I completed two hard-deadline projects the first week in January, which is why you're reading my December Links & Things in this, the second week of the new year. The first project, working on the PDF layout for the February issue of Realms of Fantasy, is the subject of my previous blog post in which I shared some of the problems I encountered using the new Adobe Reader X. My second project was the new Darger and Surplus novel Dancing with Bears -- which I reviewed and copyedited -- by Michael Swanwick and forthcoming in May from Night Shade Books. And as I type this, the fifteen manuscript files for the April Realms of Fantasy have just arrived in my Inbox.
This is my monthly, though occasionally late, wrap-up of Links & Things; you can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern. Note, however, that not all of my tweeted links make it into these month-end posts.
- Paul Di Filippo, one of the contributing authors to my co-edited anthology Is Anybody Out There? brought to my attention this BBC News article: "Why haven't we found aliens yet?" by Alex Hudson. The article covers most of the basic theories, and people, that are oft-quoted on this subject -- except this one: "Philosophy Professor Nick Bostrom, of Oxford University, has even posed the question whether humans are living in a computer simulation created by beings with a superior intellect. In this model, other beings would not be created within that programme." Interesting thought, that we are residing in some greater beings' virtual Earth....
- The classic "psychic warrior" novel Dream Baby -- one of the best war novels I have ever read -- written by my friend, author Bruce McAllister, is finally back in print from CreateSpace. One of the book's blurbs is from James Sandos, Intelligence Officer, US Air Force, Southeast Asia: "Dream Baby captures the combat experience as few novels do and unmasks our 'secret war' -- the one that still hasn't really been revealed. This is one of the few Vietnam novels that will last." Check out this book if you haven't yet read it. The novel is based on the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-nominated novella of the same name.
- So, you think that as a writer and blogger you're all alone in the world? Well, you're really not alone, per se, just by yourself. Josh Duboff at The Awl shares with us his experiences in "The Night Blogger Blogs Alone." Josh writes: "One thing that happens is that you stop speaking altogether. One Thursday afternoon, shifting between various gchats -- all with friends bored in their cubicles at offices across the city -- I realized that I hadn’t said a word out loud in close to 18 hours. So I said 'test' out loud. For a split second, before the word came out, I was actually worried about whether or not I was still able to speak. After I found that I could, I then worried about the fact that I had been legitimately worried about this." (via @Mediabistro)
- And speaking of blogging, Warren Whitlock's Best Seller Book Marketing blog has a guest post by Denise Wakeman entitled "13 Mistakes Authors Make on Their Blogs." Denise breaks out the 13 mistakes into three categories: Content, Design, and Marketing. She adds: "I've discovered several common mistakes authors make with their blogs. Most aren't using features available with blogging software. Eyes glaze over with the mention of RSS, pinging, trackbacks and permalinks. Does this describe how you feel? You may be ignoring these things, hoping you don’t really need to know. But you do if you want great results from you book blog." (via @WarrenWhitlock by way of @BookBuzzr)
- If you've read Damon Knight's Creating Short Fiction then you'll be familiar with the concept of "Fred" -- if not, then you need to read this "Classic Guide to Writing Short Fiction" (that's the subtitle, by the way), like now! -- then you'll enjoy Jonathan Danz's (@JonathanDanz) blog post entitled "Working with Fred" wherein the author briefly quotes from Knight's book and also Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
- I've never met Bud Webster, I only know him by reputation, by his writings. He has a new column in the upcoming issue #15 of Black Gate. But he kicks off that new column with an introduction entitled "What I Do and Why I Do It." Bud writes: "I've got this problem, see. I'm not the only one, of course, I'm sure you know all too many others with the same problem, only in different areas: gamers, motorheads, movie freaks, sports goobers, NASCarians, record dweebs, comic nerds, Star Trek dorks, computer yahoos, stereo-tweaks. Me, I'm a book-geek. More specifically, a science-fictional book-geek." This new Black Gate column, entitled "Who?!" will focus on SF and fantasy writers you probably haven't heard of, but really should know about -- and read! -- like Tom Reamy and Margaret St. Clair, to name just two. By the way, Bud is like the expert on SF anthologies and their place in genre history; more can be had from his book Anthopology 101: Reflections, Inspections and Dissections of SF Anthologies. Here are links to the book's preface and the contents listing.
- Having a blog entitled "More Red Ink," I'm somewhat partial to this blog I recently discovered called "The Blood-Red Pencil." Mystery writer (and guest blogger) Patricia Stoltey writes a two-parter on Self-Editing and Critique Groups. Though I would insist that every author needs their work critiqued in some fashion, I have mixed feelings about the value of writers groups/critique groups specifically. Such a group works for some writers, for others, not so much. A lot, too, depends on the quality and makeup of any particular group. In Part I, Patricia provides some comments from others on critique groups, and lists her guidelines for organizing a critique group. "The purpose of a critique group is to help members improve their writing skills through revisions and competent self-editing, guide other members toward publication, and provide encouragement and motivation along the way. The critiques need to be honest, but must be respectful and supportive, whether written or verbal....The decision whether or not to implement these suggestions belongs to the author." Part II provides some guidelines and procedures for submitting work to the group and how the group critiques a manuscript. Between the two posts there are more than 15 comments that you may find of value as well. (via @galleycat)
- Author and scientist Geoffrey A. Landis, via Facebook, pointed me to UGO Entertainment's website, which has a post featuring "The 100 Best Movie Spaceships: From Cape Canaveral to galaxies far, far away, these are the vessels to travel around the Multiverse." And the more than one hundred comments go on to list all the spaceships that the article overlooked!
- Now that you've checked out those 100 best movie spaceships, how about checking out the real thing? The "secret" X-37B robot space plane made its first -- and may I add, successful -- landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on December 3. The X-37B looks like the space shuttle, only a much smaller version, flies robotically, and can be used to resupply the International Space Station in the future. Universe Today has some great close-up pics and a vid of the actual landing. (The FLIR video is very cool.) And on December 8, SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. The Dragon spacecraft will be used to resupply the International Space Station, but it has been designed to eventually carry astronauts to and from space. More fine photos and video.