The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website.  If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Resolutions for 2009 (Writing Edition)

I've never really done the whole "New Years resolution" thing, but I thought it would be fun to do this year for reasons that escape me. So, I'm doing it. The following are what I am going to do by the end of 2009:
  1. Write 200,000 words. This will include non-fiction and fiction, but will exclude blog posts (if I added up just my blog posts for the year I imagine it would come to well over 200,000 words). This year, by the way, I came up short by about 15,000 words (the meter on the side is not, at the time of this post, accurate as I've been too busy to add up some of the words I've written since the last time it was updated).
  2. Edit 200,000 words. I hate editing. It's obvious if you look at my little list on the right sidebar. I've edited about 1/4th as much as I've written. I imagine if I edited more I'd get more work out the door. Which leads me to part three...
  3. Submit 26 new short stories by Dec. 31st. I only really became aggressive with my short stories about halfway through the year. Granted, I've been serious for a while, but I've only really started hammering down in a serious way in the last six months (give or take a month or two). I want to continue this trend even further by sending out 26 new stories throughout the year. Shouldn't be too hard, right?
  4. Reach a total of 20 short stories in the submission queue at one time. This will probably be an easy goal if I keep up with number three. Right? Someone tell me yes so I feel like it's doable...
  5. Get published (legitimately)! Doesn't matter if it's just once, or a dozen times. I just need to get one story published. This is the big goal!
And there you have it! What are some of your New Years resolutions?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Book Review Up: The Vision by C. L. Talmadge

I have another book review up over at SQT's blog. Check it out here. I'll be reviewing a couple more books in the coming days, I hope.

In any case, go check out that review and leave a comment!

Misconceptions About Star Wars

One of the things that I find interesting about the criticisms of Star Wars is when people tend to misunderstand or misrepresent what the series is about or what happens within the series. Sometimes this has to do with people over analyzing or simply people being idiots.
Mulluane of Dragons, Heroes, and Wizards recently brought to my attention this post by Richard Risch that somewhat irritated me with the ways in which Risch criticized Star Wars for its failures to succeed as a piece of science fiction--he argues that Star Wars is more of a science fantasy than anything else.
Now, to be fair, I have little argument against Risch's points. He is correct in placing Star Wars in the science fantasy category. Lucas's series is not at all a true science fiction story and is a prime example of why the "just because it has spaceships doesn't mean it's science fiction" rule is a good one to follow. What I take issue with are the examples Risch uses and the fallacies in logic that come with them. I suppose the best way to go about this would be to go one piece at a time.
First this:
Sadly though and even more important, authentic fighter tactics were lacking, and at times, … purely ignored. This was made quite evident by the attack on the exhaust port via the death trench. Using your fighter to block an enemy fighter (on your six o’clock), is suicidal in real warfare. That is in reality how most fighters get shot-down. A logical tactic would have been to keep a circling flight of fighters above, waiting to engage any bandits making a run for your dive-bombers. But then, that would have not lent well to the story, would it?
My initial contention with this part of his argument is his reference to the suicidal tactic of blocking an enemy fighter with your own fighter. If you've seen the movie it's pretty darn obvious that the folks doing the blocking are, in fact, being suicidal. They're there to basically be annoying. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, sure, but I don't think Risch really addresses the reality of the setting. Perhaps this all isn't much of a contention, but from the start I already had issues with the assumption that the rebels in Star Wars were doing anything other than being suicidal decoys...
I think a far more accurate criticism, one which Risch only touches on briefly here, would be to point out the idiocy behind the whole idea of having to travel down a long trench. The film never mentions any rational behind this tactic and really, as Risch says, it's there for the pretty-fying of the story.
Then there's this:
Added to this, was the attack on the exhaust port (which was purportedly ray-shielded) with photon torpedoes (borrowed from Star Trek). Funny thing, a mass of photons is considered ray. (Photon energy is produced by an electron dropping from a higher orbit to a lower orbit as it travels around in an atom.) Therefore, how could photon torpedoes be realistically considered the weapon of choice for this attack?
Well, as was mentioned in the comments of his post, the Star Wars folks used proton torpedoes, not photon torpedoes, meaning that no actual "stealing" was involved (in theory). But regardless of the name, Risch's point is one worth taking up. Why must we assume that the names for all things within a fictional universe have to be related to the things they represent? For example, if I have a fish torpedo, does that mean the torpedo has to be made out of fish? Or shaped like a fish? Does it have to smell like a fish or make a fish sound when it's shot? No, it doesn't. It could be called a fish torpedo for a lot of reasons. Maybe it's called that because when the fighter pilots who shot them saw them moving through deep space they came up with a new slang term in which space became the ocean and torpedoes became fish. Who knows. Just because something is a photon or proton torpedo doesn't mean that the torpedo has to be made out of photons or protons or anything, or even resemble those things, or be made of photons or protons as we know them in our reality. It doesn't really matter what they are called. Star Wars also has ion cannons, by the way, and I imagine there are all sorts of scientifically incorrect things about those too. Let's face it, Star Wars isn't exactly the most realistic universe out there as far as science is concerned. But do any of us expect it to be? No. It's Star Wars. There are lightsabers and people who have magic powers and aliens that drool and evil guys that breathe funny.
All well and to the good except for one minor problem, it took the samurais and ninjas many years to develop their bodies and skills through training, discipline, and actual combat. I ought to know, I trained at and taught Karate for over twenty-five years. For Luke Skywalker to become an accomplished Jedi Knight (under several weeks of Yoda’s tutelage and training) is laughable and cannot possibly happen even with most gifted human beings. Again, you are expected to accept this with blind faith.
Let's take this one apart piece by piece.
  1. Time
    It's never indicated with any certainty how much time passes between the separation of Luke Skywalker/R2-D2 (traveling to Dagobah) and Han Solo/Chewie/Leia/C-3PO (running from the Empire). The most we can assume is that it didn't take more than a few years lest we might have seen some drastic changes in the physical appearances of the characters (as in someone getting old all of a sudden). It's likely, however, that the second film spanned only a few months. Remember, Han Solo gets tortured during this period. I can think of a lot of real world examples where tortures took place for months and even years. Lucas only establishes that the torture is occurring and doesn't make it clear that it only occurs once in the story.
    (For the record: While the movies aren't too specific, Star Wars geeks and Star Wars writers have nailed down the trilogy to having lasted about 4ish years)
  2. Training
    True, it can take a lot of training to become anything resembling a Jedi (whether it be a Samurai or martial artist or whatever). But, here's the problem: Risch says Luke becomes an "accomplished Jedi Knight." What? No, he doesn't. Luke never becomes a Jedi Knight in the second film. In fact, he doesn't actually become a true Jedi until the very end of the third film, and only barely there.
    And accomplished? If you've seen the Star Wars movies you'll know that Luke Skywalker wasn't exactly the most graceful of fighters. He had a weak understanding of the Force even after several weeks of Yoda's training (and it can be assumed that the years prior to meeting up with Yoda involved personal training, because Luke does learn how to move around objects and the like). Then there's that part where he took on a guy that was mostly machine and got his hand chopped off. Real accomplished. He lost his hand to a walking toaster oven that could barely take out a 70-year-old geezer.
    It is blatantly obvious throughout the Star Wars movies (and I'm only talking the originals here) that Luke Skywalker is not an accomplished Jedi. He was severely ill-trained in all aspects of the Force and arrogant. He had anger, fear, and hate, all aspects of a Jedi-in-training.
    Luke Skywalker, by the way, was almost exclusively self taught. Yoda and Ben gave him a rudimentary education in the Force and the way of the Jedi. Everything else he did on his own, and it shows. The films don't even try to pretend that Luke Skywalker magically learned how to be a Jedi Knight in a few weeks (this is contrary to a lot of fantasy novels in which the main character magically becomes a great swordsman after two chapters). Even his teachers tried to tell him he wasn't ready when he went to take on Vader...
One of my favorite criticisms of Star Wars is this one:
Also, some of Star Wars characters have problems with concepts found in astronomy and physics. Take Han Solo for example, who boasted that the Millennium Falcon “made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs” or “can make 0.5 past light speed.” Well, a parsec is an astronomic unit of distance, not time. (A parsec is the distance equal to light traveling for 3.26 light years.) As for “making 0.5 past light speed”, any matter traveling at the speed of light would have infinite mass and cannot travel any faster.
I'm not going to argue the bit about light speed. Risch is right and so was Einstein. But that's not what I like about this argument. I like the part about the parsec. Okay, so a parsec is a unit of measurement. Great. But the Kessel Run isn't easily fixed, as Risch implies here. It's possible that Lucas was just an idiot and didn't know what a parsec was (thus making what should have been "the Kessel Run in 12 seconds" into "the Kessel run in 12 parsecs"). But what if the Kessel Run is actually referring to a standard time and the parsecs are referring to the distance traveled in that time? Let's say the Kessel Run refers to a race in which ships are given thirty minutes to travel the farthest distance. Well, then wouldn't the "12 parsecs" bit make sense then? Course it would.
And something else:
Light Sabers are mighty fancy weapons, but hardly practical in future warfare. True, they would be nice cut wood or start a fire with for survival purposes, but I would rather stake my life on a simple laser blaster, which could kill at greater speed (light speed) and distance. And as for Darth Vader absorbing the energy of a laser blast (Empire Strikes Back), he wouldn’t need a Light Saber since he apparently possesses the powers of God. (I don’t think so!).
Umm, no. True, blasters may have more use in warfare, but Jedi, according to the Star Wars Universe, train extensively to learn the skills needed to be able to deflect laser blasts and the like. So, in theory, if you and a trained Jedi were facing off and all you had was a laser blaster, you would lose badly and the Jedi wouldn't break a sweat.
But then there's that bit about Darth Vader blocking blaster shots. Okay, sounds like a big hole, right? Well, no, actually. If you think about it, if Darth Vader could do that whenever he wanted to, then wouldn't he? He can't. That's the point. The Force, being a source of "magic," has limitations. Darth Vader can't just run around crushing star ships with his mind. He doesn't have that sort of power, nor the energy. He can't block blaster shots all the time either, because that takes a lot of power that even someone as powerful as he doesn't have an unlimited supply of. It's not indicated in the movies for a very good reason: wouldn't it be stupid if Vader nearly passed out and then said, "Goodness, that took a lot out of me. Phew. I'm pooped."? I thought so.

