Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rish Performs "The Last Man" on Audible.com

When I first moved to Los Angeles, one of my jobs was with the F/X Network, a cable channel located on the 20th Century Fox lot.  I worked in the F/X vault, which was an underground, cooled room with thousands of oversized videotapes.  Each day, I'd be given the programming schedule for the next day, and have to find all the tapes and put them in order, on a trolley, and then they'd be put it cartons and taken (via golf cart) to the broadcast center.  Each day, I'd be responsible for returning the previous day's tapes, and even though it was an easy job, the hours I spent in that vault, alone, were really monotonous.  To pass the time, every day for a couple of weeks, I imagined that some kind of huge bomb went off outside while I was down there, and it had somehow sheltered me.  When I emerged, I found that L.A. was in ruins, and it appeared I was alone.  After exploration, I discovered there were only a handful of people left who had survived (due to happenstance like mine).  Among them were my old boss at the production company that made my life hell (she was the villain of the piece), homeless cannibals, and Katie Holmes.

Yeah, I probably need counseling.

I mention this because I recently narrated a book by Ryan King called "The Last Man," wherein a husband and father, Sam, finds himself the only survivor of a plague that wipes out literally every other human being within hundreds of miles.  The story picks up a couple of years after the holocaust, with Sam traveling along the East Coast with a bunch of friendly dogs.  Sam longs to find a purpose in life now that everyone else is gone, and mostly just drives or walks from town to town, finding (or catching) food, and encountering various obstacles.

The idea of being alone in the world is not a new one, and I knew it was inevitable he would encounter somebody else alive before the book's end (though probably nobody who had appeared on "Dawson's Creek").  It therefore surprised me that it happened almost immediately, within the first dozen pages of the book, and pleased me to no end to discover that the people he ran into were only figments of his imagination.  All too easy to believe, from someone who had adventures exploring abandoned mansions in Beverly Hills, bicycling unmolested to the ocean in Santa Monica, and traveled to the exotic pet store over by the Mormon temple to feed the fish each day, all in my mind.

I previously narrated Ryan's book "No Kinda Life," and if I had a complaint about the two books, it's that I was left wanting more when the stories ended.  That's not not really a criticism so much as a desire to experience more in those two post-apocalyptic worlds.

Here is the link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Last-Man-Audiobook/B00EV18WJK/ref=sr_1_19?qid=1380324057&sr=1-19.

I got paid to read it, so I get nothing if you buy it, but it might bring us closer together.  And who knows, like me, you may also sit up and say, "Wait, Mary Shelley wrote a post-apocalyptic novel called 'The Last Man' two centuries ago?"

Rish Outfield, The Last Boy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Podcast That Dares Not Speak Its Name 5: The Signalman

It has been many months since I put out an episode of my original solo podcast, the one which should not be named aloud.  It's been so long that I can't remember if I used to post them here or just send them out to Dunesteef subscribers.

But, I recorded these before I ever had my Rish Outcast, so I need to release them somewhere.  In this one, I perform and discuss Charles Dickens's "The Signalman."  Hilarity does not ensue.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rish Performs "The Backworlds" on Audible.com

I know it hasn't been, but it seems like a long time since I've done one of these.

A while back, I finished production on "The Backworlds," by M. Pax.  It's one of the last novels I auditioned for, before realizing I was crazy to be taking on so many projects, and I'll admit that it's taken me longer than it should have (I still made it in before the deadline, though, which is a record I'm oddly proud of, considering nobody else knows, and few seem to care about due dates).

Initially, I believe the author told me it was a cross between "Star Trek" and "Firefly."  How could one resist?  The author had very little direction for me (which is usually nice), except for the kind of voices to give three or four of the characters.  I have to warn you, though, that one of those is highly annoying (or has the potential to be, anyway).  My fault, not the author's.

So, a couple friends of mine have talked about how sexist the world, and by association, the fiction community is, and how women from far and near have to use initials instead of their first names, use photographs of their fathers for the book jacket, and are required to wear a banana in their pantaloons when doing public appearances.  This particular author has been forced to use the initial "M." instead of his/her first name, because of this sad tendency.*

This is a shame, and I hope, with the advent of J.K. Rolling, Stephenie Meyer, and Suzanne Collins, the stigma against female writers is extinguished.
Regardless, "The Backworlds" is a fun Science Fiction book about the son of a barman, who is forced to go out into the big, scary galaxy to make his fortune.  He's basically chased off his world, and left to his own wits to get ahead.  Fortunately, he immediately meets up with a couple of similar youths, both with aspirations of wealth and adventure.

The main character is pretty decent and gormless, and unprepared for those who would take advantage of his naivete.  In trying to find his destiny, he makes enemies and friends along the way . . . and then the story ends.

That's my main criticism with this book, and it's really not a criticism at all.  I wanted to read more about the adventures of Craze and Talos and Lepsi, etc..  Luckily, this was just the first book in a series, as they all are, and lots more fun is to be had.

Here's the link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Backworlds-Audiobook/B00F3JRSEE/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1379192882&sr=1-1  If this sells, you never know, Ms. Pax may ask me to narrate another.

