James S. Aaron Newsletter S01E01: Free Ted Chiang, $0.25 Forever War, Good Intentions

I’m going to need your help forming a habit. I started 2016 with the plan to write a weekly newsletter and it’s now December. So I’m going to update this plan for 2017. I don’t know why I find things like this so difficult to write, but the only way to get over it is to write them and hit send. As always, please let me know what’s useful and what you’d like more of.

Crazy discounted thing:
Amazon is currently offering Joe Haldeman’s Forever War for only $.025. [Sorry, it appears the crazy discount is dead. I still recommend you find Forever War at your local library.]

I don’t know how long this deal is going to last, but my jaw dropped when I saw it, so I felt the need to send it out. You can also add the Audible version for $3.49, which is also super-cheap if you’re into audio.

Apparently, Google price-matched, so you can grab the ebook on the Google Play store for $.025 as well.

I haven’t read the Forever War since high school, but I remember it having a big impact on me. The metaphors on relativity, Vietnam, and what it’s like to come home after being in the military are things that still stick with me, even if it might be a bit dated now. It’s definitely one of the foundational bricks in the genre. Like I said, I don’t know how long this deal will last, so you can always grab it from your local library if I got your hopes up. I hate it when I see a deal and it’s expired by the time I get to it.

Free Ted Chiang story:
One of my friends described Ted Chiang as a writer who appears once a year, drops a story like a brick on the public, and then goes back to whatever he was doing. If you haven’t heard of him, he wrote the story that was the basis for the new move Arrival, called The Story of Your Life. It’s available in his collection: Stories of Your Life and Other Stories. I definitely recommend his collection, although another friend of mine argues that Story of Your Life is actually an argument for destiny. I can see that, but I was so gobsmacked by the emotional punch of that story that I didn’t care.

If you want to read a story with some of the same impact, but shorter and free online, here’s The Great Silence, which is about a Grey Parrot named Alex. You can also read one of his other famous stories The Lifecycle of Software Objects for free on Subterranean Press for free on their site.

Now that I’ve got you addicted to Ted Chiang, watch out for those bricks he likes to drop on reader’s heads with each new story.

Cheap Pre-Orders:





I’ve got a novella in a new anthology coming out December 15th called The Expanding Universe. The anthology is going to be 600 pages of new fiction. It’s currently on pre-order for only $0.99 until 12/15. The novella is called “The Iron and the Mud,” and it’s about an unarmed exploration vessel trapped on the other side of a wormhole with a military cruiser that doesn’t want to let them back through. Sort of Star Trek meets Star Wars expanded universe. It’s part of a new series I’m working on called the Known Worlds. You can check it out here:

What I’m Reading:

I went to the James Tiptree Symposium over the weekend, which honored Ursula K. Le Guin. I picked up a copy of her new book of non-fiction, Words Are My Matter. It’s mostly reviews and essays, short things around 1000 words each. I’m looking forward to jumping around in it. She didn’t speak at the symposium, and looked mostly embarrassed to have people effusing over her for two days, but she deserves it. I can read her sentences over and over again. I just re-read the Dispossessed, and while it’s certainly didactic and a product of its time period, it also keeps you moving. I can’t say I ever would have read a book about anarchism otherwise. She’s so good at the small details that illuminate huge ideas about how people live and the consequences of their choices.

I picked up a copy of Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and am halfway through it. I’m enjoying it, but it’s definitely an idea book over a character book. She’s creating an alternate history about the Dutch Congo that’s important to think about but definitely not light reading. If enjoyed The Vohrr, Brian Caitling’s book about a mythical Congo, but wanted actual worldbuilding and more straight-forward prose, this is your book.

Kindle Unlimited Recommendation:

I wouldn’t say I seek out “clean” anything when it comes to fiction and wasn’t aware that Jeff Wheeler had carved himself a niche in “clean fantasy.” But a friend recommended Wheeler’s new series, and I tore through it in two days despite myself. His Kingfountain Series is a quick, easy read, based on the War of the Roses. If you’re a fan of Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, this is an interesting thought exercise: How would I write ASOIAF with very little violence and no sex, and still get the battles, the machinations, etc, and keep it readable?

I’ll be honest, I sometimes just wanted the characters to get it on, already, especially when some of their choices/tragedies are grounded in their chastity. But it was still entertaining. I especially liked the antagonist. Unlike Song of Ice and Fire, the good news is that the Kingfountain Series is finished. If you’re looking for something “clean” to share with an epic fantasy fan, this is an entertaining choice. Wheeler has a deep back catalog for fantasy fans looking for something new to read.

All right, so how’s that for a first issue of the newsletter? Thanks for reading. I’ll get this habit going for real this time.

Happy reading,

James S. Aaron