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Review of Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, and Balticon

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalHere’s a great review from the SF Crow’s Nest on Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions. He gave a nice rundown, then wrote, “There are so many good things in this novel that I’m bursting to share them but that would spoil it for the first time reader.” Here’s how he finishes the review:

“Anyway, it’s a marvellous book. Easy reading, fast-paced, lots of surprise plot twists, likeable heroes, a loveable alien and a gripping climax that takes the election right to the wire. Highly recommended.”

It’s available in paperback and ebook – did I mention that through this Friday (May 27) there’s a $1.99 special on the ebook version?

This weekend I’ll be at the Balticon SF Convention where I’ll be hobnobbing with George R.R. Martin (alas, I’m not on any panels with him) and others.

 

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Interviews and Sales and New Stories and Reviews and Cover Unveilings, Oh My!

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalIt’s been a great week! Here are the highlights.

  • On Sunday, I was interviewed at Aspiring Authors Unite. Topics included my new novel (Campaign 2100), how to find a publisher, how I became interested in writing, how to make a protagonist a believable character, what characters are the hardest to write and why, “believable” vs. “Larger than life” characters, what makes my fiction unique, my writing process, the theory of “write what you know,” how to avoid info dumps, advice to starting writers, what I like to read and my favorite authors, and projects I’m working on now.
  • On Monday I sold a story to Galaxy’s Edge, “Manbat and Robin.” This is the humorous story of a bat that thinks it’s a superhero, and his silent partner, a robin. The story was inspired by an actual bat flying in my window at a writing workshop, “The Never Ending Odyssey,” an annual nine-day gathering of graduates of the six-week Odyssey Writing Workshop. The bat flopped about the apartment for about 15 minutes before we shooed it out. The story was originally titled “The Bat Nerd,” and then “Manbat,” the title it was submitted under. Editor Mike Resnick changed the title to “Manbat and Robin,” a nice improvement. It’s my third sale to Galaxy’s Edge, all this year, including a story in the current issue, “Pretty Pictures at War.” (Here are reviews of it at Tangent and SF Revu.) They are a SFWA pro market, so it’s a nice sale! (It’s my tenth “pro” sale and 75th overall.)
  • On Wednesday I finalized two new stories, “Rush City” (6200 words) and “Zombies Anonymous” (1000 words). I plan to submit both to The Never Ending Odyssey writing workshop this summer (July 22-30) for critique, along with one other story. The first is a somewhat comic takeoff on Westerns, with a gun-slinging centaur running for sheriff in Rush City – but he must first face off with elf bandits, the dwarf, the vampire, and the red-eyed unicorn, while protecting an overly talkative ogre and dryad bankers. The story has a huge twist! The second is about a math professor who turns into a zombie, but has all his normal thinking skills except for that mysterious thing he refers to as a “moral compass.” He eats his former colleague and discusses with his colleague’s daughter the Zombies Anonymous program while thinking zombie thoughts, and somehow tuna fish sandwiches keep coming up. The opening lines are, “A zombie has no moral compass. That’s why I had no compunctions about eating my best friend David.”
  • There are now four reviews at Amazon for my novel Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, all very positive. Three are 5-star, the other is a 4-star.
  • Here are two cover unveilings from fellow World Weaver Press authors:
    BITE SOMEBODY by Sara Dobie Bauer
    OMEGA RISING by Anna Kyle

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Lunacon 2016 and Live to Read

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Lunacon2016-autograph-session-smI have a guest blog on the Live to Read Blog: “The Big Ideas of Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions.” It features my new novel, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions.

This weekend I had a great time at Lunacon in Rye Brook, NY, Fri-Sun, where I was promoting my novel. But it didn’t start that way! I started the four-hour drive at 9:30AM Friday, figuring I’d get there around 1:30PM, and lounge around my hotel room until my first panel at 4PM. But nothing went right on the drive – but I’ll get to that shortly.

