Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spoilers circle on G+

I'm going to post ongoing bits of things I'm working on on G+ -- no massive spoilers, but if you're interested in reading them, +1 or otherwise respond on this post and I'll add you to the list.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Art

You can’t define art.

You can’t define storytelling.

You can’t define writing except in the most trivial and reductionist way: “words strung together.”

There are no rules. We tell young writers there are rules, because it helps limit the size of the problem they’re wrestling with, but really there are not. There’s technique, and that’s helpful and important: a command of technique is the difference between hit and miss and the ability to reliably produce competent work. But techniques are not rules.

There are no rules of writing I’ve ever seen that do not have exceptions – and let’s not waste our time with “the exception that proves the rule,” since this is merely a phrase misused by people who don’t understand it – it merely meant, in its original use, that the rule had been proven false.

Rules that have exceptions are guidelines, not rules. Orwell’s five rules famously contain a sixth that effectively says, “Except when the rule makes no goddamn sense for what you’re trying to do.” Elmore Leonard has ten rules that should be required reading for young writers – but which some great writers violate repeatedly to good effect. (Leonard, being a great writer, is as aware as Orwell that his rules are merely guidelines: his essay on his rules of writing finishes with an example of Steinbeck breaking these rules to good effect.)

Some rules I’ve had thrown at me over the years – once by Damon Knight, who said I’d convinced him, when we were done:

“A story must not be boring.” Says you. I’ve been bored by lots of stories.

OK, how about: “A story must not be intentionally boring?” Well, Waiting for Godot certainly appears to be.

“A story is a person with a problem.” It can be. But not always: sometimes a story is about something unambiguously good happening to a person.

Maybe even just: “A story must be about a person?” No? One of my favorite pieces of my own writing is a story about a tree, On Sequoia Time.

*

Stories are just a subset of all the kinds of art out there.

Recently a screenwriter I otherwise respect argued that the television show Dexter, far from being one of the best things on television, wasn’t even art: it was pornography, an exercise in pandering to the base instincts of its audience.

I am not writing to defend or even to praise Dexter. I don’t care if you like it, if you think it’s bad trash or good trash or simply brilliant. (I’ll go with “simply brilliant.”) Practically nobody likes George A. Romero’s Knightriders as well as I do, and that’s fine; I’m long past requiring external validation for my tastes, and I still watch Knightriders every year around my birthday, regardless of the opinions of others. (It is one of the best independent American movies ever made, by the way, despite being too long and having a few lapses of tone here and there.)

But the bright line used to consign Dexter to “porn” was this: that art must challenge us (and thatDexter did not, in this writer’s opinion.) That it must take our expectations and confound them, must make us reconsider what we know or believe to be true –

– and absolutely: this is one of the real functions of art, a vital and important function. But it’s not the most important function and it’s not the place where we divide work into “art” on one side and “porn” on another. Art, to borrow a terrible cliché (and Orwell would tell me not to do this) … is an elephant. We see the parts of it that we respond to, we become aware of art because it moves us. The parts that we don’t respond to are not art … for our purposes: but they may be art for the purposes of our neighbors, who are of different ages and genders and backgrounds, who have different life experiences and skills and lovers and friends and family.

Should art challenge us? Yes.

Should it uplift us? Yes.

Warn us? Yes.

Scare us? Yes.

Teach us new things? Yes.

Reinforce what we know to be true? Yes.

Entertain us? Hell yes.

Connect us to one another? Yes.

Let us see through someone else’s eyes? Yes.

Remind us of our common humanity? Yes.

Remind us of the ways in which we’re unusual, or even unique?

… yes.

Art is whatever you experience as art: all that’s required is that some person or persons, in an intentional act, created something that, when you encountered it, caused an emotional or even spiritual reaction in you.

… and there are no rules. There’s technique, and mastery of technique is one of the differences between mediocre and good artists; though probably it is not as important as conviction.

There is a language of art that we’ve learned and taught to one another, and that language changes by art form and by time and by culture and by person. But there are no rules, none, not a one: just people traveling down their personal roads: and for all of us, wherever we are this year, the horizon is the same distance away.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Programming People

The speech I gave at Singularity University yesterday morning.

I wish G+ did friendlier URLs....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

DanielKeysMoran.com

Pretty much what you think -- a redirect to my G+ page.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Google Profile ...

gplus.to/fatsam

I may post some more to this blog, but mostly I'll be there.


Thinking about going to Google+ ...

