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  • Writer's pictureChris Russell

S4 E7 - Vonnegut and Serenity

Outro S4 E7

Hell survivors – welcome Back – for those of you time traveling through the podcast rift we are at season four episode 7 and this episode will drop at the beginning of November 2023.

That means we are coning up on 4 years together here at After the Apocalypse.

We drop a new episode every two weeks. If you are a subscriber on Acast you can get the show a week earlier than everyone else.

Everyone… a week before that weird guy… a week before that lady with the nasally voice and tattoos…

All of them.

I’m doing a good job keeping up the publishing schedule.

I say that because, I am, what they call in the biz, a ‘Pantser’.

That doesn’t mean I sneak up behind people and pull down their shorts. It means that, most of the time I’m flying by the seat of my pants.

“Flying by the seat of one’s pants” is a phrase first coined in the 1930’s. It refers to pilots who got caught in heavy fog or clouds. The only way they could determine which way was up by the pull of gravity on their backsides.

Used colloquially, like I have here, it means generally without any instrumentation or with limited planning and limited control.

As much as I try to plan ahead, I always find the story taking me down new paths that I had not foreseen when the journey started and new characters finding their way in to say ‘hello’.

I’m going to call it a strength – a creative strength.

I suppose it’s like composing. You need to listen to the music of the story and see where the horn toot and symbol clash fits into the sheet music.

So, my apocalyptic brethren, what do we have to talk about this week?

Let’s start, like we usually do, with books.

I finished a book by Kurt Vonnegut Jr called “The Sirens of Titan”.

I liked it enough.

I love Kurt Vonnegut’s sense of humor and his sense of satire.

He’s a great writer. One of my favorites. Sirens is one of his earlier books.

And now I get to tell you my Kurt Vonnegut story.

When I was in my early 20’s I got a new job within the company I was working for. After a time, it ended up being a great job that had me traveling all around the world, and having some grand adventures. But when I first transferred over into the new role, I had absolutely nothing to do.

Every day II would drive to work in my suit and tie, sit in my cubicle and figure out how to fill the dead air. One of the things I did was to read Vonnegut novels. I think I read Slaughterhouse Five, Cat’s Cradle, God Bless you Mr. Rosewater, and maybe, Breakfast of Champions.

Can you imagine?

And later in life I read Slapstick.

But The Sirens of Titan, published in 1959, was a hole in my reading. It was his second novel. He’s still devleoping his craft. You can see the writer he would become, but there was also a tentativeness in it like he wasn’t quite as confident.

The thing I like most about Vonnegut is that the writing is different. Its difference makes it interesting. The stories are not heroic. They are about dumb schmucks wandering through an indifferent universe.

I suppose publishers didn’t know what to do with him. Was it social commentary? Was it satire? Was it science fiction? Yes, it was all those things.

Let me tell you a story about Sirens that I absolutely love. I discovered this just now while researching the book.

The movie rights for Sirens of Titan were sold by Vonnegut, in 1983 to… (Wait for it) Jerry Garcia! That’s right! For those of you who don’t know, and I’m not sure we can be friends anymore, Jerry Garcia was the lead guitarist and singer for the Grateful Dead.

So besides being a great writer and interesting guy, apparently Kurt Vonnegut was a Deadhead.

Unfortunately for all of us, Jerry left this astral plain before anything came from the Sirens project.

I could go on and on, which, I fear I have.

But, my apocalyptic friends, if you have not read Kurt Vonnegut Jr., you need to.

Start with Slaughterhouse Five. It’s probably his best work. And it is still relevant to current affairs.

He wrote that novel based on his experience in WWII as a prisoner of war in Dresden Germany. He was taken captive in the battle of the bulge. The prisoners were held underground in a meat locker while the allies fire-bombed Dresden.

Imagine the impact of living through all that as a 20-year-old and then having to come back home and forge a life?

We, as creatives, should never discount the importance of life events in influencing our art.

What is Chris Watching.


’m keeping my Tubi streak going.

I rewatched John Carpenter’s They Live from 1988 - which is a good SciFi movie with a sense of humor. Worth a watch if you never have.

Firefly was a short-lived space-western series from Josh Whedon in the early 2000’s that, even though it got canceled after just a season of episodes, developed a cult following.

Serenity, is a film adaptation that takes place on the timeline after the series, and wraps up all the loose ends.

When I originally watched this movie, I had just finished watching the series. I was nonplussed, and thought it was just ok.

But, I went back and re-watched it this week and it holds up better as a stand alone piece. Now that I’ve had time to forget about the original series and am not suffering from its biases, Serenity was a really good movie

How’s your book creation going Chris?

How am I progressing on my book production project?

Well, not so great. I got waylaid by some old computer, old website stuff I had to clean up and I wasn’t able to do any work on the book version of season one.

I would however like to give a plug to my structural editor Christine over at Clever Editors. She did a fantastic job. It was obvious to me that she was focused on my work and my voice and understood what I was trying to do.

I’m calling her out because it is so rare to get high-quality, personal service. You can tell she cares about her work and that is incredibly valuable to me.

They are not paying me to say this. As a matter of fact, I’m paying them!

But, I’m going to include a link to their website and Facebook group here.

You authors, reach out to Christine and tell her I sent you.

With that I’m going to let you get back to your personal apocalypses.

‘til we meet again, stay low, don’t make any noise and keep surviving.

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