And it is Thursday, at least here, and so here I am, in Cleveland, or more accurately its nearby neighbor Twinsburg, to talk to librarians. As I am a big fan of librarians as a general class, this is not exactly an onerous assignment. And then I drive home! Which is on the other side of the state. And then I see my family for the first time in several days! So, uh, yeah. This is probably the last you’ll see of me here until tomorrow, is what I’m saying. Have fun on the Internets without me until then.
When I started writing Shadowboxer in late 2008 I had three small children. I was breastfeeding the youngest. My abdominal muscles were shot. Large chunks of my day were spent crawling around on the floor and I got most of my exercise by pushing a stroller. I was also managing a website for my partner Steve Morris, whom I’d met as a martial arts student. I learned the difference between traditional martial arts and fighting in Steve’s class. It was all made clear to me when an enormous dude dealt with my perfectly-formed punches and kicks by picking me and my karate brown belt up and casually chucking us across the room.
When Steve and I eventually started the website we got a lot of enquiries from people disillusioned with traditional martial arts and looking for a practical way to train for real. Nearly all of those people were men. Some of them were men who trained women. I felt that women were being condescended to by many of these guys. Instructors offered traditional martial arts with little contact or light contact only, or ‘ladies boxercise’ or some canned ‘self-defense’ moves that they taught to women because they themselves had no idea how to fight for real. It wasn’t just in the UK that this was happening. Even though organizations like the UFC and Strikeforce were already big in the US, the focus was in combat sports was heavily male-oriented. Most of the women who got press coverage were ring girls.
I admit that I became frustrated. I got tired of the macho attitudes of many of the martial arts instructors whose commentary and questions came through our site. I was annoyed that an awesome fighter like Gina Carano was getting media attention based primarily on her looks—as if the physical prowess and skill of female fighters meant nothing. And I was sick to death after years of being compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer by people who thought they were complimenting me.
But I couldn’t do anything about it. With a ruined abdomen and milk-filled breasts, I wasn’t in any position to do hard training. I was living on very little sleep, and I had reproductive hormones running through my bloodstream like crack—only instead of making me high they made me gentle. Hell, if a sentimental ad came on TV I’d be in floods of tears.
The only way I could deal with my frustration was to write about it. I wanted to explore what it might be like for a young woman trying to break in as a fighter, and I wanted to know what would make her want to do that in a culture pitched so hard against her expression of physical violence. I kept asking questions, I listened to the little voices in my head—yeah, I know, that doesn’t sound too good but it’s how I do it—and pretty soon Jade started talking to me.
Jade Barrera is a Dominican-American mixed martial artist—a cage-fighter—but she’s named after the Mexican boxer Marco Antonio Barrera, whose epic 2005 match against Jose Morales made a big impression on me. I based Jade’s persona loosely on a sixth-grade girl in my class in New York City many years ago; I’ll call her L. L was the smallest kid in the class and also the fiercest. She would start it up with people on purpose, just to make sure they knew she wasn’t soft. Except L. was soft. She would bring in pictures of her cat and when no one else was around she’d show them to me and tell me stories of her cat’s exceptional adorableness.
So, in the opening scene of Shadowboxer, Jade sees a martial arts movie star mistreating a stray cat, and she becomes unhinged. She leaves the movie star’s nose somewhere west of his face and finds herself in big trouble with her trainer. He wants to get her away from the media, so he sends her off to his family’s gym in Bangkok, Thailand, for fight experience. In the US, professional fighters have to be eighteen to compete. In Thailand, they start much younger.
Muay Thai is one of the hardest sports on Earth. It’s also a link between Thailand and the rest of the world, with martial artists from all over the world living in training camps so they can eat, breathe, and sleep Muay Thai fighting. This cross-cultural contact drives the plot of the book; it’s while she’s fighting in Thailand that Jade gets caught up in crime with a supernatural bent, crime that will follow her back to the US and change the course of her life forever.