Not sure how that'll work, but I'm getting about 20 pieces of spam mail a day (for a while now) from Blogspot spammers. It's wearying. Should be less of that on G+, looks like. If you send me a request at danielkeysmoran at the gmail domain, I'll happily add you. If I do move off Blogspot as a permanent matter, I'll make sure there's a public presence elsewhere, and the last post on this blog will point to it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Singularity University; Datawatch

I'm (very probably) going to be giving a speech at Singularity University on August 3rd. Not clear where this is in San Francisco, but I'll find out -- probably won't have time to socialize in any case. 21st Century Biotechnology. It looks like this might be the start of a longer relationship with them, which would be interesting.

On another subject:


In the case of many hackers, such as those dealing in stolen financial information, chats will take place in private, with new members coming into the group only if they know an existing member. However, in the cases of Anonymous and LulzSec, some of their chatrooms are public. The FBI has set up shop in numerous social media sites, going undercover where necessary to root out hackers and other online criminals, and it would not be surprising if they were actively monitoring IRC channels in this case.

~~~~~

Interesting times. The lulzsec/anonymous crowd is playing for money now -- I hope they know what they're doing. I'm sure some of them do, but not all of them. The problem with groups like these is that any break in pure anonymity is lethal -- you can't trust anyone. People you know well and trust are the biggest threat -- a drill bit on the knee will make almost anyone talk.

And these guys are charging full speed into knee drilling territory.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Been busy ...

Having one of my periodic low-availability stretches. I've got a hundred odd emails to respond to, a trade paper copy of AI War to get out the door, various other tasks I've promised people ... and I started a new job about 8 weeks ago that's been mostly a disaster. Very nice people -- horrible mess. Won't name the company, but really, the only thing I've got to compare this to is a couple of experiences with startups that went belly up. These guys are a 100 million a year in revenue and aren't going to fail, but it's 1995 in this particular IT shop. The *rest* of the company seems to be well run (or they'd be out of business, given the mess in IT) but man, in the universe of "didn't know what I was getting myself into," this is a world beater.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Books up on Amazon

Emerald Eyes, Long Run, and AI War: Big Boost, are available on Amazon. For some reason Last Dancer hasn't made it through yet. Got my first sale and my first five-star review (probably from the same guy.)

http://amzn.to/eeI91R

"This is the best science fiction story I have ever read. I'm not going to describe how wonderful this book is because I do not have the time to do it properly."

That's a review. :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Covers - EE, TLR, TLD. Angel Greenwood.

The Amazon covers. They'll go up in new editions on fsand as well, and you'll be able to download them if you like. Last thing we were waiting for to put them on Amazon/Apple/B&N etc.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goodbye, Sarah Jane

Elisabeth Sladen, aka Doctor Who's Sarah Jane, passed away today. Just heard. I've seen most of the episodes of "The Sarah Jane Adventures," but my sons have watched every episode at least twice. Three years ago, when it premiered, it was at least as popular with my youngest as "Doctor Who" itself -- more their speed. Now my youngest is 9, that's probably no longer true ... but it was a good show for them, at the right time. We'll miss her.

I guess we're watching "School Reunion" tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

For Fans of Gregory Mcdonald

Just ran across this.

http://brucedesilva.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/gregory-mcdonald-creator-of-fletch-still-has-much-to-teach-us-about-reading-and-writing/

Opens with de Silva's thoughts on Mcdonald (interesting, but not the jewel of this blog post) ... and then goes into an interview with Mcdonald, one I'd never seen before.

de Silva thinks that Mcdonald's in danger of fading and being forgotten -- that would be sad. Fletch and Confess Fletch are two of the best books I've ever read, certainly both in the top 10 of all mystery books.

A while back I posted my top 50 favorite novels to my Facebook profile -- I'll repost it here -- and yep, two Mcdonald novels make the top 30:

~~~~~

Mentioned to a friend he'd written one of my 20 favorite novels recently; a couple weeks ago I got That Email, the one where someone wants your list of Every Good Book Ever Written. So, here it is. The only ground rules were that no book I'd only read once could make the list, and nothing I hadn't read within the last ~15 years could make it -- my memory's not that good. There are several novels that got dropped because I hadn't read them recently enough -- David Gerrold's third Chtorran novel, Spinrad's Bug Jack Baron, Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Wallace's "Infinite Jest" dropped because I only read it once. OTOH, Gerrold's "Man Who Folded Himself" made it in because I just reread it about a month ago and it was vastly better than I'd recalled....


