The Day I Let Liberty Down


Sixty students were seated in a Victorian chamber with high windows and oak-panelled walls, gazing at the bejewelled and bescarved whirl who was Mme. Vaillancourt, a Parisian marvel of a certain age eased from the pages of Madeline. Young men were swooning, young women taking notes. “Liberté. Egalité. Fraternité,” she announced. I felt myself brace, ready to rise and follow her to the Bastille, the barricades, anywhere.

From Romper Room to Rebus


It's nice to see yourself reflected. But it's even better to see the world through someone else's eyes.

Young Man On a Train


Then two figures appear on the platform, running flat out, fast enough that they draw abreast my berth on the slowly accelerating train. A small woman trailing a scarf and a purse and a younger and much larger man cradling what appears to be a cage as he runs. No, something you’d find in a cage.

The Execution of an Ant


The point is to learn about the sanctity of life and the responsibilities of caring for small creatures. Should something go wrong, a five year old won’t be as attached to an ant as he would be to, say, a pile of sleeping kittens. Anyway, what could go wrong?

If an AI is dangerous, it’s insufficiently I


Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and others I rarely advise, along with Bill Gates, who should have listened, have warned that humanity’s survival will be at risk when Artificial Intelligence emerges. An AI’s motives for enslaving or destroying us are often thin, so we’ll just call it The Dramatically-Satisfying Case Against Letting Humans Live.

The One About the Ballard Fanatic


Here's a preview of a story I wrote in about 2006. I wasn't sure what to do with it: it is not [spoiler alert] science fiction; but it presumes that the reader is familiar with JG Ballard. Of course, Ballard should hardly be ghetto-ized as a sci-fi author... What's that you say? There's no shame in the sci-fi so-called ghetto? And you get angry at people who think the way to grant respect to an author is to pull him from his genre, rather than pull the arbiters of these things into the genre?

You. You're the reader I was looking for.

Writer, Known Blameshifter, Points More Fingers


I never decided to become a writer, nor would I describe it as a calling. It was more like a discovery, something solid glimpsed as the churning seabed settled in adolescence.

[Prosecutor glances at jury, rolling his eyes.]

Despairing Author Scooped by New Yorker


You slave through 17 drafts over as many years on a novel, only to open the New Yorker, and find you’ve been scooped. “Walking,” devastated writer David Hull states simply. “They got me on [expletive deleted] walking.”

“What did they expect?” Writer Blames Career on Parents


David Hull is exasperated. He runs a hand through his messy hair, last combed during the fourth of seventeen final drafts of his current novel. “She was a librarian. He was a reporter.” He spits out his words. “Of course I turned out to be a [expletive deleted] writer.”

Final Draft Contains Typos, Inconsistencies, Plot Holes, Crap Writing


Editor David Hull was blunt. “This is not a final draft. Nothing more need be said, except,” he continued, “that to pretend otherwise shows a shocking lack of integrity.” When told of the accusations, author David Hull claimed to have been suffering from a rare and fleeting condition called optimism, and pleaded for understanding.

Hypocrite Littérateur Launches Website

I recently had a drink with a friend who writes. He must have been browsing the world of Submission Guidelines.

“What is a platform?” he asked, wincing as he spoke the word, knowing that whatever it was, it was icky. “They want you to have one now.”

So. I was going to be the one who broke the news to him.