Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What makes speculative fiction so special?

At every con and book signing, and in every SFnal chat room, it seems that the craft of writing and the business of publishing eventually come up. There's a sort of symmetry in play: most writers are inveterate readers, and many readers aspire to be authors.

So: I'm delighted to be returning to WriterHouse to reprise my weekend seminar on writing speculative fiction. The seminar (updated, of course since I last taught it) will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, in lovely Charlottesville, VA.

Lovely isn't mere politeness. Among its many charms, Charlottesville is home to Monticello and the University of Virginia, both legacies of Thomas Jefferson. The nearby image is of the UVa Rotunda, designed by Jefferson.

Curious? Check out the course description and registration info.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beyond eclectic

Strange place, this world. Stranger yet, the internet. And so, from once again bulging (virtually speaking) files ...

We'll start with "Did Neanderthals and modern man really co-exist?" And if they did, was there, well, fraternizing? According to one recent study, "Theories about when the last Neanderthals walked the Earth may have to be revised, according to a study that suggests they became extinct in their last refuge in Spain much earlier than previously thought, from 35,000 years ago to nearly 50,000." A bit here about the study.

Fast forward to modern cave/cubicle dwellers. "Up to 80 percent of time spent online at work is ‘wasted,’ according to study." Is anyone surprised? And why the quotes around wasted?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hacked off

Time and again I believe that I've posted for the last time on the topic of Internet insecurity, that there is nothing more to be said on the subject ... only to have events show me otherwise. So what's gone wrong recently?

The hacking of Bush family email accounts at AOL likely didn't entail any great technical skill. What shocked me is how news outlets considered excerpts from the Bush family's email archives to be fair game.

Yes, the family includes two former presidents -- but not everything they do is news. We're not discussing the Pentagon Papers. Does the public deserve access to personal emails in which George W. Bush collects information from his relatives for a eulogy for his ailing father? Isn't the family entitled to any privacy? As the Washington Post comments, "Publication of hacked George W. Bush e-mails raises journalism ethics questions."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spacing out -- in a good way

So what's new in space exploration?

To begin, a new lunar exploration company. As Ars Technica reports, "Golden Spike wants to start human lunar expeditions within a decade." Though Golden Spike hasn't revealed much in the way of plans, it has a serious list of backers, including Northrop Grumman and the United Launch Alliance. (ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin.) Golden Spike's board of directors includes NASA veterans and notable VCs.

Maybe there's a reason for NASA to ask future Moon visitors to respect its stuff.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Permit me a small woohoo!

A most satisfying day ...

Locus magazine's recommended reading list for 2012 was released today, with (we pause for a tasteful drum roll ...) Fate of Worlds among its chosen SF novels. Lots of great reading is to be found on that list ...

Also today, SF Site published Fate of Worlds: An Interview with Edward M. Lerner. It'd be hard not to be pleased by (from the intro to the interview):
"In August of 2012 came Niven and Lerner's capstone to both the Ringworld and Fleet series, Fate of Worlds, which closes out both series in a single triumphant work of vivid imagination and colorful adventure, fraught with enough action, intrigue, surprises and human drama to satisfy any SF fan."
Today, not even single-digit wind chill phases me.