Interview with me about Kickstarter

Writer Emma Larkin, in prep for doing a Kickstarter of her own, interviewed me for her blog about Kickstarter and my own experiences:

I think a successful Kickstarter is a mixture of three factors: the cool factor (the intrinsic description of what the project is going to be), your audience factor (how many people ‘follow’ you, both as consumers of what you put out and your various online networks) and the can-this-person-deliver factor. You really need to have strength in two of those three, I think, to do well. Lacking two is a killer. I’ve seen single strength Kickstarters of all of the above fail, though occasionally a cool factor will overcome all. So for a first-time author, who normally doesn’t have a large audience (being a first timer) and hasn’t proven that they can deliver, they’re almost entirely banking on a single leg (is this cool?). That’s a large river to cross.

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

New Short Story Published At Subterranean Online: The Seafarer


I have a new short story (well, a novelette to be more precise) up at Subterranean in the Spring 2013 issue, The Seafarer. It’s a new story set in The Alchemist and The Executioness universe. You can read the whole thing for free at the link.

Along with The Executioness, there is also The Fall of Alacan here, which makes for a triptych of stories set in that world.

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

Yummy look at what HS could be…

Dan Geiser, and Jacki Wyse-Rhodes both pointed out this link to me of a vision for high speed rail in the US:


Created by Alfred Twu, the map compiles visions of possible American rail systems from a long list of places and mashes them together to show what a national rail network might look like.

Interesting in that, were you to develop a real high speed rail system in the US, Chicago sort of becomes the center of it all…

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

What I’m working on right now: Hurricane Fever

As a result of the news announced over the last two days, people are asking what I’m working on right now and what is coming out when.

The YA novel I just sold to Tor is The Island in the Sky, and it is already written. Of course, I imagine Patrick Nielsen Hayden will have edit notes for me, so those will arrive at some point. The tentative pub date for The Island in the Sky is late 2014.

Right now I’m writing a novel called Hurricane Fever.

In some interviews (and according to Wikipedia), I’d said my next novel was The Infringement. I have a large block of that written, but Year Zero came out and covered a great deal of the same material I wanted to cover in The Infringement. Alien overlords arrive and enforce a form of copyright that is even more radical than the current WTO system. After seeing Year Zero both get (well deserved) attention, and the fact that it was widely read, and is good, the energy for trying to write The Infringement just wasn’t there.

If I were a more stable individual, I would have just pushed through and been done with the book. But… as silly as this might be to some, I think I have to believe in a project to write it. If I wasn’t doing this to explore things that excited me, I could be pushing paper and making a lot more money doing something else I didn’t love.

Some I’m working on a sequel to Arctic Rising called Hurricane Fever.

For all of you who wrote fan mail asking to see more of Roo, this book is about Roo. I liked Roo while writing Arctic Rising, so he gets Hurricane Fever.

The book is set in the US Virgin Islands, then moves through a small portion of the Caribbean, set during a future where super storms and hurricanes constantly batter at the islands and the US’s East Coast.

I’m about 25% of the way through and hoping to have a solid first draft in two to three months. It’s a fast one, for me, but I’ve been writing faster for the past year after doing some intense self-analysis and habit retraining. I also spent two months outlining the novel and researching it to prep everything as much as possible so I didn’t slow myself down. My goal is to finish a solid draft of the book in March.

If all goes well, it should be out sometime in early 2014.

What happens after I write Hurricane Fever? That’s up in the air. With the successful sale of The Island in the Sky, I now owe a sequel; Against the Fall of Stars. However, I’ve been planning a Kickstarter for the final Xenowealth book in the event that sales of The Apocalypse Ocean continue to hold as good as they are.

The question is, do I write Against the Fall of Night over the middle part of the year after Hurricane Fever, and then try to Kickstart and write the final Xenowealth book in the later part of the year? There are benefits to that, as I would get turn-in money for Fall that’s better than a Kickstarter. And I would secure that book’s place in the cycle of Tor’s publishing line up.

Or do I Kickstart and write the Xenowealth book, and get it out there so that the whole series is wrapped up for readers and I move on to some other projects.