The first two novels are my favorite novels, the clear #1 and #2. After that, a different day would get you a different order -- though the broad bands (I broke them up into 5 groups of 10) wouldn't change that much, I think.


My 50


1-10

Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

USA Trilogy, John Dos Passos

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

The Dispossessed, Ursula K. LeGuin

Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin


11-20

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

Great Sky River, Gregory Benford

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein

The Green Ripper, John D. MacDonald

100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Great Sky Woman, Steve Barnes

Merlin Trilogy, Mary Stewart

The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammet

Confess, Fletch, Gregory Mcdonald

The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald


21-30

Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis

Citizen of the Galaxy, Robert A. Heinlein

Night Watch, Terry Pratchett

Protector, Larry Niven

Streets of Laredo, Larry McMurtry

Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett

Pale Gray for Guilt, John D. MacDonald

Life, the Universe, and Everything, Douglass Adams

Fletch, Gregory McDonald

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler


31-40

Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles

Heroes Die, Matt Stover

A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, Poul Anderson

Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov

Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

“The Sacketts,” as a body of work, Louis L’Amour

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Frederik Pohl

The Perfect Thief, Ronald J. Bass

The Man Who Folded Himself, David Gerrold

Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov


41-50

The Forever War, Joe Haldeman

Flynn’s In, Gregory Mcdonald

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milo Kundera

L.A. Confidential, James Ellroy

Demolished Man, Alfred Bester

Doomsday Book, Connie Willis

Hyperion, Dan Simmons

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Tom Robbins

Ringworld Engineers, Larry Niven

Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammet


I cheated a bit. There’s no Sackett novel that would make this list by itself, but I have gone back to it repeatedly over the years. (I might have snuck in Steve Perry's Matador books under the same theory, but I only read most of them recently and I've only read most of them once -- but they do for me very much what L'Amour does.) I also cheated by throwing the entire Merlin trilogy in there as a single book – fuck it, it’s my list, and I never read that a book at a time; I start off with “The Crystal Cave” and read through “The Last Enchantment.” (And hardly ever bother with the fourth, “The Wicked Day,” which Merlin’s not in.)


Two “Great Sky” titled novels in the top 20. You know what to do now, authors, if *you* want to get onto this very exclusive list.


If I were including children’s novels, Susan Cooper’s “Dark Is Rising,” Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Series, various Patricia McKillip novels, and C.S. Lewis’s Narnia would certainly make it in.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Twenty-five years today since "Graceland"

It was a slow day
And the sun was beating
On the soldiers by the side of the road
There was a bright light
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio

"Boy in the Bubble." A line from this song has appeared in every CT novel to date -- "Lasers in the junble," "bomb in the baby carriage," "age of miracles and wonders," and in AI War, "Don't cry, baby."

A Freeway In My Back Yard

Now available at Amazon as well as FS&. My remaining novels -- the four Continuing Time books, Armageddon Blues, Terminal Freedom ... and then somewhere down the road, possibly even "The Ring" -- I'll post about here when they become available on Amazon. (Or in the case of "Armageddon Blues," Amazon and FS& pretty much simultaneously.)

I'm going to settle on either Lulu or CafePress this week for POD. I have zero expectation I'll make any money off POD, but I'm sure willing to be wrong.

If you've bought off FS& already, the update will be ready a little later today -- version 1.1, which includes epub & kindle for the first time. (Getting the screenplays to look OK in both those formats was difficult, but we got there.) You can, as always, download the new version for free.

~~~~~

If you were a fan of "Quantum Leap," go see "Source Code." Amy and I went to a matinee this morning, and while it mins some of the same territory as QL, it does so knowingly and gracefully and is a pretty little jewel of a movie. Scott Bakula's telephone-only cameo includes an "Oh, boy," just for people like us.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ebook reviewers

If you're a reviewer of original ebooks for a reputable website or publication (or know one you like), drop me a line. Thanks.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"as insubstantial as a Peaceforcer's promise."

Shared this on Facebook, reposting.

Opening of "Live Fast and Never Die" -- it used to continue immediately with the main action, but since there's going to be a delay between books -- I gave Trent a vacation. Just some bits. He meets a girl:

~~~~~

“ANOTHER PITCHER OF margaritas, please. Wait.” He glanced at the girl on the hammock beside him. “Strawberry? Melon?”

“You look like Adam Selstrom,” the girl said in English that was better than Trent’s Portuguese and no worse than his French. “With blond hair. And younger, of course. Did anyone ever tell you that? Melon.”

