The price of an updated look

When I updated the look of my blog last week, I apparently dropped the snippet of HTML code for my Google Analytics tracking. I've been so crazy busy this past month, I haven't checked Analytics since the update, so didn't notice the datacrash.

I just went into the code and replaced it, so I hope all is back to normal now. As a side note, what do you think of the new look? It's much brighter and more polished looking than the old brown-and-blue scheme I've had for several years. Do you like it?

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#FridayFlash: Unpaid Furloughs at the TSA


It's been a hell of a week, let me tell you. A hell of a month, actually. The sequester cuts came down about six weeks ago, but it took the administrators a couple of weeks to figure out how to respond, the morons. We'd known since last January that the cuts were coming. Why didn't they make up some plans in advance? The only thing that wasn't certain was the exact percentages the White House would enact.

I guess I can understand the Defense Department or the IRS or one of the little Departments not being sure about what was coming, but us? We're Omega-Level Top Secret AND we've got a goddamned time machine, the only one in this version of reality. How can there possibly be any excuse for the Timeline Security Agency not having some certainty about upcoming budget cuts? Hell, I could do a better job of running this place, and I'm only a PIPCA.

Granted, I'm probably the best PIPCA in the TSA, or at least the only one who isn't afraid to cut through the bull and get the job done. There's lots of Post-Intervention Probability Cascade Analysts who could have sniffed out the data, but I'm the best. I could have worked up a way to get the information and put it in the right hands without causing a Cascade to spin out and create a bunch of new universes to keep track of. That's why they call me the Spin Doctor. Some people do, anyway.

Seriously, though... the guys in HQ looked into the future and decided furloughs are the answer to an 11.2% cut in overall discretionary spending? I'd like to know which PIPCA coded that inquiry. How the hell am I gonna pay off that trip to Bermuda we took last year when I have to suck up unpaid leave for the rest of the fiscal year? They should do another round of early-outs. God knows there's plenty of dead wood in this Agency.

You know the worst thing? I hear that unless they find some more money somewhere, they're gonna zero out all the Class 4 projects. That means no more exploratory placement forays back into Deep Time. Hell, any dumb-ass yahoo could encode a Class 1 insertion into recorded history or a Class 2 into pre-history. Even if you go back twenty thousand years, there's barely seven gigabranchings to have to wade through to find the right Earth to work with. BFD. Even the Class 3 guys have it easier than us Class 4s. Class 3 is all about pre-glacial evolution, and who gives a damn about that? They don't dare make any real changes.

Nah, they've got a budget shortfall and they want to balance it on the backs of the cream of the crop. It's damned short-sighted. There wouldn't be a drop of oil in all of Alaska if it hadn't been for a Class 4 PIPCA reshaping the ocean currents 200,000,000 years ago. And who put all that natural gas under Pennsylvania? And all that gold in California for the 1849 rush? You're damned right, it was the Deep Time Division, that's who. So what if it costs a couple of bucks for each intervention? We make back every trillion dollars at least tenfold. AT LEAST.

And what thanks do we get? Unpaid furloughs, cuts in discretionary spending and no more free coffee. Yeah, thanks a lot.

If I'd known this was how it was going to be, I never would have worked my ass off to enact that silicate isotope infusion on the moon. Oh yeah, that was my idea. I was a young buck back then, but I knew someday we'd need a ready supply of extraorbital energy. You can't haul nuclear reactors up into orbit, you know. So every single gigaton of Helium-3 on the surface of the moon has my fingerprints all over it. Could any of your piss-ant Class 1s or 2s do that? Hell no, nor could any of the Class 3s we've got working here these days. That's a Deep Time project, plain and simple. I had to go back 3.2 billion years to pull that one off. Tricky as hell. I don't deny it was expensive, and I don't deny that Reagan took a lot of heat for the Star Wars-SDI smokescreen program we set up to cover the costs. But again, for every ten trillion we spent on that project, there'll be at least thirty trillion worth of Helium-3 just waiting to be scooped up and popped into a fusion reactor.

And just you wait until you see what we put under the ice out at Europa and Enceladus! Earth's energy resources will get us to the moon, the moon's energy resources will get us to the outer planets, and the spacewarping energy resources we put out there will take us to the stars and back. How else can we ensure the security of humanity's timeline except by facilitating the Galactic Diaspora?

A point which is apparently lost on those short-sighted fools running the TSA who apparently haven't even read the goddamned Agency mission statement!


