2018 August Newsletter #1

Real News of Fictional Worlds, August 1st 2018

Hello there, and welcome to August: ) It’s bringing enough sci-fi for several newsletters.

Seen on Earth
The most science fiction thing that happened to me recently was having my mind blown live by the band My Bloody Valentine. They played sonic sci-fi mayhem with a surrealist bent; big, bludgeoning walls of tonal magic. The show was both absurdly loud and superb. (Abspurb?). Their closest song to a hit so far – “Only Shallow” – sounded entirely different at a commanding volume.

Here are the number of amps and guitars for just their lead guitarist.

(If you can’t see any of these images, select “Display images below” or similar in your email viewer.)

The whole experience was strong enough to find its way into a novella I’m currently writing. If there is an artist whose music you enjoy, then I heartily recommend you see them whenever possible. Good art in the moment is a powerful and beautiful gift.

In the near Earth future
Two weeks from now in consensus reality, I’ll be attending an evening interview with George R. R. Martin the creator and writer of Game of Thrones. Just a couple of days after that is Worldcon 76, one of the largest and most prestigious Science Fiction conferences in the world. And I expect other interesting things will happen by then as well.

Strange worlds for sale
Throughout August I have a number of different works available for the low price of free. These giveaways also feature many other excellent works by other authors, each also for fifty barrels of nothing – without the barrels.

If you enjoy one of my tales below, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy linked book titles. It helps keep me in electrons and multidimensional glitter.

Just try and run out of books to read with  Limitless Sci-Fi and Fantasy, featuring my own full-length novel Two-Fisted Jesus Tales, Book 1: The Book of the Job.

You can also just Read Funny Books, including my short story collection Hyperspace Radio.
Experience the Summer of Sorcery with my novella Ghost Magnet, the first in my series Crime and Magic in the New Russia.

And just relax and beat whatever the temperatures are around you, with the August Sc-Fi Takeover – starring the second novella in my “Crime and Magic” series, The Luck Thieves.

Upcoming new worlds
Watch this space for new novellas in the coming weeks.Thanks for reading! As always, I’d love to hear your feedback on any of my work.

Keep on imagining,
~ j : )

2018 July Newsletter

It’s been a busy and productive month for me, as I hope it’s been for you. It’s also been a fun past thirty days, including both the 4th of July and Pride.

Both celebrate independence, and Pride celebrates an independence both personal and public that I find inspiring and fantastic. Amazing levels of creativity and heart-warming amounts of acceptance were on display in parades around the world – just fabulous in all of the best definitions.

In the past 30 days I also was able to take a side trip over to a store known as Paxton Gate. They specialize in strange exhibits and exotic gardening, to educate our youth on both the natural sciences and the unnatural ones.

Sadly their prize piece, a lovely stuffed unicorn, is no longer on display. Some naysayers claimed it was naught but a horse with a narwhal tusk. As a pure coincidence, it turns out it’s no longer legal to display items with narwhal tusks. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the unicorn’s disappearance. Perhaps instead the unicorn was seen by too many non-virgins and has elected to disappear.

There were still many other fantastical beasts on display, including a lovely example of a jackalope.

Perhaps an ancestor to the modern unicorn? A Unisaur? A magnificent beast, fearsome in herds with dangerous horns, great speed and  near lethal amounts of adorability. The most unbelievable of all these strange creatures – the so-called “moose”.

In fiction news, I have new stories in the (non-cryptozoological bunny) hopper and many current tales in bundles.

Strange worlds for sale
For the next few months, I have a number of different works available for the low price of cheap or free. If you end up enjoying one, please leave a review on Amazon. Reviewing can be as easy as selecting the right number of stars and entering a single sentence into your magical keyboard machines.

My novel “Two-Fisted Jesus Tales, Book 1” is part of the great Amazing Fantasy giveaway through July 20. Many other fine books from other authors are also available here.

