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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Division paperback release day!

Taa-da-da-taa-taa-taa-taa-taaaah! (That's my attempt to write out the sound of a trumpet fanfare.)



It's Release Day for the paperback edition of my near-future novel, Division! So of course, I'm providing a link (Amazon -- B&N will follow) and a short blurb.

Here's the link. And here's the blurb (complete with third-person reference to yours truly):

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Conjoined twins Gordon and Johnny have never let their condition keep them from living full and fulfilling lives. Now, new technology gives them a previously unimagined choice: to live in "normal," separate bodies. But who gets to choose? And what if one twin considers their conjoined life a blessing, not to be abandoned without a fight?

Division, like Wyle's earlier novels, uses original settings and situations to explore universal themes: the complexity and intensity of family relationships, the nature of individual identity, and the far-reaching effects of the choices we make.

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At the moment (I don't know for how long), the paperback is available at a 10% discount.


Thanks for listening!. This is my fourth novel, and it's still exciting. :-)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cosmos, Fox, and Cognitive Dissonance

I'm guessing that the revived series Cosmos on Fox, and especially tonight's (March 16th) episode, has some folks scratching their heads, or even writhing in the throes of cognitive dissonance.

"This show touts the scientific method and the glories of science! Why, the latest episode even made a point of attacking Intelligent Design, using ID's pet example, the eye, for good measure! Isn't the Fox network made up of knuckle-dragging anti-science conservatives? What's going on here?!?"

Well, when a new piece of evidence appears inconsistent with one's prior assumption, it seems to me that the properly scientific thing to do is to examine the evidence underlying that prior assumption, to see if it can be interpreted in a way consistent with the new data.

Doing some more guessing, I'd wager that for many people, the assumption of Fox's anti-science attitude springs from the frequency with which they air the views of climate change skeptics (deemed climate change/global warming "deniers" by some of the zealous). If all climate change skeptics are either ignorant of or willfully ignoring well-settled science, then why would any network with any respect for science give them that much air time?

I'll toss out some hypotheses to explain how Fox can find room both for Cosmos and for these opponents of the allegedly settled predictions of anthropogenic, catastrophic global climate change.

(A)  Fox treats different branches of science differently. There's some corporate tie, some financial or personal interest, leading whoever runs Fox to make climate change an exception from either a balanced or a pro-science attitude.

(B) The exception isn't global climate change -- it's Cosmos. Someone owes someone a favor, or has some other lever, to make Fox hold its collective nose and air this pro-science program.

And finally --

(C) Skepticism toward climate change is not, in fact, a sign of either ignorance or disdain for science, but rather, true science in action, with skeptics refusing to be stampeded or bullied into accepting a politically pervasive message. The facts are more complex, and/or point at least in part in a different direction.

I haven't examined (A) or (B). As my husband (aka The Hoosier Gadfly) would say, "I'll leave that as an exercise for the student." As the reader will probably have guessed, I currently incline toward Option (C). For some of the data that's led me in that direction, you can take a look at this post from 2010. (I'd suggest ignoring the comments, as they somehow veered off into areas utterly unrelated to anything on my blog ever.)

Meanwhile, I hope you're enjoying the reboot of Cosmos as much as I am.

Coming attractions -- and a freebie in anticipation thereof

It looks like the paperback of my near-future novel Division will be available on Amazon on schedule -- which means March 20th. Whether it'll have all features (e.g. "Look Inside") by then isn't clear, but if not, they won't be far behind.

The paperback, if you buy it on Amazon, will come with a free Kindle version. But if you'd like to pick up the ebook for free, and then decide whether you want the paperback on your shelf, pop on over to Division's Smashwords page and use coupon code UP22R by March 19th.

