Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Re: Kickstarter being not awesome right now for their employees...

So, since starting our campaign, a lot of people are posting negative things about how they won't support our campaign because Kickstarter is making some bad press regarding their labor practices, right now. A friend suggested that we say something publicly about that, and I sort of don't feel like I want to step into the mess of a huge on-line discussion about this company's actions. It was advised to us that we do, and I can't really speak for Eric. I can only speak for me. Again, this is just my point, and I think Eric and I are going to work on what our official stance, together, as we build our company is. So, this is all me.


I think there's not a lot that Eric and I can do about the scandal, at this point. I also think that a lot of the people talking about this are doing it on Twitter, and have links to their Amazon accounts, and in some cases are partnering with Amazon Prime to make movies out of their books... So, Amazon and Twitter and Facebook's Union Stance is...? Also, here I am on Blogger with my Gmail account. and Google, to my knowledge, is not a pro-union place. I'm not interested in making a purity argument. I'm just trying to suggest that being pure is impossible in the arts, right now. We don't have an alternative to Amazon, and if they called me and said they wanted to make a film out of one of my books, I'd be really into that, even when I know their warehouse conditions are awful and they're an aspiring monopoly.

I get the desire to hold bad actors accountable, but hurting the many creators that have relied on these tools to build something positive for themselves and their communities, I think, does more harm than good. The place where we can actually hold them to account without harming each other in our creative endeavors is at the ballot box, by supporting politicians who will work to protect workers and communities against companies that are being dicks while also obeying the letter of the law.

Eric and I both work in education. He's a high school teacher; I tutor at a community college. We don't have the resources to be that selective in how we move forward building something new. We will be leaning on Amazon when we have a product to sell. We will be using Facebook and Twitter to help promote the books we make. These three companies are not ethically awesome. It sucks. But, they obey the law. And, it is not something we have the power to change, individually. It is why voting for better leadership is so important.

We did not know about the actions of the Kickstarter management team before we went down this path. It would have changed our decision-making, had we known, absolutely. Even under the hypothetically nonsense scenario that we agreed with their corporate leadership's decisions (we don't) why would we want to launch a campaign right in the middle of so much bad press?! The staff at Kickstarter have been awesome, particularly Margot Atwell. Without their guidance and advice, I don't think we would have been as clear about what we are doing, even with each other.

I do think the labor laws need to change in this country, and I support Elizabeth Warren's campaign, both financially and with my voice and vote. If a company is behaving badly, while obeying the law, the law needs to change. I'm happy to work towards that goal.

I am reminded of the time Night Shade was going down, and went into bankruptcy. A lot of people on-line were mad that authors had been treated badly, and decided to boycott or actively promote boycotting Night Shade titles. The company was going down no matter anyone's actions, at that point. These voices had no bearing on the outcome of Night Shade's fate. The people who were harmed by that boycott were the creditors and authors who were owed. Freelancers needed to get paid. Authors saw their sales suffer, which made it harder to move forward in our careers. I don't have the power to control Kickstarter. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Amazon. We also don't have a viable alternative ecosystem in the arts, with tools that provide the same level of reach. 

I don't think Eric and I are particularly interested in getting into a debate about Kickstarter's labor practices, right now, nor are we interested in debating the merits of any major tech company's labor practices. We're just trying to use the tools that are available to us to build something bigger and more awesome. Someday, we hope to be able to build something better, but these are the tools that are available to us, today.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

KICKSTARTER: Vernacular Books is lifting off in 5... 4... 3...

Join us at the Kickstarter for more info, and please donate, donate, donate. Each donation is basically a pre-order.

http://kck.st/2ngRwtz

The Future of Crime...
It used to be if someone wanted to mug you, they had to look you in the face and make a threat. Not anymore. Hackers can wipe a bank account without ever having to risk drawing blood. Bad people use technology for personal gain. Nothing's new about that. What is new is the ways technology opens up opportunities for exploitation.
New technology is coming on-line all the time, creating new opportunities for creative criminals and dissidents. Stolen elections, companies held hostage by hackers, and acts of terror have all been committed with technology that didn't exist a few short years ago. 
Join leading edge speculative fiction authors on an exciting walk into darkness where people and machines plunder, cheat, kill, and steal in ways we can't even imagine with tools that may not even exist, yet. But, they're coming. 
They're coming for us, and all we hold dear.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Find me at ArmadilloCon next weekend

ArmadilloCon is where I’ll be next weekend, the first weekend of August. Find me there, if you can. I am on a single panel, and only around for Friday and Saturday.

