Sunrise.

sunflowers-onassorted-onFor those who haven’t been checking the Updates Link to your right, The Shorts Gallery went up a few days ago; it gathers assorted illustrations (of varying quality) based on a number of my stories (likewise) which have appeared in various publications around the world.

The one popularly-reprinted story which is not represented in that gallery is “The Island“, which gets a wing all to itself. That gallery just went live today: a motley collection of “The Island” illos and concept art deriving not just from the story, but from occasional aborted attempts to translate it from print into the digital-interactive realms.  I haven’t heard anything new about any of those projects for at least a year now, so I’m assuming they’re all dead. Still, for all I know some ragtag fugitive fleet of indie designers is yet working away in a cave somewhere.  That’s the dream, anyway.

Someone emailed me the other day to ask if I could stick an rss feed into the Updates page.  Which I probably could, but having looked over the online tutorials and taken a quick stab at reverse-engineering the relevant files from this blog, I figure it’d take about a day for my obsolete squidly brain to work out the kinks and get it running properly.  And that is a day that will not arrive before 1) my e-mail backlog is significantly smaller; 2) I have fewer PRy things hanging over my head, and 3) I don’t jam out on running quite so often as I seem to be now. In the meantime, though, the rss feed for the ‘crawl works just fine, so I’ll post updates here instead.  Much as I’m doing now.

Next post will be more substantive.  Promise.  Probably I’ll do Russia at last.

Posted in: Uncategorized by Peter Watts 6 Comments

Casting Call

rifters-onYeah, I’ve been quiet lately.

Still working on the site, for one thing; finally got the Rifters and Blindopraxia galleries up and populated (Sunflowers and Shorts still to go): it’s a much cleaner layout than the old Gallery, and there’s a bunch of new material, so you might want to check them out. (Also, it’s worth keeping an eye on the “Updates” page linked to the right; I’ll announce any significant site developments there, which comes in handy if you want to keep up even though I can’t be bothered wasting crawlspace on every new bit of chrome that gets bolted into place.)

So site work is ongoing.  I’m also keeping my eyes on my feet as I haltingly try to relearn the steps of the New Release Rumba: the essays and interviews and what-if scenarios that come your way when you’ve just delivered. (One such interview just appeared in the latest issue of Albedo, in fact). It’s one of these what-ifs that I could use your help with, again.

blindopraxia-onSome of you know about this “My Book, the Movie” thing; as I recall there was some serious love on these pages for Ellen Page in the role of Lenie Clarke, back when I did it for the rifters books. I’m doing it again. The idea is to propose a dream team— mainly cast, but feel free to nominate a director or screenwriter if so inclined— for a hypothetical movie production of Echopraxia. Someone once suggested that Billy Bob Thornton  would make a decent Brüks, and I could see Edward James Olmos as Jim Moore if he lost a few kilos. Maybe Andy Serkis in a mocap suit as Portia.  Beyond that, I am bereft of clue; do you guys have any ideas?

Oh, and anyone who nominates Ridley Scott for director is banned for a week.  I still haven’t forgiven him for “Prometheus“.

Posted in: interviews, writing news by Peter Watts 77 Comments

Mote-turbation.

Oh, so many things I want to rattle on about with you people. The potential critical relevance of leaky cell membranes down in deep-sea vents, back when life was just getting started (and the resonance that might have for a certain fictional doomsday bug which will be trapped in such vents for another few decades because of the osmotic consequences of having inordinately leaky membranes).  The latest news in telepathy through technology (overhyped, IMO— in the same way the last big “breakthrough” was— but we’re getting there, we’re getting there).  The ongoing tale of Patrick McLaw, school-teacher, who was disappeared, held at an undisclosed location,  and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation because of a couple of dystopian SF novels he self-pubbed on Amazon— no, wait, it wasn’t those books at all, it was a four-page letter that some thought might be a “cry for help”— no, no, it was really those books and the letter and the fact that he’d built a scale model of a high school that might have tewwowist implications (nothing said at first about McLaw’s background in architecture, or the fact that he’d also built models of a cruise ship and a house).  Oh, and while we haven’t actually got around to charging him with anything, we’re also investigating allegations that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old-boy in Delmarva

