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Preview: Waiting For My Aineko

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro



Waiting for My Aineko A Site About Watching, Writing and Waiting ...



Updated: 2017-10-10T11:19:55.245-07:00

 



Traveling to the Land of Award Pimpage

2016-12-08T19:26:50.877-08:00

I've had a number of short stories published in 2016 (will write a separate post on this) but if there's one thing I'd like you to seriously consider, come award nomination and voting time, it's my book TRAVELER OF WORLDS: CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG (which, cough cough, is eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Related Work), published by Fairwood Press in August 2016.The book was a passion project for me, and all reader responses so far have been very positive. If you're interested in the history of science fiction, in the writing process, and in the writing life (and associational activities) of one of the field's Grand Masters, this book is for you. Gardner Dozois, a legend in his own right, provided a lovely introduction, and Karen Haber (Robert Silverberg's wife) did the Afterword. Kim Stanley Robinson, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Sheila Williams, Jack Skillingstead and John Clute all said nice things about it.Here's a roundup of some great reviews and/or mentions of TRAVELER OF WORLDS, including coverage in The Washington Post, Locus, Locus Online, Kirkus Reviews, Science Fiction Studies, The Future Fire, and other cool places, as well as a few guest posts, including an interview at The Huffington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/87fbb8ce-a297-11e6-8832-23…http://www.locusmag.com/…/paul-di-filippo-reviews-alvaro-z…/http://www.locusmag.com/…/russell-letson-reviews-alvaro-zi…/http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ilana-teitelbaum/a-science-fiction-grand-m_b_13230808.htmlhttp://reviews.futurefire.net/…/zinos-amaro-silverberg-trav…https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-swenson/science-fiction-studies-volume-43-2016-books-in-review-traveler-of-worlds-conver/10154814526796742https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/peek-minds-speculative-fiction-storytellers/http://sentidodelamaravilla.blogspot.com/…/traveler-of-worl…http://billcrider.blogspot.com/…/traveler-of-worlds-convers…http://georgekelley.org/traveler-of-worlds-conversations-w…/http://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com/…/traveler-of-worlds-conv…https://johnwalterswriter.com/2016/12/03/book-review-traveler-of-worlds-conversations-with-robert-silverberg-by-alvaro-zinos-amaro/http://www.dondammassa.com/R6B2016.htmhttps://www.facebook.com/lawrence.block/posts/10153747448106222https://twitter.com/LawrenceBlock/status/787083390113775616http://www.afantasticallibrarian.com/2016/08/author-query-alvaro-zinos-amaro.htmlhttp://www.truereviewonline.com/b97v40n26_08.phphttps://mylifemybooksmyescape.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/author-interview-alvaro-zinos-amaro/http://carolineyoachim.com/2016/08/25/guest-post-alvaro-zinos-amaro/http://www.novelocity.org/?p=2108[...]



Blind Luck

2016-08-08T19:13:33.652-07:00

It has been an intense 48 hours.On Thursday morning we were woken up at around 4:45 am because of a family emergency involving Rebecca's son, Jonny. This ordeal, in which I did not have to deal with the brunt of responsibility but merely provide assistance and moral support, involved a 600 mile drive and, eventually, the amputation of Jonny's right pinky. For details, see here:https://www.facebook.com/rebeccafowler825/posts/10153610669741415?pnref=storyWhat is relevant for this update is that upon waking up at that early hour, and coping with the various physical and emotional stresses of the day, I noticed a general blurriness in my vision. I attributed it to simple eye fatigue and sleep deprivation and went on with the show.By Thursday evening, I started to become more alarmed. The loss of vision seemed to be getting worse, not better. Covering my left eye, I determined vision through my right eye was perfectly fine. Covering with right eye, I realized I had lost much of the visibility of my left eye. All was blurry and dark.Friday morning the problem remained, so I immediately went in for an eye exam at a local clinic. This revealed a likely retinal detachment in my left eye.A few hours later, a more detailed inspection by an experienced ophthalmologist at a medical center confirmed this initial diagnosis. The retina was torn, with an impact to the macula, and the extent of the damage was determined to be severe. An on-call retinal ophthalmologist was brought in. A few hours later, his inspection ratified a giant retinal tear/detachment and he advised immediate emergency surgery would be required.Approximately two hours later I was connected to an IV and administered "twilight" anesthesia in an operating room. The surgery lasted between 1.5 and 2 hours and involved the insertion of a scleral buckle, the reattachment of the retina, the injection of a gas bubble to hold the retina in place, and laser welding of the retinal attachment area. I was discharged at around 11:30 pm, took some strong painkillers, and went to sleep.Today's initial post-op consultation has revealed that the retina appears correctly attached. The pain is decreasing, while the swelling is increasing, and there is some discharge--all as expected. I have a gas bubble cataract which should in principle disappear as the gas bubble itself dissipates.The reason for my focusing on this last detail is because the gas bubble, which will take approximately one month to dissipate, will have a significant impact on my immediate future. As gas expands with altitude, I have been forbidden from any altitude-related travel for the next month.Unfortunately, and much to my distress, this means that I can neither drive nor fly to Kansas City for WorldCon.I am deeply saddened that I will miss all my friends, be unable to join in the wonderful roster of panels I had been assigned, and sign copies of my new book. If I had made social or business plans with you, I sincerely apologize, and hope you will understand my absence. More thoughts on that in a future post. I have emailed the programming team and hopefully they are updating information as needed.Throughout these travails, I have had the indefatigable support of Rebecca, who calmed and helped me through the various stages of fear and anxiety and in general was indispensable to navigating the practicalities of the situation. When I came out from anesthesia I asked the nurse to fetch my partner immediately. "Rebecca?" asked the nurse. "*Golden* Rebecca," I corrected somewhat groggily. I could blame it on anesthesia-induced delirium, but in fact I believe that was a very clear-headed observation. Thank you also Thea for your support and spending time with Rebecca while I was under; very much appreciated. Thanks to Jesse for croissants today. And thanks to everyone with whom I've interacted along the way that sent positive wishes and provided help or encouragement.The next month will involve slow healing and a restricted scope of activities. Work is out of the picture thi[...]



