Is This Thing On?

WELL HELLO THERE, GOOD LOOKIN'.

I don't call anymore, I don't write... things have been kind of crickets around here unless I have something to sell you. And that's not cool. I'm not just saying that because I have some things to sell you. Let's leave that until later. Future posts, even!

I've let this place fall by the wayside over the last year or two for a lot of reasons. One is that I don't have a lot to say about transmedia specifically, and that's why I started this place up back in 2005. Hence my bad pun in Latin: deus ex machinatio. It means divinity from a plan, and so the art that makes my heart pound and fills me with gladness.

Why does that mean haven't I been posting? Partly because I stepped back from the conference circuit. Partly because even beyond transmedia, I say a lot of the same things I would otherwise be blogging about on Twitter or on my podcast The Cultures. (Did you even know I have a podcast, with Naomi Alderman and Adrian Hon?) I've been pretty busy! And I won't lie, the chilling effect of Gamergate is real; I'm reluctant to engage in some of the social issues that used to be one of my hallmarks.

There's also a bit of uncertainty about how to engage in thoughtful conversation via online media anymore. Should I be posting on Medium instead? It would probably be good for "exposure," but I'm not a fan. Should I be posting things on Facebook instead, where it would be more highly shareable? Or posting here and linking to Facebook? Should I be cross-posting to my Imzy community, or or or?

This stuff used to be easy when I was just a freelancer and my audience consisted almost exclusively of colleagues digging in the same salt mine as me. But now I have a mixture of colleagues from games, marketing, film, and academia mixed together with students learning from A Creator's Guide, friends who are non-transmedia authors, just friends with no work-related relationship, and even a few fans who don't know me except as a person who has made some stuff they like.

This used to be almost all talk shop, but it's slowly shifted into being a vehicle almost entirely for announcements of launches and conferences.

I don't like that very much. It feels kinda gross and manipulative. I like to be human on the internet, not a marketing bot.

So let's give this a whirl: I can't promise this is going to be the start of a bold new era, but I do have a whole slew of posts I want to make for now: some launch announcements, yes, but I also want to talk about the state of transmedia (no, really), some things I've been doing in my personal life, and some serious writing-craft challenges I'm mulling over, but have not yet solved. Maybe some politics?

And if you have things you'd like for me to talk about here, I'd love a comment. Should I be reviewing media I'm excited about? (OMG K-dramas.) Do you want an accounting of how much work I get done in a week? I dunno. You tell me.

Mostly I just want to feel like I have a home and a voice in the internet again—a place that belongs to me, where I'm not just sprinkling words into the ephemeral stream. So let's see how this goes.

MidAmeriCon2: Worldcon 2016

AWWWW YEAH I'M GOING BACK TO WORLDCON!

I have once again fooled the Worldcon programming folks into thinking I am a person of wit and notability, and as a result I have a freakin' amazing bunch of programming this year! And not just panelling, either. I have a kaffeeklatsch (which you'll need to sign up for in advance if you want to attend), a reading, and an autographing session. Wowzers!

Incidentally, autograph sessions can be lonely and demoralizing when you're a new author like myself and don't exactly have lines going out the door. (Or, uh lines at all...) So if you're free late Sunday morning, I'd be delighted to have you stop by to say hello and chat for a while. You don't even need to have or buy anything for me to sign! I am more than happy to sign nothing at all. Or if you really, really want me to sign something for you, I'll have a few postcards to give away, free of charge.

Please note that there are sometimes last-minute changes to programming, so double-check to be sure nothing's moved in space and time. But for now, this is my schedule:

Driverless Cars

Wednesday 16:00 - 17:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Self-driving cars are being tested on our roads, but it's not clear the public would buy one if available. Who do we trust with the design and production? The challenges -- potential hacks, electrical storms, malfunction or apocalypse -- and opportunities -- to empower people with disabilities, for example -- are discussed.
Andrea Phillips, Howard Davidson, Dr. Jordin Kare

Writing Games in Fiction

Thursday 14:00 - 15:00, 2204 (Kansas City Convention Center)
From Azad to Armada, fictional games, gaming and gamers are an increasingly visible part of our SF landscape, offering us complex characters and interesting discussions of how gaming is becoming an integral part of our lives. Our panel discuss how these representations present gaming to a wider audience.
Becky Chambers, Andrea Phillips, James Cambias (M), Peter Tieryas, Tim Akers

The Future is a Different Country

Friday 12:00 - 13:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)
How will stuff (culture/tech/etc.) change in the next 40 years? Can we really predict with any sense of accuracy or will there be a singularity of some sort that makes all predictions worthless? Our panel predicts anyway, and wonders what their writing and creative practice will look like as a result.
Andrea Phillips, Edward M. Lerner, Kathleen Ann Goonan (M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Kaffeeklatsch

