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Archive for April, 2018

AMONG THE WILD CYBERS Kickstarter is open!

I’ll make this quick, since I’m sleepy — I’ve just been sent the notification that the Kickstarter funding campaign for Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman is now running:

The fundraising drive is for both the Wild Cybers collection and the novel Shattered Dreams by fellow Analog veteran Bud Sparhawk. It runs from now to May 30th. This is my first Kickstarter, so I’m not an expert on how it works, but as you can see on the page, donors will get various rewards that get better the more they donate, and there are also stretch goals that will earn donors further bonuses if they’re met. Bonuses include a digital or print copy of the book (received ahead of general release, I gather), as well as various bonus stories from different authors. The bonus for the first stretch goal will be a digital copy of “Abductive Reasoning,” my one published original, non-Hub short story to date that isn’t in Wild Cybers. I like that, because I regretted not having room to include it in the collection, so this means it will be “included” after all, though only for Kickstarter backers.

I’ve also offered up a few copies of the hardcover and audiobook editions of Only Superhuman as bonuses, and they’ve even managed to scrounge up a copy of Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder to offer as a bonus to one lucky $40 donor. And of course Bud Sparhawk and the eSpec Books team are offering numerous additional bonuses of their own, and there will be more bonuses announced later. It looks like we’re already making good progress toward the minimum goal needed to fund the books, but hopefully we can do much better with your help.

“Hubpoint of No Return” is out!

It slipped my mind that yesterday was the on-sale date for the May/June 2018 Analog Science Fiction and Fact, containing my new story “Hubpoint of No Return,” the first new Hub comedy-adventure in Analog since 2013, and the first new Hub material to see print since the Hub Space collection in 2015. I’m quite honored to see that the story is featured by name on the cover:

Analog May/June 2018 cover

It’s rather mind-boggling to see my name given more prominence than luminaries like Wil McCarthy and the legendary Gregory Benford. I can only dream of being on their level.

The Analog site has a substantial excerpt up from “Hubpoint” available to read, along with a glimpse at the accompanying illustration by Josh Meehan:

http://www.analogsf.com/current-issue/story-excerpt2/

(Note to future readers: The above “current issue” link will probably lead to some other story after the end of June 2018.)

It’s a pretty cool illustration. I never imagined David wearing glasses, and Tsshar isn’t supposed to have a tail (assuming my single erroneous mention of one in the manuscript was successfully corrected in proofreading), but otherwise it looks like it captures the scene and characters quite well.

I learned of the issue’s release this morning in a rather nice way, when I checked Facebook and found a very flattering (though spoilery) review of the story at Rocket Stack Rank:

http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2018/04/Hubpoint-Of-No-Return-Christopher-L-Bennett.html

Money quote: “The best part of the story is the characters, who keep managing to be predictable in unexpected ways.”

I’m pleased that reviewer Greg Hullender plugged (and bought) the Hub Space collection of the first three stories. I’ve been hoping that the release of the new Hub stories would prompt new sales of the collection. But I’m also pleased that the reviewer felt the new story could be followed without prior knowledge of the series, so it could work as a new introduction and interest people in going back to the beginning afterward.

I’ve now updated my Hub page on my site, retitling it “The Hub Series” to account for the new stories (though the link address is the same) and adding non-spoiler background discussion on the story. Spoiler annotations will follow soon, but first I have to get my copies of the magazine so I can get the page numbers right.

More WILD CYBERS progress: Preorder listings and Goodreads

Folks who’ve looked at my site’s front page will have already seen that preorder links are starting to appear for Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman. Here they are again:

They’re showing publication dates of either June 29 or August 1, but neither date is entirely settled yet. Either way, the Kickstarter backers will get first crack at the book.

The Amazon page for the paperback includes an image of the back cover text, which I noticed had a couple of typos. (The line “humanity must adjust their understanding” should’ve been “its understanding,” and the summary of “Aspiring to Be Angels” contained the phrase “an insane superinelligence.”) Fortunately, the book hasn’t gone to the printers yet, so it was easy to fix both errors, and the corrected back cover is now up on Amazon.

One thing my editor Danielle asked me to do, in order to help promote the book, was to join Amazon’s and Goodreads’s author programs so that I could contribute to and curate my respective author pages. I did that for my Amazon page several months ago, which let me link it to this blog as well as managing my list of books on the site. But since my Goodreads author page already linked to my blog, it didn’t seem as urgent to sign onto it. Still, I decided this past week to get that done at last, and so I’m now a Goodreads author:

Christopher L. Bennett author page at Goodreads

Aside from doing a little maintenance on my list of books there (which included a couple of listings for renamed or cancelled Star Trek titles plus a pop-religion book of some sort by a namesake author), joining up also lets me participate in Goodreads’s “Ask the Author” program, where you can submit questions to me and I try to answer them. It didn’t take long at all for one of my regular readers to find me there and ask me a question, and my answer is posted here.

