The New Year has come roaring upon us like a mighty dragon with storm winds in its wake. It is a time for the setting of goals. For looking behind and looking ahead. A time for comparisons and calculations. It can be discouraging, daunting even, but it can also be hopeful. The hope of a fresh start. Of a blank book spreading before us with no mistakes yet marring the pages. So let us face this fierce new year of 2015 with fire in our hearts and strength in our arms. And get excited because I’ve been planning all sorts of fun things for the blog this year! It may come as a slight surprise to you, but I love books. I love reading books, writing books, sniffing books, stuffing books into my too-full bookcase … and giving books to friends. It’s a long-standing joke in my family that at least one person is going to get a book from me at Christmas time. This year, I managed to keep that number down to two. (The previous year, I realized I had given every single family member a book … only after they unwrapped their presents!) There is nothing quite like finding the perfect book—with just the right blend of setting, tone, characters, and plot—to match each reader. Because I love gifting books, I’ll be hosting a book giveaway for you, dear readers, every 1st and 3rd Tuesday for the duration of the year. Just for fun, I matched each month of the year to one of 12 Speculative Fiction Subgenres, so the giveaways for that month will fall under a certain theme. And January’s theme is … dystopian! January can be a bit of a bleak, dismal, gray month—words that tend to describe most dystopian societies … if not necessarily the books I’ve chosen. So be sure to stop by on January 6th for the first giveaway of the year! When Destiny Comes Calling … This serial short-ish story is one of my favorite things that I’ve ever tried on the blog, so I was quite sad to have to leave it hanging this fall amidst the crazed rush of a book release. But I think it’s high time we return to poor Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III and his strange companions, Destiny, Fate, and the Wizard Doomsday, don’t you? Expect the return shortly! Need a refresher? Enjoy sifting through the archives to get caught up on the story! On Villains and Heroes My spy has once again managed infiltrate the ranks of the Academy of Ultimate Villainy, so you can expect to enjoy snippets of lecture notes on all things nefarious and dastardly, including a series on “Master-Minding Murder and Mayhem.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds fascinating to me! Also, in response to a series of messages sent to the Warriors-in-Hero-Training School of the Round Table, I finally received a missive from Sir Galgadin. Hand delivered by a talking wolf—definitely a strange experience. Apparently, Sir Galgadin has been away for the past several months hunting ogres in the mountains where hunting eagles make pigeon-reception doubtful, to say the least. In any case, he has a series of Questology Lectures that he intends to submit whenever possible, so you can expect to learn all sorts of heroic and fascinating things about questing, damsels in distress, identifying enchantresses, and returning home in one piece. Stay in Touch There’s quite a bit in the works for this year—not to mention several books that will be coming your way shortly—and you won’t want to miss out on any of it! A great way you can stay informed is by joining the Clan Newsletter! By following my newsletter, you’ll be the first to receive giveaway announcements, see cover reveals, and hear about upcoming books. Not to mention receiving the occasional epic fantasy short story delivered straight to your computer … Click here to sign up! As always, I wish you all the best and look forward to spending this next year with you!
Sorry I’m a few days late, but things are really heating up here, and I wasn’t
able to send this message until now. Anyway, I snuck back into Dr. Sinestra’s
class (I’ve attended a few of the other classes here and there—nearly got blown
up in the Mad Science Lab—but overall, I’ve found Dr. Sinestra offers the most
little students for the lecture.
on the sub-villain world, the underlings that we utilize as pawns in our great
chess game against our ancient adversaries–the heroes.
henchmen. Today, we shall turn our attention from the brutes, to the brains and
bodies of our operations—minions and expendable crewmen.
are the Master Minds, but it can be supremely helpful to have other lesser minds
around to accomplish the more menial mental tasks.
wits, such as we wage against the heroes, the opponent with the most
- Spies and double agents—those who actively seek information
about our enemies, and believe me, we have plenty of those.
- Artificial intelligence—robotic minions who analyze,
process, and store information.
- Specialists who provide expert information upon a certain
subject. This includes our weapons masters, scientists, doctors, etc.
they have no skills to market. They are average, somewhat lacking in the brains
department, too greedy for their own good, and often, possessing the combat skills
of a patch of wet mud. You get my meaning, I’m sure—if a hero happens to run
into one, he might just slip and break his ankle, but the expendable crewman is
far more likely to be smeared across the kitchen floor.
casualties. It’s unavoidable. And rather than wasting expensive evil henchmen
or valuable minions, we hire expendable crewmen to fill this position, because
they are just that—expendable. And though they are expendable individually, as
a class they are indispensable to our operations.
henchmen, minions, and expendable crewmen.
the most useful to a Super-Villain who is just starting out with limited
necessary and distinct role. It comes down to the sort of operation that you
are planning and the specific needs of the expedition.
it’s more profitable to invest in hiring larger numbers of minions and evil
henchmen, and fewer expendable crewmen, since such an expedition requires more
knowledge and muscle than casualties.
hire an overabundance of expendable crewmen and reserve a smaller portion of
evil henchmen and minions to act as personal aids, body guards, and officers.
of operations you are planning and hire the proper sub-villains to enable you
to accomplish your dastardly mission.
lesson you will attend at this Academy. It will provide you with the necessary tools to capture and defeat those pesky little heroes once and for all. Because of its
sensitive nature and the fact that the Spy remains uncaught, we shall move our
class to an as of yet undisclosed location. We’ll let you know where to go when the time comes.
hear something useful, folks. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure we get into that class.
