April 2017 Archives

^^^ Me again. M Harold Page. The writer with the swords and some books in print, rather than the one with the cats and a metric tonne of books in print (plus enough rockets that we really should get him that Tracy Island in which to keep them).

Did I say "swords"? 

Right now it's actually blasters because I'm wearing my Space Opera hat. 

Yes, despite all my books to date featuring many, many swordfights, I wrote a Space Opera. It's called "The Wreck of the Marissa (The Eternal Dome of the Unknowable #1)".

And yes, as you might guess from its title, it's at the other end of the spectrum from the transhuman wibbletech extrapolative futures that Charlie likes to explore. It's also not Military SF. Though there's fighting - the protagonist is a retired mercenary turned archaeologist - it's small scale stuff and the focus isn't on the regular army.

But what subgenre is it?

The same subgenre as EC Tubb's Dumarest books - hero wanders the galaxy in search of Earth - or Moon's Vatta's War - hero trades across the galaxy while coming to her family's rescue - or Firefly - oddball crew trade between worlds - or, of course, the venerable Traveller Roleplaying Game - I've been reviewing the new Mongoose Traveller over on Black Gate (*).

It's partly defined by vibe; hardboiled adventure in an imperfectly distributed future where there are more planets like Tatooine than Coruscant. However, it's also defined by protagonist(s) and scope; independent operators struggling to make a go of it in a hostile human universe with the antagonists capped at corporation or "house" level, with no Dark Lord, and no saving the galaxy.

You know exactly what I mean. It's the subgenre that that bears the same relation to Space Opera that Sword & Sorcery bears to Heroic Fantasy.

But it doesn't have a name! And though I'm half a century late to the game, I think we should call it "Star Punk".

Here's why.

So it's that time in the book production cycle again, and in the next couple of weeks "Empire Games" is going to be finalized for paperback release this autumn. Which means it's my last chance to hunt down and fix any typos/errata in the hardback/initial ebook release.

Got any typos in "Empire Games" (not any other books, thanks!) that you've been saving up? If so, please tell me what it is in a comment below. If it's a hardback, please identify the page and line number it occurs on. If you're using an ebook, cut-and-paste about a line of text that includes the error (so I can search for it). Thanks!

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, has just announced her intention of calling a UK-wide general election to be held on June 8th. (She will have to bypass the 2011 Parliament Act, achieve a 2/3rds majority, or call a vote of no confidence in her own government in order to do it, but one way or the other, she can make it happen.)

Parliamentary boundary changes coming into effect in 2018 do not apply; this election will be carried out in existing constituencies rather than the downsized number due for a 2020 election.

May currently has a roughly 20% lead in opinion polls and faces disorganized opposition, except in Scotland (which, with roughly 10% of the total seats, can safely be ignored: she risks losing at most a single sitting MP north of the border—her only one).

Predictable side-effects would include the next UK general election scheduled by the Parliament Act (2011) being pushed back to June 2022, three years after the due date for the conclusion of Article 50 negotiations over UK departure from the EU (rather than 13 months after Brexit-date).

I have some speculations about the big picture and what's going on, but before I unleash it on the blog I want to see what the hive mind thinks.

(Previously, I intended to blog a blue-sky SFnal world-building question this week, but hey: politics just farted.)

Where are we going to be, a century from now?

Let's go back and chew on this old bone again--from a different angle.

Let me first eliminate from discussion a bunch of possible outcomes I'm not interested in examining. Total human extinction could happen in a variety of ways, ranging from wars over access to scarce resources (idiotic, but it's something humans have prior form for), to plagues, to the collapse of agricultural viability on a global scale due to climate change, sudden catastrophic collapse of unrecognized critical infrastrcture (e.g. the single factory in Bangladesh that makes the cheap quantum computer chips everyone uses to get around the central planning problem is taken out by a Cat-6 Typhoon: this causes a cascading loss of efficiency in global supply chains, leading to ...) to an asteroid mining operation gone horribly wrong. But scenarios in which everyone is dead are not currently interesting to me, as a fiction writer.

Let's also ignore transport technology, Mars colonization, climate change, the shift to non-carbon energy sources and distribution, how the hell the west will survive the shift to robotic labour (I'm assuming that by 2117 we'll have robots that can make a good stab at changing the bed linen, which is just about the acme of low-paid but algorithmically intractable jobs right now). I mean, if we're currently hearing billionaires discussing the merits of a universal basic income system, I think that tells us where the SS Titans of Capitalism is trying to steer to avoid the iceberg ...

What new fun things can I project that are both plausible, likely, and didn't feature in my earlier prognostication set a century out?

So I've been busy lately.

After lying on my back panting for a few days (the usual follow-up to finishing a new novel in first draft) I'm now making plans for the rewrite, because no novel is ever publishable in its initial form, and there are things I need to sort out before it goes anywhere near an editor. (Notably: I started out with over-ambitious plans for a funky structure that proved unworkable, so now I need to go back and un-kink everything so that the story flows smoothly on its own terms—which it will, because I think I got the rest of it right.) So I'm about to dive back down the rabbit hole of Ghost Engine to try and produce a final draft by the end of the month.

And while this was going on, other stuff happened that's going to distract me from blogging for a while.



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