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Superposition is a Kindle Daily Deal!

July 17, 2016

For one day only (today!), Superposition is a Kindle Daily Deal, which means it’s on sale in all e-reader formats (not just Kindle) for only $2.99.  Now, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve already read Superposition.  But your friends, or their friends, might not have!  If you enjoyed the book, and think someone else might, please spread the word!  A quick social media mention can make a big difference.  When you do, keep an eye on Amazon’s Top 100 in Science Fiction and watch the book move.  Terminal Mind made it up to #5 once, but Superposition has never broken the top 10.  I’m hoping today will be the day!

“Today only, quantum physics science fiction thriller Superposition, by David Walton, is on sale for $2.99!  http://amzn.to/2ahnPhy

 

When Spooky Action Comes in Threes

July 8, 2016

A fan wrote me today and asked about a passage from Superposition, in which a character explains quantum entanglement using coins as an analogy.  He asked: What if there were three coins instead of two?  I enjoyed writing up the answer, so I thought I’d post a portion of it here:

In the analogy, I gave my “particles” a binary attribute (heads or tails) to show their relationship in an easy, intuitive way.  In real life, entangled particles are produced such that they each share a part of some initial value.  For instance, one particle decays into two smaller particles, and the attributes of the two smaller particles have to add up to the attribute of the original one.  You don’t know what the values are, but once you know one value, you know the other one for sure.  So, yes, you can entangle three (or more) particles, though it’s harder to do.  Which just means that there will be some value (or set of values) that connect them, because of how they were made.
So to relate it back to the coins, if you had two impressions of side A of the coin, and one impression of side B, and you looked at the B-side impression and saw heads, then you would know that both of the other impressions were tails.  If you looked at one of the side-A impressions and saw heads, then you would know that the other side-A impression was heads, and the side-B impression was tails.  In all cases, the particles are entangled, which means that the values are related, such that if you determine one, you know the others.  But because of quantum uncertainty, the values aren’t actually determined until you measure it.  (Which is the bit demonstrated by the double slit experiment.)
It may seem as if this would allow for faster-than-light communication, since the entangled particles clearly pass information faster than the speed of light.  (This is the concept behind the ansible, as referenced in novels by Ursula K. LeGuin and Orson Scott Card.)  But it actually can’t work that way.  There’s no way to control the values, so there’s no way for a human to pass information that way.  It could, however, be a fantastic one-time pad for encryption purposes.  If I have a set of entangled particles, and you have the matching set, then I can use the first N values of mine to encrypt a message and send it to you.  When you receive the message, you use the first N values of yours to decrypt the message, and voila.  Encryption no one can break, with a key that no one else could possibly have a copy of, since the values weren’t even determined until I encoded my message.  As long as no one has stolen your cache of entangled particles, our messages are safe.
All this stuff is what makes quantum mechanics fun!  And also, crazy and mind-blowing.  Thanks for reading!

Who Put This Message In My Fiction?

March 25, 2016

That was the title of a panel at Lunacon 2016, the New York science fiction convention I attended this past weekend.  The other panelists and I discussed the merits of stories that have a message.  Science fiction is the literature of ideas, but nobody likes their fiction to preach at them.  So are stories improved when their authors have a message to get across, or harmed?  I found the question to be a thought-provoking one, so I wrote about it on Novelocity.

Sleepless in Philadelphia

March 24, 2016

Maids of Wrath - Copy - 2What if you never had to sleep?  It’s something I’ve thought about off and on ever since I read Nancy Kress’s masterpiece, Beggars in Spain, about genetically-modified children who don’t need to sleep.  My friend and fellow author Josh Vogt has been thinking about this question, too, and has popped by to tell us his thoughts.  The second book of his urban fantasy series, Maids of Wrath, comes out in early April.  Here’s Josh on his love/hate relationship with sleep…

—–

Sleep sucks.

Can we all just admit that? It eats up almost a third of our actual life. Time we could be doing things. Important things, too, like binge-watching Doctor Who to catch up on the latest seasons, or searching hours on end for the funniest cat video on YouTube.

Or, y’know, working and writing and whatnot.

For as long as I can remember, sleep has been my enemy. My nemesis, of sorts. It is something to be opposed for as long as possible, and woken from as quickly as possible so the conscious hours can be taken full advantage of. Sleep still irks me to no end. In fact, if someone presented the world with a trial pill that could eliminate the need for sleep, sign this lab rat right on up!

But you know what? Until that happens, sleep is necessary for little things like health and sanity.

Sad, I know. It’s an unavoidable truth, though. I learned my lesson after a string of bouts with insomnia left me something of a shambling wreck, unable to focus, unable to write, functioning on auto-pilot and wishing for nothing more than a solid night’s rest. I’ve come to accept the fact that sleep has to actually be a priority in my life if I want to maintain any sort of balance in my energy levels—and thus be able to keep my writing productivity going full throttle for as long as I can.

Without this thing I hate, I cannot have this thing I love.

Yet I can’t deny the facts. When I take what steps I can to have a good night’s sleep, the next day tends to go far better than if I’d pulled an all-nighter or forced myself to stay up until 3am just because I didn’t want to accept defeat.

Why do I gripe about all this? Because just as sleep is an undesirable I’ve realized can actually be helpful, so there are other undesirable elements within the writing process—ones I ignore dealing with at my own peril.

This can be anything from criticism of my writing to rejection from publishers to bad reviews to envy of others’ success, and much more. I have to work at each of these, handling them in ways that give me the opportunity to grow as a writer, rather than remaining complacent, becoming stagnant, or getting angry and entitled. I want to learn how to accept constructive criticism better. To embrace the sting of rejection as a challenge to improve my craft. To not have an online meltdown and troll reviewers until my reputation is trashed. And to applaud my peers’ accomplishments, because they well and truly deserve it.

All of this takes ongoing work, just like keeping my sleep schedule and routines intact. But I can at least know even when I’m struggling with something I don’t enjoy (or hate altogether), it will bring about a healthier mentality, lifestyle, and approach to writing in return for the effort. And, at the end of the day, I know I will have earned my rest.

—–

Josh-8194-2 - smallest

Author and editor Josh Vogt’s work covers fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel is Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes, published alongside his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). He’s an editor at Paizo, a Scribe Award finalist, and a member of both SFWA and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt.

Superposition, the TV Series?

February 29, 2016

superposition_tvIt’s an exciting time to be a science fiction author.  SF movies and TV shows are at an all-time high in popularity, and new shows are being made from novels all the time.  I’m excited to announce that the television rights to my quantum physics thrillers SUPERPOSITION and SUPERSYMMETRY have been picked up by eOne Entertainment Group, whose catalog includes The Walking Dead and a number of Syfy’s popular shows.

So what does this mean?  An “option” is just what it sounds like–there’s no guarantee that a TV show will actually be made.  There are a lot more novels that are optioned than are actually produced.  But it does mean that there are people working on putting the concepts of a show together, hiring a screenwriter, and moving things in that direction.  And my Hollywood agent (yes, I have a Hollywood agent–how cool is that?) is the same one that represents George R. R. Martin and Game of Thrones, so he and his agency kinda have some experience in the world of television.  Just a little.

The competition, as with everything in this business, is steep.  The odds are against it.  But a TV show made from one of my books?  That would be just about the coolest thing in the world.

Hallo Deutchland!

February 6, 2016

51nqa789oxl-_sx314_bo1204203200_The German language version of Superposition will be released in June of this year, an exciting event for me, as it will be my first book released in that language.  And check out this über-cool cover!  In German, the book will be titled “Quantum”, I guess because “Überlagerung” doesn’t have the right ring to it.  If you know anyone who speaks German (and more importantly, reads science fiction books in German), let them know!

 

Elephants in SPAAAACE!

January 7, 2016

BarskCover(300dpi)That’s right, author Lawrence M. Schoen and Tor Books have just released the marvelous new novel Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard.  It’s about uplifted elephants–elephants that have language and culture like humans–and it’s like nothing you’ve ever read.  It might sound like a children’s novel (Horton? Dumbo?), but these elephants are deadly serious.  There are other animals as well: cheetahs and sloths and bears and yaks.  They can talk to the dead–some of them, anyway–through a fascinating technology that raises interesting questions about memory, legacy, and free will.  I’ve invited Lawrence to join my blog today and tell us how he came to write about such an intriguing topic.

So, Lawrence… how did you come to write about anthropomorphic animals?

I’m tempted to tell you it all began a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but the truth is it was back in the late 80’s when I had just started teaching at New College in Sarasota, Florida. At 27, I was the “boy professor” with the ink still wet on my doctorate, and for my first teaching gig I was actually living in the campus dorms right alongside the students. It was an odd time in my life, as I was closer in age to most of the students than the other members of the faculty (indeed, some of my students were older than me!).

One of the courses I taught was Psycholinguistics, and one of the students had a roommate, Watts Martin, who was very much into anthropmorphic fiction. Most of the interest in this sub field focused on the artwork, but Watts was pushing the writing. He edited and published Mythagoras, a zine dedicated to anthropomorphic fiction.

Anyway, back then there was a popular comic in the field by  Steven A. Gallacci called Erma Felna, EDF. Erma was an anthropomorphic cat serving in the Extraplanetary Defense Force, kind of like the Federation from Star Trek,  and fighting against the Independent Lepine Republic (ILP), a different kind of federation made up mostly of anthropomorphic rabbits. The comic was so popular that it generated a roleplaying game spinoff. One day, Watts approached me about being part of a group of gamers to give it a go, explaining that I could roll up a character and it could be almost any “race” I wanted. In that instant, something just clicked in my head, and the worldbuilding that would become Barsk exploded. I remember the exchange went something like this:

Me: I want to play an elephant.

Watts: Umm… that’s not an option. We can probably fake it though…

Me: Right, an elephant. From a planet where there are nothing but islands. And the islands are full of rain forests. And it rains. Every. Day.

Watts: Umm…

Me: And the elephant grandmothers on that planet, they have an expression. They say, “So, do you think it will rain today?” And they laugh and laugh and laugh!

Watts: Umm…

Watts of course remembers the exchange differently. The part that lingers in his mind goes more like this:

Lawrence: We believe the only proper way to kill the rabbits from the ILR who’ve invaded our homeland is to pick them up by the ears with our trunks and smash them against a tree.

Me: Umm… the rabbits are armed with military rifles.

Lawrence (without missing a beat): There’s not many of us left now.

Two things about this are worth mentioning. First, we never did play the game (and to this day, I can’t recall why). Second, in that moment I vowed to start writing a novel about those elephants. This is more than a bit insane because, while I’d written some short stories at that point, I hadn’t managed to sell a one, and here I was pledging to write an entire novel!

Watts didn’t blink. In the months that followed, he published the first two chapters of what would eventually become the first draft of Barsk in the pages Mythagoras. Not long after that, I left Sarasota to teach at a college in Lake Forest, Illinois and Watts and I fell out of touch until just a few years ago when he showed up in my autograph line at the Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, California. He continues to write and promote anthropomorphic fiction, and in fact has been nominated several times for the Ursa Major award and won the Coyotl award.

But that’s how my writing Barsk all began, a chance conversation more than twenty years ago with the roommate of one of my students who just happened to be on his own path to being a writer of furry tales. It’s one of those stories that’s so unlikely it has to be true, because as fiction it’s unbelievable.

SchoenHeadshot-2(300dpi)Lawrence M. Schoen holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, has been nominated for the Campbell, Hugo, and Nebula awards, is a world authority on the Klingon language, operates the small press Paper Golem, and is a practicing hypnotherapist specializing in authors’ issues.

His previous science fiction includes many light and humorous adventures of a space-faring stage hypnotist and his alien animal companion. His most recent book, Barsk, takes a very different tone, exploring issues of prophecy, intolerance, friendship, conspiracy, and loyalty, and redefines the continua between life and death. He lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife and their dog.

Website: http://www.lawrencemschoen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lawrencemschoen

Twitter: @klingonguy

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