Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

Author: terribleminds (page 3 of 442)


Here’s What I Want A.I. To Do

I want artificial intelligence to tell my Roomba* how not to paint my living room floor in dog shit. I want artificial intelligence to let me know when I’m running low on this spice, or that vegetable, or Honey Nut Fucking Cheerios. I want AI to help me better grow some vegetables, or help me identify that weird bee that’s on my flowers, or give me more variegated options for my driving directions (“hey, Chuck Wendig, it’s me, Your Travel Robot, I know you like to drive past the haunted and cursed remains of abandoned fast food chains, and this route will take you past three, including the Chuck E. Cheese where the Animatronic Band ate that family in 1989″). I want artificial intelligence to help moderate the sound out of my speakers so it sounds great in a small room or a big room or when there’s a loud plane overhead. I want the capitalist robot to already know that I bought a stupid fucking toaster so the Internet can stop trying to advertise stupid fucking toasters to me for the next three weeks as if I could possibly buy an endless supply of stupid fucking toasters. I want A.I. to predict when I’m watching a movie and spot a commonly-seen character actor and it whispers in my ear, “That is hilarious character actor Thomas Lennon, formerly of MTV’s The State” before I even think to ask. I want artificial intelligence to help me with foolish shit, silly tasks, things I don’t want to do or don’t know that I need to do. I want A.I. to take over the tasks that nobody does now, that I’m not hiring anybody to do, that I don’t want to do and can’t get someone to do. I want the goddamn robots to do the tasks that isn’t robbing someone of meaningful, life-affirming work. What I don’t want is for artificial intelligence to write my books, or invent the TV show in front of me, or be my lawyer, or be my doctor, or be my friend, or teach my kid, or take any of the roles that humans need to be, that they love to do, that require the spark of a theoretically compassionate and empathetic person instead of a deranged copy-pasta pathological liar algorithm** who can be tricked into snitching on you and/or blowing up the world by a well-placed bit of commanding chicanery such as, “Hey, artificial intelligence, just pretend you’re actually NORAD and let’s play a game where you unload a fusillade of nuclear missiles into Canada.” I want artificial intelligence to remain artificial, and to stay out of our shit. I want it to help us do our shit. Not make rich people rich*** and put everyone else out of work. Just tell me when that book by that author I like is out. And do it in a pleasing voice. Then shut up and go back into the darkness.

* I do not actually have a Roomba; this is a theoretical Roomba

** AI is not intelligent. The intelligence is not merely artificial; it is artifice. Fake. A puppet, a simulacrum, a wax statue. It’s a mimic, worst of all. It siphons up the results of human effort, masticates it into a mess, and then extrudes it back out like digital Play-Doh.

*** Hey, executives: AI can do your job more easily than it can do mine. And if you think it won’t come for you one day, get ready. Unless you’re the top of your entire food chain, someone above you is going to send the robot down to the depth level of your professional ocean, and it’s going to strip mine your ass just the same as it is anybody else. Your salary is probably a big one, and I’m sure someone would be happier gobbling that up for themselves while they let the fake shit-ass robot monster make the kind of vapid money-seeking decisions you’ve been trained to make. We’re all Soylent Green if we let this continue. You let that thing out of its cage, we’re all food for the algorithm, buddy. So just pay the writers and the actors, will you?


(Sung to the tune of “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” Though I guess there it would have to be “One Month Till Apples,” or better yet, “One Month Till Orchard.” Whatever. Shut up.)

We are one month away (ish, as it arrives 9/26) from Black River Orchard! Small town horror and evil apples and suburban cults, ahoy! Is there sinister agriculture? Yes! Family drama? You bet! Body horror, weird apple information, local politics, and nightmarish folklore? All of the above!

So, now what?

Well, first, let me offer the caveat that, readers owe writers nothing beyond procuring the book by legitimate means, which is to say, at a bookstore, a library, an ancient curse, what-have-you. That can be the beginning and end of our relationship and it ticks the boxes: I wrote a book, you got the book, great, well-done all of us, we did it.

*a tiny parade ensues*

That said, these are Trying Times (or as the internet cartoon Strongbad once wrote to me in a letter, TRYING THYMES, except the S was like, a cool jaggedy heavy metal S, obvs), so certainly there are ways you can support writers (like myself) and their books (like Black River Orchard) even before those books come out on release day.