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Living in the eye of desire

How appropriate is this song for you?



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Interview: Andy Hollandbeck

I'm pleased to interview Andy Hollandbeck (@4ndyman) today on Landless. Andy is a friend of mine on Twitter, one of those kindred spirits who appreciates a good grammar joke, although we often disagree about the Oxford comma. More importantly, he's just come out with a new collection of short fiction and poems, "Seasonal Work". Much to my surprise, when I got my hands on a copy and started reading, I found myself listed in the Acknowledgements section. How could I NOT bring Andy around to ask him about the book?

*~*~*


First, tell everyone a bit about yourself.

I’ve been blogging since 2006, writing fiction since the 1980s, and reading books for as long as I can remember. I live and work in Indianapolis with my two sons (both geniuses and bibliophiles). Like the greatest writers in our language, I have a bachelor degree in music, I’m left-handed, and I always come up with a third thing.
This book is a collection of material from your blog and from a writing group. What was the impetus to collect them as a book?

This is going to sound like ego-stroking, but it’s true: Becoming a published author has been a dream of mine since the early nineties, but it wasn’t until you, Tony, published "Blood Picnic" that I really considered putting out a short story collection.(1) You had some gripes about the whole process, but on the whole, you didn’t seem to regret the decision. I asked myself, “Why shouldn’t I do that?” and never came up with a satisfactory answer. So I just did it.

It helped, too, that when I floated the idea out there in the ether (that is, on Twitter), I got a lot of encouragement from my writer and editor friends.
How much reworking did each piece get?

For the most part, everything got a standard copy editing pass: tightening up the prose, cutting clich├ęs, occasionally rewording a phrase to make it sound better. Generally speaking, the older a story was, the more editing it required.

Some of the stories “Asking,” for example — got more attention based on feedback from my critique group. On the whole, though, the changes I made were all relatively small.
What was the biggest hurdle in bringing this collection to publication?

My first thought was to say self-doubt, but that isn’t really true. Once I decided that, yes, I was going to do this, I somehow managed to suppress that self-doubt and just keep going.

So I guess the main hurdle was deciding when the collection was done. I published this a few months after I had originally intended because I kept finding things to futz with story order, the cover image (which, let’s face it, is inessential), acknowledgments, those little explications after each story.

That self-doubt grabbed hold of me again right at the end, though, when it was time to pull the trigger.
Did you do it all yourself? All the organization, editing, formatting, etc.?

Maybe eight or ten of the stories went through the critique process with my writing group. Pulling everything together, though, was all me. I come from a print publishing background, and formatting for Smashwords is similar to preparing a book for print, so it wasn’t terribly difficult.

The cover image was mine, too. I had an idea of what I wanted an all-American, Main Street storefront with a “Hope Wanted” sign in the window and I got lucky when I found As-Is Antiques in Morgantown, Indiana. It had just the right mix of seasonal items and a hometown feel.
A recurring character is Mark Flyleaf, an agent in the Office of Fictional Character Placement. Tell me about him.

The seed of Mark’s universe was sowed after I read a section of Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing…,which was supposed to be a continuation of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide series. Although I didn’t enjoy the book much, one particularly scene really stuck with me. The scene involves an interview for the position of God on a new planet. Cthulhu walks in for the interview, and the resultant interchange is just hilarious.

This wasn’t long after I had read Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which had a meta quality that appealed to me both as a reader and a writer. Throw in a healthy dose of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, and it didn’t take long for the character of Mark Flyleaf to gel.

I really had fun writing about Mark. When I started telling his story, I had already decided to publish a short story collection, and that I was going to divide it into four parts for the four seasons. So after I had written the first two Flyleaf stories, I knew that I had to write two to cap off each section.
What's next for you?

As far as fiction is concerned, I am simultaneously (and perhaps ill-advisedly) following two avenues. The first has to do with the Mark Flyleaf and the response that his stories garnered. I brought his four stories, two at a time, to my critique group. Normally, we take 20 or so minutes with a submission, tearing into word choice and foreshadowing and character motivation whatever we think can help improve the story as well as finding the parts that we think are good. But when I brought in the Flyleaf stories, the others in the group literally spent about 5 minutes talking about my submission and then another 15 minutes coming up with more interview ideas for Mark:

“You should have Edward Cullen and Count Dracula competing for the same job!”
“What would an interview with Winnie the Pooh look like?”
“Godot should set up an interview but never show up.”

