Geekery Grab Bag #1: ALL THE THINGS, or: Let’s Kickstart This Sucker!

All the things?

Well, okay, so maybe not ALL the things. Just all the things IMPORTANT. And then some not-as-important things. And the things in between.

… Okay, so, ALL THE THINGS.

Hi, I’m Garrett, and I’m a geek.

I’m also a fanboy, a musician, and a general nuisance at times. And I’m also one of the (less prolific) staff reviewers and an editor here at The Ranting Dragon. If you want to know more about me, just mosey on over to my staff bio.


Prior to the new year, I asked Stephan, owner of the site and my “boss” (so, about my salary…), if he’d be open to the idea of a pseudo-roundup sort of regular blog post about all things geekery and bookery and whatever-else-ery. Mainly because I’m an artist, and I need my diva spotlight. Mainly because there’s just SO MUCH AWESOME out there in the world, and I want to share some of what makes me twitch in glee with the rest of you. Really. I swear upon all that you hold holy.

Oh. That’s the other thing. The views and statements I make in this and future posts? They’re not reflective of The Ranting Dragon. This is just me, Garrett, that guy on the piano bench in the corner. In other words: they’re mine. MINE, ALL MINE, I TELL YOU! :)

So, I have what can be a brash sense of humor. At other times, it can be more mellow and subtle. So please don’t take anything personally. It’s all in good fun. That being said, if something truly DOES insult you or make you feel uncomfortable, drop me a line, please.

The other other thing that you should know about these posts is that they’re not going to be kept on a strict schedule, as much as I’d like them to be. It’s just the nature of the beast. However, I will do my best to make sure they come every 2-3 weeks, depending on how much OMGAWESOME stuff I come across in that time.

Okay, I think we’re done with the preliminaries. Now, onward to (some of) ALL THE THINGS!

I think it largely appropriate that this first Grab Bag deals with Kickstarter. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Kickstarter is the largest crowdfunding site on the internet right now. Indie films, art projects, Neil Gaiman tours, you name it, it’s probably on there in one form or the other.

Anyway, Kickstarter has become such a force, it’s changing the way things are produced. Instead of someone being sponsored by a single company or the like, Kickstarter takes the funding power and gives it directly to the patrons who want the product. It’s become such a big thing that 90% of the convention schedules I’ve looked at in the last seven months have included at least one panel on Kickstarters.

So, on to recent Kickstarters that have piqued my own personal interest. First up, this fantastic thing called Auditorium 2: Duet.

The original Auditorium is a game in which you must manipulate light through a series of puzzles to create music. Now, Auditorium 2: Duet? It’s all about cooperation, as you must work with a partner to solve each puzzle—and create harmony. Easier said than done.

This one caught my eye for a couple of reasons. 1) I’m a musician. 2) I’m a gamer, and already own the original Auditorium (available through Steam for $7, currently). 3) See 1 and 2. This sort of thing is right up my alley. However, this Kickstarter is one which I don’t think will make the cut (as much as I want it to). The fundraising goal for Auditorium 2: Duet is $60,000. That’s a lot of moolah. And, up to this point, they’ve only reached a little over $30,000 in pledges. There are 10 days left. I don’t think it’ll make it. But, please, PROVE ME WRONG! If this sort of thing appeals to you, consider pledging. Everyone will love you long time.

Did I mention I’m a gamer? This isn’t limited to video games—I also love my tabletop games. This lead me to the above Kickstarter, Artisan Dice, that’s on a serious roll. *rimshot*

In contrast to Auditorium 2: Duet, Artisan Dice is one of those Kickstarters that have really taken off. With an original goal of only $300, Artisan Dice currently has over $25,000 pledged, and the guy behind it keeps adding new pledge options all the time… And yes, I’m guilty of pledging that $82 tier with the Ancient Irish Bog Oak dice.

And did I mention the Jack Daniel’s dice? YES. DICE MADE FROM JACK DANIEL’S BARRELS.

So. Much. Win.

Then there’s this webseries from the creative mind of Jane Espensen and Brad Bell, who have worked on Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones, and Once Upon A Time. This Kickstarter is for the second season of the show, the first being very well-received and critically acclaimed. So, on to a description of the brilliance that is Husbands:

Husbands tells the story of two young successful men, Brady, a pro-athlete, and Cheeks, an actor. They haven’t been dating very long when a national marriage-equality law passes and they head to Las Vegas to celebrate – and wake up married! What follows is classic romantic comedy with a marriage-equality twist. 

While not up my alley enough that I’ll break my college budget for it, it’ll probably be of interest to a lot of our readers. And then there’s the fact that they broke TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS within EIGHT HOURS of the Kickstarter going live. $25,000 of a $50,000 goal. Power of the people, truly. Patronage by the masses is on the rise, people. As one of my friends has said, it is the “Age of the Geek, baby.”

(Also, they got Nathan Fillion as a newscaster. If the show wasn’t made of Insta-win before, it is now. :D )

Now, onto books!

