Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Four

Just a brief update today.

Over the coming months, I'll be uploading several new works, all of which are in various stages of production as I write this. The short list includes four major works: Chronopticus Rising (Part III of the Chronopticus trilogy), Race the Sky (a standalone novel), The Tesseract Rose (now a standalone novel), and an unnamed short story collection. A short work that will also be coming soon will be titled, "Fermat's Last Theorem of Robotics". This story will be probably be an Amazon Kindle release for the first few months before being made available elsewhere.

I also have several more articles written and to be written that I will post as I get time. If that is not enough, epub versions of Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron should be made available online in two weeks at Lulu, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Experimental Structures

I'm a writer who likes to tinker with unusual story structures.

The Chronopticus Trilogy is no exception. The first book in the series, Fractal Standard Time, as I've alluded to before, is full of fractals. The narrative arcs of each group of three stories are fractals and even the streets in the colony are named after mathematicians or often related to fractals (Cantor, Hilbert, etc.). Although I given a lot of thought to rewriting the first book as a full novel (as some have suggested), I think it would take away from the larger idea I'm trying to portray. That larger idea will hopefully become more obvious when the third book, Chronopticus Rising, comes out this fall.

At the center of the whole series is a set of Martian colonies. Yet the founders of those colonies have a dark past and long range goals to turn the colonies into their very own version of "Eden". That Eden, it turns out, is not even remotely like the Biblical version. As each book progresses, the history of the founders and the "Eden Project" becomes clearer and clearer. Hopefully, by the end of the series, if I've done everything right, each book will be like traveling down a mountain...where the width grows from peak to bottom. This more or less matches the understanding of the characters in the story about the Project and what really is being housed inside of the Chronopticus Complex in the mountains. By the way, did you know that mountain ranges can be rendered very realistically on a computer using fractals?

And...to throw out one more pattern...Fractal Standard Time has twelve chapters like the positions on a clock. Ionotatron has 24 chapters and Chronopticus Rising has 36. Yet underneath all these fractal structures is a deeper truth. In fact, one character in prison utters a simple line that explains what it all comes down to in the end. What's that line? I'll share it soon, but not too soon, because it's at a pivotal moment in book three.

As this last novel winds up, the next three projects in line will also attempt to incorporate some unusual structures into the narrative. Some hints on what is to come...suction vortices, standing waves, and tesseracts.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Random Tech Bits and a Trilogy Update

Just a quick update today along with some book news. I'll post a lot more in the coming weeks, but I'm finishing up a major project right now and it's taking up most of my time.

A Chinese company has constructed multiple buildings using giant 3D printers. The future implications of this, once they perfect the technology, could have a significant impact on colonization of the Moon or even Mars.

Back on Earth, here are a couple articles about Earth's weakening magnetic field. Could this mean a pole flip is around the corner?

And...here's a brief book update. The rough draft of the third installment of the Chronopticus Chronicles series, Chronopticus Rising, is nearly done. I should have the rough draft completed by early next week and I will start on edits days after that. It is the longest book of the trilogy and will bring together elements scattered across the first two books. The key word for this book? Persecution.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Efficient Gambler

I've mentioned previously how the series I'm currently working on is complicated, evolving, and is not going the direction I originally intended. It has been a surprising process in some ways and the final book is proving to be no exception. I also think making the story arcs in the first book a fractal and then repeating that fractal across the larger series is probably confusing a lot of people who are used to a series being composed of novels (and not short stories mixed with novels). If I were to rewrite the first book, Fractal Standard Time, it would probably end up as a novel...although it would be difficult to duplicate the documentary-style aspect that comes from the short stories being chained together like in the current version.

That said, I think there is a lot of interesting dynamics that come into play when working on a series. I hope to explore those more in the next series, but I have two more short story collections I plan on releasing first. One collection will have a series of interlinked stories focusing on a single character and the other will be a collection of science fiction stories similar to the style of Corridors. I'm working on stories for both collections right now, in addition to working through the rough draft of Chronopticus Rising (Book III of the Chronopticus Chronicles).

Both collections contain stories that are experimental gambles. For me that is an important part of the overall writing process. Ultimately it leads to stronger novels because with short stories, you can quickly try out a new idea, character, setting, or story line with minimal investment in terms of time. I usually then cultivate and edit the better ideas, which may involve a dozen full edits per story.

Here's the other aspect of tinkering with short stories as a means of experimentation. It allows me to try out different structure ideas that could fail miserably if I tried them in a novel first. A novel is a considerable time investment and building multiple storylines on top of a structure that doesn't work can lead to a lot of problems and ultimately the abandonment of the story altogether. It's sort of like building a house on top of a foundation whose walls leak every time it rains. So I've found it best to try out unusual ideas in short form first because it saves time in the end...an efficient gamble, in other words.

We'll see where this goes...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Kobo Versions Available

For anyone that might have been waiting...the Kobo versions of my books are now available. There are nine titles available to date, with Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron coming in a few weeks. Also, Fractal and Io will be available soon on iTunes and Barnes and Noble in the coming weeks.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Obscurity

Sometimes obscurity is a good thing.

For example, in the picture above, a bank of clouds moved in to obscure some of the peaks in Glacier National Park. The clouds were full of rain, but they did not move past the mountaintops and kept away from where we were hiking. Yet they obscured the peaks that we had seen the day before.

Where did the peaks go? Of course they didn't really "disappear" but they were merely hidden by cloud cover. The height, breadth, and character of the peaks did not change during this time. Unless you climbed up the mountain and into the clouds (and risked getting wet) all you would be able to refer to would be photographs or memory until the weather changed.

In much the same way, books, once written, can be obscured by a multitude of factors. For example, some traditionally published books get a huge publicity and media push right before and just after they are launched. This can propel a book right up the sales charts, while other, equally well-written books get buried far beneath. Others have an initial burst of sales and then fade into obscurity for years on end until a topic becomes popular again or a movie is made from the book.

In the majority of these cases, the books are not changed or altered in any significant way...at least in regards to fiction. Yet depth and character of the book can remain unchanged or in many cases undiscovered.

A well-written, yet undiscovered book is perhaps the toughest thing to endure for many writers. Months, if not years, of research, work, and editing can be put into a book, but if its only fate is to stagnate on the bottom of the Amazon charts it causes a writer to spend more time reflecting instead of writing.

Reflection is not a bad thing, though. In the end it may benefit both future books and the author, and ultimately the reader. There is a potential that the time of reflection may turn into a hiatus and that can turn into permanent suspension of writing altogether...which is a true tragedy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Random Tech Bits

Here is an interesting interview with Nolan Bushnell, who was the founder of Atari along with Chuck E. Cheese restaurants (and many other ventures). The history he shares is fascinating. He also shares several anectdotes and tips.

In the video there is also a mention of the STEAM carnival, which will be coming to Los Angeles on October 25-26 of 2014. It is a carnival that focuses on Science (S), Technology (T), Engineering (E), Art (A), and Math (M). It also will hit the road (via train no less) sometime in the future. More details on their site.

In space news, researchers are proposing plans to test a small greenhouse on Mars. The greenhouse could arrive with the next planetary rover in order to test how plants grow in such an environment.

Finally, here is some recent stormchasing footage I found from Louisville. I can't imagine getting much closer than this.