Author: Dora

Journals, Planners, & Pens – Daily Journal

I’ve always loved journals, planners, and pens but the past few years innovations (and rediscoveries) have uped my game. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from others, so here I start to pass along the love. Or maybe I just want an excuse to go on about leather, stationary, and pens.

This is my daily journal set-up. It’s a traveler’s notebook with two inserts, three fountain pens, and a pen case that I love to look at (it is a loved gift <3) containing markers.

I’m obsessed with traveler’s notebooks–leather cut to a standard paper size and fitted with elastics onto which anything of said standard size can be strung. My daily journal is a B6 size. The leather is Chic Sparrow‘s classic Mockingbird dark bluejay. The color and texture is relaxing to me and helps me wind down as I journal before bed.

My daily journal consists of two inserts. A plain paper insert by PaperPenguin (pictured on left and top) and a Staology 365 notebook (pictured on right and bottom). The plain insert is strung on the first string, and the Staology on he second and fourth strings around its front and back covers. The sticker on the Staology is a reminder of balance (it is a captured cochlea!) from Liv Rainey-Smith. I use one page of the Staology per day. I color-map my hours and write about my day to remember things and decompress. In the plain paper insert I make statistics and charts about my time management because I’m a science dork, and also because it helps keep me accountable to myself and my impulse control is often, uh, limited. I also keep lists like of books read, shows watched, etc. over the year.

Shall we talk about pens? Yes? Pens?

I’ve been obsessed with fountain pens since back when they were impossible to find. Now they are easy to find which makes my monthly allowance hard to manage. These three I use daily in my journal. (Note: the links are all to Goulet Pens because I think they do the best job of listing technical specifications on the pens and inks, but you can purchase them in a wide variety of places–none of these are rare pens or inks.)

The Pilot Falcon (the black one with gold trim on the left) is a soft gold flex nib, extra-fine, and my top pick for price and quality on flex nibs. The ink capacity is small but it makes an incredible range of marks based on pressure, and is easy to control. It’s filled with archival, waterproof DeAtramentis Document Black ink (yes, it is labeled wrong in the picture) which allows me to color over the lines it makes with the water-based markers. I use the Falcon extensively for drawing too.

The TWISBI ECO (the clear one with the squared-off ends in the middle) is a 1.1 mm steel stub nib. I have used this $30 fountain pen every day since I got it like two years ago. Every. Day. It has a huge ink capacity, a reliable smooth nib, is fun and easy to disassemble and clean, and is perfect for headings. I always put shimmer ink in it cuz the fun! The stub nib lets me pretend I actually have beautiful calligraphic handwriting LOL.

The Pilot Custom-74 (the translucent purple one on the right) is among my favorite daily work-horse pens, and my favorite 14k nib pens for under $200. I have these in many colors, but the purple may be my favorite. I use this to write all my journal entries. It is smooth and light and fits my hand perfectly, and has a good ink capacity with the Con-70 converter. It matches perfectly with Iroshizuko Juro-jin ink.

The markers are Tombow watercolor markers. They blend well and are relatively inexpensive for art markers.

Lastly, I’m kind of a crap craftsman for beadwork, but I love arranging beads, and make my own bookmarks for my notebooks. I bead both ends of a strip of string/ribbon/elastic and loop it through the traveler notebook strings or string holes, nothing complicated. The result is pleasing and the book marks are fun to touch and play with. Yay!

Avoiding some early errors in academic writing

Avoiding some early errors in academic writing

By chance, I’ve done a lot of mentoring lately about academic writing. Earlier I posted about rejection. This post is just a collection of random n00b-type things that I’ve found myself explaining to students a lot. Now I can just direct them here bwahaha

Disclaimer: My experience with academic writing and publishing is primarily within applied social science journals related to public health, social work, medicine, psychology, systems science, disability, and engineering. I can’t speak to how to write an effective paper in other fields such as philosophy or the humanities.

