Peter Watts is an Angry Sentient Tumor.

I especially like the “Slippery Surface” motif. Although “Thin Ice” might have been even better…

So that’s the title they went with.

My suggestion was simply “Revenge Fantasies”, but apparently in the #MeToo era such a phrase, in isolation, is too evocative of “revenge porn”. I believe the whole sentient tumor thing was originally coined by Analee Newitz.

As titles go, I admit that it rocks.

I’m surprised to be bringing this up so early. I don’t even know what the collection is going to contain— Tachyon gave me a ballpark word count and I sent them over twice that, leaving them to decide what makes the cut. But given its sudden appearance on Amazon (complete with a handful of skill-testing questions), I guess I can talk about it.

So here it is.

Peter Watts is an Angry Sentient Tumor: Revenge Fantasies and Essays

is pretty much what it sounds like. A few months back Tachyon‘s Jacob Weisman pitched me the idea of an essay collection. My initial reaction was, I suspect, similar to yours: In God’s name, why?  My essays are already available; I’ve been writing them on this very ‘crawl for somewhere around 15 years now. I’ve been writing them for Nowa Fantastyka over in Poland. I’ve even done occasional prestige gigs at places like Aeon and The Daily (generally when someone far hotter than me is struck with flesh-eating disease, and the media needs a memoir from someone who isn’t currently in a medically-induced coma). Hell, even my lectures are sprinkled online here and there.

But apparently Freeze-Frame Revolution continues to do well (so they tell me, anyway), and so did Beyond the Rift in its day (which also packaged old wine in new bottles to good effect, now that I think of it). So Tachyon is interested in keeping me out there. And if John Scalzi can get away with anthologizing his blog posts, why not me? (I’m a lot less virtuous than Scalzi, of course. Hopefully at least some will regard that not as a bug, but a feature.)

So now you know as much as I do: a collection of rants and essays, potentially ranging from climate change to colonoscopies to cats, but really, who knows? Amazon pigeonholes it under  “Science Essays & Commentary”, “Science Fiction & Fantasy Literary Criticism”, and “Science Fiction History & Criticism”. Tachyon pegs its length at 288 pages. You can combine a lot of different modules into a box that size; I’ve even asked them to leave open the possibility of including pieces I haven’t written yet.  Or even second-edition rewrites of older posts, to keep them current (anyone interested in my second-season take on Westworld, now’s the time to speak up).

Hell. If we get desperate you might read these words again in a year or so, posing as an Introduction.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday April 17 2019at 11:04 am , filed under writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

23 Responses to “Peter Watts is an Angry Sentient Tumor.”

  1. Splendid news Peter! Yes, I’d be more than interested in your second-season take on Westworld. How about that getaway ending? Sort of reminds me of the Ex Machina ending.

  2. I’d preorder the ebook, if I could (there will be one, right?). And please share your thoughts on Westworld.

  3. Is Tachyon at least attempting to use recycled materials to churn out your tome? Did enough of your submissions contain climate-change rants, for them to get a clue about your conservation bent? Asking for a sapling…

  4. That’s quite a title, when I saw it first I thought someone was doing a hit job on you…

    As for westworld, it would force me to watch season 2, which I haven’t got around to yet. I don’t quite know how it happened but at some point consuming fiction became a chore.

  5. Can’t wait. Ebook desirable, but I’d love to get a paperback release somewhere you could sign a copy and get it shipped to me (Charlie Stross does this with Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh, for example) …that would be *sweet*!!! (only thing better is buying you a beer or three at a con someday [I expect in Canada…]).

  6. Could you list the essays that are included? Neither amazon.ca nor amazon.com shows the table of contents.

  7. Dale Allen:
    Splendid news Peter! Yes, I’d be more than interested in your second-season take on Westworld. How about that getaway ending? Sort of reminds me of the Ex Machina ending.

    Seconding Westworld Season 2 review request.

  8. Hi Peter,

    Sorry for a tenuously-relevant offtop, but do you know if/when FFR is going to appear in Google’s ebookstore?

  9. Martin Schröder: I’d preorder the ebook, if I could (there will be one, right?).

    Not only will there be an ebook, but I get a way higher royalty rate for those than I do for paper.

    John F.: Is Tachyon at least attempting to use recycled materials to churn out your tome?

    I do not know, but that’s a good question to ask any publisher. I’ll bring it up next time I’m in touch with them.

    In the meantime, there’s always the e-book option. Which sucks in a different way, because it’s Kindle, and Amazon’s Kindle policy sucks in terms of both ownership and privacy. They spy on your reading activity, and they arbitrarily delete your “purchases” on a whim. So basically, you’re fucked either way.

    Not to worry, though. Fifty years from now the whole empire will have collapsed, so who cares?

    Nestor: when I saw it first I thought someone was doing a hit job on you…

    All the best titles seem that way at first glance.

    Ken Kennedy: I’d love to get a paperback release somewhere you could sign a copy and get it shipped to me … (only thing better is buying you a beer or three at a con someday [I expect in Canada…]).

    Totally doable. Although don’t get your hopes up on the Canada thing; for some reason I don’t get invited to a lot of cons up here.

    You know what they say about prophets in their own country…

    Johan Larson: Could you list the essays that are included?

    I could not. I have no idea what the final selection might be. Nobody’s even filled me in on the preliminary selection.

