Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

My Patreon: A New Story Every Month

June 11th, 2016

It’s simple: for $1 a month, you get to read a new story from me every month. If you like stories of love, monsters, and weirdness, join now!

The Dreaming Stars is out!

September 4th, 2018

My space opera The Dreaming Stars is out today!

Nanobot swarms! A game that’s not a game and a dream that’s not a dream! Ganymede facts! Space kissing! You can go buy it at:

Amazon!

B&N!

Powell’s!

Image result for dreaming stars pratt

New Kickstarter for Do Better: The Marla Mason Stories

February 14th, 2018

I just launched a kickstarter for a collection of my Marla Mason stories, Do Better, gathering the best and brightest stories about my cantankerous sorcerer and her colorful companions and mortal enemies and so on.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timpratt/do-better-the-marla-mason-stories

The collection will have at least one new story, and I’m very excited to dip back into Marla’s world. I’m done writing novels about her, and there may not be any new stories about her after this, so I’m enjoying a last trip into her point-of-view. I hope you’ll come along with me, and support the project or spread the word or both.

Philip K. Dick Award Finalist!

January 30th, 2018

The Wrong Stars is a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, honoring the best paperback original science fiction of the previous year! I could not be more pleased. The other finalists are:

THE BOOK OF ETTA by Meg Elison (47North)
SIX WAKES by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
AFTER THE FLARE by Deji Bryce Olukotun (The Unnamed Press)
REVENGER Alastair Reynolds (Orbit)
BANNERLESS by Carrie Vaughn (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ALL SYSTEMS RED by Martha Wells (Tor.com)
 

I’d be honored to lose to any of them, honestly. The award and any special citations will be presented up in Seattle at Norwescon on March 30, and I’ll be there at the ceremony to be either gracious in defeat or rather surprised in victory. I went down the street to Berkeley High (where Dick went to high school; Ursula K. Le Guin went there too, and Thornton Wilder) and took a picture with his mural.

The book is doing well; it popped up on the Barnes and Noble bestseller list last month, and is at the top of the Locus Bestseller list in February. Thanks to everyone who’s read it, told their friends, or otherwise supported my journey into space (opera)!

2017 in Review

December 23rd, 2017

I like doing year-in-reviews. (Years-in-review? Year-ins-review?) This is long and self-indulgent, which is just how I like it.

Reading

This is my first full year tracking my reading diligently (on Goodreads, though I don’t use it for anything besides keeping a list of books I read and re-read). I read just over a hundred books, though there were lots of graphic novels in there. I’ve been reading a book or two a week since I was a teenager, apart from a period when I had a newborn and couldn’t brain well enough to read, and that’s stayed consistent.

My favorites were The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, Gail Simone’s Clean Room comics, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, Sharon Olds’s Stag’s Leap, and Warren Ellis’s Injection comics. I recommend ‘em all. I also read all the Jack Reacher novels, which scratched my series mystery/thriller itch pretty well, clearly.

Writing

I published the last Marla Mason novel, Closing Doors, in the spring, and people really liked it. I think maybe I stuck the landing. My first space opera The Wrong Stars came out in November to great reviews (a star in PW! A rave from Liz Bourke in Locus!) and good sales (#5 on the Barnes & Noble mass market bestseller list last month!). I sold a couple of sequels too, The Dreaming Stars and The Forbidden Stars, so I’m gainfully employed as a novelist through 2019.

Heather and I did a Kickstarter for The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, and that’s newly out, with copies winging their way to backers through the holiday mails. Had my story “Impossible Dreams” optioned for a VR project; dunno if it’ll come to anything, but it’s neat.

I wrote about 150,000 words this year, which is, uh, about half as many as last year, and way down from my usual average; I usually do at least a quarter of a million. After years of hustling and writing two or three books a year, I was finally financially able to take a breather. I wrote almost all of The Wrong Stars in January, February, and March, and after that, it was just short stories (and some game writing for the Wolfire Games project Overgrowth), until I recently started work on The Dreaming Stars.

I did my Patreon all year, with lots of stories, including “Background and Foreground”, “Reaping a Whirlwind”, “Three Petitions to the Queen of Hell”, “Cascade Wonderland”, “Anna and Marisol in Time and Space”, “To Seek and Understand”, “A Door of My Own”, “Invidiosa vs. the Resurrected Man”, “Thankful”, and “The Gift of the Anthropophagi”. You should join, and get a new story every month: www.patreon.com/timpratt

Heather and I co-wrote “The Christmas Abomination from Beyond the Back of the Stars”, a sequel to “The Christmas Mummy.”

