Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm back!

Back from Minneapolis. Saving any news until I've got settled in and gone through the rest of my email, but I'm safe and sound.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Out of here...

Heading out of town tomorrow. Will be back next Friday and probably posting again the following Monday.

Going to the Midwest. How much weight do you reckon I'll put on?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Absolutes and Relatives

One of the topics I often end up discussing is eating horses. As somebody who considers horses to be working and companion animals, people expect me to argue against anyone eating them.

To which my response is often 'I'm not going to let a Hindu person tell me I can't enjoy a hamburger'.

Food taboos are perhaps the most classic example of 'relative morality' on this planet. On Iceland, where it's all but impossible to raise cattle, people often do eat horse (No mystery meat for me while I'm there...I've tried horsemeat and I did NOT like it. At all). My personal morality states that you should not eat an animal that has been treated as a 'human companion'...that is to say, a pet or working animal. I'm not against consuming horses that were raised for meat. Or dogs, for that matter, although I'm not sure I'd want to try dog. Carnivore meat can be funky. (I also won't eat elephant, primate or cetacean meat, although I haven't been in a position of turning any of them down yet).

It's fashionable in some quarters to say all morality is relative, but that's obviously bullshit. Everyone agrees that murder is bad (there might be some disagreement around the edges as to what constitutes 'murder'...some people, for example, believe ANY killing of another human is murder. We call them 'pacifists', usually). Most would also agree that you shouldn't take somebody else's property. Other aspects of morality are clearly relative, including whether you should marry your first cousin...or a member of the same sex.

The question is not 'is morality absolute or relative'...because the answer to that would be 'yes'. It depends on the precise morality you talk about. And I'll continue to eat beef and turn down horse meat...and continue to support the right of others to eat horse if they choose (although I'd rather they ate horse raised for meat...riding horses are fed all kinds of medications that simply should not be in the human food chain).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Oath of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon

If Moon doesn't do quite as good a job of returning to a world she abandoned twenty years ago as C.J. Cherryh did with Regenesis, much of it can be put down to the fact that she's simply a better writer now. Don't get me wrong, Deed of Paksenarrion is one of my favorite 'classic D&D style fantasy novels', but it was an early work and it shows...although it is lifted to a higher level by Moon's experience as a marine and her remarkable ability to express what basic training, life as a private soldier and officer training might really be like in a fantasy world.

Oath of Fealty picks up right about where Deed of Paksenarrion leaves off, but takes the viewpoint away from the young Paladin to three of her 'supporting' characters. Kieri Phelan, now king of Lyonia, and his former captains Arcolin and Dorrin. There is less fighter stuff and more magic in this book (the first of a trilogy), and it's also longer...about the same length as two of the Deed books. It shows some influences of what has happened in fantasy since (Elizabeth, when did you read Game of Thrones), but is overall very good. I can't wait for the second and third volumes...this already reads more like one huge book her editor made her split up than three.

A good read if you like your fantasy old school with much more black and white good and evil than Game of Thrones or, say, Morgan's Steel Remains.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Amelia Earhart

What does it say about me that I rather hope they haven't found her plane?

Oh right. It says that I love a good mystery and the numerous pulp storyline possibilities that surround her disappearance. Or, perhaps, I'd rather she ended up on the TARDIS.

Truthfully, the story proves that a legend is always made much bigger by a disappearance. We, as humans, love mysteries. And we love to have in the back of our mind that our heroes might, in the end, not be dead. Finding a body messes with that. Not to stand in the way of the searchers, but I hope they don't find her for a long time yet.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Progress Report

Stripped - the full script is now with the editor. Just waiting on any revision requests from that department.

Transpecial - Everything is official, just waiting to be assigned an editor.

That's it for this week.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Some cool potential plot bunnies:

Our brains have a system to clean themselves out - and it may be a malfunction of that that causes Alzheimer's. Brain flush, anyone?

DNA computing? The concept's been around for a while in science fiction, and now it's showing up in science fact:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RIP, Joe Kubert

I'm slightly late on this because I had other posts queued.

