now for the Amazon Kindle. And here’s the cover, which isn’t bad for an amateur like myself.

(To be fair, my amazingly talented daughter, Anna, did the art. I just managed the layout. Barely.)

So what’s in it? Pretty much everything I’ve had published, along with a couple of new pieces. Here’s the breakdown of stories inside:

  • “Form” (new)
  • “Confessions of an Interplanetary Art Fraud” (from Unidentified Funny Objects 4)
  • “On a Kansas Plain” (from Cthulhu Fhtagn!)
  • “Mind Flight” (from Geeky Giving)
  • “Crisis of Faith” (from Paizo’s Pathfinder web fiction series)
  • “1-800-DEATH-RAY” (new)
  • The Gravity of the Affair (a previously published Daedalus novella)

In addition, I’ve written essays about how these stories came to be, the challenges in writing them, and some thoughts about the publishing business as well — basically, a little color around my career thus far as a fiction-slinger. I hope that fellow scribes find a little use in there, in addition to enjoying the stories.

As this is my first self-published work, I should probably caveat a few things. I think I managed the editing and layout well — it looks clean in the preview tools — but do let me know if I screw it up. Also, the cover was designed by yours truly, and I totally get that it’s probably not as slick as many others. If this does well, maybe I’ll hire someone to clean it up, especially if there’s demand for a print version.

And yes, this is only available on Kindle at the moment. That was a tough call, honestly. I firmly believe in competition and wanting to see Amazon challenged in…well, all of the areas where it operates. But this is very much an experiment for me, and like it or not, Amazon makes it incredibly easy to use their platform — and potentially lucrative if you stay in their sandbox. So for now, it’s a Kindle Select offering. Again, if there’s demand beyond that, I’m all ears.

So thanks, everyone, for helping me have a career that makes a collection like this possible. Go give it a pre-order if you like, and tell your friends!

#SFWApro

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SUET the Card Game is funded! Check it out!

If you’ll recall, one of my oldest friends, John LeMaire, did a Kickstarter a while back for his game, SUET the Card Game. That didn’t get funded, but he’s made some changes to his business model and, lo and behold, this time it worked! So now that you know you’ll get a high-quality family game if you back it, I’m inviting you to give it some consideration.

You can read all about the game here in this handy guest post, but here’s the quick synopsis:

SUET is a card game where you play the role of an evil genius trying to gain entry into the Society of Ultimate Evil and Terror. The Society has declared that the first genius to construct their own unique doomsday device and blackmail the world will be allowed to join. You will play cards not only to help construct and defend your doomsday device, but also to thwart the efforts of your competitors on your quest to become a member of SUET.

Fun, right? This game has been demoed at a number of gaming conventions over the past few years, and it’s ready for prime time. I’ve already backed it, and I hope you’ll give it a go. Here’s the Kickstarter link. Go forth!

#SFWApro

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A less-than-fond farewell to 2017

I know I’m not the first one to say this, of course — 2017 was not fun, and for many people, that’s a monumental understatement. Personally, professionally, culturally, politically…this year was a godforsaken mess. I’m far less inclined to toast the year that was, but I’m quite ready to embrace the one coming down the pike, and I hope you are too.

So let’s start with the elephant in the room, which would be Trump and his coterie of destructive buffoons. I’m not going to go into his policies, or the rapacious GOP’s attempts to create a permanent, uneducated American underclass to serve the top 1%. But I know full well that the very presence of this looming threat to American values and democracy, and the utter barrage of weaponized fake outrage and falsehoods, has taken its toll on so many of us, myself included.

Now, let’s be quite clear in that I’m a straight, married, white male, so when I say “taken its toll,” the bill for me is extremely light compared to women, people of color, folks with chronic physical and/or mental conditions, our LBGTQ+ friends, etc. In fact, it feels slightly disingenuous to be bitching about things when my family and I are doing well, and may even see a tax cut next year.

