Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alien Contact Anthology -- Story #17

For details on the previous sixteen stories, including the complete text for five of them (so far), please begin here.

"To Go Boldly"
by Cory Doctorow

This story was originally published in The New Space Opera 2, edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan (HarperCollins/EOS, 2009), and is approximately 7,000 words in length. [Note, too, that the author did not split the infinitive in the story title! Kudos, Cory!]

I first emailed Cory Doctorow toward the end of August 2008 about including a story of his in this anthology. The only alien contact story of his that I was familiar with at the time was "Craphound." When Cory responded, he informed me that he had just completed a draft of a new story, "To Go Boldly," which he attached to the email, that would be included in a forthcoming Dozois and Strahan anthology. One caveat: the book was scheduled for publication in July 2009, and the story could not be reprinted for six months. So I would be clear to use the story beginning in 2010. I told Cory that shouldn't be a problem, that it would probably be at least a year before my anthology was published. Well, here we are, three years later from that original email communication! Though, to be honest, I've already received a copy of the Alien Contact Advance Uncorrected Proof, and I hope to be showcasing the final cover art here "real soon now" -- seriously. And, of course, the anthology is still on schedule (as far as I know) for a November publication.

After reading only a few pages, I realized that "To Go Boldly" was a contemporary reboot (actually, I hate that term but what else is there?) of the "Arena" episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. The two main characters are Captain Reynold J. Tsubishi, commander of the APP ship Colossus II, and his B-string [second shift] commander, First Lieutenant !Mota, a member of the non-human race Wobblie -- "not a flattering name for an entire advanced starfaring race, but an accurate one, and no one with humanoid mouth-parts could pronounce the word in Wobbliese." Here is the scene in which the crew first encounters their adversary:
"Hail the yufo, Ms. De Fuca-Williamson."

The comms officer's hands moved over her panels, then she nodded back at Tsubishi.

"This is Captain Reynold J. Tsubishi of the Alliance of Peaceful Planets ship Colossus II. In the name of the Alliance and its forty-two member-species, I offer you greetings in the spirit of galactic cooperation and peace." It was canned, that line, but he'd practiced it in the holo in his quarters so that he could sell it fresh every time.

The silence stretched. A soft chime marked an incoming message. A succession of progress bars filled the holotank as it was decoded, demuxed and remuxed. Another, more emphatic chime.

"Do it," Tsubishi said to the comms officer, and First Contact was made anew.

The form that filled the tank was recognizably a head. It was wreathed in writhing tentacles, each tipped with organs that the computer identified with high confidence as sensory—visual, olfactory, temperature.

The tentacles whipped around as the bladder at the thing's throat inflated, then blatted out something in its own language, which made Wobbliese seem mellifluous. The computer translated: "Oh, for god's sake—role-players? You've got to be kidding me."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Pen Is Mightier...

I credit my friend, the author Bruce McAllister, with helping me to name this blog More Red Ink. Of course, the idea indirectly came from Jeffrey Ford, when he included the Moses/God quote (you can read it in the right column, below the Blog Archive) in the acknowledgments to his first short fiction collection, The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories, which I acquired and edited for Golden Gryphon Press (2002).

Bottom line, if you ever receive a marked up, edited manuscript from me, odds are pretty good that it will have its share of red ink. I've had some manuscripts in years past with so much red that it looked like I had bled all over the pages (i.e. I became so frustrated with the manuscript that I tried to commit suicide).

Seriously, I just wanted to give credit to my red pen of choice: the Pilot G2 Gel Ink Rolling Ball Fine Point. It doesn't get any better than that! My wife came home the other day from shopping and set down a package of the pens in front of me. She said they were on sale. I looked at this as her way of telling me that I should, well, work harder.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Texture of Other Ways" by Mark W. Tiedemann (Part 3 of 3)

Texture of Other Ways
by Mark W. Tiedemann

[Continued from Part 2]

The oval-shaped room contained several comfortable chairs, three or four recorders, and a commlink panel. A curious flower-shaped mass on the ceiling apparently provided the unique environments for the species present.

The two people assigned to my group shook our hands quickly, smiling anxiously. We resisted the urge to telelog them to see why they were so nervous. Merril told us we had to trust them and do nothing to damage that trust.

