Summer Reading Adventure on Wattpad!

Update 9/12/2017 This book is COMPLETE. You can read the whole story from beginning to The End without interruption if you like. Enjoy!


I am posting a serial novel on the Wattpad website this summer. The book title is Downrigger, it’s a cyberpunky, dystopian-ish science-fiction thriller, and you can read it for free as I post and polish it chapter by chapter. More details on that at the bottom of this post, quick link right here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger

Why am I doing a Wattpad book? That’s a story by itself and the reason for this post.

It starts with the quotation Art is never finished, only abandoned. That pithy remark is attributed to everyone from Leonardo Da Vinci and Picasso to W. H. Auden. I can’t source it definitively, but I do like it.  In this case this book that will never be finished, but it’s done enough to share.

Downrigger has been around long enough to legally buy and drink alcohol. Heck, it’s old enough that it wouldn’t get charged an exorbitant premium for auto insurance.  It’s been revised and re-written and updated, and it’s more than ready to meet readers.

Why offer it on Wattpad? Why not sell it?  Welp, to be blunt it’s a worthy and wonderful read, but it isn’t the right shape, size, or type of book I can sell.

Sure, I could make it commercially viable. I could force its adorable, sprawly epic mass through a formal editing and proofing process and turn out a heck of a thrilling novel…or two…or most likely three…but that would take a lot of time and creative energy I want need to devote to newer, shinier projects that excite me more. Not to mention money. Editing etc would cost money, and money is a thing.

Why not let it sit in a drawer until the time is right? Because if it stays on my hard drive, it will tug at my attention and demand I play with it, and I cannot afford that distraction. (see above, re: newer, exciting projects)

Also, I think now is the time.  Wattpad is a good open forum for free reading (you do NOT need to be a member to read as long as you bookmark the link to the book. Here’s that link again:  https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger


Book blurb & cover:

A soldier without a memory.  A secret government project pushing the frontiers of neurology and psychiatry. A nation rebuilding from the ashes of revolution, still torn by social and political strife, in a future where the boundaries between technology and society are blurring.

Doug Berman is a murderer, or so everyone tells him. He paid for his crime by forfeiting his past and starting over. Now he’s a file clerk for an isolated scientific community dedicated to psychiatric research and treatment, and he makes installments on his debt to society one dull, drudgery-filled day at a time.

When he’s offered the chance to play tour guide to the community’s newest group of clients and volunteer test subjects, he jumps at the chance for a little extra pay and a big break in routine.
But within seconds of meeting his first volunteer he suspects he’s made the second biggest mistake of his life.

Michael “Hook” Martinez doesn’t know his own full name, where he is, or how he got there, but he’s certain of one thing: his enemies want him to fail in his mission. Now, if only he can figure out what that mission is before someone gets killed…

This story takes place shortly after the Restoration of the United States, after the fiery violence of the Revision Years died down but before the chip rot plagues began.

downrigger6.png

 

Happy summer reading, all.


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn
Restoration Worldbuild header 2

Not with a bang

Playing with world-building snippets for my Restoration stories again…


The end of world was a global event, but it wasn’t an end. It wasn’t an event. It was a process, a slow collapse that only looks inevitable in retrospect. It was never seen as apocalypse even when cities burned and missiles flew. Perspective is tricky, and denial is a powerful force. If globalism was the theme of the twentieth century, the lesson of the twenty-first was that connections can transmit chaos as easily as commerce .

During the span of decades comprising the Revision Years, governments toppled and economies disintegrated, businesses failed and took governments with them, social and political institutions crumbled and billions perished. Bastions of political stability were eroded by surrounding conflicts, and alliances proved as deadly as enmity.  No place on the planet went untouched by the upheaval.

Some sciences progress by leaps and bounds in times of conflict, but others cannot be maintained in chaotic environments. Most modern technologies rely on complex supply chains and  require engineering support that cannot be maintained in war zones. Many of the 21st century’s advances in materials sciences,  nanotechnology, genetics, biologic pharmaceuticals and other sciences  got lost during Revision. Projects were abandoned, data was destroyed by electromagnetic pulses,  and critical private records were erased or locked into forms no longer accessible by surviving equipment.

The handful of years encompassed by the name “The Revision Period,” will have an impact on human understanding of the universe for centuries to come.

 

 

Making Superpowers Make Sense

Many of the issues with superpowers boil down to one question: are they science or magic?

Since the Rough Passages Tales take place in a modern world built on scientific guiding principles, people attempt to explain superpowers. But I show them failing, over and over. It’s an acknowledged truth in my world that the models are all flawed, and the answers are always changing. (Which, come to think of it, is a fairly accurate portrayal of scientific development. Will my scientists ever resolve the mysteries? I’m not saying.)

The tricky part is how to much to show and tell. The more unreal a power is, the more I will research it and the less I will explain. As a reader I don’t like drowning in hows. They distract me. Plus honestly, when it comes to speculative fiction, less is more. Process is much easier to screw up than basic principles and premises.

I like Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.  Twelve-foot-tall humanoids with super-strength and nigh-invulnerable bodies (for example)  can’t be explained by current models of physics, biology or anything else, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be.

I put countless hours into conceptual development and reading relevant research. (Ask Spouseman about one hours-long walk and discussion about population-level statistics…) Then I develop plausible mechanisms for unnatural abilities. Plausible means they’re logical, internally consistent and don’t violate known scientific principles, not that they make any sense according to currently-known processes.

