Monday, October 29, 2007

“From the Depths” launches this week!

Launches. Like a ship launches. Get it? Get it? Yeah, I crack me up too. Anyway... on Wednesday the 31st, as spirits return from beyond the grave to carve pumpkins and eat too many mini-Butterfingers, my novel will hit the bookshelves across the United States. Wait, did I say United States? I meant THE WORLD.

: Whether you sell books or let people check them out for free, send an e-mail request to receive your free review copy and more information about the book. "From the Depths" is sold to the book trade by Independent Publishers Group, and published by McBooks Press.

Whether you're a book club member, a bookseller, librarian or would just like to drop me a line, shoot me an e-mail and I'll get right back to you. Please note that plot points will not be given away under any circumstances. Unless those circumstances involve briefcases full of cash.

And there was much rejoicing from the Pulitzer committee. (note: actual Pulitzer committee not pictured. )

So run out and grab a copy so you can find out what happens to Dr. Myers and the Dragon. You’ve got the candy to fuel a long reading session left over from Halloween.

Just be ready for immersion in a little bit more fear... and not the kind that will go away when you close the front door.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

That axle ain't gonna fix itself, Moneybags....

Do you remember "Oregon Trail"?

Of course you do. For me, killing off droves of settlers, oxen and of course game animals was a big time-waster back at Red Bridge Elementary School. And when I finally reached the Pacific coast, I could thumb my nose at the losers who chose the banker (carpenterz rule!) and basically bought a first-class ticket across the West.

How 5th-graders learned about intestinal infections.

Now you can find a close-but-not-perfect analog of this fun, educational and hyper-realistic (see graphics above) game online here. Yeah, it's kind of like "malk" is to milk, but still... better than, say, running out of food in the Rockies during the winter.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hey, NASA: I'm calling shotgun

Things that are necessary for life: Water, light, heat and a planet.

Things that one of the planets circling red dwarf Gliese 581 has: Water, light, heat. And I think I mentioned that it's a planet.

This is exciting. Yes, I'm of a type that tends to get more excited than most about science news, but this could be huge. The as-yet-unnamed sphereoid is 1.5 times the size of Earth--good news for the possibility of an atmosphere, but bad news for those of us with bad knees. It's much closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, but that's OK because Gliese 581 (which will definitely need a more catchy name if we ever visit it) burns at a lukewarm 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Honestly, artists have no idea what this thing looks like.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's half as hot as the sun. For those others of you who don't care how hot stars are, that means the planet's surface has temperatures ranging from 40 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Sound familiar?

But the best part? The planet's year is 13 DAYS LONG.

Thirteen. Days.

That means legal drinking age would be about nine Earth months. In August, I would have celebrated my 870th birthday--truly a milestone. And, best of all, my salary per day would be 28 times higher. That would pay for my knee operations.

So, two questions: What should we name this thing, and what are the odds that the aliens are enjoying first-run episodes of "Miami Vice"?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When do they find time to watch the game?

What you're about to see is--as far as I can tell--real. Real South Korean soccer fans watching real South Korean soccer. Except by "watch" I mean "turn themselves into a giant LCD display."

The explanation for this ridiculously disciplined cheering is that the participants are wearing jackets with different colors on the front and back, plus a third-colored shirt underneath. Top cheer scientists are working on incorporating pants, hats and socks so the kids can cheer in high-definition.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The worst robot-fighting, my-home-planet-got-blowed-up trip I've ever been on, as played in 2/2

1) For some reason, the song "Sloop John B" has been not just stuck, but absolutely BURIED in my brain lately.

2) I like "Battlestar Galactica."

Therefore, 3) You will now watch this video.

That's Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, perhaps the world's only punk cover band. If you want to continue wasting time on the Internet after reading this post, search for some of their stuff on YouTube. They cover "O Sole Mio" admirably.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Excerpt No. 3 from "From the Depths"

Author's note: All right--dialogue! Interaction! More dead people! I promise, there is a lot of all three in "From the Depths." This is the final excerpt... to read more, you're going to have to find a way to get a copy of the book in your hands.

"How’s it going, Doctor?" Larsen’s voice pulled me back into the dining area’s bleakness. He had appeared in person this time, leaning against the doorframe.