The light dimmed when our counterparts entered. Our group had been assigned the Cursians. They were bulky, almost humanoid types. Their torsos began where knees should have been and their limbs looked like dense extrusions of rope. Individual tendrils would separate to perform the articulations of fingers, but they constantly touched themselves with them. No eyes that we could discern, but a thick mass of lighter tissue gathered in the center of the bumpy mass we thought of as its head. They wore threads of metal draped in complex patterns over their dense torsos. We were told that they breathed a compound of CO2, CH3, and CH5N. The air seemed to glow a faint green on their side of the room.

"We need to touch them," I said.

"That's not possible," one of the linguists said, frowning. "I mean…" She looked at her colleague. "Is it?"

"I don't think so," he said, and went to the comm. He spoke with someone for a few minutes, then turned back to us, shaking his head. "Not advised. There could be some leakage of atmospheres. Cyanide and oxygen are mutually incompatible. We don't know how dangerous it might be."

"Then we can't do this. We have to touch them."

"Shit," she said. "Why didn't anybody see this problem?"

He shrugged and returned to the comm.

We spent the rest of that day's session staring across the thin line of atmosphere at each other. I wondered if the Cursians were as disappointed as we.

* * *

The next day there was no session. Everyone had experienced a similar problem with their seti groups. In one case it was incompatible atmospheres, in another it was a question of microbe contaminants, in another it was just a matter of propriety. The sessions were canceled until some way of getting across the notion could be devised.

Before we could touch and share our logos, Admiral Kovesh ordered us separated.

"Once they make contact," she said, "this is how it will be. May as well start them now so they get used to it."

Merril protested, but we ended up in separate rooms anyway. The three of us huddled close together all through the night.

Admiral Kovesh came twice to wake us up and ask if we had sensed nothing, if perhaps we had picked up something after all, but we could only explain, as before, that to telelog it was necessary to touch, or the biopole could not be transferred—

She didn't want to hear that. The second time I told her that and she grew suspicious.

"Are you reading me?" she asked.

"Would you believe me if I said no?"

She did not come back that night.

* * *

Three days later we once more went to the meeting room. Now there was a solid transparent wall between the Cursians and us with a boxlike contraption about shoulder height that contained complex seals joining in its middle in a kind of mixing chamber. It was obvious that an arrangement had been made.

"How does it work?"

"As simple as putting on a glove," one of the liaisons said. "Just insert your hand here, shove it through until you feel the baffles close on your arm. Self-sealing. The touchpoint chamber will only allow one finger through. Is that enough?"

It was annoying and confusing that no one had asked us. But perhaps Merril had told them. In any event, yes, we told them, it was enough.

On the other side of the clear wall, one of the Cursians came forward. A limb jammed into its end of the box and a tendril separated and pushed through until a tip emerged into the central chamber. I looked at the other two, who touched my free hand and nodded. I put my hand into the box.

My finger poked through the last seal and the membrane closed firmly just below the second joint. The air in the chamber was cold and my skin prickled. I stared at the Cursian "finger" as it wriggled slowly toward the tip of my finger. I concentrated a biopole discharge there and when it touched me it was almost as if I could feel the colony surge from me to the Cursian. Imagination, certainly, I had never been able to "feel" the transfer; the only way any of us ever knew it had happened was when the colony established itself and began sending back signals.

There should have been a short signal, a kind of handshake that let us know it had been a successful transfer. I waited, but felt no such impulse.

I gazed through the layers of separation between us and wondered if it was feeling the same sense of failure. To come all this way, to prepare all your life for this moment, and then to find that for reasons overlooked or unimagined you have been made for nothing…I thought then that there could be no worse pain.

I was wrong.

* * *

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Texture of Other Ways" by Mark W. Tiedemann (Part 2 of 3)

Texture of Other Ways
by Mark W. Tiedemann

[Continued from Part 1]

Admiral Kovesh came over to meet us after the convoy arrived at the orbital platform. She was a tall, straight-backed woman with deep creases in her face and very pale eyes. I thought she looked perfect for her command.

"As soon as our counterparts signal us," she explained, "then you'll all be taken down by shuttle. The Forum negotiators are already here."

"Can we see the other ships?" I asked.

Kovesh frowned. "What—?"

"The seti ships."

"Oh. Of course. As soon as I've briefed you on procedures."

"We've already been briefed."

Kovesh looked at Merril, who seemed nervous.

"Before we left Earth," he said, "we were all given a thorough profile of what to expect. They know their mission, Admiral."

"I don't care what they were told on Earth. We're thirteen parsecs out and this conference is under my aegis."

Merril gave us an apologetic look. "I see. Well, perhaps you could let them take it directly?"

"How do you mean?"

