(1) BANGLESS. In the beginning…there was no beginning?
The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.
The widely accepted age of the universe, as estimated by general relativity, is 13.8 billion years. In the beginning, everything in existence is thought to have occupied a single infinitely dense point, or singularity. Only after this point began to expand in a “Big Bang” did the universe officially begin.
(2) KNOWING YOURSELF. Tobias Buckell supplies fascinating ideas for learning about yourself and your writing in his answer to “How do I know when to trunk my story or novel?”
… I have several writer friends who are what I would call Tinkerers. They write via a method of creating something, then they continue to tinker it into perfection. It’s amazing to watch, and as a result they often have skills for rewriting that are hard to match.
Some, like me, are more Serial Iterators. They do better writing something new, incorporating the lessons of a previous work. They depend on a lifetime of practice and learning. They lean more toward abandoning a project that hasn’t worked to move on….
When I wrote 150 short stories at the start of my career, I abandoned over 100 of them to the trunk. I did this by knowing I was interested in iteration and not interested in trying to rescue them. I had an intuitive sense of how long it would take for me in hours, manpower, to try and rescue a story, versus how many it would take to make a new one. That came with practice, trusted readers opinions being compared to my own impressions of the writing, and editorial feedback. But I am very aware of the fact that I’m not a Tinkerer.
(3) CONNIE AT SASQUAN. She makes everything sound like a good time no matter what. Her nightmare of a hotel was an especially good source of anecdotes — “Connie Willis Sasquan (WorldCon 2015) Report”.
But instead of being taken to rescue on the Carpathia–or even the Hyatt–we were transported to a true shipwreck of a hotel.
It was brand-new and ultramodern, but upon closer examination, it was like those strange nightmare hotels in a “we’re already dead but don’t know it yet” movie. The blinds couldn’t be worked manually, and we couldn’t find any controls. There was no bathtub. The shower closely resembled the one in a high-school locker room, and there was no door between it and the toilet. (I am not making this up.) The clock had no controls for setting an alarm–a call to the front desk revealed that was intentional: “We prefer our clients to call us and request a wake-up call”–and when you turned the room lights off, the bright blue glow from the clock face enveloped the room in Cherenkhov radiation, and there was no way to unplug it. We tried putting a towel and then a pillow over it and ended up having to turn it face-down.
That wasn’t all. If you sat on the edge of the bed or lay too close to the edge, you slid off onto the floor, a phenomenon we got to test later on when we began giving tours of our room to disbelieving friends. “Don’t sit on the end of the bed,” we told them. “You’ll slide off,” and then watched them as they did.
(4) CONNIE PRESENTS THE HUGO. Her blog also posted the full text of “Connie Willis Hugo Presenter Speech 2015”.
… This one year they had these great Hugos, with sort of a modernist sculpture look, a big angled ring of Saturn thing with the rocket ship sticking up through it and marbles representing planets, and brass nuts and bolts and stuff.
They looked great, but they weren’t glued together very well, and by the time Samuel R. Delaney got off the stage, his Hugo was in both hands and his pockets and on the floor, and mine had lost several pieces altogether.
“Did you lose your marbles?” I whispered to Gardner backstage.
“No,” Gardner whispered back in that voice of his that can be heard in the back row, “My balls didn’t fall off, but my toilet seat broke!”
(5) TAFF. Sasquan has donated $2,000 to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund.
(6) LUNACON. Lunacon’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has ended, 58 people contributed a total of $6,127. The funds will be put to good use to make Lunacon 2016 a success.
(7) BEYOND NaNo. Amanda S. Green, in “NaNo is over. What now?” at Mad Genius Club, helps writers who missed the target deal with their results, and shows how her own experiences have taught her to adjust.
That collective sigh of relief and groan of frustration you heard yesterday came from the hoards of authors who met — or didn’t — their NaNoWriMo goals. Now they are looking at those 50,000 words and wondering what to do with them. Should they put them aside for a bit and then come back to see if they are anywhere close to a book or if they more resemble a cabbage. Others are wondering why they couldn’t meet the deadline and wondering how they can ever be an author if they can’t successfully complete NaNo. Then there are those who know they finished their 50,000 words, that they have a book (of sorts) as a result but aren’t sure it is worth the work they will have to put in to bring it to publishable standards.
All of those reactions — and more — are why I don’t particularly like NaNo. I’ve done it. I’ve failed more often than I’ve successfully concluded it….
I’ll admit, as I already have, that I usually don’t meet my NaNo goals. That’s because I know I can do 50k in a month and don’t adjust the word count. That is when Real Life tends to kick me in the teeth. Whether it is illness, either of me or a family member, or death or something around the house deciding to go MIA, something always seems to happen. It did this year. The difference was that I still managed to not only meet my 50k goal but I exceeded it.
