Workshop Episode 40 (Guest Host: Bryan Thomas Schmidt)

The Roundtable Podcast, Workshop Episode 40, with Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Jason Ramsey Bryan Thomas Schmidt – author of the Davi Rhii series, editor of and contributor to anthologies, and SpecFic explorer – returns to the Big Chair at the Roundtable to help workshop a very cool post-apocalyptic tale offered up by Guest Writer Jason Ramsey.

While this was – by far – the weirdest episode we’ve ever recorded (between the wrath of the Internet Gods and an inadvertent road-trip starting in the middle of the episode), Jason’s core framework serves as a launching point for some really stellar explorations and insights into character, genre and theme. Writerly goodness and LOTS of Literary Gold for all! (and once you catch your breath, definitely make the scene at Bryan’s Showcase Episode!)

PROMO: The Fullcast Podcast (with Bryan Lincoln and Abigail Hilton)


Workshop Episode 40 (Guest Host: Bryan Thomas Schmidt)

[caution: mature language and themes – listener discretion is advised]

Check out this and all our episodes on iTunes and on Stitcher Radio!

Coming up for B. T. Schmidt…

  • “Beyond the Sun” coming out in July from Fairwood Press
  • A military fantasy with Jennifer Brozek
  • A spec noire as well as a ‘First Excounters’ (from an other world perspective) project with John Helfers
  • Also finishing “Exodus” (book 3 of the Davi Rhii series)
  • “Dune Man: (Bk 1 of Dawning Age Epic Fantasy) in the works
  • and also “Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter”
  • Plus #SFFWC every Wed 9pm EST live on Twitter (preparing to launch a podcast coming in Jan 2013)




… and from Jason:

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Comments (5)

This is a very fun episode. I must say, I like listening to the episodes with smaller story pitches a bit better than others.

I don’t really have much to add to the conversation about the story, but as to the character of Jack’s sex being indeterminate, I think that is fascinating. There is a play called Origin Story which I saw this year in which a character’s sex was a central question and your questions reminded me of it. Primarily though, I thought the very asking of this question by the hosts was fascinating. The very fact that the guest writer didn’t define Jack’s sex seems to have awakened an imaginative impulse in the hosts perhaps because it was a question that seems to have two options on the surface, but which really has many many possible answers.

To go on with that, I was reminded of the Writing Excuses mantra of throw out the first 2-3 ideas that come to mind as the solution to a story question in order to get a less obvious and more original story.

Anyway, great show, very thought-provoking.

Thanks, Tim! We really enjoyed recording this episode for those same reasons… it really was a great creative exploration. Jason brought a great idea to the table (and your right… a smaller simpler framework gives everyone a lot of room to play) and the synergy around the table was sparking brightly. Glad you enjoyed it, too! 🙂


This was a great episode. I thought I would chime in with my own ideas for your story and the world in which it takes place.

Child soldiers are a very real phenomenon, particularly in Africa, and don’t require a lot of conjecture. I recommend you research the Lords Resistance Army. There is plenty of documentation about how the kidnapped children are turned into sociopathic killers and the treatments used to reintegrate them into society. Sometimes, their home communities refuse to take them back.

It occurs to me that if civilization did break down, the environmental ramifications would be enormous. Petroleum refineries, chemical plants, pharmaceutical factories, nuclear power plants spewing uranium, arsenic, gasoline, lead, viagra, and birth control hormones into the air and water supplies would render swaths of territory uninhabitable. Other areas would be affected in any number of ways.

Amphibians have already been noted to have suffered side effects: hermaphrodism and imbalance in male-to-female ratios in waters polluted by hormone medications.

Toxins work their way up the food chain. By the time your story takes place, humans would undoubtedly be impacted.

The Print Masters left a lot of questions for me. How do they decide what knowledge to reveal? Are there disagreements within the order? Do they have an end game in mind? Do some want to dissemminate knowledge freely or do some think that it was information that brought down civilization in the first place?

Good luck with your story.

Huge thanks for your comments, all.

To be honest, without giving everything away, I largely abandoned the child recruits idea, or at least stored it for a future concept, as my antagonists saw a major revision,

Similarly, a lot of the fine ramifications of the setting have been left to explore in the future, with this tale largely restricted to a hardy desert environment to let me get into people’s heads first and foremost.

As for the Printmasters, some of it is vague and some of it is for future stuff, but the best way to look at them is to compare to monks and the like, to some degree. There are definitely disagreements, but a lot is defined by individual Libraries, run by a Head Librarian. That IS something I intend to explore in this tale, however.

Hey, sorry to come in late to the party, as it were. Just wanted to say that I loved the episode, and I’m intrigued by the idea.
I wanted to add that there’s an old RPG (well, 2000-ish) called ‘Hell on Earth’ that deals with an alternate reality post apocalypse. Within it, there are ‘Librarians’, traveling monks who scour the ‘wasted west’ for books and other bits of information. I loved the idea then, and I love it now! What can I say? That as a heroic archetype appeals to the inner geek to me.
I would put forth one problem, though; the idea of everything from the pistol to the tank being lost knowledge… It’s a story conceit, and one that, in my mind, would need good reasoning. Unlike the fall of the early civilizations, technology has gone around the world many, many times, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to make a cannon out of modern materials. It takes only a tiny bit of engineering knowledge to figure out how to make a repeating weapon. The cat, as they say, is out of the bag on that technology, and unless there was a good reason for the world to -forget- how to make those (and in a collapsing civilization, I just can’t see people ‘forgetting’ how to make firearms) I can’t see the knowledge disappearing.
Now, I didn’t want to just criticize this, so… I think maybe the ‘how did the world end’ needs to be addressed. Have you read the Dark Tower? ‘The World Moved On’ is the conceit there- that things just ‘changed’. It may not be correct for your world, but I’d love to see something that at least hinted at why the guns and such vanished. Heck, even if you just throw in a reference (“Since the time of the Red Walker”) that you don’t explain in the first book, so long as -you- have an idea why all the knowledge was lost, that works!
Dave knows I’m big on world-building, so if that’s something you’d like to discuss more, I’d love to lend a hand!

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