As you likely know by now, I have teamed up with Red Tash and Kat Bradbury to create a Kindle Vella science fiction adventure serial, under the collective pen name of Kaye Elsie. It’s called “SPI Girls Kick Ass!” It’s like Charlies Angels meets The Matrix.
This week’s podcast is chapter 3 of that serial, the first chapter I personally wrote, starring my character Jaxa. She lives in a Star Trek-inspired virtual world, holding a double job: Jaxa works as a maintenance officer, but she also works for the Singularity Policing Initiative to help make the virtual world run smoothly, so the residents don’t have to worry about Immersion being broken.
For this episode of the Alien Beer Podcast, I thought I’d do something a bit different. The story I have for you is another one of my Bradbury Challenge stories. I was in a rather experimental mood when I wrote it. Perhaps some of you will recognize the format. Rather than spoil it here in the introduction, I’ll save my explanation for after the story is done being told. I’ll also add a content warning: this story contains a loss of agency. See you after the end.
Hello again, dear listener. As promised, here’s my explanation.
When I wrote this story, I had the idea of telling it in the form of an old text-based interactive fiction computer game like, Colossal Cave Adventure, Zork, or Infocom’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you haven’t experienced this form of interactive fiction before, I hope you still enjoyed this presentation of the medium.
Of course, it’s not an interactive story, it’s only written in that style. When I thought about reading the story to you, I thought it might be difficult to convey the feel of a computer game in my reading. So, as you can tell, I employed a text-to-speech converter on the website, “fromtexttospeech.com” using the “Alice” personality. I rather liked the effect, and I hope you did, too.
Thanks for hanging in there with me on this experimental story, told in an experimental way.
Speaking of computer games, have you checked out my Kindle Vella offering yet? I teamed up with Red Tash and Kat Bradbury to create a science fiction adventure serial, under the collective pen name of Kaye Elsie. It’s called “SPI Girls Kick Ass!” It’s like Charlies Angels meets The Matrix, and I hope you’ll check it out at sillyhatbooks.com/spi
Okay, this is it, dear listeners. This is the episode where the worst happens. This is the episode where it all comes down to Alyssa to save the Rosedale Pub with nothing but her wits and newfound bartending skills. I can’t say any more without giving spoilers, so buckle up and I’ll see you on the other side.
Before we drop in on the inter-dimensional Rosedale Pub, I have a secret to tell you. Well, it’s not such a secret anymore, but I have been working on a secret project with my friends Kat Bradbury and Red Tash. We’re testing the waters of the Kindle Vella platform with a collaborative serial called SPI Girls Kick Ass! It’s like The Matrix meets Charlie’s Angels, and we’re very excited about it. I hope you’ll check it out at sillyhatbooks.com/spi . The first three episodes are free!
Welcome to my latest project, as Kaye Elsie, along with Red Tash and Kat Bradbury!
The Matrix meets Charlie’s Angels!
The Three Rules of Immersion: Keep the residents safe. Keep the workers in line. Keep the AIs functioning. As we wait for Earth’s restoration, humanity dreams of fantasy worlds in Singularity, a virtual space built to keep us sane. When high-profile avatars turn up dead, three agents of SPI, the Singularity Policing Institute, must learn why – and what really happened. Can a cyberpunk, a space nerd & a fairy princess unravel a conspiracy with humanity’s fate at stake?
A friend suggested that I need to urge you good listeners to check out my eleven published novels, seven of which are also in audiobook form. You can find them on sillyhatbooks.com/fiction . Hint: Road Ghosts is actually three novels in one, and the audiobook is a glorious nineteen hours of spoopiness.
This week at the inter-dimensional Rosedale Pub, some technology malfunctions in a wondrous way, an infamous character returns, bearing a great treasure, but also needing help. Trust can be a difficult thing in a liminal space like the Rosedale.
Dear listeners, thank you. The Alien Beer Podcast recently passed 5,000 downloads! What does this mean? Well, it means that each episode has been downloaded over 80 times, on average. It means that my podcast is in the top 50 percent or better. But these are just statistics. What it really means to me is that you’re out there, listening to my stories. And for that, I’m grateful. I hope you’ll continue to tune in to join me in this adventure.
I was honored to be a featured guest at InConJunction Science Fiction and Fantasy convention over the 4th of July weekend. I was anxious about being around many people in person for the first time in 16 months, but I think I did better than I expected at that. One of the presentations I gave was on using randomness as the seed for a story. I called it “Storymancy” because often I get elements from divinatory sources: Tarot cards, for example. Or I’ll look for ideas from the next three songs my iTunes plays on shuffle. I’ll think about the Random elements that have been given to me and try to shape it into a story. Sometimes inspiration will strike, and I’ll throw out most or all of the elements and go with that instead.
Most of the Rosedale pub stories have had some randomness in their inspiration. I sat down to brainstorm this story when I wasn’t feeling any inspiration. I listened to a few songs on shuffle, I laid out some cards, and then I went to work trying to piece the resulting elements together into a cohesive story.
What were the elements of this story? Oh, a certain Beastie Boys song for the character’s origin, the Queen of Wands, and the Four of Wands, to name a few. Make of that what you will.
I didn’t get to sit down and write the story for another couple weeks, so I guess it simmered somewhere in the back of my mind, and what came out is the story I’m reading you today.
You may know that this podcast is named after my short story collection, Alien Beer and Other Stories. You may also know that I’ve already read every one of the stories in that book to you on this podcast.
However, I do have a secret cache of stories I wrote in 2019 when I attempted the Bradbury Challenge. Ray Bradbury famously wrote, “Write a story a week for a year. It’s impossible to write 52 bad stories in a row”. My author friend Kat Bradbury inspired me to do this when she took it up herself. She eventually turned it into her own podcast about writing short fiction. I managed 14 stories.
Anyway, I don’t have a Rosedale Pub story for you this week, because at the time of recording, I’m preparing to be a Featured Guest at Inconjunction Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. Some of you listening may be here because I plugged this podcast at that event. If so, welcome!
Instead, I have one of my Bradbury Challenge stories, written in May of 2019.
I had always intended there to be a cat character in the Rosedale Pub, but recent events helped me decide the form that cat would take. That, and an old song that I repurposed to be kinder and more magical than it was intended to be.
I deal with grief and other hard emotions, in part, by channeling that energy into something else. Writing can be therapy for me; for example, Trans Witch was written during a time of great stress and distress for me. The result wasn’t a big block of angst or gloom and doom, but a peek into a world where hard things can be overcome, and love wins out in the end.
This story comes in the wake of losing one of my best friends. Stella was always my buddy, from the very first day she came into my life, for twelve years, until early this month when she passed away. If, when I tell you that Stella was a cat, you react by dismissing that as not the same as losing a human friend, then I feel sorry for you.