Friday, October 24, 2008

Come follow me

If I have any friends out there that aren't completely saturated with web 2.0, or is it 3.0 now?, social networking and SEO (search engine optimization), here's another thingy for you. Google Blogger now has a "followers" feature. If you're following someone's blog and they have turned on that function and checked the "show my followers" box, then your little pic or avatar will be on their website.

Why should you want to do this? It's more cyber real estate, of course. So all you bloggers who use Google's Blogger, aka blogspot blogs, come follow me. :) And I'll return the favor if you have a similar site or one that interests me.

While musing over an article for work yesterday, I made an interesting observation. It was about resolving personal conflict. What struck me as I sat staring at the screen trying to come up with a list of meaningful bullet points was this:

People struggle with each other over seemingly trivial matters because of their need to be:

in control

Have I missed anything?

Another observation that I made is that the things that we're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: money, politics and religion, are the very same things wars are fought over. Those and power, which translates into land and conquest on the grand scale and meddling on the personal one.

I'm having fun with Horace. He's the (first) main character in Awesome Lavratt. He's the main character in a sequel I'm working on now. I have so much fun making him squirm. Poor guy...

I'm almost finished with the fantasy novel, Shadowbridge, by Gregory Frost. I'll probably have it finished tomorrow. I'll be reviewing it at Mostly Fiction along with its sequel.

Next up is editing a ms for a friend and critiquing more of same for OryCon. I got a picture of myself holding my book yesterday in the mail. I had completely forgotten about it. Joe Collins took pictures of the authors in attendance at SpoCon and sent us a copy to keep and a copy to sign and return. And a third copy goes up on a wall at U of W. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Balancing Act

Three weeks into the new job I'm finally starting to get to my novel, the sequel to Awesome Lavratt. Before this week, I'd been spending my spare time, what little I had left, tying up loose ends - projects I promised people and book reviews. It feels good to be writing about Horace again. I'm still searching for the rhythm though. It's so hard to find and so easily lost.

I console myself with the fact that I am writing for a living, and writing every weekday. Now to make the daily novel writing happen... I need to be accountable. That's what deadlines are great for. I find that my own self-imposed deadlines are easily alterable. Because, after all, if it's not tied to a contract, it's ... here it comes ... wait for it ... my new word that needs to get in the dictionary in 10 months' time ... PROCRASTINATABLE. Was it worth the suspense?

Brent Anderson
was the guest speaker at the local SF club I'm in. He shared some comics and graphic novels in various stages. He handed out copies of a couple of comics to the group, and of course, I had to give him a copy of Awesome Lavratt. I asked him to have a look at it with the idea of creating a graphic novel version. We'll see...

I'm making plans for OryCon. So far, all my SF writing buddies that are closer to Portland than I am aren't going. I do have a new buddy coming from WA, though. It will be a whirlwind trip as I'll be arriving in Portland at 5PM and back again Sunday night, late. Hopefully, the guest list will be posted soon on their website.

I'm doing some beta reading, writing a book jacket and doing some editing on the side. I've quit my last critique group. Hopefully, I'll find some willing honest souls to tap to beta read for me when the time comes.

Anyone looking to teach spec fic in CA? I found this over at my friend, Mallory's blog on LJ. Senior Position in Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction/Related Genres in the Department of Creative Writing

Monday, October 13, 2008

Review - GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator)

I met the editor of GUD over at LinkedIn and scored a review copy of GUD. It took me a while to get through the pdf version, as I'm an ink and paper miser and don't like reading on the screen. But, at long last, I've finished it.

GUD bills itself as: "GUD (pronounced "good") is Greatest Uncommon Denominator, a print/pdf magazine with two hundred pages of literary and genre fiction, poetry, art, and articles."

First off, I'd have to say that GUD could just as easily stand for Gloomy Utter Doom. Of course, if that's what you're into, it's a veritable banquet. Now that I've peeled myself off the floor and listened to some Blues to pick me up, I'd like to tell you more about it.

The issue I reviewed is the Spring 2007 issue. It's chock full of stories, poetry, and art. It also has a couple of non-fiction pieces. I won't go into the poetry as I'm not the best judge of poetry. I'll stick to what I know. The stories were, as I said, very dark. But they were also well written and unique.

John Mantooth's "Chicken" was so full of emotion as to make me almost gasp. His treatment of a young man's bravado, fear and regret overlaid onto a troubled alcoholic seeing another troubled young man who is frighteningly past caring was a moving, credible symphony of bitter memory.

I enjoyed Jason Stoddard's "Moments of Brilliance". He set the bread crumbs along my path. I knew where they led, but it made me want to run there all the more. Besides, I'm a sucker for the musings of how other beings or even robots might think. The gradual awareness, the piecing together of the various visual and aural input to decipher its surroundings and the meaning of life. Can't say more...

In AB Goelman's "4 Short Parables Revolving Around the Theme of Travel", I found a welcome respite from the doom and gloom and a fun time travel romp.

"Cutting a Figure" provided a bit of comic relief while still making some social commentary. Charlie Anders had me hooked with his dual duty breast implants. Need I say more?

Last, but not least, I'd like to mention "She Dreams in Colors, She Dreams in Hope" by F. John Sharp. His well-rounded characters deal with sweat-shop socialism. The man who seems the most resistant, lets another man's dreams invade his own and imbue him with hope that he carries into the waking world.