Some Lunacon highlights:

  • My autograph session. Here’s a picture! (Smaller version is above.) On the left you can see the huge poster of the cover of my novel. On the right is a flyer for it, next to a box of chocolates I gave out. In between were my five science fiction & fantasy books – three novels and two short story anthologies.
  • I blogged about my schedule on Friday. I was on six panels, plus a reading and the autograph session. The panels were:
    • The Opening Page” – I spoke about how you, in a short story, you should hook the reader in the first 100 words; in a novel, the first page.
    • Tag-Team Literary Improv” – we took turns continuing a story, each speaking for a minute or so, and then “tagging” another on the panel. In one of my segments I had the unnamed president of the United States pull off his skin, revealing that he was in fact a giant alien worm!
    • The Biggest Mistake New Writers Make” – I spoke at length about the importance of hooking the reader early on, similar to what I’d said in “The Opening Page” panel. I pointed out the three stages of development here: Beginners, who often spend ten pages setting up the situation, developing the characters, describing the setting, etc., without getting to the story. In the second stage they learn to start with the story, and do all that other stuff at the same time. And then there’s the advanced stage (I pointed at Robert J. Sawyer, who was on the panel), where the writer has a reputation, and so can get away with more meandering at the start – which often leads to a better story, just a slower start.
    • Who Put This Message in My Fiction?” – I spoke about various novels that have messages without banging your head on it, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Towing Jehovah” by James Marrow. The key is to have the characters literally live through message situations, so the reader sees it from their point of view – the racism in “Mockingbird,” problems with religion in “Jehovah.” Hopefully, in my novel “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions,” rather than preach about the problems of a two-party electoral system, I had the reader experience it through the adventures of characters running a campaign in it.
    • Q&A About Writers Groups” – I went over my experiences at the many I’ve been to – Odyssey, TNEO, Taos Toolbox, Orson Scott Card (I refrained from certain commentary about that…), Critters.org, Codexwriters.org, as well as local groups, including meetup.com.
    • Round Robin Writing Workshop” – this was for kids ages 13-21, but alas, none showed up.
  • Sharing a panel and going to dinner Saturday night with Robert J. Sawyer, the dean of Canadian SF, a Hugo and Nebula winner, and author of the new Quantum Night (which I’d read the week before, days after it came out). The panel was “The Biggest Mistake New Writers Make.” I also shared panels with Hildy Silverman (editor of Space and Time, which has published three of my stories), who also joined us for dinner on Saturday. I was also on a panel with Gordon van Gelder, long-time past editor of The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I could probably name all my fellow panelists, as they were all illustrious writers and editors!
  • Hot tub on Friday and Saturday night! I read on my kindle both times for an hour – I’m reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63, which is excellent so far, but very long.
  • Reading – I read the first chapter of Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, and the openings to chapters 2 and 3. I also gave out chocolate.

Now, about that drive to Lunacon . . . let’s start with the obvious – I’m not that experienced in long-distance driving, and I really don’t like driving at all. I’d much, Much, MUCH rather be a billionaire with a full-time chauffeur. Normally when I travel up and down the east coast it’s in my other profession, professional table tennis coach, where my students (or their parents) do the driving to tournaments, while I just do the coaching.

In preparation for this mammoth journey, I tested my Moto D smart phone GPS on Thursday, using the quarter-mile ride to the dentist (with three turns) as a test. It worked beautifully! (Alas, I had to have a fractured filling replaced.) It also worked on the way back. So I figured it would work on the way to Lunacon. Hah!

I didn’t bother with it the first hour. As I approached Baltimore on I-95 I turned it on – and it wouldn’t work. I pulled over and spent some time trying to get it to work, but it kept saying it couldn’t connect. I finally gave up on it and decided I’d have to wing it. I had basic directions, which basically said take I-95 nearly the whole way (how hard could that be?), and then turn west on I-287, and a few turns after that I’d be there.

Unfortunately, I never got the memo that to stay on I-95, you actually have to take the NJ Turnpike. In past trips as a passenger I remember being on it, but hadn’t really paid attention. So when I saw signs for the Turnpike, I ignored them and focused on staying on I-95. Eventually it sort of ended, and I had no idea what was going on. How could I take I-95 to I-287 if I-95 suddenly ended? I remembered the NJ Turnpike signs, and decided to try that. So I turned back, got on the Turnpike – and soon there were signs that it was both the Turnpike and I-95!!! Or something like that.

