Read THE PAINS or I will shoot you in the face

The Pains is now available for you to read, for free, online. It’s under the Creative Commons license, about which more in a moment. It’s also available for you to pre-order printed copies. I would advise your buying several copies: it’s the surest way to avoid extraordinary rendition to an undisclosed location and being subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.


I’ve updated this entry with some more info about Creative Commons.

It started with a simple sentence in a Kuro5hin diary. Farq Q. Fenderson wrote, “I woke up this morning with a pain in my body that felt like it might be a soul gone bad.”

I was struck by that conceit. What might “a soul gone bad” feel like? And how would you know? What would cause it? And by the way, what exactly does that phrase mean, “a soul gone bad”: Bad like falling irremediably into sin? Or bad like rotten meat? I liked the way Fenderson wrote, “pain in my body”, making explicit and emphatic the distinction between a soul-pain and a bodily pain.

For weeks that sentence ran around in my head. Eventually I wrote to Farq Q. and asked him if he would mind lending it to me for a story I could feel bubbling up within me. Fenderson responded affirmatively right away. The bubbling up, however, took a while. In fact the story bubbles still. But it’s finally been written.

I began writing the story on the day that I took my daughter Grace off-island to a shopping mall with a few of her friends for her 16th birthday. When you live on an island that doesn’t have a chain store or a traffic light, a mall is an exotic thing. To pass the time while I waited, I went into a “One Dollar” store and bought a $1 notebook and a $1 package of pens. I stat down on a bench and began to write: “Mr. Norman Lux woke up with a pain in his body that felt. . .”

I thought it would take me a month or two to write the story. My daughter will turn 21 in February.

I don’t know the whole story of why it was such a struggle to write. But I know where a lot of the inertia came from. The Pains is the story of a perfectly decent person (“Mr.Lux”) upon whom God, or the Universe, or Random Chance, or Chaos, or Whatever, decides to dump unending physical misery–and of how that perfectly decent person bears up with extraordinary grace under the onslaught.

But during the writing of the book, no matter what torture I came up with to inflict on poor Mr. Lux, out here in the real world, my beloved brother Paul and my beloved sister Maureen were being visited with worse tortures than I could imagine, and responding with more grace than I could dream up. Paul found his peace in April of this year and Maureen found hers in September. I’ve dedicated the book to their memory — he liked what he saw of it; I never showed it to her because I think she would have found it stupid. Anyway, I hope it’s worthy of them.

Below, please find the press release I’m sending out about it, hoping that I can get some publicity.

Read my book! Let me know what you think of it! And most importantly, BUY A COPY!! I really need the money!

A brief word about Creative Commons

From the Creative Commons website:

Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally.

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from “All Rights Reserved” to “Some Rights Reserved.”

We’re a nonprofit organization. Everything we do — including the software we create — is free.

Creative Commons is an organization that promotes the creation of a commons–that is, a common wealth shared by all for the good of all– of “intellectual property”. It is part of a grass roots movement to resist and reverse the obscene encroachment by corporations and governments into areas of formerly free discourse. In contravention of the clear intent original authors the United State Constitution, corporations and their allies in Congress are hell bent on “privatizing” –and thus subtracting from all of us –whatever they can of our common cultural heritage.

I release my books for free under the Creative Commons license for several reasons, among them:

1) In the first place, I put my books online (in HTML & PDF) to gain visibility for them. Since there is no reasonable way for me to prevent people from copying them anyway, I think it’s only proper to make it clear that that’s OK with me, as long as they follow the terms of the license — (a)that I’m given credit, (b) that they may not be used for commercial reasons and (c) and that the right to create derivative products — such as screenplays based on my books– still reside with me.

2) In the second place, the CC license protects me from being ripped off by corporations. “Acts of the Apostles” would make a damn fine movie. That work is protected by the CC license, so nobody’s going to make that movie without compensating me.

3) I dread and fear the corporatization of every damn thing, including ideas and common cultural heritage. By joining Creative Commons, I resist that trend. I encourage you, too, to resist megacorporate publishopolies. They’re a bad thing. Really.


