Pixel Scroll 6/21/17 Pay No Attention To That Scroll Behind The Pixel

Commence appertainment in 5..4…3…2…

(1) BOMBS AWAY. Contrasting Giles Coren’s first novel experience with his own career, Ben Jeapes explains “Why everyone should be a science fiction fan” at Milford SF Writers.

…Ten years later he felt brave enough to make a documentary about it. Links have changed since I first saw it, but search “Giles Coren my failed novel” and you’ll find it. It’s really quite touching as you see the penny begin to drop. He speaks to the reviewers who had slated it. He listens in on a book club tearing it apart. He takes the first chapters to a creative writing course workshop. He tries rereading it himself and finds it unbearable. (He can’t get through the Bad Sex Award-winning passage without breaking down into laughter.) He listenes in awe to the likes of David Mitchell and Jeffrey Archer as they describe their highly disciplined writing habits, and admits to the latter that he had basically been lazy.

And he comes to the conclusion that this was the first novel everyone has – the one that should be written and then spend the rest of eternity in a trunk in the attic. Only, because he was Giles Coren, his got sold for a £30k advance. You sense that even he feels the injustice of this. No one likes being done a favour.

But here’s the thing. Coren was born in 1969. He’s in his late 40s, but I can’t imagine his discoveries and revelations being news to anyone past their late 20s or even late teens. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been spoiled by growing up in the science fiction community, where expertise and experience flow like milk and honey. I read Dave Langford’s columns in 8000 Plus. I went to Milford. I jostled with the large crowd trying to get through the narrow doorway of Interzone acceptance. I knew it took hard work. I knew that if you didn’t think this was your best yet then you didn’t send it in. How did anyone not know that?

Conclusion: everyone should be an sf fan….

(2) WHERE THE IDEAS COME FROM. The Red trilogy features in “The Big Idea: Linda Nagata” today at Whatever.

Next, it occurred to me that if I set the new book even closer to the present time, I might have a chance of pushing beyond the science fiction genre and making inroads into the military thriller market.

Hey, we can all dream.

The Red trilogy was written around a unit of US Army soldiers. Following that similar-but-different philosophy, I decided the new novel would involve a private military company, because that would allow for more freedom with the plot.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, this all still makes sense to me. But in selecting my protagonist, I embarked on a major gamble.

My version of brainstorming is to engage in swiftly typed stream-of-consciousness question-and-answer sessions. It’s the best way I know to develop ideas. I was brainstorming the possible identity of my main protagonist when I typed this:

Hey. Maybe she’s middle aged. (How to kill a novel in one bad move.)

Generally speaking, middle-aged women are not considered to be cool main characters of the sort that commonly inhabit techno-thrillers. So this was a perfect example of the creative and logical parts of my mind contending with one another. The logical part immediately recognized the risk, but the obstinate, defiant, creative part turned out to be in charge.

(3) A STATISTIC. Here’s Clarkesworld’s box score.

(4) OPIE TO DIRECT ‘HAN SOLO’? Let’s just drop his name here: “Ron Howard Top Choice To Take Over Han Solo Film?” Deadline has the story.

Deadline hears that Ron Howard has emerged as front-runner to replace Phil Lord & Christopher Miller on the untitled Han Solo Star Wars spinoff film. Disney dropped a shocker this afternoon with the announcement that the duo exited a picture that has been in production since February at London’s Pinewood Studios. This after an inability to recover from creative rifts with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. The latter has been mentioned as possible to step in, but I’m putting my money on Howard.

(5) ‘BOTS! IT HAD TO BE ‘BOTS! I suspect this review is more entertaining than the movie. Nick Schager at The Daily Beast says “‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Is Two-and-a-Half Hours of Racist Robot Torture”.

Those fans will be thrilled to hear that the latest entry in the canon du Bay-hem, Transformers: The Last Knight, more or less picks up right where its predecessor left off—by which I mean, in an orgiastic stew of detonations, jingoism, and sequences in which CGI vehicles make that weird wrink-wronk-wrank-wank noise as they turn into CGI titans. The only thing missing is Wahlberg unsubtly lusting after his offspring. Luckily, though, he’s still playing a character named Cade Yeager—a moniker that would make Keanu Reeves’ Point Break hero Johnny Utah stand up and slow-clap in appreciation—and this time around, he at least has an amusingly floppy new haircut. Oh, and there’s a three-headed Transformers dragon who’s amassed from ancient Autobots who used to hang out with a drunken Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. If you were worried that Bay had lost his touch for sublimely absurd, wantonly steroidal toy cinema, you can lay your fears to rest.

(6) PALEO-HEDGEHOG. Live long enough and you see strange things happen, like 1991 becoming “the good old days” — “Sega Forever makes Genesis classics free on mobile”.

We have no shortage of shiny, life-like HD games these days, but if you’d like to revisit older titles from a bygone era, Sega has got your back. The video game company has just officially launched the first wave of the Sega Forever collection with five titles meant to begin “a retro revolution that will transport players back through two decades of console gaming.” Starting today, the 1991 version of Sonic the Hedgehog, fan-favorite RPG Phantasy Star II, classic arcade-style beat ’em up Comix Zone, platformer Kid Chameleon and Greek mythology-themed beat ’em up Altered Beast will be available on Google Play and iTunes as free ad-supported games. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, your games will even come accompanied by iMessage sticker packs.

(7) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. After reporting the other day that he was too shy to try, Wil Wheaton got to meet David Tennant after all.

(8) ALIEN TRIPPER. Mark Kaedrin ranks the finalists in another category — “Hugo Awards: Novelettes”. There’s an alien in first place, and another in last place.

So we come to the short fiction categories of this year’s Hugo Awards. This year, I start with the Novelettes, that odd category that fits stories that are longer than a short story but shorter than a novella. If the past several years are any indication, these stories actually tend to be my favorite of the short fiction finalists. Short stories have been almost uniformly a disaster for the past few years (partly the doing of the Puppies, but it was an issue for me even before then). Novellas somehow seem to be bloated and overlong while still missing the depth you get from a novel (with the notable exception of Bujold’s Penric novellas, which I love). Novelettes hit the Goldilocks zone, providing enough space for a complete narrative, but not so much that the story drowns in hooptedoodle. Does the trend continue this year? Let’s find out:

  1. Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman – Mysterious alien ships arrive one night without warning. Translators (comprised of formerly abducted humans) emerge and claim the aliens come in peace and don’t want anything. A woman is hired by the government to drive around a translator so that he can see the sights. It turns out that the aliens are intelligent but unconscious, which has some interesting implications. This story works well, with a good exploration of consciousness with the occasional detour into other areas. The ending has a twist that’s pretty easy to see coming (though it does elicit some questions as to the premise of this whole road trip – aren’t there, like, security clearances or something? Is the trip even necessary?), but it works. Lots of open questions, but at least we’re getting something that’s engaging with an interesting idea and trying to hit that sense of wonder that makes SF so great. Short and sweet, this is certainly not perfect, but it’s got some solid ideas and it works well enough…

(9) NOMINATED NOVELLA. Elan Samuel praises “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe – Kij Johnson”  at Warbler Books.

A strange and delightful congruity connects The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe with the last Hugo-nominated book I reviewed, The Ballad of Black Tom. Both reach back toward Lovecraft, grab hearty handfuls of story, and mold it into works that manage the requisite respect for the author of such incredible tales while openly challenging his prejudices. You can refresh your memory about how Victor LaValle elegantly reframes Lovecraft into a tale of loss and revenge in last month’s review. We’re here today to talk about Kij Johnson’s brilliant, expansive, and enthralling The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.

(10) INSIDE THE VOTING BOOTH. Ariela Housman of Geek Calligraphy gives readers the lowdown about how she’s voting in three categories on her Hugo ballot – including a thorough discussion of Best Fanartist, which is something you rarely see. Here’s part of her take on the Best Novel finalists.

Best Novel

Novels are my favorite thing to read and what I read the most of. I had already read a number of the nominees before nominations opened, much less after they closed.

