NO SKOOL LIKE THE OLD SKOOL

Life’s settled down a piece in the last week or so– the display for Bricktober has been packed into boxes ready to transport; I’ve stopped compulsively building just-one-more-Viper for the show; General Janvier has been edited and sent out into the wild; and I’ve started to turn my attention back to novels, and specifically, the search for an agent to represent Father Muerte and the Divine.

Hopefully, that means I’ll have a moment or two spare to update the blog on a more regular basis. Hopefully. But, in the meantime, I’ve guest-posted over at Andrew McKiernan’s place on the tools I use to write, and it’s made me realise: somehow, I’ve become old-fashioned!

Says the guy who’s remained with Blogger for going on 14 years……

GUEST POST: KEITH STEVENSON

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Keith Stevenson.

Keith is the man who gave Father Muerte his big break, debuting the Father’s first story, Father Muerte and the Theft, in Aurealis 29, and providing me with my first sequel opportunity by gently nudging me until I sent him Father Muerte & the Rain. Since then he’s gone on to found a series of excellently-produced publishing ventures including the Terra Incognita podcast; Dimension 6 electronic magazine and coeur de lion publishing, where he regularly produces brilliant tomes such as X6 and Anywhere But Earth. He’s an all-round science fiction good guy, bon vivant, editor, publisher and reviewer. You can find his bloggy goodness right here.

And damn good writer in his own right: His debut novel Horizonis now available as an ebook via Harper Collins. Which brings us to the very reason for this introduction: Today, Keith joins us to talk about charting future history as part of his Horizon blog tour.

Give his entrance a nice, warm hand:

 
Horizon — Futureshock: Charting the History of Tomorrow
 
I’d like to thank Lee for giving over some space on his blog for the Horizon Blog Tour.
 
Horizon is my debut science fiction novel published by Harper Voyager Impulse. It’s an SF thriller centred on a deep space exploration mission that goes very wrong, with repercussions for the future of all life on Earth.
 
While the main focus of the story is the tense drama that plays out between the crew in the cramped confines of the ship, a lot of the grunt work in good science fiction goes into imagining the world of the future and how future events shape characters and create a believable background.
 
The explorer ship Magellantakes off on its mission between sixty and eighty years from now and the ‘in-flight’ time is fifty-five years (from our perspective). I’ve been deliberately vague with the starting point of the timeline in case actual historical events trip me up. But the world of 2075 (assuming we are all still here) has been mapped out to some extent already.
 
Certainly, unless certain intransigent governments come to their senses, we will be facing a climate disaster by then. The UN predicts we will reach a population of 9.1 billion by 2050, with population peaking in 2070 at 9.4 billion, and the great majority of those extra billions will be born into the poorest nations. Food security will be a major issue as the planet struggles to feed those billions. In today’s world, already over a billion people are going hungry.
 
Certainly in the short- and medium-term, the problems we see emerging in the Middle East following the Arab Spring look set to continue. Ethnic tensions are also leading to fracturing borders across Europe and elsewhere. It is a tense time for the world right now and our geopolitical map is in flux. And yet we are also witnessing amazing advances in all areas of science.
 
So here are the elements I have to play with: climate change and environmental degradation, population growth and impact on infrastructure, racial tensions and war, technological development and advances — I took all these factors and pieced together a future history that maps out key events in the fifty or so years leading up to the point when Magellan launches from Earth on its mission of exploration:
 
No. of years before wake-up near Iota Pesei
Event
110
Nuclear bombardment of selected targets in the Middle East and Asia by the United States of America, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
109
War on Terror officially declared ‘at an end’.
107
Compact of Asian Peoples formed. Compact petitions for UN membership. United States of America exercises its veto.
104
Pro-EU factions win UK government in landslide election.
96
Significant shrinkage of polar icecaps recorded for the fifteenth successive year. Effect of rising sea levels felt worldwide.
94
Fuel-cell boom sees formation of the Union of Northern States to protect sensitive patents.
94
Kyoto III finally ratified.
93
Compact coalition cuts all trade ties with Australia.
90
EU governments consolidated under a single body.
88
Hurricane Ivan lays waste to the eastern seaboard of United States of America and a large part of Central America.
87
United States and Australian governments ratify creation of Pax Americana, effectively merging the two countries into a consolidated trade, defence and diplomatic entity. The wastelands from Florida to Pennsylvania are officially excluded from the Pax.
85
The first fully fledged Pax election sees an increase in pro-Green elected candidates as a result of increasing environmental degradation and the legacy of Hurricane Ivan.
84
Pax Americana vetoes the Compact’s petition for UN membership.
79
To meet its Kyoto III targets, Pax Americana switches exclusively to fuel-cell technology for all public and an increasing percentage of private power utilisation.
78
The Pax oversees a massive retooling and retraining effort to gear its industries for the new information economy. The need for a larger skilled workforce prompts employment lotteries in the marginal eastern seaboard colonies. Thousands of former USA citizens are resettled in the Pax.
74
The Union of Northern States develops second-generation fuel-cell technology, halving cost and mass and doubling output of the new cells.
72
The Pax economy takes off on the crest of the fuel-cell revolution and the rebirth of Silicon Valley.
66
First bio-jack experiments yield amazing results in quadriplegic subjects.
64
The UNS uses its voting block to force Pax Americana to approve the Compact’s petition for UN member status. Compact granted member status of United Nations.
63
Pax American Space Administration (PASA) formed, with its headquarters at Woomera, Australia. Near-Earth asteroid mining commences. Limited trial and use of deepsleep for asteroid-belt mining sorties.
63
UN aid program to the Compact finds health infrastructure is ‘primitive’ and in need of immediate assistance. Pax, UNS and EU pledge six billion U-dollars to build and equip fifteen hospitals and train over three hundred doctors.
61
EU scientist Earnhard Godel develops the picopulse black-box propulsion system. Wins Nobel Prize.
60
Environmental studies conclude that the depletion of the ozone layer has halted.
60
PASA announces the Explorer Ship program. International Space Station brought out of mothballs to coordinate the search for a target star.
57
Testing of Magellan prototype explorer ship complete. Crew selection includes Pax, EU and UNS members; however, the UNS representative is injured in training. The Pax government requests a replacement and UNS suggests a Compact citizen.
55
Magellan launches from Earth orbit.
 
Of course, the fact that the crew comprises members of the Pax Americana, the Compact and the European Union, means they are all heavily invested in this future history and moulded by the climactic events that took place in the decades before launch. But the world has not stood still while they’ve slept on the way to Horizon, and there’s a whole swathe of future history they need to catch up on when they wake, not all of which will be to everyone’s liking.
 
 
 
Like what you’ve read? Well, there’s plenty more. Make with the clicky and the calendar, and follow the Horizon blog tour:
 
3 November — Extract of Horizon Voyager blog
 
4 November — Character Building: Meet the Crew — TrentJamieson’s blog
 
5 November — Welcome to Magellan: Inside the Ship — Darkmatter
 
6 November — Futureshock: Charting the History of Tomorrow — Lee Battersby’s blog (hint: you’re here)
 
7 November — Engage: Tinkering With a Quantum Drive — JoanneAnderton’s blog
 
10 November — Stormy Weather: Facing Down Climate Change — BenPeek’s blog
 
11 November — Time Travel: Relatively Speaking — Rjurik Davidson’sblog
 
12 November — Consciousness Explorers: Inside a Transhuman — Alan Baxter’s blog
 
13 November — From the Ground Up: Building a Planet — SeanWright’s blog
 
14 November — Life Persists: Finding the Extremophile — GreigBeck’s Facebook page
 
17 November — Interview — Marianne De Pierres’ blog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MARCHING ADO ABOUT SOMETHING

It’s a hectic time at Dayjob, so I’ve been a touch remiss in keeping the Battersblog up to date (takes blog down from shelf, blows dust off). Writing’s been on the back burner, and I’ve managed pretty much only graphic novels when it comes to reading time, too.

There will be a few Goodreads reviews popping up here today.

