All posts by Tobias Buckell

18 Jul

My London Worldcon panel schedule

I’m on some amazing panels with amazing human beings at the next Worldcon, in London:

Signing

Friday 11:00 AM

Settling the Alien World

Friday 12:00 – 13:30, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

Here are three star systems, each with a planet potentially habitable by humans. One is Mars-like — probably lifeless, and needs warming and water before we can live there (or we need to adapt ourselves). One is Earth-like, with similar biochemistry even (score one for panspermia theory), but so far as we can tell, no sentient organisms. And one is Earth-like but with early industrial cities. What narratives do we imagine for humans arriving in each system? How might humans be shaped by the life and landscapes they encounter? And how might questions of contact, colonisation or cohabitation be tackled in each scenario?

Imagining Fantasy Lands: The Status Quo Does Not Need Worldbuilding

Friday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 11 (ExCeL)

Fantasy world-building sometimes comes under fire for its pedantic attention to detail at the expense of pacing or prose style. Do descriptive passages clog up the narrative needlessly, when reader imagination should be filling in the gaps? Where does that leave the landscapes and cultures that are less well represented in the Western genre: can world-building be a tool in subverting reader expectations that would otherwise default to pseudo-medieval Euro-esque? If fantasy is about defamiliarising the familiar, how important is material culture – buildings, furnishings, tools, the organisation of social and commercial space – in creating a fantasy world?

SF: What It Is, What It Could Be

Friday 19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

SF as a genre is both loaded and contested, bringing with it decades of controversies, assumptions, prejudices, and possibilities. What do the genre’s various practitioners and consumers think SF is? Are we speaking the same language, or talking past each other? How do perceptions of SF – in terms of who can write it, who can consume it, and what kinds of stories can find a market – create or reinforce realities? Is ‘core’ SF still about space exploration and colonisation, or is there room for other types of stories? If SF is ‘dying’, as we’re frequently told, what does that mean and in whose interests are the preparations for its funeral?

Reading: Tobias Buckell

Saturday 20:00 – 20:30, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

Kaffeeklatsch

Monday 12:00 – 13:00, London Suite 4 (ExCeL)

13 Jul

Miami is slowly flooding, and will eventually be our newest Venice

I basically assume Miami is the newest Venice at the start of Hurricane Fever due to this:

“What makes Miami exceptionally vulnerable to climate change is its unique geology. The city – and its satellite towns and resorts – is built on a dome of porous limestone which is soaking up the rising seawater, slowly filling up the city’s foundations and then bubbling up through drains and pipes. Sewage is being forced upwards and fresh water polluted. Miami’s low topography only adds to these problems. There is little land out here that rises more than six feet above sea level. Many condos and apartment blocks open straight on the edge of the sea. Of the total of 4.2 million US citizens who live at an elevation of four feet or less, 2.4 million of them live in south Florida.”

(Via Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away | World news | The Observer.)

07 Jul

The Del Rey UK edition of Hurricane Fever is also out

The Del Rey UK edition of Hurricane Fever launched over the weekend as well. If you’re a reader somewhere in the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand, it should be available!

The Del Rey UK site has buy links and more.

A storm is coming…

When former spy Roo Jones receives an unexpected package from a dead friend, he’s yanked out of a comfortable retirement and is suddenly embroiled in a global conspiracy involving a weapon that could change the face of the world forever.

But as one of the largest hurricanes to hit the Caribbean begins to sweep through the area, Roo just may find that time is running out – not just for himself, but the whole world…

Perfect for fans of action-packed espionage, Hurricane Fever is a kinetic techno-thriller for a new generation.

I’ll be in the UK and will appear in two places to sign. I’ll be at Fantasy in the Court, at Cecil Court in London on August 12th. I’ll also be at London Worldcon (LonCon). I’m hoping to be able to sign some Del Rey UK copies at both locations!

06 Jul

Putting a price on carbon does not, actually, bring an economy to a screeching halt

The oft-repeated tenet that a carbon tax will cripple the economy is bullshit:

“The B.C. carbon tax is built on a simple tenet of human behavior: When the price of something goes up, people will consume less of it. It actually applies to not just gasoline, but to all sources of atmospheric carbon, including natural gas and propane, and is based on how much carbon they emit. For example, since natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline, it is taxed at a lower rate. This ensures emissions are priced in proportion to their impact on the climate.

As a result, British Columbia’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are now nearly 20 percent below the rest of Canada’s. This put the province ‘within spitting distance’ of its goal to reduce emissions 6 percent below 2007 levels by 2012 a year ahead of schedule, says Mary Polak, B.C.’s minister of the environment.”

(Via B.C. put a price on carbon. What happened next will surprise you | Grist.)

02 Jul

How I screwed up

So Tor very generously asked if I would agreed to do a panel at San Diego Comic Con.

Over the last year I’ve been doing my best to reach out to places that invite me to come to them and indicate I can’t unless there is an anti-harassment policy in place, as per Scalzi’s convention anti-harassment policy. I’m not a star headliner or rock star, but I know it’s helped at least once create a formal policy where there was none before, so I’m now aware that doing this does have power.

As the details quickly came together for this West Coast tour, I didn’t read San Diego Comic Con’s harassment policy too closely. I found one, and was excited there was one. Yay, I could go! I said yes! I went back to writing my novel that was due RIGHT AWAY.

After I posted my schedule, a couple of people pointed out this, that the rules aren’t really clear cut (and I may have even retweeted/pointed out that link as well, doubly damning on my part):

This isn’t exactly a clear or easy to find set of rules. Beyond this small paragraph on the website, comic-con’s director of marketing and public relations David Glanzer told The Mary Sue last year that their policy is also printed in the Events Guide made available to attendees and that “each incident is handled on a case by case basis, as are the decisions on how best to prevent the issue from occurring again.” Considering the length of the Events Guide and the possibility of not every guest receiving it, the convention should create a formal policy displayed more prominently on their website and convention materials. As for dealing with issues case-by-case, each incident will certainly be different but that should in no way prevent them from listing common, specific anti-harassment rules that would still be good to make clear for attendees instead of assuming everyone has the common sense to already know how to behave.

So I didn’t read as closely as I should have. Which meant I messed up.

Since I agreed to go I’m going to go. And not go again now that I understand it’s a weak ass policy that’s not really a policy.

I’m sorry for not catching why it wasn’t much of a policy.

I also donated a sum of money to the National Museum of Women in the Arts:

NMWA addresses the issue of the lack of recognition and representation that women receive in museum collections and major exhibitions. NMWA maintains the reference library, and classifies, catalogues, and transfers artwork to exhibitions

So this was a learning experience for me about rushing through and not reading closely enough.

02 Jul

NRG CEO says solar will be competitive with local electricity in half the states in the US starting next year!

Some utility companies are starting to realize what’s happened abruptly over the last couple years:

“David Crane, who runs NRG Energy, says that in fully half the states of the union, electricity from residential solar panels will be cost-competitive with that delivered by local electric utilities by next year.

DON’T MISS: Will Solar Panels Destroy Electric Utilities’ Business Model? Yes, They Say

Crane was quoted two weeks ago in a blog post by Navigant Research, which focused on his company’s aggressive efforts to migrate to solar power for a growing portion of its portfolio.”

(Via Residential Solar Competitive With Electricity In 25 States Next Year: NRG CEO.)

I guess he’s just a hippy green type.

Interestingly, a few energy companies are spinning off all their alternative energy portfolios into brand new companies called YieldCos. Sort of like rats deserting a sinking ship.

Not only that, but they’re doing it in a clever way. The parent company gives them to right to acquire their alternative energy assets that they build in the future, thus taking up the mantle of up front capital that the newer, smaller company can’t sustain. The smaller company then sets up to funnel profits back to shareholders and parent company (sort of a quick and dirty master limited partnership).

While MLPs structures have a long history, if you assume dirty fossil fuel will collapse in the long run, it’s also a great way to shelter assets so that the green division’s ability to generate profit and income isn’t taken out in a collapse. Hedge your bets by granting stock in the new yieldco.

I’ve found the sudden interest in yeildcos on Wall Street interesting. Because, you always follow the money. And when the money wakes up to the basic facts on dirty electricity generation, it gets fairly fascinating.

Speaking of which, Barclays just downgraded the entire electric utility sector.

Guess why?

Electric utilities… are seen by many investors as a sturdy and defensive subset of the investment grade universe. Over the next few years, however, we believe that a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation and residential-scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo. Based on our analysis, the cost of solar + storage for residential consumers of electricity is already competitive with the price of utility grid power in Hawaii. Of the other major markets, California could follow in 2017, New York and Arizona in 2018, and many other states soon after.

In the 100+ year history of the electric utility industry, there has never before been a truly cost-competitive substitute available for grid power. We believe that solar + storage could reconfigure the organization and regulation of the electric power business over the coming decade. We see near-term risks to credit from regulators and utilities falling behind the solar + storage adoption curve and long-term risks from a comprehensive re-imagining of the role utilities play in providing electric power.

The question isn’t whether we’ll be transitioning. It’s how fast, and who gets rich off the change?

01 Jul

My latest novel, Hurricane Fever, is now for sale at eBook outlets and brick and mortar stores of your choosing

Hurricanefever

Today’s the big day. The launch of Hurricane Fever, my latest novel.

Here is a buy link to B&N.

Here is an Indiebound link that takes you to your nearest Indie bookseller.

What is Hurricane Fever about? Here’s the summary:

A storm is coming…. Introducing a pulse-pounding technothriller by the New York Times bestselling author of Arctic Rising

Prudence “Roo” Jones never thought he’d have a family to look after—until suddenly he found himself taking care of his orphaned teenage nephew. Roo, a former Caribbean Intelligence operative, spends his downtime on his catamaran dodging the punishing hurricanes that are the new norm in the Caribbean. Roo enjoys the simple calm of his new life—until an unexpected package from a murdered fellow spy shows up. Suddenly Roo is thrown into the center of the biggest storm of all.

Using his wits—and some of the more violent tricks of his former trade—Roo begins to unravel the mystery that got his friend killed. When a polished and cunning woman claiming to be murdered spy’s sister appears, the two find themselves caught up in a global conspiracy with a weapon that could change the face of the world forever.

In Hurricane Fever, New York Times bestselling author Tobias Buckell (Arctic Rising, Halo: The Cole Protocol) has crafted a kinetic technothriller perfect for fans of action-packed espionage within a smartly drawn geo-political landscape. Roo is an anti–James Bond for a new generation.

Here is a blog post I wrote for Tor.com about doing some of the research in Barbados for the book.

I was born in Grenada, an island further to the west of Barbados, both of us at the southern tip of the sweep of the Caribbean as it curves down toward South America. Only Trinidad and Tobago lie between Venezuela and us. And all that time growing up, I had no idea that a lost, but no less major and fascinating chapter of humanity’s early attempts to get into orbit lay just one island over from me.

Here is my West Coast Tour Schedule:

—-July 25th: Comic Con panel Vengeance and Villians (San Diego, CA)
—-July 26th: Comic Con signing at Tor Booth (San Diego, CA)
—-July 27th: Borderlands Books reading/signing (San Francisco, CA)
—-July 28th: University Books reading/signing (Seattle, WA)
—-July 29th: Mysterious Galaxy reading/signing (San Diego, CA)

In addition, I’ll be attending DetCon in Detroit and London Worldcon.

My full schedule, as always, is in Appearances.

If you’re interested in reviewing it, details are here.

And here’s what it feels like the day before a book launch.

Thank you to all who’ve pre-ordered copies, or helped spread word of mouth, as first week sales do make a big difference to momentum. Thanks to all bookstores carrying it, and thanks to all my readers. Here we go again!

30 Jun

My latest book, Hurricane Fever, launches tomorrow, and even though I’ve been through six book launches I’m still nervous as hell

You’d think by now I’d be rather blasé about all this. Why yes, I do have a book coming out tomorrow. Yes, I’ve done this six times already with other novels, nine times if you count launching an anthology I’ve edited and three collections.

By launch number ten I should be ready to throw a little soiree in town where I sip cocktails and entertain people with witty anecdotes. Or whatever it is suave writers who launch books do.

Instead I’m utterly unprepared and feel like the guy at the top of a roller coaster. “Oh shit,” I’m thinking, “Here we go again!” and, “No turning back now!”

I wrote a tight book. As tight as I could. And I’m hoping it doesn’t leave people much room to take a breath before they’ve slingshotted through Prudence Jones’s world of heavy weather, spies, and corporate conspiracy. I dwelled on two islands that have a special place for me, and hope I communicated some of their uniqueness. And I certainly shared my love of boat life.

But the roller coaster feeling comes from all the things I wonder if I should have done instead. Should I have dwelled further on world building? Should I have included more POVs? Will people who loved Anika in Arctic Rising feel short changed that she isn’t in here? Did I… Did I… Did I… did I do enough. I worked on the book as hard as I could, so I know that is behind me. But now, there begin the worries about whether I’ve sent out enough copies. Do enough people know the book exists.

Does it have a chance out in that cruel, cruel cold world?

I perused a listing of all the other science fiction and fantasy books out there that launch this month by Locus. Books that aren’t just vying for reader’s attention, but for the attention of reviews, coverage, and buzz. Great books, some them ones I’m looking forward to reading.

And I wonder, did I do enough? Should I be doing a gazillion blog interviews? Should I get on the street corner with a megaphone and start assailing random passer’s by? Do I buy ads? Do I…

…a thousand what ifs and possibilities, worries that I could have done more the last couple months to help the book, swirl around my hindbrain.

But, I’ll be spending time on tour. I have interviews lined up. I’ve put up the Batsignal telling people I’m here. And, at some point, because this is the 7th (or 10th) time I’m doing this, I also know: it’s time to also get back to work.

Because I’ve sacrificed a month or two on doing *nothing* but promotion to try and help a baby book, and at some point, like a mama deer, I know that damn book has to just get up on its own two wobbly legs and stand. Or it won’t be able to escape the wolves of indifference. Either I wrote a good book and it will generate interest and readers, or it won’t.

Two nights ago I finished writing my 10th novel. I’m going to be spending a good chunk of time while traveling to promote Hurricane Fever doing edits on the YA novel Islands in the Sky. And sometime next month I begin working on the 11th novel.

Because the buzz doesn’t start unless there is a book out there to buzz about. And while no promotion isn’t ideal, I do have to take a deep breath and realize I can’t, all by myself, get people to be excited and spread the word. Either people are invested in the book and things will happen.

Or they won’t, and I work on a book that will.

And that is my state of mind, the night before my 7th novel launches, that I need to be chill. Relax. And trust the book. And also OMG please for the love of all that is holy read my book.

That is all.

24 Jun

A new Xenowealth short story will be in UPGRADED, Neil Clarke’s anthology about cyborgs

NewImage

Neil Clarke has revealed the table of contents for Upgraded, “An original anthology of cyborg stories edited by a cyborg.” What fantastic company I’m keeping. This is looking like it will be quite a vibrant anthology. And for those of you who are fans of the Xenowealth, there’s a new Pepper story in here.

It comes out next month:

Contents:
Introduction by Neil Clarke
Come From Away by Madeline Ashby
No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die by Elizabeth Bear
Married by Helena Bell
A Cold Heart by Tobias S. Buckell
Honeycomb Girls by Erin Cashier
What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes by Jason K. Chapman
Wizard, Cabalist, Ascendant by Seth Dickinson
Seventh Sight by Greg Egan
Negative Space by Amanda Forrest
Mercury in Retrograde by Erin Hoffman
Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia
God Decay by Rich Larson
Always the Harvest by Yoon Ha Lee
The Regular by Ken Liu
Coastlines of the Stars by Alex Dally MacFarlane
Fusion by Greg Mellor
Memories and Wire by Mari Ness
Oil of Angles by Chen Qiufan
The Sarcophagus by Robert Reed
Synecdoche Oracles by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Tender by Rachel Swirsky
The Cumulative Effects of Light Over Time by E. Catherine Tobler
Small Machine by Genevieve Valentine
Collateral by Peter Watts
Taking the Ghost by A.C. Wise
Musée de l’Âme Seule by E. Lily Yu
About the Authors
About the Editor
Cover art by Julie Dillon