Search This Blog

Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Archetypes by Caroline Myss

Who Are You?
Caroline Myss
Hay House, Inc.
  • ISBN9781401941086
  • Price24.95
  • CurrencyUSD

Archetypes is intended as a self-help to guide people toward their life goals.  While its target audience is female, it does address males as well.  The book breaks down people into ten, convenient categories:  advocate, artist, athlete, caregiver, fashionista, intellectual, queen, rebel, spiritual, and visionary.  In each category, the section discusses the type's life journey, unique challenge, universal lesson, defining grace, inner shadow, male counterpart, myths, recognition of type, and lifestyle.  In other words, it describes characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and things to work on.  It aims not only to help people to fit into their potential roles, but also to set them on their path.

The author bio states that Myss is an eld in energy medicine, which may turn off a number of readers.  Her perspective colors the presentation:
"One way archetypes communicate to us is by energizing or animating our myths and fantasies.... The cosmic forces that organize coincidences and synchronistic happenings intrigued Jung, as it was obvious that some moments in our lives contain such events while others do not....  [F]ew of us ignore ignore such happenings, preferring to view them as expressions of archetypal energies spontaneously organizing events in our lives." 

Although the book does dip into mystical jargon, readers put off by such could skip such sections.  Whatever your persuasion, the seeker can find plenty of insight into human nature.

I grabbed it to review as a possible aid in creating characters.  Certainly, it has its own POV voice, coloring how it presents the material.  How would a mystic relate such matters?  Also, I found myself--normally put off by a certain type--sympathizing more with their struggles.  Perhaps seeing other types as human will encourage writers to pen more realistic portrayals.

Potential weaknesses of this book may be that not all types of people are covered and that some readers, like myself, might find themselves slipping into multiple roles, possibly confusing one's identity.  Myss does address the latter to some extent, but not in detail.  This is worth checking out if you're struggling with an identity crisis, or worth exploring if you're a writer and one or more of the above types annoy you.

David Foster Wallace on how to introduce play into fiction

“Some people are neurologically disposed to like very pomo, avant-garde--let’s-just-play-games-here stuff--and some people are disposed to need stuff that is grounded and plausible, and once you can persuade them of your ability to do that, you can more or less do what you want.”
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Sunday, December 30, 2012

David Foster Wallace on the basic problem in all writing

“[I]n a weird way, there’s really only one basic problem in all writing--how to get some empathy with the reader....  It’s really not completely different from the question, how do you get a reader to inhabit the consciousness of a character who, say, isn’t a hero or isn’t a very nice guy, and feel that person’s humanity and something of his 3-D contours while not pretending he’s not a monster.”
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Mike Allen's "The Blessed Days"

This story has appeared in

Two and a half years ago, Bryan and everyone else in the world woke up and experienced "The Blessings":  everyone soaked in blood.  Bryan, though, can do lucid dreaming; that is, he is aware and in control of his dreams.   With this rare ability to remember his dreams, he travels into the city of his childhood nightmares--a city he can't control.   Instead, he is overtaken.

This moving and imagistically scoring story treats how the trauma we feel after tragedies can be transformed into something far worse.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Interviews, Science & Technology, Tops & Submissions


Science & Technology -- good and bad

The Tops and Subs

Another humorous intervew line

SCHECHNER:  I read before that you were a fan of Cynthia Ozick’s.  That is surprising to me; you seem so different.

WALLACE:  We’re both politically active Jewish females.  I don’t see the problem.
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Friday, December 28, 2012

Humorous NPR interview

WALLACE:  There’s a whole, very heavy debate to get into here.  There are schools of thought, some which I find very persuasive, that argue that there really is no meaningful reality outside of language.  That language creates in a very complicated way what we call your reality--that would be your poststructural....

GOLDFARB:  One of the reasons that I did not complete my PhD in philosophy--I just didn’t want to have that conversation for professional purposes.
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Review of Kevin J. Anderson's "Stakeout at the Vampire Circus"

Dan Chambeaux (or Dan Shambles), is  private detective.  He's also one of the walking dead, shot while on a case (Death Warmed Over has Shambles investigating his own murder, in addition other mysteries like hunting down a zombie-puppy painting).  He works with his girlfriend, Sheyenne, who is a ghost, and an African-American lawyer.  All of them specialize in the unnaturals--werewolves, ogres, ghost, goblins, golems, trolls, vampires and zombies--the politically unrepresented monsters that began appearing during the Big Uneasy.

