Monthly Archives: February 2008

Greetings, Gentlebeings!

I doubt I’m the first person who has noticed the inherent LOL potential of everyone’s favorite SFWA election-related greeting, but I’m pretty sure I’m the first person to set up a Flickr Group on the subject. The pool is free for anyone to join. Note that just to be on the safe side I have it set for “18+,” so some of you may need to click through the warning to get to the group Update: I took off the restriction, so now you should have no problems looking at it or contributing (although, clearly, you’ll need to be a Flickr member to join the group). I’ve seeded the group to get you all started, and new contributions have begun to flow in. I ask only that you not post something unspeakably vulgar (we’re trying for funny and clever, here). You can manage that, I’m sure.

Won’t you play along, dear gentlebeing?

On the OMW Free eBook Release

Today Tor sent out the e-mails with links to the eBook version of Old Man’s War, which is available to the folks who signed up at Tor.com in pdf, html, and mobi versions (so all you folks who hate pdf and whined about it last week — look! Tor listens!). So those of you who signed up, enjoy. And now that it’s out in e-book format, let me answer the questions some of you have asked me and/or I have seen people ask about OMW and an eBook or eBooks in general.

1. Oh Noes! I didn’t sign up in time to get the e-mail link! Can I still get Old Man’s War?

I have no idea how Tor is handling this, actually. I don’t think it’s Tor’s intention to have these titles permanently available on a free basis (legally, I mean — once they’re out on the Net they’re out); I think they’re meant to be a premium to get people to sign up for notification when the new Tor.Com site goes up. My assumption is that if you missed the official mailing, you missed out, although if someone from Tor wants to explain the deal, I think that’d be fine.

2. So, uh, do you mind if I get the eBook file from someone else/give out the eBook file to a friend?

Not really, but I’d ask you to be sensible about it in both cases. If you’re getting the eBook from other sources, you still ought to go over to Tor.Com and sign up for e-mail notification, because a) the new Tor.Com is gonna be something you want to know about and b) more free eBooks are coming (I believe next week is Spin, which won the Hugo in 2006) and c) it will give Tor’s masterminds a warm and glowy feeling that their gamble to bring attention to their new site is actually working.

If you’re giving out the eBook to someone else, well, you know, I’d say give it to friends rather than dropping it into the swirling seas of BitTorrent. I don’t doubt it’s going to get out on BitTorrent; that’s not the point. The point is you saying to friends, “hey, this is a good book, and I think you should check it out.” In other words, what you’re doing is very much like loaning your own physical copy to a friend. That carries a lot more weight than just random availability.

3. Are you afraid having it out there as a free eBook will eat into your sales?

Oh, I don’t know. It might nibble into the sales of the OMW paperback a bit; it might not. My own personal experience with eBooks is that I tend to read enough of it to know whether I want to read more, and then I end up buying a physical copy because I don’t actually like reading novel-length works on the computer if I can avoid it. So maybe sales will go up! And maybe they’ll stay the same. And maybe we’ll all be consumed by dingoes. Who knows?

Honestly, here’s the thing: the book has made me a fair chunk of cash and thanks to how royalties are apportioned, even if no one buys a physical copy of Old Man’s War ever again (which, well, seems unlikely), I’ll still be getting royalties through the rest of ’08. By which time I’ll two other novels out in the stores and a third on deck, and the royalties of the other books should be chugging along fine, and if they’re not, then I guess I’ll have to get a day job or something. But I don’t see that happening in the short run. The point is I would expect that thanks to the sales of other books, I should be fine even if I don’t make another penny off of OMW book sales.

And so when Tor asked if I would be willing to do a free eBook version of OMW up as part of their promotion, I was in a position to say “yes,” without any real hesitation. Because I’m curious about it, you see. Eric Flint and the folks at Baen Books make a strong case that having eBooks up boost author sales; other folks think doing so constitutes the End of Days for writers, the genre and so on and so forth, blah blah blah blah blah. I am in a position where offering up OMW as free eBook constitutes a low risk for me, because I’ve already made a fair stick from it and my career is chugging along nicely. Why not put it out there and see what happens? If it kills my OMW or other book sales, then now I know. If it helps them, then now I know that too. If it does nothing one way or the other, I’ll find that out as well.

