Content

Shadow Campaigns ages

Someone asked how old the characters in Shadow Campaigns are, which I think I can answer without being spoilery! The Thousand Names starts in 1208 YHG, so at that point (plus or minus a few months, I don’t have everyone’s birthdays) we’ve got:

  • Marcus d’Ivoire – 35, b. 1173. He fights in the War of the Princes (1198-1202) as a lieutenant, then returns to the War College for more training to become a captain.
  • Winter Ihernglass – 22, b. 1186. She runs away from the Prison in 1205 but takes some time to get to Khandar.
  • Janus bet Vhalnich – Unknown, but probably late twenties.
  • Raesinia Orboan – 19, b. 1189. Her “death” occurs in 1204, so she looks closer to 15-16.
  • Bobby Forester – 17, b. 1191.
  • Feor – Unknown, probably 18-20.
  • Jane Verity – 23, b. 1185.
  • Sothe – Unknown. Definitely thirties, probably older than Marcus.

I’m working from my notes here, so if I contradicted the books they’re probably right and I changed something later.

Hope that helps! If you have further questions drop me an email or Twitter.

Twitter

On Twitter and Character Limits

So right at this precise moment of internet time, people are saying that Twitter may raise the character limit on tweets, from 140 to 10,000. This may or may not be true, of course, but it prompted some interesting discussion and thoughts which I feel moved to record.

As an ex-software guy, I feel like I understand this. Twitter, the company, is having some trouble and looking to shake things up. As an engineer, the 140 character limit is weird black magic; the number 140 derives from the SMS standard, which has long since ceased to be an issue on phones, much less the internet. It’s a technical limitation people have inexplicably clung to, as though we’d continued packaging files in 1.44 MB chunks even though CDs existed. (If you understood that you are probably old. I hate to be the one to tell you.)

“Well,” people say, “you don’t have to write long tweets. The people who want to can, and the people who don’t want to can still write short ones! More choice is good, right?”

First of all, hypothetical straw man, the question of whether more choice is always good is somewhat contentious, to say the least. It goes beyond that, though, because that thinking takes into account the needs of one group of stakeholders, call them the writers of Twitter, while ignoring the needs of the readers of Twitter.

(Parenthetical. Obviously many of the writers and readers are in fact the same people. However, it makes sense to talk about them separately, because those people might adjust their behavior separately. i.e. if writing becomes harder, I might write less and read more. The same person belongs to different stakeholder groups depending on her task! Software is hard guys.)

A social network, stripped down to its bare essentials, is a mechanism for connecting these two groups. They form a virtuous cycle, what’s usually called the network effect. The more people who are writing worthwhile things, the more readers will join; the more people who are reading, the more writers will join. The key is that both are essential — if all the readers leave, writers will too. (Probably. See below.)

The question to ask, then, is when you make a change to the software enhancing the experience of one group (by allowing writers to write long posts) are you damaging the experience of another group? In this case, judging by the people who are complaining, the answer appears to yes. The people who are against this change aren’t worried about being forced to write long posts, they don’t want to read them, or more precisely have their feeds cluttered up by them.

The success of Twitter has always been difficult to understand in terms of features (“It’s a social network that doesn’t let you write very much!”) but it becomes easier when you look at the features from a reader’s point of view. The 140 character limit doesn’t serve writers of tweets (it can be annoying!) but it’s essential for trying to make sense of a feed; it forces writers to condense their points into a couple of lines, which can then be scanned easily. Reading Twitter is already often compared to drinking from a firehose, but for all that it’s still easier than the alternatives for trying to vaguely keep up hundreds of people.

Facebook, among its other sins, is guilty of serving the writer at the expense of the reader. The easier it got to update, and to embed media in updates, the more useless the News Feed became, until they were essentially forced to solve the problem by culling the feed algorithmically. (Which ultimately goes to a dark place since you can tweak the algorithm at the behest of advertisers.) Now you can’t do on Facebook what was once its basic purpose — keep up with the things that your friends post in roughly chronological order. With each post potentially occupying a large amount of screen real estate, scrolling through your feed is nightmarish.

(Twitter might truncate posts instead, with a “read more” button. This is equally bad, because it leads to a feed full of snippeted half-posts. We already have this functionality — I’m doing it write now, by blogging and then tweeting the link. Except since it’s not automatic, I actually have to think about what to put into the tweet to get people to click on the link.)

I would actually argue that keeping readers happy is more important than keeping writers happy for the health of a social network, for two reasons.

  • Readers absolutely require writers and a good reading experience in order to use the network. But many writers are pathological narcissists and/or teenagers with infinite spare time, and will write even nobody is reading and the writing experience is terrible. (For evidence of this, see 99% of all webpages in the 90s, mine very much included.)
  • There are more readers than writers. Or, rather: Some people read but don’t write, or don’t write much, and most people read more than they write, so they occupy the reader role more often than the writer role.


I am not even sure this makes business sense, except in the extreme short-term. For Twitter’s perspective, people who buy promoted tweets, a subset of writers, are the customers. Readers are the product. So improving the customer experience by degrading the product is a short-term solution at best. Picture a restaurant lowering prices by using poor-quality food. The ability to write longer posts might please advertisers for a while, but if it drives the reader base away it’s all for nothing. (Every site or publication that uses ads faces this dilemma — how much to degrade the reading experience to favor the advertisers. It’s a fine line.)

In summary, I think this would be a bad idea. The 140 character limit is Twitter’s competitive advantage over other social networks, because of the readability standards it imposes on their writers and the ease of reading that creates. I think they meddle with that at their peril. Remember, once you start down the dark path (that is, taking control of the reading experience away from the users) forever will it dominate your destiny.

Awards

Annual Award Begging Post, 2015 Edition

It’s that time of year again, when we authors push our collections to the center of the table and cough, meaningfully, until people take the hint. So here’s what I’ve got!

tl;dr — Two short pieces in particular, “The Shadow of Elysium” and “The End of the War”, I would love to see nominated in the “Novelette” category. You can get “The Shadow of Elysium” on Amazon or audible. “End of the War” is available as a free PDF, or free as a podcast.

(You can see what I’m up to next year in my 2016 preview post.)

Novel-wise, there’s The Price of Valor and The Mad Apprentice, released in July and April respectively. Later books in series are tough to get on awards ballots, but if you enjoyed them and wanted to nominate, I wouldn’t dissuade you!

