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THE FULL LID
28th January 2022

Hi everyone! Welcome to The Full Lid! The Lid is your weekly 5 p.m. chunk of pop culture positivity, career notes, reviews and anything else that I've enjoyed this week.

Think of it as the perkiest blip in the media stream, an oasis of calm in a sea of whatever fresh hell this week brings. Like email, but good!

This week's interstitials show you what happens when the giants of rock enjoy rollercoasters. You're welcome.

And now, contents!

Contents

Gearbreakers
No Comply
Survey Says...!
If Not For Linear Time
Signal Boost
Where You Can Find Me This Week
The Department of Received Esoteric Print Goods
Signing Off / Playing Out
The Full Lid Header in grey reads 'Books'
The cover to Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers

 

Editor's note: spoilers. The Trigger Warning Database lists the following for this title: depictions of blood and gore; torture; gun violence; immolation.


Godolia won the last war by refusing to die. A colossal city-state built on the bones of its underclasses, it maintains itself through ruthlessly pillaged resources and being the last place on Earth to use Windups. Windups are skyscraper sized mecha with a sole task: the subjugation and control of the Godolian population. Windup pilots are upper class teenagers and adults, cybernetically enhanced to 'wind' , providing it with a brain and nervous system. 

Sona, also known as Glitch, has just qualified as a Windup pilot and plans to tear Godolia down with her bare, newly colossal hands for the offhand murder of her entire town.

Eris, also known as Frostbringer because of the freezing gloves her genius sister developed, leads a Gearbreaker team. Gearbreakers break into Windups and kill the crew. They have no resources, and give precisely zero shits about that fact.

Best meet cute EVER.

Mikuta's prose has the same lightness of touch and weight of heart as their heroines. Glitch is consumed with loathing for what's been done to her and what she's had to do to get out. Eris is consumed with rage at her oppressors and terror that the gifted idiot child soldiers who are her adoptive family are perpetually one bad call away from being dead. Neither of them are happy, or feel whole, or are without blame. Their minds and their plans spin faster and faster as the Windups are torn apart. A bloody war between good and evil, fought on their ragged edge.

The pace Mikuta sets is relentless, and characters are never given a chance to catch their breath; the intrepid couple never catch a break. Eris' escape from Godolian prison leaves a stain on Glitch's hands that she fears will never come clean. Glitch's sincerity throws the same spanner in the works of the Gearbreakers' righteous crusade as they do with the Windups. They're all victims, the enemy the system they feel they have no choice but to perpetuate. Their solution is imperfect, brutal, and deeply romantic. It's also really funny, often in a shatteringly bleak way. The love that grows between the two forces everyone to be better and a lot of them aren't happy about this new state of affairs. think 'I love you' - 'I know' levels of sweet with spikes on its knuckles and a shiv behind it's back.

Its easy to exist in the beautifully brutal concept that 'it's the hope that kills you.' But that's our curse. It's the Gearbreakers' weapon. Who could possibly defeat a murderous skyscraper piloted by the refined ferocity of the landed gentry? 

Oh that's easy, the young. Who know they won't live forever and are going to do everything they can to go to their grave with your throat in their teeth. Eris puts love in one hand and fury in the other and rages into the machine. Glitch puts all her body dysmorphia and grief and horror into her blade and demolishes opponents with a brutality and flair she's still too human to glorify. The only comfort they have is each other. Their chances are slim, but they just crank up the music and punch fate in the teeth.

Gearbreakers has blood in its knuckles and love in its soul. Its a sweet war story, and the funniest dystopia I've read since Chris Bucholz's Severance. Eris and Glitch are an anarchist Harry and Sally for the post-mech generation. They have no manner of luck, no quit, and their sleeves are made entirely of heart. Get the book or get out of their way.

