Excuses and Aspirations

R4I

I do not belong in here.

It’s been a while.

There’ve been these deadlines. A secret Munich gig I can’t talk about which might turn into something and might not: that took me to the end of January. February got swallowed by a lecture, two short stories, and the monthly Nowa Fantastyk column, all written from scratch. Not to mention an earlier story I wrote for the latest iteration of Jonathan Strahan’s Infinity series, which— after laboring on the damn thing for ages, and just ten minutes before sending it off— I discovered I had written for the wrong damn anthology. (Jonathan decided to use it anyway, for reasons which remain unclear— but it’ll be obvious, when the book comes out, which one of these things is not like the other.)

I think, from now on, I may just reject story solicitations on general principles. I always seem to end up pushing the deadline to the limit, and I’m never completely satisfied with the result. In the meantime I fall behind on my science feeds, and abandon the ‘crawl to the tumbleweeds. So maybe, from now on, I should just set some time aside each week for the short stuff, work on stories I’m inspired to write (as opposed to assignedHey, we need 7,000 words of science fiction for a unicorn-theme-based anthology by the end of next month— think you could fit it in?). Send them off when I’m happy with them, and not before. Back-to-my-roots kinda stuff. Who knows, I might even submit something to Analog. (It’s been about twenty years since I even tried.)

EP

A seprequel to “The Island” is in here somewhere.

In the meantime, news has come and gone. Extreme Planets, the anthology from Chaosium that went strangely missing for the better part of a year, is finally out, so another story in the Sunflowers cycle has escaped into the wild.  (A third— which takes place before Eriophora even launches— is that out-of-place number in Reach for Infinity that I lamented a few paragraphs back).  I gave another talk at the SpecFic Colloquium last weekend, in which I reframed the previous four years’ talks to provide context for my decision to abandon empirical science in favor of evangelical religion. (No, really. Ask anyone who was there.) A number of worthy talks flew past the post that day— ranging from a comparison between the works of HP Lovecraft and VC Andrews to a freewheeling Q&A with bestselling author Christopher Golden— but the talk that really stuck in my mind was presented by Liana Kerzner, with the unwieldy title of “Digital Romanticism: Speculative History as Modern Social Commentary in Video Games”. Probably the most cogent analysis of gender and race in video games I’ve encountered— although that might not be saying much, given my lack of expertise in political realms. It impressed  me, anyway. Left me less eager to play Bioshock: Infinite and somewhat more intrigued by this Assassin’s Creed franchise…

This made sense in context. Really.

This was from my talk, not Ms. Kerzner’s. It made sense in context. Really.

Echopraxia (which I have begun to describe as a faith-based Hard-SF novel) is now well and truly in the pipe in France, Germany, Poland, Japan, Russia, and the UK (where it is being sold under the title Firefall— apparently they can do that. Next time I’m putting something in the contract.)

I’m going to be in Japan next month, serving as a GoH at HAL-Con in Kawasaki. I don’t imagine I’ll get a chance to see much outside the convention center— the trip is pretty much in and out with a day or two bolted on the front end for jet-lag— but maybe I can absorb some futurions by osmosis. Any self-respecting SF author has to get over there at some point; my own indoctrination is way overdue. At the very least, maybe I can get one of those anime body pillows.

In the meantime, I am going to catch up. I am going to see friends that I have put on hold for too long. I am going to read for pleasure again; I am going to read for knowledge again, revisit all those RSS feeds that have been streaming discovery after discovery while I’ve fallen ever-further behind the curve. (A side-effect of this, I expect, is more frequent posting of scientific commentary to the ‘crawl.) I am going to pursue the goal of getting this damn website upgraded to a state that’s a little less nineteen-nineties, and adding new content in time for Echopraxia‘s release. I am going to buy a new laptop: one that does not have to be held together with binder clips, one that hasn’t gone mostly dark across the lower-right third of the screen. One whose USB ports never short-circuit the motherboard when you plug anything into them. I am going to play video games.

Mostly, though, I am going to breathe.

It’s been too long.

