Next up: Clar1ty Wars 3

‘Strange Treasure: Another Tale from the Exclusion Zone’ is done, now it’s time to circle back to the Clar1ty Wars.

It seems Cyberpunk is making a comeback, what with CD Projekt Red’s upcoming game causing a huge nerd buzz in the PC and console gaming worlds. On the table top, the venerable RPGs, Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020 are getting new editions. And then there’s my fast play, miniature wargame rules HARDWIRED and Osprey’s upcoming mega game, Reality’s Edge

Gameplay video: https://youtu.be/RfmB1eoyzwY

Coincidentally, it wasn’t until very recently I started to receive a lot of feedback and questions about the books. Juggling a full-time business and all-time Real Life means fiction writing gets dropped from the To Do List . Obligations, everyday emergencies, and plain old end-of-the-day exhaustion pile up so fast – which is why I’m only now getting back to the next installment. My apologies and gratitude to those who wondered if it fell off the edge of the map – I’ll do my utmost to make it worth the wait.

I’ve resurrected the old notes, files, and assorted scraps of inspiration, and begun hammering the next set of stories. Things are getting ugly in Kepler22, and Seeb, Detectives Lynch, and Junior-Inspector Sarin are about to get stuck in the crossfire.

In case you’re interested, here are links to books one and two:

One Bad Apple and Under Strange Stars

That’s all for now. Thanks for all your support and have an excellent day.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

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Wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

And I thought this proclamation from earlier American President during a very tumultuous time in our country might be worth taking to heart.

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

***

Have a wonderful day.

Twenty Things

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So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”  

– Psalm 90:12

 

Lately, I go over this list whenever I turn on my computer.

***

  1. You’re going to die and you have no idea when.

Stop pretending that you’re invincible. Acknowledge the fact of your own mortality, and then start structuring your life in a more meaningful way.

  1. Everyone you love is going to die, and you don’t know when.

This truth may be saddening at first, but it also gives you permission to make amends with past difficulties and re-establish meaningful relationships with important figures in your life.

  1. Your material wealth won’t make you a better or happier person.

Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who achieves his or her materialistic dreams, money only amplifies that which was already present.

  1. Your obsession with finding happiness is what prevents its attainment.

Happiness is always present in your life–it’s just a matter of connecting to it and allowing it to flow through you that’s challenging.

  1. Donating money does less than donating time.

Giving your time is a way to change your perception and create a memory for yourself and others that will last forever.

  1. You can’t make everyone happy, and if you try, you’ll lose yourself.

Stop trying to please, and start respecting your values, principles, and autonomy.

  1. You can’t be perfect, and holding yourself to unrealistic standards creates suffering.

Many perfectionists have unrelenting inner critics that are full of so much rage and self-hate that it tears them apart inside. Fight back against that negative voice, amplify your intuition, and start challenging your unrealistic standards.

  1. Your thoughts are less important than your feelings and your feelings need acknowledgment.

Intellectually thinking through your problems isn’t as helpful as expressing the feelings that create your difficulties in the first place.

  1. Your actions speak louder than your words, so you need to hold yourself accountable.

Be responsible and take actions that increase positivity and love.

  1. Your achievements and successes won’t matter on your death bed.

When your time has come to transition from this reality, you won’t be thinking about that raise; you’ll be thinking about the relationships you’ve made–so start acting accordingly.

  1. Your talent means nothing without consistent effort and practice.

Some of the most talented people in the world never move out from their parent’s basement.

  1. Now is the only time that matters, so stop wasting it by ruminating on the past or planning the future.

You can’t control the past, and you can’t predict the future, and trying to do so only removes you from the one thing you can control–the present.

  1. Nobody cares how difficult your life is, and you are the author of your life’s story.

Stop looking for people to give you sympathy and start creating the life story you want to read.

  1. Your words are more important than your thoughts, so start inspiring people.

Words have the power to oppress, hurt, and shame, but they also have the power to liberate and inspire–start using them more wisely.

  1. Investing in yourself isn’t selfish. It’s the most worthwhile thing you can do.

You have to put on your own gas mask to save the person sitting right next to you.

  1. It’s not what happens, it’s how you react that matters.

Train yourself to respond in a way that leads to better outcomes.

  1. You need to improve your relationships to have lasting happiness.

Relationships have a greater impact on your wellbeing and happiness than your income or your occupation, so make sure you give your relationship the attention and work it deserves.

  1. Pleasure is temporary and fleeting, so stop chasing fireworks and start building a constellation.

Don’t settle for an ego boost right now when you can delay gratification and experience deeper fulfillment.

  1. Your ambition means nothing without execution–it’s time to put in the work.

If you want to change the world, then go out there and do it!

  1. Time is your most valuable asset–you need to prioritize how you spend it.

You have the power and responsibility to decide what you do with the time you have, so choose wisely.

 

Resist the Internet

A NY Times article by Ross Douthat

Yes, I am posting it on my blog. Irony can be pretty ironic, eh?

***

reclaim

 

So far, in my ongoing series of columns making the case for implausible ideas, I’ve fixed race relations and solved the problem of a workless working class. So now it’s time to turn to the real threat to the human future: the one in your pocket or on your desk, the one you might be reading this column on right now.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true: You are enslaved to the internet. Definitely if you’re young, increasingly if you’re old, your day-to-day, minute-to-minute existence is dominated by a compulsion to check email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.

Compulsions are rarely harmless. The internet is not the opioid crisis; it is not likely to kill you (unless you’re hit by a distracted driver) or leave you ravaged and destitute. But it requires you to focus intensely, furiously, and constantly on the ephemera that fills a tiny little screen, and experience the traditional graces of existence — your spouse and friends and children, the natural world, good food and great art — in a state of perpetual distraction.

Used within reasonable limits, of course, these devices also offer us new graces. But we are not using them within reasonable limits. They are the masters; we are not. They are built to addict us, as the social psychologist Adam Alter’s new book “Irresistible” points out — and to madden us, distract us, arouse us and deceive us. We primp and perform for them as for a lover; we surrender our privacy to their demands; we wait on tenterhooks for every “like.” The smartphone is in the saddle, and it rides mankind.

Which is why we need a social and political movement — digital temperance, if you will — to take back some control.

Of course it’s too soon to fully know (and indeed we can never fully know) what online life is doing to us. It certainly delivers some social benefits, some intellectual advantages, and contributes an important share to recent economic growth.

But there are also excellent reasons to think that online life breeds narcissism, alienation and depression, that it’s an opiate for the lower classes and an insanity-inducing influence on the politically-engaged, and that it takes more than it gives from creativity and deep thought. Meanwhile the age of the internet has been, thus far, an era of bubbles, stagnation and democratic decay — hardly a golden age whose customs must be left inviolate.

So a digital temperance movement would start by resisting the wiring of everything, and seek to create more spaces in which internet use is illegal, discouraged or taboo. Toughen laws against cellphone use in cars, keep computers out of college lecture halls, put special “phone boxes” in restaurants where patrons would be expected to deposit their devices, confiscate smartphones being used in museums and libraries and cathedrals, create corporate norms that strongly discourage checking email in a meeting.

Then there are the starker steps. Get computers — all of them — out of elementary schools, where there is no good evidence that they improve learning. Let kids learn from books for years before they’re asked to go online for research; let them play in the real before they’re enveloped by the virtual.

Then keep going. The age of consent should be 16, not 13, for Facebook accounts. Kids under 16 shouldn’t be allowed on gaming networks. High school students shouldn’t bring smartphones to school. Kids under 13 shouldn’t have them at all. If you want to buy your child a cellphone, by all means: In the new dispensation, Verizon and Sprint will have some great “voice-only” plans available for minors.

I suspect that versions of these ideas will be embraced within my lifetime by a segment of the upper class and a certain kind of religious family. But the masses will still be addicted, and the technology itself will have evolved to hook and immerse — and alienate and sedate — more completely and efficiently.

But what if we decided that what’s good for the Silicon Valley overlords who send their kids to a low-tech Waldorf school is also good for everyone else? Our devices we shall always have with us, but we can choose the terms. We just have to choose together, to embrace temperance and paternalism both. Only a movement can save you from the tyrant in your pocket.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Oh yes, please.

 

The next iteration of cyberpunk-awesomeness is here. The latest installment of the Deus Ex gaming franchise was released yesterday and my bytes are all aflutter.

Immersive world, excellent voice acting, multiple paths/game play methods, RPG elements, deep story line, these are great games, and I mean ‘great’ as in ‘like a good book’. This is far more than a SF-flavored Run n Gun with a dash of grit, cybernetics, and lens flare. These games draw you in, force you to think, make choices, get lost in the story’s implications, complications, and conflicts. As a cyberpunk fan-boy, I’d love to hang out with the creators and writers up in Eidos Montreal for a week to just listen and take notes.

I am resisting the siren call of Mankind Divided because I’ve set aside September to revise the first section of my next novel, Beneath the Broken Moons. But it calls to me from my Steam Cart. Oh how it calls…

Have an excellent day.

 

The windshield of the Present

Back to Writing and Fiction because Real Life is so unbelievable right now.

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A few years back, William Gibson said he veered away from cyberpunk SF because ‘the future got smashed on the windshield of the present.’ Razor-sharp Gibson-ese. An example of why I admire him.

I think it touches on the geometric progression/proliferation of technology as well as the simultaneous unpredictability and weird deja-vu familiarity of the future. Some dynamics of civilization are moving at a frenetic, methamphetamine-fueled pace while others are as ancient and rooted as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

In an odd twist of futuristic prescience, I see diced and commercialized slices of Pattern Recognition’s virtual art installations in the current Pokemon craze. (Apparently the US military had to advise folks not to wander into Restricted Areas chasing VR anime creatures – a statement I find deeply strange.)

I also notice the gap between my own futuristic imaginings and current events shrinking to quite literally 15 minutes in the future. Point of fact, my current Mil SF/NF short focuses on the remnants of a US Mechanized Infantry company caught up in a massive Russian invasion of the Baltics and Poland, which, if you’ve been following the news, is a thing that might actually happen. Especially after Putin’s shenanigans in Georgia, Estonia, Crimea, the ongoing fight in the Ukraine, and now the massive Russian military build-up in Kaliningrad.

Now I imagined the opening scenes several years ago, mulling over the old ‘Cold War turned Hot’ RPG Twilight 2000. Back then, my speculation was rear view mirror daydreaming. Common sentiment was the Cold War collapsed with the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. Now I’m hammering the story out by the end of the month before it literally becomes old news.

I would prefer to spend my energy on writing, not intense self-examination. There is a synergy, a mystery to making art that is only realized in the doing, not in the debate. I recognize value in discussion, but you can’t pin the process to a board like some specimen of exotic butterfly. It too easily morphs into Delaying Activity. Plus dissection has a tendency to kill its subject.

With that caveat, I confess the inspiration/motivation for this current short story is different. There’s an urgency and not the usual entertaining escapism behind it. I have this odd sense the Sun is shining right now but the wind has shifted. The barometer has dropped. (what Cape Codders call ‘a sea change’) I’m no prophet, but I think something nasty is just over the horizon and we might want to batten down the hatches. Salt that warning to taste. I hope I’m wrong.

In terms of larger fiction projects, once I release this new short, I’ll have to decide whether to pursue the three-part Fantasy novel or the contemporary supernatural thriller, “Dead Saints.” I’m also considering seeking out agent representation for one or both of those novels to publish via a traditional route. It would be nice to be commissioned to write in the same way I’m commissioned to make stained glass windows. All that has been added to my prayers, so we’ll see.

I’ll should have Pre-Release copies of this this short story available soon. If you’re interested in a freebie, let me know.

Thanks much and take care.