CONTRA: The Great American Novel


I just remembered something ridiculous from my childhood.

I was a little kid when the NES game Contra came out. Maybe it’s not safe to assume everyone knows about Contra… it was about two shirtless military guys who go to a remote island to shoot a bunch of alien invaders. These guys could do flips in the air, so they were pretty hot shit, even compared to “regular” special forces soldiers. I could only beat it using the “thirty lives” cheat code, but I think most people who claimed to beat Contra without using it were lying anyway.


Anyway, I tried to write a lot, even as a kid. I heard the term “Great American Novel” somewhere, and I was pretty dumb back then, so it stuck with me. Because I was really into Contra, and because I was a pretty balls-out kind of kid, I knew that Contra would make the perfect Great American Novel. So I had to do it.

I pulled a few books off the shelves and looked at them. They were freaking enormous. I started to doubt myself. Surely it was impossible for a human being to write an entire book… but I knew that I couldn’t let the guys from Contra down. They never backed down, never, even if you killed them twenty-nine times, they would still kick ass for America. I had to do the same.


I pulled out my parents’ piece of shit typewriter. I’ve never understood people who are romantic about typewriters. I spend a lot of my life getting angry at my computer, but a typewriter is even worse. It weighed as much as I did, plus I had to wind a ribbon through it that made my hands look like a coal miner’s corpse. I had to jam paper in there and nothing was ever even.

As I was messing with this awful machine, I realized I couldn’t just write down the events of the game itself. Everyone already knew that story. Plus the thing that intrigued me about the game was wondering who those guys were, why they were chosen to take down an alien invasion force without any backup, why they were capable of flipping through the air, why they wore red and blue pants rather than normal military gear, etc. So I decided that the Great American Contra Novel would have to be a prequel. Keep in mind that “prequel” wasn’t a term commonly thrown around in the 80s, so I was really being a pioneer.



I started writing. Chapter one started with… and don’t worry, I think I got only a paragraph or so into the Great American Contra Novel… it started with the guy in the blue pants sitting in an air plane. I’m assuming he had his shirt off. But a terrorist got up and started making a real shit-show out of everything. “Not on my watch,” the guy in blue pants and no shirt probably said out loud, then he stood up and walked toward the terrorist… and then… and then…

That’s about as far as I got. As stupid as this story sounds, I saw it recreated in a popular military-thriller while browsing a book store. I was in my twenties. The book opened with a military guy sitting on a plane (I think he had his shirt on in this version) when a terrorist started causing a real ruckus. The military guy was like, “Not on my watch,” and stood up. He made his way over to the terrorist… and then… and then… I quit reading.


It was pretty bad, but at least that famous writer finished his awful book. I never finished Contra: A Tale of Two Dudes (or whatever it was called). I ended up figuring out that if you slammed your entire palm onto as many keys as you could, it would make all of the metal bits of the typewriter move at once. They would get hooked on each other in mid-air and it was super fun to flip them back down. Oh man, it was great!

Who wants to write a shitty book when you got that kind of action goin’ on?!


I did end up writing some books, though. They can be found HERE. And one of them is free! Can you believe that?


The Official Kyle B. Stiff Update

Hey everyone, thought I’d give you an update. I’m sure the few but formidable fans of Demonworld and Heavy Metal Thunder are wondering when the next book is coming out. These days I’ve started the process (once again) of finding an agent. I have to accept that I’m not very good at self-promotion, so self-publishing is never going to take off for me. I need the hideous strength of the established world of publishing. Instead of fighting for one reader here and one reader there, I need books with nice covers spewing out of giant bookstores where people can’t even get in the door without being assaulted by posters and displays telling them that buying Demonworld is not a choice, but a necessity. That’s our path to victory, readers.

synthwave wasteland

But to get there, I need an agent. It’s been a while since I took part in the cycle of looking / finding / submitting / being rejected, so things have changed. I have to admit… agents have gotten weird. Sorry, but it’s true. Back in the day, they used to say, “I publish science fiction. Send your manuscript to this address” or “I publish literature, here’s where I can be found.” These days, there’s a bit more dictation up front. The modern day superagent wants to find “the next big thing” rather than the next great read, and they’re getting specific. “I would love to receive a manuscript about a reluctant space pirate with a wise-cracking dog in a wheelchair!” or “Writers, I’m looking for a superhero zombie story with a sarcastic granny and a gay Vietnamese good-guy serial killer. Also must be reminiscent of Breaking Bad.” Uh… I’ve got six Demonworld books that readers seem to like, how’s that sound? No? Okay – see you later!


