Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Hugo Awards and other Science-Fictional News

Congratulations to this year's nominated novels (and their brilliant authors) for the 2012 best of the year Hugo Award in Science Fiction.

Hugo-Award-Nominees-2013Nominees for best novel include 2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson , Blackout, by Mira Grant, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold, Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, by John Scalzi, and Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed.   These works show the incredible range of modern SF, from grownup literary speculation about the future to humor to consistent series to quasi-fantasy.  I am proud to be part of such a bold movement dedicated to the exploration of ideas.

Don't just read and enjoy the nominated works. Join and attend this year's Science Fiction Worldcon (we'll be there)! And attend the Hugo ceremony at Lone Star Con this August in San Antonio.

Again, felicitations to our proud and deserving colleagues!  Oh, also have a look at the other categories, which include short works by long-time greats Nancy Kress and Pat Cadigan ... as well as works by rising young stars like Kij Johnson and Ken Liu and others.  Many of the shorter works are now available for viewing or downloading for free.

== Smart Mobs in Real Life? ==

See real-life plans to empower "smart mobs." In Existence I portray -- among many aspects of our world 30 years from now -- the fluid and skilled use of Smart Mobs, or ad hoc groups of amateur citizens who use rapid access to vast information troves, plus sophisticated analytics tools, to attack and deal with real-time problems more quickly and effectively than even the pros in government or industry.  Such effective use of flat, "networked" systems is (at best) in its FBearly days. (See my novella, The Smartest Mob, as well Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution.)

Facebook and Twitter were effective at calling out rioters during the Arab Spring. They are inherently limited at coordinating the expert abilities of far-flung citizens, dividing tasks, coalescing the Big Picture and drawing effective conclusions. You can't blame members of our professional castes for deeming this a sci fi hope and little more.

Still, consider that the government's best tools tend to enter corporate use within a decade and private hands soon after. Vast data streams and sophisticated analytics might lead to "smart-mob" empowered citizen action networks… that is, if certain enabling technologies surfaced.  Better forms of online discourse, for example (I have patents!) And software that rise above TwitBook lobotomization, encouraging us to be smarter than the sum of our parts, not a whole lot dumber.

Walter Lasecki of the University of Rochester is one fellow who at least seems to get what's needed. I cannot attest to how these ideas are executed. But advanced collaboration-ware would be a great start.

== Most Iconic Characters? ==

For a recent interview I was asked to name the "most iconic science fiction characters" I could think of.  Well, well.  On the one hand... fiction has always conveyed certain rebel themes. For example, the character who is able to remake herself or himself and rise up to meet insurmountable challenges. One who comes to mind is Helva, in Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang, whose crippling handicaps  are resolved when she becomes the "brain" of a starship and goes on to achievements her earlier self could not have imagined. A grittier version would be Gully Foyle, a low-class space hand in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination, who makes mistake after mistake but finds his way to world-changing greatness. This is often an underlying theme in the classic series Star Trek, wherein the products of Star Fleet Academy and the Federation as a whole - like Captains Kirk and Picard and Janeway - typify the iconic self-made hero.

Of course there is another theme, one that is far older than the rather American notion of self-improvement.  That theme is the demigod.  The born prince who suffers the abuse of fools until... lo! ... he comes into his powers.

This approach goes back to Homer and pervaded most legends till our time. Indeed, it is still the propellant of comic books.  It was extolled by Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth, wherein Campbell left out all the dark sides to this ancient, limiting and morally-dubious storytelling pattern.  In science fiction, famous adherents included  A.E. Van Vogt, L. Ron Hubbard and, more recently, Orson Scott Card, whose every protagonist is born to be better than humanity at large and vested with the perfect-inherent right to over-rule any democratic institutions standing in his way.

