Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bloc Party

The new Bloc Party album isn't due until next Tuesday, but it's streaming for free right now over at their MySpace page. Give it a listen. The last record was outstanding; I'm not feeling this one yet. Sometimes it takes a couple listens.

Children of Men

I failed to mention before I did see "Children of Men" a couple weeks back, making the trek on bus to Cedar Falls, where all interesting films roost for a week or so. I loved the film, top to bottom, and today I found an absolutely fantastic post regarding it at the Valve, which in turn is part of a larger series of posts about the apocalypse in writing. That discussion is also part of a larger dialogue around the web that's been going on in recent days. All of it is very worthwhile reading, so check it out. Lots of food for thought.

Read Ben's review of the film, and also the Strange Horizons review.

Tidbits:

The Hubble Space Telescope went blind.

Neptune may have literally thousands of escorts following it through space. The most interesting part about this is what it suggests about the planet's early history: it may have been like a snowball drifting through the outer solar system, picking up material (Triton?) and interacting with other objects (Pluto?).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Top Soil

The surface of Mars is devoid of life due to intense cosmic radiation - but underneath...

This brings so much new meaning to the term hackjob. Shame these writers aren't alive today to take scissors to these misguided people's work - you know, their computers and all those expensive wires in and out of them.

Ben saw Pan's Labyrinth before me. That's because I was throwing up all weekend. Thank you stubborn flu virus. Between that and work, writing has been slow, but I managed a little writing yesterday, which was productive. I'm working my way through a revision of the second book in the BDE as I ramp up to writing the third, and there's a lot of relandscaping. Ideas and presentations are evolving all the time, I'm getting new ideas all the time, and part of me wishes you could just set these down, let them be part of a past. I wish I could say I'm moved on and evolved myself as a writer and this is my work then, and this is my work now. But I'm still in that gestation period as a novelist, I think. I'm in utero, and there's no past until you're born. I won't be until these novels are, whenever that may be.

Got to love this: the U2-charist.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Anniversaries

NASA marks a trio of consecutive tragedies this week, observing the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, the 21st anniversary (which seems impossible) of the Challenger, and the fourth anniversary of the Columbia disaster, all of which fall disturbingly close together.

I posted my thoughts on the Challenger last year, so I think I'll let them do the talking again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Winter Blues

My new crush:



The future of the moon, with lots of sweet lunar links.

I've got those sucky winter blues. Comes from being sick, poor, stuck between bills, sick, poor... and in all that I'm in a funk writing wise. Can't seem to get anything going, and when I do find a few hours (yeah, right - a few minutes) to write, it's usually me thinking, "Hey, I need to add a chapter to my brick of a novel that elaborates in detail the socio-economic history of a particular family, as it relates to the larger society, because it's not boring enough." So, yeah. Bright shiny times. I am making a little progress. I trimmed quite a bit today, after basically rewriting an entire major scene in a pivitol chapter of the second book in the Big Damn Epic. I hadn't looked at this scene in about a year, and I was surprised at how sloppy it was. I remembered it being much tighter. It seemed slow and scattered, and confused. So I cut all the fat, pancaked some action, and really worked on varying the rhythm of the sentences and paragraphs - there's a lot more single sentence paragraphs in this section than anywhere else - to help along the pace.

I have a short story I want to write, and no energy to do it. I am sad.

Friday, January 19, 2007

0 To 60 WPM

Caitlin R. Kiernan writes on her blog today about the old fast vs. slow writer 'debate' which is sort of the literary equivilent of the blonde vs. brunette debate in that it's not really a debate at all. Doesn't stop lots of people from going over it from time to time though. I have never equated speed with quality. Novels are like wine - they take as long as they take to mature. If that's 28 days or 28 months, does it matter? I write fast. I think you write as fast as you think. I can turn out five pages in a couple of hours - but then I can spend days or weeks going over it because everything is not illuminated to me on the first go around. I've spent years with my novels, refining them, evolving them, and in that sense, I'm a very slow writer. So is it both? Does it matter?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Buried Under The Weather

Friend and artist Matt Hanneman has his excellent Effingham strip up on the web for your viewing pleasure, so check it out.

