Monday, November 30, 2015

Drew Reviews: Bloodletting in Minor Scales & The Invention of Monsters

Bloodletting in Minor Scales by Justin Limoli
The Invention of Monsters by C. Dylan Bassett
Ratings: 2.5 and 4, respectively
Publisher: PlaysInverse
Released: 2014/2015

Reviewed by Drew Broussard

The Short Version: Two plays from Plays Inverse, an inventive publisher of poetic theatricality or theatrical poetry (depending). In one, a strange dissolution of reality after a mother's attempted suicide.  The other provides a series of short scenes, meant to be interpreted as you will.
The Review: I've been sitting on these two plays for several months now (and ultimately decided to review them together) because I didn't quite know how to talk about them. I revisited them a few times, trying to dive deeper - and sometimes that worked, but other times I found myself only more conflicted. You see, I work in theater and thus I am predisposed to consider a script as a script. This is all the more true over the last few months, when I was actively reading scripts for work alongside encountering these two texts.
But neither of these plays are a traditional script by any means - and one of them, I would argue, isn't even what I'd consider a "play" at all. The other squeaks by into that category, but I'll explain how and why in a moment. Let's begin with the other text first: Bloodletting in Minor Scales: A Canvas in Arms.
Justin Limoli's piece is poetry, period. It happens to manifest in a theatrical format - but Cormac McCarthy wrote a novel in dramatic form, Shakespeare wrote plays that were primarily poetry, and Building Stories is a book goddamnit. People use different forms for their writing all the time and whatever form their work ends up taking is their prerogative (Kevin Barry has a lot to say about this and he says it far better than I could at Electric Literature). The question arises when you consider potentially staging a piece that is pitched as theater but that doesn't hew to any typical sense of what theater can be. Sometimes this works out - the plays of Richard Foreman are often nearly indecipherable, but they're some of the strangest (in a good way) and most vividly remembered nights out that I've had in my theater-going life. But other times, the chosen form and the author's intent seem at cross-purposes - and so it is with Bloodletting in Minor Scales. I couldn't help but try to see it as a play and I don't think it would work.
But that doesn't mean it isn't any good. On the contrary, it's a remarkable depiction of a man grappling with a traumatic event - and it depicts the contradictory swirl of thoughts and emotions that occur at any given moment in our brains to surprising effect. I was viscerally affected by this piece when I first picked it up, especially in the moments where Justin (the character) was "onstage". The urgency of this consideration, this attempt at understanding that which cannot be understood - it got to me. You could feel it bleeding through, horrible pun somewhat intended, and saturating each page. But I struggled, ultimately, to follow things. I was frustrated at the attempts to simultaneously use and break the theatrical format - where the character list becomes a part of the text but maybe also staged but it's also not the full list of characters, and so on. I wanted to see Justin (the author) wrangle this poetry into something that could genuinely land onstage, because there aren't enough plays quite like the kernel at the center of this one - the play that this "play" could be. 
Which brings me to the other play: The Invention of Monsters / Plays for the Theater. PlaysInverse published this a limited run of matchbook-sized cards that made up the text... and I have to say, that's a perfect idea. It's the sort of thing where you could use them at a (particularly nerdy) party to play a game of weird charades. I didn't read it in that format, but once I saw that it existed, I also saw the true form of this piece.
Each scene - or play, or playlet, or thought - is centered on a single page, not more than a long paragraph. And each play (or is it a collection of these scenes/plays/playlets?) contains a goodly number of these smaller pieces. There are no throughlines, although you could imagine them. Instead, there are just scenes described... and I thought again of avant-garde theatermakers like Richard Foreman, like the New York Neo-Futurists, like some of the stranger work I've seen at La MaMa E.T.C., and realized that herein lies a fascinating theatrical challenge.
Although these pieces are not structured like plays - and, in this regard, they are more divergent from the theatrical norm than Bloodletting - they have an immediate sense of theatricality, even the ones that seem nearly impossible to stage. But the imagination is boundless and the interpretations possible seem like they'd be fun. You could do a night where you have maybe 15 of these scenes rehearsed but the audience picks 10 of them at random and the cast puts them together (again, like charades or something). The opportunity for performers and creatives to interpret these pieces feels vibrant to me and I appreciated C. Dylan Bassett's selflessness: there does not seem to be the traditional playwright's sense of ownership about these pieces (manifest as stage directions or notes or whatever) but instead an unspoken urge to put these together however you see fit. It makes for sometimes fitful reading - the lack of thru-line, the sheer number of them - but the promise outweighs the oddity.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 / 4 out of 5.  Limoli's piece, while it contains some exquisite language, ultimately left me cold. It was too avant-garde and veered too far from what I can compass as a play - and the theater-maker in me couldn't not read these as anything but plays. In this same vein, Bassett's piece provides a fun theatrical opportunity despite the comparatively similar weirdness of his prose. But his scenes spark the imagination of the stage artist and the potential for something beautiful on stage seems more possible there. No matter what, though, PlaysInverse remains a fascinating small press - and as their authors continue to push the bounds of the form, I think the conversation I'm having with myself here (and maybe also with you, dear reader) is only going to continue. And we need that, especially in the theater.

