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

New Book Release: INTRATERRESTRIAL

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

 

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

The Aliens are Coming…

Just a few more days until the ebook version of Intraterrestrial is available, on January 16th! In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys a happy Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Come back on Tuesday, when Intraterrestrial officially lands on Earth!

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

In the meantime, the early reviews are starting to come in! Here are a couple snippets from Goodreads…

“Are the Star Voice/alien/journey through outer (and inner) space real, then? It doesn’t matter. The author’s stunning use of imagery brings both the fantastical space scenes and the harsh reality of the hospital to life.” – J.L. Gribble

alien sky weird ufo nicholas conley intraterrestrial

“Real life issues of how to handle self esteem, anxiety, and overcome obstacles while still being a teenager mixed in with medicine, science, and fantasy.”– Stacie Boren

 

Intraterrestrial by Nicholas Conley: Coming January 16th

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

Book Trailer: Intraterrestrial

Next week, on January 16th, the aliens are coming. On that day, the ebook edition of Intraterrestrial will finally touch down on Earth. The paperback will be arriving in the near future, as well—and as soon as there’s an official date, I’ll let you all know.

In the meantime, I’m excited to unveil the official book trailer for Intraterrestrial. Watch it below!

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

Alien Autopsy UFO roswell aliens weird footage

Extraterrestrial Aliens Should be Less Human, and More Alien

Okay, let’s be honest. If aliens are out there, whether they’re monitoring our world or flying around their own little corner of the cosmos, they probably aren’t hairless, bipedal primates like us. They might not even perceive the universe in the same way we do. And yeah, they definitely don’t speak English. So why is that in the vast majority of books, movies, and TV shows about aliens, they seem so much like human beings with unique skin tones, claws, or bigger heads?

Why aren’t aliens… more alien?

This exact thought was a huge part of what inspired me to write Intraterrestrial, my upcoming weird, emotional, psychedelic alien novel which will be floating your way later this month.

Star-Trek-Discovery-TKuvma-Klingon-Leader alien human

In most sci-fi media, “aliens” tend to resemble futuristic humans. Sure, maybe they have grey skin and tentacles, but the differences from us are relatively minor. Aliens still wear clothes or ceremonial armors, they still pilot metal ships, have families, and interact with the world using the same five senses. Alien technology, while usually more advanced than Earthling technology, is nonetheless quite similar to ours. (Though Giger’s hyper-sexualized designs in the Alien movies are a notable exception.)

Now, the reason that fictional aliens are so “human” is easy to understand. For one, humans have a tendency to try to imprint our image on everything, whether it’s finding human faces in wood grain (the pareidolia phenomenon), or believing that an omnipotent creator would resemble an old white guy with a big white beard.

This is also because from a storytelling perspective, it’s easier for readers and audiences to connect with “creatures” that resemble us. That’s why it’s easier to recognize the “life” in an animal than it is a plant, even though both are equally valid lifeforms. The use of “human” aliens has been a necessary ingredient in many important media franchises, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Marvel Universe. That’s because the “aliens” in these tales aren’t there to explore the sci-fi idea of aliens: these “aliens” are representative of humans, so it suits the story to make them as human as possible. This aspect is particularly strong in Star Trek, which uses a utopian “Federation” of alien races to represent the ideal of humankind’s many races/cultures/societies one day working out their differences and living in harmony. It’s powerful stuff.

Ufo flying saucer nicholas conley aliens

So, I’m not criticizing the use of “human” aliens, because they serve a valid narrative function for many stories. However, I am asking: shouldn’t our stories have room for both types of alien, both human and…. less human?

And furthermore, can’t we see more stories featuring inhuman aliens, which don’t simply write the beings off as “monsters,” or “beasts,” and instead work to engender audience compassion and connection for creatures that aren’t just like us?

