Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Official release of Bioshock Infinite

I know this is a blog about the Punk lit but I mean, I couldn't resist. Read on and you will understand why.

Today is the official release of Bioshock Infinite and if I hadn't been working 12 hours yesterday, I would have been one of the people waiting in front of a Best Buy, sleeping in a tent and eating MREs.

The creators of the Bioshock series aren't new to the Punk world. They hooked me with their first two games : Bioshock (2007) and Bioshock 2 (2010.)

Bioshock and Bioshock 2 take place in the underwater city of Rapture during the 1960's. The city was built so people could live in a utopic society without any control from the government. The residents were offered freedom in their way of life and in research -- so much so that ADAM was created - the basis for plasmids (genetic manipulations) that allowed residents to manipulate their DNA to gain super powers!

The player ends up fighting his way through the sea of various plasmid twisted survivors who have gone crazy from their exposure with ADAM. The two most memorable characters being, of course, Big Daddy and Little Sisters:

I can't tell you much about Bioshock 2 without revealing some of Bioshock' story denouement so you'll just have to play to find out. Just know that it was filled with more biopunk goodness.

Now, back to Bioshock Infinite - the creators inched away from the Biopunkish feel to immerse the player into a Steampunkish aesthetic.
"Set in 1912, players assume the role of former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, sent to the flying city of Columbia on a rescue mission. His target? Elizabeth, imprisoned since childhood. During their daring escape, Booker and Elizabeth form a powerful bond -- one that lets Booker augment his own abilities with her world-altering control over the environment. Together, they fight from high-speed Sky-Lines, in the streets and houses of Columbia, on giant zeppelins, and in the clouds, all while learning to harness an expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities..."
You've read this right,  A FLOATING CITY WITH ZEPPELINS!!!!! I'll probably write another post gushing over the darn thing but as much as I want to do that now, it wouldn't be fair until I finish the game (right?) If that summary doesn't convince you to play then check the preview out :

[gone to play Bioshock Infinite]

Monday, March 25, 2013

New to the database - Carina Press

Carina press so graciously gave us some details about their punk genre wishes -- see below a few comments from each editor:

Gina Bernal --
Seeking steampunk (both steampunk romance or steampunk with some romantic elements), especially stories set in unusual locales.

Mallory Braus --
I’m actively acquiring Steampunk—especially those that have a mystery or suspense edge. I would also be interested in acquiring other ‘punk’ niches.

Deborah Nemeth --
Although I’m actively acquiring all sorts of steampunk and cyberpunk fiction, I’m especially interested in acquiring Renaissance-set clockpunk, interwar period dieselpunk, and steampunk in Victorian and Edwardian settings.

Jeff Seymour --
I'm interested in pretty much any kind of "punk" genre. Steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, anypunkatall. One of my authors has what she calls a "witchpunk" book coming out in October (keep an eye out for it!). In terms of specific wishes, I love to see polished manuscripts with unpredictable plots and nuanced, not-your-average-hero/heroine characters. In a "punk" manuscript, I'm also really looking for an imaginative, "wouldn't-it-be-amazing-if-this-were-real" flair in the worldbuilding.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Literary Agents/Editors/Publishers Database




So we've been busy at the Pen Punks HQ. As of today we have a new page we will be continuously updating (see tab above or click here). It's a database of various literary agents, editors and publishers who are currently looking for punk submissions.


The list is far from being complete just yet but we wanted to post what we've been working on so authors who are already in the query trenches can take advantage of it. We are slowly building the list so return often to see who we've added.

If you happen to know of an agent/editor/publisher looking for punk submissions, let us know by emailing us at thepenpunks[at]gmail[dot]com.

Agents/editors/publishers, even though we try to keep up and be thorough, if anything has changed on your profile, please email us.

Also, we would like to thank the agents, editors and publishers for taking time out of their crazy schedule to answer our questions!!!

Spread the word, my minions and good lucky querying!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Book Feature - Grudgepunk

Grudgehaven: “A city lost to the darkness, where acid rain drums on a hundred thousand corrugated iron rooftops and cold, mechanized eyeballs squint out of every filth-smeared window.”

From the twisted mind of author John McNee come nine tales of brutality and betrayal from a city like no other.

A granite detective has a date with destiny at a motel made of flesh. A severed hand is on a desperate mission to ruin somebody's evening. While a mob war reaches its bloody climax, the Mayor is up to his neck in dead prostitutes.
And Clockwork Joe? He just wants to be a real boy.