And then someone said, “You should do a whole book about this character.”
Andrew-Hollandbeck-DSC_0241(AVATAR).png 
I’m excited about the possibility, but to do it successfully requires fleshing out the entire fictional universe and how it works, as well as creating a through-line to create a unified, book-length story. I’ve been thinking a lot about what that story would be specifically about what plagiarism would look like in his universe not to mention who else might show up at his office.

The other avenue is a novel I’m already about 20,000 words into a dystopian novel about rape culture and the devaluation of women set in an ultra-conservative America that is (I hope) equal parts Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick. Its working title is Life Begins, but that will probably change.
 
*~*~*

I enjoyed this book - it was fun and engaging. First choice for getting a copy of it is Smashwords, but it's also available for the Nook at Barnes and Noble, for the Sony reader at Sony.com, for kobo at Kobo Books and for all the Borg Collective's products at iTunes.

Andy Hollandbeck is the author of Seasonal Work. He runs the Logophilus blog and is active on Twitter as @4ndyman. 
*~*~*
 
(1) No collusion or quid pro quo here. I truly had no idea Andy was going to say this. - Tony

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#FridayFlash: Almost Done

"Mrs. Noland, you have to realize, we did everything we could."

"I know you did, doctor."

"When he came to us, his condition was... well, you were with him when they brought him in. I'm sure I don't need to revisit it in any detail."

"No, that's not necessary."

"What I need for you to understand is that we did everything that modern science is capable of doing. We have the best ER in the tri-state area, equipped with the most up-to-date facilites and personnel."

"I understand."

"So when I say that there was nothing that was left to chance, what I mean is that, in my professional opinion, the care we gave your husband was as good or better than that he would have gotten in any other facility in the country."

"I don't have any doubts about that, doctor. I'm sure you did your best."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Noland. Truly, I'm sorry that you have to be put in this situation. If there's anything I can do..."

"Thank you, but I'll be fine."

"Forgive me, I know this will sound clinical, but did you get the contact information for the hospital's grief counseling staff? They're so kind and compassionate... they really can help."

"I have it, yes, but I'll be fine. Where is he?"

"I'll take you to him. Before we go, I should warn you: he's still working on his book."

"The... the same book he's been working on all along?"

"I'm afraid so. As I said, there's nothing we could do."

"I... I... I can't..."

"Let it out, Mrs. Noland. Just go ahead and let it out."

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10 Social Media Tips for Authors

Guy Kawasaki recently posted a list of 10 Social Media Tips for Authors. It's a good list, with expanded discussion of each. As a quick test, let's see how I stack up.

1. Start yesterday My score: B. I'm an early adopter of Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, less so for Facebook and Goodreads.

2. Segment the services My score: D. I rely on Twitter primarily, with all the others used cursorily if at all.

3. Make a great profile My score: C. Where I have profiles, they are mostly filled out and personalized.

4. Curate, don’t create My score: D. I don't spend a lot of time trawling the web for cool stuff to pass along to others.

5. Act like NPR My score: C+. He means "give such great content that people will forgive you the promotional stuff". I gave myself a C+ because I can't claim to be as great as NPR.

6. Restrain yourself My score: B. This is the "98% great content, 2% pledge drives" standard.

7. Candy-fy My score: D. If every post should come with a funny video, snappy tune or clever graphic, I'm screwed. I practically never do that.

8. Respond My score: A-. It's pretty rare that I don't respond when people say things to me in a social media context.

9. Stay positive or stay silent My score: C-. Those smiling, happy people who are always upbeat and always positive make me nervous.

10. Repeat My score: B. I like to think that I repeat my links often enough to catch people who might have missed them due to timezones & locational constraints, but not so often as to be spammy.

Final score: C.

How do you stack up?

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Tony who?

Many things suck about having a novel with a long gestation time. Among them is the recognition that many of the people with whom I was a fellow newbie years ago have either a) gone on to real success, or b) have dropped out completely.

From a personal standpoint, this makes me feel like the guy who is still spending his evenings hanging out in the high school basketball court smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap beer when all his old buddies have gone off to college (or graduate school), joined the military, gotten steady jobs or who have otherwise gone on with their lives.

And here I am, still working on this book, splashing and flailing as the waters rise, the winds blow and the sharks circle around me.

