Chronicle World’s Legacy Fleet

LegacyFleet

Yeah, this is an announcement with a cover reveal. Coming in August from The Future Chronicles and the universe of Nick Endi Webb‘s bestselling trilogy Constitution, Warrior, and Victory.

CHRONICLE WORLDS: LEGACY FLEET


Chronicle Worlds: Legacy Fleet is Samuel Peralta, Nick Endi Webb, Therin Knite, Dave Monk Fraser Adams, Peter Cawdron, Patrice Fitzgerald, Kat Fieler, Jon Frater, Kev Heritage, Ralph Kern, Joseph Lewis, James McCormick (J.E. Mac), Felix R Savage, Will Swardstrom, Matthew Alan Thyer, Christopher Valin

A Challenge to Futurists

NeuralLaceI love futurists, the very idea that we can take a statistical model and from the information revealed divine what might occur in the future is a spectacular feat of magic. And, in saying just that, I should be clear, I’m not suggesting that there is a problem with this process. The models are as accurate as the data from which they’re derived.

But there is an art to modeling as there is a science. And I suppose that many futurists tend toward optimistic predictions. For instance, take this quote from Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and author of “The Future of the Mind.”

“In the next 10 years, we will see the gradual transition from an Internet to a brain-net, in which thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories might be transmitted instantly across the planet.

Scientists can now hook the brain to a computer and begin to decode some of our memories and thoughts. This might eventually revolutionize communication and even entertainment. The movies of the future will be able to convey emotions and feelings, not just images on a silver screen. (Teenagers will go crazy on social media, sending memories and sensations from their senior prom, their first date, etc.). Historians and writers will be able to record events not just digitally, but also emotionally as well.

Perhaps even tensions between people will diminish, as people begin to feel and experience the pain of others.”

Yep! All upside, no down. I would suggest that an investigation into the issue, coupled with a fair understanding of what is taking place within the domains of technology and medicine might repeatably yield the same optimistic conclusion. Soon we will map human consciousness and develop a machine-mind interface which will allow real time exchanges of all sorts of information formerly hidden in the human heart. The implications are simultaneously staggering and astounding.

But I’d like to challenge this model, perhaps just a little bit, because it only seems to consider what we’re technically capable of achieving.

Below is a segment of a recent John Oliver, Last Week Tonight piece (I’ve started the video at 6:06 because this is where a relevant conversation begins. The conversation Oliver exposes is relevant, but watch the whole thing.)

Climate change, social justice issues, violent crime, illegal immigration, even the threat of terrorism: none of the facts of these critical, arguably whole societal issues, matter to a significant cross-section of the population.

“The current view is that liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right, but it’s not where human beings are.” — Newt Gingrich

The narrative/ideology regarding these questions (and much more) are the only considerations of consequences for some people. Now imagine a technology, say neural networks or the accurate mapping of human consciousness, which will not only expose the flaws in these competing narratives but erode the power base that upon which these ideologies are built.

My challenge to futurists is this: develop a societal component to your models. Look at the many narratives that are in play and which may affect the technologies you’re examining. Consider the possible downsides of these technologies as well as the marvelous potential.

Underachievement: A Gut Punch

Clawtank by Wan Amirul Adlan

Recently I caught a social media share from Samuel Peralta. He cross-posted a blog post from Monica Byrne, which details her plans to make a living wage from her writing via Patreon. An idea I have been pursuing with no small amount of enthusiasm. Who wouldn’t want to transform the bulk of their labor into a self-sustaining relationship with the people they service?

Other names in our genre are pioneering this new economy which, amongst many other things, makes their short fiction a viable creative effort. Kameron Hurley, N.K. Jemisin and Wes Chu — to name but a few — are all bringing in respectable incomes writing short stories at their own pace.

Since shifting to writing full time in 2013, I’ve struggled with many challenges, perhaps none as significant as my own obscurity. Finding fans, getting my stories in front of anyone willing to read them, has been a persistent difficulty. And the one thing all these examples have in common is an existing fan base.

Byrne’s introduction is a TED endorsement from Neil Gaiman coupled with a laundry list of traditional publishers and awards. Hurley’s introduction is equally littered with awards and publications. She has 433 supporters. And then Jemisin’s introduction opens with “Update: Folks, thank you. As of July 1st, I’ve quit my day job and started full time writer life. Let’s see how this goes!” She has 885 sponsors.

What does this mean for me? Honestly, I’m more than a little jealous, but let me be clear, I’m glad to see other’s achieving this kind of success. Since I finished Big Red Buckle in 2013 all I’ve been able to complete is a series of short stories for small and independent press. And make no mistake, I love writing short works. Watching as others figure out ways to make these words pay, even a little, is a vital sort of pathfinding and so I’m paying attention.

Right now I have two writing projects on my table. The first, Plague of Contentment, is a novel and hasn’t been anything other since I dreamed it up. As we get closer to the start of Kindergarten, I should be able to leverage more writing time and consequently more progress on this project. But PoC is clearly not well suited Patreon or similar platforms. It’s a thriller that requires careful consideration as put down each and every word.

Last spring, on a whim I started writing an episodic with the working title of Vex. A coming of age story about a brutal alien war fought on the ground by a small crew of gritty and broken soldiers who sacrifice their humanity to save humankind. This story is going fast, and it’s structured so that it can easily be broken up into pieces. Recently, I’ve brought an editor on board to help me polish before I make it available and I’m looking for an artist for cover work and other “rewards.”

I understand that my only way out of the obscurity in which I operate is to continue to write. More, more, more! Production is the only first step, but I have a sizable and growing collection of words that aren’t doing a damn bit of good for me. Many of them are short stories that won’t ever find a traditional market. So understanding this harsh reality is also, I believe, critical to my success as a writer. Traditional markets don’t buy short fiction and when they do it’s drastically undervalued.

Patreon offers me two potential benefits. First, it provides me a way to monetize my labor. In my short experience, income from my writing is as variable as the time I have to have to write it. Finding new fans of my fiction who are interested in supporting me as I write will help stabilize this aspect of my career behind the letters.

Second, the Patreon platform gives me a way to interact with these people, not just their pocketbooks. More than money right now, I believe interaction is what I need. Of the short stories that have gone to Peralta, I don’t see any mention of what I’ve written until months, six on average, after the publication date. And I’m not complaining, but I can see that people aren’t buying these anthologies to get the next story from me. That much is obvious. For stories I’ve published on my own, the interaction timeline is even longer. Finding reliable beta readers has become a bit of a chore.

So, right now I’m building a schedule and beginning to manage entry into Patreon with some very modest financial goals in mind. A hundred bucks a month is still a better per word price than what I’ve been able to bring home to this point. In the meantime, I’m researching. Learning how I might bring new people to my table. I need to learn how to be a more effective self-promoter while continuing to develop my bibliography. That’s going to change.

It Never Sold Very Well

MobDance

I just encountered this super review of one of my older short stories. Needless to say, it brought a smile to my lips. The story never sold very well, and I suspect that the collection suffered in part from a lack of promotion as well as some potential distraction on the part of the editor who was creating and selling a table top game in parallel. All told, to get a review like this from a guy living and working in Korea makes me a very happy author.

Currently, Mob Dance is free if you’re a KU subscriber and only $0.99 if you’re not.

IOTD

ALLOWABLES

I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn’t
And she scared me
And I smashed her

I don’t think
I’m allowed

To kill something

Because I am

Frightened

-Nikki Giovanni