Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category

Mashup of “Million Mile Road Trip” Interviews

I recently did three interviews in connection with Million Mile Road Trip. One was with the writer Jeff Somers from B&N SciFi & Fantasy Blog. One was a fixed list of questions (so call my interviewer “Bot”), from Shelf Awareness webzine. And the third was a single-question interview by Chris Richards a pop music writer at the Washington Post, who publishes a rather amazing little zine called Debussy Ringtone — in print only. As usual I’m putting in a surreal mix of recent photos, and I’ve included two recent paintings (with notes) as well.

Jeff. Night Shade Books calls this the “Year of Rudy Rucker,” which feels way overdue. You’ve published 23 novels—where would you recommend a Rucker newbie get started

A. Yep, Night Shade is issuing ten books by me this year—nine reprints along with Million Mile Road Trip. A matching set of print books with great covers. I’m not sure I’d say this is way overdue, but I’m really glad it’s happening. If you’re an author, having your books in print is the blood of life. Which of my books to start with? Whichever one you get your hands on. I do like Mathematicians in Love a lot..And Saucer Wisdom is a hoot. But this week I’m gonna say that Million Mile Road Trip is a good place to start! Could be the best book I ever wrote.

[This is the same pink IBM Selectric model that I wrote my first few novels of.  Seen in the Milwaukee Art Museum Design section.]

Jeff. Your companion book, Notes for Million Mile Road Trip, is actually longer than the novel! The idea of following up reading a novel with that kind of metadata is fascinating; can you tell us more about it?

A. It’s hard to write a novel. It takes a year or maybe two years of tickling the keyboard at your desk, or using a laptop in a cafe, doing that pretty much every day, even on the days when you don’t know what comes next. This is where writing a volume of notes comes in. When I don’t have anything to put into the novel, I write something in the notes. I might analyze the possibilities for the next few scenes. Or craft journal entries about things I saw. Or describe some the people sitting around me, being careful not to stare at them too hard. Or wheenk about how hopeless it is to try to write another novel, and how I’ve been faking it all along anyhow. The more I complain in my notes, the better I feel. I publish the finished Notes in parallel with with the novel, not that I sell many copies of the notes. Longterm, the notes will be fodder for the locust swarm of devoted Rucker scholars who are due to emerge any time now from their curiously long gestation in the soil.


[Fresnel Lens for the lighthouse at Point Arena, CA.]

Jeff. What’s amazing about a book like MMRT is how you take some pretty high-level math and science and turn it into a rollicking sci-fi adventure. How do you manage that balance?

A. I studied math in college and grad school. Math always appealed to me. So clear and so intricate—the hidden machinery of the world. It is, as you say, a delicate balance to have a book be lively, with romance and fun characters—and also to have it be based on logical science ideas. In studying math, I learned about starting out with some set of assumptions like, say, Euclid’s postulates or the axioms of transfinite set theory, starting out with a set of rules and then deducing what follows from them. In my SF novels, I’ll make some wild, far-out initial assumptions. But from then it’s logical, and I get to see what ends up happening. I don’t really know in advance, not before I write the novel. That way its surprising and fun. I’m not trying to teach things to my readers. I want them to be amazed and to laugh and to be carried away.


“Cute Meet” Acrylic, pair of 24″ x 30″ canvases, May, 2019. Click for a larger version of the painting.

[I saw a diagram of a so-called Hele ‐Shaw ferrohydrodynamics pattern formed by, I don’t know, something like a rotating magnetic field under a fluid with metal dust in it. I don’t remember the details. But I liked the cool pattern. I love when nature makes these chaotic, odd things that look like paleolithic cave-wall drawings. So I picked one pattern, and painted two versions of it, copying the pattern by hand each time. I liked doing it so much that I did it twice, so we have a diptych here. And the colors are kind of the opposites of each other. And if you rotate either of these patterns by 180 degrees, it’s approximately the same as the other one. So they’re the same species. But the butterfly one on the left is girl, and the yearning one on the right is a boy. And they’re having a cute meet.]

Debussy. Most of your novels and stories are optimistic. Why?

A. The media are awash with bad news. But this is a custom, and not a reflection of reality. My theory is that bad news (a) makes people more fearful and more likely to accept repressive rulers, and (b) makes them more likely to buy distracting expensive things. Media, the Man, and Mammon work in concert. It’s not really true that the world is worse off than it’s ever been. Flip back through history, and things are always a mess. We’re all going to die. That never changes. Why obsess on it? I prefer to have some fun in the time that I have. And to hell with the daily news.

When I’m writing an SF story, I’m describing an alternate world that I’m inventing on the spot. I want to see interesting characters, good dialog, rad mind warps, surprising plot twists, rich vocabulary, eyeball kicks, and unheard-of science. I’m like a painter who prefers bright colors to blacks and grays. There’s good as well as bad. Unknown natural laws await. Aliens might be friendly. A novel can have a happy ending.

This said, I’m not above killing off a main character in any given book. You need chiaroscuro, that is, some dark against the like. It’s nice to pump up a big operatic scene where a good person dies. But, do note that I do like someone’s death to be a big deal—and not just have a stranger shoot a person in the back of the head and have everyone be, like, “Oh, sigh, that’s the way it is in this boring vale of tears, and now let’s parrot some media headlines.”

I think you said you only wanted three hundred words for my answer? Wow, that’s not many! I’d hoped I’d be able to go on and write about—erk

Bot. Your favorite books when you were a child?

A. I loved the world of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books. And Beverly Cleary books like Ribsy, Henry Huggins, and Ramona the Pest. And a picture book by Robert Lawson, McWhinney’s Jaunt—about a professor who rides across the country on a flying bicycle, held aloft by “Z gas” in is tires. I read all the Robert Heinlein novels, and especially liked Revolt in 2100 and Tunnel in the Sky. I was a huge fan of the SF master Robert Sheckley’s Untouched by Human Hands. And when I was fourteen, I got hold of the Beat author William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, which I found on my big brother’s bookshelf. Burroughs showed me that you can write about anything at all.

Jeff. You’ve been called a groundbreaker in genre—from your foundational writing in cyberpunk and transrealism, to being the winner of the first Philip K. Dick Award ever. What’s your take on the modern state of sci-fi, and what do you see for the future of the genre?

A. I’m not much involved with factions and fashions in the SF community—although I do have my old cabal of cyberpunks, transrealists, and the writers I published when I was running my webzine Flurb. An odd recent phenomenon is that lots of mainstream authors are writing SF. But they won’t admit it’s SF. Lifelong literary-SF writers like me find this … irritating. It’s like the upper crust authors can dip down into our world—but they don’t want to let us out. Even if we’re writing high lit. I always think of Kurt Vonnegut’s line, “I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled ‘science fiction’ … and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.”

[Above: Model of my character Groon from Million Mile Road Trip. Model by Chuck Shotton, painstakingly 3D-printed, and with a sound chip inside. My painting of Groon in the background. Below: With artist Paul Mavrides at the Andy Warhol show in San Francisco. That’s Mrs. Warhola in the background.]

