Ficlet Spotlight: Rachel Swirsky

Over at the Ficlets site, Rachel Swirsky is a guest Ficleteer, offering up three ficlets for folks to read and play with. Rachel, as some of you might recall, wrote the absolutely fabulous short story “Scenes From a Dystopia,” which opened up the “science fiction cliches” issue of Subterranean magazine that I edited (if you missed it, download it as part of a pdf version of the magazine). Her ficlets are also a ton of fun.

Remember that if you’re a published author, you can be a guest Ficleteer, too. Here’s where to get the details.


Various and Sundry 4/10/07

Some stuff for you today:

* For those of you who love your audiobooks, buckle in: Subterranean Press has released a free audiobook version of Kage Baker’s short novel Rude Mechanicals, read by Mary Robinette Kowal, for your personal auditory pleasure. I’m happy to say the success of the audio version of “The Sagan Diary” has some hand in SubPress trying an audio version of this book as well (and in recommending MRK as the reader, because she did such an awesome job with “Sagan”), so I hope you’ll check this out too. And remember, if you like it, you can get the hard copy as well, as part of a limited signed hardcover edition.

* Speaking of Subterranean Press, the online magazine is now featuring new stuff by Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake and Caitlin R. Kiernan. Because you don’t have enough to read, you know.

* I am reminded that only a few days are left for you to totally game add your vote to this year’s Locus Awards, in which the magazine asks readers and folks online to vote for the best novels, short and related works, and editors and publications. You can select from the books/works/people Locus recommends, or you can write in your own (say, “The Android’s Dream” or “The Ghost Brigades,” just as examples). The voting closes on April 15, so if you wish to flood the survey with votes for my work cast your votes for the best work in science fiction in 2006, now’s the time.

(Seriously: Go vote. One of the nice things about the Locus Awards is that they actually have the widest voter base of all the major SF awards, and anyone who is interested can cast their vote. Give it a shot, even if you don’t end up voting for some of my work. Which is fine; rumor has it it’s a good year for SF/F.)

* As long as we’re talking about voting, I’ll also remind those SFWA members among you to get in your ballots for this year’s SFWA elections. The various boards, etc covering the elections have settled down since the early days when I threw my hat in the ring, but it’s still an important election, and who becomes president will make a difference for where SFWA is headed in the future. There, I’m done with my campaigning for the day.

* On the topic of SFWA, there’s now a SFWA LiveJournal community, which I believe is open to non SFWAns as well. I’m a member, although I haven’t posted yet — although Michael Capobianco, the other fellow running for SFWA president, has — several times! Egad! I’m losing the blogger vote! Anyway, interesting posts and discussions there. Check it out.

* Matthew Appleton, who edits the Some Fantastic zine, writes nice things about The Last Colony on his personal site (“Simply put, it’s an amazing end to the Old Man’s War trilogy”), additionally explaining why he’s reviewing the book on his personal site — apparently since he’s reviewed everything else I’ve written in other publications he needs to be “fair” to other writers and review some of their work instead. Hey! Appleton! “Fair” doesn’t pay the damn mortgage! Now get those reviews into a publication Tor can blurb on a back cover! And bring me a cool beverage! I mean, as long as I’m making pushing demands and all.

* Dave Munger, scientist science writer and college friend, has a snarky but instructive post on how not to write a science book. I would certainly agree that when it comes to science books, it helps to have actual science in it.

* Former (and currently consulting) Tor editor Anna Genoese has put up her shingle online for editing services. Unlike so many people online who do this, Anna Genoese is a real, live and excellent editor, so she’s liable to be actually useful to you. So if you’re looking for someone to go through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, there’s a resource for you.

* Finally, a reminder to you folks in the Dayton/Cincinnati area that I’m teaching fiction writing this Friday at Sinclair College as part of their Annual Writers’ Workshop. There will be two 90-minutes sessions, and I expect I’ll talk a bit about how to write fiction and also my experiences selling and marketing fiction, and of course answering questions. It should be fun, and I believe you can register right at the door.

That should be enough linking to hold you for now.


Rock and Roll is in My Blood!

Dig this: in the 80s and 90s, my uncle Gale played in a band called “Thief,” which was your basic local cover band. As I recall, they did pretty well, doing the sorts of gigs you need cover bands for. What I didn’t know is that they did a promotional video for themselves back in 1985, covering ZZ Top’s “Give Me All Your Lovin'”. And it is full of 80s cover band-ness. I present it to you now. Enjoy.