Merril blinked. "They're telelogs, Admiral. It would be quicker, surer—"

"Not on your life."

"I assure you it's painless, Admiral—"

"I'm assured. The answer is no. Now, if you don't mind…"

I felt sorry for Merril. He meant well, but I was glad the Admiral refused. Merril had an exaggerated notion of what we did. People are really a muddle.

The Change was mechanistic. We aren't psychics in the traditional sense. That's why we're called telelogs rather than telepaths. At infancy we were implanted with a biopole factory, a device called the logos. The logos transfers a colony of biopole, which seats itself in the recipient brain, and starts setting up a temporary pattern analyzer. Very quickly—I'm talking nanoseconds—the colony establishes a pattern, sets up a transmission, and within moments the contents of the mind are broadcast to the primary logos.

But the contents!

To be honest, it is much easier for someone to simply tell me, verbally, than for me to try to make sense of all this clutter!

We grew up living in each other's minds, we know how we operate, but the rest of humanity? It's a miracle there's any order at all.

Still, Admiral Kovesh's reaction disturbed me.

* * *

The idea made elegant sense.

Humans can't communicate with the seti, and vice versa. There is no mutual foundation of language between us. Even the couple of humanoid ones have languages grown from linguistic trees sprouted in different soils. Nothing matches up except for a few snatches of mathematics, which was how we all managed to pick one system in which to have a meeting.

That and the evident desire on the part of the seti to figure out how to communicate demands a solution.

There are only two solutions. The first will take decades, maybe centuries, and that will be the construction of an object by object lexicon. State a word—or group of words or collection of sound-signifiers, which will only be valid for those species that use sounds for communication—and point at the thing to which it attaches. How this will work with abstracts no one knows.

The other solution is us.

We smiled at each other, passed along encoded biopole of self-congratulation and mutual support, broadcast positive logos. Of course, we thought, what better way to decode a completely alien language than to read the minds of the speakers?

We learned linguistics and practiced decoding language on native speakers of disparate human tongues. With difficulty we learned to decode the patterns into recognizable linguistic components and eventually came to speak the language ourselves. Navajo, Mandarin, !Kung, Russian, Portuguese, English—the hard part was finding speakers of all these languages who were not also fluent in Langish, official Panspeak. But there are enclaves and preserves and the subjects were found and we learned.

The only troubling part—and none of us actually brought this up, but I imagine we all thought it—was that all these languages are ultimately human languages. All grown from the same soil. Hardwired. At some level, then, all the same.

* * *

Monday, August 15, 2011

Alien Contact Anthology -- Story #16: "Texture of Other Ways" by Mark W. Tiedemann (Part 1 of 3)

Following is story #16 from my forthcoming anthology Alien Contact, to be published in November by Night Shade Books. For more information on this anthology, and to see the first 15 stories, please begin here.

"Texture of Other Ways"
by Mark W. Tiedemann

This story was originally published in the September 1999 issue of Science Fiction Age1, and is approximately 5,700 words in length.

In my first blog post on the Alien Contact anthology on November 23, 2010, I asked readers -- and authors -- to recommend stories. Mark W. Tiedemann was one of the responders, and in addition to recommending a Philip K. Dick story, he also, thankfully, recommended his own story "Texture of Other Ways."

I wanted a story for the anthology that focused on human-alien communication. I've read enough stories in which the aliens easily communicate with humans because they've been studying our language for years, or decades, or even centuries. And though I read quite a few stories that approached the human-alien communication issue differently, I selected "Texture of Other Ways." I asked Mark to share some thoughts with us on the story:
One of the problems I've always had with alien-human interactions in stories is the whole language barrier. Quite a few excellent stories have been written dealing with this, but a significant body of science fiction just assumes it's less of a problem than it really would be. Our language is based on assumptions rising not only out of sociology and psychology but basic biology and to assume "simple" translation will suffice in these scenarios is, well, wishful thinking. The other element in "Texture of Other Ways" is my consternation with telepathy as a standard SFnal trope. I just don't accept it. If it could be done, I see no reason to assume it would be in any way preferable to simple spoken communication. The mind is a morass and thoughts, as pure form, don't conform directly to speech, so "reading" a mind would not be easier but probably harder. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to play with these two elements and see what would emerge. The language barrier might be so difficult as to guarantee failure in relations…so let's cheat and bypass language altogether. Naturally, that would create a whole different set of problems.

