How Many Fucks Are In FIX?

As you’ll no doubt recall, my favorite review of all time is, was, and will always be from my goddaughter Carolyn, who said:

“I would recommend this book to people ages 15+ because f*** is in the book on almost every page.”

Further investigation turned up that Flex contained the word “fuck” 95 times,  or roughly once every three pages.  (Most of that is from Valentine. She swears a lot.)

People then demanded to know how many fucks were in The Flux (a phrase I still find distinctly satisfying) – and we discovered that it contained 101 fucks.  Which seemed superior, honestly – a 6.3% improvement in fucks! – but The Flux was also a longer book, and so once again we had about one fuck every three pages.

So.  What about Fix, the final book in the series?

Fix has an astonishing 128 fucks!  That’s because things are getting bad enough that Paul and Imani are now swearing, too!

But what about the all-important ratio, you ask?  Have I kept Fix to the quality of Flex and The Flux, delivering a solid “fuck” about once every three pages?

….it’s close.

Because Fix is longer, we now have:

One fuck every 3.625 pages.

Alas, I could do the cowardly thing of rounding down – but honestly?  I’d have to say that Fix has one “fuck” every four pages, approximately, though if you wanna tilt your head it could be three. Ish.

If you were tuning in solely for the illicit thrill of having someone rattle off a “fuck” every three pages, well, I’ve let you down.  But on the other hand, if you were buying the book to see how Unimancy works, or to watch what happens when Aliyah finds her own special magic, or to see what happens as Valentine figures out how to have a stable relationship (or, you know, not), then buy it now!  (People are calling it “the perfect end to the best series of books I’ve ever read.“)

But for the rest of you, there’s still plenty of fucks there.  Just… not as many.

I’m sorry.

 

My Novel FIX Is Out Today! Here’s How You Can Help Me… Or Any Author You Like!

Hey, my novel Fix is out today!  You can all now all begin hating me for the horrible things I do to characters you have come to love!  Here’s all the wonderful places you can buy the final book in the ‘Mancer series:

North American Print & Ebook
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | BarnesandNoble.com | IndieBound.org

UK Print & Ebook
Amazon.co.uk | Book Depository | Waterstones | WHSmith

Global DRM-Free Epub & Mobi Ebook
The Robot Trading Company

But that’s irrelevant, believe it or not!  I figure if you’re interested in buying the sucker and you read this blog, you already have decided to buy Fix (or not!) by now.  So let’s talk about what you can do to help an author’s book, if you’re so inclined:

1. Talking About The Book To Your Friends Helps.  
One notable couple loved Flex so much, they bought copies of Flex for all their friends at Christmas.  You do not have to go this far.  But still, the fundamental truth of books is that publishers can pour millions of dollars into ads and endcap buys, and every book’s success comes down to one conversation:

“Hey, did you read Ferrett’s book?  It’s pretty good.”

Without that conversation, books die.  Which is why I talk about books I love on Twitter and my blog – partially it’s just that I tend to squee about things I adore, but it’s also that discussing books helps them.

Which leads me to my next point…

2. Mentioning The Book On Social Media Helps.  
I woke this morning to lots of wonderful people who’d mentioned how excited they were that Fix was out.  And thank every one of you who did that.  Mentioning it on your Twitter or Facebook or Instasnap or Kik or Pokemon Go or whatever you crazy kids are using these days to talk?  It helps people be aware the book exists.  And in a cold callous universe packed tight with entertaining books, anything you do to shine the spotlight on a specific book helps.

3. Writing Reviews Of The Book Helps.  
Even if they’re tiny reviews like “I liked it, four stars,” putting information into Big Data’s hopper helps the massive computers feel better about recommending that book to other people.  Amazon’s far more likely to display and/or promote a book if it has lots of reviews behind it.  Publishers notice the number of reviews.

So review a book from an author you’d like to support, even if you don’t like it.  It’s far better for authors to have lots of honest reviews – that allows their recommendation engines to know who not to recommend the book to.  And honestly?  I don’t want people to buy any book they’re unlikely to enjoy.

(Though, you know, I hope you do enjoy it!)

4.  Seeing The Author When They Come To Town Helps.  
Remember, I’m doing another crazy book tour, hitting up Cleveland (obvs), San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle.  Showing up at the book store helps pump the book store’s sales, convinces local booksellers I might be worth reading, and helps an author feel like Not A Loser.

Thanks, Boston!

I mean, look at all these wonderful people who showed up in Boston!  THANK YOU, PEOPLE!

And yes.  My book is out today.  But always remember that these steps are comparatively trivial bits you can do to help out any author you’d like to support.  Write reviews, talk about them, see the author when they’re around.  That helps anyone in publishing, and publishing is hard, yo.

Anyway.  I’m going to delve into work today and emerge at my Cleveland release party.  Some of you will be reading what happens to Paul, Valentine, Aliyah, and the rest in Fix.

I hope y’all love the ending as much as I do.

Where Are The Best Donuts In Boston?

So I’m doing a signing in Boston this weekend – and when Ferrett does a signing for the ‘Mancer books, Ferrett brings the best donuts in town.*

The question is, “Where are the best donuts in Boston?”

As y’all know, donuts are central to the plot of my books Flex, The Flux, and Fix.  (In Fix, donuts wind up saving a man’s life.)  Donuts are the sign of goodness and humanity, and as such I figure any signing I attend should bring you the best of humanity.

But what is the best?  Gimme the best donuts within a reasonable driving distance of Pandemonium Books, and I’ll bring ’em.  I’ve heard Kane’s is awesome, with some mild debate as to Union Square donuts… but you Bostoners should give me the skinny. Lemme know.

(Also, I’ll be doing signings in San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle, so if you wanna tell me the best donuts in those towns, I’ll listen.  Except if you live in Portland.  I’ve been to Portland, and there is only ooey gooey Voodoo Donuts.)

* – Except at his signing in Cleveland, where Ferrett will be bringing the best donut-themed cupcakes in town.  Trust me, Great Scott Bakery is where it’s at.

My Unusual Opinion On Anthony Weiner

So.  Let’s discuss a complex topic here.

Anthony Weiner was sending out dick pics to semi-random women – again – and got caught – again.  And I have  friends tearing their hair out, asking, “WHY WAS HE SENDING OUT DICK PICS AFTER HE GOT CAUGHT THE LAST TIME?  WHAT KIND OF IDIOT IS HE?”

And my take is simple:

It probably worked for him a lot.

Which is a scary thought.  But that’s generally how I look at things: Nine times out of ten, the answer to How could they possibly think they’d get away with it? is a flat-affect Because they were getting away with it.

I suspect that much of the time, he’s sent dick pics to women who he has correctly assessed desire dick pics, and as creepy as you may (or may not) find this, I assume that a significant portion of the time he’s gotten a lively exchange of naughty photos and/or sexts.

Which, I should add, a lot of people do.

I am firmly against the unwanted dick pic. But there are plenty of women who, once they are suitably inclined towards the dick’s owner, like getting dick shots as part of a lively sexual exchange.  There’s nothing wrong with dick pics per se – it’s when they’re blasted out like spam, or offered as an introductory semen-smeared handshake, that things go awry.

(I am also firmly against cheating on your wife – and yes, I do believe that outside cybersex in a monogamous relationship is cheating.  But then we venture into that unknown territory of “What sort of relationship did they really have, based on the fact that having consensual non-monogamous relationships will get you kicked out of public office?” and the answer to that is, “I don’t know, and I sure hope they had some sort of agreement that this was okay as long as he didn’t get caught – but regardless, if his wife wants to stay in politics she’s got to ditch that zero.”)

(And I’m not okay with any women who may have cybersexed with Weiner, knowing he was married and not knowing the state of their relationship.  Uncool, theoretically-existing women.  Uncool.)

But anyway.  People are treating Anthony Weiner like he’s a total moron, whereas I suspect it’s a case of “He’s done this successfully for years, and gotten much of what he wanted until the moment it didn’t work for him.”  As someone who spends a lot of time in kink communities, I can tell you that when you enter voluntarily into a scene, confidentiality is often ensured in a mutual hostage situation – yes, she has your naughty pics, but you also have some compromising photos of her, so let’s both agree to keep this on the down-low.

(In much the same way that I have a lawyer friend who panicked when she ran into one of her town judges at her dungeon.  She was like, “Oh, my God, he saw me!”  And I told her, “Yeah, but you saw him.  He won’t say a thing.”  And lo, he didn’t.)

So I doubt it’s a ratio of one dick-shot, one national exposure – he probably had multiple cases that worked out fine for him until that awkward moment.  Either he assessed who wanted The Pictures correctly…

…Or, yes, had sexually harassed women who just didn’t feel like making headlines as the latest woman to receive the Weiner treatment.  Which, sadly, is probably also defined as “working out fine for him.”  I stress the “for him” aspect because when you’re a Weiner, one suspects that “getting away with stuff” is enough.  This is not the moral behavior I’d espouse, as – as mentioned – you should never ever send any sort of intimate shots to someone who is not an enthusiastic recipient.

I am merely discussing things from a Weinerian risk/reward perspective – that “How could he think he could get away with this?”  I’m not saying it’s a good look no matter how you frame it, because frankly, even if it’s been entirely consensual except for the women we know about, there’s a) still those women we know about, and b) risking your wife’s career to get your rocks off is an, er, dick move .

Yet this all begs the question: were I a national politician who’d be humiliated if I got caught sending dick pics again, would I keep it in my pants?  Oh hell yes.  If I unbuckled said pants, would I send my depictions of Little Elvis to a goddamned Trump supporter?  Oh fuck no.  Would I vet my potential penisees thoroughly to ensure that the photos were desired?  Man, I would vet them like they were potential vice-presidential running mates.

Would I go in the bathroom to take these shots?  Yeah, come on, dude.  Privacy.

I’m not saying this was smart behavior, or laudable behavior.  I’m merely saying that I don’t think it was devoid of reward until now.  I think that like most people in the public eye, he got away with a lot more shit than people dream of.

It’s probably easier to get away with things than you’d think.  That’s not a comforting thought.  But it is what I believe.

(But seriously, man.  If you’re gonna take your dick shot?  Framing.  Leave the pets out of it, clean the house a little, turn off those “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns in the background.  Let your dick be the centerpiece.  Otherwise, at the very least it’s declasse, and honestly, DON’T CYBER WITH YOUR BABY IN THE GODDAMNED ROOM.  EVER.  EVEEEEER.)

 

Books I Liked And Why I Liked Them: Fifth Season, All The Birds In The Sky, Library At Mount Char

So here’s some books I’d recommend, along with the thing that’s stuck with me months after reading them:

N.K. Jemesin’s The Fifth Season – Clearly Explaining The Unknown
Here’s a thing I didn’t realize was hard about writing until I saw N.K. Jemesin doing it effortlessly:

Explaining what’s happening without explaining why.

If I tell you “A guy is shooting at us from far away,” well, you understand both what and why.  You understand that a gun is designed to kill people with super-fast projectiles, you understand that it’s fired only when someone’s trying to kill you, you understand that this is deadly force.

That’s the “Why.”

Now surgically remove all of those elements to leave you in the dark about what a gun is, leaving you only the “what.”  You hear loud noises.  People are dying, maybe with little puffs of blood coming out of them, but you don’t know what bullets are and those fuckers are moving too fast for you to see.  You aren’t even aware that bullets come from a set direction unless you’re really good at intuiting on the fly, or maybe you see a flash from that window and connect the dots –

But the sequence of events is much more likely to confuse you.  You get that people are dying.  But explaining exactly what is going on without providing greater context is hard – and it gets harder later on when you have a character who can explain how this “gun” works and your mind snaps into context and goes, “Oh, okay, a gun, now all that made sense.”

You don’t see a lot of magic described in fiction without the why, because without a why lots of mundane things become impossible to describe, let alone crazy magic systems.  A guy’s mowing my lawn as we speak, and I envision writing a scene where a dude with a low-set deathblade machine methodically uses it to truncate certain forms of vegetation, and Jesus that’s going to leave a lot of people confused unless I explain why he’s doing that.

Jemesin is a goddamned expert on writing magic where you understand exactly what is going on, but don’t have the faintest clue why things are working that way.  You’re never more confused than you need to be.  You understand the results but not the reasons, which makes it so incredibly satisfying when the reasons come along later on and they all make sense and you get a sense of this stupendously deep magic system that keeps going, and going, and going.

It won the Hugo.  It deserved to.

Charlie Jane Anders’ All The Birds In The Sky – Endless Possibilities
All the Birds in the Sky can be described as “quirky.”  If you’re looking for a book with a finely-tuned plot, don’t bother – this is a book that meanders, taking long strolls down interesting paths, sometimes hand-waving the parts that aren’t as much fun to delve back into the weird stuff.

I absolutely love that tone.  I love the way this book doesn’t care about anything except what it thinks is cool.

Basically, All the Birds in the Sky follows two kids – one of whom grows up to become a great nature-witch working for a worldwide conspiracy, the other who becomes a techno-savant in a Silicon Valley world-changing tech corp – and both halves of that equation are unpredictable and unlike what you’ve seen in books before.

But it’s the side-trips I like.  Charlie Jane allows us to get snagged on these weird side characters with their own crazy histories, these little asides that flesh out the world.  A lesser book would have zoomed in on these two (compelling!) competing people, but by pulling out and allowing the rest of the world to take center stage from time to time what you get is this feeling of a world with limitless potential.

A lot of books feel like a Disney Park theme ride – everything happens within full view of you, and when you get off the ride you’ve seen all there is to offer.  Whereas All The Birds In The Sky makes me want to hop off that Disney ride because we just passed another ride, and that one looks so interesting too, but oh we only get a glimpse of it before riding into the distance.

I had the exact same feeling that I did when I read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell in that I would have been perfectly happy if this book had chosen never to end, and just kept following these awesome people around so I could hang with them.  The ending’s disappointing, but largely that’s because I didn’t particularly want it to finish, so I can hardly blame Charlie Jane for that.

Scott Hawkins’ Library At Mount Char – Tender, Loving Brutality
Picture a school like Hogwarts, instead of being run by a loving Dumbledore, it’s run by God.

Like, the guy who is in charge of the universe.  He didn’t create the universe.  You think.  But he is in absolute control of it, and he’s trying to teach you how to be his acolytes with the casually world-bending power that wizards have, and the only way he can do that is by showing you all the terrors of the universe.

You are at his whim.  There is nothing you can do.  He is God.  And yet he is gifting you with such extraordinary powers, even though he killed your mother and father and took you on-board and you strongly suspect he reorganized time in order to ensure you wound up right where he needed you so you were at your most vulnerable.

It’s a hell of a school.  You learn a lot.

But oh, how it costs.

And the thing is, I loved Library at Mount Char because this sounds brutal, and the book is even more brutal than that, with these psychologically scarred kids being put through a wringer and the world being battered at the hands of a guy who actually is more powerful than you’d dream.  (Like, death won’t save you from him – he’ll just go get you back, and he’s teaching you how to do that too.)

But peel away that very thick rind of horror, and underneath is one of the most compassionate books I have ever read.  I’ve never before read a book where buckets of blood is literally tame compared to what the headmaster does, and yet the characters come to such beautiful realizations that reader, I wept.

It’s a gorgeous balance – this book’s tender moments wouldn’t function without the alien coldness of the universe Scott Hawkins created, because the strange kindnesses that form when you’re smashed down that thoroughly become so meaningful.

And that ending.  Oh, I won’t spoil it for you.