That's basically it. Again, I actually agree with Risch. Star Wars is not science fiction, but he chose some really bad examples. You'd be much better off pointing to the fact that, gasp, there's magic and people shooting lightning out of their hands and crazy crap like that--maybe the fact that everything in Star Wars makes sound in space, even though that's technically not possible. This other stuff is more along the lines of nitpicking. Stick to the good stuff, because that stuff is unquestionable.

Rejection: Nobody Gives a Crap About Compsagnathus

Well, that was a fast rejection! Less than a week. Way to go F&SF.

And no, I'm not sad or upset. It shall go out again, in due time.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post-Holiday Goodies: The Chosen Ones

Pretty much since I became old enough to realize that playing with Star Wars toys is actually rather silly--along with buying more toys for the express purpose of playing with them, sound effects and all--I've asked anyone who might be getting me some sort of present to simply buy me gift cards or hand over cold, hard cash. Of course these days I only ask for book money, because that's pretty much all I really buy aside from CDs and DVDs (the former more rarely these days primarily because I consider the music industry to have hit an all time low and I actually have pretty much all the classical works on CD already).
So, putting the ramble aside, my fiance and I took to the downtown Santa Cruz streets to do a little book shopping (with a detour prior to that to a nice place in Felton). And here is what I discovered:
I found this interesting book (Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick) at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Had a doomsday feel to it and I was in that mood when I saw it. So who knows, might be good.
These were actually really good finds at Logo's (a sort of used/new store that gets a lot of really fascinating titles from small and large presses alike). First is All the Windracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear. You'll notice that it's actually an ARC! Have no idea how it got into the store, or if it was supposed to be there, but I snatched it up quick. Second is Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright. I've never heard of this book before, but something about its obscurity and the fact that it has received a lot of praise made me buy it. I was simply intrigued by it. While this is an old copy, the book has been re-released in a new edition.
Next are two books I found at an antique store in Felton. I don't know much about either, but they were cheap and up my alley, so I snatched them. They are: Rebel Sutra by Shariann Lewitt and The Days After Tomorrow edited by Hans Stefan Santesson.
And lastly from my favorite major chain bookstore (Borders) I found these two interesting books. Unfortunately we showed up a lot later than we should have and missed out on what must have been dozens and dozens of boxes of cheap books. Still, these two books snagged my attention. The first is Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig--what seems like a fun YA fantasy--and the second is Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler--a dark novel about the horrors of Stalin's Soviet Union (fiction, I believe).

