Whew, that was close…

In the interstitial time between finishing the Messiah draft, and working on the rewrite, I’m working on a few book proposals to shop around since I’ve become a free agent. One of those book proposals has a tentative title Timewalker. Which is all I’m going to tell you about it, for the time being. However, it is enough to let you know why I felt an unpleasant raise in my heart rate when I saw the following book reviewed on Dear Author:

Fortunately, aside from the time-travel aspect, and the gender of the protagonist, this book by Shana Abé has exactly ziltch in common with what I’m working on. I have, however, started reconsidering my title.

Me, elsewhere

I melded my mind on the SF Signal blog again. My contribution re: underrated fantasy series:

Ok, I’m going to cheat a little here, because there was once a time when if you were talking a fantasy series, you were not talking “novels.” From the pulps up through the 1970s, if you were talking a series of anything, you were likely talking about short stories published in the genre magazines. And, if you’re talking overlooked work today, that whole class of fiction — from Jirel of Joiry, to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser — is probably almost unknown to most of today’s readers. Which is a shame, because much of what appears in print today draws its inspiration from this early stuff, directly or indirectly. And I’d like to draw attention to someone who may be to gritty noir urban fantasy what Tolkien is to the grand high-fantasy epic, and probably no one reading this knows who he is.

The author is Seabury Quinn, and the series is about occult detective Jules de Grandin. These stories, which began appearing in Weird Tales in the mid 1920s, featured an investigator who’s been called “the occult Hercule Poirot,” and were incredibly popular at the time. Popular enough that reader polls consistently had him beating such now-better-known notables as H.P.Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and C.L.Moore. And, throughout the pulp era, Quinn had more stories published than any other contributor. One-hundred-forty-nine stories between 1925 and 1951. (At least in words, more than enough to fulfill the three “novel” requirement.) While he may not have been as stellar an author as his contemporaries, his pair of occult detectives presages the X-Files, the Dresden Books, and any number of modern titles where we find the mixture of genre mystery or police procedural tropes with the supernatural in a modern setting.

Go read everyone else.

A little reminder. . .

A little bit of a reality check for those of us who write about SF futures, or just think about the future in general. This snazzy 21st Century lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to is based on an extremely long supply-chain. Think of the support required for an iPhone to exist. (h/t Futurismic) You have mines, factories, server farms, copper an optical cabling, cell towers. . . every one of those disparate elements is subject to the whims of the real world; everything from political regulatory interference to natural disasters, and we already see how a software monoculture can breed cyberpunkish entities like the conficker worm. We already live in a world with global chains of dependence and choke points all over the place, and the past few decades we’ve been pushing down the ideas of overcapacity for a model that’s more “just in time.” Those efficiencies make the whole system vulnerable. When one factory in China makes your chip, what happens when the nearby river floods, the workers succumb to a typhus outbreak, or the plant is nationalized in a war effort?

What kind of global infrastructure is required to support and maintain your cybernetic transuman warrior chick, and what happens to her when the structure breaks down?

Going out with a bang

funny pictures of cats with captions

It is done!  The last volume of the Apotheosis Trilogy, Messiah, has just wrapped up at 103K words. (About 3000 words over my mark, which means the final revised draft is going to be even longer.)  We have officially capped off the series I began back in 1993 with Forests of the Night.  A series that has run to ten novels now, three trilogies plus a single one off novel, that cover a time-span of half a millennium, and range from near-future noir thriller to apocalyptic transhumanist space opera.

I’ve also just written what I think may be the most over-the-top climax of anything I’ve ever done.  This in a series where I’ve already eaten a star, blown up a network of 100 wormholes, and assimilated the Earth. I was sort of running out of ways to top myself. I got everything here, the villain eating the Vatican, space battles, transhumanisim, civil war, all hell breaking loose on a space station, eschatology, and the second most transgressive sex scene in the series.

Fan Fiction is Evil!

At least that’s the conclusion that Diana Gabaldon has come to.

OK, my position on fan-fic is pretty clear: I think it’s immoral, I _know_ it’s illegal, and it makes me want to barf whenever I’ve inadvertently encountered some of it involving my characters.

Of course, I have some different conclusions (or I probably wouldn’t be posting about it.)

You can’t camp in someone’s backyard without permission, even if you aren’t raising a marijuana crop back there. And you can’t use someone’s copyrighted characters for your own purposes, no matter what those purposes are. Really. I’m not making it up; this is International Copyright Law.

Uh, not quite. There is a concept called Fair Use that, despite being attacked by corporate interests like the RIAA & MPAA, is still part of copyright law. It’s why you get to DVR an episode of Lost. It’s why South Park, or Saturday Night Live, or any random stand-up comic can satirize any piece of the culture out there, copyright or not. It’s why I can quote the blog text to critique it’s points. Lastly, the copyright is of the actual text, using a character or setting is much more iffy. In effect, Fair Use is based on if the new work is transformative, the purpose of the work, the amount of the work copied, and the effect on the original author’s ability to exploit their copyright. Basically, almost all of Fan Fiction falls into Fair Use as a practical matter, and only shades into illegality when it starts entering commercial use.

I can understand how she must feel about what she’s seen, Rule 34 and all.  However, I think her argument (which has a few good points that boil down to “you really want to be a writer, come up with your own stuff,” and “you want to play in someone’s franchise go pitch a script to the right people.”) jumps the shark when it hits the following analogy:

But…imagine opening your daily mail and finding a letter detailing an explicit sexual encounter between, say, your twenty-one-year-old daughter and your forty-eight-year-old male neighbor—written by the neighbor. At the bottom it says, “Fiction! Just my imagination. All cool, right?” This would perhaps prevent your calling the police, but I repeat…ick.

I wouldn’t like people writing sex fantasies for public consumption about me or members of my family—why would I be all right with them doing it to the intimate creations of my imagination and personality?

The conflation of fanfic writers with creepy stalker behavior is a little over the top. And frankly, books aren’t your children. And to answer the latter question, you need to be all right with that because being an writer means you’re throwing your “intimate creations of your imagination” out for public consumption. Its an act of exhibitionism, and people will love it, people will hate it, and some people will use it for wanking material.