Jason Gurley, author of Greatfall, has put together an interesting article on Medium.com about all the folks who write stories set in or around the WOOLiverse. The piece includes commentary by Hugh Howey and a number of other writers, including me, about “fan fiction,” the future of this growing franchise and the new program by Amazon known as Kindle Worlds, which is expected to launch within a few weeks. WOOL has been added as one of the properties in which others will officially be allowed to write and sell books, and those of us who have already been writing Silo stories — which have sold an incredible 30,000 copies combined as of last week — are watching this development with great anticipation.
I urge you to check the article out and let me know what you think about fan fiction as well as Amazon’s plans.
In the meantime… look for Karma #4, Rising Up, by this weekend. w00t! Or as we like to say, w00L! If you haven’t read the first three in the series, here they are, in order:
Karma #1, The Sky Used to be Blue
Karma #2, Cleaning Up
Karma #3, Deep Justice
I’m out of the country for a good bit of July, so the fifth and final book in the Karma series, Last Walk, may not be released until later in the summer. I’ll be watching to see how the Kindle Worlds announcement impacts the possibilities for that book and for the compilation of all the Karma stories into one big novel… whose title I keep messing with, but which I’m currently calling Karma, Complete.
Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here. No spamming and no selling of your email! And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.
“There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.”
― Aldous Huxley
I stand looking at the gore on my hands, the endless blood sliding out from the man that was Jeff pooling under my feet, dank, metallic, slippery.
What have I done?
“Karma.” I hear my name called as if from another country.
“Karma.” It comes again, faint but louder. Rick is sitting up on the cot, his pillow on the floor, his body sucking in great draughts of breath while the tendons in his neck stand out. He is trembling.
Mars races into our sleeping area from the server room. He flips a switch and throws blinding whiteness across the body, the grue, the killer standing there with her arms covered with blood.
That would be me.
I am the killer.
Mars wants to get out of here right away. He is pacing the floor, eager to leave this thirty-fifth level hell immediately.
Rick and I say we need to talk while we have privacy. We need to come up with a plan, agree on a story, and figure out what to say when we emerge.
So we’re talking. But we’re talking fast.
“I’ll turn myself in,” I say. “To Sheriff Aponte.”
“No,” Rick says. “They’ll put you out to Clean.”
He reaches across the small table in the sleeping area we carved out for ourselves. His arm touches mine. I am still getting used to his new way of caring.
I look at him, in part because I am amazed at his kindness and concern. But in part because I don’t want to look at the large sheet-covered mass on the floor. The sheet is stained with blood and already stinks of death.
Mars stops his pacing. “Dad. We have to get the body—Jeff—taken care of. At least put him in a bag. It will take both of us.”
Rick nods and stands up. He is stronger now, but his arm is still weak.
“I’ll help,” I say.
“We can handle it,” Mars says, heading off to the storage room where I assume there are extra body bags.
“I killed the man. I’ll help take care of his body.” I look at the sheet. The lump that used to be Jeff.
Rising Up will be available through KDP Select by July 1. Please sign up here if you want to be the first to know about new titles!
I’m excited to announce that Karma #4, RISING UP, is going to be available for purchase by July 1 (and maybe even earlier). I just wrote “The End” on the draft, and now I do some rewriting and then send it out for formatting. Watch this space next week for a sneak preview!
And here is the cover… ta da!
I’m thrilled to announce that Deep Justice, #3 in the Karma series, is available as of last night. And it’s flying up the charts already, joining my first Silo story The Sky Used to be Blue, and my second, Cleaning Up. Be prepared… this one has a lot of action. We see a side of Karma never encountered before.
It is an amazing time to be a writer! If anyone reading this is thinking about writing, DO IT. It’s never been easier and more accessible to the average (poor) person. I’ll be adding another blog post about self-publishing soon. Watch this space.
And as to the Karma series… there are two more parts to come! If you’d like to be notified the minute they are released (or even before) please give me your email address here, and I’ll let you know. No worries that I will abuse your trust.
“… most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Deputy Herring stands up and offers me her chair when I arrive in the office. I shake my head no but give her a polite smile.
Sheriff Aponte doesn’t get up. He’s speaking into the radio. “Right. Judge Brewer has joined us.”
Static fills the room as he takes his finger off the speaker button. I’m well aware that his statement could mean he was cautioning those in radio communication that a judge, and the wife of the Head of IT, was now in the room. Or perhaps he was just being polite by introducing me. Either way, whoever was on the other end knew I was in here now.