WorldCon 2016 Schedule (Draft)

2016-07-18T13:20:57.757-07:00

I'm tremendously excited by my panel schedule for the upcoming MidAmeriCon II, to be held in the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, MO from Wed to Sun, August 17-21, 2016.I feel really fortunate to have been selected for these panels, which include incredible participants, and are all about subjects that I enjoy.Note: The ones with an "(M)" next to my name indicate that I'm a moderator.THURSDAYReviewing the ReviewsThursday 11:00 - 12:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)With the internet, it is easy to find reviews of just about any book published.  But not all reviews are created equal. How can you find reviews that are more than just raves about a favorites author or flames about a hated one?  Which review sites are better than others?  Do Amazon reviews really mean anything?Gary Wolfe, Michelle (Sagara) West, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (M), Rich HortonIs Cyberpunk Still a Thing?Thursday 12:00 - 13:00, 2502B - A/V (Kansas City Convention Center)Cyberpunk hit with a big splash, but as personal computers became more prevalent, smaller, and portable, the genre seems to have faded.  Or has it?  Our panelists take a renewed look at the state of Cyberpunk at ripe young aged of 35.Ms Pat Cadigan, Cory Doctorow (M), Mr. Matt Jacobson, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, James Patrick KellyFRIDAYThe New Space Opera Golden Age on the ScreenFriday 10:00 - 11:00, 2503B (Kansas City Convention Center)There appears to be a resurgence in space opera on the silver screen, including The Force Awakens, Jupiter Ascending, Interstellar, and Guardians of the Galaxy not to mention new TV shows like The Expanse and the forthcoming Old Man's War. Is this an encouraging sign that public interest and enthusiasm for science and SF is on the rise? Is this resurgence manifesting in literature as well? What more do we want to see?Ms Sumana Harihareswara, Lauren Roy, Mr. Matthew S. Rotundo, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Mr. Walter H. Hunt (M)Magazine Group Reading: AnalogFriday 12:00 - 13:00, 2202 Readings (Kansas City Convention Center)Our Magazine Group Reading Series continues with a special group reading that features authors from Analog.Trevor Quachri (M), James Van Pelt, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Ken Liu, Stanley Schmidt, Mr. Alec Nevala-LeeSATURDAYAlienation and Science FictionSaturday 10:00 - 11:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)Science fiction is often seen as an optimistic genre but it isn't all digital sunshine and robotic puppies. There's plenty of bleak SF, reminding us that we are essentially alone. Whether bleak or bright, what makes SF the perfect genre for setting individuals apart in the world in order to examine what it means to be human or inhuman?Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (M), Robert Reed, Dr. , Joy Ward, Robert J. SawyerTraveler of Worlds: A Year of Conversations with Robert SilverbergSaturday 13:00 - 14:00, 2205 - A/V (Kansas City Convention Center)Alvaro Zinos-Amaro collaborated with Robert Silverberg on When the Blue Shift Comes.  He has now published a volume about his discussions with Worldcon GoH, SFWA Grand Master, and Hall of Fame author Robert Silverberg and wants to share the behind the scenes stories with you.Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Mr Robert Silverberg[...]



A Note on Literary Influences (Poe and Lovecraft via Others)

2015-01-29T14:50:14.054-08:00

At the end of 2014 The Journal of Unlikely Entomology published a new horror story by me, called "Miranda's Wings". It seems to be doing well; I've seen some favorable responses to it, including a "Recommended" rating by Lois Tilton in her latest online review piece for Locus.Then in January the same 'zine published an interview with me, and one of the questions I was asked was whether I was consciously influenced by either Poe or Lovecraft in my work, to which the short version of my answer is, "No, not really."I did consciously think of John Fowles' The Collector (1963) when I planned my story, but Poe and Lovecraft?Nope.And yet--The question has lingered in my mind ever since the interview, and now whenever I'm writing something, particularly if it's dark, a part of me wonders whether I'm somehow channeling Poe or Lovecraft. I keep telling myself that I can't be, because, against all the odds, I've hardly read these must-read authors.But what about indirect influences? Say, what if there was story I really liked, which consciously influenced my work, and *that* story in some way channeled Poe or Lovecraft?Well, I might argue that this still wasn't a case of "conscious" influence. But it would be influence nevertheless.And the more I've been thinking about "Miranda's Wings", the more I think there may be a two-degrees-of-separation influence at work after all...One of my favorite short stories from 2009 was Michael Bishop and Steven Utley's "The City Quiet as Death." I reviewed the story for Strange Horizons back in 2010. One of the things that stuck with me about the story was the remote setting. When I was deciding where to set "Miranda's Wings", I remembered it and tried to pay it tribute. The main action in that story unfolds in a house that "graced the high slope of a ridge behind Infante Sagrado, the jewel of Isla Arca" and overlooks the sea. In my story the protagonist's "house was indeed remote, perched as it was on El Sagrado Obispo’s highest mountain" and later we learn of the "home’s seaward balcony".Both stories feature tortured, cultured, mostly solitary protagonists, so I thought that structurally the choice of setting would make sense. Bishop/Utley's Don Horacio can't bear "the endless din of the stars," while my own Leonard Clegg is prey to other demons I'll leave it up to you to discover. But it's Don Horacio's sensitivity to sounds, to the forces of the Universe oppressing him from every which way, that stayed in my mind.Fast forward to 2013, when I watched Roger Corman's film adaptation of the famous Edgar Allan Poe story "The Fall of the House of Usher". In Corman's film Roderick (Vincent Price) reveals to a visitor that Roderick's family--the Usher family--has a cursed bloodline which has driven all his ancestors to madness. In his case the disease manifests as an extreme sensitivity to sound.This made me think of Don Horacio at once. In the Bishop/Utley story Don Horacio is similarly over-sensitive, so that he can hear the clamor of the stars themselves. Both Roderick and Don Horacio live in remote places. There's also something Gothic and absurd about the tone. So one might make a case that "The City Quiet as Death" subtly channels Poe, something which I missed the first time around.What it does contain more explicitly--it's referenced in the text itself--and which I mentioned in my original review, is a pretty horrific Lovecraftian transformation.And in my story...Well, what can I say. The editors of the Journal of Unlikely Entomology, well-versed in the classics of horror, and fine, sensitive readers, picked up on something in my work that I had missed.By way of "The City Quiet as Death" there is Poe and Lovecraft in "Miranda's Wings" after all![...]



TRAVELER OF WORLDS coming in 2016!

2015-01-24T15:41:40.621-08:00

Patrick Swenson of Fairwood Press has made this announcement:

(image)
We're going to discuss every single story
in them magazines. Just kidding.
Maybe.

"I'm delighted to announce Alvaro Zinos-Amaro’s Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, coming from Fairwood Press in 2016. In addition to exploring Silverberg’s career, now in its sixth decade, this collection of transcribed conversations will delve into aspects of Silverberg’s life—such as his extensive travel, passion for film, opera and classical music—not covered elsewhere.


A decade-and-a-half-long friendship, and working together on When the Blue Shift Comes, afforded Alvaro the opportunity to speak at length with Silverberg. The result: a remarkably candid series of conversations that will be of interest to science fiction readers and anyone curious about the writing life. [Note: Throughout 2015, Alvaro will also be fielding reader questions through Facebook to include in additional dialogues. More info on that as it becomes available!]"



Needless to say, I'm incredibly excited about this project!

