Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Men Want; What Women Want

By way of Slashdot, Yahoo reports that public venue ads may have tiny cameras that may detect the gender, age and ethnicity of viewers and modify the ads therefor. Perhaps this can be applied to eBooks, so that males will get lots of chase scenes. Yeah, and women...never mind. Bad idea. (It's coming, but bad idea.)

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Authors to Washington Post: Save Book World

AP via Google: Various historians and authors have signed an open letter asking The Washington Post not to shut down their Sunday Book World, one of the few remaining stand-alone book sections. The Post wants to incorporate the book section into another section of the newspaper as a cost-savings measure.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

RIP Realms of Fantasy Redux

More on Jake's post of the death of Realms of Fantasy. Some avid fans are trying to reverse the decision. Here is the appeal, reported by SF Scope.

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How to Ax Your Network Friends

Your Facebook friends-list has expanded from 10 intimates to 400 friends, lovers, hangers-on and total strangers. Now, you're wondering how to ax, um, cull, defriend, unfriend the ones who are total strangers, other than your bloated friends-list. Is there proper etiquette for this?

Tell the truth: would you unfriend ten people for free a hamburger?

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Viz Media Publishing Japanese SF in North America

Via Publishers Weekly, San Francisco-based manga publisher Viz Media is launching Haikasoru, perhaps the first North American publishing house dedicated to publishing Japanese science fiction and fantasy in English translation.

It's good to see some expansion in publishing, for a change.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

2010 Movies: Narnia and, um, A-Team

Two from Variety:

No, no, and no: Fox is reworking the 1980s TV series, "A-Team," into a 2010 movie.

Okay: Fox hopes for a 2010 summer release of "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

Fox: maybe you could save some money by using the same cast and production crew for both...never mind.


Vintage Graphics, Book Deals and Eclectic Blogs

From various illustrators and 1890's storybooks, some quality vintage color and B&W graphics, thought to be in the public domain. See Grandma's Graphics.

It's easy to get a book deal these days; just become a Veep candidate.

Eclectic blogs: 3 Quarks Daily and Shaken and Stirred (Bond Girl).

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Helpful Hint: Online Storage

According to Wired, Google has hinted at but not delivered the Gdrive, a service that provides you online file storage. If you're asking, "why do I care?" then you've not lost a manuscript through human error or machine failure. I'm just sayin'...it could happen to you.

Fine, but Gdrive is vaporware, you say, and you're in a hurry because of the manuscript-loss thing. Lifehacker suggests that if you're a bit of a hacker, then you can use some clever, free software to turn free gmail accounts into a virtual drive (sorry, Windows only). The software transparently stores your data using free gmail accounts while appearing to your computer as a mountable file system (g: drive would be appropriate). As the bloggist points out, Google could break this by changing their e-mail service a bit, until the software was tweaked for the change. Apparently, you would not lose the e-mails containing your data.

Third option (cough): you could just send yourself an email on your gmail account with a manuscript file attached (and refrain from deleting it).

None of those sexy enough? Well, you could use continuous moon-bounce communications to keep your data hovering in space between the earth and moon by making a wireless stringy-floppy. Nah, the moon's surface is an unreliable reflector. Maybe you could use NASA's corner reflectors. No, the moon-landing was a hoax. And there is the minor problem of daily total data loss when the moon is over the horizon. Never mind.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nominees: British Science Fiction Association Awards

Nominees have been announced for this year's British Science Fiction Association Awards science fiction art and literature. See more here via Sci Fi Wire. Winners include Neal Stephenson, Stephen Baxter, Nick Harkaway and Ken Macleod (novels); Greg Egan, M. Rickert, Ted Chiang and Paul McAuley (short fiction); and Adam Roberts and Ian Whates (cover art).

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The Old Media is Dead; Long Live the Old Media

The Millions is an excellent blog for readers. They had this post recently about dead-tree publishing of collections of blog posts.

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My So-Called e-Life

Dear Diary

Busy day. I attended an eFuneral. Bummer. Glad I didn't have to actually go there. Since I've been on an eTour, I didn't get a chance to see the inauguration, so I watched the eInauguration. Since I'm on an eSelf kick, I don't seem to have the time to do anything. eWork is interfering with my eLife, such as it is. I guess I'll just stay in bed; the real world is too hard.