Bot. What book do you most want to read again for the first time?

A. A volume of stories by Jorge Luis Borges. Labyrinths, say, or Collected Fictions. When I first read Borges, I was stunned at the richness of the trove. “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” might have been the very first of his stories I found. It’s a crazy-sounding title, but that’s as it should be. The tale is about the discovery of an encyclopedia about an unkown planet with “its emperors and seas, its minerals and birds and fish, its algebra and fire, its theological and metaphysical controversies.” All this in a single short story! And “Funes the Memorious,” where Borges describes a youth with a perfect memory. “He knew the forms of the clouds in the southern sky on the morning of April 30, 1882, and he could compare them in his memories with the veins in the marbled binding of a book he had seen only once, or with the feathers of spray lifted by an oar on the Rio Negro on the eve of the Battle of Quebracho.” Borges stories are my notion of what fantasy and science fiction ought to be. Truly other, and utterly wondrous.

Jeff. It’s been thirty-six years since you published A Transrealist Manifesto, and some argue that with the mainstreaming of sci-fi into popular-culture transrealism, we’ve reached a turning point where transrealism will soon be the baseline for sci-fi stories. Do you agree, or is it more complicated than that?

A. The idea behind transrealism it that you write in a fairly realistic way about your life and your feelings and about the lives of those around you—but then you bring in SF elements that can stand for subtextual aspects of your mental life. Like time travel stands for nostalgia and hope. And uploading your mind to a computer stands for going to heaven. And telepathy stands for someone actually understanding what the eff you’re talking about. And alien stands for people from different backgrounds. When you come down to it, everyone’s background is different, and everyone you ever meet is an alien. Or maybe a zombie or a robot. The SF tropes are objective correlatives for things we have trouble writing about. And, yes, this transreal approach can be a baseline for present-day lit.

Bot. Books you’d still like to write?

A. I want to write about a heretofore unnoticed force of nature. It’s at the subquantum level. It relates to dark energy, and to consciousness. And once we get it tune with it, we’ll have all the free energy we need, and we’ll be able to live inside electrons, like in my novel Jim and the Flims, and to predict the future from soap films, like in Mathematicians in Love, and to levitate, like in Million Mile Road Trip, and to talk to rocks, like in Hylozoic. But I know there’s something more than even that, something wilder and deeper, something super new that will, in retrospect, seem obvious and natural. We’ll be, like, “Why didn’t we think of that before!” I hope the muse shows it to me.


[Detail from Peter Bruegel’s Het Luilekkerland, also known as Schlaraffenland  or The Land of Cockaigne.]

Bot. A book you hid from your parents?

A. I grew up in Kentucky, and in the University of Louisville bookstore I found a text on types of mental illness. As a budding young author, I had to consider the option of going mad as an early career move. I got the book, and I’d look through it to find symptoms that I might be having, or that I might be able to convince myself that I had. It drove my parents nuts to see me do that. As if I weren’t already enough trouble!

“The Two Lovers Walk Their Dog” acrylic on canvas, June, 2019, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

[They had an En Plein Air painting festival in my town, and I was thinking I should do a quick painting of something I saw outside. So I went in my backyard and started painting the ivy leaves on the wall. And that got a little boring. So I started putting in critters. I made a spiraling black line, and then I put an eye in the middle, and that’s how I got started on the figure on the right. I gave her pink flesh, and put in some 3D shading to round her out. the real stroke of inspiration was just filling in a crescent of orange-red for her mouth. And then I drew her lover on the left. His smile is even bigger. And the dog? Well, he was just a lucky hit. I made that red glob and put two things like ears on it, and then added another—voila! And I made the background an insanely bright and saturated shade of yellow-orange. I love how cheerful the lovers look. And the ivy leaves turned out to be hearts. And, all in all, there’s seventeen eyes bobbling around! This one is a gift from the Muse, an unexpected masterpiece. Not that it would ever be accepted by the En Plein Air festival. But who cares.]

Jeff. You also paint, and have received notice for your artwork, which favors surreal sci-fi themes. Are there connections between your painting and your writing?

A. I started painting in 1999 because I was writing a historical novel, As Above, So Below, about the life of the artist Peter Bruegel. I wanted to get a sense of what it’s like to paint. Over time I got to enjoying it more and more. I’ve done almost a hundred and seventy paintings by now. I’m not a great draftsman. But with paint, you can push it around and layer it until it looks like what you want. And then of course you ruin it, and fix it, and ruin it again, and fix it, and eventually you stop.

I like how painting is completely analog. No keyboard and screen. Smearing paint on a canvas. I love it. When I’m unsure about an upcoming scene in a novel, I do a painting that relates to it. Not an exact representation, more like an evocation. Like dreaming while I’m awake. Writing is like dreaming, too. You get out of your way and type.

Bot. What are five books you’ll never part with?

A. Oh, let’s just do one. A fat one. Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. I reread it ever five or ten years, reveling once again in the man’s wit, and the richness of his prose. I’ve persistently been trying to write like Pynchon over the course of my twenty-three novels, and in Million Mile Road Trip, I think I finally got close. Some Pynchonian elements: Write in the present tense, like a person describing a movie. Use close-in third person viewpoint where thoughts of the focus characters spill onto the page. Use some very long sentences, with phrase after phrase being added on, like you’re a carpenter working your way out on an increasingly rickety scaffolding that you’re assembling as you go along. And allow yourself an occasional fourth-wall-breaking exclamation, like, “Maybe this is going a little too far.”


[Work by the artist Rina Banarjee.]

Jeff. You’ve been a professional writer and a publisher for decades; how has the business of getting your words out there changed in that time?

A. The biggest new thing is the ebook. Ebooks are literary immortality; they don’t ever go out of print. And writers can publish ebooks themselves for free. Not only that, writers can publish print books for free, too. And you can sell your self-published ebooks and paperbacks on big online sites such as Barnes & Noble. Personal freedom to publish to the world audience is a huge deal. No gatekeepers.

The catch, however, is that if you self-pub, it’s hard getting people to notice you. Including my nonfiction, I’ve published about forty books. And the first thirty or so were from commercial publishers. But in 2012, the publishers temporarily turned their backs on me. Like, “We’ve heard enough out of you!.” But I wasn’t ready to quit. And thanks to the new channels, I didn’t have to. I learned how to self-pub my own ebooks and paperbacks—I did my Collected Stories, my Journals, three novels, and an art book. I call my imprint Transreal Books. I ran Kickstarters for the self-pub books, which took the place of getting publishers’ advances. It was a lot of work.

And now, hallelujah, Night Shade Books has taken me into their fold. I’m back in the tribe and off the ice floe. I’m glad.

“Juicy Ghost.” A Political SF Story.

“Juicy Ghost” is a story I couldn’t stop myself from writing. And it seems relevant on this particular 4th of July. You can read the story if you scroll down in this post, or you can listen to it as a podcast.

