Sunday, July 26, 2015

Schills, Space & SF

After two weeks of teasing, I managed to finish preparations for Pretty Words for Hateful Bastards ahead of schedule. And since pre-ordering a poetry book from some complete rando on the internet is never going to happen, I've bumped up the eBook release date to Wednesday 7/29/2015. I completed the print version, reviewed the proofs, and am completely satisfied with the product itself. Not like 100% of the poetry in it is pure gold that will be bumper sticker quote material for disenfranchised twenty-somethings, but I'm a warts and all kind of guy.

While I'm talking about the print version, that's already available for you to have and to hold right now at this very moment (depending on shipping preference chosen), here's a bunch of links for you:

And while I'm book pimping I might as well remind you that my first book, the short story collection Urban Legends of the Future, is also available in all formats for your enjoyment.

Now that my obligation as a self-published author trying to sell you my wares is over, let's look to the future. Especially since the future is my favorite topic to write about.

Ever since I was a little kid watching Return of the Jedi on repeat, jumping off my parent's couch and making lightsaber sounds, science fiction has always fascinated me. A little more than it should, but it seems like the rest of my generation has the same problem, and I think that makes it okay. So it should surprise few people that I like writing stories about future scenarios where you can essentially make anything happen with the excuse of, "technology advanced".

I think the most troubling aspect of writing science fiction is embodied in the super trope Time Marches On. Everyone who writes about the future walks the line of being prescient and dated. Especially on this upswing of Moore's Law that we've been feeling over the last couple decades, staying ahead of the curve tech-wise while trying to tell a story that's really about the present is not easy. But it's also an incredibly important aspect of the genre for, in my opinion, one main reason: to keep humanity dreaming.

Space Opera canon of fighting wars on Mars (much like Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter books) or travelling through the cosmos (like Buck Rogers) is a reflection of many fears that humans have. One, our innate fear of those different from us, and two fear that we're going to destroy this planet and need to search for a new place to live before we all die on this rock. Some people claim to not care, some people don't want to think about our time being finite, and some people just think it's awesome to go spacemarineing around the universe, kicking alien ass as we go. All of this boils down to the driving fear behind pretty much every single action humans do: our own mortality.

Fear of death is the reason why we have sex; the biological imperative to reproduce and have a copy of yourself enter a time and place where you cannot go. Fear of death is the reason why we create works of art, make monuments, tag on walls, eat food, go to the gym and play games. We want something to last in our place while we're gone, we want to maintain what life we have, and we want to be distracted from dwelling on our inevitable ending. Science Fiction is both a distraction, and a glimmer of hope at the same time.

For one, SciFi usually has humans, or some humanoid type creature/construct with ties to humanity. This may be strictly because 1) special effects are difficult/expensive to maintain with non-humanoid aliens, and 2) it's easier to connect to a human mind than an alien one, but it shows that humanity will have some hand in the future. For two, SciFi shows us both issues we need to overcome in the present, and the extrapolated consequences if this issue is taken to its (il)logical conclusion point. It can show us fears from both sides of the spectrum, from the "Far Right" or "Far Left" and any shade in between. And since you're doing it with jetpacks and laser guns, it makes it easier for people to digest the information you're feeding them, for good or ill. And speaking of jetpacks and laser guns, it gives us something to strive for tech wise.

If you're reading this, you have connection to the internet. Congratulations. We're essentially living out a dream documented through fictional history, even as far back as 1909 in E.M. Forster's short work The Machine Stops. The device you're reading this on is essentially a combination of technology stretching back to the printing press, and you're transferring information through alphabet tech that's existed since cuneiform. We're just using the current model available to us at the moment (if you speak English that is). If you're reading this on the miracle that is a smartphone, that's essentially a bunch of Trekkie's wet dreams actualized and put in your pocket for the low low price of $499.99 (or easy monthly payments with a 2 year contract), all for you to drop in the toilet and demand a free upgrade to the newest and shiniest model for you to also drop in the toilet.

Of course, unlike the linked story, we're not all sitting in private rooms, staring at a screen bank and chatting with people across the globe about why we don't visit. While those people definitely exist, it's not a widespread thing that's keeping humanity enthralled to a machine overlord. We still have people doing the enthralling. But the point I'm trying to make is Forster got lucky with their insight into the future. Even William Gibson (whose works I adore), a complete non-computer guy, was able to imagine in Neuromancer a virtual world where mankind interfaced with the graphical representation of all the world's data back in 1984 (the year, not the book) when the internet in general was still just a DARPA communications tool. Thirty-one years later, we're scratching the surface of true virtual and augmented reality. In 1992, Neal Stephenson (whose works I also adore), an actual computer guy, wrote in Snow Crash about the Metaverse, which essentially is the internet hooked up with VR goggles in a giant MMORPG that also is a graphical interface with all the world's data.

Science fiction shapes the world. It's what keeps us going forward and pushing to that next plateau. I've always loved the genre and I feel lucky to be alive in an era where some of the most far out dreams have become realities. There's also many unforeseen unfortunate realities that come with it, but following the laws of thermodynamics, there is no action without an equal and opposite reaction.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reflections on a dead language

Busy week. Well, more productive than busy. Finally ticked off more check marks from the to do list.

