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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Google's Future of New Digital's Books

FFO has given some coverage [1 2] of this never-ending story after major breaks. This chapter involves Google's view of new books [Media Bistro] rather than the zillions of out-of-print books about which Google locked horns with the Authors Guild.

Google figures new publications will have digital versions and you'll not want to have copies stored on your e-book reader, smart phone, or computer. You'll want to store it on the cloud, where you'll always be able to find it.

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Can Frankenstein Save New Orleans?

If you've followed Dean Koontz's series of Frankenstein novels, you may be happy to know that he's finally publishing the third of the series, Dead and Alive, after much wrangling from his fans. It's arriving in the bookstores any day now. Here is a synopsis of Dead and Alive from Dean Koontz's Frankenstein web site.

This is the first of the series that Koontz wrote alone, according to the Wikipedia article about the series. The first, Prodigal Son, was co-written with Kevin J. Anderson. The second, City of Night, was co-written with Ed Gorman. The Wikipedia article has a very brief synopsis of the series.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review of Recent Speculative Fiction Books

SFRevu.com has about 30 recent speculative fiction books concisely reviewed (and many more in their archives). The three most recent are:

  • A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
  • Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
  • Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

These are from their U.S. book list of reviews. The also have UK books and graphic novel/Manga reviews.

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e-Book Reader Review by Wired

On the occasion of a new Samsung e-book reader, Wired reviews the top eight e-book readers. There are no surprises (except perhaps a tablet-sized reader by Plastic Logic), but if you're thinking of buying one, the article gives a concise opinion of the choices.

Not mentioned is the Apple e-book reader play, which is now just "vaporware." Speculation is rampant, but many agree that Apple will have to do something special to differentiate it from and stand up to their iPhone, iPod and iTouch products. The Business Insider article speculates about how the 900-pound gorilla, iTunes, figures into the Apple e-book reader and Apple's relationship with traditional book and e-Book sellers, such as Amazon.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do You Write Like a Girl?

Apparently, an editor's opinion can be influenced by a writers' name. Here is a story at StoryTellersUnplugged about a writer who had a book publishing contract moving along nicely. Within six weeks, it took a turn south for a strange reason...no spoilers.

Bonus! Apparently, it's dangerous to text while driving (23-fold more dangerous). Who woulda thunk it?

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The Onion Now a Chinese Newspaper?

Oh dear, America has lost another of its great newspapers. The Onion is now a Chinese-run newspaper. You'll notice subtle changes, such as this article: "Internet Adds 12th Website." Here is the opening of that story:

BEIJING—The World Wide Web, a device used solely for the enrichment of the nation and the advancement of lasting social stability, gained another website for the convenience of its users Monday, bringing the current number of existing Internet destinations to 12. SeedStore.com, the latest site to burst into cyberspace after taking the Public Pledge On Self-Discipline, offers users a variety of quality flower....

Oh, dear.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

You're Not Vain; You Really Are Prettier than Your Great Grandmother

Never mind whether this is an observation that happens to match the theory, or the theory in practice; it's just interesting and has these results:

1. 'Objectively more attractive' parents produce 26% more daughters than sons.
2. Women are becoming more objectively attractive while men remain the same slugs they always were (a slight paraphrase).

Here is the observation that happens to match the theory or the theory in practice.

Scribe Awards Winners--Media Tie-In

According to the International Association of Media Tie-Writers (IAMTW) web site, the Scribe Awards are for the 'overlooked' writers of media tie-in fiction. The writers write licensed works (i.e., not fan fic):

Our books are original tie-in novels, comic books and short stories based on existing characters from movie, TV series, books, games, and cartoons... or they are novelizations (books based on screenplays for movies and TV shows).

