Tag Archives: suspense
Someone asked, “Do you really believe we’re headed for an apocalypse?”
Dude! The apocalypse is already here!
Sci-fi writer William Gibson said the future arrives at different speeds. Same is true of the end that could throw us backward a hundred years.
I look around and I see the power of antibiotics fading as the bugs come back stronger. There’s an excellent chance we won’t be able to have the surgeries we have now because our antibiotics will no longer work. Do you want to go back to pre-1928 medicine? Of course, not. Nobody wants to die of a sore throat, a bladder infection or appendicitis. But that is our present course.
I see fracking causing earthquakes and flammable water in kitchen sinks.
I see perma-war.
Most disturbing, I see an unwillingness to change, anti-science and anti-intellectualism.
Worst? I see a lack of compassion.
Citizens are in big trouble on Spaceship Earth and a lot of people, speaking from fear and ignorance, seem determined to be dicks about it.
One reviewer of This Plague of Days asked, “Why does everyone have to act like assholes in the apocalypse?”
I answer that reviewer directly in Season Three, but look around. The answer is obvious. People don’t think we’re in an apocalypse now (if they aren’t from Detroit or along the Mexican border or in Uganda.) But there already assholes everywhere. Panic and pressure brings out the nastiness stronger. It’s a scary world and people can be monsters. I didn’t invent it. I reflect it. You need look no further than the instincts of your average Internet troll.
But pressure makes diamonds, too.
Heroes can emerge. Will they? I don’t know. Are you willing to be a hero? An apocalypse — to nature, to people and to human dignity — is everywhere.
If you’re waiting for the siren call to action, it’s already howling. If we wait for the actual civil defense sirens to crank up?
~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write suspense fiction. The scariest stuff I write doesn’t feel like fiction. (But you can hang out for the jokes, too.) If you’re looking for thought provocation along with action amid monstrous destruction and desolation, have a look at This Plague of Days, Season One. The whole first season is on sale for only a buck on Amazon.
To get the This Plague of Days trilogy all at once for an awesome binge-read this summer, read This Plague of Days Omnibus Edition and find the secret video link to get another free thriller.
TPOD tickles you to zomgasm & braingasm. #Book #deals at ThisPlagueOfDays.com to get a bonus ebook. #suspense #Top100 #horror
Did you pop in for the book bargains on This Plague of Days? Click here to go straight to those details.
Q & A #7: Five questions from readers answered
1. The last book of the series kind of freaked me out. What’s the message about life and death going on there?
RCC: Aside from all the scary beasties running around, I suppose one theme that emerges is:
Our Existence is brutal, but we have it in us to make the future great.
2. I thought the atheism was preachy in Book 1. By Book 3, you seem to move beyond that. What do you believe?
RCC: Really? Dad is an atheist and Mom is a Christian. When Jack talked about her faith, did you think that was preachy? I think the parents have discussions that come up naturally when you’re constantly facing mortality. Just like a story, in life, we all want to know what happens next, even after we die. Make that, especially after we die. I explore a lot of ideas in This Plague of Days. I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions. I think I give all the ideas I explore a fair hearing.
What I believe doesn’t matter, anyway. It’s about what you think as you read. I’m happy to provide stimulation, but if I tell you what side I’m on, somebody will say I’m “preachy.” Instead, consider the last chapter again. There’s optimism, but there’s also a deep questioning of what forces were working against each other. Please, meet me halfway and decide for yourself.
3. When is your next zombie book?
RCC: After TPOD, I’m not sure what’s left for me to say about zombies, at least for a while. My mission is always to do something different and unexpected with all I write. That’s why I consider myself a suspense novelist first. I played with zombies and vampires in TPOD (sort of) but it wouldn’t be fresh if I dragged it out or did more in that world. Never say never, but…no more zombies for now. I do promise all my books will be shorter with a faster pace from here on out. TPOD took years.
4. What book is next?
RCC: I’m committed to three thrillers this year: the autobiographical crime novel, the time travel savant novel and the third instalment of the Hit Man Series. I have plenty of other books in various stages of writing, but I’ve settled on those three next. At least one or two before the end of summer, I hope.
RCC: #3, easily. Despite the weirdness and Jaimie’s unique point of view, I think Season One starts off in a place closer to what people expect in a disaster novel. I allow the crisis to unfold internationally and went deep into how slowly and how quickly civilization’s fall could occur. Many of the expected elements are there, despite the autistic twist and Jaimie Spencer’s other gifts.