I felt a need to take a stand. Not that I’m urging anyone to follow my character Curtis Winch’s example. But I definitely took satisfaction in crafting his tale.

The writing and revising ran from January to June of 2019, which is a very long time for me to spend on a short story. In April, 2019, I sent my draft to a couple of SF magazines. One editor didn’t feel comfortable with something so topical; another felt the story didn’t win them over.

I turned to the idea of publishing “Juicy Ghost” as a part of a special, all-political issue of my old ezine Flurb. I contacted some of my writer friends. They gave me positive feedback. Marc Laidlaw, John Kessel, John Shirley, Kek-W, Paul Di Filippo, and Brendan Byrne sent fine contributions, and pieces were promised by Eileen Gunn, James Worrad, Christopher Brown, and Cory Doctorow. I’m grateful to them all.

But at the start of June, 2019, I lost heart. Putting together a new Flurb felt like too big a push for me. With embarrassment, and with apologies to my authors, I backed out of the political Flurb.

Even so, I couldn’t stop working on “Juicy Ghost.” I kept at it for the next three weeks, doing rewrite after rewrite. It was like finding my way across a tightrope. By the end of June, 2019, I felt ready to go public.

Rather than sending my story to more zines, I published it myself, and in the easiest possible way. That is, I added “Juicy Ghost” to my ever-evolving Complete Stories anthology, which is available in print and ebook at Amazon, or at Transreal Books, or in a free online version of Complete Stories. And sometime this summer or fall the story will appear in issue #13 the online zine Big Echo as well.

As for right now, what the hell, I decided to post the story on my blog. As usual I stuck in a slightly random bunch of photos. If you want to read the story clean, with no illos, you can also find it online as a PDF file.

And I’ve recorded and posted it as an episode of Rudy Rucker Podcasts. Enjoy.



“Juicy Ghost” by Rudy Rucker

Copyright © Rudy Rucker 2019.

“A mob of Freals,” says Leeta. “I feel safe. For once.”

She makes a knowing mm-hmm sound, with her gawky mouth pressed shut. She’s not one to think about looks. Lank-haired and fit. A fanatic. I’m a fanatic too. We’re feral freaks, free for real.

Is Leeta my girlfriend? No. I’ve never had a girlfriend or a boyfriend. I don’t get that close to people. My parents and brother and sister died when I was eight. A shoot-out at our house. I don’t talk about it.

It’s nine in the morning on January 20, a cold, blue-sky day in Washington D.C. Inauguration Day for Ross Treadle, that lying sack of shit who’s acting as if he’s been legitimately re-elected. Treadle and his goons have stolen the Presidency for the third time in a row, is what it is.

They outmaneuvered the media, they purged the voter rolls, and supposedly there’s an unswayable block of Treadlers. A stubborn turd in the national punchbowl. Not that I ever see any Treadlers. Admittedly, I live in Oakland, California, not exactly Treadle country, but I personally wonder if the man’s so-called base is a scam, a figment, a fake-news virus within the internet’s chips and wares.

Doesn’t matter now. Treadle’s on his way out. I’m here to assassinate him. And Leeta’s my bodyguard. I’ll die right when I kill Treadle. I’m trying not to care.

I’m Curtis Winch, part of a four-person Freal cell. I’m a gene-tweaker, a bioprogrammer. And we’ve got gung-ho Leeta, our money guy Slammy who might be an agent, and there’s a skinny twitchy web hacker who calls himself Gee Willikers. Gee spends all day with his head in the cloud. He’s crafted me a special device that has my whole personality inside it. Gee calls it a psidot.

We have our base in Oakland, near the port, in a cheap-ass, beige, trashed, 1930s cottage amid pot-grow warehouses and poor people’s squats. I implanted some special eggs in my flesh two weeks ago. Today they’ll hatch out and attack Treadle. And then the Secret Service will gun down my larvae-riddled remains.

Upside: Gee will put a low-end chatbot version of my psidot online as an interactive Paul-Revere-type inspiration. Curtis Winch, martyred hero of the New American Revolution.

“Tell us what it was like to take down Ross Treadle,” the admiring users will say to my memorial chatbot. “And thank you, Curt, thank you!”

Too bad I won’t be around to savor this. From what I’ve seen, dying is like a jump-cut in a movie—except there’s no film on the other side of the jump.

While I’m still alive, I’m continually updating my psidot. The device itself is a wireless antenna and a brainwave transducer. A shiny piezoplastic disk the size of a freckle, on the back of my neck. Like a paste-on beauty mark, except it’s smart and it can crawl around a little bit.

My psidot captures whatever I experience and stores it in the cloud. Works the other way too. My psidot feeds me info. And, better than that, it uses heavy cloud-based processing to munge my data stream, and if I ask, it’ll suggest what I might do next.

Right now the psidot is showing me Gee Willikers. Gee is excited, more than excited. Messianic.

“You’re immortal,” Gee Willikers is telling me. Not that I believe him. They’re shining me on so I’ll do the hit. Gee giggles. He’s not a normal person at all. “With my latest upgrades, you can live inside your psidot, as long as it’s leeched onto a person or an animal or even an insect. As long as you’re leeching, you’re a juicy ghost. My ultimate hack, Curt.” Another giggle. “I’m God.”

“Be quiet, Gee.”

The crowd around the Lincoln Memorial is beyond epic. Bigger than a three-day rock fest with free beer, bigger than a pilgrimage to Mecca, bigger than any protest D.C. has ever seen. More than two million of us.

Freals stream in via the Memorial Bridge, down Constitution and Independence Avenues, piling out of the Metro stops, walking in along the side streets and the closed-down highways by the Potomac. Cops and soldiers stand by, but they’re not trying to stop us. They’re working people too. Low-income city folks. By now a lot of them hate Treadle too. Him getting to be President again is like some unacceptable bug in our political system. And the Freals are here to fix it.

Our crowd swirls around stone Abe Lincoln on his stone chair in his stone temple. We mass along the reflecting pool, as far as the Washington Monument—but not yet onto the Mall.

A belt of armed troops blocks us from getting all that close to the Capitol. My psidot is jacked into the media, and it shows me how the Mall is blanketed with actual, for-real Treadlers—deluded, sold out, in thrall to an insane criminal, awaiting the dumbshow of their hero’s noon Inauguration.

What would it take to change their minds?

We Freals are zealous and stoked, filled with end-times fervor and a sense of apocalypse. We’re rarin’ for revolution. Ross Treadle’s opponent Sudah Mareek is standing atop one of Lincoln’s stone toes. She’s shouting and laughing and chanting—wonderfully charismatic. Her voice is balm to my soul, and she’s calming Leeta too. The whole reason we two didn’t go straight to the Capitol steps is because we need to see Sudah get her own Inauguration. The real one.

Sudah Mareek did in fact win the election—both the popular vote, and the House of Electors. But somehow Treadle turned it all around, and his packed Supreme Court took a dive. Treadle says he’ll charge Sudah with treason once he’s sworn in. He says he’ll seek the death penalty.

