A Hot Time in the Ol’ Town Tonight.

Going over the galleys for Beyond the Rift. Most of these stories I haven’t read since I first wrote them— which means I’m revisiting some of them for the first time in almost a quarter century. Some stand up.  Others, not so much.

“Flesh Made Word”, for example. Third story I ever got published. Got nominated for some dickass Canadian literary award. My earliest neuropunk, and not a bad thematic punchline in principle— but yuck. Overwrought and emo. Like Lisa Simpson’s Meditations on Turning Eight, but without the funny or endearing bits. And the neuro elements were — clunky, to say the least. Anyone interested in tracking my development as a writer through the years might find it valuable as a kind of Wattsian proto-story, containing the crudeiments of themes later explored with greater sophistication.  Revisiting it after all these years, though, I have to wonder why Tachyon chose to include it in a collection presumably meant to be read for pleasure.  I console myself with the thought that Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. (“Nimbus”, on the other hand, dates from about the same time and is also kinda emo— but fares a lot better, IMO.)

In contrast with the past, the future is somewhat brighter. Behold the cover art for Echopraxia, courtesy of one Richard Anderson:

Echocomp

I could quibble over matters of technical consistency— whether a guy in a spacesuit could survive that close to the sun without frying, whether the ship in the painting looks like the ship in the book— but you know what? The ship in this painting looks better than the ship in the book. And I couldn’t care less about anal-retentive nuts and bolts when the overall aesthetic of the cover works so well. We are going to the Sun, rs and Ks.  Whereas the last time out we froze in the infinite Lovecraftian darkness of the Oort, now we are diving into the very heart of the solar system— and man, there’s gonna be a hot time in the ol’ town tonight. That’s what this cover says.

I love it.



This entry was posted on Friday, September 27th, 2013 at 4:06 pm and is filed under Dumbspeech, ink on art. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
39 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Xirnium
Guest
Xirnium
8 years ago

Much, much better than Blindsight, Peter. That cover sucked so much. Love this one; reminds me of the harder type of New Wave science fiction art of the 60s and 70s, when there was a Cambrian explosion of ideas in writing and in illustration. Yeah, there are some technical issues with this, but it tries; it shoots for some originality and thoughtfulness, not cliche and pop culture. Excellent.

Anony mouse
Guest
Anony mouse
8 years ago

But does it have a space tintinnid? I thought not. Even the original Star Trek had a space tintinnid.

ken
Guest
ken
8 years ago

Oh man. This is torture. We have another year to wait until its release?

Are you willing to part with any of your advance reading copies, or uncorrected proofs? I’m sure there would be quite the bidding war amongst the folks who frequent these boards.

Whoever
Guest
Whoever
8 years ago

Very cool cover. Is that WaPo review snippet in existence on the Interwebs?

Whoever
Guest
Whoever
8 years ago

And speaking of “Flesh Made Word”:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/hawking-predicts-uploading-the-brain-into-a-computer

Of course I don’t really get what he’s saying. Kurzweil’s book makes it pretty clear what some of the differences are and taking out the neurochem portion sounds like a real bore of an artificial mind.

Was going to add that emo might not be a bad submarket. I suspect they grow up to be scifi geeks.

Xirnium
Guest
Xirnium
8 years ago

Whoever,

It’s from a capsule review of Blindsight available here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/15/AR2007021501542.html

Kevin L.
Guest
Kevin L.
8 years ago

Dear Mr. Peter Watts,

Shutup and take my money already. -Sheesh-

Sincerely,
Loyal Wattsian subject

Sheila
Guest
Sheila
8 years ago

ECHOPRAXIA! woo!

I like the fontface and the kerning in your name and title.

take with grain of salt. I don’t know about typography don’t ask me about typography.

Sheila
Guest
Sheila
8 years ago

ken,

there’s the in progress snippet. it’s not long enough, but mabye it helps.

Peter D
Guest
8 years ago

Mmm, pretty.

As for ‘guy in a space suit’, I’ll just pretend it’s a ConSensus view of something, I’m not generally too picky on technical accuracy on book covers.

I’m both relieved and strangely disappointed that the cover wasn’t some kind of depiction of Val the vampire in an improbably sexy spacesuit and some kind of even more improbable big space gun leering over the body of a comrade while fighting an alien beast.

