Digital Heroin

385911a18619497302464952b7f1fb4844ac8e25

Remember chatrooms? Thirty or more strangers blinking from your computer screen, with names like poonsnack6324, rambling simultaneously and incoherently, with tortured spelling and non-existent grammar, while that one guy tried to impress everyone with his keyboard doodles as half a dozen others are engaged in a text-orgy? Those sure were the good ol’ days, amirite?

Nope.

AOL was a black hole, destroying all sense of decency, nuance and meaningful discourse. It revealed to the world the darkest and most depraved inner workings of the human animal. Before AOL, I used to think the world would be a better place if we all had telepathy, if we knew what everyone was thinking. Now we know that what everyone is thinking is gross. We are in dire need of a filter, a tradition of civility to keep civilization from descending into chaos, what is sorely lacking when social interaction is coupled with anonymity. As if chatrooms weren’t bad enough, we have also discovered the dangers of Instant Messaging, and random profile searches. This early feature appears, at first, like a vast technological improvement over Facebook. Want to talk to someone from halfway around the world about your favorite My Little Pony episode? Just look for MLP, under Hobbies, and you’ll find someone, maybe a guy or girl who lives nearby, or is of the same age, or potentially a romantic interest. The problem became apparent when men—mostly men—started stalking preteen girls, pretending to be girls themselves. The producers of To Catch a Predator, a show built around catching online predators, were shocked and dismayed by the success of their show, owing to the sheer number of adult males looking to rape underage girls. Eventually, AOL got rid of their pedophile search feature, but they couldn’t remove the ugly truth we learned about humanity.

Back in the 90s, we were enamored by AOL. It was never as interesting, fun or helpful as a visit to the library, but we were amazed by the technology. Suddenly, you could talk to anyone anywhere from the comfort of your own bedroom! Problem was, we just didn’t know how awful other people could be. We assumed, as we often do, that newer means better.

In hindsight, the AOL era seems absurd. It’s like we collectively fell under a Jonestown-like spell, and now that it’s over, we are embarrassed by the hours we wasted on it. This begs the question: will we eventually come to feel about other social media platforms the way we do about chatrooms and Instant Messaging? I think the answer is already coming to fruition. Facebook users are dropping like flies, especially among the youth, who no longer see it as the thing of the future. Nobody cares what you had for breakfast, or wants to see your vacation photos, or your newborn baby. And what kind of narcissist do you have to be to share the minutia of your everyday life anyway? Do we really need to connect to everyone we’ve ever known since elementary school? Over the years, Facebook has morphed from a virtual space for friends and family, to a pop culture news channel. I use it to learn about D&D and Marvel movies, so there’s that.

Nevertheless, social media remains a powerful force in our lives, and the kids have moved on, to Instagram and Snapchat, and stuff I am too old to care about (I stopped at Twitter). What differentiates these forums from previous ones isn’t that they provide more features, but less. Twitter gives you 280 characters (up from 140) to get your point across. Instagram exists primarily for photo sharing, because nobody has the time to actually read what you have to say. Thanks to a never-ending bombardment of information, we’ve lost our ability to focus, and still hunger for more. We struggle to keep up, to separate everything that might interest us from the noise, but it’s sensory overload. If you’re reading this, you may start to wonder why you’re even here, when you could be watching Netflix, or finishing the last thing you bought for PS4, or better yet, reading a book. Our attentions have become the world’s greatest commodity, and entertainment companies are competing over it the way governments fight for oil.

Now I want you to ask yourself a simple question. Do you love Facebook? Or, if you don’t use it, some other platform? Have you ever heard anyone say, “I love Instagram!” the same way they might talk about their favorite heavy metal band or movie or book? I haven’t, and I am betting you haven’t either. And yet, according to TIME magazine, Americans look at their phones 8 billion times a day, or 46 times a day on average per person, and it’s not just for Angry Birds (fuckit I’m old). But if we are not loving what we are doing, what could be the cause of our obsession? The answer, I think, is obvious. Social media is digital heroin. I have spent my life avoiding addictions, abstaining even from beer, and yet here I am, hooked on this little plastic rectangle in my pocket. Even when I am watching my favorite TV show, I’ll pause to check the damn thing. It’s a demon that’s taken over my life, and that might be a good thing, if I truly loved my phone, but I don’t. I feel about it the way an addict feels about heroin—he doesn’t want it, but he needs it.

