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Hey everyone, just putting a heads up out there that my book, Triworlds Revolution: Homeworld Blues is available for free on Amazon.com for the next five days, the last promotion went really well so I don’t know how many of you still haven’t grabbed a copy but I’ll be running these roughly every ninety days, so eventually there should be no excuse as to why you haven’t read such a totally awesome and amazing sci-fi adventure! This one is the first in the series, and book two should be released in the fall or winter, so make sure you’re all caught up!

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So; Mad Max, am I right? Actually, I’m not sure if I am, because I haven’t seen the movie yet, but by all accounts and indications, it is one of the most impressive films made in recent memory. It certainly made its way onto my radar not by the larger-than-life explosions in the trailers, nor by the general onslaught of marketing that is pretty much necessary for any massive budget blockbuster extravaganza. I’ve become inured to all that sort of thing and take it all with a grain of salt after being disappointed so many times before. What made me sit up and pay attention to a film about a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by more vehicular homicide than actual people was the collective buzz around the treatment of female characters in such a setting.

Is it time? Are we there yet? More than fifty years after the feminist movement began, and we are finally at a point where the main machine of Hollywood is going to give female characters thoughtful and equal standing among male counterparts instead of tossing them concessions to keep them quiet? The answer is no; not across the board yet, anyway. 
As much as I loved the new Avengers movie, (spoiler alert) there were more than a few times that I felt the writing for the female heroes in the story was fairly two dimensional and predicated on their gender almost exclusively. Not that the guys had much more development; cut to Cap’n America expressing emotional strife by splitting wood with his bare hands, And Thor… was also there, right? But with the male writing, only half of the motivations seemed to be relevant to their gender, whereas nothing that the Scarlet Witch or Black Widow did made sense unless placed in the context of their gender. 
Examples: Natasha Romanov feeling like a monster for not being able to have kids. Point!
Wanda Maximoff being the only person falling to pieces in the middle of a tense fight. Point!
And Hawkeye’s wife… Was also there, right?
Anyway, I digress. I love epics, they’re one of my favorite things ever. The idea that a group of strangers can come together from around the world to share in the experience of a collective adventure is something truly magical. When they don’t send a positive message or send no message at all, it always feels like a wasted opportunity to affect change on such a massive scale. Harry Potter promotes friendship, individualism, and independence. Star Trek promotes humanism, progress, and racial equality. And Mad Max makes a statement that there is no reason female characters can’t be every bit as powerful in a variety of ways as their traditionally male counterparts, and that there is no reason to reduce them to one the generic handful of stereotypes that we see repeated without depth again and again, nor is there any benefit towards sexualizing a character when it has no relevance to the plot. Things like that are lazy, they are pandering, and they are beneath us.
Here’s to a generation where our fictional universes are well-developed thought-scapes that are welcoming to all people everywhere. 

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Batman was robbed, Wasn’t it bad enough to be an orphan, now he has to play perpetual second fiddle to the boy scout of the DC universe, Superman?
I’m talking about Batman Vs. Superman, of course. There’s been a lot of buzz about the new trailer released this week, and while most of it is good, I can’t help but feel like the whole thing is one big mistake that’s going to get worse before it gets better. While most people who take issue with it cite the changes they’ve made from the Frank Miller graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns,” which features a climactic battle between the two heroes in a very believable and dark setting, my issues take place before the movie even begins.

I’ll back up to explain a little, since most people don’t even know why the two would have any issue with each other. In “The Dark Knight Returns,” Batman comes out of a ten-year retirement in order to lay some much needed beat-downs on the criminals who have claimed Gotham. However, his return prompts several super-villains to come out of hiding as well, representing a greater threat to the public than had been seen before. The American government, declaring the age of the hero to be over, calls in Superman as their personal attack dog to ‘persuade’ Batman back into retirement. Thus the stage is set for a symbolic battle between Superman representing the power of authority to decide what’s best for us, and Batman representing the will inside of all of us to control our own destinies.

The new Batman Vs Superman film seems to flip the ideals of the two in a way. We see Superman as the ‘outsider’, representing something altogether different from us, alien and untrustworthy. Meanwhile Batman symbolizes an angry and scared humanity, looking at something more powerful than themselves and not understanding its motivation. These are some complicated standpoints, but in the modern age, I think it’s a brilliant choice and potentially the only way to make Superman really interesting to a new audience at this point.