In Stakeout at the Vampire Circus, Shambles investigates missing clown noses hiding secret identities, faux magic medallions that help vampires transform form, and a fortune-telling "lady's"  magic cards.  The circus is struggling to get into the black, and these minor thefts prevent that.  One theft causes someone to die...

The mysteries are gently humorous, with such jokes as...
"That was worth the price of admission," I [Dan Chambeaux] said.  
Sheyenne looked at me.  "We didn't pay anything--we got free tickets." 
"Then it's worth twice as much." 
The main characters and their clients are all likeable.  The mysteries are not full of clues and red herrings allowing readers to guess whodunnit, but they are pleasant entertainments.  Another book newly available is Unnatural Acts, with a fourth mystery, Hair Raising, on the way.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

On Endings and Closure

David Foster Wallace, discussing endings, states, “[T]he truth... [i]s usually a tummy thing: [D]oes this feel real?  Does this make me want to puke?  Does this seem fake or contrived or not?  And there’s not a lot of cerebration, at least for me, going on.... I didn’t want to wrap various plots up neatly within the frame of [Infinite Jest], I think, largely because a lot of commercial entertainments that I grew up with use that and it’s not entirely real.  It’s a kind of falsely satisfying way to wrap up various things that happen.”

This comes up again and again with overly intellectualized examination of texts where they want to throw out some aspect of narrative, yet this line of thinking conceals many errors in reasoning.  1) Fiction is not real.  2)  Any way you slice a life, it is artificial.  3)  Writers must arbitrarily cut a life up as listing every detail in a character’s life would be tedium and readers have to lead lives of their own.  4)  If you regard as true Socrates' axiom, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” then not examining the lives of fiction character is also not worth reading, i.e. A reader should examine the lives of characters in a text.  Therefore, a writer must write/cut/edit a life meaningfully.  He does this so that characters learn something or so that readers learn something.  The art is in how one ends a text, not whether.

Raymond Chandler is often quoted from his introduction to Trouble Is My Business:  "The ideal mystery was one you would read if the end was missing."  This is often used to justify a lack of closure.  Chandler, on the other hand, was combating the attitude that the ending was everything, that "relative insignificance of everything except the final denouement."  All of the narrative is critical, including its conclusion.

While I initially began reading Lemony Snicket’s thirteen-book sojourn or series because of Daniel Handler's charming voice and the charm of his characters, I stayed with the series less because of the style (which was losing charm) or the plot (which quickly grew repetitive) than because of its central mystery that was implicitly promised to be revealed.  Snicket’s avoidance of actually intellectually engaging with the mystery he created turned me off.  Humans are curious.  The ending did not pay off for the work built up.  Maybe his inconclusive conclusion would be worthy of a short story, but it’s hard not to feel cheated when the ending is an emotional and intellectual cop out.  If Snicket ever writes a proper ending, I’ll read it, but I have no plans of reading Snicket’s work in the future until he repays his readers’ investment.

Ages and ages hence, writers may gather at the morgue to witness the autopsy of fiction.  They may learn that, no, it wasn't the movie with the pipe in the kitchen and not the big picture with the letter opener on the veranda.  No, it was the writer with the reinvention of the wheel on the word processor.

David Foster Wallace on the magic of art

“[T]he older I get the more what’s magical about art becomes for me the idea of stuff that’s moving.  And I don’t necessarily mean sad but a very complicated emotional resonance as opposed to an intellectual or kind meta-artistic resonance.”
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"If you operate... from the premise that there are things about the contemporary U.S. that make it distinctively hard to be a real human being, then maybe half of fiction's job is to dramatize what it is that makes it tough.  The other half is to dramatize the fact that we are human beings."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"[E]very two or three generations the world gets vastly different, and the context, in which you have to learn how to be a human being, or to have good relationships, or decide whether or not there is a God, or decide whether there's such a thing as love, and whether it's redemptive, become vastly different."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


free ebook, story, imprint, interview

Richard Parks has a free Christmas story up.

Ruth Nestvold has a free ebook.

