Weird to be Frank for a change. Oh well. Hi, I've got a story I want to share with you.
First, about the Heteromeles identity: Back when I first started posting comments here, I was working in an environmental consulting company that had a rule that they owned all their employee's creative output. My solution was to use "Heteromeles" for my private online activities and my own name for stuff I did for the company, so that if they ever did want to claim ownership, it was obvious how far they were over-reaching (they never did, of course). Heteromeles, for those few who haven't googled it, is the genus of my favorite plant: toyon, the "holly" that gave its name to Hollywood, which isn't too far from where I grew up. Toyon's not a holly (it's closer to photinias and hawthorns if you care), and it's known among botanists as the only woody plant in California that kept its Indian name. By the time I started freelancing, I decided to keep Heteromeles as my online identity more for the sake of continuity than anything else.
So about Hot Earth Dreams: Back in late 2012, I'd gotten well and truly sick of the Mayan Apocalypse (remember that? What were they thinking again?), and started wondering what it would be like to write a novel set in the deep future on a climate-changed Earth ...
...Well, one more digression. I've written two self-published novels, and I'm working to become a commercial author. Thing is, I'm an ecologist at heart. What I really love is world-building, starting from the physical constraints, working up through the geology, vegetation, lifeways, technology, and ending ultimately in the characters, whom I firmly believe are strongly shaped by their environments. I realize that this is almost diametrically opposed to the way most writers work, but this is relevant because...
... I started by asking myself the question: what will the Earth look like if severe climate change happens, and humans survive? At that point, my brain froze, because even though I thought I knew a lot about climate change, I couldn't find the words or even an image. This future was, quite literally, unspeakable. I couldn't articulate anything. It felt like my mind hit a wall and stuck. I had the intuition that my scientist and environmentalist friends were as blind as I was and that scared me, because it seems like a very likely future So I asked around, and my intuition was right. It became my great conversation killer, asking the question and watching people freeze and go silent, watching parents take long, sad looks at their children playing nearby, before they changed the subject. The best anyone could offer was "it'll look like Waterworld." I stopped asking.
But, because I'm a crazy ecologist and world-builder, I thought I could answer that question. I also realized that people probably wanted to know the answer more than they wanted a novel based on it. So, with a great deal of trepidation, I started reading, and most of three years later, I'd finished Hot Earth Dreams
As my friend Matt put it, this is a sourcebook for the deep future. It's 42 chapters, 900-6,000 words each, designed for people with short attention spans who want to easily find ideas once they've read them. This isn't a future history. Rather, it's what you need to know and think about to write a future history. I wanted to make it easier for people to talk about such a future, to dream about it. That's part of where the title came from. Another reason it's called Hot Earth Dreams is that it's pure speculation, a conceptual model, a what-if story that happens to be formatted as a non-fiction book. It's well-grounded speculation of course, but as most of you know, any congruence between futurist dreams and the actual future is more due to random luck than anything else, and I wanted to make that clear. I'm looking to inspire people to think and create, not to recruit acolytes. It's also a unique title, so it's easy to find.
You'll find it useful if you want to write a science fiction or fantasy story set in the deep future, if you want to create a game, a comic, or art, or write up a scenario for your boss. You'll also find it useful if, like me, you're trying to figure out why conservation still matters under climate change. If you're a climate activist suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder, perhaps this will give you a reason to struggle on. Even though this is a very pessimistic book, everyone who's read it so far thought it was uplifting. Apparently, being able to speak about a scary future is a good thing.
The critical thing is this: I couldn't have done it without you, the regulars on Charlie's blog. Thank you all! This book is the result of one of those "strange attractors" that dominates the deep reaches of Charlie's posts, when the original topic has long derailed and people start talking about other stuff. Over the years, I've floated various ideas that are now in Hot Earth Dreams just to see how people would respond. Sometimes they went over well, sometimes they didn't, sometimes someone would point out a flaw that caused me to rewrite a section. Without this feedback, both positive and negative, I could not have written this book, so thank you all, individually and collectively, for helping me.
And yes, please buy this book. It's self-published through Createspace, but that's due to the changing nature of the non-fiction publishing world. According to what I learned, in non-fiction publishing, whether someone buys your book proposal is less about the quality of your manuscript and rather more about how big your existing audience is. This is why celebrities can churn out books so fast—they cite their number of twitter, blog, etc. followers as part of the proposal and get their manuscripts published under their assumption that all of their fans will want one. I'm trying to break in the back way, which is self-publishing to see how well it does, then shopping the proposal. If enough people buy this book, it becomes commercially viable, which means I can work with a publisher to get the next edition into bookstores, libraries, book reviews, dorm rooms, and onto everyone's radar, in other words level up. If you buy this book, you will be one of those early adopters who determines its fate. If you like it, please review it online, recommend it to your friends, help it spread through word-of-mouth. You can also provide feedback, both positive and negative, at my blog, which is (of course) http://heteromeles.wordpress.com.
Hot Earth Dreams is now on sale at Createspace (https://www.createspace.com/5799140)
on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Earth-Dreams-climate-happens/dp/1517799392) and on Kindle on November 13 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017S5NDK8)
I'll update this post as soon as it goes on sale at Amazon (which should be this weekend or Monday).
You can read the first five chapters here.
Thank you again for helping me get it written.