Oct 182016

Cover by Trish Lamanna

You're at Burning Man, with six choices to make before the world goes white.
 Choose wisely. Or wildly. The dust storm won't care.

As a linear storyteller, branching narratives have been challenging for me. I usually have a story I want to tell, and in writing choice-based games I often found myself having to write a bunch of branches I wasn’t as interested in, and I always looped them back to converge with the main story. I preferred making parser games because it felt like I was giving the player more autonomy, even when new parts of the story were gated by puzzles.

But upon reading Sam Ashwell’s “Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games” I liked the idea of trying different structures, and was taken by what he calls Time Cave. In the past I think I’ve regarded this structure as inefficient somehow — inferior because it didn’t reuse writing in a clever way. But seeing a bunch of these typical structures side-by-side in the article let me drop the notion that there’s a “proper” way to do CYOA, and I decided to try the Time Cave. There’s something pretty beautiful about the way it spreads out exponentially. It does need a lot of writing, but I like writing a lot. Continue reading »

Jul 112016

Pretty Sure

I’m very proud to announce the official release of our interactive fiction authoring tool, Texture!

Logo design by Beehive Design

At the top of the post is Jonathan Wyke‘s cover art for Pretty Sure, the first game I made with it. It’s about parenting after Earth is colonized. You can play it on anything with a web browser but it’s especially nice on a tablet.

Juhana Leinonen and I have been chipping away at Texture for a few years, and it started with wanting to make an interactive fiction interface that was approachable and touchscreen-friendly. Continue reading »

Apr 172016

credit: Jonathan Wyke

I’ve never written every day. When I write novels, I write 1250 words 4 times a week — each session generally taking 3-4 hours — which gets me to 100,000 words in six months. When I’m writing I write on a schedule, but often I go months without writing fiction.

Just to try out a new approach I decided to write a complete story in an hour every day. For a month I posted a daily story to Twitter, Medium, and Wattpad. Now I’ve also published them as a free ebook in .epub, .mobi and .pdf formats with a cover featuring Jonathan Wyke’s excellent illustration above. Below I share some of my qualitative and quantitative results. Continue reading »

Mar 022016

what the internet wants

Ever wonder how the Hilton and the Marriott families feel about Air B&B?

What would happen if the heir to a hotel chain empire gets fed up and decides to rebrand the sharing economy… as the scaring economy?

Take two minutes to find out in THE INTERNET WANTS, our webseries concept trailer. This is a new project I’m hoping to make with Postopian Pictures, the guys I made Haphead with. Whether it gets the green-light depends on views, so please share if you like it!

There’s a longer synopsis of what it’s about below.

Continue reading »

Jan 262016


It’s a little strange to realize it’s been almost six years since I last published a book, Sword of My Mouth. It’s something I did pretty regularly for a decade, putting out five books between 2000-2010 — and then I just stopped. A couple of reasons conspired to make this so.

The first one was kind of a heart-breaker. Continue reading »

Dec 082015


Each day for the past two weeks I’ve been writing a story in one hour, taking a screenshot of it, and attaching it as an image to a tweet — they’re generally a screen long and definitely a violation of Twitter’s 140 character limit. It’s fun to scope a story to super short pieces, explore whimsical sci-fi ideas, try different tones and styles, and spend a moment or two with some characters.

The other day me and Sean were over at Mathew Borrett’s place and he showed us how he’d ported some of his mind-blowing HyperNurnia series created for 2D display into virtual reality. A few minutes after I took off the Oculus goggles I knew what my one hour story was going to be that day. Above is the landscape that inspired the following story, click to enlarge and if you have a VR headset and the wherewithal here’s the stereo file. After the story, deets on how to get my graphic novel, Therefore Repent!, for free.

David watched his son rock back and forth in his chair and knew it was just a matter of time before he fell over and hurt himself.

“Harry,” he said.

His son stopped, stared at him defiantly. “What?”

“You know what.” Continue reading »

Nov 232015

Illyana from the New Mutants, the first comic series I loved

Continuing the 15th anniversary giveaway: my free ebook this month is An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil. My original title for this was Hipster Hellspawn — in fact I think the title might have come first. I was convinced by one of my early readers that this was a bad title, that the H-word alienates everyone — one of the most pronounced aspects of hipsterism is that it disavows itself. I have a theory that this discomfort in its own skin is the way that it evades being co-opted — or at least gives its skin a slipperyness that makes it difficult to bottle and sell. Maybe that’s why in the over 10 years since I wrote the book the term hipster hasn’t been totally replaced. (I vote for “coolster”.)