As you can see, it’s a little frustrating. Obviously they want the humorous, quirky, short-lived cash cow, but I think it’s the dark stuff, the complicated and tragic tales, that endure. Lots of readers agree. Nobody ever read Game of Thrones or Stephen King or Dune or Wool or Joe Abercrombie because they wanted a light-hearted romp. Lots of readers want to see characters pushed beyond their limits. They don’t want the sitcom version of Tolkien. They want something that can grow with them.


But I’m rambling. Basically I have to find an agent who believes in Demonworld just as much as I do, just as much as my readers do. Any help would be appreciated… maybe a collection of signatures? I don’t know. Like I said, I’m bad at this.

hmt promo stuff

But there’s only one path to victory, dear readers… and that path is guarded by the agents.

Don’t forget, the first Demonworld book is still free if you click here!


Demonworld Six Murders Readers’ Faces!

… and it’s using my worn-out body as a flail!

Hey everyone, Demonworld Book Six is now available at Amazon! It’s already gotten some great reviews; thank you, readers! It’s really nice to know that people are willing to give their time and attention to Wodan and his strange journey. It’s also good to know that you guys are enjoying the turns the story has taken. I was afraid people might think this installment of Demonworld was just too weird. But when you’re in a post-apocalyptic holy land contending with wasteland gods, weird is the norm.


Click to…

See the book at Amazon!

See my updated Amazon author page and my massive array of textual oddities!

See the first Demonworld book, which is free!


Thanks for sticking with me, readers! Let’s keep going until Wodi reaches the end of his path!


Demonworld 6 Now Available for Pre-Order!

Good news everyone! Demonworld Book Six: The Love of Tyrants is finally available for pre-order! Official release is on January 27th, 2016. But don’t wait until then! Those pre-order sales work Amazon’s ranking magic in my favor. Every pre-order sale helps initiate an alchemical process  that’s famous for turning struggling artists into living legends capable of shooting lightning, crapping molten magma, and flying while holding their breath!


love of tyrants kindle cover 6 x 9


The sixth installment in the Demonworld epic follows Wodan as he visits the holy land of Srila. It’s about twice as long as a normal novel, and takes the story in a wild direction while revealing lots of stuff about the past. It’s the most intense Demonworld yet.



I hope you enjoy it. Click here to see the book at Amazon, or click here to see my author page with all of my work that’s worth reading.

Remember, the first Demonworld book is free!


David Bowie’s Blackstar: Possible Occult Interpretations

The beautifully weird video for David Bowie’s new song Blackstar may be much more than just a crazy collage of random imagery. It’s full of occult references! Meaning can be found, but only if you’re willing to strip away comfortable ideas and step into the world of gods and symbols and unexpected correlations. Read the full piece!

. . .

David Bowie - Blackstar

Mass Effect: Planet of the Reapers!

The trailer and speculation surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda has really got me pumped, so I figured I should celebrate with some wild speculation about the reapers!


Every reaper has a living corpse inside of it. The biomechanical construct made from human DNA, which we saw at the end of Mass Effect 2, was not a unique phenomenon. There was nothing special about the harvest cycle seen in the Mass Effect trilogy. Most likely every species exterminated by the reapers has a biomechanical construct made of flesh and steel that looks like a bigger version of the species. More fit or interesting species receive large constructs, the rest receive smaller constructs. The reapers that we commonly see are really exoskeletal “armor” worn by the undying, immortal creature that rides inside, most likely lying down like a corpse in a coffin. Only the first reapers made by the leviathans lack the meaty center of the later models.


The reapers don’t live in “dark space”. This is a nonsensical concept that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The reapers live on a planet just like everyone else. Between harvests, most of the reapers return, land, and then the giant biomechanical androids (the true “reapers”) step out of their armor and return to their territories. The planet is most likely small, with a light gravity to help reduce stress on the giant beings (of course they probably have mass effect generators on their bodies to ease stress as well).


