Gamechanger will be out in the world on September 17th, 69 short days from now, and to say I am excited might be a bit like saying the surface of the sun is a bit toasty.
You can all expect this space, and my fabulous newsletter, The Lexicon to get ever more Gamechange-y. There will be excerpts, Goodreads Giveaways, bragging about reviews (I already told you Publishers’ Weekly called it a delightful pinball machine of a book and compared it to Snow Crash, right?)
But before we get there, I want to do the thing where I ask for pre-orders. If you’re gonna buy Gamechanger, and you’re inclined to get the book at one of the following vendors, I’d appreciate it so much if you ordered early and … well, order often if you want to give it to deserving readers for the holiday season.
If you are curious about why this pre-order thing is important, here’s author Yashar Ali in a thread explaining it all.
Gamechanger imagines our world just over a century from now, after we’ve really begun grappling with carbon levels and climate change. It’s a book where we look at the grandchildren of Generation Z and the future the youngs of today and tomorrow are building. As a result, there will also be sciencey articles coming your way from me, both about technologies we’re developing to address the problem and how they might be (or are already being!) deployed. I’ll post about those too, as they appear.
Love me. Order me. Use me and reviews me. Tweet me sweetly. I appreciate it all so much.
I won’t go on and on–I bragged when I initially learned the novella had been chosen, but I will point out that Best SF also contains novellas and stories by the likes of Kelly Robson, Madeline Ashby, Yoon Ha Lee, Sofia Samatar, Daryl Gregory, John Chu, Ken Liu, Elizabeth Bear and so many other awesome writers. It’s going to make for great summer reading–I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting on a contributor’s copy so I can dig in!
The most recent issue of the LexIcon has a poem, “Say Cheeze,” that’s part of the exclusive content for newsletter subscribers, as well as Gamechanger news, links, and info. You’ve still got a week--join the fun!
And then go listen to OOAC, because it totally fucking rules.
About a month ago people started asking if I was watching Game of Thrones. This set me to reading spoilers for the last three episodes. I’d watched to the end of Charles Dance. From there, in my headcanon, as fertilized by various social media revelations, the GoT story went like this.
On the morning after the finale aired, I rose from my too-narrow hotel bed (I was attending the Nebula Awards in LA), hit the Twitters and found out who’d won and who’d died. I got a decent sense of what fans were mad about, and glad about, and their reasons. I was a little struck by how there seemed to be no new major characters… everyone who had been introduced between the end of The Dance and the Westeros endgame must’ve been killed on their way through the plot.
It was a strangely pleasing experience. All of the closure and none of the angst. It was like offering to help with a holiday dinner once 95% of the cooking was done.
Then I went to LAX to fly home, and first I ended up in a long line-up behind a guy who was recapping one of the Twitter rants, very passionately, about the pointlessness of it all. And then I got on the plane next to a different guy who hadn’t seen it yet. He had bought the finale from iTunes, for the flight, and he watched it while we flew East, all while I was supposedly getting re-acquainted with my novel in progress.
Naturally this was a polite human with earphones, so I was sneaking peeks, but without sound. But who needs sound when you already know what’s happening? Not me, it turns out.
My journey on that was:
Knew that. Knew that too! (Feels smart for no reason)
Pang of empathy for a rather bedraggled looking character for whom I had affection.
Dragon shot! 12/10, would watch again.
And… welp. There’s that thing everyone was talking about.
Oh, pupper. Your poor ear!
Bye, everyone. That was great!
I’m not sure there’s any great conclusion to be drawn from this experience except that sometimes experiencing things shallowly, rather than deeply, may be an approach its merits. I didn’t enjoy GoT as much as many of you did, but my pain at the outcome is currently zero, and I’m thinking rather fondly of it all.
Stunning, right? It captures exactly what I want for this fictional future—a world still recognizably the one we’re living in now, and yet changed, mostly (though not all) for the better.
(The Gamechanger outcome is actually what I want for our actual future, as far as that goes.)
Cover reveals often happen when a book becomes available for pre-order, and mine is! Powells and iTunes don’t have pages yet, but for those of you who dollar-vote at any of the following retailers, here are links. .
It’s another frabjous day here in Wockyland, and I am calloo callaying all over the damn place because my first-ever novella will be appearing in Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year v. 4!
