(1) THEMES. For the next 29 days, BBC has the concert celebrating the music of Barry Gray available for free listening — “The Music of Barry Gray”
Stuart presents the iconic music of TV composer Barry Gray performed by Charles Hazelwood’s All Star Collective at St George’s Bristol. Barry Gray created some of the most memorable music on British television and film from the 1960s onwards including Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and Stingray. His style combines big band swagger, sci-fi strangeness and soaring theme tunes. Conductor Charles Hazelwood is joined on stage by a stella cast of musicians including Jarvis Cocker and members of the British Paraorchestra.
(2) IT’S TIME. Geoff Willmets advocates “The necessity of deadlines” at SF Crowsnest.
Being creative to a deadline is actually good for you because it prevents your mind wandering from what is essentially a lot of hard work. As the deadline approaches, your brain becomes extremely focused on getting things done correctly. I’ve seen myself go into super-drive doing it and at the same time, knowing that giving myself a little distance from the work as well, actually helps as well. The early drafts often look slightly out of focus and polishing them just sharpens them up to what you want to achieve.
(3) JIM ANSWERS. Raymond Bolton interviewed Jim C. Hines about his novel Revisionary and life as a writer.
Most writers will envy your new situation. Why do you write and when did you first realize you were a writer?
I write because I enjoy it. I love inventing stories and sharing them with people. There are days when it’s frustrating or painful trying to get the story in your head onto the screen, and it’s just not coming out right. But then there are the moments when it comes together, or when you come up with a clever twist or idea, or you hit on something powerful. Those moments are amazing.
Plus I like fantasizing about swords and magic and robots and all that other cool, shiny stuff.
When did I realize I was a writer? That’s hard to say. I toyed with writing a bit as a kid. Started doing it more seriously toward the end of my undergraduate degree. To some extent, I started to really feel like a writer after my first fantasy novel Goblin Quest came out.
And then there are the days when I still don’t entirely feel like A Real Writer. Like I’ve been playing a trick on the world for 20+ years and having a blast with it, but sooner or later someone’s going to catch on.
(4) A CERTAIN GLOW. “Unexpected changes of bright spots on Ceres discovered” – EurekAlert! – Chemistry, Physics and Materials Sciences does not think the explanation is an asteroid having teenage complexion problems.
(ESO) Observations made at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have revealed unexpected changes in the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres. Very careful study of its light shows not only the changes expected as Ceres rotates, but also that the spots brighten during the day and also show other variations. These observations suggest that the material of the spots is volatile and evaporates in the warm glow of sunlight.
(5) IT’S FIVE! At Tor.com, Myke Cole lists “Five Books About the Ancient World” – fiction books, that is.
The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough
This book has a dated prose style that requires some plowing, but it’s worth the work for the incredibly compelling and well researched account of the genesis of Rome’s “Social War” that spelled the end of the Republic.
McCullough’s book is so respected that it’s often cited as a source in secondary scholarship. It’s particularly valuable for those seeking to understand daily life in ancient Rome, from the vaulted heights of the Capitoline Hill to the filth of the Subura, McCullough covers it all.
As with Graves, there’s more if you want it. The First man in Rome is the flagship offering in McCullough’s Masters of Rome series, a seven volume sweeping epic that will take you all the way from Marius and Sulla in 110 B.C. to Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 27 B.C.
(6) SURPRISING A LIFETIME ACHIEVER. Rowena Cory Daniells calls winning the Peter McNamara Lifetime Achievement Award “Another Lovely Surprise”.
It would be honest to say that I was stunned.
When I went up to accept the award and had to stand there while Sean read out my list of achievements. It was excruciating.
In my acceptance speech I told the story of my meeting with Robert Silverberg at the Australian World Con in 1999. We’d been wedged in a corner at an industry party where, being the socially awkward creature that I am, I’d said, ‘How does it feel to be the Grand Old Man of Speculative Fiction.’ To which he said, ‘Pretty strange considering that I used to be the Bright Young Thing.’
And there I was, giving an acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement Award when I used to be one of the vanguard of new faces.
(7) DEBUNKING DISQUALIFICATIONS. K. Tempest Bradford advances “4 Reasons Why You (Yeah, You) Are Qualified To Nominate for the Hugos”.
The Hugo Award nomination period closes in just a few days. You’ve seen my recs, and over the weekend the #hugoeligible hashtag showcased so many more. But I know some of you are still thinking that you aren’t qualified to nominate because:
- You haven’t read/watched/listened widely enough (according to you).
- You don’t have enough nominations in every category to fill ever slot you’re allotted.
- You don’t have time to read all the cool stuff recommended here and elsewhere and on the tag.