Here’s my best guess what will happen: If anything, it’ll lead to a modest increase in sales overall. The reason for this is — if I may say so — OMW goes down pretty easy and most of the time people who finish it want to read what happens next. And guess what? There are two (soon to be three) books that let you find out what happens next in that universe, and aside from that are two (and relatively soon to be three) other books that let you see what I’m doing when I’m not fiddling around with the Colonial Union. So really, I suspect it’ll be a good thing.

Like I said, we’ll see. In the meantime, the chance I’ll spend any time fretting about it is fairly low.

4. Why didn’t Tor release the eBook in [format Tor didn’t release the book in]?

Don’t know. Don’t care. You’re getting it for free. Deal.

5. I read the free eBook version and I want to reward you for your efforts. Can I send you money by PayPal?

Scott Westerfeld has a position on this sort of thing that I echo, which is that just sending money to the author is missing the fact a lot of other people work on the book too — editors, copyeditors, book designers, artists, art directors, publicity and marketing folks and so on. So like Scott my suggestion would be that if you really love the book and want to pay me for it, buy it (for yourself or as a gift) or pick up one of my other books. At a bookstore, even!

If you don’t want to do that but still want to send me money, what I would ask you to do is take whatever you were going to send me and donate it to Reading is Fundamental or some other literacy program. Thanks.

6. When will Tor put out eBooks of your other books?

Well, The Ghost Brigades is available for the Kindle right now. As for everything else, well, who knows? That’s a whole bunch of Tor and Macmillan corporate strategizing that I’m frankly not going waste a lot of brain cycles on. Yes, I know many of you want my books in eBook format; I want it too. But to be honest, at the moment, I’m more concerned about doing what I can to get my books in supermarket racks, i.e., get the books in front of people who don’t already have a clue who I am. I do know that Tor is working on getting eBooks out there into the market. Beyond that, I have to advise patience.

Any other questions? Put them in the comment thread.

The 2008 Nebula Awards Ballot

Hey, look: It’s a big year for Caribbean-themed science fiction!

THE 2008 NEBULA AWARDS BALLOT

Novels
Odyssey – McDevitt, Jack (Ace, Nov06)

The Accidental Time Machine – Haldeman, Joe (Ace, Aug07)

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – Chabon, Michael (HarperCollins, May07)

The New Moon’s Arms - Hopkinson, Nalo (Warner Books, Feb07)

Ragamuffin - Buckell, Tobias (Tor, Jun07)

Novellas
“Kiosk” – Sterling, Bruce (F&SF, Jan07)

“Memorare” – Wolfe, Gene (F&SF, Apr07)

“Awakening” – Berman, Judith (Black Gate 10, Spr07)

“Stars Seen Through Stone” – Shepard, Lucius (F&SF, Jul07)

“The Helper and His Hero” – Hughes, Matt (F&SF, Feb07 & Mar07)

“Fountain of Age” – Kress, Nancy (Asimov’s, Jul07)

Novelettes
“The Fiddler of Bayou Teche” – Sherman, Delia (Coyote Road, Trickster Tales, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking Juvenile, Jul07)

“Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter” – Ryman, Geoff (F&SF, Nov06)

“The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs Of North Park After the Change” – Johnson, Kij (Coyote Road, Trickster Tales, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking Juvenile, Jul07)

“Safeguard” – Kress, Nancy (Asimov’s, Jan07)

“The Children’s Crusade” – Bailey, Robin Wayne (Heroes in Training, Martin H. Greenberg and Jim C. Hines, Ed., DAW, Sep07)

“The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” – Chiang, Ted (F&SF, Sep07)

“Child, Maiden, Mother, Crone” – Bramlett, Terry (Jim Baen’s Universe 7, June 2007)

Short Stories
“Unique Chicken Goes In Reverse” – Duncan, Andy (Eclipse 1: New Science Fiction And Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan, Ed., Night Shade Books, Oct07)

