The Dreaded Infodump

Exposition is a crucial part of any story. It’s how you create your world and how you share it with your reader. Yet it’s also a great way to bring your narrative flow to a crashing halt and bore anyone who was kind enough to pick up your book. Writers often decry the “infodump”, the long, uninterrupted section of pure exposition which sits in the middle of your tale like an undigested lump of carbs. Yet it sometimes seems like a necessary evil. If you’re writing about a secondary world, especially, you need to convey a lot of setting and character information in a hurry, information your reader cannot be expected to know on their own.

There are a couple solutions to this problem, none of which are entirely satisfactory. One is to simply not do it–to shift the burden to your reader. William Gibson is famous for never explaining any of the crazy concepts he dumps on his readers. I remember reading Neuromancer for the first time and having to constantly check dictionaries and encylopedias to figure out what he was talking about–and nine times out of ten, even that wasn’t enough. Gibson expects you to pick things up from context clues. There’s a good reason why he does this, and it’s not just to frustrate his readers. He writes his stories from the perspective of his characters–characters who already know what an Ono-Sendai Deck is for, and what carbon fiber is and why you would build an airplane out of it. He shoves you into their headspace and this builds an incredible sense of immediacy and presence. He makes you live in his world. He’s a master of this, and lesser authors trying the same trick usually fail. Their work becomes impenetrable and mystifying, and not in a good way.

A more common technique is to use “infodrips” instead. Rather than just blurting out setting data in long multi-paragraph dialogue sections, you can deliver your exposition just a little at a time. A sentence here, a few words there, spread out across action scenes and great character moments. This technique helps keep your readers from feeling like they’re cramming for a pop quiz, and it can be effective–assuming it’s done with proper timing. Infodrips are fine in the first act of a story, and can be used sparingly in the second act. If you’re still delivering vital world-building information in the third act, your readers will (rightly) feel like you’ve been holding out on them. Oh, it turns out that the Sword of the Deathmuncher can only be destroyed by stabbing it into the heart of the Night Glacier? A fact which we don’t find out until the Swordruiner is actually on top of said glacier? Your readers will feel cheated. Additionally, infodripping can make your readers feel like you’re holding their hand as you cross the street. Like you don’t trust them to “get” your story unless you’re constantly explaining every little detail.

The best solution, in my experience, has been to avoid exposition wherever possible. Not by leaving everything obscure, but by grounding my stories to the maximum possible degree. Secondary worlds are wonderful places to get lost in, but by tying them closely to the real world, they become richer and they resonate better with the reader. The fewer things you need to explain, the more your readers will sink into the actual story. Cut back as much exposition as you can. If your character is carrying a Kandisian force-glaive, could you achieve the same effect by saying they’re holding a plain old halberd? Does your story need a High Hierophant of the Seven Tyronian Mysteries, or can you get away with calling them the Space Pope? Maybe you can’t! Maybe there’s a real difference, one super important to your plot. More often than not, however, you can easily use a simpler term or a more relatable concept to the same effect.

Look at your story, at what you’re trying to say with it, at what effect you want to achieve. Think about how to achieve that sense of mystery or emotional truth with more grounded ideas. If you do absolutely need to put something in your story that has to be explained in depth, that’s fine. But do you really need two such things? Three? High concept notions are fun, and can make your story stand out. Putting too many of them in one story, however, leaves you scrambling to explain how they work and how they interact–robbing you of time you could be spending on character arcs and building suspense. Infodumps are evil, kids! And the trick to fighting necessary evils is to isolate them and break them down into smaller problems, whenever possible.

Three Act Structure

There are, of course, an infinite number of ways to write a book. In these articles I’ve been outlining how I do it, because that’s what I know to write about, but there are no binding rules, no arbitrary guidelines. That said, there are some structural… suggestions that can benefit almost any writer. Stories can have more impact when they follow a basic architecture. Even here there are variations. I know people who stick to the twelve stages of the Hero’s Journey. I know writers who like five act structures, because that was good enough for Shakespeare, dammit. Personally I work with the three act structure, which is the simplest and, I think, the most effective.

You can think of three act structure as the beginning, middle, and end of your story. Or the setup, the buildup, and the punchline. I like to think of it this way;

ACT I: Oh, look, I’m in a forest.

ACT II: Oh, no! I’m getting lost in this forest!

ACT III: Oh, look, there’s a way out of this forest.

Perhaps I should elaborate.

Act I of any story is the shortest. Sadly, it also has to do the most work. This is going to make up about 25% of your total word count, but it needs to do the following things: establish all the main characters of your story, as well as the setting, pace, and tone. Establish the problem of the story, as well as the stakes (what happens if the problem is, or isn’t resolved). By the end of act one your protagonist must be stuck on a path that leads to a final conflict. That can mean that the evil mustachio-twirling villain has kidnapped their boyfriend. It can also mean your hero has realized they have a drinking problem, and they’re headed for rock bottom.

Act II is the longest act, the most fun, and absolutely, without question, the most dangerous. Act two is where you develop all your clever ideas, where your protagonist tries out various solutions to the problem (none of which, of course, work). It’s where you have room and time to explore the setting and build character arcs and do all the fun parts of writing… and if you make a misstep, your story will go right off the rails. Act two is a time of steadily increasing tension, modulated with (occasional) moments of relief. All that exploring you’re doing? Imagine a maze with one exit, and all the various paths through the maze MUST lead to that exit, even if they wind a little bit. It’s way too easy for something to go wrong in act two which then sabotages the most important act…

Act III is longer than act one, but shorter than act two. It’s the most laser-focused of your story’s sections and often the easiest one to write–although, perversely enough, it can also be the thing that kills you. When act three begins the die is cast. Your protagonist knows (or thinks they know) how to solve the problem. They have good, compelling reasons why they MUST solve the problem. The stakes have never been higher. The protagonist works at nothing else past this point–they will sacrifice anything to resolve the story. The antagonist (whether you have a bald, cat-stroking villain or a natural disaster like a mudslide) is moving steadily toward an easy win and they have every reason to be confident. Then the magic happens. Somehow (you’d better know how) the protagonist gets the better of the antagonist in a surprise twist and the world is set to rights. Yay! Then you can have a denouement that’s as long or as short as you like (I prefer super-short), and you’re done.

Of course none of this happens by magic. You need to outline your story (if only in your head) before you start writing. You can save yourself a lot of trouble that way. There’s an old bit of writing advice I’ve found to be almost universally true: if there’s a problem in Act III, it’s a problem with Act I. Go back and look and you’ll see you didn’t set something up properly.

I’ll add two corollaries to this chestnut. First: If there’s a problem in Act I, it’s a problem with Act III. If you have trouble making your protagonist believable (could a four year-old really build a rocket to escape the Mars-beasts?) it’s because they’re the wrong person to face down the big antagonist at the end of the tale. If the setting feels off or boring, it’s because it’s too small to hold the ending.

And finally: if there’s a problem in Act II, it’s because you’re writing the wrong story. Act II is for exploration. Often times, you can explore so far you find yourself in a completely different story–maybe the story you really wanted to write in the first place. If this happens, don’t despair! Either go off and write that story instead… or put it aside, somewhere safe, and go back and find where your act II maze got side-tracked, and fix it!

NaNoWriMo Tips

I’m a huge fan of National Novel Writing Month. I think it’s one of the best ways to get people inspired to work on that novel they’ve always dreamed of writing. Structure is a writer’s best friend (even when sometimes it feels like a frenemy).

Every year I try to post daily writing tips for each day in November on my Twitter. You can follow these at @LastTrilobite (you’ll also get all my retweets of things I find interesting or humorous, for no extra charge). Today’s tip, for November 1st, concerns first lines, and I thought I’d expand on that thought here.

The first line of a book is crucial. It’s what gets the reader invested to read the second line… and so on. It’s also incredibly fun to write it because for once it doesn’t have to do multiple things simultaneously (unlike, say, every other line in the story). It does not need to set the tone of the book, introduce the main character, or anything else. It just needs to grab the reader’s attention. Typically you can achieve this best by writing something outrageous or silly or intriguing. The more outlandish the better!

Whatever you do, though, please don’t make it about the weather. “It was a dark and stormy night…” is considered terrible writing for a reason. Unless it’s literally raining frogs or something, just… don’t.

Of course, if you only write one line on day 1 of NaNoWriMo you’re going to get behind in your schedule. You need to think about the second line, too. And the third, and the fourth… in a longer work, you could easily develop that first crazy line for a paragraph or three. But with only 50,000 words in your project, you don’t have time for that. You need to get to the meat of things right away. After that first line, your first paragraph really needs to start doing some work. You’ll need to introduce us to your main character, establish a preliminary setting, and set the tone. It’s a lot to pack into one paragraph, but it can be done if you’re judicious with your sentences.

You’ve got your work cut out for you. So come up with that first crazy line now–just use the first thing that pops into your head. Remember, you can always change it later. Though you probably shouldn’t–if it made your head spin the first time, it’s doing exactly what it needs to do!

Good luck to everyone doing NaNoWriMo this year, and keep at it!

Singularity 3GS

“Please, please come in. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Water? Okay. Let’s just have a seat. We have a lot to discuss and a couple of decisions to make, but I assure you, we’ll keep this as painless as possible. You’ve come to the right place.

“I might begin by offering my condolences. No, maybe that’s not what you expect to hear from me! Ha, ha, yes, but seriously—this is a time of transition for your grandmother, and regardless of what we decide today, there will be some grieving. It’s a natural thing, a human thing, to feel a sense of loss. Even for those of us lucky enough to live in these times. These days, when death has finally lost most of its sting… but not all. I understand exactly how you’re feeling right now. I went through this same process with my father, a few years ago, and I can tell you right now—what you’re feeling is natural. Your grandmother has died, yes. But that doesn’t have to be permanent, not anymore.

“Let me just bring up some graphics on the screen, here, this is just… well, call it inspirational. Are you religious? No? Okay, let me click through these first twenty or so images. Here. This is our facility. Yes, I agree, it looks nice. It’s very quiet—though, not silent, per se. If you ever come to visit the data center, and I hope you will, you might be surprised to hear music playing in the hallways, in the employee areas, even in the server rack warehouse itself. That’s for the benefit of our workers. Some of them report a, well, eerie feeling being around all those resting souls. It’s a purely psychological effect, there’s nothing ghostly or spectral about the work. Mostly our employees spend their days checking the servers, making sure they stay cool, making sure the emergency backup batteries are fully charged. We can’t afford an outage, not even for a moment! Unfortunately, the way the process works, if we ever lost power, well. If a stored personality is ever, you know, switched off, it’s impossible to boot it up again. One of the little problems in the system that we’re always working on.

“I’ve taken the liberty of examining your grandmother’s social media profile, I hope you don’t mind. I wanted to get a sense of how she might fit in at our facility. Ha ha, that’s kind of a little joke we have. I see that she worked in information technology back in the early, wild west days of the internet. Amazing what they accomplished back then, really amazing. And I see she was a fan of science fiction films. That would explain why you’re here. Most people of your grandmother’s generation wouldn’t have made this choice, much less written it into their wills. Though honestly I find that a little surprising. Death is forever, as they say. But now it doesn’t have to be.

“Your grandmother can live forever. And I mean that perfectly literally. Forever. I want you to think about that. She’ll be around when your grandchildren are old. She’ll be around to see the sun burn out. As long as she’s taken care of in our facility. And there aren’t any power hiccups.

“Let’s not worry about that, shall we? I assure you, we take the most extreme measures to avoid any power loss, even for a moment. For the reason I mentioned earlier, yes. So let’s not worry about that. I want to talk to you instead about the packages we have to offer, and the upgrade schedule you can see in this slide here, and—

“Will you be able to talk to her. Well. In a limited sense, I mean, you can talk to her all you like but—her ability to talk back will be limited. There’s a little light on the front of her server. It blinks when she knows someone is there. That’s something, right? We can have a webcam set up to monitor that light, yes, that’s actually part of our Heaven 17 package, and of course it’s included if you purchase Cloud 9 maintenance insurance, and—

“No, I’m sorry, you won’t be able to see her or interact with her. She’ll exist as a layer of information on top of a silicon substrate from now on, and… I know, it’s a lot of jargon to process all at once. Let’s just say that there won’t be anything to actually see. Or hear. But her consciousness will live on forever. Let’s stay focused on that—

“No, no, I get this all the time, but no—she won’t be interacting with any other of our resting souls. That would require far too much processing power, power we need to keep the souls active. Alone? Will she be all alone in there? Well, yes, technically, but as I said earlier, she will have some dim consciousness of the existence of other people near her server rack. We’re not exactly sure how, but we know it has to be true. That’s what the blinking light is for. So let’s not use the word ‘alone’. That makes it sound so grim, when what we have on offer here is—

“I really think we need to stay focused. This is immortality. We are offering the cure to the greatest affliction humankind has ever known. We are offering a cure for nonexistence. For oblivion. For death.

“I see. I mean, I think I understand. Yes, it might seem like a limited existence. But surely it’s better than the alternative. And it’s not like she’ll lack for stimulation. Honestly, we tried that with our first generation product, just keeping the resting souls in a state of sensory deprivation, as it were. Imagine just a featureless white room, and nothing to look at or hear, and you can’t even look down at your own body because you don’t have one anymore. It’s… yes. It was pretty grim. And we discovered that it just didn’t work. A human mind, in the absence of any stimulus, well, it goes insane pretty quickly. If it can, it shuts down. I mean, when we gave the first generation of resting souls the opportunity to shut down, well, they did all take it. Immediately. But let’s not focus on that. We’ve come a long way since then.

“Your grandmother will be given constant stimulation. We feed in video and audio streams twenty-four seven. Oh, we try to keep the program varied. Mostly, though, it’s just old anime shows from the 1980s. I’m sorry? No, no, I understand. Like I said I saw your grandmother’s profile. I know she would have preferred classic movies, perhaps, or just music, but we can’t, at this time, offer personalized stimulation feeds. We have a strategic partnership with a company that owns the rights to, really, a startling amount of anime from the 80s. Honestly, it’s kind of fun! So retro!

“Other kinds of feeds? What other kinds of feeds are possible? I’m not sure what you’re asking, specifically. What, like virtual reality? Oh, no, ha ha, no, no no no, it won’t be like that. We have nearly ten thousand resting souls in our facility alone. Can you imagine the processing power it would take to provide them with a virtual world, twenty-four hours a day? Oh, no, that’s quite beyond the—

“Twenty-four hours, yes.

“No. They don’t sleep in there. No, the reasons are, well, technical. But they’re related to the problem with, ah, power hiccups. Basically, if we don’t keep the resting souls constantly running, that is to say, if their programs ever stop we… well, we don’t have any way to start them up again. So no, they don’t sleep. On the plus side, they don’t need to eat, either, or groom themselves or—or—yes, I understand, you hadn’t thought about that before now. That your grandmother will never brush her teeth again. I know, it’s these little prosaic things that we never consider, that bother us now. Please. Take your time. I’m just going to bring up this next slide, which concerns the financial packages we have on offer.

“Hmm? Financial, yes. Well, we are talking about eternity here, and that’s a very long time. We’ll need to set up some kind of direct deposit system to cover the weekly fees, not to mention the yearly surcharges and then any upgrade package pricing you might want to consider. We suggest, and this is purely optional, we suggest setting up some kind of endowment now. Our investment package can help match inflation and make sure your grandmother is protected for a very, very long time. Of course, any investment may lose money, I’m required to say that. But an endowment really is best. Otherwise, your children, and your grandchildren, and their grandchildren can make modest contributions to your grandmother’s upkeep on a week-by-week basis. It’s up to you. Let me bring up this next slide.

“Yes, that’s what we’re looking at, not including taxes, fees, and package upgrades. Yes. Per week.

“I understand. It’s a big decision I’m asking you to make. I don’t want to pressure you. But I do think it’s important to note at this juncture that the harvesting procedure—that is, the process by which we read your grandmother’s personality state directly from her brain tissue—has to be done within the first twenty-four hours post mortem. Otherwise there could be… glitches. After forty-eight hours the procedure is impossible. So we need to act quickly. Unless you want your beloved grandmother to just… die, like people used to do. Unless you want her to just be gone. Forever.

“You can sign here. A thumb print is fine. We’ll take it from here—you don’t need to do anything else. What’s that? The… the body? Ah, well, it’s sort of, you know, used up in the procedure. You really don’t want it back, once we’re done with it.

“It’s been lovely getting to meet you today. And please, when your own time comes, when you’re ready—please let your children know that I’ll be here. Waiting. Waiting and ready to serve your own post mortem needs.”

FORBIDDEN SUNS is out now!

FORBIDDEN SUNS, the thrill-packed conclusion to the Silence trilogy, is available now wherever books are sold. This third volume finds Commander Lanoe closer than ever to his long-sought revenge–and to saving the human race. Can he trust his new allies to see him through the fight? Can even a legendary fighter pilot take on an entire alien species and hope to survive? What is Tannis Valk becoming, and will it be a friend or foe? All the answers are here. The epic story ends with a final confrontation beyond anything you’ve seen in FORSAKEN SKIES and FORGOTTEN WORLDS!

Also available as an eBook.

The Lessons of Creepypasta

First there were campfire stories–which probably date back to the invention of language. These begat “urban legends”: the Hook, the call coming from inside the house. The Russian scientists who accidentally drilled into hell. Stories without authors, folk tales for a more scientific age. Creepypasta is the direct descendant of that canon. It has its own unique features, true. Typically creepypasta does have a listed author. Like all things in the internet age it competes with itself–stories get ratings, get YouTube reviews. Get followers. Creepypasta generates fan art, and derivative works, and even wikis. Yet creepypasta is experienced best the same way these stories ever were: alone in the dark, shared from friend to friend as a kind of rite of passage. Maybe you can’t toast marshmallows with the light from a touchscreen, but you can still scare yourself silly.

As a horror author I’m fascinated by these stories. So often they’re dismally written and threadbare. Sometimes, though, they pack a terrible, visceral punch in such a short word count. A good creepypasta is like horror haiku.

I want to explore some of the things I’ve learned from reading far too much creepypasta. Below I’ll make reference to many of the stories as if you’ve already read them. If you haven’t, they can be easily googled, so I won’t bother with synopses.

Creepypasta is Fast Fiction

The best pastas are short and to the point. They don’t waste time on deep character studies or establishing mood. You’re already a little scared, clicking the link. That’s enough. We get, typically, a nameless narrator setting up the plot, then a scene or two of rising tension, followed by a big nasty reveal. In many ways creepypasta shares its structure with jokes more than short stories: introduction, complication, punchline. Candle Cove is less than a page, in its earliest (and best) versions. Slenderman is mostly just a couple of forum posts. Longer works like the Russian Sleep Experiment still hold out the promise of a final awful epiphany, but as is the rule in all things, the bigger the buildup the bigger the resolution had better be. Longer pastas are routinely downvoted. Fans come for the quick rush of fear–boring your readers is the kiss of death.

Lots of Villains, No Heroes

Jeff the Killer, Slenderman, the Inverted Mickey of Abandoned by Disney–creepypasta loves its monsters. They tend to be visually interesting (it’s easier to make fan art, that way) and often their mere appearance is enough to scare the narrator into running or screaming or having a heart attack. In fact, we rarely see them at work. Their crimes are often second-hand, mere rumors of atrocity. A bloody mouth or a wild look in the eyes is enough. If we never actually see what they do, our imaginations can run wild–a man with a hatchet is scary, a man chopping up body parts is just, in Raymond Carver’s wonderful phrase, “popular mechanics”. Furthermore it might push focus onto the victim, which is a big no-no in creepypasta. While the killers may be richly, even floridly described the victims and especially the narrators are usually cyphers–they almost never have actual names, nor are we ever told what they look like. They exist on the other side of your computer screen, speaking to you through anonymous media. The fact that the killer pushes through into reality is the scariest thing about them.

Stakes are High, or Pointless

If the protagonist actually wants something in a creepypasta, the stakes in a story tend to be ridiculous, to justify potentially suicidal behavior. In one version of No-End House, you win an astonishing amount of money if you can make it through to the final room (you won’t). Some protagonists, like Orpheus, want to find and restore their dead or missing loved ones (it never works). More often than not, though, there are no stakes at all. Protagonists exist in creepypasta for one reason: to regret their own curiosity–which, of course, makes them us, copies their identity onto the reader who similarly was unwise enough to click on a link they knew would scare them. In many pastas the inciting motive of the “hero” is a simple compulsion. They couldn’t not look, they couldn’t not explore the abandoned Disney park, they couldn’t resist opening that letter with no return address or looking at the one image file on the thumb drive. They exist simply as puppets of fate, victims of a universe that actively wishes their demise.

The Universe is Self-Aware, and it Hates You

If Lovecraft dragged horror fiction into the twentieth century, he did it by throwing away the religious and mystical baggage of the nineteenth. God couldn’t save you from Cthulhu and holy water didn’t kill space vampires. The universe is a cold and uncaring place, and you are contemptibly small. Creepypasta, as the horror literature of the twenty-first century, wants to take it a step farther. The cosmos isn’t just a cold void, it’s also a seething mass of disdain and hatred. There is only one way to survive the events of a pasta, and that is to be left alive so you can tell the tale (and even then, you know the evil hasn’t forgotten you, and your time is limited). Many pastas, like Return to Earth, don’t even allow that level of grace–the narrator is telling his story to no one, watching his own demise creep closer, knowing that no one will ever hear what he says. Reality in creepypasta is fluid, malleable, but it only ever bends one way–toward destroying you. No one in a creepypasta ever learned a spell from the Necronomicon to push the nasty things away. And where Lovecraft saw a kind of hope in ignorance–a delusion that brought blissful sleep–in pastaland the horrors seek you out, through message board posts and text messages. There’s no way to escape, or even deny what’s happening.

Style: Distance and Outsiderness

Creepypasta always comes at a remove. The story you’re reading started with someone noticing a strange link on a web page, or they find hidden files on a game cartridge. Candle Cove’s entire substance is just the narrator remembering a strange television show from their youth. The writers of these stories know that you’re bored with real life. They know you think the world is empty of the supernatural, and so they build a firewall between you and the horror–one which always turns out to be more permeable than you thought. Distancing techniques can also add verisimilitude to a story. The great evolution of creepypasta, the SCP wikia, follows a rigidly anti-entertainment format (there’s a reason the containment procedures come first) and an enforced clinical tone to separate you from the horror. Then it pulls the floor out from under you. It’s a great trick. Because pastas are “documents” that you, the reader, have found you can open them safely, but their very artifactual nature makes them seem more realistic, and therefore less escapable. They force you to engage with, and even participate in, the squick. Creepypasta that eschews the clinical tone has its own distancing technique, one based on reader expectation. The best pastas use their outsider status to great effect. This isn’t some polished story that Stephen King sent to an editor for feedback. This is the breathless recounting of a desperate survivor. A madman’s ravings that no publisher would ever touch. The narrator announces at the beginning that no one would ever believe what he has to say–forcing the reader to enter into a devil’s bargain, the one wedding guest who was forced to listen to the Ancient Mariner.

Conclusions for Horror Writers

Creepypasta is very much an anti-style, a kind of radical reimagining of horror that places it outside the more traditional, more established venues for writing. Channel Zero, SyFy’s attempt to turn pastas into television (just like Freaky Links before it, and a dozen other attempts), misses the central point of the creepypasta format–that it’s something you discover in secret, something you weren’t supposed to see. Not something that gets endless promos and celebrity hype on basic cable. Horror writers can’t just lift creepypasta for their own ends–it’s a type of storytelling that only works in short chunks on a computer screen. Yet there are lessons to take away here, messages from a new wave of horror fandom that has its own values and desires. As horror writers, whether we work in novels or short stories, we’d be foolish not to look at the audience reaction to creepypasta and tailor our work to appeal to this new generation of horror fans. We can respond to the cosmic malevolence of creepypasta, eschewing the more rationalistic horrors of the past. We can examine distancing techniques for use in our own work, and rethink the levels of deep characterization we give to our protagonists (rethink, mind you, not necessarily abandon). If nothing else, creepypasta can serve as wonderful inspiration. I’ve read enough horror novels in my life that I’ve gotten pretty jaded. Evil clowns and zombies don’t really scare me anymore. I’ll freely admit that the pictures of Slenderman did, that Abandoned by Disney got my pulse elevated. Creepypasta works as an incredible laboratory examining what still scares us–and what always will.

Come see Dave at New York Comic Con!

Yes, it’s true–you can come see me, David Wellington/D. Nolan Clark, talk and make jokes at NYCC2017!

I’ll be doing a panel on Friday, October 6, 1:30 PM in room 1a24. What will this panel be about, you ask? Here’s the official description from the NYCC site:

The best science fiction novels pull from current events and make readers question Could this terrifying, alternate reality come true? With the resurgence of movies and TV shows like Blade Runner 2049 and The Handmaid’s Tale, great works of dystopian fiction shine a light on global issues that affect and impact us all (socially, economically, politically, and environmentally). Petra Mayer of NPR explores the likelihood of the possible futures envisioned by Paolo Bacigalupi (Tool of War), Amy S. Foster (The Rift Frequency), Lauren Oliver (Ringer), Scott Reintgen (Nyxia), and D. Nolan Clark (Forsaken Skies).

Come by and hear what we have to say! I will absolutely be available afterwards to sign books or just chat. I look forward to seeing you there!