Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Kassa Gambit for $2.99!

There is now an electronic edition of The Kassa Gambit for $2.99. It was put together by NLA Digital and looks fantastic; Gregory Manchess let us re-use the wonderful cover he originally painted for TOR.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Judgment at Verdant Court reviews

A couple of nice reviews for the new book:

"...I’m really pleased with this plot twist."
The Illustrated Page

"Then the good stuff happens."
SF Crow's Nest

"Aided by a sombre and heroically humble military veteran, Karl, and a slew of other memorable allies..."
Timothy at Goodreads

Good catch! Christopher is the protagonist of the story; but Karl is the hero.  The most self-realized character I have ever written; I remember being surprised when I first met Karl in the narrative. Which, given that I was writing it, was a bit surprising.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

How Climate Change elected Donald Trump

Morality is not a set of abstract rules handed down from on high, or intuited from the structure of the universe. It is a utility function that maximizes genetic fitness. We evolved morality as a response to the evolutionary pressures of social living. This means that as the environment changes, so do our intuitions of morality.

In other words, what people perceive to be moral depends on what what they perceive to benefit their chance of passing on their genes.

Climate change is an undeniable fact; sea levels will rise, and billions of people will be displaced. This is properly terrifying. Humans respond to fear by becoming more authoritarian. Donald Trump won on one and only one policy: anti-immigration. Racism and sexism were relevant, but only as expressions of this fear. Trump’s true allure was his authoritarianism, his promise to close the borders, and his sociopathy.

Because those are the qualities required to close the gates to a horde of refugees. To stand back and watch a billion people drown requires it. They voted for the most horrible person they could find, because they want him to do something horrible.

Around the world, racism, nativism, and tribalism are on the rise. People are girding themselves for the battle to come. Their real concern is not that refugees are brown or Muslim; those are useful categories but not necessary. It is their mere status as refugees that is frightening.

Climate change is mostly caused by rich nations; its pain will be borne most heavily by poor nations. We have already demonstrated that we will not give up our luxuries for their dying; how much less likely are we to suffer the real and measurable privation that would come with both reducing climate change and caring for the people it displaces.

Hillary Clinton (and for that matter, Bernie Sanders) represented inclusiveness. Their leadership would have steered the lifeboat closer, to rescue as many people as possible, even at the risk of capsizing. Trump represents the opposite: the boats that left the Titanic early, only half-full.

To leave the sinking ship in an orderly fashion saves the most lives, but it also requires trust. The Republicans dedicated the last thirty years to destroying trust in government and largely succeeded. Now we unpack the dog-whistles and see that Clinton was not “trustworthy,” because Clinton could not be trusted to row away from the drowning innocents.

Despite all their talk of Christian faith and climate skepticism, their actions reveal their fear. Not just buying guns, but hardening hearts, quelling empathy, embracing strength, celebrating savagery.

It is, in their perception, the best way to survive the coming flood.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Woman is the n****r of the world

John Lennon wrote those words a long time ago.

Nothing has changed.

The best qualified woman, the smartest person in the room, with a thirty-year of history of hard work, applied for a job. A drunken boor literally walked in off the street... and they gave the job to him.

In the end, the best woman was still worse than the worst man.

The Republicans paid no price for breaking our democratic traditions. No candidate will ever again release their taxes. No candidate will put his assets in a blind trust; the Presidency will be viewed as a vehicle for making money. No candidate will worry about fact checking - Trump stood up and lied to thousands about a video they could literally have checked on their phones and they didn't care. No candidate will worry about Constitutional rights of the citizenry: calling for police monitoring of religious groups will be just another campaign promise.

So many traditions were smashed tonight, in a way that Bush at his worst never dreamed of. This was not a partisan election; this was not between Republican policies and Democratic principles. This was either a revolt against the norms of democracy, or an act of negligent homicide.

Either way, the people said they wanted change; well, they'll get it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Judgment at Verdant Court review & give-away

Publisher's Weekly gave me a very nice review:

Fast-paced…. Planck’s writing is as straightforward and clever as his protagonist. Fans will enjoy diving headlong into the action.

