A Follow Up Question for Chris Bucholz

By Lesley Conner
on December 17, 2014
1 comment

Last week we ran an interview with Chris Bucholz, the author of our most recent release, Severance. In the interview we talked about everything from how the novel came about, what Chris would do if it became a mega-hit, and his writing process. You can read the full interview here.

When tackling the question of what he would do if he were a passenger on the Argos, the generation ship that is the setting for Severance, Chris mentioned that he thought the folks in the competitive lovemaking league probably had a lot of fun. Of course they did! It's a competitive lovemaking league! What wouldn't be fun about that! And we went on with the interview.

After posting the interview I got to thinking about the logistics of such thing. Mainly, how would a competitive lovemaking league be scored. Creativity in positions? Duration? Dismount? All day new possibilities roamed through my thoughts until finally I emailed Chris to ask. He was the man with the answers, after all, and I had to know!

So, for all of you who were also wondering how competitive lovemaking would be scored, here's Chris's response:

Heh, that's actually a tough one to answer. In comedy it's often funnier leaving certain things unsaid, offering a set-up without any supporting details, to let each reader's imagination fill in the blanks with whatever comes to their mind. "Competitive lovemaking league" might inspire visions of cheering crowds, prohibited holds, penalty flags, or various other sporting miscellany. They write half the humor for you that way. Any detailed description I could offer would negate the reader's own vision of what was going on - what if they were imagining a really loud shotclock buzzer that I failed to describe - and possibly ruin some of the comedy.

But what the heck, let's do it anyways. In the world of Severance, Competitive Lovemaking is scored by a panel of judges who measure form, artistic interpretation, and distance. Points are deduced for grunting, but also, confusingly, added for grunting. There are bonus rounds where all points double, penalties for too many men on the field, and regular turnovers. And yes, there is a very loud shotclock buzzer.

You can find out more about the occupants of the Argos and the ways in which they pass the time by reading Severance, available now.

Interview with Chris Bucholz, author of Severance

By Lesley Conner
on December 11, 2014
1 comment

Severance by Christ Bucholz is the newest novel to join the Apex catalog. Set on a generation ship that is nearing the end of it's 240 year journey, it's dark science fiction with a humorous twist.

Since Severance was release Tuesday (Have you bought your copy yet? No? Why not? Go buy it now!), we decided to ask Chris a few questions about it and writing in general.

Apex Publications: When did you decide to write Severance, and what was your inspiration for the novel?

Chris Bucholz: I started writing Severance in 2008 which seems like a long time ago now. Not a geologically long time I guess, the mountains were probably still the same size. But still, definitely a medium-long time in human terms. The idea for the novel had been kicking around in my head for a long time before that. A generation ship has always seemed like a neat setting to base a conflict in. I don't know what originally inspired that - maybe I saw one of those arty utopian renderings of space colonies from the 1970's and started imagining laser guns shooting back and forth.

AP: Laura Stein is an interesting main character; anti-social, snarky, and a bit condescending, though fiercely loyal to her few friends. How did you know she was your main character, rather than say Bruce, and what went into her development?

CB: Laura was always planned to be the main character, and although Bruce is certainly dynamic and fun to spend time with, he was always conceived as a sidekick. The straight man plus comedic sidekick setup is a time honored one which I've worked with a few times before. It's easier to hang outrageous behavior on a supporting character like that - you don't have to write their inner viewpoint describing how they justify doing so many things pantsless.

As far as Laura's character, in earlier drafts of the novel, she was much less anti-social. But notably the other occupants of the Argos weren't quite as dumb as they are now. It was in later drafts that Argosians became dumber (and funnier), which made Laura's intelligence and perception stand out a bit. I decided to keep that difference and portray her with the condescension and aloofness she'd develop as a result of it. This also added a nice parallel between her character and the antagonists in the novel, which is one of those happy coincidences that sometimes happen when you're writing, and make it such fun.