So what was different?…
(8) SF POETRY. Here’s something you don’t see every day – a review of an sf poetry collection. Diane Severson’s “Poetry Review – Much Slower Than Light, C. Clink” at Amazing Stories.
Much Slower Than Light, from Who’s that Coeur? Press is currently in its 7th edition (2014) and is probably quite different than the 2008 6th edition (I don’t have a copy from which to compare); there are 6 poems, as far as I can tell, which have been added since then and the 6th edition apparently had poems dating back to 1984. This is a retrospective collection; representing the best Carolyn Clink has offered us from 1996 through 2014 and is likely to morph again in a few years when Clink has more wonderful poems to call her best. There is an astonishing variety in form and subject and genre. There are only 22 poems in all, but all of them are gems.
(9) HARD SF. Greg Hullender and Rocket Stack Rank investigate the “Health of Hard Science Fiction in 2015 (Short Fiction)”.
Now that 2015 is almost over as far as the Hugos go, we decided to look over all the stories that we or anyone else recommended and see which qualified as hard SF. In particular, we wanted to investigate the following claims:
Hard SF has no variety and keeps reusing old ideas.
Hullender noted in e-mail, “Lots of people talk about the health of hard SF, but I haven’t seen anyone give any actual numbers for it.”
(10) YA SF. At the Guardian, Laxmi Harihan analyzes “Why the time is now for YA speculative fiction”.
I write fantastical, action-adventure. Thrillers, which are sometimes magic realist, and which sometimes borrow from Indian mythology. Oh! And my young heroes are often of Indian origin. So yeah! My brand of YA is not easily classifiable. Imagine my relief when I found I had a home in speculative YA. There are less rules here, so I don’t worry so much about breaking them.
So, then, I wanted to understand what YA speculative fiction really meant in today’s world.
Rysa Walker, author of the Chronos Files YA series told me, “Anything that couldn’t happen in real life is speculative fiction.”
Speculative fiction is, as I found, an umbrella term for fantasy, science fiction, horror, magic realism; everything that falls under “that which can’t really happen or hasn’t happened yet.”
(11) WENDIG AND SCALZI. Chuck Wendig and John Scalzi’s collected tweets form “Star Wars Episode 3.14159: The Awkward Holiday Get-Together” at Whatever.
In which two science fiction authors turn the greatest science fictional saga of all time into… another dysfunctional holiday family dinner.
@scalzi *searches feelings*
*discovers you're really just an uncle*
*and kind of a weird uncle*
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) December 1, 2015
I admit it. I’m a natural risk taker, though I’ve never been tempted by heli-skiing, free climbing or any other extreme sport. I’m talking about a different kind of risk taking. I’m a stay-at-home writer who taps away in a cosy lair, inventing daredevil strategies for writing projects. My new novel, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, is a case in point.
Readers of my first novel, A Calculated Life, were probably expecting me to stay comfortably within the category of science fiction for my second novel. Science fiction offers a huge canvas, one that’s proven irresistible to many mainstream writers. But for my latest novel, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, I wanted to crash through the centuries. The story spans over 600 years—from the Renaissance to the twenty-second century. It’s an equal mix of speculative, contemporary, and historical fiction.
(13) SUNBURST AWARD. A “Call for Submissions: The 2016 Sunburst Award” via the SFWA Blog.
The Sunburst Awards, an annual celebration of excellence in Canadian fantastic literature, announces that its 2016 call for submissions is now open.
The Sunburst Awards Society, launched in 2000, annually brings together a varying panel of distinguished jurors to select the best full length work of literature of the fantastic written by a Canadian in both Adult and Young Adult categories. 2016 is also the inaugural year for our short fiction award, for the best short fiction written by a Canadian.
Full submission requirements for all categories are found on the Sunburst Awards website at www.sunburstaward.org/submissions.
Interested publishers and authors are asked to submit entries as early as possible, to provide this year’s jurors sufficient time to read each work. The cut-off date for submissions is January 31, 2016; books and stories received after that date will not be considered.
(14) VANDERMEER WINNERS. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer announced the winners of their Fall Fiction Contest at The Masters Review. (Via SF Site News.)
Winner: “Linger Longer,” by Vincent Masterson
Second Place Story: “Pool People,” by Jen Neale
Third Place Story: “Animalizing,” by Marisela Navarro
The judges would like to acknowledge “The Lion and the Beauty Queen” by Brenda Peynado and “Linnet’s Gifts” by Zoe Gilbert as the fourth and fifth place stories.
The three winners will be published on their website, and receive $2000, $200, and $100 respectively.
