I Read A Book!

No, really–I did!

Honestly, I can’t tell you the last time I read for pleasure. Day job, writing, marketing–there just never seems to be any time. And I used to be quite the reader. My to-be-read pile is a mile high, both in print and electronic. It’s said that you can’t be a great writer if you don’t read. I don’t know about that, but I see the point. I don’t feel guilty about not reading. I do feel left out when others talk about these great books they’ve read, and I can’t join the fun. Well, when I think about it, it’s not quite for “pleasure.” I look at the writing style. I think about the story, and the way it hangs together. Or not. I learn something about the craft. Hm. I wonder if the books I buy counts as a tax deduction. Be nice if I could pull it off. Don’t think I’ll try it, though. The IRS is pissed at me enough as it is.

So the book was the Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Science fiction author from China (as if you couldn’t guess by his name). Absofuckinlutely brilliant! He writes hard sf, which is a subgenre where the story is based on the known laws of physics. My books–the science fiction parts–are classified as science fantasy. Like faster-than-light travel. Life forms made of rocks. Which is a discussion in itself–if it doesn’t have a central nervous system or the equivalent, can it be said to be alive? What about one-celled creatures, like amoeba? Anyway. Another reason my books are classified as science fantasy is though most of what I have exists, it does not behave according to the known laws of physics. The planet in the Moreva of Astoreth is in a trinary star system. Trinaries exist. But they wouldn’t be orderly like in my story. The motion of three stars yoked together would be anything but orderly. Gravity would pull them all over the place. That’s the central theme of the Three Body Problem. And aliens, of course.

Really, the thing that fascinated me the most is that it’s written from the point of view of the Chinese culture. By that, I mean what we in America have as frames of reference, our history, don’t figure. In China, it’s Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution. So many so-called “reactionaries” in all disciplines were forced to “recant,” exiled, or killed–especially scientists. Why? Because of Western theories accepted by the disciplines as fact–like relativity, quantum mechanics. Those who weren’t killed or committed suicide were sent to the countryside to do the work of the “people.” Chemists doing farm labor. Astrophysicists doing logging work. Menial labor. If they were good boys and girls, they might be “politically rehabilitated” and allowed to return. Scientists aren’t reviled anymore because after the Cultural Revolution ended, successive governments realized how far behind they then trailed in the science disciplines. Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s successor, sent thousands of students to America to study science and engineering. And today, they are where they are. Don’t get me wrong–they’re still authoritarian, and anything that goes against the government line can have some pretty bad consequences. Like the virologist who warned about the novel coronavirus, and the government didn’t take it seriously. He died from COVID-19, and the government tried to cover it up. Didn’t work, but there you are. And think about this–once it was out of control, the government locked down a population of 11 million. And enforced it. At any rate, I highly recommend the Three Body Problem. It’s the first of a trilogy, and you can be damned sure I’m reading the next two.

Speaking of The Moreva of Astoreth, we’re coming around the clubhouse turn and into the homestretch. I’m doing one more round of self-editing, and it goes to the professional editor next week. I was hoping to enter the book in a prestigious contest this year, but that’s not going to happen. The editor told me they couldn’t possibly finish the edits in time. And the only books eligible are those copyrighted in the current year. That would be 2021. But I have a plan. I haven’t yet copyrighted TMOA. Publication is Jan. 5. That gives me from Jan. 1 to 4 to copyright it. The copyright office now has electronic filing. So if I upload the manuscript between Jan. 1 and 4, it’s a 2021 copyright. And I can enter the contest. I’ve won rinky-dink awards, but this is the first time I’m going for the big league. The rewritten version of TMOA is much deeper, richer. It’s also better written, in that it’s not so wordy and overly descriptive. Like, not describing every action the characters take. Breaking up sentences I strung together with clause after clause. The original version was 168K words. This version is about 142.5K. With this last pass, it may go even lower. Honestly, I’m surprised the original got as many good reviews as it did.

So once I get TMOA out the door, I’ll go back to working on the 2 projects I have now. Yes, 2. This is an experiment. I’m writing TMOA’s sequel, When Gods Die, and the 3rd book in The Underground series, working title Song for a Mage. Yeah, I’m turning it into a series. Several of my newsletter subscribers have said they want to see more of the characters. So…okay. I do wonder, though, if they read Forever Bound, the short story after the end of Invasion. I meant it to be an epilogue, where our 4 heroes blast off to explore the galaxy. If they didn’t read FB, and if they’re expecting another Earth adventure, they’re in for a big surprise. The plan is to work on WGD and Song, alternating weekly. We’ll see. I don’t see a problem doing it, as long as I don’t have any mental shit come down. Ideally, I’d like both books to come out either in late summer or fall.


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