Masque Books, new digital imprint for novellas and novels

Robert Freeman Wexler interviewed

Monday, December 24, 2012

"[W]hat fiction and poetry are doing is what they've been trying to do for two thousand years:  affect somebody, make somebody feel a certain way, allow them to enter into relationships with ideas and with characters that are not permitted within the cinctures of the ordinary verbal intercourse we're having here."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Sunday, December 23, 2012

David Foster Wallace on estranging the familiar

"[O]ne of the things the artist has to do now is take a lot of this familiarity and remind people that it's strange."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Thursday, December 20, 2012

"[C]onventially political or social-action-type solutions... [are] not what fiction's about.  Fiction's about what it is to be a... human being."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Today only tribute to Brother's Grimm

Google's beautiful pictorial tribute to Brothers Grimm

Hopefully, the pictorial strip will be saved somewhere.

The Hobbit (movie) review

The Hobbit is worth seeing.  The opening scene in the Shire, however, is too long.  Perhaps it lacks Tolkien's charm.  From there, though, the pacing moves along well, and the closure is spot on.  You get fully invested in Bilbo at this point.  Unfortunately, a nice stumbling-upon-the-answer moment is lost, but the layered narrative (which I do not recall in The Hobbit novel--memory says it is continually within Bilbo's point of view) works well at maintaining viewer suspense.  Go and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

David Foster Wallace on rules

"[R]ule-breaking has got to be for the sake of something."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Writing is "lonely in a way most people misunderstand.  It's yourself you have to be estranged from, really, to work."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Education Links

I used to believe teachers had to fill every minute with education.  Now I see it important to loosen up and take breaks.  This short video about a driving dog went over well.

Why does talent leave businesses?  This goes for teachers but also students (even if the dynamics are different).  Projects may drive some students crazy, but it does allow students to see both the process and creative side of science.

This amazing photo of the Milky Way looks doctored but apparently is not.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review revised: “Mithridates, He Died Old” by Nancy Kress

Asimov's January/February 2013

Kress's title (excerpt online) riffs off A. E. Housman's "Terrence, This Is Stupid Stuff."  Mithridates was "one of the Roman Republic’s most formidable and successful enemies, who engaged three of the prominent generals from the late Roman Republic in the Mithridatic Wars: Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Lucullus and Pompey. He was also the greatest ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus." [Wikipedia]  What Housman's poem refers to is Mithridate's taking sublethal doses of various poisons in order to thwart assassination attempts.  Thus, he died old.  Housman uses this to say that downbeat literature provides a similar function.

This story breaks the rules on POV, much as 19th century did before the rules were established, but there's really no way else to tell this story.

The story begins, "She hadn't expected to enjoy dying so much."  The joy is fleeting.

Margaret Lannigan is dying from being run over and is given an experimental drug to pull her out of her coma.  At first she feels good from the drugs, the pain-killers, but then she gets visited in her drugged dreams by her sister, Beth, who died of cancer at eighteen and whose poetry Margaret viciously criticized.  Next visits a living student, William Calabrese, whom Margaret had gotten expelled (perhaps unjustly), keeping him from medical school.  Following next is the woman who had killed her.  The last visitor is Margaret's own daughter.

Intercut between these drugged dreams are scenes with Margaret's actual family and the doctor administering the drug that's allowing Margaret her consciousness.

Interestingly, Kress both disagrees with Housman's metaphor and agrees.  The story ends on a melancholy note both for Margaret and for future users who might benefit.  

Moving story.  Worth a few reads.
"As time passes,  I get less and less nuts about anything I've published, and it gets harder to know for sure when its antagonistic elements are in there because they serve a useful purpose and when they're just covert manifestations of this 'look-at-me-please-love-me-I-hate you' syndrome."
David Foster Wallace, from Conversations with David Foster Wallace

University Press of Mississippi, 2012


Free ebooks

Stakeout at the Vampire Circus (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI) by Kevin J. Anderson

Rabbit Hunter by Billie Sue Mosiman

Rhys Hughes also has a free ebook on Smashwords, but you may need to friend him to get the code.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Scene-by-Scene Analysis of the Movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey


Black screen, dissonant tones

Audience:  Feels unsettled.  (Didn't I come here to WATCH a movie?)

Director:  This is not a regular movie.  Be prepared for a different kind of experience.  The curtain has not yet risen.