But the Freals are going to inaugurate Sudah just the same. We have one supporter on the Supreme Court, and she’s here to administer the oath of office. She’s ninety years old, our justice, in her black robe, and she’s brought along Abe Lincoln’s Bible.

We fall silent, drinking it in. The Presidential Oath—short, pure and real. Sudah’s clear voice above the breathless crowd. I’m absorbed in my sensations, The trees against the sky, the cold air in my lungs, the pain in my flesh, the scents of the bodies around me. We’re real. This isn’t a play. It’s the Inauguration of the next President of the United States.

For a moment the knot of fear in my chest is gone. This is going to work. Our country’s going to be free. We cheer ourselves hoarse.

But hatch time is near. Leeta and I need to haul ass to the Capitol steps so I’ll be close enough to terminate Treadle. And everyone else wants to head that way too. The crowd rolls towards the Mall like lava. But there’s the matter of those armed troops at the Washington Monument. They’re in tight formation.

“Let’s skirt around them,” I suggest to Leeta.

The side streets are blocked by troops as well. We’re like a school of fish swimming into a net, which is the U-shaped cordon of soldiers. They have batons, shock-sticks, water-cannons, tear-gas, and rifles with bayonets. Behind them are trucks, armored Humvees, and even some tanks.

At this point, Leeta and I are near the troops along the right edge of the crowd. Armed men and women, all colors. Leeta begins pitching our case.

“Sudah Mareek is our President,” she calls, sweetening her voice. “We just inaugurated her. Did you hear the cheers?”

“Move along,” mutters a woman soldier, not meeting our eyes.

We’re your friends,” I put in. “Not Treadle. He’s ripping you off. He hates us all.”

Behind me the crowd of Freals is chanting. “We’re you. You’re us. Be free.”

“Be Freal,” echoes Leeta, reaching out to touch the woman soldier’s shoulder. “Put down the gun.”

“Let’s do it,” says the soldier at her side, He throws his bayonet-tipped rifle to the earth. “Yeah. That gun’s too heavy.”

The woman does the same, and so does the guy next to her, and the woman next to him drops her gun too—it’s like a zipper coming undone. A whole row of the soldiers is defecting. Going renegade. Treadle will call us traitors.

A few soldiers stand firm. They spray water cannons, which knocks down Freals and muddies the ground. A handful of teargas shells explode. Some hotheads fire their rifles into the air. But the flurry damps down.

The soldiers aren’t into it. They don’t want to kill us. We’re people like them. This stage of the revolution is a gimmie. Hundreds of thousands of us chant as one.

“We’re you. You’re us. Be free.”

The soldiers whoop and laugh. Grab-assing like they’re off-duty. Some Freals try and the tip over a tank, but it’s too heavy. One of soldiers, some wild hillbilly from Kentucky, he breaks out a crate of magnesium flares. He and his buddies go around prying open the caps on the gas-tanks and shoving in flares. Low thuds as the gas-tanks explode, one after the other. The rising plumes of smoke are totems of freedom.

We cheer our incoming President. “Sudah. Sudah. Sudah. Sudah.

A pyramid of Freals holds the small woman high in the air. She’s waving and smiling. She’s the one who won. She’s ours. In my head, my psidot shows me the news commentators going ape. Treadle’s faked election, political U-turn, people’s revolution, President Mareek.

Treadles’ strategists strike back. Two banana-shaped gunship choppers converge on the Washington Monument, circling like vengeful furies. Men with massive machineguns stand in the big doors. They lay down withering fusillades, shooting at will into our crowd.

The gunships are painted with Treadle’s personalized Presidential seal. The pilots and crews are from the chief’s palace guard. Dead-enders. Pardoned from death row, recruited from the narco gangs, imported from the Russian mafia.

People are dying on every side. It’s insane. Next to me a man’s head explodes like a pumpkin. Am I next?

“Asymmetric attack on unarmed demonstrators,” mutters Leeta. “Stop screaming. Curt. Use your psidot.”

Good idea. My psidot is overlaying my visual field with images of the bullets’ paths. A hard rain. Simultaneously, the psidot is computing our safest way forward, showing me a glowing, shifting path on the ground. I take Leeta’s hand and lead her.

We come to a cluster of renegade soldiers who’ve salvaged a rocket bazooka from a charred tank. A dark, intent sergeant raises the tube to her shoulder.

My psidot brings the nearest chopper’s path into focus. I see the dirty bird’s past trajectory as an orange tangle. And I’m seeing its dotted-line future path too. As usual my psidot is using cloud crunch to estimate what’s next.

“There,” I advise the woman soldier, pointing. “Aim there.”

Whoosh!

And, hell yeah, our canny missile twists through the air like live thing, homing in on Treadle’s hired killers.

Fa-tooom!

The chopper explodes like a bomb. Shards of of metal pinwheel as if from an airborne grenade. The blazing craft hits the ground with a broken thud I can feel in my feet. The second chopper flees, racketing into a wide loop above the Potomac.

“That there was my vote!” whoops the rocketeer woman, pumping the bazooka in the air. “For President Sudah!”

I feel high. Seeing that chopper go down is like winning a round in a videogame. But this game has a ticking clock. My parasites twist in my flesh, ever closer to my skin. I need to be at the other end of the Mall when Treadle mounts his rostrum.

The blockade of troops has thinned, and many of the Freals fled back toward the river. Those who remain are tending to the casualties on the ground—the gravely wounded amid the dead. Fire trucks and wailing ambulances arrive.

Leeta and I hurry on and filter through the Treadle base. They’re striving to maintain an air of festivity—even after the rush of Freals, the troops’ desertions, the massacre, and the downing of the chopper—even now. Bundled against the cold, they’ve laid out their sadly celebratory picnics. Doing their best to ignore the bitter, embattled Freals, they wave their Treadle signs, and draw their little groups into tighter knots.

Leeta’s good at crowds. She eels forward through the human mass, finding the seams, working her way up the Mall. I follow in her wake. Soon we’re within thirty yards of the the Capitol steps. The dignitaries are still there. The charade is still on. I feel that the Secret Service agents are watching me. Treadle is about to appear.

“I bet dying is easier than you expect,” Leeta whispers to me. Her idea of encouragement.

A wave of dizziness passes over me. As if I’m seeing the world through thick glass. Those things in my flesh—they’re leaking chemicals into my system. Steroids, deliriants, psychotomimetics.

“What are we doing?” I moan. “Why?”

“You’ll be a hero,” Leeta murmurs, iron in her voice. “Be glad.” She leans even closer, her whisper is thunderous in my ear. “The Secret Security knows. Mm-hmm.” She nods as if we’re discussing personal gossip. Her bony forehead bumps mine. “They hate Treadle too. It’s all set. They’re actually paying us. Slammy set it up.”

“And I’m your patsy? The fall guy? What if I change my mind?”

