Upcoming Anniversary Edition of Lucifer’s Odyssey

Lucifer's OdysseyAt the end of August, Lucifer’s Odyssey will have been published for a year. I’m sure we can all agree that birthdays are a time of giving, and I think that the anniversary celebration of Lucifer’s Odyssey shouldn’t be any different. Coincidentally, Lucifer’s Odyssey is also coming out of its exclusivity arrangement with Amazon via the KDP Select program, which means that the electronic versions of Lucifer Odyssey will soon become available on all major online outlets–just in time for its birthday. Rock on!

But that’s not all. I have bigger plans for Lucifer’s Odyssey’s anniversary bash this year–after all, this is a special day for my first novel.

I have drafted a prologue for Lucifer’s Odyssey that describes the Crown Prince touching down on Earth, falling into Jehovah’s trap, and seducing Eve with knowledge. Before I release Lucifer’s Odyssey to all outlets, I will be adding this prologue to the book–meaning that Lucifer’s Odyssey will contain even more cool stuff!

Now, here’s the real kicker. Since I am no longer exclusive to Amazon, and I want to celebrate the first anniversary of my first novel, I plan on making Lucifer’s Odyssey free on all outlets! This may take time to percolate throughout the vendors (especially Amazon), and it may not be a permanent situation. However, I do hope this allows more people to enjoy Lucifer’s Odyssey and join me in celebrating its first birthday!

Cheers all!

Update: The anniversary edition is now available on Smashwords and Amazon.

Random Internet Videos #Eleventy-Six

I haven’t posted anything in a while, and in typical lazy-guy fashion, instead of posting new insightful content, I have decided to post more internet wackiness and some terse updates.

First, the updates. If you missed it, my story “Saving Suzanna” was published in the Indie Ecclective’s “Pride Collection” back in June. The Pride Collection is a celebration of Pride Month, and the quality of the short stories is nothing short of remarkable (especially at a price point of $0.99). I’m very proud to have been a part of it. As for what’s next, I am back to writing the third book in the Primal Patterns series after my move to Pittsburgh. I am pushing the release date back to January 1, 2013.

Shameless plugs and writing comments aside, let’s get to a couple of funny videos from Ted Films. Both of these are Star Wars themed, but you came to this site knowing that I am nerdy, so I will make no apologies.

Star Wars That I used to Know

Rebecca Black Parody. Yesterday was Benduday…

Dang Beijing, you crazy!

On April 16th through 20th, I stayed in Beijing, China for a conference on cyberphysical systems. The conference was OK, but the city and culture of Beijing were far, far more interesting. I won’t cover the smog because I didn’t really take any good pictures of the ridiculous mixture of dust from the Gobi Desert and oppressive exhaust from the many cars on the streets. What follows instead is a tale of communist Obama, scorpions, food poisoning and concubines. Dang Beijing, you crazy!

So, I had to do conference stuff on the 17th, but on the 18th, I got a tour of Beijing from a graduate student at Vanderbilt who had lived in the capital. We didn’t stick to the tour routes. We went all local-like, and one of the first things we noticed at a shop on the way from the Forbidden City was the image to the left, which is hilarious for two reasons. First, Obama is dressed in Mao Zedong communist-party garb. Fox News should have a heyday with this one, right? I mean, obviously this is just further proof that he’s a closet muslim, communist, whatever! Well, actually he’s just popular over there like he is everywhere else. For a communist country like China, he represents an American that understands what it means to put the people in front of himself. Their words. The second really funny thing about this image is the caption of the shirt underneath Obama. “Knowledge likes pants. Invisible but very important.” My guess is that this is meant to say “Knowledge is like panties: invisible but very important.” The way it is phrased right now is quite simply hilarious. Before you ask, pants are very visible in China.