Bizarro Press proudly presents the latest in dieselpunk-bizarro-horror-noir. This...

...is GrudgePunk

John McNee is a writer of strange and disturbing horror stories, published in a variety of strange and disturbing anthologies.

GrudgePunk, probably the only dieselpunk-bizzaro-horror-noir anthology on the market, is his first book.

He lives on the west coast of Scotland, where he is employed as a newspaper reporter, covering strange and disturbing news.

Twitter: @THEJohnMcNee


John. Dude. Before we get into the craziness that is your book, would you care to tell the folks at home a little about yourself?

Sure. I'm a Scottish author, newspaper reporter and all-round nice guy (ask anyone). I prefer the desert to the jungle, tea to coffee and Coronation Street to Emmerdale. My favourite singer is Pete Atkin, favourite film star is Charles Bronson and my favourite Bowie album is Heathen (though The New Day may be winning me over).

You described Grudgepunk as dieselpunk-bizarro-noir (that's a mouthful). 1) Could you tell us a little more about dieselpunk? 2) What possessed you to mash all these together???

Dieselpunk is retro-future fantasy in the vein of steampunk, but taking inspiration from the 1930's and 40's rather than the late Victorian era. Aesthetically, that means there are a lot more cars, fighter planes and robots than airships, steam engines and automatons. Thematically (not always but most of the time), the stories are more adult with more of an edge to them than steampunk.

I honestly didn't realise GrudgePunk qualified as dieselpunk till I was halfway through writing it. The whole book grew out of In the Flesh, the opening story, which was written as a standalone for the bizarro anthology Tall Tales with Short Cocks Vol 1. The concept was “private eye pursues human woman through a city of monstrous abominations, leading to a motel made of flesh”. I wanted to create a world so ugly that a normal woman would be the most alien, beautiful thing anyone had ever seen. Almost by accident, that ended up being a dieselpunk world, littered with smokestacks and corrugated iron, choked by pollution and populated by people who lived and breathed fossil fuels. After a few people read Tall Tales I started receiving requests for more stories about Grudgehaven, exploring it in more detail.

When I wrote the book, I settled on the title GrudgePunk because, while it takes elements from dieselpunk, horror, bizarro and noir, it isn't beholden to the rules of any one genre. It's its own thing. And while I think fans of all those genres will find a lot to enjoy, they shouldn't presume they know what to expect or that they've read anything quite like it before.

The world of the Grudge is darker and grittier than I thought it'd be from the description of your book. Was that an instant of setting informing stories, or did your stories inform the setting?

A little from Column A, a little from Column B. I certainly didn't sit down at the start to map out the whole mythology of the Grudge. I went story by story, filling in a little more of the city along the way. Mostly the tales were informed by noir archetypes – illicit lovers plotting murder, ransom deal gone south or a wounded gangster seeking sanctuary – and tried to find ways to twist them through the prism of the Grudge setting, turning them into something new and unexpected.

Noir, by definition, is a pretty bleak genre and Grudgehaven is almost exclusively populated by desperate people grasping for that “one last chance”. Often that means killing, robbing or blackmailing someone else, which is a gamble, because no-one in the Grudge is ever quite what they appear to be.

The stories are spot-on in the noir narrative style similar to Dick Tracy or Sin City (for a more recent comparison). Was writing in that way a challenge, or something you were already accustomed to?

It's actually the easiest thing for me to write. I'm incredibly well-versed in noir. For a long period growing up, crime stories from the 40's and 50's were all I read. For a time, I was about as obsessed with noir as other kids were with sci-fi, fantasy or superheroes. There were these big collections of reprinted pulp stories (like The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction) and I just read one after another after another, plus novels by Raymond Chandler, David Goodis, Damon Runyon, Mickey Spillane, Dashiel Hammett. I watched every film noir I could get my hands on plus, of course, I bought and read all the Sin City graphic novels (I'd be lying if I said they weren't a big influence).

So yeah, I consider myself fairly fluent in the style. I've struggled much more whenever I've tried to write stories set in modern-day Scotland. Even though it's the world I live in, I can't quite translate it to the page. I'm much more comfortable when writing about mobsters, private eyes and femme fatales.

What other projects do you have in the works?

A couple more of my horror stories are due out in anthologies this year, most notably D.O.A. II from Blood Bound Books. I've also started work on my first outright horror novella. If I can get that finished this year I'll be happy.