And apparently these hipster-adjacent ideas have followed me into middle-age as in the last month or so I have been toying with the idea of a comedy webseries named Moustache Shoppe. It’d never be entirely clear what happens in the Shoppe — grooming? consultation? trims? — but if you have to ask, you probably don’t belong there. Comics who particularly enjoyed Movember should drop me a line! (And yes, I know: there’s lots of signs Peak Moustache has already occurred. But a small, carefully coiffed fringe of hair above a man’s lip is still very delightful.)

Read on to grab the free ebook!

Continue reading »

Nov 092015


My new iPhone game, Wonderland: A Solvitur Ambulando Mystery, is now on sale for $3.49 on the App Store! Check out the brand new website and trailer, which stars my mom. You can also listen to the first chapter there, which thanks to my collaborators is some fine, fine audio drama.

We launched the game on Saturday night at Junction Brewery with a nice crowd of well-wishers, including a lot of my fellow interactive fiction game makers: Emily Short, Will O’Neill, Sam Barlow, Jason McIntosh, Squinky, Doug Orleans and Christine Love. Check out some pictures here.

Oct 202015


My eight-year-old Sidney tabled her first zine fair on Saturday. Of her three scary stories my favourite was from a weird dream she had called The Woman With Three Boobs, but I also liked Fonster: The Fish Monster and The Ghost Who Sang a Song. The last one was actually what started it all — I’d taken her to another zine fair and she’d gotten a blank notebook with a cartoon of a ghost with a microphone on the cover. One day, fairly uncharacteristically, she holed herself up in her room and wrote a story in the notebook inspired by the cover. I suggested we could make a few stories like these and sell them at the next zine fair, and she liked that idea. So we did the whole thing — rough draft, good draft, colour copy, collation, stapling, folding — as well as discussed the cost of the table and printing etc. We made 25 of each and decided to sell them at $2 each or $5 for 3. We also had a discussion about how catchy titles and covers were important, and I broke out my first novel Flyboy as an example.

And actually, I’ll interrupt my story to continue the 15th anniversary giveaway, as my free ebook this month is Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask…

Continue reading »

Sep 162015


I am taking a quick break from prep for our upcoming Toronto fancy videogame party to toot that my upcoming iPhone audio drama adventure game Wonderland has got a nod from the jurors at IndieCade! I love the Los Angeles festival, held in the cozy Culver City neighbourhood, so I’ll be using the excuse to fly down south again next month even if I have just returned from Nevada.

(And yeah, wow, was that ever worth the hype. There is a range of human expression at Burning Man, from “peace and love!” to “fuck you!”, that I’ve never seen co-existing. You work like a dog and play like a god. It’s deeply dirty and utterly innocent. I am a convert.)

But! Continuing the 15th anniversary giveaway, my free ebook this month is Everyone In Silico.

Are you ready to upgrade to a fully modifiable and personalized reality?

In Vancouver, 2036, people are tired of the smog and the rain. They’re willing to give up a lot for guaranteed sunshine.

“Munroe drops in excellent touches — bioterrorists planting seeds, not bombs; home cloning labs — that help make Silico one of the freshest and scariest, yet most hopeful, near-future yarns in a long time.” —Time Out New York

Cover art and back cover copy & more blurbs here.

Download here

Free in August: Angry Young Spaceman (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in October: Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask
Free in November: An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil
Free in December: Therefore Repent! (illustrated by Salgood Sam)
Free in January: Sword of My Mouth (illustrated by Shannon Gerard)

If you want to find out when the new book’s up follow me on Twitter or even better, subscribe to the blog — so we don’t have to rely on a corporation to keep in touch.

Aug 242015


Things have changed since I started No Media Kings in the year 2000. Rupert Murdoch, who inspired the name, is less of a threat to media security than the innocuous & pervasive Google and Apple. I’ve gone from writing novels, to writing for games, comics, and movies. I went from being a 20-something bachelor writing about superheroes and rocket ships to a 40-something father making a historical mystery audio drama.

I launched NMK by giving away free ebook versions Angry Young Spaceman. Pre-Kindle and iPhone, people found it baffling. But the gift economy works — it’s come back to me in a lot of ways.

So every month I’m going to be giving one of my six ebooks away!

If you want to find out when the new book’s up follow me on Twitter or even better, subscribe to the blog — so we don’t have to rely on a corporation to keep in touch.

Free in August: Angry Young Spaceman
My book about a guy who goes to another planet to teach English, based loosely on my ESL stint in Korea. Recently the talented Marc Bell drew a few pages adapting the beginning of the story, above is a detail from it.

