Now Zero – June, 2022

It’s all in your head, you just have no idea how big your head is.

 – Lon Milo Duquette

The Writing

I got the current draft of SYTI off to my beta readers early in May and have done a pretty good job of pushing it out of my mind while I wait (patiently – other people have lives of their own) for them to get back to me.

The hunt for an agent continues with OS.

I wrote the first chunk of a collaborative novella I’m writing with Marlee Jane Ward, who’s brilliant Orphancorp series is well-worth a look if you’ve not taken my suggestion to read it before now. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the project yet because it’s early, but I’m excited to see how it develops. Part of the impetus for wanting to write it is that Marlee has struggled to write since the pandemic (and the isolation of Melbourne’s lockdowns), but when she does write her work is as brilliant as ever. I’m hoping that a collaborative project will help her get back on the horse, and I just want to see what comes from our combined styles, foci, obsessions, experiences, etc. I’m hoping we might have a first draft by the end of the year, but I’m also going to sit back and let Marlee take the time she needs.

I’ve started planning work on two projects that could both be short comic series (my understanding is that anything longer than 4 or so issues is unlikely to get picked up unless you’re a known quantity, plus I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew). One would be comedic, in the same vein as an old collab project, the other would be a synthesis of Killing Gravity and Repo Virtual in some ways. I’ve been writing notes on this project for a couple of months now, and that comparison only occurred to me today. In some ways I worry, but it’s a different story, different world, different medium, it’s just that I’ll also be treading some familiar ground. It’s odd what we find ourselves drawn to again and again.

My contributor copy of Phase Change arrived and it looks/feels great. The contents are pretty amazing too.

Buddies without Organs

We’re currently on a MH hiatus. I won’t say more now except that I hope we’ll be back to it soon. Working on this podcast with Sean and Matt has been a real highlight of the past year or so for me.

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There’s some people I really respect who spend a lot of time on twitter actively promoting the work of other people – finding and boosting great works in the SFFH space, while keeping their own self-promotion to a minimum. It’s not something I can really do – I struggle to read new books in a timely manner (I pre-ordered Cassandra Khaw’s latest and still haven’t cracked it open eight months later) – but I do make an effort to give detailed feedback on manuscripts for people in my close circle/s. I don’t know how much reach I would have in terms of promotion, but I feel confident in my ability to pick out the issues with a book and be able to advise people on ways to address them. And also why those issues are issues – why and when some writing rules are necessary and why and when others can be disregarded – because sometimes a concept/rule/guideline won’t click until it’s been explained.

Also, I finished reading Peter Watts’ Freeze-Frame Revolution the other day which is, unsurprisingly, brilliant. I wish I’d picked up Blindsight the first time I’d heard it mentioned as Watts has quickly become one of my favourite authors working today (and possibly that last caveat isn’t even required). He has a number of short stories as well as 4 entire novels available to read for free on his website.

I think that will do for now. Pretend I said something hopeful and gently encouraging here, because we could all do with a bit of that these days, couldn’t we?

Phase Change – Available to Order

I just wanted to share this briefly – I got my contributor’s copy of Phase Change, and it is a hefty slab of hopeful energy futures, coming in at a bit under 450 pages.

It’s available for order now via the Twelfth Planet Press website, in ebook and paperback. Even if I wasn’t involved I’d be excited about this book – it’s exactly the sort of fiction we need for the current moment.

Catastrophic climate change sparked by the fossil fuel industry leaves us no choice: we must decarbonise. To create another world we need different narratives. With visions spanning from transhuman planet-hopping through post-cyberpunk paranoia to solarpunk ecotopianism, this collection dislocates our present energy regimes to imagine energy transitions and futures in all their complexities. These are stories of phase change.

Paolo Bacigalupi • Eugen Bacon • Carmel Bird • Grace Dugan • Thoraiya Dyer • Greg Egan • Tom Flood • Andrew Dana Hudson and Corey J. White • Sid Jain • John Kinsella • Rosaleen Love • Andrew Macrae • Nick Mamatas • Paul Graham Raven • Simon Sellars • Cat Sparks • Molly Tanzer • Ben Walter • Jo Lindsay Walton • Wendy Waring • David Whish-Wilson • Jasper Wyld

‘Wildly imaginative, heartrending, furious and hopeful, the stories in Phase Change are a reminder of science fiction’s vital role in helping us imagine a new and better future.’

— James Bradley, author of Ghost Species

‘From transformed planetary ecologies to transhuman altered genomes, from ubiquitous drone surveillance and widespread mass extinction to prison abolition and a people’s history of ecoterrorism, Phase Change is your handbook for the next century (and beyond).’

— Gerry Canavan, editor of Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction

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.