- You’re “just a fan” and not anyone fancy.
I’m here to tell you that none of those things disqualifies you from nominating for the Hugos. None. Zip. Let’s break it down.
(8) PRELUDE TO A BALLOT. Abigail Nussbaum reveals “The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Best Novel and Campbell Award”.
There are three whole days left before the Hugo nominating deadline, but I’m traveling starting tomorrow, so the final post in the series listing my Hugo nominees goes up today. As tends to be the case, the best novel category is the one I put the least effort into. I don’t tend to read most books in the year of their publication, so I’m only rarely sufficiently up to date that I have a full slate of nominees in this category. There are, in fact, more books that I would have liked to get to before the nominating deadline than there are on my ballot–books like Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings (which I may yet finish before the deadline), Ian McDonald’s Luna: New Moon, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora. Meanwhile, the always-interesting Campbell award is one that I tend to dedicate to short story writers–usually those who have impressed me over the year even if their stories didn’t quite cross the bar to make it onto my ballot.
(9) EBOOKS. Max Florschutz continues the debate about ebooks in “The Question of Value Part 2 – Responses”.
The market is failing the readers.
Okay, now that might sound like a harsh judgement to pass, and perhaps I could voice it differently (also, that could be taken way out of context, so aggregate sites, you do not have permission to use that line without context). When I say market, for the most part, I’m not referring to the books themselves, or what the authors are producing, though in a way, we share part of the blame.
No, what I’m referring to here is the actual market and the way ebooks are being handled. That is what is failing the readers.
I went though all those comments again this morning, this time armed with a pen and paper, and I wrote down each concern as I encountered them. When multiple concerns presented the same topic, I made check-marks next to each one. And at the end, almost all of them fit neatly into one of three areas:
- Misconceptions about ebooks that are not being properly explained to the readers, often overlapped with 2 and 3.
- Mishandling of ebooks by publishers.
- A general failure of the “User Interface” of ebook stores.
With these, maybe now you can see why I say the market is failing the readers. Granted, there’s a little bit of equal blame there. After all, it doesn’t help the market when readers go around spreading misinformation rather than learning about the topic, but at the same time, if the market is deliberately making this information difficult to glean, and in some cases actively working to obfuscate things from the reader’s eyes, well, then I would say it’s definitely failed.
So, I want to take a look at some of these concerns that were given, heading them under these three points, and see if we can’t cast a bit more light on things.
(10) BANDERLOVE. Mark Sommer at Examiner.com reviews Bandersnatch in “Creative collaboration demonstrated in the Oxford writers group the Inklings”.
“Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings” is the newly published adaptation of her 2007 book, re-written for a wider audience. “The Company they Keep” was meant for academic use. However, although the earlier book has been described as “easy and enjoyable to read” with “plenty to enjoy” for new fans and scholars alike, Glyer realized the “fundamentally academic” work should be updated. Besides being of interest to fans of Tolkien, Lewis, and the other Inklings, “Bandersnatch” also is also helpful to aspiring writers, artists, and inventors, providing suggestions on how to interact with others in the same kind of creative collaboration the Inklings did.
The title of the book comes from an often quoted line from a letter Lewis wrote to Charles Mooreman in 1959. Mooreman was researching a book about “the Oxford Christians,” which came out in 1966. After admitting the influence Charles Williams and he had over each other, Lewis writes, “No one ever influenced Tolkien—you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.” (A “bandersnatch” is a creature created by Lewis Carol. Lewis was undoubtedly borrowing from a quote from “Through the Looking-Glass” where the White King describes his Queen: “She runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch!”)
(11) PUPPY COUNTING. Brandon Kempner introduces a series at Chaos Horizon, “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 1”.
I’m going to start with my estimates from the end of the 2015 Hugo season using the final vote statistics. Here’s what I estimated back then:
Core Rabid Puppies: 550-525 Core Sad Puppies: 500-400 Sad Puppy leaning Neutrals: 800-400 (capable of voting a Puppy pick #1) True Neutrals: 1000-600 (may have voted one or two Puppies; didn’t vote in all categories; No Awarded all picks, Puppy and Non-Alike) Primarily No Awarders But Considered a Puppy Pick above No Award: 1000 Absolute No Awarders: 2500
I think those numbers are at least in the ballpark and give us a place to start modelling. Since you can’t vote against a pick in the nomination stage, we don’t need to know the difference between “No Awarders” and other more traditional Hugo voters. I’m going to combine all the non-Puppy voters into one big group, called the “Typical Voters.” I’ll initially assume that they’ll vote in similar patterns to past Hugo seasons before the Puppies. I’ll have more to say about that assumption later on.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]