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Friday, November 30, 2012

Links: Editing island closure on the M authors

Still want to be an editor?

Pay-rate increase at Asimov's and Analog

Against closure (I'd need to read the novels to see if I agree)

Island mapped on Google and other maps does not exist.

Margo Lanagan & Mark Morris audio stories

Patricia McKillip review

Thursday, November 29, 2012

free ebook: Golden Queen by David Farland

I enjoyed this one:  The Golden Queen - Book 1 of the Golden Queen Series by David Farland.  It begins in what feels like a fantasy world and gets gradually stranger and more science fictional.  Good fun.

"Heaventide" by K J Kabza

Fantasy and Science Fiction, November/December 2012

Daybreak-Under-Clouds is in a quandary.  In her world if you consort with a traveler, you're a woman.  If you travel, you must be a man.  You can't do and be both.  After catching her consorting, her grandmother consigns Daybreak to womanhood.  Still, with the traveler's aid, Daybreak continues to attempt travel, building a boat and going where she ought not to.  When she's caught for the last time, there's really only one choice left.

A story about triumphing over those who would stamp the fluidity of gender.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writing Advice, Workshop, Rights, Science, & Magazine

Cat Rambo on literary game and toolbox: (Rambo has a special offer on her workshops)
"[A] device shouldn’t be separate from a story, but an integral part of it"
Rachel Aaron on increasing productivity

Rights reverting to authors

Massive black hole makes up an unprecedented 59% of galaxy's mass

Powerful Quasar (mostly the picture is cool)

Eclipse Online Magazine

Book review: There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere!: A Rhyming Romp Through Dinosaur History by Howard Temperley

There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere!: A Rhyming Romp Through Dinosaur History
Howard Temperley Illustrations by Michael Kline
KWS Publishers
  • ISBN9781937783167
  • Price24.95
  • CurrencyUSD
  • EditionPaperback
Do you have a young dinosaur-lover in your home?  There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere! represents a light-hearted look at dinosaurs with Michael Kane doing an excellent job drawing compelling illustrations.  Despite the verse, the book is largely a nonfiction work, targeting those precocious ones with an unquenchable thirst for all-things-dinosaur.

The book treats early dinosaurs (evolution, Scutosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Lesothosaurus, Diplodocus, Barosaurus), finding them (fossils, paleontologists), flying dinosaurs (Microraptor, Incisivosaurus, Caudipteryx, Pterosaurs, Pterodactylus), dinosaur facts (intelligence, diet, digestion), sea dinosaurs (Ichthyosaurus, Liopleurodon), later dinosaurs (Velociraptor, Carcharodontosaurus, Styracosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Troodon, Euoplocephalus, Oviraptor, Tyrannosaurus rex, Ankylosaurus, Triceratops), and the end of dinosaurs.

The choice of verse as the method of presentation--as well as the subtitle's "Rhyming Romp"--might lead one to suspect a book of humorous verse.  Perhaps this is a symptom of reading Shel Silverstein.  Some poems are written as humor, others as non-sequitors, a few as moral compasses (eat your organic veggies), but most are just an alternate presentation of nonfiction--maybe with the design of better recall.  

Yet more humor might have given the book a longer longevity, no matter how low the humor.  It is written for young people, after all. And if adults are to read it, you'll want to give them something to take pleasure in, more than rhyme and illustrations.  However, the author does prove capable of humor:

This scutosaur is a sorry sight,
...It looks as if its life's a bore.
I'm glad I'm not a scutosaur.

The balance of fact and humor might have been too difficult to navigate.  Still, it is a book sure to please young dinosaur-lovers everywhere.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Links: Mentoring a Crackling-Real Mars at Lightspeed

News of import from Mars?

Australian mentorship

Free Margo Lanagan story online from her new collection, Cracklescape.

Alastair Reynolds interview with Lightspeed online

Reality of reality

Robert J. Sawyer talks about Mars on the Daily Monocle, beginning at 1:43:30 on #279 from 22/11/12

"Old Foss Is the Name of his Cat" by David Sandner

Clockwork Phoenix 1

Inspired by an Edward Lear lyric, this story relates the tale of how Old Man rejected the Jumbly Girl to remain with Old Foss, his sometimes talkative cat.  While rejecting the Jumbly Girl saved the Old Man's life, Old Foss regrets how he'd convinced the Old Man otherwise.  A moving tale.  Deeper characterization might have made it more powerful, but still worth reading.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"The Problem of the Elusive Cracksman" by Ron Goulart

Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 2012

Set in 1901 England, this story captures some of the feeling of that era as Harry Challenge of New York attempts to solve the mystery of the stolen jewels, jewels stolen by a gorilla who isn't a gorilla.  The story opens with Challenge tossed into the Thames to stop him from investigating the crime, but of course it fails.  The story doffs its cap to a famous monster story as well as thumbing its nose briefly if playfully at the sexual tension found in the noir genre.  A fun romp.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"City of Blind Delight" by Catherynne M. Valente

Anthology:  Clockwork Phoenix 1

Writers with elaborate descriptive skills tend to earn more writerly praise within the genre.  Valentine is no exception.  While her ability does impress--"graffiti-barnacled leviathan" for a train--certain readers will be put off.  Mike Allen clearly wanted to establish a certain tone for his anthology.  He isn't going to let it be easy on you, but the view will be worth it.

