Dec 16, 2011

Oct 28, 2011

To Transformers Fans

An announcement, because many of you are asking:

Someone else is going to be picking up the reins on the Transformers novels from here on out. I enjoyed writing Exodus and Exiles, and enjoyed the conversations with fans even more. Time for me to go do some other things, and for another writer to dig into the rich history of Cybertron and its valiant refugees. (And their dastardly enemies, of course!)

If you liked Exodus and/or Exiles, check out my other books. Here's a good listing to get you started.

Thanks for reading!

Jun 21, 2011

Android Apps of Four of My Novels

Here are Android apps of Buyout, The Narrows, One King, One Soldier, and A Scattering of Jades. Get 'em. Read 'em. If I had a Android device I'd do it too.







Apr 23, 2011

PKD's Exegesis Coming in October

I cannot wait to see this. 1000+ pages of Phil Dick's "great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe," as Jonathan Lethem says on the cover.

Apr 2, 2011

A Supernatural Viewing Party, with Prizes!

If you're a Supernatural fan, check this out...I'll be giving away some books and there are other excellent prizes as well. May 20 is the date!


Mar 7, 2011

Capital Punishment and Organ Donation

A friend, John Lovell, sent me this link the other day to a NYT op-ed by a death-row inmate who wants to donate his organs after he is executed. Take a second to read it, then come back.

...

Don't know about you, but my first reaction was a very deep unease at the direct-but-dismissive way Longo deals with his crime and his abandonment of efforts to pretend he is anything but a murderer. Thinking about it now as a long-time teacher of writing, I find that a strange strategy for someone who's trying to convince an audience of his credibility, good intentions, and seriousness.

But I think it works. By pointing out that he has nothing to gain because he is no longer making any pretense of innocence, Longo is able to keep his focus on the various broader issues related to the post-execution donation of inmates' organs. Most interesting to me is the question of coercion, alluded to briefly in this paragraph:

Aside from these logistical and health concerns, prisons have a moral reason for their reluctance to allow inmates to donate. America has a shameful history of using prisoners for medical experiments. In Oregon, for example, from 1963 to 1973, many inmates were paid to “volunteer” for research into the effects of radiation on testicular cells. Some ethicists believe that opening the door to voluntary donations would also open the door to abuse. And others argue that prisoners are simply unable to make a truly voluntary consent.

Here's where I think he soft-pedals a particular difficulty concerning consent. Rumors have circulated for decades that prisoners in other countries are routinely executed for their organs. It's unlikely that would happen here, but a more insidious possibility is that the opportunity to harvest a prisoner's organs would create more pressure to put people on death row. If Longo (and the other death-row inmates he says share his desire to donate) succeeds in passing his organs along, it's not hard to imagine that immense pressure would spring up to make post-execution organ donation not only possible but mandatory. After all, there is a huge demand for organs and death-row inmates are a ready source of relatively young organs that can be harvested under controlled conditions.

In the best of all possible worlds, I would completely support--and even salute--the desire of a death-row inmate to donate organs. The problem is that this is not that world, and situations like this are tailor-made for not just abuse but well-intentioned misuse.

How long would it be before there was pressure to increase the supply of death-row inmates and the speed of their executions because the need for organs is so desperate?

And let's not forget that organ transplants are very, very expensive. Per this report, the average healthy adult is walking around with potential surgical and post-surgical care costs of millions of dollars inside his or her torso. Someone makes a ton of money from organ transplants. You think those people, who stand to gain so much, wouldn't do everything they could to ensure supply? You think they won't quietly lobby for more death-penalty cases, quicker execution, reinstatement of capital punishment in more states...?

This is, of course, kind of what I was writing about in Buyout. But the Golden Needle remains a science-fictional conjecture. Prison organ donation is very real possibility, and despite Christian Longo's good intentions, a very real danger--not because a murderer can't want some good to come from his execution, but because the market will not care.

Notable Persons of Ypsilanti: My Brightest Diamond

In my ongoing effort to point out to the world all the ways that Ypsilanti is cool, I give you this recent video from My Brightest Diamond, whose Shara Worden is a YHS grad.