“Don’t fuss,” says Leeta. She rolls her eyes toward the strangers pressed around us. To make it all the creepier, she’s wearing a prim, plastered-on smile. Her voice is very low. “Be a good boy or they’ll shoot you early. And then Treadle lives. We can’t have that, hmm?”

My psidot is jabbering advice that I can’t understand. Mad, skinny Gee Willikers is in my head too. As usual he’s unable to say three sentences without bursting into giggles. I hate him and I hate Leeta and I hate my psidot.

Fresh insect hormones rush through me. My disorientation grows. They critters inside me are splitting out of their pupas and preparing to take wing. Sixteen of them.

Treadle takes his oath. It’s like, “Ha ha, I’m President again, so fuck you.” And then he’s into his Inauguration speech, in full throat, hitting his stride, spewing lies and fear and hate.

“Well?” nudges Leeta.

“It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done,” I intone, quoting Dickens. I know I’m going to kill Treadle, but I’m trying to rise above the seamy details of our conspiracy. “It is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”

“You got that right.”

Weird how my whole life has led up to this point. “There’s this thing about time,” I tell Leeta. “You think something will never happen. And then it happens. And then it’s over.” I pause and peek inside my shirt. Bumps and welts shift beneath my skin.

“Trigger then now!” hisses Leeta.

“Whoa!” interrupts a Treadler at my side. A mild-eyed old man with his leathery, white-haired wife. He’s staring at a wriggly lump on my neck. “Are you okay? Do you need help?”

“Allergy,” I wheeze. “Overexcited. It’ll work out pretty—”

I’m interrupted by a shrieking clatter. It’s that second chopper, attacking the Freals and renegades and EMTs who are helping the fallen around the Washington Monument. We all turn and stare as the whirlybird stitches gunfire into the ragged band.

“Done at my command,” intones Treadle, raising his heavy arm to point. “I keep my promises.” He juts his chin. “We’re gunning for Sudah Mareek. A traitor. She meets justice today.”

Hoarse, savage cheering from the Treadlers. Terrible to see Americans act this ugly. They’re mirroring Treadle. I have to kill him. But, wait, wait, wait, I want to see how the scene at the Monument plays out.

The cheering dims—and I hear what I’m hoping for.

Whoosh!

Yes. The rebel soldiers have launched another rocket.

Fa-tooom!

The blasted second chopper corkscrews along a weirdly purposeful arc. Like it’s remotely controlled. The hulk smashes against a face of the Washington Monument. My psidot feeds me close-up images.

“Bonus points,” goes Gee Willikers in my head. He giggles. Sick gamer that he is. “Part of the plot,” he continues. “We pin this on Treadle.”

Gee hacked into the falling chopper’s controls? Wheels within wheels. The plot is a web around me. It’s time to act but—I can’t stop watching.

Cracks branch across the great obelisk’s surface, running and forking. Bits of marble skitter down the pitiless slope. The Monument’s tip sways, vast and slow. People are scattering. The upper part of the great plinth moves irrevocably out of plumb. It tilts and gains speed, the bottom slow, the top fast, as in an optical illusion.

The impact is a long explosion—followed by thin, high screams. A veil of dust. A beat of silence. I feel sick with guilt. And weary of being human.

Leeta is screaming into my face. “Do your job, god damn you! Now!”

“Get Treadle,” I finally say. The trigger phrase. I don’t say it very loud, but it’s loud enough to matter.

Within my flesh, the hymenoptera hear. Ragged slits open on my neck, my chest, my my belly, my arms. The pain is off the scale. I shed my coat and my shirt. The bloody, freshly-fledged, bio-tweaked wasps emerge. All sixteen them.

For a moment they balance on their dainty, multijointed legs, hastily preening their antennae, unkinking their iridescent wings. They have handsome, curved abdomens like motorcycle gas-tanks. They feature prominent stingers and bejeweled, zillion-lensed eyes. They’re large, and preternaturally alert.

Leeta slithers off through the crowd. The cuts in my flesh pump bright blood. The Treadlers around me point and shout. The wasps race up my torso, across my face, and onto the crown of my head—a wobbly mob. They rise in flight.

My job is done.

Or maybe not. Gee Willikers is hollering inside my head. “Your psidot! Put it on a wasp!” I can see an image of my psidot on the back of my neck. And I note a single laggard wasp on my shoulder. My mind projects a target spot onto the wasp’s wing.

Though faint from loss of blood, I manage to get the psidot off the back of my neck. It’s easy. The smart, piezoplastic psidot hops onto the tip of my finger. And when I bring my hand near the wing of the target wasp, the psidot springs into place.

The wasp is pissed off. She stings my finger. Numbness flows up my arm and toward my heart. The wasp venom contains curare, you understand, plus conotoxin. A custom cocktail for Treadle.

My vision is dark. I’m an empty husk, a ruptured piñata—poisoned and bleeding. And if all this wasn’t bad enough, there’s the matter of the Secret Service. They’re good shots. Yes, they might want Treadle out, but right now they’ve got to do their thing. For the sake of appearances. For an orderly transition. I go down in a hail of bullets. It fits.

Last thought? I hope the wasps will sting Treadle. And then I’m dead.

At this point my narrative has a glitch. Remember the jump-cut thing I was talking about? Well, it turns out that, for me, there is some film on the other side of the jump. Granted, the all-meat Curt Winch is terminally inoperative. But—

I wake, confused. I look down into myself. I’ve got my same old white-light soul. My sense of me watching me watching the world. I’m hallucinating a little bit. I feel like I’m in a huge, crumbling old Vic mansion with junk in the rooms, and with paintings leaning on the walls, and doors that don’t properly close. The furniture of my mind. Somebody’s in here with me. A jittery silhouette against the light. Gee Willikers.

“You’re a juicy ghost, Curt! A Gee Willikers psidot. Play it right, and you keep going for centuries” His compulsive giggle. “Def cool, Mr. Guinea Pig.”

I try to form words. “Where…”

“Your psidot is a parasite, dude. Like I’ve been telling you. It hitches onto a bio host’s nervous system. Gloms onto the axons and retarded potentials. Sponges mysto quantum steam and all that other good shit.”

“Host?”

“You’re riding a wasp, der. The one you stuck the psidot on, doink.” Gee makes a trumpeting sound. “Juicy ghost!”

“You were wrong to topple the Monument,” I tell him. No response. What now?

The junked, phantasmal mansion around me—that’s my operating system and my data base. In the cloud. I look for a way to hook into my host wasp’s nervous system. Deep into this as I am, I want to be part of the final attack.

“Over there,” goes Gee. “See the smelly rope? Like a tasseled curtain-pull in a Gold Rush saloon? All thick and twisted and dank?”

I fixate on it and, just like that, I’ve jacked myself into the wasp’s nervous system. I’m seeing through her eyes. I am the wasp.

I join the swarm. They’re eddying around Treadle. He’s bellowing, dancing around, slapping himself. He’s fighting for his life. He has foam on his lips like a rabid dog. My fellow wasps are landing on his face, his fat neck, his wattles. But Treadle is swatting them before they sting. He’s killed eight.

