Welcome to the New Mayan Long Count December 22, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, Free, sci-fi, science fiction, steampunk, VIPub, writing.
Tags: apocalypse, end of the world, free, sale, sci-fi
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Survived the last 5125 and unfortunately the new page on the Mayan calendar doesn’t have any of those frisky Mayan maidens with cavorting jaguars, either. Next time.
For those of you looking forward to the next end times but unsure what to do until then, let me remind you I’m having a super duper post-apocalyptic sale in my store on all sci-fi titles. Only a couple more days so hurry hurry hurry.
Today’s Lio cartoon sums up so much so well so quickly in 2 frames.
Merry Mayan Apocalypse December 20, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, death, End of the World, history, sci-fi, sense of wonder.
Tags: end of world, mass delusion, mayas, science fiction
Tomorrow, as I write this, the 5125 year Long Count Mayan calendar runs out. I personally think their next page with future 5125 years on it was lost. Or maybe got banned because it was a pinup calendar with sexy pictures of jaguars cavorting with Mayan maidens.
I have some fun with this and zombie apocalypses and so on, but too many people (even if it is just one, it is too many) take this seriously. Or at least use it for their own benefits, such as this sex hunt in NY.
Maybe not so bad? Will there be a population spike 9 months from now as after power blackouts? I doubt it. Like so much of this, just people scrambling for their 15 min of fame. (Doesn’t that 15 min come with some sort of inflation COLA? It’s *still* only 15 minutes. Unfair! We need a gummint commission to investigate the lack of increase.)
This hoohaw isn’t something making just occidentals crazy. Orientals can share it, too. China? Yup.
If you believe we’re all doooomed, okay. As I write this, it is Dec 21 in Australia and they are doing just fine. Maybe better than the US but that’s another story entirely.
But if you are looking for some mighty fine reading post-apocalyptic fun, I have discounted sf titles on my store starting on Dec 21 and lasting a few days only.
Wishing you a nice eternity. And a cheery Saturday.
Durability September 30, 2012Posted by bobv451 in death, e-books, End of the World, fantasy, gummint, history, ideas, movies, sci-fi, writing.
Tags: movies. writing, sci-fi
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Everything gets creakier as time passes. Maybe even time does. Is there an entropy affecting time as well as entropic time? Questions best left for the theorists. What is in the balliwick of writers, though, is the longevity of our work.
Fantasy is perhaps easiest since the world is entirely made up, with rules and laws and elements unique to that world. Passage of time in “our” world, developments of science and technology and geography and nations means nothing. Middle Earth has a permanence simply because it has no foot in the door of our world.
Science fiction is different. A hard science book is likely to be obsolete, outpaced by actual scientific discovery, before it is published. And the question arises whether a sf story (or a story that was sf) in earlier times but which has been outstripped by the surge of reality, is still sf. Is a story about the first man into space still sf since that event has happened in reality and it wasn’t done as in the story?
In a way, sweeping space opera stands a better chance of avoiding this issue. Smash galaxies together rather than be the first man to reach the moon. Even items that might have seemed laughable in early space opera, if the idea is audacious enough, can prove enduring. Doc Smith’s intertialess drive wasn’t about the Higgs boson. Maybe it was the Higgs anti-boson. But avoiding being too specific keeps the notion in play. Sorta.
Near future sf is hardest of all to write. I did a novel a few years back about RFID chips in clothing monitoring what everyone did (because lawsuits prevented the gummint from implanting the chips in the humans themselves). Now there are 69 companies manufacturing spy drones–for use by civilian police forces. RFIDs are already obsolete for this purpose. Cameras most places become cameras everywhere in the sky 24/7. The FBI is putting together a facial recognition database and the reason you aren’t allowed to smile on passport photos or drivers’ licenses is that smiling makes for harder recognition. Thank about that and try not to show fear.
The 1984 scenario is not being forced on us–half the US population wants it. To stay safe. I highly recommend the movie, The Lives of Others. And I want to see Barbara The days of the Stasi in East Germany are becoming the present in America. So we can stay safe.