I’ve had a pretty productive year in terms of short fiction. Here’s a quick summary:

  • “The First Kill”, in Blackguards, from Ragnarok Publications. Also available as an audio short! A Shadow Campaigns story about the first meeting between Sothe and Andreas. (6,500 words)
  • “The Guns of the Wastes”, in Operation Arcana, from Baen Books. Also available in audio as a free podcast! A new recruit reports for duty aboard an enormous land-ship battling hordes of steampunk spiders. (7,500 words)
  • “REAL”, in Press Start to Play, from Vintage. The creator of an Augmented Reality Game gets more than he bargained for. (5,700 words)
  • The Shadow of Elysium“, from Penguin. Also available as an audio short! A Shadow Campaigns novella about a young man who learns he harbors a forbidden power. Continues the story from “The Penitent Damned”. (15,400 words)
  • “The End of the War”, in Asimov’s Science Fiction, June ’15. A finalist for the Asimov’s Readers’ Awardsread online for free! Also available in audio as a free podcast! Lonely soldiers chat in the depths of space while directing robot armies against each other. (11,000 words)
  • “Magic Beans”, in Coffee, Hot from Circlet Press. Late-night guests at a coffee shop discover their new coffee-maker is a sex-powered inter-dimensional warp drive. (15,600 words)


So what can you nominate me for? I’ll keep a running tally here, updating this post as things change.

  • Hugo Awards! If you’re a member of the 2015, 2016, or 2017 WorldCons, you can nominate for the Hugo awards. As for the Nebulas, the last three stories on my list all count as “novelette”. Nominations close March 31st.
News

What’s Up In 2016

PALACE OF GLASS_final cvrIn the spirit of collecting things in one place, I thought I’d talk a bit about what’s going on for next year. (I’ve also collected the things I did last year in my Annual Awards Begging Post.) So here’s what’s coming up, book-wise. (Please note that release dates, especially far in the future, are always tentative; this is all based on the best information I have as of 1/1/16.)

The Palace of Glass, book three of The Forbidden Library, will be released on April 12. There’s more great art from Alexander Jansson, which I’ll post some of here as we get closer. You can pre-order now!

The Guns of Empire, book four of The Shadow Campaigns, will be released on August 9. Needless to say I’m very excited about this one, and I’m (still) in the process of working hard on it. And it’s also up for preorder!

GunsofEmpire

Going forward from there, my next project is Forbidden Library book four. After a great deal of outlines, negotiation, and head-scratching, we’ve decided that this will be the final book in The Forbidden Library series, meaning there will be four in total instead of five as I’d mentioned earlier. Let me emphasize, though, that this is not going to be a case of me wandering off and leaving a story unfinished; book four will have the conclusion that I’d planned for the series from the beginning. It will release sometime in 2017, although I’m not certain precisely when.

After that comes Shadow Campaigns book five, which is also the end of that series. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that finishing The Guns of Empire was a bit of a forced march, and book five will be released a little later in the year (probably October, although it’s not set yet) in 2017 to make sure there’s enough time for everything.

There may, at some point, be a second Shadow Campaigns novella. It fits in roughly between The Shadow of Elysium and The Guns of Empire, but I don’t know at present when I’m going to have the time to write it. I’ll keep you posted.

After that — unclear! In all probability, something cool and new. I have more stuff I want to write then you can shake a stick at (seriously, IdeasFile.doc is now like thirty pages long) so it’s a matter of picking and choosing. Good times ahead!

Awards, Code

E Pluribus Hugo simulator

This is pretty deep in “inside baseball” territory, so if you haven’t been following the Hugo awards controversy you’re probably safe ignoring it.

The short version is, after the Sad Puppies kerfuffle this year that screw up the nominations, the WSFS (which administers the Hugos) voted to adopt a new nominating system called “E Pluribus Hugo”. It’s described over here in detail. If the vote is confirmed at next year’s WorldCon, EPH will be used for the 2017 and future Hugos.

Roughly speaking, it works like this. Everybody votes for up to five works as normal. Each ballot is given one point, which is split among the works nominated (so .2 each if you put five) and all the points from all the ballots are added up. The works with the least number of points (at least two, more in the case of ties) are compared, and the one with the fewest votes (i.e. present on the fewest ballots) is eliminated from contention. Then the points are recounted for another round — if one of your works was eliminated, its points are reallocated to the others on your ballot. (So if you nominated five works, at .2 each, and one was eliminated first round, the remaining four would count for .25 each, and so on.)

The point here is to help consolidate the field and reduce the advantages of slate voting. As I wrote earlier, the problem is that slate voting under the “naïve” rules (where you just add up all the votes) is a dominant strategy. Inasmuch as we agree that the awards SHOULD be about nominating stuff you personally thought was the best of the year, rather than coordinating with some slate, then the nomination rules needed to be amended to favor that “strategy” over coordination.

Important Caveat: I am not a voting theory expert! Smarter people than me have thought about this. However, I am a programmer of sorts, and interested in this stuff. So, I wrote up a thing that runs the EPH algorithm on test data. (I obviously don’t have access to actual Hugo data!) I thought other people might get something out of it, so I’m posting it here.

Here is the EPHConsole project as a Visual Studio ’13 project.
Here is the compiled self-installer for the EPHConsole project.
Here is the EXE file, which should work if you have .NET installed on your machine.
Here is an example data file.

Usage is pretty simple: run “EPHConsole.exe [datafile]”, hit enter when it pauses after displaying the parsed ballots, observe the results. The datafile is text, with each ballot on its own line as a set of integers separated by spaces. (“1 2 3 4 5”) There is no validation that ballots are restricted to five votes, or can’t duplicate votes.

If anybody wants to adapt this code to other purposes, modify it, etc, feel free. Shoot me a line and I’ll put a link here. It’s definitely not optimized (for one thing, I used VS and C#, which is way overkill but let me bang it out in a few hours) but it runs on datasets of realistic size in less than a second, so probably not an issue.

(If you use this and find something that you think is a bug, just send me a description and the data file you were using, and I’ll update accordingly.)

Here’s an example, using the data file above. I generated a random assortment of 800 voters choosing among 40 works, with ballots of varying sizes. Then I added 200 voters choosing among 7 works (the “slate”, numbers 41-47) similarly. It gives you a good sense of how EPH works and how it helps the slate problem.

First, it lists the ballot data, which I’ve snipped here. In Round 1, before any eliminations, you can see that the “non-slate” works have between 16.8 and 23.3 points. (800 points divided among 40 works, clustered around 20. Stats!) The “slate” works have between 26.3 and 31.9 points. (200 points divided among 7 works.) So the slate is at the top of the list. (The list is displaying points/# of votes for each work.)

However, as works at the bottom are eliminated and their points reallocated, the non-slate field converges. By round 9, a non-slate work breaks the top five. In round 15, two slate works are pitted against each other, and one is eliminated, consolidating the slate vote. And so on as the rounds continue.

The final tally shows one slate work, the most popular, along with four non-slate works. This is more or less correct, in the sense that the voters were 80% non-slate and 20% slate; the slate voters were neither completely shut out nor completely dominant. So in that sense, EPH works as advertised!

One concern, though, is that the breadth of the field is important. A run with similar numbers of voters, but 80 non-slate works instead of 40, gives two slate winners (though the naïve method would give ALL the slots to the slate), and with 160 gives four slate winners. This gets pretty deep into the voting system weeds — arguably, with 800 voters split over 160 candidates, the 200 voters focused on their seven deserve to win. (The problem really stems from “exhausted ballots” — among the 800, ballots with no remaining candidates don’t have any say at all. But since we can’t get people to do an exhaustive ranking of all possible Hugo candidates, this is inevitable.)

Anyway, enjoy! You can use the contact form to get in touch with me if you have problems, or if you want to share interesting data. I will update this post if I get stuff or need to fix things.


Round 1
16 16.88333/81
14 16.91666/80
5 17.3/83
10 17.35/84
17 17.48333/84
22 17.6/85
30 17.63333/83
34 17.65/86
24 17.8/85
3 17.98333/86
13 18.18333/86
39 18.28333/86
2 18.51666/88
12 18.58333/88
18 18.95/91
1 19.4/93
26 19.55/93
28 19.58334/94
32 19.65/93
9 19.85/96
4 19.9/96
25 20.41667/95
23 20.41667/96
36 21.06667/99
31 21.25001/102
35 21.40001/100
8 21.40001/102
6 21.53334/101
20 21.56668/103
27 21.56668/102
40 21.85001/104
21 21.86668/104
11 22.06668/103
38 22.13334/105
37 22.20001/107
33 22.33334/107
19 22.50001/107
7 22.78335/107
15 23.23335/108
29 23.36668/111
43 26.31668/98
41 26.78334/99
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 16.91666
Eliminating 14.

Round 2
16 17.23333/81
5 17.45/83
10 17.65/84
22 17.8/85
17 17.83333/84
34 17.9/86
30 18.05/83
24 18.26666/85
3 18.33333/86
13 18.6/86
39 18.75/86
12 19.05/88
2 19.08333/88
18 19.35/91
1 19.71667/93
26 19.75/93
28 20.11667/94
9 20.18334/96
32 20.2/93
4 20.28334/96
23 20.70001/96
25 21.53334/95
8 21.73334/102
36 21.81668/99
20 21.81668/103
31 21.83334/102
27 21.83334/102
6 21.91667/101
35 21.96667/100
40 22.33334/104
38 22.43334/105
21 22.45001/104
37 22.53334/107
19 22.85001/107
33 22.86668/107
11 22.93334/103
7 23.18335/107
15 23.66668/108
29 24.00001/111
43 26.31668/98
41 26.78334/99
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 17.45
Eliminating 16.

Round 3
22 18.03333/85
10 18.05/84
5 18.06666/83
17 18.16666/84
34 18.23333/86
30 18.48334/83
24 18.51667/85
39 18.9/86
3 18.98334/86
2 19.33333/88
12 19.33333/88
13 19.38333/86
18 19.71667/91
1 20.21667/93
26 20.35/93
9 20.51667/96
32 20.51667/93
28 20.55/94
4 20.63334/96
23 21.28334/96
25 21.73334/95
35 22.11667/100
8 22.25001/102
31 22.31667/102
6 22.41667/101
27 22.41668/102
20 22.46668/103
36 22.58334/99
40 22.66667/104
21 22.73335/104
38 23.25001/105
37 23.25001/107
33 23.26668/107
11 23.30001/103
19 23.45001/107
7 23.85001/107
15 24.10001/108
29 24.56668/111
43 26.31668/98
41 26.78334/99
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 18.05
Eliminating 10.

Round 4
5 18.5/83
22 18.5/85
34 18.65/86
17 18.76666/84
30 18.8/83
24 18.81667/85
39 19.23334/86
3 19.26667/86
2 19.63334/88
13 19.83333/86
18 19.96667/91
12 19.98334/88
26 20.55/93
1 20.68334/93
4 20.93334/96
32 21.01667/93
9 21.13334/96
28 21.25001/94
23 21.78334/96
25 22.06668/95
35 22.35001/100
8 22.75001/102
6 22.90001/101
20 23.08334/103
31 23.08334/102
36 23.13334/99
27 23.30001/102
21 23.33335/104
40 23.35001/104
37 23.63334/107
33 23.68335/107
38 23.80001/105
19 23.88334/107
11 23.91668/103
7 24.60001/107
15 24.76668/108
29 25.06668/111
43 26.31668/98
41 26.78334/99
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 18.5
Eliminating 5.

Round 5
22 18.83334/85
34 19.18334/86
30 19.21667/83
24 19.26667/85
17 19.4/84
39 19.5/86
3 19.98334/86
2 20.2/88
13 20.33333/86
18 20.33334/91
12 20.43333/88
1 21.15/93
26 21.23334/93
9 21.46667/96
32 21.50001/93
4 21.63334/96
28 21.66667/94
25 22.48334/95
23 22.61667/96
35 22.66668/100
8 23.00001/102
6 23.23334/101
36 23.55001/99
31 23.65001/102
21 23.70001/104
20 23.80001/103
40 23.93334/104
37 23.96667/107
27 24.15001/102
33 24.18335/107
11 24.28334/103
38 24.38334/105
19 24.55001/107
7 25.31668/107
15 25.35002/108
29 25.85001/111
43 26.31668/98
41 26.78334/99
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 19.18334
Eliminating 22.

Round 6
30 19.71667/83
34 19.73334/86
17 19.81667/84
24 19.91667/85
39 20.26667/86
3 20.51667/86
2 20.7/88
13 20.85/86
12 20.91667/88
18 21.13334/91
1 21.55/93
26 21.73334/93
4 21.86667/96
32 21.86667/93
28 21.96667/94
9 22.25001/96
25 22.71667/95
23 22.86667/96
35 23.20001/100
8 23.28334/102
6 23.95001/101
36 23.98335/99
21 24.25001/104
31 24.45001/102
37 24.53334/107
20 24.55001/103
40 24.61667/104
27 24.66668/102
38 24.73334/105
33 24.76668/107
19 24.91668/107
11 25.00001/103
15 25.81668/108
7 26.25001/107
43 26.31668/98
29 26.65001/111
41 26.78334/99
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 19.73334
Eliminating 30.

Round 7
34 20.21667/86
17 20.55/84
39 20.55/86
24 20.58334/85
3 20.91667/86
13 20.98334/86
2 21.10001/88
18 21.7/91
12 21.7/88
4 22.11667/96
26 22.28334/93
1 22.31668/93
28 22.33334/94
9 22.66667/96
32 22.68334/93
23 23.18334/96
25 23.40001/95
35 23.70001/100
8 23.70001/102
6 24.65001/101
36 24.71668/99
21 24.83334/104
37 24.90001/107
31 25.01668/102
40 25.08334/104
38 25.33334/105
19 25.36668/107
27 25.55001/102
11 25.61668/103
33 25.65001/107
20 25.78335/103
43 26.31668/98
7 26.70001/107
41 26.78334/99
15 26.96668/108
29 27.15001/111
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 20.55
Eliminating 17.

