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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Posting will be sporadic as I travel

I will be traveling and without technology, so I shall resume posting in about a month.

Meanwhile, the following works should appear while I am gone:

2 Short shorts (ebook): stories are connected, prequels to my earlier story for the journal. The first of the two is broken up, buried amid the classified ads. The sequel is earlier in the magazine: a short story-of-stories. Kind of fun if you like unconventional narratives. 
Mad Scientist Journal, edited by Jeremy Zimmerman and Dawn Vogel
poem (paper journal) by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
poem (online)
http://www.thepedestalmagazine.comedited by Marge Simon and Bruce Boston
Many thanks to the above editors.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stories -- what we tell, what we don't

Speaking with a colleague, I learned something interesting:  The colleague said his brother had lived in the South [US] and the North.  When he moved back South, he was beat up for being a Yankee.  He moved back North and got beat up for being a Reb.

The irony and the telling made me laugh, but what if it had been told in detail?  Then the humor would have become melancholy.

What we leave in, what we take out can change (manipulate?) a story's meaning.  Propagandists take advantage of this, but it's also useful to writers.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Roger Zelazny, Trilogies, Magazines and Anthologies

Magazines and Anthologies
Science Fiction Writers Sampler 2014 by Brad R. Torgersen, Jeffrey Thomas, Stephen Gaskell, David Conyers $0.99 

Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #149 by Vylar Kaftan, Greg Linklater $0.99 

Apex Magazine Issue 61  Kelly Link, Elizabeth Massie, John M. Ford, Mary Soon Lee $2.99 

Bastion Science Fiction Magazine: Issue 3, June 2014 $2.99 

May The Ferrymen Take You 
(Walk The Fire Book 2) 
Mur Lafferty, Harry Connolly, Paul Levinson 
Roger Zelazny

New, free and reduced ebook lunches

 Free or trilogy reduced
Joan Slonczewski's Brain Plague is free.

Or get the whole trilogy for $4.99.
by Walker Percy 

The Providence Rider 
by Robert McCammon 

(The Faithful and the Fallen) 
by John Gwynne 

Cold Sassy Tree 
by Olive Ann Burns 

Three Novellas 
by David Leavitt 

by Kelley Armstrong 

by Kelley Armstrong 

Travel Writing: 
Expert advice from the world's leading travel publisher (Lonely Planet) 
by Charlee Jacob 

Haunted Humans: 
A Novella 
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman 
Review (with spoilers--I hadn't thought so, but the author did)

The Alchemist 
by Paolo Bacigalupi 

Beyond Each Blue Horizon 
by Andrew Hook (Author), Sean Wright (Foreword), Joel Lane (Introduction) 

Rites of Passage by Eric Brown  $3.99

Writing SFF: 
A 60-Minute Masterclass 
by Liesel Schwarz 

We Leave Together 
by J. M. McDermott 

Mutant Star 
by Karen Haber 

Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories 
by Elizabeth Hand 

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014 
Edited by Rich Horton 

The Science of Discworld 
by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen 

Hard to Be a God 
(Rediscovered Classics) 
by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky

Gravity Box and Other Spaces 
by Mark Tiedemann  

Blood Red 
(Elemental Masters) 
by Mercedes Lackey 

Prince of Fools 
(The Red Queen's War)
 by Mark Lawrence 

by Daniel H. Wilson 

A Shiver of Light 
by Laurell K. Hamilton 

California Bones 
by Greg van Eekhout 

The Dark Between the Stars 
(Saga of Shadows Trilogy) 
by Kevin J. Anderson 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tim's Vermeer & optics in art

Boing Boing points out a new DVD out, Tim's Vermeer, explaining how Tim Jenison has replicated Vermeer's technical accuracy.  Movie trailer:

DIY Vermeer documentary utterly misses the point about old masters 
"Tim Jenison tried for a whole year to recreate a Vermeer painting – and all he got was a pedantic imitation."  (The title of the webpage says the movie failed.)

  • The critic does a good job reminding us that this is art, not imitations.   However, although someone did ask if Vermeer were a "machine," Tim Jenison says that he's not an artist.  So I think Jenison's modus operandi is just to discover how Vermeer might have done it.
Related, the Hockney–Falco thesis similarly proposes (by artist David Hockney and physicist Charles M. Falco) that optics were used to create the realism of Renaissance paintings.  BBC video:

School Safety from violent storms and men

Cheap solutions gun problems in the US:

Expensive solution but it also protects from violent storms ($1000 price tag needs to come down before people invest, but great idea):

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Double Vision

Bill Watterson, of Calvin and Hobbes fame, writes comic frames with Stephan Pastis for Pearls Before Swine.