There you have it. Not quite the load of books I had hoped to pull, but I think I bought too many books throughout the course of the year and thus ran out of options for interesting things to snatch up. Maybe I missed some good books, though. Feel free to make some suggestions! Seriously!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Video Found: The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

I don't know if this is the only adaptation of Mark Twain's short story, but it's certainly the creepiest. The short story isn't quite the same, but this should give you a general idea! (Stolen from Chrononautic Log):

Post-Christmas Shopping Guide: Book Edition

Christmas is over and you've got a handful of Borders, Amazon, or B&N gift cards to use (if you're lucky). So what books should you buy with them?

Well, here are my suggestions of a few titles you might want to consider in your post-Christmas shopping madness:

The Golden Cord by Paul Genesse
This debut fantasy novel has everything you need to tickle those fantasy taste buds. Action, adventure, magic, and more. It's all there to keep you entice from start to finish!

Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale
Not all the books you buy this year have to be fun fantastic romps, do they? Some can be simply stunning quasi-fantasy stories involving the deeper meanings of relationships as they pertain to a society of clashing peoples: Demons and Inquisitors. If you're into some tough love in the fantasy genre, then this is certainly a book you should consider. After all, nothing wrong with a book that makes you really think, is there?

Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell
Zombies in space. That's the line I've been pitching to people for this book and it's just as important now as it was then. This book is the first in a series of loosely connected space opera novels by a fantastic Caribbean author. If you don't like jumping into the middle of a series, however, consider snatching up Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin, each equally unique and action-packed stories following some of the same characters.

Spaceman Blues by Brian Francis Slattery

Think literary fiction meets pulp fiction (not the movie) meets science fiction. It's different, it's beautifully written, and it taps into all the little glimmers of gold in all those genres all at once.

Or maybe you're not into all that adult stuff. Well, how about some young adult fantasy?

The 13th Reality by James Dashner
A brilliant start to a brilliant new series. Magic, quantum physics (and don't let that scare you!), strange individuals, and quirky fantasies, this is surely a good book to satisfy those urges for something to fill that Harry Potter void.

Leven Thumps Series by Obert Skye
If quirky is your thing, then the Leven Thumps Series is right up your alley. Nothing can be more strange than the world Mr. Skye has built for this young adult universe. Take Clover, a small, large-eared talking creature that can turn invisible and has what amounts to an endless void in which he stores various unusual things! Quirky? I think so, and fantastic!

Or, if you're into neither straight fantasy or straight science fiction or young adult fantasy, then perhaps you're into alternate history.

Ha'Penny by Jo Walton
If you haven't read Farthing, then I recommend you do so. But if you have, then Ha'penny is a well written and deeper continuation of an alternate world in which England and Nazi Germany made peace instead of duking it out. A terrifically despondent world and a story written like a 1930s detective novel!

These, of course, are just a few suggestions I can make. If you don't see anything here, however, you should consider checking out SF Signal's enormous Mind Meld (part one, part two, and part three) on best genre works consumed this year!

You can also find my reviews of the above books either in my Book Reviews label section, at Shelfari, or at Goodreads (feel free to add me as a friend at those last two locations).

Happy shopping!

Twitteriffic Stuffs

Here's my random twitter nonsense for the day:
  • 00:53 New blog post: Twitteriffic Stuffs #
  • 00:53 New blog post: Merry Christmas From WISB #
  • 09:44 @Mulluane @SheilaRuth yeah, probably a better idea to talk to the publisher... #
  • 09:44 @Mulluane You'd probably contact the marketing people. #
  • 09:45 @SFDiplomat Do you have a link to the PKD thing? #
  • 09:45 Merry Christmas everyone! #
  • 10:08 @tychoish Chinese is always good, my friend. #
  • 11:45 @Fantasy_Art If it's buried good and well in my tweet, I'll just ignore it. If it's REALLY important, though, I'll always respond. #
  • 13:16 We're about to start on Christmas dinner! Or tea as my fiance calls it, because she's from Yorkshire and they call dinner tea there... #
  • 13:16 And yes, it confused the heck out of me when she kept saying "I'm going to have some tea." #
  • 14:18 I just joined the scifi_writers Twitter Group and you can too. Please Retweet. #
  • 14:24 I just joined the sffauthors Twitter Group and you can too. Please Retweet. #
  • 14:25 I just joined the writers Twitter Group and you can too. Please Retweet. #
  • 14:26 I just joined the writingblogs Twitter Group and you can too. Please Retweet. #
  • 14:26 And yes, that is enough spam tweets from me! #
  • 14:37 Tomorrow's order of the day: Book shopping. #
  • 14:37 Borders, Santa Cruz Bookshop, and Logo's! We don't have a B&N, unfortunately, but those three stores are all downtown and all awesome! #
  • 14:38 @ediFanoB I'm going to go through all those book reviews eventually. Plan to make a hug list of blogs to link to and subscribe to! #
  • 15:14 @ediFanoB I assume you speak German, right? I wish I could read German. Some of my posts were picked up on German sites. #
  • 15:21 I think I'm going to do a bit of writing once I finish these two book reviews. I've got a story to submit to WOTF and "Door" to finish. #
  • 15:29 @johncramer Re-tweeting is when someone takes a twitter post and re-posts it on their own twitter (at least that's what I see it as). #
  • 18:10 @Fantasy_Art Well I'm relatively new to twitter so I think the tweet was only a few days old and I don't recall if I got a response. #
  • 18:11 We're watching 10 Things I Hate About You because the fiance has yet to see it and it's a relatively funny movie. No science fiction, tho #
  • 19:38 @tobiasbuckell I knew it. After all those doctors poking you you've started to de-evolve back into a neanderthal! #
  • 19:39 @tobiasbuckell Quick, read something highly intellectual to get your human brain back! #
  • 19:39 @KenMcConnell What book would that be? #
  • 19:42 @Mulluane I am not a nut! I'm a rare form of grain, thank you very much! Nuts aren't nearly as useful as I am! #
  • 19:48 @Mulluane Yes, I am rare and wonderful. #
  • 19:49 @Mulluane Yeah, but being well done just is a good thing. Comes with age and all that. #
  • 19:57 @Mulluane I didn't know you had a readers gizmo on facebook...send me an invite on FB! #
  • 20:01 @Mulluane Thanks. Don't know why I'm not a part of it already...but want to be! #
  • 20:03 @Mulluane Aha, so if I'm a part of it you have nothing to complain about! Ha! #
  • 20:11 @Mulluane Well I am now! #
  • 20:12 @Mulluane I just need one more to get my feed...having problems getting it though... #
  • 20:28 Hey Twitter: Join my blog network on Facebook! Please...pretty pretty please. #
  • 20:51 @Mulluane Oh, whoops, I need 20 for stats :P #
  • 20:51 @Mulluane What's really sad? #
  • 20:53 @Mulluane Well that certainly is sad! #
  • 21:18 I'm looking forward to tomorrow when we go book shopping! #
  • 21:24 @Mulluane Not sure, to be honest. Just sort of going to see what deals there are, etc. #
  • 21:35 @Mulluane Will do. I'll probably blog about all my book purchases over the holidays, since that's what I'm getting out of my xmas money! #
  • 23:22 @Mulluane Nope, constructive advice is always good. #
Thanks for not exploding. Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter (Don't click the read more, there isn't any more after this!)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From WISB

...or from me. Whichever fits best!

