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My Pal Gamera

I have a soft spot for kaiju (giant monster) movies. You know, those Japanese ones with the guys stomping around model Tokyo in a rubber suit? Ever since the original Gojira (Godzilla) was released in 1954, Toho’s Godzilla series has been the most popular kaiju films both in Japan and internationally. Everyone in the world knows who Godzilla is.

Now, Godzilla’s pretty cool, but he’s not my favorite┬ákaiju . Ever since I saw some of his films on old MST3K episodes, my heart has always belonged to one monster. The Guardian of the Universe, Friend to all Children. Yes, the giant flying turtle extraordinaire, Gamera!

So you can imagine my excitement when this box arrived for me in the mail.

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Yes. Flush with the recent cheque I received for my book sales, I decided to splurge on one of the beautifully crafted Gamera figures from the Sci-Fi Revoltech line. These figures are made in Japan and are highly posable, and they’re not cheap. Basically, they’re toys for nerds. The sort of thing you snatch away from the grubby hands of small children to play with yourself.

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This particular figure is from Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion, part of the Gamera reboot trilogy from the ’90s. (Some of the best kaiju movies in existence. Seriously, check them out. You can grab the whole trilogy on Blu-Ray from Amazon for ridiculously cheap.)

I’ll spare you the details of the childlike squeal of glee I uttered when I opened the box and pulled out my new Gamera toy. He was beautiful. Gloriously detailed. And he has barely left my side since I got him. Dear readers, I want to introduce you all to my pal Gamera.

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Isn’t he wonderful? I realize many of you will be shaking your heads right now, wondering what I’m so excited about. But screw you, Gamera is awesome. Don’t judge me!

Ahem. Like I said, Gamera is a giant turtle. And you know what turtles have? Shells.

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Look at that detail. A lot of care went into sculpting Gamera. But he doesn’t just look pretty. Gamera is a hell of a character. Check out the other antics Gamera gets up to when I’m trying to write:

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Gamera using his fireball attack to defend my desk against the Legion hordes.

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Gamera reading some quality literature.

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Gamera reading some better literature.

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Gamera sneaking up on his old rival, Mobile Suit Gundam RX-78-2.

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Gamera meeting a strange new creature.

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Gamera making friends with the strange new creature.

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Gamera contemplating what it really means to be a giant, flying, fire-breathing turtle in a world that just doesn’t accept him.

Um, yeah. I blame all of you for these shenanigans. By buying my books, you support this nonsense.

Seriously, I have actually been writing. The next Miles Franco urban fantasy book and an unrelated noir crime novel are both with the editor at the moment. In the meantime, I’m hard at work on another superhero novel set in the Don’t Be a Hero Atomverse, tentatively titled Heroes Die First. I just passed 30,000 words the other day (Don’t Be a Hero was around 120,000 words total) so I’m making good headway. Especially now I have Gamera by my side to inspire me.

Stay classy, everyone. Say goodbye, Gamera!

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Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

May is Zombie Awareness Month, so I decided it would be apt to write a post on how to survive after 90% of the population have turned into dead cannibals and are trying to gnaw on your legs. As you read this guide, remember that adaptability, above all else, is the key to surviving post-Z-day. This guide, like any others, is just that: a guide. Use your best judgement, and hope that it doesn’t result in your untimely demise (and reanimation).

1. Know Your Zombie:

I’m not referring to whether the zombie is created by a virus (e.g. Solanum) or through supernatural means. That don’t matter a bit. I’m talking about more practical distinctions.

There are generally considered to be two types of zombie: fast and slow. If the zombie apocalypse involves slow zombies, consider yourself lucky. You can fight off or run from a slow zombie more easily. Individual zombies can be separated from the horde and taken out one-by-one. Chances are you’ll be laughing all the way to the reconstruction of society.

If you’ve got fast zombies, though, you’re in trouble. These things will be on you quicker than you can say, “Oh fuck, I’m going to die a virgin then have my innards ripped out and eaten. I’m kinda bummed about this situation, to be honest.” Your best chance of surviving fast zombies is to shut the fuck up and find a good hiding place. Ensure your group is the right size: not so many people the zombies are attracted for a tasty snack, but not so few you’ll end up facing an attack without brothers-in-arms. (Or to have someone to throw into the path of the zombies. Take one for the team, bro!) Which brings us to our next point…

2. Pick Your Teammates Wisely:

You notice how in every zombie flick there’s always a few annoying/selfish/cowardly people who get everyone else eaten?