Like any other drug, there is a chemical component to this addiction. Every time we receive a like, or a positive comment for something we’ve written, a tiny dose of endorphins gets released in our brains. I am always looking for that next fix, and I can get pretty high whenever somebody tells me they loved my book, or found my latest post worthwhile. But just like heroin, the reward-center of our brains fails to deliver over time, and we are forced to do more just to get the same feeling. When we can’t get a like, when we feel that nobody out there truly cares, we fall into a depression.

Life is chemistry, and what separates happiness from despair is simply a matter of the chemicals running through us. Almost everything we do is for the sake of those sweet sweet endorphins, or dopamine or oxytocin; or serotonin, which you get from love and chocolate. This makes anything and everything a drug, and our brains is the biggest dealer. Food is a drug. Sex is a drug. Exercise is a drug. Drugs are drugs. But this isn’t to say that all drugs are equivalent or necessary. The purpose of our happy-chemicals is to make life rewarding, but when we choose something like heroin over, say, friendship, we are cheating the system, and this more often results in destructive consequences.

Social media is cheating the system. We become addicted to ‘likes’ because we crave approval, because we are inherently social creatures. We all have a need for belonging, for acceptance and love. But there are crucial differences between interacting online and a face-to-face chat. Online, we remain anonymous, and can disappear at a whim. Imagine walking up to a person, saying hello to them, and then watching that person simply walk away without acknowledging your existence. Such behavior borders on the cruel, and yet it happens everyday on Facebook. Aside from how we treat one another, we miss out on seeing a human face, reading another’s expressions, or hearing a tonal inflection. Wordless communication is as important as the words themselves. Social media also doesn’t take into account the sense of urgency, the sense of presence and sense of the present one finds when sharing physical space with another person. You are forced to pay attention to your loved one when they are focused on you. This makes your time together all the more meaningful, because you can’t scroll past them. This is what Facebook has failed to provide us, and as we spend more time away from real human beings, we begin to lose our sense of self. We become invisible, begin to feel inconsequential, because to almost everyone you meet online, you are.

This isn’t to say we need to rid the world of social media. Facebook brings people with diverse beliefs and opinions together. Atheists, nudists, and those among the LGBTQ community can find each other readily, particularly if they are living in the Bible Belt. Before the Internet, I used to think I was the only one who liked to go nude, or collect action figures, or play D&D. Now I know that I am not alone, that my interests are in fact common.

We need to find a sense of balance. You can have your online-only friends, but it’s just as important, if not more so, to spend time with actual flesh and blood people. But it’s not just social media that’s robbing us of our humanity. Too many of us spend hundreds of hours in front of a screen, whether it’s binge-watching Netflix, or substituting life with their favorite MMORPGs.

IMG_5816

Real fun with real people!

Good thing is, society is waking to the dangers of this infant internet technology, which might explain the sudden and unexpected explosion in board games. Twenty years ago, you couldn’t find a lonely chess set at my local bookstore, now there’s an enormous section of everything from Pokemon cards to Catan. Honestly, if you had told me five years ago that D&D would enjoy it’s most profitable year in 2017, I would have laughed in disbelief. But video game systems, despite their exponentially growing processing power, cannot replace genuine human interaction. When I am sitting at a table with friends and family, rolling dice, I get a sense that I am having a real experience, something I will remember and cherish. I can also say the same for the books that I’ve read. Sure, it’s all imaginary, but it’s still more rewarding than a funny meme, because there is a greater depth of meaning to be found in the pages of a carefully crafted story. Books, board games, sports (ok, I don’t do sports) endure the test of time because their value lasts in our memories, and the endorphins we get from them push us not away from life, but toward it. That’s why I can say I love D&D, and reading, and riding my bike. But I may not do those things as often as I should, because things of lasting value take time to earn, and to attain these things we must remember how to focus, and how to have patience.