“It’s a wonderful book. Unquestionably SF, it isn’t written in the usual science fiction voice, and that’s part of its charm. His prose is conversational, his characters and settings of the future Earth and Octavia are fascinating, and the story remains engaging from start to finish.” — Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction

Cover art and back cover copy & more blurbs here.

Download here

Free in September: Everyone In Silico
Free in October: Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask
Free in November: An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil
Free in December: Therefore Repent! (illustrated by Salgood Sam)
Free in January: Sword of My Mouth (illustrated by Shannon Gerard)

Apr 302015

One of the things I got up to when I was an artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario was make a game. It’s a simple video choose-your-own-adventure set in the AGO, featuring a rather unusual tour guide.

It was a fun opportunity to work with Rachel again (who was the human spam in Ghosts With Shit Jobs) and a good excuse to poke and prod at the protective membrane that surrounds any institution. The folks at the AGO were really good humoured about it and now have even installed it in the Walker Court arcade for the next little while on its own plinth, as pictured above — possibly til the end of the year. It’s a site specific piece and it’ll only be viewable at the AGO.

But there’ll be an excellent opportunity to check it (and a number of other cool art performances) at the AGO’s First Thursday event on Thursday May 7th, tickets here! It’ll be projected large, myself and Rachel will be there and I’ll be giving a little talk about it close to the beginning of the event.

Feb 122015

It’s a great time to start watching Haphead, the cyberpunk webseries I wrote/created — we’ve got half the first season online now! Plus, we’re doing a watchalong of the first season this Sunday afternoon — an online collective viewing of the full 72 minutes of season one for people who have (or are willing to) chipped in a couple bucks. Plus a Twitter Q&A at the end! Details below.

Those Bittorrent-lovin’ disruptive culture types VODO are selling the full HD version for download or stream for $4.99 (or make an offer). You can also get the download or stream for the same price on VHX at over here.

Trailer here. We’re getting some pretty sweet responses like this one from Hugo-award winning author Peter Watts:

Haphead is way better than it has any right to be. Little gems of technosocial extrapolation glitter throughout Munroe’s screenplay: upscale malls with perky automated security systems, apologetically refusing entry to consumers with “mixed-income backgrounds”; insurance companies with their own paramilitary SWAT teams to go after false claimants. The plot itself— at first glance a straightforward lefty bit of capitalist-bashing— takes turns you might not expect… Star Elysia White is a real find; whether Max is mourning or raging, pondering some mystery or cracking wise, her performance is spot-on throughout.

Continue reading »

Jan 152015


We’re putting the finishing touches on the first season of Haphead, an 8 episode webseries I wrote and created, and we’re going to watch all 70 minutes at the Royal Theatre a week today. It’s the whole deal — q&a with cast/crew, afterparty for everyone, and the theatre is a beautiful venue — they’re even licensed for the occasion. Our last Royal screening sold out, so we recommend ordering tickets online to avoid disappointment.

If you’re not in Toronto, you’ll want to subscribe via the service of your choice at haphead.com as the first episode is going online immediately after the screening.

Haphead is the story of a girl who’s literally empowered by videogames.

Ten years from now, a new haptic peripheral makes videogames so immersive that people learn skills just by playing. Maxine makes less than minimum wage at the factory where they make them, so she decides to become an unofficial beta tester by stealing one for herself. At home, her favorite rabbit-ninja game gets a whole lot more punishing, with the haptic feedback loop beating lethal skills into her muscle memory. Which is good: she needs to level up quick once her employer discovers her on-the-job theft.

Luckily, she’s not alone. There are other hapheads out there, with a variety of game-trained abilities. But while some of them are kindreds, one of them brings death….

It’s pretty incredible seeing these projects come together, each successive iteration getting closer and closer to what we imagined. And as the poster above declares, this is not a No Media Kings production — it’s an entirely new and exciting thing. We’ll be announcing more about that at the screening!

Oct 312014


We’re Kickstarting post-production for Haphead, my cyberpunk web series about a girl who’s literally empowered by videogames. Consider backing it and get some rewards like parkour lessons and producer credits!

Running a Kickstarter is a lot of work, but it’s work we need to do anyway — spreading the word about our new project. As always, we’re trying to balance the hype with a good deal of content.

First, the Kickstarter video starts with a teaser using the brand new footage we shot in the summer. Then we created a new reward with our talented artists, a calendar of post-apocalyptic pin-ups called Fallen Toronto.

