Is AI going to destroy us after all?

Hi everyone. New podcast and some interesting links to follow. Thanks, as always, for subscribing to my newsletter!

I interviewed J. Michael Straczynski(!)

If you watched Babylon 5 in the 1990s, Sense8 on Netflix more recently, Clint Eastwood’s movie Changeling, read any Marvel Spider-Man comics in the 2000s or watched cartoons in the 80s, you’ve probably experienced some of J. Michael Straczynski’s work. The man has created many of my favourite things of all time and I somehow ended up in a position to interview him.

Over at the National Centre for Writing I produce the Writing Life podcast, which is how this unlikely scenario came to be. Straczynski is a formative writer for me: his work in the 90s and his transparency with the process of TV production is what started me thinking about stories structurally and taking my writing more seriously.

You can listen to the podcast here: https://nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk/article/j-michael-straczynski-on-becoming-a-writer-staying-a-writer/

The inevitability of AI

Those of you who have read No Adults Allowed, the book I published during 2020, will already know that it deals in the concept of an AI not so much going rogue as doing exactly what it was told to do, but with unintended consequences.

This morning I’ve been reading an article by Tom Chivers about that exact notion, called Who Will Save Humanity? It’s a quick, sobering read which posits that Covid-19 will hopefully have woken us up to the idea that stuff which sounds like science fiction is increasingly science fact and needs to be thought about. Well worth a read.

Following the Royal Road

Have you read or written anything on Royal Road? It’s a platform I’ve only recently become aware of (thanks, Elle Griffin) and seems worth poking at.

I’ve just started serialising The Mechanical Crown there, so if you haven’t read my big fantasy epic now’s a good time to jump in. I’ll be posting new chapters daily, and as far as I can tell you can start reading without even needing to sign up to the site. Take a look here.

Over the years I’ve experimented with a bunch of different author platforms: Wattpad, Inkitt, Tablo, Tapas, Medium. I’ve had a lot of success on Wattpad and moderate success on Medium, while the others have all been outliers that take up a lot of my time with little actual reader traction. I’m curious if anyone reading this newsletter has a preference or tales of success - let me know!

Royal Road sounds interesting, despite the odd and rather off-putting name, in that it appeals more directly to genre fans. Given that my output is science fiction and fantasy, it might be a good spot for me. I’ll report back in the future.

Down the rabbit hole

I’m currently deep into prepping the Next Project, which I’ve tentatively given the working title of Multiverse Mysteries (trust me on this one) and am starting to wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

As the title suggests, it’s a multiverse story in which there are three colliding realities: a far future sci-fi Earth, a roughly modern day Earth and a 100% fantasy realm. Yes, the entire premise is me having my cake and eating it.

The ‘event’ that caused these three dimensions to co-exist occurred 200 years prior to the start of the story itself, which has meant tracking events through an invented history. This is complicated by the ‘modern day Earth’ setting, which requires me to extrapolate out from the 18th century what might have happened if this fantastical event had gone down. It’s fascinating but requires a more fine attention to detail than anything I’ve done before.

If you’re wondering, the story itself is set to be a police procedural, within this slightly mad setup. I’ll be serialising it in premium early access form on this newsletter later this year.

As always, thanks for reading! And if you’re not into the links I share and news on what I’m writing, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Hope you’re all keeping well.

Simon K Jones