#2, I like for the fast change in pace. People who appreciated the literary depth of Season One got a slap across the face with the evolution of the virus and of species. A few readers are uncomfortable with the paranormal turn Season Two takes, but I hope there’s enough going on and enough cool characters that they’ll hang in for the ride. A couple of reviewers have made the connection to Stephen King’s The Stand in a disparaging way. I can’t think of a higher compliment to my work.
Season Three gets crazy meta, metaphysical and a little psychedelic amid the carnage (and several beta readers said it could stand on its own as a book, with or without Seasons One and Two.) I love where things ended up because I always want to defy expectations. If anybody thought this was “just” a zombie novel, surprise! There’s enough action for lovers of Zompoc but jokes and brain tickles, too.
I love to tickle readers to zomgasm & braingasm.
~ The TPOD bargains continue and I’m back in Amazon’s Top 100 horror authors again. Word must be getting around. Thanks so much to everyone who spread the mind infection.
Want to help out? I’d appreciate it. Please tweet this:
The details about getting a free ebook from the TPOD OMNIBUS are below this post, here. Thanks so much for reading This Plague of Days.
I’ve just sent the new cover through to Amazon. Within hours, this will be the new look of This Plague of Days, The Omnibus Edition.
Thanks to Kit Foster of Kit Foster Design, I have a lovely cover! If you need a book cover (ebook or print), a new web banner, advertising…whatever your design needs, Kit is The One. Check out his portfolio at KitFosterDesign.com.
For details on This Plague of Days book bargains, read the post below this one.
UPDATE: Thank you for your feedback so far. Here’s another cover to consider. This is #6:
It’s cover choosing time!
Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com has created the cover for Season 3 of This Plague of Days and it is wonderful. I have no doubt you’ll be impressed. I’ll leave that awesome reveal for later. It’s different from the other covers, but, given where Season 3 takes us, that’s appropriate. It gets weird. I’m aiming for Strangest Zombie Apocalypse Series Ever Award. It’s given out by the Nobel committee each year, but the competition is stiff and those nerdy Nobel chemists grab all the glory.
Season 3 is due out on Father’s Day.
You can pick up Seasons One and Two through the affiliate link at AllThatChazz.com if you’re so inclined (and if you like autistic heroes trying to save the world from several kinds of monsters, including humans.) There are a couple of sneak peeks below this post, too, if you’re looking for more of a taste.
About that prize for a random assist: the compendium of Seasons 1, 2 and the finale in 3 will launch on Father’s Day, too.
In addition, I’m taking care of the cover for the Plague of Days compendium myself. About that, I have many doubts. Which cover do you prefer?
Please let me know which one you like best in the comments, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5? A combination of several elements? None?
Thanks for helping me out with these heavy decisions as the big day approaches! And by “big day” I’m referring, of course, to the release of the pandemic flu virus that will kill most of us, turn a bunch more into zombies and…well…it gets worse as the virus mutates. Have a great day!
In the last of the old days, while the virus still incubated small and soft, we went about our lives. We went to work. We bought and sold and ate and slept. Distracted by the little things, we somehow forgot big dreams.
We wished we lived where we vacationed, but we did not move. We acted like our time was not finite. We fell in and out of love, heedless of the larger dramas at the edges of vision.
Before the pandemic wound around the Earth and began to squeeze, we did not connect cause and consequence. We were actors on the stage of our imaginations, improvising our lines, unaware the theater was on fire.
Those who did not believe in higher powers? They still believed in the illusion of tomorrow. We all thought the future would somehow be better, or at least no worse. We were blind to Entropy’s rising storm.
Nature’s hammer blows were theoretical for most of us then. We did not believe in death until the hurricane made landfall. Until that nice receptionist from the doctor’s office called about a surprise, and very urgent, follow-up appointment, the threats were not personal. Danger was for other people.
We didn’t know complacency was slavery. We were fairly happy in our blindness, but we didn’t even appreciate that.
The Sutr plagues made us honest. We began to talk about suffering and loss and what we believed. Disease taught us compassion. Fear reminded us we were still animals, part of the food chain. We learned we are all, without exception, Time’s target.
These are the lessons of the pandemic. This is your plague of days.
~ This Plague of Days 3 launches on Father’s Day, as does This Plague of Days, The Complete Series.
I posted this on Facebook tonight:
Proofing Season 3 of This Plague of Days tonight, I realized something new about the book. That secret I’ve teased? Yeah, about that:
Some people are really going to HATE me for it. Fans will give me credit for the magic trick, but…wow…as I was reading along tonight I kind of finally understood the scope of the lunatic gamble. But this business, and art, isn’t for sissies.
I should also say, we’re too far along in the editorial process to add names, so the contest to discover the secret of This Plague of Days is closed. Sorry nobody got it, but thanks for playing and, as a consolation prize to take home, some lucky readers will be receiving their names in the book, anyway.
