SF fans and science nerds generally ought to be familiar with the concept of time dilation, where the closer you get to the speed of light the more time slows down for you subjectively. You emerge from your space capsule after a few months to discover decades have gone by on Earth, and Nirvana and Faith No More are now on "classic rock" stations. The hell.
I'm noticing a similar time-dilation phenomenon with my novel manuscripts. No, not the inexplicable presence of Faith No More (that said, Angel Dust is a MASSIVELY underappreciated disc; everyone was just pissed because they didn't get another "Epic" and Mike Patton turned out to be sublimely weirder than anyone could have guessed). More like, the closer I get to the end of the book, the longer it seems to take to produce anything. I must be within 10,000-15,000 words of the end of Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, if even that much, and it feels like a single sentence takes me about three weeks of typing.Read more
For the last eight months, serial entrepreneur Bryan Johnson has conducted an experiment: He invites a small group of the smartest people he knows to dinner and asks them what they think needs to happen to reach their vision of an ideal world by 2050. The answers–from solving the climate crisis to curing cancer–never focus on improving human intelligence. But Johnson, who has committed $100 million of his own money to develop a wildly ambitious “neural prosthetic” that would essentially be able to reprogram the brain, believes that making humans smarter is key to helping solve every other problem.
First of all: what do we mean by "smarter"? Most people seem to think "smarter" means "I have more facts at my command", but here we are in 2017 walking around with always-connected supercomputers in our pockets and the sum total of human knowledge one Google search away, and even many "smart" people still don't know the difference between "equity" and "equality". Don't even ask what the dumb ones don't know!
Any discussion of augmenting anything needs to be opened up with a discussion of what that thing actually is before we try to "augment" or "improve" it. It's not as if we aren't doing that work; it's that such work is agonizingly slow and difficult, and a lot of what we thought we knew about the brain, about intelligence, about human behavior, etc. has been shown to be misguided, or flat-out wrong, or just plain incoherent. I still run into people who analogize brains and computers, even though a digital computer is an entirely inapposite analogy for a brain — but there's been little incentive to disabuse people of that delusion.Read more
Of all the temptations writers can succumb to, few are more all-devouring than the urge to show someone a rough draft — especially a rough draft you know is a rough draft, with all of its continuity errors and inconsistencies of tone and speeling mistaekes.Read more
Sorry about the silence — been submerged in things. Here's what's rolling:
In case you missed it, the first few chapters — more on the way! — of my last novel, can be sneak-previewed at Inkshares.
When a young woman joins an underground street-theater movement with plans to change the world, her boyfriend follows her in to "rescue" her ... only to find it may cost both of them their personalities, and maybe also their lives.
ACTION ITEM FOR YOU, AND YES I DO MEAN YOU:
If you like what you see, if you're already a fan of my work please register for an account there, follow me (and follow the book itself). This is vital, because it shows that there's interest in the work.
If I get enough people showing interest, the book will automatically be bumped up to the point where it will be considered for publication by the Inkshares team.
My plan is to post most, or maybe even all, of Part One, and see if that elicits any interest. If I get to halfway through the year and there are no takers, I will drop back to Plan B and go through Kindle and CreateSpace. I'd rather see if Inkshares can help me accrue momentum first.
Once again, if you like my work, please show your support there to get this ball rolling.
The latest novel from the Genjiworks is about two-thirds done, perhaps a little more, in its first draft. Don't expect to see anything with this until at least next year — the second and third drafts are likely to introduce a great many changes. The way I explained it to a friend involves language that deserves its own blog post: Don't think of it as rewriting; think of it as creating an entirely new project using the earlier draft as raw material.
A great many of the most difficult questions I had about this story were things I could only resolve by encountering them on the level of individual scenes, or even individual lines of dialogue. They weren't things I could resolve by planning ahead, because those plans were predicated on assumptions I had to eventually discard. In other words: it'll be difficult work to rewrite this, but it'll be absolutely vital. This is the kind of story that can't be properly assembled in even a couple of drafts.
I ought to resume semi-regular blogging in a day or two. See you then.
Once again, let me turn from the blighted face of the times to something a little more affirmative.
When I posted before about the secret influences behind Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, one source I mentioned was The Matrix, but not because I wanted to take ideas from that story. Rather, it was because I'd seen the trailer for the film — which did a very good job of concealing its secrets but sparking interest in it all the same — and from that had drawn completely incorrect conclusions about the movie's premise. Then I saw the movie itself, and while I really liked what I saw, I kept thinking back to the unused premise in question. It more or less sat around, waiting for me to find a home for it, until I started writing the project early last year.
I don't have a name for this phenomenon yet, but it's worth digging into further — this sense of getting the "wrong" idea about some other creative work, and then using that as its own inspiration.Read more
A conversation with a friend turned up the following gem of an insight: It doesn't matter who did something first; it matters who does something best.
My original version of this insight revolved around information technology. Xerox PARC may have invented many of the things we associate with modern GUIs, but it was Apple that made them into a consumer product by way of the Macintosh.
But this applies to most everything else as well, creative work included. If you have a Great Idea for a story, and someone else has a Great Idea for a story, your implementation of that idea is always going to be different from his, even if they look superficially similar. You're always going to emphasize the things that are important to you, and draw different conclusions. To that end, doing it "best" may be more about doing it your way, and for your reasons.Read more
One of the chief influences on Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned has been the movie Strange Days, easily one of my favorite films of all time, and still not available in anything like a decent home video edition. I ended up dropping some Amazon points to order the German import Blu-ray Disc — it looks terrific — but anyone who doesn't have a multiregion BD player is either going to have to buy one or just suck their thumbs, since inexplicably there are no plans to issue it domestically. Hey, Fox, not to state the crashingly obvious here, but given that you're sitting on a stone cold cult classic that is even more relevant than ever, how about doing us a solid with it?
That said, having the movie back in hand made me think again about all the different influences that have converged in this project.Read more
I spent most of the vacation break and the following week bashing on a revamped outline for the final third of Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. Hence my protracted silence. Once again, what was meant to be something fun and free-spirited has turned into a Mission with a capital M. Do I regret it? Nah. Besides, wrestling with it helped codify a way of working on these things that didn't previously have a explicit methodology: the "self-dialogue."Read more
Other, better folks than I have dealt with all that has happened over the past year — the political chaos that only thickens, the deaths of many generational idols, the whole bit. Me, I'm trying to stay focused. Here's some rundown on the what-it-is on my end:Read more
Last night I was talking shop with a friend about Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned, during which I spoiled for him some aspects of the ending. (I won't repeat them here. Keep reading, you're safe.)
We were discussing how I had gone from just having a high concept for the story to eventually realizing what it was about, and how the construction and contents of the story could do that justice. This wasn't something that happened all at once; it took a good deal of batting around, some arguing with myself on paper.
The way my friend put it is worth quoting: "It takes time to get the conversation."Read more