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.

 

A Shift Tense ask

SHIFT_TENSE_final_rgb_flatten_6x9inches_with_bleedsI know folks are busy, but could a couple of you break the ice and fire off reviews for the Shift Tense compilation? Short and sweet will do it. Anything to let potential readers know it’s being/been read. The other three combined had 30 or so, and it would be cool to start the ball rolling for this edition.

LINK TO KINDLE EDITION

Thanks much. Have an excellent day.

Shift Complete + Free Excerpts

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The shift to Shift Tense is complete: all three novellas are now compiled in a single volume. Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement.

Apologies to you print book lovers; at present, my status as a writer combined with the reader demographic for spec-fiction doesn’t make it worth the extra ISBN, effort, and cost to do POD. If anything, it gives you late-adopters another reason to buy an IPad or Kindle.

Speaking of which…part one of both Running Black and Shift Tense are available in PDF here on the site. Scroll down past the Amazon links on the right sidebar, then click on the Incursion and/or Red Flags covers. Free stuff to give you a taste of the novels and my take on Biblical perspective spec-fiction. (notice I didn’t use the phrase ‘Christian fiction’) Hope you enjoy.

Next up: Clar1ty Wars, book 2: Under Strange Stars

A shift in Shift Tense

SHIFT_TENSE_final_rgb_flatten_6x9inches_with_bleeds Important Notice to all Eshu International readers.

I have decided to compile the three previously published Shift Tense novellas – Red Flags, Soldier Dreams, and Angels – into a single volume. The serialization strategy did not work as intended and I believe a single novel will serve everyone better in the long run. I apologize for any hassle, misunderstanding, or bad feelings. It was never my intention to inconvenience or mislead anyone.

By way of compensation to anyone who has purchased one or two of the novellas, I am offering all three for free for the next five days, from Feb 12th through the 16th at Amazon. After February 17th however, Shift Tense will only be available in the single volume.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

Best,

Patrick T.

 

 

Here are the links:

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RED FLAGS

 

 

 

 

 

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SOLDIER DREAMS

 

 

 

 

 

Cover for final installment of Shift Tense.
Cover for final installment of Shift Tense.

 

ANGELS

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.

CLAR1TY WARS 2
CLAR1TY WARS 2

‘Sozo’ Release Notes

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First off, thanks to everyone who takes a chance on my books, wanders by the blog, takes time to comment or review. Your interest is inspiring, your feedback invaluable. I can’t express my appreciation enough.

So here’s ‘Sozo’, one final title for 2014.

I’m encouraged by this short story. I had a sense of breakthrough when I finished, as if I’d I’d some how, some way, transitioned to a different place in my writing. Now this particular piece uses a rather dark palette, but I gave myself permission to write it the way it needed (wanted?) and feel I found the story’s voice. There’s a renewed sense of confidence as I look toward next year’s projects. (More on them below)

As long as I’m being honest, ‘Sozo’ might be one of those I recommend some folks not read. I’ve always maintained ‘a story is not a sermon’, but the distinction is quite severe with this one. Set in a fictional near-future America, it centers on a combat-scarred vet who returns to a nation in turmoil and finds himself caught up in a human trafficking ring. Definitely not typical evangelical family-friendly fare.

I make no claims to definitive theological, political, or psychological truths here; ‘Sozo’ is simply a story about a broken character in a ugly situation, about hard choices, and a facet of redemption. Edmund Burke’s famous quote on how evil triumphs rang in my mind every phase. The story unfolded steadily from the initial image to it’s climax.

‘Sozo’ will be available for Kindle and e-readers on Saturday, Dec. 27th. You can order it HERE.

Given the protagonist, I’ve decided to donate the proceeds from the first month’s sales to The Wounded Warrior Project. I don’t know how much that will be, but I can’t do nothing. By all means, skip the story if you want and donate directly. The men and women of our Armed Forces deserve our support.

Upcoming releases and writing projects include the next installment of The Clar1ty Wars, “Under Strange Stars”. I just received the files for the cover from Michal Oracz, and they look great, as usual. After that it’s the Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy “The Grim Fall”, as well as a novel set in mythical ancient China, working title “The Proud Cloud Racer.” On the Eshu International front, I have outlined several short story, back stories; Tam and Jace during the failed invasion of Taiwan, Poet9’s childhood in the slums of Mexico City, and the Triplets during the first African Civil War. I’m debating releasing them separately for .99, or including them in a single volume “Shift Tense”. Up in the air, that one.

Again, thank you all. May you have a peaceful and prosperous holiday and an inspired, productive new year.

Best Regards,
Patrick Todoroff