In the word of Mad Science Institute, the world’s largest antimatter reactor is buried far, far below the Institute headquarters called Topsy House. Some people have asked why I described it as shaped like a kettle-bell. The reason, as I tried to illustrate here, was that, like a modern nuclear reactor, it actually doesn’t run directly on the heat produced by the reaction, but rather by the steam created by the heat. In a way, that qualifies it as Steam Punk!
After I sketched Rusty the Robot, I still had the artistic bug in my system, so I tried to work it out by doodling one of the other most important inventions in Mad Science Institute: Angela’s flight pack.
Superconductors expel magnetic fields, which means they can levitate (this is how the bullet train in Japan remains nearly friction-free). Powered by a tiny antimatter reactor and controlled by the room-temperature superconductor called Teslanium, these flight packs can swoop and soar up to thirty feet off the ground (or higher if they have large quantities of metal beneath them), or they can lock in on a certain altitude for swift travel.
This was a challenge for me to draw because of the rounded corners, not to mention the human figure (I suck at drawing anything that actually exists), but it allowed me to work out what the controls would really be, and that became important to know for the short story “Sceince and Funerals” in the Three Weeks Before Doomsday collection.
Happy Halloween! Maybe it’s two weeks early, but Halloween lasts all October as far as I’m concerned. I got inspired to doodle the Halloween costume Soap invented in The Non-Zombie Apocalypse (I should probably stick with writing, because my sketch is clearly lacking.)
The basic idea is that her “costume” isn’t a costume at all, but actually consisted of several rudimentary robots that would lurch around like zombies and follow her wherever she went. Of course, when The Professor attacks campus, she ends up putting these zombots to use in unexpected ways.
Not my best doodle, but this one was fun.
As you can see, I’m no artist. But I am an inveterate doodler who honed his robot-scribbling skills instead of paying attention in high school. Not so long ago I felt the artistic urge for the first time in about a million years, so I decided to visually sketch Rusty the Robot, who seems to be everyone’s favorite character from Mad Science Institute.
And who wouldn’t love Rusty? He accidentally looks like a terrifying scorpion-dog death machine, but he’s really an eternally faithful and extremely useful companion, and you will hardly ever find Soap without him.
Update: this contest is now closed.
Congratulations to the winner Shannon O. of Seattle, WA!
Anyone atThe Non-Zombie Apocalypse book launch on 8/23 (get the deets here) has a chance at winning some cool stuff, but you don’t have to attend to enter for the grand prize! Here’s the scoop:
Win the Grand Prize!
To enter the drawing, all you need to do is sign up for my mailing list.* If you’re already signed up, you’re already entered! This list is your best way to keep up with my projects. (Plus, I probably won’t send more than one or two emails a year, so you won’t get inundated if you enter.)
The grand prize winner will receive:
- Paperback copies of ALL THREE BOOKS! (Three Weeks Before Doomsday, Mad Science Institute, and The Non-Zombie Apocalypse)
- Ebook copies of all three books
- A Mad Science Institute t-shirt (size subject to availability)
- Mad Science Institute mouse pad
*Grand Prize Drawing to be held 8/30/2014. No purchase necessary, but contest is only open to those with a United States postal address (I cannot ship internationally). Members of Sechin Tower’s family are not eligible to win. Sorry!
At the AFK Elixers & Eatery, we’ll pick several winners every hour between 5pm and 9pm to receive books, toys, games, or other goodies!
Mad Science Game Prizes!
Test your skills at the Parasite Race or the Mad Science Blueprint Challenge! Winners will receive books or other goodies. If that doesn’t float your boat, the AFK also has a whole menu just for games, so if you can’t find a way to amuse yourself then you’re about as much fun as a Blitzkrieger with a blister.
Costume Contest Prize!
Wear your favorite lab-coat or put on your favorite cyborg armor because it’s Mad Science night at the AFK!
Costume contest will be held at 8pm, judged by yours truly. The winner will receive a book plus “The Contents of Soap’s Thirty-Third Pocket.” If you’ve read the books you know Soap keeps a lot of things in her pockets, and this is your chance to find out what’s in this one!
Tons of chances to win mad-awesome stuff! I hope to see you at the AFK in Renton, WA on 8/23, and if you can’t make it there be sure to sign up for my email list for your chance to win big!
As of today, The Non-Zombie Apocalypse is available at all major retailers as well as all ebook formats. This is the second book in the Mad Science Institute series… or the third, depending on how you count.
Book number “zero” is Three Weeks Before Doomsday, a collection of prequel short stories that show you where the characters were a week before the start of book #1. You can get this as an ebook anywhere, but I want everyone in the world to have it free, so get it at no cost from Smashwords.com. If you’re a paper kind of person, this is a limited edition run and only available from SechinTower.com/Store.
Lots of books for your robot-blasting enjoyment!
After exhausting ourselves with amusement parks, we decided it was time to pretend like we were grown-ups for a little. My phone was still forgotten, but here are the tweents I would have sent.
- After all the amusement parks, we decided to have a “grown-up day” including the Reagan Library and then lunch in beautiful Santa Barbara
- I may have had some problems with some of Reagan’s policies, but his library is a wonderful repository of history. Plus, you get to stand in a full-scale replica of the oval office and tour his Air Force One.
- Reagan supported free-market enterprise, so it’s nice to see that his museum is charging $30 for a photo by Air Force One.
