Voting day for the This is the New Plan giveaway

Bet you never thought this day would come, right? But it has! Today is voting day for the This is the New Plan giveaway! You can help change the future reading list of one lucky person–the one who could write the best 250 word piece of flash fiction that had to include a random list of words!
To vote, head on over to the contest page (link here), read the stories (in the comments), and then post your vote as a comment in this entry. As in this one. The one you’re reading now. Why this entry? To make me less confused when going through the votes. I’m easily distracted, after all.
Voting will run from 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM Eastern time, today only.
Ready? And…vote!

This is the New Plan giveaway


Today the review for John Xero’s book, This is the New Plan, went up (link here). Well, I’m excited to say that John Xero has been generous enough to offer one of our readers a free copy of the book (in e-book form)!
John wrote 33 stories for this book. (Well, 33 that he included in the book. I’m sure the original short list had quite a bit more stories.) Now, it’s your turn to get creative.
To win a copy of This is the New Plan, you will need to write a short piece of fiction. Really short–it only has to be 250 words long (or less). But! Your 250-word piece of creative genius must include the following words: zombie, evil space monkey, diving board, tipi, the Rapture, seventeen, contagion, telepathy, egg, Chevy.
To enter the contest, post your story as a comment. If you have problems posting, email your story to char(@)incaseofsurvival(.)com (but remove the brackets) and I’ll post it for you.
How will the winner be decided? Well, when I stopped editing I decided I was going to stop being the Crusher of Dreams, so I’ll leave this up to a vote. That’s right, people, YOU get to decide the winner of the contest! On voting day, go to the voting day post and leave a comment with your vote for the winning story. (The voting day post will go up on–you guessed it–voting day. Which is Thursday, August 30.) (This paragraph has the words “voting” and “vote” FAR too many times.)
The contest will run until 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on Wednesday, August 29. Voting will run from 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on Thursday, August 30. Any stories posted on Thursday will be immediately disqualified. Winner will be posted on Friday, August 31.
Got that? Good.
Now what are you waiting for? Get writing! And may the best story win!

 

This is the New Plan by John Xero

This the New Plan cover

This is the New Plan by John Xero (available now)

Review copy provided by the author. 

Amazon blurb:

This is the New Plan. Thirty three genre-blending works of fiction. Thirty one flash fictions book-ended by two short stories.

This is the way the world dies. The way it is born. The way it lives and breathes. Our world, other worlds. The past, the present, the never, the future.
Discover endings and beginnings; hope and damnation; angels and demons; stolen futures… Gods, cowboys, zombies, witches, sci-fi samurai, psychopaths, little red men from Mars, and more…
Let me take you on a journey, let me show you wonders.

You may remember John Xero’s brilliant short story, “Ragestorm Requiem,” which was featured here on ICoS last year. If you enjoyed the story, you’ll probably enjoy his new book, This is the New Plan (conveniently available now).

The book is a collection of John Xero’s short stories and flash fiction pieces–33 in all. Which is a few too many for me to review individually, unfortunately–which means, of course, that you’ll have to read the book. (Aw, shucks.)

There is a great variety of stories in the book, and a good chunk of them are post-apocalyptic in nature. All of the stories are well-written, and–in my opinion, anyway–work the way short fiction should: it makes you wonder what happens next, and lets you fill in the blanks.

I’d have to say that my favorite story is still “Ragestorm Requiem,” because it’s so poignant. Maybe it’s because I have kids, and I could empathize with the way the story’s main character does everything possible to let her daughter Molly “fly.” The fact that Molly is actually dead and in an urn makes the story all the more poignant. (While reading the story I kept thinking, “What would I do if the world went to hell and one or both of my daughters died?” And I could see exactly where the character was coming from.)

Of course, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other stories in this book. I did–I enjoyed all of them. This one just stood out as my favorite.

Not every story is that sad/poignant/melancholy, of course; there are a lot of stories in the book. If poignant isn’t your thing, there’s bound to be something in there that is.

This book is great if you’re looking for short reads–these stories are the right length for a bus or train ride, or if you’ve only got five minutes here and there and don’t have time for a  novel. Overall, I highly recommend this book. I truly enjoyed it–I don’t give out 5 out of 5 scores lightly, but I’m giving it to this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Book link (Amazon)
Xeroverse (author’s blog)

Author Feature: John Xero.