I. Pick a journal before you start

Before you start writing, the single most important step to take is to pick your journal. DO NOT just sit down to write something. Every journal has specific types of articles they will take, specific formats for those articles, and a specific scope or spin that they are interested in publishing. Not only will this give a structure to work within which makes things easier, it will save you time because you will not need to rewrite the article after you pick the journal.

To consider when picking a journal:

  • Where do you want the paper to be published?
  • Who do you want to have read it?
  • Where do you think it will have the most influence / do the most good?
  • Which journal scopes fit your aims?
  • Which journals publish the type of paper you want to write?
  • Which journals publish papers on the type of research you have conducted or the type of methods you have used?

Pick the highest impact journal that you have a chance of getting into.

II. Understanding an article type and writing to its format.

After you pick a journal, look at what that journal lists for article types. Find the one that matches what you want to write, and then read the instructions very carefully. For the journal Autism in Aduthood (AIA) which I edit for, these appear in a table under the heading “Manuscript Types and Word Limits.” AIA includes short descriptions of each article type and word limits in the table. After the table, AIA provides highly detailed specific instructions for each paper type, including specific internal structures. Many journals provide this information in their “For Authors” sections. If you are not sure which article type would fit what you’re interested in writing, it’s okay to contact the editor and ask.

After you pick an article type, go to the currently published issues of the journal and read other articles of that same type. That will help show what, exactly, the editors mean and are looking for in those types of articles. Again, you can also contact the editor for clarification if the examples don’t help.

III. Academic writing style

A. Don’t use clichés and colloquialisms. For example, “paint a picture” or “It can be seen…”

B. Don’t use language that makes assumptions about the reader. For example, “clearly,” “obviously,” “easily,” “it stands to reason,” etc.

C. Don’t use overly complex language, which can obscure meaning or hide clarity. Bigger words are not always better words. Flowery language will also steal from the word count you will desperately need to report your work and makes your points, and it make the paper hard to read. (Disclaimer again: some fields may be more agreeable to flowery, complex language–applied social science and health literature is typically not).

D. Do not under-state or over-state things with your use of language. Own your own work with strong verbs. “We did this” not “We attempted this.” Do not make strong statements about the world without a citation. “All people do this.” Really? ALL of them? You know this how? “Most people” is a much more accurate statement unless you have a citation that backs up the strength of the statement. Likewise, your findings, though they may be powerful and compelling, are never absolute because science is not absolute. And there are limitations to every study. Unless it’s a mathematical proof, the findings are never “This proves that people…” but “This shows that people like those in our study…”

E. Write in active voice unless the journal explicitly instructs you not to. Passive voice obscures the actor, and makes things harder and more boring to read. DON’T say, “The interviews were conducted.” DO say, “Our research assistant, who is also a member of the community, conducted the interviews.” See how much more important information is given in the active voice! Using active voice does not “bias” the science; it gives greater transparency to the science.

IV. Writing for an academic audience

A. Know your audience. In the case of AIA one is writing to autism researchers. The audience knows basic research methods, they are used to reading academic papers, and they expect particular structures to those papers. They know what autism is and, while they may not have a nuanced view of it from inside, they understand its nuances better than researchers from other fields. Some of readers may be autistic themselves. Some may be autistic-rights and strengths oriented. Some may be heavily medical-model. They are interested in learning something new in the field of autism and adulthood, with which they are already familiar. This will greatly influence choices about where to spend time explaining things in the paper. Other journals will have other audiences–if I’m writing for a systems science journal I may need to spend more time describing what autism is than if I’m writing for AIA, but for AIA I will need to spend more time explaining systems science concepts.

B. There is a difference between writing for teachers and writing for academic journals. When you write for teachers, you need to prove your knowledge–you’re trying to demonstrate that you learned the things they wanted you to learn. When you write for an academic journal, you can assume that your audience already believes you know what you are talking about, and is already familiar with basic research methods and ideas. For example, we all know the implications of a convenience sample on the generalizability of a study. It doesn’t need to be explained. You just need to say, “we used a small convenience sample” and the reader goes oh, okay, results could be different in a large, random, population-based study where people who have no interest in the topic are participating. The places to spend word count and provide deeper explanations are novel ideas. For example, my study on autistic burnout had to spend extra time discussing what that term was and why we were studying it as it previously was not represented in the literature.

