A Minstrel of Modern Day – Master of the Keywork


The Afterman: Ascension – Premium Sci-Fi Brilliance.

I’ve been listening to music for a long time.  Now, when I say a long time, I mean that my father used to play classical music records when I was a baby to get me to fall asleep.  I’ve been exposed to just about every type, genre and sub-genre of music there is, thanks to my family, and so far in life I have been inspired to create art and write by artists too numerous to name.  But, you see that picture up there?  That incredible feat of artistry that basically breaks boundaries and shatters preconceived notions of what art really means?  That’s Sirius Amory, and he’s going to clean your effing space clock.  The artistic genius behind his story, his conception and his musical execution?  Claudio Sanchez, of the great progressive-rock outfit, Coheed and Cambria.

Without downplaying the musical talent of the rest of the band, which is extensive, Sanchez’ story-telling and artistry are the glue that holds all of those pieces together.  His compilation of comic books, graphic novels and novels, The Amory Wars, are the basis and conceptions for all of C&C’s studio albums.

Some of you may already be familiar with Sanchez and his and his band’s work.  It doesn’t matter, I’m still going to go on about it.  I mean, look at this guy:


His GUITAR says he’s gangsta.  A friggin’ bad ass, much like Vegeta – but on a whole different level.  Claudio Sanchez is a real live dude who could be called a modern day “minstrel”.  The guy imagines these amazing stories that dwarf my literary schmutz in comparison, and then what does he do?  He writes a damn song about it, one that doesn’t sound like a Miley Cyrus junk track (because I’m sorry that stuff is junk.  You know, like the stuff that clutters up your garage?  It kinda makes it look good and you can’t really bear to part with it, but really it has no use?  Yeah.  Junk.)  Sanchez and his band write good, damn music.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it is exceptional music, given their instrumental propensities.  You can teach anyone to use an instrument, but it takes real talent to play one, and do it with finesse.

By the way, did you look at his hair?  Fabulous.

There are rare occasions where I am so inspired by an artist that I am literally compelled to keep creating.  The most recent C&C album, The Afterman: Descension, is the sequel to the one you see above and I still have not gotten to it because I literally am not done listening to the songs on Ascension yet.  Each one of the songs evokes a different emotion in me, and though I know the stories behind each one from doing extensive (probably obsessive) research regarding the comics/graphic novels/books associated with The Amory Wars, I am still inspired by the music and the artistry involved to go and create my own universes and characters.

Listen, if you haven’t heard of this band or had a chance to read any of The Amory Wars yet, I recommend you do it as soon as possible.  Any wordsmith, of which I’m sure there are many around here, can appreciate the pure genius of Sanchez’ work.  He is my literary role model.  If I could sit down with this man and pick his brain for a mere fifteen minutes, it would be one of the greatest moments of my life.

Then, I would schedule my fifteen minutes of brain-picking with the fantastic Ms. Joan D. Vinge, and my life would be complete.

Visit their website here, and if you really feel inclined to take my advice (which you absolutely should do), take a look at the Wikipedia article detailing the universe of The Amory Wars.  You’ll be mesmerized beyond your shit, if you know what I mean.

Do it – Claudio Kilgannon would be proud, and may even let you bear witness to his assumption of The Crowing:


Good God, there is a DEMONIC TEN SPEED BICYCLE in this story.  Need I say more?

Just–just go check this out before the world ends.


The Grand Ol’ Space Opry – “The Snow Queen” by Joan D. Vinge

Although one can read my review of “The Snow Queen”, by consummate authoress Joan D. Vinge on the link here, I can only elaborate on the praise from here. This book inspired me to continue writing science fiction at an adult/professional level. At the tender age of 18, while perusing the shelves of a used book store in Estes Park, Colorado, I found an old copy of this book (then out of print).  I had seen it in once, amongst the piles and piles of old books kept in boxes down in my parents’ cellar, and was curious to read it on my own (since first having seen it, I was sure they had donated or gotten rid of the books). It is the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve read it.  Ms. Vinge has the ability to connect with her readers in a way I’ve never yet been able to understand.  She is my role model, her writing has inspired me to become a better author, and her deep connections to her characters are a model that any author should aspire to.  The ‘thing’ about science fiction as I’ve ranted about before is the ability to let your readers relate to the characters, despite their complete “other-ness” and often “inhuman” nature.

Who would have watched Star Trek if, deep down in your heart of hearts, you couldn’t relate to the seemingly emotionless Vulcan, Mr. Spock?  Leonard Nimoy, along with the writers of the series, was able to convey this empathy through his acting and through the direction of the series creators.

Ms. Vinge is such a “director”.  Her characters are alive in and of themselves, and come alive through her incredibly personal, deeply emotional dialogue and prose.

I believe she now occasionally teaches classes and seminars/workshops in California, and were I more financially able, I would attend in a heartbeat.  I recommend her books to anyone who can tear the heart out of a story and appreciate the effort it took on the part of the author to compel you to do so.

If we cannot relate to our art, as it imitates life, then what in the hell can we relate to?

Discovery and innovation are our soul, as one human race.  Ms. Vinge exemplifies this with such grace that it is difficult to disagree.  Read her.