Long-time readers may remember John Xero from his brilliant short story Ragestorm Requiem. Well, those of you who liked it will be pleased to hear he has a book out. This is The New Plan is a collection of his short stories and flash fiction, and what’s even better, most of them are apocalyptic or dystopian in some way.
As for why I’m not reviewing this, John Xero is actually a personal, real-life friend of mine, so I don’t feel like I can. Still, taking that into account, I still think it’s a bloody good book. Just bear in mind I’ve known him for long enough that I pretty much have to say that. (No, seriously, it’s great.)
We asked him some personal questions, because we’re always secretly judging people by their answers.
 

 
 

1. Who are you, I mean, really?

Presumably this is where most people say, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” The truth is so numbingly boring you’d probably kill yourself just from hearing it…
And so I become this adventurer, I travel to worlds, chat with gods and spacemen, witness wars and births, dance with stars and mourn over broken cities. And do I send you back a ‘wish you were here’ postcard or a lame ‘I <3 the Multiverse’ t-shirt? No. I bring you back stories.
That doesn’t really answer the question, does it? 😉

 
2. What is it that you do?

When I’m not stumbling into timeslips, lunching with deities (minor and major), or practicing my interstellar cartography, you mean? 😉
Well, OK. I play games, I read comics, I sell books, I write. My day job is bookselling, I run the science fiction and graphic novels sections for a branch of Britain’s biggest bookselling chain. And I get up extra early every morning to write.
Writing is my great passion. I love stories and storytelling, and I just want to give back some of the excitement and thrills other writers have given me over the years.

 
3. When did you first realize you wanted to do that thing?

Ah, I kind of made this difficult to answer now, didn’t I? Let’s start with the bookselling…
I dropped out of university the first time round, struggled to find a job, and ended up in data entry. Yay. Then I applied for a job in this awesome little SF and cult shop called Kulture Shock, and I got it. Surrounded by the stuff I love, all day, and getting paid for it? Yes. OK. I can do that. And have, ever since.
I started writing in my late teens. Told myself it was worth pursuing if I could stick it out and write a book.
I wrote a book.
I daren’t look at it, I do have it somewhere, but I’m sure it’s awful. It started me on the path though. I fell in love with writing. I’m not in a rush to get anywhere, but I’m slowly getting somewhere, I think, and that’s fine.

 
4. Where are you from (and how do you feel about that place?)?

I don’t really know the answer to this. I’m mostly English with a dash of Scottish, but then English is a medley of so many things already. My dad built roads, so we moved around a fair bit. I guess you could say I grew up in East Anglia, I’ve settled in Norwich though, just about the most parochial city you’ll ever find, but it’s a beautiful place and I’m happy here.

 
5. Why would you make a good apocalypse party member?

Why do tribes need storytellers and shaman?
Do you want your party to be the one that descends into savagery or the one that sparks the rebirth of civilisation?
Need a modern set of moral and cautionary tales for living in a dark and dangerous new world, ones that maybe incorporate the ideas of a golden age and a bright future? Come to me.
So it probably helps that I’m a thinker and a problem solver. And I’m physically fit and capable, so I won’t slow folk down when there’s running to be done.
And basically, I’ve already walked the dusty grounds of a thousand apocalypses in my mind, you need my experience…
 
Blogs at xeroverse.com
Tweets at @xeroverse
Editor at 101Fiction.com

Apocalyptic Fiction: Ragestorm Requiem

Legend says dawn used to be the rising sun. But then legend says the sun was a ball of fire hanging in the sky that brought day and warmth and dragged night behind it. I don’t know about that, ball of fire in the sky seems pretty unlikely to me.
I do know about the ragestorms though. My dawn is when the first hungry flashes of lightning flicker across the horizon; when the first hints of that angry, bruised rumbling reach my ears; when the black sky becomes turbulent grey. Clouds, they call them… sky ain’t nothing but clouds, I say, why we need two words?
I lift molly onto my back, take up my staff and peer out from where we hid for the night. With the ragestorm dawn there is dim light, enough to risk the world, a short space of time before the weather is fully on us in its fury and its passion. Crossing a city in full darkness is mad suicide, their shattered concrete corpses are full of falls and pain just waiting to happen, and the Nightmares.
Continue reading “Apocalyptic Fiction: Ragestorm Requiem”