Know When to Fold 'em

Cue the confetti.

First things first: this past week, Audiologue has reached 30,000 downloads! It's wild thinking back to my original goal of 10 downloads per episode. I only wanted my friends and family to download an episode (not even listen to it!). And here, 30,000 downloads later, I've met so many other incredible people that spurred me on to turn Audiologue into so much more than I had planned.

This is a milestone I never expected and, now that it's here, I'm a bit conflicted.


This was a triumph.

Audiologue has gone far beyond my wildest plans. I wanted to try my hand at podcasting, throw my hat in the ring and see how everything works. I had only ever planned on making the first season. And I liked it so much, I made a second. There was a whole lot of learning during Echo and I think those skills made Vigil even better. And it was fun! Boy, was it fun. 

My work got better (or at least I thought so); the quality of each episode improved upon the previous and my stories became more elaborate. I was even nominated for a ParSec Award! But I realized something along the way: I don't have the hustle, not for this anyway.

See, I had that moment with Audiologue (and FORJ) where I sat back, took a month or two, and really thought deeply about what I enjoyed, what I didn't, and what I can deal with. Writing, telling stories, the mythos of being hunkered in the dark over a gleaming screen: I get it. I really enjoy it sometimes. But I also dislike a lot of it. It can be toxic, unhealthy, time-consuming, and sometimes just plain not fun. There are parts of this creation that I know could be doing better. When I started Audiologue, I wanted to tell a story and, lately, it's felt more like creating a delivery mechanism for a story than raw storytelling.

So, I'm folding 'em for now. I've told my story, and I'll continue to find ways to tell stories that I want to tell, but right now, Audiologue isn't it. And that's okay.

I do want to reiterate this though: this project, this 3-year adventure with FORJ and Audiologue: it was a triumph. It succeeded. People listened to and read my things, they shared them with their friends; people laughed and cried. This was real and it was happy and I loved it. 


On Vigil.

Speaking of which, the reception to Vigil (and hopefully its end) has been incredible. Vigil was a labor of love. It was a painful, tender project that felt true. Echo is a vehicle for jokes and witty human/AI repartee. Vigil is none of that. It's drama through and through.

Echo was a story I wanted to tell; Vigil was my story. A story with quite a few embellishments, extreme scenarios, and creative liberties, but still my story. It was also an experiment to discover what a multi-person Audiologue could look and sound like. Personally, I was a fan.

So thank you, thank you, thank you for loving it. It's a hard listen sometimes, but I'm glad you made it through.


Now what?

First, the logistics: FORJ.co and the Audiologue RSS feeds will remain active for the foreseeable future so you can read and listen to your heart's content. Chapters of the Canary, the cyberpunk serial I've been writing, will continue to be posted on periodically. The FORJ Edition (a sometimes monthly newsletter) will be shutting down... unless there's something cool to share.

I will always make things; it's in my blood. If there's one thing I want to make sure you carry with you after reading this, it's this: never stop. Pivot, juke, take a leap, but never stop. Movement is good. This certainly isn't the last thing I create and you can bet I'll let you know when something new comes up.

If you're interested in following my next project, follow me on Twitter at @PhilBothun. More news to come soon!


Credit Where It's Due

One of my favorite things is finding a creator that I really like or admire, then digging into what inspires that person. It's an acknowledgment that we don't live in a vacuum. Things come in one ear, and out the nib of a pen. 

Plus, it's a way to fill the time between their next creation. So, if you're looking to bury your nose in a book, rock out to a new album, or just generally bide your time until Season 2 of Audiologue launches sometime next week, here's a quick round of the things that inspired the "Echo" and "Vigil" arcs.


Black Science

I like comic books, but I tend to read them once, and move on. Rick Remender's Black Science is not one of those books. It's an incredible story of an Anarchist Scientist who develops a way to travel between dimensions. There are themes of loss, corporate greed, redemption, and the weird. Frog monsters, cyberpunk Templars, and a death cult of millipedes. And that's just in Volume 1.


Afterman: Descension

I've loved Coheed and Cambria since I was in high school; there's just something amazing about a prog rock band that has a seven album long arc filled with cyborgs, uprising, and weapons called jackhammers. I don't know what those are, but they sure sound cool. The Afterman: Descension, is the conclusion to The Afterman double album, but starting here is just fine. It's filled with killer guitar solos, heartfelt themes, and just gut-busting rock. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but damn do I love it.



Oblivion was one of those sci-fi Tom Cruise movies that flew under the radar it seemed. While it has a weird second act lull starring Morgan Freeman, it does a fantastic job of being an odd sci-fi movie with gorgeous design. And the music. The score—written and composed by M83's Anthony Gonzalez, and Joseph Trapanese—is pure futuristic magic. With anthemic synths and thrumming bass, the score to Oblivion is by far one of my favorite soundtracks to work to. 



There were plenty of things that ended up delaying the release of an episode of Andrews' story, but I would have to say one of the major ones was Subnautica. It's a survival-style video game where you play as a lone survivor on a completely water-based planet. Build a thriving underwater base (you know I created Sea Lab IV), catalog the alien fauna of the deep, dark sea, and try to discover a way to escape a planet that just doesn't seem to want to let you go. It's great example of a nonviolent game that's all about discovery and survival.  It's available on PC/Mac and Xbox One.



Lifeline, a choose your own adventure style game from 3 Minutes Games, was the original inspiration for the "Echo" arc of Audiologue. It's a simple little mobile game that begins when someone named Taylor, confused and stranded, reaches out for help. You attempt to guide Taylor to safety, knowing that at any time your decision could be the one that kills them. It's a inspiring experiment in modern storytelling that spawned a million clones (and publishing imprints).


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Happy New Year!

2018 is going to be big.

There's a growing list of the exciting FORJ happenings that are coming up in 2018! Season 2 of my podcast, Audiologue, will be hitting sometime in March, there will be a mini-arc popping up around the same time, and that's not to mention all of the fun stories I've got planned. You can expect cross-dimensional travel, race car drivers lost in the desert, a fantastical romp for a few chimneysweeps, and so much more fun. 2018 is going to be big. Real big.


PodCon was a massive podcasting conference out in Seattle in early December. Besides shaking hands with some of my favorite podcasters, sitting in on some incredible workshops, and hearing panels of my idols talk about their struggles, I met a bunch of folks super jazzed about podcasts. It was such an incredible, uplifting, and inspiring experience that I hope isn't the last. And, if you weren't at PodCon and didn't get a commemorative Season 1 sticker, send me your address here, and I'll be sure to ship one (or a few) your way!


PS. We're still taking submissions for short stories, collabos, and more! Drop me a note.