The Empty Ones is out now!

Empty Ones final
The sequel to The Unnoticeables and book two in the Vicious Circuit trilogy, The Empty Ones is on sale now in fine establishments near you! The seedy ones probably have a few copies, too. Here’s a synopsis:


1977 was a bad year for Carey: The NYC summer was brutally hot, he barely made rent on his apartment, and most of his friends were butchered by a cult that worships the quantum angel he helped give birth to. He needs a vacation. You know where there’s supposed to be a killer punk scene? London. Oh, plus the leader of the aforementioned murderous cult is building an army there in an attempt to solve the world, once and for all. Time to mix business with pleasure. Along the way, maybe he’ll make some friends that won’t try to kill him, or even meet a nice girl who eats angels for supper and can kick a man in half. 1978 is looking better already…

2013 was a bad year for Kaitlyn, too: LA was distinctly unkind to her aspirations towards a career in stunt work, she hooked up with her childhood crush―a B-list celebrity heartthrob named Marco―and he turned out to be an immortal psychopath trying to devour her soul, and she accidentally killed the angel Marco and his bizarre cult worshipped. Now she’s on the run through the American Southwest. She heard Marco’s filming a new show in Mexico, though, so all she has to do is cross the border, navigate a sea of acidic sludge monsters, and find a way to kill an unkillable monster before he sacrifices her and her friends to his extra-dimensional god. Nobody said a career in the entertainment industry would be easy.

Following on the heels of his hilarious and horrifying novel The Unnoticeables, Robert Brockway’s The Empty Ones is like any good punk band: just when you think it can’t get any louder, they somehow turn it up a notch. It’s terrifying and hilarious, visceral and insane, chaotic and beautiful.


A New Game Idea That Will Ruin The World

I have just had the most sinister, awesome idea. Bare with me:

Collectible card games are a section of the Dorkosphere I hadn’t explored until recently. Then I started playing Hearthstone on my phone. As I do with novel things, I got way too into it for a while, and then completely over it. But discovering all the fiendish nuances of the CCG pay model was almost as fun as the game. It really is awful and brilliant. Like being the target of some genius supervillain’s revenge scheme: You have to admire the ingenuity of everything that led up to this point, even as the horde of robot wolves tear you to pieces.

Another uncharted Dork land was Warhammer 40K, so I did the same thing: Bought a few of their mobile games and tested them out, mostly as an easy point of entry to the universe. But the Warhammer mobile games do something strange: They use the card model in titles that don’t fit it at all. Tactical strategy, chess, all kinds of genres. Now, if they had cleverly merged card mechanics into the game, that would be one thing. But these cards don’t do anything different, or uniquely card-like — they act exactly the same as equipment or abilities normally would in that type of game. The only difference is there’s now a virtual border around your gun, or sniper shot, or power-whacker, or whatever, and you can buy them in randomized ‘packs.’ The whole thing seems a bit unnecessary, and kind of sleazy.

But that got me thinking…

What if you took that approach one step further: A franchise universe (like Warhammer 40k or Warcraft) consisting of all types of games — tactical strategy, real time strategy, RPG, straight up CCG, lane defense, tower defense — united by a single deck. They all share the same cards. Maybe the abilities and stats are tweaked a bit, from game to game, but the key is that your existing card collection carries over into any new game released. Conversely, new games come with exclusive cards that you can earn, then carry back into older games.

That would give the player an unprecedented feeling of ownership – it’s not just a collection or a deck you built to play this one game. This collection is you. It’s your character across a whole world of games. You’d check out every new title, even if you weren’t interested in the game itself, just to get the new cards for the games you are interested in. This would also constantly breathe new life into old games, extending their revenue potential almost indefinitely.

On the one hand, it would be fun and, in a way, more fair to the players: It’s always exciting to find out what your special deck can do in this new game, and if you get bored with it, at least it wasn’t a waste: You added to your collection for use in other titles. On the other hand, it’s completely evil: Any one game could hook a player on the entire franchise forever, hemorrhaging money as they follow the Sunk Cost fallacy down the rabbit hole for all eternity.