AP: If you were a passenger on the Argos, what would you be doing to pass the time? Would you join a group like the Markers or Breeders, take Brash and charge into battle, find a nice orgy? None of the above?

CB: I'd like to say I'd be the intelligent and aloof one, but man, that'd be missing out on the fun. In terms of groups, I think the low gravity community theater group looked like they had a lot of fun. Also probably the folks in the ship's competitive lovemaking league.

AP: You’re a columnist for Cracked.com. How is the process of writing a novel different from writing an article? Was there anything about the novel writing process that surprised you?

CB: From a high level the process might look similar; an outline and rough first draft followed by multiple revisions. But up close, the process is completely different, like, startling so. A novel has elements that a shorter work never has to worry itself with. Keeping someone's attention over 120,000 words requires a pretty deep understanding of plot, character, theme, structure, and tone, more so than I'd ever had to work with before. The experience really enlightened me and I'm sorry if I got anything wrong. Did I forget to include tone? I forgot to include tone, didn't I? Dammit.

AP: If Severance was to become a runaway smash hit, selling thousands and thousands of copies worldwide, what would be the first thing you would do?

CB: I'll immediately start work on my own kilometers-long generation ship. The rest of the universe must know of my work.

AP: Do you have any plans to write another novel? Is something already in the works? Or are you thinking ‘been there, done that’ and are resigning your novel writing career?

CB: Severance definitely won't be my last novel. Another one is almost complete — in a different setting from Severance, but hopefully just as hilarious and interesting. And I'm in the outlining stages of a third work as well. The world won't be rid of me that easily.

AP: Thank you, Chris!

You can read the first chapter of Severance for free here. Or, if you know already that you want to dive into Laurie Stein's world, competitive lovemaking groups and all, then order your copy today!

 

 

Severance by Chris Bucholz: Out Today!

By Lesley Conner
on December 09, 2014

Today is the day! Severance by Chris Bucholz is here, waiting for all of you to read it.

To make sure everyone hears about his new novel, Chris done some interviews and written a few guest posts. In case you've missed any of them, here's a list of what has been posted so far:

Chris was interviewed by Andrea at The Little Red Reviewer.

He talks about Pantsless Societies in a guest post on Beauty in Ruins.

On Cracked.com, he wrote about 5 Books That Don't Deserve the Hate They Get.

Severance has also gotten a couple of early reviews. Check out what Josh from Just a Guy Who Likes to Read thinks, as well as Nicole from Strange Girl in a Little House.

Still not convinced? Read the first chapter right here on the Apex blog.

After that, pick up a copy of Severance direct from Apex or through your favorite online retailer.

 

Severance Package Preorder Deal!

By Lesley Conner
on October 28, 2014
2 comments

Yesterday we opened up preorders for Severance, a new humorously dark science fiction novel by Cracked.com columnist Chris Bucholz. Already we're offering our standard preorder deal: preorder a trade paperback edition of Severance (out December 9th) and receive the eBook edition for free immediately, plus free domestic shipping.

A great deal for an amazing book, but we thought we could do better.

One lucky person who preorders Severance through the Apex store - preorders will be open until the release in early December - will win a Severance Package.

What's in this Severance Package? That's a good question, and I have an outstanding answer. How does Apex's next two releases sound? For free, delivered to you when they come out. What if I told you that Apex's next releases are made up of Brian Keene's much anticipated novel The Lost Level and Damien Angelica Walters' collection Sing Me Your Scars and Other Stories? Interested now? I thought so.

A fantastic prize for one lucky person, and all you have to do is preorder Severance for your chance to win.

Want to check out an excerpt of Severance before you order? Read the first chapter here.

