700th Post!

fireworks1Yes, I know its a bit of an odd number. But I was still pleased and kind of blown away to find out that I was nearing this landmark recently. And I thought, what better excuse for a little retrospective and a chance to say thanks for the support? My my, where to begin? Well, how about the beginning? Since just the other day I was looking back at the first posts I’d made with this site, I think I’ll start there. Seems as good a place as any…

The very first thing I ever wrote on this site was a simple Hello World message. Nothing too flamboyant or special about that one, just the obligatory “how do you do?” It was my second post where I said the things that I wanted to say and really took the time to state what my mission was:

sci_fi“I love science fiction, always have, always will.  But it’s the kind of science fiction that I love which I think is an important distinction. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that sci-fi comes in two varieties: classic and commercial.  The classical kind is the traditional variety that people take seriously… Commercial sci-fi, by contrast, is your basic stuff that owes much to the original masters but really didn’t follow in their footsteps.”

That’s still true of me. I still subscribe to the idea that the real science fiction is the kind that really makes you think and chooses to appeal to the highest possible standard. Might sound elitist, but given the sheer amount of pulp out there that does little more than entertain, I’d say I’m more of a hopeful optimist. I think people are capable of great genius when you give them a chance, and would like nothing better than to create something myself that appeals to the best in us – be it intellectual, moral, or metaphysical.

My first few reviews were really quite simple. I spoke of Frank Herbert – arguably my biggest inspiration – William Gibson, 1984 and Brave New World. I spoke of my own writing and posted some podcasts of Source’s earliest chapters (no longer available), and pasted some reviews my work had received. However, I was nowhere near as prolific as I am today. It was actually quite surprising to see that the first year of my site being operational could be summed up in just over a dozen posts. Especially when I am now at 700 and just over two and a half years into it!

In any case, I began doing movie reviews shortly thereafter, tackling such sci-fi greats as Blade Runner and the Alien franchise, and such guilty pleasures like Independence Day and Starship Troopers. This went on for some time, with me going back and forth between reviewing movies and great books, and once in a while dropping something in about a favorite miniseries, TV show, or something I happened to find inspiring.

brazil53And then something happened. Something which, I gotta admit, I didn’t even know was possible until it happened to me. I got freshly pressed. At the time, I was minding my own business, doing a post about Dystopian Literature, in honor of the fact that I just joined Writer’s Worth and our first project was an anthology of original, dystopian narratives. Feeling inspired by the fact that I was getting a chance to write within my favorite genre, I compiled a list of the most historically relevant and renowned examples I could think of.

That opened the floodgates! Having never exceeded a few dozen views in one day, you can imagine my surprised when I came home for lunch that day and discovered my views numbered in the high hundreds! I checked back as the afternoon progressed, only to see that it had reached into the thousands. By afternoon the following day, the torrent stopped and I was able to take stock of all that had happened. Roughly half my subscribership began following me in that one twenty-four hour period. I got more comments than I knew what to do with and more likes in that one day than the previous year! It felt nice, and I certainly learned something about how this thing called WordPress works!

Since that time, I won’t lie, I’ve been hoping to snag a second FP! No luck yet, but what can you do? Once was nice enough, and since it’s led to my current circulation amongst my fellow bloggers and the general internet-surfing public, I really can’t complain! Besides, several milestones have happened since then, so I shall not linger on this one event. Suffice it to say, as the days and weeks continued to pass, I found my traffic had increased exponentially from my pre-FP days. Not to the point of thousands, but higher than a hundred. That too was nice…

After finishing up the series of Dystopian posts, mainly to address examples other people poitned out and to cover examples of dystopic movies, I began to move onto other ideas. For instance, I had decided it was time to tackle themed-posts, like Cool Guns, Cool Ships, Giant Robots, and the like. These were mighty fun to do and provided endless suggestions from people who knew and liked the same franchises I did, and also saw these lists as an opportunity to stroll down memory lane.

apocalypse-04I also got into serial novel work, as attested to by Crashlands over at Story Time, and posts dealing with futuristic concepts and news. I guess I’d grown a bit tired just talking concepts, books and movies at this point and really wanted to delve into the everday stuff that drives science fiction and the creative imagination that guides people’s writing. At the same time, I continued to pimp any and all work that I was doing with Writer’s Worth, which at this point had morphed into its current group name of Grim5Next, in honor of our first project!

Then came two significant developments, back to back. In June of 2012, I began working with a select group of members from Grim5Next on a new project idea. With the passing of Ray Bradbury and Venus’ transit in front of the sun, it seemed that some of us were bit by the inspiration bug. I can still remember how it all began, in the form of a conversation between my friend and fellow writer, Khaalidah, and myself:

Khaalidah: Four nerds verging on geeks live in my house, of which I am one. One of our nerdiest but fun conversations centered around the question “Would you rather go to space or the bottom of the ocean?” Hands down the answer was space.
I once dreamed that my son, now 21, would one day go to space and walk on Mars. He is no longer a child who dreams of space, although it still intrigues, and space seems a distant childhood dream of his. But even for myself, at the ripe old age of 41, the idea of going to space is a bright hope, even though I know it is unattainable and unrealistic. But, given the chance, I would go.
This post reminds me of the awesomeness of our great universe, of the chaotic randomness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grateful for, and of how utterly minuscule we people really are in the grand scheme of things

Me: Okay, you need to write this down. I foresee you doing a story where a family does go into space. Ho boy, I smell another anthology here!

Khaalidah: An anthology about space, going to space or anything related sounds awesome. I vote for you to be the editor. What do we need to do to get started?”

Yuva_coverThat was the beginning of Yuva. In the days that followed, we two enlisted the help of many people: Goran, Jenna, William, and Melanie. Through much conversation, back and forth and debate, we determined the location of our story (Gliese 581g), the tone, the structure, and even began producing the first few installments. As time progressed, we were joined by more writers – Charles, Danielle and Cara – who wanted to contribute and began scooping up the later installments in the series.

The second development was the rash of face-eating and zombie-like behavior which seemed to break out throughout that summer. Feeling compelled to comment on the sort of hysteria which had set in, I wrote a post called “Bath Salts and the Zombie Apocalypse”. Much like my post on Dystopia, that one earned me quite a few views, thought it was not Freshly Pressed. I am thankful it wasn’t, as I began to feel a bit iffy about getting lots of traffic over a series of rather sick and tragic events. But I knew I had to comment since it was a relevant issue and I had something to say about it. I also swore I’d never publicize the names of the psychos responsible ever again, since I didn’t want to contribute to the buzz that so often surrounds twisted criminals.

Since that times, its been more of the same. Every day, I do my best to maintain the pace I’ve now set for myself, and am happy when plenty of people come by to see what I’ve written and tell me they are thankful that I post what I do. Naturally, I often complain that I should be getting paid to do this, but that’s just talk. No, this is something I’d gladly do for free, though ideally I would love it if it was a source of income so I could write indefinitely and not have to worry about money. My hope is one day that all of this culminates and I can write something truly meaninful and influential. That way, this site will represent a beginning to something truly big, and I’ll be able to share that with everyone who’s been here from the beginning.

Okay, that got a little mushy there towards the end. Suffice it to say, I’m very thankful for all that I’ve been able to do with this site thus far, and for being able to connect with all the people that I have. I hope very much to be able to write as many or more posts before I use up my allotted memory and either have to pay for an upgrade or move to another web address. Hopefully, the whole “getting paid to do this” thing will work itself out before then so I have the option of throwing money at the problem 😉

Rest assured, I aint going nowhere anytime soon. So expect to see plenty of me around these parts. Peace out, and thanks to everyone for stopping by, then and now. Bless you all!

fireworks

NaNo News

Okay, good new and bad regarding the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. Good new I got a lot of support from people who told me they wanted to participate but couldn’t. It seems that every year, we find ourselves overloaded with our current responsibilities and unable to take on the task of additional writing. As such, my friends and colleagues who are also indie writers wished me well as I attempted to take on a new novel amidst everything else.

