R’ha — an SF Short Film

A young, German filmmaker named Kaleb Lechowski, 22, has released an all-CGI short film called R’ha that’s pretty impressive, especially for an amateur effort. Okay, the story’s nothing new, but the visual (and audio) representation are startlingly good. Reportedly, he spent seven months on the computer creating this film with a running time of 6:26. If you’re not at work or in a house with people sleeping, turn up the sound a little.

Apparently the display of film-making talent is generating quite a lot of buzz. More on the story here and here.

The Next Big Thing — Work in Progress

Today I’m diving into an author meme that’s circulating around the net this month. It’s called a Blog Hop. The idea is to post some tantalizing information about your work in progress, to get folks (that’s you) psyched about what’s coming down the pike—and then to link to some of your writer friends and colleagues, and encourage the same folk (you, again) to go check out what they’re doing.

Here goes. First question, please:

1) What is the title of your next work?

The Reefs of Time.

It’s Volume Five of The Chaos Chronicles. Or, to put it another way, it’s the long-awaited sequel to Sunborn. It’s also still very much a work in progress, and I don’t have a publication date for you, unfortunately. Some of you have been waiting a long time for this book, and I very much appreciate your patience.

2) Where did the idea come from?

It continues a story inspired by chaos theory, which began years ago with Neptune Crossing, the opening volume of The Chaos Chronicles. The series chronicles the adventures of one John Bandicut from Earth, a survey pilot out on Triton (moon of Neptune), whose journey starts with a search for relics of life from outside the solar system. He finds it, in the form of a quarx—a noncorporeal alien who takes up residence in his head—and the translator, a powerful machine or being of equally alien origin. A lot happens after that—four books’ worth, in fact. Worlds in danger, starting with Earth. Reluctant heroes. New friendships and loves where least expected.

In The Reefs of Time, we are hundreds of years further into the future, out at the edge of our galaxy. There’s a calamity in the making, of truly galactic proportions. Li-Jared’s homeworld is involved. The starstream is involved (see From a Changeling Star and Down the Stream of Stars). The Mindaru are involved (see Sunborn). The inspiration for this volume came not just from chaos theory, but time theory, as well. The human element was inspired by… well, I’m not really sure, to be honest. My own feelings of awe in the face of a seemingly chaotic universe, perhaps.

Each of the books is a story complete, while building a much larger story arc.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Sounds sort of like science fiction, doesn’t it?

4) What actors should play your characters in the movie?

I’d never thought about that until now. Well, okay, this sounds nutty, but actually Tom Cruise, toned down, might not be bad as John Bandicut. Chris Pike could be good, too. Or Jeremy Renner, or Mark Ruffalo. He has to be smart and capable, but also a little crazy. He’s got actual, alien voices in his head, and he’s loyal to those he loves, and when pushed, he’s willing to take some enormous risks.

Most of the characters in this book are aliens, and that’s a tough casting challenge. Willem Dafoe was great as Tar Tarkas, and he might be a pretty good Ik (an alien). Lynn Collins (Deja Thoris in John Carter) could be the beautiful, four-breasted humanoid, Antares. Or Lena Heady. For Julie Stone, human… not sure. Someone smart, competent, cute, reminiscent of Allison Mack (Chloe in Smallville); but I’m not sure she’s quite right. Someone similar, though. Summer Glau? Too exotic. Piper Perabo? Too adorable. I think this part is still open. Li-Jared and the robots, I really have no idea.

5) Give us a one-sentence synopsis. (Go ahead, try!)

When a time distortion opens a channel from the center of the galaxy in the deep past, to the outer galaxy of now, it also opens a path for a malevolent group of cyber-entities to come forward in time, threatening thousands of civilized worlds. It falls to John Bandicut and his alien companions to find a way to close the timestream. And if Bandicut survives, he might just learn that Julie Stone has made it to Shipworld, out at the edge of the galaxy, and that she has played a part in the mission.

Okay, I made it in three sentences. But it’s a whole lot more complicated than that, really.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is slated to be published by Tor Books, who have been waiting patiently for the long-overdue manuscript.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Ouch. Five years or more in, I’m nearly finished with the massive first draft. I expect the rewrite to go a lot faster, though it will be a huge job, involving a lot of weaving and a lot of cutting and tightening. 