Friday 13:00 - 14:00, 2211 (KKs) (Kansas City Convention Center)
James Cambias, Toni L. P. Kelner, Andrea Phillips

My Transmedia Life

Friday 15:00 - 16:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Authoring is not a stale business. Today's writers are finding new ways to reach audiences, making interactive websites, podcasts, trailers and games to represent or enhance their worlds and characters. Panellists discuss ways that they build transmedia works and take their literature into the realm of games, video and visual arts.
Christopher Kastensmidt, Andrea Phillips, Katie Li

Futurism vs. SF

Friday 18:00 - 19:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Science Fiction explores the future.  Futurism explores the future and tries to relate it to the real world.  What causes someone to be a Futurist rather than a science fiction author?  Where are the overlaps and the differences between the two practices?
S.B. Divya (M), Karl Schroeder, Andrea Phillips, David Brin

Societal Aspects of Technology

Saturday 13:00 - 14:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)
If your cellphone died would you be late for work? When your power goes out, would you dispair for entertainment? In a world where people are digitally dependent, what will happen when energy fails us? Downton Abbey dramatized the advent of home electricity, the telephone and the radio. How did those advances change social lives? Instead of bringing us together, have phones increase our isolation? We discuss how technology changes the way people communicate and relate in society. 
Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Andrea Phillips, Edward M. Lerner (M), Karl Schroeder, David Brin

Magazine Group Reading: Escape Artists, Inc.

Saturday 14:00 - 15:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)
Our Magazine Group Reading Series continues with a special group reading that features authors from the family of Escape Artists magazines.
Alasdair Stuart (M), Marguerite Kenner (M), Dr. Amy H. Sturgis, Andrea Phillips, Bud Sparhawk, Scott Edelman

Autograph Session

Sunday 11:00 - 12:00 (Autographing Space) (Kansas City Convention Center)
Kate Elliott, Melissa F. Olson, Robert Reed, Robert J, Sawyer, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Andrea Phillips

Reading

Sunday 14:30 - 15:00, 2202 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)

Annnnnd that's it. Worldcon, get ready, this is going to be great! Just one more thing to work out: what the heck am I going to wear...?

Readercon 2016

This is big news, you guys. ENORMOUS. I'm going to be at Readercon this year, and—this is the big news part—I'll be doing my first-ever fiction reading. I can't decide what I should read from! An upcoming ReMade episode? The Luck Eaters? A short story to be named later? Ahhhhhhh so many options!

Anyway, here's my (possibly still preliminary) schedule. Please, please flag me down and say hello if you're at the con. It's going to be so great!

Thursday July 07

8:00 PM    5    Living in the Future. John Chu, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Andrea Phillips, Tom Purdom, Terence Taylor. Today, if we're going to see another person, we have cellphones to instantly communicate with that person, and maps on the cellphones to help us find our agreed-upon location. Twenty years ago we would have had to phone each other on landlines, pick a restaurant in advance or agree to meet at a landmark known to both of us. Five hundred years ago we wouldn't have had watches on our persons, so even keeping to the correct time of the appointment would have been difficult–how would we even know when the agreed-upon time of our meeting arrived? Our panelists will discuss some of the conveniences, large and small, that we take for granted, and the absence of which would cause difficulties of the sort that are often elided in fiction. The discussion will also discuss science fiction novels and stories that incorporate and project modern technology into their fictions, and which fail to take these things into account. 

Friday July 08

1:30 PM    A    Reading: Andrea Phillips. Andrea Phillips. Andrea Phillips reads new work. (!!!)

3:00 PM    C    Fantastical Dystopia. Victoria Janssen, Ada Palmer, Andrea Phillips, Sabrina Vourvoulias, T.X. Watson. Dystopia is popular in YA fiction for a variety of reasons, but why do authors frequently base their future dystopian society on some flimsy ideas, rather than using history to draw parallels between past atrocities and current human rights violations? Is it easier to work from one extreme idea, such as "love is now considered a disease" rather than looking at the complexities of, for example, the corruption of the U.S.S.R or the imperialism of the US? If science fiction uses the future to look at the present, is it more or less effective when using real examples from the past to look at our present through a lens of the future?

5:00 PM    BH    WTF is Transmedia?. Andrea Phillips. Quick answer: transmedia storytelling is the art of using multiple platforms to tell a unified story. Sometimes it looks like the MCU, and sometimes it's stories that infiltrate the real world. Transmedia veteran Andrea Phillips will talk about her years as a pioneer in the transmedia mines, and how it made her a better writer–and a worse one!

