Altered Carbon, Common Humanity

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Binged ‘Altered Carbon’ this weekend, Netflix’ latest and reportedly most expensive series to date. ($6-7 million per episode? whoa) A 10-part cyberpunk/noir piece based on Richard K. Morgan’s book of the same name, it’s a bloody, sensual, cynical look at the future. Designer clone bodies, digitized consciousness, virtual imprisonment and torture, galaxy-spanning Spec Ops/Secret Police, obscene wealth disparity, functional immortality… the future’s so dark, you gotta wear NODs.

A solid Sci Fi show with a gritty story and great effects, but if ‘Altered Carbon’ says anything about the future, it’s that science is really secondary; humanity’s progress is not and never will be linked to technology. The bottom line is we never advance beyond our morality. Period.

In fact push it as far as you want, technology remains just another function of old-fashioned human cruelty, conceit, greed, lust, and rage. Dub, sample, and remix – it’s still the same old song all over again. Hide behind chrome and smart glass and mirror-shades, dress it up in gene-spliced, supermodel customized sexiness with neurachem lethality, package it in alien alloys and complex algorithms, our depravity still shows.

When the end credits rolled on episode 10, I was brought full circle back to 2009 and the fundamental conviction I had when I decided to try and write a SF novel as a Christian: only a spiritual ethic that upholds life as sacred can restrain humanity from becoming inhumane. Lose the preciousness of life and you open the door to contempt and cruelty; commodify people and you end up committing atrocities.

That’s not to say I want my fiction to be sermonizing. No, I aim for entertainment, escapism, and action. Most of my stories have loads of firepower and a high body count. But I want to build the work on a solid foundation. I want substance, themes, meaning in there as well.

Despite the cool visuals, wicked action scenes, and great acting, I was disappointed when Altered Carbon was over. Not that it had ended but at the sordid sameness of it all. It was almost a relief. What was meant to be action-packed cyberpunk coolness and world-weary wisdom was just so uninspired, so sad.

There was a smack upside the head afterwards too: a call to confront the question of faith in spec-fiction once again. To respect the conventions of genre, the demands of the medium, and the expectations of the audience  and aim for quality, and yet somehow portray spiritual realities organically in the plot, characters and fictional world.

Guess I’d better start praying about that again, eh?

Thanks and have a great day.

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BTW, that first novel, RUNNING BLACK, and the sequel SHIFT TENSE are available at Amazon. HERE and HERE

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Zombie 6: new Mil-SF

MEDEVAC crew trains for emergency response

 

Bit of writing news for the new year.

I’ve decided to alternate fiction projects in 2017. My first and main effort continues to be the post-apocalypse fantasy novel Shattered Worlds,  (currently hammering out Act II, Into the Scorned Lands) while the second, ‘mistress project’, is a straight up military science fiction novella presently titled Zombie 6.

Focused on a spec-ops team ordered to support the embattled Colonial Administration Security forces on the mining colony Mèng Tiān, Zombie 6 will be offered free here on HSSJ as it progresses. I have added a tab to the top header menu. The first three chapters are up already and I plan on posting new ones bi-weekly. I’m getting a kick out of where the story is taking me and I hope you enjoy it as it develops too. Feedback is welcome and comments are always appreciated.

In other fictional realities, the second Eshu International book, Shift Tense is now available in print.  You can pick up a copy here at Amazon. For whatever reason, reviews for the Kindle version have not, are not, (will they ever?) carrying over to the print listing, so would some of you nice folks who have read Shift Tense fire off a few lines or Copy-n-Paste your Kindle review so it doesn’t look so forlorn there? Thank you very much.

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Finally, thank you all for your continued support. The older I get the more convinced I am success is defined by creativity, community, and contribution more than anything else. I’m fortunate to have such excellent family, friends, and fans. Thank you and happy new year.

 

No free rides on the Amazon?

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Trying to offer the first portions of the Eshu International novels Running Black and Shift Tense for Free at Amazon. (The Shift Tense serialization doesn’t work as intended, so Red Flags, Soldier Dreams and Angels would be unpublished, then rolled into one complete volume.)

However, I can’t work around KDP’s minimum .99 pricing.  It seems Amazon no longer lets you offer books at no cost. (why should they, I guess)

So should I…

1. Price them at .99, then use the Amazon Free Book Promotion as often as possible?

2. Leave everything as is.

3. Bin the Free Excerpt idea. Just release Shift Tense as a complete novel and move on.

Any thoughts or experiences on this? Thanks.

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By the way, Under Strange Stars is still on schedule for late March.

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Stuck at 39

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Running Black reviews, that is.

Here’s the ask: if you’ve read and enjoyed RB, would you do me solid and fire off a short, honest review on Amazon? Cresting 40 is an itch I’d like scratched – and sock puppets aren’t my thing.

Thanks much. Back to writing.

Having Committment Issues

Over my next writing project.

Do I hammer away at the next section of Clar1ty Wars shorts? The rather Evangelical modern horror espionage piece I started? The epic fantasy that’s been simmering for a couple years? The Eshu International backstory pieces? Or the Post-Apocalyptic fantasy that’s recently popped up in my head?

Anyone else wrestle with this problem?