OMFG Canada–Former Defense Minister Says The Aliens Are Already Among Us

Kodos

So when the hell did Canada get so interesting?

First there was all that (totally super-awesome) Rob Ford nonsense which gave to the world a beautiful precedent for famous/strange/politically connected people blaming any kind of shenanigans–from smoking crack to invading small nations–on just being really drunk (thanks, Mr. Mayor!). And now, there’s this: Paul Hellyer–former Canadian Minister of Defense, former senior minister from Pierre Trudeau’s 1968 cabinet, current alien-loving whistle-blower–doing a half-hour interview on Russian TV in which he talks A LOT about aliens.

“The first question you have to ask is how many species [of aliens] are there?”

Continue reading OMFG Canada–Former Defense Minister Says The Aliens Are Already Among Us

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Special Holiday Deal On A Private Little War

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“He felt something in his belly twist up like cold fingers curling into a fist. This is it, he’d thought. This is when it all goes bad…

So here’s some good post-holiday news for any of you out there who love sci-fi, aliens, biplanes and war stories and maybe have a little space to fill on your new Christmas Kindles. The inscrutable book gods over at Amazon have decreed that my novel, A Private Little War, shall be on sale for a few days. Right now, you can get the e-book version for just $1.99–which is a pretty good deal.

Fair warning, though. It is a dark book. Unlike Tales From The Radiation Age which is a straight up, pulp-style adventure story full of giant robots and dinosaurs, A Private Little War is grim and, at times, just plain nasty. It’s a story of mercenary pilots sent to pacify a planet full of technologically backwards natives and, as such, is a story about the kind of men and women who would take that kind of job–hired genocide artists, more or less, and those kinds of folks are not always the most pleasant to hang out with.

Still, I’m ridiculously proud of it for two big reasons. First, because it is exactly the book I wanted to write. Not nice, not pretty, not focus-grouped for maximum audience appeal. I went into it with the idea of trying to tell a war story that actually felt like a war story–absent political jingoism, shiny gadget-lust and that kind of rah-rah, strong-jawed white guy exceptionalism that seems to be the true geography of most bad military sci-fi–and at no point during the writing, selling or publishing of it did anyone come to me and demand that I gentle it in any way. It’s a pure artifact–or as pure as I could make it anyhow. A book about bad people who do bad things for a living but, on the other hand, it’s also funny and bloody and full of action and, occasionally, even sweet. That’s reason one.

Reason two? It earned for me one of my best days ever as a writer, which was the day that Hugh Howey (the guy who writes the Wool books and one of the true rock stars of this brave new world of book-writing) read it and said this about it:

“Following in the tradition of classic science fiction novels that revel in the folly of war, Jason’s debut novel has all the trappings of the golden age and all the makings of a masterpiece. The prose is deep and effortless. The characters are real. You’ll want to wear boots and a flak jacket when you read this book. It’s everything I love about hard science fiction and war stories, all wrapped up in one.”

Which, essentially, I want to tattoo on my chest so I can carry it with me every day of my writing career. For those of you who don’t know Howey, you should immediately go out and buy all his books for everyone you know (after buying copies of mine, of course…), but getting the virtual back-pat from him was particularly meaningful to me because Hugh Howey was who I wanted to be when I grew up. His Wool books were those rare sorts of stories which, from page one, word one, grabbed me by the neck and just shook me. Granted, he was pressing pretty hard on a lot of my geek buttons (mysterious vaults! class warfare! lost societies and secret histories!), but I literally could not put them down. I’d read them at work, hiding out in my office with the door closed while I pretended to be hard at work on something else. I’d read them on the train and in bed. And when I finished every single one of them, I went right back to the beginning and started over.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, I’m a fan. And while A Private Little War has taken a lot of shit from people who wanted it to be something brighter, shinier, more hopeful or less full of bad language and murder, knowing that Hugh Howey liked it just kind of wiped that all away. He got it. A lot of other people didn’t. And I’m cool with that.

So the point of this unexpectedly long and rambling post is thus: A Private Little War is on sale for $1.99 until January 10. Hugh Howey and me both think its a pretty swell read, so maybe you should check it out. And seriously, at a buck-ninety-nine, what kind of risk are you really taking? Maybe you’ll hate it. You won’t be alone in that opinion if you do. But maybe you’ll go the other way and join the book’s weird little cult of fans.

We’re a small cult, but we’re feisty. And we’d be happy to have you on our side.

A Private Little War [on sale at Amazon until January 10]

Hugh Howey [Because you really should check him out if you haven’t already]

Google’s Secret Superpower: Crowdsourcing Idiocy

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The internet is awesome. We all get that. And Google? Pretty cool way to categorize all the world’s information–from the most vital to the most mundane.

But for all the talk about the Internet of Things and social networks and total information awareness and other such big words for gestalt benchmarks in the collection and categorization of all the world’s cat videos, reviews of taco trucks and places to buy Estelle Getty sex dolls, I think the most impressive thing that Google can now do is crowdsource idiocy–to gather and make available not just correct information but also stuff that people get totally and completely wrong.

