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What is Patreon?

Patreon is a site that works kind of like a long-term Kickstarter.  You go to someone’s Patreon page and sponsor them for a monthly fee ranging from $1-$1,000.

What do you get out of this?  Stories about immortals hiding in plain sight.  Stories about worlds with dead gods that know they’re dead.  Stories about assholes getting kicked off Earth, recruited into a mission to check out alien technology, and fucking the entire thing up.

You also get periodic mental health tips and tricks and my unique brand of ranting and raving, all for as much (or as little) as you want to send me a month.

It’s a vicious, delicious cycle.  Click below to throw a few bucks at me.  I’ll let you draw me like one of your French girls.

Maybe…

Patreon for Michael J. Wyant Jr.

Review: Diabolical Plots #50, April 2019

Review: Diabolical Plots #50, April 2019

Originally Posted at Tangent Online, April 19, 2019

Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark?” by Matt Dovey
One Part Per Billion” by Samantha Mills

“Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark?” by Matt Dovey is a satirical look at how Millennials are ruining everything. The story reads like an article you might find on the front page of the New York Times, if the majority of humanity worshiped the Elder Dark whilst going about their otherwise mundane lives. It’s witty, funny, and ends with a Millennial thrusting his erect penis toward the sky in obeisance while his father watches from the crowd, proud tears blurring his vision. Seriously, you have to read it.

Samantha Mills‘ “One Part Per Billion” takes the idea of an alien race giving us space travel in exchange for long term observation on the first vessel created and turns it into a reflection of humanity, specifically as it pertains to the unique aspects within each of us. The story ends with the main character, and sole female on the ship, Irene Boswell, as she tries to fix an alien observation device after a mad crewmember busts it up with a wrench. The resulting damage creates a field where Irene slowly breaks apart into the most distinct parts of her, giving us a glimpse into this heroic woman’s fears and dreams, hopes and losses.

It’s a remarkably deep story told with a wry grin that ends on a humorous uptick that works. Give this one a read, for sure.

Poll: I Rewrote Immortal, How Should I Publish It?

Poll: I Rewrote Immortal, How Should I Publish It?

Hi everyone,Long time, no speak. I’d like to ask you all a question, but first, a little backstory:About a year ago, I pulled Immortal off the shelves and rewrote it, almost entirely. The resulting book is titled Fallen Gods and is a standalone book, rather than the first in a series.  I tried pitching it to agents, thinking maybe I could take this book through traditional publishing avenues, but no one I’d like to work with in that field seems willing to take a “previously self-published” book. 

So, here we are. I’d like to release this as a “new” book, but don’t want to piss everyone off.

I have to ask: would you prefer I release it as new because of how different it is, or should I update the old manuscript and push it out that way, possibly confusing people because it has a different title, pacing, etc.?

Review: Clarkesworld #150, March 2019

Review: Clarkesworld #150, March 2019

Originally Posted at Tangent Online, March 13, 2019

Table of Contents
“But, Still, I Smile” by D.A. Xiaolin Spires
“When Home, No Need to Cry” by Erin K. Wagner
“Death of an Air Salesman” by Rich Larson
“Dreams Strung like Pearls Between War and Peace” by Nin Harris
“Treasure Diving” by Kai Hudson
“The Thing With the Helmets” by Emily C. Skaftun
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson (reprint, not reviewed)
“The Future is Blue” by Catherynne M. Valente (reprint, not reviewed)

“But, Still, I Smile” by D.A. Xiaolin Spires is heartfelt and utterly disturbing. We join the narrator, Dengwen, as she recovers from the latest in a long string of miscarriages. The feeling of loss from that event permeates the story in a palpable way. Spires weaves that pain into the fabric of a tale about finding alien life on another planet and the world sending a team to find them in the hopes of saving the Earth.

The initial plot itself is worn—the Earth is dying, only the aliens can save us—but it’s not the point. The purpose of the story seems to be to highlight the loss of Dengwen and, ultimately, the lengths she’ll go to create life.

“But, Still, I Smile” is a fine example of emotional resonance. Be prepared to tear up at least once.

Erin K. Wagner‘s “When Home, No Need to Cry” is a hauntingly beautiful tale of an astronaut grounded because she has cancer and her fight to get back to the stars. It’s vulnerable and raw and I get the feeling I’ll wake up in a month thinking about this story. There’s not much more to say; Wagner knocked it out of the park with this story.

