Now Zero – May, 2022

Mandela’s Sermon

Blessed are the dehumanized
for they have nothing to lose
but their patience

False gods killed the poet in me. Now
I dig graves
with artistic precision

Keorapetse Kgositsile (2002)

This month a poem instead of a writing quote.

The Writing

Edits finished on SYTI and I sent it out to my beta readers. After some hefty cuts I got it down to 42k which is still too long to technically count as a novella. Oh well, that’s a problem for future Corey.

Usually I get about 24 hours of pride at being finished followed by a week of depression (because I’m not working on anything and therefore not being productive and not living up to my own expectations? I dunno, but there’s a reason I’m in therapy), and this time was no different. Less obvious this time around, but a definite low mood. I give myself a couple of weeks off after finishing a big project, so tomorrow I should be back at it, planning the next thing (actually potentially 4 next things…)

One niche genre I love is that of ‘broken man breaks bad men to rescue an innocent’ – think You Were Never Really Here (film over book, but both are great), Galveston (book over film, but both are great), Man on Fire (the Tony Scott film), and others that aren’t quite worth the mention. I finally came up with my own take on it, which also feeds on a sci-fi element I’ve been wanting to use for a while now, so I’m excited to bash something together for that. I’m thinking it’d either be a 20k word novella, or a 4-issue comic. Been meaning to write a comic for years, so maybe now is the time…

I saw Everything, Everywhere, All at Once over the weekend, and it’s a brilliant film, likely the best sci-fi action comedy ever (and not just because I can’t remember any other films with a proper dose of all three), but the annoying thing is that the way it uses the multiverse overlaps with some of my tinkering for a multiversal spy series I’ve been slowly growing over years. I don’t know that it really matters because the breakthrough I mentioned in the last update should make the idea different enough from Everything… but it’s always annoying to get beaten to the punch. Though I have to say the film’s approach to comedy was something I never would have considered, but when you’re talking about literally infinite universes it would be a missed opportunity not to have fun with it.

Buddies without Organs

On this episode, the buddies revisit Fisher’s blogpost “Terminator Versus Avatar” and explore its extended implications for the contemporary.

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Latest batch of issues from the NH team.

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I mentioned seeing a movie, which in this instance translates to a visit to the cinema for the first time in over 2 years. I know that many people have been happily out in the world for months already, but I’m still approaching things with trepidation (and a mask). It’s a difficult balance to strike, and I’m aware that there are people who would think a trip to the cinemas now is still reckless even as the majority seems primed to pretend that things are “back to normal” even with daily case numbers telling a very different story. I thought this piece at Scientific American was interesting and useful, even as it’s geared toward the American context.

One of the key points that stuck with me was this:

She considers community risk high when there are more than 50 weekly cases per 100,000 residents. When the risk is lower than that, Jetelina—a healthy, young boosted person—feels comfortable taking off her mask indoors. “I will say it’s taken a lot of time for me to be comfortable with that,” she says. “Once transmission rates of those indicators start increasing a bit, I’m putting my mask back on.”

And despite the relief people may feel, we’re still at figures much higher than 50 weekly cases here in Victoria. The good news though is that the cinema is highlighted as a safe venue due to the high ceilings, so I don’t feel like I’m being careless with my close ones and community more generally.

If you’re struggling as much as I am with striking that risk balance, have a read over that piece because it’s probably going to be clearer than whatever messaging you’ve been getting from your government.

I’m going to call it there for now. I’m tired. Everything is tiring.

Now Zero – April, 2022

It is to be remembered that all art is magical in origin – music, sculpture, writing, painting – and by magical I mean intended to produce very definite results.
 – William S. Burroughs

What results are you trying to produce?

The Writing

First update is one I’ve already posted about here – the TOC has been announced for the Night, Rain, and Neon Cyberpunk Anthology, including myself, Ian McDonald, Tim Maughan, T.R. Napper, and many many more. It should be a fantastic collection of modern cyberpunk, and preorders are open now – paperback and limited edition hardcover.

Secondly, the cover has been revealed for the Phase Change Anthology, which will feature a story by myself and Andrew Dana Hudson, as well as some other brilliant authors including Greg Egan, Paolo Bacigalupi, Eugen Bacon, Andrew Macrae, Simon Sellars, Cat Sparks, and many more.

I’ll post properly once preorders are up (I think it’ll be a Kickstarter), but the theme for the anthology is really interesting and solarpunk adjacent, so I expect a lot of great ideas and futures in this collection.

