I did an interview with these guys (while trying to get a grumpy teen out of the door and off to school), and they grabbed and extract which you can find here.
Today The Cruel Stars began to appear on bookshelves around the country. They'll magically pop up in stores across the US and the UK tomorrow, progressively rolling out through the week. Of course anyone who ordered the digital version will have their's by now. I'm confident they'll enjoy it.
I'll start pimping hard in the morning. I've learned there's not much point jumping the starter's gun.
To everyone who helped with the beta read, sincere thanks. It's a much stronger book for your assistance. I'm very happy with it. All of the various editions look great, but the British hardback in particular is stunning. A real tribute to the bookbinders art.
The audiobook should also drop overnight and I'll grab copy for myself. One of the things I do enjoy about the audio versions, it's just a little bit like getting to experience the story for the first time. That is something special.
Now of course, I'll have to fire up the anti-matter drive and fold into the sequel.
23 Responses to ‘The Cruel Stars released’
I stepped on the scales yesterday (for my birthday) and had a pleasant surprise. But first some context. I stepped on the same scales about a year ago and had another surpise, not so pleasant. And really not much of a fucking surprise. It was more a confirmation of what I already suspected. I was a mess.
Some of you will remember that I took the death of my dad pretty hard. It's tipped me into about six months of depression, which had physical as well as psychological consequences.
Before that happened, however, I had other problems. Specifically a couple of the discs in my lower back were starting to grind together, trapping nerves between them. I first became aware of it at a genre fiction festival in Sydney. I was standing around enjoying a drink at the Saturday afternoon cocktail session, as you do, when I started getting shooting pains down my side. Electric tingling in my feet and legs. With about a quarter of an hour, I had to sit down. It was agony to keep standing.
I'd had similar issues over the previous couple of months with my standing desk, finding it more and more unpleasant to remain on my feet for any length of time, eventually returning to just slumping into my chair for six or seven hours a day. It caught up with me in Sydney.
Just over 12 months ago I hopped onto my scales, which are these fancy digital magic boxes that measure not just weight but a whole bunch of other stuff, including, gulp, body fat. Apparently they pass a small electrical current through your body to measure resistance. The current travels through fatty tissue and muscle fibre at different speeds. Or some shit. Anyway the results weren't good. I weighed 98.3 kg and 32.9% of that was fat.
I'll jump to the spoiler. Hopped onto the same scales yesterday and I was down to a touch over 92 kg, but more importantly only 18% of that was fat. I'd dropped about 16 kg of fat and packed on about 10 kg of muscle.
The usual way. Eating less crap, doing more exercise. Specifically I've been doing a lot more strength training. I'd always try to throw some weights work into my gym routine, but I'd never been particularly directed about it. I never really improved.
About nine or ten months back I started working with a personal trainer, a mate from the dojo, Darren Rae, one of our black belts who had switched careers from moving stuff around a warehouse, to torturing fat bastards like me into shape.
We spent the first couple of months, yes months, building up my lower back strength, creating a sort of girdle of muscle mass around the degenerating spinal discs. This had a pretty spectacular and immediate effect on my lower back pain. It mostly disappeared. I still get twinges every now and then, especially if I'm slumped into my chair on a deadline for seven or eight hours a day. But the chronic, debilitating pain seems to have been banished.
Having laid the foundation we then started to build out the rest of my frame and build up some endurance with boxing and kickboxing work. I still have a fair way to go. There's another seven or eight kgs of body fat to burn off and at my age I have to be careful not to overdo it, particularly not with my knees which I trashed many years ago doing hill sprints.
I aim to get back to my fighitng weight by Christmas. But again, I'm an old bugger now, so I wont actually be fighting anyone or anything other than the desire to eat donuts at every meal.
20 Responses to ‘Burger Lite. The last twelve months’
A couple of days ago I received notice of a package waiting for me at the post office, a box containing a dozen limited edition proof copies of The Cruel Stars.
"Limited-edition proof" sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. These are pre-release copies, usually generated from the text before the proofreader has had her evil way with it. So you get the occasional typo. But you also get to feel the book as an object in your hands for the first time. It's always exciting.
I gave a copy to Thomas (who's already told me it's a bit thinky - he hasn't got to the shooting and the swearing yet) and to some friends who were visiting for lunch over the weekend. The others will get salted around to various science-fiction fans in the city's bookshops and to a couple of journalists. I'll keep one or two copies for myself, because although proof copies are imperfect by nature, they're also very rare. A couple of dozen, as opposed to the tens of thousands of finished copies which will soon hit the bookstores.
Today, however, another package arrived. Much smaller. All the way from London. My English publishers, who have the rights to release the title in Australia and New Zealand, had emailed a couple of the finished hardbacks. Having already handed out a couple of copies of the proof edition, I didn't tear the packet open with trembling hands. In fact I put it on the kitchen bench, made a cup of tea, and went back to my work, forgetting about it for an hour or so. When I came up for lunch a bit later, I was surprised to see the parcel sitting there. My books, I thought. I should have a look at them.
Holy shit. I knew as soon I lifted them out of the bubble wrap that they were very, very different. They are beautiful. Hardback books often are of course, they have to be to justify the price. But the artwork, the finish, the fine details such as the light blue ribbon to mark your place, they all suggested an objet d’art rather than some gross commercial unit that would soon be making its way into the back of a goods truck for delivery into the retail channel.
In many ways they are the same object that arrived last week; the same pages, the same cover, the same contents. And yet holding them in my hands I am still taken, many hours later, by the way in which the aesthetics of the final artefact make it something quite different from all previous iterations. That, I suppose, is the magic of publishing.
20 Responses to ‘Beautiful objects’
When the closed-door summit met, in the East Room, most of the seats were filled by such stalwart maga memesmiths as Bill Mitchell, whose indefatigable pro-Trump cheerleading has made him a target of mockery even on the far-right; James O’Keefe, who styles himself as an investigative journalist but acts more like an opposition researcher; Charlie Kirk, whose organization, Turning Point USA, keeps finding itself mired in racism scandals; and a stay-at-home dad from Kansas City who goes by Carpe Donktum. This was not Mr. Donktum’s first invitation to the White House. Last week, while some of the country’s top legal minds scrambled to justify the President’s mercurial and self-contradictory desires related to a citizenship question on the census, the President himself spent twenty minutes relaxing in the Oval Office with Donktum, whose job, according to his Twitter bio, is “the creation of memes to support President Donald J. Trump.” “Where is the genius?” the President asked as Donktum entered the inner sanctum of American power. “I want to meet the genius.”
4 Responses to ‘Carpe Donktum’
I spoke to Pete Wells from the Herald earlier this week abut writing for audio. I seem to recall meandering through the convo like a complete mofo.
But he has some pretty sharp editing chiops, so it came out all right.
Considering the very bleak premise of Zero Day Code, I asked if Birmingham is optimistic about the future of humanity.
“Look it depends what time of the day you catch me. Whether I've had a cup of coffee or not,” he laughs. “There are times, like everyone, where I feel pretty bleak about the future.
“But then I see some of the work that's being done, some of it by technologists, some of it by activists, some of it by people who were bad guys and became good guys … There's an awful lot of people who used to work in petroleum who've left it and they are working very, very hard to repair the damage they've done.
“And of course, you know, once we develop a carbon-free energy market there will be trillions of dollars to be made out of it. And never, ever underestimate the motivational power of human greed to solve the problems that human greed has created.
“But right now I'm in my nice office, looking out into the forest. It's a sunny day. So today, I'm optimistic. Ask me in an hour.”