  1.  A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers I adored The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which was an utterly delightful reading experience. But it lacked the emotional punch that the sequel delivers here. I’m a sucker for “what does it mean to be a person?” books, and this one comes at it from both ends in a devastating way.
  2. Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee I will admit that I couldn’t finish this one, which I started before award season. I bounced off it in much the same way I bounced off Ancillary Justice my first time around. Serious culture shock, working too hard to absorb the world to be able to sit back and enjoy the story. Though I finished AJ on my first attempt, it took me until my third readthrough to just enjoy it. I suspect it will be the same here. As is, I recognize the technical accomplishment already.

(11) FB. After being away for a while Joe Vasicek put a set of fresh eyeballs on Facebook and here’s what he found:

First, the site is a mess. It’s like a weird cross between Goodreads and MySpace. I know there’s a lot of people who love Goodreads, but sorry, that site is almost impossible to navigate. Way too much clutter, with the option you’re looking for hidden in some tiny link that doesn’t actually look like a link. Unless you’re a frequent user, you constantly feel like you’re lost. That’s Facebook now. It’s very unfriendly for new users, which I know is like me and ten people living in Yurts in Mongolia, but still. In terms of user-friendliness, it’s going the way of MySpace.

Second, Facebook has become really slutty. Again, first impressions here. It’s really interesting when Facebook has nothing to base their algos off of. I assume from what I’m seeing that the recommendations default to its power users, which at a cursory glance are mostly chicks and dude bros. Also, some of the group recommendations I’m seeing are insanely over the top in terms of sheer raunchiness. Since when did Facebook turn into Potterville?

He’s also a critic of multiracial emojis.

But Joe, what’s the harm in an emoji that reflects your skin tone? Two things. First, social media divides us far more than it unites us. It walls us off into tribes, helping us build our own custom echo chambers full of people who only agree with us. It’s an incubator for much of the divisiveness in society right now. Second, there is a very real effort in the country today to divide us all by race.

(12) THE FRENCH HAVE AN EQUATION FOR IT. Of concern to Traveling Jiants everywhere: “Why suitcases rock and fall over”.

It’s a common experience when dashing for a train or plane while lugging a two-wheeled suitcase.

The bag rocks alarmingly from side-to-side and threatens to overturn.

Now, scientists have investigated this conundrum of everyday physics. Speeding up rather than slowing down can solve the problem, they say.

Alternatively, you can pivot the handle of the suitcase as close to the ground as possible.

French scientists studied a model suitcase on a treadmill to see what goes wrong when a suitcase rocks out of control at high speed. They developed equations to explain why two-wheeled trolleys have a tendency to rock from one wheel to the other.

(13) ON RELIGION. Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica reviews American Gods season 1: “American Gods may be the best show about religion on TV”

The first season of American Gods ends with an image that compacts the many themes of the series into one odd moment. It’s an aerial shot, slowly revealing a line of cars, buggies, and other vehicles crowding the tiny road to a neglected Wisconsin tourist trap called The House on the Rock. Without giving you any spoilers, I can say that this scene captures American Gods‘ perspective on religious faith in America.

And now, with a generous dose of spoilers, I will tell you what I mean by that….

(14) LOST LIGHT. The Wertzone is sarcastic about the need for a Watchmen TV series: “Damon Lindelof penning frankly unnecessary WATCHMEN adaptation for HBO”.

Scriptwriter Damon Lindelof will be helming the new project, as he continues to play Russian Roulette with his career. He charmed millions of fans with his TV series Lost, only to annoy them with a somewhat confused ending, and then really annoyed lots of people with his scripts for Star Trek (2009) and Prometheus (2012), which were both troubled. More recently, however, he has won plaudits for his work on HBO’s The Leftovers, which recently concluded a three-season run with a lot of critical acclaim and plaudits.

(15) NEW GAME OF THRONES TRAILER. Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres this July. “It may be the first day of summer, but #WinterisHere on 7.16.”

(16) PHILIP “TWO SHEDS” PULLMAN. House Beautiful reports “Author Philip Pullman’s old shed is Shed of the Year 2017 contender”.

