Two more days to go…

On November 8th, the first anniversary of Trump’s election, MAGA 2020 & Beyond will go live. Pre-order the Kindle version now. Print versions will be available on the day of release.

Two of my short stories are included:

  • Dolus Magnus: The Great Hoax

MAGA2020.dolus

  • Equality

MAGA2020.equality

Edited by Jason Rennie, the anthology includes an intro by Milo Yiannopoulos, essays by John C. Wright, Ivan Throne, Dawn Witzke, and Alfred Genneson, as well as fiction by Scott Bell, Jon Del Arroz, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Marina Fontaine, Brad Torgersen, Arlan Andrews Sr., Alfred Genneson, Chris Donahue, Christine Chase, David Harr, Daniel Humphreys, Dawn Witzke, Elaine Arias, Justin Robinson, Molly Pitcher, P.A. Piatt, Richard B. Atkinson, Tamara Wilhite, and Sandor Novak. I also wrote the afterword.

Coming Nov. 8, 2017…Dolus Magnus: The Great Hoax

The first time I heard the term, GIGO, was in my machine language class—no, we weren’t using abaci or slide rules (we’d given those up the year before).

It’s an acronym that stands for “garbage in, garbage out” and it’s meant to convey the simple idea, that no matter how good your algorithm, if the data you enter is garbage, your output is also going to be garbage. For someone that works with data, GIGO becomes part of everyday life. It’s one of those axioms that you should never forget, but one that, unfortunately, many do.

Sometimes human beings get caught up in all that they think they can do and forget to stop and ask if it should be done at all—some would call this hubris. Scientists are just as vulnerable to hubris, and greed, as anyone else. There is nothing remotely Vulcan about them, despite portrayals to the contrary. We all have ego. We also all have mortgages and the desire to live well. We all have a desire to be relevant, to have our words and ideas given the respect we think they deserve. We are all, in essence, human beings first. And as such, we are prone to human frailties and while we may tell ourselves that we serve the better angels of our nature, we rarely do just that. There’s always a little bit more to it—like Pygmalion, we fall in love with our creation, be it a sculpture, a theory, or a computer model.

I have seen science corrupted by a strident belief as strong as any religious fervor, a type of mania that says that anyone who disagrees with the “official” interpretation of the future must be destroyed. Reputations must be ruined, jail and prison time served, voices silenced. There’s even a label for these terrible, terrible people—deniers.

The end of the world is big business. Fear is big business. But neither of these even begin to rival the grandeur that is power and control over people’s lives. Control of what they can eat, what they can drink, what they can see, hear, and think. No matter what the problem—whether real or imagined—the solution is always the same: Give us power over you and we will make it all better.

“After all, our ideas are so good that they must be made mandatory,” they tell us.

From global cooling, to global warming, to climate change (all catastrophic of course, all man-made don’t-you-know) the solution is always the same. More power to the government and the global elites that know better, all for the price of your freedom and prosperity. The song –acid rain, holes in the ozone layer, global cooling, global warming, climate change, shifting weather patterns–morphs as reality intrudes and proves the faithful wrong, but, not unlike the snake-oil salesman who has the same magical cure for all, the solution is always the same. Unlike the snake-oil salesmen, however, the oracles of freedom- and prosperity-destroying ideas, global power grabs, and bad science, don’t get run out of town. They don’t get tarred and feathered. They get tenure and fame and success. They get political backing. They become essential tools (yes, that’s a double entendre) wielded by the powerful.

It is with these thoughts churning in my head, that I wrote a short story called “Dolus Magnus: The Great Hoax” for Superversive Press’s upcoming anthology, MAGA: 2020 & Beyond. It is the story of a young scientist’s crisis of faith, about the price and cost of speaking out against consensus, about…

Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum—garbage in, garbage out.”

MAGA: 2020 & Beyond will be released on Nov. 8th, 2017, exactly one year after Donald Trump’s election. It is available now for pre-order HERE.

 

 

 

My first post at superversivesf.com

Check out my first post for the wonderful people at Superversive SF.

Hard Sci-fi Made Me Cry

Tired of the remakes, the reboots, the “let’s see how much more blood we can squeeze out of this turnip” output of today’s Hollywood? I think you’ll find Passengers a refreshing change.

Learning experience: The right way to do first person

I just finished reading Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever, the first book in her Fever series. Two things precipitated the purchase: recommendation from a friend and part of my continuing education (specifically following Dean Wesley Smith’s advice to read for pleasure and then study the pleasurable reads from long-time, best-selling authors). Moning’s Darkfever met both those criteria and it’s an excellent example of how to do first person well.

