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Prometheus Award

November 14, 2017

The Genius Plague was nominated for the Prometheus Award! It’s one of 9 nominees, and the winner won’t be announced until next summer, but still very cool. The Prometheus Award has been given every year since 1979 by the Libertarian Futurist Society for science fiction that “dramatizes the value of freedom and human rights, exposes the dangers of tyranny or explores the perennial tensions between Liberty and Power.” So…um…I guess I did that!


Goodreads giveaway of The Genius Plague!

November 2, 2017

My publisher is giving away copies of The Genius Plague on Goodreads!  Enter the giveaway here:

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Fan Letters

October 19, 2017

I’m not so famous an author that I get a lot of fan letters, but with The Genius Plague newly out on the street, I’ve been receiving some this month.  Maybe if I were George Martin or Andy Weir I’d be tired of such things and shrug them off, but for me, there’s no greater delight than hearing how people have enjoyed my books and how my stories have connected with them.  Publication schedules are so slow that by the time a new book comes out, I’ve been sitting on it for quite some time, waiting for the day when readers can finally enjoy it.  So if you’ve read The Genius Plague and want to send me a letter, but think you might be bothering me by doing so — don’t hold back!  I love to get them, and I always respond.  (davidwaltonfiction at gmail)

And to all of you: thanks for reading!

Ode to Ephemerides

October 18, 2017

I had some ephemerides; they came to me one day
As classic two-line elements; I thought them here to stay.
We met each other’s needs with sympathetic reciprocity
While cheerfully extracting time, position, and velocity.

Their charming eccentricities were known on every side.
Their propagating following was wonderfully wide.
Our pastor even praised their inclination in a homily.
To find them sad or out of sorts was rare: a true anomaly.

I had some ephemerides; I loved them as a friend,
But all orbital beginnings are bound to have an end.
Our friendship proved ephemeral; distrust began to climb
And grave uncertainties were bound to creep in over time.

Our peace was soon perturbed by gravity and relativity.
Telemetry discrepancies appeared with sad proclivity.
We had a nasty fight about their semi-major axis
Which turned into an argument about their periapsis.

I had some ephemerides, but nothing on this Earth
Is constant in its happiness or lasting in its mirth.
No joy that life can give me could provide the same dynamics
As my brief and tragic love affair with celestial mechanics.

With apologies to Patrick Barrington.

Why You Should Say Bad Things About My Books

October 17, 2017

For an author, customer reviews are like gold.  The more people review our books on Amazon (or Goodreads, Audible, etc.), the more likely customers are to take the book seriously, and — even more importantly — the more Amazon’s AI bots will promote the book and combine it with others.  (“People who bought X also bought Y!”)

As human beings with egos, however, the reviews we tend to love are the ones that rave.  (“This is the best book written this century!  I would kill my own mother just to read it again!”)  These make us feel better than reviews that mix the good and the bad, and we want to think they do a better job of convincing others to buy.  If we think that, though, we’re wrong.

Imagine you’re in the market for a new widget.  Knowing nothing about widgets, you check out the reviews.  The first one has five stars and says, “This widget is so awesome you will want to marry it after one use! Never buy another widget again!”  You roll your eyes, because this review tells you nothing.  You wonder if maybe the widget-maker’s mother wrote it.

The next review you see has one star.  It reads, “Stupid widget broke the first time I took it scuba diving.  Piece of trash.”  This is a little more helpful, because it tells you where not to use it.  Since you had no intention of scuba diving with it, however, you read on.

The next review reads, “Widget did needed it to as a casual hobbyist.  The self-cleaning feature left streaks on the chassis, but didn’t affect its function.  Great value for the price, but consider model B if you’re going to be using it every day.”  Now THIS is helpful!  You are also a casual hobbyist, so you go ahead and purchase the widget.

The same is true of books.  As authors, we admire the reviews that stroke our egos, but over-the-top praise with no substance isn’t useful to customers.  We’re afraid reviews with anything negative to say will turn away readers, but in reality, it’s the balanced reviews that are more likely to result in a sale.

So… if you’re a friend, and you’re planning to review The Genius Plague (and please do! it helps!), go ahead and say what you really thought.  The point of a review is to help readers find books they will actually like, and in the long run, that’s better for me than unrealistically high praise.

TGP in the WSJ!

October 13, 2017

Hey, The Genius Plague was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal!  Here’s the review:

I think you need a subscription to read it, but here’s the best quote: “Walton has brought hard sci-fi roaring back to life.”


The Plague Is Spreading!

October 6, 2017

THE GENIUS PLAGUE is out!  I’m delighted to finally bring this book to all of you that I’ve had only in my head for so long.  I’m really pleased with this one.  If you want to know what it’s about, I think the best description of it is what I wrote on John Scalzi’s blog.  It’s available in trade paperback, e-book, or audio book versions, so take your pick!