As Patrick notes, the conversations with Bob for this book aren't quite done yet, and I'll be taking reader questions to be included in additional dialogues throughout 2015. You can email me with any suggestions, though I'll be creating a FB group in the coming months.

Once I have the transcripts of all the conversations, I'll be editing them and sequencing them as smoothly as possible. My goal is to try to preserve as many of the conversation's natural "beats" as possible, but above all I want to make sure the dialogues flow, while sticking to certain broad subjects. So far my outline calls for three main thematic sections, with a total of eight chapters split among them, three, three and two.

My plan is also to add a chronology of major works and life events, which I've already started working on. It's weird trying to summarize someone's eight decades of life in a page or two--and really puts things into perspective.





The 10 Books I Most Enjoyed Reading in 2014

2015-01-22T19:44:57.263-08:00

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy"Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?""Yes.""All like ours?""I don't know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound--a few blighted.""Which do we live on--a splendid one or a blighted one?""A blighted one."Even knowing the miseries that lay in store for Tess (who ceases being a "maiden" in the most cruel way possible), I couldn't help but suffer alongside her, enduring each and every one of her trials and tribulations.I found the final section shattering. At times I suspect that Hardy must have enjoyed emotionally torturing his readers almost as much as his characters. A literary sadist cut from the finest Victorian cloth, whose portrait of the world encompasses humans and nature in equal measure. On Conan Doyle - Michael DirdaDirda's book is wonderfully evocative. His writing here brings to life lost worlds, both literary and historical, as filtered through a gently nostalgic lens.I loved learning more about Doyle's non-Sherlockian oeuvre, and as a result of Dirda's concise page-turner I've picked up a number of Doyle's other collections, and fine associational anthologies like The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.The Hugo Winners, Volume 1 - ed. Isaac AsimovWant to learn about the history of the Hugo winners? This is a great starting place. Read all the short form winners through 1960.My favorites in this batch are Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon" (1959), Clifford D. Simak's "The Big Front Yard" (1958), Robert Bloch's "The Hell-Bound Train" (1958) and Clarke's "The Star" (1955).Didn't particularly care for Poul Anderson's "The Longest Voyage" (1960).Enjoyed the Walter M. Miller, Jr., Eric Frank Russell, Murray Leinster and Avram Davidson stories without loving them.Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief - Lawrence WrightWright (Pulitzer winner) exhaustively researched this book. At times, you'll swear you're reading fiction. Great insight into Hubbard's early days and the Church of Scientology's modern-day practices.Te Tratare Como a Una Reina - Rosa MonteroThis is my first novel by Montero, who is very well known in Spain as a mainstream literary writer ( though curiously, she has recently ventured into science fiction).I loved her characters and the way she brought them to life. Shattered dreams, misplaced hopes, and ill-advised relationships form the groundwork of a very intimate novel crafted largely through somewhat tempered stream-of-consciousness. Like Hardy's novel, this is ultimately a tragic work, and it packs quite an emotional punch.Among Others - Jo WaltonExcellent evocation of a period and of a phase in one's life. Excellent treatment of disability. The magical elements are blended perfectly (and sparingly) with the realism of the Bildungsroman.And of course for many modern-day readers part of the joy of this novel is remembering their own favorite authors of adolescence and getting to revisit some canonical works through the eyes of the protagonist, an amazingly voracious reader (like the author herself).Not surprisingly, this won a Hugo.Expedition to Earth - Arthur C. ClarkeClarke's first story collection, and perhaps his best of the individual collections. Contains several classics and near-classics. My favorites here are "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth ...", "History Lesson", "Breaking Strain", "Exile of the Eons", "Expedition to Earth", "The Sentinel" and "Second Dawn". These stories tend to rely primarily on atmosphere and a wonderful sense of cosmic perspective, rather than being hard sf, which is what some people associate Clarke with.Two stories were originally published in Astounding, one in F&SF, one in Amazing, and the rest in "lower" magazines.Magnetism - Stephen J. BlundellNot only is Blundell’s book an excellent primer on magnetism, but in many ways it’s also a model on how to write popular science, because Blundel[...]



An Interview, a MindMeld and Two Reviews

2015-01-17T08:49:58.921-08:00

(image)
Interview


Vanessa MacLellan, with whom I share a table of contents in the 2015 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, interviewed me for her blog.

She's going to be doing a series of interviews like this one with other authors appearing in this anthology, so make sure to check her blog regularly for updates.

Meantime, I should probably mention that the anthology itself is already available through Amazon :-) You can get the e-book here and the physical version here.


MindMeld

SF Signal recently invited me to participate in one of their MindMeld features. The topic at hand was "SF Stories That Predicted the Future — Or Didn't". A lot of interesting responses, as usual. I ended up using the MindMeld to recommend ten different books. To get to that list, I started with a broader selection and eventually whittled it down. I wasn't entirely surprised to see that my list of runner-ups included several of the titles others mentioned. I'm glad I went with a slightly different take on the question and provided mostly unique suggestions. (I say "mostly" because I couldn't quite bring myself to remove William Gibson from my final list, so that one still overlapped.)


Two Reviews

My first two reviews of 2015 are out, in my second "Another Dimension" column for Intergalactic Medicine Show. Here are the links:









On Short Story Discussions, and Being Name-Dropped

2015-01-14T19:36:39.666-08:00

Recently I've been thinking a lot about science fiction short stories--why I like the ones I like, which recent stories resonate with me the most, which stories other writers are recommending on their blogs (awards nomination season), and so on.While there are lots of forums, message boards etc. dedicated to short story discussions, most of them are clustered around a single publication, imprint, writer's group or sub-genre. I thought it might be fun to try to create a one-stop central social media hub where anyone who enjoys science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories can discuss them, so I've created a public Facebook group to that end:https://www.facebook.com/groups/1531725117104454/ = Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Short Story DiscussionsYou do need to sign up with Facebook to be a part of it, but I figure many people are already on Facebook (at least a lot of my writer friends are, so of course I'm biased here!) and that shouldn't be too big a deal. And though newly created, some extremely talented professionals have already joined--Ken Liu, Cat Rambo, Mike Allen, and Juliette Wade, just to name a few. And Jamie Todd Rubin has been kind enough to tweet about it, too--thank you, Jamie!So, that's a start anyway. Now we just need to start having interesting discussions about short stories, per the group's raison d'etre, and hopefully the group will thrive and attract more members :-)Speaking of short stories, I'd like to publicly congratulate Charles Coleman Finlay on becoming the new editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I was really impressed with his guest editorial work and am excited about what he'll bring to the magazine (including leaving e-subs permanently open, already implemented) in the months and years to come.Now, since I've just done a bit of name-dropping, I thought I'd mention something that really made my day a couple of days ago. I picked up the January 2015 issue of Asimov's and, as I typically do, started working my way through all the non-fiction pieces (I always tackle non-fiction before fiction; don't ask me why). Sheila Williams' editorial is amusingly called "Whirlwind Worldcon; or Shameless Name Dropping". What I expected from the editorial was a whirlwind recap of the dozens of Very Important People Sheila had mingled with, the Hugo Awards ceremony, and maybe a bit of description of her non-con activities. Much to my surprise and delight, here's what I encountered on the second column:Wow! One of those surreal moments. I've been reading this magazine since I was fifteen or so, and seeing my name in an editorial--and in such a cool context--is both weird and flattering to the nth degree. [Felt the same way when Bob Silverberg mentioned me in a "Reflections" column, but that one wasn't entirely unexpected, because I'd seen the piece in advance.] Okay, fannish squeeing over (for now).Can't wait to meet up again with friends during this year's WorldCon. [...]



