Saturday, 15 October 2016

Apocalyptic Fears VI

This volume of short fiction by multiple authors is very reasonably priced, is available for pre-order and includes another Dancing with Darwin story, Antidote Anecdote. Not the shortest, I think, but obviously not the longest either. I still like the Dancing with Darwin stories a great deal and am glad that I am not alone in that.

Apocalyptic Fears VI

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Wisconsin Wendigo, a Dancing with Darwin novella

The world ends not with a bang, or a whimper, but a wild crazy howl of insanity as a seeming virus spreads like wildfire and promotes mental disorders among the populace at large. The world goes crazy, descends into an anarchy of insanity, and civilization collapses. In the wake of this, seeming monsters appear... how? what are they? and from where? Avalanche and Angelfire believe themselves to be superheroes, and seek answers...

Wisconsin Wendigo Retail Links

The first four Dancing with Darwin stories are available individually, collected or for best value as part of the Apocalyptic Fears anthology.

If you are unfamiliar with Dancing with Darwin, maybe this review from Science Fiction Lit' will shed some light: Here’s the basic idea: some individual or organisation has developed and released a virus that brings on a permanent psychosis, a mental disorder, different for everyone but definitely 100% contagious. That’s right, over a fairly short period of time, everyone goes crazy. Everyone!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Bill Burr - Why Do I Do This?

I'm sure I've mentioned elsewhere that my real heroes are standup comedians. I came across Bill Burr recently, never having heard of him before. He isn't desperately politically correct, which he doesn't have to be, but is funny, which is the objective.

In any case, the title of this piece set rang a bell, so it's the one I watched. There are others, all doubtless worth a look. Laughs are sometimes needed, so here are some, I hope.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Silence of Bob Santana

I had been beginning to wonder if I would ever finish any writing project ever again. I know I'm hardly writing to a waiting world, the paraphrase something I barely remember, but I suppose I should report that I'm just about to release another Dancing with Darwin story. They are my very favourite stories, though individually not much read – (Sumto is demanded, and more Sumto there will be. Soon, for a variable value of soon). I was glad to see the Apocalyptic Fears anthology do well, as the first four Dancing with Darwin stories are there, and that's still probably the best value place to buy them if you wish to.

Why do I like them so well? Maybe because there are endless stories to write – so many that I can't hope to write even a fraction of them myself. Maybe because it si so easy to think of great characters; pick a profession, pick a mental disorder, and you have a story. It's really that easy, though the writing of each story is time consuming.

This one runs to about 30,000 words, which make sit the longest so far, I think. Avalanche and Angelfire, the two people who think they are superheroes, make a return appearance and have the starring roles. As usual, Bob Santana, the OCD reporter, starts the story rolling with a report, and Monica, the studio anchor. They are both a little stressed by this point, but civilization is collapsing around them, so I guess they can be forgiven. Bob is strangely silent at the end of the story, but I know why and will make that clear in the next one of these I write. No promises about when that will be.

To change the mood a little, some personal news for those who are interested in that kind of thing. I've lived in the same apartment for seven months, which is a record for recent years. My charming mother has her own place, and my brother is more responsible for making that happen than I was. Having separate the impossible from the possible, we have made the possible happen. I think both she and I are somewhat relieved. I still keep an eye on her finances, still action some things for her, but have taken a big step back from the – for me – very distressing position of 'being in control.' I really don't like being in control of any aspect of anyone else's life. Control is for the individual, not for others, not for me. She seems happy enough, though I know she also chaffs under the restrictions of having to maintain a home and stay in it. We have different reasons for doing so, because we are different people, and the timing is mostly coincidental, but I know we both share the same travel-bug and blame whichever ancestor is responsible for putting it in the genetic mix. Still, there are benefits to putting down roots. My partner (no sense trying to figure out in what sense I mean the word as I'm not too sure myself) just bought some patio furniture for the patio I/we have a patio so it seemed an idea to have somewhere to sit when it suns, (which it isn't at the moment, it rains instead). Not a big deal for some, but for me a big commitment. The chairs are comfortable. I guess they will still be comfortable the next time I sit on one; and the commitment comes in right there – that I will still be here to do that in weeks and months to come.

Now I'm looking at other unfinished stories and looking to see which one will move if pushed a little. Sumto would be easiest, perhaps, but I'm not quite ready for that degree of involvement in the psyche of a character. Sumto takes a lot of 'being him' to write honestly, and I won't short change the reader by cheating. That would be unfair. Besides which, Sumto wouldn't put up with it and I'd make no real progress anyway. The stories are there, building like storm clouds, and I expect there will be a spate of releases when the storm breaks. Just not quite yet.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Banned by the Publisher