What do the reapers do on their “homeworld”? They don’t go to malls and watch TV like we do. They spend most of their time meditating – sort of. Each reaper is a “sovereign nation”. They interact minimally. Mostly they sit quietly within their territories and lose themselves in simulations of their own creation. Each reaper has an incredibly complex series of AIs running in their massive brains. Humans can already make some pretty cool video games with a handful of crappy computers and decent programmers. Reapers would of course make simulations of incredible complexity. They put themselves in their own simulations and get a kick out of experiencing what each simulation has to offer. Sometimes they make themselves forget who they truly are, then put themselves into a character and see how long it takes for them to remember that they are a god and wake up from their simulation. Sometimes they experience the joy of combat and endless battle sims, much like our own video games. Sometimes they go on endless sex marathons based on the framework of whatever species they were made from.


I imagine the reaper world to have a red sky and hard-baked white land. The planet has been dead for millions of years. The reapers sit crouched and motionless for hundreds of years on end and could be mistaken for statues from a distance. Most movement would come from farms run by collector-like enslaved species who gather food, repair equipment, and crawl on the reapers and see to the needs of their bodies. I assume their planet would not be dark all the time because the slaves and farms would require at least some amount of light, but the reapers would probably prefer a dark planet simply to avoid detection.

Some reapers may occasionally “die” by losing themselves in their simulations. I don’t know whether they would be tended by their slaves for eternity or simply abandoned. They would be a constant source of mystery to the other reapers; it would be impossible to connect with the mind of such a dead reaper because of the fear that the simulation that fatally drew them in would spread. The contents of such a simulation would never be known.


I’ve always been interested in the claim that the mass relays controlled the development of civilizations. I always wondered, how much control would it really have? Now I think that the mechanism for this is brutally simple. When any species reaches the point where it can interact with a relay, it sends a signal. This is like an alarm system, or even just an alarm clock that says “time to wake up”. Not all reapers will wake up at the same time, so a collective snooze button is hit many times. Hundreds of years may pass as the giant reapers end their current simulations, stand, cry out upon waking due to the pain of existence, gather intel from whoever was left behind (Sovereign in the case of the Mass Effect trilogy), and plan the next harvest. So a harvest doesn’t necessarily happen every fifty thousand years. Harvests happen when they need to.

In my post where I outlined an idea for Mass Effect 4, I theorized that the reapers would record cultural data as well as genetic data. Now I think this is wrong. When the reapers exterminate technologically advanced species, they are merely wiping out competition as it crops up.


Actually they’re doing more than wiping out competition and protecting themselves. They’re also taking successful species, survivor species, and using them to create new reapers. This isn’t theory, we already knew this. But it’s interesting to think that their ritual of child sacrifice, a genocide of what might be trillions of individuals, results in the creation of perhaps a dozen new reapers. Who knows what strange rituals they conduct to bring these new godlings to maturity?

More speculation: When the new reapers are born, they are brought into a demented heaven. The planet of the reapers, and the cycle that populates it, is like something from the prophetic books of the Bible. It is a heaven for dead species, a paradise for those considered worthy of losing their old bodies and gaining new “heavenly” bodies in the world beyond. This also perfectly encapsulates the Gnostic concept that God is evil, that the God of the Old Testament is an insane, demonic monster. Would you really worship a reaper?


Imagine if Shepard had gone to the planet of the reapers and seen giant, slow-moving beings trudging across the wasteland, silently marking the boundaries of their territory or sitting and staring into nothingness. They would seem like jotun from Norse mythology, terrible giants ancient beyond belief who gather during the end of the world.


Hey readers! I’ve got some other Mass Effect stuff available for your perusal. For instance: An outline for a game called Mass Effect 4: Indoctrination Theory. There’s also a piece about Rio de Janeiro Theory. I’ve also got some random Mass Effect speculation and bitching available HERE. If fanfiction is more your thing (and why shouldn’t it be?), then you can check out some stories based on the Destroy, Control, and Synthesis endings.

If you liked this post, you should check out some of my books. I’ve got an epic series called Demonworld, which is equal parts Mad Max and Lord of the Rings (think “science fantasy”), and a much-loved gamebook series called Heavy Metal Thunder which can also be found on iTunes and Google Play as incredibly fancy apps.