I'm On Reddit Today, Doing An Ask Me Anything!

So seriously, guys!  R/Fantasy was kind enough to let me get on there to (potentially) discuss my new book, or maybe just answer endless questions on horse v. duck battles.  Either way, I am PREPARED!
So get on over there and ask me anything!

Raise $500 For Rebecca's Gift And I'll Wear This Rocky Suit To My Book Signing!

If you’d like to know what it’s like being married to me, I can show you in three photos:
And that last photo went mildly viral, with Angry Robot putting it on their web page to discuss the amazing trivia contest Barnes and Noble held to promote my new book Fix.  Even my biggest nemesis, Annie Bellet, asked to see more of me in the Rocky Pajamas, but that’s probably because she wants to see me sillier.
So I figured: Why not raise funds for my favorite charity, Rebecca’s Gift?
Here’s how it works: I’m signing at Powell’s in Portland(ish) tomorrow, and on Thursday I end my book tour at University Book Store in Seattle.  If Rebecca’s Gift gets $500 in donations before I attend either of those events, I will wear the Rocky suit – in public – and let you take as many pictures of me in it as you want.
Rebecca’s Gift, if you’ll recall, is the charity set up in the name of my goddaughter Rebecca – who was the inspiration for Aliyah (the lead character in the Flex/The Flux/Fix series) and who died of brain cancer on her sixth birthday.  Rebecca’s gift is a small charity that helps families that have endured the death of their child to help healing – and let me tell you, there’s plenty of support while your child still has a chance, but after the funeral there is a great emptiness and not much help.  Donating to Rebecca’s Gift will help families remember what it’s like to be a family after someone they loved so dearly has gone.
So donating to them will help strangers and humiliate me, both of which I fully support.
If you can raise $500 in funds by 5:00 PST tomorrow, September 27th, I will wear the Rocky suit to my signing in the Powells in Beaverton, Oregon.
If you can raise $500 in funds by 5:00 PST on Thursday, September 29th, I will wear the Rocky suit to my signing at University Book Store in Seattle.
And if you can’t raise $500, you’ll have still donated to a fully-legal charity (I’m not gonna Trump you here) that will help families in dire need, so it’s totally a good thing.
So here’s the link for donation.  Please.
Let’s go raise funds for Rebecca.

Where Are The Best Donuts in San Diego? Plus I Tell You About The Best Donuts In San Francisco!

Hey, San Diegoites!  I’ll be doing a reading at Mysterious Galaxy tomorrow evening – and as always, when I arrive, I bring donuts.  For donuts represent all that is good and compassionate in my ‘Mancer series.
The question is, “Where are San Diego’s best donuts?”
I asked this when I did my reading at San Francisco last week – and there was even a contest!  Because my friend Flitter said, “No, Ferrett, hipster donuts are just as good as classic donuts!  Here!  Let me bring my hipster donuts to your reading to show you their hipstery goodness!”
And Bob’s Donuts in San Francisco fucking creamed them.
Bob’s Donuts are like my platonic ideal of a donut, except “platonic” isn’t quite accurate, because I would totally have sex with these donuts if San Francisco didn’t have laws against that.  Bob’s Donuts were this perfect mixture of sugary-crinkled dough and thick chocolate layers and a beautiful, creamy, sweet filling.
I will be driving down to San Diego today.  A second stop by Bob’s Donuts would put me ninety minutes out of my way.
I am considering it.
So!  I’ll be in San Diego tomorrow.  I want San Diego’s best donuts.  Tell me of your donuts, and then if you want to see the winner, show up at Mysterious Galaxy, where I will be dispensing fine donuts!

That One Dirty Rat Who Started All This Racism.