IV. Use outlines and standard structures. Seasoned readers expect certain structures. It helps us more easily read and absorb the meat of the article. Some paper types have pretty consistent structures no matter what journal they’re for, like original research papers or reviews (maybe I’ll post those structures later). Other academic paper types, including theoretical papers, are a bit more fluid but not tons. Most start with necessary background to understand why the topic of the paper is important and why the work reported on in the paper needed to be done (gaps in the current state of the science), then they get at the meat of the new work that’s being reported on, and then conclude with a summary of what was learned followed by an in-depth look at how it changes the state of the science. AIA’s Insight pieces are an exception, and, as more literary works, do not have a set structure. Use structure to make your writing process easier, and also to increase your chance that the journal will be interested in the paper. We want to see novel findings and ideas, not experimental writing (tho that may not be true of a literary journal–or of our Insight pieces!–but knowing the usual rules will help you know when and where to break them).

REJECTED! What academic paper rejections are about from both sides of the process

REJECTED! What academic paper rejections are about from both sides of the process

Academic papers are a lot of work. Your research is dear to you. You’ve loved this study enough to see it through, to write it up, to find a home for it. And then you get rejected—perhaps without any indication as to why.

What’s that about? Are you a bad researcher? Was your paper bad? Your research stupid? Should you just give up? Particularly students and others who are new to the process can be devastated by a rejection.

But–really!-there is no need for devastation! Even senior researchers with hundreds of publications are regularly rejected. But it’s easier to deal with rejections when you have had some successes and, importantly, understand better what rejection can mean.

I spend a lot of time on all sides of the academic publication process. I’m an active researcher with studies and papers of my own. I’m a peer reviewer for multiple journals. I’m the Associate Editor of Autism in Adulthood. As an author I’ve been rejected and accepted; as a reviewer I’ve made a full gamut of recommendations; and as an editor I’ve rejected, accepted, and been tormented by decisions for the papers I adjudicate. Here’s the insider scoop on the process and what the rejections could mean.

DISCLAIMER: Science is large. I am a social services intervention researcher working with disability communities. Perspectives from another field (e.g., physics or biology) may vary.

Step 1: Administrative Review

When you submit your paper the first type of review it hits is administrative. This is the check to make sure it’s been formatted properly and it isn’t missing pieces. Often if it doesn’t pass administrative review, the author will get information about what needs to get fixed to resubmit but there’s no official guarantee to that. Bottom line: This is the one part of the process you can control; be sure to follow the instructions for authors carefully.

Step 2: Editorial Review

The journal’s editors read everything that’s sent in. That may be hundreds of articles in a year. They make a decision about whether or not to send the paper to peer review. A lot of things are considered in that decision. Does the topic of the paper fit the journal’s scope? Does the format of the paper fit the types of articles the journal publishes? Is the science sound? Does the paper have the appropriate level of academic depth? Is this reporting on something new; does it advance the science in some way, whether it’s findings or theory/ideas? Do we think it’s worth reviewers’ time; in other words, would we want to publish this in our journal assuming it can be perfected in the review process?

A rejection at this stage is sometimes called a “desk reject.” There are a lot of reasons why this might happen. Some may be because the science is bad, the paper is poorly written, or the ideas are stale. But others may be that it’s just not a good fit for the journal’s scope, the editors were reading too fast and missed how cool it is (hey, we are people who make mistakes like anyone, and we read a lot of submissions!), or it’s a good start to a paper but needs more mentorship and development than we feel we can ask reviewers to provide.

If you get a rejection at this point, don’t get upset. If there are comments given, they could be useful, but more often it’s just a form letter. When I get one of these, I assume that the editors felt it was not a good fit for their journal and re-do the paper for a different journal.