“Death of an Air Salesman” by Rich Larson isn’t the story you think it’ll be. The story starts with us following Maya, an Apex Air salesman in the undefined future, as she goes about her day slinging designer air to the choking populace of her city. When she sees Dima walking to the same sleepstack, the story takes a romantic turn that, honestly, makes the story more fulfilling, if less action-oriented.

Larson manages to flesh out a dirty, hopeless world while showing that not all is lost because, with love, even the most horrible of places can be beautiful.

“Dreams Strung like Pearls Between War and Peace” by Nin Harris is an interesting concept for a story. Our narrator, Raneka, is an heiress trying to lie low as a war simmers in the background. After finding out she’s been getting mind wiped for years, Raneka decides to join the resistance and, instead of avoiding the war, start the fight.

There’s a ton of world-building threaded through this story. Harris adds bits of lore in almost every sentence, from hinting at socio-economic ties via a fabric store to defining a crystal magic system with a chest freezer analog.

It’s because of this I found myself re-reading many sentences in order to understand the content. Additionally, I felt Harris’s focus on world-building was done at the expense of character development. My perception of who Raneka is at the beginning of the story and the end doesn’t change much; it’s just her memories that evolve.

Overall, “Dreams Strung like Pearls Between War and Peace” is an interesting story with a well-fleshed out world, but the story itself didn’t really do it for me.

In Kai Hudson‘s”Treasure Diving,”we follow Ilana as she dives to some ruins deep in the ocean looking for treasure in the days following her mother’s death in the hopes of distracting her sister from the loss. What Ilana finds in the deep is both terrifying and life-changing.

Hudson nails the pacing, especially during the action scenes, and does a great job threading emotional tension throughout. Kai’s description of the senses from the perspective of someone who breathes underwater is incredibly well done. It’s a great read, even if you guess at some of the plotting throughout.

“The Thing With the Helmets” by Emily C. Skaftun is extremely entertaining. Set in a world where alien invaders will only talk to people dressed like they’re about to jump into a roller derby ring, the only thing that can save the world are fifteen magic roller derby helmets and the Smash Sisters.

Trying to explain the loops Skaftun goes through to make this story seem matter-of-fact would be difficult. Suffice to say, it’s fun, periodically violent, and overwhelmingly approachable. Great story!

Review: Strange Horizons, March 4, 2019

Review: Strange Horizons, March 4, 2019

Originally Posted at Tangent Online, March 5, 2019

“The Skinwalkers Ball” by Hammond Diehl

I’ll admit, the beginning of “The Skinwalkers Ball” by Hammond Diehl is confusing. I was a few paragraphs in when I started thinking this review was going to be terrible, but Diehl’s beautiful imagery and vivid descriptions kept me reading. I can say without a doubt, I’m glad I did.

Diehl crafts a tale that, at its heart, is a story of revenge. Set during the course of a mystical creature fashion show where contestants wear discarded bits of other beasts, “The Skinwalkers Ball” tells the story of an alchemist searching for the person who is murdering his children.

The narrator, trustworthy or not, is interesting and the near disinterest threaded through it all is reminiscent of, say, a cat who decided to record the events of a sunny day. There’s a tension Diehl pulls on as the story progresses, tightening the focus and the net until you’re left reading the end in a rush. By the time you finish the story, you’re either impressed by Diehl’s plotting and ability to tease you through with tiny nuggets of information or you’re frustrated and annoyed by it. I count myself amongst the former.

Overall, a great story, despite the early confusion.

From Earth, With Love

From Earth, With Love

Background: “From Earth, With Love” was written specifically for a call for submissions looking for Terry Pratchett-style humor. I popped this story out and submitted it only to receive a rejection. Since then, I’ve tried submitting it to other magazines, but the weird humor in it doesn’t make it a good fit for most SF/F mags.

As such, I’m officially taking it out of circulation and posting it here! Enjoy my attempt at humor. I’m sure it’s horrible.

— Mike

P.S.

This is my story and isn’t being given away; i.e. all ideas are mine unless otherwise noted. See my copyright page for details.


If my cat hadn’t died when my house fell into the ocean, I wouldn’t be trudging through chest-high sludge on this poor excuse for a colony.