Next stop on the crazy China train is “Snack Alley”, which is off the main shopping district a couple of blocks from the Forbidden City. Snack Alley literally has everything you might possibly want to eat, including a lot of things you probably don’t want to eat. For instance, live scorpions on a stick. Now, our graduate student told us that she’s never eaten them, is afraid of them, and has no idea who eats them. In her defense, I didn’t see anyone purchase a single scorpion on a stick from the dozens of places that were selling them. But that’s the point. There are dozens of places selling live scorpions on a stick. I found out the next day from a different, more official tour guide that scorpions tend to be fried. She said they taste like shrimp, and that snake on a stick tastes like chicken. I never saw the snake on a stick, but now I’m quite fascinated. Should I have tried the scorpions on a stick? Well, if they were fried, it was probably far less likely to cause the explosive happy time than the restaurant we chose shortly after seeing Snack Alley.

Hot Pots. In China’s defense, we went to a very nice restaurant the previous day called “Quan Ju De”, which is apparently one of the originators of the Peking Duck but better than the Americanized version. We ate extremely well there, and I might cover that in a follow up post about the Great Wall, Forbidden City, etc. But right now, we’re going to talk about the magical world of food poisoning/getting sick at a Hot Pot.

A Hot Pot is a simple enough concept, but there are two variants. The first involves everyone throwing a bunch of food into a soup base and sharing that among all the party-goers. The second involves each person having their own soup base and throwing a bunch of food into it and privately suffering through the consequences. We chose the second one. I had a hot-and-sour base and picked sliced duck, pumpkin, and rice noodles for my attempt at soup awesomeness. For those chefs out there, it will likely be obvious that I am not an expert chef from my ingredients. I could probably burn poptarts if sufficiently distracted. Anyway, I get control of the burner underneath my “hot pot”, and I drop in a fourth of the duck, pumpkin, and rice noodle and keep it going for 20 minutes or so, despite the fact that I’m absolutely starving. They give you this soy-based sauce packet that was simply delicious, and I devoured the duck, rice, and pumpkin very quickly once I transferred them from the pot onto a plate. So far so good. My guide, the graduate student and another researcher at our lab sort of laugh at me for cooking duck for so long. They claim such a thin slice of duck should only take 5 minutes to cook. Feeling like an idiot, I decide to drop my 20 minute cook time to 10 minutes, just to be safe.

How safe was I? Do you see the picture to the right? I was squatting over that within 30 minutes. Now, for those Americans and Europeans out there, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is a porcelain hole in the ground. There are four important things to know about this bathroom encounter. First, there is no toilet paper. None. And it’s not an accident. Bathrooms outside of the 4 star+ hotels have no toilet paper. This is a “let-it-dry” culture. Second, I was nowhere near this bathroom. I was in the subway when it hit, and I had to run up three flights of stairs (from what I remember) to get there. And I was happy to be there (the previous fragment should be read in a grumpy old man’s voice complaining about how kids don’t understand how great they have it)! Third, and as a consequence to the 2nd important thing, by the time I got to the bathroom, I was in dire straits. My stomach was churning, I was seconds away from explosion, and I was moving past the bathroom attendant at a full run yelling “Ni hao! Now, get out the way!” Fourth, I have no experience in squatting and avoiding soiling myself in such a situation.

Now, as crazy as this scenario is to me, as a foreigner from more Westernized cultures, it wasn’t all bad news. I successfully avoided soiling myself, which after some hindsight resulted in me giving myself a high five. I made it up three flights of stairs without the party starting too early, and I didn’t have to become indoctrinated into the “let-it-dry” culture. My plan was simple. I waited until my friends got worried and came to my rescue. My heroes passed me a small package of tissues over the divider, and my spirits were immediately lifted. In fact, I left that bathroom in 1000x better spirits than I entered it with. I even high-fived the bathroom attendant before washing. No, I’m kidding. I washed my hands crazier than Rene Russo in the movie Outbreak (and she washed like a madman, even though she was totally too late.) We left the bathroom and the Hot Pot in our rearview walking mirrors and went about the rest of our day.

