Proof copies have arrived

Proof copies (that I ordered ~10 days ago) have arrived.

First off, they look amazing!

Second, I am now hard at work, reading through all ~1,500 pages, word by word, looking for typos, spelling errors, any thing that needs to be corrected with a last minute editorial change, etc.

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We did it!

Thanks so much

I didn’t think that there was any realistic chance that we’d break $18k, but we did it! I’m thrilled with the money, of course (hey, it’s not every day someone gets to earn $2.90 per hour for 2,000+ hours! 🙂 ), but what really makes me happy is that a story that I worked so long and hard on is of interest to so many people. It’s a great tale, and I think you’re really going to enjoy it. And speaking of enjoyment, I’ve got pride-of-craftsmanship flowing right now: this is the story I wanted to write, and I wrote it the best way I knew how, and I took a full five drafts to really get it right. I’ll probably never climb Everest, but this is something I worked hard on…and I think when you read it, you’ll be able to tell.

What comes next

It is my understanding that it takes 14 days for funds to get released. In parallel with this I will send out surveys, asking people for details on their order (does the $100 pledge want one set of hardcovers, two sets of trade, or what? …and each of the ten collectors edition hardcover pledges gets to specify a name for a minor character!).

Also, during those 14 days, I will be reading the proof copies which should be arriving imminently, and making any required changes.

Once the funds release I will go to my printer and start cranking out orders, to direct ship to backers. I will also be sending out e-books at the same time.

Printing and binding takes ~5 days.

Shipping takes ~5-7 days.

People who pledged for the collectors editions hardcovers will be getting signed and numbered books, so those will ship to my home, and I will turn them around within a day or so.

Here is the best possible case schedule:

  1. KS ends: 18 April
  2. funds released to me: 2 May
  3. books purchased from printer: 2 May
  4. books shipped by printer: 9 May
  5. books arrive at pledge backers: 16 May
  6. 10 collectors edition sets arrive at my house: 16 May
  7. I sign and reship 10 collectors edition sets: 17 May
  8. 10 collectors edition sets arrive at your home: 24 May

There is also one person who has signed up for the “lunatic edition”, which will be bound in leather.

I do not have a precise schedule for that yet.

N.B. that the above is the best possible schedule. Any number of things (known unknowns, or unknown unknowns) could happen, causing one or more 1-2 day hiccups.

I will proceed as quickly as possible, aiming to hit the above dates…and I will keep you in the loop if there are any noteworthy deviations.

Thanks again

Once again, I really really appreciate your support!


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Firefly Season 2 available at Amazon

This is a fun little short story. It’s got twelve 5-star views. Check out Firefly Season 2.

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The books are finished and ready to buy!

Please check out the kickstarter ! E-books starting at just $6.

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Act I Problems / a Five Year Writing Project

Writing a novel isn’t always a team exercise, but it can be.

While I’m doing 100% of the labor and 99.99% of the decision making on this novel, there are a few trusted voices I’m listening to:

  • a writing coach I’ve retained for a few hours of consultation
  • a line editor
  • a friend and fellow writer who’s working on her first novel

Recently I’ve started to realize that Act 1 of book 1 is slow. It’s not terribly slow. I like big vast worlds and multithreaded books (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Directive 51, etc.) and these kinds of books often do start slow. It’s almost inevitable: a motorcycle can rev and be doing 60mph in a few seconds, but a 200 car freight train takes a bit longer to get up to speed.

…but that said, something to draw the reader in in the first ten pages is good, drawing him in in the first five pages is better, and capturing his attention on the very first page is best.

A few people told me that the book started well enough, but “well enough” wasn’t – well – well enough for me.

So the four of us put our heads together and came up with this.

Facts / Problems

  • the pacing problem is largely in Act 1
    • the Earth governments don’t burn the lunar satellites until 15,000 words in (60 pages)
    • the Earth governments don’t hijack a expat ship until 33,000 words in (132 pages)
  • the book is dense with long-fuse plot elements, most of which are lit in Act 1, but don’t pay off till late in book 1 / middle of book 2
  • Mike’s personality is mostly defined by his reactions to long fuse plot elements, so he becomes better defined late in book 1 and in book 2, but because there ARE no short fuse plot elements in act 1, Mike has nothing to push back against and is rudderless as a character
  • much of Mike’s drama is sitting in a boardroom writing memos and arguing with people, which (a) is not suitable for a man of action, and (b) doesn’t show the reader that he is a man of action

Action Plan

  • we need to speed things up in the first 33,000 words
  • …via need a short-fuse plot that starts, builds, and resolves in 33,000 words
  • it should involve Mike, so that
    • we see that he is the hero of the novel
    • he gets a chance to demonstrate his personality
  • the short-fuse plot should be out in Aristillus, not behind a desk
  • some hand-waving ideas on how to work in the new short-fuse plot
    • make room
      • cut up to 10% of the scenes in Act 1
      • condense the word count of the remaining Act 1 scenes between 0% and 33%
    • insert plot
      • add up to 10% new material to 5 existing scenes
      • write 5 new chapters

In addition to all of this my line editor has come up with a list of about ten other issues. She was very kind, telling me that this is the best thing that she’s edited in a long time. That’s good for the ego, but does not change the fact that I’ve been laboring over this project for 3.5 years and had hoped to have it finished before the calendar turned to 2015.

It’s now looking like that won’t happen, and the book will spill into a fifth year.


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soccer in micro-gravity

You ask:

We deliver:

{{{***x 306: MIKE, DARCY – walking through tunnels

== 2064: Conveyor Belt district, Aristillus, 2.4 million km from Earth

A ball went flying past Mike’s face. He looked up with a start and realized that he’d walked into the middle of a wild free-ranging game of street soccer. Mike grumbled at Darcy. “A guy could get hit with a ball -”

Darcy slapped him playfully on the shoulder. “Stop being a bear. This is incredible! No one has ever played soccer in a twentieth g before. We might be watching the creation of a new sport!”

Mike raised one eyebrow. “Soccer is not a sport.”

Darcy rolled her eyes. “OK, Tex, whatever you say.” She pointed. “Look at that guy, see the way he’s doing a flip before he kicks. And that guy? He jumped halfway to the ceiling. Of the tunnel! It’s awesome – come on, admit it!”

Mike shrugged. “Maybe it’s a little neat.”

Darcy looked at him seriously as they continued walking down the center of the vehicle-less tunnel road. “Mike, you’ve been in a funk for a week. You perked up for a bit after coffee with Darren, but now you’re back in it. What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” He paused, then raise his head and pointed with his chin “Looks like they’ve set up another music stage at the festival since yesterday.”

“You’re not answering my question.”

Mike said nothing for a long moment, then sighed. “Morlock is gone and the pieces sold off to make good on the revolution’s debts. An in return, I’m left holding a bunch of bonds from the First Bank of Aristillus.”


“So Mark keeps pressuring me to back his plan.”

“His tax plan?”

“Yeah. He wants a one percent sales tax on every transaction to pay bank bondholders.”

Darcy laughed. “Mark has been pressing for that since before the invasion. And all the Aristillus media is covering the fact that you’re not backing him. So you’re not just a hero for winning the war, but for fighting Mark. So why are you upset?”

He looked at the ground. “Never mind.”

Darcy nodded and they walked in silence for a long moment, then Mike looked over. “I’m not upset. I’m pissed. I’m pissed that I have to choose between legitimizing Mark’s government, which I won’t do, and being poor.”

Darcy let the silence stretch out. “Mike?”


“How long ago did we meet?”

“Uhh…twelve – no, thirteen – years ago.”

Darcy rolled her eyes. “It was fourteen years ago. You remember how?”

“Of course. I was in DC to testify, and you -”

Darcy laughed. “It wasn’t ‘to testify’. You were under arrest, and you were defending yourself in the CEO Trials. Everything – your warehouses, your machinery, your offices – had already been seized. Your bank accounts were frozen. You were facing life in jail. Do you remember what you told the Secretary of Commerce in open court?”

Mike smiled even now, almost a decade and a half later. “Yeah. I -”

Darcy held up a hand. “No, I don’t need to hear it again. Think of my delicate ears.”

Mike smiled more broadly. “But, yeah, I remember. What’s your point?”

“The point, Mike Martin, is I believed in you when you were a penniless about-to-be-convicted-felon facing a life sentence. The fact that even when you were on that stand, you had that much fight in you – well, anyway. That was fourteen years ago. What have you accomplished since then?”

Mike said “I know what you’re saying, but Morlock is -”

Darcy shook her head then put her hand on his arm. “I’m not talking about Morlock. I never cared about your company or the money that came with it. I cared about the drive of the lunatic BEHIND it all. Here’s what you’ve done in the last fourteen years: you and Javier bribed your way out of jail during the CEO Trials, you hooked up with Ponzie, outfitted the first ship, begged and borrowed your way to owning a TBM-”

“Yeah, but -”

“Let me finish. You established Aristillus. You helped John’s Team rescue the Dogs from genocide. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, you saw the Revolution coming and you laid the groundwork to win it.” She gave him a hard stare. “And because of all that, you’ve rescued nearly a million people from tyranny and are leading them to build a new world. That hokey phrase ‘with freedom for all’? You’ve done it. THAT, Michael Martin, is what you’ve accomplished in the last fourteen years.”

