“I am the Master and you will BUY SOAP!”

Just to keep everyone informed of what’s going on, things may be a little quiet around here over the weekend, because I’m going to be at our local Dr. Who convention, Time Eddy, with our other business, Foam on the Range.

And sadly, I am incapable of crossing my own timeline and having Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all over again for writing and other assorted purposes (damned Blinovitch Limitation Effect), so that’s probably the only place I’m going to be.

But, hey, if you’re in the Wichita area, why not stop by and see us?

Theology and Destiny

No, not that destiny.

This Destiny.


Specifically, the Books of Sorrow, the history of the Hive, which you can read on this page here if you scroll right down to the bottom (OBVIOUS WARNING: HORRIFIC SPOILERS LIE THERE.), and in particular VI, XI, XV, XVII, XIX, XXXII, and XLVII seem highly relevant to Flamic theology.

Or anti-theology, rather.

While officially, at least, Entropy has not personification, or cult, or gospel in the Eldraeverse…

If it did, though…

If it did…

It would sound just exactly like that.

Okay, This One *Is* A Bleg

Much as I hate to make one.

But it turns out that being an SF author anywhere but the Amazon Top 100 Sellers isn’t actually all that lucrative (who knew?) and that self-employment ties up much of your capital in product (who knew?) and that, well, sometimes the nature of an entropy-based universe and a scarcity economy means that shit happens and leaves you having a very, very broke couple of months (who knew, amirite? I demand to see life’s manager!)

In short, Your Humble Author needs to raise some cash, and would prefer to raise some cash in a way that doesn’t mean he has to take a whole bunch of time off from being Your Humble Author.

So, if you don’t already have a copy of Vignettes of the Star Empire or The Core War and Other Stories, and you would like to have one, or for that matter if you do but would like to give one to a friend, let me just say that now would be a great time for me, and hey, if you want a signed copy, I can do that for you for Amazon price plus further postage. Just leave a comment so I can contact you and we’ll sort it out.

Apart from that, if you’re enjoying what you read here and you haven’t seen my Patreon, let me point you at it. I do enjoy and intend to keep writing, and I am appreciative of all my readers, but, well… writers (and their dogs) have to eat, y’know?

Moar please?

May I have some more?

And as such I will be super-extra-appreciative of those readers who’d like to appreciate my writing in cash, belike. (Or, if you can’t or don’t want to sign up to a recurring deal, I have a PayPal link over on the right, too. And y’all will also be much appreciated.)

It’s a Shanty!

Reminded of it by seeing it posted on Google+ today, here’s something I’d been meaning to post to the “relevant-to-our-interests” section for a while: the nearest Earth equivalent to one of the old space shanties enjoyed, no doubt, by old spacers and spacehands of the Imperial Merchant Navy everywhere…

(We recommend that only trained professionals should attempt to sip their sippin’ whiskey from mid-air blobs.)


So, got a few questions backlogged up to answer, and I’m going to try and answer them today. So you can be expecting that.

In the meantime, it’s rapidly approaching the end of the month, so this is just a quick note to all my Patreon patrons out there that among the things your money buys is your ability to ask monthly guaranteed-answer questions that’ll end up in the FAQ, and it’s that time again. So, shoot!

Are They Insane, Or Are They Insane?

(Not resharing this with Google+ for Reasons, and I’d be obliged if you’d play along with me, there.)

I find myself in need of some specific words in English.

Specifically, to represent a distinction in Eldraeic in general, and in the professional jargon of psychedesigners, sophotechnologists, memeticists, lawyers, the Eupraxic Collegium, and so forth in particular, between two distinguishable states which English tends to lump indistinctively together as “insane, crazy, etc.”:

1. Irrationality having its origin in an organic or mechanical dysfunction of the brain, or a chemical imbalance, or environmental toxins, or intolerable stress, or other such cause; for which, obviously, one has no more ethical responsibility than a boulder does for its fall from the cliff-top; and

2. Irrationality having its origin in voluntarily taking on and submitting to some ghastly, corrosively autotoxic memeplex – Dominionism, Wahabism, Scientology, racial supremacism, revolutionary Communism, membership in a political party, etc., etc., that has gone through the rational cognitive capacity of your brain like chlorine trifluoride through an unlucky rocketeer. For which – well, you thought it, you bought it, savvy?

Any thoughts on existing words that might have the proper subtextual spin?

Concepts I Will Not Use

In today’s entry in this series, the reality show that is basically a cross between Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars and Survivor: Mars, made possible in the science-fiction future by the wonders of noetic backups:

In which we dump our hapless contestants onto a raw eutalentic-class (Mars-like) planet with a vacuum suit each, a week’s worth of consumables, and a big ol’ pile of random parts. They get picked up in one local year… if they win.

