I often tell people that my roots as a storyteller are sunk deep in comic books and soap operas. Inside, I’m still the kid that compulsively collected every issue of comic book series I was interested in and scheduled my freshman college courses around General Hospital so I could keep up with Luke and Laura. I’ve always been a sucker for any kind of continuing storyline — so much so that I actually try to be careful what TV shows I start watching or what comic strips I start reading. There’s only so many hours in a day.
A case in point, I recently came across this
Like me, you probably didn’t know you needed a novel length Kara Danvers/Lena Luthor romance, complete with an engaging mystery plot. But here it is. I was absolutely hooked from the first installment.
And that’s the real joy and danger of the Internet/Netflix age for someone like me. Never before in history has there been such a flood of entertainment available. As a life-long television junkie, who remembers the day where there were only five channels on my television — one of which was PBS and another the local channel that showed only re-runs of old shows — I am constantly floored by the sheer volume of really good television available today. No matter what your genre is, there is literally so much good television out there that you cannot watch it all. It’s impossible. I’ve tried.
The same is true, now, in publishing. The advent of Amazon, ebooks, Kindle Unlimited, and other platforms means there is a glut of reading material available. The common wisdom is that most self-published fiction is badly written and poorly edited — and there’s enough truth in that to keep the attitude alive. Honestly, though, Theodore Sturgeon long ago observed that “90% of everything is crap”, and while I’ve always thought that estimate was a little too high, it applies here. Yes, there’s a lot of dreck out there — manuscripts that should never have been released to the public. But there’s a lot of incredible, quirky, original stuff out there too which is a joy to read and which would never have reached an audience in the old publishing paradigm.
Take this for instance.
Extra Credit Epidemic, by Nina Post. A young adult novel centering around an outbreak of food poisoning, featuring Taffy Snackerge, a teen obsessed with infectious diseases and picking up girls. All she wants to do is track down the source of the outbreak, but her mentor, an eccentric teacher with issues of his own, forces her to work with two other misfit students, the neurotically neat President of the Young Attachés Club, and a boy who can’t go anywhere in public without wearing a Mexican wrestling mask. Part mystery, part teen romance, part coming-of-age story, I guarantee you’ve never read anything like this before. I absolutely loved it. And it comes from Curiosity Quills Press — one of the quirkiest and most unique small presses around.
Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana by Mary E. Lowd. Imagine a world where humans have disappeared. Dogs are mostly in charge, leaving Cats as second class citizens. The Dogs even have a religion about the First Race, believing that humans will return to take them along to the stars. Meanwhile, Otters have built their own space program. They control the orbiting space station which is the gateway to the Solar System. Kipper is a Cat who doesn’t like the way things are but doesn’t know how to change them. When her sister, who is running for local office, disappears, Kipper takes off to find her. Accompanied by the Dog thug hired to kill her, Kipper unravels a conspiracy that will lead her to the Otter space station — and maybe to a secret Cat utopia where they can live free of Dogs. Otters in Space is endlessly creative in the way only the best science fiction is, filled with charming, unusual, fully realized characters that will tug at your heartstrings at every turn. One of my favorite books of the last few years.
And while I’m on the subject of Mary E. Lowd, she has become one of my favorite authors, and one I don’t know how I ever would have found in the old days — before the internet, ebooks and the like. I would encourage everyone to check out the Free Fiction page on her website.
And I couldn’t wind up my post without mentioning this: My Best New Thing in the World for the past month. The famous detective Dick Tracy attending a cosplay convention with his granddaughter Honeymoon, as she explains to him what furries are.