Possible Metaphor:  Blackness may indicate what existed before human consciousness or creation:  i.e. literally night before the dawning.

After a minute, dissonance builds... for two more minutes, almost like an orchestra tuning before a play (the evolution tuning/tinkering before the play of mankind?).


Majestic music [Richard Strauss' Thus Spake Zarathustra, which refers to Nietzsche's text of the same, which stated famously "God is dead."  It is intended to be somewhat irreligious--if replacing it with a religion of science (see ending sequence)].  Dawning of sun on Earth.  Note what appears before the dawning of the Sun--the Moon--which prefigures other monuments/monoliths.


Dawn on Earth.  Animal, insect noises.  Wind.  No music.  A desert (before the dawn).

Bones signify death but also prefigure birth of tech (bones also used for giving death to some in order to give life to others).  Juxtaposition to next shot of "men" eating.  Wild cat attacks (survival of the fittest).   Grooming.  Competition with other animals for food (other ape groups, other grazers).  In other words, up to this point, there's nothing that distinguishes our species as being apart from the chain or cycle of being:  Eat or be eaten.  The wild cat growling over its prey, the zebra, is no different than the apes defending the watering hole from other apes.  Apes hide in cave at night while wild cat growls outside.

Voices singing tunelessly.  Apes awake at dawn.  First mysterious monument appears.  Monument is metaphor made real.  It represents major steps up the evolutionary ladder toward intelligence.  The monument is obviously not natural--rectangle, sharp corners, purely black:  a door without a knob.  It prefigures the discovery of the first tool.  At first the apes fear the monument; then they touch, explore.

Bones--the glory of the first tool.  Achievement is backgrounded with Strauss' majestic music of the second scene (including organ--reminiscent of a church?).  Hint of violence.

Next series of shots:  now eat meat.  Next series:  first murder of (formerly?) same species.  Murder chases away rivals.  Superiority is celebrated by throwing of bone into air.

Scene 4  FROM EARTH TO THE MOON (but not quite to the Moon.  Scene title is a play off an old Wells' novel)

Bone/tool of scene 3 transforms (famously) into spaceship.  The ship is an advanced tool.  Now the music is a waltz, a dance.  Kubrick wants the viewer to glory in the progress of technology since the dawning.  It is a calm, soothing, sophisticated, cultured dance of the ship joining the space station.  This makes Kubrick identify with the typical reader of SF:  the advancement of humanity/technology is central.

Unlike scene 2 where the earth was in shadow, now it looms huge, luminous and blue.

The Blue Danube:  The waltz--usually a dance between partners of opposite sex--now a dance between ship and station (although possibly metaphor for genders. the waltz returns without as transparent of innuendoes).  As the ship approaches, it orients with station (in process of being built) so that to one another they appear normal while the rest of the universe spins.  Good understanding of spin (weightlessness, however, could have been improved upon--Kubrick's technology may not have been capable).


Various demonstrations of what everyday future technology may be like.  Note very stark white interiors:  purity of technology?  People and chairs are highly colored.  The chairs they sit upon are red--like Hal's eye.  Perhaps they ought not to trust so heavily?

Hint of "epidemic" on moon station.  Dr. Floyd is "not at liberty to discuss" the matter.  Perhaps human advancement is an epidemic? or has been falsely portrayed as an epidemic?


Again, the Blue Danube:  Waltz to the moon.  Drink food.  Trick shot of woman walking upside down.  Even a zero gravity toilet is a technological dance.  Not sure what all the bright red signifies:  Pilots in red, ship dock lit in red, chairs of scene 7 in red.  Perhaps they link up to the red of dawn in earlier scenes?  But why chairs?  These are the things that get us there?  the things we rely on?  But what about Hal's eye?  Isn't there something menacing about the red seen from outside the white (i.e. lunar lander from space)?  It may be that the unions of contrast--humans may err, and machine may be perfect--is a dance, a marriage that is spoiled when machines are too heavily relied upon.  Note what BBC interviewer asks Hal.


Hush, hush.  Epidemic is really a cover story.  Some secrecy required.  Seats, carpet blue (blue Earth? Blue Danube? a planet, a river that change over time? or another waltz/dance but of political words?).


