Forgive the radio silence on this end; there's about to be a good deal more of it. I spent the last few days being sick (I'm still on the mend), and I'll be spending the next week and change dealing with family matters and work. Between then and now, some news:
Welcome to the Fold is off to my erstwhile editor, as a preliminary move to getting an agent or publisher to take it on. How likely that is to happen, I couldn't say — it's not that I lack confidence in my work, but that I suspect a book this fundamentally unclassifiable isn't going to be seen as worth the effort, and I'll be back where I started. (How many times have I heard this same story from other authors: "It's a great book, we just don't know how to market it" — this from the same people who manage to market books that are only the slightest variations on books that were sold to us last year; surely it isn't that much of a stretch to market something genuinely new as the actual new thing instead of only a lame simulation of same?!)
The next book will most likely be The Palace of the Red Desert, title pending a revision. Likely to be started sometime this summer. Max length 110-150,000 words. I always feel uneasy about making such guesstimates; didn't I say that Flight of the Vajrawould be 250,000 tops and it ended up being 350K? Perhaps once I'm hip-deep into it I'll rethink how much depth really needs to be there, but the main mission remains: tell the story that needs to be told, not the story you would like to tell. The two are not always the same.
Beyond that, however, is a project that could bloat up to elephantine proportions of the Vajra variety: Perfect Skin. This is — and I know some of you reading this are gonna wince — a resurrection of an idea I had way the hell back when and eventually abandoned. Most creators I know have a bad track record for revisiting old ideas, hence the wincing; most of those ideas are clearly products of an earlier age in the creator's development, and thus not worth revisiting to begin with. That said, I am salvaging from it what is worth keeping and dumping the rest. Not that I could do any differently; I did have a manuscript for it somewhere, but it got destroyed or lost or eaten by gophers somewhere along the way. Basic concept is a near-future setting in contrast to Vajra's far-future, with problems like income inequality, social & environmental collapse, etc. playing a big part. But the core story remains elusive, which is why I have kicked this particular can a little further down the road for now.
If all else fails, I could dig out The Underground Sun and finish rewriting that. This project was meant to be a kind of trilogy-in-three-parts capstone to Summerworld and Tokyo Inferno — modern-day Japan as the setting, much like the first of those two, but with a totally different concept at work. Maybe today I can look back on it and give it the discipline it needed to be a proper story instead of just a clever idea that spun off in any number of different directions.
Two novella-sized stories, The Ark and This Little Light Of Mine, also remain tentatively on the schedule. Both are set in the here-and-now, and are mainly personal tales I mean at some point to set down and be done with.
Ditto MeTal, the publishing system I'm programming as a replacement for Movable Type. We might have something like a product for the latter by the end of the year, although I'm going to have to keep my ambitions modest for that goal. My original idea was to release a productized version of whatever it was I used to replace my own workflow, but I may cut back on that and just produce something that covers 75-80% of the needs, release that first, and then see if other people are interested in it as well. (Most of the things that are most important to me personally I wouldn't put into the core product, but instead provide by way of plugins, and if those features make sense as part of core, then I'd add them later on. But I'd rather keep the core as light and straightforward as possible, and not have it turn into something that balloons up every time someone asks for something.)
With MeTal will come a sorta-kinda relaunch of Genji Press. I like the format I have now and will only be giving it the most minor of polishings, but a nice thing about the new system is that it will provide me with the chance to non-destructively test out new formats — something I can't really do with MT as it stands. I could do it with WordPress, but the whole reason I started this project was so that I wouldn't have to use WordPress either.
Anyway, look for me again in a couple of weeks. I hope by that time my eyeballs will have stopped itching.