I wrote some essays and stuff too, but really, it was a very mellow year. I used my free time to, um, play video games mostly. I may attempt to be more productive as a writer next year.

I art directed a tiny bit: Aislinn Harvey did illustrations for my book Closing Doors and for The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, too, and she’s a delight to work with creatively.

People

My ongoing experiment with spending time with actual humans has been really good, and continues to contribute materially to my happiness. Obviously I see my family the most, and my wife Heather has done some amazing stuff this year, editing Persistent Visions, hosting Saturday Write Fever, dancing with the Someday Sweethearts, getting her name on the spine of a book for the first time with The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, sewing zillions of things—she continues to astonish me with her creativity and her social adroitness is something I greatly envy.

My son turned ten this year, and he’s just the best. He’s into aikido now, and playing ukulele, and doing chorus—he’s finding things to be passionate about, which is so wonderful to see. We’re also still watching lots of TV and movies together, and gaming (I got sucked back into Magic: the Gathering after 20 years because of him, and I couldn’t be happier). We got his results back on the big state test from the spring, and he did great on the English section and got a perfect score on the Math. He’s such a great person. He’s also preternaturally beautiful, but he gets that from his mom.

I’ve got some wonderful people I see a lot who don’t live in my house with me, too. Ais lives right down the street, so we do lots of wandering and hanging out together, and I’m going to see her fantastic band Three Drink Circus tonight! We went to see Judge John Hodgman live at the Curran in January and it was great too. I see Amanda down in Palo Alto as often as I can (she’s the one I dedicated The Wrong Stars to), and we went to see the interactive theater experience Speakeasy together this summer, which was amazing, really unforgettable. I spent some time running around Sonoma with Emily (we swam in the Russian River, with a bunch of Russians!), and saw her up in Portland too, and got to show her around Berkeley a bit as well, and made lots of marvelous memories. I’m still getting together just about every week with Katrina to drink whiskey and watch horror movies (we just saw Sint, which is bad; Rare Exports is still the best Xmas horror movie we’ve found). Sarah moved closer a few months ago, so I get to see her way more often in general (yay!) and we drank all the beer and ate all the tacos in San Diego recently, in addition to lots of time drinking and dining around the East Bay.

I also got to see more farther-flung friends! Dawson came to visit us and stayed a few days before embarking on his world travels. I got to see Jenn and Chris up in Portland and at Norwescon, and hung out with Greg in San Diego for as long as he’d tolerate me too. It was a great year for being with people I love. I hung out a couple of times with my friend Katie, too, and while she isn’t far-flung, she’s busy, so she’s always a treat. I did a little writing with Erin, and had some awesome game nights with Liza and Daryl and Effie and others. I’m so lucky to have good people in my life.

Trips

I traveled a ton this year! I got some surprise reprint money in January when Heather was out of town, so me and the boy and Ais took a spontaneous trip down to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. My wife and kid and I went up to Cazadero to stay in our friend Mark’s B&B (&B; the third B is for his bakery), and did a more traditional summer boardwalk trip together too. We road tripped as well, and went to the Winchester Mystery House and Hearst Castle and spent a weekend at an adorable cabin in Santa Barbara. Did a day at a water park, to my child’s eternal delight (“This is better than Disneyland!”). Took River to the beach to see tidepools and the secret beach near the end of summer too while Heather burning-manned.

Now that my kid is older, it’s easier to solo parent him, so his mom and I have both been taking little jaunts here and there in addition to family outings. I went up to Norwescon in Seattle, my first time in the city, and I really loved it. Drove to Sonoma for wine and swimming and beer. Flew to Portland and rode a tram and ate the best charcuterie of my life. Jaunted down to San Diego to do an appearance at Mysterious Galaxy for The Wrong Stars (and for tacos and beer and birthday fun). After years of not going places or doing things it’s a nice change to have the occasional adventure.

Various Things

We bought a van (the old Locus van; it has sentimental value), which has made road trips so much easier.

We had to hide in a nearby Air BNB for days while our floors got torn up and the pipes were fixed, following an interval of intense flooding. Now we have nice laminate floors instead of gross old carpeting!