8) What other books would you compare this story to?

That’s a hard one. It has some of the epic proportions of Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, and A Deepness in the Sky. Maybe some kinship with Gregory Benford’s galactic core books. Or Jack McDevitt’s The Engines of God. Or Samuel R. Delany’s Nova. Or Niven’s Ringworld. A bit of Heinlein, a bit of Clarke. It’s character driven, but probably comes in somewhere between hard science fiction and galactic space opera.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

James Gleick’s book, Chaos. An article in The Planetary Report about chaos in the solar system. An image of a man, a pilot, driven a little mad by the loss of his cybernetic implants, as the first human to encounter an alien.

10) What else might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s a great, sprawling adventure with characters I find very interesting (humans, aliens, robots), a complex plot spanning half the galaxy, and—oh yes—time travel! I can’t wait to read it. And I really can’t wait to finish writing it. The Reefs of Time. When it’s done, the readers of this blog will be the first to know.

All six books that connect to it, by the way, are readily available as ebooks. (That includes four books of The Chaos Chronicles, plus the two Starstream novels mentioned above. Paper books are also available, though you might have to go to the used market for some of them.)

If there are no more questions, why don’t you check out what some of my fellow authors have to say about their works in progress? (Some might be posting over the course of the day, so if you don’t see anything, check back.)

Richard Bowker http://richardbowker.com/
Ann Tonsor Zeddies http://pointoforigin.livejournal.com/
Lois Gresh http://loisgresh.blogspot.com

The next bunch of writers are all colleagues of mine at Book View Café:

Patricia Burroughs http://planetpooks.com/the-blog/
Katharine Eliska “Cat” Kimbriel http://alfreda89.livejournal.com/
Pati Nagle http://patinagle.livejournal.com/
Steven Harper Piziks http://spiziks.livejournal.com
Deborah J. Ross http://www.deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Others will be posting on December 19. I’ll try to get some more links for you then.

If you’re a writer and have posted your own “Next Big Thing” (or want to do so right now), please go ahead and post your link under Comments!

Earth-sized Planet Found Circling Alpha Centauri!

Woot! It’s finally happened! Researchers have announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the star system nearest to ours. Called Alpha Centauri Bb for now (it orbits the star in the Alpha Centauri group called Alpha Centauri B), this planet is roughly 3.6 million miles from its sun, compared to our 93 million miles from our sun.  So it’s pretty hot, certainly not in the range for most Earthlike life forms. But this discovery suggests the likelihood of other planets in the star system. Most systems have multiple planets, and the ones closest to their suns are the easiest to detect.

This is so insanely, massively cool. We’ve dreamed of it for years. And now we’ve learned that our nearest neighboring star system has a planet the size of ours, and may have other planets in the habitable zone.

The news takes me back to memories of one of the first paperback SF novels I ever read as a kid: Robert Silverberg’s Revolt on Alpha C

Who’s ready to join me in starting construction of a starship?

Going Alien Goes Live!

Drum roll, please. Thanks, you can stop now. I said, thanks, you can… thank you. 

It’s official; it’s live; it’s up for sale! My second of two short story collections, Going Alien, has just launched. Look to the east, in the sky. In the sky. See that bright spot of light? That’s Going Alien, on its way into space, where the aliens are!

Here’s what it looks like when it’s not a spot of light in the sky. It’s up now in the Book View Café store. It’ll be up momentarily at Amazon, too—and Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. It’ll be up, as the world turns, in all of the other stores, like Apple and Sony and Kobo.

About the stories. I’m always leery about rereading my own stuff. I mean, what if I don’t like it? What if I find it amateurish and derivative? What if I hate it? Well, to my own delight (and relief!), none of that happened! I actually really enjoyed reading through these stories, published over most of the years of my career. All of them, by the way, have bona fide aliens in them. And all have accompanying introductions with my reminiscences about the writing of them, and how they fit into the general scheme of my career.

Here’s the list of stories, most of them appearing for the first time since their initial publication in places such as original anthologies edited by Roger Zelazny and Orson Scott Card, and in magazines like Galaxy and Galileo.