If you don't buy the magazine to experience it for yourself, I suggest you head over to their website, if for no other reason than to check out the cover art by Konrad Kruszewski. He also has another very striking image within.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Interview with Ben Bova

It was my great pleasure to have the opportunity to interview science fiction author, Ben Bova. Dr. Bova has penned over 70 novels and 34 non-fiction books. There are 15 novels in his Grand Tour of the Universe series alone. After reading the interview below, make sure to scoot over to Mostly Fiction for my review of three Grand Tour books, including the latest,
Mars Life.

AW: Dr. Bova, I'd like to first take this opportunity to tell you how much I've enjoyed every book of yours I have read. With Mars Life, I was astounded at how thrilling you made the exploration of a relatively barren planet - and without the use of first contact with little green men. I also appreciated your rich characters and expert sprinkling of present and near future science. The obviously well-researched science enhanced the story of planetary discovery and Jamie's struggle to save Mars from exploitation.

AW: Given the opportunity, would you spend a year on your vision of Mars?
Dr. Bova: I certainly would! I think Mars is at the frontier of our search for life in the universe. If we find life on Mars – even if it’s been long extinct – it means that Earth is not the only place where life can exist. It can change our vision of who we are and what our place is in the universe.

AW: What inspired you to give control of your Mars to the Navajo nation?
Dr. Bova: It began when I first started writing the first novel in my “Mars” trilogy, the novel titled Mars. I lived for a while in the southwest, because the landscape of the Navaho lands reminded me very much of the pictures our spacecraft were sending back of the landscape of the red planet. Of course, the Navaho lands are a blooming Garden of Eden compared to the planet-wide freezing desert of Mars, but still the comparisons struck me. It was then and there that I realized that the protagonist of my novel was part Navaho. Jamie Waterman was born in my mind, and his is still the central character in all three of my Mars novels. From Jamie came the idea to give control of Mars to the Navaho nation.

AW: How has the current political situation affected your writing?
Dr. Bova: Most of my novels have a strong political theme. In Mars Life and others in my Grand Tour series, most of the nations of Earth have come under the rule of very conservative religious-based governments. I think this is a real possibility for the United States, and could be a grave danger to our individual liberties.

AW: Your nanosuits would certainly enhance the experience of exploring other planets. How close are we to having something like it?
Dr. Bova: Not very close, I’m afraid. On the other hand, Mars Life is set about half a century in the future, and a lot can happen in fifty years.

AW: Do you foresee humans colonizing other planets and moons in the next 100 years?
Dr. Bova: Not colonizing, in the sense that large numbers of people settle on other planets. I think we will see permanent communities built on the Moon, because of the mining and industrial operations that can become very profitable there. But those communities will have to be built underground, since the Moon’s airless surface can be very dangerous. Mars and the other planets and moons in the solar system are too far and too different from Earth to be likely places for “colonization.” I don’t think terraforming a planet is either feasible or desirable. I do believe that large habitats will be built in space (mostly out of lunar materials) for permanent residence. But the actual number of people who leave Earth to live off-planet will be comparatively small. Still, what they accomplish in those off-planet sites will change life on Earth – for the better.

AW: If and when we do, should we adapt the planet to our use or adapt ourselves to the alien planet if we can?
Dr. Bova: As Jamie Waterman would put it, leave Mars to the Martians. The other worlds of the solar system should not be transformed into Earth-like places, even if we had the ability to do so – which we don’t. As I said above, we can build habitats in space that are completely Earth-like, such as the Goddard habitat in my novels Saturn and Titan.

AW: What's your stand on Pluto? Planet or not? Do you plan on getting out that far in your Grand Tour?
Dr. Bova: Pluto is still Pluto, no matter what we call it. I don’t have any immediate plans to take the Grand Tour that far, but then I had no idea that I’d be writing more than a dozen Grand Tour novels when I started writing Mars.

AW: What are you working on now?
Dr. Bova: I’ve turned in to my publisher (Tor Books) Voyagers IV: The Return, a novel that brings together the Grand Tour sags with my earlier Voyagers Trilogy. I’ll be doing a high-tech thriller next, then probably return to Jupiter for Leviathans of Jupiter. Oh, I’ve also written an historical novel, titled The Hittite. It’s about what happened to Helen after the Trojan War.

AW: Thank you for taking the time to field a few questions for our readers.

My review of Mars Life at Mostly Fiction.

Dr. Bova's home page.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Writing and SF Turned Science

The new job is great (staff writer for a trade journal). I'm finally getting paid to write. I mean really paid. Story sales just don't do it. I shudder to think what the amount I get paid for a story looks like when divided by number of hours spent. But let's not discount the joy of creating something unique and (hopefully) entertaining. I'm planning to really crank out that sequel to Awesome Lavratt in November with all of you NanoWriMo participants. Nothin' like a deadline and peer pressure.

I'm making plans for OryCon30 in Portland, OR. Looks like a lot of fun panels in store.


While scaring up facts for a column a few things stuck with me. I thought I'd share.

Researches at Purdue University have invented a tricorder! Check it out.

Affordable electric cars coming later this year. Read about the 2009 models. Chrysler is getting into the game. They have three prototypes for 2010. Dodge sports car, Jeep Wrangler and a Chrysler minivan.

On Sunday, the first privately developed rocket achieved Earth orbit. Go SpaceX!

Coming soon:
Interview with Ben Bova along with a review of Mars Life.
Review of GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator), a SF magazine.