If I wait a bit on the last Xenowealth book, I can give The Apocalypse Ocean time to find more readers, and build demand. I can also see how much better sales are by giving it time. I can also spend more time building up plans for rewards, and even commissioning and paying for some slowly over the months ahead. That way I won’t be working on the fly as much.

Either of these two plans are fraught with complications, as they involve me writing almost three books in a year. I more or less did that last year, but I’m a little bit more constrained this year with an extra freelance gig.

It’s hard to say what I’ll do, but the sure thing is… I’m working on Hurricane Fever to make it the best book I can and that is mostly all I’m thinking about. I can’t really make a decision until I’m finished there. That book that matters most is the one currently in production.

So now you know what I’m focused on for the next twelve months…

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

Boeing has ideas on how to get to Mars

Nasa Spaceflight has a very in depth look at all the various options Boeing is providing NASA for possible Mars missions. It’s a good look at the technology on the table and in the near future around space access.

Taking into consideration the already-acknowledge difficulties of mounting a crewed mission to Mars – not the least of which being the distance involved, the time to get a crew to Mars and back, and the harsh environment of the inner solar beyond Earth’s protective geomagnetic field – there is another ‘given’ for crewed missions to Mars.

The vehicle that will take us to the Red Planet will have to be constructed on Earth and then assembled in space.

Skillfully, the world’s prominent spacefaring nations have already gained invaluable information and practice in assembling a large Earth-constructed, space-assembled vehicle with NASA, RSA (Russian federal Space Agency), ESA (European Space Agency), CSA (Canadian Space Agency), and JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace and eXploration Agency’s) contributions and missions to the International Space Station .

Taking those lessons learned during construction of the ISS and applying them to the eventual Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV) will allow all nations involved in what is shaping up to most-certainly be an international effort to land humans on Mars to capitalize on past best practices while still employing new technologies and innovations.

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

Learning to be warm: synthetic undershirts

I’ve been blogging about my quest to remain warm in the winter. I talked about silk here, and wool here.

Wool has been scratchy, and silk the smoothest (and on a per weight basis, warmer). But yesterday the temperatures dropped down into single digits, negative with wind chill. There were drafts all throughout the house.

A week ago I acquired this Patagonia Capilene undershirt. It is about as thick as the Icebreaker wool shirt, not as smooth as my silk shirts. So it doesn’t slide as much, which is what I liked about the silk (a second skin).

However, the Capilene #2 shirt was, hands down, the warmest base layer I’ve used yet. In fact, it wore well this weekend in multiple environs, from warm room parties to going out in the 30 degree weather under my polo to get something from the car. I was chilled, but not dangerously so.

I pulled it out again on Tuesday due to the single digit temps so I could go outside.

This could be a go-to shirt, though I’m curious to see what will happen come warmer temperatures. I’m looking for something very versatile, so we’ll see. But this is so far my favorite of the shirts.

Next up, everyone has been emailing me that I *must* try Uniqlo’s undershirts. I’ve gotten enough positive recs that I will order one soon, once I get reimbursed for the wool shirts (I’m not made of money).

The other thing people have been encouraging me to do is purchase a mid-weight or heavy silk long sleeved shirt and have it tailored into a short sleeve (and to do the same with Patoginia) to get a killer warm undershirt that breathes well.

This is smart, and I will consider once I’ve moved through the Uniqlo test.

(Oh, and washing instructions for the Capilene are much simpler than silk, which I have to make sure not to harm with my stupidity, so that’s a bonus).

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

Learning to be warm: wool undershirts

I talked about my quest to be warm over here in a last entry about silk undershirts:

Look, I grew up with a light shirt or no shirt at all around beaches. Constrictive clothing is annoying. Adding layers of it literally starts making me twitch.

Some people laugh like I’m making a joke, but I’m fairly straight forward about how just simply pissed off I get about it. By the end of the day when I’ve had a cotton undershirt, a long sleeved shirt, and a jacket on, my blood pressure is up. I’ve been shifting and twitching fabric around to sit nicely all day. It’s annoying.

And long sleeves. They bunch in the weirdest places and I keep noticing them all day long. If I’m not wearing a jacket and out in the cold, I don’t want something cover my entire arm when I’m inside a house.

