Here’s a peek at the wrap-around cover for the print edition of Gods and The City, which will be available to order probably by the end of the week. Many thanks to Clarissa Yeo at Yocla Designs for her outstanding work. Cannot wait to hold this one in my hands.
It’s not quite a flying car, but until we get there I could live with a hoverbike as a substitute.
I’ve got a promotion through eBookSoda that’s set to hit on May 1, but readers of this blog can get an early jump on it. The e-book edition of Rules of Force, the first volume in my Connor Rix series of SF thrillers, is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time. The eBookSoda push arrives on Thursday, but the price decrease has already gone through at most of the major outlets. No waiting! Alternately, you can purchase the print edition and get the e-book for free.
Rules of Force
Connor Rix was there at the beginning, when the second-generation Brazilian steroids first arrived on the scene, along with the blood boost packs. It was his job to keep the newly-superhuman rowdies under control and shut down the most poisonous of the new modification labs. Not an easy job, but unbreakable bones and state-of-the-art optical implants sure help.
But now the list of bio-engineered miracles available to the public has grown as broad as the desires of mankind. And one man is leaving a trail of bodies across the Texas Republic as he brutally takes control of the market in human modifications and suppresses all competitors. What will it take to stop him? And what price must Rix pay to bring the man to justice?
Fortunately, Rix isn’t working this job alone. He has a nearly 7-foot giant on his team with a one-of-a-kind exoskeleton boosting his strength off the charts. And then there’s the night owl who never sleeps (or so she says) but that’s not her only modification. The woman Rix wants to make his wife is along for the ride too, if she can keep her fears in check.
These four must square off against an army of Modified enforcers to bring down the man who seeks to rule the bio-enhancement trade. All they have to figure out now is if their famous benefactor is a friend or foe….
I met Michael Bunker at last year’s LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio, the World Science-Fiction Convention for 2013. We were seated next to each other at the dinner Hugh Howey hosted for local fans and fellow writers, and we hit it off quickly. The man makes quite an impression. About the last thing you expect to see at a science-fiction convention is an Amish man and his family dressed in traditional garb, and Michael was asked more than once if he was engaging in a bit of cosplay. He good-naturedly informed the curious that he was, in fact, Amish, and was also a writer of science-fiction, thanks for asking. Making even more of an impression was the obviously sharp mind beneath the straw hat, along with his passionate advocacy for independent publishing.
Bunker has made a rapid transition from author of primarily non-fiction books such as Surviving Off Off-Grid: Decolonizing The Industrial Mind, to prolific writer in the science-fiction and post-apocalypse genres. His newest release is the complete omnibus edition of Pennsylvania, which has been serialized over the course of a year. It promises to be a true showcase for what’s possible in independent publishing, with cover by Jason Gurley and interior illustrations by Ben Adams. The trade paperback edition is being released on Tuesday, April 29, and Bunker is cooking up a “book bomb,” asking fans to buy it on that day, the better to make a boulder-sized splash in the rankings. I checked in with Michael to get the latest on the release:
SS: I already know, of course, because I’ve been reading the installments, but for everyone else, give us a rundown—what is Pennsylvania about?
MB: In shorthand, Pennsyvlania is about a young Amish man who, like his ancestors before him, decides to emigrate to a place where he can find good cheap land in a new Amish community. It just so happens that this community is on a new planet… the earth-like planet of New Pennsylvania. The journey thrusts young Jed into the midst of a war between an insurgent anti-government organization, and a tyrannical government agency, and in the midst of a number of mysteries that involve the very nature of time and space.
SS: You seem to have mined a unique sub-genre: Amish Science-fiction. How does your own life in a “Plain” community inform your fiction?
MB: I think living as a plain man in an off-grid community involves a daily study of how technology affects our lives and how we interact with it. Our cottage on our forty acre farm is completely non-electric, but I have an office several hundred yards from my cottage where I work. In my office I have limited electricity via solar power and a generator. So every day I experience the tension between the modern technological world, and my own community which is a simple, peaceful, plain community. That contrast is the root stock of Amish Sci-Fi. The Amish have never been anti-technology. They are just very deliberate about what technologies they choose to use and examine how the use of it will affect their lives, families, and communities. I think Amish Sci-Fi is a perfectly natural extension of what Sci-Fi is all about… how we deal with the future and how it affects our humanity.
SS: Pennsylvania was released as a serial in five installments over the course of a year, culminating in the omnibus edition. You’ve done that with many of your other novels. How does serialization help the Indie author? Is this still the most effective strategy?