IMG_4192

A day of cycling never feels wasted

 

I guess what I am trying to say is, click the X in the corner of this screen and pick-up a book. Or a d20. Or, use your phone as phones were intended and call a friend. Get off your lazy butt and do something. Reality is waiting.

Aenya Newsletter 03/21/2018

Existenz.

Existenz is a 1999 Sci-Fi flick about a virtual reality world much like the Matrix, which happens to have been released the same year as The Matrix. Every morning, I wake up with this word in my head. Existenz. I am not thinking about the movie, however, but the ideas the movie explores, the notion of existence itself. At forty-three years of age, the act of simply existing is beginning to weigh on me. I feel the heaviness of life’s tribulations, and a mountain of day-to-day responsibilities. What concerns me most, is that my life may resemble that of Sisyphus, the Greek king who was punished in Hades, forced to push a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back again and again for all eternity. What headway am I making in the world? What does it all mean? And what value is there, truly, in becoming known and recognized, given the inevitable cold death of the universe?

Sometimes I wander my neighborhood in the bewitching hours of the night, racked by these thoughts. My blog, I am continually reminded, is aptly named. It is no exaggerating to say that artists suffer. I suppose I should take my suffering with pride. Creativity brings me great joy; it is a conduit through which to explore other worlds. But by the same token, it makes me an outsider. I am like a superhero, like Dr. Manhattan. Nobody can relate. The way I see it, I’ve got another good decade and a half to open the world to Aenya. I want people to visit this universe in my head in the way readers vacation to Middle Earth and Narnia and Westeros and the Wizarding World. With time running out, I’ve decided to give my parents two-years’ notice. Come Hell or high water, I’ll be quitting my pizza job by 2020, to turn my efforts to Aenya and beyond. 2020 is a nice round number, as is 45.

If I am Sisyphus, and the goal is nation-wide recognition, I can honestly say I am getting there. I have been receiving some really great praise on Amazon. Ages of Aenya stands at 4.5 Stars, with 10 reviews in, and 1-Star from my pet troll (hey, where you at? Miss you!). Some of my commentators are particularly eloquent:

 

At a deeper level, Ages of Aenya explores the conflicting human impulses for myth, religion, and scientific reason by mixing them together circling through the minds and discoveries of the characters he has created. There’s plenty to ponder here about what makes us human. The unashamed nakedness of the main characters strongly integrates the real and the metaphorical dimensions of honest and authentic humanity.

 

Thelana 2018

Every year, since 2003, I have commissioned a portrait of Thelana, my favorite heroine, and you don’t need heroin when you’ve got heroine. Sorry! Hal Glick used an advanced 3D modeling program for the 2018 rendition, and while I am less a fan of computer-generated art than what can be generated by the human hand, I can’t deny the beauty of this piece. Conveying the power and dignity of the nude form can be a challenge in modern day America, and as I have been discovering with the release of my book, it isn’t the feminists who give me trouble, but the men who cannot help but think of Thelana in terms of pornography. It has gotten to the point that I may abandon naked heroes altogether, not because I do not love the idea, but because this country has yet to grow out of its awkward teenage phase. Fortunately, I feel that Hal managed to steer clear of our lowest instincts with this piece. So, if you’re more than a halfman and can keep it in your pants, check out Thelana’s other portraits in my Deviant Art gallery.

 

Thelana2018low

Thelana 2018

 

 

To Be Read: A Literary Podcast by Nick and Mars

It has become clear to me that people are moving away from blogs to podcasts and YouTube videos. I don’t blame them. While I still believe in the power of the written over the spoken word, humans are lazy, and are simultaneously being drowned by information. Who has time to sort through the noise? What makes writing so special is the depth and richness of information something like a novel can provide. No other media, film or otherwise, can fully convey the worlds contained within The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones. It is for this reason, precisely, you always hear people say “the book was better.” But the advantages of a blog are minimal. Still, I love fiction, and talking about fiction, and so my partner-in-crime, Mars, has started a literary podcast, with the aid of yours truly. Every week or so, we will be chatting up our favorite books and authors, and more importantly, we’ll be discussing current events in this crazy world we happen to be living in, and how those events are reflected and informed by literary works both classic and modern. And really, I am starting to think this is a simulation, or at the very least, that when the wave-function last collapsed, I barely slipped through to this reality . . . Ah, never-mind.