(15) LE GUIN POETRY READINGS. Ursula K. Le Guin will be reading from Late in the Day: Poems 20-10-2014 in Portland, OR at Another Read Through Books on December 17, Powell’s City of Books on January 13, and Broadway Books on February 24.
As Le Guin herself states, “science explicates, poetry implicates.” Accordingly, this immersive, tender collection implicates us (in the best sense) in a subjectivity of everyday objects and occurrences. Deceptively simple in form, the poems stand as an invitation both to dive deep and to step outside of ourselves and our common narratives. As readers, we emerge refreshed, having peered underneath cultural constructs toward the necessarily mystical and elemental, no matter how late in the day.
These poems of the last five years are bookended with two short essays, “Deep in Admiration” and “Form, Free Verse, Free Form: Some Thoughts.”
(16) GERROLD DECIDES. From David Gerrold’s extensive analysis of a panel he participated on at Loscon 42 last weekend —
1) I am never going to be on a panel about diversity, feminism, or privilege, ever again. Not because these panels shouldn’t be held or because I don’t like being on them or because they aren’t useful. But because they reveal so much injustice that I come away seething and upset.
1A) I know that I am a beneficiary of privilege. I pass for straight white male. And to the extent that I am not paying attention to it, I am part of the problem.
1B) This is why, for my own sake, I have boiled it down to, “I do not have the right to be arrogant or judgmental. I do not have the right to be disrespectful of anyone. I must treat everyone with courtesy and respect.” Sometimes it’s easy — sometimes it takes a deliberate and conscious effort. (I have become very much aware when my judgments kick in — yes, it’s clever for me to say, “I’m allergic to stupidity, I break out in sarcasm.” But it’s also disrespectful. I know it. I’m working on it.)
(17) CANTINA COLLABORATION. Did you know J.J. Abrams wrote the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cantina Band Music with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda? Abrams told the story on last night’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
There are also two other clips on the NBC site, “J.J. Abrams broke his back trying to rescue Harrison Ford,” and “J.J. Abrams was afraid to direct Star Wars.”
(18) BOOK LIBERATION. A commenter at Vox Popoli who says he’s sworn off Tor Books was probably surprised to read Vox Day’s response (scroll down to comments).
I myself will not be purchasing, reading, and therefore not voting for anything published by Tor
[VD] Who said anything about purchasing or reading? Never limit your tactical options.
His answer reminded me of the bestseller Steal This Book. Although in that case, it was the author, Abbie Hoffman, who gave his own book that title.
(19) VOX LOGO NEXT? In a different post, Vox added a stinger in his congratulations to a commenter who bragged about being the point of contact for the outfit that does Larry Correia’s logo-etched gun parts.
I’m actually his point of contact at JP, so I’m feeling proud of myself today.
[VD] Good on you. Now tell them that the Supreme Dark Lord wants HIS custom weaponry and it will outsell that of the International Lord of Hate any day.
And it should look far more evil and scary than that.
(20) Not This Day in History
- December 1, 1830 — According to an agreement with his publisher, French novelist Victor Hugo is due to turn in a draft of his book Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) on this day. He doesn’t. He works on other projects, and gets several deadline extensions. The book is not published until 1831.
(21) LUCAS EXPLAINS. In a long interview at the Washington Post, George Lucas offers his latest explanation why he re-edited Star War to make Greedo shoot first.
He also went back to some scenes that had always bothered him, particularly in the 1977 film: When Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is threatened by Greedo, a bounty hunter working for the sluglike gangster Jabba the Hutt, Han reaches for his blaster and shoots Greedo by surprise underneath a cantina table.
In the new version, it is Greedo who shoots first, by a split second. Deeply offended fans saw it as sacrilege; Lucas will probably go to his grave defending it. When Han shot first, he says, it ran counter to “Star Wars’ ” principles.
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’ ” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”
(22) YOU WERE WARNED. Anyway, back in 2012 Cracked.com warned us there are “4 Things ‘Star Wars’ Fans Need to Accept About George Lucas”.
#4. Because They’re His Damned Movies
An obvious point, but it needs to be stated clearly: Star Wars fans don’t own the Star Wars movies. We just like them. If they get changed and we don’t like them anymore, that’s perfectly cool, because we don’t have to like them anymore. That’s the deal. All sorts of creative works come in multiple editions, director’s cuts, abridged versions, expanded versions. Lucas appears to be far more into this tinkering than other filmmakers, but he’s hardly unique. Take Blade Runner: …
(22) DUELING SPACESHIPS. Millennium Falcon or Starship Enterprise? There is no question as to which space vehicle Neil deGrasse Tyson would choose.
[Thanks to Gregory N. Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Brian Z., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper.]