Ender’s Game

I just watched the movie of Orson Scott Card’s best-selling novel Ender’s Game.

The movie was enjoyable, but lacked the emotional impact of the book which is a sci-fi classic and one of my favorites, by which I mean that it still affects me when I think about it, even now several years after I first read it.

In the book we see the slow, deliberate process by which Ender is transformed from an innocent six-year-old boy into a ruthless military commander. How and why this happens is fundamental to the story and the skill with which Card carries it off is what makes Ender’s Game so unique.

In Fuller’s Mine, there’s a process of a character being broken down psychologically. My character’s transformation is nowhere near as dramatic as Ender’s–it doesn’t so much change her as simply force her to act against her wishes–and occurs over a period of only a month, but it still required nearly 15,000 words (45 paperback pages) to do it justice.

In the movie of Ender’s Game the transformation happens to quickly. We don’t see enough detail of the experiences which change Ender for such a dramatic change in his character to be convincing. They’ve also compressed the timeline, so rather than being six years old at the start of the story he’s more like eleven or twelve.

If you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the book, you really must.

Voices in my head

Since I’ve started writing I’ve found that when I’m daydreaming, it’s primarily dialogue. Not storylines, not structure, but literally dialogue. I hear my characters talking – not to me, but to each other.

The biggest problem is that this mostly happens in places where I can’t immediately write it down – in the shower, the car, falling asleep!

Something completely different

I’ve started writing my third book. For those of you who have finished Fuller’s Mine and are (hopefully) awaiting the next installment, the bad news is I’m writing another story first. I am working on outlining book 3 in parallel, and have a broad idea of the story arc, but there are lots of details to be filled in yet – so this is your chance to ask the questions you think need to be answered in the final book!

The working title of my current project is Little Plastic Men: They aren’t green, but they are from outer space!

Obviously it’s still science fiction, but not hard sci-fi like the Emulation Trilogy. More like the sort of sci-fi in Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. Hopefully it will also be amusing in parts, but I’ll be happy if I can be a quarter as funny as Douglas Adams.

Another important difference is that I’m writing it in the first person (or first alien, since the protagonist is not from this planet!) rather than the limited third person* point of view I used in Newton’s Ark and Fuller’s Mine. The big challenge is creating an alien character that readers will identify with!

* Limited third person means it’s in the third person, but told from the perspective of the characters, typically one at a time, vs. being told by a detached, omniscient narrator.

Now available in Aussie Dollars

Great news today for my Australian readers, Amazon has just opened an Australian Kindle store.

That means my books are now available for purchase in Australian dollars. Not only is the price lower (e.g. AUD3.99 for Fuller’s Mine vs USD3.99) you can avoid paying the credit card companies another 3% in foreign exchange fees, and I get a 70% royalty rather than 35%. Talk about a win-win.

Here’s the links to the books on the Aussie store:

Note that the new prices may take a day to flow through.

Available eBook Formats

There are two main formats in use for eBooks. The first – MOBI – is used by Amazon and the second – EPUB – is used by pretty much everyone else.

I made Newton’s Ark available in EPUB format via Barnes and Noble, Apple and Sony using Smashwords as the intermediary. I haven’t been entirely satisfied with that arrangement for a number of reasons, the most important being that it gives me very little control over the information that appears in those online bookstores.

I’m going to try a different approach with Fullers Mine. If you want a copy in EPUB format to use with your Nook or Sony Reader or Apple’s iBooks app, just send proof that you purchased the paperback or Kindle version to contact@dahillauthor.com and I’ll send you the file.

Almost Here!

Fuller’s Mine, the sequel to Newton’s Ark is finally finished, with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed (I hope!) and is within a week of being released on Kindle and two weeks in paperback.

In the end it was a little longer than I expected, weighing in at 111,000 words (compared to 77,000 for Newton’s Ark) or 350 pages, but there is an awful lot going on so I think it’s all worthwhile.

Here’s the blurb from the paperback cover (warning mild spoilers for Newton’s Ark – come back after you’ve read the first book):

Surviving the end of the world is one thing.
Retaining your humanity is another.

A small group led by Tyra Martin survives the asteroid in an underground hideout, waiting for the murderous fight over dwindling food supplies to end. Just as they begin considering a return to a normal life on the surface, a tragic encounter drives them back into hiding.

Aboard Newton’s Ark, Cyrus Jones discovers that their virtual world may not be the utopia James Newton envisaged. As he and his brilliant son work tirelessly to find a way to return to the surface and the physical world, oppression grows unchecked, tearing his family apart.

Hell-bent on re-population, the leaders of what remains of the United States steadily sacrifice basic rights and freedoms, especially for women, to achieve their goal.

When these three groups cross paths, Cyrus and his family confront difficult choices about love, revenge, and belonging, and he is forced to decide just how willing he is to wield the almost unlimited power at his disposal in order to protect the people he cares about.

Fuller’s Mine, the sequel to Newton’s Ark, explores the challenges of rebuilding society after modern civilization is destroyed.

Kindle MatchBook

Amazon have just announced a new program known as Kindle MatchBook which allows publishers to offer Kindle versions at a discounted price to customers who have purchased a hard copy version of the book.

For past and future buyers of the paperback edition of Newton’s Ark, the Kindle edition will be available for free.

The same deal will apply to the sequel, Fuller’s Mine, due to be released this month.

Computerized minds

For anyone interested in the scientific basis of the concept of computers that emulate human minds that is so central to the story in Newton’s Ark, this article might be interesting.

The lede is that a computer has simulated 1% of the human mind. But for me the takeaway is the following quote (emphasis mine):

“If peta-scale computers like the K computer are capable of representing 1% of the network of a human brain today, then we know that simulating the whole brain at the level of the individual nerve cell and its synapses will be possible with exa-scale computers hopefully available within the next decade.”

In the Newton’s Ark timeline, Emulated Minds first appear somewhere in the mid-2020s.