Passengers in blue.  Pilots in red (again, well choreographed marriage/dance of men and computers).  Food improving.  Puzzle unravels:  Something deliberately buried on moon (by?).


Passengers disembark and journey to the monument, tentative, questing like the apes, one leading the others. Except this time they take a picture, which appears to set off an alarm.

Scene 12  JUPITER MISSION (18 months later)

Question (perhaps insoluble):  Was the trip to the moon the monumental event or Hal, the machine intelligence, supposedly superior, most reliable (would Hal like to think the latter)?  However, ultimately, the question may be solvable in that Hal is designated as red and, therefore, just the pilot.

"No 9000 has ever made a mistake or distorted information.  We are all foolproof and incapable of error."

"Hal, despite your enormous intellect, are you ever frustrated by your dependence on people to carry out actions."

"As to whether or not he has real feelings is something no one can truthfully answer."

Curious:  Crewmen watch their own responses as they eat.


Dave draws pictures of men in hibernation.  Metaphor?  Machines doing too much of the thinking?  Hal proves superiority at chess.  Hal expresses doubts of mission and secrecy that shrouds it.  Although scene 27 ("A Pre-Recorded Briefing") suggested that Hal knew everything and that the crew knew little or nothing, scene 16 suggests that Hal's information was somewhat limited as well.  According to scene 27, Hal knows that other intelligences await, but he pretends(?) here not to know about the digging on the moon.


Every scene is shown from multiple angles:  Human acting, Computer watching human, Human watching computer.  Curious shot of pod facing mothership as if facing off one another (parent to child--did not humans give birth to machines?  Yet who is mothering?  The machine does most of the acting:  Hal, move me closer.... Hal, rotate the pod.... Open the pod bay doors please, Hal... etc.).

Sound is silent except for gas hissing, human breathing--the lone living inhabitant outside the ship.  Sound probably intended to heighten sense of tenuous life in a harsh space (passing asteroids).  Frank leaps unnecessarily dangerously across space, but this too is probably intended to heighten place of danger though Frank's face appears unworried.


"Well, Hal, I'm damned if I can find anything wrong with it."

"Yes," Hal pauses overlong (i.e. he is damned, as well as...), "it's puzzling."

Hal: Interested in cutting off human communication completely (see related parenthetical 2 paragraphs down).

Mission Control: 9000 in error of predicting the fault. 

Hal:  It has always been due to human error.

Dave having trouble with "transmitter" in the seed pod.  (The little girl, "Squirt," wants a telephone (mother and father not at home).  Communication is delayed between astronauts and Earth.  Technology is distancing people from one another.  Frank and Squirt are separated from one another on their birthday due to technology.  The music during Frank's birthday transmission is melancholic.)

"Caution:  Explosive bolts" 

Great shots from computer angle lip reading.  Great time to cut to intermission.


It may be that this has a few intended functions:  To feel more like a play (with orchestra tuning), and to prolong omnious mood tones.

Scene 21  CUT ADRIFT

Famous shots of dual perspective:  of Frank's face operating seed pod and of the helmet reflecting the lights of the equipment Frank is operating.

Again, multiple perspective shot:  of Frank exiting the seed pod, of Hal's eye watching, of Dave's shoulder watching.

Frank murdered by Hal.


Dave investigates death via pod.  Again, the sign "Caution:  Explosive bolts"  which carries more weight (i.e. explosive emotion, machine bolts).


"Computer Malfunction" vs. "Life Functions Critical" -- More murders (see last note on scene 8).

"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it."  Hal interjects himself as the primary actor/benefactor of the mission.  Humans err; hence, jettison the humans.


Open the doors may be a metaphor for man's inability to achieve progress through machine doors.  True progress comes when... (you'll have to wait for the psychedelic scenes).

Dismantling Hal -- Hal becomes the most life-like of his existence, when he's about to die--he sings a love song, even.  Reflect on earliest scenes of life/death and their intimate connection.  We find out the humans had trusted the machine more than humans with the information about the knowledge of other intelligence.

Scene 28  JUPITER...

Dissonant voices soon to be accompanied by dissonant music.  Monument flies by (in orbit? probably not).  Jupiter (greatest of Greek gods) in sight.  (Planets supposed to be aligned?)  Pod bay door opens, and presumably Dave flew out to fetch the monument, seguewaying into the psychedelic sequence (what movie of this period wasn't enhanced by such?  Apparently, rumors abounded at the time that you couldn't understand the movie without drugs... not that you would understand when you came down).


