Filed under: Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, JMS, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: Babylon 5, Babylon5, blogging, dreams, J. Michael Straczynski, jim downey, lucid dreaming, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, Technomage, writing
Almost everyone who has seriously studied a foreign language has experienced this: that at some point when you have gained sufficient fluency, you’ll find yourself actually dreaming in the new language. Particularly if you are somewhat of a lucid dreamer, or just remember your dreams, this can come as a very pleasant surprise, and serves as a real mile-marker in your progress with the language.
Well, last night for the first time I found myself “dreaming” scenes and character discussions from St Cybi’s Well.
Filed under: Art, Arthur C. Clarke, Artificial Intelligence, Blade Runner, Brave New World, Connections, Expert systems, Feedback, General Musings, Humor, movies, Music, NPR, Predictions, Psychic abilities, Religion, Ridley Scott, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Survival, tech, Writing stuff, YouTube | Tags: 2001: A Space Odyssey, A.I., Arthur C. Clarke, artificial intelligence, Blade Runner, blogging, Christoph Bartneck, Clifford Nass, Communion of Dreams, deva, Expert, feedback, HAL, humor, jim downey, movies, music, NPR, predictions, reviews, Ridley Scott, science, Science Fiction, Seth, Siri, St. Cybi's Well, technology, Vangelis, video, writing, www youtube
One of the things I’ve been a little bit surprised by has been just how many people have volunteered to me (or in reviews) just how much they like the ‘Experts’ in Communion of Dreams, and in particular how much of a favorite character Seth becomes to them in the course of the novel.
I don’t mean I’m surprised by how much people like the Experts, and particularly Seth. Hell, I intended the Experts to be likeable. I mean that this is something which people find remarkable enough to, well, remark on it.
That’s because humans tend to anthropomorphize just about everything. Our pets. Our cars. Our tools. Even nature. It’s one of the basic ways that we make sense of the world, as can be seen in religious and spiritual beliefs. Long before Siri there was HAL, and inasmuch as Communion of Dreams is an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey I knew that Seth would resonate as a ‘real person’.*
So this morning I was amused to hear a story on NPR about how giving computers/robots more human characteristics tends to cause humans to develop a greater sense of empathy and socialization with them. Amused, but not surprised. From the article:
Many people have studied machine-human relations, and at this point it’s clear that without realizing it, we often treat the machines around us like social beings.
* * *
What the study demonstrated was that people do in fact obey the rule of reciprocity when it comes to computers. When the first computer was helpful to people, they helped it way more on the boring task than the other computer in the room. They reciprocated.
* * *
“The relationship is profoundly social,” he says. “The human brain is built so that when given the slightest hint that something is even vaguely social, or vaguely human — in this case, it was just answering questions; it didn’t have a face on the screen, it didn’t have a voice — but given the slightest hint of humanness, people will respond with an enormous array of social responses including, in this case, reciprocating and retaliating.”
On the NPR website version of the story there’s also this delightful video showing what happens when a robot with cat/human characteristics begs a research subject to not switch it off:
Interesting. But again, unsurprising. Consider the whole sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey when HAL is shut down — a powerful and poignant part of the movie. And referenced at the end of the video above.
Lastly, I laughed out loud once the story was over on NPR, and the transitional bit of music started up. Why? Because it was an instrumental work by the artist Vangelis, composed as the Love Theme from the movie Blade Runner.
Filed under: Amazon, Failure, Feedback, General Musings, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, jim downey, Kickstarter, Kindle, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction
Well, we had a grand total of 340 downloads/sales of Communion of Dreams this week. Not impressive. Part of me is tempted to say that I can’t even *give* the book away.
But that’s not true, and to be honest I can’t say that I am terribly upset that we didn’t break the 25,000 mark. Yeah, sure, it would have been neat, but in the end it was just an arbitrary ‘big round number’, and I am still very happy with the overall performance of the book this past year.