Gearbreakers is available now at all fine bookshops. The sequel, Godslayers, arrives later this year. Thanks to the amazing Portal Bookshop for sorting us out. You can follow Zoe Hana Mikuta on Twitter.
Rock Rollecoaster: David Byrne

Video description: Musical polymath and world champion suit-wear David Byrne rides a rollercoaster.
The Full Lid Header in blue reads 'Comics'
The front cover to No Comply by Joe Decie shows the protagonist skating through a futuristic city

No Comply

 

Editor's note: spoilers


On a Saturday (it's always a Saturday) a kid with great taste in t-shirts and skateboards, and just enough money to cause some trouble, decides to take a trip. Aided by Joe Decie, we get to go with them.

Joe Decie's style has the clean lines of French science fiction comics, in particular the much missed Jean-Claude Mézières. Here it's mixed with the joyous heavy metal sensory overload of Geoff Darrow and an exuberant skatepunk aesthetic. This played in my head all the way through the comic but that's absolutely because I'm a child of my time. You'll have other tunes in your head when you read it.
A busy city scape, rendered in black and orange line drawings.
Talk about images you can hear, right?
Decie uses colour as punctuation, dialogue and percussion, often in the same panel. Take the image above. You can hear the bus puttering along, that noise describing the motion you see only in still-life. You can hear the the robo lizard at the vendor humming happily as make their selection. You can feel the tukktuktuktuktuktuk of the idling engines on the overpass. No Comply is a cacophony of sensation, presented through the lens of elegance and joy our protagonist feels as they glide along on their board.

Its elegant and inventive, evocative and subtle, ramshackle and oh so well put together. Its a kid on a skateboard and their least disgusting t-shirt writing their name across an interstellar network of a city, worried they'll have enough bus fare even as the ship breaks atmosphere. It's poetry in two tones, a song with a page count.

Most of all, No Comply is a book about joy. The joy of unrestricted movement. The joy of tweaking the nose of the world. The joy of a not-quite deadly t-shirt. Most of all, the joy of realizing there is a community out there for you. The main character's path through the environment is like an indie creator's movement across their industry. They aren't allowed into the mainstream (or perhaps not allowed yet) but are welcomed in open arms by the DIY punk community on its borders, a montage of talking to creators (some human, some awesome robots) and leaving, the day over, their head brimming with ideas.

The last image is beautiful. The skater out under a black sky, eyes up, smiling, the red lines of discussion, creativity and art emanating from the tent behind them. The skater, both home and heading home, both arrived and only just starting their journey. It's a simple, complex, elegant, ramshackle, beautiful sentiment that reassures, encourages and inspires. It's a hell of a Saturday.

No Comply Joe Decie is available now and retails for £5. You can follow Joe on Twitter or check out more of his work at his website.
Rock Rollercoaster: Freddie Mercury

The God of Art Rock! Alton Towers I think! Let's goooooo!

Video description: Freddie Mercury loudly expresses his joy on a rollercoaster.

New reader? Looking for a back issue?
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The Full Lid Header in grey reads 'Archive'
The Full Lid Header in blue reads 'Tip Jar'
Website Website
Twitter Twitter
My Carrd My Carrd

Signal Boost

 

Featured Boost

  • The Table of Contents has been announced for Diet Riot: a Fatterpunk Anthology edited  by Nico Bell and Sonora Taylor and it looks GREAT! Releasing in June 2022.
The cover to Diet Riot: A Fatterpunk Anthology

Books

  • Robert McKinney writes with details of Faerie Protective Services: 'can this half-orc bodyguard get his client across the Mexican border before a fairy goddess finds abs kills then both? Find out in Faerie Protective Services, an action packed urban fantasy thriller!'
  • Mike Schur -- one of the people directly responsible for the resurrection of the sitcom, the exploration of being a good human as a viable aspiration and like four of Alasdair's favourite characters and yes he's The Good Place dude -- has written a book about morality out.
  • Travis Baldree had me at the description for his new book, Legends & Lattes: 'My cozy fantasy novel about an orc barbarian-ess who retires to open a coffee shop...' and now there's a pre-order and yes this is happening thank you.
  • Friend of the Lid James Bennett drew my attention to the upcoming Book of Queer Saints. There's a fantastic TOC and I'm especially happy to see James and fellow Lid Friend George Daniel Lea in there.