CrownofThorns-ensmallened

This is the spaceship from Echopraxia. I made it in Photoshop, using aluminum pie plates, model bits, and screen grabs from old Starlost episodes. It fills me with pride.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Saturday March 08 2014at 11:03 am , filed under On the Road, public interface, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

41 Responses to “Excuses and Aspirations”

  1. And Echopraxia is now available for pre-order on the Nook!

  2. Rawr! Very exciting for me.

  3. And pre-ordered! One hardcover’s worth of hard sf mindfuckery on the way.

  4. Any chance the Sunflowers stories will eventually be available in the same publication?

  5. Very very nice PhotoShop work there, the shading and light looks great, you have a talent for that too!

  6. August can’t come soon enough. ( :
    Enjoy Japan.

  7. Any chance of a video and/or transcript of those talks at the Colloquium?

  8. My copy of Extreme Planets arrived via FedEx this morning! I had planned to finish up a different collection I was into, Brin’s ‘The River of Time’, some cool 1980′s sci-fi in there. But you never mentioned that Giants was a seprequel to The Island!!! The Island being my favorite short story ever! WTH! It will now be read before the day ends.

  9. I’m not sure what type of games you enjoy Peter, but I can recommend two indie games currently available on Steam. Neither require top notch hardware and I would expect that they would perform without issue on a laptop or old PC.

    Xenonauts: a (very faithful) homage to XCom. Currently available as an early access game on Steam. It is in a much, much better state then most early access games, I think about 90% complete, the devs are working on balance primarily.

    Dominions 4 – a 4x fantasy game with incredible depth. The number of spells, items, and Pretender God configurations are mind boggling. As a twist, you do not have any sort of real time or turn based control of your units in battle – you give them formation and battle orders and the computer resolves the fight. After the turn is complete, you can view replays of the battles.

  10. I don’t know. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that unicorns are murderous psychopaths. The whole virgin rider thing is suspicious as well. If there’s anyone who can bring the actual terror out that these beasts exude…

    Gratz on breaking free for a while.

  11. a better looking site? heaven to betsy! :D

  12. Catching up with the RSS feeds may be easier said than done. Things are happening “crazy fast” out there. And of course, the pace only ever increases.

    As to getting back to the roots and writing to suit your own needs rather than the pleas of editors and publishers, great idea. You’ll be more relaxed and we will probably get even better stories.

    And inquiring minds want to know, what will be your operating system on the new laptop? ;-)

  13. Bastien:
    Any chance the Sunflowers stories will eventually be available in the same publication?

    That’s the dream, actually. Bundle a collected story-arc with a video game based on the same premise (although with a different set of interleaved missions). Who knows if it’ll actually happen, though.

    Sylocat:
    Any chance of a video and/or transcript of those talks at the Colloquium?

    It’s possible. The ChiSeries people have recorded these things in the past, but the last time they recorded me you couldn’t hear a word I said or make out any of the slides. If it gets posted, I’ll let you all know.

    Cthun: I’m not sure what type of games you enjoy Peter, but I can recommend two indie games currently available on Steam

    Thanks, I shall take these under advisement. I tried to log in to Steam for the first time in months yesterday, only to get connect errors; judging by the internet the problem was at their end, so I’ll try again shortly.

    In the meantime I’ve started this “Dark Souls” thing, which comes highly recommended as the best most frustrating game ever. Also, Richard Morgan keeps praising the first couple of Dead Space games.

    Mr Non-Entity: And inquiring minds want to know, what will be your operating system on the new laptop?

    Windows 7, probably. In fact, I may be on the verge of tossing the whole Linux thing entirely. I do loathe Microsoft, but we just upgraded OpenSuse to 13.1 the other day and now it won’t play any sound. (It’s OpenSuse’s fault, too, not a hardware issue; when I reboot the machine to the Xp partition the sound is just fine). I’ve spent way too much time with Linux out of commission, and that’s with a Linux geek at my side to do all the tough stuff for me (he custom-built my desktop, in fact). Christ knows where I’d be if I had to deal with all these glitches and failures on my own.

  14. whoever,

    You haven’t read Charlie Stross’ short story “Equoid,” have you?

  15. I’ve had the opportunity to write some for-fun stories this past six months, and it has been so supernice. I hope you find the same is true!

  16. In the meantime I fall behind on my science feeds, and abandon the ‘crawl to the tumbleweeds

    Have you published this list somewhere? It doesn’t appear to be the “links” sidebar. I for one am curious about what science feeds I should be reading but amn’t.

