Web 2.0, support systems and Tobias Buckell

November 19, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Tech 

Whatever you do when someone you care about is in trouble, you should start doing it now. One of my great friends and a talented writer, Tobias Buckell, went into the hospital yesterday for a heart problem; one they are still trying to track down. While Toby is doing better than when he was admitted to the ER early Tuesday morning he is still under observation and continues to look like a prototype of the Six Million Dollar Man.

Throughout this whole ordeal Toby has been blogging the experience and updating us on his status as well as twittering other updates during the past day and a half. According to one source close to Toby, twittering has been one of the most helpful distractions from the hospital, which I’m sure is a major plus.

This brings me to two points regarding blogs and Twitter. First of all I am extremely thankful for the information that I was able to find out about his current condition without constantly bothering his family but the whole process highlighted an important aspect of relying on Twitter for important communication. Yesterday; when Twitter was undergoing, “database maintenance”, I felt extremely cut off from the situation and refreshed Twitter more than a Wooter trying to get the next Wootoff item. Even though Twitter was able to stand up to the recent election, it can prove unreliable when it’s most important to you, meaning it might not be up for mission critical duties just yet.

Getting back to my other point, it is amazing to see the outpouring of support for Tobias and his family both on TobiasBuckell.com and on the BoingBoing post about his latest novel Sly Mongoose. As I write this there are almost 300 comments from writers, readers, family and friends on Tobias’ website and likely untold numbers of facebook, livejournal, instant and email messages waiting for him. The fact that Web 2.0 and social networking have the possibility to quickly lend and direct support to a person and their family in a time of need cements the importance of social media, networking and blogging, at least to me.

While you have a minute, take a second to share your well wishes over at Toby’s page, keep him in your thoughts, prayers, tweets and blog posts while he recovers.

I know, personally, I can’t imagine a world without the characters and worlds Toby brings to life in his writing, any more than I can imagine a world without a friend like Toby.

Get well dude, I need to beat Gears of War 2 with you, the locust hordes won’t wait forever!

Sly Mongoose is a great adventure with depth!

August 27, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews, books 

I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Tobias Buckell’s latest novel, Sly Mongoose, which is a kick ass adventure novel with loads of action. Sly Mongoose mixes together several cool ideas including zombies, autonomous robot creatures and a man with internal technology fusing with rusting misshapen technology to become whole again all while still conveying a well thought out plot.

Sly Mongoose also provided me with something to chew on as Tobias explores governments and the pitfalls that come with different kinds of ruling societies ranging from the old school council of elders style taking place in Yatapek to the, everyone must vote, government of the Aeolian Consensus. My favorite protagonist Pepper takes a young emissary to task over the shortcomings of this severely democratic process in a scene which caused me to explore my own conceptions about government and the differing forms democracy takes.

“What do you call sex without consent, Pepper?” She leaned forward like a large cat.

“Rape,” Pepper said evenly.

An invisible trap sprung. She smiled, reciting a script that came easily to her. Pepper imagined it being taught in schools to Aeolians all around Chilo. “Indeed. Rape. It is the consent that is the key. What is the act of governing without consent?”

“Getting shit done.” Pepper didn’t like getting lectured at by little girls, even if they embodied the will of millions.

She ignored his irritated reply. “Think of government as a marriage Pepper. You’ve entered into a bond, but it does not mean that the right to do certain things are guaranteed. A wife who doesn’t consent can still be raped, as an elected government can still run over its people. Better to do make sure that permission is asked for each act, every time. Better yet to make the government vanish: run by monthly volunteers and automated frameworks. For a month you’ve been chosen to be a judge, study hard. Next year you’ll be a filing clerk for a month. We all serve. We all vote. We’re the government.”

“That crap’s nice until you have a threat breathing down your your neck,” Pepper growled. “Even the Athenians you adore so much turned quickly towards strong leaders when it came time to face invaders. Our time on Chilo is countable in days. You will need leaders, not town meetings.”

She recoiled from the intensity he hissed the last word out with. He noticed that she had bags under her eyes. It was late into the night, and she was just a tired, stressed out teenager. “Well,” she whispered. “It did turn out rather well for the Athenians, throwing away freedom for a good defense, didn’t it? After centuries under the boot of the Satraps, I would have thought dying free would beat living safe.”

Amazingly Tobias is able to provoke these questions all while providing a race to the end adventure. This is his third book and it is clear that he has further honed his writing chops. If you can’t find anything deeper than the action in Sly Mongoose, I suggest you avoid the deep end of the swimming pool. Sly Mongoose was able to pull me in much quicker than the first two books and I felt even more connected to Pepper and Timas than I did to John DeBrun in Crystal Rain.

This novel is sure to be enjoyable even to readers who missed out on the planetary adventure that was Crystal Rain and the space opera of Ragamuffin. I think the first two books and his short stories only whetted my appetite for Sly Mongoose. I was thrilled to see Pepper get the attention and time his character deserved. I truly hope that we see more of Pepper in the future. If you aren’t familiar with Pepper, my best description would be Chuck Norris circa Delta Force a little bit of shaft, one part terminator, a dash of Steven Hawking and dreds…don’t forget the dreds.

Also be sure to check out his next novel, which is part of the Halo series called, Halo: The Cole Protocol. If you need to get acquainted with Pepper check out Fish Merchant which makes for an excellent introduction to his character, and follow it up with Manumission which provides a sense of who Pepper is.

Bungie announces the next Halo Novel by Tobias Buckell!

June 16, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Games, books 

I’m stoked to share this, though obviously not as stoked as my friend Toby, who was just announced by way of the Bungie.net blog to be writing the next halo novel. The novel is due out this fall and is called Halo; The Cole Protocol. Details on the novel are sparse right now, but you can check out a little bit of information from Bungie.net.

Halo: The Cole Protocol will be the sixth novel set in the Halo Universe. Tobias S. Buckell, author of Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin will pen the novel, which reveals the location of the Spartan Gray Team and “takes readers into an unexplored conflict of the Human-Covenant War where unlikely alliances are formed and shattered…”

If you are new to Tobias Buckell you should check out this post on his website, tobiasbuckell.com, where he introduces his past work, background and shares some of his fiction for free.

Hmm something tells me the next time we hop on Halo we better be ready for a little more trashtalk. I can hear all the gmaers full of piss an vinegar ready to claim they beat the author of the next Halo novel.

Booksigning at the Stately Raven

May 31, 2008 by Josh · 2 Comments
Filed under: Ohio, books 

I spent last night at the Stately Raven book store in Findlay Ohio. The store is an independent bookstore which opened up in a converted church building and recently won an award for the “Best Bookstore in Ohio”. The store has a really cool science fiction room which, unlike most other local places, is actually stocked with the sci fi writers I read!

Last nite I met up with Tobias Buckell, aka Toby, and Gregory Frost, as well as a few other science fiction aficionados from the surrounding area. After picking up a copy of Frost’s Shadowbridge and John Scalzi’s The Last Colony we made our way to a local restaurant for some food and drinks. I had a good time and look forward to digging in to Shadowbridge this week.

It was really exciting to meet another author, as I already know Toby. I hope that the Stately Raven pulls in some other local authors. I also need to get myself up to Penguicon next May to bask in the presence of Sci Fi authors and geeks!

Wastelands: A Post-Apocalyptic Anthology Done Right

March 25, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: books 

My wife recently got me Wastelands, an Anthology edited by John Joseph Adams for an Easter gift.  I am only a few stories into the book but I wanted to share some initial thoughts and what it has done right so far.  One of the strongest parts of the anthology thus far is the decision by Adams to focus on stories which portray life after the apocalypse, forgoing zombies and other provocateurs and focusing on the struggles and stories of individuals in a dramatically different world.  This method of selection has led to some wonderful stories which allow me to connect with the individual characters and at some level understand them.  So far the stories have evoked a strong response from me due in part to the attempts of characters to “do good” in some manner and either failing or coming to a realistic and forlorn conclusion.  Don’t get me wrong a I love me a good ole’ zombie “mmm brains” novel but these stories are in a manner easier to connect to.

One of the items which Adams includes in the anthology is a reference section in the back, a bibliography of sorts which compiles other books from this sub genre of science fiction.  As a reader I cannot begin to express how awesome this is to me.  Many times after finishing an anthology or collection I have been left at a loss as to where to find more material to read that is within the same vein as the original writing, something not always accomplished by reading the authors’ other  published work.  This reference has provided me a list of authors and books to add to my “To Read” notebook in One Note.

I’ll do my best to post a follow up review when I finish the collection.

Wastelands includes stories by authors such as Stephen King, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow and Tobias Buckell.

Tobias Buckell’s Ragamuffin On Nebula Final Ballot

February 22, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: books 

Ragamuffin, Tobias Buckell’s killer follow up to Crystal Rain is on the final ballot for the Nebula award! I really enjoyed Ragamuffin and found it built really well on the universe laid out in Crystal Rain. The fact that Pepper was back and kicking ass was another huge bonus. As John Scalzi and Tobias both point out it is a banner year for Caribbean science fiction.

Odyssey - McDevitt, Jack (Ace, Nov06)

The Accidental Time Machine - Haldeman, Joe (Ace, Aug07)

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union - Chabon, Michael (HarperCollins, May07)

The New Moon’s Arms - Hopkinson, Nalo (Warner Books, Feb07)

Ragamuffin - Buckell, Tobias (Tor, Jun07)

I can’t wait to get my hands on Sly Mongoose which comes out in August 08.

You can read the first third of Ragamuffin for free at Tobiasbuckell.com/ragamuffin.

Watch Sly Mongoose Trailer, Get 1st Chapter Released

February 6, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: books 

Tobais Buckell just shared that Amazon.com has added the slick new cover art for Sly Mongoose which is his third Novel.  He has posted the trailer for Sly Mongoose on Youtube which is embedded below and once it reaches 1,000 views he will post the first chapter of Sly Mongoose online!  So please watch it and share it with your mom, best friend, room mate etc.  It looks to be another amazing book.

Did you know they have book trailers?  I think they are a nifty marketing tool and open up book advertising to many new outlets.  With a well made trailer you can advertise books more readily on television as commercials or as clips on late night talk shows.  It is also an easy way to spread the word to video obsessed individuals and allow for easy word of mouth  sharing on social networking sites.

Who Will Lead the Sci Fi Movie Revolution?

January 10, 2008 by Josh · 2 Comments
Filed under: Movies 

Mark Harris of Entertainment Weekly wrote a great (IMHO) article about the State of Science Fiction movies as a genre. He lambasted the genre for being too wrapped up in nostalgia and not taking chances.

Ideally, sci-fi’s next rescuer should be someone whose ideas about the future derive from somewhere — anywhere — other than old sci-fi. It can be done. Just a year ago, no movie genre looked deader than the Western. Then 2007 brought us not only a familiar but lively overhaul of 3:10 to Yuma but also the gorgeously arty mood piece The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and a handful of extraordinary films — the Coens’ No Country for Old Men, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, and even, in its way, Paul Haggis’ In the Valley of Elah — that drew deeply and inventively on different aspects of Western conventions and mythmaking to create something new, often stunning, and not instantly identifiable by genre. Sci-fi desperately needs filmmakers who are interested in bending the form toward their own passions and obsessions as artists. 2001 has come and gone, and right now the future looks too much like something we’ve already seen.

In reading this several authors come to mind but I am pulling a blank for directors at the moment. Do you know who could direct a new science fiction film which would bring the genre out of its nostalgic vegetative state? If so leave their name in the comments.
We need new settings, new plots, new universes, new futures.

I want to see some adaptations or original works from Cory Doctorow, Tobias Buckell, John Scalzi, Scott Sigler, hell not sure Vernor Vinge’s latest is suitable for a movie adaptation but its something different. All these authors bring me to the point that not every future has to be of the “bad guy in the hulking ship with deathstars” universe. We can have all other types of settings, alternate modes of transportation, some steampunk maybe? Can I get a sci fi film with a Dirigible? Alternate futures near and far away, please someone wow me.

I for one will welcome our new Sci Fi Film making overlords…if they don’t muck it up.

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