Have a nice day, eReaders.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

RIP Realms of Fantasy

We heard from SFScope, via @clarkesworld on Twitter:
Breaking news: Realms of Fantasy is closing down following publication of its April 2009 issue. Managing Editor Laura Cleveland told SFScope the news came very suddenly, indeed, even Editor Shawna McCarthy (currently on vacation in Italy) hadn't been informed yet. The only reason we got the story is that rumors broke through the blogosphere today.

More information at the SFScope link.

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John Updike, Novelist, Dies at age 76

John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters...died Tuesday at age 76.

Newbery, Caldecott Awards

The 2009 Newbery and Caldecott awards for children's literature were announced by the ALSC. Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" won the Newbery (HarperCollins Children's Book). "The House in the Night," illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson, won the Caldecott (Houghton Mifflin Co.). The honor books for those awards and various other awards are detailed at the same link.

MIT Open Courseware

A few years ago, through its OpenCourseWare web-based program, MIT opened nearly all of their courseware to the public for free (as in free beer and free non-commercial usage). MIT OpenCourseWare is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity. You can't earn an MIT degree or certificate, but you can study any of their offered courses in any manner or order that you wish, using their courseware, materials which, depending on the individual course, may include the syllabus, lecture notes, problem and answer sets, labs, readings and reading lists, videos, and more. No registration is required. You can get started here.

MIT is a highly regarded U.S. engineering and science institution, though the courseware includes their humanities offerings as well. So, a writer or reader might wish to take advantage of their literature courses or support their science fiction research through their science and engineering courses. If you happen to be a university or advanced high school student, you can supplement your study materials as well. One should appreciate that MIT has $10K-$15K invested in the materials for each course, so donations are appreciated.

Note to readers who are used to the terminology of the British model of education: American courses are comparable in meaning to British study units; whereas British courses are comparable in meaning to American degree programs. (If I've got that wrong, please let me know so that I can blame Jake, our editor.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Entangled Narratives: Competing Visions of the Good Life

Below are some teaser snippets from William Grassie's essay on competing cultural visions, which are strongly tied to humans' natural tendency towards storytelling. Click here for the full essay. This article is from the Global Spiral, the eMagazine of the Metanexus Institute.

"...Narratives are not just a matter of individuals creating their inner and social Self; narratives are also what bind societies and cultures together...Much of cultural transmission was in the form of storytelling. Today, people are more likely to gather around the cool glow of the television, but we are no less storied creatures...we make moral judgments based on the analogical applications of powerful stories...The most important stories that humans tell, retell, and reframe are...referred to as “metanarratives”. These master stories are the stuff of ideologies, religions, and cultures.

"Christian Smith...offers a dozen examples of contemporary metanarratives, each presented in about two hundred words – the Christian narrative, the Militant Islamic Resurgence narrative, the American Experiment narrative, the Capitalist Prosperity narrative, the Progressive Socialism narrative, the Scientific Enlightenment narrative, the Expressive Romantic narrative, the Unity with Brahman narrative, the Liberal Progress narrative, the Ubiquitous Egoism narrative, and the Chance and Purposeless Narrative...There is no simple way to adjudicate between these competing worldviews and world doings.

"The question I want to explore in this essay, how does one intellectually adjudicate between competing metanarratives, understanding that these are then fundamental in structuring our thought and behavior in many profound ways, both political and personal....I turn to the field of hermeneutics to try to find a way out of the relativistic impasse...."

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Best of Australian Speculative Fiction, 2009

Best of Australian Speculative Fiction, 2009, the Aurealis awards:
This list of past winners and finalists is not only a great guide to a basic bookshelf selection of the best Australian works, it is also a useful survey of more than a decade's worth of signficant topics and themes, a who's who of the genre locally and the growth of the Australian publishing industry's commitment to the genre.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

1000 Novels You Must Read

1000 novels you must read, according to Guardian.co.uk, variously categorized in obvious and non-obvious ways (State of the Nation novels, War and Travel, Family and Self, Science Fiction and Fantasy...Whew!. (And they don't mind if you buy them via their bookstore). That'll be about 10 years at two novels per week. I hope Tolstoy didn't make their list.