Last October, author Catie Murphy posted a Kickstarter to gauge interest in a side novel to her urban fantasy series, The Walker Papers. To say it was successful is an understatement—the project was 500% funded, with a final pledge amount of over $20,000. Which is an insane amount for a crowdfunded book. To put in perspective, I give you this bit from one of Catie’s updates before the Kickstarter finished:

The most a traditional publisher has ever paid me up front for a project is $17K. You, my patrons, my readers, my friends, have offered up an advance that’s within a thousand dollars of the most money I’ve ever been paid, and there are still about 72 hours to go in the campaign. I’m just sitting here trying to reel up my jaw and wondering how far this thing is going to go.

This is a perfect example of how Kickstarter and crowdfunding are changing the face of publishing. Where an author doesn’t have to make it in with a publisher to reach a large audience for their books? That’s big. BIG. HUGE. GINORMOUS, even. Especially with Catie’s update two days after the quoted material above:

The “No Dominion” campaign just passed $17,00. You, my readers, are paying me more than any New York City publisher has paid me up front for a book. This *blows my mind*. To little tiny bits. Itty bitty bits. I will have to spend rather a lot of time collecting all those bits so I can write you TWO NOVELLAS, FOUR SHORT STORIES, 3 chapters of a book that doesn’t exist, and, um, a partridge in a pear tree, I guess. :) Seriously: the wordcount we’re looking at here is right around 90K, which is absolutely no question about it a book’s worth of words.

As I said, HEEYOOGE. And this is only the beginning. For while No Dominion (which turned into a 60,000+ word novel from a 30,000 word novella, tops) is funded, there is a upcoming book that could use your support.

Welcome to the world of Dinocalypse Now by Chuck Wendig, author of Double Dead, Shotgun Gravy, and the upcoming Blackbirds. This novel is set in the world created by the Spirit of the Century RPG from Evil Hat Productions—a [up-til-now] pen and paper gaming company, known for their work on the Dresden Files RPG as well as developing the core of the FATE gaming system. Their first foray into fiction, Dinocalypse Now sets us in a pulp version of the 1930s, complete with assassination attempts, intelligent apes (not just humans!), and a psychic dinosaur invasion.

Now, at the time of this writing, Evil Hat has nearly hit the 100% mark of their funding. But the thing to remember is that only at the 200% mark will the rest of the Dinocalypse story be told. So while this first book is 95% of the way to existing, we’re only 45% of the way to getting the rest of the trilogy. And believe me when I say that you should want the rest of the trilogy. We will be featuring a review of Dinocalypse Now here at RD (when I get done reading the book), so look for that in the next week or two.

What’s this? Still not convinced? Well, check out one of the coolest book trailers I’ve ever seen:

If it seems to you that I am plugging for this book just a little too hard, well. You’d probably be right. But the awesomeness of the book entitles me to this. And then there’s also the fact that the guy running Evil Hat Productions is my friend Fred Hicks, an all-around awesome dude. Therefore, I am obliged to PLUG AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE for this project.

Did I mention the sample chapters? That’s right, there are sample chapters. The first two are up over on Fred’s blog, and more will be posted as the Kickstarter progresses. There’s also an episode of the That’s How We Roll podcast that features Fred, author Chuck Wendig, and retailer Chris Hanrahan (of Endgame Oakland) on the topic of dino style.

I say I’m obliged to plug away, but in all honesty, the main reason I’m plugging for Dinocalypse Now as much as I am is that Evil Hat is made of Good Peoples. They pour their time, money, and life and soul into their projects, and it shows. Each project is crafted with a level of care that has become not-so-commonplace in today’s society. So, please, consider pledging a bit. If that’s not your cup of tea, consider boosting the signal, because Kickstarters usually catch fire or fizzle out in the first three days of a drive—and we all want this sucker to BURN.

UPDATE: The Dinocalypse Now Kickstarter has now broken the $10,000 mark, which means anyone who backs it gets (at the very least) a digital copy of ALL THREE BOOKS:  Dinocalypse Now, Beyond Dinocalypse, and Dinocalypse Forever!  Thanks to everyone who pledged thus far!  But remember, it doesn’t stop here.  Evil Hat will [likely] be unveiling where they want to take their fiction line next within in the next few hours.  Also, there might be MORE Spirit of the Century stuff to come yet with this Kickstarter, so keep your eye on the updates!  Again, thank you to all who are supporting my friend and his awesome crew.

So, that’s it for this first of our Geekery Grab Bags here at The Ranting Dragon. Got anything to say?  Discuss this Grab Bag on our forums here, or find me on Twitter here.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Now, to top it all off, I give you this video in tribute of my friend Ira who passed away about three weeks ago (a part of my subsequent absence from RD the past couple weeks).



About Garrett Jones

Garrett Jones
An avid musician, Garrett is a music director and accompanist for the theatre by day and an all-around geek by night. …Well, he’s both all day, everyday, if we’re being completely honest. He enjoys gaming both on and off the table, karaoke, frisbee, and a good drink with good company. Garrett is also a beta-reader for authors Jim Butcher and Tom Sniegoski. Nightcrawler is his spirit animal, How to Train Your Dragon is his happy place, and he is able to do a mean Hiccup impersonation.

View all articles written by Garrett Jones.

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