And no, I’m not telling you the secret now and no, please don’t ask for inclusion in the book. All the characters are named and I can’t create more characters to kill. The book’s already plenty long and I’ve already killed so many!
I thank you in advance for your understanding. About all of it.
I’ve recruited several new volunteers to our beta reading team and the book is coming along nicely. Shooting the manuscript over to our editorial aces in a few days. I’ll announce a firm date soonish, but you can expect the finale to This Plague of Days in early June. (And by the way, yes, that’s still spring. I checked.)
Thank you for your patience a I work furiously to deliver you a really kick-ass book. More to come, soon! Really!
CLICK THE PICTURE FOR MY LITTLE SLIDESHOW OF DOOM.
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app
As I work on This Plague of Days, I’m very aware that many readers are waiting (mostly patiently) for me to hurry up and finish the third and final season.
You’ve been generous with your reviews and, gosh darn it, everybody’s so nice! If you’ve read Season One and Two, you know this trip has evolved from Kansas City, Missouri to big weirdness across continents and scary strangeness through the mindscape.
There’s plenty of violence and suspense in this war for the future, plus Latin proverbs. (I know! Crazy and crazed!) My zombie apocalypse continues to evolve. Yes, we’ve had forays into fearful dreams, but the battles to come happen in the our world. I promise plenty of surprises, twists and, best of all, more of Jaimie Spencer’s view of the world.
How weird and scary is the Apocalypse on the Autistic Spectrum?
You can find out on Wattpad now. (Wattpad is a free fiction sharing platform where you can read all sorts of interesting stuff. Please do check it out.)
BUT WAIT, THERE’S EVEN MORE!
If you’re looking for more free me, I have even more good news. As I write this, you can grab a complimentary download of Murders Among Dead Trees. This creepy short story collection of psychological horror, reeking of “intense violence and bizarre themes” is free to download on March 6 and March 7, 2014 (today and tomorrow, guys!)
Please download Murders Among Dead Trees. If you like it, love it or maybe want to fondle it, don’t hold back on leaving a review. Enjoy! Thank you!
I just listened to the C-Realm Podcast in which the question arose, is dystopian science fiction merely hip cynicism? (The “C” stands for consciousness.)
What happened to the utopian visions of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek? His future eliminated poverty while the remakes by JJ Abrams are about fighting terrorism. It’s a fascinating question well explored on the C-Realm Podcast, though my answer is, by necessity, going to sound a tad grumpy.
I think of myself as a suspense writer first, but zombies and vampires are generally thought of as horror and post-apocalyptic books are classified under science fiction on Amazon. Call it science fantasy if you want, but the story crawls into paranormal and supernatural, too, so it’s Genre-of-the-Moment Slugfest.
But is my vision (gasp) cynical?
Are zombies a hipster fad of which we should be ashamed? Can’t sci-fi lead the way as a predictor of glittering tech advances instead of dwelling on how we’re all going to die long before each person on Earth gets their very own sex robot?
Every cynic thinks he or she is a realist, but first, I want to back up and say that Roddenberry’s visions weren’t always so rosy. I think the stories on Star Trek that succeeded for me were the war stories. Humans versus Klingons and The Wrath of Khan (the story itself the death of a utopian dream) held my attention. However, it’s probably true that the franchise got darker and grittier after Roddenberry’s death. Deep Space Nine had some of the Enterprise’s nifty IKEA furniture, but the quarters were more cramped and the lighting less cheery.
That said, I see what they’re saying on C-Realm. They credit Blade Runner as a leader in dystopian visions, at least in film. That’s a far cry from the gee whiz optimism of many sci-fi writers from decades past. We all need a little more Spider Robinson in our lives.
In the ’70s we had Omni magazine trumpeting the hope for the future of science and science fiction. For instance, they featured a graphic artist who created stunning spacescapes. It was truly beautiful art that only actual images from the Hubble telescope could replace. It was the artist’s policy never to paint any picture in which two spaceships engaged in battle. That’s admirable, yes, but it kind of sucks the dramatic potential out of a lot of fiction, kind of like taking the visual majesty and volleys of flaming arrows out of the battle scenes in Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, and asking, can’t we all just get along and make this a cozy comedy of manners? Is that beheading with all the blood spray on the wall really necessary?
Optimistic visions of the future in fiction make me think of Paul and Linda McCartney asking Weird Al Yankovic to refrain from a making a cover of Live and Let Die. Weird Al did not release Chicken Pot Pie out of respect for the former Beatle’s wishes. Longtime vegetarians, Paul and Linda worried a comedic song would worsen the commercial slaughter of chickens. It probably would have. Thinking about it makes me want a chicken pot pie right now. I also think Weird Al’s song would have been awesome.