From a writing promotion standpoint, it's just as bad. There are folks whose first books I helped promote who are now successful enough that I would feel awkward asking for an interview slot on their blog. Others couldn't return that favor if they wanted to, since they took down their blog a long time ago when they gave up writing.

Writing is a lonely business.

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Clarity of thought

Sometimes I think this book I'm working on will be something I can really be proud of, one that will entertain a lot of people. Other times I feel as though I'm working on the best book no one will ever read.

Still other times it seems that I've inadvertently opened the taps of mediocrity, writing the same book that other people have already written a thousand times before.

I wish this process weren't so dependent on quixotic fatalism. No one who creates something ever really knows how it will be received out in the world. Good things can fail, lousy things can succeed. I'm sometimes exhausted by the effort involved in facing that uncertainty and creating anyway.

Maybe someday I'll be SO exhausted by it that I'll quit. Not yet, though.



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A Child For The Marquisa

The old witch stirred the small cauldron, waiting for that last change in viscosity. When the mixture thickened from honey-smooth to molasses-sticky, it would be ready. Too long on the fire would take it to caramel-stiff, and that would make the next step much more difficult.

Which is why an old witch is the best witch, she thought. It takes an experienced hand to make this kind of thing work.

She'd long since given up referring to herself as a healer, or herbalist, wise woman, naturalist, or any other less occult term. Over the years, it had become apparent that a witch's magic carried more power than an herbalist's extractive. Brought a higher price, too, which made for a more comfortable life for an old witch.

A moment more... a moment more... she upended the bottle of the special elixir. With a practiced hand, she whipped the babymaker liquor into the syrup and whisked the cauldron off the fire. The cauldron went into a pan of hot gravel she had at the ready, so it would cool slowly, as it should.

Now, to make the almond cakes and prepare the bergamot and anise tea. The Marquisa would arrive at midnight.

Three months ago, in a dun traveling cloak that fooled no one, the Marquisa came with a long, complicated story. It had taken almost four hours for the old witch to get her to say out loud what had been apparent from the first ten minutes. Her Ladyship was under pressure to produce an heir. A male heir was preferred, but a girl would do. The problems were, for the most part, the usual ones: the Marquis was a poxy, flaccid old man who had spent his energies too profligately in the days of his youth. He blamed his wife for his shortcomings and threatened dark deeds if she did not somehow bring the situation to an acceptable state. To save her reputation, position, even her life, the Marquisa had come to the witch.

The questions had followed a course as usual as the situation. Was a lover possible? One to put an egg in the nest that the Marquis could claim as his own? Oh, no, that was impossible, for the Marquis was a jealous, angry man. If he had been reasonable and realistic, she would not be in such danger. For her to take a lover would mean death for her and her entire family. The Marquisa knew herself well enough to know that she could never keep such a dread secret, nor could she allow herself to have anyone else know such a thing about the baby. Think of the blackmail risk!

It took much talk, much artful theater and several exchanges of gold and small jewels for the witch to admit that she could help. There was a potion that would make the Marquisa pregnant without a lover, either of the marriage bed or of the sylvan bower. Arduous to make and far from certain, the witch led the Marquisa into insisting upon it being attempted.

Which attempt was to be made tonight.

A knock at the door brought the Marquisa in, alone in her plain cloak. The poor young woman was so anxious and fearful, her hands trembling despite her courtly composure. To set her at ease, the witch laid out tray of almond cakes, sticky-sweet after having been soaked in the carefully cooled syrup. In her agitated state, the Marquisa ate four of them as the witch told a long, complicated tale of the soul-endangering magic they were about to undertake. On and on she droned, watching the Marquisa eat the cakes and sip the tea. After an hour, all was ready.

The witch set down her own untouched cake. With a gentle but firm hand, she had the glassy-eyed Marquisa stand. She led her into the back room where the bed was waiting. It took her old fingers some time to undo the buttons of the Marquisa's gown, but the loops and ribbons of her underdresses came apart more easily. When she was naked, the witch had her lie abed. There she lay, slowly blinking in the warm, dim room.

The witch left the house and went to the stable to fetch her waiting sons. Freshly bathed and scrubbed from hair to fingernails with the Marquisa's own soap, they were both eager to begin their part of the night's magic. She bade them go in. With both young men ready for the work ahead, the witch had no doubt that they would each do their best to place an egg in the Marquis' nest.

