The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

Well, it seems that I have been roped into another challenge. Somehow, I thought these days were behind me the moment I began using this site strictly for professional reasons – you know, like book releases and promotions. However, when a friend and colleague nominates you, you got to step up! And hey, this challenge seems kind of fun and it is a way for writers (and aspiring writers) to share their influences.

Okay, so here are the rules of this challenge!

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Okay, so my first act is to say thanks to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And here’s my selection for the challenge, the time-honored classic 1984.

1984_cover

I know, I know, everybody claims that 1984 is their favorite book, and apparently it is the novel that people lie about having read the most. But I actually have read it, three times now, and I can say without hesitation or doubt that it is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

The book was initially recommended to me by one of my high-school English teachers (Mr. David Gamble). He taught us Post-Colonial Literature and 1984 wasn’t on our syllabus, nor was it part of the senior English curriculum that year. But as he put it, this was a book that we all needed to read before we went off to college, university or whatever else we were doing with our lives. It would change the way we saw the world, he said.

That summer, I borrowed a copy from my mother and began digging into it. At first, I was only able to read a few pages at a time since I typically read before bed and had an early morning job that summer (like most summers when I was a student, I was working construction). However, I took the book camping with me and managed to finish reading it in a few sittings. I was so engrossed that I stayed up late just so I could finish it. And when I was done, I felt haunted, moved, inspired, and terrified all at once!

Needless to say, Mr. Gamble had been right, it DID change the way I saw the world! And twice more since University I’ve gone back to the book to re-read it with more appreciative and mature eyes. I even keep a list of quotes from the book that have had an enduring impact on me. All of them are taken from the Goldstein Manifesto, which (lesser-known fact) was the part of the novel Orwell wrote first. In this respect, the Manifesto is the part of the novel where Orwell is speaking directly to his audience, conveying his thoughts on history, politics, and human evolution:

“From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, over-work, dirt, illiteracy and disease could be eliminated within a few generations.”

“But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction – indeed, in some sense was the destruction – of a hierarchical society.”

“In earlier ages, class distinctions has not only been inevitable but desirable. Inequality was the price of civilization. With the development of machine production, however, the case was altered.Even if it was still necessary for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary for them to live at different social or economic levels. Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted.”

“In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society was in fact not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it… But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable.”

See? Still holds up even after all these years!

Okay, now it’s my turn to nominate someone, and I choose Fallacious Rose from butimbeautiful.com! I’ve always found her to be a very interesting woman and would like to hear what books have spoken to her over the years.

The Jovian Manifesto’s First Five Star Review!

The Jovian Manifesto is available for purchase on kindle and iPad. Get it now for the low price of $0.99!

Good news! The Jovian Manifesto, which was released a little more than a week ago, has just got its first review. And it was quite positive. And just so you know, the book is on sale for one more day. So if you still want a copy, get it while it’s still just $0.99, or grab the first and second book for the bundle price of $3.98!

The commenter, let’s just call them CWG, had the following to say:

I can’t wait for the next one!

I don’t think I’ve been so involved in a science fiction series since I read the Honor Harrington books by David Weber. I snapped up a copy of The Jovian Manifesto as soon as possible, having immensely enjoyed The Cronian Incident when it first came out.

What’s so good about it? Everything! But to be a bit more specific:
– believable science. This is a relatively near future series, Man has settlements pretty much all over the Solar System but hasn’t ventured past that yet. Nano technology is imaginative but not crazy. It makes sense.
– believable politics. Corporations and governments vie for power and most are just as corrupt as we have today. A long period of peace threatens to erupt into war, incidents are staged to trigger conflict, each situation pits several agendas against each other… it’s complicated but this too makes sense.
– likable characters. Williams has created multi-faceted characters whose lives are skillfully woven together to create a fantastic tapestry.
– fast-paced plot. It’s hard to put this one down, each chapter pulls you into the next until suddenly you’re all done and wanting more.

Last Chance to Get the Jovian Manifesto on Sale!

Good news and bad, everyone. Bad news first, tomorrow is the last day to buy my recently-published second book, The Jovian Manifesto, for the low price of $0.99 (£0.99 in the UK). The good news is, if you missed the first installment (The Cronian Incident), you can get them in a bundle deal for $3.98. Also, The Cronian Incident goes on sale after tomorrow for the low price of $0.99 (£0.99), so there’s still deals to be had.

