OK, I can't help myself here.
For those who just walked in, protomics was the name of the fictional in-universe technology I created for Flight of the Vajra, where various forms of matter have been created that are programmable and malleable. (I started writing that story over three years ago.)
The researchers call the building blocks "catoms" (or "claytronic atoms"), but even the concept as they describe it is fundamentally the same as what I had in mind:
... the researchers hope to use a set of local rules, whereby each catom needs to know only the positions of its immediate neighbors. Properly programmed, the ensemble will then find the right configuration through an emergent process.
... The researchers’ ultimate aim is to create a system of modules the size of sand grains that can form arbitrary structures with a variety of material properties, all on demand.
And at the bottom is this cute scare headline: "Help, My Chair Has a Virus! / Hackers could turn your programmable matter against you." (Yep, that's in the book too.)
I kick myself now for not putting in that patent application ahead of time.
Well, I had a feeling something like this would come along in some form; it didn't have to be as I predicted it, or on anything like the same time scale. I gave it a century or so from "now" before it really took off; I still give it a good long time before it's on the scale I had in mind.
But I have to reiterate that the point of the book wasn't to predict any specific thing or even enumerate how workable a given concept would be. Protomics, the "entanglement drive", the whole far-future¹ setting I devised was just a backdrop for a story about some people who are faced with some very tough choices, whose lives (and the lives of innumerable others) are altered because of that, and who can only see it all through by turning to each other. In the end, the human side of the story had to win, and I hope it did.
Addendum: DARPA has something tangentially related: "Atoms to Product: Aiming to Make Nanoscale Benefits Life-Sized".
¹ I almost typed "fart-future". I almost kept it.
Some great notes about writing for a living vs. living for writing:
For me personally, I would rather extricate my personal need for income (and by proxy shelter, food, clothing, etc.) from my writing. Being able to do nothing but write doesn’t mean a damn thing if I don’t wholly believe in what it is I’m producing.
I've felt the same way for some time myself, and here's why.Read more
And now, a shout-out. A bunch of them, actually.
If you were one of the folks who stopped by my table at AnimeFest and bought a book: thank you.
If you were one of the folks who stopped by my table at AnimeFest, took a flyer, and bought one of my books online afterwards: thank you.
I received my Amazon Kindle royalty statement this week. It wasn't a lot of money, but it was a sign that a few people are interested and curious. I hope they — you — stick around and check out what else I have to offer.
Remember that great interview I gave at the Two Geeks Talking podcast for Flight of the Vajra?
... Go stand in the hall and hold these pails of water.
In all seriousness, I did a podcast interview with the TGT folks and it was great. Now I'm in a fight to come out on top in an Author Vs. Author battle, where all the folks who were interviewed on the show have their fans vote them to the top.
Go here and search on "Flight of the Vajra" to vote. The winner will get, uh, bragging rights and a bunch of good karma*. Those who support me will get even better karma*!
* yes, I know this is a flagrant abuse of the term.
Flight of the Vajra is $1.99 on Kindle through next week.
And the entire first part of the book is available as a Kindle sample freebie.
If you've been on the fence about whether or not to grab it, this is just your excuse.
And if you're still wondering what the book is about, take it from my good friend Steven: "A more responsible version of Tony Stark finds he's got to save the galaxy - and his team consists of a circus acrobat, a futuristic Dali Lama, Jim Gordon, Seven of Nine, and David Bowie."
If that doesn't sell people on it, I have no idea what would.
I'm now in the homestretch — the last 5,000 to 10,000 words — of Welcome to the Fold's first draft. Normally I'm reluctant to talk about projects in progress like this, because it feels like either bragging or promising more than I can deliver. The book could change drastically in the second draft for all I know, so I don't like to lead on that it's going to be a watermelon when in fact it's going to be a pumpkin. Vegetable metaphors aside, the occasion did bring some other thoughts to mind.Read more
One of the marketing suggestions I've seen for authors, self-published or not, is for them to tie their work into some current event in some form. Viz., Brad Thor observing that the recent swap of five Gitmo detainees for a hostage is reminiscent of his book The First Commandment.
This sort of thing has always made me uneasy, because it seems like yet another way to encourage authors to become marketers, or rather to denature the distinction between their work and the promotion of it. Or, in plainer language, are you going to be more inclined to read someone's work because they point out things like this, or less?
In my case, less — not because I have a thing against military fiction, etc. (I don't), but more because I can't help but apply my own standards to such behavior. If an author I knew did that, I'd feel like they were spamming me; that's why I'm reluctant to do it myself.
Other people often have entirely different levels of tolerance for such things, and I might simply be missing out on an opportunity. (Tell me what you think below.)Read more
Normally I don't do these kinds of tag-you're-it blog games, but I got tagged by Steven Savage, for whom I would carry a back-box of Gatorade through the Sahara on hands and knees. The way this shtick works is, you get tagged to answer four questions. To wit:
So, let us begin the beguine.Read more
Last night a friend mentioned he'd discussed Flight of the Vajra with someone at a geek meetup, although the lead-in was a bit oblique.
Other Person: "I don't read long stories as much as I used to."
Friend: "This book has a guy punching another guy in the brain with a city."
Other Person: " . . . what?"
Yes, this sorta-kinda does happen, but it's that the climax of the story, and it's far from being the most important thing that happens in it. But it's become something of a running-gag-explanation for my friend, who drops it in peoples' laps as a way to spark their curiosity about it. He also came up with a great one-liner to describe the book, one which never fails to turn heads: "A more responsible version of Tony Stark has to save the galaxy, and his elite strike team consists of a circus acrobat, the Dalai Lama, Commissioner Gordon, Seven of Nine, and David Bowie." (I'm putting that on cards and using them for my table pitch at the next con.)Read more
Fellow author and industry colleague Andrew Conry-Murray has published an interview with yours truly. My favorite of my own lines:
I bump into plenty of folks who say they want to write SF or fantasy, but don’t seem to have any curiosity about the genres other than what they’ve already read in them, or seen on TV. If you don’t read outside your own genre, if you don’t read nonfiction, if you don’t read anything older than you are, if you don’t have an interest in current events outside of the need to reinforce your existing prejudices about the world — then you’re not going to produce anything that isn’t a recapitulation of the previous generation of work at best. You have to peer further, be a more curious and empathic person. That’s what SF and fantasy are supposed to be about, anyway — bigger and better horizons, right?