Round 8
34 20.56667/86
39 21.08334/86
3 21.13334/86
2 21.41667/88
24 21.43334/85
13 21.9/86
18 22.33334/91
1 22.58334/93
12 22.78334/88
4 22.88334/96
26 22.96668/93
9 23/96
28 23.00001/94
32 23.16667/93
23 23.61667/96
25 23.91668/95
8 24.23334/102
35 24.35001/100
6 25.06668/101
36 25.16668/99
21 25.33334/104
31 25.48335/102
19 25.63335/107
40 25.78334/104
37 25.86668/107
38 25.95001/105
11 26.26668/103
43 26.31668/98
33 26.38334/107
20 26.43335/103
27 26.51668/102
41 26.78334/99
7 27.81668/107
15 27.96668/108
29 27.96668/111
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 21.08334
Eliminating 34.

Round 9
3 21.66667/86
39 21.8/86
24 21.95/85
2 22.25001/88
13 22.88334/86
1 22.95001/93
18 23.13334/91
28 23.36668/94
26 23.48334/93
12 23.51667/88
4 23.63334/96
9 23.70001/96
32 23.76667/93
25 24.45001/95
23 24.48334/96
35 24.58334/100
8 24.73334/102
6 25.63334/101
19 25.93335/107
36 26.01668/99
21 26.05001/104
43 26.31668/98
37 26.38334/107
31 26.41668/102
40 26.45001/104
33 26.75001/107
41 26.78334/99
11 26.85001/103
38 26.88335/105
20 26.96668/103
27 27.23335/102
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
15 28.65001/108
29 28.70001/111
7 28.73335/107
44 28.83335/107
46 30.05002/113
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 21.8
Eliminating 3.

Round 10
24 22.51667/85
39 22.68334/86
2 23.13334/88
1 23.31668/93
18 23.40001/91
13 23.45001/86
28 23.50001/94
12 23.91667/88
26 24.10001/93
9 24.35001/96
4 24.38334/96
32 24.48334/93
23 25.00001/96
25 25.00001/95
35 25.08334/100
8 25.93334/102
43 26.31668/98
19 26.40001/107
36 26.63334/99
6 26.68334/101
41 26.78334/99
21 26.80001/104
40 27.13334/104
31 27.20001/102
37 27.28334/107
33 27.38334/107
11 27.51668/103
38 27.75001/105
27 27.85002/102
20 27.96668/103
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
44 28.83335/107
15 29.45001/108
7 29.58335/107
46 30.05002/113
29 30.11668/111
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 22.68334
Eliminating 24.

Round 11
39 23.53334/86
2 23.60001/88
18 23.91667/91
28 23.96668/94
1 24.01668/93
26 24.58334/93
13 24.71668/86
4 25.06668/96
9 25.08334/96
32 25.16667/93
25 25.26668/95
23 25.71667/96
35 25.71668/100
12 25.76668/88
43 26.31668/98
41 26.78334/99
8 26.88334/102
19 26.91668/107
6 27.03334/101
36 27.28335/99
21 27.33334/104
40 27.73334/104
37 27.88334/107
47 28.05001/104
31 28.05001/102
42 28.06668/101
38 28.45001/105
33 28.48334/107
27 28.55001/102
44 28.83335/107
20 28.91668/103
11 29.16668/103
15 29.86668/108
46 30.05002/113
7 30.31668/107
29 31.01668/111
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 23.60001
Eliminating 39.

Round 12
2 24.20001/88
28 24.43334/94
18 24.56667/91
1 24.68335/93
26 25.21667/93
32 25.50001/93
13 25.68334/86
4 25.83334/96
9 25.90001/96
25 26.21668/95
43 26.31668/98
23 26.36668/96
35 26.68334/100
41 26.78334/99
12 27.36668/88
8 27.50001/102
6 27.63334/101
19 27.75001/107
36 27.96668/99
21 28.01668/104
40 28.03334/104
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
37 28.70001/107
44 28.83335/107
31 28.98335/102
33 29.26668/107
27 29.40001/102
38 29.40001/105
20 29.83334/103
46 30.05002/113
15 30.30001/108
11 30.68334/103
7 31.38335/107
29 31.50001/111
45 31.90002/118
Threshhold: 24.43334
Eliminating 2.

Round 13
18 25.18334/91
1 25.41668/93
28 25.60001/94
26 25.95/93
43 26.31668/98
32 26.48334/93
13 26.56668/86
41 26.78334/99
4 26.86668/96
25 26.88334/95
23 26.90001/96
9 26.91667/96
35 27.46667/100
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
8 28.15001/102
12 28.23334/88
36 28.61668/99
44 28.83335/107
6 28.88334/101
19 28.96668/107
40 28.98334/104
21 29.13334/104
31 29.60001/102
37 29.63335/107
46 30.05002/113
33 30.16668/107
38 30.38335/105
27 30.60001/102
20 30.63334/103
15 30.93335/108
11 31.06668/103
45 31.90002/118
7 32.35001/107
29 32.43335/111
Threshhold: 25.41668
Eliminating 18.

Round 14
28 26.03334/94
43 26.31668/98
1 26.50001/93
41 26.78334/99
26 26.8/93
13 27.15001/86
9 27.26667/96
32 27.31667/93
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
23 28.33334/96
4 28.40001/96
25 28.43334/95
35 28.65001/100
8 28.80001/102
44 28.83335/107
19 29.25001/107
6 29.55001/101
36 29.60001/99
40 29.61668/104
21 29.63334/104
46 30.05002/113
31 30.26668/102
37 30.61668/107
12 30.81668/88
27 30.90001/102
33 31.35001/107
15 31.41668/108
38 31.61668/105
20 31.65001/103
11 31.88334/103
45 31.90002/118
29 33.25001/111
7 33.90001/107
Threshhold: 26.31668
Eliminating 28.

Round 15
43 26.31668/98
41 26.78334/99
1 27.30001/93
26 27.73334/93
13 27.95001/86
47 28.05001/104
42 28.06668/101
9 28.08334/96
44 28.83335/107
25 28.98335/95
23 29.13335/96
32 29.30001/93
4 29.38334/96
35 29.91668/100
46 30.05002/113
8 30.25001/102
36 30.41668/99
21 30.46668/104
6 30.48335/101
19 30.70001/107
40 30.75001/104
12 31.41668/88
31 31.63335/102
37 31.66668/107
45 31.90002/118
27 31.96668/102
33 32.21668/107
38 32.25002/105
20 32.45001/103
11 32.51668/103
15 32.80001/108
29 34.21668/111
7 35.01668/107
Threshhold: 26.78334
Eliminating 43.

Round 16
1 27.30001/93
26 27.73334/93
13 27.95001/86
9 28.08334/96
25 28.98335/95
23 29.13335/96
32 29.30001/93
4 29.38334/96
41 29.80001/99
35 29.91668/100
8 30.25001/102
36 30.41668/99
21 30.46668/104
6 30.48335/101
19 30.70001/107
40 30.75001/104
12 31.41668/88
31 31.63335/102
37 31.66668/107
47 31.81668/104
27 31.96668/102
33 32.21668/107
38 32.25002/105
20 32.45001/103
11 32.51668/103
42 32.58334/101
15 32.80001/108
44 33.06668/107
29 34.21668/111
46 34.46668/113
7 35.01668/107
45 38.26667/118
Threshhold: 27.73334
Eliminating 1.