  17. whoever,

    whoever – re unicorns – try this (http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/09/equoid)

  18. I don’t know for gaming platforms, but you might consider giving Apple a try. Trade one evil empire for another. Or, maybe try a different linux distro and don’t let it be one that only an expert can manage.

    but for “just works”, I’ve had good experiences with my macs. I don’t have a windows 7 (or 8) to play with to know how much of a “just works” experience those users get, but I have had the experience of trying to help people in beginner workshops (for beginning python, arduinos, etc) and the windows users invariably have some mysterious thing going on…

    on the other hand, that’s just a small set of use cases, so who knows.

    grab some friends who use osx and windows and put their computers through your paces and see what it feels like. I’ve got this sinking feeling that one day macs might be all ios rather than osx so you should probably take that in to account to.

    ps. I’ve seen my friend play assassins creed and that game looks amazing.

  19. ‘I haz a smug. Cause of my smug: an ARC of “Echopraxia” by Peter Watts just fell through the letter box.’

    https://twitter.com/cstross/status/443066417999794176

  20. LJ:
    ‘I haz a smug. Cause of my smug: an ARC of “Echopraxia” by Peter Watts just fell through the letter box.’

    https://twitter.com/cstross/status/443066417999794176

    LJ, your smug, I hate it.

  21. my partner’s reaction to open suse was a guffaw and a look on his face that said “unfortunate choice”.

  22. Jeremy C,

    It’s Stross’s smug. I often have a hate on for Scalzi because he posts pictures of all the ARCs he gets.

  23. LJ,

    How about auctioning it for a charity of Peter’s choice? Might be a good way to help out those poor feline devils that don’t find their way to his doorstep.

  24. OK. I am officially a creepy old man. I accidentally clicked on Liana K’s link (and picture), and I am now in love (lust?). Reminds me of a certain mermaid in a certain St. Andrew’s parade. I have a picture if you are interested.

  25. First, since when did you screen your comments for “moderation”? Sounds like LifeSiteNews.

    But you really have to give yourself some time in Japan. I was there last fall and enjoyed it. I actually had Kobe beef in Kobe, and some cow entrails, but that’s another story. The most interesting part is the culture. In Tokyo, you stand on the left on escalators and pass on the right. And if you get it wrong, you get pushed aside (you will love that experience because they do not accept being freakishly tall as an excuse). But in Kobe, only a couple hours by bullet train (which you really have to take), you stand on the right and pass on the left.

    Make sure that you take some time to see things.

  26. anonemouse

    No, but figured someone might point me in that direction. Thanks.

  27. Glad you have some breathing time, finally.

    Any links to the transcripts of your talk and/or Liana Kerzner’s talk ?
    I’m kind of interested what she has to say about Bioshock Infinite, because I liked it quite a lot (yes, it’s kind of fucked up, but in a good way… any story that involves time travel and “many-worlds interpretation” has to be fucked up), and of course, as a priest of the Machine God, I am curious as to what “evangelical religion” you have chosen to follow ;)

    As to laptoppery, if I may inquire, why OpenSuse, of all the distros ? (not to start a “holywar” or anything)

    P.S.:
    And the blog is eating my comments… again!

  28. Peter, it appears the blawg is eating them comments … again :(

  29. Hey Peter, just letting you know that the blawg is devouring comments again – it’s just eaten three of mine. Could you check if they are anywhere to be found ?

  30. Err, I guess the slide from your presentation relates to this paper

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19675176

    so we might guess somewhat what your talk was about…

    BTW, sorry to some members of the commentariat for deserting from the discussion on self-domestication, I was somewhat busy…

  31. I am sorry folks, I failed at attributing the quotation clearly. I feel as miserable as the rest of you.

  32. Peter Watts:
    In the meantime I’ve started this “Dark Souls” thing, which comes highly recommended as the best most frustrating game ever.

    Funny you should be getting into Dark Souls, because the sequel’s coming out soonish and the launch trailer uses Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull of all things.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0jC38feoB4

    So at least we know their marketing guys have good taste.

