The First Million Words
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March 2018
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Posted by Ben

We’ve come a long way from the demons and ghouls of the past.

Whether in Dracula with Béla Lugosi, or George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, it seems that movie audiences have always been attracted to these creatures of the night.  So much so that our current fascination with the undead seems to have come full circle.  Can authors and screen-writers really not think of an original scenario that involves these recently deceased (and…receased?) brain-eaters and blood-suckers?  The fact that we have books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and movies like the Twilight Series might make you think that they can’t.  But, at least, we can get some good cultural studies out of the recent phenomenon of the reanimation of these differing types of monsters in today’s pop-culture world

I, personally, think the most obvious way to view these two separate categories is to look at them through the scope of gender studies.  I’ll be focusing on the zombies on one side and vampires on the other – split into teams: boys vs. girls style.

We can clearly see how one type of undead monster differs from the other: the vampires  seem to appeal more to the female audience (as they have done for over a century), while the zombies have a much stronger following on the male side.  This may come down to the basic differences, which have been engrained into our minds, between the sexes.

First: the zombies’ appeal to the male viewer.

In any given zombie movie or book, the zombies are the clear antagonist.  Why? Because they are very single-minded and goal-oriented: all they want to do is eat your brain (thank you, Jonothan Coulton reference).  They don’t say anything (in most cases); all they do is chase, catch, and eat you.  This appeals to the “protector” nature of the male psyche; the need to protect the women and save the day, making them the hero.  By making the nature of the zombie so easily understandable, it becomes easy, then, to understand our role in relation to them.

On the other side of the undead aisle: vampires can have all sorts of motives.

The idea that they are seductive and charismatic might appeal to the archetypal female viewer’s sense of romance.  And that they depend upon your blood adds a sense of closeness and needing. What’s more romantic than living forever with some hot vampire? Or living, for a time, with some hot vampire that is totally dependent on your “life-force”?

These differences, although seemingly only gender specific, can also be viewed as a psychological study.  Who came up with these gender roles?  Are they really all that accurate?

Getting back to the topic of neo undead-literature: these gender differences are exploited heavily in the Twilight series (both the movie and book franchises) and the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book[s].  In Twilight the vampire is portrayed as an immortal teenager, appealing to the female audience’s perceived idea of undying romance.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an almost insulting concept as it takes a book that is highly regarded as one of the best examples of women in literature and throws zombies into it as a means to appeal to the male audience (that’s not to say that it isn’t highly entertaining and an all-around fun read).

In the end, it just seems that these undead archetypes themselves are being used to take old concepts (romance, adventure, good vs. evil) and breathe new life into them – to bring them back from the dead.  How this might affect you may or may not stem from your own gender/psychological Persuasion (another good Jane Austen title – please don’t write a book titled Persuasion and Parasites).

Category:Blog Posts -- posted at: 7:59pm EST

It's the end of Bryan Thomas Schmidt month! How bitter-sweet. Bryan and the guys talk about what you should keep in mind when planning out the future (whether you're writing Sci-Fi or Fantasy). And, maybe we get distracted a little bit near the end. Don't blame us. Remember to check out Bryan at all these places:, @BryanThomasS, #sffwrtcht, and Space Battles! Ben and Guillermo chat for a bit afterwards, but we're saving some information for the next episode. You'll have to tune in to find out.


Direct download: 01-04.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 4:36pm EST

Bryan Thomas Schmidt stops by for a third time to talk about Discovery Writing (aka pantsing/gardening). And, maybe we get a little side-tracked talking about certain other topics. Visit Bryan on the web ( and on Twitter (@BryanThomasS). Don't forget to check out Space Battles, the new Sci-Fi Anthology edited by Bryan (here). Then the guys catch up and chat about nerdy, writer stuff and announce our upcoming schedule of shows (listen to find out). Follow us (@FMWPodcast), like us (The-First-Million-Words), and...Write!

Direct download: 01-03.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 9:35pm EST

Ben and Guillermo discuss inspiration with Bryan Thomas Schmidt (author of The Worker Prince, editor of Space Battles). How do you keep track of your story ideas? Where do they come from? When should you transition from idea to story? Find out in our conversation with Bryan. Then they talk about what they've been doing the past week: not a whole lot, it turns out. Also, check out the Hugo nominations for this year (special congrats to Mur Lafferty, John Scalzi, Neil Gaiman and Sf Signal). Here's a link to Bryan's blog that might help, and here's John Scalzi's short story he did for April 1st, enjoy. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.  Write

Direct download: 01-02.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 12:06am EST

Bryan Thomas Schmidt Interview

Our interview with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of The Worker Prince. We talk a lot about editing, sticking to a schedule, and getting it done. You can find Bryan at: on Twitter at @BryanThomasS and Wednesday nights at 9ET during #sffwrtcht (@sffwrtcht). Then we talk about our boring projects from the previous week. Guillermo wrote about a Cyber-Wereshark from Hell, and Ben submitted a Sword and Sorcery Noire to a magazine (wish us luck). Follow us on Twitter: @FMWPodcast @Ben_J_L @GVelez80 and like our Facebook page. Write!

Direct download: 01-01.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 12:30am EST

Book Review: The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Posted by Ben

A very well written book, and a story very well told. It's nice to read a book where the heroes are heroes and the villains are villains. I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of the Moses story with the Sci-Fi themes (although, the Moses story only involves the premise--it is by no means a mere retelling). The allusions to "Old Earth" gave the story a good grounding and a rich history. It's also nice to see a first-book-in-a-series that is able to work as a stand-alone novel. My only complaints: The names in the book along with some of the vehicles and robots were just a little too Sci-Fi-ey for me, and I would have liked to have seen the romance sub-plot stretched out just a little longer. Other than that, it's a great book to pick up. I would highly recommend it even if you are new to Sci-Fi. 

4/5:  I highly recommend it even if you are new to Sci-Fi. It's entertaining, family-friendly, and will keep you turning the pages until the very end. Can't wait for The Returning

(Hear our interviews with Bryan Thomas Schmidt all through the month of April, and check out his website here:

Category:Book Reviews -- posted at: 12:00am EST

We introduce ourselves and the show, have technical difficulties, mess up our words, and give a few basic writing tips. I promise next week will be better. On Twitter: @FMWPodcast

Direct download: 1-0.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 4:15am EST

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Category:Contact the Show -- posted at: 12:00am EST