There are a lot of fight scenes in this book. There’s plenty of detail about Jade’s training. But here’s the thing: even back all those years ago, before the current focus on ‘kickass women protagonists’ had taken hold, one thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t going to let Jade be the only significant female character. Nor was I going to conflate winning fights with being heroic. Because there’s more to being strong than thinking with your fists. Anyway, strength isn’t the only virtue a person can have. There are plenty of admirable things for girls and women—for all people— to do that really have nothing to do with ‘strength’ as such, but everything to do with living honourably in a world full of darkness and compromise. I hope this is reflected in the variety of female characters I’ve written.
I started out asking myself what would make a teenaged girl aspire to be a fighter, and the process of writing Shadowboxer led me and Jade together on a journey through Jade’s own violence and through the violence and evil of others. It’s only on the other side of this violence that Jade finds a fragile understanding of what is worth fighting for in life.
And yes: I do personally happen to think that stray cats are worth fighting for.
At the moment, taking a little breather on the Fox lot, on a bench underneath a shady tree. And then off to lunch with my agent, because one should always have lunch with one’s agent. It’s a nice if weird life. Hope yours is going well today, too.
Just thought I’d check in and let you all know things are just lovely here in Los Angeles at the moment. Wish you were here! All of you! And maybe you are all here, on the 405. Because, the 405, man. What a mess.
I’m getting up very early tomorrow morning to go to the airport for a trip that takes me first to Los Angeles, where I have two very solid days of business meetings, and then to Cleveland, where I am delivering a breakfast keynote to a conference of Ohio librarians. All of which is to say that between going to sleep tonight and waking up on Friday, I am not likely to have much time to moderate comment threads here, particularly ones in which GamerGate, etc are discussed.
So when I hit the hay tonight (Saturday), I’m turning off comments until (probably) Friday, when I am back home and have had a good night’s sleep (The exception will be this week’s Big Idea piece, which will have comments on). Likewise you should expect posting here to continue but to be relatively minimal during the week, on account of meetings, plane trips and desire to sleep when possible.
The good news for me is, after this trip is complete, I do not have to go anywhere else for the rest of the year. Given how packed with travel this year has been for me, this is kind of amazing. And it’s good for you, too, since I have to finish The End of All Things by the end of the year, and I find it difficult to write while traveling. No travel means focusing on the book, which means you’ll have a new novel next year. We all win!
So: If you’re commenting somewhere on the site, you have, uh, a couple of hours to wrap things up. Get to it, and comments will be open again on Friday.
A very fine collection of books and ARCs to show off this week. Let me know which ones you wish you had in your hands, down there in the comments.
Pretty cool looking, I have to say. It’s a wrap-around; the front cover is on the right side of the image. A larger version is here.
And here’s what I think of politics here in 2014: Nnnnnnnnggggggggghhh. Or, to put in perhaps more contemporary terms, 2014: The Year I Literally Just Could Not Even.
Which is not to say that I’m not voting. I am voting. What I mean to say is that this year I don’t really feel anything other than complete fatigue at the whole political process. Broadly speaking, the Republicans are frothing ideologues, the Democrats are incompetent, and it appears that in general the relevant voting public will prefer frothing to incompetent, since FiveThirtyEight thinks there’s a better than 60% chance the Senate majority will go to the GOP in the election — although not by a lot, so, yay, I guess?
What that will mean in real-world terms is a lot of parliamentary blockage and/or presidential vetoes of Republican legislative initiatives for the next two years, which I’m fine with (see my opinion of the general state of the GOP above), but which means another two years of high-level stupid on the federal level. But inasmuch as we will get that even if the Democrats do, in fact, barely manage to keep the Senate: Meh. And, yes, I know it’s rather more complicated than that, but I’m telling you how I feel about it all. This is how I feel.
(Mind you, if the GOP takes the Senate, I think there’s a reasonable chance of the GOP in the House finally voting to impeach Obama for the heinous crime of being Obama, although I’m sure they’ll find something else to pretend it will be about. And then Obama will be acquitted in the Senate trial and we’ll establish the hard fact that the modern GOP, when given the opportunity, will try to oust sitting Democratic presidents via the impeachment process just because. Also, I think Obama would love for the GOP to impeach him. There is pretty much no downside for him if a bunch of a white male GOPers impeach a sitting black president on what will amount to complete bullshit charges. Dear House GOP: Don’t be giving Obama one more rope-a-dope.)
