Category Archives: Writing

Politics is inseparable from science fiction and fantasy

So today, on that outrage machine known as Twitter, I saw that there’s a new consortium of science fiction and fantasy writers out looking for members, going so far as to dive into the mentions of an established author to get her to sign on. (No, I was not invited – and I’m really fine with that.)

Putting aside this very mild breach of Twitter etiquette, this group’s stated goal is to create an inclusive organization for all genre creators that steers away from “non-SF/F issues” and does not get bogged down in divisiveness over race, creed and politics.

When a respected agent chimed in with the belief that all art is political, the group’s Twitter scribe responded by saying that such an opinion was a “cancer” on science fiction and fantasy.

OK, full stop. Wut? No. (Rant ahead. You have been warned.) Continue reading

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MJ-12: Endgame available for pre-order

The third MAJESTIC-12 novel, MJ-12: Endgame, is out September 4, but if you really like to plan ahead, you can pre-order it today at any number of fine sites. And to whet your appetite for this next chapter in the story of our Variant spies, here’s a brand-new description:

Josef Stalin is dead. In the aftermath, the Soviet Union is thrown into crisis, giving former secret police chief Laverentiy Beria exactly the opening he needs. Beria’s plan is to secretly place his country’s Variants―ordinary people mysteriously embued with strange, superhuman powers―into the very highest levels of leadership, where he can use them to stage a government coup and seize control of the USSR.

America’s response comes from its intelligence communities, including the American Variants recruited for the top-secret MAJESTIC-12 program, who are suddenly thrown into their most dangerous and important assignment yet. From the halls of the Kremlin to the battlefields of Korea, superpowered covert agents face off to determine the future of the planet―a future their very existence may ultimately threaten.

Yes, we’ve fast-forwarded to 1953. It’s not that there isn’t great stories to tell between 1949 and 1953, of course, but rather this seemed like a natural way to close out this trilogy. (And yes, we’re closing it out. I mean, it’s called Endgame for a reason!) Of course, I never say never — there could be great stories ahead for MAJESTIC-12. But for now, I feel this is a good place to leave things be.

As of right now, Endgame is in the capable hands of my editor, Cory Allyn, and while we don’t have a cover yet, I’m very certain it’ll continue along the same theme. So we’re pretty much on track for September, which is exciting.

And now, here are your pre-order links, if you’re so inclined! (No links yet for Kobo or Google Play, but when I see ’em, I’ll post ’em.) As always, I encourage you to buy local and/or support independent bookstores whenever possible, because they’re awesome. And if you’re low on funds, put in a request at your local library, because libraries are awesome too.

MJ-12: Endgame: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound | iTunes

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A less-than-fond farewell to 2017

I know I’m not the first one to say this, of course — 2017 was not fun, and for many people, that’s a monumental understatement. Personally, professionally, culturally, politically…this year was a godforsaken mess. I’m far less inclined to toast the year that was, but I’m quite ready to embrace the one coming down the pike, and I hope you are too.

So let’s start with the elephant in the room, which would be Trump and his coterie of destructive buffoons. I’m not going to go into his policies, or the rapacious GOP’s attempts to create a permanent, uneducated American underclass to serve the top 1%. But I know full well that the very presence of this looming threat to American values and democracy, and the utter barrage of weaponized fake outrage and falsehoods, has taken its toll on so many of us, myself included.

Now, let’s be quite clear in that I’m a straight, married, white male, so when I say “taken its toll,” the bill for me is extremely light compared to women, people of color, folks with chronic physical and/or mental conditions, our LBGTQ+ friends, etc. In fact, it feels slightly disingenuous to be bitching about things when my family and I are doing well, and may even see a tax cut next year.

But while my toll is far less, it’s there. 2017 has messed with my head. In so many areas of my life, I found myself waiting for something, waiting for change. Yes, I ramped up my contributions and I joined a protest at Trump Tower and I spoke out and all that good stuff. But the rest of it was kind of living in a defensive crouch in the corner, trying to go about my business and waiting, hoping, praying for the support to help all of us turn a corner.

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Support Worldbuilders! And let’s talk about beer at r/Fantasy today!

I’ve been involved with Worldbuilders now for…four years? Something like that. It’s an incredible charity that’s raised millions of dollars for Heifer International. And each year I offer up, among other things, a critique of your writing. This year, my critique is part of the Worldbuilders lottery, which means your $10 donation gives you a chance to win said critique, along with many other fantastic prizes.

Here’s the details on what I’m offering. Just click on the nice big DONATE button at the top right of the page to enter. And don’t be afraid to go for it — I’ve seen just about everything over the past four years, including a couple stories that pleasantly surprised me with their craft. Whether you’re starting out or just want another set of eyes, I’d be happy to help. And again, it goes to a great cause.