Comics

  • I'm building out my webtoon subscriptions at the moment and this is a great list of work by their POC creators.
  • NPC Tea by Milmo Comics follows a group of friends, not all human as they try and revive a tea shop in Cardiff. This warms the cockles of my Being Human heart and big thanks to Rob Noady for showing it to me.

Hashtags and Shenanigans

  • This thread from Kayla Ancrum absolutely blew my mind about the critical reaction to The Book of Boba Fett and what lies at the core of both Din Djarin and Boba Fett's second acts.
  • Are you looking to automate some of your promotional work? And who amongst creatives doesn't do promotional work? Oh you, because you're scared and hate it? Yeah me too, this is absolutely for you! The fantastic TheOtherTracy has you covered with their rundown of programming a promo bot.
  • Sincere joy in the success of others is just the Best Thing. Thanks, John! And also John!
  • Please enjoy watching these truly magnificent velvet hippos utilize centuries of predatory evolution to absolutely utterly fail to get whipped cream in their faces like 90% of their time. 14/10, would fire dairy at them again.

Crowdfunding

  • NumbersNinja's art is fantastic and their emotes are especially great.
  • @KabouterRPG got in touch via a referral by @yakyuu_yarou about their new 5e game.  Villains Next Door is coming soon to IndieGoGo and here's the writeup: 'Every story needs a villain. Not necessarily supervillains, like ancient dragons or 20th-level half-demon warlocks, but villains who are just folks. No superpowers. Just normal, everyday people who just happen to have gaping, pitiless voids where heart and conscience should be.'
That's this week's Signal Boost! If you have a project you'd like to see here get in touch or check Twitter for my weekly call.
Rock Rollercoaster: Ian Curtis

Fun but NORTHERN and INTENSE.

Video description: Ian Curtis loudly expresses his joy while riding on a rollercoaster.

Where You Can Find Me This Week

 

Accents for Fun and Profit

  • The Secret of St Kilda continues with episode five, Curiosity, in which the greatest thespian of our age takes the mic.

    If you're a supporter join us every Monday at 10pm GMT for the delightful private YouTube live listen-along. Public release is Tuesdays at 5pm GMT. #NotACult

    Also check out the Burns Night special over in the Discord! Songs! Joy! Me 'performing' poetry!

In The Booth

  • An excellent session recorded for Roguemaker, with a Zoom table read to follow. Audio drama table reads are cool.

Twitch

Podcast Land

 

PseudoPod 794: The Man Who Was Saved

Rock Rollercoaster: Billy Corgan

Smashing Pumpkins frontman! Wrestling promoter! Rollercoaster enthusiast!

Video description: Billy Corgan rides a rollercoaster and experiences joy.

Department of Received
Esoteric Print Goods


A bumper package of our Hugo whatnot arrived from the amazing Mur Lafferty, including extra goodies! Thanks so much Mur!

Pictured right to left, top to bottom are our finalist ribbons, one small put perfectly formed rocket pin fleet (the backing cards are a nice touch), a Ditch Diggers coin and a pin designed by the amazing NestleNightmare, and my finalist certificate.


Not pictured: the boxes of honey grahams I have hidden away for rainy days. 

The cover of The Most Important Comic Book on Earth
I'm a few chapters in and this is great. Not just because of the talent involved (Rik Worth, represent!) but because of the mindset: not apocalyptic or naïve, but resolute, hands-on, and hopeful.

Find me on The Online

A drawing of Alasdair Stuart trailing pop culture wherever he goes
Image by the multi-talented Jen Williams
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Survey Says...!


Let's talk about survey results! As Salt-N-Pepa never sang!

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to participate. We had about a 2% response rate (less, when you eliminate the trolls). Assuming surveys have the same "1-3% engagement" rates of any crowdfunded project, that's about average.

