Discover more from Eliot Peper
It’s hard to believe that after more than two years of work, Foundry will come out on October 11th—in just over two weeks!
The run-up to launching a book is a weird time. I vacillate between panic and boredom. There is so much to do, and yet nothing is really happening. The bulk of my creative work was completed months ago. Now my team is busy making minor fixes, polishing production values, and lining up distribution.
I want to do everything I can to help the right readers discover the novel. I want them—you!—to be swept away by the story, to connect with the characters, to explore this little world I’ve poured my heart into, to discuss it with friends. And yet I know that despite my best efforts, my agency is limited: ultimately readers help each other discover their next favorite book, and all I can do is blow this dandelion into the culture and see if and where and how the seeds take root.
Speaking of Foundry, now is your last chance to preorder a signed first-edition hardcover. Some of you beautiful nerds have asked how to buy the book in the way that best supports me, i.e. the author. The answer is: buy it directly from me! I will personally sign and send it to you. If you’re outside the US, here is the special link for international shipping (beware: shipping books internationally is ridiculously expensive!). I’m ever so grateful for your support, generosity, and enthusiasm.
And now, a book I love that you might too:
Night Heron by Adam Brookes is a spy story following an escapee from a Chinese labor camp and a British foreign correspondent in Beijing who brave a labyrinth of political intrigue in pursuit of secrets far more dangerous than they imagine. Informed by impressively extensive research, this espionage thriller is so grounded and realistic that it feels more like journalism than fiction—countless little details reenforce the verisimilitude: specific street food dishes from Western China, opaque bureaucratic turf battles inside intelligence agencies, revealing psychological ticks, etc. If you’ve ever wondered what’s it’s really like to get caught up in an intelligence operation, this is the book for you.
Things worth sharing:
Good writing advice from Nick Harkaway: “Write the good bit. Seriously. Just write it. That bit that you want to write, that you’re saving up? Write it. It’s the most important moment in the book, isn’t it? So write it, and bend the rest of the book towards it, rather than retrofitting it to what you come up with along the way that’s less important.”
Chapter 510, the amazing Oakland youth literacy nonprofit, is looking to hire an operations manager. I’m such a big fan of their mission that, when Cumulus came out, I donated a portion of the proceeds to support the hard work they’re doing to avoid the bleakest aspects of the novel's fictional future.
Robin Sloan’s “stock and flow” dichotomy of internet media helped me figure out how to balance writing novels with building an audience for them. Pairs well with this post from the wise, kind, and canny Craig Mod.
I wrote this in 2016, but the lessons still apply.
Historical and science fiction are two aspects of the same genre: both explore realities different than the world we inhabit—experiencing the gap between our world and the fictional one is part of the appeal—and both suggest explicit or implicit theories of historical change.
Beautiful and thought-provoking science-fiction short story from Mina Fahmi.
Listen to music that makes you want to make music. Use tools that make you want to invent tools. Read books that make you want to write books.
Umburto Eco on the eerie power of libraries.
Good habit: Send thank you notes to people who make things you love. For example, I just messaged my favorite shaper to let him know how much joy surfing his boards has brought me. You can't go wrong, and it's an easy, free way to make the world a better, more positive place.
Derek Thompson is one of my favorite writers on the internet, and this interview opens a window into his creative process.
Seth Godin on protests vs. projects: “The status quo is good at surviving protests. That’s why it’s still the status quo. The alternative is a project. A project begins with a protest that ends with, ‘we’ll be back tomorrow, and we’re bringing our friends.’”
"What can I learn from this" is one of those beautiful questions that transforms negative experience into growth. It's astonishing how effectively asking it of yourself dispels the emotional hangover of something shitty happening.
Nice review: “Bandwidth shows us the aftermath of information manipulation; Borderless, the omnipresence of a virtual technology that forms the lifeblood of human society; Breach, the onerous responsibility of building and fostering trust, whether in software security or on a personal level.”
Fiction is a uniquely capable vehicle for exploring ideas—there are some truths that are easier to approach indirectly.
Remarkable project that juxtaposes a 3D reconstruction of Tenochtitlan in 1518 with Mexico City in 2023—an eye-popping, mind-expanding window into the capital of the Aztec empire.
Thanks for reading. We all find our next favorite book because someone we trust recommends it. So when you fall in love with a story, tell your friends. Culture is a collective project in which we all have a stake and a voice.
“This is the best kind of science fiction.”
-Kim Stanley Robinson on Veil