About ogresan

Richard Parks' stories have have appeared in Asimov's SF, Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, and numerous anthologies, including several Year's Bests. His first story collection, THE OGRE'S WIFE, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is the author of the Yamada Monogatari series from Prime Books.

Proof Copy Yamada Monogatari: Troubled Spirits

Today the paperback proof copy of Troubled Spirits arrived, just in time for Halloween. I was fairly certain I’d gotten the book into presentable form as an actual, physical object, and so far I haven’t found any egregious errors. I did have some concerns about the gutter margins, but they look fine.

Frankly, I’m amazed to get it right the first time. Regardless, and unless I stumble upon something awful, the pb should be available within a few hours. I’ll include the link once I have one.

Yesterday First Reader and I went to cast our early votes. It was a Sunday, and according to the poll workers, they had been busy. I’ll take that as a good sign.

And we’re now live! Links below:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Yamada Monogatari: Troubled Spirits. It’s a Book Now.

Cover Design: Orca

While The Seventh Law of Power is still moving along, I took a couple of days to finish editing and arranging the stories for the last(?) Yamada book, Troubled Spirits. The Kindle version is processing as we speak, and I’m nearly done laying out the paperback. The epub version of almost any book is a lot easier, so naturally it got finished first.

This will include all the Yamada stories published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies after the collection Demon Hunter, plus two short originals. I’ve divided the book into two parts: those stories that took place in the timeline before the events in The Emperor in Shadow, and those that followed after. The ToC reads like so:

Part1:

“The Tiger’s Turn”

“The Sorrow of Rain”

“Three Little Foxes”

Part 2:

“Uzumaki of the Lake”

“A Minor Exorcism”

“The Ame Onna”

“The Fox’s Daughter”

“Epilogue-One Rainy Day, With Spirits”

I enjoyed visiting the old guy again. I’m not saying there will never be another Yamada story, but that’s all for now. I’ll put up the link as soon as I have one…:Aannd we’re live. Here is the

Amazon US Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BKDHFJDY

Amazon UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BKDHFJDY

Amazon CA Link: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0BKDHFJDY

Non Sequitur Redux

View From Lock 17

This is a view across the river and canal back toward town. The trees to the immediate left are on Moss Island, a big rock island created when a land-cut was made around a shallow and rapid section of the Mohawk River. The river flows from the right side of the island, the canal from the lock (out of sight) to the left, as seen from here.

All of which has nothing to do with the following snippet. I’d otherwise refer to this as “Scenes From a Marriage.”

He: “Is powdered sugar the same as confectioners sugar?”

She: “Yes. Are thinking of making frosting?”

He: “Nope. Rocket fuel.”

She: (Long Pause): “Why?”

He: “Because I’m a man, and every now and then we have to do stupid sh!it.”

She: (Longer Pause): “Fine, just do it outside.”

He: “Goes without saying.”

Haven’t done it yet. Probably won’t. Was thinking about it, though. In lieu of disaster, First Reader and I went for a walk along the Canalway Trail. I took some pictures and share a few here.

Rock Grotto
North Wall
19th Century Lock

It’s All Wilderness

We live on a game trail. Took me longer than it should have to figure this out. There’s a clear and heavily used path running in from the woods on our right into and across our yard. In the winter it’s even more obvious, with the deer tracks running through our back terrace and up the side of the valley. Not only deer, though they’re the most obvious ones to have created the trail. We’ve seen woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, and First Reader thinks she may have seen a Fisher. They’re rare, so maybe, maybe not. We also suspect raccoons, though only by other evidence.

So it’s not so unusual to live by a game trail for people out in the boondocks. Thing is, we live in the middle of town. Not that the deer seem to care. They’ve got their business to deal with and just because we’re here doesn’t change that. So we co-exist just fine, thanks, and we’ve been here long enough to identify our regulars. Take the twin boys in the picture, for ex. They were born last season and their mama used to bring them through to graze on the terrace. Took us a while to realize they were bucks until their first nubs showed through. And they’re not fighting, even though rut should be well under way and the one on the right already has his dueling scars.

I like getting to know the neighbors. Yes, I did lose a tomato plant but no worries. They were here first, after all. Besides, we’re all animals on this rock.

Interesting Times

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Everyone’s familiar with the supposed Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” Probably not Chinese. The closest actual equivalent source is from a writer named Feng Menglong in 1627: “Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos.” For my part I’m not sure if it rises to the level of a curse in the first place. More like the normal human condition. I mean, seriously, has there ever been a period in human history that hasn’t been “interesting” in its own way? As a species we’re a lot of things but “boring” isn’t one of them, and I can certainly see where Feng was coming from.

Frankly, I could do with a bit of boredom right now.

Not gonna happen. Latest developments in AI research just got real. By now AI language models like GPT-3 that can converse on a near-human level are widespread. Another really interesting development is scientists have plotted AI Language models’ responses to language interpretation and found the graphs are eerily similar to the same responses in the human brain. Google has apparently taken the next step by integrating their own language model into a robot powered by a custom AI brain. Frankly, it’s the next logical step and I’m a little surprised it took this long. Google might be the first but it won’t be the last.

So what’s the point? Simple: instead of robots either remotely controlled or specifically programmed for a narrow range of tasks, now there is a platform where the robot can “understand” a written command and attempt to carry it out. This is different from other platforms like “Sylvia” which at heart are just very advanced chatbots.This new type of robot, in addition to processing language, can analyze its physical environment and interact with it in response to how it interprets what the language model tells it. Naturally, it’s still learning and doesn’t always successfully complete its task…the first time. Note the “learning” aspect. Also, there isn’t just one robot, there are several. And if one learns how to successfully complete a task, they ALL do.

One take on the concept of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) is it won’t happen until AI is out of the computer, so to speak, and able to truly interact with its environment the same way human children learn. Thus, robots. It’s happening now. Will this lead to a truly general AI? No one knows for certain, but that’s the goal.

Interesting times.