Riiight. When  they start yanking the gay-pedophile-won’t-someone-think-of-the-children routine out of their asses (never mind that 16 is the age of consent in Maryland)— more tellingly, when they don’t even lead with that, but only bring it up after days of being held up to global outrage and ridicule— you can probably tune out with a high degree of confidence that once again, the assholes are just making it up as they go along. Is it any wonder that over the course of my recent reddit AMA, the comment that won by far the greatest number of upvotes was my suggestion to a resident of Fergusen that maybe we should start randomly killing cops for a change? (I should do a post on that too, now that I think of it…)

All this and more, all infinitely more worthy of attention than what I’m actually here to talk about. Because I have this new book out, and the sink/swim window is only a few weeks, and we’re already into week two and I haven’t done any of the essays or quizzes or promo interviews I told everyone I’d get around to once August was out of the way. Hell, I’m still working on the fucking website (Gallery’s looking good, btw; soon, now), and answering e-mail (backlog holding steady around 80), and hitting the refresh button every five minutes over at Amazon while wondering why I’ve only got a dozen reviews up there while Scalzi has 57 for a book that came out the same day. (Wondering rhetorically, mind you; there’s no need for any of you to wade in and helpfully point out any of the two or three dozen reasons why The Scalz kicks my ass at selling books.)

All of which is just a long-winded way of saying that while the world continues to wobble from impacts that turn my own trivial concerns to dust motes, it’s my job for the next little while to be small-minded and mercenary and to nurture those fucking motes until either Echopraxia succeeds or I throw in the towel. If it’s any consolation, I do it grudgingly.

Today’s nugget of self-promotion comes via Clarkesworld, which has been kind enough to reprint “Giants”, from the Sunflowers cycle.  While “Giants” came out earlier this year, chances are you never read that first release because the publishers pooched the roll-out, buried the title, and didn’t get around to paying their authors our contracted pittance until months later.

Clarkesworld, in contrast, rocks.  And people read them.  So if you missed “Giants” last time around, now’s your chance.

It’s even free.

Posted in: misc, writing news by Peter Watts 64 Comments

Blurbs and Bufo

Blurbs are Reborn.  Looking at about a dozen advance reviews so far, all pretty glowy except for the Register piece which found Echopraxia plotless.  Even they used the word “brilliant”, though.  Fingers crossed.

Just last night, the LA Review of Books posted an insanely detailed review— more of an essay, really, the kind of thing you might find in the NY Review of Science Fiction if that’s still around— by Steven Shaviro. I think he may have coined the phrase “ferociously intellectual pulp”, but even if he stole it, it’s gold.

Also Alyx Dellamonica sings the Hallelujah Chorus over at Tor.com.  There’s mastodon-sized conflict-of-interest when Tor.com reviews Tor releases, and it swells to cachalot-sized when the Tor.com reviewer is bound to the Tor author by years of friendship and a mutual love of cats, so I felt obligated to point out the relationship on the Blurbs page where I posted the quote. And yet, the synopsis Lexus lays out is so engagingly wry that I can’t read it without seeing her sitting across the barroom table from me, drink in hand, one corner of her mouth tugged into a sarcastic little half-smile. Her précis might be better than the book.

Anyway: off now for a shave and shower, well-deserved after all these days of nonstop motion, and time to catch a breath before the AMA starts over on Reddit. Let me just leave you with his:

 seiun

It’s my Seiun for Blindsight, collected at Worldcon on my behalf by Patrick Neilson-Hayden and Caitlin Sweet. The certificate is pretty self-evident.  But it came equipped with that little vial in the box— which, I am told, is “toad grease”.  Apparently it’s a product of the local economy in the Japanese town hosting the con at which the award was originally bestowed. I believe it’s supposed to have medicinal properties.

It is definitely grease of some kind. I do not know if it actually contains toad, or if it is truly medicinal. Perhaps, the next time we have uninvited guests, we can try it out.

Posted in: public interface, reviews, writing news by Peter Watts 57 Comments

Facelift

Sotala-staticI owe a couple of travelogues. Russia and London. But given the whole down-to-the-wire thing on Echopraxia‘s release (officially tomorrow, just in case anyone’s counting), perhaps you can forgive me for putting those off for a week or so. More imminent items could spoil in the meantime.