Mike grinned a bit. Raised his eyebrows “You know, when you put it that way, maybe I have done a thing or two.”

Darcy smiled at his understatement, but then grew serious. “You’ve done the impossible. I don’t care if you’re penniless.”

“Well, I wasn’t really worried that YOU were worried -”

“I know. I’m saying that YOU shouldn’t care if you’re penniless.”

“Don’t give me that hippie crap that money doesn’t matter-”

“Money doesn’t matter – accomplishment does. But even if you insist that money does matter, I have no doubt that you’ll be rich and powerful again, if you want to.”

“You’re saying you’d be OK with me playing chess in the park and writing my memoirs for the rest of my life?”

“Absolutely.” Darcy smiled. “But I bet that if you tried it you’d be bored inside of a week.”

Mike shrugged. “Maybe.” The two of them walked down the middle of the street in companionable silence. Suddenly Darcy, with out warning, started skipping – literally skipping – along, bouncing high in the air on each hop.

He shook his head. What a goofball. She saw him looking. “What?”

He smiled. “You.”

“Hey, you won your revolution. Why SHOULDN’T I dance?”. She laughed at her own joke and skipped ahead.


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stats 2014 update

I’m 53 days and 43 percent of the way in to draft 5.

It’s going a bit slower than I had hoped when I started this draft, but I’m still doing 3-4 hours per day, 7 days per week, and getting more done per day than on any previous draft (partially because the input material is more finished than in any other draft, and partially just because I’m cranking out more hours per day).

draft start finish duration words/day size
1 1 Jan ’11 24 Aug ’11 235 720 169,000
2 1 Jan ’12 3 Aug ’12 215 976 210,000
3 04 Aug ’12 20 Dec ’12 139 1,975 275,000
4 17 Mar ’13 30 Oct ’13 227 1,462 332,049
5 23 Apr ’14 23 Aug ’14
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The vast majority of competition in Aristillus was friendly – or, at the very least, civil

In the novel I have this bit:

The vast majority of competition in Aristillus was friendly – or, at the very least, civil. It wasn’t like back home, where bribing government procurement offices and putting moles inside other firms competing for the same winner-take-all contracts was the norm.

My line editor asked me what my justification for this was.

One of the things that’s pulled me away from hard-core CULTURAL ancapism (not that I was ever really there, given the inherent tension between Catholicism (or any theism ) and the whiff of Randism at the core of much ancap thinking) is my growing acknowledgement that the market (in the fullest sense of the word, not in the denegerate ‘two guys haggling in the souq’ sense) depends – not on government as Lefties suggest – but on a broader Enlightenment culture.

Government, even horrible 1984 style government, will never be able to prosecute more than 0.00001% of frauds, borderline frauds, and excessive sharp dealing in the marketplace. In the end it comes down to self government, cultural norms, and a sense of fairness (either from a Judeo-Christian background, Voltarian ideals (growing out of Judeo-Christian culture), etc.).

A bunch of Harvard physicists at a shared cabin for a fishing weekend will organize themselves somewhere on the ancap – Ken Macleodian communist spectrum. A bunch of Afghanis or Nigerians with a copy of the US Constitution and voting booths will, on the other hand, divide things up according to tribal loyalty, not because they are ‘subverting democracy’ but because according to their lights that is the proper way to do things.

Aristillus is presented in my novels not as the perfect way for all people to live, but as the perfect way for people who want to live in Aristillus to live. The folks there aren’t WEIRD but they are WEIR.

And, of course, game theory is all about the defection problem, and how there can be multiple equilibria. In the novel businessman Leroy Fournier defects from the cultural norm and cheats in business…and it works for him.

That exposes a troubling zero day flaw in the Aristillus culture and Fournier has the exploit.

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Economics Two Point Oh

On twitter there was a thread where Accelerando and my novels collided:

I thought I might as well share one of the chapters where Strossian economics are referenced (and mocked)

ch 184: Poly kids (2/5)

== 2064: Atlanta Hackerspace, Atlanta, GA, Earth

Maynard leaned over the bench as he tightened the pillow block over stator. There. That was it. He put the wrench down. Once he put the cover plate on the drive would be finished. Now he just had to –

“So, anyway, I was saying that with Economics Two Point Oh we wouldn’t have to be scrounging these supplies, and, you know, buying the ones we can’t scrounge.”

Maynard nodded to Vince, then picked up the cover plate and lowered it into position over the drive core.