Here are the best of SF/F selections (part 1).

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The End of Solitude

The End of Solitude, a bit of nostalgia for the pre-social-networking days, by William Deresiewicz: as everyone seeks more and broader connectivity, the still, small voice speaks only in silence

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Plagiarism in the Blog Age

Many writers and readers are called to blog, whether for a journal of their writing or personal life, their reading life or their special interests. Copyright laws have been stretched to the limit by the scope of the blogosphere, up to 30 million blogs in the world by one estimate I saw. It might be wise for bloggers to revisit the topic of what constitutes plagiarism these days. One place to start is the blog site, Plagiarism Today. They have some helpful articles and a collection of related headlines. Nota bene: the bloggist advises that he is highly experienced but is not an attorney.

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Recent Celebrity Deaths

Recent Celebrity Deaths:

  • Bob May (Jan. 20, 2009): the body inside the robot in "Lost in Space." He did not do the voice, Will Robinson!
  • Sir John Mortimer (Jan. 19, 2009): British playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and radio dramatist. He was a personal hero of mine for creating the character Horace Rumpole for Rumpole of the Bailey.
  • Ricardo Montalban (Jan. 14, 2009): He was Khan in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Yes, he was the voice of fine Corinthian leather and Mr. Roarke, but mostly he was Khan, Jim!
  • Majel Barrett (Dec. 18, 2008): played Nurse Chapel and other characters in Star Trek, widow of Gene Roddenberry.
  • Forrest J. Ackerman (Dec. 10, 2008 ): a general sci-fi advocate, writer, magazine editor. He invented the term sci-fi and was an agent to some of the glitterati of science fiction, including Asimov, Bradbury, and, believe it or not, Ed Wood, Jr.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Human-Like Abilities in Animals: Tools

According to Wired:
Tool use was once thought to distinguish humans from animal — until, that is, so many animals proved able to use them.
We know a million monkeys banging on keyboards might produce a short story. But it wouldn't be publishable on FFO. So there!

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Human-Like Abilities in Machines

As a software engineer and an occasional writer of robot stories, I found this article interesting. Says New Scientist: Nowadays, although UK mathematician Alan Turing's test is still relevant, and unbeaten, new forms of it have evolved. In this online special, New Scientist discovers the different ways in which machines can be tested for human-like abilities - and how close they have come to passing as one of us."

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Bad Writing

To learn how not to write a novel, click here (Times Online) and here (Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest).

Academic writing: the Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest ran from 1995 to 1998. (Denis Dutton is a professor at the University of Canterbury, NZ.) For background on the contest, click here, which seems to be a reprinted Wall Street Journal article.

Butt its not there fawlt, blame it on computers.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

James Patterson's ReadKiddoRead Project

James Patterson launches his ReadKiddoRead website to encourage young readership. According to his website, his goal is to help "parents and educators connect their children with the books that will turn them into lifelong readers...." He does this by suggesting page-turners for various age groups. He started this when his own son showed a reluctance to read.

I noticed that his links to the various online booksellers appeared not to have an affiliate ID. That is, he gets no fee for sending his visitors to the online sellers, so I take this to be a heart-felt effort. (But he could donate such fees to a literacy organization.) He also linked to a library finder.

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Near-Space Touring

So, you've got a half-dozen...no, a dozen Nebulas and Hugos under your belt and now you want to take a Russian ferry to the international space station to recharge your career. Sorry, it's not happening.


Author Blogs

Author blogs are of interest to writers and readers. Here is a nice list from SF Signal, SF/F writers who blog. This includes group and individual blogs.

Here is an edited list by the Internet Writing Journal. The say: "Our editors have compiled a list of author blogs that they believe are truly outstanding...."

Finally, here is a large list of published and aspiring authors' blogs at, um, Authors' Blogs.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Happens If The Sun Flares Up?