Heather skipped the usual big birthday party this year (but thanks to Zoe for swooping in and bringing Heather’s favorite amaretti cream cake when I couldn’t pick it up; above and beyond.) Instead, she threw an amazing 20-years-in-the-bay-area barbecue in the summer.

Saw the Three Drink Circus anti-Valentine’s Day sing-along with my kid in tow. That was neat.

Went to the Milo protests at UC Berkeley, which by the end was less riot and more dance party than most media reports indicated.

We listened to Hamilton a lot (and I got Heather tickets to the show in San Francisco).

Saw Nalo Hopkinson speak at Stanford and got to chat and catch up with her a bit, and she led me to some thoughts that improved my space opera.

Bought my kid a new bike and we whooshed and rode around the marina and stuff.

Went to my beloved Cafe Pergolesi in Santa Cruz one last time before it closed.

Had a great launch party at Borderlands for The Wrong Stars.

My grandfather passed away; may his memory be eternal.

Money

Another year older and… not deeper in debt? Wait, that can’t be right. Huh.

After years of being crap with money (partly because I didn’t have any, partly because I never learned anything about how to budget, etc.), I decided now that I’m in my 40s I should get my house in order and try to pay down debt. I managed to get ahead of the rolling nightmare of using a given year’s income to pay off the previous year’s tax bill, which was ongoing for a long time, and that made a big difference. My Patreon has been the biggest factor here: my day job pretty much pays my bills (with help from writing income to cover shortfalls), and the regular Patreon income just all gets hurled at my student loan and credit card debt. Assuming things continue to go well, I should be out of debt by mid-2020. Of course, in the meantime, I still don’t have much money, because the extra is being thrown into the debt-hole, but it’s progress.

Happy new year, all. May it bring you joy and peace.

The Stars Are Right! The Wrong Stars Is On Sale

November 7th, 2017

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Available wherever bookses are sold! Here are some places books are sold, with a special emphasis on this book:

If you want to try before you buy, here’s an excerpt!

If you like meta-thoughts, here’s an essay I did about creating alien cultures, for Uncanny magazine:

There have been some rave reviews so far. Here is one:

Go forth, and take to the stars.

The Axiom Series

September 27th, 2017

Look at that cover for The Wrong Stars, out in early November! Art by Paul Scott Canavan, who is wonderful.

It’s just the beginning. I sold Angry Robot two more space operas in the Axiom series. The Dreaming Stars will appear in Fall 2018, and book three (tentatively titled The Forbidden Stars) will come out in 2019. Early responses to the first book are so far very positive, and I’ll share some review coverage and such shortly. It’s an exciting new chapter of my life as a writer, and I hope you’ll all join me in the cold and lightless void.

The Wrong Stars drafted

March 19th, 2017

Late last year and so far this year my major project has been writing The Wrong Stars, a space opera adventure coming out from Angry Robot this November. You can read the announcement about it here:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/announcing-wrong-stars-new-hard-sci-fi-novel-tim-pratt/

Yesterday I finished drafting it. I think it came out well. In the next couple of weeks I’ll revise it and then turn it in and see what my editor thinks.

I’ve written about 90,000 words this year (not all on the novel; some stories and game writing are in there, too), which is a hell of a start for the first quarter of the year.

Next plans: write some stories (including one a month for my Patreon, but maybe more, too). Do a low-key kickstarter for a collection of Marla Mason stories, just to round out the series fully. Do a kickstarter with my wife this summer for a collection of our Xmas/holiday stories, to be ready in time for winter holidays. Write a novel, maybe about Elsie Jarrow, maybe about Shadya Shahzad.

Sometimes I’m stunned by how lucky I am getting to do what I love.

2016 in Review

January 1st, 2017

Yes, yes, years are arbitrary constructs with no inherent meaning, blah blah. So are laws, governments, borders, money, gender, race, social structures, religion, and sports. That doesn’t mean they aren’t real, and for me, the end of one year and the start of another has always been a potent time. An opportunity to look back, and look forward, and note long-term patterns, and make course-corrections as necessary.

It’s been a crap year in a large sense. You all know. But I’ve dwelled on the bad a lot; I’m going to think about the good now, in retrospect.

