Saturday, December 31, 2005
After digging up the final Word documents for all of my 2005 projects and running word counts, I wasn't really surprised by the result. I've said elsewhere that I had a pretty shitty 2005 and, not to belabor the point, I did. I lost almost six months of productivity, not really getting in gear until the middle of the year. Still, in just under seven months of writing in 2005, I finished two novels (both incorporating chapters written in previous years) and three short stories. A decent annual output, but certainly not staggering.
Paragaea 108,447 (24,154 written before 2005) 84,293 new words
Fire Star 114,472 (52,883 written before 2005) 61,589 new words
"Annus Mirabilis" 4,338
Total new words written in 2005: 158,985
So that's it for writing, which is one of my three part-time jobs. So how did I fare in the other two (editor/publisher, and dad)?
While wearing my editor hat, I assembled the anthology Adventure Vol. 1, and shepharded Myths for the Modern Age and The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana from manuscripts to printed versions. (The output of MonkeyBrain Books, too, took a hit this year; we're slowly getting back on track next year, with five titles, and should be back up and running at full steam by 2007, hopefully with eight titles at least.)
And then there's the dad report. My daughter learned how to walk (and how to run, in short order), and her vocabulary expanded from nil to dozens of words, if not more. She's started speaking in complete sentences, which really freaks me out. She is displaying a distinct innate musicality (she loves singing, drumming, dancing, et al), which I think is splendid. She absolutely adores books, which I think it spectacular. She's happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.
Even though 2005 was, subjectively, pretty damned sucky, by any objective measure I did respectable work, which I suppose is some comfort. That said, Allison and I are both glad that this year will be over in another few hours, and are looking forward to starting with a clean slate in 2006.
Friday, December 30, 2005
"It's like Shakespeare, but with lots more punchin'..."
Hell, I want my next project to have a theme song!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Fourteen the Ditch
(Oh, and the name of Jeff's LJ is actually "One for the Ditch," a play on having "one for the road" when the only place you're likely to drive is into a ditch; but it's a gag that, so far as I know, no one has been able to get without having Jeff explain it to them. Everyone sees that 1 and 4 as 14 and doesn't look back. He's a tricky one, that Ford.)
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
SF Site's Readers Choice
I've already done a "Read and Appreciated" list for Fantastic Metropolis, but that wasn't limited to books published in 2005. With that restriction, I think my list would look a little something like this:
Kage Baker, The Children of the Company
Richard Bowes, From the Files of the Time Rangers
John C. Wright, Orphans of Chaos
And that's really it for books that I've read (and enjoyed) published in 2005. Everything else was originally published in previous years. Of course, there are also piles and piles of books published in 2005 that crowd my To Read shelves, most notably Hal Duncan's Vellum, Tom De Haven's It's Superman, and virtually the entirely output of Lou Anders's Pyr imprint; and that's not even counting all of the 2005 releases I haven't had a chance to pick up yet, like Jeffrey Ford's The Cosmology of the Wider World, David Marusek's Counting Heads, and Ken MacLeod's Learning the World. (I really just need a whole year to read. Maybe then I could catch up!)
If you've read anything published in 2005, and liked it, head over to SF Site and vote. (And hey, didn't Here, There & Everywhere come out this year, too? Well, I guess if you liked it, you could nominate that, too.)
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Superman, the definitive poses of
Whether this is an intentional homage to the cover of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of the character, or a delightful bit of syncronicity, we'll have to wait for the movie to prove one way or another.
Indie [Press, Fiction, Etc]
I think I'm having the first hints of an idea, triangulated somewhere between Kristine's and Hal's comments, this NYT article, and something I've been thinking about since I launched MonkeyBrain Books a few years ago. Once we got bookstore distribution, and our titles started showing up in the chains, I realized that the line dividing independent presses from the "majors" was growing more and more indistinct. When outfits like Golden Gryphon or Night Shade or Tachyon can publish books that look every bit as good as anything coming out of New York, and Small Beer's Magic For Beginners breaks Time Magazine's Best Books of 2005 list, and titles from the independent presses with distribution (Night Shade with Diamond Book Distributors, Tachyon and Golden Gryphon with IPG, Small Beer with SCB, MonkeyBrain with NBN) are found on the same chainstore shelves as Tor and Del Rey and Bantam, then what is the difference?