The lights seem to indicate motion through space, and the still-frames indicate strange, slowed time (if, in some manner, horrifying).  Eerie, dissonant voices stop when the first still-frame of Dave appears--i.e. a different stage of journey. 

The human eye is juxtaposed against the exploding supernova--perhaps a journey to the Big Bang, the beginning of it all and perhaps to, therefore, all knowledge.  Jellyfish-light imagery (parallel between beginning of time and life?).  Alternately, the lights could be said to be of egg-yolk consistency while the *white* *seed* pod trails something behind it like a white tail (need I elaborate?).

Again the juxtaposing of the eye to imagery that mimics the eye.  Perhaps looking into one is like looking into the other, peering into a thing's essence.

Flights over rocky and watery terrains.  Eye turns normal, as dissonant tones smooth out.


Seed pod now in a bedroom (appropriate place if common for the conception of babies--see end of scene).  White floors, bottom lit.  Grecian white statues.  Dave is shaken, shaking inside the pod.  He peers out and sees himself, outside the pod.  In fact, he is that self outside the pod, and the self inside the pod is no more.  Dave has aged.  This motif, repeated often, is not unlike life:  We look ahead to who we will be while looking backward at where we've been... where we no longer are. 

Almost operatic voices in bathroom.  (Renaissance?) paintings fill the walls behind, which along with the statues and other decor, perhaps symbolize human intellectual progress of a few millennia.  Dave peers at self in mirror (not unlike eye of psychedelic scene), then peers at himself older and finally accustomed to this life, cutting up food on his plate.  The future Dave feels like he's being watched, turns around but sees no one (perhaps this suggests that Kubrick saw hindsight as less reliable as foresight).  

Dave knocks the crystal glass over--it shatters on the floor.  He looks at it, then to the sound of heavy breathing from the bed (his future self, of course):  both broken vessels. 

Dave on his death bed crooks a finger like the Sistine chapel painting by Michelango and directs his finger at the mysterious monument, suddenly at the foot of his bed.  Then Dave is gone and is replaced by a fetus.  What is odd about the fetus? 

Scene 31  STAR CHILD

Its eyes are wide open, and it journeys back to Earth--presumably through the monolith gateway--wide-eyed, with the majestic music that played when humanity moved beyond its dawning evolution.  The future awaits.  Something will change, something will be born (though what the next stage will bring, it does not specify).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: Science Fiction: A Short Introduction by David Seed

David Seed, an English professor at University of Liverpool, treats a survey of science fiction through a number of tropes:

  • Voyages into Space
    • Hollow Earth 
    • SF & Empire
    • Space Opera: Star Wars 
    • Spaceships
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey 
    • US Space Programme
    • Inner Space
        • Alien Encounters
          • Alien Invasions 
          • Sympathetic Aliens
          • Language
            • SF & Technology
              • Gernsback, Campbell, & Hard SF 
              • The City
              • Robots & Cyborgs
              • Computers
              • Cyberpunk & After 
                • Utopias & Dystopias
                  • The Golden Age of Utopias 
                  • Wellsian Utopia
                  • State Control in Brave New World & Other Works
                  • Nineteen Eighty-Four & Its Legacy
                  • The Constructed Worlds of Philip K. Dick 
                  • Feminist Utopias
                  • Ecotopias and the Mars Trilogy
                    • Fictions of Time
                      • Prehistoric Fiction 
                      • Future Wars
                      • Post-Nuclear Futures
                      • Alternate Histories
                      • Disasters
                        • The Field of SF
                          • Media & Intertexts 
                          • Magazines & the SF community
                          • Genre Fluidity and Generic Reinvention
                          • SF Criticism
                          When they say short, they do mean short.  3/4's is the essay proper.  The rest is reference material, so consider this a half of a normal-length book.

                          Nonetheless, the material here provides a good socio-political foundation in what SF is.  If you scan the listings and are familiar with such discussions, much of it probably will feel familiar.  However, Seed puts his own stamp on the items.