The majority of rejections I have gotten were at this stage. It’s a little irritating because I just want the thing DONE and off my to-do list, but meh. There are a bunch of other journals out there and given the number of considerations going into editorial decisions, there’s zero reason to assume it’s because I suck.

Step 3: Peer Review

If you get to the peer review stage, congratulations! As editors we’re not keen on sending stuff to peer review that we wouldn’t want in the journal, assuming peer review can clean it up.

That said, the whole point of peer review is to go over the paper in excruciating and expert detail to make sure that every part of it is sound before adding it to the literature. Sometimes the reviewers do find fatal flaws in the piece that were not evident on the editors’ quick read. Sometimes it takes an expert to notice a deeper problem.

The journals I work with have an editor in charge of making a final adjudication on the paper, and–if the editor-in-charge decides they want to work with the paper–between two and five peer reviewers. Peer reviewers are selected because they offer specific expertise relevant to your paper. The reviewers give their detailed feedback and assessment of whether to reject, ask for revisions, or accept. The reviewers don’t always agree on if the paper should be accepted. The editor in charge of the manuscript makes the final call.

It is possible to get a rejection from the editor only; this means they did not feel like they could work with the paper in its current state, so they did not engage peer reviewers.

It is possible to get a rejection along with a full set of peer reviewer comments.

It is also possible to get a revise-and-resubmit letter. This might seem like a rejection because it will say something like “…unfortunately we cannot accept the paper in its current form.” HOWEVER, if you are being invited to address reviewer comments and resubmit, you have not been rejected. This is just the next stage of the process of revising the article based on reviewer feedback.

I have never had a paper accepted outright, and I know only a few cases where my colleagues were given “conditional acceptances” (accepted if you make these changes). Most often I am asked to make “major revisions.” Sometimes “minor revisions.” This is totally normal. Note though, that while your chance of being rejected goes down significantly with each of these stages you get through, there is no guarantee you won’t be rejected until you get an official acceptance message.

Reviewer feedback can be annoying, harsh, misinformed, or otherwise painful. The editor in charge may provide guidance if there’s feedback you should ignore, like if there’s a reviewer who just doesn’t get something (like saying that qualitative findings can’t be generalized due to small N, which is a methodologically ignorant statement). The editor-in-charge comments should take precedence over the reviewer comments.

If you are invited to revise and resubmit, as an author, you get a chance to decide if you want to self-reject (or pull). If you feel addressing the reviewer comments would compromise your work, or don’t want to deal, YOU can decide not to submit a revision and take your paper elsewhere. You can also decide to completely re-do it and resubmit it as a new submission to the same journal. While I have never done this, I have considered it before. Or you could address the reviewer comments carefully and submit the revision.

If you are rejected by the journal at any time during the peer review, take a cold look at the comments. They will help you even if they are harsh. Even ignorant comments (like quantitative researchers who don’t understand qualitative methods) can be useful. I keep using that example because it’s one that I’ve gotten repeatedly. It’s taught me to always put a sentence in my papers that says something like, “As a qualitative study, we were not seeking to generalize to a population, but to gain an in-depth understanding of a wide range of individual experiences.” I stopped getting bad reviews about my N for qualitative studies after doing that.

It is true–your paper might suck. Your research idea might be flawed, your work might have been done before and you just hadn’t found the papers already written on it. BUT!

  1. That does not mean you suck and should give up. It means you learned something and can move on with better knowledge and skill.
  2. It also means that you are saved the embarrassment and damage of it getting published and then getting huge backlash from the rest of your peers in the field when they see it. Better to know before it is made public than after.