The IAMTW sponsors the Scribe Awards for media tie-in writiers. Their nominees for the Scribe Awards are on the IAMTW/Scribe web site. At the time of posting of this article, IAMTW had not posted the winners, but several other web sites gleaned the information from press releases. SF Awards Watch has posted all the winners. They report that the best speculative fiction original work is: Star Trek Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers by James Swallow.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Evolution of Cult TV

Here is part one and two of an Entertainment Weekly story about cult television. The linchpin of the article is Lost, the cult TV show. The article shows how the meaning of 'cult TV' has changed over time, from a failed experiment that caught a second wind (such as Star Trek), to a more calculated one:

Throughout the 1990s, cult TV began morphing into something more than just a category of brilliant-but-canceled-yet-fondly-recalled programs. "Cult" became a sensibility, made sexy by the rise of "alternative culture" and made marketable by a paradigm shift toward demo-targeted niche marketing. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990-1991) quickly went from phenomenon to joke, yet nonetheless proved....(more)

Some of the shows mentioned in the article include the usual suspects, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Prisoner. Also mentioned are Doctor Who, The Stand, The Dark Tower, and others.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Feisty New Sherlock Holmes Movie

The guys and gals at SF Crowsnest are reporting a trailer for a new Sherlock Holmes movie that is not as buttoned down as in the traditional treatment of this character. Flash Fiction Online receives a mystery now and then in its slush pile, and a certain unnamed editor-in-chief here has a fondness for this genre.

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Bloggers and News Services

Many bloggers are news aggregators. They find news stories related to the interests of their readers and summarize them. A popular type of news aggregation is the "tech" blog, where the bloggers find geeky news for their geeky readers. They give short summaries of the news and give links to the original sources. This blog is an attempt to find news of interest to speculative fiction readers and writers, although it is not quite as laser-focused as the tech blogs. Readers and writers in general have wide interests, so the spectrum of articles here is wide. This blog attempts to give brief descriptions of cited news articles, add something to it, and link to the original or secondary source.

There is a point. Some of the news services, like the Associated Press, and major newspapers are becoming concerned about news aggregators. (Blogs are not the only type of news aggregation.) Newspapers (and therefore news services) are trying to discern a business model by which they can survive in the new economy. Print ads alone don't seem to work any longer, and subscribers don't seem willing to pay for online services. So, the publishers are feeling a bit robbed by aggregators. They complain that aggregators take their headlines and article summaries without compensating the originators. Bloggers claim fair use rights. Even aggregators complain about other aggregators. (Google News comes to mind; they've gone after heavy-handed aggregators who use Googles' headlines and summaries.) Both sides have arguments; these will not be argued here. This is just to keep the FFO readers and writers informed, since many of them have blogs.

The news incident that prompted this article is AP's new news registry, by which they hope to track copyright violations more closely, as reported by ReadWriteWeb. Bloggers who report their latest writing failures and triumphs, and count and report the burps and hiccups of their children need not worry. (But keep an eye on AP, in case they pick up your article.)

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Meteorite Capture on Telescope Camera

It's near impossible to photograph a meteorite image with a camera having a relatively wide-angle lens. However, a kid in Baltimore (PA) captured one with a telescope with attached camera. Here is a blog with pictures of the meteorite. He's gotten a lot of interest from meteorite hunters and scientists.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Children's Books that Influenced Authors

Publishers Weekly has excerpts from a book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book, that answers the question asked of various public figures: what children's book changed the way you see the world? PW excerpted the comments from public figures associated with the creation of books for young people, including Maurice Sendak and Beverly Cleary.

Maurice Sendak says:

Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon is just immense fun. Harold does exactly as he pleases. There are no adults to demonstrate or remonstrate. The book comes out of a particular theory of children's books: Just let the kid do his own thing; let him have fun....

The children's book publishing figures excerpted include: Peter Sís, Leonard Marcus, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Cleary, Wendell Minor, David Macaulay, Thacher Hurd, Eric Rohmann, Marc Brown, and Eden Ross Lipson.

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Romance at Flash Fiction Online?

Yes...FFO receives romance submissions in the slush pile now and then. It's been a top genre for many years in the book trade, sometimes trouncing speculative fiction sales as a whole. The expansion into romance-related sub-genres has been heavy, including SF and fantasy. Here are a couple of related articles:

The 'king' of bodice-rippers, Harlequin, now has a new imprint for teens, Harlequin Teen, with a speculative edge. Yes, the article mentions Stephanie Meyers; her stories blasted this market open.