But put fancy spy stuff into an sf book and it is likely to be laughably obsolete in a very short time. Concentrate on the characters, and durability might come your way.
I leave you with this from the ’60s.
Time Enough For…Time August 12, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, fantasy, Free, movies, movies & TV, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, web & computers, westerns, writing.
Woefully absent from these pages during the past 10 days or so, I have experimented with time management and trying to see where It All Goes. A good 3 hrs a day can be sucked up by kitty videos, Facebook and other nonproductive pursuits. The question is: do I garner enough enjoyment from these online time wasters compared with dealing in real world stuff.
While I’d rather watch the cat videos or guys getting smashed in the balls in new and extraordinary ways more than cleaning the garage or doing bookkeeping, they ought to be treated as candy. A little bit is good, a lot will ruin the waistline. I am getting more work done (and amazingly enough, looking forward to doing it) and not missing the blog quite so much.
A momentary diversion. About FB. I have been nailed finally with the Timeline format. Don’t like it, don’t see how it is an improvement, but Zuckerberg can flip us all off and there’s nothing we can do other than stop using FB. I find it useful to let everyone know what’s going on in a timely, concise way that stays around (unlike Twitter, which I have also cut waaay back on) such as the release of Sandcats of Rhyl and how it was free last week. And only $3.03 now. But I don’t want to play games and I will delete anyone posting to my page (I hate that feature letting anyone else post to my page) anything I deem unsocial. This can include but is not limited to calling anyone a Nazi (and I don’t even agree with Godwin’s Law), politics, and how “fill in the blank” is a baby killer who wants granny to eat dog food before shoving her over a cliff to steal her wheelchair. But that’s just me.
All that eats away at my time, hitting that delete button. I would rather be writing. I suppose in the old days watching TV was the time killer. Now it’s the Internet. Another fun tool to be managed. I do have the odd picture of time wasted on the Internet swirling down a drain that clogs up and then the temporal pressure gets so immense that it explodes in a Big Bang and creates a new universe. Maybe the Internet does have a purpose
How have I used my freed up time? Four titles in the Jade Demons Quartet are prepped and getting ready to be posted. A western short story is about half done. The synopsis for a new sf book is shaping up and another western synopsis is about ready to launch into writing phase. Western Fictioneers has a fabulous new project in the works, of which I intend to be a part with my novel contribution. And Empires of Steam and Rust is showing signs of life once more with new stories promised because of my time shiftings so I can pursue this.
I never thought of my time as being wasted reading, but I do watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Internet. Why is that? More to think about until next time.
Chasing Away the Dust Bunnies…For Now April 20, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, contest, e-books, End of the World, iPad, New Mexico, outlaws, sci-fi, science fiction, Second Life, VIPub, weather, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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No specific theme today but a lot of tidbits that have accumulated during the past few days. It’s been a busy time for me. The last science fair judging of the year is past and, as before, the Manzano Day School kids had some great projects. This was the year when high tech really kicked in. One budding scientist had a video (taken underwater!) showing the effect of drag on swimmers. Another surveyed cooking pans to find which baked the best chocolate chip cookies (I told her bribing the judges with the cookies would have worked well–didn’t really matter. She did a good job. I didn’t know the high-end cooking pans were dual layer with air between. And yes, they seemed to cook the most evenly.) Analysis on the cookies included using a cellphone gizmo to evaluate color which correlated with even cooking. Amazing.
These were 4th and 5th graders.
A couple days ago I got a surprising call from my agent. Last year Berkley decided the Slocum Giant books weren’t selling and eliminated the annual book. My last royalty statement was extraordinary. And I have a new Slocum Giant to do ASAP for likely publication in November. Working title: Slocum and the Silver City Harlot. Others in Western Fictioneers have commented on improved royalties for their westerns. If you live long enough, the wheel always spins back to you. Do love those westerns.
I also love my sf. Check out this review of Moonlight in the Meg from Virgil Kelberwitz of Second Life fame. His reaction to the protagonist not being named until late in the book is interesting. Final Blackout used this technique to even better purpose, I think. Best use of the techniquye–ever–was in The Prisoner.