If the video isn't embedded here due to some weirdness with Pitchfork's code, you can click on either of the links above to get it (and more!).

Mar 2, 2011

Moe Berg Is 109, and Still Can't Hit

Or would have been, anyway, if he hadn't died 39 years ago. On the occasion of what would have been his 109th birthday, I talked with Ron Kaplan of the New Jersey Jewish News about Berg and my short story "Agent Provocateur," in which Berg plays a more decisive role than he usually played on the field.

Ron's blogs (Kaplan's Korner on Jews and Sports, and Ron Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf) are cool and you should read them if you're interested in sports, Jews, and/or baseball books.

Mar 1, 2011

A Not-Serious Proposition on Charlie Sheen

Inspired by Walter Kirn.

Charlie Sheen is the most interesting crazy guy pretending to be crazy in a way other than the way in which he's actually crazy since Hamlet. And, since Joyce informed us that modernity remade Everyman in Hamlet's image, Charlie Sheen is Everyman.

Which in turn means that we're all doomed, without getting to indulge in the hookers and blow along the way.

Feb 24, 2011

Influences Bubble Up: The Silver Chair and Karga Kul

So last year when I was writing The Seal of Karga Kul, I came up with this swell scene involving a collapsed bridge -- Iban Ja's Bridge -- magically held together, spanning a gorge thousands of feet deep and ending in a highland road that cut through a forest and quickly up into broken territory and then mountains. The scenes around that bridge and right after the characters cross it were some of my favorites in the book.

Then a couple of days ago I was reading C. S. Lewis' fourth Narnia book, The Silver Chair, to the kids, and we got to the part where Eustace and Jill, with Puddleglum, see the giants' bridge...which is ancient and partially collapsed...and spans a gorge thousands of feet deep...and leads into broken highlands...

The descriptions in The Silver Chair even sounded oddly like my recollection of how I narrated the Iban Ja bits, or imagined them while I was writing. It's striking, how persistent some submerged influences can be.

It's also striking to have your 9-year-old son read a book you wrote and be mad at you because you killed his favorite character--as it happens, at Iban Ja's Bridge. When I had read the giants' bridge part in The Silver Chair, I looked at him and said, "Man, that's Iban Ja's bridge, isn't it?" and he said, "Yup." Then he yelled at me for killing his favorite character again.

Even the stuff you think you made up, you probably didn't make up.

Feb 21, 2011

When Nixon Went After PBS...

...Mr. Rogers was there to make the case for public broadcasting.



Who will be Mr. Rogers for us now? (I mean that seriously.)

Feb 19, 2011

Boskone

Haven't been in at least five or six years, but I'm going to zoom down to Boston tomorrow and catch up with some old friends at Boskone. See you there...

'Supposed' Being the Key Word

Some interesting words from Albert Einstein, encountered in the course of research:

“In our time the military mentality . . . leads, by necessity, to preventive war. The general insecurity that goes hand in hand with this results in the sacrifice of the citizen’s civil rights to the supposed welfare of the state.”

That's from a 1947 essay in The American Scholar called "The Military Mentality." You read stuff like this and think: man, we were warned, weren't we?

Feb 17, 2011

A Funny Comment on an Idiotic Comment

Brian Keene reports:

What isn’t being reported is the real reason why Borders (and others) are in such bad shape. For example: “I wrote much of my first novel at Border’s in Roseville, CA. Then it closed. So I went to the other Border’s across town. Then I moved to L.A. and began going to the Border’s in El Segundo. But their ridiculously loud music and arctic temperatures drove me out. So now I go to Starbucks. Why don’t retailers make their stores more user-friendly? For example, it’s a friggin lottery trying to find an electrical outlet so as to plug in one’s laptop… Panera bread offers free Wi-Fi and an electrical outlet at every booth. And free coffee refills. Border’s charges for the refill, which is stupid because I’ve already paid for the cup and the surcharge to cover the labor for filling it. If you can’t give people what they want, you don’t deserve to be in business.”

You’ll note that not once does the commenter say he went there to buy a book. Instead, he went there to write a novel, demand free coffee refills, and complain about the lack of electrical outlets and overall ambiance. Perhaps if he had PURCHASED A FUCKING BOOK UPON OCCASION, the situation wouldn’t be so dire.


