“Investments” Has Arrived!

by wjw on April 25, 2012

I’ve spent the last three days in a place so remote and blissful that there was neither Internet nor telephone.  Interesting things happened there, and I’ll tell you about it if the photos turn out.

Hours before I left, I managed to upload my short novel “Investments,” set in the Praxis universe.  And now I see that the ebook has gone live via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Here’s the cover.

Looks kinda like a novel from Baen, circa 1995.  At least it screams “space opera!”  The picture’s got space, it’s got tech-things, it’s got a penis-thing, and it’s even got a vagina-thing!   Most science fiction covers don’t have vagina-things, so I think I’m ahead!

You know, I spend an awful lot of time on these covers.  I try out one elements after another.  I work hard at balancing the colors so that the text is readable at all sizes, not too boring, and not to garish.

And then I save the Photoshop file in another format, and all the colors become slightly different.  And they also look different depending on which browser I look at them with.  And then the picture looks even more different depending on which website I upload the image to.

So it usually ends up looking nothing like what I intended.  I think I’m just going to have to get used to this.

“Investments” came about a decade or so ago when I was asked to contribute to an anthology of space stories edited by Robert Silverberg.  The anthology, Between Worlds, would appear exclusively from the Science Fiction Book Club.  SFBC had come up with a generous advance for us all, and I was very pleased.

I’d either just finished the three Dread Empire books for Harper, or was on the verge of finishing, so I was very pleased to set the story in the Dread Empire universe by way of bringing some attention to the books.

“Investments” is set three years after the conclusion of Conventions of War, which became problematical when it appeared a year before Conventions of War was released.

Sorta gives the ending away.  You are warned.

As I recall, Silverberg wanted me to write a longish novelette or a short novella.  But being me, I wrote a short novel instead.  I really have no idea how long my ideas are going to turn out.

This is the most hard-sciency thing I’ve ever written.  I had physicists doing the math to make sure it would all work as planned.

“Well,” one of them said dubiously, “you’re going to need enough antimatter to fill an aircraft carrier.”

“Hah!” I said triumphantly.  “And I know just where to get it!”

In addition the story includes the first meeting of Martinez, the unconventional thinker, with Severin, the completely-Gonzo-not-just-outside-the-box-but-outside-the-universe thinker.  Who makes a stab at saving the world, but who is really much more interested in his puppet theater.

(Sula does not appear in the story.  Sorry.  I was going to write a companion story featuring her adventures while exiled on Earth, but things happened, and the story didn’t.  Still may write it one of these days.)

“Investments” also gives you a idea of what the Shaa Empire looks like after the Naxid War.  The single most crucial change to the social structure of the empire— which I snuck into The Sundering at the top of Page 254 of the American mass market edition— resulted in a somewhat more swashbuckling economic milieu than had existed in the empire’s first twelve millennia.

(Why did I sneak this into the book instead of proclaiming it?  First, I always like to know which of my readers is actually paying attention.  But second, that change really didn’t have anything to do with the action of the series’ first trilogy.  Instead it’s crucial to setting up the second trilogy, assuming of course that I ever write it.)

As for the writing, I knocked myself out to deliver “Investments” by the deadline, and sent it about four minutes to midnight on the day it was due.  Unfortunately the strain showed.  There was some truly inept writing that found its way into the final manuscript, including a couple sentences that just stopped halfway through.  I knew there were problems, but I thought, “What the hell, I’ll fix it in galleys.”

Except I never saw galleys.  Next thing I knew the book was in print, and there it was on my doorstep.  “I’ve given birth to an ugly baby!” I wailed.

I guess the copy editor just took her best guess as to what was supposed to be there.

Turned out that my haste in writing was unnecessary.  One of the other writers— I will not mention names— was months late.  So I could have saved myself the embarrassment of seeing my monster baby in print.

But anyway, the baby is no longer monstrous.  I’ve gone over my little novel with a fine-tooth copy-editing comb, and it’s all nice and pretty, with toenail polish and hair ribbons and everything.

This is the Author’s Preferred Edition.

And what with the first book in the series being on sale, it’s clearly your best chance to enjoy the entire series!

(Next ebook in the chute: City on Fire)

DorjePismo April 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm

It’s got a Stonehenge thing, too. That’s all kinds of cool!

Ralf The Dog. April 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I think I see a dog.

Allen April 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I’m pretty sure that’s a alpaca, not a dog. A space-alpaca.

Paul Duncanson April 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

Hi! Long time lurker, first time poster. I hope I’m not telling you something you know here, but your Photoshop issues sound familiar.

Your color problem seems like something that could be fixed by a bit of color management. All your devices and applications have their own idiosyncratic ways of displaying color and limits to what they can display. Without some calibration, everything in your system has to just guess what everything else is capable of.

Color management is a highly tedious subject, even for photographers whose work depends on it utterly. ( A long summary can be found here: http://www.adobepress.com/articles/article.asp?p=1315593). Put simply, you need to calibrate your display then use a color profile of the calibrated display to tell other devices and applications how to render your images to look as much as possible like what you see on your display.

Calibrating a display is easy on a Mac – there’s a tool in the System Preferences under the Color tab of the Display preferences. I don’t wander into Windows land much myself but this (http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/01/07/windows-7-calibrate-your-display) seems like a decent walkthrough.

Not every application you can view an image in knows about or respects colour profiles and you cannot assume anyone else’s display is calibrated at all, so there’s no guaranteed way of fixing everything so everyone sees what you want them to see. Calibrating your display and saving images with the profile will at least reassure you that it’s not your fault if it looks awful to someone else.

BTW: The Metropolitan cover looks great from here.

I hope that all helps. I’m off to Smashwords now to get me some Metropolitan goodness. I seem to remember I read it in galleys waaaaay back when the world was younger and books were made of paper and I have been meaning to read it again for a lot of the intervening time. I think I was still vaguely awaiting a third volume – it’s the only excuse I can think of for not rereading before now.

mearsk April 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I downloaded and read this last night. Your baby wasn’t ugly, it was quite cute, if a bit small.

Steinar Bang April 26, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Ok, now “Investments” has been downloaded to my Sony reader. Thanks for putting it up on Smashwords, and making this a possibility (locked-in readers and DRM gives me a headache. I manage my ebooks with calibre on a linux box…).

I guess now I have to reread the other books first…?

wjw April 27, 2012 at 2:54 am

Paul, thanks for the tutorial. I’m not sure if that isn’t more work than I want to do, especially considering that other people’s browsers won’t be calibrated the same way as mine.

Steinar, feel free to reread everything of mine! I won’t mind at all.

Lawrence Hardin April 28, 2012 at 8:04 am

I’m reading “Investments” for the second time. Great!! Just wanted to drop a note on proofing. Most instances of ‘Cree’ should be replaced by ‘Chee’.

Patricia Mathews May 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Good thing it’s May – i.e. I can put these on this month’s book budget. I still have to download Conventions of War, then Investments, and yes, when are you going to get back to Sula?

BTW – since I have the Kindle edition, I had to wrack my brain over the most important change to the social structure, and then remembered – if it’s the one I think it is, you didn’t sneak it in. It was duly noted and commented on, may our hero of the wormhole battle handle it well.

Guy Pearse November 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

Hi Walter
I found your first book of the Dread Empire’s Fall series The Praxis and though it was great (I love Space Opera) so I decided to get the entire series for my Kindle. The books exist on Amazon’s Kindle store but when I tried to buy them, all I got was Australian’s cannot buy these books apart from your latest release as mentioned above. Is there any way (assuming that you wish to) for you to get Amazon to release your books worldwide so that all Kindle owners including myself can purchase and enjoy your books. Thanking you in advance for your assistance.


wjw November 27, 2012 at 8:54 am

Hi Guy,

My guess is that Harper UK doesn’t have the Australian ebook rights, but I can’t be sure without checking the contracts, which I can’t do right now since I’m on a whole other continent.

If it turns out that no one has the Australian e-rights, that means =I= have them, which means I’ll be making the books available myself, sooner or later.

In the meantime, can you get ahold of an actual print book? Should be a few around …

ckw July 15, 2015 at 5:19 am

i was just wondering if this was going to be put into print. I find it extremely hard to read on a kindle and cant add it to my collection on the bookcase if its only electronic but i am losing hope of ever finding this in a paperback or hardcover edition.

wjw July 15, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Sorry, but it’s unlikely to be back in print for the foreseeable future. If I ever get the whole series back from the original publisher, then maybe.

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