19 October 2023

500 Words Issue 63: Readers Wanted

Dear Friends,

I have a problem with writing science fiction. I can’t write it fast enough to have it remain fiction. Too much of what I imagine is coming true right now, and there’s no way that I can type fast enough to keep up.

If you want to get a sneak peek into the future, consider becoming an early reader of my next novel before it’s published. It’s called Resist, and it’s the sequel to Surrender, the book that came out earlier this year.

Resist has intelligent machines who simulate human consciousness, compassionate robots who are very good therapists, antigrav transportation, people who are modified to have superior intelligence, and telepaths who trade thoughts. In the book, I build relationships and entanglements among activists, lovers, enemies and frenemies, and humans who must work with and against machines.

Early readers are so important because the writer (me) is in an imaginary world, forgetting to make coffee or get the laundry ready, just typing and typing and building out scenes. The writer (me) needs early readers (you) to help see the forest through the trees. Of course, I have a vision for this book, but I need you to tell me if I’m getting close to expressing it.

If you’re in, I’ll send you an ebook version of Resist. I ask that you read it within the next three weeks.

You don’t have to be a pro book reviewer. You don’t need any special expertise to share your thoughts about the characters, the pacing, what you like or don’t like, and whether the story works for you. Really, all you have to be is curious about what will happen next. I’ll thank you in the printed acknowledgments when I publish, and you’ll get a paperback copy of the finished book. If you don’t like ebooks, I have two printed copies that I can send to two lucky readers.

Let me know if you’re interested by hitting reply. Thanks!

The Future Is Coming at Us Fast

Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner in the venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, recently posted a document that he calls the Techno-Optimist Manifesto.

In it, he argues for limitless growth and profit, that humans must dominate nature, and that technology is the solution to all of our problems. It’s like he read Surrender and borrowed from my main bad guy, Bradley15 Power. Here, in the real world, is a VC setting forth the philosophy that I tried to imagine was going to happen in the next five or ten years. But here it is right now, in real life. In the manifesto, Andreessen quotes from big thinkers, including Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, a poet who wrote the Futurist Manifesto in 1909 and went on to write the Fascist Manifesto in 1919.

I’m sure Andreessen is aware of this connection. He’s a smart man who isn’t bothered that his way of thinking also works for fascists.


The ongoing and expanding fakery, simulation, and trickery in audio and video is another area that seems like it must be fiction, but is not. Remember all those photos of your kid that you posted, or if you don’t have kids, remember all those photos of other peoples’ kids that you’ve seen on Facebook? Researchers are concerned that criminals will use those images to fake your child’s voice and image. In the story that I read, a parent got a frightening phone call that seemed to be from their child, but when the parent checked, they found that the child was actually at home. The phone call was faked. Some parents are cutting back on posting identifying features of their children online.

Podcasters are wondering if their voice will be stolen and used without their permission. After all, a podcaster has posted many samples of their voice online. It’s a large cache of audio just waiting for a crime to happen. There’s a startup that is marketing something called a digital watermark, like a signature for your voice, that might let you know when your voice has been used without your consent.

Just for fun, someone posted an audio clip on TikTok of President Obama defending himself against involvement in the sudden death of his former chef. The Obama’s former chef did die mysteriously. That part is true. But Obama’s voice was a fake. It was discovered by a company called NewsGuard that monitors the web for misinformation.

There’s no doubt that digital fakes will be everywhere, and soon we will see thriving businesses in detecting fakes and successful companies that claim they can watermark what is real on the web. In the fake world, the identities of the heroes and villains are becoming clear.

Resist spins a tale of the future that is drawn from real-life events, like the events that I write about above, and in the book I work to create a positive vision of the future, imagining villains who believe tech is the answer to everything, and heroes who want to create a balance among humans, nature, and technology.

Let me know if you’d like to give it a read.

Always typing faster,


Today’s Sources

The Techno-Optimist Manifesto

The Futurist Manifesto

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

Sharing Children’s Faces Online

Deepfaking a Podcaster’s Voice

Fake Obama Voice

(c) Lee Schneider 2023. Take care of each other. Subscribe.