Rish Outfield, Hackworlds

*I'm reminded of the Hispanic actor A. Martinez, who had to do the same with his first name when he first started his career, because, well, the world is so sexist that nobody would accept an actor with the name Adolf.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Chapter Buh

After editing thirteen That Gets My Goat marathon episodes, it was surprisingly easy to make the shift over to editing books for Audible again.  For a while.

I finished one book the other day, and need to choose a five minute excerpt to use as my audio sample for it.  I'm also on Chapter Four of "Derai," the second book in the Dumarest of Terra series, where I have a five-book contract.  I was excited the other day to be reading user comments on io9 and see the Dumarest series mentioned.  On the downside . . . I was reading user comments on an io9 article.

"Derai" has been slow-going, mostly because of my own lack of dedication.  There are so many characters, and again, not having read more than a synopsis of the book before beginning (rather than the entire book), I don't know which characters are important and which are incidental.  Hence, I gave one of the main characters one of my standard Evil British voices, only to discover that he is the good member of that family, and I have to temper that bad guy voice so as not to sound misleadingly sinister.  Sigh.

Here's a little aside, though: man, I have so many plates in the air.  I wish I had some kind of switch in the back of my head that said, "Nope, you are never going to finish that, do not start.  I mean it, you already have a huge list of projects you're in the middle of, and you have way less ambition than you think you do.  Stop beginning new projects."  But I don't.

Oh, and one other challenge on this book: it turns out that the title character is a mind-reader.  This is revealed early enough on that I realized I was going to have to differentiate between spoken lines and inner monologues.  In text, it's traditionally been conveyed simply by having the thoughts be in italics, and "the spoken phrases in quotation marks."  I have chosen to put an echo on the characters' thoughts, despite having heard that that's "corny" or "cliched" or "childish" or "unprofessional" in audiobook circles.  I have listened to many books, however, where the ear cannot differentiate between the spoken dialogue and the thoughts of characters, and I become confused, or just as often, infuriated, because it sounds as though the inspector just called his supervisor a cowardly ponce, and got away with it.

I made the decision to do the echo in "Derai" because it simply has to be understood that when Earl thinks something, and Derai responds to it, that he did not say it, but she eavesdropped into his thoughts.  I know it's possible to convey that by simply changing the tone of my voice in the narration, but I challenge any of you to do so, and be confident the listener will realize that's what you're doing.  In fact, I challenge you to go out and start doing audiobooks yourself, if you're so frigging smart. 

Whoops, I guess I went a bit astray, didn't I?  The consequence of this decision is that, now, every single character's thought will have to be echoed, because it's the precident I have set.  Again, it may be possible to only echo the "transmitted thoughts," if you will, but I am not merely the narrator, I'm the producer as well, and just like television, the producer is king.

I am close to finishing editing another short story for sale.  I prefer short stories to novels, simply because of my aversion to hard work, but I reached a sentence that was so unacceptably false in the story that I heard myself say, "Oh, fuck you!" during the narration.  It made me laugh hard enough that I stopped editing and got on here to blog about it.

It's something I've complained to Big about before.  Just like bad special effects, I have a low tolerance for Oh Fuck You moments in audiobooks.  There have been some which made me push eject and throw the disc (or cassette in my younger years) into the back seat.  Just thought I'd share that.

I've got another deadline looming, and unless I reeeeally change my ways, it's going to be the first one since I started this that I miss.  I really ought to stop typing this and go to work.  Sorry.

Rish Outfield, Actually About To Log Into Facebook

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Opening the Floodgates

We had some kind of crazy, fluke disaster weather over the weeken--

Wait, no, let me start earlier.  Thirty years ago, RETURN OF THE JEDI opened, and my mom drove me to the city to watch it.  We spent that night at my grandmother's house, and all over the news was the crazy flooding that was going on all over the state (and maybe the country).  People were out sandbagging, cars and basements and streets and doghouses were flooded, and a little town was wiped clean off the map at the bottom of a canyon.*

So, for some reason, that sort of weather returned this weekend, and all of a sudden, a wall of water came down our street and washed, not into the gutters in front of the house, but down our driveway and into the basement.  I was not home to see this happen, but my sister took pictures and people in town posted hilarious videos of submerged cars, laughing teens waterskiing behind trucks, and a dude kayaking through our mall parking lot . . . all with the fucking phone turned on its side so you can't see any of what they're trying to shoot, but you get plenty of grey sky.  Bastardos suicios.

Well, apparently, the water arrived so fast, that it was impossible to prevent the destruction of a lot of what was in that basement.  Witnesses say that my big sister ran into my room down there and madly piled things up on the table and couch so no more damage would be done than already had been.  Neighbors came over--the ones who weren't also dealing with flooding, that is--my dad drove up, my uncle, the old guy who has a thing for my mother, and they used buckets and vacuums and the water equivalent of a snowplow to get the water out, while my brother-in-law pulled fallen trees (no joke) out of the gutter opening, so the water would go there instead.  By the time professional damage assessors arrived, most of the water had been redirected elsewhere, but it had gotten everywhere, from the stairs, to the corners, to my sister's room, to inside the closets, soaking the carpet, and leaving a line on the walls and doors to show how high the water got in.

