Newsletter 2023-04-07: Writing Update, Cyberjacking Cars, Book Tips and a Music Tip

Newsletter 2023-04-07: Writing Update, Cyberjacking Cars, Book Tips and a Music Tip

Title 'Koen's Bi-montly Mailing' against backdrop of white binary digits on blue background

Pier with boats against a background of rocky shore with wooden housesWriting Update

My parents are visiting from The Netherlands, and we had a program of south Sweden sights to see lined up. Sadly, my mom tested positive for covid-19 not long after their arrival and has been cooped up in the guestroom since. I had really hoped to show them Sweden’s west coast with its romantic villages of red-painted houses clinging to the rocky shores. She’s doing well though, thanks to the vaccines. Yay for science!

Every disadvantage has its advantage though (a famous Dutch saying): I did make good progress on processing the feedback my copy editor had on The Ein Particle. I love the work he’s done, really tightens up the prose. With that out of the way, I’m almost ready to send out the first ARC copies (if you’re interested in an advanced review copy, let me know by replying to this email). Meanwhile, the first feedback from my beta readers is coming in. There’s one in particular that lifted my spirits: ‘In one word: WOW!’

Pixelated red sports car driving along a pixelated coast with pixelated clouds in the sky


Thieves have been able to hack into a car’s headlamp, unlock the doors and drive off without triggering any alarm.

Modern cars have all their parts linked together through a CAN bus. Basically, the CAN bus is one big room where every component is shouting status updates and listens for instructions. For example, a headlamp might divert its beam left or right in response to input from the steering wheel sensor or the receiver of a key-less entry system might broadcast a message ‘all clear, the key is in the vicinity, disarm alarm and unlock doors’.

Whether because of incompetence, laziness or just being cheap, the messages on this CAN bus are usually not protected in any way. Any connected component can shout anything, and the other components will happily respond, regardless of the source of the message.

In this particular case, the communication between key fob and receiver may have been secure, using state-of-the-art cryptography, yet the communication between the receiver and the alarm was not. With a headlamp — easily accessible from the outside of the car—connected to the same CAN bus as the key-less receiver—the thieves were able to connect to the can bus by dismantling the headlight and send their own, fake, ‘all clear, unlock’ message. Too easy!

I love this sort of thing, because it’s real, ubiquitous and no matter how much technology advances, these back doors will always exist. They provide convenient plot elements for my characters to hack their way into whatever system stands in their way, while at the same time keeping things realistic.

World Fiction Group Promotion

Blurry earth surrounded by stacked books, yellow banner that says 'World Fiction Promotion' and 'Free
            ebooks from around the world' and a blue button that says 'Download now'

A number of my fellow international authors have gotten together and set up this group promotion of free ebooks for the voracious reader. Ranging from scifi to fantasy, from scary to adventure, these are all free to download and enjoy.

Get your free ebooks now!

Stubbled man in profile against background of abstract geometrical shapesTangents & Tachyons
J. Scott Coatsworth

Tangents & Tachyons is Scott’s second anthology—six sci fi and sci-fantasy shorts that run the gamut from time travel to hopepunk and retro spec fic.

This is the first time all of these stories have all been collected in one place.

Get it for free now!

Stylised wolf looking up to an owl shooting laser beams from its eyesSoccer96

Soccer96 are a London-based duo and their brand of electronic music is different than most. Instead of relying on sequencers, laptops and samplers, their music is played entirely live.

Their debut album, while short, is an intense mix of diverse tracks. And if the collection of diverse tracks featuring syncopating dissonance, polyrhytmic exctasy and mouth-watering synths has whetted your appetite, their discography boasts a slew of albums and EPs to enjoy.

Check it out on Bandcamp or Spotify.


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