Friday, April 21, 2017

Stepping Out Of The Science Fiction Ghetto

Hands up who has read something that isn't science fiction recently?

How about actually talking to writers in other genres?

We tend to kind of...hang out off to our side. Part of it is because most of us have had some experience reminding us that "mainstream" and, worse, "literary" writers don't want to take science fiction and fantasy seriously unless it's written by a guy named Tolkein.

(I still have unfond memories of my high school English teacher telling my parents to throw out "all that crappy science fiction" because "She's too smart to read that").

Of course, things have definitely improved. Science fiction and fantasy are now taught at the college level in some places. But we still tend to live in our little ghetto and interact with other writers mostly at conventions, where we can be absolutely sure not to run into somebody who writes memoirs or contemporary romance.

And I think that's kind of sad at some levels - because we have a lot to learn from other writers and a fair amount to teach.

Which is part of why I spent a good chunk of today at a "Writing Salon" at the National Gallery of Art - where I suspect I was the only speculative fiction writer. (I certainly didn't see anyone there I knew). There will be more in the fall - and I actually recommend the program for writers of all levels...and all genres. In this case, the topic was setting.

It's worth reminding ourselves that good characters, beautiful settings and well-crafted plots are not genre-specific.

(And that the setting of your work is a character in its own right).

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Tesla has promised to unveil an all-electric semi in September. This is probably a first step to electric, autonomous trucks...and another disruption in the economy. (Lower prices, but what about the drivers?)

Actually getting electric semis on the road is going to be a challenge, though - the same charging infrastructure being built for cars is probably not going to work for the big rigs.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1,000 Statues at least...

...and no curses yet. But the tomb of a judge in Luxor has revealed statues of, well, pretty much every king of Egypt up to that date. Well, of the judge and others - given he wasn't that important, they re-used his tomb a few centuries later.

They expect to find more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Latest...

...distraction for space lovers. NASA has released a database of all of the space agency's images and videos. I'm avoiding it, but for those with a bit more free time it's here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Preliminary Thoughts on Bill Potts and Class

So - finally, Dr Who is back. And Class is finally in the US (BBC, I understand why you did it the way you did, but I'm still annoyed).

Bill Potts - I like her already. The dudebros will no doubt argue that the opening episode focused too much on her sexuality - but I'd point out the storyline would have worked just as well with any gender combination. The episode itself, "The Pilot," was Dr Who in its best place - the intersection of science fiction and horror, with the horror elements creepy rather than intense. It wasn't "Blink." I'm wondering if the very brief Dalek cameo was satisfying the Nation contract and we won't see much more of the Daleks. On the other hand, we last left Missy... Distracted! Back to Bill Potts. Pearl Mackie is an able actress, the character has a sassy edge to her that was very much lacking in Clara or Amy. As an Ace fan they missed an easter egg opportunity - the Doctor actually is a Professor in this episode. Guys, guys...missed opportunity.


Very mixed reviews of the show in general, both viewer and critical. I liked it. Rumors that it has already been axed are false - likely no decision will be made until they know how it is received in the US (bear in mind that the BBC gets more money from America than Britain these days). The first episode focuses on prom, which is not a thing in the UK except in a few schools.

The first episode was rough in a way very typical for ensemble casts - I'm told they hit their stride in episode three. The actors were fumbling a little when it came to working out all the relationships. This is normal - honestly, the only recent show that didn't have this problem was Leverage, and creator John Rogers is a gamer and I suspect he had them around a table ;).

Some of the bad reviews were reviews of the content. The five-member ensemble cast contains not one straight white male - and of course that is annoying people (I read one review which accused the show of checklisting, which I don't think was the case this time).

American viewers note: Charlie's hairstyle is specifically coded for "Rich and preppy."

I think the show has strong promise. It's very Doctor Who flavored sci-fi Buffy (Buffy people, if you haven't seen it yet, listen carefully while the Doctor is explaining what's going on...) But, to be fair, I felt like it had a target audience of, well, me.

Friday, April 14, 2017

RavenCon 2017 Schedule

As usual, I'm going to be busy - in the best possible way. Yes, it's heavy on the fantasy - with Mercedes Lackey as GoH we're leaning that way this year.

Friday 8:25pm - Reading
Friday 10pm - Mythology As The Basis For Speculative Fiction (And I plan on not JUST talking about fantasy if possible).
Friday 11pm - Harry Potter: The Next Generation - moderator
Saturday 10am - Daily Life In Fantasy Settings
Saturday 2pm - Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Saturday 4pm - Signing (I will have books for sale)
Saturday 6pm - Fantasy In The Modern City
Saturday 8pm - Changing The Medium - moderator
Saturday 11pm - Authors Reading Their Favorite Authors (I haven't decided who to read yet).
Sunday 10am - Asexual Viewing: Beyond the Binary Gaze - moderator
Sunday 11am - Supergirl
Sunday 1pm - Navigating The World of Short Story Submissions

Given this schedule you'll probably find me in the bar when I'm not working ;).

Also - awesome review of Dark Hold: Goblin Adventures.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Imaging Dark Matter

By definition - we can't see dark matter. It doesn't properly interact with light - only with gravity.

Hudson and Epps have managed to create composite images that show dark matter filaments connecting the largest and brightest galaxies.

This might help us gain a much better understanding of certain basic forces - most especially gravity, which we really don't understand that well at all.