Feb 29 2016

More news about other people, one of whom could be YOU.

Rosemary

Remember the Schrodinger Sessions?  I talked about them last year.  They were a workshop on quantum physics, specifically created for science fiction writers. I was thrilled last year when my application was accepted, and even more thrilled during the three days of the workshop.  It was fascinating, elucidating, mind-blowing and emotionally uplifting.

Well, word has come down the pipeline that they’re going to be doing it again this year.   So…

Are you a writer?  Specifically, a writer of science fiction?  Do you need a better grip on this subject?   This is your chance.  You might end up spending three days eyeballs-deep in real, non-hand-waving scientific theory, led by real working scientists.

Cooling with lasers.

Applications aren’t open yet, but soon — so keep your eye open.  I’ll put up a note here when I hear further news.  Meanwhile here’s the website for last year’s event, so you can read more about it.

A similar thing exists for Astronomy, called Launch Pad, and it’s been going on for several years now.   The deadline for applications for that is — oops!  March 1.  Well, if you move fast you can still apply.  I never have, for different reasons each year.  This year’s reason: I can’t take the time out of my writing schedule.  But YOU could try for it!

My only regret about the Schrodinger sessions is that I haven’t been able to use what I learned yet —  because I’ve been deep in a long-term project that does not involve quantum physics (AKA the rest of the Steerswoman books).  I couldn’t step away long enough to turn to a different project last year, nor this year, probably.    But the whole experience has gone into the hopper.  We’ll see what comes out soon enough.

Other things YOU could be doing:

Do you like poetry?  You remember that Mary Alexandra Agner has a Patreon whereby you can support her science-inspired poetry, and get poems sent to you monthly, right?   I’m pleased to be one of her patrons…

Well, Jo Walton also writes poetry, with a wider range of inspirational sources — and Jo Walton now has her own Patreon account to support that effort. I really enjoy Jo’s poems, which I read on her blog regularly.  So I signed up to demonstrate my support with actual cash money.   You could do that, too!

(Okay.  Back to the unweaving of my currently-wrongly-woven tale, so that I can reweave it into what I should have been weaving in the first place.  I blame the day job.  Which is gone now.  So, you know: time to get it right.)

 


Aug 30 2015

Stealth review of The Steerswoman series, discovered via search for poetry.

Rosemary

You remember Mary Alexandra Agner, right?  I’ve mentioned her before:  Science writer and poet — I signed up as a buck-a-month patron of hers on Patreon. 

Mary sent out an email recently to her Patreon patrons, alerting us to the fact that she had two poems in the January issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone.   CSZ is a print-form (as opposed to online) literary quarterly, with reviews and essays and poems, with a particular interest in the works of women writers.  Although the physical version costs physical money, CSZ is nice enough to put PDF copies online for free, six months after the original publication.

So naturally, I clicked over and started scrolling down to find Mary’s poems.  But before I got there:  a review of the Steerswoman series, by none other than SFF author Kate Elliot.

Not to keep you in suspense: she likes it!

I found it a really interesting analysis, bringing up aspects I hadn’t thought of before, while highlighting some of the things that I especially do try to accomplish with the series.   I’m so pleased.   Kate is an intelligent, deep-thinking person.  I was most recently impressed with her one-person presentation at Worldcon this year on Narrative Structure and Expectation (alas, I came in late, about when she was talking about the example of modern society’s ingrained expectations of what Cleopatra was like, as opposed to what she was really like…).

So, surprise!  A review  I didn’t know about.   You can pop over and read it, and take a look at Mary’s poems, as well.    (Kate is page 6, Mary is page 15.)


Jul 4 2015

On the Fourth

Rosemary

I absolutely love fireworks, and there actually are no less than four simultaneous fireworks shows going on right now. I went up on the roof at my office, but alas: every one of them was just exactly too low behind the surrounding hills and trees for me to actually see. So there’s a lot of banging and whistling going on all around me, but I only occasionally see the tops of especially high displays.