I should note that the federal elections are largely outside of my purview this time around. The only federal-level election I need to vote on is for my House representative, who is now and will continue to be John Boehner, who in his entire OH-8 electoral history has never gotten less than 61% of the vote, and isn’t about to blow that streak this year. I’m not voting for Boehner, but doesn’t mean he won’t win. I am as always comfortably resigned to the fact. There are no Senate races in Ohio this year.
On the state level, it’s almost certain sitting Ohio Governor John Kasich is going to win in a walk, not because the people of Ohio love him (general feeling: meh), but because his opponent Edward FitzGerald is better known for parking with a woman who was not his wife than for any of his policy points. I’m not voting for Kasich, but as I don’t like to reward abject incompetence, I don’t think I’m voting for FitzGerald either. I might vote for the Green Party candidate, just to see what it feels like. To be honest, the only state office race I’m really worked up for is Secretary of State, because incumbent John Husted is a tool who went out of his way to make it harder to vote in Ohio. Fuck you, Husted. I’m voting for your Democratic opponent, Nina Turner (although, again, Husted sits on a comfortable margin and will likely win).
Indeed, because of where I live in Ohio, and because of the general trends in the state and in the national races, it looks like a good(ish) year for GOP in general. I’m not a fan of the current iteration of the GOP, which is putting it mildly, so this does not please me intellectually. But speaking as a straight white man of comfortable income, the GOP isn’t going to do me any harm, personally. It’s everyone else who might eventually feel the pinch. This is where I remind all y’all that folks like me already get a ton of advantages; you don’t have to keep giving us more through the political process.
And I think this is why I find it very difficult to get worked up about this particular election one way or another. It’s basically a status quo election. Things might change, but not by much, and at the end of the day the essential problems of our political classes will not be fixed to any degree. This isn’t an epochal election, it’s just killing time until 2016.
Now, I could be wrong: I’m the first to say that my personal political crystal ball has been notably cloudy in the past. But this election doesn’t feel like there’s much there there. I’ll be voting. But this the least enthusiastic I’ve felt about it since I’ve been able to vote. Maybe that means something. We’ll see.
So a few days ago, it was suggested to a faction of the hot, pathetic misogynist mess known as GamerGate that launching a boycott of Tor Books was a possible “action op” for them. This was quickly shot down, no doubt in part because the person suggesting it was Theodore Beale, and no one at this point actually gives a crap what he thinks about anything. However, last night I went on another Twitter tear on the subject of GamerGate, and I woke up this morning to a few chuckleheads bleating to Tor about what a terrible person I am, in order to, I don’t know, get Tor to talk to me sternly about having opinions on the Internet, because apparently Tor is my dad. So maybe this push to boycott Tor because of me has legs after all! Hooray!
That said, my takeaway from these furtive attempts to make me shut up about the fact that GamerGate is basically a bunch of terrible human beings being shitty to women, up to and including threatening them and publishing their personal information online in an obvious attempt to silence them is to be just a little bit sad. Not because a few of these human-shaped pieces of ambulatory refuse are trying to do it, but because they’re thinking too small about it.
I mean, seriously, boycotting just Tor Books? Why limit yourself? Sure, it’s the largest publisher of science fiction and fantasy books in North America and possibly the world, but it’s just one imprint of Tom Doherty Associates. There are several other imprints, including Forge, Starscape, Tor Teen and Seven Seas. You should boycott those, too. That’ll show me!
But even then, you’d be thinking too small. Tom Doherty Associates is itself just one appendage of the publishing giant known as Macmillan, with offices in 41 countries! It publishes thousands of books a year! What a target! You should boycott all of Macmillan. Man, I’m quaking in my boots just thinking about it. But even then, it’s small potatoes, for Macmillan is just one part of the mighty Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, with annual sales in the billions of euros. Boycott it all! No doubt all of Stuttgart shall fall into a shambles at the thought.