So how is this story different in terms of human-alien communication? The humans selected to meet with the aliens are "telelogs." As the narrator states later in the story: "We aren't psychics in the traditional sense. That's why we're called telelogs rather than telepaths. At infancy we were implanted with a biopole factory, a device called the logos. The logos transfers a colony of biopole, which seats itself in the recipient brain, and starts setting up a temporary pattern analyzer. Very quickly—I'm talking nanoseconds—the colony establishes a pattern, sets up a transmission, and within moments the contents of the mind are broadcast to the primary logos." So we have this unique group of humans able to communicate amongst themselves as telelogs. And, by the way, these humans will be meeting with multiple alien species representing five primary language groups. But then, as the author states, let's just bypass language altogether.

Read the story for yourself here on More Red Ink, which I am posting in its entirety, in three parts, with the kind permission of the author. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hallowe'en Horrors

A few days ago I was reading the current e-newsletter from Fantastic Literature Limited, a UK bookstore that specializes in "Rare & Out of Print Books." The newsletter is entitled Out of the Woodwork, and the current issue #178, for July/August, can be read online -- though I would recommend subscribing to the newsletter to receive it via email. [Note: I've not yet purchased anything from this bookseller, so this is just a recommendation for the newsletter.]

Toward the bottom of the newsletter is a section on "Obituaries" and it was here that I first read of the passing of author and editor Alan Ryan, who apparently had been ill for a number of years. I didn't know Alan Ryan, and the only book I have of his in my library is his anthology Hallowe'en Horrors: New Tales of Dark Fantasy and Terror, published by Sphere Books Ltd. in the UK in 1987. But there is a wee bit of a tale on how I came to possess this particular paperback.

In early July 1988 I was on my way to Ireland, on business, for Amdahl Corporation. My copy of Locus magazine had arrived in the mail shortly before my trip, so I set the magazine aside to take with me to read on the plane; I also grabbed a number of recent issues of the magazine to read more thoroughly.

While reading the magazines during my flight en route to London's Heathrow Airport -- a stopover and plane change, before my final destination: Dublin -- I came across this little tidbit of news on page 4 of the March 1988 issue:

Hallowe'en Horrors

Despite the official line emanating from Sphere Books' Kensington headquarters that publication of Alan Ryan's anthology Hallowe'en Horrors has been "indefinitely postponed," copies of the book are still in circulation.

The volume's troubled history began in October 1986 when Sphere mistakenly listed it for publication a year early. It caused more red faces for publishers last year when contributors to the volume discovered that their prose had been tampered with. Ramsey Campbell was the first to notice that his story "Apples" did not read quite the way he remembered writing it; when the Sphere staff checked, they discovered that the freelance editor they had assigned to oversee the book had blithely rewritten all the stories—and nobody had noticed before the book was in print.

Realising their error, Sphere quickly decided to destroy the entire print run—but not before advance copies had been sent to reviewers with a note from the Sphere publicity office to ignore the book! Even more mysteriously, copies have been discovered on sale in a London bookstore as late as last December. The edition definitely exists (ISBN 0-7221-7561-2), and is probably one of the rarest genre paperbacks to appear in Britain for many years.

—Stephen Jones, LOCUS, March 1988

Friday, August 12, 2011

Alien Contact Anthology -- Story #15

You could always begin here....

"A Midwinter's Tale"
by Michael Swanwick

This story was originally published as the cover story in the December 1988 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and is approximately 6,000 words in length. (For the curious, Terry Lee did the cover art for that particular issue.)

Besides the fact that "A Midwinter's Tale" is yet another very fine story by Michael Swanwick, I selected this story for the anthology because of its structure: the telling of a story within the telling of a story -- nested stories, I guess you could say. I asked Michael for some thoughts on his story, and he shares with us an impressive array of influences that helped him form this tale:
So many different things went into "A Midwinter's Tale" that I despair of listing them all. The chiefest of them, and the trigger for my writing the story, was a Marc Chagall retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Chagall's art is so fabulous—in both senses of the word—that I immediately saw there was a story to be found in it. I went through the show several times, taking notes, and many specific paintings appear in the story. If I hadn't misplaced the catalog, I could list them by name. One became the birth scene, another the narrator's vision of death, and a third, (this one I remember; it's called The Soldier Drinks1) showing a soldier and a samovar with himself in miniature sitting happily with a peasant woman on his knee, provided the story's frame. The narrative structure I borrowed from Jack Dann's autobiographical essay "A Few Sparks in the Dark," which described how, almost dying of an infection, he hallucinated wandering through wastelands of ice, how afterward the fever had left him with partial amnesia, and the strange forms that amnesia took.

