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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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.

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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.