My general impression of a house is that it’s a piece of technology designed to allow us to be comfortable.

It makes sense to be uncomfortable outside. I understand it. It’s outside.

But now I’m inside.

I found silk to be refreshingly comfortable and light to wear under anything. I can only find heavy silk in a long sleeve variety, however. My dislike of long sleeves limits options somewhat.

So here’s the next part in that series: testing wool.

But moving on, everyone raves about Merino wool, with Icebreaker being the big standout. I ordered 150 weight wool undershirts from Icebreaker and a 200 weight Smartwool short sleeve shirt.

The fit was nice, but I found the shirt to be colder than silk. People flocked religiously to wool’s defense, but walking around it felt like the cold was just cutting through the wool.

It was pointed out to me on twitter the wool I was wearing was too lightweight. But it was roughly comparable to the heft and weight of the silk (actually the silk was lighter and luxurious against the skin, while also being warmer). I needed to get a thicker, mid weight wool.

Fair enough. But I wasn’t going to be ordering a thicker fabric because… the wool I already had tested after a day drove me to itching. Sure, Merino isn’t supposed to itch, but it did.

I was told to wash the shirt to get rid of the initial scratchy. I ran it through the wash twice, and tried it out a second time.


While not as scratchy as those horrible old wool sweaters you may have once been forced to wear, it was still noticeable. It built up for me, slowly, throughout the day, until by the end of it I wanted to use pliers to pull the skin off my bones. Which is just not a fun sensation.

A suggestion was made that I wear a silk undershirt, with a wool shirt on top of that. Which is, frankly, getting comedic. Wool just doesn’t work for me. It’s okay, not every solution works for every person. Silk vs wool… for me silk won hands down. Now we know.

The silk is still not leaving me toasty, but it was better than cotton. Maybe not as good as a thicker Merino wool would have been, but hey, it worked great as a base layer in up to 29 degree weather under a simple cotton shirt. It helped regulate my temperature really well in the house under any of my polos or cotton shirts with the house set all the way down to 69 degrees, usually a temperature that left me miserable and shivering.

We’re on our way to finding a solution and way of handling winters. Not all of the items I’m testing will work.

This week I’ll be returning the wool shirts.

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

Nice review of The Apocalypse Ocean

Over at BN Review, Paul Di Filippo looks at The Apocalypse Ocean… and likes what he sees:

The Apocalypse Ocean, I’m happy to say, starts off at a gallop, never slows down, and is completely up to the high caliber of its predecessors: a big, thought-provoking entertainment. It conducts a localized adventure with zip and zest, while also opening up the Xenowealth universe to larger consequences. Its appearance is a vindication of all of the faith of Buckell’s fans, and the author’s own determination.

I also liked this bit:

Buckell’s short, punchy chapters conspire with his fluid prose and deftly intruded speculative conceits to create a state-of-the-art SF narrative. He devotes equal amounts of time to the complicated human dynamics among his variously psychically damaged protagonists (the back-story detour for Kay is very well done), and to the kind of near-Singularity events (think Stephen Baxter or Greg Egan) beyond their immediate ken, but so dangerously relevant. Harking back to such illustrious predecessors as Jack Vance (The Dragon Masters) and Karl Schroeder (Ventus), Buckell builds both a microcosmically grounded planetary romance and a macrocosmically lofty galactic milieu.

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.

Back, if a bit wobbly…

I’ve been down for the count almost all week long with a strain of whatever flu has been running wild. Yes, I did get my flu shots (every year, cardiologist thinks its a good idea as my heart does not like being dehydrated), but still succumbed.

Fortunately today I seem to up and out and looking at my email inbox in horror.

I watched a lot of silly TV while in a state of shivering stupor at the wee hours of the morning. I can’t remember half of it. But I do remember two of them, both on Netflix streaming.


One For The Money was the adaptation of Janet Evanovich’s novel starring Katherine Heigl. Panned by critics and slow at the box office I decided to watch it because I figured I had nothing to lose.

