Wednesday, August 27, 2014

CSFFBT: "Merlin's Nightmare" by Robert Treskillard (III)

What day is it? Huh, huh, huh? What? What is it?

That's right, HUMP DAY!  And day three of another Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Book tour.  This is the wrap up for  Robert Treskillard's novel Merlin's Nightmare.

The first day I talked about technical aspects and yesterday I discussed the Fantasy elements. Today, as (hopefully) a sort of capstone, I'll talk about how the work affected me as a Christian piece.

And now, boys and girls, we jump! Hold hands!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

CSFFBT: "Merlin's Nightmare" by Robert Treskillard (II)

Day two of another Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Book tour.  Today I will continue my discussion of   Robert Treskillard's novel Merlin's Nightmare.

Yesterday I talked about technical aspects and today I'll hit on the Fantasy elements. Tomorrow, the last day of the tour, I'll deal with the book as a Christian piece.

And now we jump to save white space on the internets:

Monday, August 25, 2014

CSFFBT: "Merlin's Nightmare" by Robert Treskillard (I)

 Woot!  for another Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Book tour.  This month, the group is reviewing and talking about an Arthur-cycle interpretation by Robert TreskillardMerlin's Nightmare is the third in the series.

My preference for these is to talk each day about a somewhat different theme - first day on technical aspects, second day on the Fantasy or SF elements and on the final day to deal with the book as a Christian piece.

And now we jump to save white space on the internets:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Getting things done, enjoying things

A couple of time management tools:

The Pickle Jar Theory of Time Management (pdf) - an oldie but still a goodie.  There are a million versions of this floating around the internets.  This one is that doesn't forget that the little things count too.

Pick your big rocks carefully - you can only fit in so many.

And so a couple tools for picking the right rocks:

How to Spend The First Ten Minutes of Your Day (h/t Passive Voice) - a technique for getting focused on the right stuff, so one is not milling about spinning wheels.

Recognizing Wealth (h/t Megan McArdle) - a mom inventories her kitchen.

And to bring it back around to SFF:

Larry Correia went to GenCon and had a blast

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thoughts on Kindle Worlds & vars-n-sund

A post on Passive Voice -

- which has turned out to be quite interesting, if only because the volume of posts pretty much guaranties that there will be something of interest daily -

- touched on Kindle Worlds -

- which I knew to be a thing, and whilst I was interested in it, I hadn't heard that it was worth the following.  PV's linked post, quoting GigaOm supports that position -

"In the month of June, authors contributed 46 Pretty Little Liars works to Kindle Worlds, which sounds like a fair number — unless you compare it to the more than 6,000 such works that appeared during this time on two other fan fiction sites."

The article goes on to point out a number of cultural & economic reasons why KW is struggling upstream against the torrent that is Fandom-as-we-know-it: restrictions on language, plot, & most especially sexual content, paying for content, and "quality" checks.  (For 'xample, I looked up the restrictions for GI Joe, and found them to be more or less as I might have guess, with a couple addendums that made me chortle.)

What Tushnet (the lawyer who wrote the original referenced article: All This Has Happened Before And All This Will Happen Again: Innovation In Copyright Licensing) says is true - putting quality restrictions, encouraging longer length stories, requiring readers to pay for reading, and most especially limiting sexual content - is going to limit Fandom participation in a huge way.

Fandom thrives on the adhoc, on the piecemeal, and on-the-fly prioritization of time & effort. Anything resembling a restriction - ie SPELL CHECK YOUR @#$# FIC BEFORE YOU POST IT - is going to reduce fannish fic participation.  Content limits - esp touching on the porn which makes up a huge portion of fic - is going to reduce it even more.  (Although, seeing as (aka the pit of voles) is still going strong, after all these years, it's important to note that those restrictions do have limits on their impact.)  Most significant, I think, is the current limited variety of 'fandoms' - source canon - represented by KW.  Fandom, as I said, has the attention span of an AHHD mayfly.  Readers need a new shiny, and twenty canons isn't going to cut it.

In some ways, I think that Fandom's way is better. It's not like God puts grammar and content restrictions on prayers - not while please God let me not @#$% this up remains one of the most popular prayers in any language - and it's not like we don't live our lives in this moment, doing the best we can in the moment to hand.

But there is something to be said for standards, for polished preparation, for attention to detail, and for years spent improving a craft, a piece of art, a life.

For me, I think that KW has a lot to offer in terms of what I value - preparation, a story beyond simple porn, knowledge of the original author's approval/permission, and a chance to support the canon that I want more of.  But it would be a mistake to assume that these things are needful in order to produce a high-quality, stirring, impactful story.  I've seen it done.  Not as frequently as Sturgeon would have you think, but still.