So be sure to hop on over to our new blog to hear Mars and I talk books at To Be Read.

 

Ages of Aenya Kindle Edition Now Available!!!

The long wait is over. If you’ve been living in another country, planet or plane of existence, and you have access to a smart phone or other e-reader, and if you are dying to explore Aenya, NOW is your chance!

Get Ages of Aenya Kindle Edition from Amazon for just $9.99. It’s the greatest thing since the replicating molecule.

#NeverAgain

I am angry. And I am sad.

Every time we have a mass murder in this country, I feel obligated to do something, to help in some way, if only just to add my voice to the chorus for change. I am deeply troubled, not just by this senseless loss of life, but by the utter callousness of those who insist we can or should do nothing. The NRA and their supporters do not seem to care about the facts. It does not matter one bit that in every country with stricter guns laws, there is a significantly smaller number of gun-related deaths. In this post-truth world, each side finds whatever facts it wants to support its cause. So all we are left with is values. So what does the Pro-Gun lobby value most? Keeping our children safe? Or keeping gun manufacturers in the black? The answer, I think, is obvious.

But I find hope in this new generation, exemplified by the high school students of Parkland, Florida, by outspoken and passionate individuals like Emma Gonzales. Young people have the audacity to believe in a better world, and it is precisely their belief, their naivety, which so often leads them to accomplish what older generations fail to do or lack the will to do. In light of this current administration, these kids have renewed my faith in the future, and in humanity as a whole.

 

THE AENYA BESTIARY: NEREID

Nereid

Nereid courtesy of Alexey Lipatov

 

The hippocampus, nereid, or “water horse,” as it is colloquially known, is an aquatic mammal resembling a dolphin and a horse. It makes its home in and around The One Sea, along rocky shorelines, where it dines on crustaceans hiding in the reefs. The species is few in number, bordering on extinction, and is very shy, keeping primarily to its own kind. Devoted fishermen can go their entire lives without seeing a nereid in the wild, but those that do regard it a good omen. Not surprisingly, most people living far from the Sea believe the nereid is a myth.

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: The nereid possesses a hardened outer layer of fat, much like a whale or dolphin, and dorsal-like fins that can contract and expand. It can be blue, turquoise or aquamarine in hue. It does not have gills, and so cannot breathe underwater, but can hold its breath for up to thirty minutes. Most of its time is spent with its head above the surface, however, and its body submerged. Its fluke, or tail fin, can pivot like an arm. Because of its mammalian spine, the tail maintains a horizontal axis in the water to better facilitate locomotion. On land, its fluke turns vertically for balance and to eliminate drag. Males weigh in at 1500 to 2000 lbs., standing 8′ with frill extended, whereas females are considerably smaller, at about 1000 lbs. and 6’5.

LIFECYCLE: After an initial gestational period, wherein the placenta hardens into an egg, a pregnant nereid will lay its eggs, rarely more than two, in a nest of sand. The shells are bright blue-green in color, and glitter like luminescent coral. Bits of eggshell bring a high price in the bazaars of the coastal cities, and are sometimes worn as jewelry. When an egg hatches, the infant instinctively makes for the water, to seek others of its kind. Its average lifespan is forty years.

hedoniacavalry

Logo by Evan Kyrou

HISTORY: The nereid is thought to have thrived in the Ocean of early Aenya, before the Greater Moon, when the planet was wetter. The Cataclysm greatly diminished their numbers, but as more than 90% of other species perished, the nereid managed to eek out an existence along the shores of the last remaining sea. It is thought that their adaptability, to thrive on both land and sea, helped steer the species from extinction. Nereid are swift and intelligent, and have few predators, aside from merquid, who consider them a delicacy.