Vince sat on one of the workbenches, and leaned back against a tool chest, arms crossed over his chest. “I’m serious, Maynard. The powers that be, here, they’re too locked into their current mindset. They’re like fish who can’t even imagine living on dry land.”

The cover plate fit perfectly. He wasn’t surprised – it’d been machined from the expat CAD file, and all of the pieces had come out decently. Maynard grabbed the screwdriver and reached for the magnetic bowl that held the screws. “Uh huh.”

Vince hopped off the bench and walked to where Maynard was working. “M, man – you’re not listening to me.”

Maynard looked up and met Vince’s eyes. “Yes, I am, but I’m also -”

Vince gave him that cocky grin. “Good.” He hopped up onto the bench Maynard was using and pushed the slate, the multimeter and the magnetic bowl of small parts away as he shimmied back onto the table. “Economics two point oh is something most people are blinded to – they get so wrapped up in the old tit-for-tat property model. They don’t understand the post-scarcity gift economy.”

Maynard sighed and reached around Vince for the magnetic bowl. “Uh huh.” He slide the bowl closer, pulled one screw out and started to affix the cover plate.

“Even the expats don’t get Two Point Oh thinking – they’re still mired in One Point Oh.”

Maynard looked up at Vince and furrowed his brow. “Wait a second. If you support this new economics -”

“Two Point Oh” Vince corrected him.

“Two Point Oh. If you’re so eager for that, then how is going to Aristillus, where you say the people are too dumb to get that model, going to help you?”

Vince grinned. “Good question, M, good question. I never said these expats aren’t dumb. If they were, there’d be no point in going there – we might as well stay home, right? No, the problem isn’t the wetware – it’s the program running on it. They’re just unenlightened. Ideas are like programs – they treat backwards thinking and route around it. Two Point Oh stands on its own. Put it up against One Point Oh, and it will outcompete it. Make it its bitch.”

“But how exactly will Two -”

Vince sighed, good-naturedly. “Selfishness is evolutionarily a dead end. Whether we’re talking copyright, property rights, relationships-”

Maynard put down his screw driver. “Relationships?”

Vince nodded his head while picking up the multimeter and flicking it on. “Absolutely. The scarcity economy made sense when things were actually scarce, but in the digital age, a lot of things AREN’T scarce. So we create artificial scarcity, in all areas of life.” He put the multimeter down. “But you already know that, man – you and Carrie-Ann are poly, right?”

Maynard picked up the multimeter that Vince had been playing with and set it back to DC voltage then turned it off. “Well, yeah, of course. I mean we’re not fundamentalists, or anything -”

“Exactly. So you see how it is. Anyway, my point is that the expats are already part way to the new thinking. They get open source, they get decentralization. It’s about up-from-the-people, not down-from-the-central-authorities, right? But the expats are afraid to follow that to the logical conclusion. They claim they’re against centralization, but what do they replace it with? Corporations. Which is just a petit bourgeoisie version of the police state. Or think of it as the economic version of an exclusive sexual relationship. It all connects- you see that, right?”

Maynard pursed his lips and exhaled. He didn’t like Vince harping on the relationship – especially sexual relationships. Especially after the way he’d been flirting with Carrie-Ann recently. Yes, they were technically poly. TECHNICALLY. Anyway, time to change the topic. “Hey, Vince, I’m almost done with the anti gravity drive. How are the maneuvering rockets coming?”

“Getting there, getting there. I’ve to print out the pumps and supply lines.”

“So the rocket bells themselves are done?”

“Don’t worry about it- it’ll all work out.”

Maynard secured the last screw in the AG drive cover plate. “Vince, there’s not a ton of time in the schedule. We’ve got two weeks until -”

Vince grinned. “I know. It’s under control.”

“I’m working late tonight on the AG drive’s calibration. If you’re going to be here we could order some Thai, and -”

“Would love to, man, but I’ve got to be somewhere.” Vince hopped off the bench. “Catch you tomorrow.” Maynard sighed and reached for his slate. The ebook said that the calibration routines took hours to run. The sooner he got started the sooner he could leave and go to bed.

Behind him he heard Vince shut the door to the hackerspace.

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stats 2014

draft start finish duration words/day size
1 1 Jan ’11 24 Aug ’11 235 720 169,000
2 1 Jan ’12 3 Aug ’12 215 976 210,000
3 04 Aug ’12 20 Dec ’12 139 1,975 275,000
4 17 Mar ’13 30 Oct ’13 ) 227 1,462 332,049
5 23 Apr ’14 31 July ’14
Posted in Stats | 1 Comment