  • Shapeshifter Finals
  • Love Rogo
  • What Gods Are These?
  • Life-Tides
  • Alien Persuasion
  • Though All the Mountains Lie Between

If I may offer a review quote from an editor I asked to look at them: “These stories are great! I’m really enjoying them!” And, “This illustration is beautiful!”

Okay, the editor, Allysen Palmer, is technically also my wife, but still. She’s a genuine professional editor. And she seemed really objective as she said that to me.

Why not give it a try? No aliens were harmed in the making of this ebook, and it’s affordably priced at $2.99, wherever fine ebook story collections are sold. Right alongside my first collection, Reality and Other Fictions.

Going Alien at
Book View Café | Kindle | Nook | Smashwords
 

An Even Shinier “The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1–3”

If you’re one of the excellent people who have bought a copy of my omnibus ebook of the first three Chaos books, I have good news for you! (At least, I hope it’s good news.) The book has gone through a complete reformatting and general steaming and dry cleaning, and the new, vastly improved version is now up in the Kindle store, the Nook store, Smashwords, and eventually will also be in the Book View Café store, the Apple and Sony stores, Kobo, and wherever Chaos Chronicles books are sold. No actual prose was harmed in the making of this new ebook! It’s the same thrilling story, unchanged except it looks way better on your reader now. (If it’s a Nook, the centered text will actually look centered—not a slam-dunk certainty on a Nook, as it turns out. Or in Aldiko on an Android, for that matter.)

Please be my guest and go back and download the updated version. I’m reasonably sure you can do that without cost, though if you ask me the actual mechanics by which you do it, I’m suddenly going to go all vague on you and excuse myself to go get more coffee. But let me know if you have trouble.

If you haven’t yet sprung for the ebook, well, pay no attention to me; I’m just going to sit in the dark, mumbling to myself about lost opportunities. ($6.99 for three books, are you kidding me?)

By the way, the individual novels, Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea are also going to get an update—coming soon, as soon as Ann (who’s doing most of the actual work) finishes up. I’d love to give them new covers, too, but that must be a project for another day.

What’s Up with My Writing Projects?

It’s been a while since I reported on what I’m doing, writing-wise. Here’s the short form:

Chaos 5: The Reefs of Time — Yah, it’s coming; it’s coming. Piece after piece keeps falling into place. It’s long and it’s complex, and there are a lot of things in it  that I could not figure out beforehand; I could only discover these things by pushing at the story and the characters—that is, by writing and sometimes taking wrong turns into blind alleys. That process involves many hours of pounding my head and pulling my hair. Hell of a way to run a railroad, but there you have it. The train called The Reefs of Time will come in.

Audiobooks — Production at Audible has already begun on the books they’ve licensed for audiobooks. These guys move fast; I’ll give them that. I’ve recorded pronunciations of character and place names and like that for three of the books. And three narrators are now at work on From a Changeling Star, Down the Stream of Stars, and The Infinity Link.

Going Alien — My second short story collection is near to completion. I just have to put final touches on the new introductions, and finish proofreading the stories. My able assistant Ann has already done the lion’s share of the formatting work, so the conversion to ebook will be quick. The launch is planned for August 28. I’m enjoying rereading the stories, some of which I have not looked at in many years. Good sign. Here’s what it’s going to look like.

And that’s where I am in the writing projects!

On the Web Radio!

That’s where you’ll find me, this Thursday evening August 2, from 9:20 to 10:00 Eastern time! The show is called The Author’s Corner, with host Elaine Raco Chase, at www.trianglevarietyradio.com. It’s a call-in show, and I’ll be talking about my writing and books, and pretty much whatever she asks me. So if you’d like to chat with actual spoken words—almost as if we were talking in person—check it out! Go to www.trianglevarietyradio.com, then click on blog talk radio (a silver bar, halfway down the page). You’ll find a phone number for calling in. Listen to the whole show, from 8 to 1030 p.m., Eastern time! (Forget the boring Olympics—they’ll be on your DVR.)