Well, money, really. The bigger imprints are virtually all subsidiaries of larger publishing empires, with all of the marketing and promotional budgets that suggests, while the independent presses are all small, privately owned outfits, most owned and operated by just one or two people each. An independent press with a staff larger than the number of owners is pretty rare, too. But there's an advantage to the economies of scale here, too.
"An established independent like Matador Records - home to acts including Pretty Girls Make Graves and Belle and Sebastian - can turn a profit after selling roughly 25,000 copies of an album; success on a major label release sometimes doesn't kick in until sales of half a million."The numbers involved are much smaller, of course, but the basic idea is still the same. An independent press that's able to sell just a few thousand copies of a title is in a much better position than a large imprint than sells several times more, because the independent press has a much lower overhead (it comes with only having one or two employees, some of whom often don't draw a salary!). As a result, independents are allowed the freedom to take more risks than big houses, by and large.
We still need to make money, naturally. No publisher is a charity, no matter how large or small, and no one is going to stay in business long if all they publish are books they think won't make money. But with the breakeven point so much lower, what is profitable for an independent and for a large imprint are two entirely different things. If I know I can sell three thousand copies of a tradepaperback, for example, I know I can make a significant profit, so if the book is one I like, I'm going to publish it; if Del Rey is faced with the same formula and variables, I imagine they come up with a much different result.
The result is that there is a different quality to the output of independent presses. By and large, we can't compete with the advance dollars paid by the large imprints for the most commercial projects, so no matter how some of us would like to get the next big bestseller title, our chances are slim. As a result, whether by inclination or by circumstance, independent presses tend to specialize in less commercial material. Now, some of it is really not commercial, and some of it is only a few degrees off of the mainstream, and some of it is borderline-commercial but from writers who have a less-than-sterling track record and who as a result aren't as attractive to the large imprints (having bad Bookscan numbers for a few books in a row tends to impact negatively a writer's chances at getting a good deal on their next manuscript).
Now, I think this is whence comes the connection between independent presses and the "Indie Fiction" Hal talks about. It is as much a marriage of convenience as of shared ideology (though it is both). Where I think this starts to get really interesting is the point where the independents, with their lower sales figures and their lower overheads, manage to become as profitable in their own way as the large imprints are in theirs. And while we won't be able to pay top dollar advances, we just might be able to compete with the kinds of advances paid to midlist writers. And if a writer has a choice between doing something self-consciously commercial to appeal to a large imprint, or something a bit more personal, more idiosyncratic, for an independent press, for essentially the same paycheck, the landscape begins to shift a bit. This is the point where "indie" stops being an economic label and starts to become a description of style and content. (Particularly when, further down the line, the large imprints start publishing "indie" titles to try to recapture the ground lost to independent presses.)
In large part, this was one of the pie-in-the-sky visions I had of Print On Demand, back when I was a naive youngster. The advantage here is that there's an actual business model behind it, complete with distribution channels and revenue streams, which the POD revolution always seemed to lack.
I'm not sure what part the internet-as-content-provider will play in all of this. The NYT article talks quite a bit about the impact of iTunes and the like on the music scene and, aside from online sales and distribution from outfits like Amazon, I don't see an equivalent beast on the publishing side, as such. There are some success stories in building readerships with providing short stories online, novels through Creative Commons licensing, and such like, but I think the jury is still out as to whether these are the rule or the exception. So far as I know, no independent publisher has been able to build an audience for their titles through online marketing tactics of that sort. I know that Gavin and Kelly have released Stranger Things Happen as a free download online, which is a step in the right direction, but I think that tends to expand Kelly's existing audience, rather than starting one from scratch. A true test would be an independent press doing something similar with a complete unknown, taking a writer without a readership or a track record, and building an audience from the ground up using online marketing.