But even then you are not done, boycotters! For you see, I am crafty and have diversified my revenue stream. I have many publishers and many people I work with. You must punish them all for having me in their midst. All of them. And not just the tiny imprint or sub-company that works with me directly. That’s what a coward would do. And are you a coward? Well, yes, probably, because the tactics of GamerGate have been astoundingly cowardly right from the start. But still! Think big, my friends. Your boycott must not just take out a few targets, it must nuke them all from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
With that in mind, here are your other boycott targets:
In the UK I am published by Gollancz, which is part of Orion Publishing Group, which is in itself part of Hachette, which is part of Lagardère Group. Crush them!
In audio, I am published by Audible, which is owned by Amazon. Surely it is worth giving up your sweet Amazon Prime subscriptions to make Jeff Bezos shake in his chinos!
But wait! We’re still not done. Because as you may know I have TV deals! One is with FX, which is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox (yes, it’s 21st Century Fox now. Look it up). You will need to boycott it all. Yes, even Fox News. Be strong! It’s for the cause!
Another is with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions, which is part of NBCUniversal, which is itself part of Comcast. So for this one, some of you will have to give up cable, and possibly your Internet connection. Keep your eye on the prize! It will be worth it!
My third TV deal is with Legendary TV, which is part of Legendary Pictures. And you’re thinking, whew, at least they aren’t part of a multinational corporation! True, but they make films that are distributed through a number of film studios, including Warner Bros (basically, all the DC Comics movies) and Universal. They also own both Geek & Sundry and Nerdist Industries. Noooooo! You can’t get your nerd on anymore! Stay focused! Your pain will make victory that much sweeter!
So, in short, in order to effectively punish my business partners for me having thoughts you don’t like, all you need to do is boycott three of the five major US publishers, two of the five major film/television studios (plus selected product of one of the other ones), and the largest single online retailer in the world. Which, well. It will keep you busy, at least.
Which, to be clear, I am fine with. While you are off whining to these corporations about me, perhaps you will be too busy to, you know, threaten death, rape and assault against women who also dare to express thoughts you don’t like. And you know what? I think that’s a fair trade.
So please: If you’re going to boycott a company because of me, at least do it right. Do it big. There are all your targets, laid out for you. Go get ‘em! I’ll be rooting for you, kids!
And in the meantime, just remember this:
Still true, people. Still true.
Superheroes are fun to think about, but superheroes are often sort of one-dimensional, cardboard characters. In the real world superheroes would be more complex — and like real human beings possibly not perfect. For the novel Misshapes, Alex Flynn uses literary x-ray vision to go behind the “super” and look at a world these folks might really live in.
What if superheroes weren’t so super?
I grew up on comic books and movie superheroes who were bastion of justice and goodness. The past decade has seen some darker heroes but they were pretty light in my youth (my Batman did, after all, have nipples on his batsuit and brooded much less). At the same time a lot of my real life heroes when I was younger rarely lived up to these ideals. I was a big Mets fan as a kid and idolized the 86 World Series winning Mets. I still have a Daryl Strawberry signed ball in my childhood bedroom. But after a number of drug busts, assault charges and bleach filled water guns I learned that these weren’t quite the best role models. I feel like a lot of kids who were fans of the NFL after the recent scandals may be experiencing something similar.
When we started the book the great recession had just hit, and the failure of banks and other institutions brought the idea that many of the people in the business community who we once thought of as almost supernatural in their abilities, were not only fallible, but in some cases criminally negligent in their desire to manipulate the system to their own ends. The strains of an increasing class stratified society were starting to show and it was not a pretty sight. People were losing their homes while those responsible got million dollar severance packages and sailed off into their private world of yachts and oceans with no culpability.