Meanwhile, edits continue on SITY. The second draft came in at just under 47k words, and I’m more than half-way through the third draft, which will be the draft I send to beta readers. Trying to be brutal in my cuts to get in under 40k, but I’m also working with pen and paper, so I won’t know until I make those edits in the doc.

[I actually had a great idea on the way back from my walk last night – it’s just a small addition to SYTI, but it has far-reaching and hopefully interesting implications for where I can go with the sequels. Don’t know exactly where the chips are going to fall, but it’s a new bone for my brain to chew on for a while.]

Once that’s off to beta readers I’ll be working on some new projects – most likely picking away at 3 collab projects while deciding which solo project is next. SYTI is the first in a series, and there’s a sequel to OS I want to write, but I also figured out a fresh approach for an idea I’ve been sitting on for years, so I’m newly excited about that. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed I’ll land an agent soon and have someone help me make these decisions.

Buddies Without Organs

In episode 3, the Buddies dive deeper into the work of Mark Fisher with help from special guest Amy Ireland. Falling further down the CCRU K-hole, we cover the multi-layered hyperstitional piece “Who’s Pulling Your Strings?”, belief and unbelief, Monarch conspiracies, the numogram, and more.

Amy Ireland is an experimental writer and theorist best known for her work with the technomaterialist transfeminist collective, Laboria Cuboniks. She has exhibited and performed work in Australia, the UK, Korea, China, Canada, and France. Amy currently works as an editor for UK publisher Urbanomic.

This week, the buddies step away from the CCRU (though maybe not too far) and turn their attention to a blogpost Mark Fisher wrote about Stanley Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut.

The buddies discuss the film and its representations of sex, desire, ritual, eroticism, conspiracism, and the dreary spectacle of Power.

nothing here newsletter

Latest batch of issues from the NH team.

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We started a new chemo treatment for kitty after some bad news following the biopsy I mentioned last month. We probably only have a few months left with her, so we’re just going to love her and spoil her as much as we’re able in that time.

Not much else to report, really. Day job, writing, making time to feel like a human person with friends and loved ones. Maybe I should start talking about books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched recently. Maybe next time.

I’ve been spending less and less time on social media lately and I highly recommend it. Twitter is just such an echo chamber of outrage, “hot” takes, and posturing. Every day on there feels like Groundhog Day, but with a slightly different selection of topics and villains. The rare times I do go on there I’m using Latest Tweets instead of Home, and it’s a big improvement, but I still don’t see my engagement with the platform going anywhere but down.

That’s a pretty boring aside, but I mention it in case you need any encouragement to rethink your own sosh usage. If you need more encouragement, I found this quite interesting.

That’ll do for now. Until next time.

Now Zero – March, 2022

Write every story as if it was your last, whether suicide note or proof of life.
– Steve Aylett, Heart of the Original

I’ve decided to start doing monthly updates here because whilst this blog might be quiet, I’m rarely not working on something. (I’m also considering an overhaul of the website that will push the blog aspect to the background, so we’ll see what happens.)

The Writing

Lots to mention here because it’s the first of these updates. First of all, over the coming months I will have news to share about stories in three different anthologies. One story was commissioned (a first for me), one is a reprint (another first), and one is a collaboration with Andrew Dana Hudson that he has mentioned on his newsletter.

OS, the novel I worked on from 2019-2021, is out on submission, though I haven’t been sending it out far and wide because I’m trying to find the right agent rather than just the first agent I can get. It’s a very different sort of book to my previous works. Materialist horror (specifically bodyhorror) with a heavy philosophical angle, and a narrative device I’ve not used before. I still have high hopes for this book, so fingers crossed.

Edits have started on SYTI. In some ways it’s a similar vibe to the VoidWitch books rather than OS or Repo Virtual, and it was a lot of fun writing the first draft. Second draft is going very well so far. Hoping to have 2nd (or 3rd) draft finished by the end of the month so I can send it to some beta readers. It is ostensibly a novella, but has stubbornly refused to stay under 40k words. Considering the amount of work I know the ending needs, I think the second draft could hit 50k words, so then it will be a question of whether it’s actually a short novel (would be a hard sell as most publishers want novels around 90k), the first half of a longer novel, or if I can trim it way back on the 3rd draft. I like the idea of the heavy trims to really hone the prose (I’m even thinking of re-reading Killing Gravity to see how I wrote so spare back then), but trimming the book by 20% might simply not be feasible. We’ll see. I’ll let you know in a future update.

Buddies without Organs

Buddies without Organs, now in visual format!

