A couple of fun articles on the Guardian about how scary books and movies for children should be.
What’s Really Going on With All These Vampires?
“Forget everything you’ve read about vampires so far. The current bloodsucking trend, achieving maximum ferocity in November with the release of the sequel to Twilight, isn’t about outsiders or immigrants or religion or even AIDS, as critics and bloggers have argued ad nauseam these past few months. There’s a much better, simpler, more obvious explanation: Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men.”
You Know You Have a Tired YA Fantasy Theme When…
I arrived back in Australia on Monday.
I had a wonderful vacation. Eastern Europe is such an interesting place.
I finished my trip with a visit to a friend who is living in Germany. I almost stayed an extra day in Germany. My flight from Frankfurt was overbooked and they were looking for volunteers to stay an extra day. They were offering hotel accommodation and 600 euros in compensation. I was going to volunteer, but somebody else beat me to it.
I’ve got a lot of photos to sort through and will add some more blog entries about places I visited after Belarus.
I didn’t get much writing done while I was away, but I got lots of ideas for stories and I’ve kept sending my earlier stories out. Have been busy clocking up rejection letters.
Since Clarion I’ve written 3 new short stories and now all of them have been accepted. So I must have learned something there.
I’ve got a flash fiction piece coming up in Antipodean SF, a short story in the 12th Planet kids’ SF anthology and I just had a second story accepted by Fantasy Magazine.
I’ll be up in northern NSW for a little while, then will have to organise finding a new apartment and a new job in Melbourne.
American writer Jeff VanderMeer (one of my tutors at the writing workshop I did in Brisbane at the start of the year) has a write-up about me on his web site.
Kansai Scene recently published my interview with an Australian potter who is one of the few foreigners to have his work recognised by a Japanese tea master.
Last week I went to NatCon (the Australian national science fiction convention) in Adelaide. The convention itself was a bit disorganised, but I had a fun time meeting up with my friends from the Clarion workshop.
I had a bit of a wander around Adelaide as well. There are some fun pig sculptures in Rundle St. Mall. I also went down to Glenelg, which is nice.
(A warning that any and all statements may greatly diverge from the established body of lore commonly referred to as "reality.")
What I Learned At NatCon
Various definitions of steampunk –
* Victorian-era cyberpunk.
* A way to safely indulge nostalgia for a time when decent, white men ruled the world and everybody else knew their place.
* Loving the machine, but hating the factory.
* A fashion style for people who are too old to be goths.
* A poor substitute for monkpunk.
We were promised bases on Mars and got the Internet instead.
The mathematical credentials of men who wear cloaks is open to speculation (see below).
All numbers great than 12 should be abolished.
It’s a good idea to tell people in advance if you want to give them to give a presentation.
Even if you have interesting speakers, panels that consist of people arguing about genre definitions are not interesting.
My own cultural and gender biases have led me to conclude that the people in costume at Australian SF conventions (bearded individuals in faux Victoriana) are not nearly as attractive as the people in costume at Japanese SF conventions (Japanese girls dressed as anime characters).
All about the differing adhesive qualities of blood and vomit. (Fortunately this information was gleaned secondhand).
Most computer illustration programs do not yet have a "Draw Everything" button.
It’s time to throw off the shackles of feminist-controlled science fiction and finally write the kind of stories that men want to read.
Publishers may not necessarily be overwhelmed with joy when they receive a book about a teenaged vampire wizard codebreaking detective. (But you are not allowed to steal my idea for The Dracula Merlin Code Files).
Quantum Writing Secrets! (By applying the inverse of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle it is possible to derive a mathematically optimum plot for your novel).
I can remember when guests of honor used to be arrogant curmudgeons that demanded an extra room for their stationery and an endless supply of pan-galactic gargle blasters. Julie Czerneda was far too friendly, enthusiastic and encouraging to be a proper guest of honor.
I don’t want to read any more fiction with "Schrodinger" in the title. (Well, maybe I could be tempted to look at a Schrodingerpunk anthology).