SF Scope has reported on the paranormal romances noted in the Romance Writers of America's 2009 RITA and Golden Heart Award.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Space News

There has been quite a bit of space news lately because of yesterday's 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. Here is an eclectic collection of related stories:

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Current and Near-Future Space Travel

This panorama of current and near-future space travel, provided by The Independent (UK), gives a view of the current upcoming endeavors and tensions of space travel, including lunar visits and to "infinity and beyond," to quote a certain cartoon character. The players are the U.S. and her partners, Russia and her partners, the Chinese, and commercial concerns such as Virgin Galactic. In some cases, such as the International Space Station, participants in the new space race are contestants and partners at the same time.

China is the new player, with an independent intention to land on the moon at about the same time that the U.S. intends to return there. Of course there are budget concerns.

However, space travel is not pretty. When did you ever see Captain Kirk excuse himself from the bridge for personal plumbing issues? "You have the bridge, Mr. Spock. I haffa go potty....Emergency! Scottie to the potty...Scottie to the potty...it's broken." In the now-crowded International Space Station, the poor near-spacemen and near-spacewomen are suffering such a catastrophe, with no convenience store or McD in a nearby orbit. (Were you aware that the ISS has a orbiting pay-potty?)

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Elemental Copernicus

According to New Scientist, Nicolaus Copernicus may have a new super-heavy element named after him, if Copernicium is accepted by the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry. Copernicus is known, among other things, for declaring that Earth rotates around the sun.

Ironically, Copernicium neutrons rotate around electrons. Well...wouldn't it be ironic *if* the did. (Cough.)

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

First Hi-Res LRO Photos of Lunar Landing Sites

NASA has released the first of the hi-resolution photos of the lunar landing sites, from the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter), showing artifacts of Apollo missions there. On these first photos, evidence of the artifacts is mainly through bright objects with long shadows of lunar modules Eagle, Falcon, Orion, Challenger and Antares, and areas of human footpaths. The Flat Earth Society will not be impressed. Later photos will have three times the resolution, so details will be more apparent and The Flat Earth Society will be three times less unimpressed.

The primary LRO mission is to identify future landing sites.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Emmy Awards Genre Nominees

SF Scope has assembled a nice list of the Emmy Awards nominees that they consider genre productions. Kicking mainstream hindquarters is 24, with its 6 nominations this year and a total of 63 since 2002.

Here are the Emmy Awards genre nominees.

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Why Book Publishing Must Die

Here is an opinion piece by Richard Nash, former publisher at Soft Skull Press, why traditional book publishing will and should die.

"The book business is a tiny industry perched atop a massive hobby. But rather than celebrate and serve the hobbyists, we expect them to shell out ever more money for the books we keep throwing at them...."

Mr. Nash does not offer new, concrete ideas for a new business model for book publishing to connect readers to writers, but gives a concise description of the angst of the industry.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Blob that Ate the North Slope

We don't get a lot of Alaska Daily News stories here at FFO, but we're always glad to. This story was reported by ADN, of course, but also Boing Boing, SlashDot and many others. It is too B-movie-ish not to report it at FFO.

There is a large blob of "arctic goo" floating in the cold waters off of Barrow. Here's what it isn't: oil/petroleum. It does seem organic but not too threatening. No one in area recalls such an event in the past, so they're anxiously awaiting test results from goo samples. Boing Boing said that the blob ate a bird, but FFO does not have confirmation from the bird's relatives. So put that in the rumor category.

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LoTA Bests the LoTR?

LoTA: Lord of the Accountancy

A joke as old as Hollywood is that no film ever made a dime, according to the studio accountants who cooked the books. That is the joke behind the lawsuit filed by the heirs of JRR Tolkien against the studio that produced the Lord of the Rings-based movies. The heirs would like $220 million dollars, sooner rather than later. At risk is $4B in future sales associated with planned Hobbit movies. Here is the Bloomberg story that gives the details of the issues and large cast of players in the money issues of the LoTR and Hobbit movies.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 Thriller Awards Winners

Flash Fiction Online receives thrillers occasionally in its slush pile. The International Thriller Writers have announced the 2009 Thriller Awards winners. They include:

  • Best Thriller of the Year: THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND, Jeffery Deaver (Simon & Schuster)
  • Best First Novel: CHILD 44, Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Best Short Story: THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, Alexandra Sokoloff (in Darker Mask)

You can see the short list of nominees and previous winners, here.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Realms of Fantasy Moving Ahead

SF Scope reports that Realms of Fantasy (which had ceased operation), is now operating. They've purchased stories that the previous owner had accepted but not yet published. They've not opened their submissions gate yet because of these prior commitments to authors. This is a Good Thing.