Round 17
26 28.35001/93
9 28.78334/96
13 29.21667/86
23 29.61668/96
41 29.80001/99
25 30.26668/95
4 30.31668/96
35 30.61668/100
8 30.81668/102
32 31.16668/93
40 31.20001/104
6 31.21668/101
36 31.23334/99
47 31.81668/104
21 31.85002/104
19 31.93335/107
12 32.20001/88
31 32.43334/102
42 32.58334/101
38 32.90002/105
33 32.91668/107
44 33.06668/107
37 33.13335/107
27 33.20001/102
15 34.05001/108
11 34.25001/103
46 34.46668/113
20 34.88335/103
29 35.15001/111
7 37.30001/107
45 38.26667/118
Threshhold: 28.78334
Eliminating 26.

Round 18
13 29.56668/86
41 29.80001/99
9 30.00001/96
23 30.83335/96
4 30.95001/96
35 31.63334/100
32 31.63334/93
25 31.78334/95
47 31.81668/104
8 31.86668/102
40 32.00001/104
6 32.48334/101
21 32.56668/104
42 32.58334/101
36 32.63335/99
12 32.91667/88
31 33.06667/102
44 33.06668/107
19 33.38335/107
38 33.40002/105
33 34.21667/107
46 34.46668/113
37 34.51668/107
27 34.95001/102
11 35.58334/103
15 35.85001/108
20 36.21668/103
29 36.56668/111
45 38.26667/118
7 39.38333/107
Threshhold: 29.80001
Eliminating 13.

Round 19
41 29.80001/99
9 31.11667/96
23 31.56668/96
47 31.81668/104
4 31.98335/96
32 32.01668/93
35 32.18334/100
42 32.58334/101
25 32.75001/95
44 33.06668/107
40 33.33334/104
6 33.35001/101
21 33.35001/104
12 33.71667/88
36 34.05001/99
8 34.06667/102
31 34.08334/102
19 34.43335/107
46 34.46668/113
33 35.38334/107
11 35.78334/103
38 35.78334/105
27 36.28334/102
15 36.73334/108
20 37.01668/103
37 37.63334/107
29 38.15002/111
45 38.26667/118
7 40.23333/107
Threshhold: 31.11667
Eliminating 9.

Round 20
41 29.80001/99
47 31.81668/104
42 32.58334/101
23 32.70002/96
35 33.01668/100
44 33.06668/107
32 33.15001/93
25 33.58334/95
4 33.70001/96
46 34.46668/113
6 34.68334/101
21 34.70001/104
8 34.90001/102
12 35.15001/88
40 35.25/104
36 35.41667/99
31 35.58334/102
19 35.93335/107
33 36.35/107
27 37/102
38 37.16667/105
11 37.18334/103
15 37.7/108
20 37.90001/103
45 38.26667/118
37 38.61667/107
29 40.86668/111
7 42.44999/107
Threshhold: 31.81668
Eliminating 41.

Round 21
23 32.70002/96
35 33.01668/100
32 33.15001/93
25 33.58334/95
4 33.70001/96
6 34.68334/101
21 34.70001/104
8 34.90001/102
12 35.15001/88
40 35.25/104
36 35.41667/99
31 35.58334/102
19 35.93335/107
33 36.35/107
27 37/102
38 37.16667/105
11 37.18334/103
47 37.33334/104
42 37.66666/101
15 37.7/108
20 37.90001/103
44 38.41667/107
37 38.61667/107
46 40.75/113
29 40.86668/111
7 42.44999/107
45 45.83332/118
Threshhold: 33.01668
Eliminating 23.

Round 22
35 34.81667/100
4 35.25001/96
21 35.53334/104
32 35.58334/93
8 35.7/102
12 35.7/88
25 35.75/95
36 36.56667/99
40 36.71667/104
19 36.76668/107
6 36.93333/101
47 37.33334/104
31 37.5/102
42 37.66666/101
33 37.9/107
27 38.08334/102
11 38.2/103
44 38.41667/107
38 38.73333/105
15 39.55/108
20 39.95001/103
37 40.38333/107
46 40.75/113
29 42.35001/111
7 45.03333/107
45 45.83332/118
Threshhold: 35.25001
Eliminating 4.

Round 23
32 36.16668/93
35 36.45/100
12 36.95/88
8 37.21667/102
47 37.33334/104
36 37.48334/99
42 37.66666/101
21 37.7/104
25 37.76667/95
19 38.03335/107
44 38.41667/107
6 38.43334/101
40 39.06667/104
27 39.16668/102
31 39.25/102
11 39.3/103
33 40.53333/107
46 40.75/113
15 40.98333/108
38 41.2/105
20 41.63334/103
37 42.39999/107
29 43.26667/111
45 45.83332/118
7 47/107
Threshhold: 36.45
Eliminating 32.

Round 24
47 37.33334/104
12 37.61666/88
42 37.66666/101
8 38.05/102
44 38.41667/107
35 38.45/100
36 38.9/99
25 39.6/95
19 39.78334/107
21 39.86668/104
6 40.1/101
40 40.23333/104
27 40.5/102
31 40.58333/102
11 40.71667/103
46 40.75/113
33 41.7/107
38 42.69999/105
15 43.23333/108
20 43.88334/103
37 43.89999/107
45 45.83332/118
29 46.35/111
7 48.83333/107
Threshhold: 37.61666
Eliminating 12.

Round 25
47 37.33334/104
42 37.66666/101
8 38.38333/102
44 38.41667/107
46 40.75/113
36 40.78333/99
35 40.88333/100
25 41.01667/95
19 41.31667/107
40 41.66666/104
27 42.08333/102
21 42.08333/104
33 42.53333/107
6 42.75/101
31 42.96666/102
38 43.96666/105
15 43.98333/108
11 44.18333/103
20 45.03334/103
37 45.33332/107
45 45.83332/118
29 48.31667/111
7 49.71666/107
Threshhold: 37.66666
Eliminating 42.

Round 26
8 38.38333/102
36 40.78333/99
35 40.88333/100
25 41.01667/95
19 41.31667/107
40 41.66666/104
27 42.08333/102
21 42.08333/104
33 42.53333/107
6 42.75/101
31 42.96666/102
38 43.96666/105
15 43.98333/108
11 44.18333/103
20 45.03334/103
37 45.33332/107
47 45.49999/104
44 46.83332/107
29 48.31667/111
7 49.71666/107
46 49.83332/113
45 56.83332/118
Threshhold: 40.78333
Eliminating 36.