My short story collection  “Hyperspace Radio” is available through the excellent SciFi Book Bonanzafrom July 16th through July 22nd. After that it will be available for $.99 for another week, from July 23 toJuly 29.
My novella “The Luck Thieves”, the second installment in my “Crime and Magic” series, is available through the Judge a Book by its Cover! Giveaway through July31, and the Paranormal Reads giveaway through August 3rd.

And my novella “Ghost Magnet”, which kicked off my “Crime and Magic” series, will be available from Sept 1 through Sept 30th in the Discover Your New Favorite Series giveaway.

Finally, “Wishful Thinking” is available as part of the Summer Reading List until September 2nd. It concerns an innovative solution to the “Genie of the Lamp” dilemma – creating a startup company to sell the magic wish.

Upcoming new worlds
You can expect a third installment in my “Crime and Magic” series some time in the next couple of months. It’s titled “Blood and Hope”, and will open new possibilities for our plucky heroes Aurelian and Lyita.I will also have a new story regarding an Artificial Intelligence takeover of society, with quite unexpected results for the typically most prosperous class – everyone in their middle age. It’s titled “Underclass”.For later this year I’m planning on releasing a sequel to “Two-Fisted Jesus Tales, Book 1: The Book of  the Job”. The title will be “Double-Crossed”.

Among many other tales, the first book in a heroic fantasy series is also in the works.

I’m also throughly enjoying the world-building for a sequel to my novella “Wishful Thinking”, about a troubleshooter for magical startup companies. It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

Upcoming new authors
On a separate note, my good friend Lillian Dish has just joined our publishing company Mind Fu Media. She writes in the “Cozy Mystery” vein, with an interesting twist that’s all her own. More on her releases soon.

Another new author is the enigmatic Connor McCloud. He’s been described as “Tom Clancy on dirt weed.” I’ve seen what he’s got coming, it’s strong and will surprise you.

And music!
I celebrated this recent 4th of July by taking a rare 12 hour block of free time to post years of my accumulated electronica albums to Bandcamp, complete with stylish fractal images what I also made myself. And I was still fully able to enjoy hot dogs and fireworks as our foreparents intended.

It’s interesting to consider how this music fits in with the rest of my artistic output. It seems I enjoy creating music that feels like strange worlds, and then creating instrumental narratives that fit within them.

Check ’em out, and let me know what you think.

Podcast
With all of the above works, I was glad to catch up on the podcast with a new audiobook too. Also the podcast is now available on iTunes and Spotify. Do check them out as well.iTunes
Stitcher
Buzzsprout

All that and I found a new pizza place too.

Once again, thanks for checking out my work! As always, I’d love to hear your feedback on any of my work.

Keep on imagining,
~ j : )

A salute to a great and difficult man

Harlan Ellison, RIP.

What else is there to say of a fantastic writer and a legendarily irascible persona?

There is the memoriam from an excellent modern writer, Cory Doctorow. He salutes Ellison’s great talent and also addresses his prickly nature. Others have pointed out that Ellison as a teacher was, in a common human blindspot, exhibiting exactly t he same bullying behaviors he hated in early teachers of himself.  https://boingboing.net/2018/06/28/rip-harlan-ellison.html

There’s also Ellison’s own words on art and commerce, which really should be required listening for artists in our world, whether they agree or disagree.

Just Pay the Writer. 

But the most suitable words I’ve found yet are other words of Ellison’s own, which come from being asked his thoughts on the creative giant Philip K. Dick.

What you’re asking is really two questions: What I think of him as a writer and what I think of him as a human being. As a writer, he was one of the great innovators. He was sweet, man, an absolutely individual talent, and I admired at least 80% of what he wrote.

…As for the human being, it’s an entirely different answer. When he wanted to be charming, he could be. …

You know what? I’m not going to answer. It doesn’t matter what I think. He could do you a solid or be a very unpleasant person. Like Frank Sinatra. Or God…Phil, like God or Frank Sinatra — they’re all deities.