An example: Forever ago, my dad bought a CD of Irish-y Christmas music. I could vaguely recall listening to it when I was a young man, home for the holidays or whatever. Here and there, snatches of old tunes would come to me and I’d think to myself, “Man, I’d really like to get a copy of that for myself.”

A normal person? They’d just ask their dad about the CD. Hope he remembered just the one in question and be able to provide a name. But I am…contrary. So instead, I tried to find it myself.

Continue reading Google’s Secret Superpower: Crowdsourcing Idiocy

Americans Love Libraries (And Screw Anyone Who Says Otherwise)

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I love libraries. I grew up with a library as one of the central poles around which my young life rotated–my school, my home, my neighborhood, my library. When I was a boy we probably went to my local library once a week or more, always stripping the racks bare of books about spaceships, aliens, ray guns and, later, monsters and sons of bitches, both real and imaginary. The first serious writing I ever did was because of my local library (it was in the lobby that I found the entry form for the Avon Flare Young Novelists Competition, for which I wrote my first full book, at age 14 or 15) and, in the summer, I took classes at the library that taught me all sorts of interesting things (most notably: where in the stacks to go to kiss a girl and not get caught).

Now that I’m older, I go to the library less but I love it just the same. And, apparently, I’m not alone. PEW Research came out with a big study last month which asked Americans how they felt about libraries and the response was…heartening. Had you asked me last week whether or not I thought most Americans valued libraries I would’ve guessed that most of them wouldn’t have known where their local library was and that more than half wouldn’t have bothered pissing on it if it was burning, I am a bit of a pessimist and was proven totally wrong by the data. To wit…

Continue reading Americans Love Libraries (And Screw Anyone Who Says Otherwise)

Kickstarting A Cocktail-Making Robot and Getting Techy With Your Jell-O Shots

JelloPrinterSee that picture? Not terribly impressive, is it. It’s just, what… A kind of wiggly cube suspended in some Jell-O?

Oh, but wait. First off, that’s some kind of wiggly cube suspended in a Jell-O shot which, right off the top, makes it cooler. Second, it’s some kind of wiggly cube 3D printed into a Jell-O shot. More accurately, printed into about 70 Jell-O shots for someone’s 25th birthday party by a guy who scratch-built the printer out of a bunch of old DVD players and CD drives in just a couple days. Why? Because he wanted to make a bunch of wiggly shapes in Jell-O shots for a birthday party which, not for nothing, is exactly the kind of inspiration that makes me go all tingly in my nerd organs.

Continue reading Kickstarting A Cocktail-Making Robot and Getting Techy With Your Jell-O Shots

We Are Not Our Memories Anymore

SpotlessMind

Memories are what make us. We are, in a biological sense, just mobile containers for the (occasionally spotty) recall of everything we’ve ever learned or ever done.

And this is a good thing because, seriously, how much would it suck to wake up every morning and have to re-learn everything we know? We exist to learn, to gather knowledge, and to pass that knowledge along. Sure, we do other stuff, too. We build rocketships and tweet about sandwiches and reproduce and get lost trying to drive to the mall, but that memory thing? That’s important.

What’s more, that memory thing is permanent, right? I mean, setting aside the things we forget, the things we misunderstand, the memories we warp either deliberately or just in the course of being alive and imperfect containers of data, once something goes into the brain, it’s in there for keeps.

Except that maybe that’s not the case anymore. What if we really could Eternal-Sunshine-Of-The-Spotless-Mind ourselves and wipe out memories that we just don’t want to hang onto?

Continue reading We Are Not Our Memories Anymore

Tales From The Radiation Age Is (Finally) A Complete Book

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Some time ago, I had this idea…

I wanted to write a book about the end of the world. But since my previous book, A Private Little War, was such a grim and blood-soaked death-slog all full of war and insanity and biplanes and toast (read it and you’ll see what I mean), I also wanted it to be, you know, fun. Because who says the end of the world has to be all awful? There are certainly people out there who would find a complete breakdown of all the systems of control to be a rollicking good time. Anarchy, lawlessness, general weirdness? Who doesn’t yearn for that every now and then?

Further, I didn’t want to go with any of the standard end-of-the-world tropes. Which meant no zombies, no gestalt ecological catastrophes which conveniently affect every biome on earth, no lone wanderer trudging through the wasteland. My apocalypse was more like a kind of psychotic wish fulfillment: What if we suddenly got everything we’ve ever wanted in our science-fiction-saturated world? What if there was nanotechnology and genetically engineered monsters and giant robots and dinosaurs and airships and time travel and, basically, everything, all at the same time?

That was the nut of the idea for Tales From The Radiation Age. And once I had that, all I had to do was sit down and write it. Which I did–one episode (read: chapter) at a time, every two weeks, for six straight months.

Continue reading Tales From The Radiation Age Is (Finally) A Complete Book