Vineyard Haven Author Pens Third Novel

Dystopian narrative evokes shock and dread of Orwell’s classic “1984”

VINEYARD HAVEN — John R. Sundman III, a longtime resident of Martha’s Vineyard, has published his third novel. The author is popular among readers of the science fiction genre known as “techno punk,” which grapples with issues such as the role of technology as a destructive force, the devolution of modern civilization, and the threats posed by socio-religious cults in a 21st-century global culture linked by the Internet.

Sundman’s new novel, “The Pains,” is a story of faith in a world that appears to be falling apart. It tells the story of Norman Lux, a 24-year-old novitiate in a religious order, who becomes afflicted with something akin to stigmata.

“I wanted to recapture the sense of shock and dread that George Orwell’s ‘1984’ inspired when it was published back in the 20th century,” Sundman said. “Orwell’s masterpiece has become so familiar that its basic message no longer shocks and disturbs us. Time and familiarity have diluted its power. I’m hoping that “The Pains” will rekindle some of the visceral excitement that readers experienced when reading ‘1984’ for the first time. That being said, it’s not to everybody’s taste — some people might find it too shocking or too disturbing.“

Adding to the dark aura of the book are a dozen stunning illustrations by Canadian writer and illustrator Cheeseburger Brown. Brown’s artwork has garnered several awards on both sides of the border. His short film ”Space Attack!“ was awarded a Stanley from the California cable broadcasters’ community in 2007. He won the 2002 Lightwave Animation Award and the 2003 Hewlett-Packard Juried Digital Art Competition in 2003.

Sundman’s first novel, ”Acts of the Apostles,“ was published in 1999. It was well received by ”geeks“ worldwide. Slashdot gave it an excellent review, saying it was ”what Tom Clancy would write if he were smart.“ Rusty Foster of Kuro5hin said it ”may well be the ultimate hacker book.“ also published a highly positive review of ”Acts of the Apostles,“ which won Writer’s Digest Magazine’s ”National Self-Published Book Award“ competition in 2000. Sundman’s novel was judged first in a field of 325 other books.

His second book, ”Cheap Complex Devices,“ was published in 2002. Although purportedly about the ”Hofstadter Prize for Machine-Written Narrative,“ the book is a meditation on self-awareness (human, machine, or other), and a satire of academic artificial intelligence in the spirit of Vladimir Nabokov’s ”Pale Fire.“

For a limited time, ”The Pains” will be available for download at no cost. For additional details, please visit

In addition to writing fiction, Sundman has done reporting for and other magazines. He is a volunteer at Island Food Pantry and the Serving Hands pantry, and a member of the Tisbury Volunteer Fire Department.


  1. That…

    I’m going to need to read it again before I’m certain I like the way it ends. Maybe more than once. I’m not sure what I expected, but I know that wasn’t it.

    Congrats on finishing it. Or ending it, anyway. 🙂

  2. Well, I’m sorry if I disappointed, but we artists, you know, can only go where our muses direct us to go.

    The main thin, eann, is that you buy a freekin copy.

    And where the hell have you been, anyway? Send email or post on that old familiar site where all the people talk about stuff, you know the one I mean.

  3. No, it wasn’t disappointing. It was just so different I couldn’t digest it on the first try.

    I’m more than a little jaded, as a reader of speculative fiction, so the fact that you threw me off is probably high praise.

    Probably. I haven’t read it the second time, yet. 😉

  4. Thanks for making this available at no cost, it looks very interesting! Did you consider releasing it under a Creative Commons license?

    They are well understood by the masses and make the rights you’ve granted here explicit and legally binding. See… for information on picking the right one!

  5. It’s under creative commons attribution, non commercial, no derivatives. Says so at various places throughout the text. But thank you for the suggestion.

    My other two books are also under the same license. I hope I sell some printed copies or get some donations; that’s my main source of income these days!

  6. There’s only 10 chapters available for download are you sure this is the full free version of this wonderful book.

  7. Alien Fiend,

    That’s all there is; there ain’t no more. I think it wraps up rather nicely, myself. Then again, I wrote it, so I would say that.

    Buy a paper copy, it will make us bother happier!

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