- Downtown Santa Barbara makes me think of Portland South because of all the people on bicycles with tattoos. But instead of microbrews it’s wine. And sun instead of clouds. Lots and lots of sun.
- All packed up and ready that night, then we got the email that our flight is cancelled tomorrow! We’re here for an extra day. Many complications, but this is hardly the worst place to have to spend an extra day!
- With this extra day, at least we can go have lunch at In-N-Out. It would have been a major gaff to go to Cali and not have a burger there!
After forgetting my phone on my California vacation, I had to hand-write all the things I wanted to tweet, just like some kind of cave-man. Here’s what I would have tweeted from Universal Studios.
- Universal rules. The new Transformers ride helped me feel like I’ve achieved a lifelong dream of being in the middle of a fight between giant robots.
- Got threatened by a 10 foot tall megatron. But he ran off when he heard Optimus Prime was on his way.
- A 10 foot Optimus Prime certified my status as an Autobot. You might say it was a… transformative experience.
- Optimus Prime discussed oldschool transformers with me. He asked me if I liked Rodimus Prime and I missed my chance to tell him Rodimus is a whiney baby. But we agree that Grimlock is awesome.
- I found myself utterly unprepared to actually converse with Optimus Prime. This was not pre-recorded stuff. I wish I had the wits to have interacted with him more than just nodding and smiling a lot.
- While I spoke with Optimus, my wife flirted with Bumblebee. I’m not threatened. Bee’s a good guy.
- Despicable Me Minion Madness is an absolutely wonderful ride. It was worth replacing the old Terminator stage&screen show to add this attraction.
- Universal Studios should consider changing its name to “The 3-D Motion Simulation Ride Park.” Most of their best attractions were variations on that theme.
- Simpsons ride is one of the best. And I love that they satirized of all aspects of theme parks while at the same time being part of a theme park. Very true to the Simspons soul.
- Tram ride massively expanded and upgraded. There was even a 3-D motion simulation portion on this one, too: King Kong vs. T-Rexes—very cool!
- Jurassic park ride! The ride that taught me to love flume rides. (I already know I loved dinosaurs, though)
- I calculated that it should take a little more than 2 seconds to drop 84 feet straight down, so I decided to try to count seconds to see how long the flume takes. The problem is that it turns out fear makes me count faster. I think I got to “twelve-one-thousand” in the three or four seconds it took us to plummet.
And here I must break from the Twitter conceit to tell the story of a little girl who sat next to me on the Jurassic Park ride.
Me: are you riding this alone?
Little Girl: Yeah. My dad’s a chicken.
Me: Well, will you protect me from the dinosaurs?
LG: The dinosaurs scare me!
Me: What about the 84 foot nearly vertical drop at the end of the ride?
LG: Oh, that’s nothing. At 6 Flags, I went on a ride that was a 260 foot straight drop.
Then we came to the Apatosauruses lazily chewing on ferns. This girl and buried her face in my shoulder. She cowered when we passed the stegosaurs, and shrieked when the spitters spat at us.
Me (with white knuckles): Uh oh, here comes the drop!
Girl: Let go of the safety bar, because the drop is more fun if you put your hands in the air! But don’t put them too high at first, because you don’t want the monster [the t-rex] to get them.
So, I learned that different people fear different things. She screams like a little girl at the sight of animatronic dinosaurs and I scream like a little girl when in free fall. Of course, she IS a little girl, which leaves me without much of an excuse.
Next post: pretending to be a grown-up in California
Yup, I’m an idiot who left his phone charging on the kitchen counter instead of taking it with him to California for a week. The good news is that it was fully charged when I got back.
I had planned on taking lots of photos (especially because we went down there for my brother-in-law’s wedding, not to mention a few of the big theme parks). I actually had to get a little note pad and handwrite all the things I would have liked to tweet while I was there and shall now transcribe them to the internets for your reading pleasure. At least this way I don’t have to worry about whether they’re actually 140 characters.
- Big Bear, CA, is a resort town geared to skiing & snowboarding. It’s funny seeing signs for “Do not play in snow” and “Beware of ice” in 80 degree weather.
- No phone = no camera. This means I’ll end up seeing a #UFO, #Elvis, and #Bigfoot. This seems like the kind of place where they would meet for a #brewski.
- Another photo I wish I could take: this store has bottles of #Squirt soda imported from Mexico (because cane sugar > corn syrup). I want to caption it: “Mexi-Squirt: not just for after Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad anymore”
- Downtown Big Bear has a whole Bavarian thing going on. Because no matter where you go, there you are in Leavenworth. (People from Washington get this)
- Night one: horribly sick, probably due to dehydration after travel & super dry climate. I spent what little brainpower I had available working out plot holes for Mad Science Institute Book 3.
- Day 2: feeling much better. Wrote the first chapter for book 3 in one sitting. The book begins with a house getting blown up.
- Wedding in the afternoon. Such a beautiful ceremony! Congrats, Robert and Hani!
- Day 3: 7,000 foot elevation makes running fun. I wish I could do some high altitude training for a few months before the Tough Mudder.
- Discovered that Californians drive like maniacs on the freeways! The most frightening part is how quickly I learned to enjoy it.
Next post: all the tweets I would have sent from Disney Land!
I had shirts and lab coats silkscreened as a special offer for my Kickstarter backers, and they turned out so well that I’m going to do another run. If you want one, contact me and let me know! I’m not planning on doing a lot of them, so they won’t last long.
Shirts are $20, coats are $50. (price includes tax and shipping within the US)