“Luna City, At Night” at Daily Science Fiction

My story “Luna City, At Night” is now available at Daily Science Fiction. Here’s a preview:

Every night before I hit the bars, I push the mattress off my bed and pick out one of the expensive watches. In my house, under the mattress is the safest hiding spot. I select a watch, like I do every Friday night, and put it on. Real leather wallets keep the watches company; I choose one of those and shove money inside. Without the mattress, my bed looks like a snake-lover’s garden: silvery serpentine watches crawl over brown rock-like wallets. I replace the mattress.

Every time I head out, I think: Luna City is beautiful at night. It’s the same every night, but it’s beautiful.

Daytime is a recurring nightmare filled with unceasing sameness. I get up at the same time each day and take my shower at the exact same time because the water supply is tightly controlled. I wait for a crowded floater to stop in front of my dome and for the driver to throw open the dome’s latch. I get on the floater and stand between the same sweaty people and I never get a seat and I get off at the dome stop linked up to my work complex. The floater keeps going, bumping along on a jet of pushed air, a giant farting machine. As precise as clockwork, the floater comes around at the same time each day, and farts along at the same speed, traveling every day along the same dome-dotted path.

At work, every day is the exact same. I work with the same people, and take my breaks in the same cafeteria. I come in to work every day at the same time and I eat lunch at the same time and the boss yells, every day at the same time.

But nighttime is a different story.

Read “Luna City, At Night” >>

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Is Publishing a Zero-Sum Game? A Response to Lynn Shepherd, an Anonymous Bestseller, and Like-Minded Writers

This past week I read two posts that made me shake my head in disbelief—the infamous Lynn Shepherd piece where she asked J.K. Rowling to stop writing books in the adult market (she graciously allowed Ms. Rowling to keep writing children’s books and books “for [her] personal pleasure”—she would never deny anyone that) so that Ms. Shepherd’s novels would have a better chance of attracting attention, and an anonymous bestselling writer who responded to the claims that publishing books isn’t a zero-sum game: “If you express those ideas as numbers, you’re describing the lower slopes of an exponential curve that has to—can do nothing other than—explode upward until every cent of global GDP is spent on e-books, and every second of every human’s day is spent reading them.”

Sure, Anonymous Bestseller, in theory publishing books is zero-sum: people’s money and time is limited, so, theoretically, more books available to people means more competition, which means less time and money that can be spent on your or my books. (Set aside for the moment that there are already way more books available than any one person can read in a normal lifetime).

In the real world, though, the competition isn’t among writers for readers, the competition is between writers of prose fiction and producers of every other form of entertainment (movies, TV shows, music, computer games, even YouTube cat videos). I adore reading, but I spend a lot more time in any given week watching movies and TV shows and listening to music than I spend reading for pleasure. Why? In part because after a long day or long week at work, I sometimes just want to veg in front of a big screen (while still being social—it’s awkward to invite your friends over on a Friday night to quietly read a good book together). But part of it is also that movies and TV shows are really good these days—my wife and I watched Her in theatres a few weeks ago and loved it; that movie was some of the most satisfying science fiction I’ve encountered over the last year, in film or in print. A few weeks ago, I finished watching Breaking Bad, which is as satisfying a thriller as I’ve encountered in a long time.

We writers are not at war with one another, battling over precious resources, with each writer individually trying to conquer a limited portion of the Land of Readers for themselves. Ours is a war to capture hearts and minds, where collectively we writers are trying to convert non-readers into readers and sometime-readers into frequent readers (and, why not, frequent readers into obsessive readers). Most people spend most of their leisure time doing non-reading activities, and spend most of their entertainment budget on movies and games and music and other non-book things. But every captivating and entertaining novel encourages us to spend more time reading—to seek out more great and entertaining novels rather than click play on the next movie in our Netflix queue or look up what’s playing at the local movie theatre.

There’s no doubt that J.K. Rowling converted a generation of kids into readers, teaching them how wonderful and satisfying reading a novel could be. We need more J.K. Rowlings, and more books by Ms. Rowling herself, to keep up the good fight. If the day ever comes where almost everyone is reading almost every minute of their free time, then we can start worrying about zero-sum in publishing books. Until then, rather than see ourselves desperately fighting over scraps, let’s encourage one another to keep writing, and keep writing great books that can capture people’s hearts and minds, and convert more of them into readers.