His roars are taking on a tone of triumph. I can’t let him win. His shirt is untucked. A button is loose. I spy a patch of skin.

I arrow into the opening, and land on the man’s bare chest, very near his heart. I sting—I sting, sting, sting. His voice changes, as if his tongue is turning stiff. His volume fades. He’s wobbly on his pins. He totters backwards. Falls. A groan. Silence.

It’s done.

With trembling wings, I escape Treadle’s shirt and spiral high into the air. Hovering with the seven other wasps, a hundred feet up.

The Freals and soldiers are leading Sudah Mareek forward through the discombobulated crowd. She’s going to be President. Everyone knows it. In the whiplash intensity of the moment, the Treadlers convert to Sudah’s cause. Sobs turn to hysterical cheers.

Mounting the dias, Sudah swears the oath again. The massed politicians applaud. Treadle’s proposed Vice-President has lost his nerve. He’s bowing out. Sudah’s Vice-President emerges from the Capitol, just in time. They swear her in. Our coup is more organized than I knew. I was in the dark.

Gee Willikers is ecstatic. “Secret Service on our side, dude. Army on board. Congress is down with it. Done deal.”

I feel a shifting sensation. A doubleness of vision. A group of Freals is carrying my bloody, broken form up the Capitol steps. They hold my remains high, heedless of the dripping gore. Wave after wave of applause. Sudah Mareek and her Veep salute my remains.

“Curtis Winch, martyred saint of the New American Revolution!”

“Do I have to keep being a wasp?” I ask Gee.

“Glue your psidot wherever you want,” he says.

“Another host?”

“How about somebody in this crowd,” suggests Gee. “That Treadler babe in the trucker hat?”

“Idiot. Can you get the fuck out of my head?”

“Sure,” says Gee.

“Oh, and don’t forget to post the toy chatbot version of me for the Curtis Winch memorial.”

“Online now,” Gee assures me. “Slightly redacted. Your memorial’s up to twenty million hits. Viral flash mob, Curt. User tsunami.”

“And obfuscate the living shit out of this psidot I’m living on, okay? Hide the links. I want to go dark.”

“To hear is to obey, Saint Curt. I’ll run you a global SHA-512 scramble.” Gee makes a wiggly hand gesture—and he’s gone.

Beating my wings, I leave the swarm and buzz on beyond the Capitol. On my own, feeling good, savoring the quantum soul of my insect host.

My compound eyes watch for hungry birds, but there’s none around. I make my way into the residential neighborhood northeast of the Capitol. I fly until it shades from gentrified to tumbledown. I spy a mutt on a cushion on a back porch. A collie-beagle mix. Yes.

Gently, gently I land on the side of the sleeping dog’s head. I preen my wings, detach my psidot with my mandibles, and nestle it onto a bare patch of skin deep inside the dog’s floppy ear. The dot takes hold—and I’m in.

I stand, shake my body, and bark.

Joyful. Free.



In closing, let me repeat that, although Curtis Winch’s tale is a rousing fantasia, voting out our oppressors is a far better path for change. And if we can’t vote them out immediately, we’ll wait them out, keeping our ideals alive, and making our presence felt. History is on our side.

Blockchain in Miami Beach

I was at a conference on cryptocurrency & blockchain in Miami Beach last month. I was the guest of the company IOHK, which is developing blockchain technology. Don’t worry if you don’t know what blockchain is, I barely know myself.

One of the treats of going to the con was that my old friend Stephen Wolfram was there. I met him around soon after he published his epic and revolutionary article in Scientific American in 1984, with the seemingly innocuous title: “Computer Software in Science and Mathematics.” Bascially it was meeting Wolfram that got me to change my field of study from Mathematics to Computer Science, with a special focus on Cellular Automata.

Eventually, in 2002, Wolfram published his great tome, A New Kind of Science, and I followed up in 2005 with my own great tome, expressing some of the same ideas, The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul.

“I always feel odd when I’m a guest at conference like this,” Stephen said to me. “Like I’m a hired dancing girl.” I had the same feeling. But it was fun to make the trip, and to force myself to talk about things I don’t really know about, and I had a chance to tape a good podcast with Stephen.

Listening to my tape of the podcast, I feel sorry for myself—how eager and relieved my voice is at the start. And, towards the end, I hear my undertone of sadness at how rare it is to talk to anyone as smart as Wolfram. He’s someone who continually gets what I’m talking about. Like it was during those golden hours when I met with Kurt Gödel in my twenties.

Mainly Wolfram and I were there because Charles Hoskinson, the head of IOHK, is fond of our work. He treated us well.

Although IOHK stands for “Input Output Hong Kong,” the base is in fact in Colorado, and some of their tech division is in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“We put Hong Kong in the name because we thought we’d have a lot of business in Asia,” Charles Hoskinson told me. They seem currently to be focused on business in third world countries, though.  There’s an idea that with blockchain you coule bring reliable banking and registration services to countries that never had that.  Like bringing wireless phone service into a country that never had landlines.  Hopscotching..

IOHK has several interlocking software platforms or code suites: Emrugo, Ada, Cardano, Daedalus, Ethereum, and, now, Atala. My guess is that they’re presently in “burn mode,” that is, spending money on developing their system and evangelizing for wide adoption, with hopes of an eventual IPO.

None of those techs seemed to have heard of Charles Stross, nor of his notion of a population of AI biz bots called “Business 2.0.” In Stross’s Accelerando, Business 2.0 destroys the global economies.

I was incredibly nervous. I gave a talk called “Cyberpunk Use Cases,” relating the history of cyberpunk writing and culture to the liberation of computer software and the escape from dominant silo-building behemoths in the internet. I taped my talk on my own recorder, and I turned on the recorder before the talk, walking around backstage, recording my pre-talk environment, which gave my reality a larger-than-life feel…like I was watching a documentary of my life.

The performance went over okay, although it seemed like the audience couldn’t necessarily tell when I was joking. Maybe because so many were foreign.

Later in the con, after my talk, a taciturn young Swedish hacker came up to me. His expression was one of wild surmise. “Is it true you are descended from Hegel?” he asked. “Yes,” I answer, “he’s my great great great grandfather.” Long pause. The boy is staring at me wide-eyed. “Satoshi was very interested in the ideas of Hegel.” Fever pitch of intense staring. It clicks. He thinks I’m Satoshi. “No, I’m not him,” I say, and walk off—before he can hit me up for a billion dollars. But who knows if he believed my denial.

Wait—what am I talking about? Who’s Satoshi Nakamoto? This is a great story. Satoshi Nakamoto invented the first big cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, which is based on a blockchain technology, which Satoshi also described. All this was in Satoshi’s nine-page article, also known as his white paper, or as “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System.” It’s worth reading or at least looking at.