(The reason, of course, I will not be writing anything to do with this is because we’re right between The Martian, the book, and The Martian, the movie, and even all other considerations aside it would be downright impossible to avoid recycling some ideas from one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I don’t want to be doing that.

But still: it would be a hell of a good show!)

Plague and Quarantines

First, on a personal note, an apology to regular readers that things have been a little slow and irregular around here recently; for the last week or so I’ve been fighting off a dose of some inconsiderate virus whose symptoms appear to include bitter sinus headaches and sleeping eighteen-plus hours a day, neither of which is exactly conducive to getting much in the way of writing done…

Hopefully I’m on the mend now. And today, my plan is to hand out some chunks of worldbuilding that I have been able to work on while plague-ridden, by way of sharing what I have got. So, to begin with the thematically appropriate…

Coincidentally, thinking of plague, I happened this morning across a Seanan McGuire interview, and specifically, this section of it:

You’ve said that the modern lack of respect for basic health and quarantine procedures makes you want to scream.

No one respects quarantine anymore! Nobody comprehends quarantine, and absolutely nobody comprehends the fact that sometimes your “rights” and “liberties” do not have any place in this conversation. We have totally drug-resistant tuberculosis! And what do people with totally drug-resistant tuberculosis do? Do they lock themselves in their houses for the rest of their lives? Do they eat a bullet? No! They get on airplanes. And then they get pissed off when the CDC yells at them. Quarantine exists so that we can continue as a species to exist. And yes, it sucks if I say to you, “Dude, really sorry, had to shoot your wife. Had the totally drug-resistant tuberculosis, yo.” But you know what sucks more? Killing an elementary school because you went outside with your totally drug-resistant tuberculosis.

And, well, that’s obviously a question they’ve had to resolve in the Eldraeverse, which equally obviously is somewhere where your rights and liberties absolutely definitely have a place in the conversation, and woe betide anyone who might suggest otherwise…

But, that being said, it’s not something they find particularly hard to reconcile. After all, it says it pretty clearly in the Fundamental Contract:

“A person’s property and domicile may not be moved, destroyed, occupied, damaged, altered, or made use of without his informed consent. A person’s body is considered his own property, and so are his work and his services.”

…which is already the basis for why assaulting someone with, say, your fist, is considered unethical and unlawful. As is using a weapon of conventional construction. As is doing so negligently, so you can’t simply shoot randomly and assign the responsibility to whoever happens to walk in front of your bullet.

So, therefore, is negligently assaulting someone with your parasite, bacterium, virus, prion, etc. The difference here is quantitative, not qualitative.

Application, of course, varies. If you’re just that jackass who insists on going to work, or out to shop, say, with your streaming cold, or whatever, then your tort insurer is not going to be very happy with you at all, because your litigation losses in the microtort system are going to add up pretty damn fast.

Go walking around the town with a more serious but still not uncommon and treatable disease, the sort of thing we used to think of as common childhood ailments – well, then, someone’s getting sued, and someone’s going to court, and someone’s getting smacked down very thoroughly (heavy restitutive and punitive fines, meme rehab, etc.) for negligent battery of some class or another if they managed to actually infect anyone, because that shit? That shit is not acceptable.

Now, when it comes to the really serious things, the things the CDC *here* does not hesitate to impose quarantines for, like the local equivalent of said utterly drug-resistant tuberculosis, or ebola, and other such things of that class…

Well, technically

Technically, in theory, the Office of Disease and Toxin Control, Prevention, and Elimination can only post “quarantine advisories”.

But in practice, anyone who goes around breathing utterly drug-resistant tuberculosis over people is committing acts negligently equivalent to biological warfare with every glob of sputum they cough up, and that, right there, invokes that other fundamental sophont right, the Right of Defense and Common Defense.

So they can’t force you to stay either inside your home or, should you need to travel outside it, inside an IOSS 21347-compliant bionano containment suit.

They can, however, shoot you in the head, incinerate your corpse, and apologize afterwards if you don’t. (As can anyone else, of course, but the professionals like to get there first.)

Then You Will Meet Your Destiny

So, seeing as we’ve recently considered human cultural artifacts that might prove popular in the Eldraeverse after a hypothetical first-contact-real-soon-now, here’s one for you.