To the island natives of Aea, the nereid was divine, an avatar of Irene, goddess of love and peace. The founders of Hedonia, who were settlers from Aea, continued the tradition, holding the nereid in the highest esteem. It is the sacred animal of the Sea God, Sargonus, and killing a nereid remains a capital offense, though no record of such an act exists.

IN CAPTIVITY: Because of their rarity, grace and beauty, only the highest ranked members of Hedonian society are allowed ownership of the nereid, and even then, the animal must be maintained with utmost care. As a sign of their station, commanders of the legion will use them as mounts, never straying far from the coast, so that the animal not suffer from dehydration. Nereid-themed symbols appear throughout Hedonian society, on banners, crests and armor.

Demacharon, First Commander of the Legion, discovered a wounded foal while captaining his trireme. Its hide had been torn by merquid hunters, but he managed to nurse the animal to health. He named it Evening Tide, after the time when it was found. Believing that the gods had blessed him, Demacharon commissioned a special helm with a nereid crest. A decade later, Evening Tide carried him into battle against the merquid on the shores of Sarnath, days before the tsunami that breached the city’s outer walls.

***

Learn more about the nereid in Ages of Aenya at www.nickalimonos.com!

ThelanaNereid

Thelana rides a nereid off the coast of Thetis.

The Last Jedi Was OK!

Hatred for the latest installment in the Star Wars saga, Episode VIII: the Last Jedi, is turning into a frenzy on YouTube, with fans petitioning to have Lucasfilm remove the movie from canon. We have not seen this level of vitriol since the prequel films. But what people tend to forget, time and time again, is that no matter how strongly you feel about a work of art, those feelings are subjective. It’s all just opinion. Unfortunately, we are living in the age of YouTube, a machine fueled by outrage. It’s never sufficient to say, “the movie was OK.” That won’t get you a million views. It must be either the worst thing ever made or the best thing ever made.

You can watch my take on Rian Johnson’s Star Wars flick below:

 

Aenya Newsletter 12/20/2017

Whoo-Boy. A lot’s been going on, so let’s get to it.

 

Ages of Aenya

As you probably know, Ages of Aenya finally became available last month, and sales have been brisk. It’s great knowing people from as far as Europe and the UK have read the story and have had nothing but good things to say about it. I do have, unfortunately, my pet troll to deal with. Like any loyal pet, he was the first to go barking on Amazon, giving the book a 1-star review. Funny thing is, he knew it was out before I did! I am still amazed by this, that some people have nothing better to do than to watch you like a hawk, ready to pounce at the slightest opportunity. Oh well. What Mr. Troll doesn’t seem to understand is that I don’t care about critiques from people who haven’t actually read the book, and I know he hasn’t, as his “review” came minutes after it was posted to Amazon. Even if Mr. Troll were to have dished out the money to give an honest opinion, I still wouldn’t care, because a troll’s viewpoint is worthless, in that it is inherently biased. Either way, art is subjective. There are always going to be readers who think what I write is garbage, and others who feel the opposite. Just look at the love/hate situation for the recent Star Wars! The fact that a majority appears to love what I do means I’ve succeeded as a writer. My only goal now is to keep writing and to find more readers. That means learning something about marketing. At the moment, I am planning book signings, reaching out to fiction bloggers, and networking with other writers, like Michael Sullivan.

 

The End of An Era / A Bold New Direction

This blog is approaching its seventh year, and I am beginning to feel that much of what I have wanted to say has been said. In 2010, my head was bursting at the seams with ideas that had been bugging me since high school. I wanted to play Devil’s advocate with regards to cliches, melodrama, and ‘to say’ verbs. I wanted to throw in my two cents about popular fiction, like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and a A Game of Thrones, and to contrast these works with the lesser known classics that I love, like The Last Unicorn and The Never Ending Story, in an effort to understand what makes good storytelling, and how literary conventions change over time. I also longed to express my more unusual beliefs, for nudism in particular, but about religion also. The Writer’s Disease has been a great platform to share my life story, and to showcase my earlier work. Telling stories has been the most important thing in my life, and I needed to make certain that the world knew that, that nobody would mistake me for a guy who wakes up one day, in a mid-life crisis, deciding to be a novelist. At the very least, I feel that I’ve earned the respect that comes from three decades of dedication. Having a blog like this has helped keep my mind sharp, for when I was too busy with work and kids to labor over a novel. But now that much of what I have wanted to say has been said, with one teenager in the family and my other business largely self-sufficient, I am finally able to commit to my true passion. Despite how hectic my life has been, I am ashamed to admit that, since Aenya’s inception c. 1999, I have only managed to produce three full-length novels, with one of those, The Dark Age of Enya, mostly redone. I need to devote myself to Aenya, not just to maps and biographies, but to honest-to-goodness books. Hopefully, I should be shelling out a new Aenya book every two to three years, from now until I hit the grave. This doesn’t mean I am quitting this blog; only that you’ll be seeing less of me here, and more of me in my books.