The kicker is that Satoshi probably made something like three billion dollars by having written this short paper. He or she owned some of the earliest Bitcoin, the value went up, voila. And if Satoshi is now dead, the money has gone to his or her heirs.

Note that “Satoshi Nakamoto” is a pseudonym, and nobody is quite sure who he or she or they is or are or was. Why the anonymity? Well…if you’ve invented an untraceable currency that earns you three billion, you’re not exactly going to announce yourself to the IRS!

No Bitcoin for me, sigh. But, yes, pass the liquid democracy.

After the talk I met a young programmer guy from Shanghai, Lei Hao. He told me that my science fiction is very popular in China. I’d never heard about this. “Your novel Postsingular,” said Lei . “The programmers took turns translating of it into Chinese, working on it in their spare time.” “Pirated?” I said. “You said it was Creative Commons for free use,” countered Lei. “And we’re all reading it.” So that’s good. He says maybe he can get some legit editions into print there.

After the talk some lively and beautiful women approached me for video interviews. Like I was cool. They didn’t seem to be computer scientists.

There’s a kind of louche buzz around the whole cryptocurrency thing, with nobody saying exactly what they want to use it for.

I noticed a Bitcoin ATM machine in…a pot store in Miami Beach. Just sayin’

It was fun walking around Miami Beach. People wore extremely theatrical and revealing clothes.

Sylvia and I happened on a cool storefront video art museum on Collins St. near 3th in South Beach, it was called…well, I don’t remember. Art House? It’s great.

We were in these realtime computer sims.

The South Beach Art Deco houses are another big thing. Dig the rectangular bricks. Calm neighborhood, lots of trees, not super ritzy. “The Jews built these houses when they moved down here from New York after the War,” a foreign guy on the street told me. Everyone’s foreign in Florida, right.

We stayed in a hotel that used to be called the Tiffany, but is now (doh) called “The Hotel @800.” Our room was wonderfully deco. This object is a make-up mirror. Like from Captain Nemo’s submarine.

Florida thunderstorm in the night, so romantic.

Looking at rain on a windowpane always reminds me of Wolfram’s Principle of Universal Computation—which he discussed at his IOHK talk. His Principle says that any nontrivial natural process can be viewed as a universal computation that is, in theory, capable of emulating any other computation at all. Now consider the computations inherent in our vaunted smart brains. There may be equally rich computations inherent in the weather system, or the ecology of a forest, or the flow of a waterfall, or in the flames of a fire. So even our smartness doesn’t make us unique. Nothing about humanity is unique. And looking for extraterrestrial aliens is a quixotic endeavor. We’ve got zillions of “alien intelligences” inherent in the natural processes all around us here on Earth.

To really make his idea hit home, Wolfram said something like this. “Suppose that we find ways to encode human minds in software. These coded processes are like souls. And perhaps at the end of time, there will be a box with ten trillion human souls in it. Now suppose someone looks at the box from the outside. There’s really no objective difference between this box, and a box with turbulent water in it, or a box that’s simply a block of stone, with the atoms vibrating and endlessly interacting. Every time that humans have thought they were special, or at the center of things—they’ve been wrong. We thought consciousness was special, but it’s not.”

Yah, mon. Pass the Bitcoin bong.

The Hotel’s lobby. Love round Deco windows.

In my IOHK talk, I speculated how it would be if every smart phone had a superchip instead of Google. Or, go quantum computer. The device could be very small. Call it a crystal ball. I think of. Borges’ story, “The Alef.” Now, of course Google has giant banks of computers worldwide. But we do a Moore’s Law move. In ten years you can fit all of Google’s current info and processing into your phone. The power of a search engine like Google stems from the users’ need to employ search as an index or catalog of the web. A company like Google is doing massive updates daily or hourly. Suppose everyone has a crystal ball. We enrich our crystal ball’s history automatically as we surf the web. And we share our updates peer to peer. It’s like Wikipedia. A blockchain element akin to the Wikipedia edit tracker to prevent spam updates.

Yadda yadda.

And, there, at the curb, a canary yellow old Chevy. What more do you need? [Late breaking input from Chris Noto. That’s not a Chevy, it’s a 1955 Oldsmobile 88, worth upwards of $20 grand. Can I pay in BitCoin?]

Neon. Those strands of human soul.

Painting & Publishing

I’ve been busy with various things the last few months. I ran a Kickstarter campaign for Million Mile Road Trip, did some promo for the Night Shade edition, gave a talk at a cryptocurrency conference in Miami Beach, wrote a story, and did a couple of paintings. Let’s start with the latest painting.

“Mexico” oil on canvas, May, 2019, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

This Mexico painting could more accurately be called Guanajuato. As I’ve mentioned, Sylvia and I went there in March, and were blown away by the small mountain town’s beauty. My most recent blog post has photos, and there’s another post, too.

I collaged together some of my mental and photo images for the composition, also some fantasias. To start with, I did the one-point perspective thing, picking a vanishing point and drawing lines. I have a rushed tendency to think I don’t need to do perspective lines, but the result is better if I do. Perspective is oddly counterintuitive, but it works.

The colors are all-out, as they are in Guanajuato. In the yellow wall on the left, I wanted to put scenes in the windows. At one point I had the tall guy holding a knife, but that grabbed the eye to hard, and was too harsh. I ended up with a skull, a piñata, the old couple, and the Virgin of Guadalupe, who was in fact an occasional graffito on the walls of Guanajuato. On the street: a dog, a guy carrying a bread basket and an alluring woman. In the window on the pink wall, two white-haired tourists from the north—that’s me and Sylvia.

How to the characters all fit together? What’s the story? I don’t know. As I always say, I like the stories in my paintings to be obscure. Like illustrations of forgotten proverbs or unknown folk tales.

As always, you can get more info on my Paintings page.

And, speaking of stories about Guanajuato, I just read Lewis Shiner’s excellent, page-turning novel Outside the Gates of Eden, and it has a bunch of scenes in Guanajuato. That’s a picture of me in the Mission, vaping and reading Shiner’s ebook on my smart phone. Well, okay, that’s not me, but I did carry my Kindle around a lot while whizzing through the intricate narrative. Couldn’t stop. For some reason it reminded me of James Baldwin’s Another Country, I guess because of the tangled cast of characters, and the sense of reportage. But this time, the reportage was on an era that I myself lived. Witty and worldly wise, a massive read with epic sweep, a secret history of our times.

I also found myself looking up various bands that Lew mentioned on my music service…got into Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen the other day, for instance. Such a great band. Ah, Texas.

.

Hopping back to the theme of visual perspective kicks, here’s a cool drawing that Bruce Sterling found online. It combines two things: a Maurits Escher-style impossible figure, and a Waclaw Sierpinski fractal gasket.

Sylvia and I drove down to Big Sur on a recent sunny day. Big Sur never disappoints. We found this great, level path leading from Rt. 1 out to a promontory, which ended in a clutter of sheer cliffs, outcrops, and blue, blue water. This rock here looks kind of like a tomahawk. Marvelous how nature crafts such things. What’s the point? God is inside everything, like the light in a stained glass window.