The prose style was not an attempt to pastiche Gene Wolfe but I did use his work as a kind of model in order to emulate a kind of narrative richness which I felt would go well with Chagall's vision. Similarly, the Christmas section was written with Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in Wales" firmly in mind. The larls are distant ancestors of Coeurl in A. E. van Vogt's "Dark Destroyer," which later became part of The Voyage of the Space Beagle. Their means of serial immortality came from a now-discredited experiment in the Sixties, which I unsuccessfully attempted to replicate in high school, showing that planaria could acquire knowledge by eating other planaria. The harshness of the winter landscapes is rendered from life. Nobody who has ever gone hiking in the Green Mountains of Vermont when it is forty below will ever forget the experience.

The word "larl" I invented forty years ago when I was working in the loading docks of a furniture factory and, out of extreme boredom, took my first halting steps toward publication. Proof positive that a true writer never throws anything away.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Writing 101: Yes, Virginia, This Is the Digital Age

In the past month or so I have received a number of manuscripts submitted to me electronically. Some nonfiction pieces, a few short stories, and one novel; a total of 15 manuscripts. All of these authors knew up front that their respective manuscripts would be published in print form.

And yet, only a handful of these manuscripts -- maybe five -- were formatted correctly for digital conversion from manuscript file to layout. Most were formatted as if they were being published on a blog: each paragraph was flush left (rather than indented) with a blank line between each paragraph. In the majority of instances underlining was still being used instead of actual italics, along with straight quotes (rather than the curly, or "smart" quotes).

Now what this means for me is that before I can submit these files to publishers, I have to reformat them completely. I have to:
1) set every paragraph indent by changing the actual left indent, not by tabbing or entering spaces;
2) remove the blank line between each paragraph;
3) manually search for underlines and change that text to italics;
4) replace straight single and double quote marks with smart quotes;
5) replace double-hyphens and en-dashes with em-dashes;
6) ensure there are no spaces before and after said em-dashes, as em-dashes should butt up against whatever character comes before and after;
7) fix all ellipses. These are interesting creatures: I see them with a space before, a space between each ellipsis point, and a space after; occasionally just one or two of those options, but most often all three. There is an ellipsis symbol in MS Word (if that's your word processor of choice) that should be used.
8) less I forget, ensure only one blank space between sentences or following a colon! There is absolutely no need to use two consecutive spaces in a manuscript, ever.

I don't know where the "blog format" has come from because there has never been a standard manuscript layout that requires a paragraph to be flush left followed by a blank line. For everyone else, the standard manuscript layout being followed (underlining, double-hyphens, two spaces etc.) is from the days of typesetting, which have pretty much been passé for nearly a decade now.

In other words, we have (and have had for quite a number of years now -- about 16 years, I believe) word processor capability such that what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG), and that's the same logic that should apply today to manuscript submissions.

In recent months, this discussion came up in at least two of my panels at both Baycon (Memorial Day weekend) and Westercon (Fourth of July weekend) -- and with multiple editors on the panels, the audience heard multiple responses.  Bottom line: an author needs to format his/her manuscript to meet the stated manuscript guidelines for that publisher or magazine. What I heard at these conventions from audience participants is that some of the micro presses and 'zines have far more restrictive (and in some instances absurd) manuscript guidelines. My response to that is: If you don't want to deal with such restrictive/absurd guidelines, don't submit to that magazine or press. If there are no guidelines posted, you could always contact the publisher for guidelines. If you get no response, or you don't see any quideline requirements, you can't go wrong with WYSIWYG. Format that manuscript with paragraphs, with italics, etc. so that it looks exactly like you would want it to look when printed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Alien Contact Anthology -- Story #14

As a way of promoting my forthcoming Alien Contact anthology (Night Shade Books, November), I posted a sort of introduction on April 25, and then beginning on May 6, I have been blogging about one story each week -- in the order in which the stories appear in the book. I've now revealed the first 13 stories in the anthology, which is the halfway point; 13 more stories and 13 more weeks to go. To date, the complete text of three of the stories have been posted here on this blog (with a link to a fourth story online elsewhere), with more to come. If you are new to these blog posts, you may want to begin here.

"Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl's"
by Adam-Troy Castro

This story was originally published as the cover story in the June 2001 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. This is the longest story in the anthology at approximately 20,900 words. (The cover artist for that June 2001 issue was none other than Frank Kelly Freas -- the "Dean of Science Fiction Artists" -- who passed away in 2005.)