Still, I stayed up there for a while, just listening and smiling to myself. Stars above, this odd little complex of old factories and warehouses around, and booms and whistles echoing off the hills.

You know, I do love this country. I’m not a knee-jerk flag-waver, to say everything is perfect by definition because USA. But I’m also not the other extreme, where the things that are wrong mean that everything is wrong because Evil.

It seems to me that everything right with this country came about because of people thinking intelligently; and everything wrong persists because of people not thinking intelligently.

We need to be smart. That’ll fix it. Let’s do that.

Random other news:

I just signed on as a Patreon Patron for Mary Alexandra Agner’s monthly poem based on science in the news.    For a buck a month, how can you lose?  She needs 9 more $1 patrons to hit $25 (but you can pledge more!)… Looking at you, science-lovers.  Here’s a poem she wrote about the Mars Rover Curiosity.

Also: Ophidiphobes, look away!  Here’s a snake:

 

Tasting the air.

Tasting the air.

I found this jolly fellow just hanging out on top of the bush next to our front door as I left to go to my office. He seemed remarkably unworried about me. I guess he was depending on his snaky scariness to protect him. So he hung out long enough for me to fully admire him. I’m especially fond of snakes (when I know they’re not the poisonous ones!). They’re so extremely alien.

And here’s my local great blue heron:

Fleeing the paparazzi.

A mere speck, due to iPhone instead of my better actual camera.

This was shot next to the bridge over the local river (the mighty Quinnipiac).  Now that I know he’s there, I see him a lot,  often when my car is stopped at the light near the bridge; previously, I simply never thought to look.

I’ve also seen him from the footbridge next to my office.

He's not in this picture.  It's just a nice picture.

He’s not in this picture. It’s just a nice picture.

Sabine, meanwhile, is in the Land of Herons — hanging out at the home of our pals in New Hampshire.  By the time she starts heading back, I’ll be heading out to Readercon.  We might not even see each other in passing!

Well.  Back to the tasks at hand.  I had yesterday off from the Day Job; with my usual Monday off, that’s a nice 4-day run.

More later…

 

 


Jul 22 2013

Readercon. As promised.

Rosemary

Hot.  Hot hot hot.   Northeast was miserable all week and all weekend!

Readercon was lovely, however, despite — or possibly because of — having to drive there and back on Thursday for my two events, and drive back for the weekend after work on Friday.

Someone suggested to me that Thursday at Readercon is attended by only the most dedicated and devoted of fans.   Possibly that’s true, given that most people would have to take actual time off work to be there by Thursday.     A purer, more distilled Readercon, perhaps?   Actually, Readercon is really already distilled, focusing as it does on actual readable works and eschewing other media.  La creme de la creme de la creme, perhaps?

Well, I certainly had a grand time.

The panel “The Bit I Remember” came off well, I thought, with Howard Waldrop, Sonya Taaffe, Yoon Ha Lee, Ellen Brody and I contributing reminiscences of tales and parts of tales that stuck with us long after the stories in question were read; and discussions of why, and how.

I had my sad tale of Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars, the book that got me hooked on science fiction.   Loved it, as a kid — later discovered that its message was exactly the opposite of what I thought it was.  Alas.

But then I also got to share my experience with John Wyndham’s Rebirth (The Chrysalids, in Britain) — where every time I read it I found more and more to love:  Starting with “Ooh, telepathic kids, neat!” at around age 12; through “Wow, nuclear apocalypse that’s so deep– !”  at about 14; through “The evils of forced conformity — true, so true!” at about 16; through “Religion as a tool of suppression —  amen to that!” at about 19; to, sometime after I had become a published author in my own right, “Holy Moses — look at the prose, look at how the thread of the tale is spun out, look at what’s said and what’s not said, look at how he makes the reader discover the tale …this guy really knows how to write!

And an interesting moment came when Yoon Ha Lee brought up reading Poul Andersons’ Brain Wave at age twelve — which I read at pretty much the same age, give or take.