See SF Scope's article on Realms of Fantasy's first purchases.

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Hi-Res Moonwalk Video to Be Released

Do you remember NASA's embarrassing 2006 episode of the missing video tapes of the moonwalk? These were high-resolution video recordings. The images seen back home on television were reduced resolution (a standard TV camera recording off a hi-res monitor, BION). The cited Wiki article is a bit confusing because of serial editing, but in June of this year the tapes were found in a Perth, Australia storage site. One tricky bit is that the video recording format is so old that restoration was difficult.

:drum roll: NASA has announced it will hold a briefing on Thursday (July 16, 2009) to release the restored Apollo 11 moonwalk video.

Two interpretations:
--Our space enthusiasts: Yah!
--Our cynical curmudgeons: why'd it take Disney so long to produce these tapes?

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Monday, July 13, 2009

How Hollywood Markets Movies Internationally

Here is an interesting Variety article that describes how Hollywood studios market their films internationally. No doubt, this approach is used elsewhere, too. The article gives examples from several movies, the latest "Star Trek" movie, the most interesting.

In short, "Star Trek" can be presented as a space opera, a disaster movie, a romance...any way you want to fashion it to match the tastes of the target audience. The most amusing, due to the terminology used, is the "office ladies" spin in Japan. These working women go to movies alone after work in droves and are critical to a movie's success in Japan; thus "Star Trek" was spun as a romance in their ads and trailers, there.

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Kindle Indie Strikes Publishing Deal

Successful independent publishing is possible. Here is a short Tech Crunch article about a writer who self-published via Amazon's Kindle platform and later struck a publishing deal with Simon and Schuster.

A significant factor in his success (besides the apparent quality of the novel) was heavy self-promotion of his book (i.e., hard work).

Bonus!: Here is a write-up on the anticipated Apple MacPad, a competitor to the Amazon Kindle. Apple is trying to make the MacPad compelling even to current iPhone owners.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

How To Write a Novel

Nathan Bransford is a literary agent for Curtis Brown. His writing and publishing blog is widely acclaimed. He has an article by a guest on his blog, Victoria Mixon, an editor with an eclectic background in writing and editing. Her article is entitled, Everything You Need to Know About Writing a Novel, in 1000 Words. It's a flash non-fiction piece, so Flash Fiction Online readers will have perfectly tuned pacing to take full advantage of this excellent article.

She covers the Plot (including the opening hook and the five biggest mistakes made in plotting), Scenes (character, dialog, description, action), and Exposition.

She's young, though. She said nothing about turning on your computer. So you can thank for her for the good writing bits and FFO for saving you from pounding on your keyboard for hours wondering what's wrong.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hemingway a Spy?

The Guardian (UK) reports on a book that claims Ernest Hemingway was a spy...maybe, sort of. The Yale University Press book was based on notes that one of the co-authors made when "given access in the 90s to Stalin-era intelligence archives in Moscow." Two theories were provided: Hemingway was a willing but ineffectual spy (coughed up no useful information from his travels) or was using the KGB to research a novel. To make the matter more confusing, the article notes that Hemingway was a patriot in his patrolling of the gulf waters north of Cuba for U-boats, cough, spotting only one.

I'll offer other options, since the book was inconclusive:
1. the KGB officer who "recruited" Hemingway never made contact; he was trying to get a raise.
2. Hemingway was recruiting the KGB officer; the KGB officer had to report the opposite, of course.
3. Hemingway just nodded in agreement with the agent because he was embarrassed that he didn't speak Russian.
4. The book authors and the Guardian are in a conspiracy against moi, to make me out of fool (too late, dudes).