I can’t decide if I want somebody to do this right now, or if I never want it to happen at all.


The consensus about novellas now being called “bookshots” is that James Patterson’s readers would find the term “novella” too foreign or effeminate, and wouldn’t buy them. That’s probably true, and seeing how the word is catching on even for non-Patterson novellas, it may be a smart bit of marketing.
But it’s a stupid everything else. Jesus, is any reader’s masculinity that fragile?
“Novel? I ain’t readin’ that. Sounds like somethin’ if you ordered it at a bar it’d come in a martini glass with whipped cream on top. Naw, I read books. That’s a good, solid word: Book. Sounds like the noise you’d make when you got kicked by a horse.
Combine that with shot – whether that’s whiskey or a bullet wound – and you got yourself a horse-kickin’, hard-drinkin’, hard-shootin’ adventure.
Read a novella?
I say ‘no way in hell, fella.’
That’s what little French girls read. I read BOOKSHOTS. See this cover? Pure carbon fiber. Got little grooves in the spine for a tactical grip. The bookmark is a bottle opener.


My neighbors behind the fence — who all suffer from voice immodulation disorder, and therefore communicate solely via yelling — have what I can only assume is the worst dog in the world.

They’re constantly yelling at their dog, Bear, in furious and bizarrely threatening ways. A few months ago they informed Bear that if he didn’t get back here, they would “break” him. Like fucking Ivan Drago!

A few weeks ago they told Bear that if he doesn’t stop barking, he would “answer to me.” W-what? Who else is your dog going to answer to? 

We now have a running joke that Bear must be responsible for all of the world’s ills, and then follow that up with an exotic threat.





Hidden Jokes

I’m rewatching early Simpsons seasons again, and discovering new favorite jokes all the time.

When I was a child, I thought as a child, and my favorite gags were simple: Things like the snare Homer builds in the forest that just catapults the bunny into eternity.

Then I grew older, but no less obtuse, and my favorite gags were the stuff of memes: Stuff like “My eyes! The goggle’s do nothing!”

Then I thought myself grown, and began to appreciate the less direct bits: Gags like The Hammock District, where the joke is more of an implication that such a niche demand exists and thrives.

Only just now, as a man, am I even realizing the jokes hidden in bits that I wrote off as simple: The episode where Flanders is a child with anger problems and he runs around the daycare hitting the other kids and yelling “I’m Dick Tracy! Take that, Pruneface! Now I’m Pruneface! Take that, Dick Tracy! Now I’m Prune Tracy!” The doctor runs over and stops him before he can finish the logical conclusion of the chain: “Now I’m Dickface!”


But the one that truly gets me is in the Krusty/Gabbo episode, where Krusty says he once owned a race horse with Bette Midler.

“We called it Krudler!”

I used to stop thinking right there, because my lazy brain was given no cues to dig deeper.

“Okay, that’s just a funny name,” I thought. “Joke registered. Moving on.”

But that’s not the joke at all – the real joke is only ever implied: That they chose such a terrible name over the perfect and obvious name for their horse. Because if you combine their two names in the other way, the horse’s name would have been “Misty.”

Layers and layers.

Problems with self and esteem

I’m always on the lookout for a good solid joke car: A make and model of automobile that can serve as its own punchline. This is more complicated than it seems. There are criteria.
First, it can’t be too common. A Kia Soul is an excellent joke car, but they’re everywhere. Their ubiquity takes away from the humor. But you also can’t go so obscure that nobody knows what you’re talking about. I’m sure foreign market only cars have some hilarious names, but nobody will laugh if they have to pause and think “what is that?”
Further, the car itself has to be a piece of shit. The Ferrari LaFerrari is a really stupid name, but it’s too fancy a car to net a laugh.
Now, back in the day, my go to was a Ford Fiesta. It hit all the right notes: Common but not everywhere, generally a piece of shit, and a hilarious name.
You step into my Ford and every day is a fiesta!
No, it’s really not. The AC smells like dead rats and the reverse doesn’t work so you can only park on hills.
But then fucking Ford had to go and bring the Fiesta back, sell a ton of them, and to add insult to injury — apparently make them pretty good cars! You assholes.
And then, oh god, it finally happened. I found the perfect new joke car: The Suzuki Esteem. It was like angels parted the clouds just to shine the light of comedy on that horrible rattling deathtrap. I was so happy.
Last night, I started watching Better Call Saul. He drives a Suzuki Esteem. They beat me to it.
God damn everything.