First off, a reminder that I’m appearing on reddit for an AMA tomorrow at 7pm EDT. I think I’m supposed to sign in earlier and fire some kind of starting pistol though. Also there was a book giveaway. I’m sure I’ll be more clued in on the details after I’ve had a chance to go back over these 116 outstanding emails, and after a few more time zones have had a chance to diffuse out through my ears.

Even more imminently, the new site is up. Most of it, anyway; you won’t notice much difference here on the ‘crawl, or over in Blurbs or the Gallery (Blurbs may or may not be reno’ed later today). But Backlist, Author, and Kibble Fund pages are all sparkly and new.  More importantly, all the new Echopraxia-related content is live. Go click on that splash page none of you ever go to because it’s too confusing, and revel in the newness.  Follow the links. Tell me what’s broken; there hasn’t been a lot of time for cross-platform testing.

The rest of the renovations will roll out in the near future. (I’m especially looking forward to uploading a whole bunch of new material into the Gallery.) It’s been kind of a frantic slog even to get this much up and running in time for the 26th— both I and Łukasz Fedorowicz, my estimable web designer, ended up working on this thing in the wee hours and during our respective vacations, so you’re lucky to get this much.

That said, though— well, to these eyes, “this much” looks pretty damn spiffy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: ink on art, writing news by Peter Watts 74 Comments

Prexels.

I’m leaving now.  For Russia. I’ll spend one day in London with Caitlin, where I’ll wallow briefly in the musk of a myriad peers and pals converging for Worldcon— and then it’s on to St Petersberg for the weekend (or maybe somewhere less picturesque, if they think I’m trying to smuggle sanctioned pork across the border).

But I haven’t just been whining and falling behind on my emails these past few weeks. I’ve been working with a very talented dude over in Poland to try and drag rifters.com kicking and screaming into the 21rst century. Maybe we’ll be able to unveil the upgrade in time for Echopraxia’s official release date; or maybe we’re not going to make it quite in under that wire. But the prototypes are advanced, and almost ready for prime time— so I thought I’d leave you with some lo-rez screen grabs to whet your appetites. And maybe, depending on how things go, leave you with something to remember me by.

Wish me luck.

  prexel2  

prexel4

 prexel3

 prexel1
Posted in: ink on art, On the Road, public interface by Peter Watts 22 Comments

The Giant Georgia-O’Keefe-Like Vagina of Flame!

Not quite sure why MAG would use this cover for Echopraxia. It's basically the cover for Blindsight with tweaked gamma.

Not quite sure why MAG would use this cover for Echopraxia. It’s basically Blindsight with tweaked gamma.

Ah.  That's more like it.

Ah. That’s more like it.

So Echopraxia isn’t just coming out in North America, from Tor. It’s also coming out from Astrel/AST (in Russian), Fleuve Noir (in French), Heyne (German), MAG (Polish), and Tokyo Sogen (Japanese).  Hopefully it’ll eventually come out in other jurisdictions as well, but these are the guys who signed up sight unseen.  I can only hope the book justifies their faith.

It’s also coming out in English. Not US English, but English English.  The Queen’s fucking English.  It’s being released in the UK (and other Commonwealth nations, if a certain bit of Australian  cover art is anything to go on) by London’s Head of Zeus.  This is a first for me— not just because I’ve never had a separate English-language release outside of N’Am, but because this is the first time I’ve actually had a hand in the cover art.

I’m not just talking about being allowed to provide input on someone else’s art. I’m not talking about being handed a sketch and asked What do you think?, and saying Cool but this detail isn’t accurate, and them saying Well tough this is how we’re doing it.  I’m talking about actually being one of the cover artists.  Because if you look at the big beautiful cover at the bottom of this post, you might recognize that model of the Crown of Thorns I cobbled together in an obsolete version of Photoshop.

A vote for verisimilitude.

One vote for verisimilitude.

Firefall-Australia

I think this is how it looks in Australia.

You might ask why the Crown is in orbit around Big Ben, when everyone knows that it was Theseus that went out there? Well, that was one of the iterations we tried out— one I still prefer very slightly, just because I have a stick up my ass about narrative consistency. Aesthetically, though, Nic Cheetham at Zeus points out that the Crown is easier to see against the background. Mesopone, offered the same choice, opts for “the fat one”. And Caitlin, most eloquent of us all, opines that the Crown of Thorns constitutes “a more significant presence next to the giant, Georgia O’Keefe-like Vagina of Flame.”