Follow the links to get your copies. And thanks again to everyone who made this possible and who has provided support along the way!

Bundle Deal Cronian Incident & Jovian Manifesto Matthew Williams.jpg

The Jovian Manifesto has been Released!

The Jovian Manifesto

Good news everyone! The Jovian Manifesto, the second book in the Formist Series, has just been released! After many months of writing, editing, polishing and laising with my publisher, the sequel to The Cronian Incident is now available. As you can imagine, this is a pretty big milestone for me since it is my second professionally-published novel to date. And until August 23rd, it is available for pre-order at the low price of $0.99!

Follow the link to get your copy, and don’t forget to leave a review 🙂

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped made this possible. First and foremost, there’s my darling wife Carla, our cat Jazzy, and my loving parents. There are also countless people who offered their time, energy, and constructive criticism. While I don’t have the space to name them all, I assure you, you know who you are. And if not, I will spend the next few days letting you know 🙂

And in an added bit of good news, the first book in the Formist series, The Cronian Incident, is also available for $0.99 from August 23rd to the 27th. So if you missed this novel and want to get caught up before reading the sequel, be sure to get it while it’s one sale. Here’s the link:

Future Days Released!

Future Days Released!

Good news everyone! The anthology known as “Future Days” – a collection of 17 short stories by Castrum Press’ sci-fi authors – has just been released. And in honor of its release, the book is on sale now for $0.99 (£0.99 pounds in the UK). As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, one of the short stories is by yours truly. It’s titled “Jericho”, and its set in the same Universe as The Cronian Incident.

The plot revolves around a generation ship and a crew of settlers who are on their way to a distant planet. This planet has already been seeded by a breed of nanotechnology known as Seedlings, which terraform planets and build the colonists’ infrastructure in advance of a colony ship. But of course, some surprises are waiting for the colonists when they arrive!

The book is available on Amazon and will be on sale until August 31st! As of September 1st, it will be $2.99, so you better hurry!

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Cover Art Reveal for the Future Days Anthology!

Behold! When the anthology drops, this will be the beautiful artwork that adorns the cover! This anthology is a collection of short stories by Castrum authors and is being released in advance of a number of new books by said authors (one of which is the second installment in my Formist Series – The Jovian Manifesto). My wife thinks there’s a strong resemblance between the child wearing the jet pack and yours truly. Yeah, I suppose I can see it too! 🙂

For those interested, my own contribution is the story Jericho, a story that takes a look at a generation ship that arrives at its destination many centuries from now. The colonists are what are known as Seedlings, people who use advanced nanotechnology to seed and terraform other worlds in advance of colonists. When they arrive, their homes, cities, streets, industries, and all the basic amenities are already built. All they need to do is take their places among the colony and get things working.

This story takes place in the same universe as The Cronian Incident, thought not the same time frame. Speaking of which, stay tuned for cover art for the second installment in that series, The Jovian Manifesto!

More Good News of an Elon Musk Nature!

More Good News of an Elon Musk Nature!

So this past week, I managed to get a bit of a celebrity encounter. Elon Musk, the founder of SpacX, Tesla, the Boring Company, Solar City, commented on an article I wrote. The article itself (“New Model Predicts That We’re Probably the Only Advanced Civilization in the Observable Universe“) was about a recent study that took a fresh look at the Fermi Paradox.

Based on the range of uncertainties that are inherent in the calculations of the Drake Equation, they claimed, it is quite likely that humanity is alone in the observable Universe. Hence why we have failed to find evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) yet. In response, Musk posted that this conclusion made it all the more important for humanity to explore and colonize the known universe.

WELL! As you can imagine, everything that Musk says and does becomes news. Shortly after he posted his responses to this article, a number of news sources picked up the story and ran with it. The first that came to my attention (thanks for my friend and colleague Paco) was Business Insider, which quoted Musk and mentioned the original study. I immediately told my boss, who said that countless media outlets were reporting on this. He started sending me thinks. They included…

Tech Insider
CNBC
Yahoo News!
Nature World News
CNET

I’m sure there are others, but I got tired of my boss posting links and I felt he had made his point. And while NONE of the publications happened to mention then original article, Universe Today, or the author (i.e. ME!), they did draw attention to the original research and the questions it raised. As for the rest, they focused strictly on Musk himself. Damn famous people, getting all the attention!