Round 27
8 39.54999/102
35 41.96666/100
25 42.6/95
19 42.78334/107
27 43.41666/102
40 43.71667/104
21 44/104
6 44.83334/101
33 45.03333/107
31 45.38333/102
47 45.49999/104
15 45.94999/108
38 46.46665/105
44 46.83332/107
11 47.18332/103
20 47.28333/103
37 48/107
46 49.83332/113
29 50.86666/111
7 50.96666/107
45 56.83332/118
Threshhold: 41.96666
Eliminating 35.

Round 28
8 41.18333/102
25 43.93333/95
47 45.49999/104
27 45.91666/102
19 46.04999/107
31 46.13333/102
6 46.34999/101
40 46.35/104
21 46.76666/104
44 46.83332/107
20 48.25/103
15 48.36665/108
38 48.84998/105
37 49.46666/107
33 49.58332/107
46 49.83332/113
11 50.09999/103
7 52.43333/107
29 53.26665/111
45 56.83332/118
Threshhold: 43.93333
Eliminating 25.

Round 29
8 44.48333/102
47 45.49999/104
44 46.83332/107
31 47.28333/102
19 47.89998/107
27 48.33333/102
6 48.64999/101
21 48.73333/104
40 48.98333/104
20 49.33333/103
46 49.83332/113
38 49.84998/105
15 49.86665/108
37 51.68333/107
33 53.24999/107
11 53.48332/103
7 53.89999/107
29 55.26665/111
45 56.83332/118
Threshhold: 45.49999
Eliminating 8.

Round 30
47 45.49999/104
44 46.83332/107
46 49.83332/113
6 50.06665/101
31 50.08332/102
19 50.73331/107
38 50.93332/105
27 50.93332/102
40 51.23333/104
21 51.53333/104
20 51.96667/103
15 52.69999/108
37 53.78333/107
11 55.78332/103
33 55.91666/107
45 56.83332/118
7 57.06665/107
29 57.26665/111
Threshhold: 46.83332
Eliminating 47.

Round 31
6 50.06665/101
31 50.08332/102
19 50.73331/107
38 50.93332/105
27 50.93332/102
40 51.23333/104
21 51.53333/104
20 51.96667/103
15 52.69999/108
37 53.78333/107
11 55.78332/103
33 55.91666/107
7 57.06665/107
29 57.26665/111
44 57.83332/107
46 63.33332/113
45 69.83333/118
Threshhold: 50.08332
Eliminating 6.

Round 32
31 51.58332/102
27 52.81666/102
20 52.9/103
21 52.94999/104
38 53.34998/105
15 54.19999/108
40 54.33332/104
19 54.39999/107
11 57.78332/103
44 57.83332/107
37 58.74999/107
29 59.69999/111
33 59.83332/107
7 60.39998/107
46 63.33332/113
45 69.83333/118
Threshhold: 52.81666
Eliminating 31.

Round 33
20 55.15/103
15 56.11665/108
27 56.14999/102
38 56.18332/105
21 56.95/104
19 56.98332/107
44 57.83332/107
40 58.58332/104
11 60.78332/103
37 61.33332/107
33 63.16666/107
29 63.2/111
46 63.33332/113
7 63.39998/107
45 69.83333/118
Threshhold: 56.11665
Eliminating 20.

Round 34
44 57.83332/107
27 59.24999/102
19 59.86666/107
21 60.28333/104
15 60.86665/108
38 61.53333/105
40 62.08332/104
46 63.33332/113
11 63.78332/103
37 63.91666/107
29 65.24999/111
33 65.5/107
7 65.66666/107
45 69.83333/118
Threshhold: 59.24999
Eliminating 27.

Round 35
44 57.83332/107
46 63.33332/113
21 63.53333/104
19 63.69999/107
38 64.53333/105
40 65.58334/104
15 65.69999/108
37 66.16666/107
11 67.2/103
29 68.24999/111
7 68.41666/107
33 68.91666/107
45 69.83333/118
Threshhold: 63.33332
Eliminating 44.

Round 36
21 63.53333/104
19 63.69999/107
38 64.53333/105
40 65.58334/104
15 65.69999/108
37 66.16666/107
11 67.2/103
29 68.24999/111
7 68.41666/107
33 68.91666/107
46 84/113
45 89/118
Threshhold: 63.69999
Eliminating 21.

Round 37
19 67.08333/107
40 68.41666/104
38 68.91666/105
37 69.66666/107
15 70.25/108
11 70.66666/103
29 70.83334/111
7 72.16666/107
33 72.99999/107
46 84/113
45 89/118
Threshhold: 68.41666
Eliminating 40.

Round 38
19 70.58333/107
37 71.66666/107
29 74/111
15 74.41666/108
11 74.41667/103
38 75.08333/105
33 75.16666/107
7 76.66666/107
46 84/113
45 89/118
Threshhold: 71.66666
Eliminating 19.

Round 39
37 75.49999/107
38 77.83333/105
11 78/103
33 78.66667/107
15 79.83334/108
29 80.33334/111
7 80.83334/107
46 84/113
45 89/118
Threshhold: 77.83333
Eliminating 38.

Round 40
37 79.66666/107
33 82.16667/107
11 82.16667/103
46 84/113
15 84.66666/108
29 84.66667/111
7 84.66667/107
45 89/118
Threshhold: 82.16667
Eliminating 11.

Round 41
37 83.83333/107
46 84/113
33 86/107
15 87.16666/108
7 88.16666/107
29 88.83333/111
45 89/118
Threshhold: 84
Eliminating 37.

Round 42
46 84/113
45 89/118
33 91.16666/107
15 91.66666/108
7 93.16666/107
29 95/111
Threshhold: 89
Eliminating 46.

Final Results:
33 91.16666/107
15 91.66666/108
7 93.16666/107
29 95/111
45 118/118

Interview

COFFEE: HOT Interview

CoffeeHot

As you may or may not know, I have a story in an anthology of SFF coffeehouse erotica from Circlet Press called COFFEE: HOT. We’ve got each of the authors in the book to interview another, and now it’s my turn to ask questions of R. Ann Sawyer. (Here’s the interview of me by Kristin Noone.)

Let’s get started!

How did you get involved with this anthology? “SFF erotica set in coffeehouses” is an awfully specific topic – how did this story come to be?

I love Circlet, and have been published by them before, so I was watching their anthology offerings when I saw this story prompt post. I have two small children, so coffee is an absolutely necessary part of my life, and I thought it would be fun to play with erotica that had the bitter sweet bite of coffee.

For the scene itself, I was a little stuck. I asked a good friend what she was in the mood to read, and she requested some hot smuggler/lawperson action. I couldn’t figure out why someone would be smuggling coffee in the modern world, though, so I decided to play around in a sci-fi world–and the rest happened so fast it shocked me. I wrote the first draft of the story in about four hours.

Your story is definitely science fiction – is that your genre of choice? Is there anything in SF that you particularly like for erotica?

