Monday, August 29, 2011

Survival Colony Nine

The title of this blog post is the title of the first novel in my planned young adult fantasy trilogy. I finally came up with a title, and though the work was progressing without it, I find that the work's progressing much better with it. In fact, the narrative has finally hit its stride.

For a while there, I was a bit worried. I've written young adult material in the past, but that was in the way past, and I wasn't all that confident in the voice I'd crafted for the first couple chapters. Nor did I believe I'd struck the right balance of narrative, exposition, and dialogue--the right balance for a young adult audience, that is. And finally, I wasn't convinced the plot was sufficiently complex to sustain a novel, much less three. But I kept on writing, hoping it'd come together eventually.

And I believe it has. I'm now in the midst of chapter seven, and the ideas are tumbling out almost faster than I can put them on the page--the characters and plot becoming richer and more complex, the fantasy world becoming more fully realized, the arc of the entire book taking firmer shape in my mind. All of this is good stuff.

Whether it'll be good enough to be published is another matter. But I'm putting that thought on hold for the moment. My plan is to have a complete draft done by the end of the calendar year (which, according to my quickie calculation, I can achieve if I write an average of two pages a day from now until December 31). After that, I'll start revising and looking for agents and/or publishers. And of course, I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Very Small Child Called Eugene

As promised, I'm back, with news of a recently published short story. It's titled "A Very Small Child Called Eugene," and I suppose you'd call it speculative fiction/alternative history/magical realism/something like that. My contributor's copies came yesterday, so you can order copies of your own if you're so inclined. And the online version will be out in October, according to the publisher, A cappella Zoo, which you can find at this link.

Warning: the story contains explicit language and hard-to-stomach concepts (hard to stomach in the moral sense, not the physiological sense). It's why a couple publishers turned it down; they liked it, but told me they were afraid their readers might not understand what the story's trying to do and might be deeply offended by it. I hope that's not the case with you; I hope you see what the story's really about. But that's always a risk when dealing with sensitive subjects, subjects we as a culture haven't really resolved no matter what we may like to tell ourselves.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I recently read an essay (which I won't dignify by linking to it here) by a guy who works at Google. This guy delivered a commencement address describing his odyssey from being a "technologist" to being a "humanist" (apparently, he went back to school to earn a Philosophy Ph.D. after earning a bundle in the technology industry). He waxes eloquent about the wonders of humanistic inquiry, how it has enriched him as a thinker and a person. And then he tells us how wonderfully the humanities can serve society: apparently, with his fancy new Philosophy degree, he got the brilliant idea to create a new kind of internet search engine.


As someone who believes in the humanities, I'm frankly tired of those who try to argue that humanistic inquiry is "as good as" technological, scientific, material, or economic pursuits. What these arguments typically boil down to is what I've described above: a claim for the ways in which the humanities can get you a good job, help you solve a technological puzzle, or add to the material prosperity of humankind.

What you'll never hear these supposed "supporters" of the humanities say is that the humanities are good in ways that simply are not reducible to dollars earned or techno-gadgets built and improved--that the humanities are, indeed, in some ways antithetical to the values embodied by techno-society.

If anything, these techno-humanists are more dangerous than those who simply vilify, ridicule, or demean the humanities. The latter at least are being honest: they believe that all there is to life is money, material possessions, and technological advance, and they have no time to waste on anything that doesn't contribute to those ends. Techno-humanists, by contrast, act as if they favor the humanities--but really, they merely wish to transform the humanities into another servant of the almighty technological god.

So the next time you hear someone sing the praises of the humanities while telling you how he used his Philosophy degree to dig us deeper into the pit of techno-slavery, ask him this: might he not try using his Philosophy degree to try to start digging us out?