“Titanium Mike Saves the Day” – Levine, David D. (F&SF, Apr07)

“Captive Girl” – Pelland, Jennifer (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, WS & LWE, Ed., Oct06 (Fall06 issue — #2))

“Always” – Fowler, Karen Joy (Asimov’s, May07 (Apr/May07 issue))

“Pride” – Turzillo, Mary (Fast Forward 1, Pyr, February 2007)

“The Story of Love” – Nazarian, Vera (Salt of the Air, Prime Books, Sep06)

Scripts
Children of Men – Cuaron, Alfonso & Sexton, Timothy J. and Arata, David and Fergus, Mark & Ostby, Hawk (Universal Studios, Dec06)

The Prestige - Nolan, Christopher and Nolan, Jonathon (Newmarket Films, Oct06 (Oct 20, 2006 — based on the novel by Christopher Priest))

Pan’s Labyrinth – del Toro, Guillermo (Time/Warner, Jan07)

V for Vendetta – Wachowski, Larry & Wachowski, Andy (Warner Films, Mar06 (released 3/17/2006 — Written by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd and published by Vertigo/DC Comics))

“World Enough and Time” – Zicree, Marc Scott and Reeves, Michael (Star Trek: New Voyages, http://www.startreknewvoyages.com, Aug07 (Aired 8/23/07))

“Blink” – Moffat, Steven (Doctor Who, BBC/The Sci-Fi Channel, Sep07 (Aired on SciFi Channel 14Sep07))

Andre Norton Award
The True Meaning of Smek Day – Rex, Adam (Hyperion, Oct07)

The Lion Hunter – Wein, Elizabeth (Viking Juvenile, Jun07 (The Mark of Solomon, Book 1))

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Rowling, J. K. (Scholastic Press, Jul07)

The Shadow Speaker – Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi (Jump At The Sun, Sep07)

Into the Wild - Durst, Sarah Beth (Penguin Razorbill, Jun07)

Vintage: A Ghost Story - Berman, Steve (Haworth Positronic Press, Mar07)

Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog - Wilce, Ysabeau S. (Harcourt, Jan07)

Way to go, Toby! And everyone else, too!

Comments on the ballot selections welcome.

Before Even More People Send it to Me

Yes, I’ve seen Translation from Aburt-speak to English of selected portions of his SFWA presidential platform, over at sillybean. It’s very amusing, and also, very much like the Andrew Burt campaign posters, an indication of how electing Burt will not do wonders for SFWA’s relations with the public, or its potential future membership. And here we pause for a sigh and a sad headshake.

Update, 12:08, 2/22/08 – This is pretty damn funny, too. Any day is a good day to do a Thurber homage. Especially one with me in it.

Novella Drawing for the Dewey Donation System

Question from the gallery:

Your Zoe’s Tale auction moved out of my price range early. Could you do another auction? And let me win?

Heh. Well, no. For two reasons: One, I have no control over how the auctions go. People bid what they bid. Two, I think the reasons the auctions work is because I don’t do them all the time. They’re for special occasions, and I think one a year or so does just fine. So, no more auctions for a while.

But I’m aware that there seems to be a bunch of folks who are bummed they didn’t get a decent shot at Zoe’s Tale. And at the same time, my pal Pamela Ribon has launched her annual charity drive for libraries, called the Dewey Donation System. I was just gonna plug the DDS, because call me crazy, but I think donating books to libraries is a fine idea, but now I have an idea I think is even better.

But first, a preface: I am currently writing a short science fiction novella (about 17,000 – 20,000 words) which is going into an anthology called Godlike Machines, which will be published by the Science Fiction Book Club at some point later this year. I’m not going to give you the details of the story, because it really is best as a surprise, but I will say that when the anthology editor Jonathan Strahan approached me to contribute, I said “I will only if you let me do this,” and then I pitched him an absolutely insane story idea that no one in his right mind would buy. And of course he said yes, just to mess with my head. Bwa ha ha ha ha hah ha! So, trust me, it’ll be a good read.