To help celebrate Worldbuilders, I’m participating in a “Ask You Anything” event over at Reddit’s r/Fantasy subreddit today. This is an opportunity for authors to ask YOU, the readers, what’s on your mind. And since this is me, I’m asking about beer and books. Here’s the thread — come say hello!

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Hello from World Fantasy 2017 in San Antonio!

A nice big Lone Star howdy to everyone at the World Fantasy Convention 2017 here in San Antonio! Got in yesterday, and have been playing tourist for much of today. But I have some things coming up that I want to get out there, so here goes:

  • I will be at the mass autograph session tonight at 8 p.m. in the Fiesta Paviliion here at the Wyndham Riverwalk. I know the good folks at Night Shade Books sent over a bunch of paperback copies of MJ-12: Inception to put in the swag bags, so I’ll happily sign them there.
  • Tomorrow at 8 p.m. in  Executive Salon 3 on the third floor, I’ll be doing a reading, most likely from MJ-12: ShadowsI also have a couple extra copies to give away for those attending.

Also worth noting: Larry Smith Booksellers now has signed paperbacks of all my books. They have the entire Daedalus trilogy as well as MJ-12: Inception and MJ-12: Shadows. So if you’ve not gotten a copy in your swag bag and miss out on freebies, please go visit them and pick ’em up. Larry himself is no longer with us, having passed away in January, but his legacy lives on in one of the finest booksellers on the conventions circuit. Please support this excellent seller!

Finally, I’m pleased as punch to report that the Night Shade Books Bundle over at Humble Bundle is doing really well — more than 3,000 bundles sold since Wednesday afternoon, roughly 48 hours. This is amazing and, dare I say it, humbling. The Daedalus Incident is one of the books available in the bundles, and the proceeds to go charity, so if you want a whole heap of great books, go check it out.

And if you’re at World Fantasy and have picked up a Humble Bundle, come find me at one of the events above and show me the receipts, so to speak. I have something special for the first person to do so. First come, first served.

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A LGBT shout-out for Maria Diaz in the Daedalus trilogy

A reader flagged this for me on Twitter, and I admit, it really made my day. The Alternate Historian — also known as reviewer and all-around good guy Matt Mitrovich — put up a YouTube video naming his top five LGBT characters in alternate history. And to my surprise and utter delight, the indefatigable Gen. Maria Diaz of the Daedalus trilogy was among them.

If you’ll recall, then-Colonel Diaz was in command of the mining colony on 22nd century Mars in The Daedalus Incident, was promoted to major general to lead Earth’s interdimensional defense in The Enceladus Crisis, then battled Napoleon’s zombies on 19th century Venus in The Venusian Gambit

The fact that Diaz is gay was certainly a conscious decision on my part, but Matt correctly understood that Diaz’ orientation not the primary focus of her character. My portrayal of her was to show the kind of inclusiveness in the future I hope we can all achieve, where one’s orientation is simply accepted for what it is. Matt even quoted me directly from this blog post, which has more details on the character and inclusiveness and why I did what I did.

I’m super grateful for the mention, and doubly grateful to have Maria Diaz placed among other great characters: Capt. Marian Alston from S.M. Stirling’s Nantucket trilogy, Sewer Jack from the George R.R. Martin-edited Wild Cards books, Scholar Wolfe from Rachel Caine’s Great Library series and — my favorite — Fenris from Beth Cato’s Breath of Earth and Call of Fire. (Beth’s books are among my favorites in general, so go buy them.)

For ease of viewing, I’ve embedded the video here. But you should totally subscribe to Matt’s channel on YouTube for all kinds of thoughtful alt-history goodness.

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I’ve planted my flag on Facebook

I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, but I’ve found over the years that, at least on a personal level, I’ve missed out on some cool things friends and family were sharing and doing. So I finally bit the bullet and joined.

My primary use will indeed be personal, and I think at this point I’ve got my personal page locked down to just friends and family and people I’ve specifically requested. If you have my personal email — not the one on the site here, mind you — then chances are I like you enough to friend up.

If we don’t know each other well enough for that, well…it’s nothing personal. Literally. But since folks use Facebook to follow authors and get bookish news, I added a public-facing Author page as well. So if you’re a Facebook sort of person, please feel free to like and follow or whatever you do there. Honestly, I’m still figuring it out.

For now, the Facebook page will mirror this blog and my Twitter feed. (I’m actually on the fence about the Twitter feed, because there are days where I tweet a lot. Have to see what that looks like.) I’ll probably add some Facebook-only stuff to play catch-up and let folks know what I got going. And I’ve no doubt I’ll do some Facebook-only promotions down the road, just as soon as I figure it out.

So there you go. Book my face.

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