The girl’s name was Allison. She was Brazilian, of apparently Asian background despite the blonde hair and blue eyes, neither obviously from a makeup key. Trent didn’t know how old she was – above 21, he was pretty sure, despite the presence of her parents on the atoll. In any event her father hadn’t said anything to him yet.

“Melon,” Trent told the waitbot, which bobbed its head at him and trundled off. “Yeah,” Trent told Allison, “I get that sometimes. Don’t see it myself.”

~~~~~

Her father, a squat middle-aged Brazilian Unification functionary, had given Trent the evil eye – her mother had simply failed to see him, as though he were as insubstantial as a Peaceforcer’s promise.

~~~~~

Allison’s voice was a little startling. “Have you been here before?”

“Rangiroa? No.”

“What made you decide to come here?”

Trent thought about Mohammed Vance, who by now was tearing apart the seams of the world looking for him.

“Did you know,” he said to Allison, “that there are twenty thousand islands in the South Seas?”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FS& Facebook Page is up...

The FS& Facebook page is up and running. We'll probably start relying more on that to issue updates about non-Moran titles, rather than this blog. If you want to stay abreast of what's happening, go to FSAnd.com directly, or "like" this page on Facebook.

There will still be blog posts here when something cool happens, but I won't publish every new title to this blog any longer.

Margaret Weis, "Star of the Guardians" Book One

The Lost King is for sale at fsand.com.

I'm quite pleased about this one. Margaret Weis Productions will be using the fsand.com typeset books for all their epub and kindle publishing -- we're just leading them by a short period. We'll have 15 or 16 more titles from Margaret and the writers she represents, in the near future.

Amy edited this when it was originally published. She was really happy to get a chance to work on it again.

The rest of The Star of the Guardians series will be up on fsand.com fairly soon. The others will follow as MWP gives them to us.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Omnibus

The Continuing Time Omnibus Edition (including The A.I. War, Book One: The Big Boost; The Last Dancer;The Long Run; and Emerald Eyes) is available for purchase at fsand.com. It's $22.99, or about five dollars cheaper than all the books purchased separately.

Dreadnaught, by Steve Perry and Michael Reeves

Sometimes it's cool to be me. I got to see this book in mss. -- I didn't know at the time I'd get a chance to publish it, as well. On Sale at fsand.com.

Behold Eilandia, a pre-industrial world with vast seas, about to embroil itself in a bloody global war. Here is a major fantasy in its first publication anywhere, a wide-ranging tale of kings and thieves, magicians and soldiers, priests and sailors, aswirl with intrigue, swordplay, and assorted magicks. A rollicking adventure from New York Times Bestselling authors Steve Perry and Michael Reaves. Available in epub, mobi, pdf, and html.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Last Dancer ver 1.0; updated AI War, EE, and TLR.


"The Last Dancer" is available for sale at fsand.com. An omnibus edition of all four Continuing Time novels will be available later tonight -- I'll update the front page of FSAnd when that happens with a graphic & link.

Anyone who's bought a copy of "The AI War, Book One," or "Emerald Eyes," or "Long Run," version 1.1 of those books is available now on FSAnd. You should be good to download them -- they're much cleaner than earlier copies, and have been tested on a much wider range of devices.

Also, new works from Steve Perry, and some new material from Margaret Weis Productions will be appearing on FSAnd -- Perry tonight, Margaret Weis probably on Monday.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big Boost Edition 1.1 this weekend -- bug fixes, typos

About a dozen typos and some formatting problems (computer speech not rendering at all in epub/mobi) will be fixed. If you run across something not working, drop me a line.

We'll probably also have reworks of EE/TLR and a new render of Last Dancer -- we've gotten better at producing epubs in particular since the earlier books. If you've ever bought a copy, you should be OK to download the new files, when uploaded. They'll all be marked in the download file name as "1.1".

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spoiler Thread for AI War

Post any comments you have about the book in this thread. Nowhere else, please. Thank you.

The A.I. War, Book One: The Big Boost

"I am sore wounded but not slain
I will lay me down and bleed a while
And then rise up to fight again"

Cover art by Angel Greenwood. Available for sale at fsand.com -- and only fsand.com, for the immediate future.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The cover.

It's good to have friends. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Angel Greenwood is easy to adore even before taking her remarkable talent into account.




Saturday, March 19, 2011

Challenger explosion

The Challenger explosion -- I recall something about the joints on the solid fuel rockets being mounted upside down? (So that liquid could seep in, which led to the failure of the o-rings.) Am I remembering correctly? Anyone? I've tried googling this for about the last hour and I'm not finding anything.