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Friday, 21 October 2016

Rambling thoughts on killing Hitler via time machine




Anyone writing time travel sooner or later trips over the trope of Going Back In Time To Kill Hitler - I did while procrastinating researching Time Rats 3. It's a fascinating topic that raises lots of questions. For instance, why is it always Hitler? If you were going to kill an evil dictator because of all the deaths he caused, Mao Zedong and Stalin should be first in the queue. They were responsible for a total of 100 million deaths to Hitler's 30 million. You can see a list of evil dictators here in order with photographs - and what a vile and unattractive bunch of men they are.

I'm slightly irked by the commonplace delusion that just because you've gone back in time, that somehow gives you access to historical figures. If you can't get to chat with the Dalai Lama, Teresa May or Barack Obama in 2016, why would you expect to get anywhere near famous people in historical times? (Socrates and Jesus are probably the exceptions here. They were both renowned for talking to ordinary people.) Once he reached power, Hitler survived 42 known assassination attempts, so was not an easy target. If you sensibly decided it would be simpler to kill Hitler before he was famous, you've still got to find him. At the very least, you'd need to learn German. Training as a sniper would be useful.

As to the morality of killing to save life, have a go at this Moral Machine questionnaire about the choices a driverless car might need to make. In various scenarios, you choose from a series of alternatives which group the car should plough into given a choice. My results showed that I favoured fit human females over everyone else. That'll be the offspring. Cats didn't figure - I turned out to be far more ready to sacrifice cats than most people. My reasoning was that cats don't have relatives whose lives would be ruined by their death. See how you do.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats book 2) selected by Kindle Scout


I was spoiled on Kindle Scout the first time. The Trouble with Time (Time Rats 1) was selected within 48 hours, before I'd begun to look for a result. Its 30 days ended midnight Seattle time on a Friday, and I found it had been chosen over breakfast in London on Monday.

Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats 2) took ten days, testing to the max my resolution not to fret. The offspring said, "It doesn't matter if it's not chosen, you can just self-publish," and this was true and comforting. Still, it's nice to be picked.

I've always maintained that it's a waste of time struggling to keep one's book in the Hot & Trending chart, so I didn't. I'm not saying that Amazon takes no notice of it, just that they are not likely to be impressed by nominations resulting from paid advertising, or hundreds of Facebook acquaintances clicking without reading just to be nice. A new website has sprung up (I'm not going to link to it) which for $94 will email 175,000 people about your campaign. They allow you to use this service every seven days. As well as this sort of thing, writers swap promotional ideas on forums and the bar gets ever higher. TR2 spent 49 hours out of a possible 720 on the H & T, all at the end, and had 406 page views. This is an exceedingly modest score - TR1 had 155 hours, and 572 page views, and that was hardly earth-shattering.

It's possible Amazon takes note of the ratio of nominations to views, and whether people nominate your book on the last day hoping for a free copy because they actually want to read it. It's nonsense to suggest that a good score will guarantee your book gets read, or will put you to the top of the pile. Kindle Scout editors consider every book. Many books have spent most of their 30 days in the H & T and been turned down. I'm not convinced that Amazon is interested in evaluating an author's marketing skills, either. What they want is a well-written book they think will appeal to readers - give them that, and they can handle the marketing. Anything you can do is a drop in the bucket by comparison.

I like TR2, and hope my readers will too once it hits the virtual shelves.