"Things are a little confusing," I said, gesturing to the bench to his left. "Maybe you can help me out."

He sat, laying his rifle next to him.

"Help you? How can I do that? I’m just a sailor, a simple submarine driver."

Men and their macho idiosyncrasies didn’t bother me. I had even been engaged once, when I was in my late 20s, although, as Mom would say, it just hadn’t worked out. With my odd schedule, it was tough to meet men, and most of the guys I hung out with were co-workers. Stephen too, of course, whenever I was in Washington. None of them ever had been able to dent my patience with testosterone-inspired behavior.

But now I reached over and closed the door, a sudden rush of black emotion clouding my thoughts.

"What is your deal? Really, can you tell me that? As far as I’m concerned, we’re on the same team here, trying to accomplish the same thing. But since I climbed on your helicopter, you’ve treated me like some kind of an obstacle to your mission." I tried to keep my tone conversational, but each word seem to detonate in the tight quarters, filled with anger I couldn’t hide.

His expression didn’t change. I don’t think he even blinked. He pulled his watchcap off and tossed it on top of his rifle, then ran his fingers through the blonde buzzcut the hat had concealed. Taking a deep breath, he screwed his features into a caricature of clenched muscle, then relaxed and exhaled. His off-kilter eyes bored into me.

"Yeah, we’re on the same team, Doctor. General Patterson called us both, right? Called us and told us there was some fucked-up situation on a submarine, and we needed to fix it. Except he told me that my men and I had to take control of the submarine—without knowing who was onboard, really—by helicopter insertion and then navigate it safely to port." He placed both of his hands palm-down on the table, as if he wanted to prevent them from doing something more drastic. "That’s a pretty tall order for most people, but we’re fucking SEALs. Our job is to put a boot in someone’s ass before they even hear footsteps. This kind of operation is what we do, and no one does it better.

"Then I’m told, just before we’re scheduled to take off from the base, that there’s someone else being included at the last second. A civilian. A civilian who is going to be examining the boat while we’re trying to operate it. ‘Yes, sir,’ I said. ‘No problem, sir.’ You know why I said that? Because I’ve never met a civilian who could keep a SEAL platoon from fulfilling its mission."
He leaned toward me. I could see the edges of his nostrils twitch.

"And our mission is to get this sub back to port in one piece, without any complications. Nothing you do onboard will be worth a damn thing if we don’t make it to shore."

"I know that. I’ve tried to stay out of—"

"No, Doctor, you haven’t. You’ve ignored at least two orders I’ve given you, and if your presence on this boat weren’t so damn important to the general, I’d just stick you in one of the officers’ quarters and have Young lean on the door until we were in Norfolk."

I sighed and nodded. "I’m sorry. The first time, that wasn’t deliberate; I just jumped off the helicopter without thinking. And I’m sure that’s the kind of thing that worries you about involving civilians in your missions. But all this," I said, gesturing at the collection of plastic bags and envelopes on the table, "is absolutely vital. I needed to find the gun that shot the man in the control room, and it wasn’t in the control room. I knew we had limited time. So rather than risk it being moved or tampered with once you and your men came onboard, I left the control room to find it."

"Understandable. In your situation, I might have done the same thing," Larsen said. He crossed his arms, the limbs sturdy and powerful under the turtleneck’s ribbed sleeves. "And that’s why you’re not locked up. I’m not asking much from here on out, Doctor."

I was sick of the way he spat out the title like it was a pejorative.

"You don’t have to keep calling me ‘doctor.’ Christine is fine."

"OK, then, Christine. As I said, I don’t require a whole lot from you in the next few hours before we make port. You can examine what you need to examine, take pictures, dust for fingerprints, whatever it is you do. Just understand that this is my boat. If you’re in the way, no matter how important you might think your work is, you have to move. If you’re interfering with my men as they operate this thing, then you’re in the wrong place. Do you read me?" He raised his eyebrows, an expression that showed his question wasn’t rhetorical.

"I understand, Lieutenant. And believe me, I don’t intend to get in the way of you or your crew. OK?"

"OK. I’m glad we’re on the same page."