The story opens with speculative philosophizing:  A train exists that traverses the world, all train stations.  Gris, a business man, unknowingly steps aboard and enters the station for the City of Blind Delight, where you either work as a dancer or a prostitute.  Dancers decorate the walls and ceiling.  And a prostitute greets Gris, shows she is both a woman and a machine, and he returns home.  The story closes again on its speculative philosophy.

"If the Stars Reverse their Courses, If the Rivers Run Back from the Sea" by Alter S. Reiss

Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 2012

Another strong parallel universe story, albeit one with roots in fantasy.  The narrator travels to a basement where he does some conjuration so he can visit a nexus where the formerly dead gather.  In some universes they live on, while in others they are reincarnated, living again and again.  The narrator is determined to right wrongs, to kill Cainder who has started a war in every universe--no matter how many times the narrator has to kill Cainder.   

This one feels like part of a novel or novella, especially since we travel through part of one universe without accomplishing much except setting up the travesty Cainder has caused (vital but perhaps more could have occurred).  It captures a nice tone matching the narrative.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Waiting for a Me Like You" by Chris Willrich

Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 2012

This one smells of future classic, nearly matching Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies."  Bob is visited by a man from another universe, a man who strong-arms Bob into joining their cause using alternate versions of himself.  Clever.  A good set-up for a novel.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"The Ladies in Waiting" by Albert E. Cowdrey

Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 2012

Jimmy & Morrie, a paranormal investigative couple, liberate a ghost from its violent haunting in Mississippi.  Wittily told and sharply rendered characters.  You may need the first story to get a better feel for the main characters.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Breathe" by Steven Popkes

Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 2012

Considering this has vampires in it, this treats them uniquely and movingly.  Vampires can pass on their genes.  They can die of normal aging; however, they can prolong their life by stealing health from those around them.  Will is uncomfortable with the vampirism; and when he catches his father, dying of emphysema, in the act, he decides to do something about it.  The ending is a little unclear--whether there was retribution (probably--but it's a potent little story, well worth checking out.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Claim Blame by Alan Dean Foster

Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 2012

After reading other works by Alan Dean Foster (review of his latest trilogy), one admires the broad range of Foster's abilities.  While his latest novels deal with gene-modification in a way that should , his latest story in F&SF reinvents the American tall tale, mixing in European folk tales as well.

Mad Amos Malone, a giant, is asked to settle claim for gold between two humans and a herd of gnomes.  After trading claims, what ensues is a kind of the-lady-who-swallowed-the-fly scenario.  Leprechauns are summoned from across the pond and a melee follows hot on the heels as gold is promised.  Malone's compromise is welcomed with mixed feelings.  The colloquial, narrative voice is charming and feels authentic if at times thick.  As in the tradition of American yarns, no characters develop, but a collection of such stories should prove interesting.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Links: Free ebook, Free story, Shiner, Campbell, Tidbeck, NASA, Bullies

Interview I did with Lewis Shiner a few years back.  For some reason, my memory thought it longer.  Maybe because I'd done so much research for it.

Free ebook of John W. Campbell, one of the early major forces behind SF

Free Karin Tidbeck story online

Rumors of NASA's death greatly exaggerated?

School bully:  a short movie by Key & Peele on bullies that's simultaneously true, funny, and sad.  Too bad this has words you can't play at school.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Application by Lewis Shiner

Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 2012

A man's former computer notes that the man is applying for a job beneath him because of business practices.  The computer pretends to have helped him out when it slips out the real motive later.

Humorous and clever.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review: Dinosaur Countdown

written and illustrated by Nicholas Oldland
Nicholas Oldland Books
Hardcover Jacket
Grades: Toddler to 1 
Ages: 2 to 6 
4-color • 10 x 9 • 24 pages 
Math: Number Sense, counting
Language Arts:  Picture Books

Who doesn't love dinosaurs?  Even if you (or your child) are a little frightened of being trampled or ground into lunch meat in the jaws of a tyrannosaur, the dinosaurs in Nicholas Oldland’s Dinosaur Countdown all smile big and open their eyes wide, instilling a sense of trust that these dinosaurs are A-OK and disarmingly likeable.   

Oldland illustrates the dinosaurs charmingly and gives young readers pointers to notice small details in the pictures, challenging them to look closer.  In scientific terms, it associates the names and shapes of a few dinosaurs as well as introducing the words “herbivore” and “carnivore” in an innocuous manner, not to mention the pictorial demonstration of English vocabulary, such as lumber, soar, rear and saunter.  As Dinosaur Countdown gives the scientific names, it helpfully supplies readers with a pronunciation key in back.

One concern might be whether the exposure to scientific names helps (through exposure) or hinders (through intimidation) language acquisition.  However, that’s someone else’s PhD focus.  Meanwhile, this picture book is perfect for the early reader who loves dinosaurs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Science & Writing

This was fun and awe-inspiring for students:  displaying the wind map and cloud cover map as Hurricane Sandy passed over the US.

Via IO9, we learn of the internet archive of OMNI magazine, a cool mix of science, paranormal and SF.

How to make your head spin 360 degrees (animation).

NY finds body entwined in tree roots (not unusual).

Christopher Priest and Tobias Buckell discuss their juvenalia to the aid of writers.

SF Poetry contest winners

Bradley P. Beaulieu (annoyingly loads up ads constantly)
Christopher Barzak