Robert A. Heinlein_1973_Time Enough For LoveSometimes these characters aren't cruel in their own right: take Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter.  The trope does not have to be deliberately oppressive! Indeed, Robert Heinlein's iconic Lazarus Long relentlessly works for humanity and helps us to find our own, independent strength, just as Tolkien's born-prince - Aragorn - has a common touch.  Still, these are "icons" of a side of science fiction that is older and more deeply tied to our feudal-romantic past. Those who keep returning to it are doing us no favors.

When I saw all of this in an epiphany, one day, I vowed to try to avoid Nietzschean ubermensche demigod-superman types and stick to characters who are merely way, way above average.

Have you seen my more extensive essay, Our Favorite Cliche: The Idiot Plot, where I decrypt WHY so many sci fi tales and movies go for the easy crutch of the uber-demigod hero... or else posit that society is useless and ALL our fellow citizens are fools?

== And some random thoughts… ==

I'll be on the road for a week, consulting for some agencies and such… so these snippets will have to hold you.

Took the family on a long, overnight, clickety-clack rail journey across much of China, back in 2007. It seems we were very lucky to travel from Xian to Chengdu when we did - the next time you travel in China it will be via High Speed Rail and by 2020 there will be 50,000 kilometres of it. Wow.  In the same time period California will have built out 1% of that - 500km or so. We have got to rediscover ambition.

Okay, fair enough! A satirical music video from South Africa, where youth there decide to help freezing Norwegians by sending them radiators. Delicious. Respect-worthy. Good music and images, too.

38 maps of the US and the world that take unusual perspectives.

Is this for real? The O.R.B. is a ring you wear on your finger that twists into a bone conduction earpiece-phone.  Oh, I've got something better.  Whatever wristwatch phone thing Apple comes up with, my design is better and those companies who get jealous of the Apple watch should get in touch!

A big project in London to bore 32 km of new tube/metro/subway lines using giant tunneling machines.

And another project in New York, where deep tunneling wasn't the norm. (Most NY subways  were shallow-trenched. Not very useful in an emergency or Blitz!)

A thought-provoking illustrated polemic as to who better predicted our (dystopic) future, Orwell or Huxley?

Expression of Emotions in 20th Century Books: A new analysis of words in scanned Google books indicates that English speakers becoming less emotional (but American English is decidedly more emotional than British English).

And finally… a wondrous-hilarious re-do of the great "Who's on First" Abbott and Costello routine… only redone in Shakespearean dialect.

Thrive-all and persevere.


locumranch said...

A 'Smart Mob' of dedicated amateurs is a nice democratic image, but amateurs tend to lack professionalism, though, avoid tough decisions and tend to quit in an unprofessional fashion when the going gets tough.

Additionally, collectivism makes a poor story narrative, hence the emphasis on triumphant (heroic) individual 'demi-god' by scifi greats like Asimov, Bester, Zelany, Farmer, Lafferty & Brunner, a pattern imitated by many (more) modern authors who are enamoured by the pre-packaged divinity of the so-called singularity.

I can even recall the creation of a similar above-average Gaian demi-god in a book called 'Earth', composed of a female scientist, the internet, the Earth's core & some magical geometric figures.

Huxley. Definitely Huxley, even though Orwell was both brilliant & prescient in too many ways too count.


Duncan Cairncross said...

To your question - Orwell - Huxley was not in the same league

To something completely different!

I have just got my home made electric sports car road legal and on the road.

Been using it to go to work but I hope to try it out on the track on the 14th

Lorraine said...

Vonnegut, in Player Piano. Dystopian levels of unemployability. Unemployed and underemployed college graduates (worldwide, it seems) are the best hope (or worst threat) of revolution today, and also the reason I suspect mobs of smart amateurs may well outsmart and even outdiscipline the pros. I'm rooting for the ams, anyway.

Between Orwell and Huxley, Huxley. Clearly the glue holding the social order together is the widespread belief that it's lonely at the top, or stressful, or that the sociology of the upper crust is soap-opera-like. But the soap opera is moribund as an art form, and the Whitehall study is calling into serious question whether executive types are the most stressed out. People are starting to ask (IMHO) the right questions.

