. . . watching that trailer, I thought it was a TV show or a movie!
Lol. Got you.
These are books. Four novels. We still like novels, right?
Sure. But will there be a movie?
Today’s news is about FOUR NEW NOVELS.
Okay. Are you writing them?
I know, I’ve been doing collaborations to stretch myself lately—the Spill Zone graphic novels with Alex (read them online!) and the Zeroes series with Margo and Deb—but this is a solo project.
Where are these books set? Same world? Same time frame?
They take place in the Uglies future, after Tally’s revolution has changed everything. As she once said, “Freedom has a way of destroying things.” The Imposters series is about dealing with the consequences of ending the Pretty Regime. The story starts in a city where things did not work out well. Bad people are in charge.
Correct. But we also will travel to other cities where things aren’t all bad. This new series is about all the expressions of human nature that’ve popped up after more than ten years of social upheaval.
More than ten years! Is Tally in these books? (Wouldn’t she be, like, super old?)
Lol. She’s, like, THIRTY.
Yes, she is a character in the world. But she’s not a point-of-view character (in the first book, anyway). She’s more like a famous person in the background.
What’s Impostors about then?
A girl named Frey, who’s been raised from birth to pretend to be someone else. She’s a body double. A bodyguard. An impostor!
It’s about the roles that our parents and society force upon us, and how we fight to create our own identities, to invent selves that really belongs to us.
Is that Frey in the trailer?
Not really. This was more of a “Remember Uglies? There’s more!” reveal. There will be another trailer this summer that goes into the plot and characters of Impostors.
Where’s the cover?
Coming soon. It’s lovely.
FORGET COVERS ARE THEIR HOVERBOARDS IN THIS BOOK?
WHAT A QUESTION OF COURSE THERE ARE HOVERBOARDS
Also lots of other cool new tech, never seen before in the Uglies universe.
Spy dust, suborbitals, lupine surgery, cyranos.
What do those words mean???
Read the book.
Why did you go back to the Uglies world after all this time?
The real world was, like, “Dude. Even stable-seeming democracies are built on seriously rickety underpinnings. Do you really think a bunch of recently awoken bubbleheads are going to make good choices?”
And I was, like, “Dude . . . ”
Yeah. Also I had a bunch of science fictional ideas kicking around in my head, and once I came up with Frey’s story, they all started to click.
But you said four books. What are the other three about?
This series mostly follow the adventures of Frey. But later on in the series, Tally (and some other familiar characters) will play a bigger role. The new Uglies world will get bigger and bigger.
There will be one book a year. A book every September till 2021!
Important question here: Is there any romance in Impostors?
There is! But the Love Interest doesn’t know who Frey really is, of course, because she’s an impostor—like in the title! So everything is very tricky, and also our pair are from different sides politically.
Hang on. A guy doesn’t really know who the heroine really is, and they’re on opposite sides? Isn’t that kind of like Leviathan?
Um, Frey isn’t pretending to be a boy. But yes, I do like to play with hidden identities and complicated politics and secrets. Romeo and Juliet is a Thing for a Reason!
Also, unlike with Alek and Deryn, this guy won’t take three frickin’ books to figure it out.
Wait. You’re writing both sides of this dialog. So this is just you laughing at your own joke.
I slay me.
Any other questions about Impostors?
Why isn’t it call Cakes?
It’s true. “Pretty” is the last word in Uglies, “special” is the last word in Pretties, “ugly” is the last word in Specials, and “cake” is the last word in Extras. So it should be called Cakes.
But the cake is a lie.
Why do you keep spelling it “Impostors” instead of “Imposters”?
Because an “imposter” is someone who works in an impost office. DO YOU WANT TO READ YA BOOKS ABOUT CUSTOMS OFFICIALS? (If you do, there’s probably fan fic.)
Okay. One last question . . . um, IS there ever going to an Uglies movie or TV show?
I mean, who knows with Hollywood? But maybe if Impostors is a HUGE bestseller . . .