51et5nqxyal-_sx328_bo1204203200_

 

Book Review: C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew

I started reviewing novels as a means to learn from them. In college, we studied the classics, Shakespeare and Melville and Hawthorne, and while I have always been a fan of long-dead authors, modern-day readers seem to prefer people from *this* century. In essence, I have had to unlearn what I learned in college, to abstain from the flowery, poetic language with which I was so accustomed, and so adored (see?). This is part of the reason I ended up rewriting The Dark Age of Enya, to appeal to a modern audience. Some of Xandr’s dialogue still retains elements of Homer. In 2010, The Lord of the Rings was on everybody’s mind, thanks to Peter Jackson, and so every new author was accused of being a Tolkien-wannabe. I was accused of this myself, which was particularly infuriating. Bookstores are saturated by imitators, R.A. Salvatore chief among them, and even George R.R. Martin has been influenced by the Anglo-European myths that informed Tolkien. But I have never felt the need to explore tales of elves, dwarves or dragons. The Aenya series, for better or worse, is rooted in Greek mythology, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Howard, and the 80’s cartoon show, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. All writers borrow, but the great ones borrow from a much greater pool. Inspiration can be found anywhere, and from anyone, which is why I aim to become familiar with every fantasist out there, from Adams to Zelazny.

This leads me to C.S. Lewis. I picked up The Magician’s Nephew from a small bookstore in London. Being a literary nerd, I was excited by the prospect of reading an English novel in its original, un-Americanized form, but if there were any differences in dialects, I didn’t notice them.

The Magician’s Nephew is a simple adventure story, about two children, Digory and Polly, who are given magic rings (again, rings) that enable them to travel to other worlds. One of these worlds has been destroyed by an evil-witch, Queen Jadis. Eventually, they end up in empty space, in what becomes Narnia.

Anyone familiar with C.S. Lewis knows of his outspoken religiosity, and of the Christian-apologetic he penned, Mere Christianity. His faith heavily influenced his fantasy, and it shows, even in The Lord of the Rings, as Lewis and Tolkien often critiqued one another’s work. Tolkien rejected allegorical interpretations of his story, but it’s hard to ignore similarities between the Lady Galadriel and the Catholic Mary, the elves of Middle Earth and Biblical angels, Sauron (Melkor, specifically) and the Fallen Angel, Lucifer. Lewis’ faith, however, is much more pronounced, not quite beat-you-over-the-head blatant, ala A Wrinkle in Time, but apparent, nonetheless. Digory and Polly witness the creation of Narnia, as Aslan, the Lion, sings it into being. He creates the land, the mountains, the rivers, and the animals. Why use a lion to represent God, and not some other creature? Lewis doesn’t really say. I suppose he just really liked lions. Tolkien seems to have borrowed this idea when he described his own deity, Eru Illuvatar, singing not only Middle Earth into being (properly Arda), but Time itself, in The Silmarillion. Shortly after Narnia is born, the story ends, having established the setting and the villain, Jadis, for future books in the series.