Lorraine said...

Speaking of dystopia, as has anyone read Albert Brooks' 2030? The jacket blurbs read like a bulleted list of "deficit hawk" type talking points, leading me to expect an unsubtle Atlas Shrugged type morality tale, but having looked up the author, while this is a literary debut, it seems he is clearly in artist in every sense, specifically a comedian, so if nothing else there should be a sense of humor at work. Should I take a chance on this one? Does this dude deserve my money?

gregory byshenk said...

I'm not entirely sure about the "iconic self-made hero", at least the 'self-made' part.

I understand the contrast between the "born" and "developed" hero, but I think even your example illustrates the problem with the idea that such heroes are 'self-made'. Certainly such heroes are -- in part -- developed by the choices that they make, but they are also "the products of Star Fleet Academy and the Federation as a whole". If they had to depend solely on themselves, without the federation, their making would have been very different.

Tacitus said...

I have been doing more real life stuff, less politics of late. But regards David's last entry, Shakespearean Baseball....I have something for you.

Behold, in two parts, Baseball as played by the Royal Shakespeare Theater in 1959. Includes Ian Holm, who is both Bilbo and Ash in my world view!

and the baseball cards...

One of the strangest bits of history I have ever stumbled across!


David Brin said...

Tacitus, what a cool baseball story! I envision it.

Baseball fans, here's a unique (true?) tale of how - just after WWII - a baseball team consisting of Stratford-on-Avon actors and ex-POWs would dress in Elizabethan blouses and crush teams from nearby US air bases. "A dream team "with Paul Robeson (Othello) on first base, Sam Wanamaker (Iago) on second, Laurence Olivier (Coriolanus) on third and Peter O'Toole (Shylock) at shortstop. Albert Finney (a utility player) used to catch for me while Charles Laughton (King Lear) was the plate umpire. When Laughton said, 'Strike three, you're out!' nobody argued."

How I hope some time traveler secretly recorded their baseline trash talk and banter. What a cute moment for a short story setting.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Duncan, congratulations on completing your homebuilt electric car. I've harbored ambitions of doing something like that myself, except that I'd probably end up with a half assembled chassis up on blocks in my yard.

On the subject of self-made heroes, let's include the schlub tossed into a painful situation, who must rise to conquer. Anyone remember Leo Frankowski's Cross-Time Engineer series? A Soviet-era engineer gets catapulted back to medieval Poland, about 10 years before the Mongol invasion. He has to bring Poland up to speed before the Horde overruns them.

Diconsi: mad Polish bootleg hootch!

David Brin said...

Alas, Frankowski was also a rabid anti-semite. I mean truly rabid. The "slavers" in his books were all Jews. Most of the villains, in fact. Except the Mongols, who he claims were invited in by the Jews.

Ian said...

David, I think it's grossly misleading to claim that all twitter and facebook did during the Arab Spring was "bring rioters out into the street".

You omit stuff like documenting humans rights abuses in real time circumventing press censorship.

You also need to take a look at what's going on within the Syrian opposition where a huge amount of humanitarian work is being co-ordinated via Facebook.

LarryHart said...


Huxley. Definitely Huxley, even though Orwell was both brilliant & prescient in too many ways too count.

Orwell predicted dangers which could have come to pass (and which still may). But yeah, Huxley pretty well nailed the world we live in right now.

I read both books in high school, and remember thinking that I was terrified of the "1984" world, but that the "Brave New World" world (?) didn't seem all that bad. It wasn't until a few decades later that I understood that the BNW society WAS scary for just that reason--it placated rather than terrorized, so the average person is likely to just go along.

Even the "villain" of the piece isn't a bad guy the way Orsell's villains are. There's a chapter (4 I think, but I might be off by a few) told from Mustapha Mond's point of view where he explains why he must struggle ceaselessly to keep "the wheels" running smoothly--because since the industrial revolution began, the world's population had doubled from one billion to (gasp!) TWO billion, and if the wheels ever stop, the single billion survivors will never manage even to bury the dead.