Thankfully, while I’ve been busy doing what I need to do to keep the roof above us, others in the interwebbersphere have been helping to keep the word of Marius, er, alive. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the fun and frivolity, including a couple of guest posts that have emerged from the murk:

  • My Shelf Confessions has discovered The Corpse-Rat King, noting its comedy and outrageous circumstances and admitting to looking forward to seeing more of his (Marius’) misadventures. They also requested a guest blog from Marius himself, and my never-gonna-be-a hero duly obliged: These Are the Rules is the result, a missive from the mouth of the Thinking Man’s Corpse to you.
  • Fantasy Mag Black Gate have also discovered my first novel, and finds it an intriguing mix of humour, madcap characters and stylish prose. I could never get into this market as a short story writer, but there’s always a back door, people…
  • A Fantastical Librarian saw enough in The Corpse-Rat King to come back for more, and deems Marching Dead to be a fabulous final to this duology and concludes that my first series can be chalked up as a success. I still have my fingers crossed for a book 3, so hopefully it won’t spoil the record if it happens.
  • And The Bookshelf Gargoyle has chosen Marching Dead for a Read-It-If… review, advising you to give it a crack if you enjoy a bit of jollity and good fun in your fantasy tales. What they think actually constitutes good clean fun gave me a bit of a giggle 🙂
  • And to round things off, Upcoming4.me requested a guest blog on the story behind Marching Dead: the what, the how, and most importantly, the why. You can read my response here.

There you go. That should keep you reading for a minute or two.

I WILL PERSUADE YOU, MY PRETTIES


Man, I have been all over the interwebbernets in the wake of The Corpse-Rat King Approacheth Day TM (That’d be TODAAAAAAY).


If you need persuading to part with some readies, allow me to point you to the following reviews:




Not to mention I’ve been interviewed by a bunch of people. 



Not to mention guest blogging. Oh, there has been guest blogging:



And if you still need persuading, what else can I do but offer you a bitching mega-extract courtesy of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist?

·       
Enjoy it, my fine fellows, for tomorrow we die! Well, not really. But enjoy it anyway.

GRINCHY ROBOT

Over at the Angry Robot website, I’ve joined in their 12 Days of Christmas series of guest posts with a missive discussing my somewhat… convoluted… relationship with that time of year when we teach children that it’s okay for a drunk, fat stranger to force cattle to pull heavy loads across millions of miles without rest, feed or palliative care whilst he commits several million B&Es to leave gifts for small children without anyone ever once mentioning the concept of grooming….

You’ve been with me long enough to know what I’m like. Won’t it be fun exposing the Angry Robot readers to my way of thinking? >:)

The whole post is here. Go, read, comment, scare the shit out of the Angry Robot overlords when they realise how many of us there are……

GUEST BLOGGING GOES TWO WAYS

It’s spring, and a young genre’s mind turns to many things: producing baby books, the glint in the eye of a particularly alluring anthology, popping in and out of each others blogs and…. well, blogging.

Over at the Fablecroft Publishing blog, Tehani Wessely has invited a bunch of established Australian authors to comment on their interactions and personal history with the indie press, and my offering has now been posted.

Surprisingly, I get a bit ranty. Who’d have thunk it?

You can read the ongoing series here, and it’s genuinely fascinating stuff. Go, read, enjoy.

GUEST BLOG: CLARION THE FIRST– PETER M BALL

It’s Clarion South time, and has been for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve had some vague, unformed idea about doing something to mark it– after all, it only happens every two years, I had a blast, and I’m not likely to get asked back 🙂

So it’s only fitting that I build a little shrine and paper it with hidden CCTV snaps of all my former students interfering with themselves in the shower when they think nobody is looking.

Or, I eventually decided, I could just ask them to guest blog their experiences. Which is less open to prosecution, and saves you from all those nekkid piccies of shower heads and loofahs and people accidentally falling on soapy objects and stuff.

So, for the next couple of weeks, twice a week, six of my former poops (If peeps is short for people, then surely the short version of pupils is poops, non?) will tell us about a week of their Clarion 2007 experience. I hope you enjoy. First off the mark, with his recollection of Week One (The Australian Rob Hood Show), is Peter M Ball.