This is actually my first foray into any kind of sci-fi; I’m much more comfortable in the worlds of dark fantasy or urban fantasy. I loved sci-fi when I was a kid, but fell out of touch with the community as I got older. I’ve been slowly worming my way back in, finding progressive sci-fi that includes a broader sort of fan than some of what I read when I was a kid.

Do you do both erotica and non-erotica writing? If so, is it hard to transition between the two?

My day job is as a content and copywriter for a variety of clients. I’ve tried to write fiction without any kind of erotic element, but I love writing about relationships and people, and I also really love writing about sex. Even when I try to behave myself, someone ends up touching someone else. I lead a hard life (not really).

And of course: how do you like your coffee?

Way too much sugar and milk. I’m ashamed of myself. I managed a coffee shop within a bookstore for several years, and I know all the reasons why coffee should be served black, but I just can’t.

I have a deep love of cold brew, and rarely drink my coffee hot unless it’s the depths of winter. I have been known to curl up with my laptop, fingerless mitts keeping my hands warm, blanket around my shoulders, and still I’m drinking iced coffee.

Movies, Silly

Abridged Script to BLACKHATS

This is an attempt to reconstruct the script of the movie BLACKHATS, which I watched on the plane ride home and was completely baffling in its badness. I rented it for $6 and there’s an hour of the flight left, so I may as well use it to entertain myself.

CHINESE NUCLEAR REACTOR

Everything is fine. Suddenly, COMPUTERS! We zoom inside the computer to see a light turn on. Then everything is NOT FINE. A water pump breaks, and the reactor almost immediately explodes, because that is how reactors work.

CHINESE BOSS meets with CHINESE COP.

CB: Can you find out who did this?
CC: Only with the help of the Americans. They still have the … code of the … virus? Or something. Ours got exploded in the reactor.
CB: Fine, I’ll have to convince the FBI.

FBI WOMAN meets with FBI BOSS.

FW: I think we should work with them.
FB: Work with the Chinese? Never! *pause* Okay, fine.

Meanwhile, THOR is in prison. He gets called into the prison warden’s office to get yelled at for hacking into the prison commissary with a phone or something. The point is, we know he’s a HACKER, and he mouths off to the warden so we know he’s COOL. He also does some push-ups so we know he’s BUFF.

Meanwhile, at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, HACKERS once again zoom the camera inside a computer and do something with LIGHTS. This causes a catastrophic rise in the price of soy. (Seriously that’s what happens.)

Meanwhile, CHINESE COP meets with his sister, GIRL.

CC: I need you to come with me to America. You are an elite network administrator, and I need one of those I can trust.
Girl: No. On second thought, fine. Does the fact that I’m an elite system administrator mean I get to do computer stuff in this movie?
CC: No, you basically read stuff off screens to us.
Girl: Dang.

They go to NON-SPECIFIC AMERICA and meet up with FBI WOMAN and her partner FBI JERK.

CC: I will immediately establish good relations by telling you how much your technical people suck.
FW: I don’t really even argue with this.
CC: We need my old college roommate Thor.

THOR gets offered a deal to get out of prison, but he negotiates it to a better deal so we can see how COOL he is.

CC: Hey bro, good to see you!
Thor: Your Earth prison could never hold me! I mean, hi bro. Sorry, I’ve been doing so much of this Avengers shit it slips sometimes.
CC: This is my sister Girl!
*THOR and the CAMERAMAN both stare pervily.*

They go to the Chicago computer center and THOR shows up the pencil-necked dweeb who works there by typing on a command line, because he is a HACKER. He runs .exe files on UNIX because that is a thing that happens.

FW: Okay, so this dude planted the virus here. Let’s all go find him.
Thor: Why don’t Girl and I go by ourselves, and you two stay here? Because … reasons. Something about grids.
FW: I don’t trust you so I’m sending FBI Jerk along. Try not to evade him so effortlessly the movie won’t even show us how you do it.

He DOES. The guy they went to find is dead, but he was meeting another guy at a Korean restaurant, so they go there. Nobody shows up. Thor finds a camera and concludes that it’s a trap, and then every Korean in the restaurant inexplicably tries to murder them, including the chef. They escape.

Girl: You are awful good at hand to hand combat for a hacker.
Thor: Verily, none shall stand before the might of Mjolnir!
Girl: But since this was a dead end and we learned nothing, this whole part of the movie is pointless.
Thor: We had better have sex then.
Girl: Why? The movie has made no effort to establish any romantic feeling between us, other than you staring at me like a creep.
Thor: I DO look like Thor, though.
Girl: Point.

They have that weird PG-13 sex where you don’t actually take any clothes off, but wake up later naked under a sheet.

Meanwhile, the competent characters blackmail the representative of the Exchange into revealing his client records, because this is something we are totally comfortable with the FBI doing. They discover that some money from the soy bubble went to China, which is a small place completely accessible by a few minutes’ car ride from Hong Kong.

Everyone meets up in China, and they find the three guys who took the money. Thor discovers they’re being sent their instructions by EVIL FOREIGN MAN, who sits in a cafe texting to nobody all day long while the Chinese police watch.

FW: Wait, you guys are actually watching him already, but you don’t have the content of his texts?
CC: Unlike America China is big on civil liberties.

They try to arrest EVIL FOREIGN MAN, but he produces an army of gun toting thugs out of his back pocket. Chinese police charge in and die horribly in huge numbers. Thor turns out to be pretty good in a gunfight, too. Eventually EVIL FOREIGN MAN kills all the police and escapes in broad daylight, because China is a DYSTOPIAN HELLSCAPE apparently.

Thor: Dang. Once again we are completely foiled and useless.
CC: We actually sort of suck at our jobs. By the way, are you banging my sister?
Thor: Verily.
CC: Right on, bro.
FW: This movie could pass the Bechdel Test if Girl and I exchanged a line, but we won’t.

The Chinese police arrive to say that the reactor is now “under control” so they can go in and retrieve the hard drives of the hacked computers, which may yield a clue. CHINESE COP, THOR, and GIRL do this instead of trained nuclear technicians. It looks like they might pass out and die, but then they don’t.

Thor: The data is on here, but it’s too badly corrupted to use!
CC: We pulled a hard drive from inside a breached nuclear reactor, I’m amazed it still works at all.
Thor: FBI Woman, when you arrested me, you restored my corrupt data somehow.
FW: The NSA has a program called Black Widow that can do that. They let us use it in a high profile case like yours. Now, though, this case that involves nuclear terrorism and the all important soy market apparently isn’t good enough.
Thor: I will break into the NSA by the power of HACKING!

Shockingly, this invokes something semi-plausible (if you squint real hard), rather than just typing really fast. They get the data and find out that the bad guy is using a service that hosts black hat hackers in Jakarta.

FW: Wait, if there’s a service like that, shouldn’t we, the FBI, know about it already?
Thor: Unlike the NSA, this Indonesian ISP is impenetrable to HACKING. We’ll have to physically break in there and grab stuff.
CHINESE BOSS: Not so fast! The NSA called and said they know you hacked them. Chinese Cop, turn Thor over to the Americans!
CC: Right away, sir, let me definitely not go warn him.