But my problems don’t come from the fact that they’ve changed elements from ‘TDKR’, they come from the fact that Ben Afflec and Jared Leto don’t get their own film establishing them as our new Batman and Joker. Superman got his film, but with the Nolan Batman trilogy still in recent memory, it seems they’ve decided that it’s too soon to give him his own reboot. That would be a logical call, if we were only looking at a Batman Vs Superman movie. But with the subtitle of ‘Birth of Justice’, its clear that this is only a stepping stone to the greater project of a Justice League film, similar to Marvel’s stunning Avengers franchise. And as any nerd can tell you, Batman is the core of the Justice League.

Introducing the character of Batman as an add-on to an established Superman will forever put them on uneven ground. In a perfect world, each member of the Justice League would get their own film before teaming up, but in reality the only ones that matter are Batman and Superman. Marvel’s way of doing things is simply the best; they’ve given their properties time to grow and live in our heads, before combining all of it under one roof and blowing things out of the sky. They may be the competition, but DC could definitely learn something there.

Unless, that is, they’re only interested in pumping one of these ‘group hero’ movies out the door in order to cash in while superheroes are still hot. They can see franchise fatigue on the horizon. The thing is, i don’t think they understand that slapdash decisions and half-assed movies are WHY franchise fatigue happens in the first place.

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So it’s kind of hard to ignore it this week. Star Wars is back. The twin attacks of the new film trailer coupled with the announcement of EA’s new Star Wars Battlefront game is a strong marketing engagement which promises to be a pretty hectic and profitable season for the powers that be at Disney and Marvel. Even as a person who doesn’t count myself among the true fans of Star Wars, I have to say that I am excited. I’ve always enjoyed Star Wars games more than I enjoy the films, and although I felt like the earlier trailer didn’t show me anything to be excited about, this new one certainly raises the bar and my hopes. It seems by all indications that this new film will be engaging and fast paced while paying homage and fan-service to what has come before, which is a tricky goal, but one I’m sure they’re ready for.

All in all, this new atmosphere is going to set the stage for a new resurgence of Sci-Fi. We’ve already seen the beginnings of it, with titles like Ender’s Game and Guardians of the Galaxy earning solid numbers at the box office. What’s even better is that we are seeing properties that really open the door and push the envelope of what’s been done conceptually in the past. True, there are still films that are basically ‘sci-fi for sci-fi’s sake,’ such as Jupiter Ascending which offered beautiful settings and sequences, but ultimately little intellectual fare, but we are also seeing things like Ex-Machina, a film which seems to promise the exploration of the artificial soul. Both films are solid sci-fi pieces, but where Jupiter seems to think of itself as little more than a spacey vehicle for epic encounters, Machina is the type of movie to leave a viewer chilled and uncomfortable with their own views of what is and isn’t a valid life form. That both films can exist side by side is a testament to the range of sci-fi concepts that exist, and reminds me of why I love the genre so dearly.

So what does it mean for the future of entertainment? I expect that as tastes revolve and Star Wars inevitably creates a new demand for these tales, we will see many new properties come to light. Franchise fatigue is setting into the superhero market, and therefore to stay relevant, companies like Marvel will need to hinge their momentum into other projects. For better or worse, we are looking at the downfall of the Hero, and the rise of Sci-Fi. Whether or not it is all for the better, we won’t know until about this time next year. Either way, I’m ready.

Stay tuned for my review of Ex-Machina, as well as Avengers: Age of Ultron. My next post will probably be more about the franchise fatigue that’s setting into superheroes, and how that will effect DC’s upcoming plans for the Justice League.

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PROGRESS UPDATE: Hey everyone! I’ve gotten some questions lately about the current state of the second Triworlds Revolution book, so here’s the numbers for anyone who is interested!

Currently, TWR2 is being drafted under the name Moving Pieces, which is subject to change;

The current draft is about 32,000 words at the moment;

A week ago, I was at 28,000, so about 4,000 words a week is the current pace, but that is also liable to change on any given day;

TWR1: Homeworld Blues was roughly 120,000 words in total, which means that if the second book would be the same length, I would be at about 28%  done with TWR2 right now. However, seeing as this second book covers substantially more story than the first, we are closer to about 15% finished.

That means that book 2 will be approximately 200,000 words, but I expect to reel that in somewhat during edits. For reference, the first Harry Potter book was about 77,000 words long, and the first Game of Thrones book was nearly 300,000.

The prospective date for the release of TWR2: Moving Pieces will be late summer/early fall, so stay tuned for more updates leading up to the release! And in the mean time, if you haven’t already checked out the first book in the series, why not!!? It’s great!