It is also true that your paper may have been just fine and the peer reviewers sucked. Instead of getting upset, ask yourself some critical questions:

  1. Was the writing unclear? It may be your technical communications skills that need to be honed, not your scientific ones. Becoming a better writer is a win. Or maybe the reviewers were poor readers.
  2. Were the reviewers ignorant or coming from the wrong paradigm for your work? Reviewers aren’t always right, or don’t always support the kind of work you do. If this is the case, you can try the paper elsewhere. It probably wasn’t a good fit for the journal and you probably don’t want your paper there anyway. (I have recommended rejection of papers on ethical grounds before, even if the science was rigorous.)
  3. Are there actually major problems? Truly? I’ve knee-jerked to reviewer comments before, dismissed them, and then a day or two later had a long, hard think and realized that even though the comment was written pretty brutally, the reviewer had a very good point.
  4. Do you need to find a mentor / get a second opinion? The papers I have to reject most often come from students who have written wonderful student papers that lack the depth of a publishable academic paper. My role as a reviewer or editor is not to mentor them on their science, even though my heart breaks sometimes stumbling over that boundary. Consider going over your review notes with a more senior scientist, or a peer in your field. Not just for students–I go over review notes with my mentors and peers too. Others can help put things in perspective.

Last Thoughts:

Rejection happens to everyone. Think of it as part of your scientific journey, life-long learning, and intellectual challenge. Also think of it as your initiation into the club of every other researcher in the whole world ever ’cause we get stuff rejected too, all the time 🙂

Good luck <3

Work from Home Tips

Work from Home Tips

I’ve been working from home for over a decade largely as a disability accessibility thing & some people have asked me for tips. (Disclaimers: I’m a natural introvert and have no children.)

  • Set up a work space that is for work. Do not do other activities in it until AFTER you have mastered work-from-home.
  • Set up a schedule for when you will be working and write it down. Share the schedule with others in the house and make sure they know to respect your work-time boundaries.
  • Set up some transition / cuing activities that start your work / rest blocks; for example, by closing a door, turning on music, just small things but ones that can become habitual indicators. BUT–very important!–do not start your day or use as a start-work cue anything that is distracting and engaging (e.g., no TV, fun reading). Example: I start my day by going through my work email.
  • Write down your goals for each work block or day. Yes write, on paper. So that you have to stare at them. And they stare back at yoooooo—
  • External accountability – Share your goals with others for accountability, even if it’s just a FB post to no one who cares. Imagine the SHAME when you don’t deliver LOL
  • Internal accountability – Track your hours on paper. After over a decade of working from home I did this last year and was surprised by how much time I was wasting; I cleaned it up but have kept up with hour tracking for personal accountability so I can SHAME myself when I don’t work enough LOL
  • But, seriously, don’t feel guilty for having the extra flexibility. If you’re creatively stuck and really do need to give up for an afternoon and go for a long walk, or just absolutely have to run to the bank (or, please, drive-through ATM!) during the day, it’s okay–it’s a benefit of working from home. You’ll make up the time some other day when you get into flow and don’t realize you just worked through dinner. In other words, don’t pressure yourself to hold office hours so hard that you start resenting and hating work (or your home!!! no toxic spaces!).
  • Make boundaries and track your rest time too. It’s easy to be distracted by non-work things when you should be working, but also easy to be distracted by work things when you should be resting.
  • It’s okay, while working, to stop and pet the kitty. It’s not okay, while working, to stop and uncork that bottle of wine. Just sayin’…
  • Enjoy your reclaimed commute time!

Hearts & Tails: Spacetime and Mathematics

FIRST LAW OF THE REACHABLE NOWS: No alternate versions of a person may be in eye-line of each other within the same now, or both will suffer immediate death by fire.

My novella “Hearts and Tails” in Spoon Knife 4: Spacetime is set in a soft-SF multiverse where WWI never ended, it just kind of petered out into a devastated landscape and a chemical-weapons cold war. There are 90’s tropes galore: magic, bio-engineered mutant powers, impossible psi-ops, and neon-glow cyberspace–depending which of four reachable nows one falls into. And maths. There are maths!!!

Okay, so I really love mathematics. I know this is mostly an unpopular opinion–Or not! Maybe you may share my love!