Bad news is, I’m dropping out of the challenge! Yes, I really wanted to take this on and thought it would be just fine to add a daily writing requirement of about 2000 words to my articling, editing and existing writing responsibilities. But unfortunately, it’s not working out. It’s not that I find myself particularly overburdened or stressed out, or the fact that I’ve gotten sick in the last few days – although those were a factor in this decision. No, the real problem is far worse. It seems that I’ve lost interest in my story idea! For a writer, I happen to think that this about the worst thing that can happen.

However, there’s an upside to this, a second bit of good news. Dropping one project allows me to make time for another. And it just happens to be the one I would rather be doing. In order to make time for NaNoWriMo, I decided to put off authoring the sequel to Whiskey Delta – aka. Pappa Zulu. But with Etemenanki sidelined, I’m now able to focus on it again. And I happen to know there are some people who would prefer to be reading it. So look for new entries. If I turn it out at a good enough rate, I might even be able to enter it into NaNo instead 😉

Whiskey Delta Now a Double Novel!

Hmm, I think that title might be a bit misleading. What I mean to say is that my serial novel – Whiskey Delta – which I’ve been posting for the last few months, is now officially twice the prescribed length of a novel. Yes, according to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel Writers of America, a novel is any work that is 40,000 words or higher in length. And, as of my last count, Whiskey Delta weighed in at a hefty 82,675 words.

I was really kinda hoping this novel might be the exception that proved the rule. Instead, it’s just reinforced the rule! The rule being that I love to go on and on and can always find a reason to say more, write more, and keep going until they turn the lights off. But some people seem to like what I’m doing with it – you know who you are! – so I plan to finish it forthwith, and word counts be damned!

Speaking of which, it is only a few chapters short of completion. And once it is finished, I will be placing all chapters into a single compendium, tidying it up a bit, and of course, adding more chapters! Yes, after reviewing much of what I wrote I felt some pacing chapters and background might be needed for the sake of turning it into a true novel, and not the sort of thing people read in installments. Brevity, thy name is not Matthew, Williams, or any combination thereof!

I hope people will look for it once it’s complete, and will stay tuned for more on the Whiskey Delta front. Once the first novel is finished, I plan to begin work on the sequel: Pappa Zulu! Yep, I figure whereas the first book was all about the war on the zombies and the mission to find Patient Zero, book two will deal with the race to find a cure, and answer some mysteries that were laid out in the first. For one, it will become clear that the “Mage” is not all that he appears, and that he may have an agenda which goes far beyond fighting the dreaded undead. And of course, the main characters will be back for more action, once they heal from all the wounds I gave them.

Onto more writing and more zombie fiction! Stay tuned, and thanks to all those who have made a point of following my first serial novel on this site. Can’t imagine I could have done it without your support, encouragement and constructive criticism, and I don’t care to either 😉

What Else Is On…

Well, that was helpful. And by that, I mean making an extensive reading list. However, my lists don’t end there. Neither does my affliction, known as literary ADD. In addition to the books I need to finish, there’s also quite the list of stories I need to finish writing. It seemed only fitting and appropriate that I make a separate list pertaining to them.

