Jay Lake: Writer

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[links] Link salad on hump day

A reader reacts to Endurance — Decidedly mixed but thoughtful review.

Jay Lake – Die Räder der Welt — A somewhat mixed review of the German edition of Mainspring.

Fanfare for the Comma Man

D’oh! Groening Reveals The Location Of ‘Real’ Springfield — Right here in Oregon.

New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body

How Dark Matter Interacts with the Human BodyDark matter must collide with human tissue, and physicists have now calculated how often. The answer? More often than you might expect.

The Amazing Trajectories of Life-Bearing Meteorites From EarthThe asteroid that killed the dinosaurs must have ejected billions of tonnes of life-bearing rock into space. Now physicists have calculated what must have happened to it

How the Greatest Prankster in Political History Messed With Richard Nixon — Ah, politics. (Via [info]danjite.)

‘A Recipe for Losing Touch With One’s Own Editorial Faculties’ — Ta-Nehisi Coates on Noah Millman on John Derbyshire. And I have to confess that firing Derbyshire for being racist was as puzzling to me as firing Buchanan. Why, after all these years of letting them be leading conservative voices with exactly the same message, does it matter now?

Karl Rove and company are losing the argument over inequality — Since, as usual for conservatives, they can’t win this one on the merits of the position, the dirty pool campaigning will start.

Republicans Try To Erase The Contraception Wars“And there was the perception that somehow Republicans are opposed to contraceptives,” Romney told Newsmax last week. That perception would be because Republicans are opposed to contraceptives, on the plain face of their own rhetoric and legislation introduced. There’s no “somehow” about it, fool. The backlash on contraception is just another example of how people of all political stripes tend to intensely dislike conservative doctrine when actually applied to them personally. Conservatism is all about punishing the “other”, not the conservative himself.

?otd: Is your car marked ‘Do Not Hump’?


4/11/2012
Writing time yesterday: 1.5 hours (3,100 words on Their Currents Turn Awry)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.25 (solid)
Weight: 242.2 (!)
Currently reading: The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

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[sale] German rights to Endurance

I am pleased to be able to announce that my German publisher, Bastei Lübbe, has acquired the German language rights to Endurance, to go along with last year’s acquisition of Green along with the Mainspringtrilogy. This is via my agent Jennifer Jackson of Donald Maass Literary Agency.

By happy coincidence, today she also sent me the link to the art for the forthcoming German translation of Escapement. The German cover art is gorgeous.

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[process] Mature characters with backstory

Saturday evening I was texting with [info]bravado111 (urban fantasy author J.A. Pitts) about how much we both liked Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moonjlake.com | LiveJournal ]. John observed that the book read like the fourth volume of a series, and compared it to the original Star Wars movie, now known as A New Hope.

This got me on to thinking about mature protagonists, a topic which has already been on my mind somewhat of late. Mature characters come with their own backstories, their own histories. (For that matter, so do infants, but in dramatic narratives, people with fully formed life histories are usually more interesting.)

Among my books, Rocket Science, Mainspring, Escapement, Pinion, Green, Endurance and Kalimpura all center around young protagonists. Death of a Starship and the Flowers books deal with people in middle age. (The Before Michaela Cannon, core protagonist of Sunspin‘s ensemble cast, is 2,000 years old, so she’s a bit of an outlier.) With those younger protagonists, a major aspect of the story being told is their own journey to maturation and discovery of their life path. The older protagonists have a lot of backstory and implied action embedded in their preferences, desires, choices and reactions to the unfolding of the plot.

Certainly that latter effect is what Saladin achieved in Throne of the Crescent Moon. Hence [info]bravado111‘s reaction. Those characters had been around a long time, had experienced many prior adventures, had lived.

What I’m now chewing on is whether I think it’s a bigger challenge to write a youthful protagonist or to write an older protagonist. How does this affect the reading experience? Green and its subsequent volumes would be very different books if she were middle aged at the time of the action. Some of the key underlying themes of Sunspin would be null and void if Cannon weren’t literally the oldest human being who had ever lived. And Ahmed’s Doctor Adoulla Makhslood wouldn’t be anything like he is if he were still living in the bloom of youth.

Food for thought, indeed. What’s your take, as either a reader or a writer, on the age of protagonists?

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[awards|repost] Obligatory story pimpage

As today is the last day for Hugo nominations to be submitted, I am reposting this one last time.

I didn’t publish much short fiction last year, due to the effects of my cancer journey on both my productivity at the keyboard and on my focus on marketing. Such writing time as I’ve had has remained focused on my novels. Nonetheless, a few things have squeaked out into the marketplace.