Peter left Clarion and immediately started making a big splash. Appearances in markets as varied as Dog Vs Sandwich, Fantasy Magazine, and Dreaming Again have followed in quick succession, and he’s widely considered by those in the know as Someone To Watch tm. The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga, his Dreaming Again story, received an Honourable Mention in this year’s Aurealis Awards, prompting the juges to call it a thoroughly engaging story with crisp and enjoyable prose and vividly three dimensional characters. As a person he’s funny, gregarious, and always, always one step ahead, as his LJ, The Fall of The House of Arwink, reveals.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Peter M Ball:

CLARION WEEK ONE

Later this year Twelfth Planet Press is going to publish my novella, Horn, which originally started life as the short story titled The Unicorn I wrote during the first week of Clarion. Our week one tutor was actually Rob Hood, but since my week one story was critiqued on the very first day I started worrying about the looming presence of our week two tutor, Lee Battersby, right from the outset.

It’s hard to talk about The Unicorn without mentioning Lee, primarily because it was written in response to his prejudices against a particular fantasy trope. I won’t tell the full story here, not least because Lee’s already mentioned it back when the news that I’d sold the novella first broke, but the short version is pretty simple: One of my fellow students at Clarion was Lee’s wife, Lyn. She was giving us tips on what not to write for week two, among them the advice Lee hates stories about unicorns and virgins. Don’t write them. I’m not sure why, but I took that as a personal challenge – my story would have both unicorn and a virgin in it, and Lee would like it whether he wanted too or not. The idea that flowed on from there was a crossbreed of noir and horror, full of autopsy scenes and several less-than-savory characters.

Now, I’ve been known to lay some of the blame for Horn at Lee’s feet as a result of that, and I gather Lee’s pretty tickled by the way it came about too (even if he believes he needs to hunt me down and kill me before the nickname Unicorn Boy sticks). The reason I’m not going to dwell on the inspiration of the story is because it rarely gives kudos to the other Battersby who was instrumental in getting my random ideas about noir and unicorns off the ground – Lyn.

Lyn’s a writer and a reader who isn’t necessarily bothered when a story gets squicky. In fact, her week one story managed to make me profoundly uncomfortable in a way that good horror stories are meant too (but so rarely do). I respected her immediately because of that, and I knew I wanted to achieve a similar affect with my unicorn story. Writing the first draft The Unicorn turned out to be pretty brutal – it went to some places that turned out to be dark and uncomfortable for me to write – but Lyn remained the constant voice of encouragement who told me that there was nothing so dark it should be considered taboo. I think half the reason Horn has scenes as creepy or uncomfortable as it does is because trying to out-squick Lyn was as much a part of the challenge as writing something Lee would like (I achieved the latter, but I’m still not entirely sure I managed the first). During the writing process I’d keep coming out with these bizarre idea that I’d test on my dorm-mates, wondering if this time I’d finally gone too far, and every time Lyn told me to go back and write it (In fact, between the ideas suggested by Lyn and JJ Irwin, the squick quotient in one scene got much, much worse). It was the first time in a long while, perhaps ever, I felt like I was being pushed to write outside my comfort zone.

I have other fond memories of that first week– being introduced to the game Mafia, meeting a bunch of writers who fast became friends, and the look of sheer joy on Rob’s face when the class gave him a Shaun of the Dead figure as a thank-you for his guidance – but I’ll always associate that first week with Unicorns and squicky moments and emerging into our lounge room at 2 am to find someone willing to assure me that it’s okay for a story to go places your uncomfortable with as long as it’s both necessary and cool. For me, this is the strength of Clarion – it’s a place where you’re both supported by your peers and pushed to do things better all at the same time. I don’t think I could have written the first draft of The Unicorn anywhere else, and I never would have turned it into a novella without the support and encouragement of many of the folks I met either at (or because of) Clarion South.

Tune in on Sunday, when The Patternless Man, Michael Greenhut, covers week 2.