The Magician’s Nephew is a well-written and a (bit too) straightforward tale, mostly for children. Through the Narnia series, Lewis helped introduce young people to aspects of his faith, much in the way I hope to introduce Aenya-readers to naturism, but in doing so, I am hard pressed to imagine him not finding the cracks in his beliefs, as his own story seems to fix many of the narrative issues found in the Bible. For instance, Aslan does not create Narnia’s Devil, Jadis, but rather, she invades and corrupts his creation from beyond, having come from another dimension. This makes a lot more sense than having an all-knowing, all-powerful entity bring Lucifer into being, whom YHWH must have known would turn against him. Put another way, if your own, made-up story makes more sense than what you believe actually, literally happened, I think you’d start to question your beliefs.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dammit. Just when I thought I was done talking about Star Wars, Episode VIII comes along to stir up more controversy. YouTubers are calling The Last Jedi the best since or better than Empire, while others are just as passionately arguing to remove the movie from canon. As someone who studies storytelling for a living, I am continually fascinated by divergent reactions to books and movies. I want/need to know why fans love or hate things, because I work hard to entertain them. Try as I may, however, I know I will always garner haters, because art is subjective. And yet people cannot seem to accept this. Armchair critics will argue endlessly in defense of, or in opposition to, some viewpoint, as if their arguments could be proven. It reminds me of the gold/blue dress debacle. People were incensed that others could look at the same thing and not see what they did. The Last Jedi is a lot like that.

262423ac00000578-2971409-image-m-5_1425029003238

I am one of the few on the planet who actually adored the Prequel films. And it has been hard for me to witness, from every corner of the web, the hatred spewed at something I so greatly enjoyed. When Episode VII was released, I was equally perplexed. Most people loved it. But Star Wars, for me, has always been about imagination, originality, and inspiration. The Force Awakens, while entertaining, felt like a retread of things familiar, a way to cash-in on nostalgia. It offered nothing new. Worse still, it seemed to retcon everything we loved about Return of the Jedi. Turns out, the Empire wasn’t destroyed with the second Death Star, nor when Palpatine was thrown down a reactor shaft by Darth Vader. It simply became the First Order. Palpatine was replaced by Snoke, Vader by Kylo Ren, and a brand new third Death Star was built. Luke is still the only Jedi in the galaxy and Han still works as a money-hungry smuggler. It forces one to wonder, what the hell was the point of Episode VI? Was anything accomplished?

s3-news-tmp-77017-star_wars_the_last_jedi-default-1280

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

When Rian took the reins from JJ, I think he recognized these flaws, and did his damndest to rectify them. He immediately did away with Kylo’s Vaderesque helmet, turning Ren into a much more interesting character, and he killed off the Palpatine-wannabe, Snoke, preventing JJ from copying VI with IX. More importantly, Rian gave us a *new* story, and much like Lucas with his sequels and prequels, offered something new with regards to the Jedi and the Force, giving Luke, Rey and even Leia powers we’ve never seen before. This is what, for me, a good sequel needs to do. It needs to expand on what we know about a story we love.

So what’s my verdict? I liked it. It still lacks Lucas’ visual flair. There were few moments when my jaw dropped in awe. In this regard, George is an unparalleled director. But Rian gives us plenty of genuine surprises, and he does it the old-fashioned way, via storytelling. Mark Hamill gives his best performance as an old, crotchety, and conflicted Luke Skywalker, and I have never been such a fan of the character.

The previous film killed my excitement for Star Wars, but with Rian at the helm, the old spark is coming back. I am eager to watch the movie again, and can only pray that JJ (why him?) manages to conjure some originality with his next outing.

Ages of Aenya Holiday Special!

Whether you commemorate the birth of your savior or honor the Green Goddess of the Ilmar, ’tis the season to celebrate!

Starting today, I am offering Ages of Aenya at the DEEPLY discounted rate of $10.00. That’s down from $17.95! This is my GIFT to you!

christmas_gift

So if you’ve been sitting on the balustrade about taking your first step into Aenya, NOW is the time! Don’t know what to get the book lover in your life? Tired of waiting for George RR Martin to finally finish Winds of Winter? Itching to find some new fantasy series to lose yourself in? Explore Hedonia before the Sea washes it away. Lose yourself in the Great White Flat. Brave the pewter peaks of Northendell. Follow Thelana and Xandr as they brazenly hunt the Wildwood. But you’d best hurry, because this offer is only good for the holidays, and supplies are limited.