When I first began my online research for this anthology, I found a blog, Variety SF, by Tinkoo Valia, from Bombay, India, that contained a post entitled "Stories about first human contact with aliens." There were 39 entries in the list. Some of the entries were for novels, which I couldn't use, and some of the short stories listed were oldies but goodies, by the likes of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, H. Beam Piper, and Eric Frank Russell. But a few of the stories were contemporary, and I followed up on all of them. One of those stories was Adam-Troy Castro's "Sunday Night Yams..." and, much to my delight, the blogger included a link to the full text of the story online. At the time [alas, the story is no longer available online], the story was hosted on Analog's website; I saved the file to read later; looking at that file now, the creation date was August 31, 2008, nearly three years ago, which is indicative of how long I have been working on this anthology.

In this story, Max Fischer, one of the last surviving astronauts who pioneered the terraforming of the Moon, returns to Luna in what he feels are his final days, determined to learn the whereabouts of Minnie and Earl, whom he lost contact with over the ensuing years. The story moves seamlessly between the present and the past -- Max searching the old Luna project archives, listening to recordings, trying to talk to others who might have just the piece of information he needs, while reminiscing about the past, including the first time he met Minnie and Earle. The story begins thusly:
Frontiers never die. They just become theme parks.

I spent most of my shuttle ride to Nearside mulling sour thoughts about that. It's the kind of thing that only bothers lonely and nostalgic old men, especially when we're old enough to remember the days when a trip to Luna was not a routine commuter run, but instead a never-ending series of course corrections, systems checks, best-and-worst-case simulations, and random unexpected crises ranging from ominous burning smells to the surreal balls of floating upchuck that got into everywhere if we didn't get over our nausea fast enough to clean them up.... But that's old news now: before the first development crews gave way to the first settlements; before the first settlements became large enough to be called the first cities; before the first city held a parade in honor of its first confirmed mugging; before Independence and the Corporate Communities and the opening of Lunar Disney on the Sea of Tranquility. These days, the Moon itself is no big deal except for rubes and old-timers. Nobody looks out the windows; they're far too interested in their sims, or their virts, or their newspads or (for a vanishingly literate few) their paperback novels, to care about the sight of the airless world waxing large in the darkness outside.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

July Links & Things

This is my monthly wrap-up of July's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern. Note, however, that not all of my tweeted links make it into these month-end posts. Previous month-end posts are accessible via the "Links and Things" tag in the right column.

July turned out to be a fairly slow month, newswise. Not sure if it was because of summer vacations and downtime, or possibly I was busier than I realized this month and didn't pick up on as many newsworthy items as in past months.

  • In a previous blog post entitled "Writing with Style (Sheets, That Is)," I hoped to rally authors to use style sheets. In all the hundreds of books I have edited and/or copyedited over the past 10-plus years, I have only had two authors provide me with a style sheet -- Mark Teppo and Michael Stackpole -- and both of those were just in the past couple years. Until now. Kameron Hurley, author of God's War, Infidel, and the forthcoming Rapture (all from Night Shade Books), has gone one step further than a style sheet: she has created the Bel Dame Apocrypha Wiki for her trilogy of books. When I proofed and copyedited the first two titles in the series, I created my own style sheets, as it were -- a listing of all the proper nouns (and often hyphenations), unique words, etc. Now, I can simply look them up on the wiki.
  • I recently created a Google+ account. Within my profile, I created a "Professional" circle for all my followers. I think I've checked my Google+ Stream maybe a couple times a week. Personally, Twitter and Facebook now require so much of my time that I simply don't have the desire to venture forth into yet another social media time-suck. I see Google+ as having two useful features that are currently unavailable on either Twitter or FB: First, you can create multiple circles, limiting those circles to specific people (say, immediately family, or employees, etc.) and then posting a msg only to that circle, which no one else will be able to read. Second, is the "hangout," which is more of a real-time group chat, ideal for brainstorming meetings, critique groups, or just, well, hanging out. has a blog post on the Google+ hangout, how to set one up, suggested parameters. etc.
  • My friend Pat Cadigan (@Cadigan) announced this past month that her entire backlist of titles would be published as part of the new Gollancz "SF Gateway" program. According to the press release: "Gollancz, the SF and Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, announces the launch of the world’s largest digital SFF library, the SF Gateway, which will make thousands of out-of-print titles by classic genre authors available as eBooks.... the SF Gateway will launch this autumn with more than a thousand titles by close to a hundred authors."