To expand on a point I made earlier in the week

NPR was wrong because they did not afford him freedom of speech. They did it in a way that was unfair. The context was he was arguing with Bill O’Reilly, saying why he should not be so virulently anti-Muslim … It reminded me so much of the case with Shirley Sherrod. They jumped so quick.

I think that some of this predisposition towards Fox was the reason for the gotcha. If they did not want his point of view, they should have said, ‘When your contract is over, you do not fit into our scheme of things.’ And then (he’d) go gracefully and with dignity. But to fire him in that way, and then to suggest he should see a psychiatrist, it was beneath the character and reputation of NPR.

Jesse Jackson

A Writerly Conundrum

So I took the 20K word fragment I’m trying to resurrect into a book proposal and ran it through the hamsters.  The consensus was that what I had worked, which is a good thing since I wrote it over 10 years ago.  However, everyone had the same problem, which is a uniquely SFnal one.

I have a environment without a human POV, everything is from the perspective of my aliens.  Because of this I have, writ large, the problem you have in a 1st person story of describing the protagonist.  When you’re writing from the POV of an alien species, they generally aren’t going to conveniently think of their morphology for the reader’s benefit.  Also, the old trick of passing a character in front of a mirror isn’t going to work, because these guys do not have eyes as such.  They have overdeveloped echolocation and some limited sense of heat/IR radiation.  It is literally impossible for these creatures to perceive themselves as human would.  But I’m trying to give a human reader a mental image of what they “look” like, from within that alien POV.

Oh, then we have pronouns in English used for a species where gender is a completely social construct independent of biology. . .

Fun ways to my my job difficult.

Annoying political post is annoying. . .

I read a lot of political posts, some more obnoxious than others.  To let my liberal readers know, if you are trying to actually convince someone of something (rather than rage or whine or perform public bonding with their chosen clique of like minded internet denizens) you should not use the term “teabagger.”  As in sub-titling your rant, “teabaggers take note.”  Not only are you insuring that anyone involved in any tea party is going to ignore your rant, however clever you think it is, because no one has enough spare time to go out of their way to be insulted, but you telegraph the fact your politics are juvenile and not particularly well thought out.

If you use “teabagger” in a post, I know the following about you:

  • You refer to G.W.Bush as a Fascist and our government as a Democracy, but you become obnoxiously anal and pedantic about definitions of political terms when someone calls Obama a socialist.
  • You believe that it was a miscarriage of justice when this black person was fired for allegedly bigoted comments that were taken out of context, but when this black person was fired for allegedly bigoted comments that were taken out of context, he had it coming.
  • You believe Anita Hill was a martyr for women’s rights and Paula Jones was opportunistic trailer trash going after someone for partisan political purposes.
  • You think George Soros is a benign philanthropist doing his best to support charitably progressive causes, and the brothers Charles and David Koch are shadowy puppet-masters funneling money into American politics to further their own sinister agenda.
  • You thought enacting the Patriot Act was a horrible miscarriage of civil rights, all the way up to the point it was made permanent, when it wasn’t worth complaining about anymore.
  • You think Janeane Garofalo makes sense when she says that calls for a smaller federal government are a coded message meaning “we hate black people.”
  • You think that Media Matters would never slant a story.
  • You think Al Franken was funny, once.
  • You don’t find it ironic that an allegedly anti-establishment comic is holding a political rally that’s pretty much in support of the satus quo over an insurgent political movement.
  • You’ve never watched an episode of Glen Beck or listened to Rush Limbaugh but not only do you know their position on every issue of import, you regularly condemn them for those opinions.
  • You never thought speculation about Trig Pailin’s maternity the least bit creepy.
  • You believe dumping a trillion dollars of stimulus money into the economy is the only thing that saved us from a great depression, but you believe that taking the same amount back out of the economy by taking it from rich people will have no adverse economic impact.

Me @ WFC

Just a head’s up about what’s going on at World Fantasy in a week.  If you’re at the con, or just in the Columbus area, you might want to check these out:

Friday, Oct 29, at 10pm – 1am, join me and authors Lucy A. Snyder, Gary A. Braunbeck, Linda Robertson, Laura Bickle, Maurice Broaddus, Melissa Long, Seressia Glass, and editor Jason Sizemore for an urban fantasy themed party at the WFC convention! (Info on Facebook here.)  There will be booze and cookies.