But to the question, is science fiction’s tone too relentlessly dark?
The C-Realm host and guest offered the movie Her as an antidote to our dour visions of the future. There is something very alluring about a story that cranks up Iron Man‘s personal digital companion, J.A.R.V.I.S., to Level Scarlett Johansson Sexy. (J.A.R.V.I.S. stands for Just a Rather Very Intelligent System, by the way. Siri would have been cooler if Apple had called it J.A.R.V.I.S., though Siri has yet to live up to the J.A.R.V.I.S standard of service, reporting on my armour’s structural integrity and whatnot.) Actually, Iron Man’s inventions (as long as they don’t fall into the wrong hands) might be the most optimistic vision of the future you’ll see on screen this year, besides Her.
The darkness in our fiction lies not in our stars but in ourselves.
We write from the heart, or at least I do. A future where we’re overrun by a world flu pandemic is actually considered long overdue by virologists. (Could happen next week. Pack a linch and wear a sweater.) My zombies aren’t real zombies and my vampires aren’t real vampires. They are humans infected with a virus that changes their physiology. There are supernatural elements in This Plague of Days, but once you’re dead, you don’t get up again in the world I’ve built. It looks a lot like our world.
But is it too dark? Well, it is dark.
Some of the events go from creepy to downright grisly. There are also jokes. I even include a few optimistic touches toward the end. However, I am allergic to Happily Ever After. I promise a satisfying ending and resolutions you don’t expect, but Happily Ever After often seems too pat and easy to me.
And that’s the crux of it.
My vision for the future springs from what I see now, not what could be if we really believe and clap our hands. If George Orwell hadn’t already written 1984, I’d attempt to write that. Drones, surveillance and the NSA cracking everyone’s porn privacy? That’s a dream straight out of an adolescent Big Brother’s wet bed. Because I’ve mentioned them and they’re always googling vainly, say hello! Hi, NSA! (Waves.) Just a writer spouting on the state of science fiction and the future. Nothing to see here. Move along to checking up on the sex lives of your former girlfriends and boyfriends from high school! Thank you! Also, please go catch a real terrorist with a suitcase dirty bomb. Aces.
Back on topic
I was promised jet packs when I was as kid (a fixation that’s shared widely, I think, since it’s also mentioned on C-Realm.) I’m still disappointed about that. No…bitter is the word. And yes, all the endless toil minus robots is a downer.
When we see the space shuttle in the promo reel before the movie trailers? I always think, We don’t even make those anymore! There is no Omni magazine heralding gee-whiz hope and they plan to shut Hubble down! And a trip to Mars? Sounds like a stupid suicide mission to me, especially when we could solve a lot of world problems with the money we’d waste on going to the red planet. (Think of Mars as the worst parts of Arizona, but without oxygen. To be fair, at least Mars doesn’t go out of its way to try to suppress gay rights, so there’s that.)
If my fiction appears cynical, all I can say is it comes from an honest place. Dark visions are the logical extensions of my worldview. Ideas about a cheery, brighter future would be a nice diversion and uplifting to be sure. However, I’m more interested in drama rising from conflicts I observe in the present. There’s something about those cheery futures which reek of white privilege to me. I’m not going hungry and I’ve got a cell phone (made by slaves) so why can’t we envision a future that amps up all that gee-whiz hope?
Because it doesn’t feel real, that’s why. Because we’re still stuck in stupid wars. Because the logical extension of now is more darkness. My fiction is dark because, as a person of conscience who listens to Democracy Now a lot, my worldview really is that dark.
Yes, I do give glimmers of hope here and there in This Plague of Days.
But the price at which that hope is bought — in both human lives and sacrifice — is very high indeed. I guess it sounds silly to talk about verisimilitude in a story about an autistic boy versus zombies versus vampires. But every emotion and conflict within the Spencer family at the end of the world feels very real to me. Joy, redemption, love, hope and loss is all there. I think of it as To Kill a Mockingbird, but with more zombies and even more child endangerment. For a zombie apocalypse, there’s a startling lack of gunfire in This Plague of Days. I think there are plenty of apocalyptic books that read like Rambo married an army manual and I attempt to do something different with all my fiction.
This Plague of Days is silly, escapist fiction (for the thinking reader with a conscience, I hope)…but I write it real.
I write what I see. And I concede, I do wish I could be more hopeful.
~ Season Three, and the conclusion of This Plague of Days by Robert Chazz Chute hits Spring 2014. Catch up on Season One and Two here.