Joe Kubert made an amazing contribution to the comics industry despite the fact that he rarely drew superheros - his style did not suit what is expected there. Instead, he drew war comics and Tarzan comics. (He did create the classic image of Hawkman).

His legacy does not so much come in his own work, but in the work of others. And that legacy - the Kubert School in Dover, NJ - will long outlast him. It is the only accredited trade school for comic book artists. He will be remembered more as an artist, perhaps, but I feel he should be remembered most as a teacher - inspiring his two sons to continue in his footsteps and hundreds more students to create. I have an incredible respect for artists - I can't do what they do and consider it the 'hard' part of making a comic book. And I know the impact a good teacher can have on a student's work...and on their life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This study...

...scares me.


Because it is going to be more ammunition for those who think all fiction should be suitable for a home-schooled six-year-old.

It also, however, gives useful information. For example, first person is more immersive than third person, and that's a tool writers can use either to increase or reduce the degree to which the reader identifies with the character.

Giving out information early may also reduce immersion...especially if its information that makes the character different from the reader. So, this is why spending half your first chapter describing your MC is 'bad'.

As writers, we want people to get into our characters' heads. But we may not want them to get into those heads too far, especially when writing certain kinds of horror.

I would like to see a much larger study that cross-references 'wanting to act like the character' with overall personality traits of the reader.

Monday, August 13, 2012


In the can, and IMO an amazingly successful Olympics.

For the first time in three Olympics nobody died. Not even the modern pentathlete who pulled his horse over almost on top of him (ow).

Amazing opening ceremony and a closing ceremony that, for my generation, just said 'rave'. In big letters.

First Olympics at which every country's delegation of athletes contained at least one woman.

Christine Dujardin became the first woman to win dressage gold for the United Kingdom AND the first athlete to win dressage gold wearing a safety helmet.

Oscar Pistorius became the first athlete to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic games.

First gold medal for Serbia. First medal of any color for Gabon.

And overall, an amazing celebration.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Progress Report

Going to TRY and do these regularly as I keep having things to actually report.

First of all, the script for the thriller graphic novel Stripped (QEW Publishing) is progressing very well. Most of it is now on the desk of the editor/publisher, with only one segment left to read through and send in. And apparently, artist Jean Dedeaux is 'loving' the script. There's a preliminary sketch for cover art on the QEW Facebook group.

Second, I've written and sent in a second 'Captain's Logs from the Sandbox' RPG supplement. That's also in editorial review.

Third, and the big one. This morning I signed a contract with independent publisher Musa Publishing to publish my science fiction novel Transpecial. If all goes well, we're probably looking at a fall or early winter 2013 release.

In other words. Things are pretty awesome around here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


...still going on. Still affecting my productivity.

Who, by the way, decided that rhythmic 'gymnastics' should be an Olympic sport? I mean, seriously, it's the bastard offspring of cheerleading and ballet, with less athleticism than tournament cheerleading...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weyrs, Wars and Sexual Conformity

I just read a book I probably should have read many years ago - Joe Haldeman's classic Forever War. If you haven't read's possibly one of the best war novels of all time that pretty much just happens to be science fiction. His protagonist is a soldier fighting an interplanetary war...without the benefit of faster than light travel.

At one point he returns on leave to find that society has flipped. It is now normal to be homosexual, deviant (and in the recent past criminal) to be heterosexual. The point being to control genetics and reproduction.

Could such a society be built? Yes. People will follow their culture. However, closeted homosexuals who force themselves into heterosexual relationships are uniformly miserable. A society which forced the heterosexual majority to subsume their true orientation would be a miserable and unstable society and it would not last for long. (I have similar problems with Lois McMaster Bujold's otherwise excellent Ethan of Athos).

Which is where 'Weyrs' come in. Anne McCaffrey insists that all greenriders and most blueriders at the time of the Ninth Pass are homosexual males. Green dragons, if women are not available, only Impress to 'feminine' gay man.