Our path tunneled through a grove of Monterey pines and emerged into the sun.

I got some nice clip-on shades online. I love amber shades. As good as being high. Much cheaper than buying new prescription sunglasses. My vision gets worse all the time. Eventually I’ll *ugh* have to get my eye’s natural lenses replaced by plastic lenses. Not yet. Relax and enjoy Big Sur.

An awesome dick-like (can I say that?), century plant flower on a hill near our house. Bloom, my friend, spread your seed!

I’m really happy with the finished Night Shade editions of Million Mile Road Trip. And the book’s getting good early reviews. More info on my page for the book.

I published a companion volume Notes for Million Mile Road Trip as well. Why? It’s not like I’ll sell many of them. Well, as I said, somewhat jokingly, in an interview by Jeff Somers on the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog,

“Long-term, the Notes will be fodder for the locust swarm of devoted Rucker scholars who are due to emerge any time now from their curiously long gestation in the soil.”

Curiously long, indeed!

Word from your sponsor again. I know I linked to this in my previous blog post…but oh well! This is my killer book trailer; I got it down to three minutes long. It took days, using a reasonably good and inexpensive commercial video editing program called Pinnacle Studio 21. I only use this program about once a year, like for a Kickstarter or a book launch, and I always forget how to use it, but each time it’s pretty easy to figure out. Equal time: Here’s a nice two minute book trailer for Lewis Shiner’s Outside the Gates of Eden.

I’m enjoying having ambient water in its liquid form. There’s this one pond I like to hike too. And, ah, the patterns on gently rippling water. I might paint this one.

The whole Night Shade series of my novels is looking good. They’re doing nine back-list novels as well as the new one, Million Mile Road Trip. It’s been a life-long dream of mine to have a uniform edition like this. Hard to believe it’s actually come true.

We got this bird-feeding-type object called a Treat Bell. Seeds stuck together with honey. We see nuthatches and chickadees. So cute. Lots of little fledglings around the house this spring. They scuttle across the carport floor when I’m in there, a bit unsettling, like mice or other vermin.

Dig this goal post. Like a really big tuning-fork. I wonder how it sounds in the wind.

The other day my glasses fell behind my bed, and I had to crawl on the floor to haul them out with a coat hanger. The non-stop excitement of a writer’s life.

This is me up by that pond I like; I was up there with my friend Emilio. The day before I got my spring haircut.

Prime Books has had my Ware Tetralogy in print as a paperback for years, but now I agreed with them that I’d be in charge of the ebook. With Prime’s permission I used their cover design, but I changed the art. It’s a crystallized image of me making my acceptance speech in Manhattan, when I got the first P. K. Dick Award ever for Software.

In 2010, intoxicated by the heady rhetoric of Cory Doctorow, I released a free Creative Commons edition of the Ware Tetralogy. It’s still out there, too. But at this point I’d rather you bought the ebook from me!

As it happened, getting my new commercial edition on Amazon was a little hard, as it turned out some scumbag pirate was selling my CC edition online. But I wheenked and wheenked till Amazon got the picture. Dog eat dog.

While I was doing my marketplace thing, I put a wide range of my ebook editions onto Kindle, B&N, Apple iBook, and Google Play. I post most of these by directly uploading my EPUB ebook files to the various online retailers, that way I get the best royalty. As it’s hard to put a title on Apple Books if you’re not Mac user, I use the excellent Draft2Digital site as a middle-man for that. If you’re just starting out with ebook publishing, you might want to keep it simple and use Draft2Digital to put your books online at all the sites (except for Google Play Books, whom you have to approach directly.)


“Moonrise” acrylic on canvas, March, 2019, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

This painting, “Moonrise,” is based on a photo that I took back in February, 2019, shown below.

The cloud made me think of an arm. And I liked the shapes of the palm leaves and the pine tree. I did a lot of layers on the painting, trying to get some of the luminous coloring that the photo had.

Got a lot of paint on my corduroys.  Sometimes people want to buy authentic art-paint-spotted clothes. A step up from jeans with holes…

And right now I’m busy mailing out the rewards for the Million Mile Road Trip Kickstarter campaign.

Many thanks to my supporters and, what the heck, I might as well list their illustrious names here, as well as listing them on the Million Mile Road Trip book page.

AgentKaz, Alan Robson, Albert Henry Tyson, Alex Baxter, Andrew Baker, Andrew Ward, Andy Agnew, Aris Alissandrakis, Arthur Murphy, Beat Suter, Benet Devereux, Benjamin H Henry, Bob Hearn, Bob Vernon, Brian Dysart, Bruce Evans, Carl Z, Chad Bowden, chris cavanagh, Chris Day, Chris Lindsay, Chris McLaren, Chris van Gorder, Cliff Winnig, Colin Alevras, Daniel Monson, Dannen Harris, Darwin Engwer, Dave Holets, David A Bouvier, David Good, David H. Adler, David Kirkpatrick, David Rains, David Schutt, Derek Bosch, Don Tardiff, Doug Bissell, Doug Churchman, Dr. Ralph J. Garono, Eddie Churchill, Edward Winston Bear, Edwin Metselaar, Emilio Rojas, Erik Biever, Erik Sowa, ewelina feinberg, Fraser Lovatt, Gabriel McCann, Gary Dean Bunker, George & Hedvig in Budapest, Greg Deocampo, Greg Goddard, Gregory J Scheckler, Ian Chung, Jaap van Poelgeest, James Ramsay, Jeff Aldrich, Jeffrey T. Palmer, Jim Anderson, Jim Cavera, Joe Sislow, John Monroe, John Paul Spain, John W. Fenner, John Winkelman, Jonas Karlsson, Jonathan Hamlow, Jonathan Korman, K. Clark, Karen Marcelo, Karl Reinsch, Karl-Arthur Arlamovsky, Ken Nickerson, Kevin Maroney, Larry Roberts, Leah A. Fenner, Lee Fisher, Lorenzo Cipparrone, M. Cox, Madeleine Shepherd, Mark Anderson, Mark Martinez, Massimiliano Maffini, Michael Becker, Michael Weiss, M-Jo Baker, None, Patricia Miller, Patrick Edmondson, pete23, Peter Yeates, Petri Kanerva, Philip Rubin, Rafael Laguna de la Vera, Raja, Julie, and Jason, Ramon Cahenzli, Ray Cornwall, Raymond MacCauley, Richard Ohnemus, Rick Floyd, Robert Messick, Roderick Bartlett, Ronald Pottol, Scott G Lewis, Scott Jon Siegel, Simon Travis, Space Captain Hellers, The Hackers Conference, Thomas Lockney, Tim Conkling, Timothy M. Maroney, Timothy Wyitt Carlile, Todd Fincannon, Vasyl, Walter Croft, Wayne Sumter, WhatBear, William Harris, and Yoshio Kobayashi.

Thanks, all, and may ye hang ten forevermore.


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