Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo

The INTRATERRESTRIAL paperback has arrived!

Hey, paperback readers! The UFO carrying the paperback edition of Intraterrestrial has finally touched down on Earth, and materialized in physical form. Get your copy on Amazon, straight from the stars. Here’s the link:

Get your copy here!

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months. After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life. Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

True Tales Live Nicholas Conley speech story nursing home day one tv

True Tales Live: “Day One” (Video)

This past month, I was honored with the opportunity to appear on the second season premiere of the local NH television program, True Tales Live.  As with the True Tales radio program that preceded it, True Tales Live seeks to give storytellers the opportunity to share actual stories from their life.

For this episode of True Tales Live, I shared my story, “Day One,” where I delve back into my early days working in a nursing home, as a nursing aide on a longterm care unit, and how that experience changed my views, my perception, and my way of trying to be there for other people.

Though the series can be watched on local TV in the NH area, everyone else can check it out here on the official True Tales YouTube! My section begins around 46:50, in the video below:


Other storytellers in this episode include Arnie Alpert, Emilie Spaulding, Gail Licciardello, Joanne Piazzi, and Annette Slattery. Definitely worth watching, and to everyone behind the scenes, thank you for putting this program together.

Black Panther Marvel throne tribute

Black Panther: The Game Changer We All Needed

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Even though most of the comic book characters who have lit up the big screen were first created in the 1960s (or earlier), there’s no doubt that their cinematic recreations are reflective of our time. While dozens upon dozens of superhero movies have paraded across the screen, the ones that stick out the most have been the ones that have something to say—about society, about the world we live in, about the challenges facing us now.

For example, the first Spider-Man film came less than a year after 9/11, and felt like a direct response: no other film so captured the zeitgeist of that moment, the rallying together, the desire for union, most notably depicted when the New Yorkers join together to save Spider-Man from the Green Goblin, chanting, “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!” Spider-Man 2, on the other hand, perfectly captured the sense of a “fall from grace” that happened within the U.S. almost directly afterward, as the “war on terror” began: the rise of patriotism was followed by a devastating fall, with a frail economy, polarization, and constant struggle. While 2002’s Spider-Man was bright and colorful, 2004’s Spider-Man 2 was murky, grey, bittersweet, and showed a Peter Parker nearly collapsing beneath the weight of bills, responsibilities, and unfulfilled dreams. Following this, the year 2008 brought us both The Dark Knight and Iron Man, two films that critically tackled the evolving views on the “war on terror.” The Avengers followed suit, re-approaching 9/11 about as directly as a superhero film possibly can (New York is devastated by an attack from the sky, people rally together against it). The Avengers put down the groundwork for the anti-corruption themes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War.  Last year brought us Wonder Woman, the feminist superhero movie that the world was waiting for, and also brought us Thor: Ragnarok, which mixed slapstick humor with a  biting satirical critique of colonialism. Then there’s the obvious political allegories of the X-Men films: these concepts were at their most potent in Logan, which portrays a Trumpian dystopia where mutant immigrants from Mexico flee to Canada for freedom, while the U.S. is mired in recession, automation, and corporate bureaucracy.

While most superhero movies are popular, the films listed above resonate because of how they tap into cultural fears, hopes, and dreams. As of February 16, 2018, a new film needs to be added to that list: Black Panther.

Black Panther mask Marvel

Black Panther is the sort of film that, for decades, Hollywood producers claimed would never work. It stars a black protagonist, shown as wise, commanding and noble, but also possessing human flaws like impatience, anger, and self-doubt. The director, Ryan Coogler, is black, and almost all of the supporting cast are also black. It’s set in Africa. Rather than showing the characters an an oppressed minority, it instead shows them as powerful figures, coming from a technologically advanced society that stands head and shoulders above “western” society in every way. There are no damsels in distress: most of the supporting characters are powerful women, such as Okoye and Shuri. As if that wasn’t enough, the movie is even titled “Black Panther.”

The film that Hollywood thought would “never work” is now on track to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, proving wrong everyone who ever doubted it. Contrary to all of its doubters, it seems like Black Panther is the movie people were waiting for.

Black Panther hasn’t even been out a month, but it’s already been the topic of numerous fascinating think pieces, analyzing T’Challa’s place in history. Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige believes it’s the best movie they’ve ever made. Issac Bailey, writing for CNN, proclaimed that “Black Panther is for film what Barack Obama was for the presidency.” It’s been said by many that Black Panther is becoming a movement, not just a movie.


