Monthly Archives: September 2013

They are here!

Pile of ScriptlingsThis international courier, whose name I will not mention (it rhymes with Procrastinator), managed to cross the 4,138 km between Tullahoma and Vancouver in 9 days. This gives an average of 19 km/h, which is pretty respectable, seeing that its direct competitor, the Pony Express, could only do about 20 km/h.

Anyway, due to this unexpected delay, I was not able to live up to my promise of doing a half naked dance around a pile of books in celebration of the new season of Downton Abbey.

Now, because I’m not as cruel as you might imagine, I give you a picture of the aforementioned pile. The rest, I’m afraid, is up to your imagination. Do tell me how it ends.

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No, this is not the name of the Aztec god of cotton candy, and nor is it the final question to the national spelling bee contest.

Plakalshchitsa (singular), or Plakalshchitsy (plural) is the Russian word for “mourner”, as taught to me by my Russian (nobody is perfect) friend Fedor. Now, before you start asking “why the gloomy mood, Sorin?” I will rush to clarify that this is just one of those references from The Scriptlings I’ve promised to explain. Here is the book passage:

“They were, in modern terms, professional mourners, in that they practiced the craft for a living. But they were more than that − they were veritable virtuosos of sorrow. They did more than just your regular insert-deceased-name-here-quintet-for-tears-and-howls. Their job was to put forward a once-in-a-lifetime (pun totally intended) recital meant to conjure vivid pictures of hopelessness and despair.”

I don’t know about other cultures, but in Eastern Europe it is quite common to hire a Plakalshchitsa (or, if you prefer the Romanian word – Bocitoare) as a kind of animator/entertainer for a funeral. If it’s sounds unnecessarily morbid that’s because it really is. As if a funeral was not a sad affair on its own, my ancestors have seen fit to spice things up by conjuring this unseemly profession into existence.

I thought about posting a YouTube link of an actual performance, but I decided against it, as it is truly disturbing. Just Google “bocitoare” if you really must.

Well, I guess this was a rather gloomy post. Sorry about that, folks…

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2 x Free Autographed Copies

Help my Facebook page get to 500 likes and enter for a chance to win one of two autographed copies of The Scriptlings.

No purchase necessary. /*although it would be nice*/
Must be at least this geek to participate.
Reader discretion is advised.

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What’s going on


The launch campaign is underway, and you should probably expect to receive updates, teasers and quotes from
I had a chance to preview the schedule, and I can tell you this is way better than your regular spam. So look forward to it!


The Scriptlings has its own page on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads now. If you’ve already finished reading the advanced copy, please go ahead and post your reviews.
By the way, Goodreads likes to cache their pages, so your review might take a while to show up.


2013: A Stellar Collection

2013: A Stellar Collection

My Publisher has revealed the cover art for a collection of short stories due to be released next month.

It includes “The Mating Season” – a story that I wrote last winter, based on an idea suggested by my friend Claire Seybold.

Here is how it happened:

We were playing Settlers of Catan at a friend’s place when she announced that she had an idea for a story. It might have come to her in a dream; for Claire has the strangest, most inspiring dreams, as if Neil Gaiman writes them for her.

“There’s these people,” she said, “who only have sex at a very large interval.”

“Married people?” I remember commenting.

“Sorin!” she chided me in her properly-brought-up tone. She added, “They’re having sex during a specific season, like animals. That’s what I meant. I don’t know why they do it, and what it means to them, but I think it will make a good story.”

More to come. I promise 🙂


Tiki, the Soup Inspector

Tiki, the Soup Inspector

Today we’re celebrating seven years since our vicious parrot, Tiki, has joined our household.

Here is a picture of her, three years ago, dominating a bowl of lentil soup.

Just as a side note, parrots are quite smart – allegedly as smart as a three-year-old human. Add this to the fact that Tiki’s species has an average lifespan of 25 years, and it becomes quite obvious that we still have at least a decade of raising a perpetual three-year-old.

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Oh, the humanity!

I just found out that Downton Abbey airs the first episode of the fourth season on the same day The Scriptlings is released.

So not fair!

But this gave me the best marketing idea ever. I’ll record a one hour movie of me doing a half naked wild dance around a pile of The Scriptlings, give it a suggestive name (such as Downton.Abbey.S04E01.HDTV.x264-ASAP.avi) then upload it on every torrent tracker out there.

Got to go now.
I need to prepare an hour’s worth of choreography.

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Okay, so either I type my own name a lot, or I tend to do a lot of retreating.

Here is the reference, for the non-gamers out there.

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It’s happening!

There is a definite sense of momentum being built as September 22nd, the release date for The Scriptlings, draws near. Luckily, the nice people at AEC Stellar are behind me, and they are expertly guiding me through every step of the way. Hey, you can tell they’ve done this before!

I just can’t believe how many things – big and small, nerve-racking and fun – go into publishing a book.

Anyway, the highlight of the week, at least so far, is that I got myself interviewed a bunch of times, and two of the interviews have already been posted. I’m including a a couple of snippets below, as a poorly disguised teaser:

Amber: Tell us about The Scriptlings. What inspired it?
Sorin: I believe the main idea behind the story – that of Syntax being the language of both computers and magic – was inspired by Richard Dawkins and his “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” (River Out of Eden, 1995). Sure enough, the way genes trigger various actions is hard to distinguish from object-oriented programming. The very fact that we have discovered this similarity after actually inventing the first programming language is remarkable.

See full interview by Amber Skye Forbes here.

Mariah: What drew you to this particular genre?
Sorin: I regard humor and fantasy as two of the pinnacle achievements of the human mind, right next to the metric system and the automatic transmission. Humorous fantasy should, therefore, generate the kind of synergy rivaled only by that of the automatic metric transmission. It’s a fact.

See full interview by Mariah E. Wilson here.

Spread the word! 🙂

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Interview: A-Lex on Mars

Alex Marion

Alex Marion

How I met my first Martian.

Update from Lex (September 11, 2013):
“Mars One has begun screening applicants. The selection committee led by Dr. Norbert Kraft, chief medical officer at Mars One will review the applications over the next several months, and will let all candidates know who goes on to the second round by the end of this year, and interviews will begin next year.”

Let’s face it, most of us have a read-only approach to adventures. We love them to the point of obsession and we get quite a kick from watching them unfold before our eyes; but we seldom step out of this “voyeuristic” role. Adventures, we seem to believe, are best left to others.

As luck would have it, I’ve had the chance to interview one of these elusive “others”. Alex Marion, aka A-Lex on Mars is a fellow Vancouverite and proud Mars One applicant. Forget little green men with bulgy heads. Instead, take a good look at him (the one on the right): this is what Martians might prove to look like one day.

Sorin: Lex, if all goes well, how old will you be when you will be setting foot on Mars?

Lex: Assuming all goes well and I get to be one of the first four to go, I will be 36 when I leave and when I get there.

Sorin: What can you tell me about the screening process? I would imagine psychological profiling, fitness and vocational training as likely candidates.

Lex: Vocational training is actually not going to be a significant factor. Because the first four people will get seven years of training, and the next four another two years, and so on, everything the colonists will need to know will be taught by Mars One trainers. Doctors, engineers, geologists, etc. Candidates will of course have to be physically fit. Part of the second round of applications is providing a medical record showing that you are in excellent health. The psychological aspect I think is the most important thing, and Mars One has stressed that as well. The colonists will be spending the remainder of their lives in very close quarters with very few people, and will have no opportunity to go for a walk or to the mall to let off steam. It is imperative that everyone who goes understands what that means for them as individuals. The third round will be testing people’s resolve through various psychological and physical challenges, pushing them to their personal limits, and weeding out those who can’t cut it. It’s survival of the fittest! The final training phase will also be intensive, and it is assumed that even when Mars One has essentially selected you, people will be dropping out. So in addition to the 24 to 40 people training, Mars One plans on having several on a waiting list as back-ups to replace people who drop out or have to be removed. One thing that they haven’t mentioned as part of the screening process, and I think they should, is a criminal record check!

Sorin: Any plans of becoming a daddy on Mars? Speaking of which, do you think gene profiling (not necessarily Gattaca style) will also be part of the screening process?
Read more ›

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Interview: Raymond Vogel

Ray Vogel Author PhotoToday I’m interviewing Raymond Vogel, author of the instant SciFi classic Matter of Resistance. It is the first time I’m conducting an interview, so I’m counting on Ray’s answers, rather than on my silly questions, to make this interesting.

Sorin: Ray, in “Matter of Resistance” the bully role seems to come so naturally to the Earthican leaders, and you have captured this with cynical historical accuracy. On the other hand, Marsians appear to wisely adopt a kind of planetary Aikido strategy. What is it that makes them so level headed? Is it their superior intelligence, their low population, or some other secret ingredient?

Ray: I place credit for their level-headedness squarely on their extreme intelligence. It might be my own naivety showing through, but I tend to hope that increased intelligence inevitably leads to increased wisdom and objectivity. Of course, a relatively small population might favor a level of trust in peers that would be difficult to achieve in a population the size of Earth’s. I’d also contend there to be a cultural element to their decision-making process. Pride in one’s process can lead to successful results, and so the MAG1 members joined with a level of expectations already in place. These factors are further compounded by the extremely transparent process that links their decisions to community-level inputs.

Sorin: Evolution is a slow-paced beast, but it has been known to take relatively giant leaps when prompted by sudden environmental changes. Is this why Marsians appear to have become a race of elvish Mister Spocks within the space of only a few generations?

Ray: First, I’ll put to rest that the Magnematter is not any Arakkean “spice mélange” or other such ingredient. As you noted by inference, I primarily took the path of “sudden environmental changes” – with a twist. In the book I describe the Adaptability Theory. Below is a passage found in Chapter III, as spoken by Mrs. Baskin:
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Alright, I know this is cheesy, and old school, and as ungeeky as it can possibly get, but I don’t care. And no, it’s not part of my secret plan to confuse my audience. I’m merely honoring a tradition that I’ve been following every September 1st for quite a while now.

This song, originally performed by Jerry Orbach, has quite a number of covers, but I’m partial to this one. Perhaps it’s the way Nana’s mesmerizing French lullaby sneaks on you, or perhaps it’s Belafonte’s breathy, grandpa-telling-you-a-story voice. You be the judge:

Sorry about the sound quality. It seems that in the old days the voices were beautiful while the recording equipment was crappy.

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In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett

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