Here Stephan Pastis explains.  Here's the link to where the actual comic set begins.


The Guardian simply display D-Day photos, which you can click on to see the changes.  It matches up pretty well.

Huffington Post also does an interesting surreal match-up/mash-up off today and D-day photos, creating a surreal feeling.  However, they don't match up well, which will drive the OCD folks nuts.

NBC presents the actual photos and a few others.

9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day

Saturday, June 7, 2014

YA on trial

"Against YA" By Ruth Graham:
"Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children."
I enjoy reading YA, and my bias-sensors were on red-alert when she wrote:
"Let’s set aside the transparently trashy stuff like Divergent and Twilight, which no one defends as serious literature. I’m talking about the genre the publishing industry calls "realistic fiction."
So only realistic work is serious?  But she goes on to talk about what sound like key moments that she calls "maudlin."  I'm not sure that she's wrong.  We should be able to appreciate complex characters and events.

Here are various readers and authors in response:

Gwenda Bond's "Ten Reasons To Read YA (No Matter What Age You Are)"


"So Slate Has Something To Say About YA" by Mandy Curtis
--just a gif file from Sesame Street illustrating her ire

"In Praise of Reading Whatever the Hell You Want" By Hillary Kelly
"Don't let Slate make you feel ashamed for reading books that you love."
I wonder if Kelly misread Graham (the provocative subtitle probably didn't help).  Kelly mentions Austen as an example of serious YA, but Graham brought up Shakespeare's use of adolescents but thought it was serious because of his treatment.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What's So Funny about Secret Hate, Love, and Understanding, X-Men (review / discussion)

Friend and fellow writer, Susan Linville, I believe, was the first to break down the magazines by gender.  I remember us discussing it with Karen Joy Fowler.  My pulled-from-the-butt theory was that boys liked to read about a boy's adventure.  

When I was poetry editor at Abyss & Apex, however, I consistently surprised myself by sometimes selecting more poems from women than men.  I never thought about it consciously but would look at the contents in retrospect.  My theory became that maybe I was biased in favor of women.  I do enjoy--favor?--discussions with females.

Overall, though, the contents were about 50-50 while I was editor.  It wasn't something I'd planned.  I never counted up the slush-pile contributors, though I suspect they were equal numbers. When I tried to edit an experimental anthology, the slush-pile contents were overwhelmingly male and the female contributions weren't very interesting.  Maybe it sounded like a boy's game, so the girls decided not to play.

In John ONeill's "An Open Letter to Dave Truesdale", he lists why he thinks he and Truesdale were sexist.  I don't buy Truesdale's assertion that “science-fiction hasn’t a racist or sexist bone in its body… Not once have I personally seen a smidgeon of racism or sexism.”  The statement has no flexibility for human error for one thing.  Also, SF has often favored one creature over another.  Some people prefer women in charge, some men.  The world is full of bias. True, though, is that SF has always been at the forefront against such racism and sexism, including positive portrayals of the other. Maybe that is what Truesdale meant to say.

My problem is mind-reading other people and saying that so-and-so's racist or sexist, without evidence or with secret evidence that may or may not be valid evidence.  Feel free to speak of your experience, not other people.

Often, when people do deconstruction, they don't do it properly.  It requires an understanding of the work before analysis, and then using that analysis to inform the deconstruction.  But most people have good intentions, trying to end hate.

X-Men Spoilers:

Charles Coleman Finlay analyzes X-Men but performs deconstruction before analyzing the movie, which boils down to not necessarily killing all of your enemies (which seems pertinent to this discussion in more ways than one).  Finlay writes, "[T]he whole premise of the movie is that Mystique is so awesome and effective at identifying her targets and following through on her plans that she literally changes the course of human history. Of course, it's a terrible future. Because she created it and she's a woman."