An excerpt from Severance by Chris Bucholz

By Lesley Conner
on October 27, 2014
1 comment

Preorder Severance by Chris Bucholz

 

Chapter 1: A Distinct Odor

Laura Stein rolled onto her side, taking care to not crush the bag of urine strapped to her thigh. Through the vanes of the air damper, she could see the upper side of a suspended ceiling facing her. An art studio lay underneath that, assuming the occupancy database was accurate, which it occasionally was. She waited a few seconds, listening for any sign that art was currently happening, and after hearing nothing, pried open one of the damper vanes, creating a gap wide enough to drop through. Feet first, she passed through the damper and set herself down on the suspended ceiling, confident the frame would support her weight. She repositioned the damper vane in place, then rolled to her side and opened a tile in the ceiling, peering into the space below. Empty.

She lowered herself out of the ceiling and dropped to the floor. Standing on a chair, she repositioned the tile above her, then made her way to the closet at the back of the studio. From the webbing strapped around her waist, she withdrew a tool to remove an embedded floor panel, exposing a dark cavity. She descended feet first into the hole, again mindful of the flexible package of urine, then awkwardly positioned herself face up and dragged the access panel into place above her. In darkness again, she tapped a luminescent patch on her shoulder, shedding a dim light in front of her. Rolling over onto her stomach, she began dragging her way down the crawlspace, scraping her hands, chin, and every other part of her body as she went.

Designed for maintenance robots, utility crawlspaces could theoretically accommodate human-sized travelers — the theory essentially being: "but they really have to want to be there." The number of scrapes, abrasions and calluses on Stein's hands and knees attested to the number of times she'd really wanted to be in such places. Typically for work-related reasons, but she wasn't working tonight. Stein was one of the enviable few Argosians whose profession — ship's maintenance — overlapped significantly with her hobby — light burglary.

Reaching a junction, she checked the identification tag on the wall. L3-UC-3401. The odds of her being in the wrong place were slim, but the next section would be a dead end, and she didn't want to back in and out of any more side passages than she had to. She patted the satchel of urine strapped to her hip for the tenth time since entering the crawlspace, reassured that it was still dry to the touch.

She shimmied a few meters down the side passage, counting the number of panel seams above her as she went. When she reached the sixth seam, she stopped. Reaching behind her, she fished a cutter from her tool webbing, then began to roll over. She stopped abruptly, perilously close to wetting herself, shivered, then rolled over the other way, maneuvering her body until she was lying on her back. Exhaling, she tapped the terminal on her other hip and spoke softly, "How we doing?"

"Still clear," Bruce replied. "I told you, this guy's definitely befouling someone's party right now. Take as long as you want."

"Well, just keep watching. I've got a shy bladder," Stein whispered.

"Just relax and it will come. Imagine you're in a really crowded room and everyone's watching — that's what I do when I need to go."

Stein laughed.

"Or maybe imagine my mom. That sometimes works for me too."

She grinned and adjusted the controls of the cutter. "Okay, here we go," she whispered. Positioning the tool, she drilled a tiny hole in the panel above her. Applying light pressure to the cutter, she listened to the torch as it cut through the sandwiched materials into the room above. A change in pitch announced the end of the cut, at which point she turned off the tool and tucked it back in her webbing. Her hand returned with a micro-lube gun. Positioning it in the hole she'd just made, she began threading the sturdy tube up until she was confident it had breached the threshold of the floor above. Pausing, she rolled her shoulders, releasing the tension that had crept into her neck. After a deep breath, she reached down to her right hip and delicately detached the sack of urine from the webbing. Carefully, she twisted off the cap of the sack and slid the lube gun's feed tube into it. She exhaled. Slowly, she depressed the trigger of the lube gun.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh."

The contents of the satchel traveled up the tube at high velocity, ejecting over a small patch of floor in the room above. The donor of the urine was not Stein herself, but a gentleman by the name of Gerald Lehman, a Marker. Lehman had not known he was donating the urine at the time, and indeed would have been impressively paranoid if he had. A small device attached to the trap underneath his toilet had been collecting his urine for days, a trap implanted during a similar subterranean raid a week earlier. But however upset Mr. Lehman might be after discovering the theft of his urine, it would pale beside how he'd feel if he knew its ultimate destination: the living room of Sebastian Krol, leader of the Markers, and his nominal boss.