Saturday July 09

1:00 PM    5    If Thor Can Hang Out with Iron Man, Why Can't Harry Dresden Use a Computer? . Gillian Daniels, Elaine Isaak, Andrea Phillips, Alex Shvartsman, E.J. Stevens. In a series of tweets in 2015, Jared Axelrod pondered "the inherent weirdness of a superhero universe... where magic and science hold hands, where monsters stride over cities." This is only weird from the perspective of fantasy stories that set up magic and technology as incompatible, an opposition that parallels Western cultural splits between religion and science and between nature and industry. Harry Dresden's inability to touch a computer without damaging it is a direct descendant of the Ents destroying the "pits and forges" of Isengard, and a far cry from Thor, Iron Man, and the Scarlet Witch keeping company. What are the story benefits of setting up magic/nature/religion and technology/industry/science as either conflicting or complementary? What cultural anxieties are addressed by each choice? How are these elements handled in stories from various cultures and eras?

3:00 PM    C    What Good Is a Utopia? . Michael J. Deluca, Chris Gerwel, Barry Longyear, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Andrea Phillips. If an author sets out to write a utopia, several questions arise. Character and interpersonal conflict can drive the story, but how do you keep the utopian setting from becoming backdrop in that case? Were the Talking Heads right in saying that "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens"? And how do you showcase how much better things would be "if only"?

Bookburners Debut

Ahhhhhhhhh you guys I am so, so, SO excited. It's LAUNCH DAY! Late last summer I holed up for the weekend with some of my very favorite writers to help plan Season 2 of Bookburners. And today, the first of my two episodes this season is LIVE and you can BUY IT and READ IT! OMG OMG OMG it's really happening.

...Wait, wait, hold on. Probably that needs a little translating before you can be as excited about it as I am. So BAM, let's FAQ this thing up!

Andrea. Andrea. What the heck is Bookburners?

Bookburners is a serial fiction narrative written by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Slattery, Mur Laffery, and ME! Plus the amazing Amal El-Mohtar also has a guest episode this season, so you're in for a real treat.

It's urban fantasy about a team of operatives working out of the Vatican to find and confiscate magic books before terrible, terrible things happen. Or let's be honest: usually slightly after terrible things have already begun to happen, because that's way less boring to read about.

How does this serial work?

One episode comes out every week on Wednesday in ebook and audiobook formats. This season started last week (you're already behind!) and goes for sixteen weeks. 

Serial Box is bringing the HBO model to ebooks -- teams of writers working together to produce high-quality story each week, far faster and better than any one of those writers would be able to do all alone. I'm thrilled to be a part of it, and I'm hoping you'll be thrilled to read it, too! And I've got another Serial Box project in the works, too: ReMade. I can't say much about it yet, buuuuuut I'm pretty excited about that one too. More on that front in September!

OK but here's the important question: how do I buy it?

If you never want to miss an episode, you can buy a season pass for everything in ebook and audiobook format, and have an array of choices for where to read it. You can also buy single episodes (like mine!) on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, basically anywhere ebooks are sold. (For Nook, too, but it looks like it's not up there quite yet...)

Since this is the second season, you may also be interested in the Season 1 Omnibus -- or if you're in a rush, there's a convenient Season One Recap so you can get up to speed right away.

I AM SO EXCITED. ARE YOU EXCITED TO? AHHHHH! If you're feeling excited too, plus you have a couple spare bucks and an hour to read, pick up my episode and let me know what you think!

The Daring Mermaid Expedition

HEY GUESS WHAT I have a game out today!

It's called The Daring Mermaid Expedition, and it's published by the fabulous people at Choice of Games. Available for iOS, Android, on Steam, on Amazon, or you can just start playing in your browser!

Mermaid Expedition is a game set in the Lucy Smokeheart universe. This time, you play as an aspiring scholar of the esteemed Royal German Marinological Society. It's your job to discover proof that mermaids exist, and present your findings to the committee. Also: Pirates! Romance! Deception! It is, if I do say so my own self, very funny and charming. Also entirely scientifically inaccurate and riddled with anachronism!

There are ten endings. "Winning" is probably the most boring one. Sorry?

Anyway! Mermaid Expedition is a special game to me for a lot of reasons. For one, I coded it was well as writing it, which I'd never done before. It's making me question a lot of parts of my self-image, in good, stretchy ways. I don't identify as a programmer, and yet, here I've written a whole game! by myself!

This was also an arduous production process, mostly because my entire life has fallen apart several times over the last couple of years. It's been intense around here. So I want to call out Choice of Games in genera and Rebecca Slitt in particular for being extraordinarily kind about the fact that I blew every deadline they ever gave me, and in some cases by several months. It's not like me, I swear! But thank you, thank you, for your patience, and for working with me to get this lovely little thing into the world.

Anyway! The game is out! Available from multiple outlets! Hurry and give it a shot, it's only $1.99 until Feb. 19. And after that it'll only be $2.99! Cheap!  Consider it buying me a cup of coffee. Happy adventuring!