I watched a different movie it would seem.  First, we have three central characters in the past--Charles, Magneto, and Mystique.  All three are problematic, but Mystique may be the least problematic, the least psychologically damaged.  Not only is one of the writers (at least appears to be) a woman, Jane Goldman, but also Mystique is rather more powerfully portrayed than in any of the other movies.  With the other leaders incapacitated, she alone is saving mutants from experimentation.  Her DNA holds the technological key to destroying all mutants.  Living in the past, she does not know this--just as none of us know the future.  She holds the key to saving everyone in the end.  She is flawed, but that only serves to make her human.  Wolverine, really, is little more than a messenger--albeit a necessary one.

In fact, one might make a case that to go against this movie where a female is so pivotal to the story is to be sexist.  After all, she's the most interesting, least flat character in the movie.  But this, again, is problematic mind-reading.  Finlay means well.

I'll just address Finlay's further comments (his in quotes):

"And hey, Mystique talks to him the next day and forgives him, so why can't we?"

Does she?  Does shooting him in the neck and putting him in the hands of Charles so she can do what she wants represent forgiveness?

"when his chance comes he goes inside her head and physically controls her, at least long enough to make a speech about how important it is for her to make up her own mind."

But of course he controls other people as well.  Don't forget she's been moved by what's happened to the mutants.  It would take anyone a lot of convincing... plus revenge stories are tiresome.  I'd rather we didn't champion the destruction of others, even if we disagree with them. (We could also couch this in terms of handicapped vs. non-handicapped and have a very different sort of discussion.)

"So the world is a better place because Mystique grows and changes as a person. And when we snap back to the future, we'll get to see a glimpse of her and how she's changed. Hahaha! Sorry. Just like Mystique only functions earlier in the story as a foil for Charles' man-pain vs. Magneto's man-pain, she's completely absent from the denouement. Because her growth as a character is irrelevant to the rewards that the men-folks get for a job well done."

Again, we have to follow story logic.  Mystique isn't a part of Xavier Academy, which is where Wolverine ends up.  This is the team we've been following, not Magneto and Mystique.  Besides the denouement isn't about any one person but about how the Academy is back and history has changed somehow.  The end.  And again, no one is more interesting than Mystique--the supposed bad guy, helping others.  Her pain is far more fascinating than Charles' or Magneto's.  Besides, look where she stands in the poster:  ahead of all guys except our POV.  Although she is not fully informed about the future, who is?  

Three cheers for Finlay sticking up for underdogs.  Three cheers for X-Men--a fine movie in terms of speculation and large ensemble cast, which is always difficult to tackle and not make all characters look flat.  Three cheers for Truesdale and O'Neill.  Even if we don't agree, who says we have to?  Share a beer, clink your mugs.  As Elvis Costello told us, "What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?" (BTW, isn't Elvis better looking now than as a lad?)  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reduced ebook lunches

by Lauren Kate 
I just heard from a couple of young ladies that this is a good one.

Humble Bundle (for your price):  

  • Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker Ed Piskor 
  • March: Book One March: Book One Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell 
  • The Sword & Sorcery Anthology The Sword & Sorcery Anthology Various, George R. R. Martin 

Additional Humble Bundle ebooks for $10

  • Jam Jam Yahtzee Croshaw 
  • Lovecraft's Monsters: Anthology Various, Neil Gaiman. Ellen Datlow, 
  • Lawful Interception Cory Doctorow 
  • Wizard's First Rule Terry Goodkind 
  • The Alchemist Paolo Bacigalupi 
  • The Executioness Tobias S. Buckell 
  • From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell 
  • From Hell Companion Eddie Campbell & Alan Moore 
  • Too Cool To Be Forgotten Alex Robinson 
  • Shambling Towards Hiroshima James Morrow

Sunday, June 1, 2014

J.G. Ballard on J.G. Ballard, part II

"I’m certainly no Luddite*.... [O]ne has to immerse oneself in the threatening possibilities offered by modern science and technology, and try to swim to the other end of the pool. I think my political views were formed by my childhood in Shanghai and my years in a detention camp. I detest barbed wire, whether of the real or the figurative variety. Marxism is a social philosophy for the poor, and what we need badly now is a social philosophy for the rich..., some moderating set of values, whether the noblesse oblige, the obligation owed to the less fortunate by the old English upper classes, or the Buddhist notion of gaining merit.... [M]odern communications landscape creates a different system of needs and obligations."
-- J.G. Ballard in the Paris Review interview 

* Curious:  Ballard naysayers would disagree.