If you have any more questions, put them in the comments below.
Thanks to everyone who came to the NYPL reading last week. It was totally awesome and packed, which is how we authors like it. For those of you who weren’t there, I read a bit of Chapter 2 of Leviathan, the part that goes with the image I posted last week.
And now a message from our sponsor, Swarovski Crystal.
Tally took a steadying breath, the room spinning again, but in a good way. She gestured for the windows to transpare a little more, and in the sunlight she saw the new additions.
Bolder than all the other implanted glitter, twelve tiny rubies ringed each of Shayâ€™s pupils, glowing softly red against emerald irises.
No, I didn’t photoshop that, and it’s not a prank. It’s the second-place winner of a competition co-organized by designboom and Swarovski Diamonds, by Anthony Mallier. It’s kind of amazing how close this design is to Shay’s eye surge.
Not that I’m complaining. I doubt I’m the first to come up with this idea, given how long people have been saying, “you’ve got a sparkle in your eye.” It’s only a matter of time before diamond-laced contacts are real, and not just a prototype. Read more here in Mami Magazine.
Of course, there’s no time-telling feature with these, so Shay still wins!
Thanks to Twitter-pal @13stars_above for spotting it.
In other news, the Leviathan trailer has almost 60,000 views on YouTube! Thanks to everyone who watched it, and told your friends about it. (Clearly, some of you did.)
Sorry I haven’t been posting much, but there is a book to write—Behemoth, sequel to Leviathan! That’s right, I have to finish Book 2 before I go on tour for Book 1 at the beginning of October. Speaking of which, I’ll be posting the tour info soon, once I get a few details sorted.
One of the themes of the Uglies series is transhumanity. In other words, how we humans change when we use technology to alter our minds and bodies in radical ways. Throughout the series I tried to juxtapose the good (special reflexes and pretty health), the bad (being bubbleheaded or cutter-brained), and the ambiguous (manga heads and Radical Honesty) changes that our species is capable of.
At this year’s TED conference athlete Aimee Mullins spoke on that very subject. Aimee has no legs, or rather, she has many legs to choose from. In Uglies terms she is a Diegoan, someone who alters her body at will for practical and aesthetic reasons. She’s also good at talking about these alterations in awesome ways.
So check her out in this very brain-rewiring video.
Behold these classic movie stars in horrific manga form:
Anyway, Justine and I are moving into new digs today, so we may be internet-missing for a few days. So don’t expect much in the way of blogging by me for a bit. (Not that I’ve been very good this year so far . . . )
Remember that scene in Uglies with the morphos? When Tally and Shay play with a digital version of their face to see what they’ll look like as pretties?
Well, a group of Israeli computer scientists have developed something similar: a “beautification engine” that automatically renders photos of faces into (supposedly) prettier versions of themselves.
I’m particularly happy with the name “beautification engine,” which is kind of steampunk sounding. Here’s an example of its work:
Interestingly, the software doesn’t smooth wrinkles or blemishes. It changes only facial geometry, while trying to keep the face recognizable. (Being faithful to the original is not something they’d worry about in Tally’s city, of course.) And really, like a lot of these attempts to reduce beauty to numbers, it’s more bland-making than anything else.
What’s intriguing is how many faces are less pretty after they’ve been run through the software. (Especially Marlon Brando.) This may be because we “know” the celebrities involved, and don’t want them changed.
Or maybe it’s because some of these celebs are already pretties, and “there is no beauty without some strangeness in its proportion.” But the software, which looks kind of bland-making to me, removes that strangeness and actually makes certain people less pretty.
It’s cool that this came out now, though, because one of the biggest sections in Bogus to Bubbly is about the science of beauty. I tried to distill a lot of the research that’s been done, and to explain it in psychological and evolutionary terms in ways relevant to the Uglies series. And frankly, I think my explanations are better, or at least more complete, than those in the Times.
You’ll be able to judge for yourself in less than two weeks, because Bogus comes out October 21! (And yes, some school book fairs are already selling the book.)
