88 Names

Book tour scheduling changes

Due to the coronavirus outbreak here in the Seattle area, there have been a number of changes to my upcoming book tour schedule:

* Emerald City Comic Con has been postponed, so I will not be signing books there this Thursday.

* My appearance at Creative Mornings has been postponed from this Friday to Friday, March 27. Because of this, the start time of my March 27 Reddit AMA has been pushed back from 9 AM Pacific to noon Pacific.

* My March 19 appearance at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR, has been rescheduled for July 1.

* My March 21 appearance at Sunriver Books & Music in Sunriver, OR, has been rescheduled for Saturday, May 30.

* My March 22 appearance at Roundabout Books in Bend, OR, has been rescheduled for Sunday, May 31.

For now, my other events are going forward as scheduled. Please check my appearances page for the most up-to-date information.

[Update 3/12: Third Place Books has announced it is cancelling all remaining events this month, so my March 26 reading will be rescheduled, date to be announced later.]

[Update 3/13: My appearance at Elliott Bay Book Company, initially scheduled for March 17, is being postponed, new date to be announced later.]

Finally, a reminder that if you’d like a signed or personally inscribed copy of 88 Names, or any of my other novels, you can order one through my local indie, Secret Garden Bookshop (206-789-5006 / bookshop@secretgardenbooks.com).

The 88 Names podcast

Over the past month, I’ve been recording episodes of a limited series 88 Names podcast, in which film critic Blake Collier and I interview various luminaries in the virtual reality tech and creative arts fields. The podcast site is now live, here. The first regular episode, an interview with Academy Award–winning filmmaker Brandon Oldenburg, will drop this Friday, March 13, and an interview with Yours Truly will post on March 17, 88 Names‘ publication day. A teaser episode, in which Blake and I talk briefly about Lovecraft Country, is already available, here.

Future podcast guests include novelist Cory Doctorow; Glassbox Technologies co-founder and CPO Mariana Acuña Acosta; philosopher and ethicist Michael Madary; Hewlett-Packard’s Global Head of Virtual Reality for Location Based Entertainment, Joanna Popper; and No Proscenium founder Noah Nelson. The series will be capped off by a live, virtual reality book reading and author Q&A on the AltspaceVR site (April 17 starting at 5:30 PM Pacific).

The podcast is being produced by Darryl Armstrong and the Threaded Zebra Agency and hosted by Rise Up Daily. Sponsors include Derooted, AltspaceVR, and Creative Mornings.

Events this Friday and next week

We are now just over two weeks from 88 Names‘ publication date. This Friday, March 6, starting at 11 AM Pacific Time, I will be a guest on the Drax Files Radio Hour, a virtual reality talk show/podcast hosted on the Sansar VR platform. I will be sporting a custom Bad Monkeys inspired mandrill avatar designed by Silas Merlin.

The Drax show will stream live on YouTube, here, so VR goggles are not required if you want to check it out—and if you can’t catch the show live, a recording will be posted to YouTube afterwards.

Next week, I have my first real-life 88 Names event:

On Friday, March 13, from 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM, I’ll be the featured guest at Creative Mornings at Galvanize Seattle, talking, reading, and answering questions. This event is open to the public and admission is free, but because space is limited you need to register in advance. You can register here, starting on March 4.

As always, the full list of my currently scheduled public appearances can be found here.

We have books

As you can see, I have received my complimentary author’s copies of 88 Names. It’s my seventh published novel, but this part of the process, where what started as a collection of weird story ideas in my head becomes an actual freaking book, never gets old.

Publication is just three weeks away now. You can find my current book tour schedule here. If you can’t make it to any of the in-person appearances, I’ll be doing a number of online events as well, including an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit on Friday, March 27, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.

Four weeks to 88 Names

The publication date for 88 Names is just four weeks away now. The launch event will be a reading, Q&A, and book signing on March 17 at 7 PM at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. If you’re going to Emerald City Comic Con, I’ll be signing copies at the University Book Store booth on March 12 at 4 PM. A full list of book tour dates can be found here.

I will also be doing some online promotion. In collaboration with the fine folks at Rise Up Daily and the Threaded Zebra Agency, I’ve been recording a limited series 88 Names podcast. One episode will feature an interview with yours truly; in the others, media critic Blake Collier and I will be talking to people in the tech and entertainment industries about the future of virtual reality. Confirmed guests include novelist Cory Doctorow, philosopher and ethicist Michael Madary, Academy Award–winning director and illustrator Brandon Oldenburg, No Proscenium founder Noah J. Nelson, and Glassbox Technologies CPO and co-founder Mariana Acuña Acosta. To cap off the podcast series, I’ll be appearing live in AltspaceVR to do a reading and Q&A. The first podcast episode should drop about a week before publication day; I’ll be posting a detailed schedule soon.