My next major stop was the Great Wall and Ming’s Tombs. I may cover that in more detail in a later blog post, but first, I want to cover something that is crazy. Concubines. Not the concept really. I understand how a supreme leader would be all “I want that one… and that one… oooh, and that one.” It’s just amazing to me how little rights the concubines had and how sad their existence and deaths were. First, at the Forbidden City there is the Cold Palace. The Cold Palace is the place where the emperor would send concubines that had fallen out of favor. Basically, after he decided he no longer wanted to “hit that”, he’d send the concubine to the Cold Palace where they would have no heat, no company, no comforts at all. They were sent there to die. But when they died, it was a death of dignity and love and remembrance, right? How about “no.” The first imperial tomb at the Ming Dynasty’s Tombs was Zhu Di (became Chengzu after he opened a can of whoopass on the Hongwu Emperor), the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, and his is the biggest tomb of the 13 at the Ming’s Tombs. It’s also the only one that hasn’t been opened or looted. The tour guide walked us around the rectangular section and talked about the crazy Death gate that you should only cross when leaving Zhu Di’s tomb area, and we gawked at the large bronze rectangle which has apparently been destroyed before from lightning and replaced.

Then, she showed us where the concubines were buried. I kid you not, the picture to the left is where they threw the concubines to their final resting place (after poisoning them without them knowing about it). It gets weirder and more feng-shuiey. To prevent issues in the afterlife and to honor geomancy concepts in feng shui, the concubines were buried outside of the main circular tomb area, on the side of the emperor so they would be sufficiently far enough away from the empress. Also, to create harmony amongst the 8 official concubines, the retainers constructed two pits, one on either side of the tomb entrance, and split the dead concubines into two groups of four. Problem solved! Now, just toss the women into a pit but far enough away from the official wife, so she doesn’t get mad in the afterlife.

So, if you were a concubine in ancient China and were lucky enough not to be sent to the Cold Palace, you got to be buried close enough to the emperor for him to enjoy your zombie loins well into eternity but far enough away that you didn’t bother the undead empress. OK, so the tour guide didn’t really tell me that anyone would become zombies. Everyone went to heaven where they maintained their distances and orientation for eternity… or something. Either way, I think you’ll agree that this is a bit nuts. Very interesting but certifiable in today’s world (and I think the Chinese would generally frown upon such practices today).

Though, on that note, we found out from the tour guide that China has a one-birth-only policy for each couple that can be circumvented by 1) the death of a child and an application for another birth certificate, 2) having twins, triplets, etc. which count as a single birth, or 3) paying for the extra children. The tour guide said that a second child sets a couple back 880,000 yuan or roughly 146,666 dollars. Most couples obviously cannot afford this, but what was really curious about her explanation was that China currently has a 52% male to 48% female ratio, which is the exact opposite of the rest of the world. What might cause that? Well, I have heard from others that it’s caused by the first circumvention mechanism. If a baby dies, you can have another one for free if you file the paperwork properly. So, if you had a girl and you didn’t want one, she might mysteriously die and you try again until you get a baby boy. Now, again, this is urban legend. I have no idea if this is actually going on or not, but after seeing the concubine pit and hearing about the Cold Palace, the myth came back in my head and whispered in my ear.

And then that thought was completely interrupted by one of the tour guide’s final questions, and I kid you not she actually asked us this right after talking about the one-birth policy.

“Do any of you eat dog?”

It was the most casually atrocious thing I’ve ever heard. I actually laughed aloud because this is the kind of thing that one of my old gaming friends might say over Ventrilo during a boss fight to make everyone laugh. But she was serious, and she was genuinely curious.

“No,” I said for the five people from Spain, Japan, and the USA in the tour. “That’s generally frowned upon in our countries.”

So, should you take a trip to Beijing, China? God, yes! Take three. It may be crazy, but what is life without a bit of adventure! I’ve also heard that Shanghai is amazing.

P.S. See your doctor before you go. I had to get seven or eight shots that combined vaccinations for everything from Polio to measles to Hepatitis and the Bubonic Plague (yes, you can even munch of the old Black Plague in Snack Alley :D).