Drew Broussard reads, a lot. When not doing that, he's writing stories or playing music or acting or producing or coming up with other ways to make trouble.  He also has a day job at The Public Theater in New York City.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

This Thanksgiving....

As I prepare to head out with my family to celebrate the holiday today, I wanted to express my undying thanks and appreciation for all of you!

  • To all the TNBBCer's... old, new, and future... I thank you! 
  • To all of the authors, publishers, and agents who keep feeding me books, participate in our blog features, and make our Author/Reader Discussion series possible... I thank you!
  • To all of our wonderful review contributors - Melanie, Drew, Lavinia, Lindsey, Kate, Bronwyn, and Leland -  who so selflessly spend hours upon hours reading books and writing amazing reviews for us... I thank you!

Without you guys, TNBBC wouldn't exist. 

Now go, be with your family and friends, celebrate with those you love, and have a spectacularly bookish Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Colin Barnes' Would You Rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, TNBBC's newest series is a fun, new, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20 odd bookish scenarios. And just to spice it up a bit, each author gets to ask their own Would You Rather question to the author who appears after them....

Colin Barnes'
Would You Rather

Would you rather start every sentence in your book with ‘And’ or end every sentence with ‘but’?
Start with And as it leads to better prose.

Would you rather write in an isolated cabin that was infested with spiders or in a noisy coffee shop with bad musak?
Ooh, difficult choice! I hate both spiders and musak in equal measure, but, as I don’t like the smell of coffee either I’d have to choose the cabin—and hope I’m not brutally murdered by a ghost/axe murderer/teen.

Would you rather think in a language you could understand but write in one you couldn’t read, or think in a language you couldn’t understand but write in one you could read?
Definitely the former—I spend the vast majority of my time inside my own head and not being able to understand my thoughts would mean I would never be able to write anything worth reading. Also, editors can be employed to make the resulting prose readable.

Would you rather write the best book of your career and never publish it or publish a bunch of books that leave you feeling unsatisfied?
I’d rather be unsatisfied that I’ve not written the best book of my career because even inferior works are more satisfying artistically if they’re actually being read. An unread book is the proverbial tree that makes no sound if there’s no one to hear it.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?
I’d go with the narrator for the same reasons I’d understand my thoughts: I’d find that far more tolerable than exposing my thoughts to the general public on Twitter, of which I’m not a huge fan of generally.

Would you rather your books be bound and covered with human skin or made out of tissue paper?
It depends on the human and how the skin was harvested. If the person wasn’t a Nazi or some other hideous individual and the skin was donated after death to be used then I could live with that. If I had no choice in where the skin came from then ethically I’d have to go with tissue paper—but then thinking about it, I suppose neither would matter too much as I mostly read ebooks these days.