We had a great time reading through your comments and suggestions. A couple of bits really stood out:
  • A lot of you really love when I talk about and raise the profile on underappreciated pop culture. 
  • Almost universally you explained that an issue may have something that isn't for them, and you're fine with that because you know there will be something for them later and that those things are for  someone else. Awww!! You get it!!!
  • The most common criticism was length. Totally legit, we'll come back to that.
  • Most of you loved the guest writers, but you couldn't name them. If that wasn't 2021 in a sentence...
  • Except Margaret Dunlap's Black Widow piece -- you all loved that by name.
  • More comparator essays were requested, as were pieces 'looking at something formative through the lens of time and experience'. That is such a gorgeous piece of language; I absolutely want to do more work like this.
  • A whole bunch of you want to see more audio dramas and podcasts receive coverage. Signal received!
  • Interestingly, the response to other media formats for TFL was mixed and mild. For which my precious little spare time thanks you. Sarah Gailey's been experimenting at Stone Soup with digests which might be worth exploring.
  • Lots of mentions of being willing to support via a monthly model, which is lovely! I have monthly subscriptions open at Ko-Fi, which ISN'T a platform considering moving to a blockchain.
  • Also a lot of interesting comments about folks saying they already support me via Escape Artists, which is sweet but not entirely accurate. More on this in a moment as well.
  • So many brilliant ideas! Some of these I'm putting on the roster, others (like a fan art spotlight) I need to noodle a bit more.
So let's boil that all down and look to the future:


'You're Doing A Really Good Job!'


This feedback was overwhelmingly positive and engaged and useful, thank you all so much. A weekly project like this takes a lot of stamina, and I always get a boost when I hear that what I'm doing lands with so many. It's like relief and reassurance all at once.

Issues being too long is something we've already started working on. Expect two 'features' per issue going forward, along with all the extra fun bits. That's a length that gives me room to maneuverer and editorialize while keeping to a weekly schedule.


Please Allow To Introduce Myself


I have such a weird career. It's still weird even thinking of this rag quilt of jumbled, overlapping pieces as 'a career'! Many of you find yourselves here from different circles of my Venn Diagram, and I don't always speak about all of them, which is sill because they're probably something you'd like. So let's do this in Troy McClure style:

Hi! I'm Alasdair Stuart! You may remember me from:
  • PseudoPod, the weekly horror fiction podcast! or
  • Escape Artists, the publisher of said podcast, which is a podcast company I co-own with the amazing Marguerite and which does pay me (like it pays everyone who works for it, which is a total humble brag for any small indie arts project) but when you support it you're supporting all of it not just me directly, or
  • The Magnus Archives podcast, where I was the unsung hero! or
  • Twitch, where I promise not to bleed this week!, or
  • The Secret of St. Kilda podcast, where I'm the Narrator!, or
  • Twitter, where I spend way too much time!, or
  • that voice acting award I won!, or 
  • the RPG writing I've done for properties like Doctor Who and Star Trek, and After the War, the memetic horror game I co-wrote with Jason Pitre!, or
  • the non-fiction books I write about Doctor Who and Star Trek!, or
  • when I ran a comic shop in York and did lots of comic journalism!, or
  • the fiction I write!, or
  • the genre fiction awards I've been nominated for!, or
  • here, at The Full Lid!
That's no mosaic, it's a space station... 


What's Next?


Many of you like the idea of audio, or indeed hear The Full Lid in my voice in your head (which just made my day), but you're not clamouring at the door for it. Which is a relief, because like all creative projects it would need people and money. But it's great to know you're receptive to experiments.

We've also got some great ideas for articles, including a podcasting taxonomy that I'm going to pitch to co-write with a guest columnist (along with some more guest writers just in general). 

Oh, and THIS:

If Not For Linear Time...


In the immortal words of Kristen Stewart, I have so many ideas! But unfortunately, I don't have infinite time.

Starting *checks notes* now, once a month I'm going to list some of the articles I WOULD have written if time was infinite and the needs of biological existence didn't extract their toll. And if any of these resonate with you, or make you think 'ah darn, I wish he'd write THAT!' you're in luck! You can now commission me to write that!