Merry Christmas everyone and I hope your holidays turn out well!

With that in mind, I leave with some incredible Christmas light shows (after the "read more"):

Twitteriffic Stuffs

Here's my random twitter nonsense for the day:
  • 00:57 @ediFanoB He's backtracking. The Catholic Church had been rather progressive until this new Pope came along. #
  • 00:59 @ronearlphillips Yes, but the Pope doesn't see a difference between the us killing the world and gay people hugging. #
  • 00:59 This will be my 2,000th tweet. Woot! #
  • 11:52 @ediFanoB I have a problem with that backtracking, because it's taking us to this screwed up medieval viewpoint that does nobody any good. #
  • 11:52 @ediFanoB And yes, there is a tweet counter. It's on your Twitter interface, but it's called "updates" instead of "tweets." #
  • 11:53 Happy Christmas Eve to all of you out there! #
  • 11:53 @tobiasbuckell Is there chocolate in it? #
  • 12:25 Great, now my twitteroo is broken. Just what I need. #
  • 12:33 Alright, tried to reinstall twitteroo. Didn't work. Getting something else. #
  • 12:40 @Mulluane I don't want to work from within Firefox. I want to work from my desktop. I never use plugins and stuff. They're irritating. #
  • 12:46 Trying out Pwytter. Doesn't have a short-link option and it's somewhat buggy and non-smooth. #
  • 13:14 Madtwitter and Twitterlicious both have crappy interfaces and no short links. So those are out. #
  • 13:15 @Mrs_Bobcat That is the coolest dream EVER! #
  • 13:24 Testing out Twhirl as we speak. So far I love it. #
  • 13:25 Yes, I will be keeping Twhirl. It might prove to be a tad flashy in the end, but so far it offers pretty much everything I want in one prog #
  • 13:42 Loudtwitter hasn't gone haywire yet on my blog, so it seems like it will be posting my daily tweets to WISB safely. Yippee! #
  • 13:44 On a side note, I have two books to review at some point today and more books to read! Currently reading Seaborn by Chris Howard. #
  • 13:47 @jesseluna Gah! Sorry, I'm learning how to use twhirl and accidently unfollowed and blocked you...It's fixed and you're back to normal! #
  • 13:47 @jesseluna Hope you have a good time in Pasadena, by the way. #
  • 13:54 New blog post: Twitteriffic Stuffs #
  • 16:20 @tobiasbuckell Aww, well that's sad. I could send you a new roof. It would be made out of old saltine crackers though... #
  • 16:21 @SFDiplomat Oh, I saw that post! Ha! It has been a while since that stuff was put out in the blogosphere! #
  • 16:22 @Colleen_Lindsay I didn't know she was in Pretty in Pink, but then again I was probably 5 when she was acting. #
  • 16:23 @Colleen_Lindsay On a side note, Molly Ringwald used to live near me when I was in Placerville a few years back. #
  • 16:23 @Colleen_Lindsay Another side note: Molly Ringwald used to occasionally go to my sister's workplace, though my sis never saw her. #
  • 16:24 We just went to buy all our supplies for Xmas dinner! Yay for chicken and other yummy stuff! #
  • 16:25 And on a completely unrelated note, I am actually really enjoying Seaborn by Chris Howard. Love the writing. #
  • 16:26 Does anyone know which cable stations will be playing classic Christmas shows like A Christmas Story and the old claymation stuff? #
  • 16:28 @SarurunKamui Link me to it when you finish. I like art :). #
  • 16:34 @SarurunKamui If you mean the game, I don't know. Never really heard of it until now, but I like the artwork and Japanese art in general. #
  • 16:44 @SarurunKamui Japanese art is absolutely gorgeous and totally unique. Hence why I like it. I think for some it's an acquired taste, tho. #
  • 16:44 I've been put in a horrible position. Karen Joy Fowler is teaching a fantasy writing course at UCSC and it just got an opening... #
  • 18:20 @Mulluane Yes, saltine crackers. They make a good insulator! #
  • 18:25 Would folks be interested in me doing a sort of SF Signal style link roundup? I used to do it, but stopped a long time back. #
  • 19:51 @mikodragonfly It would probably be much the same as SF Signal's thing, but different sources and some nifty science stories thrown in. #
  • 19:52 @SarurunKamui Yeah #
  • 19:54 @dafkah Sounds like an interesting premise! #
  • 20:35 @ronearlphillips Haha, I don't have to celebrate it at the same time! Ha! I get a few more hours of Christmas Eve than you :P...wait...gah #
  • 22:58 @michaelcanfield You know, the sad thing is that that trailer actually makes the live action Thundercats idea very appealing. #
  • 22:58 @Mulluane Aww, you're lucky! I didn't get any presents :P. #
  • 22:59 @Mulluane It really depends. Some folks want it around release time, others before. You could ask the author for a preference... #
  • 23:18 @LoopdiLou I'll be over to eat your milk and cookies in about an hour. #
  • 23:18 @SarurunKamui *gasp* Talk about a cool present! #
Thanks for not exploding. Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter (Don't click the read more, there isn't any more after this!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Video Found: The Economy Affects Robots Too!

If this isn't clever advertising, then I don't know what is. Granted, it's a British ad, so I suppose clever fits the bill! Check it out (found via The Genre Files):

Monday, December 22, 2008

SF Crowsnest and Media Tie-ins

This will be quick: I forgot to mention that some time back one of my posts had been nabbed by Mr. Hunt of SF Crowsnest. That's for you folks who are new to the blog, mostly, since those that aren't so new will probably have read that post a while ago. In any case, I thought I'd mention it!