MB: I think serialization offers the reader the best of both worlds. Some readers HATE serials, and only want to purchase the finished novel. Great! My books are compiled and novelized at the same speed as if I’d written the book and published it as a complete novel. So there is no “waiting” involved, other than the waiting that would have happened if I hadn’t serialized. At the same time, there is a large and growing population of readers, raised on serialized television and even serialized movies, who love the serial form. Actually, the serial form in literature is very, very old, and some of the greatest works of literature were serialized first. So readers can consume their fiction however they like it.
Serialization helps the author in numerous ways. First, it creates a relationship between the author and the people I call “super fans.” Those readers who just love serialization and love to actually have direct contact with the content creator. These readers become partners in the production and distribution of the work, almost like they are co-writers. They often offer early comment and critique as the story is being written, and through social media the author can actually listen in as his or her most avid readers discuss what they like or don’t like about the story.
Next, the super fans are also a driving force. They encourage the author to keep moving forward and to produce on a schedule. Like I said, they become full partners in the work! Then, with a large number of readers who are partners, our finalized novel has a firm platform to be launched out to the rest of the world. It is improved by the help from our partners, and those partners become voices that help move the story out of our immediate circle of influence. I don’t think serialization will work for every book, but for most speculative fiction it is an ideal plan for both the readers and the authors. I meet people all the time who say, “I hate serials. I’ll just wait for the full novel,” and I say “GREAT!” And I reinforce the fact that the serialization process has added ZERO time to the waiting. The Pennsylvania Omnibus will be released exactly when it would have been released if I hadn’t serialized it. The only difference is that I believe it is a much better book now than it might have been otherwise.
SS: You’ve put a lot of effort into the print edition of Pennsylvania. What’s special about the trade paperback?
MB: I’m one of those strange fellows who likes both e-books and paperbacks. I have well over 3,000 books in my personal library. I love physical copies of books, and I think there are still a whole lot of people who love physical books. At the same time, I realize that some people don’t have room on their book shelves or for some reason they just don’t like to buy physical books. Like with the Serial vs. Full Novel issue, with Indie publishing every reader can get exactly what they want.
I also happen to believe that we are in a very special time in the history of the world, one of those Golden Ages that happens in literature every 50 to 100 years. I believe that some of the Indie writers telling stories today will one day be household names, and they’ll be studied in classrooms in the future. I wrote a blog post for my blog yesterday where I explained how Gogol and Pushkin, both self-published authors at the time, published books in 1831 that fundamentally changed the world and all of literature. It was the beginning of the golden age of Russian literature.
So having some of these important works in the Indie publishing revolution in print format—a first edition—is a very cool thing. I’m developing quite a pile of signed Indie works, mainly because I believe they are going to be very valuable very soon. I can tell you this, if you had a signed print version of Hugh Howey’s first WOOL Omnibus (the earliest “ugly” yellow cover), you’d be able to sell it for a lot of money on Ebay. The one that is available there this morning is $599! I think that kind of collector reality is happening right now in self-publishing. I want the early, first edition printings of Pennsylvania to have the kind of intrinsic value that makes it valuable to the reader for more than just the story. That is why I put a lot of time and money into the first print edition of The Pennsylvania Omnibus, and why readers can buy it directly from Amazon unsigned, or they can ordered a signed First Edition directly from me.
SS: You have a book bomb planned for April 29th when the print edition is released. What everyone really wants to know is, which adult beverage are you holding in reserve to celebrate? And which stogie will get the honor?
MB: It will definitely be Scotch. I haven’t purchased it yet, but I’m considering my options. I think I will spend the day in Fredericksburg, Texas and I’ll buy a bottle of 12-year-old Highland Single Malt and I’ll sit back and see how the launch goes. As for a stogie, same deal… there is a pretty nice little cigar store in Fredericksburg and I’ll go pick out something fine and perfect and I’ll enjoy the day!
Two subjects that are close to my heart—books and beer. Circle Brewing Company is one of Austin’s fast-growing independent breweries, and Books on Tap is an independent bookstore in the making. They teamed up this weekend at Georgetown, Texas’, annual Red Poppy Festival, giving a glimpse of what’s to come.
Books on Tap plans to combine a craft beer tap wall with the charm of a locally-owned bookstore. The people behind it are renovating a building on the town square in Georgetown, so this should be one bookstore with a lot more character than you’ll find in your average shopping center. Austin is practically overflowing with quality microbreweries, so the tap wall alone will be worth visiting. And after following Books on Tap’s Facebook page, it’s clear these people know their literature. It sounds like a great concept, as discussing books over a pint is one of life’s fundamental pleasures. They already have an online store operating, and plan to open the storefront later this year. Picture me raising a glass to their success.
A thousand years in the past, humanity was attacked by hostile aliens and reduced to a handful of survivors. At the moment of greatest peril, the new gods of mankind were raised up. They pushed back the invaders and carried the shattered remnants of the human race to outposts where the survivors could rebuild human civilization.