"In fact, I don’t think there’s much more for me to collect. Autopsies, that kind of detailed analysis, that will all be done on shore. I’ve sketched together a rough scenario that, hopefully, the lab technicians can solidify."

"Oh yeah? Let’s hear it. I’m interested in what went down on this relic. In fact, I’ve got some more evidence for you," Larsen said, drawing two black automatic pistols from his waistband and laying them, butt-first, on the table.

"What are these?" I asked.

"The firearms we found in the mess hall. This one’s cockeyed—the barrel’s bent. The other one seems fine. Both mags are full, eight rounds each."

I leaned in to look more closely, knowing as I did so that any value as evidence had been lost when the SEALs picked up the pistols and inspected them.

"Nine millimeter. The bent one’s got some blood and hair caught on the front sight. Probably used as a club," I said. "Norinco, same as the one I found in the forward torpedo room."

"What else?" Larsen said as I sealed the weapons inside separate plastic bags and put them away.

Links: McBooks Press
"From the Depths," by Gerry Doyle, available in November!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Outside the bounds of taste

As you read this, keep in mind that everything I know about fashion, I learned from "Project Runway."

Don’t ever try to tell me there is no fashion in sports. Yeah, high-priced sneakers tend to be gaudy and annoying. There are too many armbands, headbands, wristbands and assorted other fuzzy paraphernalia. And, come on, do we REALLY need baseball caps that come in non-team colors such as, I dunno, camouflage?

But you look at a beautifully designed team uniform—an esoteric balance of tradition and color—and it can bring a tear to your eye. OK, maybe only after several beers and a rendition of the alma mater.

Here’s exhibit A for good uniforms:

I can't believe they called that a charge.

And you can tell it looks good by holding it up next to this crime against eyeballs:

I can't believe they're going to charge for this.

The KU Athletic Department decided to change the team uniforms because, famously, a consultant decided that the university needed a unifying font. Yeah. Never mind that to most basketball fans, Kansas’ old "circus" font was the most distinctive thing on the uniform besides the Jayhawk itself.

So as basketball season approaches, I’m prepared to smile and cheer while wincing. I just hope none of the players try to wear dark socks with white sneakers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Behold your new idol

I've always judged books by their covers. And with the exception of "The Sparrow"--a great book whose cover made me a little skeptical--it's always steered me toward great prose. Assuming this rule holds true, "From the Depths" is going to change... your... life. If not halt global warming and resurrect Jimi Hendrix.

Because the cover art is awesome. This is the final design:

It's great: mysterious, foreboding, intriguing and my name is GIGANTIC. I can't wait to see it on an actual book. Also, neither can you.

Paying the piper. Er... the guitarist.

The question of what art is worth can’t be easily answered. Is there an intrinsic value to the entertainment it provides? Does it edify the human soul for us to be able to see, right there in front of us, a depiction of our own emotions? How do you put a price tag on those qualities—if they even exist?

If you’re saying, "that’s a pretty pointless philosophical question, Gerry," you’re not alone. Radiohead is in your corner.

Kind of. Actually, they’re doing philosophy by popular vote: On the band’s Web site, you can download their new album and simultaneously tell them how much you think it’s worth. They’re letting the purchaser set the price... all the way down to a penny. (but that’s 2 cents U.S. Seriously.) This has the side effect of kicking their record company in the groin, as owners of the album can do whatever they want with it, and everything they DO pay goes directly to the band. But I guess that’s a luxury that comes with being immensely popular and rich and stuff.

So tell me... wait, no—tell them: What would you pay for a Radiohead album?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cue the synth trumpets

Na na na naaaaa... na na na na naaaaaaaa... na na na na... na na na na na na naaaaa...

You probably guessed that I was just singing "The Final Countdown," by the Pulitzer-winning supergroup Europe. Why is that song stuck in my head? Because it's accurate. And as a journalist, I love accuracy.

An artist's depiction of "From the Depths" on release day.

Oct. 1 means we're one month away from the release of "From the Depths." Angels will sing, penguins will march, wine will flow and the threat level will drop to green, if not translucent.

Watch this space for announcements about readings, signings, appearances and other stuff. And also for other interesting blog entries--such as the final excerpt from the book.

T-minus 31....