I stopped for a quick lunch at a McDonalds drive-through at a rest stop. Another Hah! There were two cars ahead. The first went through quickly. The second was a van. The woman driving began to quiz the person on the speaker about everything on the menu – salads, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, etc. Then she finally ordered a salad. As I impatiently waited, the speaker said, “Will that be all?” Then I heard the single worst word you can ever hear in this situation – “No.” She turned back and began quizzing a kid in the van, who then tried to order. The speaker said he couldn’t hear what the kid was saying, and so the kid climbed forward, and began debating what to have. This took some time. He finally gave his order. Again the speaker said, “Will that be all?” And again, that dreaded word – “No!”

I’ll give you the short version. There were eight kids in the car, and they each climbed forward and gave their order, one at a time. None were prepared. It took over 15 minutes for them to order. Dear Lady in the Car: When you have eight kids in a car, and nobody knows what they want, go inside!!!

With all these delays, I hit the dreaded NY traffic, and soon it was bumper to bumper. I began to realize I might not make my first panel at 4PM. Then it became almost certain. Finally, at about ten minutes to four, with me being about 20 minutes away, the traffic let up – and I took off, hoping to be just a little late. Is it really wrong to do 70mph on a highway? That’s what nearly everyone does! And yet, 30 seconds after the traffic let up, I was pulled over for speeding! Yep, I got an $88 ticket. I think it’s my first in over 20 years.

I made it to the first panel at 4:25 PM, and gave a good (but very condensed) version of the above, including waving the speeding ticket around. (I should have taken up a collection…).

I later figured out I my smart phone had reached its “data limit,” due to some kids using it to download and play games. I fixed the problem, and was able to use it to return home on Sunday night.

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Lunacon 2016

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalI’m driving up to Lunacon this morning, about a 4.5 hour drive. I’m on six panels and a reading, plus two autograph sessions. I’m there to promote my novel, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, plus to have a little vacation. Here’s my schedule.

The Opening Page
FRI 4PM Westchester Ballroom D6
For a new writer especially, the first page has to grab a potential reader. We discuss what works and what doesn’t. Bring writing samples of your first page and let’s see what grabs us.
Panelists: Ben Parris, Alex Shvartsman, Larry Hodges, Kate Paulk, Hildy Silverman

Tag-Team Literary Improv
FRI 6PM William Odelle Room
A panel of four or five authors with one host. The host or the audience provide one or more writing prompts and the panelists begin verbally telling a story in the round based on those prompts until the storyline peters out. Another prompt is given and the process starts again. The last ten minutes of the panel are reserved for a turn-around, where the panelists give the audience a prompt and they have to produce their own story in the round.
Panelists: Louis Epstein (M), Kate Paulk, Anatoly Belilovsky, Hildy Silverman, Daniell Ackley-McPhail, David Skiar, Larry Hodges

Reading
SAT 4-4:30PM William Odelle Room
I’ll be reading from my new SF novel, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions.Free Chocolates!!!

The Biggest Mistake New Writers Make
SAT 5PM Westchester Ballroom D6
From poor openings to uninteresting characters to clichéd plots, this panel will discuss the most common storytelling mistakes seen from new authors. This will also discuss promotional and business mistakes.
Panelists: Michael Ventrella (M), Larry Hodges, Hildy Silverman, Robert J. Sawyer, Gary Frank

Who Put This Message in My Fiction?
SAT 7PM Westchester Ballroom D4
Some readers like a story with a theme or message. Others like their fiction not to preach about an author’s favorite issues and just tell a good story. At one point is fiction better for having a message? Does it matter if an author has beliefs you don’t appreciate if he or she can write a great story? Let’s discuss the value of messages in fiction (though without arguing about the merits of any particular political, religious, or social agenda).
Panelists: David Walton (M), Lawrence Kramer, Ed Meskys, Larry Hodges

Q&A About Writers Groups
SUN 11AM Westchester Ballroom D6
How Do Writers’ Groups Work? What Writers’ Groups Are in the Area? Why Should a Writer Be in a Writers’ Group? Bring your questions. Share your knowledge.
Panelists: Richard Herr (M), Ken Altabef, Larry Hodges

Round Robin Writing Workshop
SUN 1PM Westchester Ballroom A1
Interesting ideas? Not sure how to get started? Tired of all those awful assignments in school? Work with published authors to create something real that you can take home and finish. Ask questions and become INSPIRED! (ages 14-21)
Panelists: Louis Epstein (M), Larry Hodges

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Opening Chapter of Quantum Night by Robert Sawyer

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Review by Larry Hodges

It’s always a learning process to study a great novel – and so that’s what we’re going to do here as we examine the opening to Quantum Night, the new novel by Robert J. Sawyer.