This shed has an impressive literary history – it was once owned by renowned author Philip Pullman. He allegedly even wrote His Dark Materials trilogy within it. It was passed down to current owner Ted, who is an author himself. But this shed comes with one strict rule – it must be freely passed on to the next steward of creative endeavours.

(17) STRANGE MAN. There’s a common saying that “Inside every man, there’s X trying to get out.” How often does X = dragon? I Am Dragon (2017) Movie Trailer.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Linda Nagata’s Future Tech Draws Closer Every Day

By Carl Slaughter: Linda Nagata does hard science  —  nanotech-supported genetic engineering, duplicate minds, artificial intelligence, ubiquitous surveillance, brain-computer interfaces, autonomous drones, military exoskeletons, and brain-controlled replacement limbs.  She has more than one series and gives us the inside story on all of them.

Carl Slaughter:  What type of tech is featured in your stories?

Linda Nagata:  Depends on the story! I started off my career writing in a story world with highly evolved nanotech that supported genetic engineering and duplicate minds—electronic ghosts—that allowed individuals to be many places at once. The more recent stories have been a lot closer to our present-day reality, based off technologies under development, such as artificial intelligence, ubiquitous surveillance, brain-computer interfaces, autonomous drones, military exoskeletons, and brain-controlled replacement limbs. It’s been amazing to watch the real-world shift ever closer to the books.

CS:  How does that tech affect the setting, plot, society, and characters?

LN:  All those aspects are interwoven, continuously playing off one another. One of the challenges of developing a story is to continually weigh the effect of the available technologies, while keeping in mind that the characters are part of this story world, so they’ll be making specific assumptions based on this world they know—assumptions about uninterrupted communications, for instance, or the certainty of surveillance. So technology is part of the setting, and the setting is integrated with plot, society, and characters.

CS:  What kind of research do you have to do to prepare for a tech novel?

LN: I try to read widely, if shallowly, all the time—essentially keeping an eye on what is going on in research and development. And I’ll read a little more deeply when my interest is sparked. I keep bookmarks and save articles. So by the time I begin to develop a story idea, I’ve got ideas of the sort of tech I want to include. Then I’ll usually do some deeper background reading. But I don’t do a lot of preliminary research. Instead, as I write, I’ll leave myself notes along the way on things I need to look into later. And of course, I’m still reading articles during the writing process and many times that’s led to the discovery of critical ideas and concepts that get integrated into the developing story.

CS:  How realistic is this tech and how soon might we see it?

LN:  A lot of the technology in the Red trilogy is based on tech under development now. For example, while the details of the brain-computer interface I use in the story are completely made up, BCIs are being researched and experimental systems do exist. What’s fascinating to me is the way advances in one field generate advances in others. For example, imagine a combat exoskeleton that, instead of responding to a user’s movement, anticipates it through a brain-computer interface that in turn relies on narrow AI to interpret the user’s intention.

My forthcoming novel, The Last Good Man, plays heavily on the idea of autonomous robotics—something we’re seeing more of with every passing day.

CS:  What’s the status of the Red series?

LN:  The trilogy concluded with the publication of Going Dark, but I’ve written an additional short story set in the same world. That will be part of Titan Books’ forthcoming anthology Infinite Stars.

CS:  What was the inspiration for the Dismay character?

LN: A whim, nothing more! Dismay is a demon of violent nature and the protagonist of my Puzzlelands duology. He came about after I took a long hiatus from writing. When I finally resolved to try another novel, part of the deal I made with myself was to start with something completely different from what I’d done before—and a handsome demon who can transform at will into a puff of smoke certainly qualified.

CS:  What’s the status of the Puzzleland series?

LN:  I had a lot of fun writing those two books. Both are very short novels, violent and darkly humorous—and I would have been happy to write a few more in the series. But they never found their audience so I eventually returned to writing science fiction. The two novels together make a complete story, so right now I don’t anticipate adding more to the series.

CS:  Same question for the Succession series?

LN:  My first four novels comprise the Nanotech Succession, all originally published in the 1990s. I returned to this story world in 2012 with the publication of short story “Nahiku West” which became runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.