Got it? Okay, here’s what I’m gonna do. When I’m done writing this story, I will head over to Lulu and put into bound form two copies of this novella, and then sign them. And then I’m going to give them away to two people who have:

a) donated to the Dewey Donation System this year, and

b) come back to this entry’s comment thread to tell me what they’ve donated and to which of the two children’s libraries that DDS is supporting this year (the ones at The Rockhouse Foundation and The Children’s Institute).

Everyone who donates something through, oh, let’s say, March 21, 2008, and then comes here to brag about it will be eligible for the drawing, which I will have by the end of March.

These bound copies of the novella will be two-of-a-kind (well, three-of-a-kind, since I’ll probably make a copy for myself too) and no more will be made, and of course, it’ll be the only way to read the novella prior to its publication. So, again: collector’s items.

But wait! There’s more! Both of the winners of the drawing will also get final published copies of Godlike Machines from me, which I will sign and send along once it comes out (I have a SFBC membership, you see. I can buy two copies). So you’ll get the pre-pub, copyeditor-nightmare edition, and the actual edition, too — which will come with other nifty novella-length stories from other nifty authors.

But wait! There’s still more! Dewey Donation System is doing its own set of giveaways as well, so by donating, you’ll be eligible for those, too. Honestly, there’s just so much win going on.

So, to recap:

1. You go donate a book (or other needed stuff) to needy children through the Dewey Donation System.

2. When you’re done, you come back to this comment thread and let people know how awesome you are for donating to needy kids, and detail your purchase. Everyone applauds.

3. You’re entered in a drawing to win a special pre-pub bound edition of my upcoming novella and a copy of the finish anthology, Godlike Machines.

4. You win (maybe), and are the envy of every person you ever meet from now until the very end of time.

It’s just that easy. And unlike the auction, you don’t have to spend a lot to play; you can donate a book for as little as $7 (although you can spend more if you want). And the donation still goes to an excellent cause.

I’ll bring this up again when the novella is completed and printed, and then when we get closer to the end of eligibility period, so don’t worry, you’ll have reminders. But there’s no reason not to get an early start. Happy donating!

Your Last Minute Hugo Nominations

The window for voting for Hugo nominations is closing at the end of the month, and there are several thousand eligible nominators (basically, anyone who was at last year’s Worldcon in Japan or who has registered for this year’s, in Denver) — and yet there are relatively few people who nominate. I think this is a bit of a shame, but I think it may be because the SF/F field is now pretty large, and you have to be on top of things to know what’s good.

To help, I throw open the question to you, gentle Whatever readers: What works/people would you nominate for a Hugo this year? For those of you who need it, here’s a list of the current categories. I’m particularly interested in your nominations for the fiction categories (Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story), but any category you want to suggest a work/person in is good. Also, while it’s not a Hugo, you may feel free also to suggest who you might nominate for the Campbell Award, which is an award I’m sort of partial to myself.

Caveats:

1. For the purposes of this exercise, suggest people and works other than me and mine. Yes, I have eligible works this year. But I doubt anyone who reads here is surprised by that. Let’s look at what else is out there (also, well, I’m looking for suggestions myself. I still have a slot or two open in most categories).

2. If you’re eligible for a category, nominate other people/works. Come on, dude. Share the love.

3. No more than five suggestions per category. Yes! You must choose!

4. To be eligible, works have to have been published (or the people active) during 2007. Don’t suggest stuff people can’t actually nominate.

Got it? Excellent.

So, what would your Hugo nominations be? Drop ‘em in the comment thread, please.

(P.S: If you’ve already written up your Hugo picks/suggestions elsewhere, feel free to link to them in the comments.)

(P.P.S.: If you are eligible to nominate for Hugos, do so! Here’s the online nomination form. Want to nominate vote on the Hugo ballot? There’s still time to get a Worldcon membership for this year. Even if you don’t plan to attend, a supporting membership allows you to nominate for and vote on the Hugos. Oh, come on, you were just going to spend that $50 on gum, anyway. (Update: I flubbed — too late to buy a membership to nominate. But you can still buy a membership to  vote on the final ballot))

Now! Spill!