I read a bunch of books. I had the bright idea to finally start tracking my reading using Goodreads, which is simple, and since I started doing that in May I read or re-read about 70 books (there are a bunch of comics collections in there inflating the numbers; I average a book or two a week, as I have for decades). I did a year-in-review essay for Locus about my favorites, but I really liked I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, Hard Light by Elizabeth Hand, and The Pleasure Merchant by Molly Tanzer (the latter not new in 2016, but new to me). (People keep trying to friend me on that site or whatever. I literally just use it to track my reading. Don’t be hurt if I use it for nothing else. It’s not personal.)

A few years back I decided to spend more time with actual humans instead of sitting alone in my house and reading and watching TV all the time, and as a result my life changed vastly for the better. (Though it cut way into my video game time.) This year I’ve kept up some vitally important relationships, deepened others, and met some new people who became rapidly essential to my mental health and well-being. They know who they are. I’m cranky and misanthropic upon casual acquaintance but effusive with those I adore. What can I say: I have a limited number of settings. I had more wonderful dinners, and long talks hanging out on my couch, and strolls around nice places, and beers on patios, with those friends than I can possibly enumerate.

There were good parties too! Ais’s birthday party on New Year’s Day was fantastic and I got to talk to some amazing people who I can’t even mention without it looking like name-dropping. Heather’s birthday party was a fantastic rager as usual. The Bacchanal party at Jeff and Katrina’s was epic, as was the later vodka and caviar party. Open mic at my friend Elliotte’s Unicorn Estate was fun, too, reading some poems and singing Kimya Dawson’s “Alphabutt” with Ais to some kids. Heather and I had a great barbecue in the summer (and saw old friends we hadn’t seen in ages!). Jeff and Katrina’s hobbit-themed wedding anniversary/second wedding was a fantastic party. My birthday party (I turned 40; seems improbable, but there it is) was marvelous too and I got sooooo much good whiskey I won’t need to buy a bottle until sometime in the spring, I suspect.

Still doing WhiskeyHorror with Katrina on a regular basis. We saw many not-very-good movies, and a few great ones. (Maybe I should keep track of the movies I watch too? It’s getting a little “quantified life” up in here.) The whiskey was always good, and likewise the company. My screwball comedy-watching buddy Amy moved away to Seattle (sob) but I’m watching stuff with Effie sometimes, which helps assuage the terrible etc. I also wrote in cafes occasionally with Effie, and Erin, and Daryl, which makes me feel less cataclysmically alone as an artist and so on.

We took good trips: a couple of jaunts up to Cazadero to stay in our friend Mark’s B&B. He’s great, his kids are great, the place is great, the food is great (there’s a bakery attached!), and it’s a glory and a joy to spend the occasional weekend there. We jaunted down to Santa Cruz once or twice. Over the summer we spent a few days at Disneyland and California Great Adventure with River, who had the best imaginable time (it was pretty fun for the grown-ups, too; our hotel had a rooftop bar!). In November I stayed a week in Portland thanks to the kind hospitality of Jenn and Chris; I ate so much, drank so much, video gamed so much, and made variously merry. We had some good visitors here, too. My high school buddy Millard was in town with his family and we ate barbecue and hung out one day. Dawson did his annual visit and stayed over for a few days, and we talked of many things, and also drank of many things.

I went to a bitter Valentine’s sing-along show with Three Drink Circus, and it was great fun, and I think the only show I attended all year! Weird. Oh, no, wait, I got Heather tickets to Amy Schumer for our anniversary so we went to that and it was good too.

Saw a short film, The New Year, based on my story “Happy Old Year”: Elsie Jarrow brought to life. I should be able to send you all a link to that shortly as it’s expected to be generally available soon online. [Edit: it just went live at https://vimeo.com/169591118! Watch!]

Continued at my day job as senior editor at Locus, working with Liza and the rest of the staff to make the news make sense and tell you what you should read and highlight great writers and all that. I still like it a lot.

I took some concrete steps to get my disarrayed finances in order. Not exciting, and not super fun to talk about, but see above re: turning 40. It’s probably time to deal with all those things, so I am.

Writing stuff:

I wrote about 310,000 words this year, about a novella’s worth more than I did last year. There were two novels in there: Liar’s Destiny, the fourth Rodrick and Hrym novel in my Pathfinder Tales series. I’m not sure when that one will be published at this point; you’ll know when I do. The other book was Closing Doors, the last Marla Mason novel, which is out to Kickstarter backers now and will go on general sale around February 1. There’s an audiobook coming later this year too. I only published one novel in 2016, Liar’s Bargain, my favorite Rodrick and Hrym book.

