Friday, June 30, 2017


Authors draw inspiration from other books all the time. My second novel, The Immortality Game, had two primary sources. First it was the background story for the wizard Xax in my first novel The Shard (Xax from the fantasy novel is the Russian scientist Tyoma in The Immortality Game and there is a short story called 'Arrival' in my book of short stories Lord Fish that ties the two books together).
Second was the inspiration I drew from the spectacular cyberpunk novels of Richard K Morgan, starting with Altered Carbon. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves great sci-fi. I loved them even more the second time I read them.
In these books Morgan uses a version of digital immortality he calls cortical stacks. He didn't invent the idea of digital immortality by any means, but he uses the idea brilliantly, wrapped in an amazing set of stories. The cortical stack is a ball of something like steel that is implanted in the spine near the skull, where it collects everything from the mind as it happens. If the person is killed or dies, as long as the cortical stack wasn't damaged, the person can be 'resleeved' into a cloned body and essentially live again. 

I was intrigued by this idea, mainly because the story treats the characters as if they are the same person no matter how many times they are resleeved, though of course each is just a copy of the person. You can't call it immortality, because the original person dies, and no matter how real the copy is, it isn't the original and thus it isn't real immortality. I started wondering what the technology of cortical stacks might have been like when it was first being developed, and that set off the story-line that grew into The Immortality Game.

I have found it odd that almost no one seems to buy both The Immortality Game and The Shard. I understand that they seem very different, with one being a technothriller and the other an epic fantasy, but they are set in the same 'universe' and share characters, despite not being a traditional series.

What books have served to inspire you in writing your stories?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Chris Cornell's Best Songs

I've had a couple of weeks now to get over the heartbreak of Chris Cornell's untimely demise. I'll never stop being sad about it, especially for his family and friends, and for all the tremendous future music we lost.

When I last saw Cornell live a month ago, I was not particularly happy, as you'd tell by reading my original post about it. It wasn't that it was bad by any means, but rather that the group chose songs that mostly didn't thrill me, especially since Soundgarden has so many great songs to choose from. I realized that the reason they chose the songs they did was probably to appeal to the average fan or to those who didn't know Soundgarden very well. The songs they released as singles and ended up getting lots of airplay were usually not their best songs. Ones like Black Hole Sun or Spoonman or My Wave are decent, but they aren't ones I choose to listen to when I'm in the mood for Soundgarden.

So with the hope of introducing some people to great Chris Cornell songs that people may not have heard of, I decided to post my favorites. These are the songs that I listen to when I want to hear Cornell's music. The order isn't exact, but rather reflects how often I am listening to each particular song these days. For anyone who cares about great rock music, I recommend spending some time getting to know all of these songs. It's well worth it.

1. Bones of Birds -- The best song off their latest album.

2. Searching With My Good Eye Closed -- I absolutely love this song, and it was the first Soundgarden song I ever heard when they opened with it during their 1992 concert. I edit out the long intro for my own personal version, as I think it's a better song when it comes in with the intro guitar part.
3. Boot Camp -- A lovely little song that unfortunately almost no one seems to know.

4. 4th of July -- A dirge-like song that for some reason really appeals to me. I don't think it's technically one of their best, yet I find myself listening to it more often than many other songs.
5. Beyond the Wheel -- The live version from Letterman, in which Chris sounded unbelievable.
6. Pretty Noose -- Love the wah wah pedal guitar riff.
7. Blow Up the Outside World -- So many of the songs from Soundgarden's best album Down on the Upside were terrific.
8. Burden in My Hand -- See 7
9. Switch Opens -- Ibid
10. Zero Chance -- Ibid
11. Overfloater -- Ibid
12. Karaoke -- An unusual and rare track that sounds so raw and almost angry, but is also really cool.

13. Blood on the Valley Floor -- Another great track from their last album.
14. Worse Dreams -- See 13
15. By Crooked Steps -- Ibid
16. Seasons -- Gorgeous acoustic song

After these 'best' songs comes a slew of other really good ones:

Nothing to Say
Jesus Christ Pose
Mind Riot
Like Suicide (both versions, even though the acoustic has a bad skip in it at one point)
Call Me a Dog -- My favorite from Temple of the Dog
Gasoline -- My favorite from Audioslave
Room a Thousand Years Wide
Hunger Strike
All Night Thing
Your Savior
Four Walled World
Times of Trouble
Drawing Flies
Holy Water
New Damage
Rusty Cage
Flutter Girl
Follow My Way
Preaching the End of the World
Hands All Over
Bleed Together
Live to Rise
Earache My Eye
Black Hole Sun
The Day I Tried to Live
An Unkind