One last bit before next year, about the significance of the choices I've made for the coming twelvemonth.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/31 19:00
I already dropped some word about what I have on my plate in the coming twelvemonth; go check that out if you missed it. What I'm mulling now is the significance of the choices I've made.
On fixing a casting issue in the new novel, by way of a previously unused character.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/29 17:00
I spent part of yesterday and most of the day before working on the outline/prospectus for Untitled Novel 2018 (sorry, we're still stuck with a temp title). One big obstacle was nailing down a key character in the cast who wasn't well-defined.
On reading Scorsese talk about Scorsese.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/28 15:00
One of my end-of-year gifts was Conversations With Scorsese by Richard Schickel, and I have been reading it with the sort of leisurely pleasure I haven't received from a book in some time. (Same goes for another gift, the collected Moomin; more on that in another post.) It's not a hagiography, a critical analysis, or a formal biography of Scorsese, because we already have tons of those. It's just a sit-down between two men — one a longtime admirer and evangelist for the other's work, if not always every single bit of it — and the reflections inspired by the way those two talk.
On how SF tries to imagine the future, and how that needs to be more than uplift or doomsaying.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/21 08:00
From none other than Carl Sagan, May 1978:
The greatest human significance of science fiction may be as thought experiments, as attempts to minimize future shock, as contemplations of alternative destinies. This is part of the reason that science fiction has so wide an appeal among young people: It is they who will live in the future. No society on earth today is well adapted to the earth of 100 or 200 years from now (if we are wise enough or lucky enough to survive that long). We desperately need an exploration of alternative futures, both experimental and conceptual. The stories of Eric Frank Russell were very much to this point. We were able to see conceivable alternative economic systems, or the great efficiency of a unified passive resistance to an occupying power. In modern science fiction can also be found useful suggestions for making a revolution in an oppressive computerized society, as in Heinlein's “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” Such ideas, when encountered young, can influence adult behavior.
Emphasis mine. SF, and fantasy, are at core about imagining how things can be different, why they might be different, and how we might all fare under those circumstances. How plausible such things might be isn't really what matters; what matters is the act of imagining, the process. The hazard here is not letting all this take place in a vacuum uninformed by the realities of human psychology.
The Genji Press Agenda for the coming year.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/20 17:00
My good buddy Steve Savage just laid out his tentative plans for the coming anno, so I decided to pull together all my disparate threads and figure out what I have on deck as well.
It's hard not to be foolishly romantic about certain things, like the workspaces or utensils of great artists.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/18 08:00
Busy week, not much time to post. Random thought time.
It's hard not to be foolishly romantic about certain things, like the workspaces or utensils of great artists. A museum for a great author might have her desk, her typewriter, her favorite fountain pen. These days, you use a keyboard for a few years and you toss it when the CTRL key breaks off, to say nothing of the computer it's attached to. Will we place Jonathan Franzen's infamously un-networked PC under glass, or erect a display case with the floppies for George R.R. Martin's copy of WordStar? Maybe Philip K. Dick's manual Olympia, or even the IBM Selectric he switched to later on so he could binge-write his books all the more efficiently?
Stuff I'm looking out for, anticipating, and recommending.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/10 17:00
A while back I used to post more often about books, movies, albums, etc. that were worth looking out for. I fell out of the habit, but it occurs to me now this stuff is still worth raising a signal about, so I'm going to try and do it more often.
My good friend Steve Savage has his first novel out. Go grab it.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/09 08:00
My good friend Steve Savage has his first novel out, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet. Aside from Steve being a close friend, I should add another disclaimer that I read drafts of the book and provided him with feedback, but the final result is entirely his. Still, I wouldn't be recommending it to you-all if I didn't think it was worth it.
If you have a friend who's into SF&F, and want to give them something that stands out in its own field — or, if you are yourself that friend — grab this for them.
Learn History or Become History
Sorceress Marigold and technic Scintilla made a living recovering strange artifacts and forgotten history on the world of Telvaren. On a planet of ancient magic and strange science, scarred by old wars and blessed by internet-using gods, there was a lot of past to dig up.
When they needed a change, the duo signed up to aid a vendor of rare documents, making a pilgrimage to the divine grave-world of Godsrest. With the help of a friendly local cleric, it should have been an simple journey — as long as they did their paperwork and kept quiet.
But every step of their interplanetary journey brought new dangers. Something larger and older was at work among the worlds, and the two partners were in the thick of it. They weren't pursuing history, it was pursuing them, and Marigold and Scintilla had to turn the tables . . .
My work can only really be measured against my other work. Same with yours.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/08 17:00
The other night I got to talking with friends about our respective stories, and about how I was in a sense jealous of a quality that a friend of mine possesses in his work. He spans two domains very nicely in his writing — the wit and snark of, roughly, the Dave-Barry-to-Douglas-Adams-and-including-Terry-Pratchett continuum, and the more serious domains found in the works of folks like Richard Florida. I admitted to being jealous of the wit, if only because it seems to attract a broader and more engaged class of audience.
Then came a thought experiment: Suppose I were a writing teacher and I had one of my students come to me with such a lament?
"Workshop" is the wrong word for the place where we come to mutually improve our writing.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/07 17:00
Useful criticism isn’t a subjective evaluation of whether you like someone else’s work — that’s a matter of taste — rather, constructive feedback is supposed to be in service of the writer in moving the work forward. How are you helping someone who writes thrillers by telling them to write romance novels instead, simply because you enjoy reading a good love story and still sleep with the lights on? Workshop is supposed to be about advancing someone’s work by giving them tools, insights, and ideas, not pushing one’s personal preferences or agenda.
... What made me a better writer? Writing groups with regular people.
These groups were retired men in their sixties and seventies who wanted to write about the wars they’d been through and the people they had loved who were no longer living. These were second-generation immigrants who wanted to pay homage to their families by telling their stories. In one group, both a mother of an addict and a brother who cared for his disabled brother his whole adult life broke down in tears during workshop because this was the first time they had shared their stories with anyone. They felt safe. Some of the people in my groups went to college. Most didn’t. But we all came together because we wanted to share our work, learn from one another, and maybe make a few friends along the way. At first, I came to workshop armed and ready for battle, but I soon learned that one could receive impassioned, constructive feedback without being patronizing.
I ask of a friend not that we be in absolute harmony, but only that our discord be its own delight.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/06 17:00
I have what I guess you could call "adversarial spiritual friendships" with certain figures. Every now and then I'll come across some fellow — Jonas Mekas, or Penny Rimbaud, or Alan Watts, or whoever. All aglow these folks are, alight with the intensity of their convictions and the depth of their passions. They throw off much light and also much heat, and I'm drawn to the light but find myself also singed by the heat.
How PCs become trash accumulators that rival any closet, garage, crawlspace, or basement.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/04 17:00
This past weekend saw me neck-deep in some cleanup work — recycling to the reclamation center, books to the charity shop, long-lingering junk to the curbside. I also spent an evening and change reorganizing things on my PC, another long-overdue project. That gave me a new level of appreciation for how PCs become trash accumulators that rival any closet, garage, crawlspace, or basement.
Getting caught up, and some notes on criticism from days past.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/12/03 08:00
The next couple of weeks, like the last one, are likely to be slow for me — the end of the year is always a busy time, what with family commitments and such. Hence my silence for the last several days. But a few things did surface for examination.
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind