Pluralistic: Raising money for Locus Magazine (06 Dec 2022)

Today's links

A reworked classic red-border Locus Magazine cover; the cover illustration has been replaced with the cover for Red Team Blues, a minimalist image of a man escaping through a keyhole by Will Stahle. The man's face has been replaced with a dotted-line bordered grey oval with a question mark in its center. The Locus issue number has been replaced with Locus's 'Indiegogo 2022' wordmark.

Raising money for Locus Magazine (permalink)

Update: The naming rights/Tuckerization from this fundraiser sold almost immediately after this post went live, so we've added another one.

Update 2: This one sold, too.

Since 1968, Locus magazine has been the paper of record for science fiction, fantasy and horror literature; it's been through several iterations, but the current one – a crowd-supported nonprofit – is the best yet. They're raising $75k on Indiegogo to fund the next year's operations:

I started writing a bimonthly column for Locus in 2006; I've written six columns per year for them ever since, without missing a single one, and every one of them is open access on the same day it comes out in print:

After Locus founder Charles N Brown died in 2009 – in his sleep, on a plane, coming back from an sf con he'd covered for the magazine – his staff took over the magazine and its vast archive of science fiction ephemera and restructured it as a nonprofit. Brown's collection went to Duke University:

The magazine pressed on, continuing as the best source of industry news, thoughtful reviews (including short fiction reviews, a rarity these days) and opinion, as well as its essential annual recommended reading list and its Locus Awards. I devour each issue.

Earlier this year, the editorial team wrote to me and asked me what I could donate to the fundraiser. My contribution is a "Tuckerization" – naming rights for a character – for an upcoming Marty Hench novel, one of the sequels to my forthcoming Red Team Blues (Tor Books, 2023).

Red Team Blues is my first noir novel, a detective story whose hero is Marty Hench, a Silicon Valley forensic accountant who's spent 40 years unwinding every finance scam tech, and who, on the eve of his retirement, is roped into a bloody, deadly cryptocurrency heist.

This is one of my lockdown books (I have seven books forthcoming as of this writing), and it was a wild ride to write. I love noir fiction, but it has an odious side: the prototypical noir hero is a veteran (in early noir, he'll be a WWI vet in the interwar years; in later noir, he's a WWII vet in the 50s or 60s), who has come home to a changed and fallen world.

Everywhere these heroes look, the wrong people are participating in society as his equal: queers, women, people of color. The foundational vibe of noir – a simmering rage at the state of the world – is grounded in incredible, reactionary bigotry.

Marty Hench is also bitter about what his world has become, but the invaders he rails against are the crooked finance bros who leech off of the genuine excitement and creativity of early techies who want to help everyone "seize the means of computation." He is furious at them, and he expresses his fury by unwinding their baroque scams and busting them, but the supply of finance bros is limitless, and for every one he slays, five more pop up.

I finished Red Team Blues in about eight weeks and handed it to my usual first readers, from whom I got unusual responses. The day I finished it, I woke up at 2AM to find my wife sitting up with the bedside lamp on. I asked her what she was doing, and she looked up from the book and said "I had to find out how it ended."

Then I emailed it to my editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. The next day, he emailed me this:



A! Fucking! Ride!


Then he bought it, and two more books in the series.

Now, attentive readers will have noted that Red Team Blues is Marty Hench's last adventure. That means that the rest of the series will be an indeterminate number of prequels, explaining how the Marty Hench of RTB came into being. The next book in the series is The Bezzle, set in the mid-2000s, which sees Marty go up against a corrupt prison IT baron who waxes unimaginably wealthy by eliminating prison mail and visits and replacing them with high-priced, per-minute "visits" and emails on a "free" tablet; I finished the first draft of this one last week.

The book after that, Picks and Shovels, is Marty's first adventure, telling the story of how his obsession with early computers led to him flunking out of MIT, then discovering the miracle of spreadsheets at a community college accounting program. Everyone else in his class wants to use spreadsheets to hide money, but Marty wants to use them to find it.

Marty follows his roommate out to Silicon Valley, where he lands his first job: helping track down an insider threat for an early PC company called The Three Wise Men, a predatory affinity scam run by a Mormon bishop, a Catholic priest and an orthodox rabbi.
The action gets going when Marty figures out that the "insider threat" he's been sent after are on the side of the angels: a rival tech company founded by three women who've left Three Wise Men to compete with it.

They've also left their faith: a queer orthodox woman who renounces due to her rabbi's homophobia, a Mormon woman who leaves the church over its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, and a nun who throws in with radical Liberation Theology over the dirty wars in Central America. This one is about halfway done and will be finished by spring.

Each of these books is a period piece, steeped in a highly specific time and place: Silicon Valley in the grips of the crypto bubble; central California prison towns during the Trump years; San Francisco in the heroic era of the first PC bubble.

The Locus Tuckerization will let you name one of the characters in one of these sequels. It's a chance some (minor) immortality, but more importantly, it's a chance to sustain a magazine that has promoted and aided the careers of every working sf/f/h writer in the field, including and especially me.

It's not just the Tuckerization, of course! There are lots of other wonderful premiums in the crowdfunder:

  • exclusive access to a deleted scene from Mary Robinette Kowal's Spare Man, a signed manuscript for an as-yet unpublished novel, and/or a 30-minute Zoom with Mary Robinette;

  • many signed books from authors' own collections;

  • a signed, handwritten apology from Kelly Robson because she's "soooo sorry they totally wrecked you with their story";

  • a private Zoom chat with legendary editor Ellen Datlow, or sf writers Stephanie Burgis or Justina Ireland;

  • a story critique from award-winning writers Kate Heartfield or Sam J. Miller;

  • a Tuckerization from Wole Talabi.

More awards are going up daily, and the campaign closes in 10 days. As of this writing, they've raised $54,539 of their $75,000 goal.

Hey look at this (permalink)

This day in history (permalink)

#20yrsago Taking pictures of hotels is terrorism*/

#15yrsago Canada’s DMCA won’t get any consumer rights added to it for a decade

#10yrsago Leaked: ITU’s secret Internet surveillance standard discussion draft

#10yrsago Public interest groups fly to Auckland, NZ to meet with TPP negotiators, are only allowed in the building to give a 15-minute joint presentation

#5yrsago Hanging out with Bernie Sanders: it turns out that standing FOR something is a lot more politically important than merely standing AGAINST Trump

#5yrsago A guy tricked Tripadvisor into making his garden shed the top-rated restaurant in London

#5yrsago To build the future, we must escape the present, or, “The bullet hole misconception”

#5yrsago Israeli firm Cyberbit illegally spied on behalf of Ethiopia’s despots, then stored all their stolen data on an unencrypted, world-readable website

#5yrsago (Virtually) No one should ever own an Echo or any other “voice assistant” product

#5yrsago Bell is leading the push to end Canadian Net Neutrality with a secret, extrajudicial Star Chamber that will decide what Canadians can and can’t see

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

  • The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW

  • Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. (92849 words total) – ON PAUSE

  • A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING

  • The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW

  • The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, a nonfiction book about interoperability for Verso. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW

  • Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EXPERT REVIEW

  • Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

  • Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FINAL DRAFT COMPLETE

  • A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause." FINISHED

  • A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues." FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Sound Money

Upcoming appearances:

Recent appearances:

Latest books:

Upcoming books:

  • Red Team Blues: "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books, April 2023

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