Don’t cry for me; I’m already dead

Sometimes I can actually feel myself begin to imagine something that I really don’t want to, and I enter into an epic struggle to distract my brain by creating ever more detailed, intricate, absurd scenarios – a unicorn whose horn unravels into helicopter blades, a beach where every grain of sand is a tiny yelling face, a flesh Voltron made out of the cast of Predator — before the visuals of what I’m trying NOT to imagine kick in and scar me for life. That’s how I felt after reading ‘woman that looks like Ted Cruz agrees to do porn.’ My defense mechanisms didn’t work. Anyway, that’s why I’m committing suicide. Not your fault, so much love, no more pain, don’t touch my stuff, yadda yadda yadda.

On Aliens and “dick tubes.”

I rewatched Aliens, and I have some thoughts: First and foremost, it’s remarkable how solid of a film it is. There’s such an effective economy of storytelling, and such memorable characters that get so little screentime. That’s a tough writing trick to pull off. It’s also surprising to me just how well practical effects of the ’80s hold up — from Blade Runner to Aliens to The Thing — while all CGI, even from just a few years ago, seems to age horribly. And finally, perhaps most importantly: When the movie first came out I knew a kid that told me he thought the queen alien’s egg tube was “hot” and he “couldn’t stop thinking about putting his dick in it.” I hadn’t even gone through puberty at the time, so I didn’t have much of a reply for him. But I assumed that was normal. Well, Warren, I’ve had some time to reflect on it, and I feel I can definitively say “that was not normal” and “I disagree.”

The Fold and 14, by Peter Clines


I finished Peter Clines’ The Fold over the weekend. Long story short: It, and 14, are great and you should read them. Setting-based mysteries, cosmic horror and hard sci-fi that know how to deliver.

Long story long: It’s not strictly necessary to read 14 first. It is a stand alone book. But it just functions much better as a sequel. I heard that from everybody, and everybody was right. I stopped reading The Fold to pick up 14, and that’s the way to do it. Just be aware that 14 is more of a slow burn, while the Fold is tight and focused. 14 is a TV show, while The Fold is a movie.

And now you’ve read like 100 words of this garbage when you could be reading 100 words of the actual books. You’re wasting time. Go buy them, if only so he has the financial incentive to write more books in that universe. I’m a selfish, selfish man.

WonderCon Appearance Info

Your last reminder: I’m going to be at WonderCon, tomorrow 3/26. Here are the details:

2:00-3:00PM It’s a Horrible Life (or UnLife) Room 151
What is it about grim and gritty, dark and dystopian, that readers crave? And how can humor exist in the midst thereof? Tap into the noir side of existence with R.S. Belcher (The Six-Gun Tarot, The Brotherhood of the Wheel, TOR), Robert Brockway (The Unnoticeables), Stephen Blackmoore (“Heroes Reborn: Dirty Deeds”), Scott Sigler (Generations Trilogy), Amber Benson (The Echo Park Coven novels), and David Mariotte of Mysterious Galaxy.

3:15-4:00PM Signing Autograph Booth #3000
With Robert Brockway (The Unnoticeables), R.S. Belcher (The Six-Gun Tarot, The Brotherhood of the Wheel), Stephen Blackmoore (“Heroes Reborn: Dirty Deeds”), Scott Sigler (Generations Trilogy),Amber Benson (The Echo Park Coven novels), and Heather Nuhfer (Weirdest)

Come hang out! Get something signed! Make ill-advised bets and then welch on them, knowing my memory is worse than yours!