Macintosh Carroll, the central character of these stories shares my love. He is a maths savant with color-number synaesthesia.

Red-orange-blue-and-black
a place where four four-dimensional world-lines line up creating a single now, a point shared by four spaces, four-D space-time four four four four times four sixteen blue blue blue blue like the bluest blue that ever was–

Mac stops writing and closes his eyes, the numbers washing him like seas. They are beautiful to him, beautiful and terrifying.

Mathematics–loosely, softly anyway–is how I keep the multiverse of the stories self-consistent and believable.

A formal system in mathematics is an engine for creating truths. It consists of axioms (accepted truths), rules (specified behaviors), and theorems (less obvious truths). New truths can be created by applying rules to axioms and/or theorems, so from a little bit of logic whole universes are made. Logical consistency is what builds a formal system, no matter how outlandish its axioms.

In the case of the Mac Carroll Multiverse, there’s a space-time phenomenon that lines up four realities at a single point. Some individuals can slip between the realities at that point. The axioms include the dynamics of the slip, many of the facts of our world circa 1991, plus unique world-facts such the Ottoman Empire dropping a chemical bomb on Germany because, after 40 years, they want out of the Axis. The rules are called The Laws of the Reachable Nows, and are recorded in a book shared by multiverse travelers. From those axioms and rules, the rest of the mulitverse follows.

But because I love disrupting stereotypes as much as I love maths, Mac’s also a shifty low-life punk with a belligerent attitude who is embarrassed by just how deeply he loves maths, and hides it behind a lot of attitude. Cuz nerdiness is punk rock too <3

In Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime. Autonomous Press, Amazon, or ask your local bookstore.

New Book Excerpt & Interview on All The Things

I’ll write more–maybe too much–about this as time goes on but here is the very first post squeeeee. I am too excited/terrified. Terricided? Excitified? I am a weirdo. HERE ARE ALL THE THINGS

1. The wonderful folks at Wordgathering interviewed me about disability fiction, Hoshi, my next book in Hoshi’s world, and other cool stuff! Read my interview!

2. They also published an except from said next book in Hoshi’s world! Read the excerpt!

3. Oh, yeah, there is a next book in that world and here is a preview of its cover

Black background. Jupiter and the four Galilean moos are across the top. Beneath them are rainbow waves above a slender male dancer who is keeling in a single spotlight. Sparks come from his hands and arms. At the bottom, the book title is "Resonance" and the author is "Dora M Raymaker"

TERRICITEIFIED and so many thanks to Wordgathering for being awesome!

Read all their stuff!

More to come!

Hearts & Tails: Source and Memory

My twenties were belligerent. A few decades of living in fear will result in belligerency, apparently. They were also creative, beautiful, and engaged in the 1990’s post-punk industrial world of queered-up vampires, feminist philosophies, anarchist role models, cyberpunk promises, and aggro-rage mixed-media music, poetry, performance, fuck-this-shit manifestos. This photo of me says, “Fuck you buster, I’ve got a bad-ass custom-built dream-computer, boom box, no gender, and a bad attitude, and I’m not afraid to Rage-Art, so don’t even think about stopping me.”

slightly scowling white person in their 20's with shoulder-length frizzy hair and a white shirt and black vest playing solitaire on a chunky CRT monitor with a boom box, printer, and beige computer tower in the background

My twenties were about danger and anger, but also about community, and the protective factors that come of sharing cultural space. As we got older, we spread into a diaspora. We calmed down enough to get Real Jobs(TM)–which then ate our lives. Shit happened, and not much can be done about that, but I think we’re the poorer for it.

The Mac Carroll multiverse, where my Spoon Knife 4 novella “Hearts and Tails” is set, is my call-back to my twenties. Everyone’s angry and hungry, but they’re also a tight creative community.

There’s “the epic industrial act Recyclr…They’ve got a killer chemical synth, more vacuum amps than can fit on The Parlor’s stage, and Mikal can do more with a fiddle bow and the literal trash people throw at him for a challenge than should be possible outside of actual magic.”