    I do hope, however, that it includes at least some stuff I haven’t written yet. That would at least motivate me to get off my ass and post a few more substantive blog entries (like, that resurrected pig’s brain thing is pretty cool, right?

    a-lex:
    Sorry for a tenuously-relevant offtop, but do you know if/when FFR is going to appear in Google’s ebookstore?

    No clue, sorry. Although, given the fundamental evilness of Google in general (my latest published story is about that, actually), I can’t say I’d be sorry if it never did.

  10. Peter Watts, “like, that resurrected pig’s brain thing is pretty cool, right?”

    I read about that, I don’t know but it kind of weirds me out. What counts for brain dead? One of my coworkers recently had a mild stroke two months ago and experienced loss of motor control on his right side. He’s since recovered most of his motor skills and talks the same and remembers everything before, during and after the stroke. He appears normal, but confides that he’s changed emotionally, in that his emotional tolerances were down.

    I think Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein captured the the consequences of resurrecting the dead. Imagine the emotional trauma – first confusion, remembering but not able to cope, then just angry and outraged.

  11. Being old I’m not really up to speed on this modern concept that a book can be ordered by the customer before the content has actually been decided. How involved are you in deciding what gets in and what is cut? And in turn, can what we write here affect your decision?

    In answer to “In God’s name, why?” because this reader at least is lazy and would like to have all the various snippets and interviews and essays in one place. I’m sure you’ve mentioned the Polish magazine? website? here, but I’ve never read any of them.

  12. Peter Watts,

    >>>>>In the meantime, there’s always the e-book option. Which sucks in a different way, because it’s Kindle

    I hope there’ll be a Kobo version, too – I don’t own a Kindle.

  13. I will buy it.

    I am looking forward to the new material, but your blog is worth reading again.

  14. Hell yes, instabuy for me. Since i actively boycott Bezos Empire of Evil, i will have to buy the physical copy or hope it comes out on alternative ebook stores. For what its worth, i managed to grab “Freeze-Frame-Revolution” via an alternative storefront as well, so there is hope.

  15. Hm, problem is I prefer paper books; it’s easier to navigate for me, for starters.

    Couldn’t you make a deal they only use recycled paper made from promotional material from the Conservative Party of Canada, for starters?

    On another note, I just nicknamed the computer system of the company I do customer support for “Chimp”. It’s not nearly as intelligent, but quite vicious, too.

  16. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613349/a-full-life/

    Read this and thought to myself “Peter Watts would approve”. Maybe your message is percolating a little bit

  17. Please don’t compare yourself to John ”

    Peter Watts: Which sucks in a different way, because it’s Kindle, and Amazon’s Kindle policy sucks in terms of both ownership and privacy. They spy on your reading activity, and they arbitrarily delete your “purchases” on a whim. So basically, you’re fucked either way.

    You can never connect your Kindle to the network and only ever put pirated/downloaded DRM free books on it. The Amazon store there is just a convenience feature.

    I kept wondering when my Kindle is gonna get bricked by Amazon. Highly doubt they don’t know what people are doing with their Kindles, yet… it didn’t brick itself. Lasted four years and died to what seemed like a battery error.

    More than half of what I read there were pirated books. Only excuse I have is that a good deal of those were re-reads of paper books I own..

    Come to think of it, never connecting my next Kindle to the internet sounds like a neat idea.

  18. Nestor,

    Paolo’s been on that train since day one. One of the best sci fi writers out there.
    if you haven’t, check out The Windup Girl. It’s haunting in the same way.

  19. popefucker:
    Nestor,

    Paolo’s been on that train since day one. One of the best sci fi writers out there.
    if you haven’t, check out The Windup Girl. It’s haunting in the same way.

    I still say the thing to do is declare a state of climate emergency, impose punitive but transitory taxes on profits of fossil fuel companies, start building a solid power supply based on liquid fuelled molten salt reactors. Anyone who starts spouting anti-nuclear hysteria would be sent to a re-education camp where they’d be forced to study and answer questions on the Chernobyl disaster. Which directly killed <50 people.

    So far, more than thirty years after the disaster, there's no evidence for excess cancer rates even in people who were running on the top of the burning reactor throwing stuff back in.

    Nuclear power saved millions of lives even in the limited form it's been utilised.

  20. R.,

    sounds like too little too late.

    Any solution must involve completely ending the fossil fuel industry, at the very least. No half-assed regulations. Full transition within 10 years, oh and we should have started 20 years ago.

  21. R.,

    Any solution to this problem must involve completely ending all fossil fuel extraction and refinement, at the very least. Not to mention the serious lifestyle and economic changes that need to happen. No half-assed regulations are going to make a meaningful dent.

    Oh, and we should have done all this 30 years ago if we wanted to really avoid the effects of climate change. It’s going to be hard enough to transition away from this horribly inefficient society, but now we have to do it while dealing with hurricanes and droughts and desertification and plagues.

    Those of us living in the northern regions of the world should consider ourselves lucky, we’ll be spared from the worst, and we have a responsibility to help people fleeing environmental catastrophe in any way we can.

    But of course we won’t. We won’t prepare for anything, all that will happen is the rich will hoard wealth and build their bunkers and make sure the Poors don’t get too uppidy.

  22. Nestor: Read this and thought to myself “Peter Watts would approve”. Maybe your message is percolating a little bit

    I do approve. Damn fine little story.

  23. It’s been a while since I’ve been here, because it took me a long time to recover from the death of Google Reader. It’s nice to be back, and had to order the book of essays immediately, if only to applaud the title.