When we started writing the book it was just about a girl dealing with rejection from a super school. Like if Harry Potter got kicked out of Hogwarts. We love Harry Potter and other hero stories, but we wanted to hear the tale of the kid that didn’t get in and still made good. But as we built the world, instead of a fantastical utopia with mustache twirling villains, we ended up reconstructing our own world but with people with powers but might not necessarily be super. Based on the way money, power, institutions, business, private schools, celebrity and politics can all interact and corrupt in our world, we started to see how, superheroes wouldn’t necessarily fix these problems, but would likely just get woven into the mix.
We didn’t want to construct a world with rare powers and secret identities, but wanted to build a universe where powers come in degrees, there utility is not based on some standard measure but on how society see their value, and that most of being a “hero” involved the same image management, press, and advertising as being a sports star. In the Misshapes, the town Heroes live in an upscale community above the town and are often involved in less than heroic activities. Also, in a world were real people can fly, instead of action movies, documentaries are really important, although they are more staged—like The Hills or the Kardashians—than true to life.
Also, and the central thrust of the book, there are people who have powers who are not Heroes, because they don’t get into hero academies and society thinks their powers have no value, called Misshapes. This group faces discrimination from society, in part out of resentment of those who have powers, and in part, out of an almost ingrained animosity that resembles racism. We intentionally left the definitions vague because being a Misshape is, like race, gender or class, a socially constructed concept
In our world, and not a clear thing like you often find in fictional works about superheroes. Most villains, usually after they do something wrong, are labeled Misshapes.
Everyone remembers the line from Uncle Ben in Spiderman, oft quoted in freshman philosophy courses “With great power comes great responsibility.” The maxim pre-dates Uncle Ben, and even has biblical antecedents, but we all know if from Ben. The reality is that while the statement is morally accurate, it is not factually accurate. There’s another saying, not often found in comic books, from Lord Acton* “Power corrupts.” This, in turn, is factually true. In the world we find people with power acting with impunity and immorally, even though they should be acting in a more moral fashion.
However, we still hold them up for praise and are shocked when they fall. In part because we want to believe Uncle Ben and want to ignore Lord Acton, instead of learning that we ourselves must be responsible and hold those who wield power accountable. Applying these lessons about the world to a fictional one with superheroes is the big idea of our book.
However, the idea is just the background. On top of that is the great story of one girl learning how powerful she is and how the world she once believed in is not as it appears. Also, there are some pretty damn cool melees with lasers.
*Acton was likely, like Uncle Ben, quoting another source but his succinctly quote is worthy of the attribution. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
It’s the scene with John Perry and General Gau, I expect. It’s by DeviantArt user “Sharksden,” whose art (including this) you can find here.
And that’s it from me here today, because as noted I am traveling to Chicago, where I will be doing my very last official Lock In tour stop, at the Seminary Co-op in Hyde Park, Chicago — literally just a couple hundred feet from my old dorm at the University of Chicago (which is no longer there — replaced by the business school. It’s a trade up, I think). If you’re in the area, I’ll be doing my thing at 6pm. Come on by and let’s close out this tour in style. Here are all the details.
“It’s all beautiful and nothing lasts.” It’s a phrase that showed up in a dream of mine last night, as something I said to my wife as we were crossing a street in a big city. The street was where her father’s family’s farm used to be, in the dream — something that had some resonance in the real world, as her father’s family’s farm is now part of the Dayton International Airport. The dream me made the comment not about the farm in particular, but about life in general, prompted by the farm turned city street.
And it’s a true statement. All of it is beautiful, and it doesn’t last. I’m old enough now to be at the point where I see the movement of life, and me through it, to see people I like and love pass away and to see people I like and love grow up and become who they are. People move, stay and move again; houses become homes, and homes become vacant houses once more. Strangers become friends and sometimes become strangers again. Life happens and it’s a gorgeous thing — all of it, even the annoying parts — and it doesn’t last. It’s all temporary and doesn’t stay.
