Author Response Speed Record

I just e-mailed a well known author and got a personal response- so not from an assistant or a bot, in under half an hour. The author is Joe Abercrombie and he is clearly not getting enough fan mail. Of course, I wasn’t precisely sending fan mail. After all, I haven’t actually finished any of his books yet. The first hundred pages or so of The Blade Itself was good though.

Here are the e-mails, for the curious. Timestamps are shifted to EST and, as I am not a public figure, my name and e-mail address are blocked out.

—-
@4:34

I’m nudging as hard as I can, man, don’t worry.

Best,
Joe Abercrombie

—–Original Message—–
From: Me [mailto: Me@mywebsite]
Sent: 14 January 2010 4:07
To: Joe@joeabercrombie.com
Subject: Kindle Publication

I picked up The Blade Itself in a bookstore the other day and read
through the first hundred pages. The person who was interviewing me at
the time was somehow still impressed which I attribute solely to the
mind numbing power of your writing.

Interview finished, I did the most mind numbingly arrogant thing it is
possible to do in a bookstore. I pulled out my Kindle to look up your
book. The sheer audacity of this action must be increased exponentially
because this was a Barnes & Noble. I later went to the Nook booth and
did a side by side comparison of the devices. Your book was available
for purchase on neither.

Now I realize that the fact I prefer to read my books in a digital
format makes me a robotic monstrosity with very little pocket change,
but is there anything you could do to try and make The First Law trilogy
available on Kindle? I understand that this is largely the publisher’s
decision, but I noticed that Best Served Cold is available for Kindle,
so perhaps they just need a little reminding.

Now, I’ve done my part. There’s a little link you can click on the
Amazon website “I’d like to read this book on Kindle” that is supposed
to notify the publisher that you would like their book to be available
digitally. Well, I clicked it for all three books. However, on the off
chance that your publisher is unaware of the fact that the satisfaction
of my every whim is vital to the future of the world at large, I thought
it best to see if you couldn’t nudge things along.

Sincerely,
Me
P.S. Thank you for contributing to the Worldbuilder’s Fundraiser. It’s a
great cause, and your’s was a good interview.

Worldbuilders (aka ‘Tis the Season for Giving)

Patrick Rothfuss is holding a raffle again this holiday season, this year with a snazzy new name. Worldbuilders! All proceeds (and more, 50% of donations are being met) go to Heifer International. If you either like helping people, like giving people fuzzy animals, or like SF/F books, I would highly recommend donating money to the raffle.

Once again, if anyone wants to give me a Christmas present, donate some in my name/send me the prizes.

The blog post explaining the rules and how to enter is here.

Quicksilver

I’ve just finished Quicksilver, Book 1 of Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle. This requires clarification. I have not finished the collection which was published as Quicksilver that contains three novels (Quicksilver, The King of the Vagabonds, and Odalisque) but only the first of these three.

Thus far it would appear that The Baroque Cycle is significantly less action packed than most of Stephenson’s work, including the interminably long Anathem. This is in no way a criticism of Stephenson, from my perspective. Perhaps this is largely my opinion only because the first of Stephenson’s books I ever read was Snow Crash, which has very little to do with anything else he has written. It was originally intended to be a graphic novel and it reads like one, only with words. I’ve misplaced or loaned out my copy and will soon endeavor to replace it, probably digitally. This will further mix my collection of Stephenson- I own Crytonomicon in paperback, have only borrowed the hard cover Anathem from the library (and since returned it upon finishing) and will have the entire Baroque Cycle on Kindle shortly.

Back to the book; with Stephenson a lack of action is perfectly acceptable for the regions in which he most excels involve character and world building. Mostly world building, because his characters evolve believably largely as a consequence of this. One thing many other readers don’t much like about Stephenson is his tendency to explain things. When you finish Cryptonomicon, you will have learned a surprising amount about basic cryptography. Having finished only the first book of the Baroque Cycle, I already know far more about the Baroque period in Europe than I did before.
If textbooks were written like this we would not have nearly so much trouble with reluctant students. I have always believed that historical fiction and period fiction ought to play a larger role in the teaching of history than they do. Ah well.
Now, I have a good deal of writing and other work I must do before continuing with The Baroque Cycle, but there was one notable weakness in the work. The main character is a Puritan most of the time, but I don’t believe it. When we first meet him he’s an atheist, but most of the story takes place while he’s a Puritan, but while I can’t pin down why, I don’t buy it. He doesn’t seem to think Puritanically. Sure, he is appropriately guilty (usually) when he thinks particularly un-Puritanically, but the point remains. He seems to occupy the same middle ground as the majority of humanity.
Perhaps this says something about the point Stephenson would like to make about Puritans, but I still believe a more demonstrable change should have taken place over time. How, I don’t know. Stephenson’s plenty impressive enough as it is, I leave it up to his fantastic skills.