Seriously, it fits perfectly, especially thematically. You’ve got the epicity and idealism, the mythopoetry of things (assuming you read the grimoire cards), the clash of Light and Darkness, technology from Near Future Hard right up to the point of Sufficiently Advanced Techno-Miracles (ontological weapons, even!), Blue and Orange Morality, and the definitive proper attitude towards grimdarkness, namely that it exists to be punched in the face with your space-magic fist of doom. Hell, the Traveler’s even a dead ringer for one of the Transcend’s synapse moons.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZyQK6kUdWQ]

(Seriously awesome ass-kicking to the tune of Immigrant Song also doesn’t hurt.)

…seriously, if Bungie *there* were to port this to full-immersion virtuality and sell it on the Imperial market – half a trillion copies sold, easy. At minimum.

(And, I sidenote, if you were to imagine a variant of the game set at the shiniest heights of humanity’s Golden Age, that would probably be about as close to an Eldraeverse video game as there could ever be.)


So, there’s some good news and some bad news:

The bad news is that posting may be a wee bit irregular for the next few days.

The good news is that that’s because we’ll be at ConQuesT!

(Well, okay, technically I’m not there wearing my author’s hat, I’m there with Foam on the Range, wearing my soap-company hat. But feel free to stop by and visit in the dealers’ room anyway, and you can pick up some shiny SF-themed soap while you’re there. Or, hey, some shiny regular soap. I ain’t particular on that point.)

Hope to see you there!

Baby Needs A New Typewriter Ribbon

No, this isn’t a bleg.

(Well, not for money, anyway.)

But just a quick note to say that if you’ve read my books, and especially if you liked ’em, I’d really appreciate it if you’d head on back over to Amazon and leave me a review. Reviews drive visits, visits drive sales, and sales mean that I get to keep writing, and my fat dog gets to keep getting fatter.

May I have some more?

May I have some more?

Go on. Say no to that face. If you can.

You Want This. You Need This.

Those of you who have bought and read a copy of The Core War and Other Stories may have noticed the reference to Kerbal Space Program in the acknowledgements…

(Those of you who haven’t – go buy a copy! Right now! Seriously – I’ll wait for you. Got it? Okay.)

…specifically “which taught me everything I know about orbital mechanics”.

Well, the beta is over and the first release version, 1.0, just shipped today. And so I’m here to suggest to you that you get a copy, too. It’s an invaluable resource for the SF writer, because it’s far easier to learn orbital mechanics from – specifically including developing an intuitive feel for them – than doing so from textbooks. And when you’re trying to do something complex enough that you need to go back to the textbooks, it makes it a lot easier to understand them. (And the fun needn’t stop there – it has a very active modding community whose add-ons let you simulate everything from life support to heat radiators, from exotic ISRU fuels to Orion drives…)

And it’s an invaluable resource for SF readers, too, at least if you like your SF relatively hard and want to have some idea how real spacecraft actually maneuver. (Fair warning: you may suffer somewhat from this if you have a problem with Science Ruining Everything, but, hey, knowledge has a price. Read better books!)

And best of all, it’s 25% off right now for launch day, so hie yourself over to the Kerbal Space Program web site and get yourself a copy. I personally guarantee that you won’t regret it.

And So It Begins

…a short quieter-than-normal season.


That’s good news! Because it means that hundreds of pages of fiction are being pored over by myself and my lovely editor, so that we can bring you Tales of the Associated Worlds: Volume II! (In e-book and book forms, the former of which all Patreon patrons receive by virtue of their gracious patronage.)

But it will mean a brief slow-down in the rate of fic production here on the blog while we edit and format and say “argh, what about cover art? aaaargh!”, so please bear with me while that all gets done.

Do I Consider Myself A Feminist Writer?

…is the latest question to come through the anonymous message box.

Oh, boy.

“I don’t discuss my process.”

Oh, wait, I do discuss my process? I’ve discussed my process often, in the past? Well, crap.

Well, the unhelpful mathematician’s answer – that also does happen to be true – is that I don’t consider myself an “X writer” for virtually any value of “X”, except possibly “speculative fiction”. But I guess I owe you, anonymous questioner, a little more than that.

The more detailed answer is “it depends on what you mean by that”.

Do I endeavor to have an appropriately representative number of female characters who are competent, agentive, and not defined as some male someone’s accessory? Do I try to depict a society in which people are judged based on their individual merits and character, rather than by prejudicial stereotypes and situationally-irrelevant epiphenomena (specifically including sex, gender, etc., among many other things), and in which all sophonts (regardless of the aforementioned) enjoy the same natural rights, the same civil rights, equality before the law, and possess equal social opportunities1?

Well, yes, yes I do. I do not necessarily claim that I always succeed as well as I would like to, but it is my intention, and I do think my corpus bears it out.