In the morning, the Marquisa's head and stomache would be aching so badly, all other considerations would pass unnoticed. If her ribbons were retied in an unfamiliar manner and a button left undone, she would no more remember it than she would remember anything else about this night. Even under the Marquis' most severe browbeating inquisition, she might confess to the use of witch magic, but she would deny absolutely that she had lain with any man but her husband.

The witch settled herself into the rocking chair she'd had the boys bring out to the stables. She began to count the gold the Marquisa had brought with her, balancing it against the lists of supplies she anticipated needing. After tonight, her reputation of magic would be such that she would be busy, indeed.

5 Things I Learned From Writing A Book

5 things I learned from writing a book:

1. Writing a book is hard.

2. Editing a book is harder.

3. Focus is the key to productivity.

4. Productivity, luck, and courage are the keys to success.

5. You don't actually need self-confidence to be courageous, but it helps.

#FridayFlash: Burn the salted metals

She stubbed out her third cigarette of the evening and flicked the butt into the campfire. Four days of hiking, swimming, even a little drop-line fishing, and she still couldn't get the problem out of her mind. Between the haze of the summer evening and the light from the fire, she could see only the brightest stars overhead. Maybe later, when the deep purple of twilight gave way to full night, would there be more than a sprinkling of diamonds overhead.

Thorium, thorium, thorium! It was the solution to everything, but how to handle the initiation reaction? Without that, you might as well not go down that road at all.

There were only eight beers left in the cooler, and she didn't want to have to drive into town to get more before the end of the week. She cracked open the fifth of scotch instead. It was middling stuff; she never brought the good scotch on camping trips. The single malts were for conversation with friends, but for solitary concentration, she drank blends.

Since she was alone and didn't need to impress anyone, she drank right from the bottle. It didn't help her concentration, but it helped her mood. The answer was close, she could feel it. How much fresh air and exercise would it take to coax it out of hiding? She had things to do back in the lab and could ill afford so much time in isolation. This was the key to everything, though, and it was worth going off the grid for a while.

She jabbed at the fire with a stick. Where did ideas come from, anyway? They were nothing but random connections of preexisting facts and concepts, arranged into new insights and perspectives. A jar of varied pebbles, shaken for long enough, would randomly produce some pretty image. Was the shape inherent within the stones? Did the shaking create something new or merely draw out what was always there, the latent information content of the system?

Her head was filling with mystic nonsense. The scotch was having the intended effect, so she did what she always did when a thorny problem needed an oblique solution: she went back to the basics.

How many fissile isotopes were there? Thousands.

Of those thousands, how many were useful? Three: uranium 235, plutonium 239, and uranium 233.

Of those three, how many were clean burning and easy to handle, with no ugly and dangerous chemical reprocessing? One: uranium 233.

How do you get uranium 233? Hit thorium 232 with a neutron.

Where do you get the first neutron in the cycle? From uranium 233.

So which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well...

She threw the stick into the fire and took another pull on the bottle. The stars might come out later, but so might some clouds. It was hard to tell.

Natural thorium didn't need purification: it was all the same isotope, 232. Add a neutron to cheap, abundant thorium 232 and it turned into uranium 233. When the uranium 233 decays twenty-one minutes later, it gives off heat and another couple of neutrons. Just a bit of the uranium 233 mixed in with thorium fuel would initiate the reaction. After that, it was a simple matter to keep feeding in thorium for the next fifty years.

Cheap, easy, abundant power in a self-limiting reaction. The physics of thermal neutron capture in the thorium cycle made a runaway overload impossible. It didn't make any plutonium or other bomb-grade materials, nor did it make any long-lived radioactive waste. In fact, the molten-salt thorium reactor could burn up the waste from the old uranium 235 and plutonium 239 reactors.

But how to get the reaction started?

If you always needed an old solid-rod breeder reactor to make the uranium 233 initiators, then you couldn't wean society off the old style reactors 100%. That made the business model for switching to the thorium reactors untenable. Other fast neutron sources would poison the initial reaction and the thorium wouldn't convert properly. What she needed was a way to accelerate neutrons into the thorium capture zone. What she needed was a magic, non-nuclear way to make uranium 233.

What she needed was another drink.

She took it.

The fire was bright and hot. The night was cool and dark. Heat and light, cold and darkness, brought together. Sparks flew up, carrying with them the life of the fire until they disappeared, swallowed by the night and converted into darkness.