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

No one to show up! I wouldn’t wish my naked form on any member of the public.

Would you rather your book incite the world’s largest riot or be used as tinder in everyone’s fireplace?
Tinder everyone’s fireplace. That seems a more gentle/kind way to affect change. I wouldn’t want to be known as the guy responsible for the world’s biggest unrest. I’m certain that’s not a good thing.

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?
It’s awfully sad to say but I would give up pen and paper before the computer, but that’s only because I use my computer for so many things, many of which are key to my social life. Losing that kind of contact with my friends and readers would be a terrible loss. Saying that, I do still write a lot long hand. Ultimately, though, I couldn’t be without my computer—because how else would I be able to play Civilization?

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

This is a tricky one as I don’t have one favourite novel (I have many!) but assuming I did, I think I would have to choose the audio. Although that would likely drive me mad after a while I don’t think I could put up with the pain of the tattoos, and the results would scare small children.

Would you rather meet your favorite author and have them turn out to be a total jerkwad or hate a book written by an author you are really close to?
Definitely the latter because that’s already happened! It’s much easier to live with that than having one’s idol turn out to be the devil—which is why I have no intentions of meeting my favourite authors or musicians/actors etc. Meeting an idol is always fraught with danger.

Would you rather your book have an awesome title with a really ugly cover or an awesome cover with a really bad title?
The graphic designer in me (a previous career) would go with the awesome cover; a great image can often negate a bad title. Unless it was really awful and had Hitler or something in it… then we’d have to have a chat about it.

Would you rather write beautiful prose with no point or write the perfect story badly?
Perfect story every time! I do love and appreciate great prose but for me it’s the message that is the most important, not necessarily how it’s delivered. The message/story will be remembered far long after the beauty of the prose has worn off.

Would you rather write only embarrassingly truthful essays or write nothing at all?
I’d take the essays as I could always deny they were about me! 

Would you rather your book become an instant best seller that burns out quickly and is forgotten forever or be met with mediocre criticism but continue to sell well after you’re gone?

Instant best seller please. Once I’m gone I don’t think I’ll  be caring too much. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.


Colin Barnes has been writing seriously since 1996. He attended the London School of Journalism to study creative short story writing, and studied for an English degree with the Open University. He's a member of the BSFA and SFWA and considers himself a ‘hybrid’ author: one who runs their own publishing company (Binary Books Ltd) and writes for traditional publishing houses/imprints. To learn more about Colin and his latest novel Salt, visit

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bronwyn Reviews: Us Conductors

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels
Pages: 464
Publisher: Tin House Books
Released: 2014

Reviewed by Bronwyn Mauldin

The first time I came upon a theremin was at the MIAT Museum of industry, labor and textiles in Ghent, Belgium. Wandering through an exhibition about the history of electricity, I found myself watching a video of someone playing a strange instrument I’d never seen before. The fuzzy eeee-oooo sound it made brought up instant images of old black-and-white science fiction movies. I realized I was seeing a theremin.

The music was beautiful, though, not cheap sci-fi schlock. Something classical, performed with both aural and physical grace. Then I noticed I was standing next to a real life copy of the same very instrument: a box on a table with two looped antennae sticking out of it at right angles. I reached over to touch it and discovered this theremin was on. I moved my hands back and forth over the antennae, trying to mimic what the musician was doing on screen. The noise I made wasn’t particularly lovely, but I was making music, of a sort.

Sean Michaels’ novel, Us Conductors, is a fictionalized account of the adult life of Soviet physicist Lev Sergeyevich Termen who invented the theremin in 1920. After grand successes touring with his instrument in the USSR and Europe, Termen was sent to America where his name was westernized as Léon Theremin. RCA bought rights to produce and sell the eponymous instrument. RCA had visions of “a theremin in every home,” but their timing was terrible as they began sales in 1929. The stock market crash ruined any chance of commercial success.