As I watch white people struggling with the idea of racism somehow still existing after Martin Luther King solved it, I’ve seen this belligerent battle the commenters have while discussing racism with baffled people of color.
Because the question people always seem to have lurking beneath all their other questions, the head of the octopus with its seeking tentacles, is this:
If Abraham Lincoln ended slavery, and Martin Luther King ended racism (but maybe he didn’t), then who was the guy who started racism?
You laugh, but this is a country of clean origins.  George Washington founded America – that’s what our teachers taught us.  Jefferson wrote the Constitution.  Even Hamilton, the musical, plays right into this line of thinking by saying, at the end, that Alexander Hamilton created America’s financial policy.
If you want to understand much about America, it’s that all our schools points to primary movers.  Particularly in grade school, we are never taught that anything was done by committee, unless it’s a war, and even then it’s probably the general that won the war, not the bodies of the bloodied soldiers who took that ground one heart-shredding step at a time.  Our schools are filled with portraits, and we point eagerly to those portraits to tell us Who Started What – Helen Keller was when deaf people started to be important, and Adolf Hitler killed all the Jews, and Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb.
What we are never taught, unless we are very lucky and get teachers who get written up a lot by their superiors, is that all of these Iconoclastic Achievers had lots of other supporters who helped them get the job done, and in fact that Abraham Lincoln’s main strength was in getting disparate sides to work together.  What we are taught is that a Legendary Man arises from the mists of history, strides to the fore, grasps his time, and bends history to his will.
What shocked me most about reading a biography of Martin Luther King – and I wish I could remember the name of the book – is that it started in the 1920s, talking about brave black preachers every bit as bold as MLK himself who, because America didn’t have television cameras to broadcast shame out from coast to coast, got lynched.  The message was clear: people had been trying to do what MLK did all along, people with similar tactics.
It wasn’t just the man, but the circumstances.
America doesn’t really believe in circumstances.  In the 1930s, John Steinbeck said, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” and that’s still true today.  A poor person’s circumstances don’t matter, even to the poor person himself, because America has a mythology that tells us that the Movers and Shakers change who we are. 
There’s no real society.  There’s just these cyclopean men striding forward, forging America like the good iron it is.
And what confuses a lot of white people, even though they’re too confused to understand that this concept is laced through their bodies, is that black writers are claiming that racism exists, and they can’t even point to the rotten bastard who started racism.
Because that’s how America works.  Hitler made people hate Jews.
Where’s the black Hitler?
And they can’t point to the KKK, because the KKK came after slavery, and even white people know that racism was there before that, and what they’re questing for even if they don’t understand it is The Guy who started racism so they can look at him and not be like him, because you either have idols or sleazebags….
And when you say “racism is a thing that millions of white bureaucrats and schoolteachers and neighbors quietly accomplished in hundreds of ways, from realtors who quietly refused to sell to black buyers in good neighborhoods to the zoners who didn’t bother to build highways leading to black neighborhoods to fussy neighbors who are more willing to call the cops if they see a black stranger in their neighborhood because black bodies are always coded as a little more threatening to policemen who have also inhaled that stereotype that black kids are older, stronger, readier to do violence, and so shoot a little faster when the face they’re looking at is black,” they’re baffled because there’s no Guy.
There’s just… people.
What white people are all too often unconsciously seeking is The Guy To Blame For Racism, just like we seek out The Guy Who Founded Our Country and The Guy Who Freed Our Slaves and The Guy Who Stopped Racism.
They want A Guy.  They need A Guy.  They can’t make sense of history without A Guy.
And there’s no guy.  There’s just millions of people who have this pervading, subconscious, unexamined opinion about skin tone and how it affects color, and they made – and make! – quiet decisions because of assumptions they’re not even aware they’re making, and how can that possibly make sense when George Washington woke up one morning and knocked down a cherry tree to yell, “I’MMA FOUND A COUNTRY!”?
And I’m always reminded of that Kids in the Hall sketch where they announce they’ve found the Cause of Cancer, and they drag Bruce McCulloch onto stage, and he hems and haws until someone goes, “Tell him, Bruce,” and Bruce sheepishly says, “…I’m sorry I caused all that cancer.”
And we laugh, because we know that one guy didn’t cause all the cancer.
But I think Americans laugh a little harder, because subconsciously they kind of did.  Because they’ve been waiting all their life for a guy to cure cancer, just like Jonas Salk cured polio, and in the back of their minds there’s a guy in a white lab coat who’s so much smarter than all the other scientists – like Edison, who absolutely never ever ripped off anyone’s work, he did it all himself – and That Guy will cure cancer, all the cancer, it doesn’t matter that “cancer” is a catchall term that encompasses thousands of diseases with different etiologies, That Guy will hold up one hypodermic needle with The Cure To Cancer and then he’ll step into the ranks of American history as The Guy Who Cured Cancer.
Lots of Americans actually believe that.  Hell, I believe it – or want to.
Just like I believed, when I was in fourth grade, that Martin Luther King was The Guy Who Cured Racism.
And I don’t know how you argue against that.  Racism is like cancer – it comes from a lot of different angles, not all of it is fatal, some of it is actually more exhausting than deadly, but there’s no single person you can point to and say, “THAT’S THE GUY!” and they want a guy, they want to know who they can yell at like Hitler and go, “YEAH, DON’T BE LIKE THAT GUY,” except The Guy Who Started Racism has to be a guy they don’t like because they need a chewtoy they can rip into, and if they feel even slightly bad about denigrating The Guy then hey, that’s wrong.
Hitler had to kill millions of Jews before he made the canon, man.  And people, I think, were grateful.  Because you could point at Hitler and go, “DO YOU WANT TO BE LIKE HITTTTLER?!?!?” and feel good about not being Hitler and eventually someone made Godwin’s Law because people felt so good about Not Being Hitler that they made anyone who disagreed with them into Hitler at the slightest provocation.
And yeah.  When you’re talking to a lot of white people about racism, you’re stalled because they want A Guy and there’s no Guy, it’s just a messy intertwining set of culture – but paradoxically, our culture is that there is no culture.  There’s only Bold Men shaping America to Its Great Destiny.
They want to know which Bold Man led America astray so they can hate that guy and move on, and man.  I wish we had him.  I wish I could point to someone, just to prove that racism exists and it’s That Guy, but remember That Guy can’t be someone you might like.
What they want is a new Hitler, and I’m terrified we won’t find one until we elect him.

SUV Smart.

Regular cars don’t do well on Alaskan roads in winter. Fifteen, sometimes twenty inches of snowdrifts are not uncommon. If you’re driving a regular car, sometimes you get stuck by the side of the road and have to wait for a tow truck.
If you have a beefy SUV with the right tires, though, you can go anywhere. You can plow your own path down any damn road you please. So the folks with SUVs charge out into the teeth of howling snow-storms…
And get themselves stuck in even deeper snowdrifts in the middle of nowhere, where even the tow trucks can’t get to them. Back in the days before cell phones, I’m told, people died regularly from driving deep.
A very smart person is like an SUV, in that they can get themselves into big trouble without even recognizing it.
See, a normal person comes up with a dumb idea, and they can’t justify it properly. They make a few spluttering arguments, people haul out the obvious counterarguments, and they’re done. Maybe they’re not entirely convinced, but there’s that nagging “Well, yeah” lurking at the back of their thoughts that they either have to surgically remove, or they walk around with a shadow of well-earned doubt.
Intellectually speaking, they get stuck by the side of the road in a nice residential neighborhood, where they can trudge through the snow to their neighbor who’ll offer them a hot cocoa while they wait for the tow truck to arrive.
Ah, but a smart person can justify any damned fool idea they please! When a friend brings out the obvious counterargument for their silly concept, the smart person takes it as a challenge – “How can I prove this other guy wrong?”
And if they’re really clever, they find some superficial flaw in the counterargument and sink their hooks into that. They’ll absolutely wreck that flaw, convincing themselves that someone’s bad grammar or slightly misstated fact disproves the Death Star-sized mass of common sense behind it, and then move on to increasingly elaborate justifications to prove…
Well, anything you want.
See, when you’re really smart, you can treat the world like science fiction: there’s literally no fact you can’t devise a reasonable-sounding rationale for. Get smart enough, and you can argue the smartest, most correct people to a standstill.
That’s why you see very smart people flinging out thousands of words on how it was Martians that killed JFK, or how the Illuminati cover up the truth of the Hollow Earth. They’re so SUV Smart that nobody can contradict them.
Conspiracy nuts are obvious. Unfortunately, most SUV Smart people start small and stay small – they convince themselves that they’re compassionate people when they’re screwing over all their friends, or they’ve convinced themselves that their lucky breaks are proof that everyone who works hard gets rewarded with success.
And when they are presented with new facts, they don’t even realize it, but they treat the new fact like a game: How can I best defend my thesis? Which turns into a rousing round of “How can I spin this contradictory evidence to support my world view?” when what they should be doing is questioning their central premises.
But they don’t. Because being right is a heroin-like reward for SUV Smart people. They like being smart, and convincing other people is the needle in the vein.
And here’s the thing that SUV Smart people often don’t realize until it’s too late: You can win an argument that the airplane’s methodology for sensing solid terrain is deeply flawed at this height in this weather, but that does not move the mountain in front of you.
That snow is gonna getcha eventually.
And you see SUV Smart people infesting comments threads everywhere. They’re the folks with dazzling arguments bolstering amazingly stupid concepts, hauling out Wikipedia links or logical flourishes to justify their comments.
SUV Smart people often lead pretty wretched lives. Some are staggeringly wealthy, yet have five divorces and no close friends. Yet they hold up their wealth as proof that they’re good at everything they do. Others are staggeringly poor, living in their friends’ basement, yet their crappy circumstances are dismissed because that’s not relevant to this argument.
If you’re catching on by now the SUV Smart person can take anything in their life and spin it, well, you’re seeing the problem. They’re deep in a snowdrift somewhere, about to get mired, and they don’t see it because the mighty engine of their intellect has gotten them far into the woods and it’ll always get them farther.
All they have to do is step on the gas harder.
If you’re not an SUV person, the best defense I can give you is to remember that “Smartness” is not a universal talent – you’re smart in certain areas. I’m a programmer, but you wouldn’t want me doing brain surgery.
Yet SUV Smart people have a habit of claiming their smartness makes them good at everything they want to be good at. You gotta look at their record, then. If a smart writer claims to be good at predicting politics, go back and read their old essays – were they actually good at predicting politics, or did they predict badly and then justify their bad decisions?
And if you’re an SUV Smart person – I used to be, and on my worst days I still am – then you have to realize that convincing other people does not make you right. You can out-argue, outlast, and outwit all comers, but at the end of the day you’re not changing anything but minds.
It doesn’t matter how good you feel about driving into the woods on a snowstormed night, or how many people you have convinced that you can do this.
All that matters is how deep the snow is.