You see, when it comes to writing projects for myself, there are two categories. First, there are the short-term projects, the stuff that needs to be generated right now and finished in the not-too-distant future. Then there are the long-term projects, the things that have been ongoing. These projects can take years to reach completion, assuming they don’t lose my interest and fall into the inbox dustbin. Of the former category, I can think of four things that need to get done:

  1. Winston Agonistes: My submission for the Yuva anthology novel. This story is told from the point of view of a synthetic human (i.e. an AI) who is responsible for assisting with the day to day functions of the Yuva planetary council. His gift is a social science known as Ethical Calculus, a means of calculating the values of decisions based on their practical and ethical implications. In time, he comes to learn the truth about the settlement of Yuva and just what implications their long-term plans will have for the native life.
  2. Whiskey Delta: This is my ongoing web story involving the Zombie Apocalypse and the men who are fighting hard to beat it back in New Mexico in the near future. Told from several points of view,  , the story tells the tale of the Counterattack, the assault led by the enigmatic Major General Thur (“The Mage”) to retake the country and beat back the undead hordes.
  3. Crashland: Another ongoing web serial where audiences get to vote on the outcomes they want to see. So far, the story involves the unleashing of infopocalypse on the world, the path of former CEO William Holden as he found his way to the Exigencies special operatives, and their culminating efforts to rebuild civilization.
  4. Data Miners: And of course, my ongoing efforts to finish editing my full-length novel about hackers, cryptology, security and surveillance in the age of the internet. For months now, this story has been burning a hole on my desk, consuming many hours of re-reading and editing time, but always seeming to require more. Dangit, I hate editing my own work. It’s like a hole into which creative energy and time disappear!

As for long term stuff, well you’re better off only hearing about the more immediate ones. The rest can just sit there until I get bored! Too many ideas to occupy my short-term/long-term plans as it is.

  1. Fortress: The sequel to Source, the story of overpopulation, survival and the fight against extinction in the distant future. In this installment, things begin to go truly awry as humanity finds itself united between two disparate factions that are forced to come together to fight an even greater extra-terrestrial threat known as the Beast. However, as the war drags on and conditions worsen at home, people begin to turn against each other in the name of something just as important as survival. This story has been in the works for awhile and is nearing completion, but then again, Source has been out in paperback for some time too. It’s not going anywhere, so this is something I feel I can return to every now and then and not worry too much about.
  2. Data Pirates: The sequel to Data Miners, where the story takes a turn down a dark alley and deals with the world of anarchists, cyberterrorism and the development of Future Soldier technology. I’ve hammered out the first few chapters to this one, but since the first book is still in development, I’ve felt safe to put it down. Hoping to remedy that by getting the first one done and out there!
  3. Apocrypha: Here’s an idea several years old which still kicks around in my mind from time to time. Basically, this book combined two thematic elements which I’ve been obsessed with in the last few years. One is the concept of democratic anarchy, and how technology may very well be bringing up into an age where that is feasible. The second is the Technological Singularity, and how humanity reaching a threshold of consciousness scares some to the point where they would want to forcibly regress. I’ve written at least half of this book, trashed it, and then began rewriting it. Soon enough, I hope to resurrect it and redo it in full, since much of the same concepts are at work in Crashlands and seems to be working there.
  4. Legacies: Now this is the oldest of the old! This is my first full-length novel to never be published. Way back when, before I knew what self-publishing was, I created the manuscript to classically inspired sci-fi novel set in the distant future and paid a company to print copies. Then… nothing happened! Yes, for years, the copies floated around and were circulated to my friends, but not one saw the light of day outside my family and friendship circle. It remains a project which I have yet to commit to the public for reading, mainly because I feel I’ve matured to the point that it needs a big rewrite. I still love the idea of it, just not the way I went about writing it. Huxley called this the “chronic remorse” of writer’s, but to me, it’s too symbolic of all my rookie mistakes a writer, things I’ve since learned to do without. We’ll see if it ever pops up again.

Wow, seen back to back, this list is actually a lot more daunting than my reading list. Maybe putting things into list form isn’t such a good idea, just reminds you of all the stuff you need to do. Ah, what can you do? Not thinking about them doesn’t make them go away. And frankly, if I organized myself along these lines sooner, I might not have so much stuff in my inbox. But of course, any time it seems overwhelming, I just have to remind myself that no one is paying me to do this. That always make me feel… a million times worse! 😉

The Town of Sidney, a City-Wide Hotspot

A news in my local paper announced something quite interesting, something which made me think my writing actually be slightly relevant. It was one of those “I told you so” moments, you might say. Well, according to the Peninsula News Review, the town of Sidney (about fifteen minutes drive up the road from where I live) has become one gigantic hotspot. Yes, that basically means that wherever you go in town, you will have wireless access to the internet. And, here’s the cool part, it’s all free and has been for almost a year now.

