Progress Report and Plans

This will probably be the last posting of the year (and longer unless I can come up with post ideas).

Currently in progress projects are:

Glyphwar – the sequel to Glyphpunk is currently undergoing a round of proofing before I prepare it for print. It’ll then have another round of proofing for the print version, so could be out around February (maybe).

Grey Enigmas – the follow up to Grey Engines (although not really a sequel, as it’s a century and a half later with no returning characters) has had the initial round of revisions. One large conversation I wanted to add split over a few places didn’t quite fit, so I’m going to have to look at it again and pare it down so it can fit without disturbing the pacing. Probably a few more rounds of revision for this one, but its only a novella so hopefully no more than a couple of months.

Dreams of the Dead – the novella adjunct to the Tales of the City-Thief series has the first draft done, but I’m not happy that some of the secondary characters have enough to do. So there’s some revisions required to get that working. Not sure what yet.

 

Future Plans

After those are done I want to look at the rest of the Tales of the City-Thief series, at least planning them out. I’ve a rough idea of what happens in the remaining stories (at the moment its probably another 7 short stories, although the structure allows room to fit in any ideas I come up with in the meantime.

I know the major beats of the story, but want to hash out the details. I may well write them all then if I’m in the flow, but I at least want to outline the main beats and the ending.

That could well take up the first half of next year (at least). Following that I want to get to work on Warlike, a standalone fantasy novel that will require a lot of outlining to get it working. I don’t want to say too much about why that is just yet, but it is a bit experimental for me (though not in a boring artsy way where you won’t have any idea what’s going on [I hope]).

These plans could of course change by the time I get to them (or next week).

 

Seasonal greetings, of whichever flavour, to whom it may concern.

General Philosophical Worldview

This is so I have a record of elements of my basic (current) worldview, which affects both my stories and the philosophical nonsense I spout on this blog. I briefly covered this in the self-review of Broken Worlds, which is based around the idea (and in dire need of a rewrite), but I’ll try and expand on it here and make it comprehensible.

 

When does life begin?

Is there a moment at which the cells from the male and female donor aren’t alive? Unless we get into a detailed semantic argument about what constitutes alive (which could be useful, but I’m not sure I have the knowledge base to properly examine) I think its fair to say that no, there is no such point. A life is created by combining cells from multiple living sources, so there isn’t really a point at which it can be said to not be alive.

Therefore what we view as individual entities are merely continuations of earlier entities which have split off from them. We appear separate when viewed from a purely three-dimensional context because we’re not merely three-dimensional.

If you consider a life over the entirety of its existence (taking time as a fourth dimension from which to view it, although referring to it as such may be technically incorrect) we see its links to other life forms.

It’s similar to how viewing a two dimensional cross-section of a tree’s upper levels can show the branches as separate entities. When viewing it three dimensionally, we can see it’s actually a single entity.

So if we take this view of us as humans, it’s logical that all humans (and, going back further, all life on the planet) are a single entity. (It gets prickly when taking into consideration what defines life, so I’ll refer to it as an entity rather than a life form. Reproduction may be possible for this entity when we spore and start colonising other planets (the alternate being staying on this one fragile planet where the human entity eventually dies a spinster), but that’s another topic.)

 

Souls

It raises an interesting (to me), and speculative, question about the nature of the soul. If there is a thing we could call a soul, do we have individual souls? Or do we have a collective soul, possibly with our minds (identity and personality) being a result of this soul’s limited interaction and experience of the world through our individual bodies?

 

Usefulness in Fiction

This worldview offers a way to explain some of the moderately fantastical elements I use.

If we’re actually a four-dimensional entity experiencing life three dimensionally, then things like déjà vu and precognition could be our minds trying to break out of this restriction by communing with our soul. Religious and spiritual experiences could also be ways to explain such mind-expanding incidents, with our minds filling in the incomprehensible bits with things we can understand.

Non-localised links with other minds could also be explained in a vaguely pseudo-scientific way to allow telepathy and suchlike.

Pragmatic Morality: Residence

[Following on from the earlier post on Pragmatic Morality, hopefully with more to follow in no particular order]

Land ownership is different to other kinds of property in moral terms as it involves more complicated provenance. And much land has been seized from previous owners in the (not always that) distant past, which makes it stolen goods. (Morally speaking, rented land can really be considered the same as owned for terms of residence, and travellers are a different matter)

It would be overly simplistic to say that only those descended from native residents of a land are morally justified in living there (native in this instance meaning the first inhabitants to reside on the land without having dislocated previous human residents). Unless the land has always been owned by natives then it can’t really be said to be morally owned (which raises the question of when the concept of ownership began).

If it can be proved to have been initially owned and developed, and then sold by natives, then the current resident – whether native or not – can be considered morally justified. But that’s extremely unlikely.

[Generally speaking, inherited property brings with it the inherited morality of how it was acquired, but an individual isn’t morally liable for any immorality related to its acquisition if unaware of the circumstances. When they become aware, should they retain the property they can at that point be considered morally liable.]

Pragmatically, in terms of easing social interaction, there may be an inclination to say we should just take ownership as it is now. It’s not as though the English can be shipped back to Europe, or the non-native Americans. There’s nowhere for them to go that won’t disrupt others, and in the greater part it wasn’t their decision to move there, therefore they bear no moral fault for their ancestors’ actions. But these issues remain sore for some natives, so while the issue affects social interactions it can’t pragmatically be shoved aside.

The only answer is that most of us are amoral residents (without alternatives to the greater problem I’m reluctant to label it immoral [in this context I use immoral to refer to actions counter to the good of society and social cohesion, and amoral to acts that don’t take account of morality but don’t necessarily cause harm]). There’s no way to solve the problem, so the continued peaceful running of society is better served by ignoring the issue.

Of course even if occupancy is amoral, the unauthorised intrusion on another’s property remains immoral, since the idea of personal space is part of the social contract.

Print Book Price Increase

Given the number of print books I’ve sold in the last year this probably won’t be of interest to anyone, but I’ve raised the prices so that they can be distributed by Createspace’s Expanded Distribution. This just means that libraries and other retailers (such as B&N) have access to them.

This will only affect prices on Amazon.com and Createspace directly, where they’ll increase by around 1/4 to 1/3. UK and European Amazon’s will keep the same prices since they can be set separately. In fact they’ll now generally be slightly cheaper in comparison to Amazon.com prices. But only slightly cheaper, because they were significantly more expensive before.

While I can understand why Createspace (an Amazon company) would need to have higher prices for distributing to other retailers (so their cut isn’t diminished), I can’t see why libraries would require the higher price. How would they differ from a regular customer?

I don’t expect this to have much of an effect on sales, but on the off chance it produces some it’s worth trying out (now the Expanded Distribution is free). The cost of POD is still relatively high, and for self-published authors at the moment (most I’m familiar with, anyway) eBooks are the main market, and the one in which we can compete with traditionally published authors, mainly in terms of pricing, but also to a degree in terms of marketing (if you know what to do, and put in the effort, the internet can be used as a serious marketing tool).