Friday, March 20, 2015

A Name Change and a Change of Heart

Last month I submitted the manuscript for the Dreamwielder sequel to my publisher, Diversion Books, and after a bit of discussion we decided to change the title from The Faceless Enemy to something more in line with the title of the first book. The title we came up with is... wait for it... Souldrifter. It's got a nice ring to it, and hopefully it'll be something that captures readers' imaginations.

The tentative release date for Souldrifter is late summer 2015, and the Diversion team, my agent, and I are busily at work on all the little production and promotional aspects that happen before the release of a book. One of those aspects is wrangling up book jacket blurbs, and I'm happy to announce that the first of them is in, from none other than Wendy Wagner. Wendy is author of the Pathfinder Tales novel Skinwalkers, and also an editor extraordinaire with Lightspeed magazine who played a huge role in putting together Women Destroy Fantasy last year. Needless to say, I'm honored and proud Wendy agreed to say something nice about the book. Here's what she had to say:

"Packed with sorcerers, spies, and high-stakes intrigue, Souldrifter is a real page-turner, and Makarria is a teenage heroine who does more than just kick butt: she's smart, powerful, and surprisingly believable for a fourteen-year-old queen. A good read!"

The next bit of news for the book will likely be the cover art. As soon as I get it, I'll be sure to share it.

In other news, I've been doing a good bit of research for other writing projects and the classes I'm teaching, which more often than not tend to overlap. A case in point is the new short story I'm working on, partly inspired by a class I'm teaching—Innovation Inspiration in Speculative Fiction—and partly inspired by
the research I'm doing for a cli-fi novel-in-progress called Remember the Future. I've been on the fence for a long time about issues relating to GMOs, and a writer friend, Jeff Wallace, turned me on to this enlightening article at the New Yorker that really won me over onto the side of GMOs being a good thing. The article even made me soften up my stance on Monsanto, whom (like everyone else) I had assumed was the face of evil and had been outspoken against. Turns out they might not be so evil, after all, as evidenced by this other article I was turned on to by Wendy Wagner in an odd coincidence.

The short of it all, is that I still firmly believe mainstream agricultural practices need to change significantly, but that those changes likely need to combine aspects of traditional farming (crop rotations, for example), organic farming (kicking chemical fertilizers and pesticides to the curb), new farming techniques (cover crops and absolutely no tilling!), and yes, even GMOs. This is all stuff that will be fodder for my characters in Remember the Future, but also in the aformentioned new short story I'm working on. This new short story also includes ideas about synthesized meat—shmeat!—portable water condensation devices, and even a new economic model that is democratic but not exactly capitalistic. Likely, I'm biting off more than I can chew, but regardless it's been fun to get back into the science end of things. In fact, I'm finally getting to participate more over at Project Hieroglyph, where I recently reported my research findings on the massive carbon sequestering potential of doing things like using a mulching lawnmower and actually putting compost to use rather than letting it go to waste in landfills. If you're interested in any of these matters, I encourage you to sign up for a free membership at Project Hieroglyph and add your voice to help create innovative technology and ideas.

Well, I've rambled enough for one day. I best get back to work on the aforementioned short story. Until next time...

-Garrett Calcaterra


  1. Not to say you're wrong, because I haven't researched as much as you have. But I do wonder if GMO's aren't awful, why are they banned in every other developed country?

  2. I think a lot of nations are approaching GMOs with a lot of apprehension and skepticism, which is warranted. Humans don't exactly have a good track record on this sort of stuff. DDT looked to be a miracle pesticide at first--it didn't directly affect humans, it eradicated mosquito-born malaria in a lot areas, and the inventor even won the Nobel Peace Prize--but then we discovered that biomagnification occurs, that bugs like the bollworm (that ravish cotton crops) adapt to become resistant, and that DDT never breaks down...ever.

    So yes, I'm on-board with us taking our time and studying fully the effects of GMO foods, but right now the general apprehension seems to stem from uninformed paranoia and fear mongering by people like Vandana Shiva (profiled in that New Yorker article). I'd simply like us to take an honest and rational look at the practical applications of using GMOs. We've already been using genetically modified bacteria to create insulin for decades with no problems or complaints. That suggests there's a lot more potential here, and if it could lead to the production of cheap, healthy food to feed the world's under-nourished, we have a moral imperative to at least try.