Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Leonard Nimoy

Yes, it's taken me this long to write this.

After the original pilot of Star Trek was shown to the network executives, Roddenberry was given an ultimatum. "Lose the woman or lose the alien."

He "Kept the alien and married the woman." (The original first officer, Number One, was played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry).

And in doing so he combined the two characters, giving the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock Number One's job...and her computer-like personality.

Which led to the creation of the Vulcans, and the creation of one of the most memorable alien characters in the history of science fiction.

The actor he chose to play the alien was a thirty-four year old unknown, a Ukrainian Jew who had previously only played bit parts, many of them uncredited.

This was Leonard Simon Nimoy, and Spock was the part that made him a household name. He invented the idea of the Vulcan nerve pinch and the familiar Live Long And Prosper salute - based off of kabalistic principles.

He was known as Spock, but he was many other things as well.

His other acting credits included Dr. William Bell in Fringe, General Konrad in Invasion America, Paris in the Mission Impossible TV show, John Walking Fox in Gunsmoke. Like just about everyone else he was in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Project Strigas Affair, along with...William Shatner. (Yes, they were both in the same episode).

He was a highly talented voice actor who did a lot of video game work and a fair bit of work for the Transformers franchise. And he was a poet, a singer/songwriter, a science show host, a stage actor (He did a run as Sherlock Holmes), a talented director, a skilled photographer and a pilot.

Oh, and he loved his fans. There wasn't much this man couldn't do, but to most of us, he will always be Spock. Including at some level to himself - his second autobiography was titled "I Am Spock."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Promotion Plans

In this day and age, authors keep hearing the question "What is your promotion plan?"

It's a reasonable question for a publisher to ask. They want to know that you're actually going to help some instead of just ducking back into your writing cave. (That lifestyle, sadly, is not available unless you're really famous and probably not even then).

Here's the thing, though. Unless you have an agent and are going to a big New York publisher - then authors need to ask smaller publishers the same question.

I recommend that before signing a contract, you ask the publisher what their typical per-book promotion is. And if they don't have a plan, what are they offering you that you can't do yourself?

If the answer is "We partner with authors on promotion" and that's all they will say, then you probably want to keep looking - because, sadly, that often means "We don't actually do anything. It's all on you." At which point you might as well pay the up front editing costs and then keep all the royalties - because they're not helping.

Look for answers such as "We have a good relationship with these reviewers." Or "We can try and get you a Kirkus Review" (very expensive for self publishers).

Ask who pays for promotional materials. If it's you, then what are they doing for their fifty percent? If the answer is that you pay for the ones you distribute and they also distribute materials they pay for - that's a lot more reasonable.

Do they have a good relationship with librarians and independent bookstores?

What can they do that you can't? That's probably a question all authors should be asking when they sign with a publisher.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

An interesting contemporary fantasy - and highly irreverent in its tone. Kevin Hearne's gods are just very powerful magicians. (And he implies, yes, that this does include Jesus and Mary, although it's not explicit).

Hounded touches all the bases - witches, vampires and werewolves show up, but not as much in the way of original creatures. His take on druidry is solid and he's done his research. And while his protagonist (first person) is at times insufferable, he does rather back it up. I'm not sure about some aspects of his characterization of the Morrigan, but he does keep her appropriately scary.

It's probably a funnier book than I found it - I enjoyed it, but could have done without the tea puns.

Oh, and Hearne knows his dogs, although there's a French poodle gag that gets old by the past page. Sorry. It was funny once. But the dog sidekick is written in a very entertaining way.

All in all, a pretty fun read, and remarkably little myth abuse given how many myths he's using.

Copy received at World Fantasy Con.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Updates

The layout files for the new Transpecial edition are done. I'm just waiting on getting cover art set up now.

Remember that the old version will be available through Musa's web site for a dollar until some time tomorrow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Helping Bees

Yeah. I have a bit of a thing for bees. I rather like having them around...and pollinating fruit for me.

Ironically, the best environment for bees is...cities. We don't spray as many pesticides and herbicides where most of us actually live. And urban beekeeping is on the rise.

Copenhagen Airport has also been "on the rise," planning a major expansion. Then they discovered a pond on the property they'd just purchased was home to an endangered species of toad. Oops. They left clear space around the pond - which is now overgrown and full of flowers. Somebody had the bright idea of renting space to some of Copenhagen's beekeepers.

Now airports all around the world are starting to get in on this. Airports waste a lot of space. Space you can't build on because it's too close to the runway. Why not bees? (Some airports are also providing grazing space to horse and large animal rescues).

And in another amazing development, Cedar and Stuart Anderson have invented a new way to harvest what the bees make.

The Flow frame is designed to encourage the bees to put their honey in an already partially formed comb (and if you were a bee, wouldn't you do that), from which the honey can be...tapped like a beer keg. No need to open the hive, no need to use smoke to calm the bees, no need to suit up. It's less stress on the bees - and much easier for hobby apiarists.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Proof...

...that humans will race anything, the first extraplanetary auto race will take place in late 2016, if all goes well.

Two teams - one American and the other Japanese - will race remote-controlled rovers on the moon. The purse, put up by Google, is $20 million. The point, of course, is to encourage the development of better robotics...and potential transportation designs for men and women who might one day live on, or more likely "in," the moon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Announcements, Good And Bad

I know it's not Friday, but I had to get this out there.

I was informed on Friday (but was unable to find a public announcement) that Musa Publishing will be closing its doors on the 28th.

This is not the venue, of course, to discuss the private business matters of the company.

The current edition of Transpecial will become unavailable. Due to the very short notice I had, I won't be able to release the second edition immediately - but I promise the book will be made available again as soon as is reasonably possible. For legal reasons, I need to redo the layout and obtain new cover art. I am also making some (very minor) editorial changes.

If you want to purchase the current edition, it's currently on sale for just a dollar from the Musa site - this is likely the lowest price at which this book will be available for a while, so feel free to take advantage.


The other announcement is that the SNAFU anthology "Wolves At The Door," containing my story Jester, is now available to werewolf lovers everywhere. It's received some very good reviews so far.

Wolves At The Door.