Two-Way Interview and More

2015-01-06T09:53:59.655-08:00

The fine editors of Journal of Unlikely published an interview with me yesterday. In one of those delightful turns that shakes up the protocol a bit, they asked me if I had questions for them, and I did, and I asked them, and they answered. So this is a bit of a two-way interview, a rare category of interview of which I think there ought to be more.In other writing-related news:The e-book of the brand new anthology 2015 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide is now available on Amazon. The anthology, edited by Corie and Sean Weaver, contains my story "Repeat After Me", and has a really cool lineup of authors, including Nancy Kress, Deborah Walker, Eric James Stone and Eric Del Carlo. Excited to be in this one! Physical editions of the book should be coming soon, too.Dario Ciriello, former editor of the Panverse anthology series and full-fledged author in his own right, left a really nice review of When the Blue Shift Comes over at Amazon today. Dario's recent collection Free Verse is garnering great reviews of its own. Excerpted from Dario's review:"The Stellar Guild series, of which this book is part, is edited by SF superstar Mike Resnick, and each volume teams up an established, big-name author with an emerging author of their choice in back-to-back novellas. Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (author of the second, concluding novella) does a fantastic job of matching and resolving Silverberg's initial piece in style and tone, and shows himself fully in control of the wild plot elements which Silverberg has thrown out there in the first novella.The extraordinary thing about these paired novellas--which between them form a complete story--is the narrative voice. Exuberant, bardic, improbable, tongue-in-cheek, filled with narrative asides and hilarious digressions, it brings faint echoes of Douglas Adams, Spinrad, Zelazny, and even Vonnegut at their wildest, and yet is wholly original; there are similarities to Fred Pohl's "Day Million", but without the latter's urgent, harsh edge (some readers might even invoke Farmer/Trout's infamous "Venus on the Half-Shell"); there is worldbuilding to make your head spin; there is hard science; and there is, at the heart of it all, a very Silverbergian love story."Incidentally, I think this makes Dario the first to pick up on the Pohl tribute/homage in the story. In fact, "Day Million" was one of my original working titles for a sub-section of my novella, which I eventually changed to something else that seemed more appropriate.[...]



Cutting, Stripping, Attaching

2015-01-06T00:50:21.698-08:00

I'm thirty-five, and I like music a lot. Yet somehow, throughout my entire life--until last night--I had managed to avoid what must surely be one of the dreariest tasks related to setting up new audio equipment. Either because I was lucky and someone else did it, or because my equipment was the kind that didn't need it...I'm talking about speaker cables. "Wires." Which require cutting and stripping. And, in last night's case, because I was feeling generous, or maybe foolhardy, it didn't stop there: after cutting them and stripping the ends for connectivity, I found myself attaching them to banana plugs. I only needed cables for two speakers--but each cable has two strands or polarities, and each requires its own stripping and banana plug. That's eight end points; eight banana plugs. Boo.As I was learning how to do this, mostly with help from YouTube, it occurred to me that it's a weirdly backward, archaic thing. I mean, most home entertainment equipment that isn't wireless can be connected via HDMI these days. But speakers require you to buy copper wire, cut it, strip it, and carefully insert it so that it makes contact with the right pieces of metal. What?(I'm aware of wireless speakers, but the bulk of higher quality speakers remain cable dependent).Which led me to search online. Surely, I couldn't be the only one thinking that AV receivers, which encourage this sort of ancient operation, are beasts of a bygone era. A few clicks led me to a great, timely piece by Matthew Moskovciak over at CNET:How to save the AV receiver.Anyway. I realize I'm babying about first world stuff! Got through it. Hooked everything up--a CD player, an AV receiver, two speakers. Simple, right? I mean, that's a pretty basic component setup.But I hit a snag right away. As soon as I turned on the receiver, the screen blinked a message urging me to follow the initial set-up instructions via the screen. Meaning, television. Uh...oh oh. I intended to use the receiver purely for music, not as part of home theater system, so there was no television attached.I tried bypassing the pesky message via all kinds of key commands on the remote, but it couldn't be shaken. The manual (basic and advanced, I checked them both) was useless. Eventually I found a way around it; turning the unit off and on a couple of times. But now I really *wanted* to complete the set-up, because it includes steps like connecting the receiver to wifi and calibrating sound levels with the provided mic. Fortunately, I remembered I had a TV in storage, hauled it out and worked through the various menus, memorizing what the receiver screen looked like at each stage. Now everything is hooked up and sounds marvelous. (Pic shows new dedicated reading/listening corner. Yay.)But you really shouldn't need a TV to set up an AV receiver; and you shouldn't have to cut, strip and attach cables to get speakers connected.Perversely, though, despite everything I've just said, I'm kind of glad I learned how to do it. Learning new (admittedly minor) skills is ultimately fun.And I have a feeling it won't be the last time I make use of them...[...]



Top 10 2014 Movies

2015-01-18T10:39:40.784-08:00

Scroll down for Top 10...I watched 106 movies in 2014, many of them classics I was thrilled to experience for the first time. A fair number of the movies I watched were of more recent vintage, though: about a third were 2014 releases (or borderline 2013/2014 releases that I'm choosing to include in this category): The Invisible Woman 1/10/2014 Non-Stop 3/1/2014 300: Rise of an Empire 3/15/2014 Noah 4/26/2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier 4/26/2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 5/3/2014 Reasonable Doubt 5/7/2014 Under the Skin 5/15/2014 Locke 5/16/2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past 6/28/2014 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 7/30/2014 Guardians of the Galaxy 8/29/2014 A Most Wanted Man 9/10/2014 The Two Faces of January 9/20/2014 Gone Girl 10/5/2014 Annabelle 10/11/2014 Nightcrawler 11/8/2014 The Theory of Everything 11/15/2014 Whiplash 11/24/2014 Birdman 11/26/2014 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 11/29/2014 Lucy 11/30/2014 Interstellar 12/4/2014 The Imitation Game 12/12/2014 Wild 12/20/2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel 12/21/2014 Listen Up Philip 12/22/2014 Foxcatcher 12/25/2014 Inherent Vice 12/26/2014 Boyhood 12/26/2014 Only Lovers Left Alive 12/27/2014 Nymphomaniac, Part I 12/29/2014 It's interesting, though not surprising, to see how heavily these are weighted towards the end of the year ("awards season").TOP TENMy top ten picks from the above:1. Whiplash2. Only Lovers Left Alive3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes4. Under the Skin5. Foxcatcher6. The Theory of Everything7. Nightcrawler8. Wild9. The Grand Budapest Hotel10. LockeHonorable mentions go to Birdman, The Invisible Woman and A Most Wanted Man (which coincidentally all contain the words "man" or "woman" in the title).Boyhood and The Imitation Game were also quite good, and for comics-inspired movies I thought Captain America: Winter Soldier was riveting and excellently crafted.[...]



What I Read in 2014

2015-01-03T13:44:46.058-08:00

Here are the covers of the books and comics I read in 2014, along with some observations below.





Notes:

  • Count: If you normalize and remove some of the clutter created by individual comics issues, the total book count comes to 53, where I am including comic book multi-issue collections, as they take as long to read as standalone novellas, which I also count. I'm pleased at having read just over a book per week, my personal best in a while. It's nowhere near what some readers regularly log on Goodreads, but I'm not racing anyone, just enjoying myself.  
  • Gender Mix: Only 12 of the 53 books were by women, which is a little disappointing. It doesn't help me that I like prolific male authors. I mean, reading a bunch of Simenons is going to skew the stats, darnit :-) I'll be more cognizant of this going forward, though.
  • Short Fiction: I read 228 short stories in 2014. Some of these are captured in the above, but many are not. Probably deserves a separate post. For now, I'll refer back to a short fiction reading spree I did, with 50 capsule reviews of short stories: part 1 and part 2.
  • I'm pleased to have read short story collections, anthologies, novels and non-fiction books on various subjects. The mix keeps things interesting and lively.
  • This year, after wanting to for some time but not getting around to it, I finally got back into Spider-man, and I started with the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Reading these electronically on a touch screen is quite a different experience from what it was like thumbing through the pages as a kid, but no less enjoyable for it.
  • I really enjoyed a lot of the books I read. Probably 80% I would rate as very good or above.
  • I'll have to give some thought to the 10 books I enjoyed most, and post that in the next few days...



2014 Writing and 2015 Stuff

2015-01-02T10:37:19.463-08:00

2014 WritingA review of the year, with links galore:The UK edition of When the Blue Shift Comes, with Robert Silverberg, was published by Gollancz. Seeing it on the shelves at Blackwell's in Oxford during our WorldCon trip was so cool.Throughout the year I wrote 17 new stories. I started 3 other stories I didn't complete but will continue working on in 2015.I sold 14 short stories: 11 to pro-paying markets, and 3 to non-pro markets.I had 9 new stories published in 2014. Here they are:"Fires of Night" appeared in the anthology Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse, edited by Alex Shvartsman and William Snee."Coffee in End Times", with Alex Shvartsman, was published in Nature. It was also podcast by Nature."Hot and Cold" was published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact."Eine Kleine Nachtfilm" appeared in Galaxy's Edge."Waste Knot, Want Knot" appeared in Nature Physics."The Memory-Setter's Apprentice" was published in Fantasy Scroll."A Vision of Paradise" was published in Bastion SF."Dumpster Diving" appeared in Nature. It was also podcast by Nature."Miranda's Wings" was published in The Journal Of Unlikely Entomology.My poem "Conservation of Energy" was published in Apex.My retrospective essay on Norman Spinrad's work, "Iron and Chromium: Five Key Novels by Norman Spinrad" was published in The Los Angeles Review of Books.My essay on the theme of drugs in science fiction, "“We’re All Dreaming,” Arctor Said: Drugs in Science Fiction, from the 1960s to the Present" appeared in Clarkesworld.My short essay "A Craving for Endings: The First Line of Knut Hamsun's Hunger" was published in the lit magazine The First Line.I wrote an introduction for the new Fairwood Press paperback edition of Jack Skillingstead's short story collection Are You There and Other Stories.I reviewed two non-fiction books for Brian Clegg's Popular Science blog: Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction and Magnetism: A Very Short Introduction.I started a new bi-monthly review column, "Another Dimension", for the magazine Intergalactic Medicine Show. My first column covered the anthologies Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction and Time Travel: Recent Trips.I interviewed Chuck Wendig, Ann Leckie, Robert Reed, Jo Walton and Kameron Hurley for Clarkesworld.I interviewed Nancy Kress and Jack Skillingstead for the Locus blog.I interviewed Steve Rasnic Tem and Christa Faust for SF Signal.I edited a number of guest posts and Roundtable discussions for the Locus blog and wrote a couple of my own.2015 Forthcoming Stories"Repeat After Me" is my first middle-grade SF short story, and will be included in the 2015 anthology Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, edited by Corie and Sean Weaver. I've seen the ebook version of this, and think physical copies will prob start shipping in Jan or Feb."The Obvious Solution", in which I resurrect a famous SF author, will appear in Buzzy Magazine. This is scheduled for publication on 02/06/2015."The Romance of Flying on Dead Languages" will be appearing in the first issue of Bahamut (scheduled for June 2015), edited by Rima Abunasser and Darin Bradley, with quite an extraordinary line-up of authors.Mike Resnick bought "The Rose is Obsolete", about time-travel and the challenges of old age, for Galaxy's Edge. Not sure yet when this will come out, but will be in 2015.Rose Lemberg picked up my experimental piece "And Now You Are Alone Among the Stars" for the anthology she is editing, An Alphabet of Embers. Not quite sure of publication date yet."The Black Hole and the Entropy Collector" will appear in Nature Physics. Again, not quite sure of publication date yet."Gate of Sun, Gate of Moon" will be appearing in the anthology Ruins Excavation edited by Eric. T Reynolds. The[...]



Setting the Tone for the New Year

2015-01-01T17:01:11.892-08:00

I guess there's something to be said for the idea of setting the tone--for an interaction, an activity, anything really. But how does one set the tone for a calendar year, which is in essence an arbitrary, human-created division of something mysterious and profound, time?We went about it by sleeping in today, going out for a nice breakfast/lunch, and then spending a few hours on a very pleasant hike. Our pace was slow, relaxed. The vibe of the experience was deliberately mellow. Enjoy the moment, relish unexpected delights, that kind of thing.Turned out to be a lovely way to spend the afternoon. I got that wonderful buzz of vitalizing energy one does from time outdoors, in the sunshine and in the shade.The conversation was pretty wide-ranging, too.I've been visiting the Euthyphro dilemma quite often lately, and it was fun to verbally untangle some of its knots and discuss its elegance, power, implications.One of the reasons I think I keep coming back to it is because it seems likely a remarkably powerful conceptual tool, or set of logical implications, arising from an apparently simple clarifying question of cause and effect. That eternally complicated question of "how do you pick the next book you're going to review" also reared its head. In this particular case I need to select two SF books and review them for my column at Intergalactic Medicine Show. The two-review piece is due by next Friday, and I have yet, after much back-and-forth, to pick the books. But I'm confident I'll select them by the end of the day, and that the books will be read and the piece delivered on time.Rather than allowing this to be stressful, I'm choosing to focus on the joy of reading two new SF books--the privilege of my "first world" problem to begin with--and the added joy of then being able to share my thoughts with readers. Part of that "tone" thing I was mentioning before.And speaking of books, the 2015 reading list already is absurdly long. But I'm not worried about it either. I'm going to read primarily for pleasure in 2014, continuing the trend I started in 2013, and wherever that takes me, that's where I'll go. "Whimsy welcome" is part of my New Year's mantra. All lists are just reference guides at this point, completely optional.                                                                                                                Speaking of reading and writing, I do want to publish a post about my writing in 2014 and what stories etc. I have coming out (so far) in 2015. I've drafted it and it will most likely go up tomorrow.                                                                                                                                                                                             So now, time for a deep breath. The new year is *here*. It was ushered in in the company of friends and loved ones. Today has been about relaxing, the pleasure of a partner's company, taking stock of time, looking inward. As[...]



Three Seconds

2014-09-05T16:48:42.685-07:00

Two new stories and an interview out in September!So why did I call this post "Three Seconds"? Because each of these items marks my second appearance in that particular venue.StoriesMy story "Waste Knot, Want Knot" was just published in Nature Physics, and you can read it here: http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v10/n9/full/nphys3102.htmlThis is my second appearance in Nature. My first, "Coffee in End Times," was a collaboration with Alex Shvartsman, which you can read here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7488/full/506402a.html. Alex is currently putting together his first collection of short fiction, Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories, which will be out around Feb 2015, and our story will be included in that collection. To that end, we've written some comments about the story. Fair warning, they're best read after the story. Here are our story notes: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/776571295/explaining-cthulhu-to-grandma-and-other-stories/posts/965243My story "Eine Kleine Nachtfilm" was just published in Galaxy's Edge. It's a tribute story to one of the great short story writers, in and out of science fiction, but I won't say who. That would make things less fun, wouldn't it? :-) You can read it here, and I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out: http://www.galaxysedge.com/n3.htm This is also my second appearance in Galaxy's Edge. Last year the magazine published my story "All Along the Golden Front." Thank you, Mike Resnick, on both counts!InterviewI got to interview Ann Leckie, whose first novel, Ancillary Justice, has won every major science fiction award (and then some!), for the fine folks at Clarkesworld while I was in London. That interview, "Consciousness as Story: A Conversation with Ann Leckie",  was published a few days ago, and may be found here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/leckie_interview/I've had one previous interview published in Clarkesworld, which was with Chuck Wendig. (You can read it here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/wendig_interview/).Extra, ExtraAlso recently, I asked Jonathan R. Eller, author of Becoming Ray Bradbury, and the new Ray Bradbury Unbound, to drop by the Locus Mag blog, and he was kind enough to do so: http://www.locusmag.com/Roundtable/2014/08/jonathan-r-eller-guest-post-ray-bradbury-unbound/[...]



Short Fiction Reading Spree - Recap Part II, Stories 26-50

2014-07-31T00:32:00.634-07:00

As promised, here is the second part of my short fiction reading spree recap:Day 6These stories are all from 2014, by writers I didn't know, and appearing in magazines I hadn't touched in days 1-5.# 26) "The Food in the Basement" Laura Davy (Apex #62 Jul 2014)Not normally a fan of vampire stories, but this one won me over. The telling is sparse, almost to the point of detachment, which brings out the horror of the situation that much more effectively. The setup reminded me a bit of John Fowles' The Collector.# 27) "What Needs to Burn" Sylvia Anna Hiven (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #152 Jul 2014)An effective story efficiently told. Things move fast, and keep on moving. Wild West sort of setting with some fantasy elements thrown in. A reader comments that it brought Firefly to mind, and I can't disagree. That's sort of the "flavor" I got too.# 28) "The World Resolute" E. Catherine Tobler (Strange Horizons 14 July 2014 )Short and poetic. Somewhat of a mood piece. Liked it.# 29) "Always Forever Now" Drew Rhys White (Ideomancer June 2014)Meditative and thought-provoking story. The author mentions the influence or evocation of Karen Joy Fowler in the story comments and I can see that. I appreciate that adult relationships were handled in a subtle, sophisticated way, and that the speculative element was nicely blended with the story's human interest.# 30) "A Gift in Time" Maggie Clark (Clarkesworld #92 May 2014)The story was well-written and offered plenty of historical verisimilitude. There was good attention to detail, and a classic tragic-ironic ending. I didn't feel particularly close to the main character, though, and so the story's fine qualities didn't combine to move me or make me care about his unrequited love as much as I would have liked.The last two stories included two different brands of time-travel, but other than that no real "theme" emerged from this batch.Day 7Again, these stories are all from 2014, by writers I didn't know. I solicited recommendations regarding stories in Daily Science Fiction and Anatoly Belilovsky pointed out the J. S Bangs story to me. I'm glad he did--I quite liked it.# 31) "Gauntlet" Shedrick Pittman-Hassett (On Spec #96 Spring 2014)Barb Galler-Smith was kind enough to send me this story, which was nice, since it let me dip into On Spec for this project (I don't otherwise have access to the magazine). This is what I tend to think of as effectively constructed, rollicking science fiction. Strong, visually rich set-pieces, likeable characters, and a brisk pace. Nicely done.# 32) "The Heresy of Friar Travolo" J.S. Bangs (Daily Science Fiction Jul 11 2014)I like math, and this story did a great job in its treatment of Euclidean vs. non-Euclidean geometry. I think this is a fine example of a narrative that works primarily to expose the reader to a new idea, and presents it in a respectable fashion (i.e., sf as learning device), because the human element is still compelling. Have a weakness for Middle Ages settings too, which worked in the story's favor.# 33) "Seven Things Cadet Blanchard Learned From the Trade Summit Incident" Annalee Flower Horne (F&SF July/Aug 2014 CC Finlay issue)Clever and well-constructed. I never really warmed to this story's tone, though, I have to say, and since it relies so heavily on tone, that hampered my enjoyment of it.# 34) "Five Tales of the Aqueduct" Spencer Ellsworth (F&SF July/Aug 2014 CC Finlay issue)Loved it. I literally reread it again right after reading it the first time. Coincidentally, I recently watched Chinatown for the first time, so the subject of water irrigation and aqueducts in southern California was already lingering in m[...]



