A Choir of New Voices

Think of this for a moment:
Everything you know–your science, your technology, your popular art and culture, and your politics–are the result of thousands of years of technological failure. That failure? The fact that only a few people could read and write and communicate. Books were expensive to produce and own, so only a relative few could afford them. People who couldn’t read and write couldn’t send letters. And the same thing holds true with all modes of communication and culture–radio, film, telegraph, phone, email, video conference, etc. Only a few people could be in the know, so only a few people could have ideas that affected everything.

The world was organized around that basic fact. There was nothing anyone could do to change it, so they did as best they could. Monarchy, representative democracy, election cycles, corporate conglomorates, distribution networks–all of them exist in the forms they do (or did) because they were the best ways anyone could think of to overcome the difficulty presented by the fact that not everybody could read, write, travel, and communicate.

But this post isn’t about power. At least, not in that sense. Political power comes and goes, and changes hands, based on the contingencies of history.

Instead, this post is about power. The power to change history, remake how people think, create technologies that change what it means to be human. Two hundred years ago, only the aristocracy could have those ideas–they were the only ones who knew enough to have the raw intellectual materials hanging around. One hundred years ago, only the educated could have those ideas, and only ten percent of the people in the world were educated. Twenty years ago, the situation was still pretty much the same, although more people were educated.

Every institution you know, everything you grew up with, was built by a tiny tiny minority to cope with the problems of a world filled with uneducated people. Not unintelligent people, just people without access to information and communication.

And that world, increasingly, does not exist. As the final 2/3rds of the human race comes online, with the communications and information and immediacy at their fingertips that, thirty years ago, was only available to the five most powerful people on the planet, the entire world we take for granted is changing under our feet.

In the next twenty years, the human race will finally be a conversation in which everyone can participate. If one-to-ten percent brought us horrors like the holocaust and wonders like genetic engineering…
…what will all that new creativity bring?

State of the Onion

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our onion is strong. Like any good onion, when you cut it it makes you cry, but when you cook with it, it makes you happy. And our onion is a happy onion.

I’m taking it as read that you, whoever you are, are either a fan, someone with an unhealthy interest in me, or a future archaeologist who is doing a doctoral thesis on the blogosphere, so basically we’re all among friends here–except that one of you who’s got the unhealthy interest thing, but that’s the Internet, right–so I’ve got some quickie updates for you.

By the way, if you ARE a far future archaeologist, the first thing you need to know is that, even by the standards of my po-dunk time, I am misspelling the word “archaeologist.” Sometime in the last century, my language dropped the second “a” from the word, but since I spend most of my words writing about what might happen in YOUR time period, I humbly submit I’m allowed a few anachronisms in the other direction.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…
I’ve got new books coming out, finally. They will be accompanied by blog posts with samples, and probably audio samples too. We’ve got new offices at AWP, and a new structure that lets me write and record a LOT more, and it’s paying off. So, you’ll hear more about that pretty soon here. You might even hear about more podcasts–which means more Free Will, and also more of The Next 10k Hours–but I’m not quite prepared to commit to a re-launch date yet.

Crudrat’s just about wrapped up. Thank you all who backed us–your last story is on its way pretty damn quick here.

Some new website work is coming soon–things have gotten a little difficult to navigate around here, so we’re going to streamline it yet again.

Penultimately, stay tuned for a couple surprise announcements around Christmastime.

And, finally, books. Anyone wanting to buy books for friends (or for yourselves) for Christmas, use the coupon code christmastimeishere when checking out, and you’ll get 20% off any order from the store here on the website. Caveat: If you want signed books, they’ll be late. I’ve just moved house and haven’t got new inventory stocked locally yet. But direct-shipped books will arrive easily in time for Christmas.

See you around again soon!
-Dan

Balticon, Suave Rob, Crudrat, and Free Will

Contrary to rumors that have been floating around, I did not, in fact, get swallowed by a giant monster crab under the streets of Baltimore at Balticon. I did, however, have a brilliant time, and the summer has flown by so fast and so packed that I haven’t even posted my post-mortem. This’ll be brief, cause there’s news on all the other fronts, too:

Balticon
So much fun this year. Got to meet Pamela Gay and Mark Jeffry in person, had a blast talking business with new writers and podcasters, catching up with Sigler and Morris and Ballantine, and falling on my face attempting to live-narrate a new Antithesis short story called Colombian Dark. Thanks everyone for the fabulous time–and a special thanks to Dave Robison and Doc Coleman, who bought headshots and helped finance the trip!