Recently, I’ve outlined two novels in the Nanotech Succession story world, though I’m still debating whether or not to go ahead with either of them. In part it’s a marketing question. I’m not a fast writer, and a novel is a big commitment for me. But I hope to do at least one, before too much longer.

CS:  What type of tech is in “Last Good Man”?

LN:  The setting in this novel is the imminent future, so the technologies are advanced versions of tech that’s in existence now—universal communications, increasingly reliable and clever artificial intelligence, autonomous systems ranging from analysis to robotics and including autonomous weaponry. The Last Good Man is a thriller based around the idea that warfare is becoming ever more automated.

 

CS:  Will “Last Good Man” be a series?

LN:  No. The Last Good Man is a stand-alone novel. It tells a complete story in itself. It’s possible I might return to this story world, but if so, it would be a related novel and not a sequel.

CS:  Describe the writing process for Jonathan Strahan’s Infinity anthology.

LN:  Jonathan was looking for stories that speculated on how a permanent presence in space might actually be achieved—which struck me as a tall order for a short story.

I considered and discarded many ideas over at least a nine-month period. The deadline was approaching, and still nothing felt right. Then, as I was watching an NFL football game, I was struck by the thought that there is a lot of money in professional sports—and money is what it takes to get into space. “Attitude” evolved from that observation.

CS:  Same for John Joseph Adams’ Cosmic Power anthology.

LN:  John has a habit of asking me for stories that are not what I usually write. For example, Operation Arcana was an anthology of military fantasy stories—something new for me. I took it on as a challenge and really enjoyed it. So when he asked for a story for Cosmic Powers, I happily agreed—and eventually came to regret it!

I had such a hard time writing this story. Cosmic Powers is about galaxy-spanning adventures with “a little less science,” but I found it really hard to let go of the science. After considerable soul-searching, I decided to forego any use of hyperspace, FTL, wormholes, etc., and limit my adventure to the solar system. It all worked out in the end.

CS:  You’ve done corp, i.e., Saga, and you’ve done indie, i.e., Mythic.  In your experience, what has been the advantages and disadvantages of both?

LN:  Upfront money, art directors, distribution, and respect are the advantages of traditional publishing. Speed to publication, control over the process, and after-the-fact money, are some of the advantages of indie publishing—and in my experience, the respect is growing. But it takes a lot of time to prepare a book for publication and to handle all the publicity. The Last Good Man is coming out in June under my imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC. And much of this year has been devoted to advance publicity efforts and getting it ready to go.

Has that impacted my writing time? Absolutely. And I’m going to have to try to make up for it in the second half of the year.

CS:  What’s on the horizon for Linda Nagata?

LN:  To be determined…

I’ve got three novels—or possibly two novels and a novella—under development. I’d like to write all of them. I’d like to write faster. With luck I’ll have something new in 2018.

Linda Nagata Bio:

Linda Nagata writes hard science fiction. Her novel First Light, first in her Red series, was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.  Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to receive a Nebula award.  Her novelette “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. “The Bohr Maker,” first in her Nanotech Succession series, won the Locus Award for best first novel.  Her latest novel, “The Last Good Man,” is scheduled for release on June 20.

Linda Nagata, A Star of MilSF

By Carl Slaughter: Linda Nagata writes hard science fiction. Her novel First Light, first in her Red series, was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.  Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to receive a Nebula award.  Her novelette “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. “The Bohr Maker,” first in her Nanotech Succession series, won the Locus Award for best first novel.  Her latest novel, “The Last Good Man,” is scheduled for release on June 20.

THE LAST GOOD MAN
by Linda Nagata
Mythic Island Press

Scarred by war. In pursuit of truth.

Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.  The Last Good Man is a powerful, complex, and very human tale.