AoACoverCensored

VISIT AENYA

 

Ages of Aenya Launch Day!

It’s Ages of Aenya launch day everybody! Today, after ten years in the making, my book officially goes on sale on my new author site, nickalimonos.com! It’s available on Amazon, but you can get it directly from me at a discounted price, with free full color maps of Aenya. You can also find exclusive Aenya-related artwork, by Zhengyi Yu, Alexey Lipatov and Frans Mensink, at my store.

If you have been following this blog, have any interest in Aenya or in my naturist heroes, or if you simply love fantasy adventure, you can’t miss picking this up!

Welcome to the world of Aenya!

AoACover

GET IT NOW!

Aenya Newsletter 10/25/2017

Exciting news, everyone! My book came in the mail today! There’s just something magical, transformative even, when you get to hold your story in your hands for the first time. You know this is it, after more than a decade of writing and rewriting, the novel in its final form. Ages of Aenya is here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So where and when can you get it? Well, you can order it from Amazon.com, or next month from my new author site. I recommend cutting out the middle man and getting it directly from www.nickalimonos.com, as I can offer it at a discounted price, along with some Aenya inspired artwork! For all you e-readers out there, a Kindle version is in the works, and will be available next year.

Watch my YouTube video to learn more, or read the transcript below.

 

“Hi everyone! I’m very excited to show you what came in the mail the other day. It’s my book … Ages of Aenya!

I am really happy with the way this turned out. As you can see, it’s a hefty book. You can really do a lot of damage with this if you wanted. There’s Thelana on the cover, overlooking the city of Hedonia, with the pyramid of Sargonus in the background.

For years, people have been asking me ‘when is your book coming out?’ Well, now it’s here!

So, I really cannot wait to get this into your hands! It has everything lovers of fantasy adventure could ask for: fighting, monsters, exotic locations, romance, naked heroes, not-so-naked heroes; it’s been inspired by heroes like Conan and He-Man, and by writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, HP Lovecraft, and Homer (if you love Greek mythology).

It should be available to order mid-November, or even sooner from Amazon.com. But I recommend you wait and get it from me at my new author site, nickalimonos.com, where I will be offering it at a discounted price, and where I’ll be selling some Aenya inspired artwork. I will be providing links to buy it from my other social media platforms as well, from aenya.net and my blog, writersdisease.net.

Some people have asked me about a Kindle version. The Kindle version will be available early next year, but I wanted to get the physical copy into people’s hands first. There’s just something magical about a physical book. It has weight. It has substance. You can display it on your shelf. Too much stuff these days is digital, on a screen, so I think it’s nice to have something you can touch and feel. And besides, that’s actually a theme of the story!

Lastly, I’d like to thank my beta readers, who’ve supported me all these years. They include David Pasco, Heather Zanitsch, Tobias Tholken, and my brilliant editor, Ava Coibion, whose insights helped make the book even better. And of course my wife, Hynda, who has always been there for me!

So again, I am really excited to get this book into your hands. It’s been my passion for over a decade and now it’s here. Finally. Thanks for watching.”

The Gorgon’s Lover

The Gorgon’s Lover was runner-up for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley award for short fiction. It is a nautical horror erotic romance tragedy, inspired by Greek mythology, set on the island of Aea in the middle of the One Sea, and is part of the Aenya mythos. The educated of Aenya would be familiar with this myth, which also goes by, “The Ballad of Titian and Midiana.”

the Writer's Disease

lovers
Let me tell you how I killed her—how I killed the only woman I ever loved. I am a wretched thing, truly, and have little else to offer but this story. Hear me out, if you are wanting for a tragedy, but I give you fair warning: this is no tale for children or the weak of heart, but a thing to curdle the blood, to raise the small hairs of the body.
To know my story, you must know of how I came to Aea. You have heard tales, no doubt, of that fabled isle where no one knows hunger, where the women are as beautiful and as willing as the nymphs. Aea does not appear on any map, and no two sailors will agree on where to find it, but it is no myth.
In the dawn of manhood I found myself a recluse, wandering between the lands…

View original post 7,188 more words