As you know by now, I didn’t win the $650m Megamillions lottery (I did win $2, though. BFD) However, someone who did win something of both worth and usefulness is Terri D, the winner of a Kindle Fire in Scott Gamboe’s contest. A great prize and I’ll try to get Scott to do a guest blog here on how the contest helped his numbers on Amazon.
Check out another Scott’s new blog. Scott Phillips is now doing a daily blog. Very funny stuff. And touches on a lot of nostalgia. If you remember 8-tracks and hate spiders and…well, read it for yourself. Rattle and Blast.
After 30 years I have stopped receiving a daily newspaper. The $200/yr was a factor but realizing I can get all the news and features on my iPad convinced me to save a tree and cancel the Abq Journal. Their national news is always 2 or 3 days late and local news tends more toward pet adoptions now. I will miss the Trever cartoon on Sundays, but he used to do more and is mostly retired. Having lunch with John on occasion will have to suffice.
I am not sure how many new blogs will be done in the next couple weeks since I am heading over into Tornado Alley. Trust me, I want nothing more than to get back to this keyboard in sunny, dry, twister-free Abq as soon as possible.
Are You Being Undercheesed? January 1, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, movies & TV, sci-fi, serial fiction, steampunk, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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That’s what an ad for a pizza joint asked me. I had never considered life in those terms, perhaps because I drop in on Cheese Magnet regularly. But “undercheesed?” If so, I need to watch more cheesy sf movies. (I did watch This Island Earth last night and no, it is not a cheesy movie. It’s pretty decent and one year Santa will bring me an interocitor.)
I doubt the world will end, but watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ NY last night made me think it is possible. Poor ole Dick looked like a zombie. Any year that begins with Lady Gaga and Michael Bloomberg co-pressing the lever to drop the ball already has 2 strikes against it. My option was watching “Hair Removal at Home” on Ch 2. Or watching metaluna monsters menace Faith Domergue.
The year is already filling with projects. Have 2 westerns under contract, have agreed to take part in a Western Fictioneers project of a story collection set in Dogleg, Kansas and have lots of other projects begging to be done. No lack of work. Now all I need are sales, so pitch in, everyone, do your part, feed those e-readers you got for Christmas.
I have a small window of opportunity to work on the first of the Empires of Steam and Rust stories so will cut this short. Already up to 15k words in the “First Passage” and just getting into the plot after introducing the situation, the bad guy and the two good guys. And the compressed-air powered dog, Fulton.
Off to see if yet another brick and mortar bookstore has bitten the dust. I leave you with this snarky cartoon hope for 2012.
Out With the Old December 31, 2011Posted by bobv451 in End of the World, nostalgia.
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And tomorrow it will be in with the new. Pessimist that I am, I don’t think it will be better, but it will be interesting.
In grad school my adviser never gave tests. He presented “opportunity sessions.” He thought they gave us the chance to show what we knew (and I suspect he learned what I didn’t). It might all be in the nomenclature. Control the language and you control the debate. So, consider 2011 one giant opportunity session.
I leave you with this wonderful Lio cartoon. Happy new year.
Rollerball December 30, 2011Posted by bobv451 in business, End of the World, gummint, movies, sci-fi, science fiction.
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When I first saw the movie (the original) I didn’t much like it. A second viewing proved better. I’ve seen the movie a half dozen times and continue to find new things there I’d missed with earlier viewings. It’s borderline great solid science fiction social commentary. The basic idea is Roman bread and circuses, but with the corporations running everything because the nations have gone bankrupt. Seems to me in the real world the government and the big corporations have merged. It is a virtual revolving door between high government posts and Goldman-Sachs.
Part of Rollerball was the dumb game (ok, I admit it, I thought quiddiych was a dumb game, too–those movies increasingly relegated it to the dust bin which was a good move on their part). But James Caan and John Beck as Moonpie and the others got to wear nifty uniforms. This has come to pass in real life. Check out the Oregon Ducks uniforms for the Rose Bowl.
