Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(Belated) December Links & Things

Whoa... hard to believe that we're in week four of January and I still have yet to post my December links and things. I do have a lot of excuses, like the holidays (and recovery from same), multiple computer, software, and network issues (some good, including a new ASUS Zenbook; most not so good; but all very time consuming), as well as a huge project -- 271,000-plus words! -- I just proofed and copyedited for Night Shade Books (The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six, edited by Jonathan Strahan1) that took far longer than I had anticipated. And I'm still dealing with the aftermath of my mother's passing: emails, phone calls, photocopying, meetings, forms to complete and notarize, and yet another trip to Southern California planned for next week.

But, as they say -- whoever "they" are -- that's life. And better that than the alternative, to be sure.

In fact, by the time I finish typing up and posting these December links it will be time to type up January's links... sigh....

I want to remind you that February 3 is the deadline to sign up for the last Alien Contact giveaway, hosted by SciFiChick.com. The giveaway is open to US residents (a print copy giveaway) and non-US residents (an ebook copy giveaway). So follow the link to SciFiChick.com, read my guest blog post entitled "Twenty-six Stories, Twenty-six Weeks..." and be sure to sign up for the giveaway.

And speaking of Alien Contact: Michael at The Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review blog just posted his December Reading Log, and he had these kind words to say about the anthology:
Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern – Ranging from first contact and last contact to vacationers visiting an alien's home world and being, typically, obnoxious guests, Alien Contact compiles one of the most diverse collections of modern stories concerning the "other." Highly recommended....

Now, on to the links: This is my belated monthly wrap-up of December's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern; or Friending me on Facebook (FB). Note, however, that not all of my tweeted/FB links make it into these month-end posts. There is a lot of content this time around, so please return for a second visit if you need to to take full advantage of all the links. Previous month-end posts are accessible via the "Links and Things" tag in the right column.

  • Since I'm encouraging you to follow me on Twitter, here are teasers from Angela James's (@angelajames) "10 things authors should know about Twitter": 1) When you start your tweet with the @ symbol... 2) If you have your tweets protected... 3) You should not, really ever, I mean never, query or pitch an editor or agent on Twitter... 4) Please don't use Twitter DMs (or Facebook messages) to do business... 5) Just because the editor/agent is on Twitter at 11pm on a Friday night... 6) When we say you should "engage" on Twitter... 7) You should be talking about other people's books... 8) And while we're on the subject of promotion... 9) It's a good idea to be mindful... and 10) Twitter should be fun. For all the details: Angela James's blog. (via @ColleenLindsay)
  • In 1963, at the ripe old age of sixteen, Bruce McAllister (1988 Hugo and Nebula awards finalist for "Dream Baby"; 2007 Hugo Award finalist for "Kin") sent out a 4-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors to learn if "they consciously planted symbols in their work." Remember, this was long before the internet and email: the authors had to be tracked down, envelopes addressed and mailed, etc. He hoped the surveys would "settle a conflict with his English teacher by proving that symbols weren't lying beneath the texts they read like buried treasure awaiting discovery." Bruce has been sitting on 65 of those responses for all these years, and thanks to the Paris Review, we can now view many of these questionnaire responses from the likes of Jack Kerouac, Ayn Rand, Ralph Ellison, Ray Bradbury, John Updike, Saul Bellow, and Norman Mailer. This is amazing stuff! Not to be missed! The PR article was posted on December 5; on December 17, less than two weeks later, PR Online reported that they had 120,000 page views of the McAllister survey article -- the most page views they've ever had!