I’m glad I took the time to answer that question, because it helped me with a short story I’ve been trying to write. The question was what advice I’d give my younger self about writing, and I mentioned the best advice I’ve ever gotten, which was from Deep Space Nine producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe on the one occasion that I pitched to the show back in the ’90s: Always approach a story from the perspective of character. Who is affected most by it? What is personally at stake for them? When I thought about it, I realized I was stuck on my current story because I was going about it backward — starting with the high concept and just hoping the characters would emerge as I wrote. But nothing was really coming, and the story wasn’t going the way I wanted. So last night, I decided I needed to apply Wolfe’s lesson and figure out how to give the viewpoint character a personal stake in the plot and the core conflict. Once I figured that out, a new approach for the story emerged quickly, and I’m already making progress on the revised version, though it meant tossing out most of what I’d already written. It also let me solve an outstanding problem with the premise of the story, something that I thought was key to the central idea but required going someplace darker than I was comfortable with, or than I felt was appropriate for this story. The new idea gave me a better, more character-driven way of arriving at the same point of crisis that catalyzes the rest of the story.

The thing is, it’s one of two short stories I’ve come up with for an anthology that’s only open through the end of the month, and not only am I not sure I’ll finish in time, but I’m not sure it’s turning out to be right for that anthology. I’m not too sure of the other one either, and it’s a good deal shorter (and thus would earn less) than this one should turn out to be, but I may decide to try my luck with that one anyway and save this one for another market. We’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I really should be trying harder to look for a job, but it’s hard for me to balance that and writing at the same time, especially with the distraction of my recent hip pain (though I think that’s finally just about gone, knock on wood). Which is problematical, since certain writing projects are still taking longer to pay off than I’d hoped, and I haven’t had much luck selling new stories lately, so my money situation right now is tighter than ever. I know I’ve got a Kickstarter coming up soon for the book, but the problem is one of staying afloat until then. So any more immediate donations would be greatly appreciated — though job offers (e.g. for a copyeditor or transcriptionist) would be even more appreciated.

In the meantime, feel free to submit questions at my Goodreads page, and I’ll try to answer them when and if I can.

Some followup on WILD CYBERS

(Robot and Cover Design by Mike McPhail, McP Digital Graphics)Now that the cover art and design are complete, Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman is moving into the final stages. The file has been sent to the printer so advance copies can be printed and sent out to reviewers (and if any professional reviewers reading this are interested, let me know). The exact release date is still being settled — the process seems rather more flexible for small publishers — so for now I can just say it’ll be out in the summer. There will be a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book starting pretty soon, and Kickstarter backers will be the first to receive the book before its general release.

Since I reblogged the cover announcement from eSpec’s WordPress site (first time I’ve ever tried that), I didn’t get to share my thoughts about the cover before. Mike McPhail put it together from a stock illustration for the background and butterfly and a 3D robot model of his own, I gather, with some input from me on the direction we wanted to go in. It’s not a literal depiction of anything in the stories, more a symbolic expression of some of the concepts and themes, but I like that it tells a story of its own, with a robot that could easily seem forbidding and looking somewhat timeworn standing in such a beautiful setting and reaching out in appreciation, like it’s discovering new possibilities. It fits with the general themes I go for in my work — optimistic science fiction that isn’t devoid of struggle and hardship.

My preliminary cover thoughts had been running more in the direction of a montage conveying elements from several stories, maybe something with a more professional rendering of my designs for the aliens in the stories, and ideally highlighting the various heroic women featured in most of the stories — particularly Emerald Blair, who has a brand-new story inside. But that’s a lot to cram into one cover. Better to have a single, striking image that catches your attention enough that you take a closer look, and I think this cover does that.

Only Superhuman MMPB coverIt just now struck me that the Wild Cybers cover is kind of a complement to the Only Superhuman cover. There, you had a vibrant, living feminine figure within a hard, mechanistic environment, her arm extended in an act of aggression, while here, you have a hard, mechanistic masculine-ish figure within a vibrant, living environment, its arm extended in an act of gentleness. They even invert the order of the title and byline. It’s a nice coincidental contrast, since these two books between them encompass the entirety of my published fiction in their universe to date. (Also, both figures have their midriffs set apart in one way or another, and both have pretty well-defined abs…)

Oh, speaking of Only Superhuman, I discovered that some of the interview and essay links on my page for the novel had expired, so I fixed them. Two of them are still online at different addresses, while the third is preserved on the Internet Archive.