Because it seems to me from the types of posts and comments I quoted above that some of us are seeing a tiny tree and wondering how that little tree’s fruits can possibly sustain us all. But behind that tree there are entire forests with more fruit than any one of us can ever harvest in a lifetime—if only we’re clever and engaging and entertaining enough, as a group of prose fiction writers, to conquer those lands.

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Half-a-Fish Theology Episode One: “Does God send people to Hell?”

In the first of a new series of short videos looking at questions of theology from an ancient, Orthodox Christian perspective, I take a very brief look at the question, “Does God send people to Hell?”

Can’t watch video? You can read the show notes for this episode.

 

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Mindship Decommissioned at Perihelion Science Fiction

My story “Mindship Decommissioned” is available in the November 2013 issue of Perihelion Science Fiction.


Mindship Decommissioned

Three times they tried to take away his enclosed office and his assistant, and three times Geoff fought to keep both, and won. It wasn’t a total win, though; they’d replaced his assistant—a very intelligent, sometime-professor of astrophysics at the local university—with an undergraduate student who had taken a few science courses. Geoff had no idea how to talk to the young girl. Marcia. No, Mirsha. Mirsha.

He stayed mostly in his office now. Whenever he ventured out, he regretted it as the awkward silence between him and Mirsha dragged on.

Geoff sat behind his desk and studied the latest retirement package offer. They’d tried to force him to leave—but you don’t work in the same place for eighty years and not make a few powerful friends. Although most of his friends were dead now, or dying, or retired. Soon he wouldn’t be able to call on favors. He should accept their latest offer—it had gotten more generous with every refusal—before they forced him out and gave him whatever package they wanted.

A knock sounded.

“Yes?”

The door opened slightly and Mirsha’s head poked through. Her skin was sky-blue today; Geoff realized he should have remarked on it when he came in that morning. It was too late to remark now. “You’ve got a message coming through,” she said.

“I do?” Geoff hated that he sounded so surprised. Of course I’ve got a message; why shouldn’t I have a message? I work here, don’t I? Or maybe it’s a personal call. I have friends. “Okay, thanks Mirsha,” he said, smiling apologetically, as if to say he’d love to talk more but he was otherwise occupied.

Read this story >>

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The Third Body at AE

Very happy that my story “The Third Body” was purchased by AEscifi.ca, especially since this is a Canadian magazine. The story appears in Issue 12 (Fall 2013), now available.


The Third Body

“I found another one,” Jen said, whispering into her shoulder-strapped microphone. “She’s dead too.”

Mart started to say something, but Jen muted the speakers and approached the dead woman. She lay stretched out fully-clothed on the large bed, looking peaceful, the wrinkles around her eyes and lips soft and relaxed, her fingernails clean, no blood visible on her skin or clothes. Just like the man on the bridge.

She stepped away from the woman, feeling very cold all of a sudden. She unmuted the speakers.

“Mart, I’m–”

“Where were you?” Mart said in that tightly controlled voice that was almost scarier than if he’d just yell. “Did you turn me off again? I told you how much I hate that, Jen.”

“The microphone malfunctioned,” she said. “I’ll keep checking the ship.”

Read this story >>

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Secret to Beautifully Typeset Print Books for Self-Publishers

For self-publishers who can’t afford or don’t want to hire an expert to typeset their print books, I created this video to let them know about a secret weapon they can use.

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Confused Expressions #15: The Entitled Book

A book may, and usually does have a title, but it should not have an entitlement.

What I mean is that my first published novel, for example, is titled “Father John VS the Zombies,” but it is not entitled ”Father John VS the Zombies.” It is not even entitled to its title, since I granted that title to the book and can change it whenever I please (or even strip it away and publish the book as an untitled work, though that would be pretentious).

The confusion—and why many writers insist on referring to a written work as entitled something—may arise because I, as the author, confer the title onto the book. That is, I entitled my first novel with the title “Father John VS the Zombies.” But once I’ve entitled it, it’s now merely titled that. Clear as mud?

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Science VS Religion—Guest Post at RoseBuz

Over at RoseBuz.com (whose proprietor is planning to review my novel Father John VS the Zombies later this year), I have a guest post titled “Science VS Religion.” I try to look at why we so often see these two disciplines as in conflict, and whether such a view may say more about us than it does about either science or religion.

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The End Is Here (Launch of “Father John VS the Zombies”)

Father John VS the Zombies is now officially out in the world! The ebook has started appearing on various retailers, with more to be added soon. The paperback is forthcoming.

Right now you can buy your ebook copy from:

Want more before you’re ready to buy? You can read a short interview to learn more about the book. More? You can read the first chapter on this website for free. Still more? OK, see the offer below.

Limited time offer!

Buy a copy of Father John VS the Zombies before December 31, 2012 and receive a coupon code to download one of Karl’s other ebooks for free. How? After you’ve bought your copy of Father John VS the Zombies, send an email to ebook_offer@ootersplace.com with the name of the ebook you’d like from the list below. You’ll receive a coupon code to use on Smashwords.com, from where you’ll be able to download the book you’ve chosen in a variety of formats (including ones for your personal computer, Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPhone/iPod Touch, B&N Nook, Sony Reader, and Kobo Reader).

Ooter's Pace and Other Stories of Fear, Faith, and Love Cover Art

Ooter’s Place and Other Stories of Fear, Faith, and Love

13 Short Tales

Why doesn’t God do something to stop the evil and suffering in the world? Some people who call themselves the “Atheists Against God” think they know the answer. And they know what they’re going to do about it, too.

A hired gun—who doesn’t use a gun and won’t be hired by just anyone—realizes that his profession is killing him, but finds it hard to quit. Until he discovers that his talent has more uses than he ever dreamed possible.

A young boy learns that his best friend is an alien. But does that mean they have to stop being friends?

 

The Lost Stories: A Series of Cosmic Adventures Cover ArtThe Lost Stories: A Series of Cosmic Adventures

Biblically Inspired Science Fiction Humor

These are the adventures of James Kollins: greedy, petty, selfish captain of the galactic warship “DeVille“; a man obsessed with the holodrama “Captain Courageous and the Women Who Love Him”; a man completely unforgiving of his much-maligned first officer.  A man who has just met the Creator of the universe, though he doesn’t quite realize it yet, and whose life is about to change in ways he never dreamed possible, though he doesn’t quite know it yet.

Part loving Star Trek parody homage, part spiritual journey, The Lost Stories is a series of cosmic and comic adventures that is silly, fun, and also demonstrates the Power of God working in the life of even the most self-obsessed warship captain you’ve ever met.

 

The Redeyes (Cover)The Redeyes: A Short Story

A science fiction short story about killer robots, Christ, and an ex-convict who holds the key to freedom for a group of survivors.

This ebook also contains the bonus story “Atheists Against God and the Devil of Destruction” from the author’s collection Ooter’s Place and Other Stories of Fear, Faith, and Love.

 

 

The Man Who Mistook Himself for a Superhero (Cover)The Man Who Mistook Himself for a Superhero

A man wakes up in a dumpster. He can’t remember his name or how he got there, but he discovers incredible things about himself: he can stop bullets with his chest, he can bend metal with his hands—and he can fly.

He has superpowers. . .but is he a superhero?

 

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3 Days to Release of “Father John VS the Zombies”

Father John VS the Zombies will be officially launched this Wednesday, December 12.  Can’t wait? You can read a short interview to learn more about the book and, to whet your appetite, you can read the first chapter right now!

These characters and their story have been my own private domain* for too long.  I’m excited to let the book out into the world and to start sharing this story. (Unless everyone hates it and tells me what a terrible writer I am** … then I suppose it would’ve been better if I’d kept it private.)

Everything is on track for the launch this week (for the ebook, at least; the print version may take some extra time to make its way into the various retailers), so stay tuned for the official announcement on Wednesday.

* Except for my wife and my brother, who are my first readers on everything I write.

** Some people say writers suffer from self-esteem issues. Personally I don’t know what they’re talking about.

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Featured Book

Father John VS the Zombies Cover ArtThe zombie apocalypse from a Christian perspective, about a man who must try to protect his wife and daughter in a world suddenly turned apocalyptic.

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