Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Write What You Think is True

Reading two books very slowly -- "Growing up Weightless," by John M Ford, and "The Fifth Season," by N K Jemisin. A chapter at a time, I've been busy recently, picked up two contracts when a month ago I had none.

Two very different books. The Ford is a difficult read, interrupted by lengthy pauses -- it's told in pretty much real time, and it's on paper, which is hard for me to read since the eye went off. But I'm getting through it slowly. It is a remarkable work, though; Ken Burnside kept at me to read it for a decade or something, before I finally did. Thoughts later.

"Fifth Season" does, I expect, deserve the awards it's won. That's not a shot at the novel, my daughter and wife both raved about it, and they have good judgment even if I'm sometimes skeptical about the awards infrastructure in the arts (all arts, F/SF is not unusual in this regard.) It's merely an observation that, 6-7 chapters in, I'm starting to see the backbone of the story and yeah, it's epic, and of course it's very well executed.

Hit a scene that a black lady a few years back hated so bad she stopped reading the novel -- the main black male character is routinely ridiculed and described as unattractive by his companion. (It's a dystopia -- while many of the characters are sympathetic, none of them so far are what you'd call likeable -- maybe the orphan orogene (witch) -- but maybe not even her.)

Back when, not having seen the novel, I nodded sympathetically and kept my mouth shut, because I'm an old white guy, and there are subjects it's pointless to comment on. (I've told the story of the time I was at dinner with two black couples -- 25 years ago, about -- they asked me what I thought about black women dating white men because the black men they knew were unemployed -- and ground up by the justice system, I thought even then. I made the mistake of answering. Don't answer that question, fellow white men.)

But it does expose the limits of where I'm willing to go at the artistic level. If a black woman can be mad at N K Jemisin for her description of one black man in a single novel out of how many she's written, there are no safe spots to stand. Take a deep breath, and write what you think to be true. Someone will be angry about it, if you're lucky enough to be noticed at all.


New chapters of AI War, Kozmic Blues, and Emerald Throne going to the Patreon early next week. The AI War chapter will be free to the public.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

To post a comment on my blog ...

I have to click the "I'm not a robot button."

I have to pick the stairs in an image.

I have to find the traffic lights in an image.

I have to do that with a new image.

I have to do that with a new image.

I have to find the fire hydrants in a set of images. When I click them they vanish and are replaced by more fire hydrants. I have to keep doing this until there are none left. The last square fills with a fire hydrant five times.

Google suggests I log in. I give it my account name and password.

It requests 2 form verification.

I go into the bedroom and get my phone, come back to my office and type in the number that's been sent.

Google posts my comment.

Thanks, Google! Keeping my blog secure and shit!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The World's Greatest Living Science Fiction Writer

Are all writers arrogant? I think it's possible there are some who aren't, but I'm not sure I've ever met any. The idea that I sit down and type a story up, something at least 50% of the human race has tried to do at some point; and then you give me money for it? That's me saying, "Yes, I do think I'm the fraction of a percent of storytellers who should be paid for it."

There's a story Asimov told when he was writing "The Gods Themselves." He was getting older, hadn't written fiction in a long time -- told his editor he feared the field had passed him by.

"Isaac," she said, "when you write, you are the field."

It wasn't true, not even for Asimov. But it's a good attitude.

"World's Greatest Living Science Fiction Writer" -- I've had that compliment twice in recent years. (Once from Fred Lang, another time from a guy on G+.) It's not true, though I'm willing to fight to the death over the observation that it might have been true for them.

But you should act as if it's true. If you have any literary ambition at all, you should be working to write the very best of the sort of thing you do. I mean, I write space opera. Right now, the gold standard in this field is probably still Hyperion. Am I going to outwrite that? Probably not -- but I'm certainly going to try.

The intentional fallacy is real. Just because you intend to do something, doesn't mean you did it, and particularly when you get into the upper reaches of any subject, the intentional fallacy gets stronger and stronger. But without intention? No one ever stumbled into excellence by accident.