USA! USA! And So On, And So Forth

“So where have you been, Dan? You haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks, and Ascension Point hasn’t been on sale for aaaaaaaaages.”

Didn’t you hear? I was moving to the US.

That’s right–after three years in sunny, rainy, brilliant and baffling Brazil, Mrs. Dan and I have relocated to the land of the free and the home of the restaurant portion that’s 50% larger than it really needs to be. We’re in Brooklyn, NY for a few weeks before we head off to our new long term home, the nation’s capital: Washington, West Virginia.

Hang on, that doesn’t look right. It’s the other one, isn’t it?

So–give me another couple of weeks to get settled in, and normal service will resume. I’ll finally crack on with the next installment of The Unity Sequence, tentatively titled Causal Nexus. The first five chapters have been done for ages, and the outline’s there. Just need to get my head down and write the bloody thing.

Oh, and I can get back to my regular schedule of reposting io9 articles. I know how much you all like those.

Later, folks.

More Profane, Wonderful Advice from Mr. Chuck Wendig

I’m back from vacation, sporting a charming ‘tan’ in my classic shade, which I like to call ‘subtle lobster’. While catching up on what I’d missed from my usual writing and publishing blogs, I came across this gem from Chuck Wendig, ‘50 RANTYPANTS SNIDBITS OF RANDOM WRITING & STORYTELLING ADVICE‘.

1. SNAP YOUR TRAP AND WRITE SOME SHIT

Stop talking about writing. Stop reading about writing. Stop dreaming about writing. Stop doing things that don’t qualify as writing. The thing that defines a writer is that the writer writes.

14. YOU’RE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY

If you’re not writing, that’s your fault. It’s not anybody else’s. It’s not your wife’s fault. Not your Mom’s fault. Not your kid’s fault. It isn’t because of a job, or Big Six publishing, or Amazon, or a Muse, or Writer’s Block. You might as well blame a Yeti (who acted in collusion with a cabal of randy leprechauns). It’s all on you. Accept responsibility. Stop complaining. Fix your shit.

29. SLOW YOUR ROLL, SPEEDY MCGEE

Embody patience. The worst thing you can do for your story is pull it out of the oven before it’s done cooking. Don’t quit early. Don’t publish thirty seconds after you typed the last word. Don’t query a stinker. Stories — like wine, brisket, romance and bondage games — need time.

Writer types: Go read the other forty-seven.

Dear Reader…

Have you read Ascension Point? You have!? That’s great! I wrote you this letter…

——————————————————–

Dear Reader:

Thank you so much for buying a copy of my debut novel, Ascension Point. I hope you enjoyed it. If you were here, I’d high-five you, and then we’d have a beer. Maybe a snack. I’ve got some nice cheese in the fridge.

I’m writing to you today to ask for your help in addressing a shocking issue that’s afflicting one in every one science fiction authors in my immediate area: Ascension Point‘s chronic shortage of Amazon.com customer reviews.

As you may or may not be aware, Amazon.com reviews have comparable value to these items:

  • Uncut diamonds
  • Gold dust
  • Enriched plutonium

While Ascension Point has sold well, and received a small number of (very positive) reviews, my in-depth calculations regarding its sale-to-customer-review ratio have determined that this many readers go on to leave a review:

11 / 500 = HARDLY ANY

This debilitating shortage of customer reviews is the leading cause of at least one of the following conditions:

  • Global warming
  • The rise of militant fundamentalism
  • Teen obesity
  • Me not being able to run a BookBub promotion

But it’s not too late. With your help, we can address at least one of these issues. (Probably the last one.) It only takes a minute, and costs you ZERO DOLLARS.

That’s right.

ZERO DOLLARS.

(Although while you’re there, if you decided to buy a copy of Venus Rising as well, that’d be cool.)

Here are some examples of the reviews that could go a long way to addressing this terrible problem.

‘Ascension Point was a super-fun read. Dan Harris is clearly the new Joe Haldeman, except with less scientific rigour or Vietnam War allegory.’ *****

Or:

‘Even though I bought Ascension Point in ebook format, I made the effort to find a way to print it out in its entirety, just so I could shred it and use it as bedding for my seventeen diarrhea-afflicted guinea pigs. That’s how bad it is. But then the author asked me to leave a review, so here I am.’ *

Or even:

‘Meh.’ ***

You see how easy it is? Even one word, and a pseudo-random selection of a value from one to five counts as a review!

That’s all I ask. Help me help you help me, and together we can guarantee that I’ll write another post exactly like this next year. You can leave a review here.

Thank you.