Michaels’ book begins with Termen/Theremin locked up on a ship where he is being returned to the USSR against his will. We learn of his life in the US as an inventor, teacher and artist, and about his unrequited love for Clara Reisenberg (later to become Rockmore), a young Lithuanian refugee and violin prodigy who, under Theremin’s tutelage, became a famous theremin virtuoso.

The theremin is one of the first electronic musical instruments ever invented. It is also, perhaps, the only musical instrument that is played by not touching it. This is a perfect metaphor for the inventor’s doomed love for Clara.

Theremin and Clara dance their way through speakeasies across New York City in this inventive novel. He is managed by a mysterious man named Pash who negotiates contracts Theremin signs without reading. Michaels’ Theremin practices kung fu, and he cooks spaghetti with Tommy Dorsey and George Gershwin. He plays Camille Saint-Saëns’ “The Swan” when he demonstrates his instrument to both Charlie Chaplin and Vladimir Lenin.

Even as he knows his love for her to be a lost cause, he builds Clara the most beautiful theremin yet and he uses his engineering magic to give it more voices than any theremin has ever had. At a grand concert she plays in Philadelphia he discovers she has painted his beautiful instrument black and only uses one of its many voices.

Whisked out of the country in the middle of the night, Theremin (once again Termen) is delivered into the Siberian gulag, then to a special prison for scientists where he works under the direction of the reviled Lavrentiy Beria himself. Throughout it all, Termen is haunted by his love for Clara. He sees her around every corner, and in every recording he makes.

With this novel Michaels solves the mystery of what happened to the inventor of this strange instrument whose sound you know but have probably never seen before. He solves it, as he admits, primarily with inventions of his own. Michaels’ Termen/Theremin is a living paradox, a man who experiences the world with the hands of an engineer and the heart of an artist. 

“If you are like me, you dream your life according to perfect conditions. You look at the lines of a proof, the clear symbols of a formula, and you understand the world,” his Theremin says. “This is dream, not knowledge. Life is not a laboratory; twenty-four imperfect hours make up a day. There is interference, distortion, accident, will. There is also hope. Hope will ruin a thing, or fulfill it.”

 Bronwyn Mauldin is the author of the novel Love Songs of the Revolution. She won The Coffin Factory magazine’s 2012 very short story award, and her Mauldin’s work has appeared in the Akashic Books web series, Mondays Are Murder, and at Necessary Fiction, CellStories, The Battered Suitcase, Blithe House Quarterly, Clamor magazine and From ACT-UP to the WTO. She is a researcher with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and she is creator of GuerrillaReads, the online video literary magazine.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bizarro Blog Take Over: Day Six: Pedro Proença

To help celebrate Eraserhead Press's seventh annual New Bizarro Author Series, we decided to let the authors take control of our blog. Publisher Rose O'Keefe created this series as a gateway of sorts, to introduce hesitant readers to the wonderful world of bizarro! Garret Cook curated the series and they released a record breaking NINE titles last week for the 2015 set. 

You'll be treated to strange and fabulous original guest posts from a handful of the NBA authors all week long. Today, Pedro 
Proença shares a meta-review of When the Postman Killed My Dog, a book within his book:

A review/conspiracy theory by Todd J. Turtle III

            There is definitely something fishy going on with this book. I mean, a book about latex yellow ants fighting against an unnamed Monster inside endless caves, with a Messiah coming down from the sky (LITERALY!)  to save the day, in this day and age, it's absurd! Mr. Jensen, the man who wrote this, is clearly a façade for our government to push some sort of adventure style bull**** propaganda on the unsuspecting masses.

            Wake up, sheeple!

            I've seen a lot of stuff during my years as a journalist (Editor's note: Mr. Tutle was never a journalist here, we are just printing this piece of deranged writing because he has threatened to blow up our building if we didn't. I'm adding this note without his knowledge. I hope to God he doesn't feel the need to proofread this rambling. Also, HELP US!) for The Daily Document. And I know when I'm being made fun of.

