Kara (A Brilliant, Touching Science Fiction Short Film)

This amazing short film was made by the video game developer Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain) to showcase their latest game technology. In the process they created a short piece of science fiction that’s both gorgeous to the eye and very moving…

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The Doc Wilde Adventures Kickstarter Begins This Friday (3/30/12)

It’s getting down to the wire, folks…

This Friday, “The Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde” project will go live on Kickstarter.

“In a young adult book market crowded with the depressing and the dour, Tim Byrd’s Doc Wilde swings in on a jungle vine to raise the flag high for adventure. Infused with pace, fun, and all the two-fisted action a reader could ask for, Wilde lovingly riffs on situations straight out of the old pulps, even while making them fresh for a new generation.”
— Zack Stentz, screenwriter, Thor, X-Men: First Class

The Doc Wilde stories are my tribute to the pulp stories I loved growing up, and still love today. Like The Incredibles or the Indiana Jones films, they are suitable for kids and adults both,  full of action and humor and weird science and occult menace and lots of derring-do.

I published the first book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, with Penguin/Putnam in 2009; it did very well both critically and commercially, so they asked for more books. But in the three years since, the digital publishing revolution has opened up many opportunities for an author that traditional publishing doesn’t offer, and I decided to go independent with the series.

The Kickstarter project will encompass three Doc Wilde novels, all to be released by year’s end. The books will be available in trade paperback and ebook formats. They will all have gorgeous covers and interior illustrations by the great Aussie comic book artist Gary Chaloner. (At the top of this post you can see the new logo he’s designed — he’s still painting the rest of the cover, which will hopefully be ready in time to debut when the Kickstarter begins).

I’ve regained my rights to Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom and it will reappear in a much improved new edition in June, featuring not only the new artwork inside and out by Gary, but my “author’s cut” preferred edit and a new short Doc Wilde adventure.

In August, we’ll release Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, the long-awaited second book, in which the Wildes face a mind-blowing mystery and a truly bizarre villain.

In November the third adventure will appear, Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf, a dark tale featuring lycanthropes and witchcraft. At least two more Doc Wilde adventures will follow in 2013.

(If you follow the links above you can read excerpts from each of the books).

For those who may not be familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a modern patronage system for creators in which they present something they’d like to do and supporters are able to pledge funds to help them do it, in return for rewards varying from big thank yous to copies of the items created to interactions of various sorts with the creators. The creator posts his intentions and a target amount of money he is trying to raise; if, within the time the Kickstarter runs, enough money is pledged to hit that target, then the Kickstarter succeeds. If the target amount is not met, the Kickstarter has failed and no money is exchanged.

The target I’m setting for this project is $3,000. But that’s a minimum goal, not a maximum; once it’s reached, the Kickstarter continues and new people can continue to get involved. The funds will go toward art and book design and editing, as well as paying for the writing. Any extra funds will be applied to producing more books down the line.

I’ve come up with reward levels for pledges ranging from $5 for an ebook copy of one of the novels and the supporter’s name on the book’s acknowledgments page, up to $400 for signed limited editions of the books along with a bunch more cool stuff. There are only three slots available at the highest level, and four at the second highest, because they include exclusive one-of-a-kind rewards, so those are first come, first served.

I plan to launch the Kickstarter at noon EST this Friday, March 30th.

If you’re looking for adventure…it’s time to GO WILDE!

“It’s a true delight…Tim Byrd has taken Doc Savage, added in a pinch of Robert E. Howard, a liberal dose of H.P. Lovecraft, and mixed it all together in a well done, enchanting pastiche of the pulps that will appeal to the adult audience as well as the young adult readers. It is an over the top at times, rip-roaring adventure that returns us to the days of yesteryear and leaves us wanting more.”
                                                          —The Baryon Review

Greg Bear Reviews JOHN CARTER

SF novelist Greg Bear has posted his review of John Carter, which is also a commentary on the treatment the film is getting from mainstream critics, as well as on pulp fiction’s place in our culture. I’ve spliced in a bit below. The whole thing is a very good read, so you should read it…click here to do so.

And y’know, much has been made of Disney not calling the flick John Carter of Mars, but I think they truly missed a bet by not calling it John Carter and The Princess of Mars. That would have captured its science fantasy elements, its romanticism, and the fact that it has an honest-to-Barsoom new Disney princess in it. And a truly capable, heroic princess at that. Of course, Disney completely flubbed the marketing on the film, and now they’re suffering for it.

Without “A Princess of Mars” there would be no “Star Wars” or “Avatar,” of course. There would be fewer names on the modern map of Mars–and likely far fewer engineers and scientists to build those space ships and shoot them into the outer void.

In 1911, Burroughs was happy to incorporate the latest speculations about Mars–derived from the work of the immensely popular astronomer Pervical Lowell, and not thoroughly discredited until the 1960s. To those speculations he added a bit of H. Rider Haggard, a bit of Kipling, and a bit of the then-popular Graustarkian romance, where a brave commoner is launched into royal complications in an exotic mythical land.

George Lucas, decades later, owed a tremendous debt to Burroughs. Tatooine is much like Mars, with wonderfully strange creatures, suspended racers, and huge flying barges with swiveling deck guns.

And no wonder. Leigh Brackett, co-screen-writer on The Empire Strikes Back, often wrote pulp tales herself–some set on Mars–and did it quite well.

