Join my email newsletter for updates about new fiction directly in your inbox!

1

Archive for Uncategorized

My Short Time as a Viral Hit Maker

On June 23rd, as the results from the British EU Referendum or “Brexit” began to come in, it was clear that the Leave vote was ahead.  Once the lead solidified and the BBC called the result, the Pound Sterling began to tank. The mood on Twitter turned grim.  I had an IM window with Nick Mamatas open at the time.  Sparked by I’m not sure what, I shared the notion that I might Photoshop the big reveal at the end of Planet of the Apes and replace the Statue of Liberty with Big Ben.  Nick said, paraphrasing, “DO IT.”  Not the most original joke I’ve ever come up with, but I’m fairly proficient with photo-editing, so I got to work.  About twenty minutes later, I had this:

planet-of-the-brexit

This is actually a slightly cleaned up version of the original image, because I can’t resist fixing mistakes that I let go by in my rush to make the joke first.

I sent the image over to Nick, and before I could tweet it out myself, he tweeted the image along with credit:

Nick sending it out turned out to be the ticket to success for it, because it spread the image far faster and wider than my own followers list would have. Within seconds, the retweets began.  Early on, Cory Doctorow retweeted it. By the time I went to bed just after midnight, the tweet had over a thousand retweets and showed no sign of slowing down as morning came in the UK.

Somewhere along the way, the image began to circulate without attribution.  Warren Ellis (my favorite graphic novel author of all time!) picked it up and retweeted it:

A couple of different people, especially one @Guy_Lawley, pointed out to him that I was the original creator of the image.  Warren Ellis, forever cementing for me his reputation as a stand-up guy, apologized to me (unnecessarily, but much appreciated) and sent out another tweet with attribution:

At this point, I completely lost track of where things were going with the image.  It spread faster than I could keep track of.  I tweeted the image in response to a similar idea from Dara O’Brien (an Irish comedian big in the UK), and it picked up dozens of retweets from that as well. I had no idea so many people read the mentions for a famous person’s tweets.

Pretty soon, other versions began to circulate.  Accusations of copycats were made, but I didn’t buy that personally.  It was an easy reach, and I don’t doubt that dozens of people came to the joke at the same time.  I probably was not the first to make the joke, although maybe the first one to photoshop it.

Word spread on Facebook that I’d created the original and first image, and people began to tag me in posts acknowledging me as the creator on posts by people such as Hugh Howey and many random viral Facebook pages.   The Guardian ran an article with a hand-drawn illustration that had a similar concept, and people called them out on Twitter, tagging me.   For about four days, I could barely keep up with my Twitter mentions and notifications.  I am very glad I had them mostly disabled on my phone.

My rough estimate is that the image was shared and retweeted over 20,000 times, but it is impossible to know for sure because of how easy it was for the image to drop attribution.  I imagine I could have added a watermark, but I didn’t want to mar the image and frankly I didn’t really care if attribution was maintained.  The only reward I wanted was to see people get a laugh in a kind of dark and shitty moment, and in that regard, the joke succeeded better than I ever expected.

The lasting result was that I picked up 40 new Twitter followers and three or four new Facebook friends.  Otherwise, my life is now back to normal. No, as some friends have asked, I did not get rich.  I did not make any money, and if I had somehow, I imagine the people who own the rights to the movie would have deserved 99% of it.

As a postscript to the whole experience, I want to note that things have turned darker in regards to Brexit since I made the image, with many accounts of  public acts of racism circulating on the Net.  I don’t find racist attacks funny, and this image was not making light of such things.

Permalink

Recap of A Parenting Conversation

This is a conversation, roughly paraphrased, that we just had in my house.
 
Me: So the Dad’s a rabbit and the Mom is a cat. They have a cat son, a rabbit daughter, and somehow, a goldfish child as well. Apparently when you mix cat/rabbit cartoon DNA, one possible result is a goldfish?  There are so many things I don’t understand about that.
 
Wife: I assumed the fish kid was adopted.
 

Me: *does Google search* Ah. He’s Gumball’s pet Goldfish that grew legs and learned to talk, so they adopted him into the family. So I’ve just spent four days thinking about cartoon genetics for NO REASON?

Wife: Uhhuh. So I was right?

Me: *scrolling* Wow.  They have wikis about EVERYTHING now.

Permalink

Uncategorized

“Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass” Out Now in February Lightspeed Magazine

ls-feb-16

The scent of fresh lilacs and the boom of a cannon shot muffled by distance prefaced the arrival of the rabbit hole. Louisa jerked upright in her seat, and her book fell from her lap to slap against the cold pavement of the station floor. Dropping a book would normally cause her to cringe, but instead she allowed herself a spark of excitement as a metal maintenance door creaked open on rusty hinges. Golden light spilled out onto dazed commuters. Was this it? Was this finally it?