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE LAST GOOD MAN

  • The Last Good Man is a compelling and subversive novel, told by unique characters, especially True Brighton: sympathetic, prickly, determined, all too human. Linda Nagata has impressive insights into technological advances and their potential effects. Not to mention some very cool invented AI critters…. It was a privilege to read TLGM before its publication.” —Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Vonda N. McIntyre, author of Dreamsnake, Starfarers, and The Moon and the Sun.
  • I asked to see an advanced copy of The Last Good Man: with the caveat that I was very busy and might not get to it. I was just going to glance at the first few pages but looked up to find myself halfway through the book in the wee hours of the morning. Only an early morning appointment kept me from reading on but I finished it the following evening.  Welcome to the future of war. Soldiers on the ground depend more on their augmented reality visors, net connections, and hosts of robotic allies, than their rifles, but as long as they tread in harm’s way, certain things do not change, including collateral damage, ethical challenges, and the grief of a mother, a warrior herself, when her son dies in action.  Set where war’s bleeding edge of technology slams into people’s lives, this is a very human story, brilliantly told. —Steven Gould, author of Jumper.

THE RED SERIES
by Linda Nagata
Publisher:  Saga

THE RED [originally published as The Red: First Light]

Reality TV and advanced technology make for high drama in this political thriller that combines the military action of Zero Dark Thirty with the classic science fiction of The Forever War.

Lieutenant James Shelley, who has an uncanny knack for premeditating danger, leads a squad of advanced US Army military tasked with enforcing the peace around a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. The squad members are linked wirelessly 24/7 to themselves and a central intelligence that guides them via drone relay—and unbeknownst to Shelley and his team, they are being recorded for a reality TV show.

When an airstrike almost destroys their outpost, a plot begins to unravel that’s worthy of Crichton and Clancy’s best. The conflict soon involves rogue defense contractors, corrupt US politicians, and homegrown terrorists who possess nuclear bombs. Soon Shelley must accept that the helpful warnings in his head could be AI. But what is the cost of serving its agenda?

Read a sample of The Red: First Light.

PRAISE FOR THE RED: FIRST LIGHT

  • “…one of the best pieces of near future Mil-SF ever written. What’s so good about it? The action rocks and the characters are engaging as hell. But this isn’t just adventure fiction, it’s Mil-SF and very well done, straight out of DARPA’s dreambook, not somebody’s fantasy.”  —  Ernest Lilley, SFRevu
  • The Red delivers intense action, leavened by a genuinely sympathetic portrait of soldiers caught up in battles they never chose. Best of all are Nagata’s well-informed representations of future military tech. This is hard science fiction at its finest, full of devices like bionic limbs, exosuits, autonomous drones, and brain implants that are being developed in labs today. But you’ve never seen them like this, at play in a realistic field of battle, controlled by people you actually care about.”  —  Annalee Newitz, io9.com
  • The Red: First Light is a gripping exploration of the human and technological aspects of next-generation warfare. What sets the story apart is its ability to address the human level of what it is like for soldiers to live with the next generation of battlefield technology and to place it within an action-driven story…”  —  August Cole, co-author of Ghost Fleet
  • The Red: First Light is one fantastic speculative fiction novel, from a plotting, characterization, military sci-fi, and thematic standpoint.”   —Thea James, Kirkus
  • “If ever you hear someone say women can’t write military science fiction, please do me a favor and smack them over the head with this book […] Seriously, it doesn’t get more edge-of-your-seat than this near-future thriller, which seamlessly blends advanced technology and military action with political drama.”  —  The BiblioSanctum
  • “A big part of what I, and many people, enjoy about SFF is seeing familiar elements spun in a new way […] In The Red, Nagata manages one of the most seamless, enjoyable, and enthralling meldings in SF of [the] familiar and “new spin.” […] It is an excellent novel and will likely remain near the top of my list of favorite 2015 reads. Highly Recommended”  –  Rob H. Bedford, SFF World
  • “…there is a believably organic texture to the various hardware, software, and weapons. The meshing of humans with technology — leading, inevitably, to dangerous co-dependence — is seamlessly presented. And man oh man, it is exciting.”  —  Rich Rosell, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
  • “…an amazing novel… The Red: First Light is a dark, intelligent, cynical take on military SF. It’s an excellent novel that deserves a much larger audience.”  —  Stefan Raets, Tor.com
  • “…the same post-Vietnam sense of discontinuity that separates The Forever War from Starship Troopers, updated for the post-9/11 world.”  —  Russell Letson, Locus
  • “Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light begins like a shot and never lets you go. Well-written, thrilling, and thoughtful, The Red: First Light is science fiction at its best.”  —  Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Hugo-award winner & USA Today bestselling author
  • “Remember the scare times of the Cold War, when President Eisenhower warned us of the power of the military-industrial complex? Don’t you wish we had listened? In The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata gives us an alarming glimpse of the day after tomorrow—on an Earth torn by wars fueled by defense contractors. It’s a thriller; it’s a convincing character novel; it’s a terrifying extrapolation—and it’s a hell of a fine read. But…”Don’t read this book if you don’t want to think squarely about what our world is coming to. Don’t read it if you don’t want to risk some sleepless nights. Don’t say you weren’t warned! Once you start it, you’re not going to stop.”  —  Jeffrey A. Carver, author of The Chaos Chronicles
  • “Military fiction and high-tech speculation, complex and edgy characters, a pinch of Eichmann in the plot, sly bits of Frankenstein in the setting, … make Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light compulsively readable.”  —  Vonda N. McIntyre, Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author of Dreamsnake, Starfarers, and The Moon and the Sun
  • The Red: First Light is a fast-paced, exciting story about soldiering in the near future. The characters are likeable and well-drawn, and the piece is infused with the kind of careful, thought-provoking attention to “how might this work, really?” that has always been one of Nagata’s particular strengths.”  —  Sean Stewart, author of the World Fantasy Award winner Galveston