Adding to the Auction Pot

The auction of the Zoe’s Tale pre-publication edition to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust has been pretty quiet for the last couple of days, so I thought I would kick in a little something to give it a boost, to wit: A copy of the now very rare Subterranean Press hardcover edition of Agent to the Stars. Only 1,500 of these were made (plus a couple extra for my personal stash), and they’re going for ridiculous amounts on the resale market.

Right now the bidding is at $2,025.01. Get the bid up to at least $2,500, and whoever wins the Zoe’s Tale is also going to find Agent smiling up at them from the box, signed and (if wished) personalized. It’s a steal, I tell you! A steal! There are only a couple days left to bid, so get on it if you want there. And of course feel free to let the collectors/Scalzi fans/people with waaay too much money of your acquaintance know about it.

Once again, here’s the original post announcing the auction, and here’s the auction page itself. Happy bidding!

Various and Sundry 2/21/08

Some stuff:

* For those of you interested in the future of SFWA, current presidential candidate Russell Davis has popped into the comment thread of the “Gut Check for SFWA” entry and is ready to answer questions you might have about his candidacy and SFWA. Indeed he’s already answered at least one. So feel free to ask. Do me a favor and keep the questions on topic and substantive; don’t ask him if he wears boxers or briefs or anything silly like that. Naturally, I invite Andrew Burt, the other candidate, to answer questions in the thread as well, although I’ll quite understand if he doesn’t.

* For you science fiction geeks — not like there would be any of those, here – who also love the law, Concurring Opinions law blog is running an audio interview with Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore and David Eick about the role of law in that television series. Part I-B, on torture and morality, is especially interesting.

* Speaking of torture and morality: Five Myths About Torture and Truth. You know, personally, I’ve gotten to the point that when someone suggests to me that no, really, torture does work, I lump them into the same category as Creationists, i.e., people with a certain-shaped hole in their otherwise functioning cognitive processes. With creationists, it’s the shape of a Bible; for the pro-torture types, it’s the shape of a waterboard. This is a telling quote from the article:

“The larger problem here, I think,” one active CIA officer observed in 2005, “is that this kind of stuff just makes people feel better, even if it doesn’t work.”

Well, it doesn’t make the guy being tortured feel better. But that’s the point. And pretty much the only point. Also, look: If you do actually make an argument that “Well, torture worked for the Gestapo,” as apparently people are doing, aside from the truth of the statement (it didn’t apparently), your own morality has just gone into the same place as my youngest cat’s testicles.

* I’m feeling a little bit sorry for Hillary Clinton recently, because her campaign is caught up in an event it truly can’t control: the messianic fervor surrounding Obama. Clinton’s been trying to go negative on the guy, and it’s not working, because people literally just do not want to hear about it. At this particular moment in time Clinton could unearth a video of Barack Obama eating live kittens while wearing nothing but an oiled thong at an S&M party hosted by Larry Craig, and she couldn’t do anything with it because if she did people would wonder why she was being so mean to Obama, and her polling would suffer.

Now, I don’t regret the negative campaigning being ineffective; I’m happy it’s not. This is just one of those thing where you feel a bit of empathy for someone who sees a goal slipping away due to factors that really have nothing much to do with them.

* Also: Remember to sign up to get the eBook of Old Man’s War — it goes out probably in a day or so.

Off to send Athena to school. Yes! She actually has school today! Amazing!

Shaky Eclipse

Tried to get a picture of the lunar eclipse tonight; this is the best I got:

Note to self: The next time I come into pointlessly large sums of money, buy tons of crap for night photography.

Hope you’re actually seeing the eclipse tonight. You know, with your eyes. Because it’s spectacular.

Ultimate Blogrolls

Over at GalleyCat, MediaBistro’s publishing blog, Ron Hogan has posted his “ultimate blogroll” — the five blogs he can’t live without — and he was nice enough to list Whatever as one of them. See, folks: Bribery works! He’s also soliciting ultimate blogrolls from other folks, and since you’re other folks, you can participate. Head over to GalleyCat, click on the e-mail link (it looks like an envelope), and let him know which four or five blogs you’d rather die than not read. Since he’s already noted Whatever, you should skip this one and give love to others. Because I already know you love me, man. Thanks. I totally love you too.