You can see why I married her.

FIREFALL-ensmallened

Three for aesthetics.

You might also ask why Echopraxia is coming out as Firefall in the UK, and the answer is: it isn’t. Firefall ≠  Echopraxia. Firefall = Blindsight + Echopraxia, released as an omnibus volume in celebration of its UK debut. Echopraxia will be getting its own standalone release a few months down the road, so nobody’s forcing you to shell out hard-earned bucks for words you’ve already read just to get a crack at words you haven’t. (In fact, Nick actually asked me to write an introductory note for the omnibus, warning potential re-readers up front that they’d be paying for  two books instead of one. It’s a nice change from βehemoth days.)

So that’s the story. Except for the fact that I’ll also be providing HoZ with an illustration of Theseus for the Blindsight half of the omnibus (no, not the LEO picture from my last post— although both are based around the incredibly cool model work of  Andrew Chase. So if you’re into that kind of thing, the omnibus might be up your alley even if you have read the first half.

Also, that tag line: is it awesome, or what?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Posted in: ink on art, writing news by Peter Watts 24 Comments

Assorted Interrogatives.

Theseus under construction in LEO, six weeks  prior to launch.

Theseus under construction in LEO, six weeks prior to launch.

Coming up to breathe for a moment in between web site renovations (going well, thank you) and attempts to burrow through a tangled morass of Russian bureaucracy (not so much— in fact, that whole trip just might go tits-up over the next couple of days), I see a couple of interviews have gone live.  In one of them— the last of Clay Dugger’s epic 5-part series Watching the Skies: From “Who Goes There?” to THE THING — I basically jam with Mr. Dugger on the subject of “The Things”, and how it fits into the greater Campbellian canon. I also seem to remember having some unkind words for the 2011 prequel, and some thoughts on Lamarckian biology, and differences between the movie and the Alan Dean Foster novelization, and that time when Dog-Kennel-Thing split into two halves and one half punched its way up through the ceiling and nobody seemed to worry about where it went or what it might be doing up there. I’m not really sure. The episode goes on for almost two hours (I don’t think a single part of the five weighs in at less than one), and we recorded it a while ago— so while I dimly remember having a blast on Skype, I’m kinda fuzzy on the content. For all I know at this point, I could’ve spent half the time giggling and making farting noises with my armpit.

Still, if you have several hours to kill and you’re at all interested in a certain misunderstood shape-shifting alien, you could do worse than head over to the Chronic Rift Network and avail yourself of the wisdom of such folks as Dave Robison, Paul K. Bisson, Paul Elard Cooley, and, well, me.

The other interview is of more recent vintage— it just went live on Friday, courtesy of our friends over at Clarkesworld— and is more conventionally formatted in text instead of tones. It will take you significantly less than one hour forty five minutes to get through it all, and while a couple of the questions may have a familiar ring (Do you write from an outline? Does it scare you how fast reality catches up to your lame-ass predictions?), there are others that, perhaps surprisingly, no one has asked me before (How hard is it to imagine you’re Siri Keeton?) Also I change my long-held position about Scientists As Communicators. In fact, I turn 180° on the subject.

Which doesn’t mean that I’m any happier about it, of course.

Posted in: interviews by Peter Watts 15 Comments

You Could Save This Man’s Life.

Or at least, you could if the names LaFrance, Harton, Champetier, or Deidier appear in your family tree.

Some of you may know, or know of, Joël Champetier. He’s an author and editor, very active in Quebec’s SF community. I’ve met the man a few times myself, perhaps most notably during a group-orgy of a book launch back in ’99 during which both us gave birth to novels sired by Tor.

He’s a nice guy. He’s a smart guy. He’s about my age. And a bunch of rogue cells in his bone marrow are trying to kill him.

This is what he needs, straight from his wife, Valérie Bédard:

“We are looking for stem cell donors, age 18 to 35, in good health. Four names are crucial: people with ancestors named LAFRANCE, HARTON (especially the colony east of Quebec, along the saint-Laurence, but the original ancestor is from Germany ) and CHAMPETIER from the south of France, also DEIDIER, south of France, Belgium but may be somewhere else in Europe.

If you have ancestors by those names, please contact Héma-québec or your local blood bank to have your ADN tested. STEM CELL DONATION is PAINLESS and does not require surgery nor hospitalisation.