Suave Rob
A little over two years ago, I released a short novel called Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring Do, about a far-future transsexual Evel Kenevel who longs to surf a supernova. It’s done fairly well in print and ebook, but I got to thinking that the audience that would REALLY love it are the kinds of people who listen to Escape Pod, where I sold Chicken Noodle Gravity a few years back. So, a little over a year ago, I sent it off. This past February I heard back from Norm Sherman, saying they’d love to buy it, and since then we’ve been trading paperwork during our copious free time (note the sarcasm–the world seems intent on eating every spare second). Well, he finally has his contract, and I finally have my check, so I can now happily announce:
Suave Rob will be on Escape Pod as a special extra-long episode (or series) sometime…in the future. I’ll let you know when I get the air date. I don’t know who’ll be reading it yet, though I’ve made a recommendation I hope they take, cause it’d be a perfect match. Either way, I’ll keep you posted!

Crudrat
The Gail Carriger Kickstarter project is still going. One of the ways the world eats time is by making hard drives crash. A lot. We’ve lost three hard drives on this project–in each case, we managed to not lose any data, but the recovery time and headache in replacing the hardware, restoring from backups, etc. has been a killer.
We’re now finally doing post production on the last two short stories. One is with Schadey at his place in Peru, where he’s working his magic with the music. The other is waiting in the queue right behind it. In the meantime, we’re powering ahead here with the video features and blooper reels, because this project really needs to wrap soon.

Free Will
Which brings me to Free Will (and The Next 10k Hours). The podcast wound up in the back seat with all this crowdfunding stuff, because (simply put) the crowdfunded project is a debt, and the podcast is a gift, and I’ve got a thing about paying debts off. So, Free Will will return late this year after everything is wrapped on the Crudrat project. I’ve wrestled with this for a long time, but I just can’t think of a way to put time into Free Will without shortchanging both it and the Crudrat stories–and I’d rather arrive late than arrive with sub-par quality. It’s a personality quirk.

Last Update
We’re finally getting our distribution in order at AWP, which means that by year’s end you’ll be able to find Predestination, Down From Ten, Crudrat, The Gail Carriger Short Story Bundle, and maybe also some of my short stories in audio format at Audible, Audiobooks.com, and several other fashionable marketplaces.

Building an empire is a slow process, but we’re getting there. Thanks for bearing with us!

Antithesis Live!!!

So, the illustrious Chris Lester of The Metamor City Podcast has graciously invited me to piggyback on his novel’s launch party to do a full-cast reading of a brand new Antithesis short story, Colombian Dark.

Join us from 8pm to 10pm in Parlor 1026 for the fun. Chris will do his book launch reading first, and then we’ll run Colombian Dark afterwards–probably actually going live at around 9pm or a little thereafter.

–UPDATE—
Doh! I forgot the day. That would be Sunday, 8pm to 10pm in Parlor 1026

Balticon Photo Session Booking

Since I am going to be at Balticon, with my camera kit in tow, I am available for photo bookings.

 

What I Can Do
I can shoot:

    Groups
    Families
    Personal/couples portraits
    Professional headshots
    Pregnancy portraits
    Fantasy Art, Theatrical, Science Fiction/horror scenes (these requires nontrivial planning, expect an extended phone/email preproduction consultation)
    Glamor/Boudoir/Fetish/Avant-Garde/Fine Art/Erotic/etc.

 

If what you want is not on this list, and not on the “won’t” list below, ask. We can probably swing it.

 

What I Can’t Do
Though I would love to drive, I suspect I’ll have to fly instead. Thus, the gear I can bring is pretty limited. I can’t, for example, bring much in the way of lighting equipment (though I’ll have my light painting brushes, my flash unit, and some gels). This means we’ll have to shoot with available light, or with lights that you bring. Fortunately, there’s a lot of good light around the hotel at Balticon, and (if memory serves) the lights in the rooms are pretty easy to reconfigure. I have some fast lenses for shooting in low-light conditions, which I’ll be bringing.

Similarly, I can’t bring much in the way of props, costuming, or my FX makeup kit. If your shoot requires these things, consult with me in advance, and I can help you put together the kit we’ll need.

 

What I Won’t Do
Although I’m a pretty open-minded guy, I have a few limits. Here they are:

  • I won’t do a shoot with any subject who does not consent (so if your husband really doesn’t want to be photographed and you buy him a session, that’s your problem. Grudging consent is okay).
  • I won’t shoot anything that might get me arrested. Security-restricted government installations and underage nudes are high on this list. Crime scenes that the cops haven’t arrived at are another one. Fortunately, because of the first amendment, this isn’t a long list.
  • Unless we already have an established personal or professional (i.e. as model and photographer) relationship that involves a high degree of trust, I will insist that you bring an escort/chaperone to any shoot involving nudity.

 

Credibility
I’ve done professional photography and cinematography for over 13 years. In that time, I’ve done stage plays, behind-the-scenes photography on movies, a lot of concert photography, headshots, portraits (family and individual), weddings, fine art nudes, book covers, movie posters, botannicals, wildlife, astronomicals, and pretty much pointed my camera at anything I can pull focus on fast enough to capture.

My work has appeared in Jeff Vandermeer’s The Steampunk Bible and Gearhearts Steampunk Glamor Review, and it headlines Gail Carriger’s Retro Rack site. Nobilis Reed’s professional headshot is one that I shot last time I was at Balticon.

Basically, I’ve been around. If you still doubt my awesome powers, you can take a gander at this work-safe gallery and this not-so-work-safe gallery.

 

The Deal
I’ve got two packages on offer–if you want to do something these don’t cover, talk to me and we’ll work something out.
The first is a straightforward Headshots package, which I’m offering at $100. If you’re an actor or an author or just someone who wants some smart-looking portraits, this is the one for you. Headshot sessions run 15-20 minutes, and there are six or seven locations around the Balticon hotel that make excellent backdrops for them.

The second is the “anything goes” package, at $300/ea. For this you get me for 1-2hrs, for a group, a couple, a family, or a single, at any location in/around the hotel or easily accessible by car in the time slot.

In either case, we will confer in advance on the nature of the shoot, your desired setting, etc., take care of the photo releases, and schedule a time slot.

At the con, at the scheduled time, we’ll do the shoot.

A week after my return home, I’ll provide you a private online proof sheet, and from that you can choose up to six shots to have retouched/otherwise enhanced. I will then deliver to you all the shots, and, once they’re finished (anywhere from a day to a week later), I will deliver to you the package of retouched photos.

 

One Final Note

  • If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and want either of these packages, I am perfectly happy to shoot locally and throw in all my other equipment, props, etc.

 

Join Me
Order your photo session here:
 

Headshot Session
 
 
Full Photo Session
 
Let’s make some art together!

Remember, if you want autographed books, I’m bringing those too.

Balticon Preorders

Hi, everyone!
Dan is hard at work putting the finishing touches on Crudrat and prepping for Balticon.

If you will be at Balticon, and would like a signed J. Daniel Sawyer book hand delivered to you, please order through our online store by 6:00 PM PDT, Wednesday, May 14 (we to order by that evening to ensure our order ships to the event in time)

Select the “Regular” option instead of “Autograph” (we won’t need the extra charge as we are only shipping once) and “Balticon 2014″ as the shipping option.

Order the short story collections here
Order the Clarke Lantham Mysteries here
Order a stand-alone novel here
Order nonfiction here

Thanks!
Kitty

Balticon Schedule

Well, it’s official: I will be at Balticon, and I’ll be profaning the place with my presence on panels.

  • When to Stop Revising and Move on to the next project (Panel) (Participant), Fri 22:00 – 22:50, Salon B (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Grief, Loss, and Death in SF/F (Panel) (Participant), Sat 11:00 – 11:50, Salon B (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Breaking the Mold – Branching Out to Other Media (Panel) (Participant), Sat 12:00 – 12:50, Chesapeake (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Satellite Recording (Panel) (Participant), Sun 09:00 – 09:50, Parlor 1026 (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Full Cast vs. Straight Read (Panel) (Participant), Sun 14:00 – 14:50, Derby (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Handling The Technical Side: Writers & Their Fact Checkers (Panel) (Participant), Sun 16:00 – 16:50, Parlor 1041 (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Narration vs Voice Acting (Panel) (Participant), Sun 18:00 – 18:50, Parlor 1041 (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • How to write Polyamory and not a train wreck (Panel) (Participant), Mon 09:00 – 09:50, Chase (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Beta Readers (Panel) (Participant), Mon 12:00 – 12:50, Chesapeake (Hunt Valley Inn)
  • Why Writing Can’t Be Taught And How To Teach It (Panel)
  • (Participant), Mon 13:00 – 13:50, Parlor 1041 (Hunt Valley Inn)

In addition, I’ll be hosting a Clarke Lantham Mysteries themed party, location and time TBA in the next few days.

Check back here tomorrow for a preorder page for Balticon swag (signed books, photo sessions, etc.).

Looking forward to seeing all of you there!

What’s Next After Crudrat

Attention Girls and Boys, Androids and those whom labels don’t quite fit:

Crudrat is almost done. We’ve moved into the very final phases, which means that next week, the rest of the studio is gonna be spinning back up. Free Will is coming back. The Next 10k is coming back. And I get to get back to writing.

I gotta be honest, this is the part I’m most looking forward to. I had planned to do six books this year:

  • Avarice
    The sequel to Free Will, and the book that’s been intimidating the hell out of me for two years. I’ve got pieces of it done, but haven’t sat down and drawn the grand tapestry yet. That’s on June’s agenda. Time to put it to bed so I can get on to Antithesis Book 4.

  • The Auto Motive
    As you can see from the sidebar, this one’s been in progress for a good long while. It’s a YA Urban Fantasy story, almost comic-book in its approach and aesthetic. High adventure and high on the strangeness scale. There’s about three weeks work left to do on this one.
  • The Summer Town
    This is another YA adventure novel I’ve been noodling with for a good long while. Think Ray Bradbury meets Flannery O’Connor meets The Goonies. Like The Auto Motive, this one is actually well started–it has about a month’s left of work left in it before it’s ready for the betas.
  • Lantham #6
    Another one I’m dying to do this year. He Ain’t Heavy left you all on a bit of a ledge with regards to Rachael’s fate. This next book resolves that against the background of a bigger mystery. I’ve got three ideas for the big mystery in this book–I’ve just gotta pick one.
  • Occupant
    A no-holds-barred blood chiller terror/thriller…and that’s all I’m gonna say about it for now
  • Red Route One
    A science fiction pulse-pounder about the first Mars mission and the reality TV show that it’s based around–alluded to in Suave Rob and the forthcoming The Resurrection Junket, this one’s another standalone that’s set in the Antithesis universe right near the point where that timeline diverges from the real world.

And I’ve got a few more stacked up behind those for next year.
Now, the trick is, with nearly half the year gone: How much of that list can I get through in grand style?
Starting next Wednesday, I aim to find out.

Check back on May 1 for another big update, and your next podcast episode.
-Dan

Free Will and The Next 10k

Hey everyone–

Quick update for you regarding the podcasts and where the hell I’ve been.

Short version:

Crudrat ate my life. Some projects, by dint of luck, show you all the cracks in the structure of your operation, and Crudrat has done that to AWP. Almost everything that could go wrong with a production in terms of the world hurling random obstacles at you DID go wrong, and the some of the calls I made in dealing with the setbacks set us back further. Many of you have been there with your own careers and businesses. Suffice it to say, it has been the most difficult production of my life so far–and, because of running triage and dealing with setbacks, we were left with no time for mixing and posting new podcast episodes.

However, Crudrat wraps up in the next couple days. The light is there, and it’s not a train, but glorious sunshine. And it has definitely been worth it. The final product shines, and you are going to love it. Everyone involved stepped up and did a fantastic job in the face of sometimes-impossible obstacles. And it shows in the product. To a person, the voice cast, the crew, and the support staff have done some of the best work I’ve ever seen.

And now, it’s just about over.

Expect the podcast to resume in mid-April, with a vengeance and with regularity. After all, we have to find out exactly what is going to happen when someone trips over the body of that poor girl on the Lunar surface…

Thanks for your patience!
-Dan

In Memorium: Douglas Noel Adams

As it’s the birthday of Douglas Adams, lots of folks are tweeting favorite parts of his writing to one another. I’ve been trying to tweet mine, but the thought is too big for 140 characters, so here’s the long(er) version:

If I had to chose five books to read for the rest of my life, two of them would be written by Douglas Adams. I found >The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy when I was fifteen, so I was a latecomer as far as my generation was concerned. Most of my friends found the books in Jr. High. I found the radio dramas after I’d dropped out of high school. In my case, that was just the right time for it to change my consciousness, profoundly.

In its quirky and irreverent humor, I found a raw-hearted, fierce love of life and insatiable curiosity–as well as a deep sense of moral irony that earnest me was, at the time, desperately lacking. Of all the bits of the radio series that stuck with me (and I have, in fact, memorized all 13+ hours of it), the parable of the Ogloroonians is the one that perhaps helped set the tone most for the kind of life I’ve found. Here you can see it, in context, with some lovely animations (the parable starts at 1m33s and runs to 3m05s):

)

So the Hitchhiker’s Guide rocked. But later on, I found Dirk Gently, and again, it changed my consciousness.

Dirk Genly’s Holistic Detective Agency is an altogether weirder book, and more apparently nonsensical, which is why Douglas embedded in it a rosetta stone in the form of an essay about mathematics and beauty. It turns out that this little throwaway tidbit is an important part, because he’s basically telling you, in two pages, what the entire book is really about–underneath the…well, okay, I won’t spoil it for you, so I’ll just say “underneath the freako-bizarre paranormal mystery”–lurks one of the modern world’s finest meditations on beauty and what it means.

The little essay is called Music and Fractal Landscapes by Richard McDuff (who is a character in the book), and it’s worth a couple minutes to read it. You can find it as a pdf, easy to read right there.

— —
Douglas Noel Adams changed my life for the better, twice. He’s one of the big reasons that I write science fiction. He went missing–probably because of the Vogons–15 years ago.

And I still miss him.