These villains are fools if they think I won’t find out where it is. So, tune
in next time to hear the most important villainous lesson of all! This is your
spy at the Academy of Ultimate Villainy, signing off.
Note: Sound effects found through Freesound.org. Many thanks to redjim, cmusounddesign, dobroide, J. Zazvurek, and RHumphries for the use of their sound effects.
Editor’s note: I walked in from my lunch break to find another audio recording from our “friend” on my desk. Sounds like our spy has been busy! Click on the following “video” to listen to Dr. Sylvia Sinestra lecture on “The Proper Procedure for Hiring Evil Henchmen,” or scroll down to read the transcript.
Howdy folks. Well, good news—I’m still alive. Bad news—these villains have kept
me running all week long! Now that they’re alerted to my presence, they’ve been
tearing this place apart trying to find me. Not that I’m too worried—these guys
obviously haven’t taken Tracking 101. It’s one of the advantages of being a
Good Guy—we’re used to hunting down Villains, while the Villains aren’t quite
so used to hunting us down.
Sinestra’s class. Couldn’t manage to get a seat in the back today, and didn’t
want to risk sitting up front, so let’s just say, I’m perched somewhere high
and slightly precarious, but I’ve got a great birds-eye view of the auditorium,
so it’s not too bad.
received confirmed reports that there is a spy in our midst. One of you is
has to fear is publicity. As we discussed in our last class, anonymity is the
worst fate that can befall a Super-Villain. So, let the world know what the
Academy of Ultimate Villainy teaches, and let it tremble in fear of the next
generation of Super-Villains!
Ultimate Villainy would like to offer our thanks
to the spy . . . and this warning: Whoever you are, you will be caught. And you
will experience firsthand just how grateful
the Academy can be.
discussion today. You see on your desks, the fifty question quiz from our last
session. Turn it in by the end of class. I need not remind you of the penalty
for wrong answers—I’m sure you all remember.
discussing the Proper Procedure for
Hiring Evil Henchmen.
necessary cog in the machine of Super-Villainy. Without evil henchmen, many a
notable Super-Villain would be unable to accomplish their dastardly schemes.
diabolically clever as we are, we simply cannot be in two places at once—the Mad
Science Lab has been working on an Omnipresent
Machine for years, and the science simply isn’t there yet. So, we are
forced to rely upon underlings to be our hands, feet, eyes, and ears throughout
underlings—these are our minions, expendable crewmen, and evil henchmen. Today, we shall focus on evil henchmen and how to go about hiring them.
Super-Villain are the brains of the outfit. Your evil henchmen are the brawn—the
brutes, the muscle to get the dirty work done.
henchmen have become somewhat of a stereotype—I’m sure you’ve all seen it
depicted in modern entertainment. The witless brute with massive arms, a face
that looks like his mummy took a sledgehammer to it, more like a gorilla than a
man. As long as he doesn’t speak, he appears fairly intimidating, but the
second he opens his mouth, you realize that he’s probably just as slow in a
fight as he is at thinking. And this, of course, only serves to give the hero
more often than not, it is true. Evil henchmen are
notoriously dull witted. And historically, they have been responsible for the
downfall of many a Super-Villain.
can, and should, be avoided at all cost. When the time comes for you to hire your
evil henchmen, there are 5 steps you can take to ensure that your henchmen
possess a little brains along with the brawn.
- Ask the evil
henchmen their name. If it’s something like Gob, or Snort, or Bubba, or even
worse, they respond “Uh . . . duh . . . um . . .” Don’t hire them!
- Engage them in a
five minute conversation. If they use the word “duh” at all, send them packing. Or better yet, send them to the
dragon and rid the sub-villain world of their stupidity.
- Perform an IQ
test. We’re not expecting Moriarty-level genius here, but find henchmen who can
at least pass the first question! Henchmen need to be able to do basic things
like read and write. A novel idea, I know. Don’t get me started on the number
of times heroes have pulled the whole fake entrance pass trick and so lied their way into the Super-Villains fortress simply because the gatekeeper couldn’t
- Get references.
Ask for resumes. Understandably, when you’re first starting out as a
Super-Villain, you cannot be too choosy when assembling your sub-villain team,
but at the very least insist upon your henchmen providing references and resumes
when they apply for the job. They ask the same when ordinary people apply to
work the most basic jobs in the ordinary world. You as a Super-Villain can do
- The Fight Test.
Submit your applicants to a rigorous fight test and training program. One of
the stereotypes of evil henchmen is that they often possess no more fighting
skills than a wet noodle. What is the use of hiring muscle, if your evil
henchmen don’t know how to use it in a fight? Train your evil henchmen in the
arts of subtlety, deception, weaponry, and knockout punches, and you will be well
on your way to assembling a Super-Army to rule the world.
the other members of the sub-villains class—minions and expendable crewmen. Your assignment for
today, little villains, is to find that spy. Class dismissed.
that was interesting. Um . . . well, hope you find this lecture helpful as you
combat the world of Super-Villainy, and you crazy authors do what you crazy
authors do. I’m uh . . . going to sneak out of here now. And go do something especially
villainous so I can keep my cover. So long for now. This is your spy at the
Academy of Ultimate Villainy, signing off.