New year happens, interview follows.

Happy New Year, blog!

Sorry I’ve not given you any love since September last, but I find I have so little to say these days. As proof of this, here’s a vanishingly short interview I gave to a gent called Igor, with whom I occasionally rub shoulders and short stories in the annual SFFWorld.com anthologies.

You remember, these:

Anyway, that headline once more: I was just interviewed about such diverse subjects as spending time writing, evading death by starvation as a result of spending time writing, and tantric sex.

Check it out, eh?

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Joey Freedom and Free Health For All

Recently, someone named Joe Walsh Freedom had a thing to say about basic human rights:

In a way, I agree. I think healthcare is something that people in a position of power or authority should consider it their default ethical duty to provide, rather than something which those who are not must demand, or have protected from loss. So too daily food, so too a roof. I don’t really understand why a social leader wouldn’t actively want to bestow such things on everyone they could, seems to me that people would love them for it. So, obviously, I don’t really agree with Joe Freedom, whoever he is (probably an American and maybe a comedian, judging by the name).

I genuinely don’t think a job is a right, though — but this is all down to something like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If people have the base essentials like health, food and shelter, which only the deliberately short-sighted would consider a bad thing, they have a platform from which to build better lives. When people aren’t forced to compromise to survive, find themselves making bad (or even terrible) decisions to survive, there will inevitably be positive knock-on effects for the society they inhabit. If there are negatives waiting in the wings, I’m not sure what they are.

This is why I think that Basic Income is the way forward: not because it’s freemoney for freeloaders, but because it ensures a survival baseline for all (indirectly including all the commercial providers of those essential resources — see? not a communist right here). Now I recognise that some people in such a system could be satisfied with “merely” surviving, but I don’t think it would be many. If our drive to survive stops being a necessity, we may discover that it was actually just Our Drive — and find it starts pushing us to pursue more valuable activities, things that might benefit more than just our individual lives.

For many people that will mean performing jobs, just like it does now, although suddenly they’d be able to pay for more than medicine, breakfast and rent with their paychecks. For others, well, who knows what they’d do to earn more than the minimum? I guess I should concede the possibility that some might persist in resorting to anti-social measures even in the face of a little unconditional generosity from the state, but I suspect that it won’t be a high percentage.

I think the counter-arguments of people like Joey Freedom boil down to the perspective that these are “Gateway Rights”, and once people have their foot in that door they’ll demand more and more. First it will be Free Netflix, then the right to recreational drugs, a new car every year, and gimme gimme gimme. Eventually we’ll all want to blight the planet or murder with impunity — you know, the kind of perks that only the rich and powerful currently get access to. [/satire]

I don’t think that’s how it would go down. I think Joey Freedom’s perspective is a bit depressing, it doesn’t credit humanity with very much, and isn’t even funny.

He’s not a very good comedian.

Welcome to Pacific City!

The somewhat belated 6th SFFWorld.com anthology is now open to submissions from the world at large! Our theme this year is Heroes and Villains, whether their heroism or villainy is large or small — but there’s another little detail to bear in mind.

Welcome to Pacific City! is a shared world project. It will focus on our titular megalopolis, a 20 million-strong city on the coast of Oregon that puts the likes of NYC, LA and Tokyo to shame. Contributors have the chance to help design and define our world from the ground up, and you can find sources of inspiration at the city guide on the site — but be warned: if you go digging around, you may unearth more than you expected.

Submission info and other details are on the landing page, but in a nutshell: we’ll be offering a $15 fee on acceptance, plus a contributor’s copy of the paperback on publication. We’ll also be running a Kickstarter campaign in the hope of bumping those fees to a cents-per-word rate.

Metropolis has Superman and Lex Luthor, Gotham has Batman and all the rest. Who or what stalks Pacific City is down to you…

The deadline for submissions is November 30th — hope you give it a try!