 

I say this, because many stories demonize inhuman creatures, and that’s problematic, because it signifies how we feel about (and treat) animals, plants, and other lifeforms that don’t have smiling faces. For example, when I used talking slugs as characters in my last novel, Pale Highway,  I did so hoping that it might make at least one reader reexamine these “slimy” creatures, and perhaps come away with more respect for them. Slugs might be totally different from us, but they are a valid form of life. If my story convinced even one person to never pour salt on a poor slug again, then hey, that’s an achievement I’m proud of.

Anyway, getting back to the central point, depictions of truly otherworldly aliens—particularly more sympathetic portrayals—are rare. Off the top of my head, the most noteworthy example of this in recent times was the film Arrival, where the Heptapods were seen as complex, intelligent beings of a truly alien background. The other example that comes to mind are the “Scramblers” in the novel Blindsight. While these creatures certainly weren’t “sympathetic,” due to their total lack of free will and/or emotions, the novel itself presented their strange nature as a plot point, and an examination of what our “free will” really is.

 

Arrival aliens ufo space science fiction ship.png

Now, why am I interested in seeing more alien-like aliens? A few reasons. One, it’s largely unexplored terrain. It’s a big, cosmic horror (or mesmerizing wonder) of possibilities that fiction has only begun to tap.

Two, because I think it’s an important way to break through the myopic nature of human perception. I think that telling stories wherein the aliens are distinctly not-human—but are still viable creatures in their own right—could help break down barriers in human society, help tear down prejudices, and make it easier for people to relate to others who aren’t like them.  After all, the “other” is not the enemy.

alien sky weird ufo nicholas conley intraterrestrial

For Intraterrestrial, the key difference I wanted to explore was the notion of perception. The main character, Adam Helios, is a 13 year old boy with a brain injury: this injury causes his perception of the world to differ significantly from a “normal” person.

However, the aliens who contact him perceive the universe in an even stranger way: while us Earthlings use five senses, the aliens do not possess senses. They explore the universe psychically, using creativity as a “sense.” They are so incomprehensible to our hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, and sound that the aliens can only appear before Adam by “creating” sensory constructs of themselves, with his imagination.

A large part of what inspired me to write Intraterrestrial was my desire, both as a writer and as a reader, to see fictional aliens that are more “alien,” instead of just seeming like futuristic humans. This book will be my own contribution to the cause I’ve described above, and I look forward to you folks reading it, and letting me know if my aliens are “alien” enough!

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

 

 

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

Cover Reveal: INTRATERRESTRIAL

It’s here. Yes, this is it. I’ve been dropping little hints about Novel #3 for a long time, but up until now, the time hasn’t been right to pull back the curtain and reveal what the book is about. Well, I’m insanely excited to announce that the time has finally come.

Here it is, everyone! I’m finally ready to introduce you to my next novel, Novel #3, the book I’ve been working on all this time: Intraterrestrial.

Intraterrestrial

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book

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.

space

Just as with Pale Highway, the plot of Intraterrestrial is informed by my real life experiences working in healthcare. It’s a story about the reality of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), about the nature of consciousness, about what medical tragedy does to a family… but it’s also a story about hope, finding oneself, and the utmost importance of imagination.

I’ve been officially working on Intraterrestrial ever since I wrapped up work on Pale Highway, but the base concept behind this story has been following me for many, many years, tugging at me, itching for release. As always, it feels surreal to finally put it out there, this experience that has been with me for so long, this story that I’ve been thinking about for so long — and I seriously can’t wait for you all to read it. Seriously, I can’t wait!

In the meantime, stay tuned and I’ll be posting updates. Oh yeah, and as far as a release date? How does this sound:

Winter 2017

Dark Tower Jake drawings Stephen King

What is Stephen King’s “Dark Tower,” exactly?

Since the release of the trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s epic, The Dark Tower, the web had been buzzing with theories and speculation, as well as questions from those who’ve never read the books.

For example: is this story a western, or sc-fi? What’s so important about this “tower?” Why does the gunslinger need to reach it?