I also sold a brand new novel, potentially the first in a series. Signed the contract and everything. I’ll tell you about it later this month, probably.

The majority of my writing was stories! This was my first full year of doing the Patreon, and that accounts for a full dozen stories: “Unfollowed,” “The Witch and the Womanizer,” “A Pathway Up and Down,” “The Doorman,” “The Downstairs Neighbor,” “Soft Open,” “Bound by Grace,” “Six Jobs,” “Barrow of Ulthar in: The Tomb of the Bibliophage,” “Invidiosa vs. the Chamber of the Dead,” “Sophie of Two Worlds,” and “Under the Tree.” (And you can read them all, and eight more from 2015, if you back my Patreon at www.patreon.com/timpratt. For like a dollar.)

Other stories include “Heavy Game of the Pacific Northwest” for Associates of Sherlock Holmes, about Col. Sebastian Moran hunting bigfoot; Marla Mason story “The Atheist in the Garden” (started in 2015, but not finished until early 2016, so I’ll count it); humorous fantasy “Kaylee the Huntress” for UFO 5; “But You Can’t Stay Here” for Mixed-Up, an upcoming anthology of flash stories and cocktail recipes; an erotica story (I dusted off my old pseudonym); “Murmured Under the Moon” for an upcoming SF/fantasy anthology; “Firecracker,” my first straight crime story, for an upcoming noir anthology; “A Sea Serpent in a Bathtub” for another fantasy anthology; and I co-wrote holiday story “It’s a Wonderful Carol” with Heather Shaw. That’s 20 (and a half) stories! Pretty good. Really nice to be centering story work in my life again. I also wrote a few book reviews, and a TV review (of Stranger Things; my first publication in F&SF!).

Going Forward

Goals, abstract and specific: Keep spending time with humans I like. Stay on top of the financial stuff. Get back to the reasonably healthy lifestyle I had going before the holiday food and booze bombs started to fall. Help my son run his first tabletop RPG games. Write an Elsie Jarrow novel. Do a collection of Marla Mason stories so I can tie a bow around the whole series. Do a collaborative collection of mine and Heather’s holiday stories. Fight against the rising tides of fascism.

Happy new year, all. May it bring you joy and peace.

 

So Berkeley

November 19th, 2016

I’m doing a Facebook fast because it was stressing me out post-election (I’m still following the news and reading stuff, just sourced differently, with fewer memes and commenty scream-fests, and I’m still on twitter because it’s way easier to control my experience there; I can mute some stuff when the howling inside grows too loud and unmute things when I’m better able to cope). The only downside is that Facebook is where I have habitually posted my too-long-to-tweet comments, but then I remembered: I have a blog.

I had a very Berkeley moment this morning at my local grocery store, the Berkeley Bowl (locally famed for its great cheap produce and expensive everything else and old hippies parking their carts sideways in the aisle to block the entire pathway as they gaze raptly at lentils and people occasionally getting into screaming matches over the limited spots in the parking lot; I live walking distance so ha ha).

I had a cart full of Thanksgiving ingredients and went to the register with the shortest line (because the joint was already jammed at 9:30 a.m.) and, as usual in such cases, it proved to actually be the longest line. There was one woman in front of me, of the down-vested fortysomething clearly hikes all the time local variety, standing at the register holding a handbasket that contained three vegetables. As I arrived she sent her clearly hapless husband off in search of some cheap berries they’d seen someone else buy. She was just… standing there. At the register. While the cashier waited patiently.

Resigned to the fact that she wasn’t going to tell me to go ahead of her (to be fair, I did have a ton of stuff in my cart), I said, “Do you mind if I start putting my stuff on the conveyor belt?” I would have simply done so, but she was standing just exactly completely in the way.

She beams at me and says “No, you can wait. You’re young.”

Reader, I did not ram her to death with my cart.

In due time hapless husband arrived, with the wrong, full-price berries, and they engaged in a vociferous whispery snipe-fest about his relative competence versus the relative clarity of her instructions. I could have told them where the cheap berries were, but, you know. The cashier could have, too, and he didn’t feel moved to do so either. She finally puts her three vegetables on the conveyor belt and I throw the divider down and load up my stuff behind it. Then hapless husband wanders off to look at gourds or something and she starts yelling across the store that he has the money and has to come back and so on. Finally they managed to pay and depart with their vegetable bounty. The whole experience only sapped about ten minutes of my life.