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Review: Asimov’s, January/February 2019

Review: Asimov’s, January/February 2019

Originally Posted at Tangent Online, April 30, 2018

Table of Contents
“How Sere Looked for a Pair of Boots” by Alexander Jablokov
“The Esteemed” by Robert Reed
“Ventiforms” by Sean Monaghan
“Taking Icarus Home” by Suzanne Palmer
“Credit to my Nation” by Sandra McDonald
“Written in Mud” by William F. Wu
“All the Difference” by Leah Cypess
“The Gorgon” by Jay O’Connell
“Salting the Mine” by Peter Wood
“Neom” by Lavie Tidhar

Alexander Jablokov‘s “How Sere Looked for a Pair of Boots” starts like chapter two in a book. World-building Terminology is tossed around you’re expected to know or intuit and, many times, that’s difficult since phrases and faces pop up quickly and repeatedly as the story progresses. Even the ending is tied to a major character from another tale and their inclusion here feels weird and wrong when taking the story as a standalone piece.

I did a little research and it looks like Asimov’s has published several of Jablokov’s stories, including another story about the main character, Sere. I have to imagine I’d appreciate the piece more if I’d read that story before jumping into this one.

All that aside, it’s a decent detective story with a fully developed setting and strong writing. It’s worth a read, but I think you’ll probably enjoy it more if you read “How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry” in Asimov’s July/August 2017 issue.

“The Esteemed” by Robert Reed is a long, sometimes confusing story that follows a time traveler named Mahlon and his time-manipulating travels across the 20th century. This story has dozens of twists and turns, with a narrative style that periodically throws alternate futures into random asides in the middle of dialog passages in a way I found disengaging and, sometimes, confounding.

Despite that, “The Esteemed” is an interesting take on time travel and the psychology of the travelers who take part. It’s worth a read but be ready to be misled by the narration.

Sean Monaghan‘s”Ventiforms” is, at its core, a sweet tale of a mother trying to find her son. Monaghan does a great job setting the stage for the Tailé’s quest. The descriptions of the planet Zephierre and its “ventiforms” is both entrancing and beautiful. It’s easy to understand, by the end, why her son, Brandon, is doing what he’s doing. I’m not sure many of us would choose otherwise.

“Taking Icarus Home” by Suzanne Palmer takes a little while to get used to—it’s not often you find stories in second-person out in the wild—but once you do it flows well from beginning to end. Palmer takes this idea of Icarus flying close to the sun, sets it in the far future, and brings it home into a satisfying conclusion. While there isn’t much in the form of real tension, the world-building and pacing is tight and well executed. Definitely worth a read.

“Credit to my Nation” by Sandra McDonald is an interesting story about our narrator, Unity, trying to find meaning in an otherwise dark life. The narrative tool for this journey comes in the form of a sort of personal time-travel, where a person is able to dig through their past and future using their DNA. The mechanic is reminiscent of the Assassin’s Creed Animus, though there’s no interaction between the person and the memory; it’s simply a display. It’s an unoriginal idea tweaked expertly into a narrative device that feels extremely personal and vulnerable.

“Written in Mud” by William F. Wu is a hilarious trip into a dystopian future. It’s filled with rapid-fire Gilmore Girls-style dialog that’s biting and witty and drives the plot forward with quip after quip. Oh, and there’s a talking fish. It’s a fun story and well worth a read.

“All the Difference” by Leah Cypess is a fantastically introspective story that follows our unnamed narrator as she uses a time travel system to explore alternate timelines to see if she’s made the right decisions in her otherwise mundane life. If you’re looking for a high-prose literary piece, this isn’t it. If you want a perfectly accessible, well-written story, this is for you.

The majority of the story is inner monologue and it’s rich with indecision and nearly neurotic chains of thought that resonated deeply with my own reflections. The ending is great, if more terrifying than expected.

Jay O’Connell‘s”The Gorgon” is an interesting story. Essentially, it follows a near-sociopath (he goes out of his way to show he’s not one, obviously) as they stumble across a massive plot by an artificial intelligence that hasn’t been built yet, but is interfering with the present through some sort of time travel mind-reading… thing. The concept is interesting and the narrator, while wholly unlikable, drags you along while you wonder “what the hell is this control freak going to do next?” The ending happens kind of all at once and, personally, was a little unfulfilling. I felt like it should have exhibited more action and consequence there, so, for me, it fell just a little short.

