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Ursula K. Le Guin just died.

I didn't have a personal relationship with her writing, the way I had with some others', but hers was the sort of devastatingly oblique voice that kept inside you even if you thought it hadn't, and she brought to sci-fi vast (an accidental but unavoidable word choice, I guess) things that *had* to be there, things we're still struggling, half-articulately at best, with.

It's not the same culture that it'd have been without her, and I'm not the same person either.


A lot of Hickman's writing (varying by title, but overall quite a bit) consists of visually, conceptually, and linguistically dense world-building infodumps. The term is generally used disparagingly, but for him — I should say, for him, with me — it works, because
  • Hickman's world-building is fantastic; his settings are more interesting than most people's plots.
  • Properly used, comics are a great medium for infodumps. You're forced to use relatively short amounts of text, which makes you concise, while the visuals are great both for emotional tone and for the kind of open-ended suggestive-but-not-explained detail that makes you feel certain that the world is real outside the panels and before and after the story itself.

The first line of almost any story can be improved by making sure the second line is, “And then the murders began.”

— Marc Laidlaw (@marc_laidlaw) March 3, 2017

*facepalms* I just got this idea for a challenge...


Problem is, I have no idea of how. Where's Stanislaw Lem now that we have nonhuman actors everywhere?


A quote that works at many levels.

This is the theological mystery of perfect prose.

Gershom Scholem, discussing Kafka in a letter to Walter Benjamin. (My second-hand translation.)


Prohibition: A few things work out a bit earlier than expected, and by 1905 there are working electronic computers. WWI begins earlier (everybody thinks computers will give them the edge), and is equally destructive, but it also ends earlier. By 1917 Edison Electronics has made the New York-Berlin-London market the fastest, biggest stock market in history. In 1918 the Blitzkrieg Crash takes almost everybody by surprise (not Poincare, whose work on chaotic dynamics guided the investment strategies that made him one of the richest men in America after the crash). Unemployment soars; Edison Electronics factories making prototypes of "office computers" are torched down by angry mobs.

The Computer Prohibition Law passes: no (civilian) computers are allowed in the US.

But people of all sorts have tasted the forbidden fruit, from greedy businessmen to dreaming scientists. The demand exists, and when there's a consumer, the market finds a way.

The year is 1921, the place is Chicago, and if you need something smart, Al Capone is your guy.

On the Four Quartets

I reread today Eliot's Four Quartets, and — besides or perhaps contributing to a greater enjoyment of them than the previous times — I noticed for the first time how science-fictional they are. Not in the sense of belonging to a closed category of SF works, but rather as attempting what these days we recognize as a very strongly SF goal, the explanation and exploration of atypical modes of thought and being. That this can also be described as philosophy isn't a counterargument; Zeno's parables would be kick-ass short SF stories, and I side with Borges' incredulous enjoyment of philosophical theology as sophisticated and wildly creative world-building and world-explaining.

PS: God (heh), how awkwardly convoluted is my writing tonight. Sorry about that.


Mid-NaNo "encouragement"

Fro io9: One New York Times Bestseller Per Year Will Barely Keep You Above The Poverty Line:

Paranormal romance author Lynn Viehl bared all last week — she posted her complete royalty statement from her publisher, for her New York Times bestselling book Twilight Fall. [...] In any case, the bottom line is that Viehl got a $50,000 advance for Twilight Fall, and she's unlikely to earn it out for up to a year — which means no royalty payments. After taxes, expenses, and her agent's cut, she gets to keep about half that advance.

For a book a year, that's a bit over the US poverty line. Not that I didn't already know that writing isn't something you do out of financial ambition (unless and until you become one of The Few Who Sell A Ton), but it's still headshake inducing.

My icon: too often appropriate to my feelings.


Yuletide reveal

I wrote two fics this time (I wanted to write more, but given my schedule it'd have been irresponsible to claim more).

Entelechy (Cable/Deadpool in both senses of the term). I don't think I succeeded with this story. Stuff is weird but not very funny, and Wade is just half of his usual self.

Turing Test (a 2001 fic). I like this one more. The language is clunky and, save for a couple of key details, it tells quite a bit more than it shows (the plot nudged me in that direction, but I should have resisted it better), but I think the core idea behind the fic is both logical and meaningful, so there you go.

Lessons learned this Yuletide:

  • If I feel meh about a story, it's probably not going to work out.

  • Simple ideas sometimes have complex implementations.

  • I need to get much better at getting across specific images and moods in a more indirect way.

  • outlawpoet is a beta rock star (I already knew that, but it bears repeating).

I wanted to comment on and extrapolate the current Cable storyline, what with X-mas (heh) approaching, but it got Lord King Bad Fic-cy very fast.

It's a good thing I won't have much time to write for the next days, because two of the three ideas I have in my queue (none of them related to Cable or, actually, comics books) are petty and mean, the kind of things you come up with and laugh with bleak glee.



cass, can you not

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