My latest fantasy short story is available for purchase in this month’s issue of Lightspeed Magazine, along with the work of other great writers such as Rachael K. Jones, Sarah Pinsker, Rachel Swirsky, Karen Tidbeck, and Christopher Barzak.  It will be online to read for free February 9th, also.  I hope you enjoy it!

Permalink

Uncategorized

Welcome To the New JeremiahTolbert.com

For a while now, I’ve been a cobbler’s child; “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.”  Oh, I had a website, but it was old, out-dated, and didn’t demonstrate any of the cool features that I am able to bring to bear for my own author clients.

Working between paid gigs, I’ve been putting this one together for a while, because my own writing career is very important to me.  It was time to finally give myself the gift of a new website, one that I didn’t have to feel embarrassment for.  I’m pretty proud of it, actually.  This is what I picture when I picture my ideal author website, minus a listing of a whole bunch of published books (but those will come with time).

Drop me a note if you find anything broken or odd.  I’ll likely continue to tinker with it off and on for a while.

Permalink

Uncategorized

FLASH FICTION: What Color Is This Apocalypse?

Everyone remembers where they were when the world began to end, mostly because everyone was sitting on their couch or in an office arguing with friends, family, or coworkers about the color of #TheDress.  Cultural divisions formed with startling ease over Gold/White vs. Black/Blue.  A man in Virginia was stabbed during a bar dispute, but mostly, the argument was constrained  to social media.

Scientists and journalists working together scrambled to put together uneasy explanations involving the optic nerve, visual cortex, or cones in the eye.  Nobody was fully convinced with the explanations, but within a day, the actual photo in question had faded into a series of memes and jokes. A week later, the world forgot about it, except for that geriatric corner of Facebook where your grandparents lived and you secretly suspect the speed of light is a third what it is everywhere else.

Then #TheFruit happened, and that was when we realized #TheDress was a harbinger of something much worse.  Twitter user @Bollocks13 posted a simple photo of a piece of fruit captioned: “Uh… is this a banana or an apple?”  Some viewers claimed to see a long, yellow fruit–a completely ordinary banana.  Others insisted in describing a round, bright red apple with a nub of stem.  Accusations of hacked systems flew back and forth.   “Very funny,” said Twitter user @NotMyJerb, “but this is clearly showing people different photographs.”

Experts analyzed screen captures of the image and it was found that the duality of the #TheFruit persisted even offline.  An explanation did not come easily, and the debate raged twice as loudly on the Internet this time.  A disagreement about #TheFruit led to a wife stabbing her husband in Detroit 16 times.

When people started to report see both, simultaneously, the quantum physicists got involved in the discussion.  Tests were conducted in laboratories and particle accelerators around the globe; meanwhile, battle lines were being drawn online not between those who claimed “banana” or “apple,” but between those who thought the entire controversy was an elaborate hoax and those who suspected it meant something awful.

“Our working theory is that the underlying mechanics of quantum mechanics and observational bias are breaking down somehow,” said  lead particle physicist at Cern, Fabiola Gianotti. “Evidence has come to light of additional objects that seem to appear simultaneously in multiple states — we are currently studying an automobile that appears to be a car, a truck, and a minivan at the same time.”

The breakdown accelerated from there.  Marches for peace overlapped simultaneously riots in the streets.  It’s hard to say anymore what really happened after that.

People lived and died on operating tables – medical staff were at a loss what to do with the resulting breathing corpses. The poor became wealthy, but only between blinks, and their money spent irregularly.

Our genders blurred into meaninglessness.  “From my perspective” became not just a “couching term” but a bit of reflexive language tacked on to nearly every observational statement.

“From my perspective, the bus has arrived.”

“From my perspective, the bus is a jetliner, and it just took off.”

Society survived.  It collapsed.  The sky turned puce.  Chartreuse is not a deep red; it’s a shade of yellow-green. Or is it?

I live a mostly solitary life now, like a monk.  Many of us do, among the survivors.  We cannot trust our senses, and we cannot trust that what we say will be perceived correctly by our observers.  It’s not so bad.  There is grace to be found in a state of flux.

We’ve learned to accept confusion and ignorance.  With the complete collapse of objective reality, many of the old arguments died quick deaths, or at least were made irrelevant. We think so, anyway – you must remember, these are merely opinions and they should bear little weight on how you perceive things.

Only one thing troubles me right now. I don’t know who is writing this.

Is it me, or is it you?

Permalink