            You're Clifford, right? I know you are. The name Benjamin Jensen is just a ruse, a way of dragging my name through the mud. But I know the truth, you a**hole! You can't fool me!

            I can see you right through your puny symbolism. The latex man is you, and the Monster is me. It's easy to see! And of course, the yellow balloon ants are the government, this “great” institution, just carrying you in its arms and giving you absolute power to destroy me.

            Well, F*** YOU!

            I, Todd Jebediah Turtle the Third, the greatest philosopher our country has ever seen, can see right who you are.

            You're nothing but a government lackey. And when the time comes, when the Great Giraffe comes again, you will be nothing more than DUST, just like the rest of the people in this pathetic country!

But yeah, very little plot, melodramatic ending, and lackluster cliffhangers. I give it two and a half stars out of five.


Pedro Proença writes, plays Magic: The Gathering, is a bassist, and works at an hospital (but try not to remind him of this last one). His first book is BENJAMIN, part of the 2015-16 New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press. He has been published by Fireside Press and Dynatox Ministries, as well as having stories appearing in Bizarro Central and Flash Forge. He lives in Rio de Janeiro with his girlfriend Sarah Sindorf (who did the cover art for BENJAMIN), his family, and their assorted pets. He blogs at, and you can find him at and @Bizarro_Pedro on Twitter.


Check out Pedro's debut bizarro book
part of the New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press

Sometimes, hope is a yellow balloon named Benjamin. Life kinda sucks for Benjamin.

The mall shouldn’t be a dangerous place. You shouldn’t have to fear green men abducting you and feeding you to a tentacle monster. You shouldn’t have to fear the anaconda that serves as the staircase to the movie theater. And you shouldn’t have to face off against ice cream men with a strange knowledge of black holes. But if you’re Benjamin – a sentient yellow balloon – or the Boy, his headless chubby teen sidekick, you have to fear all those things. Because this mall is sick, and it’s your job to heal it, or go insane trying.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bizarro Blog Take Over: Day Five: Anthony Trevino

To help celebrate Eraserhead Press's seventh annual New Bizarro Author Series, we decided to let the authors take control of our blog. Publisher Rose O'Keefe created this series as a gateway of sorts, to introduce hesitant readers to the wonderful world of bizarro! Garret Cook curated the series and they released a record breaking NINE titles last week for the 2015 set. 

You'll be treated to strange and fabulous original guest posts from a handful of the NBA authors all week long. Today, Anthony Trevino shares a snippet of the Golden Lamb's Orientation:

Notes from King Space Void’s Golden Lamb’s Orientation-

You will lead us to salvation.

Yes, you. Good citizens of King Space Void and members of our golden lambs program. It is because of you that we will reach that gorgeous line of fire at the edge of the universe. Without you, we would fall into the void, become nothing more than deadweight in space. Your contribution makes our survival possible and we commend you for your bravery in our desperate time of need.

You’ve been given the best life possible here. Socializing with members of your crew is encouraged as it is great for mental health. If you’re feeling down or overworked, then please inform your Den Mother or Father and they will provide you with the necessary chemicals to eradicate any nasty thoughts of suicide, mutiny, or individuality. There will also be times when you may experience complete physical exhaustion during a work day. Counter this by visiting any number of the steam beds, which are intended to draw you into a deep and restful sleep for however long your body needs. Do not be deterred by those that do not return from the steam beds…this has nothing to do with the steam beds.

Your meals are rich in nutrients; your bodies fine-tuned to serve not only the needs of the ship, but to also enhance your sexual and interactive experiences amongst each other. The brightest and best minds have been recruited from our ranks to educate and ensure that when your day of transcendence comes, you are fully prepared mentally and physically.

You will not be allowed to visit the transcendental chamber until the day of your calling. This is to avoid what some refer to as second-thoughts of ascendance. If you are found near or around the chamber prior, you will be disciplined. Which brings me to this: now, we know that you would never try and sabotage King Space Void’s mission, but you must realize how important it is that you stick to the rules and do not try and change the pre-set course of your life. You are perfect in every way, but only because we allow it. You are our property. You are borne from this ship and herded into luxury by the master’s choice, and you must pay your respects by acting accordingly.