Meanwhile, on March 6 at 11 AM Pacific I will be appearing on the Drax Files Radio Hour in Sansar, the immersive 3D version of Second Life. This is a more general interview about my writing career, but as it will be taking place in virtual reality with me wearing a custom avatar, I imagine the subject of 88 Names will come up. If you can’t catch the show live, don’t worry, a 2D version will be posted to YouTube afterwards.

Last but not least, I’ll be scheduling a purely text-based Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit, sometime around pub date. Details soon.

88 Names giveaway on Goodreads

Happy 2020, everyone.

My seventh novel, 88 Names, will be published on March 17. The folks at Goodreads are giving away 50 advance copies at the end of this month. You can enter the giveaway lottery here.

Early buzz about the novel has been very good. Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus all liked it, and Booklist just gave it a starred review: “Ruff is an expert at keeping readers off-balance and providing entertaining stories that cross genres… The action inside the virtual gaming world is sleek and exciting, but the extrapolation of identity, friendship, and human relationships makes the narrative shine.”

You can read more about the novel here. A list of confirmed book tour dates can be found on my appearances page.

Books and more books

Last week I attended the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s fall trade show in Portland, Oregon. I was a guest at the Tuesday morning author breakfast and got to pitch 88 Names to a ballroom full of friendly indie booksellers. I also scored complimentary copies of the other guest authors’ books—the new Joy of Cooking, revised by Ethan Becker (grandson of the original author) and Megan Scott; Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel, about a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme, with ghosts; and Ruta Sepetys’ The Fountains of Silence, a historical novel about Spain under Franco.

Before heading home I made the obligatory pilgrimage to Powell’s City of Books, signed some stock, and picked up a few more presents:

That’s How to Disappear, by former skip tracers Frank M. Ahearn and Eileen C. Horan; The H.P. Lovecraft Book of Puzzles by Dr. Gareth Moore; and Julio Cortázar’s Literature Class, a collection of lectures on writing Cortázar gave a Berkeley in 1980.

We have a cover

Behold the cover for my forthcoming novel, 88 Names (details in my last blog post). The artist is Jarrod Taylor, who also did the cover for Lovecraft Country, as well as an early concept cover for The Mirage.

This time around Mr. Taylor delivered a number of cover ideas, all cool in different ways, but this one was my favorite. It’s a great fit for the story, but the thing that really sold me was the visual pun of the paper name tag as VR goggles: Freaking brilliant, as I told my editor.

In related news, yesterday I signed off on the second pass galleys, the last version of the novel I will see before we get bound review copies later this year. So book #7 is done; time for me to start thinking about what I’m going to write next.

My next novel is 88 Names, coming March 17, 2020

Earlier this week I finished reviewing the galleys for my next novel, 88 Names. I’ve been teasing this for a while, but here’s the official catalog description:

The critically acclaimed author of Lovecraft Country returns with a thrilling and immersive virtual reality epic—part cyberthriller, part twisted romantic comedy—that transports you to a world where identity is fluid and nothing can be taken at face value.

John Chu is a “sherpa”—a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character equipped with the best weapons and armor, and take you dragon-slaying in the Realms of Asgarth, hunting rogue starships in the Alpha Sector, or battling hordes of undead in the zombie apocalypse.

Chu’s new client, the pseudonymous Mr. Jones, claims to be a “wealthy, famous person” with powerful enemies, and he’s offering a ridiculous amount of money for a comprehensive tour of the world of virtual-reality gaming. For Chu, this is a dream assignment, but as the tour gets underway, he begins to suspect that Mr. Jones is really North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, whose interest in VR gaming has more to do with power than entertainment. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, Chu also has to worry about “Ms. Pang,” who may or may not be an agent of the People’s Republic of China, and his angry ex-girlfriend, Darla Jean Covington, who isn’t the type to let an international intrigue get in the way of her own plans for revenge.

What begins as a whirlwind online adventure soon spills over into the real world. Now Chu must use every trick and resource at his disposal to stay one step ahead—because in real life, there is no reset button.

Per my usual m.o., the book is a departure from what I’ve written previously, but it’s probably closest in tone to Bad Monkeys. Much of the story takes place in virtual-reality environments where you have total control over how you look and sound, and since most of the characters John Chu interacts with—not just Mr. Jones and Ms. Pang, but his coworkers and his ex-girlfriend—are people he’s never met in real life, it’s a constant guessing game as to who he’s really dealing with and what they’re really after. That’s about all I can say without getting into spoiler territory, but I think the novel is a lot of fun, and the in-house buzz from HarperCollins has been great so far.

88 Names is due out March 17 of next year. It’s available for preorder right now.