Oct 29, 2010

Maybe I Should Have Set Buyout in Arizona

I was thinking about influence and insurance and politics one day back in 2000, and I started a book that I thought would be called Buyout. About eight years later, after many fits and starts, I finished it and it came out in 2009. If you haven’t read it, Buyout tells the story of a private corrections company that creates new laws in the state of California to keep a constant supply of prisoners coming through their prisons, and to make sure those prisoners are from the most profitable demographics.

Now come these pieces in Salon (“Private prison industry helped draft Arizona immigration law”) and on NPR (“Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law”) about a private corrections company that essentially created new laws in Arizona...to make sure they would have a steady flow of inmates.

Sometimes people expect SF to predict the future. I don’t, and I certainly didn’t predict this. Buyout began as a thought experiment and expanded into what I think is a pretty good novel, but it’s no effort at prediction. To me, it's a story about a guy who thinks he has a chance to do the right thing and get wealthy in the process...and, of course, nothing is ever that simple. It's a story about the rationalizations we live by, and their consequences. (Plus kind of a homage to some of the things I love about Philip K. Dick.) Even so, by the time I finished writing the book, the scenario seemed more real to me than it had when I started. Now, thanks to this Arizona story (and this one about Pennsylvania judges taking kickbacks to funnel youth prisoners to their private-prison cronies), it’s a little more real yet.

Oct 28, 2010

Megatron Vs. the Reaper!

Over at Suvudu, they're doing a series of cage matches between the great villains of SF and fantasy. Most recently, on Wednesday, they threw Megatron and the Reaper (of Shannara) into the cage, and you can vote on the result!

Here's my take.

Here’s the way this plays out. The Reaper comes in low…

…oh, wait. That’s the only way it can com in against Megatron, who’s four times its height.

Um. The Reaper’s claws slash at…

…oh, wait. The Reaper is a prisoner of the Forbidding, sprung so it can kill a bunch of elves on its way to meeting its maker at the hands of Will Ohmsford. Its claws are great against flesh and bone—and even steel—but it’s never come up against alloys that are powerful enough to endure millions of years.

The Reaper shows Megatron its face, which only those about to die ever see…

…oh, wait. Megatron doesn’t have a soul for the Reaper to take. He’s got a Spark instead, which is part of the AllSpark, which is nothing like a soul, really, and what would the Reaper do with it if it got it?

So here’s how it breaks down.

Magic won’t work on Megatron. Fear won’t work on Megatron. The Reaper’s claws would be like the toenails of a gerbil against Megatron’s armored hide.

Killing is what the Reaper was made for…but the Reaper’s creator never imagined it coming up against a thirty-foot-tall sentient mechanical life form whose body is capable of walking away from the impact of a Sidewinder missile. With all due respect to demonic bringers of death and psychopomps everywhere, the Reaper’s bringing claws to a battle where the opponent has a fusion cannon. The Reaper has claws and powerful magic. Megatron has a weapon that essentially fires pieces of stars.

The Reaper’s never seen anything like that in the Forbidding, or even in the hands of Will Ohmsford. I mean, let’s face it. The Blue Elfstones are pretty badass, but they don’t really match up to a portable fusion cannon, now, do they? Megatron can fly. Megatron can turn himself into a tank. The Reaper's got no answer for that.

So where were we? The Reaper come after Megatron, all claws and terror and impending doom, and Megatron vaporizes it where it stands. Then, because he’s Megatron, he looks down at the shreds of the Reaper’s cloak and says…

…you know what he says.


Oct 1, 2010

Me at NYCC

Signing schedule for NYCC is shaping up. Right now, it looks like:

Fri 3-4 Signing at IDW booth #2115
Sat 11-12 Signing at DK booth #2415
Sat 4-5 Signing at Del Rey booth #2122
Sun TBD Signing at DC booth #2243

Could be other things going on too, but if you have stuff you want me to deface, I'll definitely be at the above locations at the above times. (Also, there might be free books at the Del Rey signing...)

See you there!