The Big Idea: Jami Attenberg

For her debut novel The Kept Man, writer Jami Attenberg fashioned a nice, big challenge for herself: having her main character unravel a mystery about her husband’s life — a husband who was not dead, but in a coma for six years. It’s easy to create a character who is a widow; examples abound in fiction and in real life. But how do you go about creating a character who has one foot in marriage, and one foot in widowhood? Attenberg explains how she did it, in this installment of The Big Idea.

JAMI ATTENBERG

I can’t tell you an exact date my big idea for The Kept Man came to me, but I know that it was the first line of the book: “I have been waiting for my husband to die for six years.” I do recall hearing it said to me, as if there was a voice in my head, a character already starting to form. Jarvis Miller introduced herself just like that. And then soon I met her artist husband Martin, who was sitting in a nursing home in Queens, keeping his wife hostage in a way, while he hovered on the verge of death. She sells off his artwork in order to keep him alive, because she can’t let him go. That is until she uncovers something about his past that makes her wish she had never met him.

The Terry Schiavo case had a great deal of influence on the book, of course. Her situation was getting a lot of press right around the time I was starting to write. I was just sort of noodling with new ideas, and her story struck me as I think it did a lot of people. I remember watching that video her parents had floated to the media, the one where it looks like she’s watching the balloon bounce around, and she looks somewhat responsive and alive. How desperately her parents must have clung to those moments! I read also the opposing analysis of that video, that it is common for a coma victim to have an involuntary ocular response to light and motion. I could not help but be both fascinated by and empathetic to her parents, and what they needed to believe.

And of course I thought about the opposite side of the coin, being married and unable to move on in your life. I don’t know much about Schiavo’s husband – and I didn’t want to know much, because I wanted to write my own story and not a fictionalization of reality – but I thought about how hard it must have been, his half-widower existence. And that notion of having one foot in the door, and one foot out of it, is a persistent theme throughout the book. The rest is invented.

But I will admit I imagined Terry Schiavo was down the hall from Martin in that nursing home in Queens. Her family was there the same time Jarvis would crawl into bed with her husband and seek comfort from him as they both slept. I liked thinking the same nurses tended to both of them. I hoped that their family members loved the artwork in the lobby of the nursing home, just as Jarvis did. And I was comforted by the idea that they all drank the same grubby coffee in the cafeteria, and gave each other sympathetic smiles.

***

Jami has a slate of book appearances for The Kept Man, including one tonight (February 20, 2008) at the Boxcar Lounge in Manhattan, appearing at 8pm with Stefan Block, Keith Gessen, Suzanne Guillette and Diana Spechler. Find out about it and other appearances here.

I Am Guilty, God Help Me

Xkcd, naturally.

Krissy used to worry that I got too wrapped up in absolutley pointless Internet slugfests until the day she realized that the reason I did it was because I was having fun, not because I was massively emotionally invested. I might stay up to thump on someone online, but once I step away from the monitor, it’s done. Letting people you don’t even know get you all wound up is no way to go through life.

What? Another Snow Day?

Around these here parts, February is also known as “the month what the youngin’s don’t get edumacated because it’s all snowified.” Which is to say there hasn’t been a week this month where at least one day has been canceled due to snow — sometimes when there was hardly any snow at all. At least today there is an appreciable amount of the stuff; so naturally, today is the day I had to drive somewhere — namely to the vet, to drop off Zeus, so he could drop off a couple of testicles. His testicles, to be clear, unless he’s sneakily managed to add a decoy pair he got somewhere. In which case, I really don’t want to think about it, and I trust the vet will not be dissuaded. She’s seen a lot of cat testicles in her time.

How’s it with you?

Meet the New Bosses

On one hand, their spelling is atrocious. On the other hand, they have really good ideas for action scenes, as long as you ignore their suggestion that every such scene should end with a disemboweling.