So — thanks, everyone! For your support. For your reviews. For your kind words and comments. For telling your friends about the book. For helping to back my Kickstarter. For everything. It’s been a good year.
I’m going to leave the $2.00 discount code for my CreateSpace store in place for a while, perhaps indefinitely. I can’t really drop the overall price for the paperback sold through Amazon by very much, since the actual costs of printing and selling the book are high enough that I would lose money on each sale. But there’s more room on the pricing in my CreateSpace store, so I can offer the discount there: 99K4TNJZ
And I’ve dropped the retail price of the Kindle edition to $3.95. Such a bargain!
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Feedback, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, art, blogging, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, humor, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction
So, earlier this week I mailed off the first ‘backwards’ books, and have now heard from four of the recipients. Here are a couple of excerpts in their responses:
“The koob arrived safely – thanks! Looking forward (er, backward?) to re-reading it ;)”
“words. fail. me. the exceptional feeling of awe at this exquisite, hand-made work of art, serendipitously brought about can hardly be conveyed. it’s beautiful.”
Damn, I wish *I* had thought to call the thing the “koob”! See? My readers are clearly more intelligent & witty than I am. Pat yourself on the back — you deserve it.
Anyway, so that’s that.
I read this and thoroughly enjoyed it. It definitely has an ‘early sci-fi’ feel to it. People have compared the writing style to Clarke. I’m more into the military sci-fi but this was a refreshing and enjoyable change.
Today’s the last day of the big promotion. So far this week things have been really slow, and we haven’t made hardly any progress since Wednesday. Meaning that there’s still something like 1,400 to go to break the 25,000 mark. Obviously, it’s not a big deal if we don’t make it. But if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the Kindle edition, or know someone who might like it, you might as well get it for free today. And if you prefer paper over electronic format, then use the $2.00 discount code in my CreateSpace store: 99K4TNJZ
Have a great Friday!
Filed under: Amazon, Arthur C. Clarke, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: Amazon, Arthur C. Clarke, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, Facebook, feedback, free, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, writing
If you read this review, please know that I stopped reading after a chapter or so.
Why? Well, it’s hard to not see the similarities to Arthur C. Clarke, even if the story eventually takes a different turn. But that would have been OK if the writing had been better. Instead the author really whips through the logistics of assembling a team and arranging transportation to investigate the phenomenon. There’s no depth, little thought and weak writing.
But other than that, he thought my post-apocalyptic world was “somewhat interesting.” That was good to hear. ;)
I noted that this review was up last night over on the Facebook page, and a couple of people pointed out the simple truth that no matter what there are always going to be some people who just don’t like some things. That is something I have said many times myself, going all the way back to the very early days of this blog.
So why mention it? Well, I’m just trying to be honest. With myself, and with you. I like to tout the good things which have happened, the positive reviews and other forms of feedback. So I figure I should also be forthright about the more critical things people say. But I haven’t lost sight of the fact that positive reviews outnumber negative ones by more than 10 – 1.
Anyway, so there’s that. Remember, there’s still a promotion going on, and we haven’t improved much on yesterday’s numbers. Maybe it’s a bit silly, but it’d be fun to break 25,000 copies in the first year — and we still have about 1,400 to go to do that.
Filed under: Amazon, Feedback, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, humor, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, Science Fiction
So, the promo is off and running, and we’ve already seen about 200 downloads/sales. Meaning that we have about 1,500 to go to break 25,000. Since the goal was to do this before Friday, I’m pretty confident that we can achieve it — there have been several cases where one day promotions have done that well or better. The last promotional day was right at 700 downloads, and I think the best ever was something like 6,000 back when the book was new. So, 1,500 before the end of the day Friday? No problem.
With your help, that is. Even feverishly downloading and then deleting the book from my Amazon account, I’d never be able to make it to 1,500.
Oops. I probably shouldn’t have said that, should I?