However it develops, there's definitely something interesting going on.
Monday, December 26, 2005
While I don't think they're bad luck, I've always looked at the span of days between Christmas and New Years in much the same way. Holidays, hollow days, what's the difference? They're never good for much. Lots of businesses are closed throughout the week (the publishing industry, case in point), comics are usually delivered a day late, mail is delayed, television is full of reruns, you name it.
Since I became a full-time writer (well, part-time writer and full-time dad), though, I've come to look at these few days as one last chance to clear the decks before the end of the year. To address any final commitments left undone, and start the new year with a clean slate. Over the weekend, while others might have been wassailing or whatnot, I managed to finish up two long-overdue interviews. By week's end, I hope to have finished the some final tweaks and revisions on Fire Star. And then it will be Sunday, and 2006, and the shittiest year (personally, at any rate) in living memory will finally, at long last, be over.
Beyond work, we're trying to catch up on entertainment a bit, as well. Allison and I don't get to the theater much, not since the arrival of Georgia almost two years ago. I think the last movie we went to see in the theater was Bewitched, which promised to be a bit of metafictional brilliance and, well, wasn't.
Last Thursday, for example, we finally got to see Serenity, when our copy ordered long ago from Amazon finally arrived.. Oh, sweet baby jesus, what a great flick. Joss Whedon is indeed my master now. Not a single complaint, except that it wasn't, oh, a year or two longer. More, please.
Tonight, we watched The Christmas Invasion, the holiday episode of Doctor Who, the first full episode to star David Tennant, the 10th Doctor. If this is any indication, the new series will be well worth waiting for. I especially liked the ways in which this teaser for the second season of Who also served as a prologue-of-sorts for the forthcoming spin-off, Torchwood. Watching Harriet Jones, Prime Minister go from comic to dramatic to frightening to pathetic in the span of just a few scenes was worth the price of admission.
It was a crap year, but it's almost over. Only five more days left. Hollow days. Make the best of them that you can.
New Adventure Review
Sunday, December 25, 2005
(I'm the one on the left.)
A Merry Happy, everybody!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Merry [Appropriate Winter Solstice Observation]
Friday, December 23, 2005
If you're not already Festivus-savvy, this promo video for Allen Salkin's Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us is probably as good a primer as any.
A story of mine that will be appearing in 2006 features Festivus prominently (well, somewhat prominently). It's set in a far future world, in which the only Winter Solstice holiday to survive the ages is Festivus. I don't know if the editor or copy editor caught the reference, but it warms the cockles of my heart to know that it's made it into print.
Next up, Feats of Strength!
FOUR JOBS YOU'VE HAD IN YOUR LIFE:
1. Middle school history teacher
3. Forklift operator
4. Tech support
FOUR MOVIES YOU COULD WATCH OVER AND OVER:
2. Citizen Kane
3. Star Wars
4. Earnest Goes to Jail
FOUR PLACES YOU'VE BEEN ON VACATION:
3. New York City
4. Disney World (Epcot counts for at least 12 countries, right?)
FOUR WEBSITES YOU VISIT DAILY:
1. www.bloglines.com (one stop shopping)
FOUR OF YOUR ALL-TIME FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS:
1. Sushi Samba, Manhattan
2. House of Nanking, San Francisco
3. Reed's Jazz & Supper Club, Austin
4. Salt Lick 360, Austin
FOUR OF YOUR FAVOURITE FOODS:
1. Baby back ribs (preferably from Rudy's BBQ)
2. Reheated turkey (white meat, at least one day spent refrigerated)
3. Sushi & sashimi (all kinds, I'm not picky)
4. Cake (Mmmm. Cake...)
FOUR SCHOOLS YOU'VE ATTENDED:
1. University of Texas, Austin
2. University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg
3. Duncanville High School
4. Reed Junior High Shool
FOUR THINGS YOU FIND YOURSELF SAYING A LOT:
4. "Geor-gia" (in a sing-song voice)
FOUR PLACES YOU'D RATHER BE RIGHT NOW:
2. Still asleep
3. The comic shop
4. The hotel bar of any professional genre convention
Paul Cornell's new blog
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Cardboard Box for Rent
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I've sold foreign language reprint rights to "O One" to a few different markets, and have been meaning to submit some of my other stories, but never seem to find the time. If more of these foreign magazines sent their contributor copies packaged like this, though, I'd more quickly find the time. Finding this in my mailbox was like receiving a parcel from the nineteenth century: butcher paper, twine, and glue!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
"God, Schmod! I want my monkey-man!"
So here's my first reaction, naturally: How do we know he didn't succeed, hmmmm?
To paraphrase the well-known quote from Sir Arthur Eddington, "Not only is history stranger than we imagine, but history is stranger than we can imagine."
New Adventure Review
Monday, December 19, 2005
Super-Georgia contemplates a blue moon
I'm going to try to be cogent again in another few days. In the meantime, I leave you with this portrait of the last daughter of Krypton, Super-Georgia, contemplating a blue moon with the help of Baby the Super-Bear.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
We apparently *do* need stinking badges
Science Fiction for the Masses
I was talking about Scalzi's Old Man's War at WFC with someone (Tobias Buckell, maybe?) and we agreed that one of the greatest things about OMW is that it is a completely entry level book. You could hand that book to anyone capable of reading the English language, even if they had never before been exposed to any of the tropes of SF, and they could easily find their footing. The narrative eases the reader into the world of the book so gradually, starting from a place that is recognizably "our" world, that the reader doesn't snag on any sharp edges along the way. I know some sf readers have complained that John Perry's America looks so much like 21st Century America, but I think they're missing the point. The reason that the book works is that, for all intents and purposes, at least so far as the new reader is concerned, Perry's America is the same as ours.
"What we need are people who are unapologetically writing science fiction -- and are unapologetically writing science fiction for people who have never read science fiction before. You want new people to read science fiction? You want SF books to matter to the masses? Then do some goddamned outreach, people. Write an intelligent, fascinating, moving piece of science fiction for the reader who has always thought science fiction was something that happened to other people."
I tried to do something similar with Here, There & Everywhere. I wanted to write a science fiction novel I could hand to my mother. There's all kinds of wacky quantum physics going on in the book, but by making the view point character a woman who we meet as a ten year old girl, I tried to ease the reader into the strangeness, starting at the shallow end of elementary school life, and slowly dragging them out into the depths of quantum foam and Tipler Cylinders and the Many Worlds Theorem. I don't know that I was as successful in my attempt as Scalzi was in his, but that was the intent, anyway.
My next project is a big, crazy space opera. Incomprehensibly far future, post-human, post-Singularity, with artificial intelligences and uplifted animal species and interstellar travel and such like. But, in order to keep the narrative grounded, the viewpoint character of the book is a timelost "modern" guy. (He's actually from the early 22nd Century, born in Bangalore and educated in Addis Ababa, the son of an American expat, but his worldview and, more importantly, his pop culture references are close enough to the contemporary American reader's as to make no difference.) This was an intentional choice, to provide just the kind of entree that John Perry provides for the reader of OMW (though, interesting, I hadn't read Scalzi's novel until after my space opera had been outlined). If my POV character didn't share some common cultural ground with the reader, it would be really difficult for someone like my mother to get a handle on what was going on; alternatively, if the character is able to say, "Wow, I just woke up, impossibly far in the future, surrounded by talking dogs; this is just like Planet of the Apes!", then a reader not familiar with the tropes of SF hopefully has a better chance of understanding what's going on.