LarryHart said...


Vonnegut, in Player Piano. Dystopian levels of unemployability. Unemployed and underemployed college graduates (worldwide, it seems) are the best hope (or worst threat) of revolution today, and also the reason I suspect mobs of smart amateurs may well outsmart and even outdiscipline the pros. I'm rooting for the ams, anyway.

In college, I was a big fan of Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions" and "God Bless You, Mr Rosewater", but "Player Piano" didn't do all that much for me.

I've read it several times since then, each time several years older and more ensconced in the corporate world, and it gets better each time.

Paul451 said...

Re: Albert Brooks' 2030

Haven't read it, but it's apparently disliked by the Right. So probably not a Randian fantasy.

Greg Byshenk,
Re: "Self-made" Star Trek heroes.

That puzzled me for a moment too, then I realised David was contrasting people who are good at their job with people Fated with a Destiny. Hornblower versus Hercules.

Re: Tunnels.

I've often wondered whether dense cities with good deep geology, like London, could use these giant TBMs to create subterranean real-estate. Three tunnels bored side-by-side (two for housing, centre as a "road") in concentric rings, centred around Central London, with radiating tunnels to connect the rings (perhaps terraced housing in the rings, businesses in the radials). Multiple layers of tunnels at different depths, at slightly different non-overlapping radii to avoid inducing vertical faults. An 8m tunnel would allow a reasonable two story terraced flat, leaving room for above-ceiling and below-floor infrastructure. Better if you flatten the lower half of the tunnel to produce an arch. No weather, fairly constant temperature, quiet (as a tomb). Pleasant transport. (No cars allowed, for obvious reasons. Maybe an electric trolley-bus down the centre of the "road", the rest for bikes, electric scooters, and foot-traffic.) And all just "a few hundred metres" from the Central London... straight down.

Say £100m per mile of 3x8m (3x25ft) wide triple-tunnel. 20m (65ft) per terrace-flat, allowing for fire-walls, stair-wells, etc. So about £600,000 "land" price per flat. How reasonable would that be for central London?

Alfred Differ said...

Innovation is doing well enough in CA, but our high speed rail doesn't count as such. The business case for it is poor at best. China has lots of reasons to sink trillions into infrastructure before their people catch on to what real financial management is all about.


I'm thinking you enjoy your cynicism a tad too much. 8)

The thing about amateur groups is we can afford to have them fail... and they do... often. They can be terribly inefficient and turn success into muddling by. None of that matters, though, because if one of them succeeds at a task, others tend to try to copy them. Efficiency isn't the right figure of merit. Evolutionary survival is.

Lorraine said...

"I've read it several times since then, each time several years older and more ensconced in the corporate world..."

Ensconced, eh? Have you been to The Meadows?

LarryHart said...


Have you been to The Meadows?

Heh. No, but I've seen where that idea comes from. Scary stuff.

Ever read Vonnegut's short story "Deer in the Works"? It's a short story, not a novel, but it touches on some of the same sensibilities, and the ending is even more poignant.

Alex Tolley said...

@Paul451 - Tunnels

Tunnels in London would require constant pumping to keep out the water. So $600K to buy a flat with no view and a constant risk of flooding/drowning?

Better to build up, not down in this location. This would apply to most major cities located on a river near the coast.

locumranch said...

In regards to dystopias, its important to note that the Huxley's brave new dystopia followed as the inadvertent result of misplaced social kindness while Orwell's dystopia resulted from deliberate and well-reasoned social brutality, the end result being the same: Social stability at the expense of human dignity.

Illustrating the essential contradiction of the human condition, both tales are ironic in nature: Huxley's tale of a kind dystopia, although initially comedic, ends tragically for its protagonists, whereas Orwell's tale of a brutal dystopia begins tragically only to end happily for its protagonists.