In the province of Québec, you must be between 18 and 35 years old and in good health. But in some countries, the limit of age is upper. So, if you want to help, even if you are in other countries than Canada, please contact the closest organization for stem cells donation. The data base is international, so…”

Spread the word.  Make it happen.

Posted in: misc by Peter Watts 4 Comments

But Not the Part Where Everyone Gets Burned Alive.

“The Colonel”, my Echopraxia tie-in, is slotted to go live at Tor.com over the next couple of days.  I thought I’d give you a bit of a preview, in between checking out Snowpiercer and going my sixth round with the Russian bureaucracy.

I don’t know whether Tor’s planning on luring anyone in with a teaser excerpt, but if they do I’m guessing it might highlight the opening action-packed tewwowist-hive-mind-immolating scenes. So, in contrast, I thought I’d serve up something a bit more boring (and more thematically representative).

No points if you can guess who this is:

 

This global survey, this threat-assessment of hived minds: it’s not his only assignment. It’s only his most recent. A dozen others idle in the background, only occasionally warranting examination or update. Realist incursions into the UKapelago; a newly-separatist Baptist Convention, building their armed gyland on the high seas. The occasional court-martial of some antique flesh-and-blood infantry whose cybernetic augments violate the Rules of Engagement. They all sit in his queue, pilot-lit, half-forgotten. They’ll flag him if they need his attention.

But there’s one candle the Colonel has never forgotten, though it hasn’t flickered for the better part of a decade. It, too, is programmed to call out in the event of any change in status. He checks it anyway, daily. Now— back for a couple of days in the large empty apartment he kept even after his wife went to Heaven— he checks it again.

No change.

He puts his inlays to sleep, takes grateful refuge in the silence that fills his head once the overlays and the status reports stop murmuring through his temporal lobe. He grows belatedly aware of a real sensation, the soft tick of claws on the tiles behind him. He turns and glimpses a small furry black-and-white face before it ducks out of sight around the corner.

The Colonel adjourns to the kitchen.

Zephyr’s willing to let the apartment feed him— he pretty much has to be, given the intermittent availability of his human servant— but he doesn’t like it much. He refused outright at first, rendered psychotic by some cross-species dabbler who must have thought it would be enlightening or transcendent or just plain cute to “share consciousness” with a small soul weighing in at one-tenth the synapse count. The Colonel tries to imagine what that kind of forced fusion must have been like: thrust into a maelstrom of incomprehensible thought and sensation, blinding as a naked sun; thrown back into stunned bleeding darkness once some narcissistic god got bored and cut the connection.

Zephyr hid in the closet for weeks after the Colonel brought him home, hissed and spat at the sight of sockets and fiberop and the low-slung housecleaner trundling quietly on its rounds. After two years his furry little brain has at least rejigged the cost/benefit stats for the kibble dispenser in the kitchen but he’s still more phantom than fur, still mostly visible only from the corner of the eye. He can be coaxed into the open if he’s hungry and if the Colonel is very still; he still recoils at physical contact. The Colonel indulges him, and pretends not to notice the ragged fraying of the armrest on the living room couch. He doesn’t even have the heart to get the socket removed from the patch of twisted scar tissue on Zephyr’s head. No telling what post-traumatic nightmares might be reawakened by a trip to the vet.

Now he fills the kibble bowl and stands back the requisite two meters. (This is progress; just six months ago he could never stray closer than three.) Zephyr creeps into the kitchen, nose twitching, eyes darting to every corner.

The Colonel hopes that whoever inflicted that torment went on to try more exotic interfaces once they got bored with mammals. A cephalopod, perhaps. By all accounts, things get a lot less cuddly when you go B2B with a Pacific octopus.

At least Human hives can lay claim to mutual consent. At least its members choose the violence they inflict on themselves, the emergence of some voluntary monster from the pool of all those annihilated identities. If only it stopped there. If only the damage ended where the hive did.

His son’s candle slumbers in its own little corner of his network, a pilot light in purgatory. Zephyr glances around with every second bite, still fearful of some Second Coming.

The Colonel knows how he feels.

Oh, yes.  It's relevant.

Oh, yes. It’s very relevant.

Posted in: fiblet by Peter Watts 43 Comments