The last week or more I have had the worst case of flu in a very long time. I passed out twice (and fell down) from dizzy spells that hit me out of the blue like a linebacker. I sweated away a few pounds in night sweats. I had seriously deranged delierious dreams that invloved at one point the aforementioned Matt and his wife Lisa's apartment, but not their apartment, overrun by some sort of jungle growth that wasn't jungle growth. Neither seemed too worried about the foilage.

Ben had some good posts on his blog about Regina Spektor (he bought the CD!) and the subject of the ubiquitous/tired/cliched trilogy format that you find so common in sci-fi/fantasy publishing. It's not even trilogies much any more - the cycles tend to be longer nowadays, or just run open-ended. Sugu has been trying to lobby me off the trilogy format for a long time, not so much because of the kitsch (is it kitsch? Trilogies aren't confined to the genres, they're everywhere, even on Broadway with Tom Stoppard's new Utopia series) but because he thinks three books is too limiting a scope for what I've going on. My problem is I really love the three act structure. I spent a lot of time honing it just right, and I'm reluctant to break it up. I love the economy of three books, and I would like to leave people wanting more. But unless I get feeling better soon, there's not going to be any third book much less fourth or fifth.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tickle Me Elmo's Fire

Probably the greatest video ever.

Margaret Atwood, with Bill Moyers, on myth.

The Pillars of Creation may have been destroyed by a supernova and we won't see it for a thousand years yet.

Regina Spektor on YouTube.

You'd think in a day and age when Apple is combining cell phones and iPods that the literary community of magazines, journals and publishers would have long since abandoned the wasteful, costly, and time consuming practice of demanding hard copy submissions. I dislike printing out my book, or short stories, and sending it out en masse mainly because I'm poor and the cost of ink, paper, and postage negates the possible return in most cases; you'd think the magazines and journals deluged with stacks of paper submissions would gleefully embrace e-subs for practical purposes, but many haven't. I can't think of any other craft that the internet age seems more disposed to, but the community resists, in large part I think because of its own age. It's the paper vs. e-book thing. People fear technology will strip literature of its one tactile element and with it, its identity. Reading is more than reading, it's holding the book or story or submission in your hand, marking it up in the margins, earmarking the pages. That I understand. E-books don't appeal to me. Saving every penny does, though.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hairy Tail Come True

So there's a new comet out there that showed up out of the blue, and no sooner had I read this article yesterday, than I saw it before sunrise this morning on my way to work. It's in the east, fairly low on the horizon, and about as bright as Venus right now. I figured I'd have to have binoculars out in the country, but it's very visible in the city and I bet it will get even brighter as the week goes on. I love comets - one of the biggest disappointments of my life had to be Halley's back in '86, the bust of the century - but I saw two in the same year, '96, I think, which may have been better than Halley; the one only comes around every 5000 years.

There may be life on Mars after all, and we might have killed it.

Pluto gets its revenge, in words.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Moon River

There's no doubt any more that Saturn's moon Titan is a world of rivers and lakes. Methane rivers, so you know, no smoking on the boat.



The Martians are attacking us with catapults, and last but not least, the Buffy sensation that's sweeping the nation.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Disappearances

Very pleased to announce that the very excellent Storyglossia magazine accepted my short story "Keeping Up Disappearances" for Issue 19, due in April. The story is about a once almost-famous actress caught up in the media frenzy that develops around the disappearance of a little girl in her hometown.

So the new year is off to a nice start writing wise. Hopefully it will continue. Overall, I look forward to things improving. Since it got pretty damn bleak last year, it won't take much to let a little light in. I have a new computer (finally), a new job, and a new outlook on some things that used to bother me quite a bit. You get to a point in life where you begin to live with your troubles - well past the point of fatigue, like the country is right now with this war - and you lose the power or will to oppose them. You feel like there's nothing that can be done except endure a train wreck unfolding not in seconds but in years. But then you snap out of it. Whatever survival instinct you have kicks in and you start moving again, out of the way of the train, and you leave a lot of crap you thought was important once behind. 2007 I hope will be a year of simplification and clarity. Economy. In both senses of the word, because I'm still a starving artist. But simple. I would very much like for things to be simple now.