If you must watch adorable and athletic divers and gymnasts instead of listening to our scintillating conversation, podcasts will be available after the show. (But really, you aren’t going to watch the Olympics Sunday night instead of the Mars landing, are you? I didn’t think so. This is similar.)

Edit: You can listen to the interview as a podcast, by clicking this link:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trianglevariety/2012/08/03/authors-corner-review-with-host-elaine-raco-chase

Several other authors precede me in the interview. My own section starts at around 78:30.

Bring On the Audiobooks!

Mine, that is. The contracts have been inked, and I am now an Audible author! (In press, so to speak.) Nine of my novels, in the coming year or so, will make their debuts as Audible audiobooks. As I said previously, I’m a big fan of audiobooks myself. I often listen to books while I’m walking the dog, or working around the house. So on those grounds alone, I’m excited. Professionally it’s a welcome breakthrough, because audiobooks have grown to be an important part of the book market, and this will open my work to a whole new potential audience—just as ebooks did.

No word yet on who will be doing the narration, but I’ve made some suggestions of readers I like. So here, now, are the books slated for audio:

Seas of Ernathe
Panglor
Dragons in the Stars
Dragon Rigger
Star Rigger’s Way
The Infinity Link
The Rapture Effect
From a Changeling Star
Down the Stream of Stars

I just have one more thing to say about that: Yee-haw! 

P.S. You don’t suppose I should be worried that the acquiring editor at Audible is a fellow by the name of Snape?

Naw…

The Population of Frackville, PA

Alert reader Tim Yordy sent me this hot tip on the residents of a town in Pennsylvania called Frackville. (As far as I know, it’s a real place. But I haven’t checked Snopes.) Here’s what Tim said:

Hey Jeff, given your involvement with Battlestar Galactica, I thought you would enjoy this. Go to the Wikipedia page about Frackville, PA and scroll down to the Demographics section and read the first paragraph.

I did. And you should, too. Read carefully. (Passing familiarity with BSG is required. If you’ve never seen the show, move along. You’re not the droids we’re looking for.)

I wonder if the other residents of Frackville know about this.

Edit: I have learned from alert reader Marco that not only is Frackville real, it is right down the road from Vulcan, PA!

Reality and Other Fictions

All these years, I’ve been telling you wonderful people about my novels, with scarcely a mention of my short stories. That’s because my short stories have been few and far between. Nevertheless, I’ve published eleven shorter pieces over the years, in publications as varied as Science Fiction Age, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and the Boston Sunday Herald. And now I’ve collected them.

The first of two collections is Reality and Other Fictions, now on sale at Book View Café, for the low, low price of $2.99! Here’s what it looks like:

Here’s the blurb:

Explore an Earth being devoured by entropy, in the ultimate runaway environmental crisis. Dive the depths of the sea to prevent the mother of all oil spills. Rocket into space as a tourist. Mine the asteroids with your enhanced border collie, in the can-do spirit of classic science fiction. They include Carver’s first published short fiction, and his most recent. With new introductions, all from the author of The Chaos Chronicles and Eternity’s End.

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll have seen my mention of some new stories going up for sale as singles. Some of those are in this collection. Here’s the contents page:

  • Reality School: In the Entropy Zone
  • Of No Return
  • Seastate Zero
  • Rocket Ride
  • Dog Star

“Seastate Zero” is available only in this collection, as are the insightful introductions I’ve lovingly written for each story and for the book as a whole. At least, I hope you’ll find them insightful, or at least interesting. I do share some memories I’ve never written down before about how these stories came to be, and how they fit into my career.

My second collection, Going Alien, is scheduled for late August. It pulls together all of my short work that involves… can you guess? Aliens.

For both of these books, I am indebted to Gretchen, the high school student (now graduated, and valedictorian!) who typed and formatted a good number of them from old paper copies, while helping me as an intern. And equally to Anna King, who provided extraordinary help in wrestling the final formatting into line. Not to mention Allysen, for catching some embarrassing typos and wordos at the eleventh hour. And finally, Vonda McIntyre, author and BVC founding member, who has been tirelessly helpful in getting this stuff up.

Available exclusively at BVC until July. After that, I’ll release it to the usual suspects.

I hope you’ll give it a try! (Vote for me!)

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