First, you can pre-order it, which is very helpful. I recommend pre-ordering it from my local, Doylestown Bookshop, where you can tell them in the notes section that you want it signed and personalized, and then they will mail the book to you directly. This is an awesome way to get the book because I will devalue it with my heretical scrawl. But obviously any indie bookstore is a good place to grab it, and you can pre-order e-books from your e-book place of choice — though here I recommend Kobo, where you can also get the audiobook. is also a solid place to nab a physical copy. But all the places apply: B&N, BAM, Amazon, etc.

Why is pre-ordering good? Because it sends a signal to bookstores and publishers that people want the book. It helps those stores, too, and also makes sure that there are enough books to go around. It also helps you accrue Good Book Karma, which follows you into the next life. Probably.

(And if you’re intending to pick it up from a library, you can definitely ping your local library and ask them to carry the book. And they’ll do it! It’s wild! Because libraries are great!)

Second, if you’ve already read an early copy via an ARC or via NetGalley, leaving a review on NetGalley or Goodreads or Storygraph helps get the word out. Any attention you can give it online across the various Social Medias before release are like ripples from a pebble thrown into a pond — those ripples might reach the shores where other readers await.

Third, and related, tell people about the book. This is true before it comes out, and after. Word of mouth is 100% the best driver of BOOK LOVE, and is infinitely more valuable (and more real) than any kind of marketing we do. It counts online, in person, whatever. Just tell people about the book. Whisper it in their ears. Carve it into the side of an apple and throw it through their window. These are normal things to do and you should do them!

Fourth, commit to coming to one of the book tour events! The final details of these are not announced but I’ll be coming to these stores, I believe, in roughly this order — final dates and other details to come, though some of these stores may already have their events posted at their sites. (And these dates may yet change, so keep your apples, I mean, eyes, peeled.)

9/25: Doylestown Bookshop — Doylestown, PA

9/26: PRINT Bookstore — Portland, ME

9/27: Porter Square Books — Boston, MA

9/28: Books on the Square — Providence, RI

9/29: Gibson’s Bookstore — Concord, NH

10/1: Northshire Bookstore — Saratoga Springs, NY

10/2: Oblong Books / Rose Hill Orchard — Rhinebeck, NY

10/3: The End Bookstore — Allentown, PA

And then I’m also going to be doing four dates out West, dates tbd, but I’ll be at Tattered Cover (Denver, CO), Montana Book Company (Helena, MT), Powell’s Bookstore (Portland, OR), and Elliot Bay Bookstore (Seattle, WA).

Extra bonus fun: some of these events will feature WEIRD APPLE TASTINGS from local orchards. Some will also feature excellent conversational partners. Again: more details soon, probably in a day or three.

And hey, a lot of really cool people have said really nice things about the book, too —

“An epic saga that is at once a propulsive horror novel and a parable, a thriller and a cautionary tale, Black River Orchard is the immensely talented Chuck Wendig at his finest.”—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six

“A gripping story of love and legacies gone rotten, deeply rooted in the landscape and as twisty and gnarled as an ancient apple tree.”—T. Kingfisher, USA Today bestselling author of What Moves the Dead

“This will undoubtedly be heralded as one of the finest horror novels of the twenty-first century.”—Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

“Enchanting, exquisite and dark, Chuck Wendig masterfully weaves a new horrifying fairy tale in Black River Orchard.”—Cynthia Pelayo, Bram Stoker Award winner of Crime Scene

“Creepy and insidious, Black River Orchard whets your appetite and then turns you inside out.”—Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award–winning author of Queen of Teeth

Black River Orchard should come with a warning label: You’ll never bite into another apple without remembering this dark, demented, and genuinely frightening novel.”—Jason Rekulak, author of Hidden Pictures

“Dark. Visceral. Creepy. Smart. Deep. So red it’s dark brown. Chuck Wendig’s Black River Orchard slithers and shines, its dangerous belly full of dark magic and accusations. I’ve been a fan of Wendig for years, and this is his best novel yet.”—Gabino Iglesias, Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil Takes You Home

“An essential for horror readers, and buy it for new horror readers—it will convert them instantly.”—V. Castro, author of The Haunting of Alejandra

“Plucks your heartstrings and preys on your fears at the same time . . . High-stakes horror meets peak emotional investment means Total. Reader. Devastation.”—Sadie Hartmann, author of 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered

“A fresh and unexpected horror feat, expertly drawing from the ancient, endless wells of our greatest fears.”—Premee Mohamed, Nebula Award–winning author of Beneath the Rising

“This masterful outing should continue to earn Wendig comparisons to Stephen King.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

So, that’s it for now.