What makes a good opening in a story? That should be obvious – it has to be interesting so that it draws the reader in, either directly in itself, or by asking questions that the reader wants answered. There are many ways of doing this. You might start in the middle of the action (as you usually should), such as having a ruthless neighbor arrange to kill the dog of a poor, ignored girl (“The Wizard of Oz”), or with a raid on an enemy colony (“Starship Troopers”). There are the obvious action-packed eye-candy openings used in Indiana Jones and James Bond movies. There are the enigmatic ones, such as the opening lines to “A Tale of Two Cities” (with its very long opening line that you should read that starts out, “It was the best of times, …”) and Moby Dick (“Call me Ishmael”).

There are many online articles on opening scenes; here’s “Great Beginnings” by Sawyer himself. (The article is specifically about openings for short stories, but the guidelines are mostly universal.) He goes over four types of openings, with variations of each:

  • An evocative description;
  • Introduce an intriguing character;
  • Starting with a news clipping or journal entry (trickiest way, he says);
  • Starting in the middle of the action (most versatile way).

Science fiction is the genre of ideas, and its opening scenes should reflect that. A classic example of this – if a novel that came out this month can be considered “classic” – is the opening chapter to Sawyer’s new novel, “Quantum Night.” He starts off with an intriguing character, a professor who lives in the world of neuroscience, who believes you can test whether people are psychopaths, but defends their actions as being something they cannot help, since it is their nature. Sawyer chose this opening scene carefully – as he wrote in his article on Beginnings, “If you’re going to start somewhere other than the natural beginning of the tale, you have to choose carefully.” In this case, he chose a scene that allowed him to draw us into this professor’s world, despite being only indirectly involved with the main story.

If I were to tell you the opening chapter begins with this professor teaching a college class, that wouldn’t sound so interesting, would it? That’s how the novel starts. And yet it’s enthralling as this is how Sawyer draws us into this professor’s world. He’s teaching a class on the Neuroscience of Morality, and right from the start Sawyer gives us a steady barrage of ideas and tidbits.

The novel starts with Professor James Marchuk professing his love of teaching to “… row after row of angst-soaked teenagers.” (Though not as much as his love of watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Arrested Development” – so he’s fully human.) Then it moves to an interlude of the professor being hired to defend a psychopathic killer, where he’d have to prove the killer was a psychopath, and that he therefore couldn’t control his actions. Then it goes to the actual trial, and then back to the classroom scene – all of this in chapter one. Throughout these opening scenes, Sawyer keeps dropping in ideas, details, and hints:

  • Humans as stimulus-response machines whose black-box brains simply spit out predictable reactions to inputs (from Watson and Skinner).
  • Savannah Prison photos from WikiLeaks, showing prison torture scenes by psychopathic prison guards, where “…each of these men and women had dehumanized the perceived enemy, and, in the process, had lost their own humanity.”
  • Mentions of Abu Ghraib and torture.
  • Stanley Milgram’s shock-machine obedience-to-authority experiments, where subjects were willing to apply electric shocks on others upon the request of authority figures.
  • A student argues: “You can’t change human nature.” This of course hints at one of the themes of the novel.
  • The professor defends a psychopathic killer (Becker) – who we will chillingly meet toward the end of the chapter.
  • Mention of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, wealthy university students who in 1924 killed a boy just for kicks, and were defended by Clarence Darrow as psychopaths who “…couldn’t be executed for doing what his nature dictated he do” – and the revelation that the professor agrees with this assessment: “You can’t execute someone for being who they are.”
  • The Hare Assessment test for psychopaths (lots of tidbits on this).
  • The story of Princeton seminary students, rushing to give presentation on the parable of the Good Samaritan, but ignoring a man slumped over in an alleyway.
  • The professor, from Canada, arguing with an American over separation of church and state – American: “Honey, there ain’t no such thing. Y’all socialists up there, right?”
  • Mentions of Vladimir Putin, Steve Harper, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and new USA president Quinton Carroway – sort of a mix of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
  • Homeland Security threat levels (orange, etc.).
  • Megyn Kelly on The Daily Show defending the killing of an illegal alien (“Look,” she says, “it is a fact that this guy was in our country illegally.”), and hints that homicide might be redefined as killing a legal resident.
  • The professor on the witness stand getting grilled, with conflicting testimony on whether Becker is a psychopath.
  • And the chapter’s bombshell ending, where the professor says, “Dr. Goldsmith is dead wrong, and Dr. Bagi is right. Devon Becker is a psychopath, and I can prove it – prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt.” How can anyone not turn the page?