And then I find a million little ways to dish out that huge pool of data in tiny spoonfuls.  I might insert a villain using a wind blast to disrupt a winged air elemental who flies by creating her own localized lift. Or a character might tease a giant friend for eating daily briefing papers after reading them.

I want to avoid drowning readers in long treatises on the theory of elemental powers and universal vibration-tuning or other such malarkey. This is how I interpret the hoary old writer’s advice show, not tell. If it isn’t embedded, it doesn’t get shown. The more unreal something is, the more I will think and the less I will show. How does the air elemental control air? Not gonna touch that. They do. Premise accepted or not, reader’s choice.

Think that’s unrealistic?  When was the last time you pondered the miracle of your refrigerator’s inner workings upon grabbing a cold drink?  Or your car. You turn a key or press a button, and engine magic happens. You don’t spend two minutes thinking about internal combustion and fuel injection. Well. I don’t, anyway.

So I don’t bog down my stories writing about processes I would have to break science to explain in detail

True confession rant: I am so TIRED of fiction breaking science. Triple helix DNA. Mutating neutrinos. Reverse-pulse-magnetism. (whut?!)  Diseases “deciding” to evolve. Cauterizing big, bleeding surface wounds. <sound of broken weeping> I’m begging here. Run a quick fact-check before passing on science myths, and if you can’t explain your faux-science premise without putting vocabulary in a blender and making meaningless word porridge,  DON’T TRY!

Keeping it simple is the best way to keep it real.

 

Dystopian? I’m not sure.

I write about a broken future. I am of the generation after the one promised flying cars. We saw miracle technology in our cartoons, but we watched death live on the news, and many of our heroes stumbled and fell before their time. So when I envisioned a world for my first heroes to stride through, it was a shattered thing of tangled public and private loyalties, a place of poisoned resources and rotting infrastructure, with much of the population scattered into small, isolated communities and its new gritty, dirty new urban centers built on crumbled patchwork ruins.

But, you know, being a dreamer I also made it a world of boundless optimism and ferocious idealism. A place and a time when cynicism gives way to creativity and energy, where people refuse to bow under the weight of the past. They step up to the nigh-insurmountable challenges of making bad better, and they succeed by making the most of what is left.

That doesn’t fit the traditional dystopian mold. ( Dystopia: an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one) In proper dystopian fiction everything is awful and either the System swallows up the protagonists  (1984, Brazil, 12 Monkeys….)  or the system must be destroyed, and rebellion is the main  (Hunger Games, also 12 Monkeys and about a gazillion others)

So does  the world of The Restoration Stories count as dystopian? Some readers seem to think so, others disagree. Me, I don’t care as long as readers keep liking it.

Not familiar with my stories? You can read a description of the first one here : Controlled Descent: A Story of the Restoration

worldbuilding header 2 Rough Passages

Where do superpowers come from?

Power: personal, unique power. Power is the centerpiece of every Rough Passages Tale. Who has it, what happens when people gain it, how it can and can’t change their lives, how the uncertainties and adverse aspects of power rollovers  make that world different than ours…this can be deep story stuff.*

How do those powers work? The short answer is: no one knows. That’s one of many things that makes writing about it interesting.

Everyone with a rollover powers taps into some kind of energy, but that’s where certainty ends. Some poz can see this energy post-rollover, other feel it, all are affected by it and use it one way or another, but what that energy is, or how it works?

It’s still a mystery.

Why? For one thing, it’s impossible for nulls to detect, so disbelief hampers research funding. For another, the phenomenon is less than a hundred years old. The scientific community is still at the stage of documenting, describing, and postulating mechanisms based on existing established systems.  Think radiation in the early 1900’s, electricity in the 1800’s, or chemistry in the 1700’s.

All the uncertainty results in a constellation of valid ideas, wrongheaded hypotheses, and wild-ass speculation.  It also supplies thesis fodder for doctoral candidates and researchers in every field of study from physics to psychology. Ambitious scientists dream of being the next Curie, Faraday, or Mendeleev.  And lots of them already think they have uncovered Major Truths that are dead wrong but fit the facts.

Want an example? (You’re getting one.) Take an observable fact: T-series trolls can ramp up their own abilities and provoke each other into radical physical changes by tapping into their powers near each other. At its worst, the feedback loop will drive them into a collective, destructive frenzy. They train hard to control this effect, called rampage, because a mindless stampede of berserk armored giants is hard on real estate and anything else that can’t get out of their way.

Let’s look at the current scientific model. Explanations for T-series power use are based on studies of pheromone communication and hormone-driven metamorphosis in other species. The model fits the observed data and is an accurately predictive tool…in most cases. Most importantly it allows for engineering useful tools like rampage detectors and assorted training devices. So everyone accepts it as accurate.

But as the Watchmaker of the world, I’ll let you in on a secret. Rampage and powering up aren’t triggered physically.  The model has cause and effect flipped. It’s a pure energy phenomenon, a matter of resonance and exchange from more powerful individuals to less powerful ones, one that has the effect of triggering hormone releases.

Is any of that information useful to you, dear reader? Probably not. But speculation is fun, and so is trivia collection. So I thought I would share.

The takeaway for today? Power is tricky. People are fallible. And science is a process.


*Paranormal personal powers are not the only kind people deal with every day. Power can come from social status, political position, cultural acceptance, and economic prosperity too. Upending people’s lives after they’ve spent decades establishing their place in the socioeconomic power structure that is modern society? Well. That makes for super-duper drama. And drama makes good fiction.


Oh, and the BOOKS! Here are links to the buyable stories. Because they’re awesome.

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn