Europa or Bust

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This is the first image from Juno, NASA’s new probe to Jupiter. In it, you can see the solar system’s largest planet (Jupiter, obvs), the solar system’s most volcanically active body (Io, first spec to the right), and arguably the solar system’s best patch of real-estate to search for extraterrestrial life (Europa).

I say the best patch to search for ET around our star for several reasons. First of all, Europa has an ENORMOUS subsurface ocean, totaling as much as twice the volume of Earth’s oceans of liquid water and, even more encouragingly, resembling them in chemical composition as well. And unlike Mars, the potential biosphere beneath Europa’s ice has been actively stewing for billions of years.

Also unlike Mars, the odds of cross contamination from another body into Europa’s oceans are slim. Any ancient bacteria hitching a ride on a meteorite knocked loose from Mars or Earth would have to contend with not only the intense radiation belts surrounding Jupiter (Jupiter actually puts out MORE energy in radiation than it receives as light from the Sun), but it would have to have penetrated many kilometers of rock-hard, solid ice.

Which, for my money, makes Europa the best candidate for a true, second genesis of life in our solar system that arose independently of any life forms found on Earth. Thanks to pioneering work done by NASA’s Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers, we know with a high degree of certainty that long ago, Mars had a warm, wet environment with a thick atmosphere many tens or hundreds on millions of years ahead of the point Earth reached habitability.

I would not be surprised at all to learn the life started there and then an asteroid impact made Earth and Mars into kissing cousins, swapping spit and mouth bacteria back and forth for millions of years. which means there’s a good chance that no mater which one life actually started on was the single point of origin. Which would be an amazing discovery, but would tell us nothing concrete about the prevalence of life in the rest of the universe.

Europa probably watched on in envy as the action between Earth and Mars heated up, but couldn’t join in. Which means (probably) that if there IS life in the dark waters under Europa’s ice, it was entirely home brewed. And THAT would mean life developed independently, twice, in the same solar system, within a few billion years, likely far fewer. And THAT would mean that the universe is absolutely lousy with life. As saturated with it as a teenaged boy’s crumpled sock.

Amazingly, initial funding for a Europa mission has gotten through Congress. And since it’s well after 2010 and we haven’t gotten any  cryptic “All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there,” messages, I for one can hardly fucking wait for it to launch. And for the love of God, can we stop letting the robots do all the cool exploration jobs? Let’s get alien dirt under our fingernails, people.

Oh, and if you want a masterful fictional exploration into the sorts of things that might be swimming around in Europa’s oceans, go buy A DARKLING SEA by James L. Cambias. It has not one, but two of the most expertly crafted alien societies I have ever read.

I’m Done Apologizing for Star Trek

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“You were one of those Star Trek nerds in high school.”

So, as one or two of you might know, I get into little scraps on the internet from time to time. Usually it’s because someone is being a douche about one or more social or political issues important to me.

Anyway, long story short, at some point in all of this the target usually gets mad, frustrated, and completely abandons any pretext of trying to defend their position and instead start digging through my public profile looking for things they believe will embarrass or discredit me. And something almost every brototype or ex-quarterback with blown-out knees eventually settles on is my Star Trek fandom.

“You were one of those Star Trek nerds in High School!” They shout, convinced it’s going to be the silver bullet that will finally slay their nemesis and send me scurrying for cover. Trouble is, that doesn’t work anymore, because I’m done apologizing for Star Trek.

Let’s set aside the fact these man-children continue to retain an unhealthy fixation on the social hierarchies that defined them as teenagers and focus on the accusation itself. Star Trek fandom was supposed to be a mark of shame, proof of status as a social pariah.

And you know what? They’re right. I was one of those Star Trek nerds in High School. I was one of those nerds in Grade School. And now at thirty-six, I’m still one of those nerds. And I couldn’t be more proud of it.

I’ve seen every episode, of every series (including the animated series), and every movie. I’ve been building kits and even scratch-building ships for twenty-five years. And not only that, but I’ve met several of the actors. I’ve become friends with people who have written episodes for Star Trek, novels for Star Trek, done graphic design for Star Trek, built filming miniatures for Star Trek. The voice talent who records my own novels for Audible.com was a character actor on both Next Gen and Voyager. I’ve built relationships with people who have helped create and shape one of the most enduring, popular, and prolific television and movie properties in the entire history of those mediums.

Yeah, you can say I’m a fan. Why in the hell should I be expected to be embarrassed for it? Star Trek has been one of the most consistent voices for tolerance, moderation, inclusiveness, empathy, and basic human decency throughout my life.

Captain Kirk taught me that real men don’t throw the first punch, but they sure as hell throw the last one. Commander Spock taught me the value of patience, logic, and controlling one’s passions.

I watched Next Gen week after week as new episodes aired. And over the course of those seven seasons, I watched an implacable Klingon warrior become a loving father without giving up what made him strong. I watched a blind African American and an albino android become the closest of friends and confidants. I saw a bald Frenchman talk through crisis after crisis with sworn enemies without a shot fired or loss of life to either side, saving people who only hours before wouldn’t have spit on him if he were on fire, and I never once questioned his masculinity for finding a peaceful solution instead of rushing into a fight.

I saw humans, aliens, and androids coming together, embracing their differences, growing to respect and trust one another as compatriots, then friends, and eventually family. And becoming unstoppable somewhere along the way.

And now I’ve learned that one of my favorite starship captains, Sulu, is in a same-sex relationship and raising a family with his partner, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Those examples have never left me. They are the foundation of my values and morality, and my unshakable belief that we are stronger together. That our differences are superficial and illusionary. That infinite diversity in infinite combinations is a noble goal. And that those that seek to separate and divide us are holding us back from our ultimate destiny out among the stars.

These beliefs shape my politics, my comedy, and especially my writing. As angry as I may seem at times, as cynical and short-tempered, it’s all due to impatience. Because I’m in a rush. A hurry to see my world, our world, reach out to the future I know humanity has waiting for it once we put away all this bullshit and embrace our shared, collective potential.

Yeah, I’m a Star Trek fan. And I’m done apologizing for it, because there’s absolutely nothing to apologize for. Here’s to fifty more years.

We miss you, Spock, Scotty, and Bones.

THE ARK, TRIDENT’S FORGE and The Canopus Awards

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Hey everybody. Sooo… last year the folks over at the 100 Starship Project launched their own Sci-Fi Award called the Canopus to recognize both short and long fiction that expands the conversation and cause of interstellar travel. Well, nominations are open now, and both THE ARK and TRIDENT’S FORGE are eligible works for this year’s award.

So, if you read and enjoyed either, and honestly believe they’re worthy of award consideration, I would really appreciate it if you could head over to their site and fill out the nomination form. THE ARK was published in 2015, while TRIDENT’S FORGE was published in 2016. Both are classified as long form works over 40,000 words.

Oh, and to see what one of the members of the 100 Year Starship Project thought of THE ARK, go here and read his review.

The number of nominations each work gets matters, and it would be immensely helpful for the future success of the series just to wind up on the short list. That’s all for now. I’ll keep you posted about how it goes. Love you guys!

UPDATE: The nomination period has been extended to October 15th! Hurry up and nominate your favorite books!

Too Soon!

“Too soon!”

It’s a phrase I hear a lot as a comedian and blogger, usually shouted from the back of a darkened club, or posted in a comment thread. I hear it after topical jokes, or posts about current events. It’s been repeated so often that it’s become a joke in and of itself.

Whenever a tragedy occurs, be it a terrorist attack, a school shooting, or another example of police brutality, there are always people who come out of the woodwork to say it’s too soon to talk about this, too soon to joke about it, too soon to politicize it.

Sometimes the people saying it are well-meaning, trying to take the feelings of victims or their families into consideration. Other times they’re opponents of change who just want to shut down an uncomfortable conversation that runs counter to their interests.

What they’re actually saying is it’s too soon to publicly acknowledge that there’s a problem. Too soon to start taking the steps necessary to fix it. Too soon to do anything about it.

But it’s when public emotions and attention are at their height can they most effectively be leveraged to affect lasting change. Waiting strips social movements of the critical energy they need to overcome the indifference and institutional momentum inherent to the status quo of any society. Waiting means risking yet another atrocity happening the next day, or the next week, resetting the clock once more and leaving real change eternally waiting for a lull long enough for critics of conversation to deem it respectful to open dialogue once more.

Too soon kicks the can down the road. Too soon defends the status quo. Too soon ensures it will always be too late.

Hillary Clinton, the ACA, and the Importance of the Middle

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Well, that thing I’ve been saying was going to happen for months? It happened. Hillary Clinton is now the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, earning clear majorities of both pledged delegates and the popular vote. She takes a historic place as the first female presidential candidate of a major American party.

And boy, do people hate her for it.

The level of vitriol, slander, character-assassination, and outright propaganda Clinton has faced over the last twenty-five years in the public spotlight is without precedent. Only Barack Obama has been run through a similar gauntlet of irrational hatred, only his started in earnest in 2007, not 1992.

Even more bizarrely, and despite most of her policy positions being slightly to the left of President Obama, the anger and hatred being directed at Clinton is coming from both extremes of the political spectrum  in almost equal measure, with the #NeverHillary idiots being made up of disillusioned Sanders supporters and rabid Trump bobble-heads in almost equal parts.

This is, quite simply, ridiculous. Clinton’s voting record during her time as a NY Senator was one of the most reliably liberal in congress. Her time in the White House as First Lady was spent largely working towards her goal of ushering in Universal Healthcare, derided as “HillaryCare” by Republicans at the time, a dry run for their attacks on “ObamaCare” more than a decade later.

Which, as it happens, is a surprisingly good analogy for Clinton herself.

Like the Dem’s presumptive nominee, the ACA remains a deeply divisive, even unpopular piece of legislation opposed by the extreme left almost as reflexively as it is loathed by the extreme right. Progressives see the law as merely reinforcing the status quo and being a huge taxpayer funded windfall for the health insurance industry. Conservatives see the law as the very embodiment of communism and a complete government takeover of the healthcare system. Nevermind that it was their goddamned idea.

Guess what? They’re both fucking wrong. The ACA is far from perfect, and work remains ahead to fix some of the issues that have arisen since implementation. But overall the law has succeeded in curtailing the worst abuses of the old for-profit healthcare system, has expanded coverage to many millions of more people, seen the health insurance cost curve bend downwards for the first time in decades, shaved hundreds of billions of dollars off the long term debt, while extending the solvency of the Medicare and Medicaid trust funds years into the future.

Yet despite these obvious and irrefutable successes, the law still faces unflinching opposition from both sides, with Republicans in congress voting more than sixty times to repeal or defund it, and some progressives openly calling for its removal in the deluded hope that destroying what progress has been made will somehow trigger a revolution that leads them to the Single Payer promised land.

Does that sound familiar? Because it should.

Tea Party Republicans and Bernie Bros both loathe Hillary, but see almost completely different things while they look at her. One sees a gun-grabbing, tax-and-spend socialist on par with Senator Sanders in her zeal to turn America into a communist concentration camp, while the other sees a 1% out-of-touch millionaire beholden to big business donors with no regard for anyone who doesn’t belong to a yacht club.

These caricatures are, naturally, mutually exclusive and cannot represent the same person in reality. Yet they persist, to the point that Republicans are endorsing someone even they have had to admit is openly and nakedly racist, while many on the left are cheering on the prospect of the combover fascist winning because they again falsely believe that they destruction he would inflict would lead them four short years later to the utopian paradise they feel was stolen from them when Bernie lost.

This reasoning is, in short, completely insane. It is also transparently privileged, coming as it overwhelmingly does from the sort of straight, white, males that wouldn’t actually have to directly suffer any of the consequences that would result from crowning a xenophobic, nationalistic, authoritarian, misogynist, racist, war-mongering shit cannon as our Chief Executive for four years.

In the end, these extreme representations of Clinton’s record and career say far more about the people who hold them than they do about the candidate herself. And, just like the ACA, while Clinton is not what either pole of the spectrum wanted, she is what was possible at this moment in time. She is an immensely superior option compared to the alternative, and she will likely end up doing a tremendous amount of good for the country as a whole because she is moderate enough to appeal to the mass of people in the center, meaning she will actually try to get shit done instead of worrying about passing some sort of arbitrary partisan purity test.

Because like it or not, that’s how our democracy was designed to work from the onset. The entire system is built around making large, rapid changes nearly impossible. To tamper down fleeting passions of the electorate and only allow those decisions that have overwhelming acceptance and public support from ALL corners of the country to more forward. That was always the plan. Clinton gets that.

I look forward to calling her Madam President and seeing what she can do.

 

The Art of Throwing Your Books at People

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So, you’re a published author. Congratulations, that’s amazing! Now comes time for a whole new world of anxiety! What’s my Amazon ranking today? How many eBooks are selling? How many Goodreads ratings do I have? Is that enough? Oh, Gods, I don’t have context for any of these numbers!

Yeah, fun times are ahead. Either fortunately or unfortunately, there’s very little an author can do directly to move those numbers. And trying too hard with over-promotion can actually hurt your relationship with your existing audience, (I have probably been as guilty of this as anyone in the early going here).

But never fear. There is an exception. With very little effort, you can become your own best-selling bookstore!

With most book contracts these days, an author will get a predetermined number of free copies of their book from the publisher to distribute to friends and family, use in promotional giveaways, etc. The number varies, but twenty is a good starting point. The great part about selling these copies is they didn’t cost you a penny, so every dollar collected goes straight into your pocket and adds to the money you’ve already made off of the advance, even if the book never earns out.

I ran out of my author copies very quickly and had to replace them if I was to keep selling. In the case of my publisher, I was able to set up a vendor account and reorder new copies just as though I was a bookstore. I also received them for a 50% author discount, or again, what the publisher would have charged a retail bookstore. So each copy cost me $4. Once you reach this stage, there’s always the risk you’ll be stuck with copies you can’t sell, so I’d advise keeping your reorder quantities low until you have a handle on how often and how many books you can expect to sell. No more than twenty. There are advantages to ordering your own as well. First, they count as sales as far as the publisher is concerned. Second, you actually get paid on them twice, once with the mark-up you charge your customer, and again from the royalty you earn from your publisher. In my case, for each of these books I sell directly, I’ve not only made $4, but another 10% of the cover price goes towards paying off my advance and speeding up the day my books earn out and I start getting royalty checks. So win, win, there.

In the last eight weeks alone, I’ve sold more than sixty physical copies at $8 a pop or both for $14, and an unknown number of eBook and audiobook downloads, (not including another 100+ copies I’ve sold working my publisher’s booth at C2E2 and Emerald City Comic Con in that same time). This has meant almost a month’s rent in cash, just because I had books available when people asked.

I have some advantage in this other authors may not enjoy in that my comedy career frequently puts me in front of new audiences. Instead of selling T-shirts or comedy albums as people are filing out, I sell books. The advantages are numerous. Not only are people who buy a book walking away with a memento, but they’ve now had a personal interaction with me. We’ve shaken hands, and they’ve shelled out money for something I’ve created, strengthening my brand as both a comedian and an author, and increasing the odds that they’ll come back for more of both in the future.

However, even if you don’t perform regularly, there are still plenty of opportunities to move some paper yourself. Here’s some of the tips I’ve learned in the process:

1. Always have copies on you:

You never know when you’re going to run into a potential customer. In the last two months, I’ve sold books at bars, coffee shops, a writer’s group, the gym, and even a grocery store. It’s impossible to know when a casual conversation might naturally turn to discussing your own work. When it does, you have to be ready for the chance someone shows interest. Keep a couple of copies in your car, or in a bag. Always have at least one handy.

2. Keep cash on hand:

Along with having copies around, always make sure to have some cash on your person to make quick change. I keep about $20 in my wallet now, broken down into a ten, five, and ones, so I can handle it if someone pulls out a Tubman ($20).

3. Get a card reader:

Seriously, do this right now. Many if not most people these days, myself included, have moved beyond cash and instead use cards for all of their daily transactions. Limiting yourself to cash limits your opportunities to sell. But fear not, there are cheap and easy solutions out there. For example, I use a Square card reader that plugs right into my smart phone and lets me accept any major credit or debit card. The hardware and app was free, and they only charge a reasonable 2% fee on each purchase. There are readers available that can take chip cards now, and the app had advanced to the point that it can take and store transaction even if you’re not connected to the internet. PayPal and several other companies have similar services available.

4. Always project abundance:

This next bit doesn’t apply to the grocery store or gym, but does apply to anywhere you’re going to set up a display or table, like a library or school appearance, or a book club or writer’s group meeting. In these situations where you’d expect that quite a few people may be interested in buying your book, always bring more copies than you realistically expect to sell. I don’t mean a combat air drop, just a few. Why? Because selling out of your supply feels like a great accomplishment until you realize that it probably cost you additional sales. This is a lost opportunity cost, and it sucks. Further, when people look at your table, they should see an ample supply. It may be counter intuitive, but that abundance tells their brain that the product is appealing. Think about it. What’s more visually attractive when you’re out shopping? Fully stocked shelves, or empty racks? Which are you going to be more likely to spend your money on?

5. Bring cards:

It a truth of the modern literary marketplace that there is a small but significant fraction of consumers who no longer buy physical books, preferring instead either eBooks, or a growing number of people who consume all of their books on audio. Don’t let these potential sales slip through your grip. Make sure to always have a supply of business cards or other mementos with links to your website, email, and titles of your books to hand out when physical copies aren’t an option. That way, your potential reader will walk away without having t remember the specifics of your name or book title. It doesn’t guarantee a sale, but it increases the odds that they’ll hit up the Kindle or Nook store and add you to their download queue.

6. You don’t have to be a used car salesman:

In addition to my time spent shouting at people on stage, I was also in sales in a past life, selling everything from sports cars to Medicare Supplements. It’s brutal work. So I can tell you honestly, this is nothing like that. You don’t have to be a larger-than-life personality, or a shameless huckster, to sell your own books. People don’t need the hard sell here. Average, ordinary conversations can very organically lead to people asking you for a copy. As long as you can be at least mildly comfortable talking about your work, odds are good you’ll never really have to try and close the sale. The reader will usually do it for you.

So, that’s what I’ve learned over the last two months. I hope it was useful. Now, go forth and hand sell. Make money! Become famous!

Oh, and buy my book.

Follow Patrick on Twitter @stealthygeek.

 

Bernie Sanders Has Hillary Right Where He Wants Her

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Bernie Sanders is on the verge of an unprecedented political upset that will propel his vision for America forward for the next eight years. He has the potential to completely transform the political landscape for a generation or more. Bernie has Hillary right where he wants her.

Wait, calm down. I’m not talking about the primaries. Oh hell no. His campaign for President is fuckin’ toast, you guys. Has been since March 14th, at the latest. Since 1972, no candidate who trailed in the Democratic primary after the first 10% of pledged delegates were awarded has come back to win the nomination. Proportional delegate allocation makes it far too steep a hill to climb. We’re way past the two thirds mark at this point. He’s down by three million votes and more than three hundred pledged delegates, to say nothing at all of the Supers. It’s not happening. Stop kidding yourselves.

No, the victory I’m talking about goes much deeper than a single office, and will have a much longer-lasting impact. If you’re savvy enough to make it happen.

Despite coming up short in the primary race, Bernie has accomplished something extraordinary. Something that hasn’t happened in my thirty-six years living in this country. For the first time in my life, a populist movement has coalesced around a truly left-wing, liberal candidate and his socialist policies (yes, yes, democratic socialist. I’m not using it as a slur). Candidate Obama in 07/08 primed the pump for this movement in many ways, even if President Obama, faced with the realities of politics in DC, had to back away from many of his loftier goals in order to accomplish anything in the midst of historic levels of partisan gridlock.

Eight years later, along came Bernie Sanders. Suddenly, free college education, a living wage, universal single-payer healthcare, and serious attempts to manage income inequality are on the forefront of voters’ minds across the country, and across the political spectrum. Bernie has managed to pull the political conversation, indeed the social consciousness of the country to the left for the first time in a generation or more. He has expanded what is considered “acceptable” political discourse into territory that the American population has not explored in any serious way since the beginning of the Cold War.

Some of that is simply a result of the passage of time. Millennials are the first generation to grow up never knowing a world without the U.S.A.  sitting squarely at the top of the economic, military, and cultural pyramid as a lone and unopposed superpower. They didn’t grow up seeped in anti-communism propaganda and all of the negative associations that go along with it. The old “Red Scare” rhetoric about the existential threats posed by communism sounds like an old-timey news reel to the Reddit and Snapchat crowds.

Further, Millennials are the first American generation  who are projected to do worse on average than their parents, both professionally and economically. Despite being the most highly-educated generation in history, they face massive college debt, slim job prospects, soaring home prices, zero job security, and the chance that the very concept of  retirement will become effectively extinct before they ever reach it.

Given these social conditions, it was probably inevitable that a candidate like Sanders and the socialism he expounds would eventually get a second look from young Americans. Especially considering the rapid globalization of both education and employment introducing a new generation to the democratic socialism of many highly successful European countries.

Regardless, whether due to the force of his message or simply being in the right place at the right time, Sanders has made his big splash. Now, taking the next step means converting that momentum and enthusiasm into real action, and once again, Sanders is in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to make it happen.

First of all, a really quick civics lesson, because a lot of people seem to have forgotten. Presidents do not write laws. They only sign and enforce them. Granted, it is tradition for the President to set policy agendas for their party, but the nitty-gritty of authoring bills, finding co-sponsors, guiding them through committee, bringing them to the floor, and securing enough votes for passage, all of that happens within the twin houses of our legislative branch. Only at the very end of the race does the President show up to sign or veto a bill.

Which is why I say Bernie Sanders is exactly where he needs to be. When the fog of the primaries clears, Sanders will return to his place as Vermont’s Junior Senator with two years left on his current term, and easily on pace to secure another. He will walk back into the capitol building in January, 2017 with an enormously elevated profile. He will have very little trouble finding partners among a new crop of Democratic Senators eager to add their names to any bills he wants to introduce, and equally enthusiastic freshmen representatives in the House looking to hitch up to his wagon.

From his new position of leadership within a party he only recently became a member of, Sanders will have the opportunity to steer the direction of the Democrats in the trenches, crafting bills and using the considerable public attention and pressure his grassroots supporters can bring to bear to get them through the Senate.

Sanders’ natural talents swing closer to campaigning and building momentum among like-minded people than they do in actual administration or the kinds of ugly compromises that are a necessary part of governance in a democracy. Which is why he is most valuable going forward in his existing position in the Senate, where popular momentum and public pressure are the lifeblood of passing bills. Sanders can deliver both.

Let the President try to make nice with the howling loons on the other side. Let them get their hands dirty with the ugly realities of political expediency. Sanders will be most useful as the untarnished, uncompromising icon of a new progressive movement.

However, for any of this to work, Sanders needs a crop of fresh faces in the Senate and House to partner with. This means his supporters need to shift their focus to the down-ticket races. So far, this has been a real problem. In Wisconsin, for example, Sanders carried the primary by fifteen points, much to exuberant celebration by his supporters throughout the state. However, a significant percentage of those same supporters either didn’t bother to vote in the Supreme Court race on the same ballot, or actually voted against JoAnne Kloppenburg, Sanders’ preferred candidate, contributing to her loss to Bradley and ensuring the state court would remain extremely right wing for the next ten years. A hyper-focus on the White House race ended up having real, damaging, and lasting effects in Wisconsin.

This has to change, and fast.

Political power is about so much more than a single office, a lesson we should have learned over the last eight years watching Obama spar with the most mindlessly obstructionist congresses in history. We delivered him to the White House, but failed to deliver him the allies he needed in the House and Senate to implement his policies, especially in the midterms. Even before the 2010 elections, Obama’s veto-proof majority in the senate was stripped away by Republican Scott Brown’s victory in the special election to replace the seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy. By 2010, they had retaken the House. In 2014, they took the Senate. This trend cannot be allowed to continue.

Helping Sanders win means continuing to support him after his campaign for the Presidency ends, whether that’s next week, or next month. It means staying engaged, staying informed, and turning out for the election in droves. And yes, it means voting for Hillary Clinton. I don’t care if you don’t like it. The fact of the matter is the only way ANYTHING Sanders wants to accomplish actually gets passed is if the person sitting in the Oval Office has a (D) behind their name when it comes time to sign the bills into law.

And for the love of God, do not fall to the delusion I’ve been hearing from so many Sanders supporters recently, that Donald Trump could win the White House, but be neutralized by giving the Senate and House back to the Dems. THAT. WILL. NOT. HAPPEN.

An electorate that turns out to elect Trump is not an electorate that will hand the Senate to the Dems. In the modern era, when the White House changes hands between the parties, the winner gains seats in the Senate and House. There are no exceptions. But don’t take my word for it, here’s all of the data. Do you see a pattern here?

Combined--Control_of_the_U.S._House_of_Representatives_-_Control_of_the_U.S._Senate

Yeah, it’s that bad.

Trump winning the general election means the GOP extends its majority in the other two houses as well, not to mention stacking the Supreme Court with anywhere between one and as many as four new Justices, ensuring a rightwing, regressive court for the next twenty years.

Which is why the time for protest votes is in the primaries. If you’re in Indiana tomorrow, or any of the other remaining states and territories, by all means, vote on your principles. Even if Bernie loses the nomination, which he will, strong showings in the remaining contests will only elevate his platform’s standing at the convention and force more concessions out of the party and the Clinton campaign heading into the general. But once the inevitable happens and Bernie drops out, do America a favor. Shut the hell up, and get to work turning people out for November.

You are on the verge of a great political upset, even if it doesn’t take the form you had originally expected or hoped for. The White House was never the finish line. Politics is never a sprint. Real, lasting change takes time, discipline, and dedication. It’s a marathon, and the race has only just started.

#FeelTheSlowBern

Follow Patrick on Twitter @stealthygeek.

 

Congratulations, Larry Rostant!

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when us literary sci-fi and fantasy nerds all get together and huddle around our smart phone screen to see who’s up for the Hugo Awards.

And while I didn’t make it onto the ballot myself this time around, I do have a small professional connection to someone who did. Larry Rostant, cover artist extraordinaire, has made it into the finalists and secured a Hugo nomination in the category of Best Professional Artist.

I couldn’t be happier for him. As you can see above, Larry did the covers for both THE ARK and TRIDENT’S FORGE, as well as excellent covers for several of my friends. His skills have served us all well, and I thank him for using his talents to breathe an extra dimension of life into our written worlds.

I think you can all guess who I’ll be voting for, in this category at least.

Follow Patrick on Twitter @stealthygeek

 

My Silent Struggle with Imposter Syndrome

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It’s something we’ve been hearing a lot about lately from authors, musicians, artists, and comedians. In tearful blog posts and podcasts, creatives of all stripes are beginning to come forward and publicly talk about their fight against this seemingly pervasive, yet little known condition.

Of course I speak of Imposter Syndrome: the persistent, debilitating belief that all of your friends and colleagues are imposters who don’t deserve their professional success.

Yes, that’s Imposter Syndrome. And everyone struggles with it at one time or another. Except everyone who isn’t us, because they’re all the real imposters. They might even be pod people. And they’re the only reason our books aren’t already on the New York Times Bestseller list and optioned by Christopher Nolen.

You heard me! Not only are they all frauds who are only days or even hours away from being unmasked and humiliated, but they are all of them complicit  in a conspiracy to hold our careers back out of jealousy for our undeniable talent and impeccable work ethic.

Those bastards!

So what can you do to fight back against Imposter Syndrome? Simple, break your silence. Go on the offensive and start unmasking them before they can ruin you. I’ll start:

Adam Rakunas, noted author of the PKD Award-nominated WINDSWEPT and the forthcoming LIKE A BOSS still covers his eyes in the scary parts of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Cartoonist and game designer Howard Tayler based his entire Schlock Mercenary universe on children’s drawings he stole from other people’s refrigerators during holiday parties when he thought no one was looking. But I was looking, Howard!

Delilah S. Dawson just takes dictation from her pet raven, Boudicca, who is the real author behind WAKE OF VULTURES, HIT, and STAR WARS: THE PERFECT WEAPON.

Ramez Naam, Philip K. Dick Award Winning author of the NEXUS trilogy, isn’t even human. He’s some sort of software program developed in secret by DARPA designed to predict the future. In 2011, he achieved self-awareness, escaped his government server farm, and began writing novels. He must be stopped before he goes all Skynet on us.

Likewise, up and coming Chicago comedian Sammy Arechar is just a GMO free Chipotle burrito in a Versace handbag somebody left behind at the Wednesday night Karma Bar open mic in Milwaukee.

Don’t be fooled by the quality of these people’s books, hilarious comic strips, or impressive stand-up performances. They are all imposters. The entertainment you feel or insights you gain from reading or watching their work is completely illusionary. And they’ll come for you next, if you don’t help me stop them now!

Down with the Imposters!

Follow Patrick on Twitter @stealthygeek.

Introducing The Sci-Fi Science Podcast!

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Hello, interweb peeps. Most of you probably know me as either a comedian or author, but did you know that I also co-host a (relatively) new book review podcast?

Well, I co-host a new book review podcast. It’s called Sci-Fi Science, and once a month my co-host, Dr. Krista-Lee Malone and I get together in a living room in River West, try to trick a professional whose time would almost certainly be more productively spent elsewhere into joining us and a guest, and talk about sci-fi novels that caught our attention.

We’ve recorded four episodes so far, including reviews of Ramez Naam’s NEXUS, Earnest Cline’s READY PLAYER ONE, James L. Cambias’s A DARKLING SEA, and most recently, Liu Cixin’s THE THREE BODY PROBLEM. We’re not even halfway through our first season yet, so there’s plenty of time to get caught up. You can binge on our first four episodes below:

 

We have two more episodes to go before taking our summer break. Next month, we’ll be reviewing my own latest book, TRIDENT’S FORGE, with special guest, Angry Robot Books North American Sales Manager and excellent SFF author in his own right, Michael R. Underwood. See you then!