<![CDATA[CHRISTOPHER HINZ - Blog]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:42:15 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[I'd rather be telling stories...]]>Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:32:08 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/id-rather-be-telling-storiesHere’s a revelation sure to unsettle those responsible for selling and promoting an author’s books. I don’t care for an essential aspect of the contemporary publishing business: the author as chief promoter, cook and bottle washer.

Yes, I know, it’s considered indispensable in this Amazonian, take-no-prisoners, con-encrusted slab of modern times that the author grab the rudder and hustle his or her latest book with the tenacity of that great white shark from Jaws hunting its next meal. Those who fail to adopt such aggressive tactics are considered by publishers, agents, fans and other movers-and-shakers to be hopelessly out of touch, or worse, actively courting authorial extinction.

They have a point. There are millions of new titles and reprints published each year. Some statisticians put the total number of books in the world at well over a hundred million. Common sense dictates that a way must be found for an author to stand out from the crowd.

I do a certain amount of promotion, of course—this website is one obvious example. Nevertheless, my idea of standing out from the crowd is decidedly old school. If your passion happens to be track and field, run faster. If you want to succeed at your job and maybe ascend to a higher position, work harder. And if you’re an author trying to sell copies, write better books (while acknowledging that better is one of the most subjective words in the language).

Subjective or not, I concentrate the bulk of my energies on storytelling. I try to give readers memorable tales, the kind that sends thematic shrapnel coursing through their synaptic byways long after the last page is reached.

Speaking of pages, it’s time to get back to working on that new novel.

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<![CDATA[One-Day Special Sale]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 11:51:23 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/one-day-special-saleSaturday, August 12
BINARY STORM Kindle ebook for $1.99

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<![CDATA[Upcoming ebook sale]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 11:26:54 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/upcoming-ebook-saleIn the wake of the successful one-day sale of "Liege-Killer" by ebook publisher Open Road Integrated Media, publisher Angry Robot Books will do a similar promotion for "Binary Storm" next month. Stay tuned for details.

And special thanks to Berks Book Junkies for having me as the guest at their latest meeting. Good conversation, good food and drink--a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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<![CDATA["Liege-Killer" ebook for $1.99 (one day only)]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 12:13:31 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/liege-killer-ebook-for-199-one-day-onlyBookBub, a daily ebook deals newsletter with millions of subscribers, will feature "Liege-Killer" this Saturday (7/22/17). That day only, the ebook will be available for $1.99 from all U.S. retailers.

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<![CDATA[DOING THE DARK POP APOCALYPTIC GENRE HOP]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 21:04:08 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/doing-the-dark-pop-apocalyptic-genre-hopFirst, try uttering the title three times in rapid succession, preferably to the beat of clapping hands and stomping feet. Did you manage it? Great! Now you’re in the right frame of mind to experience this rant.
 
Binary Storm is a science fiction thriller about the hunt for assassins existing simultaneously in two bodies. More to the point, it’s set against the backdrop of an impending apocalypse.
 
Dark pop fiction (depicting apocalyptic, dystopian or just plain bleak futures) is nothing new in SF/Fantasy, whether in books, movies, comics, games or other media. Each new generation, but especially those born after the start of the nuclear age, at times feels the urge to whisper or shout that the world can’t go on like this and that doom is upon us and that all is lost because we didn’t…
 
A) Eliminate nukes
B) Respect our fragile environment
C) End prejudice and bigotry
D) Other
E) All of the above
 
But what seems to have changed in the dark pop canon in the last decade or so, besides the ascendance of zombies and other delegations of the brain-dead, is the increasing migration of such stories from SF/Fantasy into the Young Adult and Literary genres, and thus into wider public consciousness.
 
(Btw, Literary is and always has been a genre despite some of its advocates protesting otherwise. By definition, a genre is a category of artistic composition with distinctive form, content and style, and the big L fits that criteria. Literary happened to reach the top of the fiction pyramid ahead of the other genres, which enabled it to set the agenda, define the categories and guard its lofty summit with the ferocity of Smaug nesting on treasure.)
 
Okay, I’ve got that out of my system. Moving on…
 
Well-received dark pop novels of the Literary persuasion such as Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” paint bleak futures for Earth and humanity. In the YA realm we have “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, “The Scorch Trials” by James Dashner and other series too numerous to mention. Bottom line, dark pop fiction is springing up faster than kudzu in the Carolinas. And the spread is likely to continue unchecked for the foreseeable future.

