More Sunsets

Yesterday’s sunset was cloudless. Today’s, well, there were clouds.

Who knows what tomorrow’s will be like.


Various Bits of Bookpimpery

In the mail today: The Rough Guide to Blogging, from (naturally enough), the folks at Rough Guides. I have to admit that the first thing I did when I pulled it out of its package (other than suck at a finger I ripped open on the package’s staples) was to check the index to see if I was in it anywhere. And indeed I am, on page 178, where this very site is described: “Writer John Scalzi maintains this entertaining blog, focused mainly on his job as an author.” It’s not just a job, you know. It’s an adventure.

A quick glance through the books shows it to be what a Rough Guide should be: Easy to read, lots of useful information, good advice on how to get started, and tons of links to popular sites. I imagine other bloggers will be doing what I did and checking the index to see if they made the cut; I can see a few of them going Why am I not listed? I’m on the A-list, damn it! We are a petty, petty lot, we bloggers.

Anyway, on first read I can say this is a really fine book to give to that friend of yours who’s been muttering something about wanting to start a blog but doesn’t know where to begin. This will get them up to speed pretty painlessly. And if you get them this, that’s one less conversation explaining the difference between Blogger and Typepad that you’ll have to have. Which leaves you more time for what’s important, like beer and video games.

While I’m thinking about books, two folks I know personally will be getting their books on this year’s preliminary Nebula ballot: Toby Buckell, for Crystal Rain, and Mark Tiedemann, for Remains. For those of you not up to speed on the Nebula selection process, the books on the Nebula prelim list are the ones from which the short list will be selected. That’s pretty damn cool.

I’ve blathered about Toby’s book before (it’s got parrots!), of course, but I’ve missed out on saying too much about Remains, which is a shame because it’s a fine and twisty book. It’s also been a bit of a stealth awards performer: In addition to its Nebula prelim listing, it was also a finalist for the 2005 Tiptree Award, and Tiedemann’s otherwise been a finalist for the Philip K. Dick award. That’s a nice rack of accolades. I’ll probably talk about it more at some future point, but for now I’ll just say it’s worth checking out if you’re in the market for something new to read. Congratulations to both Mark and Toby.

While I’m on the topic of congratulations to authors, congratulations to Pamie (aka Pamela Ribon), whose second novel Why Moms Are Weird hit the stores on Tuesday. I ordered it instantly, of course; Pamie is one of the funniest humans I know, and she was one of the first “old school” bloggers (that’d be bloggers who were blogging before the turn of the millennium, yo) to get a book deal. So it’s always a good day when a book by her gets out into the world.

Finally, if I may be a bit self-serving, two new reviews of The Ghost Brigades are out today, one at SFFWorld (“The Ghost Brigades is a rewarding, entertaining read and keeps the reader guessing”), and another at my pal Jim Winter’s site, where Jim declares “Okay, this is pure buddy pimpage, but it’s also a sincere, honest review.” And then he rips me apart. Okay, not really. He likes the book. But I had you going for a moment, there.

After all that book pimpery, I now declare the comments a book pimp thread. Pimp the book you’re reading now! Pimp a book your friend has written! Pimp your own book! It’s all good, although I will ask, to differentiate this book pimp thread from other self-pimp threads, that you pimp only books that have been physically published. E-books, etc can wait until the next self-pimping thread.

Have at it.


From the “What the Hell?” File

Apparently 36% of Americans now believe our government was involved in 9/11. However, I think a cogent point about this greater-than-average tinfoil brigade comes out in the article:

University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster, author of the book “Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture,” said the poll’s findings reflect public anger at the unpopular Iraq war, realization that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and growing doubts of the veracity of the Bush administration.

“What has amazed me is not that there are conspiracy theories, but that they didn’t seem to be getting any purchase among the American public until the last year or so,” Fenster said. “Although the Iraq war was not directly related to the 9/11 attacks, people are now looking back at 9/11 with much more skepticism than they used to.”

In other words, people are now distrustful enough about the reasons we went to war in Iraq that their suspicion and paranoia is spilling over backward into 9/11. Swell.

I’m comfortably within the 64% of Americans who do not believe our government thought it would be sneaky and let a bunch of Osama’s boys give us an excuse to pound on Saddam. I strongly suspect our government could have done more to prevent the attacks, but “could have done more to prevent attacks” exists in an far different mindspace than “actively encouraged the attacks.” I also don’t suspect it’s useful to have one person out of three think the government was involved in 9/11; all that conspiracy crap keeps people occupied with trivia as opposed to looking at actual problems.

So if you’re one of the 36%, please pull your head out of your ass and try to focus on some of our nation’s genuine problems. I realize it’s nice to have an X-Files moment with dark plots and shady government conspiracies that go all the way to the top, but back here in the real world, you’ll be more useful if you take a step back from that particular ledge. I’m just saying.


On the Best Artist Hugo Award

Over at The Art Department, Irene Gallo posts Donato Giancola’s really rather sensible proposal to make sure the artists nominated for the Best Artist Hugo in any particular year actually have original artwork that’s made its debut in that year. I’m vaguely surprised that this isn’t how it’s done already; I assumed it was.

Donato, incidentally, is up for the artist Hugo this year, and I know for a fact he’s done artwork in specified timeframe, because he did the art for the OMW hardcover. Hell, I’ve got the original artwork on my wall; I figure that was worth a spot on the nomination slate.

The only drawback I can see is that it’ll require nominators to recall the names of the books the artist’s work are covering, and that marginally increased work requirement may drop the number of people willing to do the effort to nominate. But really, if you’re too damn lazy to go over to the bookshelf and open the book cover to see the “cover art by” credit, then you probably shouldn’t be nominating at all.

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