Here’s another thing: Black Panther might turn out to be the superhero movie of this era.

In recent years, the efforts of groups like Black Lives Matter have helped bring the topic of racial inequality roaring back into the headlines, forcing everyone to stand up and take notice of the widespread structural racism that still exists in the United States today. The U.S. has a particularly strange duality at play, when it comes to this matter: we’re living in an era where a black man become president of the United States, but we’re also living in an era where he was immediately followed by a white person with a sordid history of racist actions and proclamations. “Jim Crow” is a thing of the past, but systemic racism and mass incarceration are so deeply embedded into the country’s institutions (with even former slave plantations converted into prisons) that the situation has been called “the new Jim Crow.”

Obviously, as a country, and as a world, we have a lot of work to do to further the cause of true equality. But that’s the easier part to accept and realize. What’s equally critical—and what Black Panther taps into—is that society also needs to also reexamine our history, to challenge all rose-tinted views of the past, if we hope to rise into a better future.

T'Challa Black Panther Marvel Killmonger villain B Jordan

In the film, this aspect is symbolized by the villain, Killmonger—a character whose relatable background evokes empathy from the audience, even if his means and end goal are destructive.  In his introductory scene, Killmonger speaks toward the history of black oppression… which is, in turn, the history of the contemporary world. As written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the journalist for the Atlantic who has also written Marvel’s Black Panther comic book:

“The early American economy was built on slave labor. The Capitol and the White House were built by slaves. President James K. Polk traded slaves from the Oval Office. The laments about “black pathology,” the criticism of black family structures by pundits and intellectuals, ring hollow in a country whose existence was predicated on the torture of black fathers, on the rape of black mothers, on the sale of black children. An honest assessment of America’s relationship to the black family reveals the country to be not its nurturer but its destroyer.”

The great lie of colonial history, whether it’s British colonialism or the birth of the United States, is the default presumption of virtue, the idea that everything was built fairly. Are there certain things to admire about the United States? Yes, absolutely: democracy, republicanism, the push for greater freedom, the dream of giving every person the opportunity for life and liberty. That’s what the U.S. got right (ideologically, if not in practice), and those dreams are what American citizens should feel patriotic about — but as a culture, we also have to recognize that even while the founders were pushing for these virtuous goals, the U.S. left behind women, minorities, anyone who wasn’t a European-descended male, with policies that particularly harmed both Africans and the native North American tribes, whom the very land was stolen from.

(For the record, I do think patriotism is valuable. However, jingoistic chants of “America is great,” or “get out of the country if you don’t like it” aren’t true patriotism. Just like honestly loving a person requires that you understand their flaws, I believe that true patriotism requires acknowledging the evil actions that U.S. culture and the U.S. government have perpetrated upon countless other cultures in the past, and accepting that if we truly believe in the ideals of the United States, we need to address, repair, and make reparations for the harsh reality of these past actions.)

Now, Black Panther isn’t introducing these concepts for the first time, but what’s significant is that the film is a multi-billion dollar studio tentpole, a major film that people all over the world will see, think about, and recommend. It’s tapping into a deep vein that many people out there might have never considered. Black Panther is huge, and it’s getting bigger. That’s what makes it a game changer.


Dora Milaje Black Panther Wakanda Warriors Marvel

Black Panther poses the notion of an African nation, Wakanda, which was never colonized. And then, contrary to every prejudiced assumption on the books, Marvel depicts this uncolonized nation as NOT being a “primitive,” culturally backward, starving country: instead, Wakanda’s separation from the colonial world has made it BETTER than every other place on the planet. It’s a nation that was able to hold onto its old traditions, while also embracing the most advanced technology on the planet, and even developing more equal social norms (particularly when it comes to women) than most “first world” nations today.

This cuts right to the heart of the “manifest destiny” myth, repudiating it. But Black Panther doesn’t stop there and rest on its laurels. Once the movie has shown how amazing Wakanda is, it then uses the character of Killmonger to challenge the nation’s isolationism, further widening the film’s scope. Killmonger believes that Wakanda is responsible for the suffering of people around the world, because of its closed borders.

And here’s the rub: the villain is right, on some level. Sure, Killmonger’s end goal is wrong, as proliferating high-tech weapons around the world is never good for anyone, but the essence of his beliefs—that the great nation’s isolationism makes it guilty for the wrongs that happen across the world—is accurate, and over the course of the film, T’challa comes around to this point of view.