I don't think that everything I do is this kind of "outreach." The Celestial Empire alternate history stories, for example, tend to ask a lot of the reader. I don't explain most of the sfnal stuff going on, but assume that the reader has some familiarity with the concepts of terraforming, and space elevators, and such like. In those stories, I'm more interested about the impact of the sfnal technology on the culture than the technology itself, and so concentrate more on the human level stuff, hoping that the average sf reader will come to the story with a basic familiarity with the tropes I'm invoking. But I don't want everything I do to be "preaching to the converted." I'd like to get out there and do some conversion for myself. Scalzi calls it outreach, and I think that's as good a name for it as any.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Another Self Publishing Data Point
I recall that a writer named Daniel Keys Moran (with whose work I was unfamiliar) had announced similar plans back in the heady early days of Print On Demand, though according to Wikipedia those plans don't appear to have come to fruition. Still, between Duane and Lawrence Watt-Evans, we've got a couple of canaries-in-coalmines, who might be good indicators whether an author with an established audience can successfully make the transition to self-publishing. It bears watching. (Of course, if too many in that established audience aren't willing to pay a few dollars more to buy a book published by the author, whether they've been waiting years for it or not, then the existence of the audience itself might prove to be a moot point.)
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Pixar: 20 Years of Animation
Opening this week is a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art devoted entirely to the work of Pixar. Though I work in an entirely different medium from animated film, I think I've learned as much about the craft of storytelling from studying the process of the Pixar team as I have from any other source. (My often repeated advice to anyone wanting to be a storyteller, in any medium, is to pick up the Special Edition DVD of any given Pixar film and listen carefully to the audio commentary. Worth more than a dozen workshops or universitty courses.)
Anyone living in the vicinity really owes it to themselves to head out to the MoMA between now and February. The exhibit boasts "paintings, concept art, sculptures, and an array of digital installations." I'd be especially curious to see the Zoetrope installation, which sounds pretty damn cool. Sadly, there's no room in the travel budget for me to go to NYC anytime soon, more's the pity, so I'll have to look to one of you to send me a full report. Go see it, already!
Monday, December 12, 2005
And yet, every year it catches me by surprise. Every year, the fact that December happens kind of catches me by surprise, and then I'm completely flat-footed by the discovery that December ends! I'm convinced that I'm retarded.
So now it's December 12th, and I've officially got 19 days left on the calendar. Except that several of those will be filled with travel and get-togethers with family, and still more on Georgia Patrol, so really I've got just a bare handful of days left until the year actually ends, from a work perspective. So I try to warm myself in the knowledge that I've gotten a great many projects completed in the last few weeks (three short stories and a franchise novel proposal, to be precise), but I've got at least one big committment (and several smaller ones) still to complete, and I can just feel the minutes ticking away. Minutes in which, ironically, I spend a fair amount of time worrying about how little time I have left in the year, instead of actually working. Like now. For example.
Okay, I'm back to work. I've got some fine tuning to do on the Three Governing Virtues of Mechanical Intelligence.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The Fifth Wave
More than that, he's just summed up my thoughts about science fiction in his interview in the most recent issue of Locus:
"All the tropes we're using now come from science fiction's deep history. Since cyberspace, I don't think there's been a brand-new trope, with the possible exception of the singularity. But the problem with the singularity is that it is the end of science fiction. After all, if the singularity is going to happen, it won't be possible to imagine what comes after it, and it isn't possible to write fiction there. It's a kind of anti-trope. Meanwhile, we're left with a large amount of often very good commercial science fiction that furnishes new plots for secondhand tropes and received, unexamined notions, and a small amount of the kind of stuff I find really exciting--stuff that re-examines classic tropes from the ground up, tries to make them fresh again. Ideas like time travel, alternate history, aliens, and so on have been around a long time now; in fact, they've been around so long that novelists outside the field make sue of them, as in Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, or David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. But that doesn't mean you can't think of new ways of using them, or of re-imagining them.This is a better summary of my thoughts on science fiction than I've ever been able to manage. This whole notion of re-examining "classic tropes from the ground up," of trying "to make them fresh again," is precisely what I've been hoping to accomplish with my most recent projects, and is the element I find most appealing about a number of my contemporaries. I see something of this kind of ethos at work in Kage Baker's Company sequence, in John C. Wright's The Golden Age trilogy, in John Scalzi's Old Man's War. I always tried to describe it as "inhabiting archetypes and revitalizing them," but I think "rebuilding tropes from the ground up" is probably a more apt description.