She hated it!  I loved it!

Things that made it unreadable to her just washed over me with no effect. At one point, I was mentioning how my identification as a reader was more with the male characters, and the lesser role of the females didn’t outrage me at that age — and she gave me a puzzled side-glance that I could not help but read as a polite version of: What, are you crazy?

It wasn’t until later, when Waldrop mentioned the old witticism that the “Golden Age of Science Fiction” is 12, that I realized something:

Yoon Ha Lee read Brain Wave at age twelve.  I read it at age twelve.

Yoon Ha Lee’s age twelve was in 1993.   My age twelve was in 1965.

And that was the difference.

In 1965 there were almost zero female protagonists to be found in science fiction.  Of course I was identifying with the males.  Of course it was their story that was the story.  I was too young to know it was possible for things to be different.

All the things I liked about Brain Wave still exist, of course.   But Yoon is certainly right that women were given rather short shrift; and their experience of the events of the book are based on that time’s expectations of women’s roles — which would absolutely be objectionable in 1993!

By the way, the book was written in 1953.   In retrospect, I’m amazed that women were present at all!

(For the record, there were two major female characters.  One was a secretary, the other a housewife.  When planet Earth moved out of the dampening field that had been suppressing electromagnetic processes, which life on Earth had evolved to compensate for, and the result was much more efficient brain function, allowing for greater possible operational intelligence — the secretary could handle it and the housewife, tragically, could not.)

Alas, I realized the huge gap between my twelve and Yoon’s much too late to add it to the discussion onstage.   The conversation had moved on.

One of the more interesting panels I’ve participated in.   You know, you can’t always tell by the printed description in the program schedule.

And my reading was one of the best-attended I’ve ever had.   There must have been about a dozen people there — I was quite surprised.

I hadn’t decided beforehand what I would be reading, choosing to leave the choice to the last minute (hoping, frankly, for some inspiration).   When I arrived I explained that much of my new stuff was in flux; and of the parts that were readable, I had already read all I could without going into spoilers, at previous readings.   So I would be reading from something already published….

And then, hooray!  Inspiration did strike me!

In the form of: me addressing the audience, and asking “Is there anything you would like to hear me read?”

A hand shot straight up, immediately, no hesitation. I called on the woman.  She said (or words to the same effect): “The part where Rowan and Bel are at the campfire, and their discussing the giant throwing the jewels, and drawing diagrams on the ground.”

Perfect!  Moody, scientific!  A neat encapsulation of the tone and sense of the whole series, in one scene!  And the scene that immediately follows that is a great action sequence.

And that’s what I read.  I think it went well.   I certainly had fun.

Immediately after the reading, some people came up for autographs, including the hand-raiser, who said: “Thank you for the teapot!”

Yes, it was Mary Alexandra Agner, winner of the latest Teapot contest — and a writer herself, of stories, articles and poetry.   I was so glad to meet her.   (And you should explore her website.)

Hm.  I see I’ve spent rather a long time on this post already… I’ll have to make the rest brief:

Readercon was much smaller this year than previously, I believe — which is not a bad thing, as long as they were able to break even on their costs.

My actual autographing was at the end of the convention, and I think only one person asked that something be signed.

The “Constellations of Genres” panel was, alas, a snore.

John Crowley’s presentation on “Teaching Utopia” was fascinating.

The backlist/ebook panel (including Betsy Mitchell, who did such a brilliant job editing The Lost Steersman back when she was with Del Rey Books) was very interesting…

And the Crowdfunding panel was excellent, with lots of examples, suggestions, warnings, encouragement, etc.

After the convention, as is now usual, I spent some quality time with Ann Tonsor Zeddies and Geary Gravel.  And there are pictures of our crafts project, but alas, I have to stop writing this now.   So I’ll write about that later this week.

But here’s a teaser:

One of two that Geary made...

One of two that Geary made…