A Salute to Audacity

“I will put millions of people on Mars,” says Elon Musk, in a recent New Scientist interview.

Sit back and think about that a minute. And repeat it to yourself. A self-made billionaire who’s revolutionizing space travel and reinventing the automobile has now said, “I will put millions of people on Mars.” It’s like something out of a Heinlein story, from an era when we actually still believed that humankind could go forward, that science wasn’t a Catch-22, and progress was not some silly notion that never actually happened.

And think about what it means if it actually happens.

“Well, Musk probably wants the millions of people up there as slaves,” the cynics will say. “He’s an evil capitalist, nothing good ever comes of them. Probably needs the low-income workers for the factories he’ll put up there. Soon we’ll be competing with cheap Martian imports!”

Or, your internal refrain might go something like this. “Why’s he bothering when we have all these problems down here on earth? Wouldn’t the money be better spent uplifting our own population?”

And some will say, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, because Musk is a terrible person, I heard he did XYZ!”

Well, I’ll tell you why it’s not about slaves, and why Musk isn’t bothering, and why even imperfect humans (you know, like every single one of us) can and should do the most amazing things they can. It’s because we stand at a very special place in history. We can either start thinking big again, or we can chain ourselves into a one-world prison. One world, one set of resources, one set of chances. Or many worlds, many resources, many chances.

And I for one think we need a new frontier. In this pressure-cooker world, are we at each others’ throats more and more simply because there’s no way for the more adventurous to get away? Is it because everything is too planned, too safe? Is it something programmed into us over millions of years? There’s powerful evidence that early human ancestors’ upright posture was to provide a more energy-efficient way of getting around. We were literally born to walk, to run, to explore. To see past the next hill, and discover what’s in the next valley.

Maybe this is one of the single most powerful things driving us? What if our love of travel and speed has its roots in our evolutionary past? What if we need to keep going, even after we’ve explored every inch of this planet?

“Crazy ravings of a marginal science fiction author,” you might say. Or, deep down, you might look out your window, at the horizon, and feel the pull of what lies beyond.

No matter the case, my hat is off to Elon Musk. I’d really enjoy buying him a drink someday. And perhaps talking about how the low end of his Mars trip budget lines up well with what I had in mind for Winning Mars.

December 24th, 2011 / Comments Off on A Salute to Audacity

My Alter Ego

A whole bunch of people have been wondering what the heck has happened to me. A while back, an industry pundit declared “Jason Stoddard Week” because I was showing up in so many magazines and online publications at once. In the past couple of years, not so much.

Well, hey, I have Winning Mars out, y’know. But I can’t deny things have been somewhat slow on the new release front.

I could use the usual excuses: too busy, too many things changing in my life, coudn’t find a Starbucks to write in, had to feed the dog, etc. But the reality is that I’ve been working on some new things on the writing side. One still isn’t ready for prime time, but this one is.

So, meet my alter ego: Brett Patton.

He writes for ROC. And he writes about a bunch of fun stuff that doesn’t fit in, say, a near-future book about scheming entertainment execs and a reality show on Mars. Things that include several flavors of interplanetary empires, wacky instantaneous point-to-point spaceship drives, dead races and giant robots. Yes, I said giant robots. Except they aren’t really mechanical. But I’m getting ahead of myself–

“Wait. Are you saying that you’ve written a mass market science fiction novel under a pseudonym?”

Yes, I’m saying exactly that. Well, sorta kinda. Because it’s not just a good old-fashioned golden age space opera. It isn’t just about pointing the trigger and shooting. There’s a lot of hidden stuff going on. It’s not so black and white. And you know what? Writing Mecha Corps was a lot of fun.

And it has giant robots! It even made Library Journal’s “Mass Market Paperbacks of Note” for December 2011. 

You know what to do:

Buy on Barnes and Noble
Buy on Amazon

December 20th, 2011 / Comments Off on My Alter Ego

Winning Mars: Debut of the Month

This just in: Winning Mars was chosen by Library Journal as their “Debut of the Month!”

Here’s what they have to say:

In a future where the art of “linear entertainment”—better known as TV shows—is giving way to interactive, massive multiuser online gaming (MMOs), producer Jere Gutierrez conceives of a “reality show” set on yet-to-be-colonized Mars. Eleven players, divided into teams that are each assigned a different goal, travel to the Red Planet to compete in a $50 million contest while the world watches on a five-minute time delay. The risk: a high probability of death. 


Stoddard’s highly original story draws on the latest trends in reality TV and tension over U.S. vs. Chinese control of space travel. Powerful storytelling, a minimalist prose style that does not diminish the three-dimensional characters, and a keen ear for dialog add to this novel’s many pleasures.

Read more here–>

Can I be more thrilled? No. Not possible. Simply beyond the pale. Thanks again to Prime Books for reaching out to me!

Delighted? Skeptical? Amused? Have some lunch money laying around? See for yourself—buy Winning Mars:

At Prime Books
At Barnes & Noble
At Amazon
At Powell’s

One Last Plug
Everyone should buy this book. No, really. Everyone in the world. Well, everyone who doesn’t need the bucks to, well, like, eat. If you love my stuff, you’ll make Prime Books feel all warm and fuzzy about publishing more of my work. If you hate my stuff, hey, don’t you need kindling for the coming dystopian future?

December 15th, 2011 / Comments Off on Winning Mars: Debut of the Month


Writing is cool, but sometimes pictures are even more fun. So: here are the covers for a couple upcoming works from me.

The first, Panverse Three, features my novella, Orion Rising. It’s an alternate history, based on a short conversation I had with Freeman Dyson at a conference a few years back.

Now, you’ve probably put together, “Orion” and “Freeman Dyson,” and you’re thinking, “Oh crap, he’s not going there, is he?” Well, yep I did, but probably not in the way you expected. And it’s certainly not warm and fuzzy, cute and cuddly, or even strange and happy. Read it. You’ll see.

And if you don’t like my stuff, get Panverse Three anyway. There’s some great stuff in there, and we need more venues for long fiction in our twitterpated age. Or maybe we just need to write Twitter threads. Or maybe we need a shared writing experience like The SCP Foundation. Or maybe we need to all write movies and games. Or . . . well, nevermind.

The second, Winning Mars, is my first novel from Prime Books. I’ve been working with Paula Guran, their wonderful editor, and I think we ended up with something fairly amazing.

If you’ve read the original novella from Interzone 196, or even the creative commons book, you’ll find that this version of Winning Mars has evolved fairly dramatically. Most notably is a new character, and she’s by far the smartest and most interesting of the . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Plan for a December launch–and plan for a re-release of Saving Mars, the novella that bridges Winning Mars and Eternal Franchise, at the same time.

And–I gotta say, I love the Winning Mars cover!

July 11th, 2011 / Comments Off on Covers!

Back From the Dead!

No, I’m not dead.

No, I haven’t accepted a multimillion dollar offer to stop writing forever.

No, I haven’t been abducted by aliens and replaced with a perfect facsimile. At least I don’t think so. But then again, how would I know? I mean, if the facsimile was really perfect . . . but I’m getting off track.

What I have been is insanely busy–and the writing I’ve been working on has largely been invisible, or much longer-term. So, for those of you who like my stuff, this is a quick notice: it’s coming! What it won’t be coming in is small, easy-to-digest pieces. And some of it may not even be coming in book form.

Here’s what I can say: Winning Mars is headed your way. As is another novel. Can’t talk about that one much. And . . . Willpower . . . well, I can’t say much about that either, because what’s done isn’t done until it’s done, and even then it may not be done. But it’s been a long strange road, and let’s say that Willpower has an, ahem, interesting shot at much broader exposure.

In the meantime, you can look forward to Orion Rising in Panverse Three, coming September 2011.

But, in any case, I’ll be more active here in the months to come!

May 5th, 2011 / 1 Comment »