Also, they won’t tell me what they did with Patrick Nielsen Hayden. I think Teresa may want to look through any inordinately large piles of Fresh Step clumpable litter that might have mysteriously appeared near their domicile. You know. Just to be sure.

Another Book Done!

Well, sort of. I just delivered to Tor the revised edition of Agent to the Stars, which will have its trade paperback debut in late ’08. The revisions were mostly to update the timeframe of events; the original version of the book has timely pop culture references that are no longer timely, because the book was written eleven(!) years ago. But now it’s updated and that’s pretty much that.

In other news, damn, it’s been eleven years since I wrote Agent to the Stars. A novel I wrote is actually more than a decade old (at least, in terms of when it was written, not when it was published). The good news is, pop culture references aside, I think it stands up reasonably well. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Not a Sunset. Not a Sunrise

This is what I saw at sunrise this morning:

The interesting catch: This is the western horizon. Generally speaking, the western horizon is not the one you expect to have sunrise-like qualities to it, so I naturally found it interesting and snapped a photo. My expectation is that the haze in the air caught the reddish morning light as the sun peeped out. Pretty in any event.

And for you completists out there, here’s the actual sunrise:

Also pretty.

Update, 1:37pm: in comments, Stephen suggests what I am seeing there is the Belt of Venus.

Things I Want to Pimp Today: A List (Plus an Open Pimp Thread)

Here are the things I want to get pimplicious about at the moment:

1. Schuyler’s Monster, by Robert Rummel-Hudson: Rob and I go waaaaaay back; he and I are part of a small group of people who have been keeping blogs since the Cretaceous Period of the internet (when blogs were known as “online diaries” because the word “blog” hadn’t been invented yet). Right around the time Athena was born, Rob and his wife Julie had their own daughter, Schuyler, and for me it was fun to watch and read how another new dad was dealing with it all. But then our daughter stories diverged, because Schuyler was diagnosed with polymicrogyria, a brain deformation that, among other things, left Schuyler with the inability to talk.

This could have been (and in many ways was) a crushing blow to Rob and to his wife, but the two of them rolled with it, and Rob, who had dealt with so many events in his life by writing about them online, also began writing about his daughter’s “monster,” honestly, emotionally and occasionally painfully and angrily, and with more than a little humor, bleak though it was sometimes. Those of us who had been reading Rob for a while also noticed something else; Rob, who had been something of a typical Gen-X man-child sort of guy, was growing up and becoming the adult and the father he had to be to be a teacher, protector and friend to his unusual child. Wasn’t easy, but it was getting done.

All of this has now been put into a really extraordinary book, Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey With His Wordless Daughter, which I am immensely proud to recommend to you today. You’ll meet Rob and Julie and Schuyler and go through everything they go through as family, all from Rob’s point of view. Rob doesn’t take the opportunity to clean himself up here — you’ll see his development into a grown-up, and trust me, it’s a bumpy road — and that’s all to the good, because without it the book fails. And most of all you’ll see Schuyler as Rob sees her. At one point in the book, Rob mentions of Schuyler that there’s never been a person he’s feared for more, or has been prouder of. If you’re a parent you get that, and you also get how Rob might mean it even more than you do.

Since I know the people in the book, I can’t say that I’m at all objective about it, but folks, this is a good book. Rob writes well, with humor and anger and there’s enough shaggy charm to it that from time to time you’ll forget this stuff really happened to someone, at which point it will rise up, smack you in the face, and remind you. There were more than a couple of places I teared up. I think being a parent was part of that, and knowing the people was part of it, too. But the rest of it was because of Rob, and what and how he wrote. It’s not perfect, but it’s not about perfect people, so that’s fine. I think it’s exactly right for the tale it’s telling, however, and I think you should check it out.