Converted into darkness? Or did the bits of light knock pieces of the darkness out of the way, taking their places as they were absorbed by the night?

And just like that, she had the answer.

Neutrons couldn't be accelerated, but electrons could. A sufficiently powerful electron gun, aimed at a neutron-rich target, would induce a temporary neutron scattering effect.

She stared at the open bottle in her hand. How powerful did it have to be? Ten million electron volts? Thirty? A hundred? And did that matter?

What kind of target? Something like tungsten, or spent uranium? How wide would the scatter cone be? What thermal spectrum would the induced neutrons have?

The cap went back on the bottle and she stepped uneasily to the picnic table where her notebook and pen were waiting. She began to scribble equations, notes, diagrams, facts to be looked up and unanswered questions.

Much work was ahead once she got back to the institute, but the hard part of changing the world was done.

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Super Sweet Blogging Award

I've been nominated for the  Super Sweet Blogging Award by Cathy Russell, (@ganymeder), one of my dear writing pals. Since I'm much closer to the prototypical angsty, bitter, cynical writer than I am to the prototypcial sunshine and rainbows writer, I'm going to regard this nomination as an expression of Cathy's deep understanding of metacomprehensive autoreflection and faith in human redemption. That, and her good taste.
supersweetbloggingaward_thumb

Per the rules, I’m supposed to:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated me.
2. Answer five Super Sweet questions.
3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging award image in my blog post.
4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other bloggers.
5. Notify your nominees on their blog.

The 5 Super Sweet Questions:

Cookies or Cake?
Cake. Yellow cake, to be precise. You can't build a nuclear reactor with cookies.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
White chocolate. That way, I get both!

Favorite Sweet Treat?
Zero candy bars. See "white chocolate", above.

When do you crave sweet things the most?
When I'm feeling stressed out, i.e. all the time. Fortunately, the cravings are dulled by alcohol.

Sweet Nick Name?
Well, yes, "Nick" is a pretty sweet name, but my parents named me Anthony. Go figure. The best I can do for a nickname is Tony. For a while, a lot of people called me OhChristLookOutHereComesTony, but the internal capitalization made it trip up the spell check in the FBI database. Plus, I don't live in that city anymore. Plus plus, those people are all dead now.

Now, I'm supposed to nominate some new winners. Like Cathy, I'm going to break the rules and pick a number other than 13. I'll do five:

And the nominees are…
1. Tim VanSant (@TimVanSant)
2. Marc Nash (@21stCscribe)
3. Larry Kollar (@FARfetched58)
4. Helen Howell (@Helenscribbles)
3. Jack Holt (@JackkHolt)

Have fun, guys!


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That chain-mail bikini: a limerick

Today's words for Three Word Wednesday are: damaging, ego, legitimate

That chain-mail bikini was damaging;
Male ego run wild, now they're hemorrhaging.
Legitimate anger,
When told, "Yeah, I'd bang her!"
SFWA needs re-imaging.

In case you've been unaware, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has been dealing with the fallout from gender-based evaluation (or devaluation) of writers expressed by one of their publications. It all started with a column by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzburg which discussed, among other things, which female writers show off a bathing suit best, which are generally the best looking, etc. Understandably, this sparked some resentment and critique, much of it apparently long overdue.

In their follow-up column, Resnick and Malzburg said it wasn't right that they should be denied the opportunity to evaluate their fellow writers on their sex appeal. Or at least, to evaluate their fellow FEMALE writers on that criteria. E. Catherine Tobler gives a frank summary of why SFWA isn't worth her time, money or effort anymore.

The leadership of SFWA is responding with a task force to address the sexism and misogyny - the real and the perceived - that permeates the institution and the culture of science fiction and fantasy. The charge of this task force is "to look at the Bulletin and to determine how the publication needs to proceed from this point in order to be a valuable and useful part of the SFWA member experience."

We'll see. My experiences with special task forces has been mixed at best. For task forces convened to deal with thorny issues? Well, let's just say I didn't become such a bitter and cynical curmudgeon without some help.

NOTE: I'm not a member of SFWA, nor do I plan to become one. This is not a moral stand on my part, courageous or otherwise. Nothing I've published qualifies me for membership and unless SFWA has a change of heart with respect to how it views self-published works, I don't see that changing any time soon.

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SFWA responds: "Form a task force"

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has responded to the recent controversy around gender-based evaluation (or devaluation) of writers: they'll form a task force to look into it.

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