For my own part, I think the best of these is my Sunspin novelette, “A Long Walk Home”, which has been selected for Year’s Best Science Fiction volume 29. If you’re a Hugo or Nebula voter, I hope you’ll give it consideration.

Anyway, here’s the list.

Novels
Endurance (Green, volume 2), Tor Books

Novelettes
A Long Walk Home“, Subterranean Online
“The Decaying Mansions of Memory”, Untold Adventures

Short Fiction

“The Blade of His Plow”, Human for a Day, ed. Martin H. Greenberg and Jennifer Brozek
“A Critical Examination of Stigmata’s Print Taking the Rats to Riga” The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists, ed. Jeff and Anne VanderMeer
‘Hello,’ Said the Gun“, Daily Science Fiction
“A Place to Come Home To” (with Shannon Page), When the Hero Comes Home, ed. Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood
“They Are Forgotten Until They Come Again”, River, ed. Alma Alexander
“Unchambered Heart”, ChiZine
You Know What Hunts You“, The Edge of Propinquity

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[writing] The state of play

So a bit of writing updatery. This is for my benefit as well as for your information.

Calamity of So Long a Life is nearly done. I may be through the revisions today, having about half a dozen revision notes left, plus a couple of word hunts to do. There are two exceptions to this hoped-for state of done-ness.

One, a common thread in my last-first reader feedback arises from people having a bit of trouble about what are essentially deep structural choices in the book. This decomposes into two issues. First, the narrative is structured thriller style, with multiple separated plot threads featuring characters who are ultimately going to converge on a common conflict point, but because this is a multivolume story, they don’t all do their converging in Calamity. That has left some readers feeling a bit confused about how character A relates to, say, character D. Second, because of the multivolume nature of the project, the various plot threads don’t all come to neat resolution. I don’t really know how to address the questions being raised without seriously altering the structure, which would compromise my vision of the books. Instead I’ve done my best to tweak the narratives. It feels a bit like putting a band-aid on a broken bone, given that some surface polish doesn’t really change the structural issues.

Second, I am still wrestling with the whole reading aloud question (as recently discussed here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]). Per a commentor’s suggestion, I’ve downloaded an application called GhostReader, which I tested with some good effect on my draft of “The Woman Who Shattered the Moon.” I have another ten days before my (self-imposed) deadline to have this manuscript into la agente, which is probably enough time to run the whole thing through the text-to-speech app and listen to it. I’m just having to speak sharply to myself to convince me that this is going to be a worthwhile use of another week and a half of my precious writing time.

Once Calamity is turned in, I’ll spend the balance of my time through the end of March working on several other projects. These include a book synopsis for Little Dog with J.A. Pitts (urban fantasy about a Portland werewolf with achondroplastic dwarfism), as well book proposals for the Antarctica project (nonfiction about going to extremes with cancer) and a possible collection of my flash fiction.

On the short fiction front, I have three requested stories to write, though two of them aren’t due until much later in the year. One is a religious themed piece, one is another Cthulhu pastiche, and the last is a novella for the Fathomless Abyss project.

Come April, I’ll dive back into Sunspin, where I’ll need to write about 100,000 words of first draft to round out book two, Their Currents Turn Awry. I’ve budgeted April and May for that, though it will probably not take me two months. Plus at some point copy edits for Kalimpura will turn up, as well as page proofs for the Endurance paperback release, and I’m sure other miscellaneous items as well.

My writing year beyond May is unclear, because with the new cancer information, the odds that I’ll be going back into treatment in late May or early June are pretty high. That means another six months or so of productivity lost to surgery and chemo. As I did in 2011, I structured my 2012 goals as a forked path — the healthy goals and the cancer goals — and I’ll still meet my cancer goals regardless of what happens.

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[conventions] Upcoming events

February 11th, 2012

As previously announced, I’ll be reading at SF in SF on Saturday, February 11th, 2012, along with K.W. Jeter and Rudy Rucker, hosted by Terry Bisson — three of the more interesting people I know. My appearance there is being sponsored by my publisher, Tor Books, as part of a tour for the recent release of my second Green novel, EndurancePowells | BN ].

We’ll be appearing at The Variety Preview Room at 582 Market St. @ Montgomery, 1st floor of The Hobart Bldg. [ Google Maps ] Doors open at 6:00 pm and the event starts at 7:00 pm. I believe I’ll be reading something connected to Sunspin. If you’re in the Bay Area, come on down for an evening of live science fiction reading and discussion.

February 28th, 2012

The airport location of Powell’s Books will be hosting an author event featuring Mary Robinette Kowal and me the late afternoon of February 28th, 2012, from 5 pm – 7 pm in the Oregon Market store (that’s outside the TSA checkpoints). We’ll be reading and signing and generally visiting with whoever passes through the bookstore. Come join us for a book event in an unusual venue.