  • Ari Marmell (@mouseferatu) on the need for professional editing in a blog post entitled "Pro Means Pro": "I'm not going to identify the novel or the author. What I will say is that this was a self-published novel on Kindle, written by someone who has published multiple books with major publishers in the past, and whose past books I very much enjoyed....Formatting-wise, though? Error-wise? A disaster of brobdingnagian proportions....You want to be a pro? You want people to treat you as a pro, and the burgeoning field of modern self-publishing as a professional one? Act it." (via L. L. Soares's FB page)
  • "I can't plot my way out of a paper bag," begins Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) in blog post "Write Fast. Fail Hard." She goes on to say: "At some point, you have to make a choice. You can continue to focus on your strengths, and create the most epic worldbuilding/character wandering novel ever that you can never sell, or you can tuck those talents into your hindbrain and put them on autopilot while you actively concentrate on what you’re bad at."
  • Kay Kenyon (@kaykenyon) welcomes guest blogger Brian McDonald, an award-winning writer/director/producer, who shares with readers "What is the job of a storyteller?": "Notice that in the title for this piece, I said storyteller rather than writer. That is because it is my belief that we use the wrong verb to describe what we do....We know that stories existed long before anyone learned to write them down. We know that those cultures that were late in adopting written language had a long tradition of storytelling. Would you call people with no concept of writing 'writers'?... In my book The Golden Theme I explore the idea of why human beings tell stories. Why does every culture on earth tell stories? Because stories teach us to survive. This is why stories need conflict – because conflict is what we need to learn how to survive. No one needs to learn how to survive the good times." McDonald goes on to call the storyteller "a noble and important job."
  • A book I recently added to my own library is Rudy Rucker's (@rudytheelder) autobiography Nested Scrolls (Tor Books). io9 has posted an excerpt from Rucker's book entitled "The Death of Philip K. Dick and the Birth of Cyberpunk." Here's an excerpt from the excerpt: "I first met my fellow cyberpunks Sterling, Gibson, and Shiner in September of 1983 at a world science fiction convention in Baltimore.... Gibson was a remarkable guy, and I liked him immediately. He was tall, with an unusually thin and somewhat flexible-looking head. At one of the con parties, he told me he was high on some SF-sounding drug I'd never heard of. Perfect. He was bright, funny, intense, and with a comfortable Virginia accent.... I met the other canonical cyberpunk, John Shirley, two years later, in 1985, when he and I were both staying with Bruce and Nancy Sterling in Austin, Texas, in town for the North American science fiction convention, which was featuring a panel on cyberpunk. John was a trip. When I woke up on Sterling's couch in the morning, he'd be leaning over me, staring at my face. 'I'm trying to analyze the master's vibes,' he told me...." Not to be missed.2
  • James Gunn, Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, has announced a new magazine, Ad Astra, which is now open for submissions. "We are looking for submissions that express the idea of gathering knowledge and sharing it with others as a central element of the story or article." Check the link for submission guidelines. (via Cynthia Ward's FB page)
  • From mediabistro.com's @ebooknewser: "John W. Campbell...is widely considered one of the giants of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. While he is not a famous author, he was the editor in chief of Analog SF Magazine. He held this post from late 1937 until his death in 1971....[This free ebook] is a collection of the editorials that Campbell wrote in most of the issues of Analog. But it's not a complete set, just the ones that were selected by Harry Harrison." This free ebook is available from the Internet Archive in a variety of formats, including PDF, Kindle, and mobi.
  • And mediabistro.com's @galleycat reports that the mysterious Voynich Manuscript is now available for viewing online courtesy of the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. From the library: "Written in Central Europe at the end of the 15th or during the 16th century, the origin, language, and date of the Voynich Manuscript—named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912—are still being debated as vigorously as its puzzling drawings and undeciphered text. Described as a magical or scientific text, nearly every page contains botanical, figurative, and scientific drawings of a provincial but lively character, drawn in ink with vibrant washes in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red."
  • From Reuters via Yahoo!news: Action Comics No. 1, which featured the debut of Superman, and with a cover price of 10-cents when it was published in 1938, has sold in an online auction for a record $2.16 million. U.S.-based ComicConnect described it as "the most important comic book in the history of comics.... What makes this copy so special...is it's the highest graded copy known to exist -- it's a 9.0 on a scale of one to 10." (via @AuthorAnswers)
  • SPACEdotcom reports that the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office launched a secret robotic space plane, the X-37B, on March 5, 2011. The vehicle was boosted into Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas 5 rocket. As of November 30 -- 270 days later -- the spacecraft was nearing an orbital flight record. When this flight finally does end, "it is designed to carry out an automatic guided-entry-and-wheels-down runway landing, likely at Vandenberg Air Force Base, with neighboring Edwards Air Force Base serving as a backup." The article links to a set of 20 very cool photos.


1. If I may be so bold as to promote myself, Jonathan Strahan (@Jonathan Strahan) sent out this tweet after receiving the page proofs copyedits:
Hats off to @martyhalpern for another topnotch copyedit job on the Best of the Year. Along with @lossrockhart an unsung hero of the series!
2. I personally know, and have visited with, Rudy Rucker; I interviewed him back in the '80s for a small 'zine; and I recently wrote about these meetings and interview in a blog post about PKD and Rudy Rucker, completely unrelated to Rucker's autobiography.

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