Last year, Buddies Without Organs explored the works of Gilles Deleuze. Now, in association with Zer0 Books, we are turning towards the lesser-known works of Mark Fisher.

Fisher is a writer we all already love, and we felt he’d be great to read together. We’re starting as we intend to go on with a oft-neglected post from the Hyperstition blog about the 1970s children’s serial, Children of the Stones — a series that Fisher suggests is an example of an underrepresented British sci-fi genre: “megalithic astropunk”.

This week, we continue our exploration of the work of Mark Fisher with an extensive interview with his friend and collaborator Robin Mackay.

Last week, we dipped our collective toe into the blogosphere of the mid-2000s, discussing hyperstition, 70s pulp sci-fi and some of Fisher’s most enduring weird and eerie interests. Lurking in the background was Fisher’s role as a member of the Ccru, and who better to discuss this period of activity with than Robin Mackay.

Mackay is a philosopher, translator and director of the hugely influential publishing house Urbanomic. He also posts his own writings over at readthis.wtf. He has, since Fisher’s death in 2017, reignited interest in the work of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (Ccru) through the publication of their writings.

This week, we talk about the Ccru, Robin’s own work and interests, and also his more recent return to his collaborations with Fisher in the form of a newly haunted audio-work, By The North Sea.

Episode #3 just went live on the Zer0 Books Patreon – I’ll share a link to the public video next update. I’ve also designed a t-shirt based on Episode #3 – hopefully I’ll be able to share that too.

Nothing Here Newsletter

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My cat went in for a biopsy yesterday. About twelve months after her cancer diagnosis the vet had some options for how to continue with her treatment, but without doing a biopsy, it would have been based on guesswork. She hates the vet more than my wallet does, so we never make these decisions lightly. She’s still recovering after the surgery.

That’ll do for now. Thanks for sticking around, for caring enough about my various projects to read this far. I appreciate it. There’s much I could lament about the past 2 years, but instead I’m looking forward to the next 2.

Be well. Look after yourself, and keep your loved ones close.

Where To Find Me

Just a reminder: Repo Virtual won the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Now that’s out of the way…

I’ve been doing a pretty terrible job of keeping this website up to date, but I most certainly have not been resting on my laurels (whatever those are). I’ll have some short-story related news to share – eventually – and movement on some new long-form works.

But in the meantime, I’ve also been keeping busy with:

Nothing Here Newsletter

At Nothing Here, we scour the internet so you don’t have to, and serve up a selection of interesting articles on culture, politics, ecology, climate change, the end of the world, and all that good shit. We’ll also let you know what books, films, TV, and music we’ve been enjoying, because, hell, sometimes you need something to distract from the endless parade of atrocities that is the 21st Century.

Each fortnight the team – Daniel C. Harvey, m1k3y, Marlee Jane Ward, Lidia Zuin and I – will come into your inbox with all sorts of stories across climate change, geopolitics, tech, science, space, labor, and economics, as well as bits of culture that are helping us keep going despite the above.

Buddies Without Organs

Buddies Without Organs is a podcast by Sean Oscar, Matt Colquhoun and Corey J. White — three buddies interested in the relationship between culture and philosophy.

We started off discussing the work of Gilles Deleuze in podcast form, but have since pivoted to a) video (though we’re still offering audio format too), b) the Zer0 Books Youtube channel, and c) to discussing the lesser known writings of Mark Fisher in The K-files.

This project is a lot of fun, and I learn so much reading through these texts and chatting to the buddies about them. I have no formal philosophy education, so come hear/watch me struggle to make sense of some really big, weird, and interesting ideas.

Oh Nothing Press

Creeper Magazine, MechaDeath, and now some t-shirt designs from yours truly coming under the banner of CRINGE.

Award-Winning

The Aurealis Awards Ceremony happened over zoom the other night, and Repo Virtual has won the Aurealis Award for Best Science-Fiction novel, tied with Laura Jean McKay’s The Animals in That Country.

You can watch the full ceremony here – my acceptance “speech” (I had nothing prepared because I was up against an amazing slate and honestly did not expect to win) is near the end as Best SF Novel was the second last award announced.

I was pretty sure that Laura Jean McKay was going to win, as The Animals in That Country has been nominated for a number of awards and has also won Australia’s richest literary prize… but I never thought that I might win as well. For some reason it feels even more special to be sharing the award; maybe because joy is better shared, maybe because it’s a great reminder (to myself and anyone else that needs it) that publishing isn’t a zero-sum game.