Peace.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

latest story out in the new Analog.

Check for my story “Finnegan, Bring the Pain” in the latest Analog Magazine. There will be a story in the next issue, as well. My advice is subscribe.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Coming real soon...

I've got a story called "Full Metal Mother" coming real soon in Analog Magazine.

https://www.analogsf.com/next-issue/

I won't say much about this one, but I will tell you this: It's another piece of a novel that should be out somewhere. I had an offer that fell through on the full novel when the contract terms could not be agreed upon between us. So, it will be out somewhere, I'm sure, but I don't know where and I don't know when and in the mean time, pick up the next issue of Analog Magazine for another piece of the novel.

Other pieces of this novel have already appeared here and there.

"Everything is Haunted" was in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.
"Farmers" was in Analog Magazine.
"Dolores, Big and Strong" and "Paul and his Son" were in Asimov's Magazine.

You could find those, if you like, and see a few more pieces of this same, sad world.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Poetry Elsewhere than Here

Sign up if you like to read some more:

I'm up to Sonnt #293:
https://www.patreon.com/posts/25193940

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sonnet #290

Go here, and sign up:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/sonnet-290-24840816

Monday, February 18, 2019

Sonnet #289

the poetry has moved behind a very small paywall.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/sonnet-289-24785010

Thank you for hanging out with me, here, and following along!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Postemon #1







Sonnet #288

It takes damage to get to the top of the heap
It takes planned, organized damage to rise
Until all of society bends to the way your lies
about yourself, about how you can easily sleep
How you made yourself, you say, and still
The way we value cities is how we sell them
Best to men like you, who stand above and stem
the cost of damage with money, we build
each place for men like you, how you dream
how others who wish to emulate you seek to grow

The things the rich men do not want seem
To drift away: dirty work, untamed grass, unknown
people with different ways: They must fall in stream
Share your damage, demand damage built and grown

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Read "Tiger" Free at Reckoning Magazine's Website

Tiger

As a one-star Inspector General for the UN’s military police, I was uniquely positioned to assign myself any case that I chose, particularly after many years of hard assignments. I had chosen the matter of the mysterious Doolittle, a sort of multi-national guerrilla artist whose work I had encountered in my time amid the water riots of Bangladesh. The machines were dangerous, like wild animals.
I was following leads among machinists and fine artists in my region to no solution, limited by my own budget and time constraints, perfectly happy to find nothing at all until I retired and the case was old and forgotten, when I was suddenly assigned a powerful data crawler: an AI-algorithm named Deep Thor. The case was assigned his advanced intelligence analysis for three weeks, total, which is an astonishing amount of usage with a powerful AI on such a criminally trivial matter. I had no request or desire for this assistance. Apparently, Deep Thor had found a special interest in Doolittle, independently, and requested this deep dive to assist in case of terrorist escalation that was, I had to admit, possible given the machines’ high-level industrial design and the integrated radical political manifestos. I felt I was to blame. This was a result of my own official reporting intended to justify my long-continued investigations, fed back to me by machines incapable of human nuance.

Continue reading: https://reckoning.press/tiger/

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Sonnet #287

All the words we've ever spoken hang in space
The energy of them, the ripple of them extend
Into the wind, itself, we are all the weathermen
We are all blowing every phoneme to the place
Where all the lost words gather. I breathe, you breathe
The breath of us spills out into the trees
It falls into the ocean eventually from capture in the leaves
It sinks into the groundwater, we drink what we seethe
Shout all you want into the endless skies
Sing every song you want to be carried
For even if we cannot hear the lingering sighs
The echo of every cry out trembles unburied
When the music plays, it never stops, it lives and dies
Out in the air: Make good music, good words, and varied

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Follow this link, and participate.

New Patreon Who Dis:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/new-patreon-who-24416712

Gain access to the original novella, "The Mountain" and some short fiction, too.

https://www.patreon.com/jmmcdermott

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sonnet #286

Catkins, cattails, cats and kittens, will all,

bob and bounce and beckon to be tugged,
And not a one respects the lines we plugged
into our maps, just wind and the passing fall
of weather in the streets of spring's ripening
I know the familiar dances of the season
I watch the sky for sudden storms and reasons
to wear a raincoat, listen for the cats that sing
Because there will be waves of cats, pouring
up from all the cracks and hidden places
Among the reeds and long grasses, scouring
every little living hole, every tussock, these vast races
That scurry and bob and dance and their soaring
The wild, unkempt grass - that beautiful long grass

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sonnet #285

Here comes the wind, again, the howling blowing off

The harbinger of it is this rushing pushing flushing
That punches all the palm trees, knocksbranches and brushing
the forgotten nuts and fruits and leaves, hats will doff

One way or another: pay respects and bow if only
To collect the loose papers and lost scarves
I have seen the signs: two eyes burning, a close shave
On the early morning hours, the sirens withholding

A white heron stands in the storm drain runoff
Hunting where no fish are found, just trash
And sometimes toads awake too soon and lost,
The green algae and bracken will not last
But that is what is left, and where I stand, too
The great white bird of me, sunk into 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Sonnet #284

I take great comfort in your indifference, fair reader,
How I am shivering as much to myself as to you,
And nothing that I bluster will last much longer
Than the wind it took to breathe these words through

The letters on this page will keep for no one
The letters on my tombstone will moss and fade
The only future spirit of me is not the glory of the blade
Or the wisdom of the pen, only the echo of what I've sewn

It will not be attributed to me, this echo, but it moves
where my hands move, following the spirit of the hawks
That hover where all the birdfeeders are, the waves
that crash the shellfish, crush them open and seagulls walk
among the shells devouring; all the brave
stumble, no courage here, just wind in the cornstalks

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Sonnet #283

On the ceiling of the world, a jumping spider leaps
From stone to stone, alone, to hunt the blown
things, the wind carries bugs up too far, they're thrown
into the ice and rocks where these spiders creep;

Let's say that means, the highest things, above all
biomes, above all ecosystems, above all of us
the spiders, alone rule, they march among the rust
colored and wind-blasted and sunbleached and snowfalls

Victory is theirs, dominion is all theirs, untouched
by predators except each other, I assume, they rule
this kingdom mercifully, ignoring all the lesser wretches
Only taking offerings of the Aeolians songs, only cruel
Where they can be bothered to extend their royal reach
The rest of all their kingdoms permitted to be so, below.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sonnet #282

Church is where we go to imagine who we are
I think, perhaps, we have gotten busy worrying
About imagining  who other people are, burying
Our consideration in the mess, forgetting stars
Exist without concern for who observes them—burn
With consequence, turn slowly into black ice—
And the words of a book will never splice
The distance between all things; but it turns
in a little, makes us remember stories
That carry other stories that carry others
And echo into us the silence at the heart of stories
The vast, beating darkness that made mothers
And will strip away the bothersome noise of stories
Of moments in this moment; a steam, a rudder

Friday, January 4, 2019

Sonnet #281

The pomegranate trees believe in spring so much

They burst with any sign of turn in weather
Not me. I know the cold will come to touch, 
another hard wind, another long night, down feathers
piled upon down feathers, a faucet dripping
And in the morning, when the sun wakes up
the warmth will remind us of a dream of spring
But, not yet. Go back to sleep. This is night's cup
to drink away the darkness, and grow no leaves
This is the cynical hour, the misery hour, the late,
late hour, where every gesture of the daylight flees
when damp, wet air coughs storms, wait, and wait

Pomegranate trees, burned again, will never yield
Spring is ever in their branches -- again, they unpeel