Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hobble Along

The United States of America has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Out of every 100,000 people, we keep 707 in jail. Russia’s at 470. China – 172. It is expensive. The average cost per prisoner in the US is $31, 286 (as of 2013) for a total outlay of $38 billion. Worse is the opportunity cost to the economy as a whole. Some inmates train guide dogs or make cabinets but most would be much more productive outside than in. To punish others in this country, we insist on punishing ourselves, but our redress does not have to be a two-way street.

We should hobble law-breakers.

Why build walls and hire guards to restrict movement when removing a foot from a leg costs next to nothing? In today’s information-based economy hands are important. You don’t need both feet to take orders at Zappos. You need them to run and climb fences, which might what got you thrown in jail in the first place. Hobbling offers an offender constant reminders of his or her errors, saves the country billions and maintains a usable workforce. It is quick, easy and I’m fairly certain presents a sound deterrent to future crimes.

With that, I announce that I am seeking the Republican nomination for President

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Reality 2016

There is a problem with the news and it needs to be fixed. I don’t want to avoid the press. I’m not some Unabomber ostrich. I keep my head up and out and want to know what’s going on. This presidential election – a year and a half from now - is making that much more difficult.

The candidates are not news. They are people talking. Were they next to you at a decent party, you would be doing your best to sidle away. They are not generally interesting or even truthful. They are, all of them, your friend’s friend who’s full of crap and yet there on the news, embodying a temporal barrier between you and something you might want to know. Or worse – they have replaced a genuine story.

It is true that we might be able to gain a sense of a candidate’s personality or temperament from the two-year telethon that is the presidential race. Those traits are important when comes time to fill in the dot. None of us need 18 months to decide if a person is reasonable or another caveman busting your wheel, saying, “Father drag, father’s father drag, you drag.”

I don’t care about the Real Housewives of anywhere. I care less
whether or not someone’s property gets flipped, yard crashed or a porcelain poodle is successfully pawned. If I do suddenly care, I can tune in. It should be the same for the presidential race.

The presidential race should get honest, admit it is a reality show and start scheduling like one. If you give a hoot, you can watch for a while. If you don’t, you don’t, leaving the news to the newsmakers. The sharks, the terrorists, people that love or hate flags and whoever licked that donut.

I promise to watch. When it gets interesting. Near the end.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Interview

The writing process is actually more interesting than half the stuff I read. (I won't comment on half the stuff I write.)  So I was pretty happy when Sacha Black asked to interview me about the way I go about things. For the moment, it seems Kim Jong-un has not blocked this interview, but that may not last so enjoy it while you can.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Milkman - by way of Chris Hedges

In his latest book, “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” Chris Hedges argues that the world is on the cusp of revolution. French style - with world churning upheaval.

Here's my favorite quote from an interview with Salon: "There are all sorts of neutral indicators that show that. Low voter turnout, the fact that Congress has an approval rating of 7 percent, that polls continually reflect a kind of pessimism about where we are going, that many of the major systems that have been set in place — especially in terms of internal security — have no popularity at all." Followed by: "This is symptomatic of a state that is ossified and can no longer respond rationally to what is happening to the citizenry, because it exclusively serves the interest of corporate power."

I like when other writers think governments have become little more than middlemen. Makes me feel less alone.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Almost another award

The Milkman was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer book awards.  Not quite an award, but close counts in publishing. The category was general fiction. It's special when a science fiction book gets some recognition outside of the genre.  Actually any recognition is special. If ISIS chose The Milkman for its bookclub I'd be secretly thrilled inside, fighting the urge to tell people. Maybe fighting right along side Iranians, Kurds, Sad Puppies . . . anyway, this near miss is nice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Milkman Takes Home the Gold

The Milkman has won a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards competition: Best science fiction novel in North America, from an independent publisher. I am pretty happy about it. It is the only way I’m ever going to take home a gold medal as my Olympic career was cut short by lack of athletic ability and it doesn’t look like “Reading the New Yorker” or “Shouting to a barista” are even demonstration sports in Rio next year.

My wife Sarah and I will be attending the ceremony in New York May 27. I will post pictures of me wearing the medal and tearing up at the national anthem. My publisher, EDGE, is Canadian, so I hope they play both. Especially the good one.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Ian Sales Cycle

Sometimes you meet someone, you’re intrigued, you spend time together, you learn, you laugh and after a while you realize you’re smitten. Ian Sales new novel, All That Outer SpaceAllows, is the book version. It follows an American astronaut’s wife from the mid-sixties to mid-seventies. She is devoted to him and his career, and writes science fiction on the side. The two halves of her life should have a lot in common. They don’t. The resulting inner conflict is pure, real and underrepresented in literature. It’s also they kind of theme that makes literary science fiction an invaluable genre.

The novel is fully formed and overwhelmingly believable. It will make you doubt your actual knowledge of recent history. Ian employs a canny tool to assuage your doubts. He occasionally intrudes into the story, which at first I found a little disconcerting. Only at first. Once you are moved outside the story, you appreciate the full reflection. The device give the thorough research move depth and meaning.

“Allows” is book four of the Apollo Quartet. The first, Adrift on the Sea of Rains, took home the 2012 British Science Fiction Association Award for his hard sf novella. Each book experiments with our early years in space, testing and prodding and wondering what they may have been like if this or that were different. And in wondering they produce a sense of wonder.

While I enjoyed each book in the quartet, I found “Allows” quite moving. I plan to go back to book one and start again. I expect this time, the journey will be different – which I have come to believe is the point of the whole quartet.