Who needs Indiana Jones or James Bond when you can have a barrage of tidbits that make you want to say, “Ideas and details and hints, oh my!” As to the rest of the book, you learn about utilitarianism (‘The greatest good for the greatest number”), the possible number of psychopaths in society (more than you’d think – and he names names!), how much our morality and what makes us what we are might be based on the “quantum superposition of electrons in neuronal microtubules in our brains,” and numerous other philosophical and scientific issues, including the central concept of the novel – the nature of consciousness itself. It’s a compelling, must-read story of mind-numbing concepts as we play around with the ideas of the mind itself.

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Larry Hodges is the author of Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions (from World Weaver Press), featuring the election of 2100, where the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system, with an incredulous alien ambassador along for the ride.

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Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions – On Sale Now!

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalIt’s out!!! You can buy copies (print or ebook) directly from World Weaver Press, or from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Omnilit.

Here’s an 80-sec book trailer created by Nathan Hsu.

The SF novel covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100, where the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system. There’s also an increasingly incredulous alien ambassador along for the ride. Here’s the description from the back cover:

It is the year 2100, and the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system. The cutthroat father-daughter team of Toby and Lara Platt ran the successful 2095 campaign of the Frenchman Corbin Dubois for president of Earth. Toby soon realizes it was a horrible mistake.

An alien ambassador lands outside the United Nations, sparking a crisis. Inspired by the ambassador, Toby resigns from the campaign in protest of Dubois’s corrupt politics—but his daughter Lara takes over. Toby decides to challenge the two major parties—one conservative, one liberal—and run for president himself with a third-party moderate challenge. He vows to put his daughter out of a job.

The alien ambassador tags along on the campaign trail as she learns the violent history and eye-opening politics of 2100 Earth. The campaign for president of Earth takes us to every continent as father and daughter battle for electoral votes and clash over the ideas and issues facing the world of 2100 in this bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign.

So . . . what’s the big idea in this new novel, and why would you want to read it in the midst of a polarized American political season?

Presidential politics has dominated the news for years, and this year like no others. Few stories are more compelling than a bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign, as we are seeing right now in both the Republican and Democratic races. And yet, where are the SF stories that cover this? “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions dramatizes and satirizes politics in creating a new sub-genre, campaign science fiction. It is West Wing in the 22nd Century. The underlying theme of the novel is moderation in politics; some will read it as a Moderate Manifesto.

There are two “Big Ideas” in the novel. The first, as noted above, is all about moderation, something you don’t see very often in modern American politics. Why must readers always choose between two extremes? In so choosing they begin to identify with the choice they made, and so they tend to move to the extremes themselves. This doesn’t make sense – but it’ll take Toby and Bruce to change this dynamic and bring back moderation.

And that brings us to the second “Big Idea” – why is the U.S. stuck with two major parties? In the novel, Toby and Bruce will mount a third-party challenge – and show how it can be done. While Republicans try to prove they are the most conservative, and Democrats that they are the most liberal, Toby and Bruce  are out to prove they are the most moderate – and begin to call themselves “Moderate Extremists.” Along the side of the floater they use to travel the world are the words, “Extremism in the Pursuit of Moderation is No Vice.”

Why is there an alien ambassador in the novel? The story takes place 84 years from now, and a lot of history has taken place. Readers learn of this history and about Earth politics at the same time as the alien, whose eyestalks often stare at each other in disbelief. But just as the alien – Twenty-two – sometimes has to put on his “Stupid” hat (actually Bruce’s pet, an iguana with a brain that’s half cat) to truly understand the absurdity of human politics and the two-party electoral system, so will you!

Here’s what Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Quantum Night, wrote: “Larry Hodges is an insightful political commentator and a kick-ass science-fiction writer. A dynamite novel full of twists and turns; this futuristic House of Cards is both entertaining and thought-provoking.”