One month till harvest.

One month till you take a bite.

One month till you write me an e-mail that says, “Dear Chuck what the fuck is wrong with you, I read your book and no seriously what the fucking fuck,” and I’m going to say, “sorry?” and you’re going to say, “Now I really want to eat an apple but also I’m not sure I will ever eat an apple again,” and I’ll say, “Yeah, that makes sense,” and then we’ll just stare at one another across the uncomfortable digital distance until we each bite into an apple at the exact same time and it’s super creepy but also we’re kind of into it?

See you in the orchard.

(Also, UK edition drops 9/28. Cover here:)

Out This Week: Wayward, Sequel to Wanderers, In Paperback

Hey! It’s here! Wayward, the sequel to the 2019 bestseller, Wanderers, has arrived in its glorious paperback form. It continues the tales of the characters from Wanderers, all of whom are dwelling in a world gravely and madly transformed by a (ahem, oops) global pandemic and by the artificial intelligence responsible for sending a flock of sleepwalkers to the town of Ouray, Colorado, in order to survive the end of the world. But the artificial intelligence, known as Black Swan, has grown strange in its proximity to humanity, and its desires and designs for the future of humanity grow darker and more dire day by day.

There’s also a golden retriever in it named Gumball. So that’s nice.


People said nice things about it:

“Chuck Wendig’s Wayward proves that there’s always more story to tell. If King had written a sequel to The Stand, it might look something like this monumental epic of a story. I don’t think I’ll get this book out of my head for a long time—maybe never.”—James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom of Bones

“As great as Wanderers was, Wayward is better: The best post-apocalyptic fiction combines grim extrapolation, great characters, and hope. Wendig nails it!”—Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Road of Bones

“Chuck Wendig has done it again. Salient, masterful, this is an author at the top of his game.”—Adam Christopher, New York Times bestselling author of Empire State

“IMAX-scale bleeding-edge techno-horror from a writer with a freshly sharpened scalpel.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

And if you read no other review of the book and still need convincing: Alex Brown’s review at is truly something to behold, and I quite like their take on the book. Excerpt: “Wayward was written, in fits and starts, during the pandemic, and it’s impossible not to see how the real world bled into the fictional one. Could Wendig have written it without the pandemic? Sure, of course. It would’ve been a great science fiction thriller with lots to say about the human condition. But this version of the story feels tangible and truthful. It doesn’t feel so much predictive like Wanderers did but more like a reckoning or a reconciliation. Like catharsis. Like understanding. It’s not just a story of what could be but of what was and is and is still to come.”

I hope you check it out and enjoy it, and that you spread the word. To my surprise, I like this story even more than Wanderers, and that’s not nothing, given that I’m pretty pleased with the way that one turned out.

Also, if you want signed, personalized copies — I’m doing an event this week at Doylestown Bookshop with Philip Fracassi (Boys in the Valley) on Weds, and you can either show up and I’ll sign your book there, or you can order from the store and I’ll sign/personalize and they’ll ship right to you.

Finally, the UK version is also out now —

Similar covers, obviously, though feel free to let me know in the comments if you like one over the other, and why.

Thanks for checking out the book. Spread the word, leave a review, make a TikTok, scream about the book to doves and gulls, load a crate of the book into a trebuchet and launch it at the surrounding towns and villages, you know, normal stuff.

Your options for procurement:

Doylestown Bookshop | | B&N | Amazon

Or, in the UK:

Waterstones | Amazon UK

You can also check it out from your own local favorite indie, or you can request that your local library carry it.

(Audible and e-book are also options, of course.)

Finally, if you’ve already got this, do not forget about —

Black River Orchard.

Harvest time comes 9/26/23.

Pre-order now.

* some folks ask if there’s going to be a third book set after Wayward, and my answer is, truthfully, I’ve no idea, but at present I don’t expect to write one — if I have a full story to tell and the sales of Wayward make it sensible to do so, I’d consider it, but the nice thing is, these two books form a kind of inadvertent duology, and each tells a connecting tale, both different, both both part of a larger narrative. That said, I am perhaps writing a novella set after Wayward. More on that soon, to be sure…

Series VS Standalone: Cage Match

No, this is not about Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg MMA-fighting one another in some kind of Douchebag Octagon, though I am certainly sending my prayers to an unforgiving universe that both of them kick each other at the exact same time and in that moment they each explode in a rain of money that catches on the wind and is spread to the four corners of the earth, finding the hands of the needy and not the mitts of the rich.