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Thanks again!
A. J. McMillan

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Hey everyone! I’ve been getting some questions about the second Triworlds book and its inevitable-yet-slow paced creation, so I decided to set up a headquarters of sorts in order to have a central hub for news, updates, and questions regarding my series! This blog will roll down hill to Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and the like thanks to a lovely utility called IFTTT, so don’t feel obligated to follow this blog if you’re already following elsewhere. I’ll make it pretty darn difficult to miss anything. I will also try and post some of my back catalog WordPress posts as well, to keep it interesting. Thanks for the support everyone!

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So I get up on this bright Christmas morning, expecting to spend the whole day perfecting my Destiny character on PS4 with all the shiny new expansion goodies. Lo and behold, the network is down. Great. Guess I’ll complain to the internet instead, I suppose…

My first thought isn’t about the motives of the hackers, or for my own personal data stored in their network. It isn’t even about how long I’ll have to wait before the network is restored. My first thought is for the state of gaming as a whole, and how dangerously close to collapse the whole industry is.

For years now, gaming has been on the decline, especially console gaming. Now I’ll be the first to admit that PC gaming has it’s benefits, especially in the current situation, but there are plenty of detractors for the casual gamer. Personally, I’ve always felt that dedicated gaming consoles have created an environment in which developers are all given roughly the same tools and produced drastically different results, often times displaying impressive inventiveness and creativity with those tools. Each generation of gaming consoles have added tools to the kit, even when we haven’t necessarily exhausted the possibilities of the last. It has been a pretty regular (and profitable) cycle for years now, and I think that if it continues, we will start seeing games included in the pantheon of respected arts, such as books, films, and music.

However, I doubt it will continue for much longer, looking at the state of this current generation. Lately, console gaming has been falling apart under the myriad pressures of high game costs, higher production costs, regular network hacks, pay-to-win mechanics, Gamestop’s continual shilling of developers and consumers alike, and worst of all, lackluster or half-finished products pushed to market prematurely. It seems that two generations ago, it was regular for a game to take 30-60 hours to complete fully. Final Fantasy games and other RPGs were 100+ hours long. On the last gen, it was pretty common to finish a game on the hardest difficulty in about 16 hours without much hassle. On this incarnation, you can beat a game like Assassin’s Creed Unity in about 8-12 hours, especially if you feel like tossing a few more dollars down. Furthermore, it feels like the games themselves have fewer and fewer activities and are becoming simpler all the time. For example, anyone who has played Saint’s Row 2 and 3 agrees that 2 had far more side missions and took much longer to complete than it’s sequel. They also deemed it necessary to remove the atypical mission progression from 2, opting for a simpler and more straightforward style for 3. The same could be said for Fable 2 and 3; 3 took much less time to finish, and utilized a simplistic leveling system instead of the color-coded multiple experience point set-up from 2. From leading us by the nose to making decisions for us, games are getting dumber across the board.

So why is this happening? In a word, money. With the sheer numbers of games on the market each month, consumers simply dont have the time to flesh out all the nuances of gameplay with each title they pick up, so developers have stopped wasting their time and money on features that only 10% of the target market are ever experiencing. Statistics show that more than half the people who pick up a new game will ever see the end credits before moving onto another new release. Some titles cost more than a million dollars, and in the end it becomes little more than math; its just not feasible to create so much content that no one will touch without charging upwards of 60$ per game, or loads of DLC that should have been included in the original game, or addin in-game purchases, or rushing a game out the door to make the sales figures in order to finish it. All of these things are signs of an industry floundering and bleeding money, and when something like a targeted hack shuts down the network on the day that hundreds and thousands of people should be meeting their console for the first time, it just gives me bad feelings for the future. The only way that games can protect themselves from attacks like this is more security, especially for online games, and that means more money, which will probably come out of the consumer’s pocket once again.

Or worse yet, with quality of games declining and networks eternally open to attack, consumers and developers alike will probably just cut their losses and play a board game, watch a movie, or read a book.

Triworlds Revolution: Homeworld Blues is available on Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook and Smashwords!

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Hey everyone! I know its been a while, but I’ve been hard at work preparing and planning the launch of my first published novel, Triworlds Revolution: Homeworld Blues! I’m proud to announce that it has been approved for the Smashwords Premium catalogue, so now it is available on all major ebook retailers, including Barnes and Noble Nook, iBooks, and Kobo, in addition to the Smashwords Bookstore and the Kindle Store! Follow the links here to check it out and download a free sample!