Needless to say, I wrote to Musk on Twitter and thanked him for taking an interest. He didn’t respond, but that was to be expected to. He’s a busy man and thousands of people were posting about the article. In the end, its okay to catch a ray of sunshine as it shines on someone else!

 

Elon Musk Read My Article!

Well, he commented on twitter about it, at any rate. But basically, the publication World and Science, which is permitted to republish articles published by Universe Today (for whom I work) recently posted one of my articles on their website. It was titled “New Model Predicts That We’re Probably the Only Advanced Civilization in the Observable Universe.” While the title may sound a little final and disappointing, the subject matter was actually a study that takes a fresh look at the famous Drake Equation. And in the end, they don’t claim we are alone, but rather there’s a lot of uncertainties still present in the equation, which is why we need to search for extra-terrestrial life more!

In any case, the article has gotten a pretty big response given the controversial nature of the topic. And when World and Science tweeted the story out, guess who commented on it? Yes, Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Paypal, Tesla, Solar City, and the Boring Company. It all began about 16 hours ago, when Musk tweeted: “So strange” in response to the article. A discussion naturally followed where people dismissed or disagreed with the article or questioned the study’s validity (like I said, it’s controversial!).

In the midst of it, Musk tweeted, “Let’s find out. It would be amazing to encounter an alien civilization, provided it is not their invasion fleet!”, followed by multiple UFO emojis. Inevitably, Musk declared that the study underlined the important of space exploration, tweeting “This is why we must preserve the light of consciousness by becoming a spacefaring civilization & extending life to other planets”, and “It is unknown whether we are the only civilization currently alive in the observable universe, but any chance that we are is added impetus for extending life beyond Earth”.

No disagreement there. But at the same time, the study underscores the importance of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). Since it indicates that, based on the uncertainties still present in the Drake Equation – for example, how likely are potentially-habitable planets to give rise to life, and how often is intelligent life likely to emerge from that?, etc. – it’s more likely to conclude humanity is alone in the visible Universe at the moment. But that’s nothing if not a declaration that we need to correct for those uncertainties by getting out there and studying the conditions under which life can emerge in far greater detail.

Needless to say, I was flattered and excited that someone like Musk was commenting on an article penned by little ol’ me. And I certainly told him as much! I hope he comments back! I also hope he likes science fiction, because I hope to tell him I’ve got a book coming out in just a few weeks! More on that soon enough! 🙂

Two Bits of Good News!

Two Bits of Good News!

More good news, folks! As I announced a few weeks ago, The Jovian Manifesto came back from Castrum Press with a number of editing suggestions. This book is the sequel to The Cronian Incident and the second book in the Formist Series. After incorporating their edits, I also included ones provided by my darling wife (she’s such a good editor!).

And now, the manuscript is back at the Castrum getting a final read-through before going to print. According to the publisher, the book should getting a mid-summer publication. Naturally, I am quite excited that the sequel is being published roughly nine months after the first novel. While the publisher and I were hoping to get it out sooner, one simply can’t rush the creative process. Believe me, I’ve tried!

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Credit and Copyright: Castrum Press/©Duncan Halleck

In the meantime, my publisher and I have been talking about releasing an anthology of my short stories. These stories are actually a collection I’ve been hoping to publish for some time; but somehow, I never got around to it. I’m lousy at self-editing and of course, I have been busy with other projects. In any case, many of the stories were originally written as part of the 2013 April A to Z challenge while others were added afterwards.

Originally, I had planned to release this anthology under the title Flash Forward. However, I never managed to get through the lengthy editing process so the stories were never published. However, one of the stories, titled Jericho, will be included in Castrum’s upcoming release – Future Days! As for the other short stories, that remains to be seen…

This summer will be a busy one and will involve multiple releases. And if there’s any time to spare, perhaps the wife and I will take a much-needed vacation. Stay tuned for more news!