Another post off PV led me to this passage from  a Gawker article:

"Pish posh," you might say. "You're one to talk. Your grammar is wronged, your metaphors are blunt bricks, and your similes are like a hot needle to the eyeball. Your infinitives are split, your participles are dangling, your spelling is eroneous, your cliches are old as time, your sentences are repetitive, and your sentences are repetitive. Your concepts appear to have been plucked from thin air with no foresight, hindsight, or insight. If anyone is in need of a good editor it is you. And you are ugly."  

 The Gawker family of websites (including IO9) is on my list these days for annoying ad content, and Gawker in particular strikes me as one of the less edifying members.  But I keep getting reminded that blanket biases - like absolutes in science - are wrong.


Saw Guardians of the Galaxy.  Great fun.  Much explosion.  Between Snowpiercer, Edge of Tomorrow, and the rest, it's a good year to be a geek.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hugo Ballot 2014: Novels

Continuing on with talking about how I voted this year:

Nominees: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie / Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross / Parasite by Mira Grant / Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia / The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson 

I've posted before about my deep irritation with Orbit's decision to not release the whole novel for the three novels that it published.  This is...very bad play on their part, imo.  Particularly when for the other two nominees, one got the entire series of novels.  Fortunately, through the magic of inter-library loans, I was able to get all three of the works missing from the Hugo packet in hand well before the voting deadline.

Further thunks below the cut:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Things I learned this year re: Hugos

Hugo ballots are all in.  Hugo awards are to be announced 17 August 2014, in Lundin, UK.

This was my first year voting for Hugos.  Over all I am quite pleased, but also a tad humbled.

Things I have learnt, or re-learnt...

1) omg there is a lot of good sf out there.

The $40 for a World Con supporting membership was an *awesome* deal, in terms of fiction per dollar.  Getting to vote for top stories? A great bonus.  Plus, I was exposed to a lot of sff I would not have explored otherwise.

2) The so-called problems with divisions & cliches and dilution of "real sff" or "righteous sff" or "sff of the people" are, imo, not as great as some think.

The stories that I read were all of decent-to-good quality.  Further more, the future of the genre is neither doomed to devolve into endless rounds of needlepoint nor of hopeless gazing into the round black barrel of violence-philic facism.  My people can still encompass all possibilities.

3) There are, however, significant issues with repetative themes, narrative styles, and foci among SFF as a whole.

This was most noticable to me in the Short Story and the Novel category, where female first person natitives and an strong hint of persecution flavored a majority of stories.  I don't want to exclude stories that rely on these tools from SFF.  Nor do I want every. single. story. to use them.  Specialization is for insects.  Nichification is for extinction-philes.

4) There was more out there than I could read (or watch) comfortably in two months.

I ended up not voting at all in several categories.  I still have a lot of the mid-length fiction to read.  I essentially gave up on the podcasts, the fanzines, the prozines, and the related writing. I never seriously considered voting for editor, on the grounds of not knowing what to use to judge the candidates.

Other thoughts:

I am still really, *really* annoyed at Orbitz for not including their works in the package.  This was a serious issue in not allowing an even look at all candidates for the awards in question.

Correia, et al, have a point about the "sameness" and narrow scope of the "non-Sad Puppies" ballot entries.  While I do not agree that all Sad Puppy Ballot nominations were better than the "traditional" ones - I do think that the SP ballot entries represented quality fiction of a type that wasn't being represented elsewise.  As a fan, I like to think that all SFF fans are welcome to put their favorites forward.

Speaking of that...

I was very, very tempted to use "no award" liberally through one particular categoy - that of Fan Writer.  So many of the writers listed were narrow minded, bigoted, and actively supported bias against particular works based on the gender, race, and/or political opinions of the author.  Not. On.  Seriously, kids, grow up.  In the end, the thought of dealing with that kind of anger - theirs and mine - turned me off voting for that category all together.

Specifically regarding serials: 

Short dramatic works: Dr Who, WTF?  One, yes, of course. Two, okay, I'm not going to insist that one outstanding episode mean that no others from that work be considered.  But four DW works?

Okay, fine, just take that as a long drawn out wail that I am never going to get caught up.

And if DW had gathered in fewer noms, then I would have had even more series to never get caught up with.  But. Still.

Graphic Novels: The inclusion of Saga was not a great burden on me, as I already had the first two volumes.  That another entry was at episode 13? aaaaggggg

Novel: On the one hand, each of the non-initial serials involved was included in the Hugo packet. On the other hand...WoT? As one novel?  Give over already, man.

Fifth and finally:

I really miss the Gardner Dozois Year's Best Science Fiction collections.  And by "miss" I mean "need to get back into the habit of reading".