I was out of town, and when I arrived, there was little I could do but help carry things upstairs and try to soak up muddy water from the floor.  A bunch of my comic books and books had been ruined, as well as half my CD collection (which I admit is an archaic and nearly-useless medium at this point), and it looked like the walls would have to be re . . . re-finished? as well as the floorboards, but I had gotten off easy, relatively (because of the heroics of my sister).  My closet is filled with, literally, hundreds of cardboard boxes, and they had soaked up an almost-laughable amount of water, filling up the whole blue garbage bin by themselves.

Today, though, it was time to go through and see what could be salvaged and what should be trashed.  We pulled up the carpet and pads, the wood around the doors, and tons of
I had boxes of books under the stairs I hadn't thought about, and much of those were destroyed, including my Stephen King collection, and the books from my childhood, as well as mementos from back then, including my baby book, my high school diploma, and my journal from my first year of college.  There were tons of photographs that I hadn't seen (or thought about) for many years, many of which had either stuck together, or run like watercolors.  I looked very, very young in them.

I went behind the door and discovered that my posters had soaked up water at the bottom, and it had crept up them like a creepy vine, ruining art, and prints, but mostly movie posters, including one signed by Stan Lee, one by Sam Raimi, one by Drew Struzan, and my INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS poster signed by Kevin McCarthy.  I didn't throw them away--it seemed too cruel--but my mom thinks a lot of the water will turn into mold eventually.

McCarthy is now dead, and in going through the tons of ruined books, I found the first edition of "I Am Legend," that I had spent way too much money on because I so loved that book.  It reminded me that, earlier this year, Richard Matheson died, and I never blogged about it.  I felt guilty about that, and thought, "I ought to stop looking at all this destroyed stuff, and go blog about him."  Weird, that.**

I found a bunch of college papers in a box, all soaked through, and threw away stacks of magazines, newspapers, and screenplays (all written by some dork who used to think he'd get to write for the movies).  In one notebook, I saw a story I wrote in 1994 called "Scritch" written in a blue pen, but once the ink had gotten wet, it had ran to the point where only the title and first sentence were legible.  I realized that I had never typed up that particular tale, and that it, about an old man or woman who is visited at night by something scratching at his/her door, is gone forever.  This isn't heartbreaking or anything, don't get me wrong, but it is strange to see it in my hand and realize that it's not recoverable.

Many folks from the neighborhood came over today, volunteering to put up sandbags, help tear out the carpet and the awful glued-to-the-cement padding beneath it, and carry stuff upstairs or outside

We were told that homeowners insurance does not cover an "Act of God," and that unless a pipe broke inside the house, there would be no coverage on their part.  They also told us that the story I had written in my notebook was not very good, and it's better off gone.

Rish Outfield, Floodthirsty

*My dad and uncle have a cabin in the woods and to get there, you have to drive through the remains of this little town.  To this day, there are still roofs sticking out of the water in what are now ponds, and it never ceases to amaze and disturb me to see these ruins (even though it's only, like, six houses total).  There's something post-apocalyptic about it, or hubristic, or at least historical, you know?

**Really, I do feel guilty for not saying something to honor Matheson.  I'm not a big reader, but he was a really wonderful writer, and both "I Am Legend" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" were fantastic, engaging, throughtful books. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Appearance on the "Strewn Along the Path" podcast

One-time friend (now full-time competitor) Marshal Latham's esoterica podcast "Strewn Along the Path" was created so he could talk about STAR WARS beyond the limits of his "Journey Into..." podcast (the episode with the story I wrote, not coincidentally), and it has somehow become a podcast devoted to that subject.  He was telling me that he's tempted to do it as a STAR WARS show permanently, and see if he can't get guests to sit down with him and talk about it, the way Kevin Smith does with his "Fatman on Batman" podcast.

I told Marshal he could call it "Fat Guys on Jedis."  But "Strewn Along te Path" is actually a much cooler name.

Anyway, I really enjoyed hearing him talk about his childhood and thoughts about the Prequels, and told him I wanted to be a guest on his show, and somehow, I ended up being the first one.  Not that I have anything to do with STAR WARS, except being told, "You're a bloody wanker"  by the woman who played Mon Mothma.  But I can still talk about it, for a long, long time.

Marshal was kind to indulge me, and we talked about our love for the franchise for a while on the show (linked here http://strewnalongthepath.blogspot.com/2013/09/3-strewn-along-path-wookies-and-hutts.html).  Check it out, if you're missing the sound of my jaw flapping.  If people like this show, he'll surely do more episodes in the future.  Maybe he'll even have me along sometime.

Perhaps Big and I can have Marshal on our show when the announcements for "Episode VII" start to drop. 

Rish Outfield, Jedi Pawn

P.S.  See, 'cause a Knight is a Chess piece, and so is a . . . never mind.