My uncle is the bass player, incidentally. And to avoid the inevitable, yes, I’m aware that my uncle bears an uncanny resemblance to Borat in this particular video. Hey, it was 22 years ago. What are you going to do. 22 years ago I was doing my damnedest to look like Steve Perry, myself. The less we talk about that, the better.

These days Gale is running the Valkyrie Riders Cruiser Club, one of the world’s largest motorcycle clubs. Piss him off, you’ll have a couple thousand people on big-ass bikes waiting for you to come out of your house so they can have a word with you. I’m just sayin’.


Pardon Me While I Roll My Eyes

Okay, about this “Blogger Code of Conduct” thing:

Whatever. I’ll be ignoring this entirely (after this post, obviously). Some reasons for this:

1. This is my site and I couldn’t care less how anyone else thinks it should be run; anyone else who thinks they should have a say in how the site is run (i.e., “the community will police itself”) is going to learn all the different ways I know how to say “kiss my ass.”

2. Outside my site I couldn’t possibly care less how people run their own sites. It’s their site, let them do what they want.

3. Who elected Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales the hall monitors of the Internet?

This Blogger Code of Conduct is predicated on two fundamental and fundamentally incorrect beliefs: One, that there’s a “blogosphere” community in any coherent, structured and enforceable way; Two, that the people who write blogs are sufficiently similar, in personality and output of content, that an attempt to standardize any aspect of the conversation will be successful. There’s also a third belief, reached from the first two, which is that this community of bloggers needs direction from its notable members/leaders, i.e., O’Reilly and Wales. This is equally incorrect.

People seem to believe these points should be correct, however, particularly the first of these. The “blogosphere” feels like a community, because everybody links to everybody and reads everyone else’s sites, and because people are people — there are a certain number of people who can be either convinced or shamed into following a certain mode of conduct. But it’s not the same thing, and I’m a perfect example of why not: I haven’t the slightest inclination to run my site in any other way other than how I choose to, and no amount of “community” pressure is going to change that. This is because when it comes down to it, I just don’t care what anyone else thinks of the site. I have it up for me. There’s no way for the “community” to make me do anything I don’t want, either; the blog police will not come to my door and ask to see my Code of Conduct badge, and haul me away or fine me if I don’t have it. Some people might not visit the site if I don’t have a Code of Conduct badge or whatever, but I wouldn’t want those people’s patronage anyway. There is no “community” — there’s me and how I choose to run this joint.

Does this mean my site is lawless and full of dickheads? No, because as it happens, I have a site disclaimer and comment rules which are pretty clear about what and how I will post, and what I will and won’t tolerate from people posting here. These rules have been here for years, and I regularly call them out and have links to them in the appropriate places. As the site is generally visited by people with brains who want to have a discussion rather than spew, and people know I’m not shy in enforcing my comment rules, this is a spirited but generally civil place. Occasionally one of the more obnoxious visitors will get out of line, or wish to suggest I am obliged to tolerate their presence whether I want to or not; those folks are corrected regarding this apprehension sooner than later. The article notes that some bloggers think deleting obnoxious comments is a violation of the commenter’s right to free speech. These bloggers deserve what they get.

Indeed, the reason that we’re now at a point where some self-appointed guardians of the discourse have decided it’s necessary to tell the rest of us slobs how to talk to each other is that people apparently forgot they have the right on their own sites to tell obnoxious dickheads to shut the hell up. Honestly, I don’t know what to say to that, other than I’m sorry that other people’s muddled-headed conception of what “free speech” is has allowed obnoxious dickheads to run free in blogs, and allowed busybodies to wring their hands in the New York Times about how mean the blogosphere is. It’s idiotic.

What the blog world needs is not a universal “Code of Conduct”; what it needs is for people to remind themselves that deleting comments from obnoxious dickheads is a good thing. It’s simple: if someone’s an obnoxious dickhead, then pop! goes their comment. You don’t even have to explain why, although it is always fun to do so. The commenter will either learn to abide by your rules, or they will go away. Either way, your problem is solved. You don’t need community policing or a code of conduct to make it happen. You just do it.

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