Set up the Smashwords account and finished formatting Urban Legends of the Future. Which is now uploaded and available for more than just Kindle at last. Following the Smashwords style guide was an experience that was easy in execution, but demoralizing to my "artistic spirit". Which really means that I had to wreck my original formatting and press enter and backspace a lot. At least it worked out for the better.

Also finished formatting and uploading my second book. A collection of my poetry from 2000-2015 entitled Pretty Words for Hateful Bastards. Official release date is 8/4/2015 in print and eBook. It's currently available for pre-order here.

Since this is my page, and I guess there's no better to talk about my own inner workings with candor than here, I'm going to talk poetry.

My first introduction to poetry was thankfully through Shel Silverstein. Since the internet didn't exist in the public forum when I was a child, and my parents were rockers, not hippies, I missed out on his work writing hilarious drugged up songs. But my mom's favorite book was The Giving Tree, so she shared with me such greats as Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic when I was a wee lad. The mixture of artwork with looping, whirling, and topsy-turvy words sparked my young imagination about how language could effect people. Reading about how Captain Hook has to be careful shaking hands and should never pick his nose made me think about things in a brand new light besides the ways they're presented to me.

As I got older, the first poetry book I bought from a school book fair catalog was a collection of Edgar Allan Poe poems. Having recently seen The Simpson's first Treehouse of Horror with their take on The Raven, I wanted more macabre readings at the tender age of eight. I didn't really quite understand most of the meanings behind the works, but I kept reading and rereading that work and attempted my own poetry.

Learning poetry in school was a different experience that would have turned me off for life had I not bothered to read ahead in my English book. In seventh grade, we had a brief poetry section where my teacher drilled in the essentials of rhyme and meter, and little else. We wrote sonnets in the style of Shakespeare, rhyme schemes till AABBCCDD meant nothing, and counted out iambic meters tri, tetra, and penta. One day, wondering whatever happened to the poetics of Poe (decried by my teacher for being too dark and morbid) I thumbed to a poem that fell across the page in such an unconventional manner from the rigid lines and rhymes of everything that came before.

in Just by e.e. cummings.

Everything was chopped up, barely punctuated or capitalized, and the imagery was so bizarre and rushed for a poem about spring. After learning all of this boring ass dead white guy shit, there was something written within the same century I was living in. It was fresh, and jarring, and I kept it to myself for the time being. I actually took my book home instead of leaving it in my middle school locker and poured over that cummings poem. I read everything proceeding it, and none of that has stuck in my memory. In class the next day as we were wrapping up the poetry unit, I could tell my teacher was going to blow right past this gem. So I raised my hand to ask about it, and to my surprise, she actually talked about the beat movement. The little bread crumbs that she dropped were enough for me to seek out the rest of the canon and keep my interest in poetry.

Beat poetry, reading song lyrics in album liner notes, my main men Shel & Edgar, and a growing appreciation for the romantics, influenced and inspired me as I transitioned into bad teenage poetry. Thankfully, scholastic leanings only gave me more fuel for the engine. The lesson I learned from e.e. about reading ahead paid off. For one reason or another, there was always some oddball poem in each of my American English textbooks. I found every one I could. While everyone was reading along about Robert Frost's road not taken (which the irony of teaching that en mass seemed to be lost on the rest of my classmates), I was reading Brautigan's All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (which caught my eye all thanks to Machines of Loving Grace's appearance on The Crow soundtrack).

This history has been chewed, swallowed and puked back out onto the pages of Pretty Words for Hateful Bastards. My style comes off as formless and amateur, but it's deliberate. I sure hope it comes across as such. Or maybe I just suck at everything and this is all just bullshit and people will see it for what it is. Or maybe I'm just overthinking again. I do that a lot.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

First Posts

For a while I've been a blog abandoner. I found it troublesome to keep updating and have random strangers on the internet come read whatever it is I have to say regarding whatever I wanted to ramble about that day. I'm not someone who follows a lot of trends and reports back with my findings. I'm not an expert in any field to give a how to account of my knowledge. I'm just a dude who makes up stories and hopes people find them enjoyable.

So, how that I'm in the trade and releasing material, It's high time I have a home on the internet. So this here is your one stop shop for all the things I create for you to enjoy. I'll also be sharing notes, giving insights into the world, and whatever else comes ripping through my head at the time.

My short story collection, Urban Legends of the Future is a perfect stepping stone into the world of The Lilim. You can buy it on Amazon currently, and Smashwords soon. It's six short stories set at the end of the century in a world where monsters (The Lilim) are real but humanity doesn't care that they exist.

 Kindle version.
 Paperback version on Createspace.
 UK paperback & Kindle link.

If you or someone you know is into cyberpunk, science fiction, urban fantasy, or horror, this read is for you.

I also have a collection of poetry being released soon. Keep posted to this place for further news on all releases.

Also in the pipeline is the follow up to Urban Legends of the Future. A novella and short story bundle titled By Starlight-Before Dawn. The end of this wave in the Lilim Chronicles concludes with the novel To Slice the Sky. All of which are written and in the editing process.

So now that I've shilled wares, and given you a taste of what's to come, it's time to close this post. Be well, dear reader.