Bastien
Guest
Bastien
8 years ago

Kevin L.:
Dear Mr. Peter Watts,

Shutup and take my money already. -Sheesh-

Sincerely,
Loyal Wattsian subject

What he said.

geoffrey wall
Guest
8 years ago

Peter,

I am so excited for the new book.

Seeing the post got me thinking about something.
I’ve been reading the printsf subreddit a lot lately
http://www.reddit.com/r/printsf
(A link to your blog post is actually at the top of the page at the time of this writing).

Anyways, in my reading of /r/printsf I am seeing Blindsight come up a lot
when people there are discussing contemporary scifi or making recommendations for more recent novels. Your name consistently is mentioned in the same list as the likes of Stross, Banks, MacLeod, and Reynolds. That is to say: you are consistently mentioned along with what I would consider the top tier of modern scifi writers.

And that makes me wonder if Blindsight, though met with poor sales initially, might be starting to see some significant growth as more scifi readers get turned on to your work though word of mouth.

I would guess that Echopraxia will be met with much greater success in terms of sales than Blindsight originally was due to the burgeoning ranks of scifi fans who have been turned on to your work over the last 7 years or so.

Any thoughts about this? Are more copies of Blindsight selling now-a-days?
I have bought many copies of this book to give to people, since it is one of my favorites.

Anyways, I hope the book does well, especially here in America, where I don’t think you get as much respect as your work warrants (a lot IMHO).

Alexey
Guest
Alexey
8 years ago

I wonder, why there is no back and forth between cover artists and authors. The artist would begin by making a few thumbnail sketches in any case; how hard would it be to have the writer vet them?

Sheila: I like the fontface and the kerning in your name and title.

I have to admit, I find the gradient across WATTS somehow fascinating.

Y.
Guest
Y.
8 years ago

Seems to me there’s too much red in there. So, view from a camera running some sort of red filter?


I wonder, why there is no back and forth between cover artists and authors. The artist would begin by making a few thumbnail sketches in any case; how hard would it be to have the writer vet them?

Stross explained many publishing mysteries on his blog.
Basically, usually the writers don’t have much input into covers. It’s something of a privilege to have a say..

Alexey
Guest
Alexey
8 years ago

Peter Watts: I don’t think that is a gradient. I bet it’s the same color all the way across, but contrast with the background makes the brain perceive a color shift where none exists. Yet another example of why we can’t trust our senses.

Which is a theme common to both Blindsight and Echopraxia.

It is definitely a gradient, but the interaction with the background makes it look very interesting.

http://i.imgur.com/XGP3HST.png

Jeremy C
Guest
Jeremy C
8 years ago

Peter Watts:I don’t think that is a gradient.I bet it’s the same color all the way across, but contrast with the background makes the brain perceive a color shift where none exists. Yet another example of why we can’t trust our senses.

Which is a theme common to both Blindsight and Echopraxia.

MS Paint just confirmed, it is a gradient. However, I took the dark grey from the P in Peter and filled in all of the WATTS letters, it still looks like it has a gradient due to the contrast perception thingy. So I think the artist was just trying to exaggerate the effect. Either way it looks pretty cool.

Alexey
Guest
Alexey
8 years ago

Y.: Stross explained many publishing mysteries on his blog.
Basically, usually the writers don’t have much input into covers. It’s something of a privilege to have a say..

Thanks for the pointer. I found the article. This seems to be the reason writers are not consulted:

It is a well-understood constant of the publishing world that authors frequently hate their book covers so much that they feel compelled to bring Western Civilization to a crashing halt until they can get a minor detail — the heroine’s hair colour, for example — changed. Ways of coping with this common problem have therefore been developed.

trackback

[…] Echopraxia by Peter Watts (2014) — “We are going to the Sun, rs and Ks.  Whereas the last time out we froze in the infinite Lovecraftian darkness of the Oort, now we are diving into the very heart of the solar system— and man, there’s gonna be a hot time in the ol’ town tonight.” […]

Sheila
Guest
Sheila
8 years ago

Alexey:
I have to admit, I find the gradient across WATTS somehow fascinating.

I missed that at first. It makes the text show up against a dark background. Maybe it was a pragmatic choice.

Given the fun of pulling out the text to examine, I wonder if the artist would ever release the design file and allow remixes.