The means do not justify the ends in both cases. And, visa versa, of course. This why cheery optimism is almost always misplaced and why cynicism, defined in terms of the skeptical beliefs & doctrines of the Ancient Cynics, is always appropriate.

While you slept ignorant in your optimistic beds, I spent last night dealing with the inadvertent consequences of human kindness. A well-meaning family tried to provide amateur care to their well-loved (elderly) mother who had injured her hip & was afraid of doctors. So, according to their matriarch's wishes, they kept her at home and allowed her to rot from the waist down, suffering unimaginable agonies, over a period of months, despite an indescribable stench.

Caused by well-intentioned kindness, this tragedy could have been prevented with a few minor (albeit unwanted) surgical brutalities.


Acacia H. said...

Speaking of amateurs...

Occupy Lives. At least, Occupy New England.

Of course, the Occupy Movement has changed, partly due to technology. Social media allows it to continue to exist even after the Occupy Camps have been torn down and the media has moved on.

As an aside, I've long felt labor unions are fossils that have failed to evolve with the time. Unions should fully embrace online social media and become truly democratic institutions. And union dues should be gathered and saved for times when a strike is needed so that people can afford to strike. If a union were to want to support lobbying efforts? Let the members vote on it. And also let unions vote on what amount of dues go to support different politicians. Thus you could have Republican union members supporting a Republican Candidate... and Democratics union members supporting a Democrat.

It might very well make Republicans friendlier toward Unions if they were being backed by them. And thus it might result in Republicans being less likely to support efforts to destroy unions.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...


It might very well make Republicans friendlier toward Unions if they were being backed by them. And thus it might result in Republicans being less likely to support efforts to destroy unions.

I'm not sure--and I really mean that I DON'T know the answer--whether what you say there makes a lot of sense, or whether it is the equivalent of "It might very well make Nazis friendlier toward Jews if they were backed by them."

Tim H. said...

Nah, Wall $treet could always outbid unions.

rewinn said...

PATCO supported Reagan.
How did that turn out?

I'm confident unions would be only too happy to be able to play the parties off against each other; that's quite rational behavior. But the GOP would first have to recognize that unions have a function other than as scapegoats. The current GOP leadership seems to think that the basic problem with the American economy is that workers are paid too well; if it wants union support, it needs to change its positions on issues first.

Acacia H. said...

The thing is, there are Republican-voting union members who don't like the fact their unions support Democrats. Providing Republicans with an outlet for their support dollars would do two things. First, it would increase the number of Republican workers willing to be in a union because they could select where their money went.

Next, it would start weening blue-collar Republican voters away from the Republican Party after "their" candidates deliberately vote against Unions and to break the Unions. After all, there is nothing more powerful than betrayal to drive someone from the "loving" arms of an organization.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

Rob, I'd like to think your political theory is correct, and I hope someone experiments with it, somewhere.
I don't think it fits with the way people actually make political choices. Plenty of people vote for candidates who overly promise to cut their throats, because ya know Obama wants to send the black helicopters to take their guns and give them to ACORN. Or something.
But ... experiments are always good, and sometimes surprising!

sociotard said...

Could we get "Mr. Future" to comment on Bitcoin? Any thought as to whether this will be a relevant thing in the future?

rewinn said...

Hopping back to the original post and its condemnation of The Idiot Plot:
Is not the most Darwinianly-tested novels of our era the long-plot-arc form of webcomics, such as Girl Genius, Nodwick, Order of the Stick, Goblinss? These are similar to 19th-century print novels that started out life being serialized in newspapers (e.g. Ivanhoe), with one big difference OTHER than the graphics: fan feedback is swift via forums and sure via the method of payment to the author (either clicks on the accompanying advertising or purchases of related materials from the author's website.) There is no need to mediate the feedback through publishers!

I may be relying on the highly biased sample of What I Like, but it seems there is shortage of Idiot Plots among the successful web-published graphic novels; these just don't make good enough stories to appeal widely.