2. Shadow Unit, by Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Sarah Monette and Will Shetterly (Amanda Downum, art director): I’ve known about this for a while, but the “first episode” just went live, so now’s a good time for pimpery. What is it? Well, Emma Bull (who I am assured is the “evil mastermind” behind it) describes it as fan fiction for a TV show that never existed, which is a concept just weird enough to work (it helps that the people writing the fanfic here are Bear, Bull, Monette and Shetterly, who between them have enough writing award nominations and wins to choke a moose). And what kind of not-show are they writing their fan fiction about?

The F.B.I.’s Behavioral Analysis Unit hunts humanity’s nightmares. But there are nightmares humanity doesn’t dream are real.

The Behavioral Analysis Unit sends those cases down the hall. Welcome to Shadow Unit.

This begs the question of why this wasn’t ever a real TV show, because it seems like a good idea (don’t talk to me about X-Files. I have some issues there). But hey, at least we have the “fan site” and fan fiction.

Incidentally, this whole shebang is done as a labor of love by the writers and others involved. They put out a tin cup in the form of PayPal and Amazon donation buttons. If you check it out and like it/love it/have it inhabit your life with unholy passion, consider sending some cash their way. Mind-bending faux-fan-fic should be rewarded.

3. The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet, by Daniel J. Solove: As you know (Bob), we live in a world in which anyone can Google up your name and find everything about you, including all manner of rumor, gossip and plain ol’ idiotic junk you put out on the Web when you were a sophomore in college, stoned to the gills and had no clue a future employer would scan Teh Tubes looking to see if you could be trusted to handle small sums of money. But what does it mean? George Washington University law professor (and law blogger) Daniel Solove is on the case for you.

This book was sent to me pre-pub and I’ve only had time to skim (rumor is, I had a book to write) it, which is unfortunate because what I have read is pretty damn interesting; it’s the sort of book I could use to springboard a whole bunch of posts here off of, which makes it already one of my favorite books (because I’m lazy, you see). But the good news here is that now you can check out the book for yourself, free, because Solove has just put it out in a freely downloadable eBook format. So you don’t need me to tell you if it’s good or not. You can read it for yourself and make your own decisions. Yes, I’m now officially useless. No, I’m fine. Just leave me alone, here in the dark.

If you do find it interesting/useful/life-changing, do please consider buying the book version as well, since I’m sure it will help Solove’s tenure chances if he has a bestseller, which is then made into a movie or TV series, which then will have fanfic written about it by Emma Bull. See, I bring these things around, I do.

4. Matter, by Iain M. Banks: Mmmm… exploding brains. I really dig Bank’s “Culture” books, of which this is the new one, because his universe is so complex and overloaded that I feel smarter just reading his descriptions of the place. There is the minor problem that I think the stories in his novels don’t necessarily resolve perfectly — lots of set-up and then you’re kind of hustled through the ending on a bit of a rail, as happens here and happened in The Algebraist — but by that point I’ve gotten enough of a show, with the pretty lights and big ideas and four-dimensional shell worlds and what have you that it seems almost churlish to note. And I certainly don’t feel cheated. I mean, hey, it’s a big friggin’ universe Banks has got there; who am I to expect everything to end up with a bow? It doesn’t even happen in this universe. Anyway, an excellent ride. Now, for some reason I was under the impression the book had already come out, but Amazon tells me it’s not coming out until next week. Could be it was already released in the UK. No matter (heh); here’s a pimp anyway.

Having now pimped four things, I hereby declare this an open pimp thread, in which you may pimp your own books/writings/blogs/projects/etc, or new and interesting books/writings/blogs/projects/etc that others are doing, that you feel need love and attention. Pimp away!

(Note: remember that three or more links in a single comment will get you sent to the moderation queue. If you get sent there, don’t panic — I’ll let your comment out at some point.)

“Zoe’s Tale” Auction Update

Because I know you were wondering, the current bid for the pre-publication bound manuscript version of Zoe’s Tale, proceeds to benefit the Disabled American Veteran’s Charitable Service Trust, stands at $2,025.01. Which I think is pretty damn awesome. Thank you everyone who has bid so far. And yes, there is still time to bid.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about here, go read the entry where I explain the auction. For those of you who want to make a bid, here’s a link to the eBay auction page. And as ever, feel free to let folks know.