Maybe it was my feverish state, but I was quite charmed. It suffers from following a more novelistic pattern than a summer blockbuster one (two finales and two, or maybe even three, mini-ends) all throughout, which I could see might lead to some finding it meandering. The Jersey characters veered toward stereotypical that might not have been in the book [and Racalicious could probably write a doctoral thesis on the portrayal of the two black prostitutes]. And, the male lead, Jason Mara, while he has a pseudo-mid-career Mel Gibson sort of vibe going, just doesn’t quite match the badass of Daniel Sunjata (perfectly cast) leading to a mis-casting feel. Further, I’m wondering if female audiences who went to see it were hoping for a little more steam than the ads might have promised, it’s all very PG-13.

Nonetheless, Katherine Heigl made for a plucky Stephanie Plum. And unlike most movies with a strong female lead, she has agency and resolves the final threat to her own life, so I enjoyed that. She spent so much time being tutored by Daniel Sunjata I was worried the books would flip to, something that bugs me in too many (but not all) urban fantasy/female gumshoe novels I read where the heroine gets protected by the love interest. This movie avoided that silliness. After spending the whole movie learning the tricks, she uses them. Hurray for that.

This movie cost $40 million to make and didn’t earn out.

Seeing as that District 9 cost $30 million to make, I really don’t understand how it was possible for One for the Money to cost that much, unless it was mostly for the price of Heigl’s acting fee. In which case, she wasn’t acting Jersey all *that* well.

It seems to me they could have done 4 of these at $10 million dollars a pop with a slightly less famous actress and recouped their money on syndication or iTunes rentals. But what do I know? I just struggle to earn a living writing novels.


The other movie was Gunless. A Canadian take on the Old West mythology. Again, panned by critics. I think because it is less a ‘comedy’ than a movie that pokes back at the myth of the Old West from a Canadian perspective, which means it actively clashes with received wisdom from Gun Culture, which tends to rule in Pop Culture. For as much as the NRA is demanding that we not look at the man behind the curtain and instead look at video games and movies, I imagine Gunless is not the response they want, but it’s actually the direction you go if you’re playing with the assumption.

Now, what I found interesting about the movie was that even though I found the theme one I basically agree with (shotguns, rifles are tools, and the Canadians in the film own these kinds for basic self defense and hunting, but other kinds of guns are only for killing and mayhem, and they find them and the gun culture around them, as embodied by the gunslinger who shows up, both repellent in the damage it does [embodied by having their stuff casually shot up and their blacksmith challenged to die for no big reason that they can see] and fascinating at the same time [myth, manliness]) and cutely argued, I found the film ‘preachy’ initially, but as I self-interrogated I realized I found it ‘preachy’ based mainly (not entirely, there are 3 mini-preachy pieces of dialogue in there, to be fair, that I would have cut, audiences are not as stupid as we sometimes believe) on my own immersion in gun culture, which presumes Clint Eastwood’s pro-gun Dirty Harry/Westerns to be the base standard.

But Clint’s world is actually one pole. Just because it’s the pole I am constantly exposed to doesn’t mean anything. Gunless felt preachy mainly because it sat somewhere in the middle of a conversation about guns as tools (as I said, a middle position of one where it had rifles and shotguns as tools for farmers for self defense as hunting, but not for killing over insults, it was not anti-gun, though Clint-steeped gun fetishists would call it anti-gun it clearly isn’t) where a movie about Ghandi or no guns at all is the farther side of the continuum. My ‘meh’ feeling had more to do initially with my own pop culture experience.

That’s not to say Gunless was high art or an amazing movie. I’d pick 3:10 to Yuma or Unforgiven over it anyway, they’re just better pieces of art. Done. But Gunless was a cute, fun film that I’m glad I finally got around to watching after having had it in my queue for a year now. It had a lot of negative reviews, but I wonder if some of them were because it moved against a grain that people couldn’t quite express.

I probably wouldn’t have been able to self-interrogate if I wasn’t on an intellectual journey regarding my own assumptions about gun-fetishm that came from visiting England in November. That began a research quest that challenged many assumptions and wrapped up with Sandy Hook.

So that’s some of what I did while I was sick. Not my favorite way to spend a week. Hope your’s was better.

Mirrored from Tobias Buckell Online.