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Posts Tagged ‘arts’

The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards have been announced! If you’re interested in the best new science fiction today, or just looking to pad your reading list, the Hugo roster is a great place to start.

Check out the complete list at MidAmeriCon II (this year’s Worldcon host). For more on the award and this year’s slate, John Scalzi has a new piece up at the LA Times:

The Hugo finalists: John Scalzi on why the sad puppies can’t take credit for Neil Gaiman’s success*

I’ve read all but one of the candidates for Best Novel, but only two of those for Best Novella and a handful of the remaining works (I’ve seen all but one of the films, though, so quick and digestible, movies!).

If you’re interested in voting for any of this fine fiction to win a Hugo, you’ll need an active membership to Worldcon. (If you aren’t planning to attend the conference, the most accessible way to do this is with a $50 Supporting membership, which comes with many of the nominated works in the Hugo Voter Packet.)

Links to the (mostly not free) nominated stories are available via Locus Online or in Google’s handy summary search sidebar, along with past winners. I’ll add one more link to the free short story nominee at Nature:

Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)

Time to get reading:)

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* Yes, the whole “puppies” kerfuffle remains ongoing, but looks to be less of an issue for this year’s Hugo nominees and going forward. Thankfully!

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Today I want to spotlight a collection of writing advice. It comes via OWW, the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. OWW is a fee-based workshop but this advice is available to all.

These short essays discuss topics on writing in general, how to get your work read (if you’re into workshops like OWW, or the free Critters or Codex, for example), and the publishing business overall. I like Nicola Griffith’s piece about avoiding cliches:*

Don’t write “her heart stopped” unless you mean she died. Don’t talk about saucy serving wenches in an inn where the beef stew is thick and hearty and the ale is fresh, nutty, and strong… Why aren’t “serving wenches” ever tired, middle-aged women? Why is the beer rarely yellow, or thin, or cloudy with sediment?

So true.** There’s a reason the average human lives a much longer and healthier life than their ancestors did just a century ago:

In Japan, 72 has become the new 30, as the likelihood of a 72-year-old modern-day person dying is the same as a 30-year-old hunter-gatherer ancestor who lived 1.3 million years ago.

Modern sanitation, medicine and quality infrastructure (for those handy extras like clean drinking water) for the win!

So, keep a weather eye out for dangerous and terrifying pitfalls you have to escape in the nick of time as you navigate the winding path of language clichés:) But keep writing. Remember, all’s well that ends well! (And that’s just about enough of that;)

While we’re on the subject of advice, I’ll supplement the OWW site and my previous posts on writing advice with a link from Brain Pickings. This collection of wisdom is from a variety of writers, genre and otherwise:

#49: Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers
“You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.”

Some of this advice may not apply to you; I tend not to relate to Bukowski, for example. But some of it may, and I hope it’s useful.

Since I’m throwing in everything but the kitchen sink today, let me close with this great post from Elizabeth Bear: “everybody’s scared of things that they don’t understand and all the living they don’t do.

Accept that there will be a lot of failures along the way, and that you can come back from nearly any mistake that doesn’t involve making a left turn in front of an oncoming semi.

Excellent advice.

Write, rewrite, finish. Do it again.

…………
* Some of the examples are also about uncomfortable -isms. Racism and sexism, for instance, are more problematic than simple clichés and should be resolved at a deeper level. Obviously.
** As a side note, if you’re curious about what and how people ate in the Western Middle Ages, SF Canada writer Krista D. Ball has a detailed and useful book on realism in fantasy food: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank.

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What’s this, what’s this? Libraries that will let you check out musical instruments plus have a librarian trained to help patrons with the tricky bits? That’s something I like.

Pennsylvania Libraries Will Let You Check Out a Ukulele
There’s a strange sound emerging from some Pennsylvania libraries. It’s not the sound of pages turning or scanners scanning—it’s the distinctive dainty, nimble strum that comes from a ukulele.