Do not divert from this mission. Free thought, questions, aggression towards the master, or coercion among you will only cripple our already failing body. You are only as valuable as you are useful. King Space Void is fair, but our hands are not without blood. Therefore, if you are to break the laws of our world your body and character will experience complete annihilation.  We will strip the perfect skin from your flesh with ease; your eyes will be removed and given to a much more devout lamb; your heart and spirit, yanked from that time-sensitive vessel of yours and spread across the dark expanse of space.

You will be forgotten, scrubbed from the history of King Space Void, while those that follow the laws rise to glory in the afterlife.  So, I say again, do not divert from this mission… remember, it is your job to feed the machine and in doing so, lead us to salvation.


Anthony Trevino is from San Diego, CA, and the author of the NBAS book King Space Void. He loves the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Cronenberg, and will talk for hours about why Tales from the Crypt is the best TV show ever made. You can usually find him rooting through your trash cans at night in search of your darkest secrets. 


Check out Anthony's bizarro book
part of the New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press

When you love someone, sometimes they can mean the whole world to you. Or several worlds. 

King Space Void is a planet-eating entity whose consciousness resides in the body of a gargantuan machine made to look like a man and powered by thousands of people. Dane Shipps is one of the best workers of in King Space Void, until the day he finds a mangled woman named Scarlet still alive and intertwined in the machine's ductwork who convinces him to step outside of his routine. Together they plan to take down King Space Void and everyone inside.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bizarro Blog Take Over: Day Four: Christoph Paul

To help celebrate Eraserhead Press's seventh annual New Bizarro Author Series, we decided to let the authors take control of our blog. Publisher Rose O'Keefe created this series as a gateway of sorts, to introduce hesitant readers to the wonderful world of bizarro! Garret Cook curated the series and they released a record breaking NINE titles last week for the 2015 set. 

You'll be treated to strange and fabulous original guest posts from a handful of the NBA authors all week long. Today, Christoph Paul wrote poems about horror films as a source of inspiration while writing his novel Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks. Check out this one, based on the flick It Follows:

It Follows Poem

We are not of the devil.

Satan is the name
you gave to disease.

Your visions
of cut trees
and messiahs
are mirages,
like your vitamins
and Monday

You want God's love,
but we know he never was.

What you really want
is the love of another
to give you the love of a child.

We make sure
you don't get know
that love.

There is too much life
that lives in the world.
Nature does not
hate or love.

It only wants balance.

We are the scales

that follow.


Christoph Paul is a musician, podcaster, and YA & Bizarro Fiction author including books “Great White House” and “Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks” published by Eraserhead Press. He is an editor for & ThatLitPress and New English Press. He plays in rock band Moses Moses & was guitar player/singer of The Only Prescription, but still wishes he was a gangsta rapper. He has even told people he is Drake’s full-Jewish brother Rake. For fun he likes to read YA and Bizarro, get angry in a bar while watching the Miami Dolphins lose, live Tweeting The Bachelor while watching it with his girlfriend, and gardening with his cats. For fun and money he writes Bizarro Erotica under the pen name Mandy De Sandra who was covered in VICE, Huffington Post, Jezebel, and AV Club.

Sometimes, he dresses up like a famous serial killer and interviews literary types on YouTube. He is repped by Veronica Park at the Corvisiero Literary Agency.


Check out Christoph's bizarro book
part of the New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press

Freddy versus Jason Meets Wet Hot American Summer. Nuff Said.

