Fast Scifi Notes – 05/07/2017

This ripped tendon is still affecting my typing – saving my writing energy for Mesh. Still seeing/reading/experiencing sci-fi, so let me jot down a few notes.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

I’m going to get some flack for this, but I don’t care. Having seen the first GotG, and now the second, I am remarkably ambivalent about this Marvel franchise. Yes, the acting is great. In fact, the actors consistently rescue what would otherwise be a plodding, hum-drum action story piling layer after layer of perilous escapes until you’re dizzied and numbed, going “Did Michael Bay direct this thing?”

I mean, if Michael Bay is your thing, great. I’m not going to judge. I just didn’t find anything compelling or interesting in the main plots. I thought the underlying themes of loss, redemption and family were interesting, but I didn’t go into the theater looking for Good Peter Quill Hunting.

And what’s with the music? Are we now living in an era where people are prepared to believe that the Seventies soft-rock classics are the pinnacle of the audio art form? When did that happen. It’s like you’ve never seen a Time Life commercial in your life. Continue reading

Notes from the Forty-Year-Old Author

Ow.

Life told me I was forty-years old by giving me a mallet finger deformity. Doesn’t look like much does it? I wish it felt that way – I jammed my middle finger and it stayed bent. The doctor says I tore the tendon in my last joint and that I was lucky. “If you waited a week to come in, it would have healed that way and you’d be stuck with it for life.”

So here’s me, feeling lucky.

It’s going to be tough to type without my EDC finger, but Mesh won’t write itself. I’m polishing and iterating as we speak – forty is the new thirty!

At least, I hope so.

Happy 4/20!

I don’t smoke pot, but I know 4/20 is a big day for stoners. Here’s a fun way to celebrate with them:

Any time someone says ‘Happy 4/20’ to you, you can say “What? Celebrating Hitler’s birthday?? You monster!”

See? You’ve given them the gift of knowledge and no harm done!

Happy 4/20 everyone!

– With love to Jack Handey

Horizon: Zero Dawn is NeoClassic SciFi

Horizon: Zero Dawn has been taking a chunk out of my productivity as a writer. After four weeks and several dozen hours, I’m finished and I have a few things to say. To begin with, don’t consider this a video game review. Other people have reviewed the game, and my only comment is that ‘yes, it deserves the rating.’ To call HZD a ‘good game’ is like calling Stranger Things a ‘good Netflix show.’ This is a disrupter, a game-changer, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it achieve neoclassic status as a science fiction story.

What I want to discuss, is why HZD is great science fiction unto itself. Grab one of the wallpaper-sized pictures I’m including in this post, settle in, and hear me out:

  

Continue reading

Free Author Tool: Time Management

If you’re going to write, tell jokes, play music, you’ve got to be productive. Your muse doesn’t pay rent in your head, but you pay rent on your apartment, so get busy. I’m adding a new section to the blog in which I pass along things that help me be more productive in writing, successful in reaching book agents, whatever.

Today’s Free Author Tool is about time management, since that’s a personal challenge for me. Sitting at the keyboard for hours at a time, I don’t find myself becoming *more* productive but rather, less. To fix that, I invented a little system that is working out well so far:

  1. Get out your phone
  2. Set a timer for 20 minutes
  3. Turn your ‘Do Not Disturb’ on – close all non-essential Internet tabs (especially Facebook and Reddit)
  4. Write as much as you can for twenty minutes
  5. Stop when the timer goes off

There’s no personal goal of word count to hit, just write as much as you can. You’ll write more as time goes on.

I’ve found that focusing my attention helps my muse to focus, too. There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page going “c’mon … work.” It’s also frustrating to get going on a writing jag, stop for a break and then forget to start again because you’re checking email or Twitter. Stop doing that to yourself. Get up, take a shower, make the bed. Do something else that’s productive and then come back and set your timer again. To make it fun, I also listen to a variety of music. My personal taste is somewhere between chillstep and cool jazz but whatever floats your boat.