There’s Mac’s best friend Florence…”He and Anais are working up a new performance piece called ‘Nerves.’ Anais calls it ‘a post-modern tribute to nihilism in the age of mutually assured chemical annihilation,’ but Florence describes it as, ‘a multi-media bit on fuck the system, plus we get the audience drunk!'”

There’s Mac’s fierce love of his friends, that he has a hard time expressing in any way that doesn’t come across as just belligerent. “Maybe Flo will want to go out, burn off some of his rage with me on the dance floor. Maybe then he’ll tell me what happened to his eye so I can make the motherfuckers pay.”

Outsiders drawn inside to build our own community, fearing the vulnerability it creates even as we desperately craved it.

The Mac Carroll Multiverse is smaller and more personal than the Liminal Universe where Hoshi is set. Being an alternate 1991, it’s got a lot more of our world to it, and, for reasons associated with the space-time phenomena that creates a multiverse at its heart, all of its stories take place within the confines of a single city. It’s SF/F, sure, cuz I’m not a memoirist, but it’s my 1991 too. My twenties. My community that I wouldn’t be alive today without <3

“Hearts and Tails” is available in Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime. Autonomous Press, Amazon, or ask your local bookstore.

Mathpunk Novella “Hearts and Tails” in Spoon Knife 4

Exciting fiction news! My short mathpunk novella “Hearts and Tails” will be appearing in this year’s anthology Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Space-time

The story takes place in an alternate 1991 where there are no computers, but there just might be magic, as well as a space-time connection to alternate realities. Math! Magic! Synaestesia! Mean secret agents trying to keep our heroes down! Hooray!

The anthology will be coming out later this year from Autonomous Press 

Stories and Media in the Liminal Universe

Hoshi and the Red City Circuit is set in the liminal universe. I call it the “liminal universe” after the first book I wrote about it, which may or may not ever see the light of day. Other stories, though, have seen the light of day, and here is the list so far if you want to play in the ‘verse:

Hoshi and the Red City Circuit is my novel from Argawarga/Autonomous Press. Due to their unique neurology, only the enslaved Operator caste can program the quantum computers that run 26th century Red City. When three of the caste are ritually murdered, it’s up to private investigator Hoshi Archer—herself a recently liberated Operator—to help the police solve the case. Things get complicated when one of the victims turns out to be Hoshi’s ex-girlfriend, and power-hungry bureaucrats and old rivals stir up new problems. An immortal, amoral alien may even be involved. To unwind the plot to take over the city, Hoshi must decipher a deadly computer program and learn to communicate with the alien, before it’s too late for the next victim—and the city. Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

“Heat Seeking Entities” is a short story set about 30 years prior to Red City Circuit (around when Hoshi was born), and features a very young Caran Watts, who appears in passing in Hoshi in a bit of world history. That story is available in the Spoon Knife 3: Incursions anthology, from Autonomous Press. In the icy-dark of Ganymede’s slums two compromised thieves, both after the same prototype, shelter while law enforcement looks for them. As the troops invade their refuge, each must decide whether to betray for a better chance of individual success—or to risk an incursion into the other’s world and remain hidden. Order direct from Autonomous Press (free ebook with paperback), from Amazon, or ask your local bookstore to order it and carry it!

Pulped Free – I make a free web comic Pulped Free set in the liminal universe when I’m tired of words, and kind of at random. I’m still in “learner mode” with the medium–knowing how to draw and knowing how to write does not automatically make one know how to create graphic stories, heh. But it’s fun for me, and it’s there, and the web site has pages about world concepts that could be of interest by themselves. The comic occurs in the same time period as “Heat Seeking Entities” and, after some intro stuff and a bit more of Caran and his BFF Djen, follows a miserable band of space pirates on a space ship possessed by an unstable élan as they navigate damage and look for loot.

Resonance – Coming later, a new novel exploring the dynamics between hope and fear, set on Jupiter’s Galilean moons. This novel covers the events leading up to the world at the time of Hoshi.

 

 

Lastly, I joke (except it’s true, not a joke, sadly) that I make my own fan art. There are a number of random character drawings from the stories. Also, a little animation of the first few paragraphs from Red City Circuit.

Backstory: Revolutions 1 & 2 and a Post-post-apocalyptic Universe

I joke that the liminal universe, where Hoshi and the Red City Circuit is set, is a “post-post-apoclyptic” universe. But, seriously, it is! Earth dies, almost for good, and everything is awful, but then it (or at least humanity) recovers, and a few centuries pass and there’s space ships and interstellar colonization and everything is awesome. If you’re not an Operator. But, still!

In 2001, I wrote the scene where Earth is almost destroyed. A character stands, shocked, in the burning, ashy rubble of Eastern Metropolis, right about NYC. About three months later the towers came down and I was afraid for a time to write anything else. But I did, and as I developed “why the world is the way it is” I came to this:

When the collapse comes it is neither in a drama of disaster nor in a horror of technological error, but it comes none-the-less. It comes in a slow decline and a contraction of greed. It comes as the haves retreat into corporate campuses and the have-nots are left to starve and sick on the vast, infertile plains between. It comes as segregated corporate nation-states evolve around the remaining resources of revenged Earth, each holding a regional monopoly on quality of life. A network of trade and communication exists through the decaying satellites above, linking the isolated corporate nations, locking them interdependently. The dead fields are left to fallow.

In computing, materials technology stalls the advance of increased processing power, and Moore’s Law collapses. The focus becomes user interface design, and trying to solve the problem of direct brain-wave translation. Technological advances revolve around sustaining the campuses, and tending to the small populations they shelter. Comfort and coolness, and carefully-guarded corporate secrets. Endless refinement on inventions of yesterday.

But out in the dust and the heat, where food is scarce and potable water scarcer, necessity is the mother of invention. In the underground between the corporate islands innovation flourishes. So does a pirate network. Raids are few but effective. Life is hard and short, but it is creative. Art, music, and technology become weapons of subversion.

I’d set the date on that to around 2150, though I’m starting to worry, like the towers, we may end up there a whole lot sooner.

At any rate, there’s a Revolution. The Revolution–a near extinction-level event–imprinted deep cultural trauma, and moral and legal ethos were redefined. The trauma was the Operators’ fault, of course. But everything worked out in the end.

Fast-forward through the next 500 or so years like:

The computational power and creativity of the Operators, along with humanity’s desire to prevent slippage into a dark age, generates an enormous leap in technology. Automation and ubiquitous computing abounds; interstellar transportation becomes feasible; medical advances ensure a largely disease-free 150 year life-span. Culture develops to depend on these advances without acknowledging the slaves who make it possible–visible technology becomes taboo. A network of legal bindings and social programs develop to support the enslavement, training, and selective reproductive program of anyone with the k-mutation. Slaves breaking any law are executed without trial.

The government serves as an intermediary and standardizing/stabilizing unit between individual corporations, which continue to be the primary source of political and economic power. Several independent nations also develop. Inhabited space is divided into developmental classifications, with the Core Worlds of Earth, Luna, Mars, Europa, Ganymede, Cassiopia-Prime, and Emory, and many Emergent worlds, multiple Colonies, and additional resources provided by otherwise unappealing Industrial worlds. Humanity stabilizes and flourishes. The Mem–the concretization of information created by the programs and communications of the Operators and transversed by anything that signals in the EM–develops and matures.

However, humanity does not find any other entities capable of meta-intelligence or second-order emergence of instituions. It is determined that humanity is likely on the front edge of the evolution of meta-intelligence–possibly the first, and alone.

In 2521, the Operators rebel. It is Revolution Number Two.

And that–and the true story of what happened during the first Revolution, plus how humans met the aliens and what happened thereafter–is told in another novel.

Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira 2020 Dora M Raymaker
Portland, Oregon