Before you ask: I’m fine. Everyone around me is fine. Even my pets are fine. Indeed, generally speaking, life is very good. If I had to peg a predicate cause for any of this, it would be going to a memorial service of a distant relative yesterday, who I knew only from family reunions, and coming across a comment in a discussion thread from my friend Jay Lake, which because it was part of a back and forth with several other people, momentarily gave the illusion that he was still with us, alive and engaged. But I think it’s just simply more that I’m now aware that life moves, and I do too.
One thing I think is worth noting is how my brain phrased the statement: “It’s all beautiful and nothing lasts.” This is a qualitatively different statement than it would have been if the dream version of me had said “it’s beautiful but nothing lasts.” That to me feels defeatist — what’s the point of acknowledging the beauty of life if it just goes away. That fact that it doesn’t last is why you should acknowledge it: it won’t stay, it will be gone and you will be gone, too. But while you live, that beauty exists and it is there for you to love and cherish, and to be a part of and to add to if you can.
It won’t last. Nothing lasts. But it’s here, and you should be here for it, and in it.
Thank you for being part of it, in this moment. I appreciate it, and the moment we’re sharing. I hope you do too.
And they’ve done an unsurprisingly thorough job of it. If you’ve ever wanted to do your own Kickstarter/crowdfunded project, you’re going to want to read this. What I particularly like is that it emphasizes the fact that Kickstarting a project is a tremendous amount of work, which is a thing I think a lot of people gloss over to wallow in the idea of Kickstarter/crowdfunding as this sort of cosmic ATM that just shoots free money at people. Doesn’t quite work that way, folks. Trust the Doubleclicks on this one.
No? Well, look, I just did.
See you Monday!
Lots of books and ARCs this time around. Tell me which of these you crave, down there in the comments.
Yes, if you’re in or around the University of Chicago — my alma mater — or, heck, just in the city of Chicago in general, come on down and see me. This is the very last official stop of the Lock In tour, and after this I have no more scheduled public appearances until 2015. So if you want to see me this year, this is the time and the place.
Here are all the details. See you there!
My pal (and musician and songwriter) Mark Nevin wrote a song called “Kiteflyer’s Hill” for Eddi Reader, with whom he had been in the band Fairground Attraction, for her solo album Angels and Electricity. He’s recently also done a version of it for his own solo album Beautiful Guitars, which will be out in the next week or so. I have the album, and it’s well worth getting if you’re a fan of genuinely lovely songwriting, and why wouldn’t you be.
“Kiteflyer’s Hill” is simply one of my favorite songs ever — it’s beautiful and wistful and gorgeous and captures what it’s like to remember a love of long ago — and I thought it would be fun to share the song done both by Mark and by Eddi, as a way to contrast how two takes of the same song can have an effect on the feel of the thing. I like them both: Mark’s is low-key, comfortable and lived-in, while Eddi’s soars up like, well, a kite, as it would with her matchless set of pipes. I hope you enjoy both.
First Mark’s version:
And now Eddi’s (note: video is slightly out of sync):
There are many interesting things about Rajan Khanna’s debut novel Falling Sky, but the one that pings my radar is that involves dirigibles, and that (of course!) noted dirigiblist Cory Doctorow plays a key role. Read on to find out how it all connects.
Like most novels, Falling Sky began with a sentence. It was a sentence I had written years ago and filed away, like I do with many of my story ideas. It involved a man, floating in a dirigible, afraid to go down to the ground. At the time I didn’t know why he was afraid, or what possibly lurked beneath him. I just knew he had to descend but didn’t want to.
In 2008, when I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop, I took that sentence with me. I wanted to turn it into a story, but I didn’t know where to take it. It was Paul Park, our first week instructor, who pointed me in the right direction. He said something along the lines of, “It can’t be a fantasy. You don’t want every person in this world in their own balloon.” Up until that moment, I thought I might. But I quickly shifted gears and decided it had to be science fiction and that despite the outlandish premise, I would make it as realistic as possible.
What the man in the dirigible was afraid of became a pandemic, an apocalyptic disease that shattered modern society. A virus so contagious that it kept people isolated, afraid of being exposed or infected. The victims became, essentially, off the rack zombies (though in my defense it was late night/early morning as I was pulling this together and I was reaching for the low hanging fruit).