  33. Oh… that’s embarrassing. All the comments have appeared, simultaneously (though some of them are awaiting moderation)… I would appreciated if the duplicate ones get purged. Sorry for disturbance (the commenting system is still behaving somewhat oddly, though)

  34. Oh great. I lived in Japan for fifteen freakin’ years, and you finally come for a visit in the year that I’m transferred to Hong Kong. Sheesh. Ah, well. Still excited for August.

  35. jseliger: Have you published this list somewhere? It doesn’t appear to be the “links” sidebar. I for one am curious about what science feeds I should be reading but amn’t.

    I have not, and I wouldn;t take my list for anything close to comprehensive or even representative. It’s just a bunch of science blogs, journals, and SF sites that have accreted over the years, largely on the basis of how often people send me links to them. (For example, if I field one more reference to something called “War is Boring”, I may add that to the list.)

    LJ: ‘I haz a smug. Cause of my smug: an ARC of “Echopraxia” by Peter Watts just fell through the letter box.’

    https://twitter.com/cstross/status/443066417999794176

    Great. Now, if a blurb from Charlie doesn’t show up on the cover, I’ll know he hated it.

    Anony mouse:
    OK. I am officially a creepy old man. I accidentally clicked on Liana K’s link (and picture), and I am now in love (lust?). Reminds me of a certain mermaid in a certain St. Andrew’s parade. I have a picture if you are interested.

    Dude, you were officially a creepy old man in 1982. I do remember that mermaid, though. I think I passed out on her bed and threw up in my sleep. Those were the days.

    Anony mouse: First, since when did you screen your comments for “moderation”? Sounds like LifeSiteNews.

    I don’t, really. First-time posters get held, previously-approved posters don’t. Sometimes the system puts previously-approved posters back into moderation for some reason. Either you’re posting from a novel IP or rifters.com has become sentient. I’m not worrying about it too much because I expect all the old problems will get swept away in the upcoming overhaul. And replaced with new ones.

    01: Any links to the transcripts of your talk and/or Liana Kerzner’s talk ?

    Not yet. Not as far as I know, anyway. The ChiZine people usually post these things eventually, but in the past the quality’s been pretty muddly. I’m going to be getting drunk with one of the organizers around the end of the month sometime; I’ll let you know what she says.

    As to laptoppery, if I may inquire, why OpenSuse, of all the distros ? (not to start a “holywar” or anything)

    Hey, don’t blame me. Everybody I knew was going with Ubuntu, except the guy who set me up with my box derided that as training-wheels-for-Linux-dummies. Which really would have made it the One For Me, but I went with his choice instead because what do I know?

    And the blog is eating my comments… again!

    No it isn’t. It’s just chewing them well before swallowing.

    Bastien: Funny you should be getting into Dark Souls, because the sequel’s coming out soonish and the launch trailer uses Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull of all things.

    And man, is there a lot of hate in the comments section for that choice of music! I am crushed.

  36. Preordered Echopraxia the day it came up on Amazon.

    Glad to hear you’re busy with the writer’s life, Peter. An authorial friend of mine is ending up in the same anthology as one of your stories; so he had to endure my raging envy all week. :)

  37. Peter Watts,

    “Dude, you were officially a creepy old man in 1982.”

    No, back then I was a creepy young man.

    Yes, I remember that evening. You threw up in a mermaid’s bed and I played poker in my underwear with Foster, Pauli and Delbeek (and, no, it was nothing homoerotic. It was pouring rain as we walked up the hill). In spite of your mass reverse peristalsis, I think that your night was more interesting.

  38. ‘Firefall’?
    News to me (a UK reader/Watts fan boy) – I pre-ordered/paid and the image is of ‘Echopraxia’ and the cover you showed us
    Maybe this will change between now and Sept, unless they plan to ship me a US copy?

  39. Gary Flood:
    ‘Firefall’?
    News to me (a UK reader/Watts fan boy) – I pre-ordered/paid and the image is of ‘Echopraxia’ and the cover you showed us
    Maybe this will change between now and Sept, unless they plan to ship me a US copy?

    Maybe that last thing. ‘Cause this is what I get when I go to the publisher page.

  40. Ah, ok

  41. > I expect, is more frequent posting of scientific commentary to the ‘crawl.

    Yes, yes, please, oh thank you.