Monday, November 1, 2010

October Links & Things

This is my monthly wrap-up of October's Links & Things; you can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern. But in these month-end posts, in addition to the links themselves, I include more detail and comments. Note, too, that not all of my tweeted links make it into these posts.

  • If you read short fiction, then you are most likely aware that, early last year, Sovereign Media ceased publishing Realms of Fantasy magazine. Warren Lapine and Tir Na Nog Press then purchased the rights to RoF and, after a few months hiatus, resumed publication with the August 2009 issue. I copyedited the next eight issues -- from October 2009 through December 2010, which has since become the magazine's final issue -- yet again, unfortunately. Warren Lapine has posted a Farewell Message explaining the magazine's demise. There are rumors of interested parties, one of whom may inevitably purchase RoF, but only time will tell if we will ever see another new issue. In the meantime, through the courtesy of the publisher, you can view/download the December 2010 issue of Realms of Fantasy. If you're not familiar with this magazine, I think you'll be surprised at the quality of the material, particularly the short stories. Enjoy! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank editor Doug Cohen: he respects his staff, which is most important, and every other month I could always count on the next issues' files arriving in my inbox on the specified date.

  • Sheila Finch's novel Reading the Bones was the first major freelance project I worked on for Tachyon Publications. The book, published in 2003, was an expansion of Sheila's Nebula Award-winning novella of the same name, originally published in the January 1998 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. The novella is part of the author's Xenolinguist (aka "lingster") series of stories. The online Oxford English Dictionary (OED), credits Sheila with coining the term "xenolinguist" in 1988. Read more of the Xenolinguist series in her recent blog post: "The Evolution of a (Fictitious) Universe."

  • During my one year as an acquiring editor for Fantastic Books, two of my acquired titles saw publication: Judith Moffett's long-out-of-print first novel Pennterra, and gonzo novel Fuzzy Dice by Paul Di Filippo, which had been previously published only as a limited edition by a British small press. [Note: I use the cover of FD as my icon for both Twitter and Fasebook.] John Berlyne has a review of Fuzzy Dice in the October issue of SFRevu: "Where he is most successful is in his depiction of abstract and/or abstruse ideas. He is able to convey these illustrative situations without straying into the surreal and it is a testament to Di Filippo's skill and imagination that he is able to share his visions with the reader with such extraordinary clarity."
  • Before you start whining about all your rejection letters, about the fact that you're not some hugely popular author, you just might want to read Robert "Bob" Weinberg's account of his experiences in publishing and why Hellfire: Plague of Dragons may just be the best damn dragon art book you will never see.

  • managed to bring together Rhys Hughes and Bruce Sterling in "Bruce Sterling: The Complete Interview." When Rhys asked Bruce about the difference between his methods of research now and when he first began writing, specifically with reference to Google, Bruce responded: "...let's consider an obscure, dusty figure like, say,...Massimo Taparelli, Marquis d'Azeglio (October 24, 1798 – January 15, 1866), the author of the Italian historical novels, Niccolò dei Lapi and Ettore Fieramosca....No American should properly know anything about this man. It took me 57 seconds to research that on Google, and that included cutting and pasting the text here. The peril comes in thinking, as a modern writer, that you can truly understand something about Massimo Taparelli in just 57 seconds. No, you can't. To access facts is not to understand them." You're in for a treat in this interview with Bruce Sterling, a modern-day sage. (via @daj42)

  • Charles Stross, never one to mince words, posts a new essay entitled "The hard edge of empire," in which he skewers the current deluge of Steampunk fiction: "What would a steampunk novel that took the taproot history of the period seriously look like?... It would share the empty-stomached anguish of a young prostitute on the streets of a northern town during a recession, unwanted children (contraception is a crime) offloaded on a baby farm with a guaranteed 90% mortality rate through neglect. The casual boiled-beef brutality of the soldiers who take the King's shilling to break the heads of union members organizing for a 60-hour work week. The fading eyesight and mangled fingers of nine-year-olds forced to labour on steam-powered looms, weaving cloth for the rich. The empty-headed graces of debutantes raised from birth to be bargaining chips and breeding stock for their fathers' fortunes...." And in addition to Charlie's diatribe against steampunk literature, you may want to tackle the more than 265 Comments. (via @daj42)

  • I've been a subscriber to Jane Straus's E-Newsletter for quite some time, but just realized I haven't mentioned it previously in this column. So, that changes right now. Ms. Straus does try to sell you her book on grammar, but not obtrusively, and the website contains useful -- and free -- information, like grammar, punctuation, and capitalization rules, commonly confused words, interactive English quizzes, and more. On the website, you can also subscribe to the weekly E-Newsletter: each issue focuses on an English rule, with examples as well as a quiz.

  • And speaking of the E-Newsletter, I was catching up on my reading and one of the September issues pointed me to an article by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post entitled "Goodbye, cruel words: English. It's dead to me." According to Weingarten, "The language's demise took few by surprise. Signs of its failing health had been evident for some time on the pages of America's daily newspapers...The Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal has written of 'spading and neutering.' The Miami Herald reported on someone who 'eeks out a living' -- alas, not by running an amusement-park haunted house. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star described professional football as a 'doggy dog world.' The Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald and the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune were the two most recent papers, out of dozens, to report on the treatment of 'prostrate cancer.'" A slick condemnation of the news media.

  • On, Charlie Jane Andrews (@charliejane) provides us with "5 situations where it's better to tell than show in your fiction": 1) Your characters all know something your reader doesn't; 2) There are too many mysteries; 3) You have too much insane backstory; 4) You can think of a more entertaining way to tell than to show; and 5) It gets in the way of the emotional potency of your story. For all the details, including examples and some very cool Golden Age SF cover art, you'll have to read the article.

  • Movies based on the work of Philip K. Dick are once again in the news. In a July 29 press release, Columbia Pictures announced that Len Wiseman would direct the remake of Total Recall, a film based on the PKD story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." And on October 21, the Hollywood Reporter noted that actor Collin Farrell is at the top of the list to star in Total Recall. In other PKD film news, Scott Edelman (@scottedelman), editor at, writes about a new BBC series: "[Ridley] Scott's Scott Free Productions has teamed up with Freemantle, Headline Pictures and Electric Shepherd to adapt The Man in the High Castle, Dick's 1962 novel set 14 years after a World War II in which the U.S. was defeated by Japan and Germany." The Man in the High Castle won the 1963 Hugo Award for best novel.

  • has a sardonic piece by Michael Savitz entitled "Confessions of a Used-Book Salesman," and subtitled: "I spend 80 hours a week trawling junk shops with a laser scanner. I don't feel good about it." As the author says, in the used-book business, "One man's trash is, of course, nearly always another man's trash." (via @RickKlaw)

  • And the last entry is from Newser LLC with the headline: "NASA Plans to Send Men to Mars, Leave Them There." This is the hundred-year spaceship project. I found it interesting, though, that there was no mention of "women" being sent to Mars, and elsewhere....

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