He DOES. Thor and Girl escape.

Thor: How did they detect my HACKING?!
Girl: Uh, you called them and asked for something, and when they said no it was stolen literally minutes later. It doesn’t take a genius.

Thor, Girl, and Chinese Cop meet up.

CC: Now that you’re a fugitive, we’ll have to sneak you into Indonesia, Thor. Girl, you have to stay here, because this is suddenly too dangerous.
Thor: That’s right. This isn’t like walking into a nuclear reactor, this is serious.
Girl: You guys suck.
Thor: You don’t want to date me anyway. I’m on the run from the law now.
Girl: Fine, but let’s make out one last time.

They do. Suddenly EVIL FOREIGN MAN shows up and destroys the car Chinese Cop is in with a bazooka!

Thor: Brooooooo!

FBI WOMAN and FBI JERK have been following Thor. They talk a bit about her dead husband, who was killed in 9/11.

FW: Wait, does that count as talking about my family? Did that raise my death flag? Son of a BITCH!

They show up where the gun toting thugs are trying to kill Thor. The FBI agents IMMEDIATELY open fire, and and killed by the bad guys. (I can’t stress enough that their procedure is: drive down the street in a foreign country, see gunfire on the road ahead, start firing guns out the car window without trying to find out what’s going on.). Thor and Girl escape, again in broad daylight, because again, DYSTOPIAN HELLSCAPE. They procure fake documents and exit from the country within literally minutes, because ditto.

Girl: I got the bad guy’s account file somehow, and it lists that he ordered satellite photos of this spot in Malaysia. Let’s go check it out!
Thor: You didn’t hack him, did you? Because HACKING is my job.

In Malaysia, they discover a deserted dam with water pumps of the same brand as used in the nuclear reactor.

Thor: That’s it! The reactor was PRACTICE! The bad guy’s real plan is to destroy this damn, flooding the tin mines in this valley, thus causing an increase in the price of tin while buying tin ore futures!
Girl: That’s seriously the big twist? The bad guys are manipulating the tin futures market, with the money they made on a soy bubble? Is the goal to make their plot so boring that no action hero will come foil it? Not to mention that makes no sense, since destroying a reactor would draw huge attention. This dam is completely unguarded, he could just WALK here and destroy it with a hammer! And–
Thor: I summon BIFROST to transport us to Jakarta!

They break into the top secret ISP by dropping a truck through the roof of the building, then just sauntering in with the cops, once again demonstrating no regard whatsoever for bystanders’ safety. Once they have the data, they steal the soy money, and call the bad guys.

EFM: Who is this?
Thor: Seriously, what accent are you even trying for? Let me talk to your boss.
EFM: Never. Well, fine.
BAD GUY: I am of course vaguely British, unlike my mostly ethnic henchmen. You’ve got my money, what do you want?
Thor: I want a cut of your scheme.
BG: Wait, so you’re holding my money hostage in exchange for more money? How does that make sense?
Thor: Your Earth numbers confuse and anger me.
BG: Interesting. Okay, but I demand a personal meeting, even though that can serve no possible purpose other than for us to try to kill each other.

Thor schedules the meeting in a big public square, thus deliberately starting a gunfight in a dense crowd. He prepares with a screwdriver up his sleeve and makeshift body armor made from magazines.

EFM: I will frisk you, rather than shooting you on sight, although killing you is clearly the plan.
Thor: Thanks! I’ll stab you in the face with this screwdriver and take your gun.
BG: Thugs, kill him!

They shoot lots of random civilians, but Thor is impervious to bullets due to his magazine armor. He kills the thugs. BAD GUY, a fat, pasty British hacker, pulls a knife and attempts to engage THOR in hand to hand combat. Thor stabs him about a million times immediately.

Thor: That’s what you get for HACKING when you’re not COOL.
Girl: I love you! For some reason!
Thor: Abs, I assume.
Girl: But aren’t we still on the run from the FBI? Won’t they easily find the money? For that matter, how are we going to get out of Indonesia after starting a gunfight in public?
Thor: Easily.

Indonesia also being a DYSTOPIAN HELLSCAPE, they do.

News, Silly

THE MAD APPRENTICE Cat Picture Giveaway!

If you know me at all, you probably know that I like cats. My cats, Sakaki and The Tomoes, were eager to help me advertise THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY, as depicted below.

BookCat01

BookCat02

Now it’s your cats’ turn!

From now until the release of THE MAD APPRENTICE, on April 21st, everyone who emails an appropriate picture to catcontest@djangowexler.com will be entered in the giveaway! Winners will receive a hardcover copy of THE MAD APPRENTICE, signed by me and personalized as you like.

Pictures should contain, at minimum, the following:
-A copy of THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY. (Kindle, audio, etc are fine!)
-A cat.

UPDATE!
My UK publisher has agreed to ship copies to UK winners, so the contest is officially open to UK entrants! Winners in the UK will receive UK (paperback) editions, and I will try to send over a signed bookplate to put in them.

Questions?

What if I don’t have a copy of THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY?

They are available wherever books are sold, in paperback, e-book, or audiobook! THE MAD APPRENTICE is a sequel, so you’d want to read the first book first anyway.

What if I don’t have a cat?

That is a serious problem and you should remedy it immediately!

For those who are, for whatever sad reason, unable to get a cat, some creativity will be required. Here are some possible options:

  • Borrow a friend’s cat.
  • Borrow an enemy’s cat.
  • Go to the zoo and borrow a lion. (Note: Do not actually do this.)
  • Go to the library and pose with the stone lions. (Probably safer.)
  • Transform your dog into a cat by the magic of costume!
  • Transform your dog into a cat by the magic of photoshop!
  • Transform your dog into a cat by the magic of actual magic! (Recommended!)
  • Acquire a picture of a cat and use that. (There MAY be some pictures of cats on the internet, if you look hard.)
  • Draw, sculpt, or otherwise create a cat ex nihilo.
  • Use googly eyes and construction paper to make THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY into a cat! (Note: Not responsible for damages to THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY. You may want to buy an extra copy for this purpose.)

Caveats

  • Winners will be selected at random from among qualifying pictures. I will contact winners by email to get snail-mail addresses, desired inscriptions, etc. Particularly awesome pictures may receive a small additional prize at my discretion.
  • Currently open to only the US and Canada — and now to the UK! See above. I’m really sorry, but shipping books elsewhere in the world just gets very expensive from here. (If you just want to send me cat pictures for fun, feel free!)
  • Feel free to include yourself in your pictures. However, pictures will be posted on my website, Twitter, etc, so don’t include anything you wouldn’t want the whole internet to see! Any names and other information will of course be kept private and not used for any non-contest purposes.
  • I am not responsible if you are clawed by a cat who refuses to hold still for a picture. Cat at your own risk.

Now go forth and photograph cats with books!