Yesterday we posted a gallery of amazing production stills like the one above. Today we released a recruitment ad voiced by a local radio personality, “Fearless” Fred Kennedy from Edge 102.1. I’m really happy with it — it’s a parody of the “Get into the Game Industry!” ads that aim to profit from people’s dreams of getting to work in their favourite medium. Listen to it here.

Jul 312014


About a month ago we got the word that Haphead, our near-future videogame subculture webseries, received funding. It’s a lot of the same folks I’ve been making lo-fi sci-fi no-budget films with since 2007 — except this time we’re getting paid a living wage for it! Pretty wild. Having a budget also means we can consider renting locations (like the train car above!) as well as accelerate the process — we’ll be releasing the first 45-60min (AKA “Season 1”) in January, instead of the 3 year odyssey that Ghosts With Shit Jobs was. I also won’t be wearing as many hats (just three: executive producer/creator/writer) but I know from the awesome proof-of-concept trailer our team produced with minimal interference from me that it’s in very, very good hands.

If you want to jump on the Haphead train before our mid-August shooting begins, this is what we’re still looking for!

  • a large abandoned warehouse or factory we can rent for a day (something like this pic)
  • people with physical talents: parkour, martial arts, circus skills, skateboarding/scootering, breakdancing
  • adult background actors (AKA extras) of different ages/ethnicities (no experience needed)
  • small camper / magic van / Winnebago
  • a house with a little character
  • onset medic

If you have a lead on any of the above, please drop our producer Anthony a line at anthony@lofiscifi.com and he can give you more details.

Apr 152014

I first heard about Vodo a few years back when they were using BitTorrent as a form of alternative distribution for science fiction shorts and web series — something we did as well with our 2007 effort Infest Wisely. Currently they’re trying out a pay-what-you-want model, and they approached us to include Ghosts With Shit Jobs in their indie sci-fi Otherworlds bundle. They’ve brought together a great bunch of sci-fi shorts, experimental videogames (Tale of Tales) and speculative graphic novels (Cory Doctorow), and we get a bit of money whether you pay-what-you-want for the main tier or “unlock” our movie on the second tier. (I guess we’ll have to update our profit-reporting post after this!) Incidentally, this is the first time you can buy a DRM-free digital version of our movie since the Kickstarter.

The Otherworlds bundle is available for the next two weeks.

Mar 152014


We started making Ghosts With Shit Jobs in 2009, released it in 2012 and screened it in 25 cities thanks to a Kickstarter campaign through 2012-13. We’ve learned a ton and recently applied what we know now to a proof-of-concept trailer for a new project — it’s called Haphead, and features the infinitely stretching electronics factory pictured above. And bunny-ninja fights.

But before we move on we thought we’d talk frankly about the numbers behind our lo-fi sci-fi feature.

We attracted attention to the project by being up front about our original $4000 production costs, and now we want to do a final accounting in the hope that it’s useful and/or interesting to other indie filmmakers. There’s a certain amount of pressure to not talk about this stuff when it’s not super-impressive — that somehow it hurts our credibility — but we think it’s useful to show people what very minor success looks like.

Ghosts With Shit Jobs cost $20,180.97 to create and promote and earned a gross of $39,317.18 $40,917.18. Continue reading »

Mar 072014

Ten years from now, videogames are so immersive that teenagers learn lethal skills just by playing. They’re called hapheads.

The folks I made Ghosts With Shit Jobs with made this trailer I adapted from a book-length story I’m working on. Don’t know if we can honestly call what we do lo-fi sci-fi anymore — with fight scenes and full-on special effects, it’s way more in the mold of traditional action sci-fi. I’m thinking what’ll set it apart is the characterization of the father & daughter (my emotional entry into the story, thinking about my relationship with my daughter in 10 years) and the subcultural mileau that’ll emerge. This trailer a proof-of-concept thing meant to rally the interest we need to get it made — so if you’d like to see it, share it.

Feb 042014

I’ve been getting together with folks I made Ghosts With Shit Jobs with to make a trailer for our next project, Haphead — starts shooting on Sunday, get in touch if you’d like to help out. We’re going to be working with the same actress who starred in “Just Ella” — a short I wrote/directed for the Lo-fi Sci-fi 48 Hour Film Challenge. It screened at Toronto After Dark (my favourite Toronto film fest) a few months back, and now you can watch it here.

“Just Ella” posits a future overrun by gibbering monstrosities. Ella takes refuge in a “the Ossington Safehouse, a collectively-run space dedicated to human sovereignty.” But despite doing the assigned tasks on the chore list, the Safehouse isn’t safe — the terrors outside are nothing compared to those within.

Contains perhaps the first cinematic example of autocomplete used for a dramatic reveal.

Credits here.