                            Wednesday, December 12, 2012

                            Reader's Guides, Magazines and Anthologies with a number of stories reviewed or dissected

                            Clockwork Phoenix
                            Fantasy and Science Fiction
                            Writers of the Future
                            More to come... 
                             Also, if you're primarily interested in close readings of various classics, check out:
                            Reader’s Guide
                            Appearing occasionally:
                            book reviews (two or three more coming in the next month
                            movie analysis 

                            Book/ Movie Recommends: Top 5, Top 6, Top 10, Top 13, Top 15, Top 20, Top 27, Top 50, Top 83, Top 100

                            Top 5 underrated SF films

                            Top 6 2012 books

                            Top 10 YA (at Library Journal)

                            Top 10 Fiction (Slate)

                            Top 10 Fiction (Time)

                            Top 10 SF (NPR)

                            Top 10 All-Time Authors, 19th century works, and 20th century works (The Atlantic)

                            Top 13 2012 books (Adam Roberts at The Guardian)

                            Top 15 2012 fiction, nonfiction, & children's (Slate)

                            Top 20 Most Anticipated Speculative Novels Released in December 2012

                            Top 27 YA/Children's Fiction/Nonfiction from Horn Book's Fanfare 2012

                            Top 50 from Washington Post

                            Top 50 books by Australian Women

                            Top 83 from various

                            Top 100 horror from Nightmare magazine

                            Top 100 2012 books for Teens (Kirkus)

                            Top 100 F & SF novels (NPR listeners)


                            Top SF 2012 from Dec (Kirkus)

                            Top SF novels of the 20th Century and 21st Century (Locus Magazine)

                            Most popular posts

                            Most popular posts (% based on the most popular)

                            "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid  
                            "Warm" by Robert Sheckley 
                            31% (% based on two posts, forgetting I'd written the earlier one; otherwise Silverberg's would come before)
                            "The Sun God at Dawn, Rising from a Lotus Blossom" by Andrea Kail (earlier, more popular post 
                            "Good News from the Vatican" by Robert Silverberg 
                            20% (% based on two posts, forgetting I'd written the earlier one)
                            "The Stone Cipher" by Tony Pi (later, less popular post
                            "Day Million" by Frederik Pohl 
                            "Life in Steam" by Gra Linnaea
                            "They're Made out of Meat" by Terry Bisson

                            Number Stopping by:
                            The first year was 100/month
                            The second 150/month
                            The third 200/month
                            Since July, it's 700/month

                            Visitors most often come from:
                            United States
                            United Kingdom

                            Tuesday, December 11, 2012

                            Truth, Economics, Learning, Smarty Pants

                            Fascinating:  Dan Ariely & RSA Animate on The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty:

                            Michael Swanwick high fantasy vs. sword and sorcery

                            Crushing the self-published?

                            Have outdoorsy mystery novel to sell?  Anne Frasier is looking.

                            Tip of the hat to Tobias Buckell's new story in Lightspeed

                            5 Things Smart People Do

                            Submissions for James Gunn's Ad Astra

                            Connected Learning

                            Economist Paul Krugman cites Asimov as influence in his economic theories.

                            Cat Rambo on book promotion.

                            "The Dew Drop Coffee Lounge" by Cat Rambo

                            Clockwork Phoenix 1

                            Sasha dumps internet lovers.  People meet anonymously on the internet, and one of them comes to the Dew Drop Coffee Lounge.  Sasha senses who they are, adopts the personality of whomever they were expecting to meet, and dumps them officially.

                            Mike and Sasha have theories for why this is.  The coffee lounge is a foci for such phenomenon.  In the discussion, the narrator finds himself falling for Sasha, but she seems to fall for one who walks in of the street.  Taking a cue, the narrator picks up a new occupation.

                            Clever.  Interesting play of words in the title (coffee grounds, that is).

                            Monday, December 10, 2012

                            Friday, December 7, 2012

                            "All the Little Gods We Are" by John Grant

                            Clockwork Phoenix 1

                            John Grant has a penchant for gut-hitting stories wrapped in an intriguing speculative quirk.  Here's an SF Site review for a pair of his stories.