But while my toll is far less, it’s there. 2017 has messed with my head. In so many areas of my life, I found myself waiting for something, waiting for change. Yes, I ramped up my contributions and I joined a protest at Trump Tower and I spoke out and all that good stuff. But the rest of it was kind of living in a defensive crouch in the corner, trying to go about my business and waiting, hoping, praying for the support to help all of us turn a corner.

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A semi-spoiler-free take on The Last Jedi

I walked out of Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night grinning ear to ear. It is a fun, epic film. It has so many nods to the characters we know and love. The visuals are stunning, the acting great, the humor is amazing and on point, and yet there’s tragedy as well. I think euphoric might be too strong a word, but it’s in the thesaurus neighborhood.

Then I thought about writing this now-traditional review for the blog. And in the light of day, the flaws show — and in a way that they didn’t for The Force Awakens or Rogue One. I think these are flaws of ambition, because there is a lot going on in The Last Jedi, and Rian Johnson is trying to do things we haven’t seen before. When he succeeds, he does so amazingly well. When he falls short, it can be obvious and distracting.

I don’t think I can post anything without putting in some spoilers here, but if you’ve read up on the film — features, reviews, etc. — then I think you’ll be OK. But if you’re determined to have a spoiler-free zone, stop here and just know that it’s worth your movie-going dollars if you’re a Star Wars fan, and that you’ll have a blast.   Continue reading

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An ode to the role-playing games of my misspent youth

So, OK, not really an ode. More like a roundup.

The other day I saw that Beth Elderkin over at io9, my all-time favorite geek site, did a nifty retrospective on the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu, which is based, of course, on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I remember playing it when I was in high school and college, and I credit CoC with introducing me to Lovecraft’s stories.

Yes, that means there’s a direct thread from Call of Cthulhu to my story “On a Kansas Plain” in the Cthulhu Fhtagn! anthology from Word Horde. I sold a story because a role-playing game introduced me to Lovecraft’s work.

And I’ve done a couple of direct tie-in stories for games, too. There’s “Tiger,” in last year’s The Endless Ages Anthology for Vampire: The Masquerade, and “Crisis of Faith” for Paizo’s Pathfinder setting, which uses the d20 rules made famous by the granddaddy of them all, Dungeons & Dragons.

Oh, and I interviewed Gary Gygax and Steve Jackson during my reporting days. I’m never not gonna link to that.

So yeah, games mean a lot to me. They were my very first introduction to the whole idea of worldbuilding, and character. I admit, I wasn’t much of a Dungeon Master/game master/referee/whatever, but I did try my hand a few times. Plot’s hard, of course, especially when you’re, like, ten.

Here’s a fun little list of games that had an influence on me, and a few I simply played and thought were cool.  Continue reading

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Like gaming? Check out Adirondicon on October 14!

If you’re a fan of table-top gaming — board games, card games, strategy, RPGs, the whole bit — and if you’ll be around the Albany, N.Y., area on Saturday, October 14, I have a good idea of what you should be doing.

The first annual Adirondacon is taking place that day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. — that’s right, twelve straight hours of gaming goodness. The event is sponsored by First Stall Productions and the Adirondack Tabletop Gamers and Game Developers, and it’ll cost you just $5 for adults and $2 for kids. The proceeds go to the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center.

So it’s for charity, which means you get to play games all damn day for a good cause. This does not suck.

The convention will have a number of organized games throughout the day, as well as open gaming and a large lending library full of games to play on your own. We’re talking Magic: The Gathering, Settlers of Catan, Star Trek Attack Wing, Pathfinder, Arcadia Quest and a bunch of stuff I ain’t even heard of. Plus, I hear tell of food and prizes and swag for sale, too.

Sadly, I won’t be able to make it, but games are awesome and charity is even more awesome. So check out the Adirondacon website to get your badges and sign up for games. (You can also just wander in if you’re not sure of your plans yet or you’re just, you know, lazy.) They also have a Twitter and Facebook presence if you want to reach out to them. It’ll be at the Elks Lodge in Queensbury, N.Y., right near Glens Falls and about an hour north of Albany.

Have fun!

#SFWApro

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