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Free Book Not Free Enough

FFO reported previously about the controversy of Wired editor Chris Anderson's alleged use of Wikipedia material without attribution for his book, Free, about the need of online material to be free.

Publishers Weekly has a follow-up, now that the book is online via Scribd. It seems that the word free is scary to many. Not having read the book, I can only surmise that Mr. Anderson means free as in free beer, rather than freedom, in the linux/open source software sense. Amusingly, PW reports that free is not free enough. Some online commentors at that Scribd site were complaining they couldn't download the book. Here is the Publishers Weekly article.

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Sunburst Award for Canadian Writers--Short List

By way of SFawardsWatch.com. The Sunburst Award is a juried Canadian award for Canadian authors of speculative fiction in two categories: adult and young adult. The authors may be living in Canada or abroad.

Here is the short list:

Adult list:

  • Night Child, by Jes Battis, Ace
  • The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson, Random House Canada
  • The Alchemist's Code, by Dave Duncan, Ace
  • Things Go Flying, by Shari Lapeña, Brindle & Glass
  • Half a Crown, by Jo Walton, Tor

Young adult list

  • The Summoning, by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
  • Dingo, by Charles de Lint, Viking
  • Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, Tor
  • Wild Talent: A Novel of the Supernatural, by Eileen Kernaghan, Thistledown Press
  • Night Runner, by Max Turner, HarperTrophy

The jurors provided a suggested reading list, as well (honorable mentions). The right column of the award home page includes an announcement area with a log of international award winners by Canadian writers. From that you can see that Cory Doctorow and been on nearly every short list on the planet with Little Brother. He's in this list in the Young Adult Category and is a good bet.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Speculative Fiction Publishing Trends

Strange Horizons magazine has an interesting online article on the recent trends of speculative book publishing. It was written by Mr. Valentin D. Ivanov, a Bulgarian professional astronomer, folklorist and speculative fiction writer.

Mr. Ivanov's method was to survey the Notable Books received for review since about 1998 by Locus Online magazine, since they are highly regarded publication and have a broad view of what is speculative fiction. He tabulated and graphed the data for your viewing. He divided the books into 18 categories, including genres of speculative fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

In general, all categories are in a pleasing rise, with the exception of anthologies and collections, which are flat or slightly negative. The article also gives figures for the proportion of sequels published.

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Zombies Are Back, At a Neighborhood Bookstore Near You

Zombies are back. Pocket Books has made a seven-book deal with horror publisher Permuted Press for zombie titles, according to Publishers Weekly.

If you can't get enough zombies, here is a list of about eight-dozen zombie novels, with links at the end for games, movies, non-fiction and other essential zombie lore.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is Blogging Dead?

This is my first real-time blog post. As I'm writing this, I'm reading a Mashable article about the future of blogging. Already, the author, Mr. Steve Rubel, has wondered if blogging is dead. If that is the case then, I might not finish this post because, well, if blogging is dead, what would be the point of flogging a dead blog, right? So if I just stop like

<-that, then you may infer that blogging is dead and you should spend more time tweeting. So, I'll read a little more now...still alive...still alive...has to evolve or succumb to Darwinism...doesn't sound good...oh, I could be syndicated!...or not. I'm not in a blog network; might be doomed. Ew! I might merge with a journalist. And there's a complicated diagram; I hope there's not a test. Ew! There's stuff about connective tissue in the future-of-blogging diagram. Sounds like Borg issues. A join the continuum Borg blog?

What a minute! The article stopped without a definite yes/no answer. Did blogging just die? Let me check...no, they want you to add more ideas to the blog diagram to help save blogging. OK, I suggest that bloggers be paid huge sums out of national coffers. That would save it for sure.

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Arthur C Clark Award--Chair of Judges' Speech

SF Crowsnest has the text of the speech given by the chair of the judges, Paul Billinger, at the award ceremonies prior to announcing the winner. We thought that FFO readers and contributors would find the judge's brief comments about the short list of contenders interesting. Flash Fiction Online announced the short list and winner, Ian R MacLeod, for Song of Time (PS Publishing), previously.