"The story of genre seems to me to be rather like the story of colonization of a new land. The first explorers make landfall and everything is strange, weird, off-kilter: 'Where the hell are we? Look at those trees! Look at that odd animal hopping away! These things look like mammals but they lay eggs! These have pouches!' And so on, and so on--a babble of pure wonders without attempt at analysis, beyond the fact that all this strange stuff is out there in a strange land where people can have new kinds of adventures. Then the second wave comes along, and they start building homes and establishing settlements--making the exotic more human along the fringes of the coast, committing all kinds of horrible crimes against the native ecology and trying to force the indigenous inhabitants to give up their worthless culture, and generally asserting the superiority of Western values over everything else. The third wave brings industrialization and sticks railroads everywhere--the vast interior is mapped and colonized, just as we imagine the planetary systems of near stars can be turned into a kind of arena for human story. Aliens are no longer weird for weirdness's sake; nor are they there to be conquered or made into object lessons; now we trade with them. The fourth wave is full of post-colonization guilt and regret. We've used everything up or destroyed it. Everything seems like a secondhand copy. The aliens are dispossessed, and live in squalid slum quarters in cities which could be anywhere, really. Their art and their knowledge about plants and animals is used to sell shampoo. I guess we're somewhere between the third wave and the fourth wave in science fiction right now. I want to get on to the fifth wave, a sort of reconstruction project that goes back to the beginning, but explores the raw stuff of wonder and weirdness without preconceptions, with a modern properly scientific sensibility that doesn't impose ready-made patterns and doesn't flinch from dealing with alienness of aliens, the nonhuman exoticism of other worlds. I think there's some of this in novels by people like Gwyneth Jones (who wrote three of the toughest and best first contact novels ever), Stephen Baxter, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, and Ken MacLeod. I'm still excited about this kind of science fiction and I think there are all kinds of wonderful things that can be done. It turns out that we haven't used up the old tropes. They are still there, in their Platonic form, ready to be rediscovered all over again."
I used to feel guilty that so much of my work involved revisiting tropes that have been around since the earliest days of science fiction. My feeling was that my work was too backwards looking, and that the job of science fiction should be to look forward. But I've come to understand that what my stuff isn't nostalgia--or rather, it isn't just nostalgia, though there are definitely elements of sentimental call-backs to classic sf in what I do--but is more an attempt to build something new, using novel elements as well as bits and pieces borrowed (or stolen) from past masters. Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, for example, isn't a pastiche; instead, it's a story that in profile looks like a Burroughs space fantasy, but on closer examination is actually constituted of elements which are new, contemporary ideas. In the same way, I don't see Scalzi's Old Man's War as a pastiche of Heinlein, per se; it clearly draws inspiration from things like Starship Troopers, but while the skeleton of the story, "space war," might be built on a blueprint borrowed from Heinlein, Scalzi has fleshed it out with ideas that are purely his own (even things as seemingly inconsequential to the plot as his FTL drive, which is I think the first completely novel approach to faster-than-light travel that I've seen in years, if not decades).