The final battle between T’Challa and Killmonger depicts both characters calling out one another’s hypocrisies. Killmonger tells T’Challa that by hiding in the shadows for centuries, Wakanda is complicit in the wrongdoings perpetrated over the course of history. T’Challa finally agrees with this, but argues—also correctly—that Killmonger’s desire for violent supremacy has made him into everything he hates.

As a film, and as a story, the depth of this conclusion is fantastic. T’Challa “wins” against Killmonger’s violence, but Killmonger also “wins” the battle of ideologies, convincing the hero of what he (or rather, his nation) has been doing wrong.

By the end, T’Challa learns from the mistakes of his father, and knows that Wakanda can no longer remain distant from the concerns of the world. Now, he must get involved. This is most explicitly stated by T’Challa himself in the film’s mid-credit sequence, set in the United Nations, which is easily one of the most political scenes in any Marvel movie to date:


“In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”

Black Panther Marvel throne tribute

And so, T’Challa opens his nation to the world, brings Wakanda’s knowledge to those who need it, and offers help and guidance to everyone else who is struggling. He doesn’t do this naively. After Killmonger’s attack, he knows the risks. Opening Wakanda up to the world means the possibility of invasions, theft… you know, all the stuff that a Black Panther sequel will probably deal with.

But in an increasingly globalized world, isolationism is not only wrong, but also dated and ineffective. Just as our real world is now menaced by threats beyond our easy comprehension—I.E., climate change, nuclear weapons, overpopulation, et cetera—the Earth of the Marvel Universe is now menaced by alien invasions, Infinity Stones, and lots of cosmic craziness that could wipe it off the map. If the Earth wants to survive, all of its nations must come together.

To summarize, I have to acknowledge that as a white male, I can’t speak on behalf of other cultures, or what this movie might mean to other people from different backgrounds: I can only offer a series of assumptions, from my own privileged position. However, I don’t want to close this essay on my thoughts, because when it comes to Black Panther, there are other voices that are more important than mine. The film definitely moved me, but I’m not the audience whom it will have the biggest impact on.

That audience, the one that matters the most here, are the black youth of today, and they deserve to be heard.  Writing for the New York Times, Kevin Nobel Maillard invited a group of seventh graders to a Black Panther showing, and recorded their responses. Here are a few:

“The film makes me want to start my own tribe and make my own inventions to help the world. It also makes me want to make my own Panther outfit.” – Gabriela Myles

“To see a black person control a whole country and creating all this technology made me feel I can do more with my brain.” – Jaheim Hedge

Black Panther will show people of the world how much more people of color can do.” – Scottia Coy

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Here come the Intraterrestrial reviews!

The ebook edition of Intraterrestrial has been out for a few weeks now—though the paperback is still coming soon—and the reviews are starting to roll in. Here are some highlights!

“Creatively mingling reality and science fiction, Nicholas Conley crafts a mind boggling, intense story. It left me soul searching, a little heart broken, and overwhelmingly in awe of the way he weaves not only Adam’s story but that of his mother, Camille.”

– Shelley, Nerd Girl Official


“Intraterrestrial deals with some heavy topics: brain injury, bullying, and finding your place in the world when you’re different than everyone else.”

– Misti Pyles, My Trending Stories


“There is some Descartes-ian philosophy thrown in here too, which is always fun.”

– Sean, ReadWorldBooks


“This is a very good story. It has several tough issues that are discussed and will make you think about if you were in the same situation.”

– Jessica Bronder, JBronder Book Reviews


“The scenes with Adam’s mother Camille should have seemed boring and dull in comparison to Adam’s journey. On the contrary, her character arc and voice were just as engrossing. The ending to both character’s journeys tied up neatly, but still packed a satisfying emotional wallop.”

J.L. Gribble


“This book reminded me of my childhood. I grew up behind a gas station. My playground was a shed in the back of the station. It was used for car parts, old radios and such. With my spacecraft set up, I blasted into outer space.”

– Randy Tramp 

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo

Intraterrestrial is nominated for #CoverOfTheMonth

Intraterrestrial has rolled right into the first round of AllAuthor’s #CoverOfTheMonth contest for February, where members of the public can vote for their favorite covers for new releases of the past month.

Now, obviously, I love the cover for Intraterrestrial, which was designed by Streetlight Graphics. I’m still amazed by it, and I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like on a paperback. Of course, being the author and all, I might be a bit biased—but seriously, I think the cover really captures the heart of this story.

If you agree, and are interested in helping fly Intraterrestrial into Round #2 of the contest, place your vote at AllAuthor’s online contest. No registration required.