THE TRIALS

Lieutenant James Shelley and his squad of US Army soldiers were on a quest for justice when they carried out the unauthorized mission known as First Light. They returned home to America to face a court-martial, determined to expose the corruption in the chain of command that compelled their actions. But in a country still reeling from the nuclear terrorism of Coma Day, the courtroom is just one battlefield of many.

A new cycle of violence ignites when rumors of the elusive, rogue AI known as the Red go public—and Shelley is, once again, pulled into the fray. Challenged by his enemies, driven by ideals, Shelley feels compelled to act. But are the harrowing choices he makes really his own, or are they made for him, by the Red? And with millions of lives at stake in a game of nuclear cat-and-mouse, does the answer even matter?

Read a sample of The Trials

GOING DARK

In the third book in The Red Trilogy, former Army Lt. James Shelley becomes a black ops sniper working for the Red—a suspected rogue artificial intelligence that is ripped from today’s headlines.

James Shelley has left his lover, Delphi, and his companion-in-arms, Jayne Vasquez, with a fortune acquired from a fallen oligarch. They believe him to be dead, and he doesn’t try to set the record straight. His long-running question has been answered: There are other soldiers like him who have served the purposes of the Red—and he has accepted his place among them.

As a soldier of the Red he pursues covert missions designed to nudge history away from existential threats—but that doesn’t mean the world is growing more orderly. It’s only in the froth of a “managed chaos” that human potential can grow and thrive. Shelley’s missions eventually take him into orbit—and into conflict with those he loves—Delphi and Jaynie—who are determined to escape the influence of the Red.

Read a sample of Going Dark.

Stalking the Rampant Manticore

Two awards were started in reaction to the Puppy controversy about the Hugos, the Dragon Awards and the Rampant Manticore Awards. They were given for the first time last year. They had one winner in common. Can you guess? It was Larry Correia’s 2015 novel Son of the Black Sword. Remarkably, considering why these awards were started, there was no other overlap at all. And that will still be true whenever we find out all the Rampant Manticore winners, which for some reason has been practically impossible.

The Dragon Awards winners in all 15 categories were announced September 4 at Dragon Con. The Rampant Manticore Awards were presented October 29 at HonorCon in Raleigh, North Carolina but to this day I have been unable to discover three of the seven winners.

The Rampant Manticore Awards (and the H. Beam Piper Memorial) are given for the best Military Science Fiction and Fantasy published in the preceding year. They are sponsored by The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, founded a decade ago by fans of David Weber. The group runs two cons a year, MantiCon every May in Minnesota and HonorCon each October in North Carolina. Nominations are taken at MantiCon, and voting on the finalists happens at HonorCon.