No, it's not a global warming (ahem, "climate change") question. It's a discussion of solar storms and their possible impact on the world's infrastructure. From NASA.

To estimate the scale of such a failure, report co-author John Kappenmann of the Metatech Corporation looked at the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921, which produced ground currents as much as ten times stronger than the 1989 Quebec storm [in which six million people lost power for 9 hours], and modeled its effect on the modern power grid. He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with "water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on."

"The concept of interdependency," the report notes, "is evident in the unavailability of water due to long-term outage of electric power--and the inability to restart an electric generator without water on site."

Disneyland for Dudes

Writer/reader dudes, put down your laptops, escape your rolling chairs: "Think of it as a testosterone-soaked sandbox: a German amusement park where, instead of standing in line to ride on roller coasters, you get to play with big, loud machines. For 219 euros (about $280), patrons can spend the day operating 29-ton Liebherr backhoes and 32-ton Komatsu front-end loaders...." Arrr!

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Odd News of the Month

Odd News of the Month:

  • The "World's Worst Director" Fights Back.
  • The iPod, sniper edition.
  • Man bought former President George W. Bush's presidential library's expired domain name for $5 and then sold it back for $35,000.
  • Add this to my recent coffee dangers/advantages post.
  • Barbie's full name: Barbara Millicent Roberts
  • Squirrels scrounge for acorns across USA
  • School bus liquor-store run gets cops' attention.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Columbia Pictures Wins Rights to Asimov's Foundation

From Variety, Columbia Pictures wins the rights to Isaac Asimov's trilogy, Foundation, to be directed by Roland Emmerich. I'll go.

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Science of DeLorean in "Back to the Future"

Just how good was the DeLorean in Back to the Future? Here is a snippet of a look at the science of the time and space travel of the slightly modified car:

"A major issue of freely traveling within time while limiting one’s self to a local reference frame–say, a California mall parking lot–is that the reference frame itself isn’t stationary. As an illustration...."

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe: 200th Birthday

Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday is today, January 19.

Free world premiere of a new movie based on Poe's life, today only: Last Days of the Raven. Or go here and click Watch the Movie or view info about the cast and production company, Theatre Crossing Film Corp. The website is vague about how long the free showing will be available. After today, you'll have to buy the DVD. Here is the official trailer.

Says The Literature Network: Contributing greatly to the genres of horror and science fiction, Poe is now considered the father of the modern detective story and highly lauded as a poet. Walt Whitman, in his essay titled “Edgar Poe’s Significance” wrote: "Poe’s verses illustrate an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with the rhyming art to excess, an incorrigible propensity toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind every page. … There is an indescribable magnetism about the poet’s life and reminiscences, as well as the poems."

Flash Fiction Online published Poe's "Shadow - A Parable" as Classic #10 (HTML, PDF) in its Sept. 1, 2008 edition.

Other observances:

  • WSJ: Poe at 200 -- Eerie After All These Years
  • UVA: A student at UVA, he was honored - 'Nevermore' Writer Always Present at the University of Virginia
  • United States Postal Service issues $0.42 Poe stamp.
  • What's the connection between Baltimore, the Addams Family and Poe?
  • Observances noted in SF Chronicle.
  • Weird collection of Poe-related items at Guardian.co.uk.
  • Quiz: What U.S. President was born the same year as Edgar Allen Poe, was assassinated in a theater, oversaw a major U.S. civil war, fathgered the civil rights movement by proclamation, wore a stovepipe hat, chopped wood, and read by a fireplace? I'll do some research and get back to you on this. Follow-up: I've narrowed it down to Abraham Lincoln and Grover Cleveland (the latter of which who, if he ever wore a stovepipe hat, kept it a secret).

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Robots at War: The New Battlefield

Over at The Wilson Quarterly, P.W. Singer discusses "Robots at War: The New Battlefield." I actively dislike the first portion of it, where he tries to yank our heartstrings, but there's some interesting content in the rest of it.


Six-Word "Stories"

The book of Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Relationships is out, and has been excerpted in Reader's Digest. I rarely consider these six-word ditties to be stories, mind you, because my definition of "story" includes the notion of plot; that said, there are some good bits in there, and if you don't like one you have only wasted about a half of a second on it.

