Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dan Levinson and A Taste of Armageddon

Dan Levinson
Casualty of War
Dan Levinson, New York screenwriter, playwright, actor and now novelist arrived at The Blog Mansion at a very tense time. He caught me in my battle room, but over a glass of Tranya I got to know him.

Dan: The Tranya’s delicious, Johnny. Where’d you come by it?

Johnny: I hope you relish it as much as I. I have some contacts within the First Federation. Of course, any more detail than that and I’ll have to annihilate you at a cellular level. Can’t take any chances, you know.

D: I understand completely. *he looks around* This control room is impressive.

Johnny: It’s futuristic, and mostly automatic. Cuts down on labor costs. Hard to keep good people, especially in the middle of a war.

D: You're at war?

J: Yes there we're in the middle of an attack now. I’m feuding with a nearby blog called The Blog Bungalow. They had a Code 7-10 in effect, but those never work, so I made contact and boom. We’re at war.

D: Code 7-10?

Command Room and Battle Map
J: You don’t know? It means “Don’t Approach—Danger!”

D: Right. It’s like one of those “Do Not Touch” signs over a big red button. You can’t not touch that thing.

J: I’m glad you get me, Dan. Now, just hold on while I activate the interceptors. Okay. Returning fire…. And done. So, you’ve got a book. Fires of Man. It’s got a war in it too, right? 

D: Yes, it’s between two neighboring nations, Orion and Calchis. They’re secretly recruiting psions—people with the ability to manipulate energy, and reality itself, at a level of thought. These are two countries that have been at odds for a long time, but now they’re at a stalemate. Most of the world thinks they’ve reached some kind of understanding, and their continued conflict is kept under wraps, as is the existence of these soldiers. The psions are human weapons of mass destruction, with the ability to avoid collateral damage, and no risk of lasting consequences like nuclear fallout.

J: So super mental powers. Cool. What level of technology is it? Space flight or spears? Have they evolved war into the art as I have?
D: Johnny, I don’t think anyone has your flair for warfare. But I think they do a pretty good job. It’s a level of technology equivalent to our own; everything from electric cars to satellite surveillance.

J: What does the title mean, Fires of Man?

D: It works on multiple levels, I think. Most overtly, it refers to the explosive powers the characters can use. But it also evokes the familiar phrase “the fires of war.” And, to me, it represents the ever-advancing juggernaut of human industry, and the effects, both good and bad, thereof.

J: That's cool. So it’s science fiction, but I’ve also seen it called general fiction. Why do you suppose that is?

D: It blurs the line. I’ve even heard some call it fantasy; if it was in a medieval-type setting, I have no doubt the characters would consider their powers magic, as opposed to grounded in science. Additionally, there’s no presence of the advanced tech you usually find in sci-fi. Instead, the “science fiction” aspect is personalized; it’s about these powers. It’s sci-fi in the same sense that the mutant abilities of the X-Men are, essentially, sci-fi.

J: Oh, here’s the Blog Bungalow council telling me to surrender again.

Blog Bungalow Counsel
What a bunch of schmucks.
D: They never learn, do they?

J: You’re telling me. We’ve been at this for years. So, is there a lot of intrigue in Fires of Man?

D: Absolutely. The politics of this world are integral to the story. And the fact that these nations are keeping both psionic powers, and the conflict itself, a secret creates plenty of tension. There’s shady stuff going on, especially in Calchis. One of the main characters is a Calchan covert operative who goes by the moniker “Agent.” He’s up to no good, and is a rather sinister individual, I might add.

J: So it’s the first book of a series, Psionic Earth. Like me, you’re looking at a long war. How’re the other books coming?

D: The manuscript of the second book, Shadows Collide, is with our wonderful mutual publisher, being edited, and I’m writing the first draft of the third book, Prophet Rising.

J: Damn, that was good hit. Look at that devastation. Interceptors couldn’t reload fast enough.

D: I didn’t feel a thing. The shock absorption on your shielding is impressive.

J: I’ll say. Just look at the map.

D: It appears you’re taking heavy fire.

J: Not to worry. I’m going to send in a gas attack. One second.

D: What about the Geneva Convention?