Vote for the cover here!

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The writing soundtrack for Intraterrestrial

The creative process is a magical thing, and every creative person out there has their own unique way of tapping into it. Some people just flip open their laptop and go. Others need to do it with a pen and paper. And then there’s the vast majority of us, who have all kinds of ridiculously particular routines that will probably only get more ridiculous as we get older.

For me, when I decide that I’m feverish enough to start writing another novel, I like having a soundtrack. Seriously, having the right music gets me into the zone. You know, the creative zone. That’s the place where characters come to life and start arguing with you. Where the environment you’re creating starts to become more real than the room around you. Writers exist for this zone. We think about it constantly, whether we’re at the grocery store or trying to sleep. And for me, the right music helps me tap into that zone like cracking an egg creates the possibility of an omelet.

Coffee helps, too.

Nicholas Conley coffee dark

But it’s not just any music. For me, I’m apparently so ridiculous that by now, I like to have a specific playlist for each writing project I take on. I know, I know, it’s too much! But that’s how it is. When I’m writing, this music becomes so intimately connected with the novel that it becomes, for me, the story’s playlist. Back when I was writing Pale Highway, I spent a lot of time listening to The Album Leaf.  But Intraterrestrial required a different soundtrack.

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo

Intraterrestrial is, without question, a weird novel. By its nature, this book is two stories, each one wrapped around one another like a braided rope: on one hand, there’s the tale of Adam, a young boy undergoing an imaginative journey through the cosmos, meeting “aliens” formed by his own imagination, while knowing that when he comes back to Earth, his life could be totally unlike what it was before. On the other hand, there’s the story of Camille, his mother—a woman stubbornly fighting to protect her son from the perils of the medical system, while battling her own guilt about the car crash that created this situation.

As I was writing Intraterrestrial, the music that really jump-started my creative process was that of Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, whose work I was introduced to when he scored the French film The Intouchables (which, by the way, I highly recommend!). To put it clearly, Einaudi’s album Divenire helped me form the backbone of this novel. Seriously, I almost can’t imagine writing it without that soundtrack. This particular piece, to me, totally captures Adam’s journey through space:


However, there’s another song that played an important role in the development of Intratrerrestrial, and this song also plays an integral role in the novel’s story. If you’ve read the book (now available on Amazon, don’t forget!), then you know the song I’m talking about: it’s Soundgarden’s “The Day I Tried to Live,” sung by the now tragically deceased Chris Cornell.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that Intraterrestrial first came to me, as a concept. But I do remember that when the story finally came together in my head—as I envisioned this boy riding a “lightboard” through outer space, while his physical body remained in a hospital bed on Earth—I was definitely listening to this song.

Now, let me ask all of you other writers, artists, and creative types in general: do you have specific soundtracks for your projects? Or on the other hand, maybe you have your own specific creative habits, outside of that?

If so, what are they?

Intraterrestrial: Available on Amazon!

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo


For an author, days like today are the ones you dream about.

The creative process always starts with a flash of lightning: that first moment whereupon an idea occurs to you, and you take on the heavy responsibility of bringing it to life.  Then, there’s that frenetic feeling—excitement meets anxiety, happiness meets fear—as the story you’ve been carrying inside you slowly empties out onto the page. You work on it for longer than you ever imagined. Weeks. Months. Years. You nourish it, you love it, you loathe it, you go through all of these emotions, but you always, always keep plugging away at it, letting it flow together. You experience tears, you experience laughter, the characters become friends, the locations become real. You let the story grow and change, and then—finally—you put it out into the world. At which point, it’s no longer “your” story anymore: now, it belongs to the readers. And that’s exactly how it should be.

These are the days where you remember why it’s all so, so worth it. As of today, February 16th, the ebook edition of Intraterrestrial has officially landed on Earth.

Get your ebook copy of Intraterrestrial here on Amazon today. If you prefer reading your ebooks on a Nook, then snag it here on Barnes & Noble. You can also find it on iTunes, Google Play, and Kobo. Choose whichever format you prefer; the aliens won’t mind one bit. Just make sure to grab it while it’s hot, before their UFO takes off again!

To all of you reading this, thank you for your support, whether it’s through comments, emails, Tweets, or what have you. Seriously, you folks are awesome. I hope you all enjoy reading Intraterrestrial, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts, theories, and speculations!

Also, for all you paperback fans: don’t worry! The hard copy will be coming soon, and I’ll let you all know when it does.

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

Now available on Amazon!

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo