Thursday, September 14, 2017

YA Guy Creates... A FREEFALL Glossary!

It's less than two weeks until the September 26 release of FREEFALL, and YA Guy's getting excited!

Since FREEFALL takes place in the twenty-second century, lots of things have changed in terms of politics, culture, technology, and media—and the language has adapted to reflect those changes. Here's an alphabetical list of some of the terms that have arisen in the world of Cam Newell and Sofie Patel. (Italicized words can be found in the list.)

Adjournalist: a paid propagandist who circulates falsified news accounts in the financial interest of one or more of Earth’s corponations.

CanAm: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of North America.

Catastrologist: a combination of meteorologist and mystic who predicts future outcomes, typically of a catastrophic nature, at the behest of one or more of Earth’s corponations.

Centurion: a biomechanical soldier employed in outer space by JIPOC.

Chatshow: a talk show on the worldlink, offering viewer interactivity through selfone interface.

Classification: a corponational training program for all Upperworld children, taking the place of the banned public and private educational systems.

Close supervision: a euphemism for military attacks on Lowerworld sites believed to harbor dissidents.

ColPrep: an abbreviation for Colonization Preparation, the physical and mental training regimen required of Upperworld residents chosen to depart Earth on a mission to colonize outer space.

ConGlo: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of Central Africa.

Cons Piracy: a rogue group of computer hackers who attempt to leak top-secret data held by one or more of Earth’s corponations.

Corponation: a corporate entity that has taken over the functions of government (territorial management, population control, distribution of wealth, etc.) and that operates on a for-profit basis.

Data Recruitment Specialist: an Upperworld technician who performs the functions of a scientist, engaging in corponation-funded research to support profitable initiatives.

Deepsleep: a form of suspended animation, developed in part by Cam’s mother, that enables deep-space colonists to survive voyages much longer than the span of a human life.

ExCon: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of western and northern Europe and Russia.

Frackia: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of southern Africa.

Funding Fathers: the revered ancestors who established the underlying principles and secured the original financial security of the Upperworld.

INTERCOLPA: the Intercorponational Colonization Protection Agency, responsible for overseeing security surrounding the deep-space colonization mission and for deporting or incarcerating perceived threats to the mission.

JIPOC: the Joint Intercorponational Panel on Otherworld Colonization, the Upperworld conglomerate that pursues and finances the mission to colonize space.

Lower-life: a derogatory term for a resident of the Lowerworld (plural Lower-lifes).

Lowerworld: the 99% of the world’s population that lacks access to wealth and basic resources, geographically separated from the Upperworld.

MediTerri: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of southern and eastern Europe and North Africa.

Megazine: an entertainment site on the worldlink, offering paid access to media content, tabloid news, and consumer products.

MexSanto: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of South and Central America.

MicroNasia: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of the far East.

Nanoroids: injectable nanotechnologies that build muscle mass and bone density while enhancing endurance, balance, agility, and nerve conduction velocity.

Nanoserum: any of a number of nanotherapies delivered through injection.

New York CITI: New York Central Intercorponational Telecom Interface, the hub of the worldlink, located at the site of the former New York City.

Peace Corp.: a private paramilitary force employed by Earth’s corponations to suppress individual liberties and political activism in the Upperworld and Lowerworld.

Plutocrats and Publicans: two defunct political parties from the waning ages of the old world, when governments rather than corponations ruled the planet.

PMP: Primary Medical Personnel, an Upperworld technician who performs the functions of a physician (often aided by an AMP or Auxiliary Medical Personnel).

Privacar: a privately owned vehicle, extremely rare due to its financial and environmental impacts and thus the prerogative solely of the super-rich.

Selfone: an advanced version of a cell phone, providing instant access to the worldlink along with other functions.

SubCon: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of southern Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Techgame: a video game played on the worldlink, with full immersive VR and interactivity among multiple players engaged with each other either synchronously or asynchronously.

Terrarist: an individual or member of a group who engages in violent political resistance, ostensibly in the interest of preserving the planet Earth (Terra).

Terra Tank: a slang term for Centurion.

TranSpeaker: a hovering device that enables speakers of different languages to communicate.

UniVers: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former Australia.

Upperworld: the 1% of the world’s population that has monopolized access to wealth and essential resources, and that plans to abandon Earth to colonize outer space.

Worldlink: the twenty-second century equivalent of the internet, providing entertainment and indoctrination on public channels, and strictly regulated to prevent unlicensed content from being viewed by the general population.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

YA Guy Says... ARGH!!! to ARCS

ARCs. Advance reader (or review) copies. You know 'em. You love 'em. You need 'em.

YA Guy hates 'em.

Well, let's clarify that. I don't have a problem with ARCs as such. In fact, it's kind of thrilling to see your book in physical form for the first time, even if it's a flimsy paperback and the text will probably undergo changes ranging from minor to ginormous before the actual book is published. I understand, too, why others like ARCs: a chance to read and review a book before it's on the shelves. Some people collect ARCs. And publishers keep churning them out in hopes of generating buzz and early reviews.

But I've got to tell you, my personal experience with ARCs has been an exercise in frustration.

With FREEFALL, I received about 20 ARCs (not to mention the digital ARCs on NetGalley). Being a good boy, I sent out emails to various reviewers in my genre, asking if they'd like a physical or digital ARC. Many reviewers responded enthusiastically, so I sent them the ARC of their choice. Then I sat back and waited for the reviews to roll in.

Which they didn't.

I got a few reviews, sure. Some were very positive, some weren't. That's life. The not-so-positive reviews aren't what I'm annoyed about.

It's the people who don't review the book at all. Ever.

I sent follow-up emails to those who'd requested an ARC. Several responded with firm or tentative review dates. Most, however--if they responded at all--told me that they were too busy to review, or something had come up, or they'd changed their minds. No review for you, kid. Sorry, better luck next time!

This bothers me. And not because it signifies that I'm not a big enough name to merit instant reviews. For all I know, this happens to everyone. But it shouldn't happen to anyone.

Look, I'm busy too. Things come up for me. And I have been known to change my mind from time to time.

But when someone asks me if I'll review their ARC and I agree to do so, I review the darn thing. I recognize that it costs the author (or somebody) money to mail me that ARC, and I also recognize that if I take it, someone else who might have reviewed it doesn't get it. If I'm honestly too busy or foresee that the book's not quite up my alley and I might change my mind about reviewing it, I tell the author or publisher not to send it to me.

We all know of the dishonest things that happen with ARCs. Some people request them only to sell them online. Others, even worse, digitize them and then give them away on free download sites. I can't do anything about those people, who are either outright crooks or just plain jerks.

But to the people who are less criminal than inconsiderate, I'd ask that you remember the investment the author makes in her or his writing, along with the expectation that's attached to the ARC she or he sent to you. It's not a formal contract, of course. You're not REQUIRED to read and review it. If the author was the one who made the initial overture, you might think you have no real obligation to review it. But wouldn't that be the right thing to do? The nice thing to do?

In any event, I think I've finally wised up. For my next book, I'll either survive without ARCs or go digital only. I really don't have the time or money to be shipping books to people who plan to use them only to prop up the furniture.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

YA Guy Launches... FREEFALL!

YA Guy's newest science fiction novel, FREEFALL, hits the shelves next month (September 26, to be exact), so I'm celebrating a few days early with a launch party on September 24. If you're in or near the Pittsburgh area, please stop by--there will be good conversation, signed books for sale, food and drink, and cool giveaways (I promise).

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 21, 2017

YA Guy Reads... Really Long Books!

YA Guy recently finished reading Frank Herbert's DUNE--all 900 pages of it--and it made me think about other really long books I've read in the past. Since I'm gearing up to read two additional epics--THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and DON QUIXOTE--I thought it would be fun to post mini-reviews of ten previous examples, listed in order from best to worst.