I’m not going to cover the plot because it’s a distant third in the way I measure things. I’m far more impressed by an interesting milieu (the setting and skillful world-building) and interesting characters, and for a first person novel, frankly, character trumps all. Actually, plot is never my primary concern. If it was, I wouldn’t re-read my favorite books or series year-in and year-out. See, the plot doesn’t ever change. Psst. Don’t tell anyone.

So here we have MacKayla Lane, a soft, spoiled young woman with lots of First World problems who is far too concerned with her long blonde hair, the names of her nail polish colors, and her wardrobe choices. Not a character that I would typically go for, and had the first person narration been typical, I would’ve probably walked –no, sprinted– away from the free sample and gone on to something else.

What was it about this character that (a) drew me in, and (b) kept me turning the pages? I didn’t like “Mac” very much. She had way too many idiotic opinions and priorities for me to take her seriously. But here’s the rub: I was solidly in her world and in her head from the very start. This first person narrator was very obviously a retrospective narrator and she maintained that presence throughout the book. In other words, it wasn’t an outside-in narration with a pronoun shift to first person, i.e. a story better suited for third person.

Here’s an example of what maintaining that retrospective narrator presence looks like:

…I had no idea that pieces of one’s soul could be lost.

Back then, I was so blind to everything that was going on around me. Back then, I was twenty-two and pretty and up until the month before, my biggest concern had been whether Revlon would discontinue my favorite Iceberry Pink nail polish, which would be a disaster of epic proportions as it would leave me without the perfect complement for the short pink silk skirt I was wearing today with a clingy pearly top, and shimmery gold sandals, flattered by just the right heel to show off my golden, toned legs.

Moning, Karen Marie (2006-10-31). Darkfever: Fever Series Book 1 (pp. 238-239). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

At no time did Moning insult my intelligence by pretending that this was “real-time” or that the peril was such that the narrator’s survival was in doubt, yet there was no lack of tension. It also didn’t suffer from “reporting syndrome,” that awful situation when choosing a first person narrator results in having other characters report their findings to the narrator because so much of the really important stuff took place outside her presence (hint: means it should’ve been a multiple viewpoint novel) .

My only complaint about the story is that there wasn’t much romance despite the obvious and ongoing sexual tension between Mac and Jericho, but there was enough promise of one to make me do the one thing every writer hopes a reader will do when she reaches the end: press that button to buy the next book.

 

 

More on serving the needs of drama

In fiction, flashbacks are scenes that take place in the past (i.e. not current/running story time) and some readers (supposedly) hate them so much they skip them.

Here’s a great “flashback” from L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, on “…the constant struggle between the efforts to entertain and the efforts to spread a message.”  Even if you’re the kind of reader that skips flashbacks, don’t skip this one. 🙂

 

Seeing the light on romance

I have to admit, the last person I thought I’d see with an essay in Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series was L. Jagi Lamplighter.

I’d read several of the books in the Anita Blake series after a co-worker got me hooked. I did not stay a devotee of the series. I honestly can’t recall where the series lost me, and I really didn’t think much of it. Most series romances lose me a few books in. “It’s not you. It’s me.” Honest.

Lamplighter was someone whose reputation I was aware of and whose short stories I’ve enjoyed. I may or may not have read her back when I was reading just for pleasure (and the fact that I can’t recall if I had or hadn’t isn’t noteworthy either, trust me–ask me what I had for dinner last night; go ahead, I dare you!). I do miss the days when I never had to worry about reading-as-a-writer. Reading-as-a-reader is more fun. Honestly, if you love reading, and you’re considering writing, turn back now. “Danger, Will Robinson, danger.” (This is not a condition unique to writing. Beware of turning any avocation into a vocation.) But, I digress…

This enlightening essay is called “Dating the Monsters: Why It Takes a Vampire or a Wereguy to Win the Heart of the Modern It Girl” and here’s a woefully brief excerpt. To my happy surprise, said essay wasn’t about the failings of men. I almost did a happy dance.

Lamplighter offers tremendous insight into what sweeps Romance readers off their collective feet and how the “needs of drama” differ from the “needs of culture.”

I agree that these needs have been at war and I think they’ve claimed the metaphorical lives of many stories that would’ve otherwise been great. And not just in Romance (or in romance) but in all kinds of fiction.

In short–so that you’ll seek it out for yourself and benefit from Lamplighter’s extremely well-written reasoning–this essay is about what makes happy readers. So, if you’ve just finished the latest “must read” with the fastest, smartest, biggest, baddest, kickass female protagonist out there, and you’re wondering what that awful aftertaste is all about, then set aside some time for this lone gem of literary criticism and insight.