“Salting the Mine” by Peter Wood sets the stage for a final showdown between an old, abandoned mining colony and their returning corporate overlords. The plot is simple: ruthless taskmaster returns to a colony that’s developed its own culture and bonded with local aliens; the locals stymie that effort through trickery and deceit. There’s nothing wrong with “Salting the Mine,” but it doesn’t feel like there’s enough conflict and failure in the story to be truly engaging. Even the small romantic side-plot just kind of “works out.” Wood’s writing is great, the dialog is tight, and the description is vivid, but the story just doesn’t do it for me.

“Neom” by Lavie Tidhar is a lovely world-building tale. We follow Mariam as she goes about a usual day for her in the city of Neom, a geek-topia setup on the Arabian Peninsula. Mariam is a house-cleaner, so we get her lower class view of this otherwise high-and-mighty city, replete with all its victories and faults. As someone who grew up in a poor household with many parallels to Mariam’s life, I felt connected in a real way to the narrative style.

That said, I can’t say there’s much of a story here, in the traditional sense. It feels like the first chapter of a larger book and the ending—or non-ending, as it were—reinforces this feeling.

I’d love to see this expanded into a larger story with risks and consequences; I think it’d be fantastic. As it is, this iteration falls short of my expectations.

Review: Flash Fiction Online #62, November 2018

Review: Flash Fiction Online #62, November 2018

Originally Posted at Tangent Online, November 19, 2018

Table of Contents
“Trinkets” by Joe Parker
“Ivy” by Melissa Goodrich

Joe Parker‘s “Trinkets” is a short piece, as you’d expect on Flash Fiction Online, but that doesn’t limit the quality of writing despite the weirdness threaded throughout. In “Trinkets,” the narrator gets little gifts from a seemingly bereaved woman. As he takes each one, his life starts to change for the better. Strokes of random good luck for him and his family. The ending, while somewhat expected, is an interesting and satisfying conclusion. Worth a read.

“Ivy” by Melissa Goodrich is… interesting. I’ve re-read the story a few times now, but I feel like I’m still missing some integral metaphor that makes this story suddenly make sense. As it is, “Ivy” tells the story of a girl who literally sprouts ivy from her hands in the days (years?) following her mother’s miscarriage. There’s some deep hints of child abuse and emotional abuse throughout the story, though the only explicit piece is when the girl’s aunt arrives and forcibly trims the ivy from her hands with shears.

“Ivy” ends with a satisfactory bit of revenge, though I feel like the missing metaphor connection really muffled the impact for me. It’s a shame because Goodrich writes quite beautifully, I wish I could see what the author is trying to show me.

Review: Flash Fiction Online #61, October 2018

Review: Flash Fiction Online #61, October 2018

Originally Posted at Tangent Online, October 3, 2018

Flash Fiction Online #61, October 2018

Table of Contents
“What I Understand Now” by Lauren Ferebee
“Words I’ve Redefined Since Your Dinosaurs Invaded My Lunar Lair” by Stewart C. Baker
“Three is a Sacred Number” by Carrie Cadwallader (reprint, not reviewed)
“I Will You Back to Time and Space” by Dafydd McKimm

Lauren Ferebee‘s “What I Understand Now” feels like a modern fable. In this story, the unnamed narrator stands in for Millennials and Generation Z (I believe) while Molly, her affluent friend who opens the story knowing she’s already dead, represents something of an idealized life. A typical southern belle who did all the things the narrator dreamed of, who thenbecame the thing she felt she should be even though she doesn’t want it. And, beyond all that, there’s this feeling of loss tied to forgotten memories and lost chances. I may be reading too much into it (probably), but it’s a quick read that’s well worth your time.

“Words I’ve Redefined Since Your Dinosaurs Invaded My Lunar Lair” by Stewart C. Baker is a fun story with a neat little twist at the end. Told through the eyes of “Doctress Death,” the story is essentially her rambling monologue to her frenemy, “The Paleontologist.” It’s simple and feels loosely based on Jonathan Coulton’s “Nemeses,” but it’s a fun story. And, like I mentioned earlier, the ending is a nice twist.

“I Will You Back to Time and Space” by Dafydd McKimm is a surprisingly tight story for one where the premise is about extradimensional gorillas appearing one day to follow people around wherever they go. The story really gains traction when the narrator’s daughter is born and, unlike everyone else on the planet, she doesn’t have a gorilla. I just re-read that and it seems ridiculous, but by the third paragraph McKimm manages to make the gorillas seem quite blasé and normal. They fade into the background and let the real story, the one that dragged sudden tears from me as I read the ending, blossom and shine. In short: I cried at the end of a story about extradimensional gorillas.