FREE SAMPLE AT SMASHWORDS!-

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/499793

KINDLE STORE!-

http://www.amazon.com/Homeworld-Blues-Triworlds-Revolution-Book-ebook/dp/B00QQOIETS

And just in case you were wondering what the book is about, here’s a synopsis!

As a member of the ruling class aboard a star ship destined to carry her people to a new home world, Trayia is duty-bound and loyal to the cause. But when an encounter with the rebellious Kavata opens her eyes to the ship’s dark secret, she begins to question everything she has ever known. As the black and white world around them falls away, the young women embark on an epic journey to find the key to their people’s survival and learn the truth behind their origins; with the help of a blind monk, a fugitive prisoner, and a clueless drummer.

This revolution is going to be a lot harder than anyone thought…

Triworlds Revolution: Homeworld Blues opens the door on an epic trilogy that crosses worlds and genres, weaving an exciting and suspenseful tale filled with memorable characters and enthralling locales while it explores what it means to be truly free through the lens of a broad sci-fi fantasy world.

So check it out! I hope everyone has as much fun reading it as I did writing it, and if you enjoy it, please review and share as much as you can! And look forward to Triworlds Revolution Book 2 coming in 2015!

I realize I haven’t made a post in a while, mostly because my life has been really hectic lately. This blog is supposed to be a place for my random thoughts and musings, as well as a chronicle of my success and a venue for sharing my short stories. However, current events have derailed my latest short story idea, causing me to put it on the back burner for a while. Also, my personal thoughts have been very mundane lately, dealing with common day to day issues, and nothing that would be worth posting.

Today, however, I decided to ramble about a passion that I have, and since it is currently WAY too hot in my part of the world, my thoughts are on a specifically refreshing beverage, and I thought I’d share that with you all. 

Root beer. I absolutely love root beer. Is there a more delicious, crisply sharp and wondrous drink? The carbonation, the sweetness, the hint of licorice and anise, the foam that rises to greet me every time I fill my glass… I can’t live without it. Cola is nice, and coffee most certainly has its place, but root beer reigns king among refreshment in my mind. 

There are as many types of root beer as there are shades of crayola. Every one has its merits, and each should be sampled, but as of yet, there is one flavor of root beer that rises above all others, with good reason. Micro-brewed sodas are all well and good, but to my knowledge there is only one root beer that incorporates sweet caffeine into its recipe. Barq’s root beer claims to have bite; I don’t know if that’s true, but if by ‘bite’ they mean ‘necter of the waking’, I’m inclined to agree. All root beer is delicious, but the extra dark, extra crisp caffeinated mead that coca-cola has filled their bottles with is my absolute favorite drink.

One would think that with all of the root beer I drink, I would grow bored of it, eventually yearning for a different, perhaps more sophisticated refreshment. However, one of the best things about my sworn soda is that it has the magical ability to take another icy cold gift from the gods- Ice cream- and increase its wonder tenfold. Vanilla Ice cream and crisp root beer… I defy the universe to deliver a more amazing libation to be consumed for the pleasure of my taste buds. 

Anyway, with the impending heat wave, I suggest that anyone in a warm climate acquire a fresh Root Beer Float at the earliest convenience. 

Here goes nothing! My name is A. J. McMillan, and what I plan to do here is chart my course through the world of science-fiction writing. I will chronicle every step of my journey here, as well as keep people informed of my personal opinions of things that the world does that are “not ok.” That covers everything from  crocs to politics, both of which are “not ok” in my eyes. I’ll also talk about pop culture, current events, video games, music, movies, books, comics, action figures, asteroids, tree houses, starships, time machines, black holes, food, and the progress of the human race toward a technological ‘singularity’ that will move us forward on our ultimate evolutionary path of destiny. Maybe.

Ideally, this will be a place for my frequent “word diarrhea” can work itself out passively, without damaging the social connections I have with the people around me. It seems that lots of folks get tired of listening to a constant babble of societal commentary. Go figure. I also want to post comics relevant to the topic du jour, hopefully regularly enough to be relevant.

As I move forward on my path to Sci-Fi/Fantasy authoring, I plan to post my progress and pitfalls here. Just like many others who have helped me get where I am, I want to assist other fledgling authors come closer to their goals. And let me tell you, it is a tough process that takes dedication and determination. We all need all the help we can get. It will be also interesting to reflect back on these older posts one day from my career as a professional waiter, recalling the naive days when I held out hope for my future.

Maybe.

Well, at the risk of going long winded on a first post, I guess that’s about it for now. In the next post, I’ll probably further outline the project I’m currently working on shopping around to agents, of course, without any spoilers.

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