The Armies of Those I Love

New novella release, new film, and lots more!

Hello, everyone. I have a new story for you, updates about a new movie based on my work, plus info on several other projects. Let’s get to it.

New Novella: The Armies of Those I Love

I write very few novellas, maybe one every five years. The Man Who Ended History, All the Flavors, The Regular, that’s it.

Now there’s a new one. Even among my novellas, it’s special.

You can get it starting today from Audible: http://adbl.co/Armies.

Fourteen-year-old Franny Fenway lives by herself on Boss, a rumbling, tumbling, stumbling mountain-city roaming over an uninhabitable continent, the last refuge of the few survivors of the devastation of the last days of the oldizens. But a visitor from the City of Angels shatters her tranquility and starts her on a journey to discover the true story of the world that only she can tell.

What else can I tell you about it? It’s science fiction but feels like fantasy (not that I’ve ever put much stock in these labels); it’s full of references to metropolitan Boston; it was written during the pandemic and shows it; it involves people doing terrible things to one another in an unfeeling world, but it never wavers from stubborn hope; it’s like a Hayao Miyazaki film in literary form, but illustrated with circuit diagrams; it is unabashedly patriotic, spilling over with an abiding love for what America could be, and a sorrow for how far it falls short of its own ideals. It is, simply put, a very me story.

It’s also my first long story written from the ground up for the audio market (hence the Audible Originals publication). I’m a big believer in the idea that a story is best served by taking advantage of the unique features of the medium for which it is intended—print, web, audio, comic book, film, TV, game—even if that means it becomes difficult to present the story in other media. Most of my stories are intended to be consumed through the eye rather than the ear. Example: I wrote “Cutting” for the printed page, such that the white space is an integral part of the story. I never even intended for it to be read aloud.

But The Armies of Those I Love is different. It’s inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman (I think of him as the greatest of American poets, one who straddled the age of mythology and the age of electricity). It takes place in a post-post-apocalyptic world, where orality once again reigns. Like Whitman’s poetry, it is meant to be heard in a hypnotic state of trance, not contemplatively taken in off the page. It requires a performance.

Which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to say that Audible was able to ask my first choice, Auliʻi Cravalho, to do the narration. I love what she’s done with the story. This is a performance that must be heard to be believed.

Above all, I wish you as much joy in listening to it as I experienced in crafting it.

A New Film Based on My Work: Arc

Based on my short story of the same name, Arc (アーク), directed by Kei Ishikawa from a script by Kei Ishikawa and Kaori Sawai, is the story of Lina, the first human to be given eternal youth by technology. The cast includes Kyoko Yoshine, Shinobu Terajima, Masaki Okada, Kurumi Shimizu, and Kai Inowaki.

Synopsis: Lina was separated from her new-born son at the age of 17 and lived a wandering life. She met her mentor, Emma at the age of 19 and got a job doing BodyWorks at a major cosmetics company. The job involved an incredibly popular treatment developed by Emma’s younger brother, Amane, that preserved the original looks of people after they died. However, Amane was actually attempting to create immortality. Lina, now 30, becomes the first woman in human history to gain Amane’s eternal life treatment. But as the world becomes a place without death, Lina finds her potential future crumbling around her. [© Far East Films]

The film will be released in Japan on 6/25 — fingers crossed it gets a global release too. You can read the original story in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September/October 2012.

I have seen the film and it is breathtaking. I think of an adaptation as a separate, distinct piece of art, related to the original material but with its own independent aesthetics, goals, and perspectives. In the best case, the two—the story and the film—should each do what the other cannot and be appreciated as two works of art in conversation.

I believe the filmmakers have accomplished this. For that I congratulate them and celebrate their achievement. And I’m very proud of my very small role in the making of this film.

Updates on Pantheon

More news on Pantheon, the AMC animated drama series series based on my Singularity stories. As Andrew Liptak reports for Tor.com:

According to Deadline, William Hurt, Maude Apatow, Corey Stoll, and Lara Pulver are the newest members of the cast. They’ll be joining some other notable names for the series, which the network announced back in August: Krystina Alabado, Katie Chang, SungWon Cho, Paul Dano, Rosemarie DeWitt, Chris Diamantopoulos, Kevin Durand, Aaron Eckhart, Grey Griffin, Raza Jaffrey, Daniel Dae Kim, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, Anika Noni Rose, Samuel Roukin, and, Taylor Schilling.

Chang will lead the series as Maddie, a teenager who’s experiencing some trouble and who gets some advice from a mysterious online source, who turns out to be her dead father, David (voiced by Kim), who had his consciousness uploaded onto the internet, and who has become a new type of entity, an “Uploaded Intelligence.” His existence—and others—spells a potential pivotal moment for the future of the human race.

Can’t wait for the show to be out!

Other News

  • New publication: “Excerpt from Theuth, an Oral History of Work in the Age of Machine-Assisted Cognition” is a brand-new story I wrote for Philosophy Through Science Fiction Stories, an anthology edited by Helen De Cruz, Johan De Smedt, and Eric Schwitzgebel that just came out last month from Bloomsbury Press. It also includes stories from awesome authors like Sofia Samatar and Aliette de Bodard (personally, anything with both of them in it is an instant buy for me). My story here, dealing with the nature of knowledge, is one of the few I’ve written based on my own experiences as a practicing lawyer.

  • Kate Elliott, who has taught me countless lessons on how to write the kind of epic fantasy I want to write, is hosting a series of webinars on worldbuilding for Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. She invited me to be a guest on her latest session, which is about technology in worldbuilding. You can catch the recording on SFWA’s YouTube channel at the end of this month (I’ll edit the post to add a direct link to the video when it’s up).

  • I will be a speaker at Priv8, a virtual summit on digital privacy being held March 23-25. My talk is on privacy as a value, and how we define values through stories. Featured speakers at the summit include Edward Snowden, Audrey Tang, and Sheila Warren. Hope to see you there!

Until next time, thank you for supporting my work!