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My Daddy Drives a UFO….The Official Launch of Solar System Blues

Solar System Blues began as a spoken-word element of a band show for The Fest, a music and arts festival that my brother and his friends used to put on in Lancaster, PA every July. It’s the first thing I consciously created a First Draft for, and circulated said draft for comments from friends and family. That was back in 2009, and I’ve futzed and tinkered with it ever since.

To the particulars: the story is set in the late 22nd century, in a dystopian/cyperpunk future, when six or seven leviathan superstates battle for dominance with terrifiying weapons. One wounded soldier of these wars, employed on a secret project to enable humanity to survive nuclear war, instead steals the ship, and with a self-aware computer, a store of frozen genetic material, and a teenage first mate born in space, goes in search of a new planet for humanity to live on. Everything goes according to plan, except for what doesn’t.

For me, this book is less about future shock and more about human community: how it is destroyed, and how it can be restored. Is it really possible for humanity to have a mulligan? Or would we just make the same mistakes under different stars?

Anyway, it’s available in paperback and Kindle form. Hie ye to Amazon and buy (Think of it as “Hitting the Freaking Tip Jar,” as a wise man of my acquaintance once said). Darling Daughter needs new shoes.

She puts plenty of miles into the ones she has.
She puts plenty of miles into the ones she has.

To Lulu or To CreateSpace?

How recently would that question have made no sense at all?

Having played around a bit with Amazon’s CreateSpace service (Those books on the sidebar: They’re mine, I swearsies), I find it functional, intuitive, and free. Zero complaints about how the system works or how Amazon pays out. Yeah, you don’t make tons of money, thanks, everyone who’s ever tried to be an author. If you want to see your name on a book cover, they will take care of that for you and even throw some royalties your way. I haven’t heard that Random House does differently.

But I’m not the kind of guy who never wonders whether that turf on the obverse of the palisade is indeed more verdant. I bought the Wife a Nook HD+ for Mother’s Day, even though we’re an Amazon/Apple family, as much to check out a different platform as because of the sale. Since self-publishing had the Stigma Removed, I have looked about at all manner of publishing sites. Smashwords seems altogether too “YEAH! PUBLISHING!” But and I have had a long online flirtation. I like the aesthetics of the place, the cornocopia of services, the lure of publishing a HARDCOVER BOOK (that’s right, Millenials: Generation X still reads books printed on Paper, because we’re old).

The only thing that’s held me back is the suspicion that to really get anything that looks like a saleable book, I’m going to have to plunk down a not inconsiderable amount of money. One thing CreateSpace does is offer up a free library of images to help you design a cover: I’ve used that, and I’ve used my own images. Lulu only seems to offer a set of Modern Library-esque texture covers for free (and, of course, anything you own the rights too). Which, for certain monographs, wouldn’t be bad, but not for the sort of books I have in mind.

It’s something to wrack the brain about.

So Have I Mentioned That I Have a Book Called “Typing Into the Void” Out?

I feel like I have, but I can’t swear to it.

Click for link.


This is the result of me wringing out the best of my various blogs (still out there, under the names Revolutionary Nonsense, and Genre Confusion) and other scribblings into a single collection. I culled it down to the best, and am selling it for $6.99 on Amazon, right in time for the holidays. Makes a great gift for your struggling blogger friends!

Also available on Kindle.

Politics and the Eloquence Fallacy

Neo-Neocon penned a refutation on Friday (h/t: Ace) of the notion, oft fulsomely asserted in the 2008 campaign, that eloquence is a substitute for competence:

Wordsmiths fancy they could govern quite well, if only they cared to. Neither the skills nor the knowledge base of oration or of writing—especially fiction, although it’s also true of writing in general—are readily transferable to forming and implementing policy, although they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Did Anderson ever watch a tape of Truman giving a speech? He makes McCain look like Churchill. Truman was not good at oration—but he is now thought of as having been a good president although his popularity, like Bush’s, was very low when he left office. Perhaps the latter fact is an indication that good speechmaking is helpful for selling one’s policies and bad speechmaking handicaps a president who is involved in a complex and difficult war, such as the Korean or the Iraq wars.

Reality is reality; words are words. No logical path connects the two. Being able to discuss with reverent rapture the virtues of the ’68 Mustang Shelby does not begin to equip you to repair one. Knowing how to explain what McClellan his opportunity for a glorious victory at Antietam does not enable you to command an army. And being able to excite the voters does not equate to being able to govern them.

I do not broach a new idea (there are very few such things). The ancient Greeks hashed this business out centuries before Christ. The Sophists were well aware of the gulf between words and truth. Some of them, like Gorgias, stated so bluntly, and drew the ire of Socrates for their trouble. And some goodly fellow just published a tome of Gorgias’ extent works, so that people can read about the vast difference between what can be spoken and what is true.

See what I did there?

Are Blog Books a Thing?

A blogger and essayist named Melissa Camara Wilkins, who writes about her life, family, amusing her children, lack of super-caffeinated tea, etc., has a veritable slew  of self-published books on Amazon. Several of them are short essays, one of them is an essay collection. One of them is a collection of posts from her blog.


This is the economic quandary I’ve been pondering. Are people actually willing to pay for material that’s already available online for free? Presumably, an edited selection making up the best of a blog would be worth a Kindle price, if someone’s interested in the subject. But readers of the blog won’t, because they’ll have already read that material.

I don’t know what Wilkins’ sales are like, so I can’t really comment any further. But it’s been at the back of my mind for rather a long time now.

Upcoming Book, Or Where My Essays Went

Yesterday I mentioned that my Essays page was being discontinued as part of the redesign, and that I would probably publish a book of Essays instead, on my Riposte Publishing imprint. Today, after performing the rote and necessary actions which earn the daily bread, I finally managed to put some work into it.

Truth be told, this is the second time I’ve thought of publishing a self-anthology. My very first CreateSpace project was intended as a gleaning of my old blogs. I was going to call it From the Bowels of the Blogsophere I Stab at Thee, a mix of archaicism and ironic graniloquence that I imagined would bring throngs of people to appreciate my wit. I gave up the idea after wondering if some of the material would not reflect well on my employment.

Right now I’ve got a working title of Cleaning Out the Notebook, but I’m not in love with it (among other things, it’s way too truthful). It’s going to have a few reviews and some fiskings, just for good measure, but I haven’t found that one quote that could double as a title yet. Details will follow.

And hey, if you happen to enjoy reading old Sophists, I already have a book out…

Novel Writing Today

I’ve got something I’m working on, so I’m going to withdraw a bit today. I need to transfer a First Chapter from my Moleskine to Microsoft Word. Details will follow when there are any.