Thank you for spotting this article, Sophie and Hiroki!
And one last shout-out from the tour bus: Tonight Justine will be in Kansas City, MO to talk about How to Ditch Your Fairy, with me in tow!
Thursday, 9 October 2008, 7:00PM
Kansas City Library
4801 Main Street
Kansas City, MO
Sorry for being so long between posts. There’s a good reason, as Justine explains here, we’ve been hiding out at an undisclosed location to finish our next books. In fact, the only reason I’m taking a break is because Leviathan just crossed the 75K word mark!
Pause for woot.
And no sooner do I turn to the internets for relaxation, and what do I see on BoingBoing but manga contact lenses! They’re so totally like the manga heads in Extras that I had to interrupt my fierce writing schedule to show you:
Okay, my manga heads probably aren’t that scary. But still, I’m glad someone’s trying already. And yes, these are a real product:
Thanks to Jade Lennox and Temvald for kicking this to me!
This subcutaneous digital display uses the sugar in your blood and turns it into the electricity it needs to run. (And it’s Bluetooth compatible.) The article is a bit unclear about what stage this gadget’s at. The photo caption says the it’s being demonstrated, but the article says, “just a concept.” Well, “concept cars” are prototypes . . .
Anyway, it’s sort of like the flash tattoos in Uglies, because it monitors your bio-signs. Not your heartbeat in this case, but your blood chemistry. Seems to me that if it could control its own energy use, it would be great for diabetics.
If you read the articles for both these devices, they both mention cell phone applications. Like, dude, that is so 1997.
Is it just me, or are the flash tattoos out in force these days?
This bit of tat-spotting comes to us courtesy of Gabrielle:
Now I know that facial tattoos have been around for millennia, but I’m seeing a lot these days that seem to look very Special Circumstances-ish. Maybe that’s because my Special tats were based on those of the Maori (the people who got to New Zealand 600 years before Europeans did their “discovering” thing). Maybe there’s just been an upsurge in awareness of Maori culture, or maybe it’s all about henna.
Still, I’d be interesting to know how many of you have spotted sort-of flash tattoos in popular culture lately. Anyone besides Gabrielle?
Most of you may already know that a Twilight Zone episode from 1964 is an early example of the dystopia presented in Uglies. It’s called “Number 12 Looks Just Like Me,” and is based on a short story by Charles Beaumont called “The Beautiful People.” Some enterprising soul has posted the entire thing to YouTube.
The poster has set the video to not embed, but click below to watch the three parts: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Until last night, I hadn’t seen this gem since I was a little kid, so I’d forgotten all the details. Especially the phrase “pure perfection of pigmentation” (appearing 15 seconds into part 2), which is particularly creepy given how white everyone in the episode is. (Despite what the US covers for Uglies suggest, in Tally’s world everyone is racially averaged, or at least pushed toward the middle of the bell curve.) Note also the disturbing moment when the protag’s mother says to her braindeadmaid, “I don’t understand why you people have so much trouble with first names.” Hmm.
I’d also forgotten that in “Number 12” people look so much alike that they need name tags (obviously not the case in Tally’s world—my future is bell curvy, not cookie cutter). Here the facial choices are so limited that all fourteen characters are played by four actors. And what is it about the extreme minimalism of sf sets? Get some frickin’ posters for your walls, future people!
And some, um, better clothes.
Of course, compulsory plastic surgery is a venerable theme in sf. Not surprising, given that the first elective nose job occurred about a century ago, about the same time as H.G. Wells was writing War of the Worlds. (Fun fact: the earliest known skin grafts were performed in India 2800 years ago!) Other early fictional examples of compulsory cosmetic/brain surgery include L.P. Hartley’s 1960 story Facial Justice, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” (1961), and of course Ira Levin’s Stepford Wives (book: 1972; films: 1975, 2004).
But it’s great to see this classic again. Thank you, anonymous copyright-flouting YouTube user!