Ensley F. Guffey
Guest
8 years ago

Peter: “I could quibble over matters of technical consistency— whether a guy in a spacesuit could survive that close to the sun without frying, whether the ship in the painting looks like the ship in the book— ”

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, BITCH!

(Tonight the role of Fry was voiced by Aaron Paul)

Peter D
Guest
8 years ago

Although, taking a second look… are we sure that big thing is actually the sun? I mean, despite the curvature, the disc doesn’t extend below the ship (or it it does, the sun gets remarkably dark down there for a big ball of flaming gas).

Perhaps it’s meant to illustrate some kind of solar flare type effect, coming from the sun (the brightest point) in front of the ship, and it just has a weirdly smooth curve at the point that connects the A and the X. Given some of the stuff in Blindsight, somebody deliberately causing one of those to discourage a ship headed their way doesn’t seem to be out of the question.

Or maybe the tiny brightest spot was what you meant by the sun all along and I’m the only one who thought you meant the whole big ball of brightness.

mdogx
Guest
mdogx
8 years ago

We wait in Russian)

fvngvs
Guest
fvngvs
8 years ago

Cover art noted. Siezing the associated volume is now a purely spinal relex.
Waiting for it to show up in $BOOKSHOP is going to be more tedious.

If you can get your paws on the art for “Beyond the Rift,” we can organise a raiding party for that, too. November is only ’round the corner.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy
8 years ago

Peter D:
Although, taking a second look… are we sure that big thing is actually the sun?I mean, despite the curvature, the disc doesn’t extend below the ship (or it it does, the sun gets remarkably dark down there for a big ball of flaming gas).

Perhaps it’s meant to illustrate some kind of solar flare type effect, coming from the sun (the brightest point) in front of the ship, and it just has a weirdly smooth curve at the point that connects the A and the X.Given some of the stuff in Blindsight, somebody deliberately causing one of those to discourage a ship headed their way doesn’t seem to be out of the question.

Or maybe the tiny brightest spot was what you meant by the sun all along and I’m the only one who thought you meant the whole big ball of brightness.

I don’t think there is any question that it is the sun. We know from various snippets Peter has released that there is a mission out to Icarus that is very close to it.

But I do see your point about the curvature not extending down all the way. To me its looks like something is blocking it though, some part of the ship or station, definatly something is down there.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy
8 years ago

Oh hey, I just found a higher resolution image on google, 1000×1495 instead of the above 601×908. You can more clrearly what is down in the lower right area.

And there is a second suited figure in front of the first one, falling down towards some larger structure that is partially covering the sun.

I had assumed that the cover depicted a ship and in front of that was Icarus. But now I think it is either one long ship through the middle of the image, or 2 seperate ships. And Icarus is some massive structure behind the ship(s) and covering the lower part of the sun.

Alexey
Guest
Alexey
8 years ago

In ten months, this will be the most deeply analyzed book cover ever.

trackback

[…] Echopraxia by Peter Watts (2014) — “We are going to the Sun, rs and Ks.  Whereas the last time out we froze in the infinite Lovecraftian darkness of the Oort, now we are diving into the very heart of the solar system— and man, there’s gonna be a hot time in the ol’ town tonight.” […]

Jaeho
Guest
Jaeho
8 years ago

Awesome! cant wait for dumb spee.. i mean echopraxia 🙂

Tim Keating
Guest
8 years ago

You know — and this is not a complaint — I think you are posting now more that you are officially dark. Then again, contrariness does seem to be a foundational part of your character 🙂

Whoever
Guest
Whoever
8 years ago

Off-topic coolness

Dancing zombie squid dinner dish:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxQmOR_QLfQ

Alexey
Guest
Alexey
8 years ago

Whoever,

Too bad, it is not a dancing zombie vampire squid.

Sheila
Guest
Sheila
8 years ago
seruko
Guest
8 years ago

I’m a little surprised there’s no mention of Phol’s death.

Whoever
Guest
Whoever
8 years ago

Yep, Pohl is gone.

Canadian Alice Munro wins Literary Pulitzer. Congrats Big White North:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/touch/story.html?id=9020517

Whoever
Guest
Whoever
8 years ago

(Guess that should have been Great White North, but you know, Harper and whatnot).

Robert S. Wilson
Guest
8 years ago

Holy shit! How did I miss this?

trackback
8 years ago

[…] ~ Peter Watts […]