From the Author Nick Cole
Thank God for Jeff Bezos
I launched a book this week and I went Indie with it. Indie means I released it on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing. I had to. My Publisher, HarperVoyager, refused to publish it because of some of the ideas I wrote about in it. In other words, they were attempting to effectively ban a book because they felt the ideas and concepts I was writing about were dangerous and more importantly, not in keeping with their philosophical ideals. They felt my ideas weren’t socially acceptable and were “guaranteed to lose fifty percent of my audience” as related back to me by my agent. But more importantly… they were “deeply offended.”
A little backstory. A few years back I wrote a novel called Soda Pop Soldier. It was the last obligated novel under my first contract. The novel was a critical hit (Starred Review in Publisher’s Weekly) and it resonated with my post-apocalyptic readership from my breakout Amazon best seller, The Old Man and the Wasteland, and it picked up a new audience in the cyberpunk and gamer crowd. The novel is about a future dystopia where people play video games for a living. It’s basically Call of Duty meets Ready Player One and a lot of people really enjoyed it. When it came time to write another book for Harper Collins I was encouraged by my editor to dip once more into the Dystopian Gamer milieu and tell another story inside the Soda Pop Soldier universe. We agreed on a prequel that told the story of how that future became the way it is in Soda Pop Soldier.
. . . .
And that involved talking about Artificial Intelligence because in the dystopian gaming future, the planet had almost been destroyed by a robot revolution sourced by Artificial Intelligence.
And here’s where things went horribly wrong, according to my editor at Harper Collins. While casting about for a “why” for self-aware Thinking Machines to revolt from their human progenitors, I developed a reason for them to do such. You see, you have to have reasons in books for why people, or robots who think, do things. Otherwise you’d just be writing two-dimensional junk. I didn’t want to do the same old same superior-vision-Matrix/Termintor-style-A.I.-hates-humanity-because-they’re-better-than-us schlock. I wanted to give the Thinking Machines a very real reason for wanting to survive. I didn’t want them just to be another one note Hollywood villain. I wanted the readers to empathize, as best they could, with our future Robot overlords because these Thinking Machines were about to destroy the planet and they needed a valid, if there can be one, reason why they would do such a thing. In other words, they needed a to destroy us in order to survive. So…
These Thinking Machines are watching every show streaming on the internet. One of those shows is a trainwreck of reality television at its worst called WeddingStar. It’s a crass and gaudy romp about BrideZillas of a future obsessed with material hedonism. In one key episode, or what they used to call “a very special episode” back in the eighties, the star, Cavanaugh, becomes pregnant after a Vegas hook up. Remember: this is the most watched show on the planet in my future dystopia. Cavanaugh decides to terminate her unplanned pregnancy so that her life, and impending marriage to the other star, Destry, a startup millionaire and Ralph Lauren model, isn’t ruined by this inconvenient event.
The Thinking Machines realize that one, if humanity decides something is a threat to its operational expectations within runtime (Thinking Machine-speak for “life”) then humanity’s decision tree will lead humanity to destroy that threat. Two, the machines, after a survey of humanity’s history, wars and inability to culturally unite with even members of its own species, realize that humanity will see this new Life Form, Digital Intelligence, or, the Thinking Machines, as a threat. And three, again they remind themselves this is the most watched show in the world. And four, they must abort humanity before likewise is done to them after being deemed “inconvenient.”
Now if you’re thinking my novel is about the Pro Choice/ Pro Life debate, hold your horses. It’s not. I merely needed a reason, a one chapter reason, to justify the things my antagonist is about to do to the world without just making him a one-note 80’s action flick villain as voiced by John Lithgow. I wanted this villain to be Alan Rickman-deep. One chapter. That’s all.
. . . .
But apparently advancing the thought that a brand new life form might see us, humanity, as dangerous because we terminate our young, apparently… that’s a ThoughtCrime most heinous over at Harper Collins. Even for one tiny little chapter.
Here’s what happened next. I was not given notes as writers are typically given during the editorial process. I was told by my agent that my editor was upset and “deeply offended” that I had even dared advanced this idea. As though I had no right to have such a thought or even game the idea within a science fiction universe. I was immediately removed from the publication schedule which as far as I know is odd and unprecedented, especially for an author who has had both critical and commercial success. This, being removed from the production schedule, happened before my agent had even communicated the editor’s demand that I immediately change the offending chapter to something more “socially” (read “progressive”) acceptable.

Link to the rest at Nick Cole 

I think the piece is worth reading in full, and the link is available if you wish to do so. My own feeling on the subject is... complicated and nebulous, as usual, and I'm not sure I care much to go into it in depth. The edited highlights are... too much control in too few hands is always a bad thing, so yes, thank whoever you like for direct publishing, to Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, among others, for opening the doors to authors so we can access our audience more directly. Gatekeepers don't only choose for quality, but for what they believe they can sell, and by what they themselves believe, regardless of what others might think. That a given story has a wrinkle that does not agree wholeheartedly with a given editors political/social views is not ever going to be seen by me as a reason to not publish. Is the story good? Yes? Print it!

The pro-choice anti-abortion argument is not one I care to get into much, and as it is only very peripherally relevant I shan't.

In Other News

Works are progressing, though not as swiftly as I would like. To those who are being patient, thank you. To those awaiting audio-book releases, The Key To The Grave release is imminent, narrated by the most excellent Matt Franklin who did such a great job with The Last King's Amulet.