I'm not quite done with the Grudge, either. I've just finished a new short story and I've been talking the guys at Rooster Republic Press (who are awesome and print only awesome books) about everything from a graphic novel to a full-blown sequel. I don't know, at this stage, what's most likely to be released first, but you can bet the GrudgePunk tales will keep coming.

If you were part of this world, what do you think you'd be made of? What would you be doing?

I don't think I'd make it as one of the tough guys. I'd be a lot softer, a lot more fragile – probably a composite of sponge and glass. I wouldn't mind a sponge abdomen, since it would be good for absorbing alcohol as well as punches, but I'd almost certainly have a glass jaw. I would have to have mechanically complex metal hands for my job, which would either be lonely pulp novelist, battering at a typewriter in a loft apartment or lonely jazz pianist accompanying a sultry torch singer. Something on the sidelines, not too dangerous.

Sounds like a good plan to me. That place is CRAZY.

Seriously, if you're remotely interested in this book, you should check it out here.

Thanks again for joining us, John!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Idoru (#2 Bridge Trilogy) by William Gibson

2lst century Tokyo, after the millennial quake. Neon rain. Light everywhere blowing under any door you might try to close. Where the New Buildings, the largest in the world, erect themselves unaided, their slow rippling movements like the contractions of a sea-creature.
Colin Laney is here looking for work. He is not, he is careful to point out, a voyeur. He is an intuitive fisher of patterns of information, the "signature" a particular individual creates simply by going about the business of living. But Laney knows how to sift for the interesting (read: dangerous) bits. Which makes him very useful--to certain people. Chia McKenzie is here on a rescue mission. She's fourteen. Her idol is the singer Rez, of the band Lo/Rez. When the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club decided that he might be in trouble, in Tokyo, they sent Chia to check it out.Rei Toei is the beautiful, entirely virtual media star adored by all Japan. The idoru. And Rez has declared that he will marry her. This is the rumor that brought Chia to Tokyo. But the things that bother Rez are not the things that bother most people. Is something different here, in the very nature of reality? Or is it that something violently New is about to happen? It's possible the idoru is as real as she wants or needs to be--or as real as Rez desires. When Colin Laney looks into her dark eyes, trying hard to think of her as no more than a hologram, he sees things he's never seen before. He sees how she might break a man's heart.And, whatever else may be true, the idoru and the powerful interests surrounding her are enough to put all their lives in danger.


This is not a new book by no means. Published in 1996, Idoru is the second book of William Gibson's Bridge trilogy and yet again a testimony of just how ahead of his time Gibson has been.

There is no need to read Virtual Light (#1 Bridge Trilogy) to understand 100% of this story since both novels are related by world rather than by characters. The backdrop is close enough to our own to be believable yet extrapolated enough to be very imaginative and engrossing. This makes me wonder if Idoru was Gibson's attempt at exploring that world further rather than build a fulfilling story.

I could have picked up this book without knowing the title, nor the author and would have guessed exactly who wrote it. This novel had some great concepts and thought provoking notions even though this wasn't, in my humble opinion, Gibson's best work.

Colin Laney, one of the main characters, has the most interesting ability, which to me, made this book interesting: he can decipher patterns in any information and cybernetic behavior. He is the private investigator/stalker you don't want on your tail because not only will he follow exactly what you are doing, but he may just pre-empt your behavior before you've even thought about what to do next.

The idea of Idoru, a virtual celebrity which comes to life in both cyberspace and as a 3D projection for everyone to see may be seen as some as an outdated concept. But remember people, this was published in 1996!

Skyscrapers building themselves - now how awesome would that be?

Rez, a famous singer, falls in love with the Idoru, making the perfect vessel for the classic Cyberpunk question - what is it to be human? Does the fact that she is made of pixels and lines of code make her unworthy of love, whether or not she is self-aware? What does he find in a virtual entity he couldn't find in a substantial, live woman?

I won't mention much about the character that is Chia because that is just how little her story affected me. Her character behaved at times along the deus ex machine downfall. As a reader, you are dragged through the novel wondering the entire time what she is carrying (since many dangerous and powerful people want it) , only to find out at the end of the novel under boring circumstances.

The neat concepts were the saving grace of this novel because the story itself was relatively forgettable, the beginning dragged a little (had it not been Gibson, I suspect the editor fairy would have cut all that backstory out) and the ending was extremely disappointing. All the tension built around the forsaken love between Rez and the Idoru just flops like a dead fish where the climax should have occurred. Although in essence, this novel left a trace behind, making me ponder, so I guess in that regard, Gibson succeeded.