J: Does this look like Geneva? Or a convention? We’re at war man! Those lowliife Blog Bungalow baboons will get what’s coming to them! No offense to baboons, of course. I’ll poison their pool, peel their wallpaper, soil their carpets! Or as near as I can. They’d do the same to me.

D: Oh? The place looks immaculate.

J: Well, yeah, that was all hyperbole. I’m not actually interested in hurting the Blog Bungalow’s bungalow. There’s some great art and decorating in there. It’s the body count that matters.

D: You’re as ruthless as you are eloquent, Johnny.

J: I have a way with words. And warfare. Now tell me about being a screenwriter. Does that pay? Have you done anything I might have seen? That I could mention at your eulogy?

D: My eulogy? Is there something you’re not telling me?

J: It’s just in case.

D: Alas, most screenwriters are paid very little. The “million dollar screenplay” is a rare thing indeed, akin to the northern white rhinoceros, or the Corvan gilvos. I haven’t yet had any of my work produced. But I have some things I’m working on that you may see, sooner or later. Building a career in screenwriting is much like building a career as an author: It requires a dedication to your craft, a willingness to take risks, and strong support from mentors, friends, readers, people who can help you become a better and better writer.

J: I have to admit I’m envious of you living in New York, right in the heart of the industry. Do you have an agent? Can you hook me up?

D: I don’t, but I’m about to shop around another property to agencies, once I finish some rewrites. And yes, New York is an extraordinary place to live. I love it.

*the intercom crackles*

J: Hold on. They want to negotiate. I’ll send my diplomat. Assuming he’s not dead. Ambassador Fox, are you dead?

Ambassador Fox
Fox: Let me see. Hm. I appear to have all my parts intact. The cook’s dead, though.

J: Tell him I’m sorry about that.

Cook: It happens.

J: Fox, hook up with Vendicar, the Blog Bungalow ambassador, and see what they want.

Fox. Yes, sir.

J: Sorry Dan, where were we? Oh yes, tell me how you came to get your book into print.

D: When I was in drama school, one of my acting teachers told me we had to “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.” And I did just that. Once I was confident the manuscript was in good enough shape, I submitted absolutely everywhere I could. I was thrilled when Jolly Fish Press offered me a contract, and after some consideration, I decided to sign.

A direct hit!
J: Look out! Lalalalalalala!

D: What happened?

J: They hit the command room. Lucky for me I had I personal shield.

D: What? You mean how you trilled your tongue?

J: Yeah. That counts as a shield. I’m okay.

D: Good for you.

J: It’s been nice talking to you Dan, but I’m afraid under the rules of engagement, you now have to report to the disintegration chamber to be executed as a casualty of war.

D: Which rules of engagement would those be?

Sonic Disruptors
J: Don’t make me use this. *brandishes a sonic disrupter* The clean-up’s a mess.

D: Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned hospitality?

*Johnny shocks Dan* Ouch!

J: That was the lowest setting. Now get moving. Blame the Blog Bungalow. Those guys are savages!

D: Hey, you’re the one herding me into the disintegration chamber. At the very least you could jettison me into space so I can pretend I’m Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Maybe catch a ride on a passing asteroid.
Death Chamber 12

J: That’s an idea for next time.

D: I’m not sure after disintegration there’ll be a next time.

J: Yeah, I’m still working on that one. Now, I really must ask you to get moving. You understand. This way the war rages on, but the Blog Mansion endures, its culture and furniture. Cocktail weenies and cornflakes. I go on, but the casualties pile up. It’s a war of attrition and I’m going to win it.

D: Well, at least you have your priorities straight.

J: Oh, before you get disintegrated, where can people find out more about you? If they want to send flowers and such?
D: At my site, I’m also on Facebook at, and on Twitter, @ReadDanLevinson. People can also check out Fires of Man at:
Barnes & Noble

J: Okay, now let’s go. There’s a death chamber right there. Good luck with your book.

D: Psionic powers, hoooooo!

*Dan vanishes with a crackle of energy*

J: Note to self: Recruit psionic soldiers for next engagement. Fox, how’s it going with Vendicar?

Fox: He’s ready to list their demands.

J: Good. As soon as he’s done, shoot him.

Fox: Why? Because the Blog Mansion does not negotiate with rival blogs?

J: Because I owe him ten bucks from poker night.

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