Category Archives: Current News

Hugo Packet

I’m currently having a debate about the “Hugo Packet.” The Hugo Packet is the pile of writing that all the Hugo / Sasquan members/supporters get as part of membership that has a copy of the nominated works so that members can read them and make more informed choices. That is the idea, anyway. So, the question is, should Castalia House send them The Stars Came Back or Shakedown Cruise? Continue reading Hugo Packet

First post-Campbell review

An interesting one. It was posted April 5th, the day after the Hugos and the Campbell was announced.

Standing Desk Treadmills in space … and other bits of fun.
I picked this up this book because the author, Rolf Nelson, is on this years Hugo Awards ballot for best new author. I read the author’s notes, looked through Appendix 1 at the schematic for the ship, started reading, and all of the sudden it was 4 AM and I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. I am currently 48% of the way through the book (Kindle) and I just realized that I might not be able to finish it today. When I start considering the possibility of taking a day off from work to finish a book, it is time to give that book a 5 star rating.

There is more there, detailing why he likes it. It’s worth reading. It will be interesting to see how many more reviews it picks up after the full membership packet goes out, and people start really looking things over in preparation to cast their vote. Something tells me I’ll be at least a little bit polarizing, between Rabid Puppies, format, and plot points. Time to stock up on popcorn!

Why I wrote what I did

Growing up I read a lot. Historical things, fantasy, hard sci fi, space opera, novels, short stories, everything from Heinlein to Gibbon. I liked the ideas, the characters, the action, the adventure, the speculation about people and technology, as well as the facts and amazing people in real life history. I got a degree in computer science in part because computers were the future.

But then, gradually, I found it harder and harder to find new books I liked. I wasn’t sure why it was. I looked at the vast array of things on the shelf and saw nothing that appealed to me. An awesome cover would catch my eye, then I’d read the description, and put it back down. I ended up rereading older things, and got busy with a life of my own, and  went browsing in bookstores ever more rarely because the gatekeepers were not producing much of anything I wanted. If I wanted angst-ridden dystopias filled with mental sickness, hopelessness, corruption, and bad writing, I’d pick up a newspaper. Continue reading Why I wrote what I did

Well, what do you know…

It looks like I made the final ballot for the Campbell Award for best new sci-fi writer. With only one published book (and one short story, also in the same universe) I figure I’m a long shot, even if I have a sequel, a prequel, and a children’s historical book scheduled for this year. In any case, even getting to the final ballot short-list is an honor… Well, interesting, anyway. No clue what the competition is like, but it should be fun to watch unfold. I can almost hear some brains exploding from here.

Also on the list: Wesley Chu*, Jason Cordova, Kary English*, Eric S. Raymond (*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.)

Mixed words on making the short list for the Prometheus. But as I hear the competition is strong this year, so I’m a long-shot there, too. But how many people manage to make both a “best new X” list at the same time they make the list for some other category in the field competing against long-time pros?

Just getting nominated for either award is proof the universe has a twisted sense of humor. If I happen to win, I know that my little corner of the cosmos is a very strange one. Not a bad one, mind you, just more than a little bit odd.

Campbell

Some days the universe decides I need to be surprised. Apparently it’s Sci-Fi award season, and now Vox has me on his list of people to vote for in the John W Campbell award for “Best New Writer.”

I asked him if he was sure. I mean, I’m flattered, but really? His reply:
Rolf, there is literally no new writer who better illustrates the importance of story over style than you do. What so many people fail to understand is that while technical skill is nice, it’s a secondary, if not tertiary aspect of good writing.

We don’t still read Asimov due to the beauty of his prose. We read him for the stories. And while technical skill can be developed and improved, you’ve either got stories to tell or you don’t.

Great. Even my publisher thinks my style sucks. 🙂 . On the other hand, if the story is good enough to do well in spite of such a great handicap, maybe it’s something. We will see. Be a bizarre twist of fate if it happened. Looking at the winners of long ago, there are some impressive names there. Looking at more recent years…. not so much.

Prometheus

Cool. Very cool, and very unexpected.

Just got word from Vox Day that The Stars Came Back has been nominated for a Prometheus Award for this year. It’s the award given by the Libertarian Futurist Society.

Past winners include Sarah Hoyt, Harry Turtledove, L. Neil Smith, Vernor Vinge, Terry Pratchett, Ken MacLeod, Poul Anderson, James P. Hogan, J. Neil Schulman, and many more big names. Even if I come in last place, just being nominated to potentially stand amid such a group of names is quite an honor.

r/K selection

A recent article I wrote referred to a Blaze blurb with an excerpt from The Future of the Gun, by Frank Miniter. It explored the effects on world outlook and life choices that gun control laws have on the people subjected to them. Short version: because the gun is a symbol of power, taking away legal guns from law-abiding citizens undercuts the appeal of the “law abiding and productive life” to young men, making them turn to gang and thug life for “power” and respect,” via gun ownership.

Continue reading r/K selection

Happy 4th!

It’s been too long. Happy Birthday, America!

Remember, today isn’t about parades, flags, grilling, or fireworks. Today is about the day a nation declared itself free, a nation founded and dedicated to individual rights as a real and actual thing, not simply lofty-sounding words constantly subject to the “needs” of the State.

Remember: Government is force. It can’t care, or be generous. It can only “give” to one what it has first taken away. It’s run by people, humans as flawed as the people they govern – perhaps even more, because they are the people who seek not to serve, but to rule. Celebrate what freedoms we have, and keep trying to keep them. We may be weakened by the political class, but we aren’t pining for the fjords quite yet.

Up to about 34,000 words on the next book, best day recently was 3000 words in a day.

Inside Politics and Publishing

It seems authoritarian creep (and creeps) manage to infest just about every large group that offers awards and titles. I used to be very active in the medieval recreation group the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms). I loved fighting in armor, the camaraderie, events, and the rest. But it started to get much too political and inbred (for lack of a better word) about the same time I met the young lady that became my wife, so I quit the SCA cold turkey. The SWFA (Science Fiction Writers Association) has become similarly infested with self-promoting, left-wing, intolerant hacks. There are a lot of details I’m sure I don’t know, but I’ve sort of been following it at Vox Popoli, and more recently at Sarah Hoyt‘s blog. A few days ago there was this hysterically funny posting, written mostly in animated GIFs. Among the comments were two cents worth being put in by Jerry Pournelle, Kim du Toit, Charlie Martin (not surprising, I guess), Michael Kingswood, David Brin, Mercedes Lackey, and many others. It was one of those things that was “just…. wow” to watch unfolding. An incredible rant, and magnificent comments, among them this gem by gryphonking: Continue reading Inside Politics and Publishing