A Book Reviewers Meme

Technically I'm way behind on posting this, but I wanted to wait until the list was mostly finished. Below you'll find a massive list of all the book reviewer blogs out there (or at least the ones that came forward and added themselves to the list, or were already added). They're in alphabetical order and split up between English and foreign blogs. Maybe you'll find some new blogs to read! Enjoy:

7 Foot Shelves
The Accidental Bard
A Boy Goes on a Journey
A Dribble Of Ink
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Adventures in Reading
The Agony Column
Andromeda Spaceways
The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
Ask Daphne
Australia Specfic in Focus
Author 2 Author
Barbara Martin
Bees (and Books) on the Knob
Bibliophile Stalker
The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf
Bitten by Books
The Black Library Blog
Blog, Jvstin Style
Blood of the Muse
The Book Bind
The Book Smugglers
The Book Swede
Breeni Books
Cheaper Ironies [pro columnist]
Cheryl's Musings
Critical Mass
The Crotchety Old Fan
Damien G. Walter
Danger Gal
Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews
Darque Reviews
Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog
Dear Author
The Deckled Edge
Dragons, Heroes and Wizards
The Discriminating Fangirl
Dusk Before the Dawn
Enter the Octopus
Eve's Alexandria
Fantastic Reviews
Fantastic Reviews Blog
Fantasy Book Critic
Fantasy Cafe
Fantasy Debut
Fantasy Book Reviews and News
Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' Blog
Feminist SF - The Blog!
The Fix
The Foghorn Review
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Foreign Language (other than English)

Cititor SF [Romanian, but with English Translation] [French]

Foundation of Krantas [Chinese (traditional)]

The SF Commonwealth Office in Taiwan [Chinese (traditional) with some English essays]

Yenchin's Lair [Chinese (traditional)]

Aguarras [Brazilian, Portuguese]

Fernando Trevisan [Brazilian, Portuguese]

Human 2.0 [Brazilian, Portuguese]

Life and Times of a Talkative Bookworm [Brazilian, Porteguese]

Ponto De Convergencia [Brazilian, Portuguese]

pós-estranho [Brazilian, Portuguese]

>Skavis [Brazilian, Portuguese]

Fantasy Seiten [German, Deustche]

Fantasy Buch [German, Deustche]

>Literaturschock [German, Deustche]

Welt der fantasy [German, Deustche]

>Bibliotheka Phantastika [German, Deustche]

SF Basar [German, Deustche]

>Phantastick News [German, Deustche]

X-zine [German, Deustche]

>Buchwum [German, Deustche]

>Phantastick Couch [German, Deustche]

>Wetterspitze [German, Deustche]

Fantasy News [German, Deustche]

Fantasy Faszination [German, Deustche]

Fantasy Guide [German, Deustche]

>Zwergen Reich [German, Deustche]

Fiction Fantasy [German, Deustche]

How to User Twitter: 10 Things For All Beginners

...or how to not be annoying on Twitter!

Twitter isn't only a quick-blogging utility, but a social network that connects people all across the net, and even connects bloggers to their readers. That last bit is important, because for some reason folks are much more willing to communicate with you on Twitter than they are on your blog. Perhaps it's because Twitter is easy to use, or perhaps it's because when you're on Twitter you're talking about other stuff and it's an opportunity for readers to get to know you a little better. Whatever the reason, whether your followers or the people you want to follow you are readers, bloggers, random Interwebs people, family, or friends, you need to understand how to use Twitter properly so you don't become one of those folks that just about everyone ignores. The following are some good pointers you should follow when starting your Twitter account:
  1. Don't pick a name that is impossible to remember.
    Sdooiuv2407asdlj is not a good choice for a Twitter name. Seriously. It might have some sort of ridiculous significance to you (or not, if you're a bot), but to the rest of it is says "hey, I don't care that my Twitter makes me look like a poorly coded piece of computer software." Pick a name that allows people to identify with you. Mine is my actual name and others I know use their online aliases or even silly names that are at least readable.
  2. Post before you do anything else.
    Unless you were asked specifically to join Twitter from someone you know, and thus want to follow the person who referred you, do not go around following people on Twitter if you haven't posted. Most people with some sort of common sense will ignore you. You may very well be someone really interesting and worthy of their attention, but think of it like a job interview. If you show up to the interview wearing cheap cologne, a wife-beater, and moldy Dockers, do you really have to wonder why you didn't get the job? You've called and called for two weeks, but nobody has called you back. Why you?
    First order of the day is to post a bit.
  3. Post useful stuff.
    This is a difficult concept, I know, but important nonetheless. While you might read #2 and think, "Well, if I just post ten posts about how I don't understand Twitter, that will count," most people will take that to mean that you either don't care or have nothing interesting to say. The vast majority of us, including myself, started using Twitter without any idea what we were doing. It's okay. But don't expect people to follow you if all you post is annoying "I'm confused" stuff.
    Additionally, when you do start posting more, shall we say, thoughtfully, you should try to make those posts interesting somehow. If you're a funny person, maybe tell a quick joke. If not, talk about something that might be interesting to fellow Twitter users.
  4. Connect your Twitter to your blog.
    This is built into Twitter, which is quite awesome. Do it if you have a blog. It's a great way to get a boost in traffic and to start short conversations through the Twitter network! But make sure to post other things as mentioned in #3.
  5. Do not post loads and loads of links.
    Don't. Period. It's okay to connect your Twitter to your blog (as in #4), but if all you do is post links to things, particularly the same thing, then expect people to avoid you like the plague. It's annoying and probably should be illegal. If you want to spam, fine, but leave all of us alone with it.
  6. Do not repeat yourself over and over and over.
    Yes, you can say things a few times, but if all you do is repeat yourself like a parrot repeats a dying man's final words, then expect people to become annoyed with you as quickly as America gets fed up with its B-list celebrities. Offering the same content repeatedly does not work in the same way as brainwashing. If we didn't like it the first dozen times, we're probably not going to like it the next ten thousand times you try shoving it down our throats.
  7. Follow people with similar interests or people you know first.
    It's best to follow folks you know first (even if it's an Internet acquaintance) and then start looking for folks within your niche. You don't have to follow this one, but I find that following folks you know first proves beneficial for increasing your follower count.
    Additionally, following folks within your niche (whatever that niche may be) produces a lot of dialogue and introduces you to new faces. You don't have to follow a lot of them, which will be discussed shortly, but getting to know folks within your field of interest is a great way of finding people who aren't necessarily interested in the same thing, but share other interests. Such folks can also have nothing to do with your niche, but prove interesting anyway.
  8. Don't blanket-follow on Twitter or anything similar.
    By "blanket-follow" I mean following mass quantities of people all across the Twitter-verse. While it's great to go around finding new friends, it isn't necessarily a good thing. Think of Twitter as being a new form of instant messaging. If you randomly start messaging people, they're not very likely to listen to you and probably will block you, right? Well, same basic concept. Take it easy. Add a few people here or there, but don't add dozens and dozens of them every day. This doesn't apply to people who follow you first.
  9. Learn the lingo.
    Each individual post is a "tweet" and, depending on who you're talking to, Twitter users are known as "Twits." That last one is not an insult, so don't be afraid to use it. There are bound to be all sorts of slang terms I don't even know, and likely new ones will arise in the future. The big ones, however, are the ones you'll see all the time: "tweet" and "Twits." Don't sound like one of those old guys who has no clue what the on-button on a computer is.
  10. Twitter is about dialogue.
    True, Twitter may have been created as a way for folks to post short blurbs about their lives, but it's become much more than that now. The entire point of Twitter is to provide a different way for folks to communicate with one another. If you want to be successful on Twitter, even moderately so, then you need to be active and engaging in conversation. Don't be a social hermit. If you want to be a social hermit, stop coming on the Internet. There's no such thing as privacy on here anyway...
There you have it. Anything you think I should have put on here instead of something else?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Book Review Up: Ha'Penny by Jo Walton