Idea #8: Root Recovery

In a Neuromancer-like future world, a novice programmer is given the root password on his family’s integrated home maintenance and personal computing system and given directions to organize, clean up, and archive all the folders on the system that find Saturday in order to earn his allowance.

Eager to get out of the house, he rushes through the task and accidentally deletes a directory containing the home’s temperature control system preferences. Worse yet, his father had custom configured the automated AC control (that process may have been the reason the son needed to ‘neaten up’ all the household files) in such a way that the AC automator reads ‘0’ when there is no preferences file to reference.

That may mean 0 Kelvin, 0 Celcius, or 0 Fahrenheit. I’m thinking Kelvin, just for kicks. Wouldn’t it make sense if everyone used the Kelvin temperature in the future?

In any case, the house is clearly incapable of lowering the internal temperature all the way to 0 degrees Kelvin, but it begins to do it’s darndest, calculating that it will reach that point in 120 years, but that it will have gotten half way to the appointed temperature in 4 hours and 53 minutes. I’ll come up with a more significant time later. I’m sure we can do something cool (buhdum-ch) with that. Actually, I just thought of it. I was only off by two minutes. It will have gotten half way to the appointed temperature in 4 hours and 51 minutes. Too bad I chose Kelvin over Fahrenheit. If it was Fahrenheit it would be getting to that temperature (rather than halfway) in that time.

Here’s where the Neuromancer bit comes in. Poor fool that he is, Kevin (that, I’ve decided, is the boy’s name) can’t figure out a way to recover the file through the command line interface of the administrative access panel. Frankly, neither could I. So, with the energy bill skyrocketing and unsure whether he’ll die of hypothermia before his parents get home or manage to solve the problem before either occurrence, he patches his VR gaming system into the administrative interface and jacks in to attempt to recover the data as his body temperature in the real world gradually lowers.

Idea #7: Friendly Neighborhood Mafia

A scientist has developed a revolutionary new energy efficient method of cleaning water on a large scale. (Through electrolysis, some of you might know where this idea originated.) However when he tries to sell the idea to the city legislature he (she?) gets shot down by nonsensical concerns “You want to electrocute our water?” and general lack of interest. The next day, however, he is contacted by a mafia representative who gives him a recommendation for repackaging his idea as part of a bundle being brought before the legislature by a contractor the very next day. “No strings attached.” Included in the deal is a job offer from the contractor with a fair wage a little below the industry average and a research budget a little above it. The two offers are separate and unconditional.

As the scientist has been working independently with very limited funds for some time, he decides to accept both.

A few interesting questions here. 1. When does he realize that the representative is a mafioso? Does the representative reveal that from the get-go? Does the scientist do a google search after the initial meeting?

The angle here is that the mafia has chosen to do genuine good for the community and the city, albeit through illegal means (the contractor is an obvious front, and bribes/kickbacks would be involved in getting the contractor’s proposal accepted). The scientist will decide that so long as he (she?) doesn’t directly participate in anything illegal, in other words just sticks to the science, there is no ethical dilemma.

But what about when the boss is under investigation and the new job is in peril?

Idea #4: Multifarious Lives

This idea came to me as ‘The Multifarious Lives of Christopher …” where ‘…’ represents something alliterative. I can no longer remember what my original name was. Here are some that I’ve attempted to resurrect from my memory.
Christopher Kephler

Christopher King

Christopher Collins

Christopher Cribb

None of them have quite the right ring. Do any of you like a particular name? Any suggestions of your own? Regardless, the gist of the idea is this: there exists a man who, every day, decides to have a different personality- a whole new persona. If he hasn’t chosen a personality within fifteen minutes of waking up or by 8 am, whichever comes second, the day is considered a wash and he stays at home in bed. So one day he might decide to be impeccably polite to everyone he meets, and the next he could have an obsession with sailing. Sometimes there is a sequence to his choices- one day he might decide to make a great deal of money regardless of moral consequences, the next day he decides to be a great patron of opera, the day after he wants to be an opera performer, and then a producer, and finally to set fire to the opera house. One day he might be a revolutionary and the next he could be a royalist. Etc.

I am undecided as to whether or not there is a method to his madness. When I conceived of the name ‘Christopher King’ to replace the ideal I had forgotten I got the notion that perhaps he is working to see absolutely every possible perspective within some monarchy (or other form of government, I suppose) before staging a coup. Or perhaps he is the natural born heir. He would certainly need to be fairly wealthy in order to maintain such a lifestyle…

Then again, perhaps not. It would be more interesting to see him need to struggle for funds, or ignore his needs, depending upon his personality that day. Given that he is not actually irrational he could conceivably hold a job for a little while, maybe a week, maybe a month.

Yes, he’ll need to work at it. It would be too cheap on my part to give the character such an easy out as being so wealthy that his eccentricity is easily accomplished. I’ll take a page out of Patrick Rothfuss‘s book there. The Name of the Wind aptly demonstrates how much stronger a story that takes into account the less romantic needs of a character can be.