... most science fiction these days bores me. It all looks the same, I’m tired of Stargates, would-be-treks, and other work that just seems to rearrange the pieces we’re used to. There’s nothing, in my mind, that I’ve seen to inspire people to make something new. If there is something “beyond” the rehashes we’ve seen, it often seems to be hard to relate too or way too far out, strange cyberpunk and transhumanism. Perhaps useful in some cases, but in a scale of decades or centuries, not right now, when it seems we’re terribly out of ideas. Also we need something to bridge any gaps into a future of, I dunno, immortality in cyberspace and the like.
I came up with two responses to this — one somewhat self-indulgent and the other more outward-directed. The first one is a naked sales pitch: most science fiction these days bores me too, which is why I wrote Flight of the Vajra. Let's see if my own attempts to cure my boredom work for anyone else as well. (I also had to wrestle in the book with the same problems of, e.g., having things too far-out for a reader to connect with emotionally. I think I told a friend at one point, "If you haven't cried by the end of this book, then I haven't done my job.")Read more
I have often been told by believers that they cannot imagine a motive for any of these things [to strive for excellence, create beauty, foster love, diligently build (rebuild) the ideal of civilization] without the certainty of God and eternal life. Yet, for me, this very lack of certainty is why these things are of vital importance.
I found a dichotomy of equal difficulty being recapitulated as I wrote Flight of the Vajra. In that story there are two major factions of humanity: the Highend, who have embraced the transcendental possibilities of technological progress to varying degrees; and the Old Way, who feel the only real transcendence is something that comes from within, and cannot be proxied or prosthesized. You could become immortal by backing up and serially restoring your intelligence across multiple bodies, but why bother if you were doing that for the sake of living a life that was fundamentally empty and uncreative to begin with? (One insight I had is that those who can do something like that eventually choose more and more to do nothing but that, and soon everything except protecting one's own skin becomes secondary and eventually falls off the map altogether.)Read more
In my earlier post about projects-to-be, I forgot to mention the little bit of closet-cleaning and reorganization I undertook on my idea-wiki, which turned up a whole passel of ideas that were thisclose to being useful ideas but for one reason or another didn't make it. One of them was a story project that went by the codename Alt-Pop.
The idea went something like this: it's 1994, but not our 1994. The "Video LP" (VLP) format reigns supreme in households across the nation. The LISP-PC runs on most every desktop. Claire Noto's The Tourist is in theaters and hitting the bigtime, and everyone's jazzed for the summer release of The Stars My Destination, directed by James Cameron. Alan Vega and Martin Rev have released their third gold album and are touring in support of Bruce Springsteen¹. And so on.
The problem I had with the story was simple: I couldn't for the life of me figure out the larger point of setting up a counterfactual modern history.Read more
Thought I'd take a few moments and brief everyone about the status of current and upcoming Genji Press projects.
Flight of the Vajra has been out to my beta readers for a bit. The absolute drop-dead date for a release is the end of August 2013, because after that I have AnimeFest to contend with, which is where I've typically premiered new material. The book will be released in both physical editions (possibly a special hardcover version with illustrations, depending on what I can drum up) and via the usual gamut of e-book vendors (Kindle, iTunes, Nook, Smashwords, etc.)
Work on the next project has already started. The working title is Welcome to the Fold. I don't have a project space for it here yet; I want to set one up sometime towards the end of the year once I have everything nailed down and can reveal suitable details. Estimated release date is Q3 2014 (again, August/September or so).
After that I have three other projects, none of which I have names yet, all of which are of vastly different constitutions.Read more
A third version of the cover art:
I think this is about as close to final as it gets.
I've left out the mini-blurbs for the time being ("A Romance of the Far Future", etc.) mostly as a way to keep the cover clean. There might be some blurbage along the top, which would force me to reposition other things slightly, but I think this one's about baked.Read more
I got interviewed for half an hour by Kurt Sasso of TGT Media, a comics / movies / gaming podcast. Subjects included Flight of the Vajra and my general approach to self-publishing.
Go check it out. My public-speaking skills are still a bit shaky — I get rather babbly towards the end, when asked about future projects — but I think I come across pretty nicely.
I'm hoping to appear on other podcasts in the future, both for TGT and elsewhere. If you know of a site that might be willing to host a fellow like me, drop a line.
EDIT: I've included an embedded copy below:
I normally eschew stuff like this, but a few other folks I know and respect have been doing it — a ten-question self-survey where you talk about your Next Big (Literary) Thing and then tag other folks to follow suit. Thinking I could answer a few common questions about my own project in the offing, I've now done the NBT thang for your reading pleasure:
1. What is the working title of your next book?
Flight of the Vajra — actually, that's the title. I went through some thirty-odd titles before settling on that one, so perhaps we could say that is the working title because it's the only title I came up with that worked.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The various elements in the book — the far-future materials technology, the pontiff of a universe-spanning religion, the noirish protagonist — all existed as separate elements that were originally to be inserted into different stories. Over time they drifted together and started living under the same roof, so to speak. Before I knew it, it was hard to think of them as having ever been separate things.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Most likely "space opera", a term I don't mind using even when it only seems to cover part of the territory.Read more
After some consultation, a revised IPS logo:
The slogan was a revision based on a friend's suggestion: "Amidst Them All" implies they are more part of the situation they're patrolling, rather than merely standing "between" others. I also thickened up the stroke width on the logo itself.
I also have a rough draft of the insignia for the Old Way, the belief system that plays a prominent role in the story:
A little something visual I'm working on as viral marketing for Flight of the Vajra:
(Design subject to change, but that's the basic idea: it's the insignia worn by the officers who amount to the closest thing the universe in the book has to a shared police force.)Read more
It would be so weird if we knew just as much as we needed to know to answer all the questions of the universe. Wouldn’t that be freaky? Whereas the probability is high that there is a vast reality that we have no way to perceive, that’s actually bearing down on us now and influencing everything. The idea of saying, ‘Well, we can’t see it, therefore we don’t need to see it,’ seems really weird to me.
The quote is from Saunders himself (whose work has been compared to high-art SF), and for me it seems to sum up the difference between the sorts of people who not only read SF but take strong cues for their worldview from it, and those who don't. There is always more to our world, and it helps to know of it, even if our knowing is forever incomplete. It's not the body of knowledge, then, but the thirsting, the act of knowing how much or little we do know.Read more