Short Fiction Reading Spree - Recap Part I, Stories 1-25

2014-07-24T22:37:59.868-07:00

Today is day 5 of the 10-day short fiction spree, in which I read five stories a day. I thought I'd do a recap of the 25 stories I've read so far. I've broken it down by day, with a few notes on what criteria (if any) I used to pick the stories, and some brief, capsule reviews/responses to each story.Day 1To select my five stories on day 1 I perused the latest short story reviews by Lois Tilton, Rich Horton and Gardner Dozois. I wanted something recent. I also wanted:at most one story per venue,a story from a magazine I'd never read beforeall five stories to be by writers unknown to me.Here are the five short stories I selected based on the above criteria:# 1) "The Talking Cure" K. J. Zimring (Asimov's April/May 2014)Zimring's sf idea was interesting, and the emotional implications were nicely foregrounded: but I thought what really made the story work was actually the narrator's tone. It was enjoyably acerbic without being cynical or morose.# 2) "White Curtain" Pavel Amnuel (F&SF May/June 2014)Really liked the concept behind "White Curtain", and a couple of specific moments. Unfortunately the story, as a whole, didn't quite knock me off my feet. There was a weird, almost breathless quality to the prose (is that somehow related to the Russian cadences in the original, I wonder?) and I didn't get sufficiently invested in the character to be truly moved. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, and the ending, though maybe a bit predictable, was well done.# 3) "Sadness" Timons Esaias (Analog July/August 2014)This one will stay with me. Extremely good worldbuilding and atmosphere--thorough and carefully done. Good character development and an unpredictable situation. Memorable ending. Just about everything worked for me, and the first few paragraphs gave me that tingly "otherness" feel I so enjoy in science fiction.# 4) "Tunbi" Chikodili Emelumadu (Luna Station Quarterly June 2014)Talk about "otherness"--whoa! "Tunbi"'s got it in spades. Interesting effects with language too, and a really out-there character you won't forget anytime soon. Grossness and dark comedy to spare. As for the plot, I found it a little underwhelming, but I'll be looking for more of Emelumadu's work in the future. And I'll be coming back to this magazine as well.# 5) "M1A" Kim Winternheimer (Lightspeed Women Destroy SF June 2014)I'm conflicted about this one. I thought the writing was effective and tone-appropriate for the narrator's age. The central image/conceit is horrific and memorable (though not so original). But I'm not sure it sustained the narrative for me, even though it was a flash. I would love, I think, to have seen this is a poem. Still, glad to have read it.Interesting coincidence: all of these stories were in the first person.Day 2As with the selections from Day 1, I wanted to read stories by writers whose work I'd never experienced before. And they're all from 2014. Other than that, the selections were pretty random.# 6) "Artifice" Naomi Kritzer (Analog Sep 2014)I found "Artifice" pleasant and diverting. Nicely unadorned prose. The concept felt a little familiar--at one point, the story made me think of "In Theory", that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation were Data becomes involved in a romantic relationship. The conclusion pushes the pathos in a different direction (of necessity, since Joe, the humaniform robot in this story, isn't our POV character, unlike Data was in that episode). A few nice observations regarding domestic life and relationships.# 7) "Collar" Leo Vladimirsky (F & SF March/April 14)"Collar", I'll admit right away, blew me away. Holy crap, why I haven't read Vladimirsky before? I lo[...]



Short Fiction Reading Spree

2014-07-19T13:04:33.354-07:00

Leading up to Worldcon each year I like to ramp up my short fiction reading. This is convenient because:

  • Normally it gives me an opportunity to go through all the short form Hugo nominees each year.
  • It means I feel a little more "caught up" on short fiction, entering the second half of the year, than I otherwise would, which in turn provides extra motivation to keep going August-Dec. Now, this may make it sound like reading short fiction is difficult or unappealing--quite the opposite is true. But reading novels and non-fiction books is easy and appealing as well, and they take considerably more time, so unless I deliberately set aside blocks of time for short fiction, I find that even though I continue to read it all year round I fall woefully behind.
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  • It's nice to be able to meet people at a large gathering like Worldcon and be familiar with their short form work, whether they have published dozens or stories before, or just the one I read last month. Wouldn't be the first time this has provided an "in" to conversation or a way of quickly establishing a shared reference.
  • This is captured in the third bullet point, but I'll repeat it here, because it deserves its own space: I love short fiction.
  • As it happens, this year one of the panels I'm going to be on is about short fiction. So reading more of it leading up to the con, and that specific panel, certainly can't hurt. It might even make me pseudo-credible.

Those are reasons, then. But what about method of execution? Well, this year I thought I'd try a slightly different approach:

  • Starting tomorrow, Sunday July 20th, I'll endeavor to read five stories a day for the next ten days. This means that, if successful, I'll read fifty stories during this little spree.
  • All the short fiction I read during this time will have been published in 2014. (This means, alas, that I'll have to try and catch up with current Hugo nominees on the side, or last minute before voting closes, or be caught up incompletely when it does).

I look forward to discovering new authors and seeing what some of my favorites have been up to!



WorldCon Schedule (Draft) - Loncon 3

2014-06-16T13:38:15.667-07:00

Here's my draft schedule for the upcoming London WorldCon. I couldn't be happier with these assignments. Why, you ask?First (and understanding this could change), awesome folks.Second, I'm moderating two panels, and that's something I always enjoy.Third, awesome folks. No, really.Fourth, most of the panels are later in the day, which means free time for other panels/activities in the morning. Fifth, one panel per day, which is really nice pacing.And sixth (these aren't in order of importance!), I like the panel themes and think they'll be fun.Extrapolation on ScreenThursday 18:00 - 19:00SF on screen, even or perhaps especially at its most political, seems reluctant to extrapolate directly from our present time. Instead, politcal works such as The Hunger Games or Defiance are often set after a radical change; or avoid extrapolating at all by dealing in secrets and conspiracies, like Orphan Black and Person of Interest. Possible contemporary exceptions include Continuum and Almost Human, but why are they so uncommon? Are important questions being dodged, or can the absence of extrapolation be a strength (and if so, how)?Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (M), Charlie Jane Anders, Juliana Goulart, Adam Rakunas, Michael MorelliA Reader's Life During Peak Short FictionFriday 12:00 - 13:30There are now more speculative short stories published than any one person can hope to read -- or even find. So how do fans of the short-form navigate this landscape? With so much ground to cover, how does an individual reader find stories they like -- are we more author-driven in our reading habits? Conversely, how and why do particular stories "break out" and become more widely known? To what extent is the greater volume of material enabling -- and recognising -- a greater diversity of authors and topics? And what is the place of short fiction in today's field -- testing ground for ideas, the heart of the discussion, or something else?Jetse de Vries (M), Abigail Nussbaum, Jonathan Strahan, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Elizabeth BearThe Canon is Dead. What Now?Saturday 19:00 - 20:00On the one hand, initiatives like the SF Gateway are helping to ensure the SF backlist remains accessible to today's readers, and an increasing number of "classic" SF writers are receiving the establishment seal of approval in series like the Library of America (Philip K. Dick) and the Everyman Library (Isaac Asimov). On the other hand, the SF readership is increasingly diverse, with fewer readers who have come to the field via those "classics", and many who find little of value in them in any case. In other words the traditional SF canon is no longer tenable -- but the history is still out there. So what alternative models and narratives should we be using to understand the field's past? Should we be working to expand the canon, or to describe multiple overlapping histories -- or something else?Kate Nepveu (M), Thea James, Connie Willis, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Chris BeckettThe Art of ReviewingSunday 18:00 - 19:00John Clute is one of the people who lifted reviewing in the field to an art form. What makes the difference between a workmanlike review that tells us what we need to know, and a review which becomes a text worth studying in its own right? Under what circumstances does a review transcend its immediate subject, and become part of the wider conversation about genre? Who are reviews for: readers, authors, industry, other reviewers?Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (M), Paul Kincaid, Aidan Moher, Elizabeth Hand, Alisa Krasnostein [...]