Jason Voorheesberg has struggled to become the great slasher his mom believes he can be and has as bad case of Slasher Anxiety. He is sent to one of the worse ranked camps for young slashers: Slasher Camp for Nebulous Youth #987.When she drops Jason off at the camp, he gets bullied by the Jock Slashers and is attacked by the rich, snooty protagonists of the rival Final Camp across the lake. He hates the camp and is considered the worst slasher by the Pred counselors. Even though he makes a friend with Slasher Candybee Wamack and develops a forbidden relationship with a Slazer (Final Girl who slays Slashers), he struggles even more with his slasher anxiety. Can love (and homicide) conquer all and save Jason from a life of mediocrity?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bizarro Blog Take Over: Day Three: Karl Fischer

To help celebrate Eraserhead Press's seventh annual New Bizarro Author Series, we decided to let the authors take control of our blog. Publisher Rose O'Keefe created this series as a gateway of sorts, to introduce hesitant readers to the wonderful world of bizarro! Garret Cook curated the series and they released a record breaking NINE titles last week for the 2015 set. 

You'll be treated to strange and fabulous original guest posts from a handful of the NBA authors all week long. Today, Karl Fischer congratulates you on surviving the Apocalypse with these handy dandy survival tips. 

Apocalypse Survival Guide (Type 2E8D)

Directed and administered by the Everybody Company
(The hegemonic mega-corporation that cares)

If you’re reading this, it means you are not dead. Congratulations! If you do not yet know why so many others are dead, look up. Look around you. What do you see? No, that’s not swamp gas. That enormous creature—towering over a thousand feet into the air and possessing a multitude of reptilian heads from which death and destruction are dispensed wholesale—is Leviathan. It might also be the Beast from the Sea. It might also be the Great Deceiver Himself. It might also be a manifestation of the Demiurge. It might also be the Guardian of Lerna. It might also be one of Vishnu’s innumerable avatars. It might also be the Third Impact. It might also be a collective delusion of our dying race as it is hurled screaming into oblivion by circumstances entirely beyond our control. (The Everybody Company is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on religious, theosophist, cultural, or gestaltic grounds.)
The appearance of these nephilim dragons, which we will be referring to in the singular and plural as Leviathan, are responsible for the total dismantlement of civilization. There can be no hope. Not unless you follow our patented, easy-to-use survival guide! In just fourteen steps, you and your loved ones will be set for an acceptable mode of existence in the rapidly fading twilight of the human race.

Step 1: Food and Water
Due to the astounding size and weight of Leviathan, its every movement upon the Earth’s surface is capable of great devastation. With just a few strides, the titanic hellbeast can produce tremors, landslides, and floods that will destroy any building or piece of infrastructure that is not heavily reinforced. Fortunately, as a survivor, you will be able to follow in Leviathan’s wake and scavenge off the ruins. Across thousands of homes and businesses, there should be enough canned food, bottled water, and alcohol to last a lifetime. Boil rainwater if absolutely necessary.

Step 2: Shelter
Nowhere is truly safe while Leviathan is on the rampage. Abandon any notion of having a permanent residence and adopt a nomadic lifestyle. It’s very liberating! Sturdy branches can be used to make shelter. You could also just loot a department store for your favorite name brand camping supplies.

Step 3: Companionship
Everybody needs companionship. Even you. Yes, you. You asshole.
Why are you alive, exactly? Why haven’t you died horribly?
 Remember all the opportunities you had to connect with friends and family. Remember the excuses you made. You were too tired. You were too hungry. You had a bunch of things to do. You were late for a party. It was always about you. And now what? The world is ending and you just want to feel loved. Well, go ahead. There’s your loved one now. Perhaps in these unreasonable new circumstances you can attain the serenity of purpose you always wanted. There’s no time like the present.

Step 4: Weaponry
There is no bullet that can pierce Leviathan’s skin. No ordnance that can sear its hide. The mighty are dispersed before it. They go without courage. Leviathan regards all proud things. But on the off chance that you encounter another survivor who is following an off-brand guide, you will want to have a loaded gun. Remember, if you don’t draw first, you don’t get to draw at all.

