Doubleblogging, OMW Review, Penguicon Schedule, Saul Bellow

A bunch of little things I’ve been thinking about:

* My pal Jeff Porten has revamped his Web site and now has two blog-esque elements to it: Portentia, for longer pieces (two pieces which are fronting at the moment include his memories of the end of his mother’s life, and his questions for the people reselling his book on eBay), and The Vast Jeff Wing Conspiracy, which is comprised of shorter, “bloglike” entries. about shiny, shiny Web objects that catch his eye. Naturally, I encourage you to check out both of them to see if there’s anything you like there.

I also think Jeff illustrates a trend I see, of people having more than one blog or online writing site. Quite a few people of my acquaintance do it, often to differentiate content. Of course, I am an example myself: I have the Whatever, and then I also have By The Way, and the two are somewhat different in content and presentation (although perhaps it’s not a brilliant example, since I get paid for By the Way, and its content is partially dictated by the needs of AOL and by congruent desire to be a useful “community leader” over there).

I see it most commonly with people who have LiveJournal accounts. Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden both have their “home” sites and LiveJournal accounts to which they will occasionally post; writer Marissa Lingen, whom I have briefly met, keeps an active LiveJournal but also an active Journal on her personal domain. Kate Nepveu and Chad Orzel both keep book blogs and personal journals. (I should note I have a LiveJournal account myself — a paid one, even — but I only write there if something has gone haywire with this site. Why did I pay for LiveJournal if I don’t use it? But I do! Meet my sweet, addictive Friends of Friends page. So many LiveJournal entries. So little time).

I don’t know that it necessarily represents anything, I’ve just been noticing these doubleblogs more as I go along. One does wonder if there’s an upper limit to the number of blogs one can responsibly keep, and if there’s a point at which — not unlike owning cats — you go to far and are defined by your blogs. I suggest that just as having more than three cats gets you labeled “Crazy Cat Person,” perhaps three blogs is the upper limit as well. Feel free to discuss.

* A nice review of OMW in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Scalzi’s execution is superb. His characters inhabit bodies that are barely human, but they talk, think and respond in familiar and appealing ways. His writing is graceful and clever, with descriptions of aliens, equipment and military encounters that are flat-out terrific. Smartly conceived and thoroughly entertaining, “Old Man’s War” is a splendid novel.

Neat. I do think that this is the first press review from Ohio. Dayton Daily News hasn’t dealt with it, but since they did a nice big positive write-up of Book of the Dumb 2 recently, I think we’re pretty square up.

* While we’re on the subject of science fiction, I got my appearance schedule for PenguinCon 3.0, the science fiction/open source convention in Michigan from April 22 – 24. Here are the panels on which I will appear:

Friday 4/22:
Collaborative Online Fiction, 7:30 to 8:30 PM.
Orion’s Arm is an example of a world-building project that is open to submissions from anyone in a peer-reviewed system. This and other forms of writing and shared worlds made possible by the internet will be discussed.
On the panel: Cory Doctorow; John Scalzi; Matt Arnold
Quick thoughts: This will be the first time Cory and I are on the same panel; naturally I think we could have a lot of fun.

Saturday 4/23
The Blog and Its Uses, 10:00 to 11:00 AM
Why blog? For that matter, what the heck is a blog? Find out in this exciting panel with some top talents in the blogosphere! This is an ALL LEVEL panel.
On the panel: John Scalzi; Peter Salus; CmdrTaco
Quick thoughts: This should actually be a very interesting panel; Salus is an Internet historian and CmdrTaco is the founder of Slashdot. And then there’s me.

How Do Writers Pay the Bills? 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
Learn about how writers pay their bills – what writing jobs do they take to make ends meet?
On the Panel: Joan Vinge, Kevin Siembieda, Kathe Koja, M. Keaton, John Scalzi
Quick Thoughts: Another interesting one. I suspect (as is often the case) I’ll likely be the only one with a history in corporate writing (aside from technical manuals), and I likewise imagine we’ll have different ways to make non-SF related writing cash.

Sunday 4/24
Future of Sci Fi? Where to Now? 10:00 to 11:00AM
What is the future of the genre? Where is it going to be going now? Let luminaries speak to this and other things.
On the Panel: Joan Vinge; Tim Ryan; Jeff Beeler; M. Keaton; John Scalzi
Quick Thoughts: Heh heh heh heh.

* As with most lovers of fiction I was saddened to hear about the death of Saul Bellow, but what most of you may not know is that I had a personal connection with him: He was, briefly, my thesis advisor at the University of Chicago. I had approached him with the idea of doing an interdisciplinary thesis study with him on the individual in literature, and he agreed to be my advisor. Shortly thereafter, however, I was elected Student Ombudsman of the University and he had some other large project to devote his attention to, so we both agreed that circumstances were against us.

(My next thesis advisor was Ted Cohen, definitely no slouch himself in the brains department, but therein lies another tale, of how I became possibly the first U of C student to graduate without doing a thesis project (or whatever the equivalent is for the science students). This is probably best left for another time.)

Suffice to say that while I don’t actually regret the path I took, I do wish I had had the opportunity to spend more time with Bellow, picking his brain and arguing literature and the role of the individual with him. Fortunately, there are still his books.