If you loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books (a trademarked name, by the way, so I had to use the term “interactive fiction”), back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, as I did, you just might fall in love with Serpents And Fire, first in my series of interactive adventures. The math in making these can require some surprisingly complex mapping, and this was a tremendous amount of fun to produce. I wrote this book the week after my uncle died, in a kind of cathartic reclamation of personal choice.
Life is exactly what happens when you don’t keep things in a cool, dry place. In this series of wickedly funny short stories, humans bring technology to all the other clever animals of Earth, and the whole gang tries to learn how to live with each other in this new dynamic. It doesn’t help that the technology is getting out of hand, matching the chaos of living things. Open this freeze-dried meal of despair, spiced with love and hope, and come along for a wild ride with these darn squids in space.
When my nephew Gabriel was about three years old, he was at a park, playing in a sandbox, and he smacked the black ants in the sand with a stick. They’d bitten him repeatedly, and he yelled, “Bad sand guys! They were made by the black Jesus. The black evil robot Jesus!”
Thank you for the inspiration, Gabe.
Excerpt chapter: “Uplifting”
The octopus looked proper stately in a dapper white robotic suit, nearly filling the bulbous cylinder atop a nearly perfect humanoid body. It stood behind a pulpit, reminiscent of a Southern Baptist preacher on Sunday. The octopus’ iridescent skin flourished with patterns, which were picked up by meticulous and highly calibrated cameras. Her suit’s extremely modern system included a completely renovated text-to-speech module. The arena seating in this cavernous, brightly lit room lent itself to the theater unfolding at the pulpit, although, other than a fistful of reporters at the fore, only a few dozen academic types filled in a few of the hundreds of empty seats, in the upper back. Conspicuously, one was a dolphin in a positively huge, caterpillar-esque water tank with insectile metal legs.
The octopus spoke into the microphone.
“How dare you uplift us? What gives mankind the right to deny us natural death? For millions and millions of years octopuses have sacrificed themselves for their young. Now human scientists have changed everything for the gastropod, and have forced it into functional slavery. For every credit a human earns, a gastropod earns between forty four and forty eight percent of the same.”
A reporter’s hand shot up in front.
“Susan Chaudry here, Ganymede Times. Is it not true that since the very inception of genetically modified, sapient gastropods, equal payment for equal work has been a mainstay throughout the system? I have numbers that-”
The octopus retorted, “Let me finish! Let me finish! First, gastropods work in different environments than humans do, which means that the work cannot be equal, and you benefit from our labor unfairly. Second, what a human thing to do to just interrupt a gastropod while she is speaking. Please, human-splain away.”
Her automated voice came across as impeccably condescending.
Join a rollicking adventure with the not-so-great deity “I WAS” as he tries to find his way in a diseased world that has forgotten him. Meet libertarian extremist sorcerer Old Hellhorns as he strives for misguided redemption and misuses power. Unravel the plans of the twitchy priestess called Reika, and endure the literally hot, irrational shark-toothed sun-goddess that brings them all together in an unintentionally high-stakes family reunion. This could be the end of mankind, all over a little goat with a big appetite. This wildly irreverent comedy pits man and deity against each other in a world where everyone has lost something, most significantly their minds.
Review by Coriantumr Savage Pace
“Of Gods and Goats. A novella that one of my best friends wrote and published. I had been waiting a year to read a copy of it. So when it came out I knew that I had to order a copy and read it.
The story is roughly about a man named Old Hellhorns, who can offer you immense magical power at the cost of a few years of your life, and of the old god I WAS. During this story you learn about who these people are, and why they are. While Old Hellhorns is an understandable villain, one that empowers the disenfranchised and abused so that they can defend themselves, but at a great cost, I WAS is on a path of self discovery from the old violent god he used to be into a much more tolerant and understanding person. These two come to blows in a very roundabout and quite comical way.
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. The entire time I went through this book I kept asking myself what was going to happen next. Many nights were spent with me lying in bed and trying to guess what would happen next in the great story of I WAS and Old Hellhorns. Almost every single time I thought I knew what was going to happen I found myself surprised and thrown for a wonderful loop. Even the ending was foreshadowed yet completely shocking.
More than just the surprises though this story is a reflection on human beings. There are multiple themes working together in this story to create a tapestry of human emotion, behaviors, and irony. I found myself laughing, crying, scared, and cheering in this book. It might be a bit small in size but it’s big in heart.”