I miss you, Mitch

Why do we always lose our best comedians and actors to drugs? Mitch Hedberg was one of those guys with a crazy, unique delivery style and a truly random source of inspiration–every day life. He died of an overdose of cocaine and heroine in a hotel in Livingston, New Jersey on March 30, 2005 (tomorrow will be 7 years, so I’m making him a post in remembrance). Here are some of my favorite videos.

His long-awaited introduction to the Canadian market (lol)

David Letterman stand up (one of two, I believe)

Purple people and twin beds:

Another trip to Canada:

His delivery took a while to develop. Earlier, he didn’t have the pauses. Here’s one of his from 1995.

One of his best comedy CDs was Strategic Grill Locations. Youtube has a few of the excerpts from the live show of this (no video). I’d recommend picking up the CD if you like the above. Pretty sure he’s extremely high here.

The CD you buy at stores was edited by Comedy Central and is much better quality.

Anyway, raise a glass for Mitch tomorrow. The world needs more laughter, and he brought the funny well.

New Edition of Lucifer’s Odyssey

Lucifer's OdysseyAs I’ve mentioned several times, I listen to readers. I do read your reviews and emails, and I try to respect what each of you has to say about your impressions of my fiction. When one of you is frustrated by your experience, I mull your words over, and I do my best to grow as an author so that one day, you and I can enjoy a relationship together–one that doesn’t drive you up a wall.

For the most part, that means that in future works, I keep your advice and criticisms in mind and try to use that to improve my ability to connect with you. However, there have been 4-5 reviews across LibraryThing and Goodreads that expressed some very specific frustrations with Lucifer’s Odyssey that I felt I should try to address with a re-release, including changes to the paperback (which can be expensive).

So, let’s outline a few of these problem areas, and I’ll relate the changes that were made and why.

Problems as stated from the reviews:

1.) Being thrust into a situation that is hard to piece together in the beginning, and a strange setting that is so different from established canon of Lucifer and Jehovah that it is jarring and difficult to follow.
2.) Tonal and humor problems, generally associated with Sariel.
3.) The quick romance between Lucifer and Anne.
4.) The number of creatures that die in the story, and how it shows lack of literary skill, seemingly because good authors can do more with less deaths.

What I’m doing to address these

Problems 2 and 3 are covered in my blog post here. The third stands as/is in the novel. It’s a fast courtship, but these are royalty who are bred/raised for that purpose. I think that the real problem with this started earlier, and I believe it specifically began when my editor and I decided to show instead of tell throughout the first chapter.

In the original draft I pitched to my editor, there were lots of flashback and backstories in the first chapter. Beelzebub’s attempt at leaving Earth and the annihilation of Lucifer’s legion were all given sections at the very beginning, which interrupted the action of the first chapter. Derek and I had a bit of back-and-forth about it, but he encouraged me to do far more showing than telling in the chapter, and I rewrote it according to his suggestions. He was definitely right, btw, but I think readers are also right that with a story this different in setting, it will help readers come up to speed with a bit more explanation (certainly more than is done in the Author Note concerning the primals and their projections).

Below, you’ll find the additions I’ve made to this edition. They represent a very small portion of the overall story, but I hope they may help new readers immerse themselves better in the story.


From Chapter 1: An Earthly Imprisonment. I’ve emboldened the changes.

“So, what brings you to Nashville?”

“Lookin’ for the devil,” Michael said after downing another swig from a Yazoo pale ale.

Adrian, the bartender, leaned in close enough to whisper. “How will you be able to tell him from the rest of the room?”

“Horns, red body, the usual …”

“I would have remembered that kind of guy,” Adrian laughed as he sloshed a wet rag down on the polished wooden bar, picked up some left over pilsners, and wiped away the condensation rings. “But this is Music City, and we get people slinkin’ in from all over.”

Michael watched four males enter The End of the Line bar and recognized each of them immediately. His brother Lucifer and uncle Batarel cast sidelong glances at the TVs as they looked for four open seats, while his runt of a brother Sariel bumped into just about every woman at the bar, offering apologies and the promise of a drink to make up for it. Azazel, Lucifer’s bodyguard, looked directly at Michael, causing him to divert his gaze for a moment.

