Category Archives: Current News

The law is dead

The Supreme Court of the US just upheld the ObamaCare subsidies in direct violation of what the clear letters of the law said, in spite of what Johnathan Gruber, the architect of the law, said about it and the intentions. Chief Justice Roberts will go down in  history as one of the worst, most destructive justices ever on the SC. With this decision, political expediency will now trump the constitution, and the actual letter of the law as written, every time. No longer can a person who reads the law know the law, because it quite literally means whatever the guys at the top want it to mean at that time. And that’s bad, because wise, limited government sorts are never the ones that rise to the top of the heap.

Time for impeachment… But who am I kidding? None of those idiots in Congress have the balls or the brains, because they see too much personal profit in it for themselves.

Tor Boycott

The Tor/Macmillian boycott is on.

Long story short, for those that don’t normally follow such things, is that several high-ranking people at Tor books, one of the big names in science fiction / fantasy publishing, said some very nasty things about their conservative / libertarian customers, and even some of their own authors. They were asked to apologize,  and the corporations were asked to enforce their own code of conduct. Some general non-apology apologies and patently insincere disclaimers were trotted forth, but nothing really was done by the corporations. The offending people, Irene Gallo,  Patrick Nielsen Hayden, his wife Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder, and author John Scalzi, are still employed and have not even  been formally or publicly reprimanded. In other words, the employer tacitly endorses their employees saying things like referring to their own authors works as “bad-to-reprehensible,” and calling the author’s supporters “extreme right-wing to neo-nazi”.

Gee, I can just feel the love from here. Details at Vox’s blog, Peter Grant’s place, Hoyt’s, and many other places in the SF/F blog-o-sphere. So, if you like Tor SF, keep reading, but but use the library. If you think you just must buy your favorite Tor author, buy used and hit their tip-jar. Or, check out competing publishers like Baen or Castalia House, which don’t treat their authors and fan base like crap.

Feel like writing an email?

Sorry I’m late to the party. Long story short, Tor Publishing bigwigs behaved badly, even calling some of their own authors “bad to reprehensible,” while calling pretty much every SF/F fan to the right of Mao a nazi, etc.  People wrote to Tor complaining. Tor claimed it was all bots and astro-turf. So the call went out to write an email about it to three people, saying “I AM NOT a bot.”

Details here. And here. more links with more background at those two places.

Eating Authors

I got interviewed, sort of, by a former Campbell Award nominee Lawrence M. Schoen. He’s got a blog, Eating Authors. A character of his is very into food, a gourmand. He’s trying to bring attention to new authors, including specifically Campbell Award nominees. His vehicle for doing this is to ask them to write about a memorable meal, or something food-related in their life. My first thought was “that’s not a path I’d ever think to go down,” but some people have that sort of focus. It sounded like something that I wasn’t really  interested in writing.

After thinking about it for a while, and exchanging several emails trying to figure out where what he found useful and what I was interested in writing crossed, I had an idea, cranked it out, and now it’s live on his blog.

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.