Well, as someone who has been passionate about this series since I first picked up the books as a teenager, I recently wrote a piece for Screen Rant that explains some of the Dark Tower basics.

I’ve provided a link below, but don’t stop there. With the movie coming out later this year, now is the perfect time to catch up, and read the books that inspired it!

 

NOTE: After putting this up, I just discovered that it’s my 200th post on this blog. Crazy!

Clay Tongue novelette Nicholas Conley fantasy golem

Language, the Secrets of Communication, and All of Our Clay Tongues

Human language is the source of human consciousness, at least as far as we understand it. Things “exist” to us — whether those things are objects, theories, or abstract notions  — only so far as (1) our ability to perceive them, and (2) our ability to describe them with words. Which is silly, when we think about it, because words are, on a base level, nothing more than silly symbols and sounds made by the human mouth. Words are inherently meaningless, other than the meaning that we connect to these words — and that meaning is what makes them powerful. Words are a beautiful contradiction. This doesn’t mean that “truth” doesn’t exist, because it does, but it does mean that how we perceive truth is directly connected to whatever language we speak, as well as how our culture perceives the words within that language.

The word “horse” means nothing, other than being a mouthful of sounds, unless we decide that “horse” is a descriptor for the real life animal. How we think of a horse, then, is directly connected to the word we use. For example, in the English language, our amusing tendency to associate other objects with parts of the human body: e.g., the supposed “legs” of a chair, or the “heart” of an artichoke.

Language is the power that fuels the human species. It’s the source of how we think, why we think, and how we retain memories. But at the same time, for those who struggle with communication, language can become an unbreakable wall between them and the rest of society.

The limitations and surreal nature of human perception is something I like examining in my writing, as readers of Pale Highway will attest to.  I’ll be delving even deeper into this topic in my next novel (Novel #3), when it comes out. But when I approached this subject for the writing of my short little fantasy novelette, Clay Tongue, I specifically wanted to delve into language, communication, and the challenges faced by those who struggle with it.

Clay Tongue fantasy novelette Nicholas Conley

To do this, I tried to link two different struggles, that would seem quite different on the surface, but actually have a lot in common: the pain of an old man who develops aphasia after suffering from a stroke, and the shyness of a little girl who has trouble speaking up in front of people. Both of them know what they want to say, but both of them don’t know how to say it.

In Clay Tongue, these characters — young Katie Mirowitz and her grandfather — have a tight bond, and this shared communication difficulty is what brings them together.

When it comes to the grandfather, I was inspired by the same nursing home experience that fueled Pale Highway. As a caregiver in the dementia unit, I worked with many people who’d been afflicted with aphasia. Scientists, lawyers, artists, mechanics, pharmacy technicians — people who suddenly, without warning, had their ability to communicate robbed from them. It was heartbreaking to see, when someone so desperately knows what they want and their brain won’t let them say it in a way that others can understand.

Clay Tongue Nicholas Conley fantasy

As far as Katie’s shyness, well… that goes back to my own childhood, where I myself had a lot of painful social anxiety, and an immense difficulty with getting words across. Though socializing comes easily to me now, those early pains never quite fade from memory. The secret to comfortable social interaction isn’t something you can take a class for, or find tricks to get around; you just have to learn it the hard way. Though it becomes easier with age, that’s no comfort to a little kid who still hasn’t figured out how to respond to a seemingly simple question like “how are you?” without feeling treacherously embarrassed.

With Clay Tongue, I wanted to examine this aspect within both characters: to delve into the secrets of communication, to show their struggles. And then, at the same time, to show that even in strange and indescribable personal battles such as these ones, there is always hope.

Clay Tongue: A Novelette is available on Amazon.

Clay Tongue novelette Nicholas Conley fantasy

From the author of the award-winning Pale Highway and the radio play Something in the Nothing comes a short fantasy of love, shyness, and the secrets of human communication.

Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.