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Lawrence Schoen’s Eating Authors Blog

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalThis morning I’m featured in Lawrence Schoen’s Eating Author’s Blog. Wait’ll you read about my Worst Meal Ever – you’ll never eat at McDonalds again! (The text mistakenly says it’s my first novel when it’s actually my third. However, one is self-published, and the other, while originally published by Class Act Books, I bought the rights back last year and it is now also self-published – so if you exclude those two, it’s my only current non-self-published one.)

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One Day Until Publication of Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions!

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalI’ve been posting daily notes on Facebook about Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, linking the number of days to publication to countries with those electoral votes in the election of 2100, or similar issues. Here they are! (I skipped days 9 & 10.)

It’s one day until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Antarctica will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. With climate change threatening to turn Antarctica into a new frontier for human settlement, developers jumped on the opportunity, and a thriving population soon lived there, awaiting a balmy future. But when global warming was solved – in tragic fashion – the settlements became the Ghost Towns of Antarctica – and if you want their one electoral vote, you’ll have to address their concerns . . . even the ignorant beliefs of a misinformed and possibly lovestruck teenager named for a cartoon character!

It’s two days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many countries are so large in population that they have their own regional election: China with 159 electoral votes, and India with 245. Since VP candidate Feodora is hated in China – she led the Russians to victory over them in war – things get tricky. It all leads to the infamous table tennis exhibition in the Hall of Champions in Shanghai, capital of China since the Beijing Rebellion of 2074 – and that ends in disaster. As to India – Toby won’t negotiate with gangsters, so it’s up to Bruce to secretly talk to the Delhi Lala and buy his support – but what is his price?

It’s three days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many major political parties there will be after our heroes mount a third-party moderate challenge to the two major parties, one conservative, one liberal. From the infamous 2016 American election to the election of 2095, when Corbin Dubois defeated incumbent Jing Xu in the election for president of Earth, voters have had to choose between two extremes, conservative and liberal. Now, in 2100, with a third-part moderate challenge that pits a father running for president against a daughter running the campaign of incumbent Dubois, voters have a choice. Or will dirty tricks get in the way as our self-proclaimed Moderate Extremists battle the established parties on all seven continents?

It’s four days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Australia will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. It’s the First in the World election – and any candidate who doesn’t proclaim Oceania’s right to this faces disaster. But is it right that all are equal, but some are more equal than others? (And do they really have to eat that disgusting local food? They still eat meat in Australia!)

It’s five days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Guatemala will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. After a terrible tragedy, our heroes – a third-party challenge – release the ashes of two of their team into Mount Momotombo in Nicaragua. But if they want those five votes, they’ll have to campaign in Latin America . . . from hospital beds. The badly injured alien ambassador has disappeared – did she survive? Will there be retribution? The world holds its breath as it waits, watches, and wonders.

It’s six days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Canada will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. Vancouver’s Dr. Mary Heilig had pioneered 3-D full-sensory virtual reality, Full VR for short, and it became Canada’s top industry, and made Heilig a trillionaire. But when two billion people left the real world for “Virtchy World,” leading to the ten-year economic collapse known as The Great Lethargia, Full VR was outlawed. When Canada rebelled, USA invaded. If presidential candidate Toby wants those six electoral votes, he’s going to need the support of the jailed but popular Heilig – but the 100-year-old scientist tycoon has her own plans for Toby that will leave him fighting for his political career – and his life.

It’s seven days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Thailand will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. The Asian Federation is plagued by the Pirates of the South China Sea, the remnants of the rebellious Taiwanese submarine fleet after their union with China. What can VP candidate Feodora do when she’s stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by desperate pirates? Will they let her live – and more importantly, can she tame the pirates and get those seven electoral votes?

It’s eight days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes France will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. How did the French cowboy Corbin Dubois become world president? How did France become a financial giant? And why do they keep 26 blue whales – including the genetically altered Lorraine – in a giant aquarium in Dover, England, a constant insult to English pride and sovereignty?

It’s 11 days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and the world is divided into 11 regions that will vote on 11 consecutive Tuesdays in a world that has adopted the American two-party electoral system. The candidates will campaign in Oceania (First in the World!), then on to North America, Russian Federation, China, United Europe, Asian Federation, Africa, Latin America, India, Islam Nation, and finally in the ghost towns of Antarctica. Who is the talkative teenage girl from Antarctica who keeps popping up? And who is the mysterious one-armed man that follows them everywhere?