Step 5: Transportation
While there may be a wide selection of cars and trucks available, you will not be able to rely on road conditions. Cityscapes will be transformed into broken concrete labyrinths—unnavigable by any ground vehicle except a tank—and country roads will soon deteriorate without maintenance. Take up equestrianism. Cultivate a fine stock of horses and ensure your future mobility.

Step 6: You Can’t Do It, Can You?
What is this feeling of dissipation? You look into your lover’s eyes, but you feel muted. Empty. Everything you thought you were is being unraveled, one inexorable thought at a time. It was such a marvelous dream, this love of yours. Such a beautiful connection. But all things end, don’t they? Look around you. Death walks the Earth. What victory can swallow up that monstrous thing? How stand your infantile desires in this wasteland?

Step 7: Electricity
There is none. You will live as the progenitors lived. The Age of Technology is over.

Step 8: Health and Wellbeing
Tell yourself over and over again that it’s not real. It’s not real. It can’t possibly be real. Because if it was real, what kind of person would that make you? What kind of irrational, irresponsible, insensate creature would you be? And yet the thoughts continue. The emptiness continues. Hold tight to your lover. Don’t let them find out how much it hurts you.

Step 9: Medicine
Are you insane? Medication is for the weak. And the weak are all dead now.

Step 10: [inarticulate screaming]
[inarticulate screaming] [inarticulate screaming continues]

Step 11: NOT HUMAN
Maybe that’s the key. You aren’t human at all. You’re just a simulacrum. Built to mimic life, it is your function to pantomime the effects of love, to create the signifier without being the signified. And with self-reflection comes your only desire: a genuine response from your gangrenous consciousness, no matter what depths your cannibalism takes you to. One day, the wounds will stop healing. Why won’t your fears stop hiding from you? Why won’t they just come true, all at once, in a hideous blast of recognition that proves you were right all along?

Step 12: The Towers
Those colossal structures mock you. Look at them. Unassailable. Small guns and big guns. Rockets and missiles. Mines below and drones above. No man or monster can take them. But wait, it’s not the fortress that mocks you. The Operators mock you, those who have become one with the steel gods. They think they can just leave their bodies and their problem and this shithole of a planet behind. They think they can have the perfect escape? The perfect purpose? Why can’t I be perfect? Why do I have to feel so much doubt?

Step 13: Lucidity
All life operates at the line between death and fantasy. Where there is self-reflection, there is the capacity for doubt and faith alike. Perfection is such a tyrannical word. What was it that ate men and ravaged nations when they thought themselves perfect? Those that dwell in the Towers have nowhere to go. They can only cling so tightly to an armored shell. They will never come back. But you have something they don’t. Your companion is with you still, undeterred, unbroken, even in the wreckage after Leviathan. You have choices. And you chose one another. That’s why you’re out here and not in there.

Step 14: The Post Post-Apocalypse
Now that you’ve implemented our patented techniques, you’re ready to internalize what you have fought so hard to deny. In a world where seraphim and monsters stalk the land, everything is transient. But this was always so. You have never been without claws and missiles and armor plating and scary voices and that horrible, horrible moment without moments. You have always been this way.
Go forth and kill. Go forth and live. Go forth and be transient.

We’ll see you in the future.


Karl Fischer is a writer and crazy person living in Portland, OR with his wife and their pug child. He is the author of Towers and his writings can be seen in weird places like Space Squid and Bizarro Central. He likes bad movies, fantastic movies, black coffee, and books that make him cry. To read his thoughts on culture and soulless corporate marketing, visit his website, the Everybody Company. You can also connect with him on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.


Check out Karl's debut bizarro book, 

part of the New Bizarro Author series from Erasrehead Press. 

When we are locked inside ourselves, nothing outside could be worse.

After fending off giant monsters for a thousand years, a sentient guard tower is ready to go to heaven with his soulmate. However, the lovers are reborn as lowly humans and forced to live inside the structures they once piloted. Separated by thousands of miles and trapped within menageries of horror, their only hope at being reunited is to turn into giant monsters and roam the wasteland in search of one another.