I have another book review up over at SQT's blog. You can find my review of Ha'Penny by Jo Walton here. Previously I reviewed Farthing, but I think I've improved somewhat over the last year or so on my reviewing techniques. Of course, I'm always open to criticism and suggestions.


How To Be a Writer

...Or do you have what it takes?

I've talked about some aspects of this before, but I think it all bears repeating. Young writers constantly ask other people whether they have what it takes to be a writer. Often times they ask based on writing alone and when you think about it that's not the best approach. While it is important that you be a good writer, or even a fair writer, it's not the only thing you need to be concerned about. Being, or trying to be, a writer isn't easy, even if you're published. It's a rough road full of disappointment and rejection. It can be an emotional ride too.
With that in mind, here is a list of things that you need to do if you want to be a writer:
  • Practice
    You can't go from being an okay baseball player to a great player if you don't practice. Same with writing. Don't kill yourself, but you should write when you can.
  • Read
    Whether it be books on the craft, your favorite authors, or whatever, reading will teach you new things. For example, I learned ways to use the dash and the semicolon in fiction from authors who did it well.
  • Grow Thick Skin
    Learn how to take rejection. This is life. Whether it be an editor, a friend, some random person on the Interwebs, or someone in your writing group, you will get rejected and criticised. It's okay, though. If a story gets rejected, don't fret! Submit it elsewhere! Don't get ticked off at the editor. That's never a good idea.
    • Grow a Spine
      Don't be afraid of what people will think about you and your writing. Being afraid of criticism means you lock up all your writing and never let anyone see it. If you're okay with doing that, then no problem, but if you want your writing to be read by other people, well, then you have to put your writing out there!
  • Develop a Web Presence
    Some vote against this because it sucks time away from writing, but I recommend you try to get involved with potential readers now rather than later. You can make new friends, learn a lot about the craft and promotion, etc. It's up to you if you want to do this through a blog or just being a part of a social network or group.
  • The Will
    You can't just like to write. You have to have the desire to be published and the desire to do whatever it takes to get there (and when you get there, to do whatever it takes to make sure you can keep doing that--all within reason, of course). Plenty of people fail at this because they don't have the will to learn, to write, to do anything that is required of you to be a writer. This applies to any form of writing.
  • Be Gracious
    This is one that took me a while to learn. If someone is kind enough to look at your work and offer a critique, be sure to thank them! Don't spend your time arguing and disagreeing. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing on some things; not all of the changes another person suggests will be useful. But it doesn't help if you're going to be disrespectful of ungrateful. Remember, they put a lot of work into their critique for you (or, at least, they were supposed to).
  • Accept Failure
    Embrace it! Tack your rejections to your wall or laugh about them. It's important! You can't expect to win from the start and you can't let it get you down. Turn the emails or rejection letters into paper airplanes and toss them around the house or, if you're not the sentimental type, collect them together and have a bonfire!
If that isn't a good starter list, then I don't know what is! Any suggestions for things that should be included?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Video Found: Impact Simulation

I found this late last night and have to admit it's somewhat terrifying. I don't know how accurate it is as far as the science is concerned, but it still makes a valid point. Enjoy:

Academagia: My First Writing Job

As some of you may remember, I have been on the lookout for freelance writing jobs (still am, by the way--hint, hint). While perusing Craigslist I came across an interesting writing job for an online game that seemed like a mix between choose your own adventure and Harry Potter--with RPG mechanics. I contacted them to see if they still needed writers/editors and was told that I could be put on their backlist of candidates, since they had filled the full-time positions. I agreed and they sent me a prompt to see if I would be right for the position and...
Well, it turns out that I'm actually a good writer! My samples following their prompt turned out to be what they were looking for. Instead of being on a backlist, I was offered a contract job for the next four months. It's a small job, though. But for the next four months I will be writing for Academagia! My understanding is that the game is still in beta testing, however you can still sign up and of course you can check it out. It looks really promising and fun! And I get to write for it. I'm really stoked and generally happy about this (because that's probably a normal reaction to being told you're a good writer and being offered a job).
So, that's the news! I'm excited to be a part of this because I really do think the product is fun and worthwhile. It may not be original, but unlike other games with similar styles of game play, Academagia actually takes itself seriously, or at least its creators do. The game is well put together with gorgeous artwork and a steampunky interface.
But that's enough from me. I'm glad to be a part of this and thought you all should know about it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Review Up: One For Sorrow by Christopher Barzak

Well, I have another book review up. It's for an older book, but a really good book. Hope you enjoy!


Inside the Blogosphere: Question #12 (I'm in it!)

John of Grasping for the Wind has yet another Inside the Blogosphere feature up at his blog. Obviously I'm in it, because I've been in all of them...because I'm awesome or something like that. Or maybe it's because I like answering questions. That's it...

In any case, the question for #12 was:
Though we all know that some books only come out in certain formats, if the world were perfect and you could have a book in any published format, which do you prefer - hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, audiobook or ebook? Why?
What do you think?