Aponte turns to me while he turns the radio crackle down. “So here’s what we know. It looks like Mechanical was trying to build a bomb of some sort, and it exploded prematurely. Probably saved some lives that it happened this way. Now we know what they’re up to.” He stopped, apparently remembering where he’d been. “Sorry it spoiled your son’s wedding.”
I shrugged, acknowledging it as being of minor importance. “Any deaths?”
“No, remarkably.” He put on his glasses and pushed his sandy hair back with a hand. The man needed a haircut, I saw. Probably because he didn’t have a wife. Rumor was that he and the Deputy were sweet on each other. I could see that on his side. She was a smart cookie, and not bad to look at for a woman who spent her time trying to be scary enough to get compliance from men twice her size. And they were about the same age—mid-thirties. Older than most who got married. Typically the young people would jump in by twenty or before… it was the only way to get your own place and be able to have sex. At least that was the official rule.
But Deputy Herring was a catch, and Sheriff Aponte was not a pleasant man, as far as I was concerned. I look at her looking at him, and can see that she feels differently.
Aponte looks down at his notes, apparently scribbled while he was getting a radio report from the Deputy Sheriff closest to Mechanical.
“Deputy Lincoln says a few shrapnel wounds and some injuries from the force of the impact throwing people against walls, as you’d expect. But no deaths. They were lucky.”
I see Herring nod, her blonde curls bobbing as she agreed. Admiration shines in her eyes. Too much time spent alone together in this office, I figure. He was probably the only man she knew well enough to develop a crush on.
“So what’s the plan?” I ask. What indeed? Mechanical might as well have declared war, since their attempt to build the bomb certainly telegraphed their intentions.
“Deputy Lincoln is on the scene now, and the Security people IT loaned him are making their way down from 34 to the Down Deep lickety spittle.” Aponte takes off his glasses and looks at me. “They’ll have… the necessary equipment.”
I shudder, then repress it. Guns is what they would have, as I well knew. Rick kept me completely in the dark about his doings in IT—protecting me, probably, as much as anything else—but I knew they had guns and plenty of other means of controlling the population. There had been enough minor skirmishes in the 25 years we’d been underground for me to know that his department was equipped to put down any serious attempts at overthrowing the power structure.
Of course, there hadn’t been any organized attempts. Until, perhaps, now.
The radio crackles to life again, and Aponte turns the volume up.
“IT has sent most of its Security forces down, so we’ll find out what was brewing.” The hiss and crackle fill a space between words as the voice of Deputy from the Down Deep pauses. “Whatever is going on in Mechanical is gonna stop way before it gets to you.”
I look up, catching the eye of Aponte, and I see that he looks eager. Even the law is itching for a fight.
Here’s a thank you to all of you who read “The Sky Used to be Blue”! I made a video for you, kazoo and all. And if you wonder what I’m talking about when I mention that the picture behind me is backward (and it’s not), that’s because a friend flipped the vid for me! So now the cover makes sense, but I don’t. Oh well!
However, it was a very good hair day, so…
Thanks for buying, thanks for reading, thanks for telling your friends, and thanks for reviewing!
Thanks to the several hundred folks who have already bought The Sky Used to be Blue since it was published two days ago. I am blown away! And thanks to Hugh Howey, whose generosity in sharing the world he created with the WOOL books is unprecedented.
Here’s a quick look at a scene from the upcoming Part 2 of the Karma series, Cleaning Up — a rough draft that I just typed up last night. You are getting a glimpse into the mind of a writer… this is how the creative process works. Just jump in and create something out of thin air!
Let me know what you think:
Now, we don’t watch the Cleanings. Now, we find it too terrible.
But the first time, we didn’t know.
I stood in the cafeteria with hundreds of others, curious to see what Andy would encounter once the doors opened into what looked like a toxic world of swirling dust and dead soil. I was worried for him, but not really afraid. It didn’t seem possible that they would send him out—let him out, since he had been eager to volunteer—simply to die. How foolish it seems now.
Rick stood beside me that day. We had left Athena, who was only two, in the nursery. I had worked out my routine by then—vague and mostly compliant with Rick, sharp and curious with Andy. Somewhere in between for my daytime job. I had left the laundry, where I first worked, and found a position as a teacher in the elementary class for the Up Top. Though I had to remain cautious about revealing my clear memory of the time before, it seemed safe to demonstrate that I had enough intelligence to teach five- to seven-year-olds.
It had been hard enough keeping my two selves separate when I had Andy to talk to. Now, I knew, it would be doubly difficult to do so. And doubly critical.
We didn’t realize what would happen to him. At least, I didn’t.
I hadn’t seen Andy since the day he was dragged out of the cafeteria, not yet afraid, just stunned at what was happening to him.
And now, I could see him. Though his face wasn’t visible through the reflective glass on his helmet, and his moves were jerky and impeded by the bulk of the protective suit they had put him in, I still recognized my friend.
I knew that when Andy made a slow, balletic but clumsy twirl, he must be awed by the view. And even thought the landscape featured only the usual menacing gray clouds of dust and the barren hills, it still must be thrilling to get a 360 degree view of the sky and the world—what was left of it.
He went to work right away scrubbing the lenses through which we saw the outside. A cheer went up after the wallscreen view cleared—and we realized that we had been looking through a grimy build-up of dirt and whatever else was flying through the air with those noxious clouds. Somehow Andy’s work with these ingenious pads—wool?—had made all the difference.
But I was less concerned with the cosmetics of our view than with his health. Though everyone believed the outside air to be toxic, this suit they had put him in seemed to be doing the trick. Andy showed no signs of distress. Perhaps after he had completed the brave task of scrubbing the silo lenses, he would be welcomed back in, penance completed, cleansed of whatever sins he was considered guilty of.
Rick was right beside me, his hand laid protectively on my shoulder. I was careful to keep both my expression and my body language neutral as the emotions raging through me swung from fear to relief to pride and then back to fear.
Andy had apparently finished his duties with the little wool pads, and had returned them carefully to the numbered pockets on his suit. He turned and started to walk away from the wallscreen, toward the brown hill in front of us. Somehow he seemed to be heading for the ruins of the tall towers I knew to be what was left of Atlanta.
My breath caught in my throat as I realized how naïve I had been to imagine a triumphant return into the silo. I would have given anything to have him safe back inside again. What had felt like a prison only moments before seemed like a blessed refuge compared to the wasteland Andy was now shuffling through.
Keeping my voice carefully neutral, I turned to Rick. “So what happens now?”
He looked down at me and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know.”
As was so often the case, I imagined I saw something in Rick’s eyes that meant he knew more than he was admitting. But how could he know what Andy’s punishment entailed? Rick wasn’t part of the Sheriff’s staff. And no one had ever gone outside before.
I turned back to the screen to see Andy start to slow, and then stumble. What was wrong? Had the suit ripped? I couldn’t see any outward reason for his change of pace. Maybe he was simply getting tired.
But then he fell, clutching his thickly padded hands to his gut. It was all I could do not to scream. He tried to rise again, but could not. For a few feet, he crawled forward, even the awkward suit unable to conceal what looked like spasms. As my friend’s agony became apparent, and he drew what appeared to be very painful breaths, the mood in the immense room changed. What had first been curiosity, followed by celebration after the lenses were cleared of grime, became gasps of horror and disbelieving cries. Voices around me started to sound.
Women began to sob and men clenched their jaws.
As Andy sank to the ground for the final time, I wept, ashamed and full of despair. How could I have let this happen to my sweet Andy?
Rick wrapped his long arms around me.
“Ah, baby, I’m so sorry. I know he was your friend.”
As Andy’s form, still encased in the bulky suit that was supposed to protect him, stilled at last, I nearly crumpled to the floor myself. Only Rick’s arms kept me upright. It was safe to cry now, as so many others were, stunned and horrified to witness the dead man lying in full view of the giant wallscreen and all the observers.
Only I had the irrational urge to scream at my strangely unreactive husband, to pound on the doors to the outside begging to retrieve the remains of my friend, or do something, anything, to change the outcome of his tragic last walk.
But I did nothing.
I am excited to let you know of another short story set in the WOOL universe… encouraged by Hugh Howey himself!
Part 1 of the Karma series, The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story is an 8,500 word short story based on Hugh Howey’s WOOL books, published with his permission.
Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn’t sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the others seem content—except for the ones who jump to their death from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones that are pushed.
After the doctor prescribes a special liquid and tells her to avoid tap water, Karma begins to remember a very different world. Despite the fog in her mind, she is convinced that something came before. Such memories are dangerous to talk about, or even to know.
She must figure out who can be trusted. The doctor… her husband… or no one at all.
Here’s what Hugh Howey, the creator of the WOOL universe, said after reading the synopsis of this story:
Hey Patrice, I LOVE this story idea! You have my complete blessing. I can’t wait to read it.
Let me know when it’s done!
The Sky Used to be Blue will be available tomorrow! I’ll be uploading the URL as soon as I have it… watch this space for more news.