(But, of course, this is never mentioned explicitly, which some might argue means it doesn’t count. But it can’t be, for reasons of worldbuilding integrity. You never hear a fish say, “my, the water sure is wet today” – because no-one comments on the status quo when it’s been that way for as long as the status has been quo. If you tried to explain the Earth-now way of these things, patriarchy, etc., to an Imperial citizen-shareholder, 95% of them wouldn’t understand what you were driving at, and the remaining 5% of professional sophontologists, adventure tourists, and the like, would nod politely and explain that that sort of thing is indexed under barbarian outworlders be crazy, yo.

This is also why this doesn’t come up even when dealing with said barbarian outworlders. An Imperial confronted by some icky patriarchy out in the Periphery isn’t going to think of it in specifically feminist terms, having neither interior nor historical experience with such a thing. She’s much more likely to think of it as just another rationalization-memeplex cooked up by noxious slaving fuckheads to justify strutting about with their jackboots on, because no rational being could possibly take such ideas seriously in the first place, could they…?)

Am I trying to depict a desirable social model, in feminist terms? (Or, indeed, in any other terms.) Well, inasmuch as I do think a social model in which people are judged by the truth of their talents and the content of their character without reference to the presumptions attached to the morphology of their genitalia would be a great improvement over our present one, perhaps. But I’m a writer, not a social engineer. I’m trying to depict a non-human society that is that way in terms that are true to itself, not as a prescription for how humans ought to live, and that is shaped by distinctly inhuman instincts and ideas.

Am I deliberately attempting to promote that particular viewpoint – as a political viewpoint – in/through my writing? No, and for two reasons:

1. I hate message fiction. To some extent, whatever the message, because subordinating the coherence of the world and the thread of the plot to a message usually makes for terrible, terrible fiction. This is even more the case when it’s a message that I might agree with, because I don’t generally think it helps to promote a particular thing to produce bloody awful anvilicious books about it.

Now, sure, my own views on The Truth Of Things And The Oughts Of Things I’m sure shape my creativity in plenty of ways; such is the nature of the game. But for my money, I’m much better off, and they’re much better off, just letting them come out in the nature of the worlds I shape rather than beating people over the head with sermons about The Right Thing, You Idiots. I’m a writer, a storyteller, and very much not a preacher.

2. I’m an ornery cuss who has never found any political or activist group ever, typically including both sides of any given debate, that I could stomach, and in the past I’ve rarely been shy of saying so. Even – maybe even especially – the ones I mostly agree with. So – whatever my views expressed above may mean for compatibility of desired ends – even if it wasn’t for the message-fiction thing, political feminism wouldn’t have me, and I wouldn’t have it.

All that being said, of course, if someone comes up to me in thirty years and tells me that reading my books as a little girl inspired them to give the finger to toxic social expectations and become a high-powered megacorp CEO like, say, Giléä Cheraelar or a bad-ass space navy admiral like Caliéne Sargas2, I reserve the right to be pretty damn pleased about it.

1. I can’t say social equality, inasmuch as they do practice hard-edged meritocracy to go along with their equality of opportunity, and it would seem odd to say political equality inasmuch as the political equality everyone has in the Empire is the opportunity to be shot in the face for attempting to practice politics. But, hey, anyone of any sex, etc., who tries to practice politics is equally likely to be shot in the face, so.

2. Albeit possibly slightly worried in this case, inasmuch as Caliéne Sargas is a bloodthirsty-and-proud-of-it functional sociopath. But, hey, it takes all sorts.

Floating Market (3/3)

“Jennis Inurian, captain-owner of the free trader Transfinite Revenue, inhaled deeply as the airlock door rolled back, catching the rich, spicy scent of myriad species and goods crammed into too few hab modules with too little organized air reprocessing. It smelt promising enough.”

Among the floating markets of the Starfall Arc, it’s said that the best traders have “a good nose”. That’s only partially a metaphor; in a crowded habitat, one hearty sniff can give you a good feel for who’s selling there, and what they have for sale. Sweet spices, exotic fruits – and hidden treasures at every stall, delightfully reflected in this soap.

Yes, folks, it’s crossover day here at the Eldraeverse, with my wife and I’s other business, Foam on the Range, making a soap inspired by this piece of fiction! Good for your skin, good for your nose, and good for your Humble Author – how can you turn it down?

The soap: Sweet spices, exotic fruits, a riot of colors – and inside each bar, a different small spheroid of miscellaneous other soap. You never know what you’re going to get.

Click here for more delicious details and to purchase it on Etsy!

(Patreon patrons, you get a special 20% discount on this soap, and indeed any other soap you choose to buy from us! Check the page there for details.)