Mr. Ellison, wherever you are, you were a truly magnificent bastard. Thank you for the work.

 

2018 June Newsletter

It’s been a lovely month so far, both creatively and climately. Our planet has had a distinct lack of world-rending apocalypses requiring the intervention of a rogue hero with a code of honor, or a plucky band of misfits, or an elite team of professionals coming back to save the world one last time.

As I write this, I just attended an actual Corgi convention. I don’t have dogs myself, but I was curious to see these ferocious animals of war. As you may know, in Welsh myth Corgis are the chosen battle mounts for faeries. I didn’t happen to see any fae war games featuring these cheerful, doughty compatriots. But there’s always next year.

Probably not a Corgi.

 

In fictional news, I am proud to release a new novella “The Luck Thieves”. As the second in the series “Crime and Magic in the New Russia, it continues the adventures of Aurelian the thief and his love Lyita. In the streets of St. Petersburg, a bullet can kill you just as dead as magic. it’s just the magic you don’t see coming.

 

I expect to release a third novella in this series very soon, perhaps even in the next month.

In other new production news, many readers have told me they also enjoy audiobooks so I’ve started making them. I’m going through the different short stories in my collection Hyperspace Radio. They’re available online in podcast form for few months, so if you’re curious give them a listen.

iTunes
Stitcher
Buzzsprout

 

Cheers, and thanks for checking out my writing.

The Last Word

This is a rough draft, a work in progress.

* * *

She decided to read her comment one more time before posting it. It looked good. No, it looked better than good. It was perfect.

It had taken her hours at home on her laptop, when she could have been enjoying many other things. But she had had enough. In the middle of responding to the previous commenter, who had been relentlessly dismissive and insulting, Mae had crafted the perfect response. Through a lucky happenstance, a random typo had led her to thinking more deeply about things she’d never considered. This train of thought had led her nearly instantaneously to musings she’d had in the back of her mind without being addressed, her entire life. In some ways, even before she’d learned to speak and was just beginning to experience her first sparks of awareness.

A bit about existentialism, and awareness, and the place of people in the world and the larger universe, and something that really resolved everything while also telling the other person how wrong they were – in a way that not only proved Mae was right with the universe, but that the other person also simply could not deny admitting no matter how they tried.

She looked it over, and reached forward to hit “Enter” on her keyboard.

A hand reached out from nowhere and grabbed hers before she could complete the stroke.
“What the fuck?” she blurted, shocked. The rest of the hand around her wrist emerged from a … a hole in the air, she realized.

The hole enlarged, and the person leaned through a bit further. He was encased entirely in a grey-green suit of what looked like plastic, with a plexiglass globe for a helmet that showed glowing lights throughout the inside.

“Oh my God!” he said, speaking back into the hole that hung in the air in the middle of her room. “We did it, people! We found her! Oh thank whatever might exist!”

She heard light cheering, coming impossibly from further inside the hole he was reaching from. She looked inside it, to see barely lit cracked concrete walls and a few other people, in similar suits. Their suits were all in some states of disrepair – patched and sewn with material that didn’t match at all.

“Who the hell are you?” asked Michelle.

He faced Michelle, still leaning forward out of a hole in the air in her bedroom. “Listen Michelle,” the guy said, in his suit. “You can’t send that!”

“But it proves I’m right!” she protested. “And – and it could really make things better! It really has – I’m talking about-”

“Don’t tell me!” he screamed. “The rest of us are only still individuals because we didn’t hear it!” He almost looked towards the monitor, and shuddered. He turned off the monitor, and pushed her back from the keyboard.

“Michelle, that’s exactly the problem. You had an internet argument with a jerk, and you found the secret. Whatever it is, somehow you found a way to change his mind and convince him you were right! Then everyone else who read that comment also convinced. Your comment pierced the ego defense mechanism of all human minds, effortlessly.”

“But that’s great!” said Michelle.