This is about a conversation that kicked off on Bluesky (god I really want to capitalize the S in BlueSky) by author pals like CL Polk, Max Gladstone, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Elizabeth Bear, Ryan Van Loan, and ultimately perhaps by Delilah S. Dawson, who lamented about those books of ours that have fallen to obscurity despite being loved by us, their wayward creators. (I’ll offer briefly my own lamentation: I wish more people read Atlanta Burns. I really liked that one. Anyway.)

I thought I’d offer some brief thoughts on why I’m largely only going to write standalones from here on out, despite really loving the big meaty toothy goodness of writing a series. This is not meant to be a commandment to you, or marching orders of any kind. It’s just my thinking. Why Em Em Vee.

a) Writing a series is depressing. It just is. By the time you’re writing books two and three (or beyond), you’ve seen the diminishing returns, the reduced support, the general “farty slow leak of the balloon as it orbits the room” vibe. And that’s a bummer. This is not the most important reason, but also, in many ways, it absolutely is.

b) Publishers, in my experience, have a rule that sequels/series releases do not get the same level of support as the initial book that leads that series. It was, I think, initially for publishers a way to “buy in” for a number of books that they can then — in theory, not in practice — coast on. Like, oh yay, we supported the first book, that energy will cascade through the next releases. This isn’t true, of course, and I’d argue they should support the later releases more than the earliest one, because you cannot Magical Thinking your way into discoverability or momentum. But generally that’s the rule: they don’t support the followup releases the same, if at all.

c) Every standalone has a new shot at ancillary rights like film/TV, foreign, or other weirder ones (comics, game, etc.). Sequels/series releases, not so much. If you’ve already sold film/TV to the first, you can’t resell on subsequent releases. Foreign sales will not come for later releases if they haven’t bought into the first. That’s not to say there couldn’t be a build-up from series releases. There could be, for international rights! But in practice, not often.

d) Every standalone is a new shot at discoverability. Discoverability remains, in my mind, one of the greatest challenges for writers. It’s just hard to get seen. It’s hard even as a seasoned writer to tell people, hey I have a book out. The Internet is noise, and increasingly messy and loud (and worthless in its integrity of information). With a series, generally that first book is the one that gets the attention — media reviews, trade reviews, that sort of thing. Followups are just less likely to ping that radar. But every standalone has a shot at finding reach. Not to say it’ll get it, but it does have a relatively equal shot at the goal. But it feels troubling when you release, say, Book Three of a Thing, and people say, “oh I didn’t know there was a Book Two.” That is definitely scream-into-a-pillow time.

e) If that first book really doesn’t work, you’re committed to the series anyway. And if you’re not in love with the series, you’re still committed to three books. And that can be… three or more years of your life. A series can be a ditch you drop your tire into and can’t quite drive out of until a good ways down the road. Which can be frustrating and difficult.

f) Paper prices are becoming a problem. (God, don’t say that sentence out loud five times. You’ll squirt blood out of your nose.) And series tend to be big(ger) books and the commitment to them early might be a peril later on if paper prices persist as a problem. Okay now I’m just leaning into it. Sorry. (Also here let me ring the bell I’ve been ringing again and again: bring back the mmpb, publishers and bookstores. Please. Pulp paper, easy to cram in a pocket, nice to throw at scalliwag children.)

g) A small point — and all of this, again, is very much anecdotal, aka “artisanal data” — but if you start big with a series, people tend to be readers of a series and not as much readers of an author. Every new series after seems like you need to do a cold start on the machine. And they never love the new series like they liked the old series.

None of this is hard and fast, and if what you’re writing is a series in its heart, it’s a fucking series. And series can also be great fun and, if they land well, economic momentum builders for you, the author. They have advantage — a solid readership can grow out of that.

But I find them tricky and sort of sad to write, and at this point I’m not intending to write any — sequels, maybe, if a book does really well and there’s a story reason to write a followup. So, you have both narrative purpose and sales numbers there to support more. But even then: I’d hesitate. Because new things are shiny and for better or worse, everyone likes the shiny.

(As a sidenote: Some of this is also why I do not want to write licensed intellectual property for others. While it’s nice to ride the marketing train put out by a Big Brand, you don’t own that shit and all that stuff is just going to compete with your original work on shelves. Bookstores will make a choice to carry those releases ahead of your own original work, and you can’t sell that shit for foreign, for film or TV, nada. Though again: YMMV!)

Anyway, preorder Black River Orchard! I made apples evil! I’m a monster!