Kill them. Kill them now. Or just blindfold them and dump them out in the zombie-infested city if you’re not the murdering type. You’re doing them a kindness. Well, not really, but fuck them. You don’t want them around. You need people in your group who are skilled in some way. Expert killing machines are always a good one. Doctors, too, as long as they’re not too compassionate. Anyone who can jerry-rig some explosives or fix a SUV with only some duct tape and rubber bands. As for anyone with no useful skills, they have to go. Homeopath? Lawyers? Beauty therapists? Zombie food waiting to happen. (Note: if you are say, a writer, you’re going to have to fake some skills if you don’t want this to happen to you.)

Maybe you’re feeling a bit squeamish about leaving all these people to die. Well that’s because you haven’t reached Step 3…

3. Cut All Ties With Your Humanity:

Lots of people are going to die. Your family is going to die. Same with your friends and the cute chick that works at the movie theatre. And they’re not just going to die. They’re going to get back up and try to eat you. If you hesitate in killing them, you’ll be joining them. Once you learn to embrace your deep-seated sociopathic tendencies, you’ll end up safer and happier.

Say you’re running with your family from a zombie attack and your cute little son trips over. Now, a normal, well-adjusted person would stop to protect their child. And then what happens? You get eaten, along with anyone else in your family stupid enough to stop as well. Not cool.

But if you’ve become dead inside, you will actually see this as an opportunity. The zombies will stop chasing you to enjoy some nice juicy child flesh, leaving the rest of your family alive and with one less mouth to feed. If all your family members are too nimble-footed to trip, consider pushing one of them.

4. Weapons

Many people, especially you Americans, will pull out their shotguns and assault rifles and Stinger Missiles at the first sign of a zombie apocalypse and try to shoot the zombies like they’re playing Call of Duty.
Stupid. Fucking. Idea.
Here’s why: you’ll kill some zombies. Whoopdee-fucking-doo. But you know what all that gunfire’s going to do? Attract more zombies. From miles and miles around, they’ll come for you.

“No problem,” you say. “I’ll just shoot them as well!”

Great. Until you run out of ammo. Then, instead of the ten zombies you started out facing, you’ve got 200 of the bastards bearing down on you, and you’re sitting there with your empty Glock looking sad.

No, you want weapons that are quiet and can either decapitate the zombie or destroy its brain. Swords, axes, decent sized bats. Whatever you’re comfortable with. If you absolutely must have a firearm, use it only as a last resort, then get the hell out of Dodge before more zombies show up.

Oh, and don’t be a moron and try to set them on fire. How long do you think it’ll take before that fire destroys the zombie’s brain? In the meantime they’re still going to come at you, and then you have to deal with a FLAMING FUCKING ZOMBIE. This is much worse, for obvious reasons. And that’s not even counting the risk of setting your hiding place on fire and burning yourself to death.

Final Thoughts:

Chances are, if a zombie apocalypse comes, you’re going to die. Sorry, but it’s the truth. If you do happen to be one of the lucky ones, remember: the future of the human race depends on you. So be smart, know your exits, and DON’T GET BITTEN!

Good luck. You’re going to need it.

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Asimov's Three Laws of Second-Hand Book Shopping

This weekend I returned to my hometown to visit my parents over the Easter break. While I was there I discovered the local Rotary Club was holding its Annual Easter Book Sale. People from all over the city donate their books to the sale, and all proceeds go to charity (I believe funds from this sale went to help victims of the Christchurch earthquake).

Naturally, I was all over that shit.

After battling my way through the crowds swarming the Romance tables, I managed to reach the Science Fiction and Fantasy books. Several minutes later I emerged with several well-loved books, among them two short story collections: The Best of Isaac Asimov and Tomorrow’s Children, edited by Asimov.
Beautiful, aren’t they? I especially love the artwork on Tomorrow’s Children´╗┐. Naturally, the stories are even better than I hoped. Tomorrow’s Children has stories from many of the greats of SF, including Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein and Asimov himself. I had to tear myself away from these classics to write this post.
Inspired by Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, I have created the Three Laws of Second-Hand Book Shopping to aid any intrepid travellers who want to put down their Kindles and Nooks to fight the frenzied masses and inhale the scent of mothballs and paper books.
C. R. Hindmarsh’s Three Laws of Second-Hand Book Shopping
  1. A shopper may not leave with more books than he can carry or, through inaction, allow another shopper to become crushed by the sheer weight of his books.
  2. A shopper must obey any impulses to buy classic or awesome-looking books, except where such impulses would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A shopper must protect the books he has claimed against all comers as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
So there you have it. You are now prepared to brave the madness of a book sale and come out with both your health and some sweet finds.
Go forth, my children!

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