Then the cashier couldn’t find a price for the dinner rolls I bought and after much debate and consultation and walking over to the service desk and back again, they gave ’em to me for $1.39, which was a number they clearly and unapologetically just made up at random, but which we all knew was probably at least two bucks too cheap, so happy times.

I said to the cashier, “It’s going to be a long weekend, huh?”

He nodded gravely. “I’m just hoping the rain will keep some people away.”

 

WhiskeyHorror: He Never Died

July 19th, 2016

This WhiskeyHorror report is a bit belated because I didn’t have time (I’m trying to work on a novel, mostly), but I wanted to get to it eventually: a while back we drank, uh, some kind of whiskey, and we watched He Never Died.

I came into the film with just some vague bits of knowledge: Henry Rollins was in it, and it was about vampires or immortals or something, and it was supposed to be good. I watched with my wife Heather and my stalwart WhiskeyHorror companion Katrina, and none of us had great (or low, either, to be fair) expectations.

It’s one of my favorite films I’ve seen all year. There’s a great tradition in crime fiction and cinema for “the wrong man” plot (pretty sexist, I know, sorry, that’s what it’s called), where an innocent/ordinary person is implicated in a crime and pursued by authorities, or pursued by criminals or enemy spies for reasons they don’t understand, or both. It’s an approach that’s been played straight in, say, The Fugitive, or The Wrong Man, but it’s so fundamental to crime stories that it’s been parodied a lot too, as in The Big Lebowski.

The Wrong Man is the initial premise here, too: Rollins’s character Jack, who appears to be a depressive shut-in who does little except sleep, walk to the diner, and sit unmoving in a chair thinking about screams, is confronted at home by angry criminals who make threats and demands. This may be the first time I’ve seen a wrong man plot where the man didn’t care why he’s been targeted; Jack doesn’t ask questions, and doesn’t exhibit any curiosity about the situation: he just wearily beats the guys up and throws them out, exhibiting supernatural capabilities in both violence and endurance, but no particular joy in the use of his powers. He’s less like a monster or superhero and more like a guy who finds a puddle of cat vomit on his kitchen floor at four in the morning and resignedly cleans it up before returning to bed.

The violence escalates from there, naturally, with the criminals haplessly attempting reprisals that never quite work out for them. The stakes get higher when Jack’s teenage daughter – a total stranger to him – shows up at his door hoping to make a connection with her father (and find a couch to crash on between benders, admittedly)… but this is not a guy with a capacity for connection. For example: at first it seems like he doesn’t even realize the nice waitress at his regular diner is flirting with him, but gradually it becomes clear that he does, and he just doesn’t care, because he’s too tired for all that business. He mostly can’t be bothered to deal with anything unless it directly impacts him, and in the face of threats and ultimatums he just shrugs, or doesn’t react at all: he’s like Bartleby the Immortal.

I’ve never seen a better depiction of the terrible weariness of being an immortal, of seeing everyone you know and care about die, again and again, until it just burns you to emptiness. Jack’s not some sighing vampire looking bored at an orgy, as we’ve seen in so many films: he wouldn’t bother with an orgy in the first place. This is more like chronic depression. His performance for most of the film is just a blankness of affect, punctuated by sighs, that somehow circles all the way back around and becomes charisma again. It’s weirdly a joy to watch. I’m a fan of a lot of Rollins’s stuff, but expressiveness as an actor is not one of his strong points, so the movie plays to his strengths, and in those moments when the weariness crumbles to reveal true emotion underneath (at one point quite dramatically), he plays it well, and the contrast is satisfying.

Jack’s character has all kinds of hidden depths beneath that stoic surface, and when his routine is disrupted, the movie becomes less about depression and more about addiction and backsliding into using… except Jack’s addiction is to violence (and, um, other stuff. I’m trying to not be monstrous about spoilers here). Eventually, almost despite himself, he does get to the bottom of why people are trying to kill him, and we get revelations about who and what he is – there’s some lovely misdirection about the nature of his supernatural qualities early on that points toward the right mythic space but in entirely the wrong direction, which I appreciated. The revelation was both perfectly right and not totally obvious (at least to me, and I’m usually a good guesser-of-movie-surprises).

It’s barely a horror movie, really, though there’s some gore and shock and horror. It’s really a character piece and a meditation on the intoxicating pointlessness of violence. Recommended.