Why? The answers might come down to…

A) The collapse of civilization’s social pillars (aka, old white guys no longer exclusively in charge)
B) Destruction of the environment
C) Increasing economic inequality
D) Other
E) All of the above
 
Yet here’s something interesting. According to Max Roser, an Oxford University economist, we’re living in the safest, healthiest and most peaceful era in recorded history. There are fewer wars and homicides. Poverty rates are dropping across the globe. Democracy is on the upswing. When it comes to dark pop belief systems and enshrined cynicism, statistical analysis can be a real buzzkill.

If Roser and others are correct, why is there such an escalating need for dark pop? Could it be that such works serve a purpose distinct from rationality and logic, namely that we don’t feel safe and secure in today’s world and thus require fiction that reinforces those feelings?

I’m a Baby Boomer from before the information explosion, where three TV channels broadcast news segments only a few hours a day. Most citizens learned what was happening in the world largely through those broadcasts, as well as from newspapers and magazines. Yet despite living through the height of the Cold War, I believe the news media’s limited scope served to make my universe feel safer and more secure.

Today, information bombards us constantly via the Internet and 24/7 news channels, which I suspect is the primary reason for dark pop’s growth. On the positive side, the info explosion has somewhat democratized the media by removing it from the sole control of elite gatekeepers, enabling minorities and many other disenfranchised souls to have a voice.

On the negative side, that democratization too often has allowed heat to triumph over light, enabling emotions unbridled from reason—fear, anger, hate—to dominate. We seem to be constantly pummelled by the idea that we should all be mad as hell and not take it anymore, that the world is besieged by a terrible storm, that the fierce rains of Armageddon are pounding our windshields with such fury that even with the wipers on high speed, a crash is imminent.

And so we seek refuge from the hazy blur ahead, from a future we’ve been told is soaked in terror, by losing ourselves in universes that reflect or refract our fear and bewilderment. Fictionalized catastrophe becomes a safe space, a retreat from the relentless bombardment of pessimistic and upsetting emotions.

Yet those dark pop representations also can serve to refortify our psyches. Having already explored the worst possible futures, we’re better immunized against the turbulence, real or imagined, of the great unknown that lies ahead.     

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<![CDATA[New "Paratwa Saga" covers]]>Thu, 25 May 2017 20:03:18 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/new-paratwa-saga-coversSome cool new covers for the Paratwa Saga ebooks by publisher Open Road Integrated Media. Available from Amazon and most major ebook providers.


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<![CDATA[March 17th, 2017]]>Fri, 17 Mar 2017 19:03:02 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/march-17th-2017An increasing number of people are attempting to contact me on Facebook Messenger. Be advised that for various reasons, technical and otherwise, I'd prefer to avoid this service. Instead, please send any personal messages to the email address associated with this website, chinz@christopherhinz.com. I'll try to respond to each and every one as soon as possible. Thanks!
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<![CDATA[Listen up!]]>Sun, 12 Mar 2017 20:43:54 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/listen-up​BINARY STORM is an audiobook! Check out the spoken-word version by downloading the novel from Audible.co.uk, an Amazon subsidiary. A standalone science-fiction thriller, BINARY STORM is narrated by Todd Boyce and serves as a prequel to the more distant future of the Paratwa Saga (Liege-Killer, Ash Ock and The Paratwa).]]><![CDATA[Falling in love with SF - Part 2]]>Sun, 12 Feb 2017 20:08:36 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/falling-in-love-with-sf-part-2​In the 1960s, SF was rather sparse until closer to the end of the decade when the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes appeared. And then, within a decade of those films came the supernova known as Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), which had such a transformative impact on the film industry that it ensures cinematic SF’s popularity to this day.

In the realm of books in the late sixties I discovered two of all my all-time favorites, Frank Herbert’s Dune and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Although I’m still awaiting the perfect cinematic adaptation of the former, Tolkien’s opus was well-served by Peter Jackson’s brilliant trilogy. In the seventies I took a detour away from science fiction after discovering horror novels, mainly William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and the early books of Stephen King. But like being caught in the energy of an irresistible tractor beam, I was always pulled back to the home base, SF.

Like many fans of the genre, there were some preadolescent and teen efforts at writing, although never with the necessary discipline to master the craft. Yet even in my early twenties, during a period when I drifted away from SF, the urge to create was always present. It hovered there in the distance like the cosmic microwave background, that leftover radiation from the big bang.

It was Hollywood that reignited my interest, basically during that two-year span from Lucas’ Star Wars to Ridley Scott’s Alien. I decided it was time to put up or shut up when it came to making the writing dream come true. Finally I got serious enough to compose my first real novel, Anachronisms. It was a flawed work and in its earliest incarnation didn’t sell, but it taught me a lot about the art and craft of storytelling.

Subsequently, I returned to a novel I’d abandoned a few years earlier because it had seemed derivative and uninteresting. But tucked away within that aborted project’s flawed chapters was a relatively minor story element about a murderous creature known as a para-twin, whose consciousness existed simultaneously in two distinct bodies. Para-twin was transmuted into Paratwa and “Liege-Killer” was born, which became my first published novel and gave birth to the universe of the binaries.

And late last year came the publication of Binary Storm, fourth book in the Paratwa Saga (although a prequel to the other three). Today, the very idea of science fiction - writing it, reading it, watching it, relishing it - is an enduring part of my psyche, a transformative facehugger permanently attached.

Life would be unimaginable without it. ]]>
<![CDATA[Falling in love with SF - Part 1]]>Mon, 30 Jan 2017 14:10:04 GMThttp://christopherhinz.com/blog/falling-in-love-with-sf-part-12030952Science fiction has been a big part of my life since childhood. I was captured early on by the magical gift of reading. But it wasn’t until around the age of eight or nine when, as a Christmas gift, I received Stand by for Mars, that SF began its mind-expanding parade.

Stand by… was the first book in the “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” series of juveniles based on a primordial American television show (I was too young to have seen the show; it aired in the early 1950s), Tom Corbett and his faithful sidekicks, cadets Roger Manning and Astro, endured thrilling adventures as they explored our solar system and nearby stars. For a youngster with a vivid imagination (not yet cognizant of the disparaging notoriety the term “space cadet” was achieving) the books hit home with synapse-bubbling intensity.

Somewhere in that time frame I also had a relatively short but intense fling with comic books, mainly of the superhero variety. I tended to gravitate to DC’s universe - Marvel was still in the early stages of its Stan Lee/Jack Kirby metamorphosis - and I found Superman, Green Lantern and The Flash enjoyable. But it was really the team comics that took hold, in particular, Justice League of America and Fantastic Four (my sole Marvel fave). Like all too many fans, I had most of the first ten or fifteen issues of both titles but through eventual disinterest, allowed my mom to throw them in the trash, thereby potentially disposing of the cost of a college education or two.

But my #1 fave of that era was a more obscure title: Challengers of the Unknown. A fearsome foursome - Prof, Ace, Red and Rocky - had no superpowers but cheated death on a regular basis by utilizing interlocking skill sets, thus saving the world from alien monsters, malignant humans and other dire threats.

Yet as pleasurable as those early comics were, it was the Tom Corbett novels that really stoked the fire and started a lifelong passion for the genre. Over the years, as my horizons expanded, I waded through rivers of SF novels, enjoying regular jaunts to the Northwest Library, a few blocks from our house in Reading, Pennsylvania, to borrow every SF title I could find.

My Uncle Eddie was a fan and lent me novels from his collection, most memorably, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s famed Lensmen series, originally published in the pulp magazines but later collected into a six-book set. The Lensmen was space opera at its grandest, with millions of alien races aligning with either the “good” Arisians - who developed the lens that gave its users great mental and telepathic abilities - or the power-hungry Eddorians. I’ve often wondered whether George Lucas read Smith’s books at a pivotal age. There are definite parallels to his Star Wars universe.

As my reading prowess grew, I discovered many authors who I later realized constituted the field’s acknowledged masters. Clarke, Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov and others were rapidly consumed, as was an early favorite, the effervescently strange A. E. Van Vogt. (His “Voyage of the Space Beagle” is an early prototype not only for Star Trek but for the first Alien movie.)

And speaking of movies, my early absorption of written SF was paralleled by an equally potent attraction to genre cinema. The 1950s produced a surfeit of filmed SF, most of which I saw years later on TV. Although their quality tended to be rather low in terms of character-driven storytelling and special effects, the better ones remain impactful to this day, especially The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing from Another World and Forbidden Planet.

(Part 2 to follow)]]>