I think that McAuley is right when he says that there have been no new tropes introduced in a great long time. I might take it one step further, and suggest that we may have exhausted the potential supply of all new tropes, and we're stuck with the ones that we've got. But the future is bright. I can't help but associate the "fourth wave" McAuley references as a kind of deconstruction. (I was an insufferable post-modernist in college, so this may lapse a bit into dimly remembered and misremembered theory, for which I beg your indulgence.) In the broadest terms, as best as I can recall, deconstruction is one of the key tenets of Post-Modernism. The idea is that, in the Modernist phase, forms which were initiated in a primitive phase, codified in a Classic phase, refined in a Renaissance period, and corrupted in a Baroque period, are restored to what to the Modernist sensibility is their ultimate, essential forms. In other words, once the Modernist phase is over, everything that could be done has been done. The role of the Post-Modernist, then, is to revisit the past, deconstructing what has already been built, in the search for new forms of meaning.
The question that I've been coming back to, again and again in recent years, is What follows deconstruction? The answer, naturally, is reconstruction. I think that's what the "fifth wave" McAuley mentions is all about. I always saw Post-Modernism as essentially reactionary, since it was defined entirely by its relationship to Modernism; even if it rejected every tenet of Modernism, it was still defined by its reaction to those very tenets it rejected. A fifth wave, involved with going back to classic tropes and re-imagining them from the ground up, then, seems to be more forward looking than works built upon the rejection of those classic tropes all together.
There's a lot of talk online recently about definitions of sf, and I've no interest in sticking my nose in that farrago. And there's the perennial crop of new movements that spring up like mushrooms, from time to time, and I'm don't think that's what I'm talking about, either. Unless, of course, a "movement" can be descriptivist and not prescriptivist, composed of individuals who don't even know that they share a similar ethos, much less a movement label, in which case, yeah, maybe I am.
I think we're entering an exciting period in science fiction, personally. I'm reading more and more books from new (and relatively new) writers that bring together the best of what has gone before: as much "sense of wonder" as the best of the golden age, healthy doses of action and adventure, the literary sophistication of the New Wave, and what I can't help but term the "Fuck Yeah!" factor of seeing something seemingly familiar being recast in an entirely new light.
That's the kind of science fiction I like to read, and the kind of science fiction I'm trying to write. A Fifth Wave. It's as good a name as any. Thanks, Paul.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Robert Sheckley, RIP
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
MonkeyBrain Books site update
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Loose Ends, the Tying Up of
Two months ago, I would have sworn that, by the beginning of December, I'd find myself with nothing but free time on my hands for a short while, all of my obligations met. Isn't it funny how the work you have to do always manages to expand to fill exactly the amount of time you have to do it?
Okay, I'm back to Googling telepathic viruses and the like. If you haven't already, go and watch the X-Men 3 teaser. Looks pretty damned good for a Brett Ratner flick.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Under the careful guidance of lifelong Kong-fanatic Mark Finn, who wrote and directed this adaptation of the original film, the Violet Crown Radio Players performed a bit of stage magic as they presented a gripping tale of adventure with a cast of thousands, including a forty-foot gorilla locked in life-and-death struggles with a giant spider, a sea serpent, a T-rex, and more. Attacks by bi-planes, stampeding crowds, bustling newsrooms... Really, it had to be seen--and heard--to be believed.
(What I didn't know until just now was that the theme song to the adaptation, a jaunty number called "Don't Shoot That Monkey Down," was written by Finn for the show! I'd assumed it was just some wacky 1930's novelty number I'd never heard. Good job, Mr. Finn!)
The VCRP, for which Finn is the Creative Director, stages several of these radio shows a year, and they're always well worth the price of admission. If you're within driving distance of Austin, you've got two chances this weekend to catch the Kong show, and you won't be sorry you did. If you're one of those poor unfortunates outside the Austin-sphere, you'll have to wait for the CD release, but in the meantime you can get a sampling of the magic in this spot that ran yesterday on the local CBS affiliate.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Now, twenty years later, when I read Shaw--the artist and co-creator of the original series--say "It's as if Captain Carrot was never cancelled, and we're catching up the ongoing series," I find myself whistfully wishing, if only for a moment, that I'd spent the last twenty years in that that worldline, instead.