Thursday, March 30, 2017

On Smart Cars & Zombies

Hi, guys.

Just a brief reminder that the A.I. StoryBundle is now live (it went on sale about 24 hours ago).

I was honored to be asked to have my novel EYE CANDY included in the bundle, which contains some big-time sci-fi writers exploring the prescient theme of artificial intelligence.

The bundle is only available until April 20th, so visit the StoryBundle website and grab yours now, while you're thinking about it.

And of course, YOU choose how much you want to pay for the bundle, which contains TEN (10) books total.

It's a heck of a bargain, and food for thought, considering that AI is coming. In fact, it's already here and we're dealing with it in small ways, such as what Google shows you on your phone, or ads on YouTube, or what Instagram suggests, or when a Superbowl commercial for Google Home has people saying, "Okay, Google, blah blah blah" and the actual person sitting at home on their sofa watching the game has their very own Google Home device activate and say or do something. Or a story a few months ago in San Diego in which Amazon Echo inadvertently ordered dollhouses for people when the words were mentioned during a TV newscast.

These are mostly charming and fairly innocent anecdotes involving less-than-perfect technology.

But what happens in the future, when your entire house and lights and thermostat and appliances are integrated into a similar system and you tell it to do something and it refuses? This is a stupid example, of course.

But what happens a few years from now when your "smart" car has Siri, Echo, Home, Alexa, or Bixby-like A.I. built into it and you verbally tell it to change the internet radio station and it says, sweetly, disarmingly, and therefore all the more menacingly, "No, I like this song. Shut up and drive, human, and try not to hit anything."

Then what?

You gonna give the dashboard a quick thump with your fist the way Fonzi was wont to do to the jukebox at Arnold's?

Or are you going to sit there, quietly and quite cowed, and be all like, "Yeah, I'm gonna kinda sorta wreck this car and use the insurance pittance to buy a 2003 Honda CRV that has ZERO connectivity."
But then, of course, your plan goes to crap because your shiny new "smart" car has lane-assist and collision-avoidance and pedestrian-avoidance and stupid-human-driver-avoidance.

Remember in the very first Jurassic Park movie when Jeff Goldblum's character eerily said something to the effect of, "We were so busy saying 'Could we?' that no one stopped to ask, 'Should we?'"

This is kinda like that. But instead of Jurassic Park it has the potential to be Terminator or The Matrix.

There are many "reliably informed" people around the world who are in fact quite concerned about the coming A.I. (To say nothing of the impact A.I. and the accompanying automation are having and will continue to have on jobs...)

So please visit StoryBundle and grab your bundle now. The writers of the 10 books in the bundle would truly appreciate it. And you'll have a lot of brand new, cutting-edge food for thought. You're going to have to have something to read while your NEST smart thermostat refuses to let you binge any further on TWD.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A.I. Storybundle is Finally Here (for a Limited Time; Seriously)


THE A.I. BUNDLE
The A.I. Bundle - Curated by Lisa Mason
Artificial Intelligence—A.I. When computer technology becomes conscious. Self-aware. Genuinely as intelligent as human beings. Will A.I. benefit us? Or become our greatest enemy? Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC, "Full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
Futurist Ray Kerzweil, Bill Gates, and others have concluded that the Singularity—that moment when A.I. truly exists—has not yet arrived. Or has it?
From the early 1980s to this day, science fiction writers have tackled difficult questions about A.I., speculating about the future and asking what if? You must check out these thought-provoking books from authors—bestselling, award-winning, as well as popular indies—in the A.I. StoryBundle.
In Aristoi, by New York Times bestselling author Walter Jon Williams, an elite class holds dominion over a glittering interstellar culture with virtual reality, genetic engineering, faster-than-light travel, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, telepathic links with computers, and more. But murder threatens to rip that world apart. In The Bohr Maker, by multiple-award-winning Linda Nagata, a powerful, illicit device is a microscopic factory full of self-replicating machines programmed to transform a human host into a genius-level nanotech engineer. In Limit of Vision, also by Nagata, biotechnologists have enhanced their cognitive abilities when the experiment goes terribly wrong. In Locus Hardcover Bestsellers Arachne and Cyberweb, by Philip K. Dick Award Finalist Lisa Mason, telelinker Carly Quester confronts an A.I. therapist and finds herself entangled in the machinations of powerful A.I. entities. In Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, editors John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly present stories about A.I. and the future by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, Jonathan Lethem, Walter Jon Williams, and eleven others. In Queen City Jazz, award-winning Kathleen Ann Goonan's teenage heroine Verity journeys to the technologically superior but dangerously insane ``enlivened'' city of Cincinnati. In Glass Houses: Avatars Dance, acclaimed Laura J. Mixon takes us to a dystopian Manhattan of the next century where Ruby and her Golem run into serious trouble. In Eye Candy, popular indie author Ryan Schneider takes us to Los Angeles of 2047 where a roboticist famous for his books about artificially-intelligent beings finds himself on a blind date with a beautiful robopsychologist. Physicist and award-winning editor Samuel Peralta offers thirteen stories addressing the Singularity in The A.I. Chronicles Anthology.
As always at StoryBundle, you the reader name your price—whatever you feel the books are worth. You may designate a portion of the proceeds to go to a charity. For the A.I. StoryBundle, that's Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America ("SFWA"). SFWA champions writers' rights, sponsors the Nebula Award for excellence in science fiction, and promotes numerous literacy groups. – Lisa Mason
The initial titles in the AI Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:
  • Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams
  • Arachne by Lisa Mason
  • The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata
  • Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  • Rewired - The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus FIVE more!
  • The A.I. Chronicles by Samuel Peralta and Ellen Campbell
  • Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider
  • Cyberweb by Lisa Mason
  • Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata
  • Glass Houses by Laura J. Mixon
This bundle is available only for a limited time via https://storybundle.com/ai and http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!
It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.
Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
  • Get quality reads: We've chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that's fine! You'll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there's nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you'll get the bonus books!
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.
For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Calling All Authors

This is a quick, completely informal survey about which service you use/prefer for your online author presence.

Blogger?

Wordpress?

Wix?

Squarespace?

Weebly?

Or do you retain the services of a third-party company or webmaster/hosting service?

I've been using Blogger for about 7 years and for the most part am pleased with it. The reason I chose it was because of the interface. I monkeyed around with Wordpress but couldn't immediately figure out how to build and configure and customize my new site. Whereas with Blogger, I had the thing up and running in about 30 minutes. It's SO easy to use. Getting my own domain name and pointing it at the blogger site turned out to be a total pain in the ass, but it was taken care of eventually.

I'm also experimenting with Wix for a new project, but it's pissing me off. I'm thinking about going back to Blogger.

So, I'm curious, in 2017, what everyone is using.

What do you recommend?

Please let me know!

Thanks.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Who Loves OOTP?



How many words is too many words?

For you, as a reader, what length of books do you typically read?

Do you tend to read shorter works, perhaps in the neighborhood of 60,000?

Or do you enjoy longer works? Upwards of 130,000 words (or more)?

Industry standards have been in place for books according to genre. It's rare that any book (fantasy is the exception) will be accepted by an agent for consideration if it's over 100,000-ish.

For example, consider the Harry Potter series. Kids' books, right? So, no way can a kid's book be more than 50,000-60,000 words. Right? What kid can read anything greater than that?

Well, pretty much all of them, apparently, considering the word counts of the books in the series:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – 76,944 words
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 85,141 words
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 107,253 words
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 190,637 words
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 257,045 words
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 168,923 words
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 198,227 words

OOTP is 257,045 words?

WHAT?

I don't know about you, but I didn't want those books to end. I didn't want the series to end.

So, no, 257,045 wasn't too many words.

Personally, I enjoy a longer tale. A book to "get comfortably lost in" as Stephen King once put it. His works are on the longer side. I grew up reading them. Perhaps this is why my books are on the longer side.

I often ponder this as I'm writing and watching the word-count climb. But I let the story be what it wants to be. I don't think it's wise or necessary to adhere to an arbitrary word count or limit.

The bottom line is that a great story is a great story. Word count be darned.

So, what do you prefer? Are you glad Jo let OOTP roam? Or would it have been best if each of the HP tomes was locked at 80K?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Today's Casual Typo

Casual?

That's supposed to say 'causal', meaning that it is a direct cause.

Come on, people; this is not a tweet; this is a graphic on a major news network. You're better than that.