Some time ago, I had this idea…
I wanted to write a book about the end of the world. But since my previous book, A Private Little War, was such a grim and blood-soaked death-slog all full of war and insanity and biplanes and toast (read it and you’ll see what I mean), I also wanted it to be, you know, fun. Because who says the end of the world has to be all awful? There are certainly people out there who would find a complete breakdown of all the systems of control to be a rollicking good time. Anarchy, lawlessness, general weirdness? Who doesn’t yearn for that every now and then?
Further, I didn’t want to go with any of the standard end-of-the-world tropes. Which meant no zombies, no gestalt ecological catastrophes which conveniently affect every biome on earth, no lone wanderer trudging through the wasteland. My apocalypse was more like a kind of psychotic wish fulfillment: What if we suddenly got everything we’ve ever wanted in our science-fiction-saturated world? What if there was nanotechnology and genetically engineered monsters and giant robots and dinosaurs and airships and time travel and, basically, everything, all at the same time?
That was the nut of the idea for Tales From The Radiation Age. And once I had that, all I had to do was sit down and write it. Which I did–one episode (read: chapter) at a time, every two weeks, for six straight months.
TFTRA was released as a serial from the good folks at 47North–a new episode showing up every two weeks like magic in the Kindles of those who bought in. On the one hand, this was a complete disaster–some people got all angried-up over the format, over the wait, over the mistaken impression that I was releasing an incomplete book a piece at a time as a way to make myself rich (oh, if only…).
On the other hand, it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Serials are awesome. I loved the idea of the cliffhangers, the ability to change the flow of the plot mid-project, the nail-biting wait between releases. I got to play at being a robot-obsessed Dickens for six months, which was way more fun than I thought it would be, and from a writer-y perspective, nothing sharpens the mind and jacks the blood pressure like that looming, unbreakable deadline coming every two weeks. I wrote more (and, I think, wrote better) in the past six months than I ever have in my life, and I got to live and play in a world that was precisely as strange and thrilling as I wanted it to be. By the time I was done, my main character, Duncan Archer, got to see a dragon, cavort with prostitutes, ride a dinosaur, rob a train, learn about parallel universes, play a little piano, drink a lot of whiskey, steal a robot brain, watch the fabric of the universe unravel and help stitch it back together again. Which, of course, means I got to do all those things, too.
But anyway, Tales finished its run a couple weeks back and officially became a complete book with a first chapter, a last chapter and everything in between. And now, for those of you who just can’t stand the thought of waiting, you can go and buy it in its entirety–and all for the bargain price of just $3.99. Here’s the irresistible jacket copy, just so you know what you’re getting yourself into:
In a post-apocalyptic America that has shattered into a hundred perpetually warring fiefdoms, anyone with a loud voice and a doomsday weapon can be king (and probably has been). Duncan Archer—con man, carpetbagger, survivor—has found a way to somehow successfully navigate the end of the world, with its giant killer robots, radioactive mutants, mad scientists, rampant nanotechnology, armed gangs, sea monsters, and 101 unpleasant ways to die.
But when he meets Captain James Barrow, a former OSS agent and the most wanted man in the world, Duncan finds himself a reluctant hero caught up in a whole new level of weird, rollicking adventure…
And the second most wanted man in the world.
Tales from the Radiation Age is a throwback to the pulp-origins of science fiction, painting a vision of the future that’s richly detailed, wildly imaginative—and altogether too easy to imagine.
So if you’re looking for a little something to load onto your brand new Christmas Kindle, give it a shot. If you have a friend or relation whose mind needs to be blown, give it as a gift. Right now, it’s an ebook only (hence the cheapness), but in a couple months it’ll graduate and become an actual, physical book-book, too.
Oh, and for any of you out there who’ve already read the thing (cheers to all of you), take heart. I am currently working on both a sequel and a prequel. The sequel will be another full-blown book–and I’m really hoping it’ll be another serial as well. The prequel will be a novella, telling the story of Duncan Archer as a young man in the year immediately following the end of the world, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with that yet. Maybe I’ll just do it here in pieces, give it away free. Maybe I’ll do my own little serial version of it. Who knows.
In the meantime, check out the original Tales From The Radiation Age and see where all this weirdness began.
Tales From The Radiation Age [Amazon]