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and God

Yahoo! Answers is a remarkably interesting place to go if you're interested in seeing what other people are saying about your favorite genre. Sometimes the responses are dead on and other times they're so outlandish that I'm left scratching my head. But, they do get me thinking, if not on a deep, intellectual level, then at that knee-jerk level that puts me in the mood to write something new.
One of the interesting discussions in science fiction is about the inclusion of God, or gods. While people in the United States are overwhelmingly Christian, there are plenty of people elsewhere in the world that believe in different forms of the same basic idea. We are, by default, a species of many beliefs, customs, and ideals.
With that in mind, I came across this question:
If God is mentioned in a story does it make the story science fiction?
I'm reading a story entitled "The Nine Billion Names of God" and it's considered a science fiction story, but why? Is it because of the notion of God or what?
And this response:
Yes, because God is not fact. Some people believe in it, but then again some people believe in dragons and unicorns. That's why it's science fiction.
I'm a bit perturbed by the complete lack of knowledge about science fiction and fantasy. Since the primary issues here are similar to the issues that rose out of the werewolves discussion from before, I'm going to try to focus on one rather alarmingly ignorant assumption: that science fiction is not about fact.
While it is true that science fiction is not necessarily about what is necessarily fact, the genre does arise out of a fact-based reality. The land of Middle Earth did not exist, while Mars and Jupiter do. It is also true that science fiction can often be rather outlandish in its portrayals of future peoples.
But what separates science fiction from fantasy is the very fact that it is intended to be about what is possible based on what we know at the time (this explains why many older science fiction stories are now out of date and completely ridiculous). The notion that something is science fiction simply because it isn't fact is an ignorant assumption. All fiction is fake. If it were real it would be called something else (which it is). The assumption intentionally ignores what science fiction is actually supposed to be and makes light of it as a genre. Fantasy is a more accurate fit for something not factual, because it is a genre about things that aren't established facts or established truths: people can fly or shoot fire out of their hands, or dragons, in the mythical sense, fly around burning villages while knight-like individuals run around in armored suits swinging their enchanted swords (and yes, I know that fantasy can be far more complex and interesting than this, but I'm making a point here). Science fiction is intended to be the genre of the possible, based on what is real.
To mention God in a story doesn't make it any sort of story, let alone science fiction. That's absurd. It's even more absurd to say that a story that mentions God is science fiction because God is not a fact. That would mean that any story with non-factual elements are automatically science fiction--and that's fortunately not true at all. Equally absurd is to say that because a story mentions spaceships it must be science fiction by default. Science fiction isn't a broad genre in the same sense as fiction. It's a narrowed field with parameters and logical limitations.
Moving to the specifics of the question, however, we find that the story "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke is not a story about a fantastical concept akin to, say, flying chipmunks or Greek gods. It's actually a story about monks wanting to calculate all the names of God because they believe that once that happens, the universe will end. Okay, sounds like fantasy right? Well, no. You could argue that the story is fantasy based on its ending, but because the story itself deals with an abstract religious concept and no God actually appears to wave his hand magically we can assume that perhaps the story is attempting to be more "current" and realistic.
The story is primarily about calculating the name of God--a scientific concept. The Monks believe they're really finding the names of God, but if you think about it you'll find that the Monks could be calculating anything, but are calling it something else. What if the names they are finding are related to astronomical signs or some such? A lot of questions can be raised once you've finished the story, and for good reason.
The ending, though, is the one section of "fantasy" because the universe does begin to end. Okay, but can that be explained? Perhaps. Clarke never provides the explanation. It could be mere coincidence, or it could be the end of the world as the Monks see it, or it could be something else entirely (perhaps calculating whatever is being calculated is some sort of early and quite twisted form of quantum physics). Ultimately, it doesn't matter. What matters is the overall story, and that story is clearly science fiction.
Science fiction is perfectly capable of dealing with God, religion, etc. It's capable of a lot of things, actually, but what must be true for a story to be science fiction is that the story and the science arise out of a realistic current reality. Otherwise it becomes fantasy. That's what I think, anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fall 2008 Wrap-up: Grade Results and Other Nonsense

Well, the fall quarter is over and much has happened in the last few months. From school to, well, more school, to my stack of review books getting taller and taller, it's been a busy three months! So, to keep you all up to date (under the delusion or assumption that you all actually care), here is a quick wrap-up of Fall 2008:
  • School started and ended.
    • Took three courses (two upper division and one grad course): LTEL 160 -- Postcolonial Writing, LTPR 131 -- Love and Madness in Medieval Literature, and LTMO 219 -- Feminist and Queer Theory.
      • Grades:
        LTEL 160 -- A
        LTPR 131 -- B+
        LTMO 219 -- A-
        • How do I feel about those grades?
          I'm happy with the A, generally happy with the A-, and not surprised by the B+. I'm not a medieval literature person, so the fact that I got a B+ and not a standard B is probably a good thing. I find analyzing older texts rather tedious and pointless. That's why I'm a modern literature major and not a classics major. I've heard most of the arguments about medieval literature before. The A- was actually not bad considering that it was a graduate school course rather than a standard course. I did remarkably well and learned a few things both for my writing and for my brain. Plus, my professor for that course was awesome.
  • Took the GRE (Graduate Record Exam, or the test you have to take in America if you want to go to an American graduate school!).
    • The results?
      Quantitative -- 650
      Verbal -- 550
      Analytical -- Not Available
      My reaction?
      Well, I killed on the quantitative and did well enough on the verbal. Overall I was pleased with my score.
  • Humanities Undergraduate Research Award won!
    • $500 coming my way to spend the next six months or so doing research for a paper. I'm hesitant to say it will have a definite length primarily because the more I think about this project, the more I am aware that it won't fit into anything shorter than a full-length book of literary criticism. So be it!
I suspect that that pretty much covers everything. Anything I'm missing that I failed to mention?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rejection: Artemis

From Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Phew, what a mouthful! It's all good because it and my compie story are off to new places (Asimov's and F&SF).


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Writing Projects: A Few Ideas

Over the course of the last few weeks I have been considering a number of new writing project ideas (and old ones, for that matter). Part of my reasoning for considering new projects is due to my complete lack of writing in the last few months brought on by the overwhelming stress of applying for graduate school (and school itself).