Click the link and scope out all the uniform pictures. The Illuminati vibe is blatant. Were these designed by the Trilateral Commission or the Bilderbergers–certainly it sounds as if Nike developed them for the military. Chaine Maille?
I have often wondered what would happen if an NFL player was killed during a game. What would happen? The cries for banning football drowning out those for more rollerball? I doubt that. We are in a society that wants no risk whatsoever and so need our outlet via football (or rollerball).
Horror and Horror Compounded November 13, 2011Posted by bobv451 in End of the World, fantasy, ghost towns, writing.
Why my mind wanders (and why I so often join it) isn’t something that concerns me, even if it should. I just loose the dogs of war and woof my way through. Pacing and horror seem vitally intertwined, but there are different ways of achieving the end of scaring your audience silly.
The gothic style (not goth, gothic) is slow-moving, even glacial. Consider Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. Very slowly paced, but it builds like a mason puts together a wall. Each brick is careful located and when you realize the wall is almost done, Fortunato, it is too late to do anything but rush to the end. Slow build, immensely powerful, quick conclusion. It’s like watching a dam begin to leak. A drop here and there and then the unstoppable flood.
Modern horror relies on bringing out the menace immediately. Instant gratification (or mortification, depending). From here the pace is steady. How do you escalate when all your cards are face up on the table? The SyFy Channel monster movies are certainly in this vein. Monster in opening credits, go from there. I am tempted to say such things are less horror and more shock. Nothing they do these days has the pacing (or impact) of The Birds, if you want a nature turning against us plot. (OK, I admit it. I watched Rage of the Yeti last night. It was actually funny rather than horrific)
For me, horror lies in places not thought of as “horror.” About the scariest movie in decades was A Beautiful Mind. It’s got it all. Isolation. Events beyond the protagonist’s control. Ineffectual help arriving too late. And real horror melding fantasy and reality. This scares me. Lord of Illusions is merely a movie I watch, trying to figure out why I’m watching it again. House on Haunted Hill is a better “shock” movie, meaning it makes me jump–but does not horrify me, give me that brain itchy feeling of dread so I go turn on the lights. Just to be sure.
or maybe the Vincent Price title is more to your liking
If It Only Worked This Way September 26, 2011Posted by bobv451 in End of the World, ideas, inventions, sci-fi, science, science fiction, sense of wonder, writing.
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Scott D returned copies of John Campbell’s Arcot, Wade and Morey books I’d loaned him. Thinking about the stories (pulp super science plots) remained me of something I always realized about the Tom Swift books and other “science” books of the era. Tom or Richard Seaton or any of them could whip up a new stardrive in nothing flat. It wouldn’t work the first time but did after adjusting a valve. Or maybe realizing the theory was all wrong, so it was rejiggered to work right just after lunch. The universe had to be saved before dinner, after all.
This is outright ridiculous and I knew it even when I was an 8 year old reading about Tom’s marvelous inventions. Granted today’s zero tolerance “victory is not an option” makes any given experiment a lifetime project, I prefer the fiction to our new world reality. This only highlights how the pulp writers’ work reflected their world vs ours. Their heroes were super scientists who could come up with complex devices and theories off the cuff. (One exception in YA series of the ‘50s was the Rick Brant series. Rick’s inventions were ordinary in comparison to an ultrasonic cycloplane or inertialess drive and he often developed simple miniaturized radio transceivers over long months, lots of the work taking place “off screen” so the reader only got the result after always-mentioned long and arduous testing)
I wish science worked like the old pulps. Crank out that world-saving invention *now*. Maybe they used time machines to spend the long years of experiment and revision before returning a few hours later with their marvy devices. This would age Tom Swift terribly. He’d be a 90 yr old with a chronological age of 18. Bud would comment on how old Tom looks as he unveils his atomic earth blaster or electronic retroscope–for Bud it might be hours but for Tom it could be years. What price invention?” What price science?
Maybe science has to be done by committee now, overseen by bureaucrats to make sure nothing happens. The pulp era is still a potent wish-fulfillment for me when it comes to mad scientists and major inventions.