I'm not sure I have anything to add, although Brian's commenters certainly do.

The Way Life Should Be...Even After Peak Oil

If you saw Flippy Day (or even if you didn't), you should know about another project by some of the same people. What would happen if the US government, strapped and desperate, consolidated population, resettling people out of the least populated states and letting those territories go? That's the premise of Vacationlanders, a webisode series intended to premiere on Earth Day this year (that's April 22 if you're marking your calendar). This link is to the Kickstarter page, where you can check out a trailer and also make the project go!

And if you haven't seen Flippy Day, here it is.

Feb 16, 2011

Mind Meld and Supernatural in Brazil

Here's a link to the latest Mind Meld from SF Signal, in which I and a number of my literary colleagues talk about the books we reread.

And for Supernatural fans who happen to speak Portuguese or have an interest in things Brazilian, Gryphus is putting out the monster book and John's journal in Brazil, just in time for there to be a Brazilian Supernatural convention.

Feb 15, 2011

Win Signed Copies of The Seal of Karga Kul

That Transformers: Exodus giveaway was cool. So here's another one. This time I'm giving away inscribed copies of my Dungeons and Dragons novel The Seal of Karga Kul.

Here's how you enter: Follow me on Twitter using either that link or the widget in the sidebar here. If you already follow me, tweet about this giveaway so I know you're interested. Ask me questions on Twitter or Formspring if you want. I'll give one copy away every day from tomorrow through Monday--five copies in all, signed and delivered to five lucky winners by a surly tiefling specifically conscripted for that purpose.

Iron Man: Rapture, the Big Finish

After some trifling delays, the fourth and final issue of Iron Man: Rapture is out tomorrow. Here are some preview pages.

Feb 11, 2011

Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well and Living on Ganymede

Someone is making a movie of this excellent novel by Bradley Denton. Outstanding. (Although my favorite Denton is Lunatics, which was much on my mind while I wrote Chickenbus, my one and only unpublished novel...someday.)

Before you see the movie, sometime next year, you should read the book!

Feb 8, 2011

Nostalgia for the Out-of-Print

I saw the other day that a Goodreads group, Endicott Mythic Fiction, is doing my first novel, A Scattering of Jades, for their February read. They are of course all buying the book for a nickel because it's been out of print for a while. I got a little maudlin about this and then started thinking about favorite out-of-print books...remember when (for example) lots of Phil Dick's books were out of print? My favorite out-of-print book as of right this minute is probably Michael Kandel's Captain Jack Zodiac. Yours?

Feb 7, 2011

You've Already Seen This, But...

...watch it again.

Talking Transformers

If you care to, you can read this interview with Kevin Lukis of Unicron.com, wherein we talk Michigan football (back when I still thought Les Miles would return to Ann Arbor) and various Transformers-related things, including some little tidbits about the next book.

Speaking of Michigan football, rough night for Wolverines last night, what with Chuck Woodson breaking his collarbone and all the other Michigan guys in the game playing for the wrong team...

Feb 4, 2011

Dark Sun #2 Cover and Preview

From IDW via Wizards of the Coast, this cover (by Andy Brase; interior art by Peter Bergting, colors by Ronda Pattison). Spiffy, no? Click for preview. And look for the book itself next Wednesday...

Any One of Us Could Be a Mimic Octopus

I am awestruck by this. Especially the last transformation. (Not sure how I feel about the simile used to describe it, though.)

Feb 1, 2011

Amen



In other news, looks like Daniele Serra and I are going to be doing an illustrated...well, narrative art book? Not sure how to describe it...with PS Publishing. It's mighty cool.

Jan 28, 2011

Jeff Jones Documentary Project

If you dig the art of Jeffrey Catherine Jones, you should check out (and support!) this Kickstarter documentary project by MaCab Films.

Jan 24, 2011

Favorite Pic of the Day So Far

Most "Jesus Was A Capricorn"-style stuff annoys me, but this one is pretty good...



Thanks to Johnny Rog!

Jan 23, 2011

Public Service Announcement

You should all eat these cookies, made by my most excellent wife. I have. A bunch of them. And now I'm going to go eat more.