Throughout the course of human history, peeing on your boss's living room floor has always been regarded as a pretty bad move, but in an organization like the Markers, it was particularly ill-advised. The Markers were a club/society/street-gang — one of many on the Argos — that distinguished themselves from their peers by pissing on things and off people. Markers, when queried about this behavior, would usually expound on the importance of keeping in tune with humanity's ancient mammalian roots, or recite a prepared speech about the tyranny of indoor plumbing. Everyone else, when queried about this behavior, would suggest that they just liked being dicks. Markers were a particular annoyance for those whose work involved crawling around in poorly drained and ventilated areas, people such as Laura Stein and Bruce Redenbach.

Stein and Bruce's scheme involved placing an ambitious junior's Mark within the leader's home, which they hoped would incite an internecine conflict within the Marker organization and possibly some mild bloodshed. "And if it does lead to some murders," Bruce had noted, "then so be it. Horrible smelling murders that security doesn't try very hard to solve."

The satchel empty, Stein withdrew the tube and stowed everything in her webbing. As gracefully as possible, she scuttled her way back down the corridor. "All done," she whispered.

"Bet that feels better," Bruce said. "Coast is still clear. Do you smell? I bet you smell."

Stein ignored him, concentrating on her awkward backpedaling retreat. Five minutes later she was back in the closet, sealing the access panel shut. Standing, she peeled off her coveralls covered in the dirt and grime of the crawlspace, and stuffed them into an expandable bag she extracted from her webbing. Now somewhat presentable looking, she exited the closet back into the art studio. Her hand fluttered to the terminal to call Bruce and check if it was safe to leave by the front door, before she stopped.

A strange buzzing noise was emanating from somewhere, and she turned, looking for the source. A half-dozen canvases lay in a stack by a set of shelves. Beside them, a pair of easels toiled, holding up a wall. The shelves themselves contained art supplies, a selection of horrible clay pots, and a thin layer of dust. She frowned. She wasn't surprised to find the studio abandoned — there were a lot of similarly disused rooms scattered across the ship. But she hadn't thought this was one of them. When they were planning out her route for the evening's excursion, the occupancy database — admittedly not always reliable — said this room was still in use, owned by an M. Melson.

The strange noise was still there, growing louder. Out of a sense of professional curiosity she continued searching the room, thinking it might be a short circuit arcing behind a wall panel. She stooped to peer behind a bookshelf in the corner, nudging it slightly.

Bright blue light obliterated everything. She jumped back, falling on her ass, scrambling backwards like a crab, one hand clamped over her eyes. A piercing noise filled the air around her. Stein opened her eyes a fraction. The blue light was still there, still blinding. Blinking, she could see the negative afterimage, a bright slash of orange imprinted on her retinas. Strange black images danced in her vision. Keeping her eyes shut, she clamped her hands over them, squeezing. The images floating on the bright sea of orange coalesced into distinct shapes. They almost looked like letters.

 

ISBN: 978-1-937009-27-4
Copyright 2014 by Chris Bucholz

Want to read more? Preorder Severance by Chris Bucholz and receive the eBook today!!

SEVERANCE by Chris Bucholz cover reveal and synopsis

By Jason Sizemore
on October 22, 2014

In a matter of a few weeks, Apex will be publishing SEVERANCE, a rather twisted, entertaining dark SF novel by Cracked.com columnist Chris Bucholz. Be on the lookout for preorder information in the next couple of days.

Behold, the cover!

Cover art by Kimmo Lemetti. Typography design by Mekenzie Larsen and Chris Bucholz.

SYNOPSIS

After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.

To Laura Stein, they’re morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she’d rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.

Labelled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.

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