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in one thousand or fewer words.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Future of Science Fiction

New Scientist magazine's November 15 issue contains a science fiction special: The future of a genre, with commentary by notables such as Ursala K. Le Guin, Steven Baxter, William Gibson, Margaret Atwood and others. Included is an estimation of the writers to watch and their readers' favorite books and films. New Scientist staff writer Marcus Chown answers the question: is science fiction dying?

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Putting a Face on Who's Rejecting You

It is nice to see the faces of the people who are rejecting your science fiction and fantasy works. At this story about the SFWA's annual Authors & Editors Reception, you'll find photos of some notables who carry red pens and back-up red pens at all times. You'll see Stanley Schmidt, Gordon Van Gelder...and maybe an agent or two who have ruined your day.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nigerian Scam: Hook, Line and Sinker

Flash Fiction Online has received a couple stories in the slush pile related directly or indirectly to the “Nigerian-type” e-mail scams, where the recipient will receive sixty percent of $26 million if only he or she will accept it. I remember a company that I worked for receiving similar proposals by fax more than twenty years ago.


One wonders why the scammers continue infinitely pitching their spam when everyone knows they're a scam and has received 20, 50, 100 pitches. As this story shows, one sucker is all they need out of hundreds of thousands of spam.

Follow-up by way of our editor, Jake: scamming the scammer. You'll want to follow this and have the side-benefit of a post and book review by Cory Doctorow, who coincidentally, studied under me...never. The "link (via waxy)" leads to the sequence of letters by which the scammer was scammed.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Google Book Search

Google Book Search is a service by which Internet searchers can view snippets of digital copies of millions of books scanned by Google, both in-print and out-of-print. Of course, there was a class action lawsuit, led by the (American) Authors Guild. There is now a settlement that must be approved by the court. Here is a concise summary of the settlement and a joint FAQ. In suspicious brevity, though: the settlement allows Google to continue providing snippets of scanned out-of-print books, and with an opt-in/opt-out arrangement, allows authors to decide about in-print books. This lawsuit was an American action. Google must tread on slippery ground elsewhere, where precise legal definitions differ country-to-country on copyright matters.




Significantly, Google created a new model for compensation to authors and publishers for copyrighted books. Google customers will be able to buy digital copies of the books while authors and publishers share in the sales and advertising revenue for ads displayed while the customer views the books.




Opinion about this varies, of course. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is a non-official but interested party in the settlement. Here is their statement.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lastest Issue of SFRevu (and a review)

Thanks again to Sam Tomaino of SFRevu for his review of our October issue. He summarizes by saying, "All the stories are well-worth the time spent on them," and I couldn't ask for anything more.

I should note that he says of "Dani-Girl" that "If there was any fantasy element here, I missed it." He's right: We don't only publish speculative fiction, although we like to when we can.

Turnabout being fair play, I noted a few good items in SFRevu while I was checking out Sam's review.

First, I noted another Sam's review of Kaleidotrope #5 -- and spotted an old friend there: Barbara A. Barnett, who wrote "Lucky Clover" (our St. Patrick's Day special) from our March 2008 issue.

I like to read short non-flash fiction in my spare time, so I found Colleen Cahill's review of Tesseracts Twelve, edited by Claude LaLumiere, to be worthwhile -- I'll probably pick up that volume somewhere along the way.

I'm a big fan of Orson Scott Card, so I read Sam Lubell's review of Ender in Exile as well.

Finally, Mary Rose-Shaffer wrote an essay called "Exploring Genre: Dark or Gothic Fantasy". It made me think, and it was a valuable contribution to any discussion of genre. I wonder, though, whether trying to pin down attributes and characteristics is really a fruitful way to approach a complex tradition. I would have liked to see an exploration of the way Gothic Fantasy developed rather than simply identifying its traits and then using earlier authors as examples (e.g., Poe); although trait identification feels scientific, it tends to highlight how fuzzy the boundaries of the genre are rather than show how (say) urban fantasy can be a natural extension of the tradition. She clearly sees the relationship, but it's harder to explain it outside of its tradition.

Don't believe me, of course. Go read it!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton Receive 2009 "Edgars"

From the press release:
Mystery Writers of America (MWA) has announced that the organization will name James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton its 2009 Grand Masters in honor of the Bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe's birth next year. Not since 1978 has the organization presented dual Grand Masters.

MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in the mystery genre and was established to acknowledge important contributions to the genre, as well as significant output of consistently high-quality material. The awards will be presented at the 63rd Annual Edgar(R) Awards banquet on Thursday April 30, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

Congratulations, James and Sue!

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Anthology Market

Fiction anthologies, generally a collection of themed short stories, give readers and writers a quick literary survey of the anthology's theme. "Best of" titles are familiar to most of us: Best of Science Fiction...Horror...Fantasy. These are anthologies of reprints, so their quality is generally high. But there are many first-publication anthologies as well, often with a very focused theme. Ralan.com has a treasure trove of marketing information for writers and readers looking for mainstream and obscure publications. I'll do a general article on them later, but I'll only mention now their "Anthology Markets" section, which includes one-time and annual anthologies market listings.

One value of this listing, alluded to already, is the under-one-roof access to an eclectic collection of themes. Here are a few recent listings that might otherwise be difficult to find: Catastrophia (see my Extinction Events article), Things Aren't What They Seem, and Silly Western Anthology. Also listed are: Federations (space opera), Interfictions (interstitial fiction), and Warrior Wisewoman 2.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Comic Books Driving Hollywood?

Are comic books now the way for writers to crack open Hollywood's walled garden? This Wired Magazine blog says that comic-based movies saved Hollywood this summer. The article previews some the upcoming movies. However, for a comprehensive list of upcoming films, the Den of Geek is the place to go. They suggest that comic books, rather than speculative scripts is the way to a movie option. Their list is a compelling argument. Um, I've never been much of a comic book fan, but I might see (will see) Sherlock Holmes (2009) and yeah, The Avengers (2011). If it's in a theater near me, then Wonder Woman.

Wikipedia has a list of past comic-based films in the English language. (I checked there hoping hoping hoping that Nancy was not in the list. It wasn't.) If you want a worst-to-best list with nice graphics, then visit Rotten Tomatoes, but you'll have to click till it hurts to see them all.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Extinction Events

Many writers of speculative fiction, and their readers, love catastrophes. No catastrophe is too great: spaceships breaking apart with human bodies and engine parts gyring away into the blackness of space, viruses let loose in a hospital, super-storms converging on a doomed city.

Perhaps the most succinct expression of catastrophe is an extinction event, the end of human life--or all life--on a planet. Here is a scholarly look at extinction events: Reducing the Risk of Human Extinction, Jason G. Matheny, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Use this article to plan your next novel, or if a reader, to vet the science of a novel you're reading.

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