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.

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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.

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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.

Recent Repo Virtual Reviews

One of the good things about taking a break from twitter (apart from the removal of a deep sense of sadness and constant outrage) is that when you return you might find a few people with nice things to say about your book.

As a rule I don’t read reviews of my own work. The book is done, or at least I’m done with it, so the review isn’t for me, it’s there to help give readers an idea of whether or not the book is for them.

(While the above is true and what I think about reviews, the real reason I don’t read them is because even thinking about reviews gives me anxiety. So it’s a good thing that I’ve got an amazing and supportive partner who can read reviews for me.)

So below are some pull quotes from, and links to, some recent reviews. Thanks to Marlee for the quotes. I like knowing that people out there both get and enjoy what I was trying to do with Repo Virtual.


I really enjoyed the focus on loving character relationships in Repo Virtual. It shows how cyberpunk is actually evolving. What was great about, say, Case and Molly’s relationship in Neuromancer was they clearly had an attachment to each other that went beyond just physical, but they were so alienated from the world and from each other that ultimately it could never work; I liked that and thought it made a powerful statement about how capitalism ultimately alienates us from our fellow humans. Corey J. White is saying something different, that despite that alienation we are still human and woe betide any CEO whose profits supersede our humanity.

If this book is anything to go by, I feel like the tone of modern cyberpunk may be shifting too? I hope I’m not misplaced in glimpsing a tiny shred, if but a kernel, of hope in the modern genre.

For a genre awash with such advanced biotechnology it really shouldn’t have taken this long for it to start exploring ideas around gender identity. Thankfully Corey J. White has dragged cyberpunk kicking and screaming into the year 2020 and with it he’s also consigned a bunch of the shittier stereotypes of the genre to the dustbin of history.

Jonothan Pickering at Parsecs and Parchment


Readers of White’s Voidwitch series (starting with Killing Gravity) know that White hits the action beats and rings those changes well, and he takes those skills and puts them into his mid 21st century story with conflicts and set pieces both small and large. From a tense gun standoff, to a pulse pounding chase across the city, when the author turns on the action, the words just flow off of the page.

what really sets this novel apart from most Cyberpunk is its strongly philosophical bent. It sounds more than a little strange to talk about ontology and philosophy in the context of an often pulse pounding SF novel, but White’s novel and its thesis, for lack of a better word, is encapsulated in the sections when the AI starts to swim toward the surface of consciousness, and the debate, and the issues of a new sentient intelligence, and what that means. It is a far less toxic meditation on artificial intelligence, their rights and nature, than in say, the movie Ex Machina, which I kept thinking of as the AI moves from being a pure MacGuffin to being an entity in their own right, with slowly developing hopes and goals of their own. What rights does an AI have? What is the social contract, here? I was not expecting this level of deep thought, as JD and Troy and the AI come to slow understanding, JD and Troy from without, and the AI from within.

Does Cyberpunk still have something to say and to present itself as a viable subgenre for the early 21st century for writers and readers? Repo Virtual by Corey J White proves that the answer is, that eye of the needle can be threaded. It’s difficult to write near-future SF, but White not only manages it but succeeds excellently at it.

Paul Weimar at Nerds of a Feather


The book really shines when it uses the heist plot to facilitate some fantastic social commentary as well as advance its pretty heavy themes… In many ways, the book reads like a well written political paper more than a story – which weirdly works for me.

Andrew Mather at Quill to Live