Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Back to School

I took some time off from this blog because, (1) who cares and (2) I went back to school. After 31 years, I decided to work on my Masters of English and Ohio Dominican said, sure, why the heck not. Go Panthers!

It’s kind of weird trying to master my own first language. Still, if you’re going to write for a living, it’s best to know how. Eventually somebody’s going to ask you about a predicate and you should be able to state something about the subject.

The program is entirely online. It took a bit of adjustment. If not for my daughter Nina, I’m not sure I could’ve navigated the chats and posts. In cyberspace no one can see you raise your hand. I mostly made through the classes to date, and I’m mostly sure I can see this through to the end. I can see it in 2020. Ha.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

What you need to know about the Knowers

The Knowers by Nina Martineck is not what you’re expecting. It has the intrigue of dystopian fiction and the tension of a romance, but it is neither of those things. A fresh, quirky conspiracy book about the kind of awkward kids you know, it has a story that pulls you along and dialogue that makes you smile. It leaves you with a couple of things to contemplate. I’m not sure I want my young adult fiction to do more than that.

The hook of the book is the Knowers for which the novel is named: kids who feel different, learn they are different, and then come to terms with the fact that, like everything, your specialness can be a bug or a feature. They perceive time differently, which can make them seem smart and clever. And gives them the power, collectively, to rule the world from the shadows. It does not give them the power of avoid crushes, hold tempers or avoid catastrophe.

All of which makes for a really fun read. Looking forward to the next one.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Milkman Always Rings Twice

I am pleased to announce a very narrow science fiction sub-genre: Milkmen Dystopia. I was shooting for “Milkpunk” to be more in line with current subculture, but you don’t always get to pick these things. The terms “Impressionism” and “Cubism” were coined by journalists. That’s the way nicknames work, so I won’t fight it.

Milkman by Anna Burns (Check out this review) doesn’t have anything to do with a world bereft of governments, but it is set in a tomorrow we may not altogether like.

What I do like is the growth-rate of Milkman-related speculative fiction. It doubled over night. That’s better than bitcoin.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

For writers, a peek behind the curtain

I am loving Robert J. Sawyer’s Patreon account. For those not familiar with either –

Shame on you. Robert is one of my favorite writers. He’s probably most famous for his novel Flash Forward, which became a television show. He should be most famous for Quantum Night, which imagines technology for detecting psychopaths. The book is insightful and terrifying, and not in a jump-scare, creepy ghost kind of way. It’s been more than two years since I read it and I still think about it from time to time. There is no better review than that.

Not being familiar Patreon is OK. It’s not as fun as Patron or helpful as a Patronus. It’s close on both accounts, and you don’t need a lime, salt or wand. Patreon lets you become a patron of your favorite artists. You get be someone’s Baron van Swieten or Peggy Guggenheim. Artists get to spend more time creating than marketing, which is what you really want them doing.

Robert’s Patreon feed is more than new material. It’s a very candid look into what it’s like to be a professional writer. He is not giving you a glossy, sugar-coated public relations statement. He is not marketing. And it is very refreshing.

Not a lot of writers like to write about the harsh, mercantile side of the business. Even fewer make it a continuous theme. Robert’s feed talks about frustrations, economics and process. But it’s not dower. He talks about smiles as much as frowns, because that’s how life is. Even the life of a successful writer.

While anyone interested in biography would be interested in these posts, if you’re an aspiring writer, Robert’s Patreon account is an ongoing paternal talk you don’t get from most dads. It's insightful and terrifying.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Liberty’s getting very sleepy

Liberty swings like a watch on a chain. Forces like individualism push on the needs of society, privacy pulls against security and the watch sways up, down and up again. We can follow the movement with literature.

At one apex we see George Orwell’s 1984. I wanted to see what the other side, the Libertarian utopia, so I went about writing two novels. And I have learned two things. First, a world without governments works just fine. Second, one person’s ‘works just fine’ is another’s hell.

The Freeworld, as I envisioned in it The Milkman and The Link Boy (EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy) is set in the near, post-government future. Corporations have foreclosed on debtor governments, disbanded them and bought each other up until only three mega-corporations remain. Everyone works for one of them, birth to death. It is a world free of laws. At least, the unnatural kind.

Natural laws are immutable - gravity, weak force, conservation of energy . . . the fundamentals of economics. In fact, when you fully loose economic forces from the hands of government, they are stronger and easier to see.

One of the first things I realized exploring a post-government world is that it pretty much works like the one we’ve got. People need to eat, drink and not die from dysentery. There is a buck to be made from each of those things, so demand will draw supply. Making such services available requires an educated workforce. Extrapolated out, one finds a world with schools and roads to reach them and power to light up their white-boards. By necessity, corporations in the Freeworld provide universal education, healthcare and even vacation time to create and maintain a workforce that is also a large customer base.

Then there are the things companies don’t need. Privacy? Nope. The company controls all communication and commerce. Personal choice? Algorithms are much better at determining your capabilities than you are, with the added benefit of filing in company needs. Guns? None. The odds of you killing someone the company educated and nurtured until he or she passed peak productivity is too great. Everyone knows liberty has a price, but the costs have changed quite a bit over the years. The tyranny of kings has long passed. We don’t face swords and cannon. We face someone taking our iPhones away or telling us our babies can’t have heart surgery. While not oil painting worthy, they are not small things. We succumb to those threats. No one wants to go backward.

There are places where liberty and the free market part ways. The market, after all, serves the market, not infant mortality rates or quality-of-life indices. Capitalism and Libertarianism are very different words, for reasons that are not always apparent. So I wrote two books for their appearance’s sake.

And because sometimes I think we’ve been lulled into thinking freedom for us, as individuals, is the same as freedom for corporations. The droning voice telling us that started with ‘your eyelids are getting heavy.’ We don’t remember that part too well.

I hope you at least remember my books. They are hypnotic.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Listen up

Hear excerpts from my new novel here 
You will not be disappointed.