About Hieronymus Hawkes

Pilot and author, father and husband. I like to tinker with web stuff, read, listen to music, play poker and design stuff in photoshop.

Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder Reviewed

Times being what they are, with the coronavirus attacking the world, and so many ofStealing Worlds us being affected in so many ways, it was a bit surreal listening to this book on Audible. I wouldn’t call this dystopian, although it is set in a world where global warming has devastated the Earth, and the promise of capitalism is shown to be an empty vessel. Aside from using an eff bomb repeatedly as a character contrivance, Stealing Worlds is an absolutely spectacular novel. Virtual and Mixed Reality, Live Action Role Playing (LARP), block-chain technology, politics, and revolution all have a place in this thriller by Karl Schroeder.

Sura Neelin is on the run after her father is murdered and she doesn’t even know who she is running from. The society has evolved into one of complete and constant surveillance, but she might have a chance in the virtual game world, using smart glasses and block-chain tech. His characters are distinctive and well-drawn, and as the plot moves along, I liked Sura more and more. Her first mentor, Compass, turns out to be a broken, but gifted young woman, and Nancy Wu, who is the reader for this audiobook, brings Compass to life. The evolution of the game world economy and the smart tech of the world, with its ” Internet of Things,” is brilliantly conceived and makes for a mind-stretching read.

With all of the political gyrations I wondered how he would pull off the grandiose plot, but he stuck the landing, very satisfying. This is my first Karl Schroeder book, even though I’ve had some of his books on TBR pile for several years. It definitely won’t be the last.

Highly recommended!

It’s a Weird Weird Weird World Right Now

This is a strange time to be listening to audiobooks about apocalyptic futures. But I was doing just that, juxtaposed against a world outside my car that looked the same, calm and normal, but it all feels quite surreal.

A Surreality.

It’s hard to wrap your head around THE ENTIRE WORLD being under attack from a virus and it is still escalating. It runs through my mind that I need to hold onto this moment, because next week might look entirely different.

The CDC put forth the postulation that the number of infected would double every four days. Here in the United States it is now doubling every third day. By the end of the weekend we will be approaching 30,000 infected and by the end of next week 100,000. At what point do we stop doing half-measures?

I’ll admit that when I first heard of this pandemic I was one of those who thought the hype was overblown. I WAS WRONG.

Please take this seriously. It may not kill you, but it might kill someone close to you if you get infected. I worry about my family, some of which have  asthma and might not cope well. I would love to stay home, but I am still being directed to work, and I don’t have enough vacation time to stop. I know how lucky I am to still have a paying job, and I don’t take it lightly. I’m praying for all of us. Please wash your hands a lot, and stay home if you can. I anticipate all of us being directed to stay home with a national curfew before the end of the month.

Alternate Reality

I  don’t know about you but life feels surreal right now.

Pretty much everything is cancelled. My daughters opera slated for next month is cancelled. All the schools here are online only until further notice.

No sports, of any kind, except . . . except Virtual Sports. Could this spark something new? All those out of work sports reporters need something to do.

cornonaprepper

I’m listening to Karl Schroeder‘s newest book, Stealing Worlds. People can disappear in the LARP game worlds, into the alternate economy of Notchcoin and blockchains. The people who build the games also program the surveillance networks. It’s s Deep State thriller that deals with a lot of virtual and mixed reality stuff. Combined with what is happening across the world right now it has really got me feeling like we are in the first stages of Schroeder’s world.

 

My imagination has been working overtime, and I can see a world where virtual sports really take off, online worlds thrive. Why? Because you can do it in the comfort of your fortress at home. I wonder about the implications of social distancing. If this virus threat continues for months and months it could have a lasting impact on how we live for years to come. If I had the money I would be investing in online ventures and delivery services.

I hope you are doing well. Keep washing your hands.

What the Fluxx?

FluxxMy eldest son has a degree in game design. (he is very talented and looking for work if you are hiring.) He loves games of all types. One of his coworkers introduced him to a game called Fluxx and he liked it enough to buy it. We played it Saturday night and I have to say it’s one of the funnest games I’ve played in years.

It’s a card game. The goals and rules change throughout the game, guaranteeing that every game will be distinctly different. The rules are on the cards so it only takes about 5 minutes to learn how to play, if that. It takes a little longer to get familiar with all the variations, but it’s not difficult and we played two games in less than an hour and had a blast.

The game is made by Looney Labs and has a bunch of themes, like Dr. Who or Firefly. We played the Star Trek: The Next Generation version and I loved it. I played with my three youngest children, ages 18-24, and they have never seen ST:TNG, but it didn’t make it any less fun.

We are always on the lookout for fun games. Do you have any suggestions?

 

#Pitmad

pitmadI recently finished a complete overhaul of my latest manuscript, after getting some great feedback. The story has changed drastically, so have a lot of the characters.

I noticed that PitMad was coming up so I decided to brush off the pitch and see if I got any bites. The event is sponsored by Pitchwars.org

Kurestin Armada (@kurestinarmada) an agent at Root Literary said this in a Tweet:There are so many pitch contests now that most of the agents I know are fatigued and sit out more than we join—so if you’re feeling like your pitches aren’t getting a lot of traction, it may very well be that the right agents for you just aren’t doing this round
So there’s that. And she’s not wrong. I applaud the efforts of those trying to support writers, and all of these pitch contests are free, except for the time the writer has spend preparing.
You only get to do three pitches and the contest goes between 8AM and 8PM, so you have to space them out for maximum effectiveness and hope you get some RTs and likes. The likes are supposed to be reserved for AGENTS. Anyway, here are my three Twitter pitches. Had to stay under the character count:

Cole’s life is in disarray after his memory is stripped in a brutal attack that destroys his neurochip. Now the centerpiece of a government cover-up, he must expose the truth behind hundreds of mysterious deaths before they shut him up for good. #PITMAD #A #S #SPF #SF

A brutal attack destroys Cole’s neurochip, strips his memory, and leaves his life in shambles. Now the centerpiece of a government cover-up, and unable to trust anyone, he must expose the truth behind hundreds of deaths before they shut him up for good. #PITMAD #A #S #SPF #SF

A brutal attack destroys Cole’s neurochip, strips his memory, and leaves his life in shambles. Deep state treachery and a manhunt make exposing the truth a daunting task. Blake Crouch’s Recursion meets William Gibson’s Zero History. #PITMAD #A #S #SPF #SF

 

I have the book out to a few Beta Readers and will be sending it out again on sub when I get their feedback. So far it has been positive.

Good luck to everyone out there trying to get some attention for their manuscripts!

 

I Don’t Do My Own Plumbing . . .

01 Jan 2000 --- Plumbers dilemma --- Image by © David Bentley/CORBISSo, I did something I said I would never do again. Plumbing.

And it bit me in the butt.

It was a simple task. Change out the faucet in the main floor bathroom. I figured I could manage that. How hard could it be?

 

I took pictures (Well, actually i forgot to take pictures, so my wife took a few and texted them to me) so I could match it. I went to Menard’s and found a similar new faucet and slotted the time for installation for the weekend.

Sunday afternoon I unboxed the faucet and started the removal. That’s where the first problem popped up. The new faucet had a pop-up drain, instead of a pop-up rod assembly. So I would have to remove the drain and install the new one. No problem.

Well…problem. The area under the sink was very tight. I couldn’t really get my head and arm in the same side without contorting my body. And I was unable to separate the top and bottom part of the drain and it would not pull out otherwise.

It was nasty in there too, fungus and hair and slime. I did manage to clean it up really well. There’s that. But I was missing something in taking out the drain and decided at that point to go ahead and call the plumber to install it all. Which I should have done from the beginning, since I said I would never do my own plumbing again.

So I commenced to put it all back together. It went fairly smoothly and I thought I was done. Did I say the area under the sink was tight? Getting the lines reconnected was a pain due to the lack of space. I couldn’t see very well (at all) without contorting my body again and getting up in there. But I’m not as young as I used to be and I was getting tired. I tried to do it without getting my whole upper body in there, but it all seemed to be back together. I turned the water and nothing was dripping that I noticed. The floor under the sink stayed dry.

Flash forward about eight hours.

My boys coming running up from the basement yelling, “There’s water pouring out of the ceiling!” (Thank God they are down there most of the time. I can’t imagine how this would have turned out otherwise.)

Water was pouring out of a light fixture in the ceiling and there were several places along seems in the drywall where water was pooling and starting to drip through. I ran back upstairs to try and figure out where it was coming from, but nothing was running. Our master bathroom toilet had just been flushed, so maybe something was leaking there and it was right above where it was leaking out of the light fixture. Was it a coincidence that I had tried to do some plumbing work earlier? All I had done was turn on and off the water below the sink.

I was out of my league, but it was 10 PM on Sunday.  I called the emergency number for the plumber and he was there about forty minutes later.

I’ll cut to the chase here; he did an amazing job of pinpointing the problem in fairly short order and had everything fixed by midnight.

Yep, it was my handiwork. I didn’t get the hot water line connected properly under the sink when I put it back together and the water had been trickling down along the line into the basement in a barely visible trail.

I now have some drywall to repair.

Lesson learned. Again. Never, ever, do my own plumbing.

Media Need to STOP Feeding the Coronavirus Fears

It has gotten completely out of hand. My wife visited the doctor yesterday and they were surprised when she didn’t ask them about the coronavirus; apparently everyone else had. Media, especially television “news” outlets have been feeding the frenzy using words like “Deadly” coronavirus. It is the second LEAST deadly of all the major virus’s that have been going around for the last decade.

It IS very contagious. But is has proven to be a fairly weak virus in comparison to others. Even the normal flu virus that we get shots for every year, (you get your flu shot right?) has nearly twice as much killing potential and yet we don’t have the media screaming about that.

Good news came out today that the Israelis are a few weeks away from having a vaccine. They had been working on one for years. Good timing? Providence? Who knows.

But the fear mongering has got to stop.

My local TV station played this last night: Context matters

Island Beauty in Blown Glass

IMG-0261

My wife and I recently took a trip to Hawaii and on the last day we found this amazing work of beauty. It is the same size as the conch shell it emulates, made by Emily Thomas. She is a native born Hawaiian and calls herself a glass artist. This is just one example of the beautiful pieces she creates. You can see more at her website: Emily’s Art Glass