A bit of crowing for SF Crowsnest: one of the judges for the award was from their staff. Mr. Billinger is from the Serendip Foundation, the organization administering the award.

Since the speech is short, we'll give just one snippet, from Mr. Billinger's comments about the winner's novel:

Infused throughout is the love of music with some of the most evocative writing on the subject for many years. Coupled with rich, all too human characters, this subtle discourse on memory and identity is a novel to savour.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coded Message to T. Jefferson Finally Decrypted

Thomas Jefferson received a coded message from a friend claiming the code would: "defy the united ingenuity of the whole human race."

Arranging the "united ingenuity of the whole human race" might be trickier than the code, but it was a decent code, considering it took a modern computer 100,000 calculations using equally modern techniques, such as frequency analysis of 2-letter combinations gathered from documents of the time.

The Newsvine article gives the details of the encryption method, which was used later for diplomatic communication. The method is quite accessible, involving reordering the characters and inserting random numbers of extra characters.

Perhaps you can use it to encrypt your parental control passwords.

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Vote for Your Favorite B-Movie

Are you tired of seeing the same old movie stars, like Will Smith, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie?

Do you find expensive production values off-putting?

Do you chuckle inwardly when you see a string holding up a flying saucer, or an actor *way* over-extending himself, or a plot hole large enough to drive a truck through?

Is Ed Wood, Jr. a genius?

My friend, you may be a B-movie fan. Here's your chance to vote for your favorite B-movies via the 2009 Golden Cob Award. You're not too late. Voting has just begun.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Buzz Aldrin Interview

Here is a Guardian (UK) retrospective interview of Buzz Aldrin, who is 79 now. The text interview is accompanied by a video. Aldrin has had his ups and downs since his Apollo days, with alcoholism and his recent enthusiasm as a cheerleader for the U.S. space program. The interview is informative, but the interior asides of the interviewer in the text were a distraction, in my opinion.

Car Review on a Writing Site? Why, oh, Why?

I first saw reference to this Bugatti car-review article on Wired by way of SlashDot. It is a review of their new billionaire's club Veyron sports car that has a top speed of 245 MPH and acceleration to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. You'd have to sell quite a few short stories to purchase one: $2.1 million. That's about $2000 per horsepower (8 liter, 1001 horsepower).

What's interesting about the article is the writing, which praises the amazing road performance of the car while an undercurrent flows that humorously rips Bugatti (owned by Volkswagen) for building the car.

The acceleration is so immediate you can feel your eyeballs deform under the G-forces. It's a sensation of isolationist joy, an out-of-body awareness that you're moving faster than the world can react. Bystanders vaguely remember seeing a flash of expensive paint a few seconds after you disappear over the horizon; entire generations of insects die on your prow. Passing other motorists becomes a dangerous entitlement that has you resenting oncoming traffic for hogging your "VIP lane" -- especially when you realize that you can outrun not only the 5-0's cruisers, but their helicopters, too....
It required the intellectual might of one of the largest and arguably smartest car companies in the world to birth a car that was not only faster than anything on the road, but easy enough to pilot that anyone could drive it. ("It killed my husband" is not the kind of country-club buzz that sells cars.)

I think at $2.1 million, they could have spent a few more microseconds coming up with a name for the car. Maybe give each owner a unique name or his car. (Yeah, this is a boy's toy.)

If you should meet an owner and feel pissy, I suggest these insults:

  • It's a Volkswagen, dude.
  • Where's the cupholder?

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

International Space Station (ISS) Visible to Many

Starting yesterday (you're welcome), the International Space Station (ISS), will be quite visible all over the world for a while. It has a 90-minute orbit, so it may be visible several times per day. Because of its continuing construction over the years, it has become quite large...the largest spacecraft in existence*.

NASA has some general information on these ISS viewing events, here. That article refers to Space.com's satellite spotting guide, which gives some guidance on when and where to look in your area. You may also find local news coverage in your area on this topic.