Under the rules, not only the award winners but all the voting information should have been published online. That never happened.

TRANSPARENCY

To ensure this is all done in a transparent manner, the vote tallies will be posted publically at MantiCon for the nominees, and at HonorCon for the finalists. They will also be posted the webpage http://www.rampantmanticore.com which will be set up for the Rampant Manticore Award. Full names of voters will be removed, but the vote counts will be posted and the weight of each vote, for the nomination phase, will be shown.

This award is about the quality of the work, and not the politics of the author. Should politics become an issue, further voting restrictions may be enacted to ensure the apolitical quality of the Rampant Manticore remains intact.

Larry Correia and Marko Kloos publicly thanked fans for the awards and from them we know the results in four categories – the three they won, and another Kloos mentioned offhand in his post.

Here are the 2016 nominees with the four known winners in bold.

Best Author – Fantasy Short Story

  • “Rules of Enchantment” by Klecha & Buckell
  • “The Way Home” by Linda Nagata
  • “Look at Me Now” by Sarah Norman

Best Author – SciFi Short Story

  • “Horus Heresey #31” by Graham McNeill
  • “Blue Knight” by Carol Pedroso
  • “Yes! Yes! Yes!” by Lily Velden

Best Author – Fantasy Novella

  • Tallaran: Ironclad by John French
  • Bounty Hunter by Samantha Harvey
  • Tiger’s Paw by Kimberly Rogers

Best Author – SciFi Novella

  • Riding Redemption by Jolie Mason
  • Draxius Redeemed by Brian Dorsey
  • Burnsides Killer by Timothy Ellis

Best Author – Fantasy Novel

  • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
  • Cold Iron by Stina Leicht

Best Author – SciFi Novel

  • Angles of Attack by Marko Kloos
  • Oncoming Storm by Christopher Nuttall
  • An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff

H. Beam Piper Memorial Award

  • Angles of Attack by Marko Kloos
  • Riding Redemption by Joile Mason
  • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia

Unable to find the rest of the winners anywhere online, I wrote to several people who might know. The chair of MantiCon courteously answered my email and said she would try to track down the information. When I followed up a couple of weeks later she still hadn’t located anyone who knew.

Just the same, MantiCon is already publicizing the second round of awards. The con is coming up on May 26-28.

Also, join us for the second annual nominations of the Rampant Manticore Award for Literary Military Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy, featuring the H. Beam Piper Memorial Award for Best Author in the Category of Literary Military Fiction, Science Fiction, and Fantasy!

If nothing else, we know the Rampant Manticore is a handsome little award in the shape of a crystal book, bearing the crest of the Royal Manticoran Navy.

photo by Marko Kloos

Women in Sci-Fi Storybundle Available

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has organized a Women in Sci-Fi Storybundle. Pay what you like and get five books. Pay more than $15 and unlock five more books.

Rusch is justly proud –

The women writers in this bundle have written or worked in science fiction for a cumulative 240 years. They have written every kind of sf, from space opera to hard science fiction. They’re all award nominees. Some of them are award winners. They’ve written dozens of bestselling novels. Many of the women in this bundle have written Star Trek tie-in novels. Others have written for popular games. And of course, we’ve written in their own universes. They’re here to share their universes with you.

“I am kinda awed by all of the company,” says participating author Cat Rambo, “and love the fact that Mike Resnick is included in the bundle. He’s been a bit droll about it.” (Resnick and Janis Ian co-edited an anthology in the bundle.)

The five works everybody gets in the bundle are

  • The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro
  • Crossfire by Nancy Kress
  • Memory by Linda Nagata
  • Near + Far by Cat Rambo
  • Recovering Apollo 8 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The five bonus books are –

  • Strong Arm Tactics by Jody Lynn Nye
  • Starfarers by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Diving Bundle by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr
  • Stars – The Anthology by Janis Ian and Mike Resnick

There’s no DRM on any of the books.