How does this relate to my own writing, you might ask? Well, it just so happens that I’ve been experimenting with the idea of an entire mega cities that function on this same principle in the not-too-distant future. In fact, it’s kind of intrinsic to the whole Singularitarian, Demarchist concept, where human beings are augmented with cybernetic implants (usually silicate, in literature) that allow them to access the networks wirelessly and hands-free at any given time. That way, they can participate in government, conduct business, and access information all day long, from any locale remotely.

And it just so happens that this idea is the cornerstone of Crashland, my serial novel over at Story Time. Basically, the premise is that by networking the entire world – by bringing all business, industry, information, communications, government and foreign relations under one wireless roof – the world became extremely vulnerable should a rather enterprising hacker could get past it’s built-in firewalls. And of course, that’s what exactly what happened, hence the name of the story!

Funny thing though. In spite of the rather cool nature of this development, the town of Sidney still feels that the word just hasn’t gotten out there enough. Well, I’m doing my part to spread the word with my meager little blog here, when not plugging my own work that is! And hopefully all the signs they are planning on placing on the highway and by the ferry terminal will help too. How’s are these for promo ideas:

“Entering a City-Wide Hotspot”, “Entering Sidney’s Wi-Fi Zone”, “Free internet for the next 10 km”. What do you think?

Crashland – Chapter 9: Cybercops or Apocalyptic Soldiers?

 Well, it’s happening again. Once more, we seem to have a bit of a deadlock forming over at Story Timeover which direction the next chapter should take. It seems that between Cybercops and Apocalyptic Soldiers, audiences were a bit torn over which they would like to see more.First of all, let me thank all the people who came by and took the time to vote on Chapter 8. You’re suggestions and ideas made that one of the funnest chaperts thus far, mainly because it gave me the chance to set things up and determine which way they were going.

Unfortunately, that set-up seems to have created a bit of a logjam. When chapter eight ended, Holden was learning exactly who his saviours were. It seemed they knew who he was and wanted his help to end the Crash crisis. This, combined with all their training, weapons and resources led Holden to ask exactly who these men were. Who could they be?

The choices were: 1. Apocalyptic warriors who were waiting for this to happen. 2. Cybercops who are charged with hunting down the terrorists who made it happen, and 3. The terrorists themselves, who are just using them for their own ends. As it stands, only one vote stands between option one and two. Doesn’t really seem like a fair marging for selecting one and rejecting the other. So before I can proceed with chapter 9, I’m going to need more votes to move things forward.

You got time, you like cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic settings? Then please come on by and vote for your favorite outcome. I promise that whichever way it goes, there will be action, twists and lost of intrigue 😉

Crashland, Voting Closing Soon!

Hey all. I wanna thank people who’ve been coming by in the last few weeks to read my story chapters and vote on what they wanted to see happen. Overall, I am very impressed with the response and have been enjoying the process immensely. However, Chapter 6 has been experiencing a bit of deadlock. Between the three options I typically offer, there has been no clear winner as of yet.

Since things ended on a cliffhanger note, I am very eager to get Chapter 7 going, but that can’t happen until an outcome is determined. And believe me when I say that the best is yet to come! Action, adventure, and some generally post-apocalyptic coolness that is just waiting to happen!

I’m calling on all Story Time fans (and my personal ones, if there are any ;)) to come on by and vote on their favorite outcome. Things are really coming together now but I need you to give them that added push. Voting shall remain open until the end of the weekend, so there’s still time. Come on by and help make this story unfold 🙂