COVER REVEAL – AMONG THE WILD CYBERS (CHRISTOPHER L. BENNETT)

Reblogging the cover reveal from eSpec Books:

eSpec Books

We have had a lot of these lately. That justs means we have a lot of great titles coming up for your reading enjoyment. This book is by an author new to eSpec, but by no means a rookie. We hope you look forward to Among the Wild Cybers as much as we do.

Proof-WildCybers (Robot and Cover Design by Mike McPhail, McP Digital Graphics)


Tales Beyond the Superhuman

When the line between life and technology blurs, humanity must adjust their understanding of the universe. From bestselling author Christopher L. Bennett comes Among the Wild Cybers, eight tales portraying a future of challenge and conflict, but also of hope born from the courage and idealism of those heroes willing to stand up for what is right.

  • An intrepid naturalist risks her future to save a new form of life that few consider worth saving.
  • An apprentice superhero must stand alone against…

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Slight improvements

My check for the Hub stories finally came through. It figures that the one time I really needed the check to come sooner, it ended up taking exceptionally long to arrive. Still, the folks at the publisher were helpful and responsive when I asked for an update, so I don’t think there’s anyone to blame; it’s just one of those things. And at least it came before tax day, which is good. And it gives me a bit more of a cushion while I seek out other income. We’re getting closer to the Kickstarter for Among the Wild Cybers — it should be starting around the end of the month and running through May. (The cover art is being worked on now, so it won’t be long before I can show it.) I could still use some more income in the interim to tide me over until it’s done, but at least I have more time to spare now.

I’d all but given up on the check’s arrival yesterday afternoon, because I’d gone out for a walk and seen that the mail carrier was already at our building complex and coming back to his truck, so I figured he’d already delivered the letters and was just finishing up with some package deliveries. But the better part of an hour later, I heard the sound of the mailboxes in the front hall being opened and filled, and when I checked, there was my payment at last. I guess the mailman does packages first and saves letters and such for last — and I guess I underestimated how long it takes to deliver mail to a large apartment complex. If I’d just been more patient, I would’ve saved myself a lot of worry and double-checking.

My hip is also getting better. I had a bit of a resurgence of the pain a couple of days ago, but yesterday I was able to move pretty normally and even go for the aforementioned walk, plus the subsequent walk to the bank to deposit my check. So that’s a relief. And it’s good timing, with the weather around here finally improving.

I’ve been working on a short-short story to submit to one of those anthologies I mentioned last week, but I’m not entirely happy with it yet. There’s too much monologuing from the viewpoint character up front compared to the dialogue/conflict later on, and I’d like to rework it to shift the balance in the other direction, but that might require a wholesale rethinking. And I’m still not sure it’s the best story I can offer. The anthology’s taking submissions throughout the month, so I still have time to try to come up with something better. But it means postponing the other project I had been planning on writing next. Arrgh, I wish I weren’t so slow. I see some of my colleagues on Facebook talking about writing or selling several stories per month, and I envy them.

Oh, one of the rods on the Venetian blinds in my bedroom came loose yesterday. Apparently there’s a plastic clamp that holds the rod on the end piece from the inside, and one of its “legs” broke loose, and I don’t have any superglue to mend it. But some creative use of duct tape provided an inelegant but functional fix. Where would we be without duct tape?

Arrghh 2: Eclectic bugaboos

I didn’t get the bookstore job. I’ll have to keep looking for other options.

I’d been hoping to get my check for the new Hub stories before the end of the month, before I had to pay my bills. No such luck — still waiting. It’s typically 3-4 weeks, but they said they’d expedite it if they could. I guess they couldn’t.

The extra-cushiony recliner seats they had in the movie theater where I saw Black Panther last week aren’t good for aging bodies. I’ve been dealing with pain in my right hip ever since, and I thought it was fading, but it got really bad yesterday. Hot baths and heating pads seem to do the most good, and it’s a lot better today, but I had to go out yesterday to buy more pain medication. How’s that for lousy timing?

Oh, and I missed the deadline for RSVPing this year’s Ohioana reception at the Public Library, so I guess I won’t be there this time.

On the writing front, the news is slightly more promising. I’ve been rewriting a story — with advice from fellow Star Trek scribe and Marine Corps veteran Dayton Ward on some military matters, thanks, Dayton — and though I got stalled last week, I think it’s just about ready to submit now. There’s another thing I submitted recently that I think might be getting seriously considered, at least, and I have reason to believe I’ll hear back fairly soon. And last week I happened to discover something I’ve always wanted to find, a source of up-to-date information about science fiction anthology markets. I’ve also learned that the newest incarnation of Amazing Stories magazine is going to start taking submissions soon. So hopefully those will give me access to a few new markets to submit stories to. I still need to write some more stories, which is the tricky part, but maybe having more markets to write for will spark some new ideas. I wish I’d found the anthology list sooner, though, since the most promising market right now is only open through the end of April. So if I want to submit something there, I’d better think and write fast.

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