Even in the age of the internet libraries are incredible resources, and this just adds to the awesome. Not that I play ukelele, but that’s kind of the point. Libraries let you sample a wide variety of knowledge, experience, and perspectives. Yesterday a Moroccan cookbook, today space opera, tomorrow ukelele:)

How great is that?

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David Bowie 1947–2016

Bowie was a great artist and an inspiration to so many, including those of us in the science and science fiction communities. A lot will be written about him in the next while so I’ll just leave you with one small sign of his influence, on and off the planet.

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We’ve had guests in town and that’s always fun. We went to The Tallis Scholars at the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica last night (check out that vaulted ceiling in the photo below:) and it was a lovely experience. There’s nothing like soaring choral music to elevate the spirits, and the level of talent was extraordinary. A UK vocal ensemble formed by Peter Phillips in 1973, the group holds a well-deserved international reputation and have more than sixty albums out. If you have the chance to see them in person, I recommend it. The fact that this is the holiday season just made it that much more fun.

Me being me, the event also inspired some deliciously wicked ideas for a story I’m writing. Win win!

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BBC Radio 4 is producing a radio drama of Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The BBC is known for its adaptations, including Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens last December. I read a lot of Le Guin as a teen but I haven’t revisited this classic novel in a long time, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they do with it.

Adapted for radio by Judith Adams and released one episode per week, the series has just begun. Find it and supporting material, including a documentary with author interview, at BBC Radio 4.

Each episode will be available for 30 days, so if this interests you, don’t wait!

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Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series, dies aged 66

The Guardian reports that Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series and many other books, has died at home “with his cat sleeping on his bed” and surrounded by family. His intellect, creative abilities and incisive sense of humor will be sorely missed.

I think I’ll read Good Omens next, to remind myself of Pratchett’s genius, the power of writing (and humor in the face of the apocalypse), and the pearls we can leave behind if we’re willing to keep pushing ahead.

Addendum: A lot of nice tributes are going up online but I thought I’d direct you to one in particular, Jo Walton’s “Reminiscence” at the Tor.com blog. She says it well: “The writing will live on. Death sucks.”

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In the wake of NaNoWriMo, I thought it instructive to point out Jim C. Hines’s new book, Rise of the Spider Goddess. This is an annotated version of a novel he wrote in his formative years. In other words, it is a bad book. And he’s sharing it, on purpose, for entertainment, for edification, and to help other writers recognize that we all start somewhere.

So, fair NaNo’ers (and others), as you review your 50,000+ word opus, do not despair if you realize that the draft over which you slaved is actually really very awfully bad;) And as Jim says in his introduction to the book on John Scalzi’s Whatever:

Writing a bad book is nothing to be ashamed of, because dammit, I still wrote a book. Then I wrote more of them. And with each one, I got better.

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After my post last week about Isaac Asimov’s ideas on, well, ideas, a friend sent me great link on creativity. It’s over at Kim Manley Ort’s blog and is a nice introduction to Twyla Tharp’s 2006 book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.

As one of America’s preeminent choreographers with more than half a century of creative experience, Tharp has a handle on how to channel the muse. The post introduces Tharp’s thoughts on creativity, how to call it, how to harness it and where to ride it when you do. Not all of her lessons may apply to you but most of it can be translated from person to person, and discipline to discipline. The fact that her chosen form of communication is dance does not mean that her advice is necessarily less relevant for those of us who write.

I found her thoughts insightful; I hope you do too.

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At the National Book Awards yesterday, our Lady Le Guin accepted an award for distinguished contribution to American letters. In her acceptance speech she went to bat for speculative fiction writers in particular. See this link from Parker Higgins for the full text of the speech.

As NPR reports:

“I rejoice in accepting [this prize] for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long: my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction,” Le Guin said.

She also had some choice words on the recent Amazon-Hachette battle over pricing:

“We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa,” she said. “And I see a lot of us, the producers, accepting this — letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant!”

It just goes to show that writers tend to be anything but boring. Especially writers of science fiction and fantasy.

 

[Edited to add speech text and video links.]

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