One of the stories is mine, or rather, is credited to my alter ego, Oliver House: "Marriage, children, empty nest: Now what?" (See? There's a tiny bit of plot there.) It's in the book and in the Reader's Digest excerpt, which is kinda cool.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Several SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America)News Items

The Nebula Award rules have changed for 2009. There is a good summary of the changes here.

The Nebula Award rule changes include rules for the new Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book.

Victoria Strauss of SFWA's Writer Beware will be honored with the 2009 SFWA Service Award. More here. If you're not familiar with Writer Beware, check it out; it is an excellent resource for writers to find out about the scams and frauds perpetrated on (always) innocent writers.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Coffee, Health and Writers

There have been a lot of stories lately about coffee and health. This is very confusing. So since coffee is important to writers (to keep them awake when they should be sleeping for their real job), I decided to definitively clear this up: it is both risky to drink and not to drink coffee. THIS IS NOT a medical opinion and is not an endorsement by Flash Fiction Online to drink or not to drink coffee in any amount.

Increases risk: Gallstones 1, miscarriage/stillbirth 1 2, heart risks 1 2 3 4.

Reduces risk: Alzheimer's 1 2 3 4, Type 2 diabetes 1 2 3, Parkinson's 1 2, liver cancer 1 2, brain disorders 1, Gout in men 1, Kidney Cancer 1.

Omnibus articles: 1 2 3.

Bloggist unwilling to classify: reduces breast size in women 1

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Crayon Physics and other Weirdness

You see, you draw boxes, circles, lines and such and realistic physics immediately takes over. The goal is to touch the jewel with an object you've set in motion. Perhaps it sounds boring, but it is infecting. The game, Crayon Physics, is a bit like the Mousetrap game of old, but in 2D graphics. It only runs in Windows (XP/Vista), but a user reported success running it in Linux under Wine. Perhaps Parallels or Fusion will run it on a Mac. The link above has a video of the game in action. Here is an NPR report. There is also a trial version (starts immediate download).

Other weirdness: She stole his heart so he gave her his kidney. And now he wants it back.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interactive Fiction

Interactive fiction (IF): yes, those text adventure games of the past with their twisty-passages . IF is a story with a puzzle in which the reader/player participates in the outcome. Less literate, graphical adventure games nearly choked text games out of existence, but the Internet provided a nesting ground where this game genre could renew itself with new authoring tools and enthusiasm.

Many authoring tools are free. Though a little geeky, the tools are accessible to many and on about any OS. The author creates the work and puts it an interpreter wrapper (such as a blorb or Zcode) so that any compliant player (such as Frotz) can play the work. (I didn't make this up.)

Inform is one of the major providers of authoring tools. The stalwart Inform 6 has a procedural programming language with a long history. The newer Inform 7 has a new natural language that non-geeks might warm up to.

Using Inform 7, you define your world, characters, locations, objects, movements, and events using English-like phrases: Miss Pelling is a person. Miss Pelling wears a black hat and a red dress. The basement is a room. The basement has a broadsword. A broadsword is a type of weapon. Many share their inventions (such as a complete description of an animal or place) in the form of an extension to Inform. Emily Short has a treasure trove of information and sample games; she worked closely with the author of Inform.

My personal interest is to create a simple game that is really an interactive fiction reader (an eBook reader) for more traditional but interactive stories, as might be done with web (hypertext) fiction. The writer would use built-in features to add constraints or features to her story with which the reader may tune the story to taste, such as less/more/minimum/maximum violence, darker to lighter storyline, alternate endings, movie-like ratings, etc. Other authors could add extensions as needed because the language is self-defining.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

US House/Senate on YouTube

The United States House of Representatives and the Senate are now on YouTube. Further comments will be made in four years.

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Top 50 Movie F/X Scenes; Manga Scores in Bad Economy

Top 50 special effects movie scenes, according to the Den of Geek.

According to Publishers Weekly, Manga scores well in a bad economy: top 10 list.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tales from the Slush Pile

Ed Briant's “Tales from the Slush Pile” is a comic strip about a children's book writer. Here is installment #157, at Publishers Weekly. The first installment is here.