Here's the basics:
  • I'm setting a pay rate of $400 (roughly £300) per article. That represents the time it takes me to research and write an article, plus having it edited and released.
  • Every time the amount of donations I've received via Ko-fi hits that pay rate, I'll pick a topic and write it up. You'll receive the article in your inbox as a bonus.
  • Then the counter resets, and we do it all again. I'm using a Ko-fi goal to make it nice and visible to us all.
So for example, as of today I've received $60 in donations via Ko-fi since January 1st. Once that number hits $400, whenever that is, bonus article time!

But ah, I hear you ask in my head. What if I, an intrepid and well-funded reader and/or group of readers want to pick the article topic? Thank you for emerging from your money vault, Scrooge McDuck - for you, only the very finest of bespoke commissions!

A single donation at this rate gets to pick the article topic. Need a series explainer before the latest franchise new release? How about an indie movie you want more people to talk about? Or that comic series you love? I'm your huckleberry. 

There are more details at Ko-fi, but a couple of basics:
  • If you want to coordinate this across a group of people, that's fine! Give me a heads up in advance if it'll be multiple donations so I can track it properly.
  • All commissioned articles will be released to TFL subscribers as a bonus issue. This isn't 'make Alasdair write something for my eyes only'.
  • You won't own the article -- I will -- but we'll have a discussion about what you're interested in and hope to get out of the piece.
  • I reserve the right to decline a commission and refund the money if we can't agree on a topic, or if the request violates any of my other terms and conditions.
Oh and I'm setting a limit of one commission (of either variety) per month because, well, sleep and food and capitalism and such.

I'm excited to see how this goes, and I hope you are as well. Thanks as always to anyone who supports me in any way, it really does make a huge difference. 

To wrap this up, how about some examples?
 

If not for linear time,
in January I would have written:

 

The Use of His Time -The Daniel Craig Bond Era


From his first near-catastrophic mission in Casino Royale to his last in No Time to Die, Daniel Craig's Bond has a fully realized, complete narrative arc. The article would examine what this says about the current state of espionage fiction, examining each movie, Bond's allies, enemies and Bond himself for clues.


One Shots


We're in a golden age of comic short stories, and this piece would dive into examples like Danny Lore's Transformers: Shattered Glass and the TKO Comics One Shots range to explore what makes this modern resurgence of classic comic formats so engaging.


The Next Broadcast


Found footage is back. Tearful confessions to shaky cams have been replaced with big-budget audio and television series that push genre boundaries and cross liminal spaces. We'll look at Archive 81's idea of footage as transition and destination, Broadcast Signal Intrusion's exploration of conspiracy as insidious reassurance, and Censor taking that next step in demolishing all boundaries between fiction, reality, identity and fantasy.
Rock Rollercoaster: The Beastie Boys
 
WELL! NOW! DON'T! YOU TELL THEM TO SMILE! YOU STICK AROUND THEY'LL MAKE IT WORTH YOUR WHILE! By riding at the front and screaming because they ALWAYS wanted to go faster!

Video description: The Beastie Boys scream as they plummet down a big hill on a rollercoaster. 

Signing Off / Playing Out


Thanks for reading, folks!  I hope the week was good and you had meetings at times that were both sensible and allowed for caffeine. Or at least no one was on camera so you could take them in your amazing new fluffy dressing gown.

Which I have not done. Yet.

TFL returns next week. Check my Carrd for all the places you can find me, including the Twitters, where the glass is always half full and the character limit is never quite enough.

TFL is a free weekly newsletter. Here's how you can support it and me: Thank you!

Playing us out this week is a video celebrating my new favourite TV friendship which is a honking great Hawkeye spoiler so be warned. The greatest archer in the world (according to her)! The poster child for Abject Lack of Impulse Control! They fight crime! And occasionally each other!

Oh and this?
is a Full Lid.

Video caption: Kate Bishop and Yelena Belova bond over box mac and cheese and vengeance. Mostly it's the mac and cheese.
Copyright Alasdair Stuart © 2022 -- All rights reserved

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Agathon Towers · Cheapside Road · Reading, Berkshire RG1 7AG · United Kingdom

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