“Toss me another beer,” Michael called to the bartender.

“You got it.”

The demons wore leather jackets, t-shirts, and jeans, but their human disguises couldn’t fool Michael. Lucifer came so close to him that Michael could have run his hands over his brother’s stubbly brown hair, and Sariel came even closer as he managed to press a woman into Michael during his search for a number. A couple of the women pulled at Sariel’s long, wavy brown hair, but he made excuses and caught up with his brother.

Batarel’s shaved head and assorted facial scars attracted a lot of looks and even a few praises from drunken men for his service to their country. He smiled and nodded in return but followed closely behind Lucifer, as did Azazel, who was wearing a baseball cap and eyeing everyone around him warily.

The demons weren’t the only ones incognito. Michael knew that none of his family members would recognize him without using pattern magic. Jehovah had raised Michael from the Hall of Souls into the body of a forty-year-old human, so he looked nothing like he used to. But this was no ordinary body; it had all the strength of his old demon form, and he could feel the tendrils of his wings moving under the skin of his back.

(CHANGE 1)He looked around at the many humans who drank and partied, unaware they were in the midst of a civil war—a conflict rooted in millions of years of disagreement, politics and strife between parents, siblings and cousins.

“The Apocalypse is almost here,” Lucifer said, draping his arm around Sariel and grinning from ear to ear. “Just one more year until we’re out of here.”

“Keep your voice down,” Batarel said, shaking his head.

“Yeah, Luke,” Sariel said, pointing down at a large belt buckle that said Everything’s bigger in Hell. “Subtlety, brother. Subtlety.”

Lucifer put Sariel in a headlock, gave him a noogie, and pulled him toward the back of the bar. “After 200,000 years of being trapped on this rock, I can’t help but be excited. We’ll finally be able to look our father in the face and tell him that we avenged his son’s death.”

Michael laughed. His brothers hadn’t avenged anyone—least of all him. Michael was alive and well, reincarnated through the Hall of Souls, and everything was going according to Jehovah’s plan.

(CHANGE 2) Yet here his brothers were, once again, over confident in their abilities and mouthing off about their success in thwarting Jehovah. The last time they had bragged about besting him, Lucifer had inadvertently released all of the shadows of the Order Primal into Earth’s stratosphere. Of course, it was Jehovah who had the last laugh when 25,000 demons of the First Legion burned to dust when they tried to leave the atmosphere and hit that supernatural shadow barrier. And in the blink of an eye, Michael had been joined by the confused spirits of thousands of new recruits in the Hall of Souls.

He wondered if Lucifer would have that same bewildered, shattered look when he realized Jehovah had beaten him again. He imagined Sariel’s smirk vanishing when the assassin grasped that this armegeddon the demons had launched would be the harbinger of Chaos’s doom. He chuckled at the thought of his brother sobering, but then he remembered that Sariel was a lost cause.

If his younger brother wasn’t plotting to kill someone for the Council, Sariel was almost assuredly drinking and taking liberties with the wives and daughters of important, dangerous demons in Alurabum. That had been his life for almost a million Chaos years before getting himself trapped on Earth. Since then, Michael had watched him cavort with the wives and daughters of unimportant, impotent humans instead. In truth, Sariel was as eternally corrupt and devoid of responsibility or righteousness as Jehovah was unerringly meticulous and tenacious.

And just as no demon was as pampered and coddled as either of his brothers, no one was more brilliant and calculating than Jehovah. Soon, the other sons of Ostat would have another refresher course in humiliating inadequacy—lessons Michael knew only too well. But even as much as he resented the favor and prestige that Lucifer had always enjoyed as the Crown Prince, this was one time Michael didn’t want Jehovah to fully succeed. Chaos was still his home, even if he never planned to return.