Girl Genius may *seem* to be an exception; the protagonist is, after all, a genius (or more properly: Mad Scientist.) But she is far from alone; the big problem of her world is that it's overloaded with her equals and to solve the problem of survival she needs not raw magic genius, but also its intelligent deployment, plus pluck and the wise selection of friends. Sure, she builds MacGuffins but then so does all the other major characters; the world is not populated by idiots but rather a superfluity of geniuses.

Order of the Stick takes another tack. Its heroes are talented but literally not demigods; much of the fun of the strip is figuring out how they will achieve their goals, whether short- or long-term, subject to the rules of their world (and how the author makes this solution seem fresh and fair, even as fandom pours over ever page and predicts the next move.)

Nodwick wrapped up a major plot arc in which our moderately talented protagonists learn that the only way to defeat the Big Bad was to deploy the Godlike Universe-Rewriting MacGuffin; but we know that with such power comes the temptation to rewrite the universe so that the deployer becomes the next big bad. How the hero figures out that problem is amusing because it requires the humorously excessive application of a cluestick.

What these and comparable novellike webcomics have in common is protagonists who have enough but not unreasonably much ability. This makes the story interesting and ... who knows ... they protagonists might be worthy role models.
Contrast this with the overpowered Superman, Hulk, Green Lantern, Iron Man, about whom interesting stories are written only if you can slap an rather obviously plot-motivated weakness onto the fundamental character (Kryptonite? A weak heart? the color yellow ?1?1?1?1?) Although DC keeps trying to portray Superman as an ideal to be emulated, it's simply silly to expect anyone to take useful lessons from someone whose is that overpowered. I suggest this may be why DC/Marvel flop massively as webcomics; I'm sure you can read some of that stuff either legitimately or via bittorrent, but why would you want to?

Demigods are just not that good as role models, but we can all pick up a few ideas from a mere genius.

Unknown said...

There are no two ways that India is the world leader in attracting patients from across the borders for medical treatment in India like shipping frozen embryos to india, shipping frozen embryos to india, Surrogate mothers India, Surrogacy in India, Indian surrogacy, gamma knife, brain surgery at best hospitals in India.

Acacia H. said...

Randy, have you ever considered reviewing? You'd make an excellent Dread Reviewer Tangents. ;)

Here's one thing to consider about idiotball plots... is it an idiotball if the character you read about does not have the full amount of information that you possess? Now admittedly for someone like Bean in OSC's Ender-world books, yeah. He carries an idiotball (when say borderline malnutrition and eating just barely enough calories to survive upon would result in a slowing of his growth) especially as the solution was specifically told to him in regards to why his growth issues had not earlier been a problem.

But if you write in a third-person semi- or fully-omniscience POV then the reader may be aware of details that the characters are not. I've been realizing this recently with a story I've been writing (more as an exercise to get back into the habit of writing before I start writing something serious).

Dr. Brin once said (I think he was the one who said this at least) that the first story any incipient writer should write is a mystery story. I'd amend this to one point further: a FIRST PERSON Mystery Story. Because character knowledge is important... but so is identifying what knowledge is possessed. (If a writer is having difficulty figuring that out, perhaps writing a character journal/diary from the point of view of said character might be in order so to get into that character's head and determine just what he or she does know.)

As for those webcomic characters and comparing them to DC and Marvel characters? The problem is that the DC/Marvel characters have the weight of history on their hands. While DC occasionally sneezes away portions of that history, it is still there. Agatha Heterodyne or Nodwick and crew are not weighed down by that massive level of back history. Thus it's easier to tell stories with them.

That, and most webcartoonists don't have an editor breathing down their necks. This is both a bad and a good thing. Bad because editors beget deadlines and can help eliminate unnecessary delays as well as catch mistakes if the editor is on the ball. It is a good thing however as the editorial freedom to write what you want is very very important... as is owning your own characters so that all your hard work isn't handwaved away by an editor who dislikes what you did... and a writer who wants to "set things right" by ignoring all of the hard work of previous authors.