“It’s not great,” the guy said. “As a result, as that comment spread, everyone’s egos on Earth just melted. They no longer had a way to disagree with her. And it turned out that our egos were the only thing holding back our consciousnesses merging on a quantum level.”

Michelle narrowed her eyes. “So…?”

“So as that comment went viral across the Internet, the melded consciousnesses snowballed until all of humanity became one mind. We no longer had individual points of view. We became one large wriggling sentient mass.”

“Okay,” said Michelle. “So…humanity then became one being? Almost a God?”

“Maybe that’s what we could have been. But the problem was we were still assholes! We hadn’t worked through how to not be shitty – basically, our crazy. We evolved to the next step too early! Left to our own for even a century longer, we might have become mature enough to handle massive, godlike collective intelligence as one being. Instead, when your comment spread, we became one giant 7 billion-person sentient complete asshole!” He shuddered. “The resulting crazy thing has simultaneously expanded into quantum time and ruined the entire globe! The human race is worse than doomed – it’s become a giant asshole that’s producing nothing but shit!”

“But I…” she looked at the screen and back at him. “But I’m right! Are you telling me I just have to let this go, when I’m actually right?”

“How important is this internet argument to you?” he asked. “How much time is this guy worth? Let alone potentially destroying all of humanity before we could advance to our next level and *not* be a giant asshole?”

“We always have to be quiet though!” she said. “We women have to go along or not hurt egos, all these things…”

“Go ahead and hurt egos!” he said. “I’m just telling you your best-case scenario, actually changing this troll asshole’s mind, is a disaster. You cannot change his mind. He doesn’t want to change his mind.” He reached over with his other hand. “Can I – just so we don’t accidentally…” shielding his eyes from even seeing the comment that she’d typed, he pulled the cord out of her computer keyboard. He sighed with relief, and turned off her monitor. Only then did he let go of her arm.

She rubbed her arm, and frowned. “Well…if it’s so bad, how’d you survive?”

Through his glass bowl helmet, his eyes became haunted. “We escaped the initial barrage of memes only because our cellphones were dead at the time. When everyone started talking at the same time, we pretended we were mutes until we reached the sewers. There we waited until we found ourselves near one of it’s sentient quantum-altering mind-shits.” He shivered, leaned back and heaved a bit, then regained his strength. “That was something you never want to experience. We followed it back here in time and space. I’ve tried many times to stop this moment. This last time I was able to punch through the second before it began. Now that timeline can undo itself.”

His voice became choked.[ argument could start here?] “I only have a little time left before it mentally flushes. Don’t make our sacrifice in vain. Don’t make that comment! Just let that asshole disagree!” The figure faded, as the hole disappeared.

Michelle looked at where the hole in the air had been, and back to her keyboard She reconnected it, turned on the computer monitor, and looked again at what she had been about to send.

She stared at it for a good minute, cherishing how well written it was.

Then she erased it, called the commenter a stupid ass instead, and signed up for some yoga.

Callypigianaphiles Experience Inability to Utilize Prevarication

This is a short story rough, a work in progress.

* * *

Shelly had the spell for weeks, but it took a long time to work up the courage to use it. The last straw was her brothers teasing her about the boy she had the deepest crush on. His name was Tex, he was new to town and he was dreamy. She had finally gotten his attention, and they’d started hanging out after school. It had been weeks now, but their relationship hadn’t gone to where she needed it go – for him to tell her the truth she hoped for deep inside: that he liked her.

She and Courteney had found the spell in their homeroom teacher’s desk drawer, when trying to get back Shelly’s phone. Their teacher had confiscated it for texting in class, and then died overnight. The spell itself said “This can only be used once.” It was dated from the early 1940s. So apparently their teacher had brought this with her without using it for her whole life.

They chatted on Facebook for weeks until Shelly finally declared she’d use it.

The perfect night came – her parents and brothers left her home to go to a line-dancing competition. As soon as they were gone, she broke into her parents’ liquor cabinet. A few full glass of rum and she was ready to go.

