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  • Writer's pictureChris Russell

Outro S4 E5 - Balls of Dirt

Outro S4 E5


Hello again my survivor friends. Hope everything is well with you.

If you are keeping up with the bi-weekly publishing schedule. This episode will find you in the beginning of October. This one took some turns in writing and editing. Not for the first time this season I started out with the intention of including two contextual scenes but then realized that I only had room for one and had to trim off 1,500 words or so.

The proverbial cutting room floor.

And my editors were far afield doing other things and couldn’t get to reading it until quite late in the production schedule. Turns, out it wouldn’t have mattered much anyhow because Robert, our voice actor, over at Command voices, had jury duty.

But, we muddled through and here we are at Season 4 episode 5.

I find this time of year, at least where I live, everyone seems a bit more stressed out and busy.

What’s Chris been reading?

This is either a funny story, a cautionary tale or just the sad reality of my attention span.

I read a book called Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel. I liked it for the most part. It is written in this ‘dispatches’ format where each chapter is like an excerpt from a interview or situation. It has nice short sentences and moves along well.

The copy I have is a 2018 Del Rey hard cover of 330 pages.

As I read it, I realized it is good hard Sci-Fi about an alien race monkeying with our DNA and giant robots that are not only war machines but also spacecraft that can teleport.

Good stuff.

It lagged a bit in the middle with some of the character exposition, (I will admit to skimming a bit there), but I was interested enough to stick with it through the end.

Although the sticker price for this hardcover edition was $28, I bought it out of the bargain bin at Job Lot for $3.99 when I was down on Cape Cod earlier in the summer. From the cover it looked like some sort of interesting AI story – which it was not – But you don’t do too much research when shopping at the bargain bin.

I began reading it a couple weeks ago when I was down the Cape.

But as I was reading it I kept thinking that there was a whole lot of back story that the author was either skipping over or just assumed I knew already. And the author’s tone in some places suggested to me that he was tired of this universe and just looking for the exit.

And, sure enough, when I researched a bit, I found that this was the third book in a trilogy.

What the hell?

I felt a bit hornswoggled. It was like I got all the spoilers and a pile of crumbs. Has this ever happened to you? You accidentally, or otherwise, pick I a book from the middle of the series or the end?

But in the end it’s probably a good learning experience for me because as I turn the season manuscripts of ATA into a book series I need to think about that. If you dropped into Season 2 would you be able to figure out what is going on? Probably not.

A couple years ago I read the entire Lost Fleet series, by Jack Campbell – 6 books worth. And I remember clearly seeing the similar summary exposition in the first couple chapters of each book. Sort of a brief summary of ‘how did we get here?’ Just enough so that a reader who randomly picked up one of the middle books of the series would still have context enough to enjoy the story.

It is a good lesson for me as I turn these scripts into books. I will need to engineer that introductory summary exposition – the ‘how did we get here - into the middle books of the series so they stand alone.

Publishing progress.

I did get the structural edits back on the season one manuscript from Clever Editors. I would heartily recommend Christine over there. I am impressed with her work.

Shoot me a note if you would like to be introduced or connected.

She gave me succinct, professional, and useful detailed feedback on plot, characters, world-building and, of course, structure.

Now I just have to find the time to work through it.

I gave myself an arbitrary deadline of the end of the year to publish something.

I’m polling other indie authors to see if I can divine the optimal path forward to bring the AtA universe to print.

What is Chris watching?

In know I should have learned my lesson, but, after enjoying Iron Sky 2012 so much I went back for more and watched Iron Sky 2, “The Coming Race”. From 2019. Also on Tubi.

The movie had the same decent production value, but Holy Cow did they ever jump the shark and go full Sharknado. It was just pure camp. Very silly.

Ironically it had aliens tweaking our DNA. And Dinosaurs.

It was just a silly, silly movie.

Next I watched the 2003 Australian zombie/alien movie Undead. I usually like the Aussie films because of their ‘tone’ – they usually do a lot with a little. This one was a bit disappointing. They couldn’t figure out what they wanted the movie to be.

And finally I watched the latest in the Hellboy franchise from 2019. I don’t know if it was supposed to be a remake or a sequel or something else. And the movie didn’t know what it was either.

When I clicked on it I thought it was the original Hellboy – which was a pretty good movie. Then I was confused because they replaced Ron Pearlman with Gary Harbour. I kept watching but the movie was all over the place and Harbour is no Pearlman. They crammed in so many elements of fantasy and fairy tales that it was like a monster cameo sketch. Maybe the original cut made sense and the editors ruined it? Don’t know but it was hard to keep up and didn’t have much of a payoff.

But, and here’s the good news, it did have Mila Jojovich in it.

And I’ll watch anything with Mila in it.

Towards the exit

As we move you to the exit don’t forget all the ways you can support the show. (I’ll put all the links in here and in the show notes) Reminder, there should be a button in your podcast player to ‘show notes’ and you’ll see the links there.

You can get these end of show comments emailed to your inbox if you subscribe to the blog at

We love to hear from our listeners, so come over and join us in our Facebook bunker and we’ll roll out a soiled mattress for you.

And as the leaves turn crunchy and fall to the melancholy ground, stay relaxed and detached, you only get so much time on this ball of dirt, don’t spend it being miserable.

And Keep surviving!


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