I am proud of my work on Repo Virtual, but with its pandemic release it’s easy to feel that the book could have done better and gotten more attention if it had been released at almost any other time. So it really means a lot to me for the book (and myself, I suppose) to receive this sort of recognition. A lot of my depression and anxiety manifests as self-doubt and self-loathing, but it should be hard for my mind spiders to argue with this external validation.

Again, I’d like to thank the judges for finding Repo Virtual worthy of this honour. And thanks to the Aurealis Awards gang for all the hard work they do year in and year out – Australian SFF is a vibrant and exciting field, and they do a fantastic job celebrating that.

Thanks also to reviewers, booktubers, readers, etc who have talked up my work this past year, and reached out. It’s people connecting with the work that makes it worthwhile, so thank you for helping to spread the word. And finally, thank you to my partner, Marlee Jane Ward, who has been such a huge support.

Four More Years!

Alternative title: May the 9th Be With You


Killing Gravity was published on the 9th of May, 2017, which means it’s been 4 years since I started this (hopefully long) journey of building a writing career for myself.

[Killing Gravity cover art by Tommy Arnold]
It’s easy for me to look at Repo Virtual‘s plague year launch and feel dejected, but 4 years later people are still discovering the VoidWitch Saga books for the first time, and they’re tweeting and gramming about how much they love the books, and reminding me that books can have long tails. As long as the books are “in print” (scare quotes because I’m sure a lot of people are discovering the ebooks and audiobooks), then they’ll continue to find their audience… Largely thanks to reviews and support from my fantastic, beautiful readers. To everyone who’s talked up my books online and off, who’s taken the time to write a review, and who’s reached out with kind words for my work, thank you. You make this all worthwhile.

They say the best promotion an author can do for their book is to release the next one, and I’m hard at work editing it now, ready to go on sub to agents (hopefully) next month. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I’m keeping busy. There’s the nothing here newsletter, the Buddies Without Organs podcast, and a new collaborative fiction project in the works, not to mention a line of t-shirt designs I plan to launch soon via Oh Nothing Press. Oh, and an anthology that commissioned a story from me, and another video-related project, another collab story that just needs final edits before we get it out into the world, and on and on. Berserker mode, as usual.

Thanks for joining me on this ride.

And just in case you need a prompt, buy my books 😉

Repo Virtual is an Aurealis Awards Finalist!

Repo Virtual is a Finalist for the Aurealis Awards in the Best Science Fiction Novel category! It is an incredibly strong slate this year, and I’m legitimately honoured to be selected alongside these great works/authors.

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Ghost Species, James Bradley (Penguin Random House)
Aurora Burning, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
Fauna, Donna Mazza (Allen & Unwin)
The Animals in That Country, Laura Jean McKay (Scribe Publications)
The Mother Fault, Kate Mildenhall (Simon & Schuster Australia)
Repo Virtual, Corey J. White (Tor.com Publishing)

Congrats to all the other finalists!

Events April 2021

I’ve got a couple of great (virtual) events coming up.

Flights of Foundry

Flights of Foundry is running another all-timezones virtual convention – this is exactly the sort of thing I love to see flourishing after our pandemic year. As an Australian it can be easy to feel left out of various US-centric elements of the industry and fandom, so a chance to chat with people from all across the global SFF community is fantastic.

I’ve got two panels:

Times are at the above links (and you can set your own timezone to see the full program at your local times), as well as details about the other panelists and all the rest.

The convention is free to attend, but you will need to register and also have the option of donating if you’re able.

Read the Room

I’m really excited to be doing this event – Read The Room – The Future is Now: The Intersections of AI, Technology, and Power in Science Fiction, Moderated by Charlie Jane Anders, with Naomi Kritzer, J.S. Dewes, and Nnedi Okorafor. It’s a killer line-up, and I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic conversation.

April 28th at 6:00pm EST / 3:00pm PST

Full details here.

Some recent odds and ends

Happy 2021, wherein we’ll have to continue to fight for a better future because our governments and the corporations have no interest in working for it unless we make them.

Anyway, I’ve got a few bits and pieces to share.

Australian science fiction author Corey J White proves that cyberpunk is not dead in his first full length novel Repo Virtual. Set in a slightly in-the-future Korea Repo Virtual is a fast moving tale that features evil megacorporations, plucky gamers, AI and robot dogs.

Some great contemporary cyberpunk books – including Repo Virtual, Infomocracy by Malka Older, and Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor – to check out if CP2077 left you feeling disappointed.