This Week’s Writing Links

This week’s writing links include the release of John Scalzi’s Redshirts, the first five minutes of Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom (which in true Sorkin fashion makes you sit up and listen – language makes it slightly NSFW though. HBO has put the full first episode up for free now on youtube too), a cool tool/community to help you remember those long forgotten books and of course, a cool list of the greatest female science fiction and fantasy authors.

I haven’t had a chance to read John Scalzi’s Redshirts yet (my copy is in the mail and due on my doorstep tomorrow), but I have been intrigued with the book since it was first announced. For those unfamiliar with the term Redshirts, it is an old Star Trek reference for the red shirted crew members on the show that were more or less cannon fodder. They were the people who were there to get hit by stray projectiles that always managed to miss William Shatner while he winced and fired back blindly. The term was eventually popularized and found itself into the vernacular of pop culture.

Scalzi’s book attempts to explore the lives of these ill fatted lemmings through the tale of Andrew Dahl, one of the¬†aforementioned redshirts, who starts to become aware of the disturbingly low survival rate for people of his rank. The book seems to be getting solid reviews and I look forward to checking it out later this week.

I am also currently chugging along on my second book, tentatively titled Illustrious Gentlemen of the Scholarly Type (which for all I know could be titled Magic Bakery Spaceship Vampire Night Cowboy Hat by the time I finish). For now though, it is a YA sci-fi comedy about a time machine. It is quite a different process writing this one compared to Exiles.¬†Comedy, even when dark, requires such different attention and pace. I find myself paying a great deal of attention to the tone changes in the story, trying to soften some of the edges so that it is not a lump of polarized material. We’ll see how it turns out. I am also working on a screenplay. It is a Western. I will never finish it and it will always be called Gunnar. I think everyone dies in it too.

 

Links:

– AV Club Reviews John Scalzi’s Redshirts (avclub)

– Awesome Books To Replace Your Favorite Cancelled TV Shows (io9)

– What was that book again? (livejournal)

– The Greatest Female Sci-fi/Fantasy Authors Of All Time (flavorwire)

– Literary Agent Interview: Ann Behar of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency (guidetoliteraryagents)

– How I Got My Agent: Benedict Jacka (writersdigest)

– SF Signal Podcast: Books That Changed Our Lives (sfsignal)

– Reading Offers Brazilian Prisoners A Quicker Escape (chicagotribune)

– The First Five Minutes Of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom (youtube – NSFW)

Ray Bradbury, Why Prometheus Is Good For Sci-Fi As A Whole And Other Updates

The last two weeks have been a bit of a blur, so I’m pooling a few updates into a single post. First off, it was very sad to hear about Ray Bradbury’s passing, but at 91 years old and with over 500 published works, no one can accuse him of not living a very full and inspiring life. I always marvel at the fact that he credits most of his education (he did not attend college) to a decade of veracious reading at the library. I really enjoy the work he produced throughout his career and still count Fahrenheit 451 as my favorite book of all time. I know that his absence will be greatly missed within the literary community.

Consequently, Bradbury’s biographer, Sam Weller (I have met Mr. Weller a few times and must say he is a really nice guy), was already in the process of preparing an anthology of tribute stories to the late great author when he passed away. Although the collection won’t be out until July, sci-fi website io9 has posted an excerpt from the collection, which is entitled Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury. The sample story is written by none other than Neil Gaiman and is certainly worth checking out.

So, Prometheus. There has certainly been quite a bit of discussion about Ridley Scott’s recently released philosophical sci-fi film in the past few weeks. Some are labeling it as a masterpiece, others a misfire and yet another pocket of people who liked the movie but wonder why the supposedly intelligent characters haven’t mastered the ability to run sideways or diagonally when a large object is about to fall on them (I confess, I am in that pocket of people). Regardless of what you thought about Prometheus, I believe its release will be good for sci-fi as a whole, because of the sheer amount of attention that is being paid to the film.

For one thing, the buzz and opening week box office of Prometheus reaffirms that intelligent adult sci-fi still has a place on the big screen. As strange as it may sound, this is a necessary reminder. Every few years or so after a string of sci-fi inspired flops, Hollywood needs a reminder that it’s not just young adult sci-fi adaptations containing preexisting mobs of rapid preteen fans that have a place in movie theaters. Intelligent, philosophical and allegorical science fiction like 2001, Contact, or anything that doesn’t have a cast riddled with Disney channel graduates, still has a place in modern cinema.

I understand that science fiction is a gamble in Hollywood because it generally requires a larger budget to account for the special effects, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from making these movies altogether. It just means that when you do make these movies and invest a chunk of money into their production, you should take the time to make sure that they are well made. And while there are certainly some flaws to Prometheus, I would say that it is still a very well made sci-fi film. Certainly, it has inspired some polarizing perspectives, but through those disagreements, it has also produced some truly interesting ideas and interpretations about what the film is about (definitely check out Adrian Bott’s theories on the film). It is also an incredibly gorgeous movie to look at and is absolutely worth checking out despite its flaws.

On another note, I got a few emails about the availability of my book, The Exiles of the New World, as to when it will be on the Nook and some other e-readers outside of the Kindle. The update on that situation is that it should be expanding to the Nook and other e-readers by the end of the summer. Amazon has exclusive rights to the e-version which allows them to keep it limited for a couple of months. But for now, it is available in paperback and Kindle form. There might even be a soon-to-be-released audio book recording on the horizon, narrated by me, where I attempt to read the entire book in a different British accent for each character. But seeing as how none of the characters in my book are British and I only have one terrible British accent in my repertoire (cockney shoeshine boy), this may be a lie. Only time will tell.

This Week’s Writing Links

Sorry, there was a little bit of a delay on updates, but it’s been a bit busy in this neck of the woods. Either way, today we have some links including a review of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities (a sequel to his earlier book Ship Breaker), Nathan Bransford’s advice if you are self publishing and a list of contemporary authors that we’ll more than likely still be reading in 100 years.

In other news, Chicago’s Printers Row Lit Festival will be happening this weekend (June 9-10). There will be a number of cool events and attendees this year including Sapphire, Dan Rather and Jon Green. I’m definitely going to stop by some of the events and if you’re in the city, you should too.

 

Links:

– Av Club Reviews Paolo Bacigalupi The Drowned Cities (avclub)

– Hundreds Of Harry Potter Fans Abandon Pet Owls As Series Draws To A Close (yahoo)

– On Self-Publishing And Having A Chip On Your Shoulder (nathanbransford)

– What’s Hidden Inside Looper‘s Time Machine? (io9)

– 4 Reasons For Making Time To Read (guidetoliteraryagents)

– How I Got My Agent: Regina Jennings (writersdigest)

– Classic Novels And The Filmmakers Who Were Born To Direct Them (flavorwire)

– Do We Need More Optimistic Science Fiction? (io9)

– Contemporary Authors We Think We’ll Be Reading In 100 Years (flavorwire)

– Free E-book: Particle Horizon by Selso Xisto (sfsignal)

– What The New Yorker And Tin House Say About The State Of Sci-fi (io9)