The greatest of these redoubts is The City, a domed jewel on a small moon circling a stormy gas giant planet. The god Tower is its protector.
But when The City is assaulted by a power that rivals even that of the guardian god, the burden of protecting mankind’s future will fall to others. And what can mere men and women do against forces that can reshape and manipulate the universe itself?
Talia is a Radiant Acolyte in the temple of the gods. She knows the secrets and history of mankind’s protectors better than anyone.
Mik is a skilled technician who can see through the dazzling magic of the divine forces that power The City to the truth that lies beneath it.
Upon these two will fall the burden of protecting mankind’s future.
But the cost may be the very things that make them human.
Who says the fine arts are dead?
Spoiler alert: Daredevil reaches the ledge.
This would-be classic from 1973 shows us the Hawkeye we all knew and loved back when super hero tales came in monthly 20-cent installments. Long before his Avengers movie reinvention as a super assassin for SHIELD, Hawkeye was mostly a mouthy hothead with a recurve bow and a purple costume who wouldn’t hesitate to get into a fight with another superhero over a girl. In this case, fighting Daredevil over the Black Widow. He was great.
Since we’re from the future, we know, of course, that Scarlett Johansson will be revealed as the Black Widow, so fighting for her favor makes perfect logical sense.
The year might be ending, but I’m not quite done wringing the life out of it yet. I’ve got several things on the burner that I thought I might share.
First, I’ve got a new cover for my novel Follow The Chupacabra. I didn’t think my first cover really conveyed the feel of the book, looking too much like the cover for a horror novel, among other problems. My designer did a great job with the original cover—it was my concept, after all, and I acquired the base illustration that he heroically doctored to make presentable—but I think my original cover concept was just flawed. Follow The Chupacabra is a contemporary fantasy that brings the legendary creatures of the American Southwest to life. The new cover, by Laura Gordon at The Book Cover Machine, captures the otherworldly feel of the book, and hints at the alternate worlds inside. What do you think? (And by the way, this e-book is still on sale for 99 cents through the end of the year.)
I’ve been pretty quiet about my next project, but it is coming together nicely, and it won’t be long until it’s finished. It may not be on sale by the end of the year, but certainly an early 2014 release. And in this novella, I dive into classic space opera. I’ve been a fan of that genre as long as I can remember. I love the grand scale of SF stories that span the galaxy, with faster-than-light starships grappling with plentiful alien races. This type of book has fallen out of favor lately, as our depressed nation embraces the post-apocalyptic (and who can blame us?). But I wanted to create a story that unapologetically jumped out into the larger universe and was just pure fun to read. So, picture the remnants of the human race huddled in domed cities on far-off worlds. They survived near extinction 1000 years ago in a war with hostile aliens, but now are protected by mysterious god-like beings. But when a new power arrives in force, even the gods of mankind may not be able to stop them. And our best hope lies with a devoted acolyte of the city’s guardian god, and a maintenance worker who knows all the secrets that sustain The City—and maybe even the gods themselves.
What else? I’ve registered for a table at Staple, the independent media expo in Austin, Texas, on March 1-2, 2014. I’ll be selling and signing all my novels, so come on down and say hey. (Technically, I haven’t received confirmation yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be in.) This event is a great way to support those of us creating books, comics and artwork on our own. There was some very cool stuff for sale last year. Hope to see you there!
If you’ve been thinking about buying a copy of my contemporary fantasy novel Follow The Chupacabra, now is the time! I’ve put the e-book on sale for 99 cents through the end of the year. It’s on sale across all platforms—Amazon, B&N and Smashwords, although the price drop may be slow to arrive at Apple, Kobo and Sony. Even better, that means that if you purchase the print edition through Amazon, you get the e-book for free.
Feel like following the chupacabra on a mind-bending journey? Here’s the teaser:
When do you allow yourself to believe the unbelievable? What will it take for a man to accept that mythological creatures are, in fact, part of the real world?
Ray Lenstrom faces that dilemma when a dark visitor, the chupacabra of legend, comes calling. The beast and its mate are unlike anything he has encountered before, and the implications of their arrival will cause him to question everything he has ever believed.
Ray has only one place to turn—a mysterious woman cut off from the rest of humanity who may hold the answers. She may also be the key to rebuilding his shattered life.
As Ray embraces the adventure of a lifetime, he’ll discover that reality is larger than he ever dreamed, and forgotten planes of existence lurk at the end of every path. Hidden elemental powers command the shadowlands of Earth, and bizarre creatures of legend travel endless pathways in a multiverse of alternate worlds more terrifying—and more beautiful—than any he has ever known.
Follow the Chupacabra is a 57,000-word contemporary fantasy novel where the vivid legends of the American Southwest come to unforgettable life.