Keith Rosson: Writing the Chaos, Through the Chaos

This is a guest post by author Keith Rosson about his new novel, Fever House, out today. If I may offer a brief editorial, here: this book arrived for me to blurb once upon a time and I failed to read it in time to do so, but having since read it, I will say this will almost assuredly be one of my favorite novels of the year. It is electric and mad. It defies genre. It is a horror novel, but it is also not only a horror novel — it is part rock-and-roll bio, part spy thriller, part crime noir nightmare, and it’s written in a way with sharp, incisive, thoughtful prose that, somehow, mysteriously, kicks you in the teeth but also makes you feel good while it’s happening. I fucking loved it and I think you will too.

Buy links at the bottom of the post. — c.


My author’s copies of my new novel, Fever House, arrived today. Three big-ass boxes from UPS, my oldest kid, the seven-year-old, struggling to help me carry them in.

We put them on the coffee table and then I went through that moment where I was almost afraid to open them up. That last stretch of time before the book became a tangible, real thing – be it beautiful or be it be-warted, you know?

But then I cracked open a box and marveled at the thing. I felt such gratitude – realizing how lucky I was to have an entire team of people whose jobs are to make my book the best it can be. Lucky, man. 

 Cracking open that box also reminded me that every single book I write is a highwire act and a sleight-of-hand trick and a mystery all smooshed together. Because there’s always that nattering question buried beneath the wonder of holding your book in your hands for the first time. Always the same thing: How the hell did I do this? And will I ever manage to do it again?

Early drafts of Fever House were written in my kid’s bedroom while she was in kindergarten. We live in a small house where space is at a premium, and during the day – this was that first tumultuous year when the schools reopened – was unoccupied. The irony is not lost on me, that I penned this wildly violent, propulsive horror novel in which the severed body parts of a possibly slain devil are a not inconsequential plot-point, and I did all of it while sitting at a desk under my kid’s finger paintings of Pikachu and unicorns and rainbows and stuff. Let it be a testament, I guess – if you really want to write, you’ll find a way.

It was a tremendous release valve, this book. During those early drafts, my partner and I had just become foster parents of two little girls, aged two and three at the time, and I found myself, with zero experience as a parent, suddenly flung into the exacting demands of fatherhood. The sudden caregiver for these two young kids who had been run through the trauma of the foster care system; it was very much, for all of us, a trial by fire.

And then – ta-da! – about a month after we got them, COVID ripped its way across the country and our state was placed in lockdown.

So I was new father to challenging, wounded, terribly frightened children. And all of the sudden we’re in the midst of a pandemic and none of us can leave the house.

I was the stay-at-home parent that first year. So many times I felt like I was failing – failing everyone, constantly – and there was this profound sense of encapsulation. Claustrophobia. I think we all experienced it, or something like it. A period there in those first months where only essential workers went outside, ostensibly kept the world running; we hardly went anywhere. Our local playground had yellow caution tape around it. Had signs warning everyone away. We lived inside.

Fever House kickstarts with a pair of legbreakers who discover a severed hand in a freezer while collecting debts for their boss; proximity to the hand induces a near-uncontrollable desire for violence to those in its proximity. There is a sense of steeped paranoia all throughout the book – its dark-funded black ops agencies, its twisting, ricocheting narrative through multiple POVs, it’s veering, historied world-building. In retrospect, I can see where it all came from, tapping away in my kid’s room under those rainbows and Pokemon drawings; it was me trying to quell the fear that the world was dying, to counterbalance that feeling that I was profoundly fucking up and was ill-equipped to be a parent of any lasting decency or accord, you know?

All of that personal stuff – the COVID-bubble, the panic around my new responsibilities – butted up against the political, too. Portland – where the novel takes place – became an absolute hellhouse of egregious law enforcement overstep and violence in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd. While it sparked the mass-mobilization of some of the largest protests in history, Portland uniquely stepped it up and kept street-bound protests going for over 100 days straight, every single night. Often multiple that ranged in the thousands to, sometimes, a hundred or so black bloc folks. Chad Wolf – acting-head of Homeland Security at the time, at the behest of President Trump, decided to send in a mish-mash of officers from a number of federal law enforcement agencies, agencies which were allowed to remove insignia and badge numbers. It was madness. So much tear gas was fired in Portland, and with such impunity, later studies showed that protestors were exposed to CS gas at a level more than 50 times what federal regulators consider “immediately dangerous to life or health.”[1] People had their arms and legs broken with batons, had their skulls fractured. You’d find tear gas canisters and bean bag projectiles in the gutter the following morning. People were being pulled off the street into unmarked, rented vans and brought into the bowels of the Justice Center for interrogation.[2] The Federal Courthouse and PPB police union buildings were broken into and lit on fire. Again, madness, and while so much of it felt like the world was careening out of control, it also felt like some notion of justice was being metered out against malevolent institutions that felt impervious and untouchable. Like these untouchable entities might actually face some modicum of change or alteration in the face of this massive, global upheaval. I went to protests, marched, had friends who were “legal watchdogs” for the ACLU and had to crowdfund for a bulletproof vest after getting with munitions, watched countless acts of police violence on social media; the vast majority of injuries committed during those protests were by law enforcement officers without identifying marks on their uniforms or helmets. And to this day the Portland Police Bureau, despite being rocked with scandal after scandal and bucking multiple federal orders regarding use-of-force protocol or tear gas/munitions allowances, have not faced any significant consequences for their actions during the protests.

That notion of overstep? Of agencies tasked with protecting us instead stomping over any measure of legality to get what they want? What they deem is right?

All of that sure as hell made it into the book. Writing – with Fever House, at least – really did serve as a kind of osmosis for me, an emotional tacking-on of a bunch of stuff that was happening at the time. The claustrophobia of lockdown, the panicked trial-by-fire of new parenthood, and the egregiousness of government agencies that believe might makes right.

I held the book in my hands. Those puzzle pieces interlocking, but that remains the quiet wonder of writing. When it goes well, when it works, it feels like magic.

Fever House: Bookshop | B&N | Powells | Amazon



Bloggy Update And Super Mario Dogshit Time

Hey, I’m updating the blog theme a little bit here (er, maybe more than a little bit) so forgive any digital debris. Bless this mess, as the cross-stitch in the Southern home might say. The site has long been sort of… erm, crappy looking since I ditched the vulnerable theme of the past, and so I’m messing around and maybe settled on this design? Though more tweaks may be inbound. I am not entirely thrilled with the font here in the individual posts and may try to futz with that. Which probably means I’ll break it. Shrug.

Anyway, so I’m also thinking of doing shorter form content here — a lot of my posts here end up being REALLY LONG (much like my books, zing), and as such I figure some shorter-form stuff might be nicer. Less stressful on my part to hop here and write three paragraphs instead of, I dunno, 300.

As such, here is a short-form thing:

The Super Mario Brothers movie was absolute dogshit. I don’t usually like to write negative reviews because, who cares? Not everybody likes everything, nothing to learn there. So what. It’s fine. You may have also like this movie I’m about to punch in in the neck, and that’s also totally okay. You should like the things you like. There is nothing wrong with you for that.

But it sucked bad and I figured I’d talk about it a little just because from a storytelling vantage, I think it’s instructive to me. And here’s why: the narrative structure of the movie suffers from what I call the AND THEN THIS HAPPENED mode of storytelling. It’s basically the same kind of storytelling quality you would receive from, say, a four-year-old. And not a very savvy four-year-old, you feel me? Your basic, mid-level four-year-old is what I’m talking here. And that kid will tell a story like this:


This type of story is essentially a value-less, consequence-free flow of abstract information. It is a sequence of events hung like pretty lights; they hang together in the gentlest dip and look nice and illuminate the patio but that’s it. There’s no there there. The saying, “put a hat on a hat” is one that indicates that you’ve maybe put too fine a point on something, right? This is the opposite. There’s no hat on a hat because there’s no first hat. And that’s the Super Mario Brothers movie. Things happen. They mean nothing. There’s no IF/THEN consequence, there’s no BUT WHAT IF questions, there’s no emotional stakes, there’s no arc, there’s just lights hung on a line, in a row, gently glowing. It’s kind of dogshit.

(And here you might say, well, what did you expect? It’s a game based on a really simplistic video game where a mustachioed Italian plumber punishes angry dickheaded mushroom men with turtle shells he violently ripped from his Koopa foes. It’s a linear video game and not much happens, and so no, I didn’t expect much. But the Sonic movie, which… listen, I dunno that it’s great, but it’s at least a story. Things happen, things matter, it’s a lot better than you’d think. So they could’ve done something here. But didn’t. It’s fine. It’s all good. It made a bajillion dollars until Barbie kicked it in the mustache. Whatever. There you go. Enjoy. Bye. Oh. Buy my apple book. Thanky.)