Rob H.

locumranch said...

Glancing through the history of Hugo winners:

Heinlein is 1st with 10; Silverberg and Bujold tie for 2nd with 8; Simak, Niven, Stross and Brin tie for 3rd with 6; Card, Vinge, Robinson, Willis and Wilson tie for 4th with 5; and Clarke, Zelany, Bear, Gibson and Robinson tie for 5th with 4.

Of course, this list is incomplete. Greats like Asimov, Bester, Brunner, Farmer, Halderman, Herbert, Dick, Delany, Sterling, Vonnegut and Wolfe barely rate 2 or 3 wins. Also, the selection criteria appears rather fuzzy as many Hugo winners wrote fantasy rather than Scifi (evidenced by the likes of RR Martin, Gaiman, Stephenson and Rowling) .

All in all, the whole writing as a "Competitive Sport" seems rather silly and ill-considered even though it did make a hilarious Scifi story back in the 1970s. Makes me want to shout:


It's WINNER TAKE ALL as Herman Melville squares off against James Joyce in a BATTLE ROYALE to become the undisputed LITERARY CHAMPION OF THE WORLD.

A good MARKETING TOOL though. Coming soon to a venue near you.


David Brin said...

locumranch hi. Thanks for the flattery, but can I ask where you see me listed as having 6 Hugos? Comes as a surprise, cause I only see 3 here in the house!

Came in 2nd so many times though!...

Nowadays? I don't expect to even approach nomination. System is different. Different voters and criteria.

Tim H. said...

But you're output is worth reading, Hugo or no.

Jumper said...

I always thought a Nebula was the thing to have.

Tony Fisk said...

Randy, have you ever considered reviewing? You'd make an excellent Dread Reviewer Tangents. ;)

Although Robert would probably kill you in the morning.

Competitive writing? There are the 'Celebrity Character Cage Matches'. I remember reading, with some amusement, GRRM's handling of Jaime Lannister vs. Hermione Grainger, Dread Cthulhu (a no-show because he was asleep) and, finally, Rand Al'Thor! (having a sarcastic/scholastic dwarf for a brother/manager helps!)

Ian said...

I tried to check if Existence was eligible for this year's Hugoes and was surprised to find there's no wikipedia entry for the book.

Anyone here already a wikipedia contributor

LarryHart said...


That, and most webcartoonists don't have an editor breathing down their necks. This is both a bad and a good thing. Bad because editors beget deadlines and can help eliminate unnecessary delays as well as catch mistakes if the editor is on the ball. It is a good thing however as the editorial freedom to write what you want is very very important... as is owning your own characters so that all your hard work isn't handwaved away by an editor who dislikes what you did... and a writer who wants to "set things right" by ignoring all of the hard work of previous authors.

You're conversant in comics lore enough that I assume you're aware of Dave Sim and his 300-issue "Cerebus" comic.

He had much the same opinions about editorial interference (although I don't think he saw ANY upside to having an editor).

Acacia H. said...

Yes, I'm aware of Cerebus. I actually had his now-ancient treatise on self-publishing comics and was going to do my own comic book at one point (not having an artist or artistic talents of my own was my primary impediment and why I never did do this).

Several cartoonist I've seen have mentioned deadlines are both a horrific and wonderful thing in that they can be the driving force to get work done... but they can drive an artist nuts at the same time. Self-appointed deadlines are more likely to be missed, however, than an editor breathing down your neck. ^^;;

Also, as I have undoubtedly mentioned billions of times at this point of time, I read and review hundreds of webcomics. The number of typos, plot inconsistencies, and other problems a good editor would catch is sobering. (Which is why I make sure to have a nice bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label on hand while I write my reviews. Sometimes you need to be drunk to write reviews! ^^)

Rob H.