1. THE LORD OF THE RINGS. My favorite book, hands down. I've read it four times throughout my life--once when I was twelve, once during graduate school, once when I taught a Tolkien course to college students, and several years ago just for the heck of it--and I never tire of it. I confess, in my most recent reading, I found the elevated diction and inverted syntax ("Lo! Then did the Lord Aragorn come unto the Plains of Pelennor, and he was as one that was wroth!") a bit forced. But the story, the characters, and most of all the unparalleled world-building were as impressive to me as they were back when I was a kid.

2. DUNE. Another long book I loved as a teen and decided to re-read as an adult. I found it really slow-moving this time around; the first third is pretty much prelude to the uprising that kicks the story into gear. And hero Paul's unflappable, messianic self-confidence was a bit hard to take. But as with Tolkien, Herbert has to be credited for one of the greatest feats of world-building--or universe-building--of all time.

3. ULYSSES. I started Joyce's epic in 1990 and finished it in 2015. But no, it didn't take me 25 years to read it; I started it for a class in grad school, then stopped midway through once the semester ended and never picked it back up until 25 years later. Undeniably a great book, earthy and funny and sensual and smart, with enough daring, dazzling narrative choices to fill up a shelf-full of novels.

4. TOM JONES. This 1000-plus page picaresque is at once an early masterpiece of the novel form and a parody of the same; it pretty much defined postmodernism 200 years before that was a thing. I read it in grad school and don't remember many of the details, except for the fact that the hero kept getting into various affairs and peccadilloes and the author kept commenting on his own book. But I do remember that it kept me entertained for a solid month, and that's something.

5. GONE WITH THE WIND. Yes, it's racist as hell, and I would never excuse or rationalize that racism the way some people do ("oh, everyone was racist then, so it's not a big deal!"). I would say, however, that as a glimpse into the mind of the South, both antebellum and postbellum, it can't be beat. And Scarlett O'Hara remains one of the great fictional inventions of all time.

6. SHOGUN. I read this way back in high school, after I'd watched the miniseries. It's hard for me to recall from all those years back exactly what I thought about it; I don't think I understood it all that well, and I really had (and have) no idea if its representation of feudal Japan is at all accurate. But I remember that the story kept me engaged, and the characters, both Western and Japanese, struck me as simultaneously realistic and of epic proportions, which isn't an easy balance to strike.

7. PARADISE LOST. The only poem on this list, Milton's masterpiece was another book I was required to read in my Ph.D. program. It's not all that long in terms of page or word count, but the difficulty of the language and the complexity of the theological ruminations make it a book that feels much longer than it is. (That's not necessarily said in a negative way.) Of the central quartet of characters, Adam is a shallow pretty boy, God is a vengeful whiner, Eve is an interesting early example of a woman straining against the bonds of patriarchy, and Satan is a recognizably human and sympathetic villain.

8. CATCH-22. I received this book as a prize in college for an essay contest I won, but I didn't read it until a few years ago. I definitely get what Heller was up to, taking the "good war" and making it every bit as pointless, absurd, and depraved as every other war. But the darn thing is so chaotic and fractured, it took me forever to read. And I didn't feel that I connected with it until near the end, when we finally discover what Yossarian witnessed that drove him mad.

9. MIDDLEMARCH. Yet another massive novel that was required of me--or, in this case, inflicted on me--during grad school. I know many people love this book and its self-actualizing heroine, but I found it plodding, dull, and almost impossible to finish. It was ironic, I thought, that Eliot presented Casaubon's Key to All Mythologies as such a tedious, self-indulgent venture when, to me, her own novel felt very much the same.

10. GAME OF THRONES. Without a doubt, the worst long book I've ever read. I'd heard so many people raving about it, I felt I had to read it--but when I did, I discovered that it wasn't at all what I'd been led to believe. An epic fantasy? What's epic about it? And where's the fantasy? There's a wraith-like creature in the first few pages, and a baby dragon on the very last--and then, for the rest of the book, there's nothing but court intrigue and royals engaging in love affairs and other questionable behavior. Who cares about these people? And why did the author decide to kill the one character I had started to care about in the slightest--Ned Stark--in the most pointless, trivializing way possible? Add to that sexagenarian Martin's creepy fascination with nubile nymphet Daenerys Targaryen's genitalia and the various things that can be inserted therein, and this book was complete and total trash, basically soft-core porn masquerading as fantasy fiction.

So that wraps it up. Any suggestions for other really long books I should sink my teeth into? As I said, I've already got Hugo and Cervantes on tap, but I should be ready for something new by the middle of 2018 or so!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

YA Guy Discusses... Discussions!

As you've probably already figured out, YA Guy's kind of old-fashioned. (Which is another way of saying that YA Guy's kind of old.) I didn't encounter a computer until senior year in college. I don't own a cell phone. I'm on social media, sure, but I don't use it to flog, bully, and ridicule other people.

Which, it seems, is the purpose to which all too many put it.

I was thinking about this when I read a recent discussion of science fiction and fantasy literature on Goodreads. Ordinarily, I avoid such discussions, because I've learned that the comments tend to degenerate into tantrums, tirades, and taunts. But I thought, "what could go wrong with a discussion of science fiction and fantasy literature?" So I read.

Turns out lots of things can go wrong.

Right at the start, one participant denigrated dystopian literature--particularly YA dystopian--and those who read it. In no time, others jumped in either to defend the genre and its readers or to pile more ridicule upon their unsuspecting and inoffensive heads. Someone used the occasion to make a scurrilous remark about liberals (?), whereupon someone else berated that person for bringing politics into the forum. A couple of times, calmer heads tried to steer the discussion back on track or to suggest gently that different readers have a right to their own likes and dislikes, but to no avail. The troll train had left the station, and it wasn't about to be turned back.

I don't know why people like to attack other people online. I guess the relative anonymity (and hence safety) of computer-mediated discourse brings out the worst in some folks. Or maybe it's just a game for certain people (though why flinging profanities at perfect strangers should constitute some kind of game is beyond me). Whatever the case, in YA Guy's esteemed opinion, this kind of behavior is just plain cruel and pointless.

On Facebook--which, dinosaur that I am, is my favorite social media platform--I have a policy: I don't argue with other people's posts, and I don't permit argument with my own. On the rare occasion that someone violates this policy by calling me a pointy-headed liberal or whatever, I remove their comment and post a reminder that I don't abide such incivility in cyberspace, just as I don't abide it in face-to-face contacts. Life's too short, and damage too easily done by words as surely as fists, for me to engage in shouting contests on the computer screen.

So I'm here to make a plea for restraint in online discussions. Try to be nice to others. If you must disagree, do so respectfully. What purpose is served by adding to the sum total of vitriol in the world?

And if you find yourself posting a nasty response to this column, be assured that your words will be deleted by your friendly neighborhood dinosaur.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

YA Guy Gives Away... FREEFALL Swag!

YA Guy's got some very cool FREEFALL swag I'm just dying to give away to readers! It includes an item modeled on a scene in the book where the narrator, Cam, dons a backpack imprinted with the logo of JIPOC, the company that finances a deep-space colonization mission that goes horrendously wrong. Here's an image of the replica bag:

Pretty cool, huh?

From now until release day, I'm giving away this bag, filled with other FREEFALL goodies, to anyone who preorders the book. Here's what you have to do to claim your swag:

--preorder FREEFALL (in print or digital format) from your choice of retailer before September 26, 2017

--send an image of the receipt (screenshot or digital photo) to me at:

--in the body of the email message, include your mailing address (U.S. only)

I'll mail your bag right out to you, so you'll be able to carry your copy of FREEFALL (and anything else you want to carry) when the book comes out!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

YA Guy Reveals... The FREEFALL jacket!

YA Guy loves the cover to FREEFALL, my forthcoming YA science fiction adventure. I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.

But then I saw the complete jacket.

Nice, huh?

There's a jacket reveal running on YA Interrobang for the next week, with a chance to win a signed copy of FREEFALL. Check it out!