So, here are some things I'm thinking of doing:
  • Picture Stories
    I was looking at one of my avatars (one drawn by a friend that I've used for a while now, and recently changed) and thought about what a neat idea it would be to do stories based on artwork by people I know. The friend who drew that avatar, which you see to the left there, agreed to the idea and I'm thinking of talking to some other folks I know who draw. I expect the stories to be flash fiction pieces and they'd end up here. Some would be quirky, some would be serious. It all depends on the art.
  • WISB Stories
    Basically, short stories set in the world of Traea (the world that The World in the Satin Bag is set in). Part of this is to get me back into the world. I'm having a lot of issues with the sequel, partly because I'm in school and it's sucking up so much of my time and partly because of some plotting issues, that it might be a good idea to try this. Part of it might also work within the picture idea. Who knows.
  • Collaborative Project
    This is just a basic idea. I don't have any clue who I would do this with or what kind of collaborative project it would be, but I think it would be interesting to do some sort of collab with someone who has similar literary tastes. Maybe it would be some sort of back and forth involving connected, but separate stories. Or perhaps it would be a joint world building effort using the same concept.
  • Cross-Blog Dialogues
    This is an idea I've been tossing around with one of my blogging friends. The idea behind it is to have a sort of back and forth dialogue on some genre-related subject. It could work a lot of different ways, but it would be interesting to put a few people in direct dialogue with one another. If you are particularly into this idea, feel free to let me know!
Those are just a few ideas that I'm tossing around in my head. What do you think? Do you have any ideas? Comments welcome!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quick Movie Reviews: Volume Four

Here are a few more quickie reviews
(Other editions: Volume One, Volume Two, and Volume Three)

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Pros: Interesting and visually stimulating re-imagining of all the mythology surrounding Jules Verne's book of the same name. A movie that will likely grab the younger audience more than the adults. Good message too.
Cons: 3D is overrated and you can completely skip the 3D component of this film. Not a perfect film by a long shot and could have used with a more solid initial grounding of all the major issues of the story. Had a bit of a TV movie feel in the beginning.
Rating: 3/5

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Pros: Most of the important characters are back and some good action sequences.
Cons: Too many to list. Of most importance are the replacing of Rachel Weisz with a person who looks and acts nothing remotely the same to the Eve that we're familiar with, a highly disappointing showdown between Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li, too much obvious CGI, poor story, and annoying inconsistencies and chemistry between the actors. A deliciously flawed film that probably shouldn't have been made.
Rating: 1/5

Tropic Thunder
Pros: A pretty funny film. Robert Downey, Jr. pulls off one of the goofiest roles I've seen in the last few years and Matthew McConaughey is actually enjoyable. A
great look into the flawed lives of famous actors.
Cons: Ben Stiller is Ben Stiller...again.
Rating: 3/5

Saw V
Pros: Yet another interconnected and gory terror fest. Probably the best thing about this series is how every single addition somehow fits into the overall story.
Cons: Not nearly as good as the first few and probably an early marker that this series needs to end soon.
Rating: 3/5

Pros: An interesting take on a Philip K. Dick story with one hell of a twist that most people will hate, but I ended up loving. Rarely does a movie make me go "what the frak?" in a good way. If you like scifi, weirdness, and interesting themes around a person's moral responsibilities, then this is for you.
Cons: It is Nicholas Cage, who tends to be the same person over and over. This is one of his more enjoyable films, to be honest. It also unfortunately falls pray to its own fascinating devices.
Rating: 3.25/5

That's it for now!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas: Some Gift Ideas

Well, Christmas is right around the corner, so I thought I would plug some YWO merchandise to anyone interested. Here are a couple items that your favorite geek, social malcontent, or funny shirt person might enjoy (please note that all shirts come in men's and women's and you can adjust them somewhat by color or style if you decide you want to purchase one):
  1. "You can trust me. I'm from the Internet!"
    Comes in light colors (men's and women's) and dark colors (men's and women's) and would go well with your favorite collection of Firefox bookmarks and Wikipedia nonsense. Plus, it's funny!
  2. "I'm not spamming. I'm posting vital information. Just very quickly. Using only one word at a time."
    Who said that spamming wasn't a good thing? Wait...nevermind. Comes in light colors (men's and women's) and dark colors (men's and women's)!
And there are many more things at the YWO Zazzle Store! Check it out and get your favorite person a nice gift!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Comic: PC vs. Mac

I made this using a really nifty website called Strip Generator. Check it out for yourself and have fun!

SF Signal's MIND MELD: I'm in it!

I'm a bit late reporting this, but what the heck, right? I was recently in SF Signal's MIND MELD feature offering up a handful of my favorite reads for 2008 (and views too, since I mentioned some films and movies). You can find part one here (which I'm not here) and part two here (which I am in). Look at both though, because there are some huge names in this and a lot of great suggestions in case you're wondering what to get your science fiction/fantasy obsessed friend, boyfriend, fiance, husband, or family member!

That is all!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rejection: Nobody Gives a Crap About Compsagnathus

Got another rejection. This one was actually rather quick, which was surprising, but so be it. It's off to somewhere else!

That is all!

Video Found: An Adam and Eve Story (w/ a twist)

This is a really bizarre take on the Adam and Eve story. It's kind of creepy, to be honest. Check it out:

Should Science Fiction Be Taught in Schools?

I don't think the question should be whether it should be taught in schools, but whether there should be a larger variety of science fiction titles presented to students. Science fiction is already taught in most schools (at least in America). Some of the most popular science fiction stories taught in public high schools include 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and a select few other titles (Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card has become rather popular); some school curriculum already offer a varied diet of science fiction titles--kudos to them.

In my personal opinion, however, in directing my answer to this particular question: Yes, of course science fiction should be taught in public schools, but I believe that the same criteria for quality should be applied to science fiction as to any other genre of fiction. We teach Charles Dickens for a very specific reason, and similar reasons should be applied to science fiction novels (which are why the novels I mentioned above tend to be common). I simply think that there needs to be more variety. I don't think all science fiction texts should be taught, nor do I suggest that only the "classics" deserve a space. There are plenty of incredibly important science fiction novels that have sprung up in the last thirty years (such as William Gibson's work or Joe Haldeman, Arthur C. Clarke. et al). As such, there is a wealth of material available to the public and to schools that could beneficial for the teaching of modern forms of literature.

I personally feel that many of our schools place too much focus on "classic" forms of literature--particularly older work--and I see that as failing to prepare our students for the changes that have occurred in modern literature today. True, one's reading ability does not necessarily have to be advanced to read the vast majority of literature written today, but critical thinking is absolutely necessary to grasping the sometimes abstract or deeply-rooted concepts found within many great science fiction novels.

As to why I think science fiction should be taught: Science fiction is the literature of the future. It speculates upon the world we live in now to see where we might end up one day, whether that be 10 years ahead or 100 years ahead (or 1,000). As a genre it is important because many of the greatest science fiction novels do contain the depth and themes that make literature important to us. It is a genre that constantly questions and examines the human condition, which is precisely what literature is meant to do. That makes it an enormously important genre in preparing students for critically thinking upon the human condition. It also has a powerful influence on world perspectives and I find that the more I read science fiction the more I find that my own personal feelings about the world I live in now are put into question. While public schools aren't necessarily there to get students to challenge themselves, good literature will do this from time to time and it is important to expose the next generation of readers to such conditions.

That's the case I'm making for teaching science fiction in schools. What do you think? Do you have different opinions on the matter?