Mesh Update #1

So now, let’s talk about Mesh …

I haven’t released many details yet but I can give you a brief synopsis while I polish the novel:

Mesh is ‘Fight Club’ meets ‘Stranger Things’: a YA sci-fi story about Zeke, a charismatic and slightly anarchic teen who changes the world when he invents an entirely new Internet, completely outside of adult control. With the help of his best friend Roman and their science teacher, Mr. Howard, the boys begin a project for their high school service hours, and discover that they can create an uncontrolled information network using old hardware that nobody wants anymore. Mr. Howard’s technical guidance and historical knowledge of counter-culture give them the help they need to bring the Mesh to life. With new mesh networks coming to life all over America, the government seeks the ‘mysterious hackers’ who give kids unshackled access to information and community. It’s a race against time for Zeke and Roman to complete the Mesh, get an ‘A’ for their project and then disappear before it all comes crashing down.

I’ll be talking more about Mesh and its evolution, because there are a number of exciting components that will appear to sci-fi readers across the entire community spectrum. I’m also drawing from a number of writing, sci-fi and technology influences. One of those influences is Simon Stalenhag:

            

        

Like most of you, I’m a huge fan of his work. His sweeping, evocative vistas are epic in their scope and contain enough texture to fill entire universes. So as he describes this gritty, split-knuckle future from his vantage point in Sweden, I can’t help but draw upon his imagination as I write Mesh. I want to make sure that the universe I’m creating is as much fun as the universes he makes.

More details shortly …

Submitted: Article for 2017 Comic-Con International Souvenir Book

Just finished writing an article for consideration in the upcoming Comic-Con souvenir book. I’m not attending, but I like being a part of it. This year, they’re celebrating one of my favorite cartoon series – Batman: The Animated Series. It took Batman: TAS for pop culture and Hollywood to realize that cartoons were a serious storytelling medium. It wasn’t enough for Scooby and the Gang to rip the mask off the villain by the end of the show. Batman: TAS showed us that when you rip the cover off, there’s still a world of pain and joyful anarchy underneath.

I love that show and it brought back a lot of happy memories to write “Dark Deco and Neo-Noir for Kids – Batman: The Animated Series at Twenty-Five.” I look forward with fingers crossed to see if it shows up in the Comic Con Souvenir Book – I’ll keep you posted! 😀

Wartime vs Peacetime Scifi

These are some comments about science fiction as a community and culture. If that isn’t your thing, feel free to ignore this post.

I caught a plane down to LA this week to see some friends from the old life. On my way back up, trying to ignore the incredibly loud lady behind me in 3E, I saw the guy next to me reading from Ben Horowitz’ book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. He has some incredible insight about the world business and CEOs. I’ve read it before, but this time, I focused on his discussion about a ‘wartime CEO’ vs a ‘peacetime CEO.’

Applying his logic, one can see a few underlying causes of the tension within the sci-fi community from the past few years. We largely operate under philosophies of a peacetime-type culture: we have protocol, we talk about consensus-building and we think about the big picture. No one is ‘leading’ the community because the community is both self-organized and self-regulated, but the similarities in culture are obvious.

This culture has made our community successful for over a hundred years. However, as Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel said, “success contains the seeds of its own destruction.” The lessons learned from other enterprises absolutely apply to the science fiction community, since both groups include the carbon-based life forms of our wacky little planet.

We experienced what it felt like to have those seeds exploited when we read Laura Mixon’s report on Benjanun Sriduangkaew. We experienced those seeds poking out the ground when we saw the likes of Vox Day and the Sad Puppies attempting to ‘burn the Hugos down.’ Cynicism and disdain for science fiction as both an art form and community became a toxic distraction to the past couple years of sci-fi. Life has moved on, thankfully, but I can’t help but wonder where the next outbreak of toxicity will come from. Why did these toxic actors (TA) succeed, though, if they were so bad for us? Let’s go back to the ‘Wartime CEO’ example, because the answer is there: Continue reading

State of the Art – 03/24/2017

I took a little bit of a beating from what I said about writing sci-fi dystopias, but I’m not worried. You can’t be an artist if you aren’t willing to take the hits. Then Matthew Kressel said something and it represents a bit of a mic-drop on the topic:

In that spirit, I’m probably going to write my own dystopian entry for the Boston Review and I’ll let you know how that goes. People liked Superhero Shrink on Imgur and that made me feel good. Interacting with people via social media is a challenge unto itself, but it’s also therapy for me. Currently working on a number of short stories, articles, and submission entries. Would you guys like to hear about those, too?