Saturday, Oct 30, at 11am-1pm, I will be at a humongous mass author signing at the OSU Campus Bookstore 1598 N. High Street, Columbus, OH, 43201.  This is open to the public, so if you’re in the area stop by even if you aren’t attending WFC.  (Facebook info here.)

How humongous is it?  Here’s a list of attendees:

  1. Ari Berk
  2. Beth Bernobich
  3. C.L. Wilson
  4. Carol Berg
  5. Catherynne Valente
  6. Cinda Chima
  7. Dan Wells
  8. Darrell Schweitzer
  9. Dave Sakmyster
  10. Delia Sherman
  11. Elizabeth Vaughan
  12. Ellen Klages
  13. Ellen Kushner
  14. James Enge
  15. Jess Granger
  16. Jim Hines
  17. Joe Haldeman
  18. John (J.A.) Pitts
  19. Laura Bickle / Alayna Williams
  20. Laura Resnick
  21. Linda Robertson
  22. Lucy Snyder
  23. Marie Brennan
  24. Mary Robinette Kowal
  25. M K Hobson
  26. Paige Cuccaro / Alison Paige
  27. S. Andrew Swann
  28. S. L. Farrell (aka Stephen Leigh)
  29. Sam Sykes
  30. Seressia Glass

Hope to see people there.

Memorable Anti-Heroes @ SF Signal

I have been mind-melded again over at SF Signal, and the theme this time is memorable anti-heroes in S/SF:

Here are three of the most memorable anti-heroes in written SF/F, at least the three that come most readily to my mind when the question comes up.

First is Slippery Jim DiGriz of the Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison. He is the classic example of the lovable rogue, a criminal who is more or less tricked into working for the good guys. Con-man, interplanetary criminal, smooth-talking and charming, and aside from drawing the line at killing people, he’s pretty much without a moral compass at all. In fact, in one of the early books, he goes into a long expository explanation of how robbing a bank is actually a perfectly fine thing to do.

Second we have Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock. If you want memorable, this guy is memorable. In fact, in the whole cannon of SF/F literature, Elric is one of the few characters where the word “unique” is an accurate description. A physical weakling, an albino who needs to take drugs to maintain his strength, emperor of a dying civilization; Elric is not just an anti-hero, he is pretty much the antithesis of any other typical sword and sorcery character. In any other fantasy series, Elric would be the antagonist (and he’d be a bitching one.) He also carries around possibly one of the nastier artifacts created in fantasy fiction.

Lastly, we have Severian from the Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. The world he inhabits is strange and fascinating, and he is a rather dark guide. In a genre where there are sympathetic assassins galore, here we have a guy who tortures people as a vocation, and who’s point of disgrace is when he allows one of his victims to kill themselves. That’s kind of hard-core. Also carries a kick-ass sword.

Read the other contributions here.

A coming Chinese apocalypse?

So I’ve been reading a lot of stories like this one that has me a little worried.  We have 25% of the world’s population under an authoritarian regime that’s just on the edge of holding things together.  When you’re spending just as much on internal security as you are on defense, in a world economy that’s on the brink of depression, that’s kind of worrisome.  When you hold paper on everyone’s debts, and it looks as if that paper might have the long term prospects of a Fanny Mae sub-prime mortgage, that’s more worrisome.  Add to that a political culture that’s more concerned about appearances than reality, then we have a problem.  If things start going pear-shaped in the Forbidden Kingdom, I doubt that it will be the controlled implosion we saw in the Soviet Union.  And if things get nasty, even if the gunfire doesn’t leak across the borders (and that’s a big if) it is going to affect the whole planet.

Just picture a WalMart and remove every item from the shelves that has a label “made in China,” and now picture having to re-tool manufacturing to produce all that crap somewhere else.  See, we don’t need a VAT to add 50% to the price of consumer goods.

Ways Not To Promote Your Book, Presidential Edition

In the annals of book promotion, this has got to be up there with the all time bad ideas.

A paperback book was hurled towards President Obama seconds after he completed a Democratic rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, but aides say the incident in no way affected the event.
The US Secret Service found and interviewed the man who threw the book onstage. He was deemed to be an “overexhuberant” supporter who wanted the President to have a copy of a book he had written, according the Special Agent Edwin Donovan of the Secret Service in Washington. “He was deemed not to be a threat and was not arrested,” Donovan told ABC News.