In turn, she inspired Ray Bradbury to revisit and revise Burroughs’s Mars in The Martian Chronicles, an enduring classic. Brackett went on to craft screenplays based on the pulp tradition that the Times still finds so discreditable: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. She co-wrote that screenplay with William Faulkner. Faulkner sold his first short story to a pulp magazine, Weird Tales. So did Tennessee Williams. And I strongly suspect they all read and enjoyed, in their younger years at least, A Princess of Mars.

We would all be the poorer for not allowing future generations of young readers a chance to fall into Burrough’s amazing pulp story of adventure and imagination, still powerful and fun after all these years.

KICKSTARTER NEWS: DOC WILDE ADVENTURES

The fun with this book starts with the front cover and does not stop until the very last page!…It was perfect. Fast paced, fun, entertaining…There was also a touching family quality to the whole thing that was priceless. It was one of those rare books that leaves you feeling really good once it is done.    —Old Bat’s Belfry on Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

As I announced last month, I am no longer with G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and am instead taking my Doc Wilde adventure series independent (I go into the reasons and a lot more detail here). I have regained all rights to the work and will be relaunching the series with great new covers and interior art by comic book great Gary Chaloner. The first book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, will see its re-release in improved form in June, the long-awaited Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull will follow in August, and Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf will appear in November or early December. More books will follow next year. The books will all be fully illustrated and available in both ebook and trade paperback formats.

I’m putting together a Kickstarter project which will allow supporters to get in on the ground floor and be a part of the Doc Wilde relaunch, and will be offering rewards ranging from a thank you on the acknowledgement pages of the books to signed and numbered limited editions to new additional Doc Wilde stories in exclusive editions. I’m still working out the details, but the plan is to begin the Kickstarter on Friday, March 30th and have it end on Saturday, April 28th.

Daring adventure! Dastardly villains! Climactic cliffhangers!…Byrd updates the old movie serials genre, populates his story with an adventure-seeking family that brings to mind superhero versions of Steve Irwin and his children, and dusts the whole thing with Indiana Jones–style searches for magical artifacts. Oh, and he adds frogs, lots and lots of frogs…     —Booklist on Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

For the unfamiliar, the Doc Wilde stories depict the adventures of a modern day pulp hero and his swashbuckling kids. They draw on my lifelong love of pulp fiction and are full of humor and action and literary allusion. They are meant for kids and grown-ups alike, in the vein of something like The Incredibles or Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As we approach the Kickstarter start at the end of this month, I’ll keep you updated, and will give you a taste of each of the three books. (To make sure you get the latest, you can click the “Follow” button in the sidebar to the right).  Later today, watch for an excerpt from Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

This is good, heady stuff. The writing flows beautifully, with occasional forays into laugh-out-loudness…The science is artfully articulated and seamlessly stitched into the fabric of the story. There are good guys and bad guys, car chases, cliffhangers, betrayals, action sequences to rival Indiana Jones, and an explosion of frogs that defies taxonomy…    —Ideomancer Speculative Fiction on Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

Good Memories of 2009, Day 7: Avatar and Avatar

Avatar & Avatar

This was a year in which I got to enjoy two creations called “Avatar,” and how often does that happen? Perhaps it’s a sign.

The first was the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender

The second, of course, was James Cameron’s science fiction epic Avatar, in theaters now earning a billion plus dollars.



Let’s talk the Cameron film first, saving the best for last. Continue reading

Regarding Doctor Who

doctor-roseI was about twelve or thirteen when I first found out about Doctor Who. The Doctor, though he’s nearly a thousand years old, is also only about four months older than I am, having made his debut in Nov. 1963 (I debuted in March 1964). But his adventures were on the BBC, and I was stuck in Bumfu Jonesboro, GA, where we didn’t get much BBC except whatever nuggets got picked up by PBS.

So my first exposure came through Doctor Who paperbacks, that I think were probably just novelizations of episodes from the show. I can sort of remember the covers, and I enjoyed them enough as a young teen that I lamented the fact I couldn’t see the actual series.

Later, and I have no idea how much later, I got to see an actual episode. Maybe it was being shown on PBS, maybe I saw it at a science fiction convention…I’m not sure. All I recall is that I was seriously disillusioned, because the show had really cheesy special effects and was, I think, campier than I’d expected. And I really don’t care for camp as a general rule. Even as a kid I disliked it.

So for most of my life, that was my Doctor Who experience. And I remember instances where I cited the show when joking about low budget genre productions that were really cheesy.

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction show in the world. The original series ran from 1963 till 1989, there was a TV movie in 1996 that was a failed attempt at relaunch, then the show successfully relaunched in 2005 and is going strong. At this writing, there are 753 episodes. There are also two spinoff shows involving characters who originated on Doctor Who (Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures), with a third in the works focusing on The Doctor’s robot dog K-9 from the 1970s.

I watched the TV movie in 1996, and for the first time since reading those paperbacks I enjoyed Doctor Who. I don’t remember anything about it now (I’m going to rewatch it soon to see if it holds up to my older, more jaded standards), but at the time I was disappointed it didn’t go to series.

Then, recently, I started watching the rebooted series that began in 2005, and it’s simply one of the most marvelous television shows there’s ever been. Continue reading