Dan Harris

Iain Banks: The Final Interview

Over at The Guardian today. Includes what I’m sure will go down as one of his most famous quotes:

“I can understand that people want to feel special and important and so on, but that self-obsession seems a bit pathetic somehow. Not being able to accept that you’re just this collection of cells, intelligent to whatever degree, capable of feeling emotion to whatever degree, for a limited amount of time and so on, on this tiny little rock orbiting this not particularly important sun in one of just 400m galaxies, and whatever other levels of reality there might be via something like brane-theory [of multiple dimensions] … really, it’s not about you. It’s what religion does with this drive for acknowledgement of self-importance that really gets up my nose. ‘Yeah, yeah, your individual consciousness is so important to the universe that it must be preserved at all costs’ – oh, please. Do try to get a grip of something other than your self-obsession. How Californian. The idea that at all costs, no matter what, it always has to be all about you. Well, I think not.”

Perfect. ‘How Californian’ indeed. There’s also a great quote that’ll get the more militant indie author/publishers’ backs up:

“I think my poetry’s great but then I would, wouldn’t I? But whether any respectable publisher will think so, that’s another matter. I’ll self-publish if I have to; sometimes I have no shame.”

Ha ha. And finally:

“…it wasn’t that Iain was still Iain, despite an illness that was as unexpected as it was tragic. It’s that in his last days he was more witty, more impassioned, more imaginative, more kindly, more caustic and even cleverer, as if concentrating and distilling the best of himself into the small time he had left. It was humbling to have been there.”

(Thanks to Steve Hall for the link.)

’11 Rules of Good Writing That Iain M. Banks Left as His Legacy’ at io9

I expect to see many wonderful tributes to Banks over the coming days, and it makes me happy that one of the first focuses on how truly innovative he was as a writer of SF.

1. There are no good guys

In Iain M. Banks‘ science fiction series about the Culture, there are no heroes who aren’t tarnished by morally ambiguous deeds. Even the good-intentioned people of Special Circumstances, whose goal is to export social democracy everywhere, are basically assassins… Having heroes whose intentions are mixed, rather than motivated by pure good, makes them more realistic as people. It also reminds the reader that one person’s “good” is another person’s “end of the world.”

Full list here.

Shameless Plug Alert: Ascension Point is on sale at $0.99 TODAY!

But not tomorrow. If you haven’t already grabbed a copy of the first book in The Unity Sequence, it couldn’t be a better time. In conjunction with a promotion I’m running I’ve slashed the price on the ebook to a faintly ridiculous $0.99 until midnight tonight.

It’s on sale at all the usual retailers, so you can grab it from Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukKoboBarnes and Noble and iTunes.

Kind strangers said:

“Ascension Point is compelling, exciting, well-written and properly edited. It is good science fiction in every way.”

“Move over Star Wars… the story also bristles with imagination, twists, pace and a motley crew of characters with depth.”

“Already looking forward to the sequel.”

So I’m Not Writing Much at the Moment

In case you were wondering. I do have a complete outline of my next book, the third in The Unity Sequence, and I’ve drafted the first four chapters. But a combination of the tendinitis in my left wrist flaring up a few weeks back, and the fact that Mrs. Dan and I preparing to relocate from Brazil to the US at the start of July–with all of the visa getting, flight planning, and shipping organising that this entails–has meant I haven’t put any words to digital paper in the last few weeks.

Not pictured: Me grimacing.

But never fear. I’m still confident I can get a first draft done by about October, and edits complete ready for publication before the end of the year. That’ll keep me on the two-books-a-year plan which should make me rich and famous by about 2024.

It’s good to have attainable goals.

Links Ahoy! Time Lords, Green Lanterns, Super-Humans and Superman

Over at The Wertzone there’s a stunningly in-depth history of The Time Lords, which is a fascinating read for anyone even remotely interested in Doctor Who. (I’ve never followed the show myself, shamefully. I’m just waiting for it to end so I can watch all the DVDs in one go.)

io9 have a funny article on why the Green Lanterns are the worst.

“For almost the entirety of the Green Lantern Corps existence, they have had one weakness — the color yellow. There was an impurity in the giant Green Lantern that powers their rings, so any time the Lanterns tried to manipulate or fight anything colored yellow, they’d be weakened or possibly even completely ineffective.”

Nice one.

While we’re there, check out this piece on augmented human intelligence.

“The real objective of IA is to create super-Einsteins, persons qualitatively smarter than any human being that has ever lived. There will be a number of steps on the way there. The first step will be to create a direct neural link to information. Think of it as a “telepathic Google.”

And there’s a NEW MAN OF STEEL TRAILER OH MY GOD I NEED TO CALM DOWN.

KNEEL BEFORE ZOD! He’d better say that in the movie at some point.

(I also can’t get used to Michael Shannon as General Zod, seeing as me and Mrs. Dan are currently watching Season 3 of Boardwalk Empire where he plays the tightly-buttoned ex-prohibition officer whose life has fallen apart. Check it out.)

Finally, Tor.com asks ‘Is There A New New Wave of Science Fiction, And Do We Need One Anyway?’.

Happy reading.