The Destruction of Our Beloved Field

2014-03-14T15:52:24.654-07:00

I heard somewhere that women are destroying science fiction. I thought to myself, "No, that can't be." But one look at a nearby shelf of recent purchases (limited to short fiction only), confirmed that, alas, it's true. Other shelves containing novels provided further proof.

With that in mind, I think I'll go make my list of Hugo nominees now.







#40 out of 40 — Reflections in a GoldenEye

2013-08-02T10:38:51.904-07:00

And so we arrive at the final -- and slightly delayed (see below) -- post of this series.Since the post is longer than usual, I'm going to break it up into sections.Novel and SuchFirst, the obligatory stuff. The last two days were days 55 and 56 of the writing streak. I added 1,200 words to the novel each day. In my last post I was at 18,700, so we're now up to 21,100. Not an inherently significant number, but it does mark at least one milestone, which is crossing 20K words. (It may mark a second milestone. If the final draft doesn't come in too much longer than my targeted 81K, I'm now past the one quarter point.)More books!Achieved my fitness targets (miles and calisthenics) yesterday and today.Double O Seven ExtravaganzaAnd now for some explanation of the delay in this post. The answer is simple: yesterday I stayed up all night, and so the two days kind of bled together for me. Yesterday evening (7/31) at around 7 pm we started a James Bond movie marathon, which kept going until 8 am this morning (8/1). During said I watched four and a half movies: Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), and the first half of Diamonds Are Forever (1971).Most of these I'd never seen before, and some of them I'd only seen pieces of, so long ago I barely remembered. I won't try to condense my individual reactions to all of these films, except to say there is a sort of delirious quality, a cumulative effect of mounting unreality, that derives from watching these films one right after the other. Not only because of the films' continuity and how that reinforces one's belief in a preposterous universe where Bond is possible, but because at least the first three listed above progressively escalate in scope and ambition.I mean, Thunderball is large in scale (Fort Knox underwater planes, atomic bombs, for Heaven's sakes), but You Only Live Twice is SO HUGE it's kind of a joke -- but one the film seems to be in on, even more so than the previous four entries in the franchise. There's something a little surreal about that, specially when you haven't slept in 24 hours.If you pay close attention to the plots (probably a mistake) there's at least a dozen WTF moments per film. Probably the funniest comment in our marathon was made by my gf a little after midnight. After I objected to some technical aspect of how radioactivity was being dealt with in one of the flicks, she looked at me and said, "As though James Bond isn't fully radioactive by now." Quite right! In general the logic-defying plot moments start coming hard and heavy whenever the villain has Bond in his grip but doesn't kill him on the spot. Or when the entire success of a joint MI6/CIA operation hinges, for example, on a woman falling for Bond and defecting. And so on. But for every one of those moments there are ten other moments of pure thrills, funny one-liners, clever gadgets, stunning set designs, incredible landscapes. And the splendid scores. It was fun.Daily Blog Post SeriesNow that it's a wrap, it seems fair to ask how rewarding it was to write these posts, and examine if there were any learnings for me in the process.In short, the last comment of the previous section applies equally to writing these posts. The series provides a record of the most significant doings and happenings from the last forty days, and that's as much as I could ask from this little exercise.But looking back on the series of 40 entries, it's easy to see that during the more recent o[...]



#39 out of 40 — From the 60s With Love

2013-07-31T00:35:56.210-07:00

And yet more books! The downpour continues!



Day 54 of writing streak. 1,200 words on the novel.

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Read another 50 pages of Love Minus Eighty.

Got in my miles and calisthenics.

Tonight we watched the second Bond picture, From Russia With Love (1963). Good stuff, in its own campy way. Thought it outdid Dr. No, particularly in terms of the story's pacing and action. But two pictures in, the sexism is already brutal.



#38 out of 40 — Interlude

2013-07-30T00:03:03.702-07:00

More new books today!


Day 53 of writing streak. 1,200 words on the novel.

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Fitness goals (including a nice hike in Dana Point) achieved.

Read Interlude 1 in Susskind and Hrabovsky's The Theoretical Minimum.

And we watched Dr. No (1962), the first ever James Bond movie. Good (and at times silly) fun.






#37 out of 40 — B-Day Part Deux

2013-07-29T00:09:40.065-07:00

When your birthday happens to fall on a Saturday, bleeding it into Sunday and making it a birthday weekend is really the only way to go, isn't it? Well that's we did!

(image) Again got my writing in first thing in the morning.

Day 52 of writing streak. 1,700 words done on the novel. Feeling good, having hit a bit of a milestone -- 20%, or one fifth done! (Assuming I come in anywhere near the projected wordcount, of course. Right now I'm running long against my outline estimates).

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Later in the morning went for a hike, and a short walk in the evening. Miles done for the day.

Again, a lovely lunch (Chinese) and a nice dinner (Mexican) out and about.

Then spent about an hour reading several astronomy-related texts, trying to brush up on some basics. Also read the first chapter of Leonard Susskind and George Hrabovsky's nifty little book, The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics. Enjoyed it thus far, but it's just starting to get interesting.





#36 out of 40 — B-Day

2013-07-28T01:08:32.033-07:00

What a great birthday!

Got my writing done first thing this morning. Day 51 of writing streak, 1,200 words on the novel.

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Here are the books I got today:


Had two fantastic celebratory meals: lunch at Taco Rosa in Tustin and dinner at O Fine Japanese Cuisine in Laguna Beach. Probably the best sushi I've had in a year.


In between, we went for a hike at the beautiful Salt Creek Trail, and after the hike we went for a gorgeous sunset drive along PCH.