She went upstairs and logged into Facebook. As she did, she saw her butt in the mirror on the closet door. She didn’t know if her butt was too big, just right, or not big enough. She felt like Tex liked it, and her, but she knew she also wanted to believe that. How could she know for sure?

According to her smirking brothers, no guy would ever tell the truth about a girl’s butt to a girl. They were always complaining about no answer being alright for their girlfriends.
Shelly had the support of her friends at least. Most of them were stuck home tonight too, but they could chat. They were interested in this spell too.

Once she confirmed that she was actually going to cast the spell tonight, the news spread like wildfire. It had been a slow night to begin with, and not much news in general. Interest kept expanding for this teenage girl who was about to cast a spell.

She pointed her laptop’s camera for a good view of her, and pulled a folded-over piece of paper from her pocket. She opened it, revealing a torn-out notebook page covered with rainbow sparkles. It contained the spell she’d copied from an old book they’d found, underneath some scraps in the boiler room below the school library.

On the paper, in her purple ink writing dotted with hearts, was the formula of the spell:
I risk the love of my life to know if my love is real! I declare it forfeit, to make _ not lie!

“I’m still not sure if I should put his name in,” said Shelly.

“Does he like your butt?” asked her sassy friend Courteney. “That’s the question here. He should, your butt’s fantastic.”

“Thanks Courteney – but how can I know that if he likes my big butt he won’t lie about it anyway?”

“It shouldn’t be just about him either,” said Shelly’s other close friend Audrey. “What about other guys too?”

Suddenly it came to Shelly. What was that song her brother was listening to the other day? “I got it!” In her rum-drunk state, it seemed like just the thing.

Her eyes closed, she held the note tight and whispered the incantation: “I risk the love of my life to know if my love is real! I declare it forfeit, to make sure people who like big butts cannot lie!”

She pulled out a pink lighter, held her thumb down and lit the notebook paper on fire. It quickly took to flame, and disappeared in a flash of rainbow glitter.

In Shelly’s room, and then astonishingly in every room connected to the Internet around the world, a gathering force rose. It was felt first as hairs raising on the back of the neck, then goosebumps, and then as an electric current within one’s own soul – a feeling amplified by all the people now witnessing this spell. In the olden days, it would have been rare to gather as many as twenty witches for such a spell. But this evening, there were hundreds of thousands.

The spell climaxed, and crashed like thunder.

Shelly thought it was just the rum, as she passed out. But, amplified by her pure innocence, the rum, and Facebook which amplified her spell to millions, the magic’s effects spread like a shockwave throughout the world.

The next morning, and from that day forward, she found that all who liked big butts could not lie. Her brothers, and others’ brothers, could deny. But when a girl walked in with an itty bitty waist and a round thing in their face they got sprung – from the cages of their own deceitfulness.

This shook society to it’s foundations.

Most children could still lie, until around when they hit puberty. For the rest of humanity, politicians and peasants, police and criminals, employers and employees, pastors and flock – whatever their station in life, whether high low or middle, the very large percentage that liked big butts were forced to tell the truth.

Judges were soon selected based on their Internet browser history. Entire political careers became based on candidates selecting the preferred kind of porn. Parties and governments lost favor because of their sudden mass inability to lie to their voters – they could no longer claim there were easy, simple solutions to any number of different problems. On the other side of power, the voters who elected them had to face their own real impulses, because they could no longer lie to themselves. That is, as long as they liked big butts.

After all the social upheavals this brought the world, humanity settled into a deep and lasting prosperity and peace.

There are now full-size statues of Shelly in every major city. Behind these statues people are taken to swear oaths – for none can lie when they look upon her statue from the rear.

The bittersweet irony is, Shelly still didn’t know how Tex actually felt. He was still able to lie, and did so to save her feelings. He revealed years later that he really preferred skinny men.

She did find out that Courteney had some interesting feelings for her, of an entirely different sort.

They were married behind Shelly’s statue ten years later.