                            This tale involves the single man John Sudmore who accidentally calls his own home telephone number and talks to himself, married to his best friend, Justine Parland, who in his reality had died in a car accident.  The story pages back toward, but never falls into, his past.  We visit the past through the voice of the present.  In this case, the voice may be too distant:
                            "eyes, which are cold and gray.... the way I see the world....  I can believe in the little gods, little creator gods who are us."
                            The detachment prevents the reader from fully experiencing the past as the narrator does.  That doesn't mean the speculation--intimated above as more probable than alternate universes or God--narrator don't have a strong impact:  You get the feeling that the narrator feels more than he's letting on.

                            Free ebook

                            The second in David Farland/Wolverton's series of the Golden Queen is now free.  Worth checking out.

                            Thursday, December 6, 2012

                            Farmer invented electric and wind car.

                            Nifty traits of the eight-limbed:  octopus & squid

                            Teaching myths.  Teachers have been misinformed. Part of the problem is that so much of education is presented as fact that is not. Esp. telling about the well-informed teacher being the most susceptible to myth.

                            Rhys Hughes introduced me to Daniil Kharms, a surrealist with a fascination for Sherlock Holmes, the everyday bizarre and grotesque violence.  The best of these, "A Knight," is devastating in its underplayed emotion.  Three other very good shorts online are "Andrey Semyonovich," "How a Man Crumbled," and "The Destiny of a Professor's Wife."  Here are the general story contents.  An ebook is available:  The Plummeting Old Women.  Hughes is putting together a Kharms-tribute collection.

                            Video clips for Steve Aylett's faux-documentary, Lint, about a speculative pulp writer.  Includes cameos from Alan Moore and other famous writers.

                            1936 readers predict which readers will be read in the future.

                            “The Family Rocket” by James Van Pelt

                            Asimov's January/February 2013

                            If you liked the literary mind-bending of Karen Joy Fowler’s “What I Didn’t See,” Van Pelt’s story is likely to please.  It raises questions about the nature of narrative, science fiction, and humanity itself, so It would come as a surprise not to see this one pop up in a Year’s-Best anthology or two.  The following traces the outline of its near-genius.

                            While not overly tricky, this is a subtle one.  It begins, “The thing about stories is there’s the ones you want to tell, and there’s the one that happened.”  This review will give that away, at least according to this reader.

                            The narrator takes Rachael, his girlfriend, to his parents’ home to decide whether he will propose to her... if she can accept his crazy family--a family that took imaginary trips to Mars in a rocket that his father built.   Does Rachel marry him?  Is his crazy family redeemed?  You can call it a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure or Lady-or-the-Tiger, but there may be a way to add up the details.  The game is given away. 

                            STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE STORY.

                            The narrator wants his father redeemed: “I regretted yelling at [my father]. I loved going to Mars; I loved him taking me.”  Does it seem likely that the father would have perfected the art of DIY-rocketry at 80 what might have accomplished at younger age?  Does it seem likely the narrator would walk up on his father just as his father was launching?  Wouldn’t most fathers want to see their potential daughter-in-laws before showing off?  Besides, ending on such a note would make it the father’s story, not the narrator’s.  All of this makes the forgoing a gloss over events.  Why else tell multiple stories except as a comfort--just as the father had done when they were children:  make-believing they are traveling to Mars? 

                            Likewise, the narrator (potentially) glosses over what happened with Rachael.  When speaking of her asking him out, he states, “Those [stories] are the nice ones.  And, of course, there’s what actually happened.”  While that could be read ambiguously, the juxtaposition suggests otherwise.  Later:  “[W]e figure ways to disguise [the painful parts in real stories] in fiction....  [M]aybe I made myself less an asshole than I was.”

                            Moreover, when he states, “There’s no way for you to know, but I do, no matter how often I tell it,” it seems to suggest that all narratives with narrators know the truth even if they don’t tell it, that such masking with artifice does not match the truth, which is known at some level, no matter how we try to disguise it.

                            More quotes:
                            “We are poor, Earthbound, and crazy.”  That came out with more bitterness than I meant.
                             “This is where my dad filled my head with...” What? Junk?  False hope?
                             “You’re too serious,” she said.
                             Rachael and I will be parents someday.  I hope I can do as well my own children as Papa did for me.
                            This last quote sounds like they do get married... except there’s “my own” instead of “our.”

                            Wednesday, December 5, 2012

                            Le Guin's Real, Imagined Country

                            "[W]hen I finally began getting stories published, I was quite certain that reality is often best represented slantwise, backwards, or as if it were an imaginary country."