Green dragons make up fifty percent of the Weyr's fighting force and thus their riders are probably a third of the adult male population of a Weyr...and in the ninth pass all dragonriders are born at the Weyr.

The normal percentage of constitutional homosexuals in humans is about eight percent. After this is pointed out to her, McCaffrey eventually implied that flight sex (when the dragons mate their riders almost always follow suit) would make a greenrider gay even if he wasn't to start with.

Both of these books have an excuse... Forever War was published in 1972. Weyr Search, the first Pern story, was even earlier: 1967. Very little research was done on human sexuality until much more recent than that, and it was generally believed homosexuality was a 'choice'. The fact that homosexuality will occur in same sex environments such as ships and boarding schools (and probably convents, but girls aren't as loud about it) was 'proof' of this. (In reality, heterosexuals of both sexes will engage in homoeroticism if there is no member of the opposite sex available, behavior that has been observed in livestock...lesbian activity is very common amongst cows kept away from bulls).

Here's the thing, though. If greenriders aren't gay, then how do they tolerate sexual activity with other men? Because there is one other thing that will make heterosexuals engage in homosexual behavior: The pressure of culture. Pern's blue and greenriders are more like Greek soldiers, who were encouraged to make out before battle so as to increase their loyalty to one another.

As for the one hundred percent homosexual society in Forever War? Sorry, Joe. I don't buy it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cool tech stuff.

Dying stars scream. In D sharp.

And ever wondered what outdoor cats really get up to?,0,4572660.story

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nolan, Nolan, Why?

Why did you have to find the perfect actor to play Dick Grayson and then rename his character to Robin Blake?


However, kudos for doing what so few Batman writers have dared to do...anyone who has watched the movie will know what I mean.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I am tired of people going on about dressage being 'expensive' and 'elitist'.

For every dressage rider riding Grand Prix on their 100k horse, there are hundreds competing at first level or even just enjoying dressage at home on whatever horse they happen to have at hand. Expensive? Yes, but not that expensive.

Let's see. The horse I was practicing on before he managed to pull his shoulder cost my trainer...a few loads of hay. The same with the Quarter Horse I'm hoping to take to a show next month. Both of them were seized due to neglect. The Quarter Horse is doing pretty decent intro and training level tests.

Another rider got third at the PVDA Ride for Life (Which is a major show) in introductory. Her horse? A 19 year old ex show hunter/schoolmaster. He's a 'breeding stock' Paint (almost no white on him, so no full papers).

The barn manager used to compete regularly on her 20+ year old Thoroughbred that she bought cheap from a college program before said horse injured herself. Another boarder took her horse to his first dressage show and did really well. He was 19.

ANY horse can do low level dressage, assuming said horse is sound, healthy and reasonably accustomed to English tack. Even gaited horses can do dressage, admittedly in their own segregated classes. And any reasonably competent rider can do low level dressage...honestly, a training level test is walk, trot, canter in both directions and do circles.

Dressage is no more elitist than any other equestrian sport (and perhaps slightly less so than racing, although horses at claiming tracks are within the ownership reach of the middle class).

I think people are singling it out because it is the hardest equestrian sport for a non-rider to understand. You can watch a horse do a show jumping round and understand what's going on and what the goal is (not to hit poles). Dressage is tougher. But you don't need to have a $50,000 (approx. value of my trainer's *personal* horse) to have fun doing it. You don't even need to own your own horse.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Charles Stross

I finally got around to reading something by him. Definitely want more...good writer. The book I picked was 'Iron Sunrise'. Interesting post cyberpunk read. Very plausible (to me) future, and well written.

Now I have to go do a story rewrite I'm not looking forward to. Ah well.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cool tech stuff

An unmanned cargo ship has cut down the travel time to the ISS to less than a day. Go Russia.

The Higgs Boson people are as sure as scientists can be that they found it - current odds? 1 in 300 million that they're wrong. (Because scientists can never say 'yes' or 'no').

Finally? Dolphins, it turns out, are the only non-human animals to form skill-based cliques and give each other status. So much for innocent and playful...