*Except for certain alien craft in Area 51...we can't talk about it. Americans can see the alien craft by going to Nevada and presenting a valid public library card or Disney Pass and telling who won "the series" in 1951.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Virtual World Shennanigans and Goings On: EVE

This post, based on a BBC online article, is not to update you on the EVE virtual world, but to give a glimpse into the state of virtual worlds, if you've largely ignored them (as I have). EVE is a massively multiplayer online game (MMORPG). (The tortured acronym is not mine.) This MMORPG is an expansive space opera game involving hundreds of thousands of players, reportedly. Second Life is another MMORPG that is more of a social virtual world. Both have their own virtual currencies for trading within the game world. EVE's currency is the ISK (interstellar kredits). You may earn ISKs within the game through services and products made in the world.

However, since players pay real money to play the game (and people always try to create a pecking order in every situation), ISKs have a perceived real value. There are even banks for ISK currency.

That's where the scandal occurred. One of the players running a bank allegedly (virtually allegedly?) embezzled billions of kredits from one of the larger banks and traded it for £3,115. He was banned as a player, not for the theft, but for exchanging it for real cash, apparently a violation of TOS. The BBC article speculates he wouldn't have been banned for using the virtually ill-gotten gains within the game.

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Classic SF "Lensman" Coming to a Theater Near You?

Movie deals are long in the making and quick in the unmaking. According to this SFF Chronicles article, one possible deal in the works is EE Doc Smith's SF classic "Lensman" series, which perhaps defined "space opera." This would be a Good Thing, especially since Ron Howard may be involved.

There was speculation about this as far back as January '08 in this Sci Fi Wire article about Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment's and Universal Pictures' negotiation with the Smith estate. Here is some background on the Lensman series from the arbiter of Internet knowledge, Wikipedia.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2009 Results

It was a dark and stormy night, and while the vampires where out, prowling, howling like werewolves on a hot tin roof, totally unaware of the shenanigans in Congress that would take away their retirement benefits like a thief in the night, the...um...if forgot where I was going with this...oh, yeah, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest results for 2009 are in like butter on bread.

The winner is David McKenzie from Federal Way, Washington. Here is the start to his entry:

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May,...."

To see the rest of this winning entry and the runner-up, go here. There are also many genre category winners and runners up ("dishonorable mentions"), including science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance and others. Here is the start of the fantasy winner:

"A quest is not to be undertaken lightly--or at all!--pondered Hlothgar, Thrag of the Western Boglands, son of Glothar, nephew of Garthol, known far and wide as Skull Dunker, as he wielded his chesty stallion Hralgoth through...."

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July '09 Flash Fiction Online Issue Up

The July '09 Flash Fiction Online issue is up and it's a good one. We have a ghost story, a sobering mainstream story, an honest-to-goodness romance with a charming character, and a science fiction Classic Flash.

Bruce Holland Rogers discusses character and gives us character story called “Jerry”.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Micro Award for Flash Fiction Open for Submissions in Oct.

From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, submissions will be taken for the Third Annual Micro Award. The Micro Award is a competition for fiction not over 1000 words. The present award will be for works published in 2009. Editors may submit two stories and anyone else may submit one. This year, self-published stories are eligible and the prize for the winning story is $100. Rules and submission information are posted at the Micro Award Official Website.

Bruce Holland Rogers won the first Micro Award for his story, "Reconstruction Work," published here at Flash Fiction Online.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Review of Flash Fiction Online at SF Revu

Sam Tomaino at SF Revu has a review of the June 2009 issue of FFO, which should have this link after the June issue is published, otherwise, it is the current issue.

Sam was complimentary of all of the June stories, especially this one:

"Branwen’s Revenge" by Sarah Adams is a retelling of the old collection of Welsh myths called The Mabinogion. Branwen had been married off to a king who did not appreciate her. He made her a scullery maid and abuses her. Every day she sings to the mockingbird "Alas for Branwen the White, who suffers every day!" Will her brother hear her call? This was a beautifully written piece.

Sam also reviews the most recent editions of Analog Science Fiction and Fact (Sept.), Asimov's Science Fiction (August), Black Static Eleven (June/July), Greatest Uncommon Denominator Magazine (Spring), Jim Baen’s Universe (June), Sybil's Garage (#6, May), and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (August/September) .

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