But that ending.

 

FIX Is Out In A Week, And So Am I! See Me In Boston! (And Cleveland.)

So my book Fix is out precisely seven days from now.  If you love the ‘Mancer family, this will be the most harrowing adventure yet.  Because when my publisher Angry Robot asked me if I could write a trilogy, I knew there’d be three stories you can tell about a family:

  • Flex is about a family coming together – Paul meeting Valentine meeting Aliyah.
  • The Flux was about someone malicious trying to split that family up for their own ends.
  • Fix is about what happens when someone altruistic tries to split the family up for the good of the world.

Y’all wanted to see what’s happening in Europe – and when you see how horribly the world is fragmenting in Bastogne, you’ll understand why the Unimancers are hellbent on brainwashing every ‘mancer they can get their hands on.  A recent review said that “{Fix} has the feeling of a series that is growing up, in much the same way that Lord of the Rings started with birthday parties and fireworks but then led to war, this series started out with fun and references but then took us down the road of consequences.”

And I promise you, there is fun and family and donuts – but there’s also what happens when good people get pushed to their far ends.  For every one of you who wrote to me to say, “Paul is too passive in The Flux!  He needs to get out there and protect his daughter!”, I will say to you:

Be careful what you wish for.

Anyway, it’s for sale in a week.  As always, preorders help authors, so if you wanna order it now, yeah, that’d be great.

And I will be in Boston this weekend, which I will remind you of once more on Friday and then fall silent, because I suspect a lot of people in Boston don’t know I’m coming this Sunday because a) it was a late addition and b) it’s Labor Day Weekend.  But I will be driving many miles to see you all!  I’ll bring donuts!

And of course, there’s always the Cleveland release party.  And the whole West Coast tour.  But regardless, books are out, I’m exhausted after spending thirty hours (yes, thirty goddamned hours) last week polishing up my new book so it can go out on submission before the 2016 holiday rush starts, and I hope y’all like what I did.

Now I’m gonna collapse and send love to all of you.  It’s what I do.

A Mentally Ill Man Ponders Whether Donald Trump Is Crazy

So there’s been a lot of talk lately about whether Donald Trump is actually crazy – the specific form of mental disorder varies depending on who’s talking, whether it’s narcissism or senility or sociopathy or what-have-you.  But basically, it all comes down to the fact that Donald keeps saying dumb things that torpedo his campaign, and is speaking in increasingly loopy and erratic sentences.

Maybe he’s not fit to be President.

And I have such, such mixed feelings on this.

To start,  I hate armchair diagnoses.  Trying to determine what Trump’s mental health is through the lens of the media is never going to be accurate – and, in fact, seems to be an accumulation of biases.   (Just as the right-wing Hillary armchair diagnoses of bad health is largely an eruption of Hillary hate.)  I despise Trump, and I find him to say monstrously stupid things, but trying to determine his actual state of mind from this obscured distance in the furor of a media campaign is a mug’s game.

Then there’s that ugly conflation going on – many people see Trump as dangerous, and their go-to is “Dangerous people are all mentally ill!”  Which is something you see all the time with shooters – if some mass murderer has been to a psychologist, you betcher ass it’s going to show up as an explanation sometime, because to a frightening number of people, “Dangerous” means “mentally ill.”

Which is partially a lack of distinction.  There are types of mental illness that make people a hazard to other people.  But part of the issue is that we throw any deviation from the norm into one big bucket that says “crazy,” and then label that bucket as “dangerous people.”  I know lots of people who suffer from depression and bipolar diseases who don’t harm anyone but themselves.  In fact, it’s probably more likely that these mentally ill people will be harmed than they’ll harm, as people with severe issues often fall into abusive relationships with people who use their insecurities against them.

So what I feel is going on here is that people can’t possibly imagine Trump doing and saying all these horrible things unless he’s mentally defective on some level.  Which, you know, maybe?  The issue is what you consider to be “mentally ill.”  A frightening number of serial killers are lucid, in-touch and control enough to know how to give answers that manipulate both press and psychologists; the only thing that really separates them from normal people is that they, you know, kill innocent humans.  Maybe that’s insanity.

But that route’s kinda slippery, because I’m not sure “evil” is the same as “insane.”  It feels uncomfortably to me like we’re going the old homosexuality route, where we look at someone who has different preferences than we do and labelling them insane.  Homosexuals and trans folk were – and are, in many circles – considered to be mentally ill just because they don’t want what most people want.  You could say that someone who doesn’t want a single-payer health plan has no empathy and therefore has a mental illness.  Eventually, that definition swells to “anyone whose brain doesn’t come to the conclusions that I have arrived at is insane.”

Which I’m not a fan of.  I’m the guy who’d look at some people and say, “Yeah, they’ve got it all together, except they’ve decided eating human beings is a legit call.”  We can lock away criminals without smearing them all with a loose diagnosis of mental illness – some people have different moralities but aren’t handicapped by mental drawbacks, which means, yes, we need to jail some sane people for doing shitty things.

But not every burglar is insane.  Some people are just dicks.

Yet in this whole “Let’s not tar the mentally ill with Trump” issue, one of the things that I dislike is the way people imply that we can’t ask whether Trump’s potential mental illnesses would interfere with his job.  And some arguments I’ve seen seem based in the idea that mentally ill people are good, functioning people and you shouldn’t ask questions like “Can a mentally ill person be President?” because it hurts the mentally ill.

Which I also dislike, because it seems to erase the idea that a mental illness is actually a drawback.

Look.  I would be a shitty President, because of my mental illness.  I break down under the wrong kinds of stress.  I sometimes retreat for days, not wanting to talk to anyone.  I need drugs to handle my anxiety for events that are out of my control – which, you know, is pretty much what being a President is.

I don’t believe in stigmatizing mental illnesses, but I also dislike the counterpush to imply that all people with mental illnesses function well.   No.  It’s a drawback, and if you can not have a mental illness, I’d highly recommend it.  If I had a way to get rid of this depression, I would.

Which is not to say that every person who has mental illness is unfit to be President.  Abraham Lincoln infamously suffered from severe depression – and that’s an armchair diagnosis I feel can be made fairly in retrospect, as his moods were well-documented – and he was a great President.  He kept it together despite his depression to be what I’d argue is America’s best President ever, a true hero for those of us whose brains betray us.

Yet on the other hand, we have Ronald Reagan.  And people didn’t want to discuss Ronnie’s senility during the election, because you can’t accuse an old man of being senile, that’s rude – yet going back through the history books, you’ll see that Reagan became increasingly forgetful, masking his incompetence with humor, drifting away from the Presidency to leave America as a pitched battle between his three advisors.

Maybe he didn’t have senile dementia back then, but his bad memory was an issue that affected all of us.

So I think it’s relevant to ask whether a Presidential candidate is mentally fit to do the job.  That’s appropriate.  A President has to be smart and alert, and if they can’t perform to the duties of the office, they shouldn’t be elected.

But I wish we could do it without framing it so poorly.  Donald Trump doesn’t have to be mentally ill to be unfit for office – there’s also plenty of people who are sane by all diagnoses whose temperament or work ethic make them a poor choice.

You don’t have to diagnose Donald to find him unfit.  The reasons why he constantly contradicts himself are opaque to us in the churn of the moment- but what matters is that he does contradict himself, and if that worries you, then don’t vote for him.  We don’t have to assign his increasingly meandering and incoherent sentences to a specific attribute – we can simply say, “I don’t want someone who does things like that in office.”   If he constantly hurts people, we don’t have to claim he’s a sociopath, we can just point out that a President shouldn’t have a vast history of stiffing the people who work for him.

And yes, that applies to Hillary too.  You can have valid reasons to believe someone unfit for what is a monumental task; you can also do that without branding them with names that are both inaccurate and unnecessarily target other people who share those illnesses.

And that’s all.