February 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
How anyone — much less a published author — can believe that we don’t need libraries is beyond me. But in case you are one of those authors, please read this.
If someone too poor or otherwise unable to buy a specific product is given that product for free, has the product’s creator lost a sale?
In most instances, I’d argue, the answer is no. You can’t lose money that doesn’t exist in the first place, or which your potential customer is unable to spend on whatever it is you’re selling. What you’ve lost, if anything, is a specific product, and therefore the opportunity to sell it to someone who can pay. If Lamborghini were to give me a free car, for instance – or if some altruistic third party were to do so instead – then either they’ve lost the money they could’ve earned by selling that specific vehicle elsewhere, or they’ve lost the opportunity to sell to me directly. In the latter instance, though, they haven’t lost a sale, because someone actually did buy the car; and in the…
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February 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
I had not heard about Google Authorship Markup, but if you’re a serious blogger, you might want to look into it.
Thanks, Steve, for sharing this!
February 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Over on Joe Hill’s Thrills, a reader and first-time short-story writer asked:
I started brainstorming ideas for the first short story i am going to write and I came up with the perfect idea, but i have no idea where to start. Have you ever dealt with this, if so is there any advice you can give me?
Hill’s advice? Get the idea up front, and immediately bring the reader into your confidence and your absolute certainty. He expounds on that a bit, so click over to Hill’s blog for more.
What’s your advice for where to start a short story? Share it in the comments!
February 22, 2013 § 3 Comments
I really don’t think this needs any additional comment, but I’m a writer, so I’ll make one anyway.
I’m 46 years old. I’ve been trying to launch a writing career since I was 21. I am convinced that the only reason I have not published a book yet — the ONLY reason — is doubt. Or, by another name, fear.
Don’t doubt yourself. It’s a waste of time, and you’ll never get that time back. Not ever.
You can do it. People who are far worse writers have done it.
Don’t doubt yourself. You can do it.
February 21, 2013 § Leave a comment
Gibson was the writer who ushered terms and ideas like cyberspace, netsurfing, ICE, jacking in, and neural implants into being, as well as concepts such as net consciousness, virtual interaction, and “the matrix” (long before the Wachowskis came along).
Legend has it that Gibson will sometimes begin writing a novel with nothing more than a neat image in his head, around which he builds a complex story full of quirky, unique characters.
If you’re an amateur writer, you read William Gibson to see a master’s work—but you do so at your own peril, because nothing you write will ever live up to his books.
I’ve read most of Gibson’s oeuvre, and every time I have the same experience of reading the synopsis and thinking, “This sounds horribly dull.” And then I get completely swept away. Zero History is no different.
On the surface, the book (the third installment in the Blue Ant series, by the way) is about Hollis Henry, a former rock star turned quasi-journalist, who is asked by the head of a marketing company to find the secretive maker of high-end, ultra-rare denim clothes. The marketing company is Blue Ant, headed up by the improbably named Hubertus Bigend. He sends a newly drug-free man named Milgrim (even he isn’t sure if it’s his first or last name) along to assist Hollis in her quest. But something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and no one is to be trusted. Hollis and Milgrim find themselves being shadowed by a threatening man in foliage-green pants, and they begin to sense that their investigation into a fashion mystery has placed them in path of dangerous, unknown forces.
Zero History is, in a nutshell, a spy novel without the spies. Well, that’s not exactly true. There are spies. And spy gadgets. But the spies aren’t what you’d expect, and the gadgets are things like remote-controlled surveillance drones made up of silver helium balloons that look and move like penguins and manta rays. Gibson slathers the story in pop-culture references and pop-tech devices—iPhones, Macbook Airs, a cartel-grade Jankel-armored Toyota Hilux. And yet for all its oddities and quirks, the story seems entirely plausible, and it is utterly compelling; you can’t put it down.
Odds are, I will never be as good a writer as William Gibson, and that’s okay. I’ll keep trying, of course, but for now, it’s just a pleasure to watch a master at work.
February 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
In a recent review of Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Fractal Prince, Paul di Filippo positioned the novel between the works of Greg Egan “and the cyberpunkishly dense Charles Stross.” Having just finished Saturn’s Children, the first book I’ve read by Stross, di Filippo’s assessment seems spot on.
Saturn’s Children is set in a far future where humans are extinct, leaving behind a solar system populated with intelligent robots—so intelligent, in fact, that they have stepped into the void left by their creators, warts and all. The story centers on Freya, a human-looking robot in a time when human-looking robots are out of style. Her kind is looked down upon by the rest of robotkind, which considers Freya and her siblings to be “ogres.” But Freya is just the type needed by the mysterious JeevesCo to take a package from Mercury to Mars. Unfortunately, there are those who want to make sure the package never arrives, and are willing to kill Freya to make sure of it.
While the story is intriguing, the world that Stross has set it in is even more so. There’s a lot of science and even more imagination packed into this book, along with a lot of unfamiliar lingo and some just downright bizarre concepts. It takes some getting used to, and at times it’s laid on a bit thick—hence why I feel “cyberpunkishly dense” is so appropriate. When you boil it down to the bones, however, it’s a sci-fi riff on The Maltese Falcon—which Stross hints at when he describes the package Freya has to carry to Mars:
The package I’m carrying needs to be activated twenty days before we arrive; until then, it’s concealed in a small cryostat in the base of a profoundly ugly black model of an extinct airborne replicator that preyed on other similar avioforms.
Wink wink, nudge nudge. Yes, there’s a fair bit of humor in the book, too.
Once you get used to the world Stross has created (it took me awhile), you begin to wonder just what the hell is going on. If you’re smarter than me, you may be able to figure it out; I was baffled right up to the end. But pleasantly so. It’s a real page-turner, and the author does a good job of leaving you wanting more at the end of each chapter. I’ll pick up the sequel, Neptune’s Brood, when it’s released later this year, although I can’t imagine where it will go.
But that’s part of the fun, right?