The whole ToC is here, and it’s amazing. The antho includes stories by Kelly Robson, Alyssa Wong, Naomi Kritzer, Yoon Ha Lee, John Chu, Sofia Samatar… actually, every time I start to type a name I imagine putting (!!!) behind it. Let me just say it’s an amazing list, and the book is already available for pre-order in a host of bookstores, including the extraordinary and always marvellous Powells.
Having a story in an anthology like this is an honor. Books like this are crucial to our genre’s short fiction ecosystem. They create delivery systems, enabling people to see the best pieces from markets they might not follow–nobody can follow everything. They put stories in the hands of dedicated library users, for example, and provide a virtual gathering place for writers whose work we love… and whose work we haven’t yet seen. And they add longevity to the mix–when I was young and broke I used to trawl through libraries and used bookstores looking for the Gardner Dozois Years’ Best anthos because they were eclectic, delightful, wide-ranging and affordable.
So I’m pleased to think my depiction of life here in Setback Toronto, in all its high-tech and economically savage glory, might find its way to someone like young me one day.
I spent 2018 beating up more manuscripts than ever before, and so as a result I have one publication to boast—my first novella, “Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling,” which came out in the July/August issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The story can be read by SFWA members by checking the links here. If you’re reading for the Hugo, and you want an electronic copy, drop me a note on Twitter, where I’m @lxbeckett or at the same name on Gmail.
“Freezing Rain, A Chance of Falling” is the story of Drow Whiting, who gets into horrific trouble when his social media accounts go into a nosedive, and who therefore makes some Very Bad Decisions. He also appears in my upcoming September novel, Gamechanger, which will be out in less than a year from Tor Books.
I am thrilled, so thrilled, to finally announce my first sale to C.C. Finlay at the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. “Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling” is a novella set in what I sometimes like to call my Nice Things universe. It’s also a prequel, of sorts, to a Nice Things novel currently titled Goldilocks Conditions. (I’ll tell you a little more about that in the not too distant future.)
I have dreamed of selling a story to F&SF for as long as I can remember, which is a damned long time… the more so, because this particular novella had a long journey to the finish line. Charlie requested first an expansion and then an extended rewrite before we both agreed it was the best story it could possibly be. It is now slated to appear in the upcoming July/August issue of the magazine.
“Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling” is about a talented young music journalist, Drow Whiting, who gambles all his social capital on what turns out to be a gloriously ill-judged expose. Idealistic, ambitious, and more naive than he cares to admit, Drow is ruined when he covers a diva musician’s plagiarism scam, and her reaction blows up into a full-bore online shame cascade. Soon Drow is a pariah, ready to do anything to recover his reputation, not to mention his career and his rock-bottom credit score. But desperation is like blood in the water, and Drow finds himself in bed with an elderly performance artist, an ancient GenX crone who’s offering to sponsor his investigation into a story everyone says he should leave alone, a first-person look into Toronto’s recreational chemotherapy dens.
Each tiny scene in a jigsaw narrative is is a puzzle piece, freestanding in its own right, yet intended to interlock with the others to evoke a whole picture of an unfolding story. Readers are invited to fill in the spaces between the missing pieces, bringing the full image into focus.
Jigsaw narratives are immensely gratifying to readers when it’s comparatively easy to put the picture together; it lets them feel like they are not only at play with the author, but winning. The drawback comes if the picture is too elusive, when the connections are hard to find. The leaves the reader feeling left out, thwarted, and cheated.
Jigsaw stories often work well when they’re stretching a smaller story over a long stretch of years—imagine seven pivotal moments from a fifty year space voyage—or when their scenic pieces imply a much longer story. Sometimes when they fail, it’s because the story in question really wants to be a novel, and the puzzle pieces on the table are less a complete story and more a suggested outline for the longer work.
Nobody snatches up a novel after work hoping to be immediately transported back to the worst parts of the day they’ve just been paid to live through. A reader ends up in Cube Farm Purgatory in any workplace scene that amounts to colleagues, bosses and rivals gnashing through their professional relationships, pushing paper, attending meetings, or dealing with bureaucratic minutiae.
Fictional depictions of work and workplaces, whether those workplaces are realistic or speculative in nature, need to be heightened. If your characters have a hell job, the workplace scenes must be cringingly, agonizingly hellish. If they are getting something interesting done, that something better be so cool it reaches out and grabs us by the throat. If they’re just trying to get the zoning changed on the building across the street, somebody better be getting killed or laid. Otherwise you’re just inflicting unpaid overtime on an audience that could be playing Angry Birds.