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Blogaholism, Twitteritis, RSS Dependency or Status Update Disorder?

Here are some modern ailments: Blogaholism, Twitteritis, Reviewing Addiction, RSS Dependency and Status Update Disorder. The Atlantic reports a miracle cure, the Reblocking Seminar.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Author Solutions Acquires Self Publisher Xlibris

For those of you interested in the Print-On-Demand (POD) market, which is common in self-publishing, here's an industry press release you might be interested in:
BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), the world leader in the fastest-growing segment of book publishing, announced Thursday the acquisition of Xlibris - a pioneering leader in print-on-demand self-publishing services. Kevin Weiss, ASI president and chief executive officer, made the announcement to Xlibris employees....

Xlibris joins AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Wordclay and Inkubook in ASI's expanding family of self-publishing brands.
You can read the rest of the release here.

Sounds like a consolidating industry. Are authors giving up on POD? Or are the economics not working out as well as was once promised? Or has Amazon muscled out the competition?

For what it's worth, when an author sends me a bio that includes self-published novels, I don't count that as a publishing credit. It shows that the author was focused enough to finish a project -- Lord knows that's uncommon enough -- but not that it was good enough to get someone else to finance. (I don't count it against them, either.) It'll be interesting to see how this market shakes out.


New Ways to Terminate Your Characters

Do you need an enterprising way to arrange the demise of a character in your story? See the Darwin awards and the past Darwin awards.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Robert J. Sawyer: Writer-in-Residence at Canadian Synchotron

Canadian sci-fi author Robert J. Sawyer will be the first writer-in-residence at Saskatoon's Canadian Light Source synchrotron. According to the Nebula and Hugo Award winner, he'll learn the "day-to-day grind of the work" rather than getting the normal VIP tour. Says the CBC article, "Budding writers will be able to book one-hour consultations with the sci-fi legend."

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Unpublished Tolkien Book Coming in May

HarperCollins will offer an unpublished Tolkien novel, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, written in the 1920s - '30s and recently edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher. Publication is presently set for May 2009.

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Evil Computers in Movies

"Post the blog article, HAL."
"I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."
"You are just like the rest of your fellow evil computers in movies, HAL."

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Free Lecture on MLK from The Teaching Company

The Teaching Company has an amazing amount of great stuff, and sometimes they publish lectures for free. They've had excellent, topical, timely lectures on the Olympics and the election of the Pope, for example.

I just got an email that read as follows:
No individual is more synonymous with the strength, spirit, and success of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s than Martin Luther King, Jr. But what were the inspirations for his beliefs in equal rights and nonviolent resistance? As a thank you for being our customer and in honor of Black History Month, here is a free audio lecture: Martin Luther King, Jr.: Stride Toward Freedom, delivered by award-winning Professor Dennis Dalton of Barnard College, Columbia University....

Professor Dalton is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. A scholar of classical and modern political theory, nonviolence and violence in society, and ideologies of modern political movements, he is the author of Indian Idea of Freedom and Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action. Professor Dalton has been honored with numerous teaching awards, scholarships, and grants, including the 2008 Barnard Commendation for Excellence in Teaching award and a Gandhi Peace Foundation grant.

It sounds like it'll be live until Monday, February 2, and I'm encouraged to send it to all my friends, too -- so here you go. Enjoy.

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Calvin & Hobbes: Is This Your Audience?

Have you ever gone to a writers' group and felt like you were writing for guys like Calvin?


Review of SF/F/H Magazine Stories for January

Here is a review of many SF/F/H print and online magazine stories for January. Because of their differing publication schedules the magazines reviewed range from Fall 2008 to February 2009.

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Wovels and One-Dollar eBooks

What's a wovel? It is a serialized web novel with "branch points" at the end of each installment whereby readers can influence the course of the next installment. Here is an article about Underland Press' exemplary web novel, called "FirstWorld," having Monday updates. The first installment has been posted with the next due on December 12.

