There is no better gift than a good book

Books contain the distilled wisdom of humanity's greatest thinkers. Books challenge us to expand our horizons and reevaluate our most deeply held assumptions. Books invite us to explore distant galaxies, face our fears, find meaning in our lives, unlock our imaginations, and slip inside someone else's skin.

When you give someone a book, you're offering them an entire world.

Season Finale of Cumulus is Live on Bound

Two years ago, I received a cold email from a guy named Matt Hannus. Matt was a voracious reader and veteran of the gaming industry. He was starting a company called Bound to develop a new format for reading fiction on the internet. He asked whether I'd be open to seeing one of my novels adapted.

Matt's project fascinated me. On the internet, we overwhelming read nonfiction: blog posts, news articles, essays, etc. But we buy and read many more novels than nonfiction books. Why is there such a dramatic gap in our reading habits? Everyone has a pet explanation, but I was curious to see whether Bound could create a format that could empower internet fiction. So we arranged for them to adapt my science fiction thriller, Cumulus.

Cumulus explores a near future San Francisco Bay Area ravaged by economic inequality and persistent surveillance. Popular Science calls it, "An intriguing, fast-paced thriller that looks closely at the most pressing issues facing the nation: a growing wealth gap, corrupt governments and an ever-increasing surveillance apparatus that threatens the country's very character. Cumulus holds up a mirror to ourselves, and shows just how scary the world could be right around the corner."

Matt and his team spent two years working nonstop on their app and Bound officially launched this past summer. Cumulus was a part of their launch slate alongside series from science fiction legend Neal Stephenson, award-winning game writer Matt Entin, former Pixar and Telltale Games creative Stephan Bugaj, and linguist Nick Farmer, creator of the Belter conlang for SyFy's The Expanse. Bound breaks up long stories into short serialized episodes, almost like a TV show, and pairs them with art and extras that enrich the reading experience.

Bound's adaptation of Cumulus deepens the world of the story with extensive sourcebook material and brings it to life with captivating art. Bound readers have many things at their fingertips that no other format offers: never-before-seen biographical details of the protagonists, investigative reports on the future history of economic inequality, press coverage that illuminates how Cumulus became the dominant tech monopoly, interludes that give a glimpse into the hearts and minds of secondary characters, and transcripts of clandestine conversations. If you loved the book, this is a perfect complement.

Bound has been releasing episodes of Cumulus over the past few months and today marks the official season finale. I've had a blast following the series and I'd love to hear what you think.

You can download the iOS Bound app for free right here and check it out.

The At-Home Gene Editing Revolution Starts Now

In the new Scout Incoming Transmission, I talk to bestselling author Daniel Suarez about the future of synthetic biology. Read the interview right here.

We discuss the scientific, economic, and political implications of CRISPR and how science fiction can illuminate the social impacts of tech. Daniel shares details on how he goes about rigorously researching his novels to make them "science fiction for scientists." And he explains how he maps out different scenarios for the near future, exploring the second and third order effects of innovation. I recently featured Daniel's latest technothriller, Change Agent, in my reading recommendation newsletter.

If you want to make sense of how biotech will change the world, you'll find his ideas provocative, compelling, and counterintuitive.

You can find more Incoming Transmissions from visionary authors like Malka Older, Cory Doctorow, Alexander Weinstein, and Kim Stanley Robinson here.

Three Pieces of Advice for Building a Writing Career

Want to build a writing career? Do these three things.

WRITE. Many people say they want to be writers, but rarely actually write, finish, or publish anything. Don’t fall into that silly trap. If you want to be a writer, write. Write stories, articles, books, whatever you want. Fight through the fear of what other people might think. Write, finish, and publish your work to the world. There’s no other way to learn.

READ. Can you imagine someone saying they want to be a rockstar but that they “don’t have time to listen to music”? You’d be amazed how many “aspiring writers” don’t read. Reading is a superpower. It gives you access to the best ideas of humanity’s greatest thinkers. Read whatever you want, follow your enthusiasm.

MAKE YOUR OWN WAY. There are mountains and mountains of writing advice out there that cover the creative process and the business side. You can easily paralyze yourself by trying to internalize all of it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned writing and meeting other writers, it’s that there is no one path to building a writing career. So don’t waste your time trying to replicate others’ success. The only jobs you want are the ones you have to make up.

‘Null States’ Maps Out the Geopolitics of Tomorrow

My review of Malka Older's new science fiction thriller that brings the future of democracy to vivid, divisive life ran in The Chicago Review of Books. Read the review right here.

Older's series hits the center of my Venn diagram of weird obsessions: imagining the future, gorging on international street food, seeking out crazy adventures, and making sense of geopolitics. She's one of the smartest people thinking about how technology is changing our political institutions and her novels yield deep insights in addition to pulse-pounding entertainment.

For a peek inside her brain, see my in-depth interviews with her here and here. We discuss how our systems of governance are changing and the underlying trends that are shaping the future.

Check out the review and then read her books, you won't be disappointed.

Dystopia is a State of Mind

In the new Scout Incoming Transmission, I ask Cory Doctorow which questions will define the future. Read the interview right here.

He points out our most pernicious assumptions and how we need to update our world views and institutions to accommodate technological change.

We discuss his new novel Walkaway (featured in the latest edition of my reading recommendation newsletter), his activism with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and where he finds strength in his darkest moments.

I found his book and the interview moving and provocative. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I promise it's worth your time.

You can find more Incoming Transmissions from authors like Malka Older, Alexander Weinstein, and Kim Stanley Robinson here.

BANDWIDTH coming May 2018

I just signed a three book deal with Amazon Publishing and my new novel, Bandwidth, will come out May 2018.

Bandwidth is a near future thriller that explores the geopolitics of climate change and how algorithms shape our lives. Imagine Mr. Robot meets House of Cards, with techno utopian activists hacking the global feed to influence the psychology of world leaders.

I'm super excited to work with Adrienne Procaccini, Colleen Lindsay, and the whole Amazon Publishing team to bring the story to life. Speaking of teams, I'm also extremely happy to be partnering with DongWon Song at Howard Morhaim for literary representation. He's a (possibly evil) genius.

(Hot tip: If you come across a possibly evil genius, recruit them.)

To pay it forward, I'm donating 15% of the Bandwidth advance to support Michelle Welsch's incredible work improving education in Nepal. Whether or not our science fiction stories imagine better worlds, we can all do our part to help build one.

More details to come. Join my reading recommendations newsletter for updates.

For now, I’m off to start working on book two.