Batarel caught him gawking, so Michael nursed his drink and pretended to look elsewhere. His scarred uncle motioned the others to a nearby table, and Lucifer shook off a couple of seating suggestions before pointing to a table at the far corner of the bar.

Between Lucifer’s group and Michael were a dozen patrons, all of whom were oblivious to the fact that four demons and an archangel were within feet of them. CHANGE 3: Along with these humans, trillions of creatures throughout the universe would be collateral damage when the apocalypse hit. As an immortal, he steeled himself to the losses as they all did. In a universe where a common supernova tended to destroy multiple solar systems, trillions of deaths were the norm.

“Doesn’t matter,” Michael said to himself. “They’ll be back again soon enough anyway.”


Explanation for changes and what I hope to convey

CHANGE 1: Michael looks around himself and pities the humans who don’t realize they are in the middle of a civil war amongst the Kadingir clan. Hopefully, this simple “tell” sets the story up a little better. It tells the reader two things: 1) this is fiction and should be read as such (it’s certainly not replacing the Bible), and 2) we need to change our perception of the war and relationship between Lucifer and Jehovah a bit to become comfortable in this fiction.

CHANGE 2: Michael sees his brothers as pampered and in need of lessons. It also makes clearer his motivations in revealing the assault on Chaos. We previously showed this through interactions between the brothers in the 1-3 chapters, but this should help the reader, with little telling, understand what’s going on in this family dynamic and give a good indication that Jehovah is more than capable of handling the Crown Prince in counter-strategy. It should also help establish Michael’s mindset better about why he’s fighting against Lucifer and Sariel. Lastly, it introduces the reader to Sariel and the type of depravity and carelessness with which he approaches eternity. I hope this last focus will help with the majority of the tonal problems and the problem some people seem to have with finding Sariel believable–that immortals could exist and still act juvenile. Sariel is definitely a complex character, and he definitely frustrates people around him–especially Lucifer, who is often a target of Sariel’s mirth.

CHANGE 3: This hopefully addresses the problem at least one reader had with number of deaths. The story doesn’t kill off millions because I believe such numbers will produce more sympathy with a reader. The story killed off millions because a catastrophic event, one that mimics the scale of a supernova but interdimensionally, happened, and the reader needs to get as used to this scale of death and destruction as immortals would have to be. It’s quite common for an ER doctor, for instance, to become numb to most death and dismemberment after seeing it frequently. It’s a coping mechanism. By telling readers that this coping mechanism exists, hopefully the reader will be more prepared for it when we “show” this mechanism at work later on during the Battle of Bulger’s Pass and the Uldram catastrophe. In the universe, death happens and it happens at scale–unfortunately. Killing only one or two characters instead of millions would not fit with the scale of events I foresaw in the series (or the universe in general–e.g., supernovas, hypernovas, and gamma ray bursts).

Older copy turn-in

If you’ve purchased Lucifer’s Odyssey and Amazon will not let you exchange your copy for the newest edition, please send me the edition at rexjameson at gmail.com, so I know you purchased it, and I will send you a new edition at no charge within the next 30 days. Any proof of purchase is acceptable, even if you’ve returned the book to Amazon. Some type of receipt, for instance, will be just fine.

The Story of Sarah Churman

So, I watched the original video of Sarah Churman getting her first Esteem hearing aid, but I hadn’t seen the Ellen interviews or any of the other ones about her getting her second Esteem device. This is a really touching story, and if you haven’t seen the videos before, I think it’s worth a moment of each of our time.

First video of Sarah getting the hearing device:

Ellen interview:

Getting the second device so she has stereoscopic sound:

Random Internet Videos #Eleventy-Five

So, I’ve had a string of serious posts, and for that I apologize. I haven’t posted a kitten video or a short song about someone wanting to fornicate with a writer in months. You deserve better. So, here’s some random internet videos for you, fresh out of the oven.

Dollar Shave Club. Hilarious

Darth Vader is a terrible golf buddy

On the topic of Vader, he’s a fantastic dancer.

2010 – Dance off with the Star Wars Stars

2008 – Dance off with the Star Wars Stars

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