Even if the planet is doomed, we may still have the chance to build some funky-looking buildings before global disaster strikes.
The philosophical underpinnings behind Prince of Tennis erotic fan fiction (One Racket! One Destiny!)
I finished a proposal (outline and sample chapters) for a book about weird things from Japan. So will be sending that off to agents.
I sold Love’s Apprentice, a micro fiction story to Thaumatrope.
Have been doing some planning for a YA fantasy novel.
Started work on a new short story. My first post-Clarion South short story.
Had been planning to revise one of my Clarion stories (The Fourth Monkey) but haven’t made much progress with that. Basically starting it from scratch again.
Have also been doing a lot of reading recently.
I read Jeff Vandermeer’s Booklife, which is one of the most useful books on writing I’ve ever read.
Been reading some YA fantasy novel. Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines (which has a really cool premise), Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret (beautiful book), James Owens’ Here, There Be Dragons (interesting premise, but the characters weren’t that engaging) and China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun. I love Mieville’s other books and while there are some cool things in here, it felt way too long for me.
Also read some more behavioral economics books (why do people do strange things) - Tim Harford’s The Logic of Life and Dan Ariely’s Predictibly Irrational. Both fascinating.
I read Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. This is the first of the Dexter books. I’m a big fan of the TV series and the book was really enjoyable as well. I think the ending of the first series of the TV show was better than the book’s ending.
Plus some Japanese history books. Now I know all about warrior monks.
This week I got my 200th rejection letter. It was for a story I’d originally written long ago (1998) and revised over the years. I did a major revision after Clarion, and since then it’s earned me a couple more rejection letters. I suspect it soon shall be confined to the Abandoned section of my writing folders.
I submitted my first story to a magazine way back in 1991, when I was still at high school. I like keeping records of things, so I’ve kept track of the number of submissions (both fiction and non-fiction) I’ve made for every year since then. I’ve also kept track of the number of rejection letters. It’s at least an indicator that I’m still working on my writing.
I’ve also been doing a bit of reading in the last month. After seeing the Watchmen movie I read the graphic novel, which I was suitably impressed with.
I read Ian McDonald’s Brasyl, which was a very ambitious book, but didn’t really grab me. I’ve been to Brazil a couple of times and I’m really interested in Latin America, but found the novel’s characters hard to sympathise with. And I’m a bit tired of reading stories where Frank Tipler’s Omega Point plays a role.
I read Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. It’s the fourth Harry Dresden novel, and as usual, was a fun, enjoyable read.
I read Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar. It’s a quirky graphic novel about a vampire and his relationship problems. The start was great, but it started to drift a bit after that.
I’m halfway through Accelerando by Charles Stross. Amazing ideas but hard to get into. It’s a good example of why some people prefer fantasy to sf and why some people prefer sf to fantasy. Me, I love both genres. A sample paragraph:
New discoveries this decade include the origins of the weakly repulsive force responsible for changes in the rate of expansion of the universe after the big bang, and on a less abstract level, experimental implementations of a Turing Oracle using quantum entanglement circuits: a device that can determine whether a given functional expression can be evaluated in finite time. It’s boom time in the field of Extreme Cosmology, where some of the more recherche researchers are bickering over the possibility that the entire universe was created as a computing device, with a program encoded in the small print of the Planck constant.
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. The topics it covers -
* Chapter 1: Discovering cheating as applied to teachers and sumo wrestlers
* Chapter 2: Information control as applied to the Ku Klux Klan and real-estate agents
* Chapter 3: The economics of drug dealing, including the surprisingly low earnings and abject working conditions of crack cocaine dealers
* Chapter 4: The controversial role legalized abortion has played in reducing crime. (Levitt explored this topic in an earlier paper entitled “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.”)
* Chapter 5: The negligible effects of good parenting on education
* Chapter 6: The socioeconomic patterns of naming children
I sold a travel article about NZ a few years ago. Just recently the web site I sold it to, started offering their articles to another web site and they bought my article. So I got paid again, without any extra work. The joy of reprints.