It’s 12 days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Japan will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. Japan is still angry about losing a war they thought they’d won against Russia and General Feodora Zubkov nine years before, and is hungry to invade again, in mid-election. Will they? If only they knew what Feodora has planned this time . . . and those 12 electoral votes are enticing!

It’s 13 days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Sudan will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. The African campaign is all about overpopulation – and Twenty-Two, the alien ambassador, is shocked at how we deal with such things. How do they do it on his home planet of Grodan, which orbits Tau Ceti?

It’s 14 days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Russia will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. When Russia is invaded by huge armies from two countries, and all seems lost. Can VP candidate Feodora – the small general from Russia, “The Horse” to her friends, “The Mountain Monster” to her enemies – stop them? More importantly, can presidential candidate Toby get Russia’s 14 electoral votes – and can they vote in mid-war? Will alien ambassador Twenty-Two get involved?

It’s 15 days until Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is published by World Weaver Press – and that’s how many electoral votes Tanzania will have in the 2100 election for president of Earth. When the candidates campaign in Tanzania, they will meet General Bapoto, who has evil plans for them – and for Twenty-Two, the alien ambassador traveling with them. Can VP candidate Feodora escape her chains in time to save them? And who is The Cat, the mysterious woman in black?

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Pretty Pictures at War and the Goodreads Giveaway

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My story “Pretty Pictures at War” went up at Galaxy’s Edge this morning. My name’s on the cover – the second one. What happens when extremely helpful 4-D beings show up on Earth and humiliate a billionaire – and he declares war on them, and takes the battle to their own 4-D world? I’m honored to be published in such a publication – edited by the great Mike Resnick! Quick – who has the most Hugo nominations ever, with 37? Yep, that’s Mike, with five wins!

There’s also an ad on the Galaxy’s Edge page for Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, my upcoming novel, which comes out one week from today from World Weaver Press. Don’t forget to sign up for the Goodreads Giveaway! We’re giving away eight FREE, SIGNED copies of the novel.

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Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions – FREE Giveaway!!!

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalYes, it’s true – I will be giving away free, signed copies to eight lucky winners. All you have to do is go to the Goodread’s page, and click on the “Enter Giveaway” link. Make sure to mark the novel as “to read” in your goodreads page!

The novel comes out on March 8 from World Weaver Press, but the kindle version is already up on Amazon for pre-orders. (Print version should be up in days.)

18 days until publication . . .in the novel, which covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100, where the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system, Afghanistan and Egypt both have 18 electoral votes. (There are 1333 total, with each country given electoral votes based on population.) They are both part of Islam Nation, which combined as a political entity in 2050 to consolidate their power as a voting block. Unlike other continental voting regions, it was a mishmash of countries from three continents, Africa, Europe, and Asia, with 31 countries and 211 electoral votes. The big prize is Pakistan, with 49.

How can our moderate extremists (i.e. the third-party challenge to the worldwide conservative and liberal parties) win in these highly conservative Islamic states? Well, let’s just say a highly disloyal member of the conservative president’s inner circle sends them a video of the president doing a highly embarrassing and very unconservative thing – but should they release the tape and win unethically on what they consider a non-issue? All our moderate challenger has to do is take some Eth, the drug that removes ethical constraints, and then he’ll have no trouble doing so!

So what should he do? The world is watching . . . and so is the alien ambassador!

In related new, World Weaver Press will have a new Editor-in-Chief. Co-Founder and outgoing Editor-in-chief Eileen Wiedbrauk will be leaving after four years. A great thanks goes to her for all the work she did in editing Campaign 2100! The incoming Editor-in-Chief is Sarena Ulibarri, who takes over on March 1. She, along with publicist Elizabeth Wagner, have already been a great help in getting the novel ready for publication and in publicizing it. Here’s the World Weaver Press News Release on this.

Here’s a little about the incoming Editor-in-Chief: Sarena Ulibarri earned an MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and attended the Clarion Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop at UCSD in 2014. Her short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed,NewMyths.comThe Colored LensKasma SF, and elsewhere. She currently lives in New Mexico with her husband and their Welsh Corgi. See her web page at sarenaulibarri.com.

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