And Pyr is running a give-away on Goodreads:


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sword of the Bright Lady on sale

Barnes & Noble selected my book as part of their "start a new series" promotion, and since everything is electronic these days, Amazon price-matched the ebook.

So now you can buy Sword of the Bright Lady for $2.99. (Oddly, for $2.99 AU in Australia, too, despite the exchange rate).

It only lasts for a week, so start clicking!

In other news: Judgment at Verdant Court will be out Dec 9, and I am 40K words into Verdict on Crimson Fields. Planning on having it finished by Dec, but that means I need to stop watching "BrainDead" every night.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

And I heard a great clatter, as if all the irony meters in the galaxy were silenced...

Mike Pence slams Obama for name calling.
“I don’t think name calling has any place in public life.” 
Nietzsche was wrong. It's not God who died, but irony.

Trump was on Twitter while Pence was uttering these words, emitting his usual stream of name-calling such as "Little Mike Bloomberg" and "Crooked Hillary."

Baghdad Bob has come home.

Friday, July 1, 2016

It Happend One Doomsday

Got a copy of It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton in the mail today. It's a fun, fast read about the Apocalypse being delivered in demonic muscle cars. Urban fantasy isn't my usual fare, but I liked this one, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Filling in the Drake equation

Yes, there have been aliens

The odds that we are the first and last technological civilization seem to be irrational, as the article says, now that we know how many planets exist that could support life.

Which, in it is way, is depressing; because it implies that the controlling factor of the Drake equation is "how long a technological civilization lives," and that factor must be very, very small.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Kindle Revolution's dark underbelly

Magician of the first category is #923 in Paid Kindle store right now. It's a self-published book by a Russian author. For all I know it's a great story; but as a book it is a total failure. Here is some actual text from the first page:

"What we are all potential war criminals and we cry a military tribunal. Therefore, the only way for us to remain silent in a rag, and pretend to be rags. This manual arguments. On our side, n rivodilis following arguments. In the first place, but we are on the drum."

Dropping foreign texts into Google translate does not count as publishing, self- or otherwise. This kind of nonsense clogs the channel; it's like turning on a faucet and getting muddy water. It just puts people off the whole reading thing. The fact that this book is higher on the Paid Kindle list than any of my books ever have or will be is, I think, a sign that there is something seriously wrong with the ranking system. I mean, say what you will about my writing, but at least it's in English.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Englishman in Kansas

A most extraordinary text, and this only in the editor's foreward, discussing the nature of the South and its peculiar institution:

I have seen a girl, twelve years old, in a district where, in ten miles, the slave population was fifty to one of the free, stop an old man on the public road, demand to know where he was going, and by what authority, order him to face about and return to his plantation; and enforce her command with turbulent anger, when he hesitated, by threatening that she would him well whipped if he did not instantly obey. The man quailed like a spaniel, and she instantly resumed the manner of a lovely child with me, no more apprehending that she had acted unbecomingly than that her character had been influence by the slave's submission to her caprice of supremacy; no more conscious that she had increased the security of her life by strengthening the habit of the slave to the master race, than is the sleeping seaman that he tightens his clutch of the rigging as the ship meets each new billow.

I do not think I could write such an incident in my fiction, and get away with it. No one would credit it.

The foreward is about the effect the South's reliance upon instant and savage violence has upon its people. living as they did in a permanent "state of siege." I cannot help but see the echo of "a good man with a gun," and this sense that everyone, everywhere must be always armed and prepared to engage the enemy, whether they be thugs, terrorists, or the walking dead.

And this phrase, from later on: "an idolatrous estimate of the virtue of physical courage." Does anything better describe "a good man with a gun?"

Monday, April 11, 2016

Obama calls for mandatory voting

I've been saying this for years! I guess Obama reads the comments section at Political Wire and Salon.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Full Australian

I took the pledge and became an Australian citizen tonight. Now I have to accept that meat pies are an actual food item.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

E-book on sale!

You can get Sword of the Bright Lady for $2.99, this week only, thanks to Barnes & Nobles New Year, New Series sale. Woot!