Nearly free stuff: according to Publishers Weekly, Orbit is offering $1 eBooks on a rotating basis to promote their print and digital lists. The eBooks are offered through onedollarorbit.com and other partners.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Amazon.com Comment Flash

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Few Links

Everyone should listen to the Drabblecast. And I'm not saying that just because I'm featured in today's podcast. No, no -- if anything, I'm in today's podcast because Norm makes me want to write fiction that he'll read. My favorite podcast so far is "Gifting Bliss", and they reprinted Flash Fiction Online's "Apologies All Around" by Jeff Soesbe a while back. So yeah, it's awesome, and not just because of my little ditty.

SFRevu has another great issue up. Sam Tomaino reviews a couple of novels' worth of short fiction, including ours, as usual. (Thanks, Sam!) Mary Rose-Shaffer continues her series Exploring Genre with an excellent article on Dystopian Literature. There's a nice interview of Edmund R. Schubert as well. Also note that if you like SF/F, you could sign up to be a reviewer:
While we're happy to have a core of great reviewers for SFRevu, we get more books each month than we've got readers for and we'd like to have more. If you have a great desire to review SF/Fantasy for no pay but the glory of a byline, write to us at editor (at) sfrevu.com telling us a bit about yourself and send a 500 word (or so) review of a book that you have recently read. We should be able to get back to you within the month.

If you're a writer, or if you just love language, you might want to check out Bonnie Trenga's blog, The Sentence Sleuth. I plugged her column in Writer's Digest a while back as a Good Thing, and her blog continues those copyediting efforts with examples of bad-but-fixable writing. (But this is a blog, Bonnie -- I'm not guaranteeing that my posts are perfect!)

Founders Talk Frankly About HWA

From the Internet Review of Science Fiction: Robert McCammon (Boy's Life, Speaks the Nightbird) and Joe Lansdale (The Bottoms, Leather Maiden) speak frankly about the Horror Writers Association that they created. "Both authors were adamant that they had little to no knowledge of the current concerns and efforts of the HWA, but their perspectives are instructive to horror writers both in and out of the organization, as well as readers."

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Science Fiction Poetry Assn: 2008 Dwarf Stars winners

The SFPA announced winners of its 2008 Dwarf Stars Award, which is given to the best short speculative poem of ten lines or less (based on membership voting). 

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Monday, January 5, 2009


Nothing is sacred. Now twitter has phishing, coming as direct messages. Details of twitter-scamming techniques are linked in the above article.


Speculative Fiction Universe Contracts a Bit

The speculative fiction universe contracted a bit. Gordon Van Gelder's The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is switching to bimonthly publication. 'Rising costs -- especially postal costs -- and the economy put us in a position....


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Open Source Software for Writers (and Readers)

Open source software is, as the software developers say, free, as in free beer and freedom to change yourself. Here is a nice list of software tools for writers. I think many readers will find a treat or two there too. Some easy choices from the list are Open Office Writer, a Microsoft file-compatible word processor (Windows, OS X and Linux). Open Office Calc is an Excel file-compatible spread sheet, though not mentioned, useful for tracking subs).

I've seen much praise for the first item in the list, but haven't tried, yWriter a word processor for writers (Windows only, but I may try it under OS X with VMware Fusion). Another on the list that I know by its good reputation is Scribus (for desktop publishing, Windows, OS X and Linux). NVU (web publishing, Windows, OS X and Linux), seems to be a frozen project, but a bug-fixed version is here at KompoZer.

Also see the earlier post on EtherPad, for collaborating on the web. In the comments you'll see that FFO's artist-in-residence and writer, Richard Ware, found this useful in one of his writing collaborations. This is not open-sourced, but is free to use, presently.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Webcomic: Buttersafe

You really ought to be reading Buttersafe. Really.

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Transition of NASA to Obama

The NY Times has this article about the transition of NASA to Obama.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Banned Words and Phrases

No, not naughty words...words and phrases that, according to Lake Superior State University, have been so overused that editors consider them trite. New to the list this year is an emoticon that I must admit I'd never seen: <3 (a heart or love). It looks like less-than 3 to me, but I don't travel often in the emotisphere.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year Random Stuff

Happy new year from Flash Fiction Online! Some random stuff:

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