Here's what the whole paperback cover looks like -- complete with some excerpts from early reviews (which you may be able to read here, if you have really good vision). 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dear Senators: re HJR-3

I've been doing my bit to lobby the Indiana General Assembly against HJR-3, the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. For those who haven't been following the process, a constitutional amendment has to pass two separate sessions of the General Assembly in order to go before the voters for possible incorporation into the state constitution. The original version of this resolution, HJR-6, passed the General Assembly with broad bipartisan support in 2011. The political winds have shifted remarkably since then, even here, and very few Democrats now support the measure, while growing numbers of Republicans are developing qualms. Many business groups, community leaders, and clergy are opposing it. Recently, the Indiana House dropped the second of two sentences, which would have outlawed civil unions and other (undefined) statuses "substantially similar to" marriage. This means that even if HJR-3 passes the Indiana Senate, it can't go to the voters yet, unless the Senate adds the more draconian language back in and gets the House to go along.

Here's what I sent, individually, to the members of the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure committee, which will be the next body to consider HJR-3. (I excepted those who have already come out against the resolution, or who have unrelated reasons to loathe me and thus to support anything I oppose.)

You will soon vote on whether to incorporate a prohibition on gay marriage into a state constitution otherwise notable for preserving individual liberty.

There has been much talk about "letting the people vote" -- but if there were not a crucial role for legislative judgment in amending our state constitution, HJR-3 would not have to win General Assembly approval in two separate legislative sessions.

Public sentiment, in Indiana and nationwide, has changed significantly since this House held its first vote on what is now HJR-3. By making it exceptionally difficult for Indiana to adapt to the times, HJR-3 would do serious damage to our ability to attract and keep employers and investors. Moreover, even if Indiana would somehow benefit from the loss of many current and prospective gay citizens, it can scarcely afford to discourage all the bright, talented young people who would shun any state that treats their friends and family members as second-class citizens.

Nor will this amendment do what many of its proponents hope, and insulate Indiana from judicial interference in its social institutions. If, as seems likely, same-sex marriage is eventually seen in this country as comparable to (and no more controversial than) mixed-race marriage, then not even a constitutional amendment will prevent the federal judiciary from becoming involved. Moreover, our own courts will be increasingly burdened with the tangles inevitably resulting from our failure to recognize a legal status recognized by more and more other states. Ironically, the one reason any gay adult might have, under these circumstances, to relocate to Indiana would be the wish to evade the legal consequences and responsibilities of an existing same-sex marriage.

I urge you, as well, to look at the human costs, as opposed to the highly speculative, intangible and undemonstrable "benefits," of this amendment. Thousands of children growing up in loving families would be confronted with a state declaration that their parents were different, lesser, even dangerous to their society's values. Hoosiers already battling life-threatening illness would in some cases be forced to do so without their loved ones by their sides. Should they lose that battle, they would face their final hours in fear that their children might lose their surviving parent as well, due to the inability of courts to recognize that parental status.

(All these consequences, of course, would be immeasurably increased should the Senate revert to HJR-3's original and more draconian language.)

I urge you to exercise your legislative oversight and stop this ill-considered proposal before more damage is done.

Sincerely,

Karen A. Wyle




Friday, December 27, 2013

Since I need a link for the Division ebook cover...

I'm going to be bold, once again, and submit a cover to The Book Designer's "e-Book Cover Design Awards" -- so I need a link with a suitably sized image of the cover in question.


Hence this post.

For some reason, the color shifts depending on the size of the image, in my preview browser. FWIW, the skin tones should not be particularly bronze.

What the heck is author Sue Ann Jaffarian doing?

Since I stumbled on Sue Ann Jaffarian's mysteries, I've been scarfing up every one I can get my hands on. I think she has three series going, but I've only read the books in two of them:

--the "Granny Apple" series, about a woman (Emma Whitecastle) who can see and hear ghosts, including the ghost of one female ancestor (Granny Apples), who assists Emma in solving the problems that keep various ghosts from "crossing over";

--the Odelia Grey mysteries, about a plus-size paralegal who keeps finding herself in mystery-type situations, and can't seem to sit back and let other people handle them.

I read mysteries, when I do, more for the characters than the plot. I enjoy the main and subsidiary characters in both of these series, as well as Jaffarian's writing style. But I'm increasingly puzzled and somewhat irked by what Jaffarian is doing with the Odelia Grey stories.

Starting with perhaps the second or third book, characters keep confronting Odelia, more and more frequently and critically, with the fact that somehow, she just keeps stumbling on dead bodies! Her boyfriend, at one point, calls her a "corpse magnet." The obsession of almost every recurring character with this idea is playing a larger role with each successive book.

Of course, the reason Odelia keeps finding dead bodies is that she is -- ta-da! -- the protagonist in an amateur-detective mystery series. There's really no way around this (sorry) stumbling block. The more usual way of dealing with this element of the sub-genre is to ignore it -- which has never particularly troubled me as a reader. Am I unusual in this respect?

In Twice as Dead, the sixth book in the series, Odelia's friend Zee practically spills the beans, saying to Odelia, "It's just  . . . well, it's just that sometimes I wonder if somehow, some way, something unseen has chosen you to find these bodies." Yup, that's about right. If this had been the loudest note of the theme, an ironic wink toward the audience, and the characters had thereafter stopped harping on the subject, that would have worked. Or Jaffarian could have gone all the way into the meta level, and had Odelia regularly remonstrating with the author who was dropping unwelcome corpses in her path. Instead, we have poor Odelia constantly castigated by loved ones, friends and acquaintances for one of the foundational elements of her existence. I can only speak for myself, not having investigated how others react, but it distracts me and pulls me out of the story.

I've been wondering why Jaffarian takes this tack, and have come up with only one hypothesis. Perhaps Jaffarian finds the implausibility of the amateur-detective premise increasingly hard to swallow, and would rather be working on one of the other series -- but her agent or publisher insists that she keep cranking out Odelia Grey novels. The chorus of characters could be chanting Jaffarian's own complaint. Consciously or unconsciously, she could be declaring, or trying to ensure, that the assumptions underlying this series are untenable.

The "Granny Apple" series has no such difficulty. Naturally, a woman who can communicate with ghosts will be the one to receive their requests for assistance. The only improbability is the ability itself, and that's a familiar enough literary trope. Emma Whitecastle does have a fair number of scoffers and skeptics to deal with -- but unless they, in turn, start to drown out all other elements of the stories, Emma and Granny Apples should be able to keep solving mysteries for some time to come.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Yup, it's a holiday reminder of my books that you could give someone....

I haven't done a lot of posts, Tweets, etc. pushing my books this holiday season, but I figured I should do at least one. So here 'tis.

I have four novels available as ebooks (two only on Amazon, two all over the place) and three as paperbacks.



My series-in-the-making started with Twin-Bred, which springs from the question: can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb? After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists still know almost nothing about the native Tofa. Misunderstandings breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating. Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers carry fraternal twins, one human and one Tofa, who might understand each other better. But both the human and Tofa communities have their own agendas for Mara's project. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?

Twin-Bred eventually acquired a sequel, Reach: a Twin-Bred novelMara and the Twin-Bred she helped to create embark on a new and perilous journey -- except for one pair who remain on Tofarn, attempting to live in the human and Tofa communities. Meanwhile, events on Tofarn approach a crisis, in which former host mothers Laura and Veda are deeply involved. 


(Will there be a third? Well, I have some ideas. . . .)

My one departure from science fiction, so far, is Wander Home, a family drama with mystery and romance elements set in a re-imagined afterlife. The tag line: Death is what you make it . . . . Driven by the compulsion to wander, Eleanor left her beloved daughter Cassidy in her family's care -- but Cassidy and the others died before Eleanor could find her way home. Now Eleanor and her family are reunited in an afterlife well suited to confronting unfinished business. But the restlessness that shaped Eleanor's life still haunts her in death. Somehow, she must solve the mystery of her life -- or none of them will be at peace.



Finally, there's my near-future novel Division, intended for general audiences as well as science fiction readers. It's only available as an ebook, so far, but the paperback is due out next spring (March 20, 2014).

New technology, new choices . . . but who gets to choose? Conjoined twins Gordon and Johnny have never let their condition keep them from living full and fulfilling lives. Gordon looks forward to many years of closeness and cooperation. Johnny, however, faces their future with increasing restlessness, even dread.

When the boys are in their teens, the new technologies of accelerated human cloning and brain transplants are combined into a single medical procedure. Someone whose body has suffered such extensive damage as to make normal life impossible may -- with court approval -- be cloned and then given a brain transplant into the clone body. With Gordon's unwitting assistance, Johnny realizes that this procedure provides the chance he had never dared to hope for -- the chance to live in a "normal," separate body.

But Gordon considers their conjoined life a blessing, rather than a curse. He has no intention of accepting separation -- not without a fight . . . .



You can find various purchase links for all these novels on my website. 

Happy shopping and happy reading! :-)

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Cyber Monday sale on near-future SF novel Division -- on Smashwords only

I'm somewhat skeptical about most readers' willingness to use Smashwords coupons, given that one has to take the extra step of loading the book onto one's device of choice -- but nonetheless, I've made a coupon for my latest ebook, the near-future novel Division. With coupon code JA93J, you can pick the book up on Monday for $2.00 instead of $3.99, at this link. Various ebook formats are available.

And here's the blurb (complete with third-person reference to Your Humble Blogger):

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New technology, new choices . . . but who gets to choose?

Conjoined twins Gordon and Johnny have never let their condition keep them from living full and fulfilling lives. Gordon looks forward to many years of closeness and cooperation. Johnny, however, faces their future with increasing restlessness, even dread.

When the boys are in their teens, the new technologies of accelerated human cloning and brain transplants are combined into a single medical procedure. Someone whose body has suffered such extensive damage as to make normal life impossible may -- with court approval -- be cloned and then given a brain transplant into the clone body. With Gordon's unwitting assistance, Johnny realizes that this procedure provides the chance he had never dared to hope for -- the chance to live in a "normal," separate body.

But Gordon considers their conjoined life a blessing, rather than a curse. He has no intention of accepting separation -- not without a fight . . . .

Division, like Wyle's earlier novels, uses original settings and situations to explore universal themes: the complexity and intensity of family relationships, the nature of individual identity, and the far-reaching effects of the choices we make.


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There aren't many reviews on Smashwords, so you can head over to Amazon and read some. (Heck, you can even buy the book there, for $3.99, if you use a Kindle device or app, and prefer the convenience to the price break.)



Friday, November 08, 2013

Iran's Sweet Deal

Once again, my husband, the Hoosier Gadfly, has come up with a trenchant and timely bit of analysis -- and doesn't plan to post it any time soon. With his permission, I'm simply going to paste it here.

The subject: the proposal to relieve sanctions on Iran, in return for supposed concessions.

Without further ado, here's what the Gadfly has to say. (The starred items are quotations from this article in the Jerusalem Post, some with minor corrections of faulty English.)

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Let's parse this deal:

* Iran would stop weapons-grade 20 percent uranium enrichment and turn its existing stockpile into oxide, a harmless material.

I've previously stated that converting the 20% medium enriched uranium (MEU) into fuel is just another way of storing it.  You can go from oxide BACK to UF6 and then you have feedstock.  Rationally, you should treat unburned fuel the same as UF6.

* Iran would be allowed to continue 3.5% enrichment needed for power stations, but limit the number of centrifuges being used. The deal would, however, not include any demand to remove or disable any other centrifuges.

Idiocy.  3.5% is over 60% of the way to bomb grade.  Not disabling any centrifuges simply means that Iran is in a position to amass a huge stockpile of LEU that can quickly be converted to bombs.  It's necessary to eliminate the stockpile and the centrifuges.

* While still being allowed to work on its plutonium reactor at Arak, Iran would agree not to activate it for six months. The plutonium reactor could provide for another route to nuclear weapon capability.

Breathtaking idiocy.  This allows Iran to get the Pu reactor ready to go while further negotiations take place

* Iran would not use its IR-2 centrifuges that are more advanced and capable of enriching uranium three-to-five times faster than the older model.

Fine.  All that is required is to set up the cascades for bomb production and wait.

If I wanted to come up with a plan that would protect Iran from attack while it prepared for breakout, the above is what I'd propose.

Of course the elite Neville Chamberlain pin-stripers in the State Department love this deal.

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I would add that unless Israel has some remarkable magic up its sleeve, it's paying the price for excessive patience. Israel wanted to allow the futile negotiation process to run out of steam, and to placate the US as long as possible. Now, far more than before, any attack will look to many like sabotage of an actual peace process.