The man in the dirigible became Ben Gold, my protagonist, an airship pilot and survivor, staying in the air for as long as he could until his needs, primarily his hunger, sent him down to the ground to risk his life.
I had my initial hook – a post-apocalyptic setting, a rugged anti-hero in an airship, and a host of slavering, zombie-like creatures waiting below him. And while the story needed a lot of work, the setting seemed to generate some interest, enough that several of my classmates, and our instructor for that week, Mary Rosenblum, encouraged me to expand it into a novel. The other overwhelming bit of feedback was to ditch the zombies and make the disease more nuanced. So, when I revised it, instead of being fatal, the disease regressed humans into a savage and bestial state, robbing them of reason, increasing their hunger and aggression.
The third instructor to weigh in on the story was Cory Doctorow, who admirably went back and read the previous week’s stories. He suggested an extra scene where Ben, a lifelong survivor, is confronted with the horrifying lengths some people will go to in order to survive and it calls his choices into question. This would be very useful to me later.
Years went by and the story remained unpublished and a novel was missing from my mental landscape. I kept returning to the idea and bouncing off of it. It just didn’t have any life. Then one day, I found Ben’s voice. I heard it, in my head, in first person, and everything clicked in that moment.
So I had my high concept (post-apocalyptic adventure with airships) and, remembering what Cory helped me realize, I had my central idea — what it means to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. What is the cost of that survival? What does it mean to eke out existence in a shattered world? What lengths would you go to survive? Is there a point where survival by itself isn’t worth it anymore?
In the animal kingdom the basic point of life is often to live long enough to pass your genes on to the next generation. But is that enough for human beings? What about a world where procreation is often a danger because of the risk of infection? And how much of your humanity can you hold onto, and which parts, in the face of losing it to a disease?
Furthermore, is survival really the point at all? If Ben is the face of survival in the book, Miranda, one of the other main characters, is the face of idealism. At the start of the novel, Ben has joined up with Miranda and her group of scientists, helping to provide them with transport and protection. Miranda is trying to find a cure for the virus and believes that one is possible. In fact she risks her life on a regular basis for that purpose. Ben thinks she’s crazy, that her idealism will get her killed (or infected), but in Miranda’s mind, it’s worth it. In her mind risking your life for something more than just survival is the only thing worth doing. Just keeping on is a losing game.
That conflict, between Miranda and Ben’s viewpoints, is at the heart of Falling Sky both in its constructive and destructive variations. Because remember, horrible things can be done in the name of survival, and terrible things can be done in the name of hope and progress, too.
Also, there are airships. Lots and lots of airships. Because airships are cool.
We’ve been having a pretty good year here at the Scalzi Compound, and we decided to go ahead and splurge on something that Krissy has wanted for a while now. And here it is: A big ol’ hot tub that seats six, and a big ol’ gazebo to cover it. And thus we have become Hot Tub People, who will now have to give ourselves over to the hot tub lifestyle, complete with hot tub friends and hot tub parties, and, I don’t know, possibly hot tub sous vide six course meals (note: probably not that last one).
I’ve not a huge hot tub person myself, but you know what, I’m not going to lie: it’s pretty nice to soak in this baby after a long day of, well, whatever it is I do these days. I suppose there are worse things than become Hot Tub People.
No, don’t just invite yourself over. Wait for the invite, people.
Recently WordPress changed something on the backend relating to how comments are handled (not just here, but globally) and as a result urls for images now embed in comments. Well, I’m not a fan of that; images have the potential to send things off the rails pretty quickly. I’m talking to WordPress about pulling it from the site (they’ve been very helpful), but in the meantime I’m taking the precaution of sending comments with image urls into moderation. If you post one, it’ll get held up until I approve it. I don’t imagine this will be a problem for the vast majority of you.
Mind you, if you try to post an image that annoys me, it won’t make it out of moderation, and if you keep it up, you’ll find yourself in moderation. But, again, I don’t really expect this will be an issue with most of you. Most of you are lovely people.