April 28th, 2012

W2PSciFi

I’ll be appearing at the Write to Publish conference here in Portland, OR, on Saturday April 28, 2012. The conference runs 9 am – 6 pm at Portland State University in the Smith Memorial Student Union (2nd floor). I’ll be on panels, and I think there may be readings and signings. This is targeted at exposing aspiring writers to the realities of genre publishing. If you’re in greater Portlandia and this sounds interesting, come on by.

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[awards|repost] Obligatory story pimpage

I didn’t publish much short fiction last year, due to the effects of my cancer journey on both my productivity at the keyboard and on my focus on marketing. Such writing time as I’ve had has remained focused on my novels. Nonetheless, a few things have squeaked out into the marketplace.

For my own part, I think the best of these is my Sunspin novelette, “A Long Walk Home”, which has been selected for Year’s Best Science Fiction volume 29. If you’re a Hugo or Nebula voter, I hope you’ll give it consideration.

Anyway, here’s the list.

Novels
Endurance (Green, volume 2), Tor Books

Novelettes
A Long Walk Home“, Subterranean Online
“The Decaying Mansions of Memory”, Untold Adventures

Short Fiction

“The Blade of His Plow”, Human for a Day, ed. Martin H. Greenberg and Jennifer Brozek
“A Critical Examination of Stigmata’s Print Taking the Rats to Riga” The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists, ed. Jeff and Anne VanderMeer
‘Hello,’ Said the Gun“, Daily Science Fiction
“A Place to Come Home To” (with Shannon Page), When the Hero Comes Home, ed. Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood
“They Are Forgotten Until They Come Again”, River, ed. Alma Alexander
“Unchambered Heart”, ChiZine
You Know What Hunts You“, The Edge of Propinquity

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[links] Link salad enjoyed the reading

A reader reacts to Endurance — I think they liked it.

The Self-Sabotaging Writer — Kameron Hurley on the perils of being a writer. (Via Steve Buchheit.)

What the Nook MeansA new Nook’s on its way. Can it save books?

The Milhous Collection A meticulously assembled selection of mechanical musical instruments, vintage automobiles and more. (Via [info]danjite.)

Cloud Cover’s Role in Exoplanet Studies

Study measures mammalian growth spurtIt takes 24 million generations for mouse-sized mammals to evolve into elephants — but shrinking back is much faster.

Mind-reading program translates brain activity into wordsThe research paves the way for brain implants that would translate the thoughts of people who have lost power of speech.

[info]cassiealexander on Rick Santorum, privilege, healthcare, and sick kids — What she says.

The End of Health Insurance Companies — I don’t think I actually believe this piece, but it’s a nice thought.

Inside the heresy filesInterrogation. Surveillance. Ethnic profiling. Censorship. The words come from 21st-century headlines, but they have an ancient pedigree. Cullen Murphy on how the Inquisition ignited the modern police state. (Snurched from Scrivener’s Error.)

McConnell’s Revisionist History: Congress Gave Obama Everything He Wanted! — Can he possibly believe this? McConnell, of all people? More to the point, why does anybody else believe this?

Marsh on Obama: The Party’s Over — Sigh.

Delusions of Obama the IdiotIt’s amazing that the GOP has somehow convinced itself that Obama is some kind of beguiling intellectual lightweight. Once you accept that ideology trumps reality, it’s easy to put faith in any whackdoodle idea that enters one’s head.

Gingrich, Romney, and “Reckoning with the Base”

Romney versus Gingrich slugfest is harbinger of Republican civil war — We can only hope. Meanwhile, I continue to marvel at the Republican base’s vitriolic view of liberals, who are guilty of bringing America such heinous sins as the forty hour work week, paid vacations, child labor laws, clean air and water, and other such violations of our civil rights, all over the strong objections of conservatives.

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Withdrawn After Amended To Include Testing Lawmakers — Don’t worry, it will be back. Oppressing the poor is a club sport for the GOP.

Huh? Mitt claims Newt outspent him in S.C. — Huh. Republicans lying about each other. The candidates and party leadership know it doesn’t matter. The message always trumps facts. The low information voters who make up the GOP base will just nod and follow along like they always do.

The Myth of the American Political Intelligence Gap

?otd: When’s the last time you attended a live reading?


2/1/2012
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (Sunspin revisions)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.5 (solid)
Weight: 228.8
Currently reading: The Man in the Moone, and Other Lunar Fantasies ed. Faith Pizor

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[links] Link salad listens to some REM

A reader reacts to Green — I think they liked it.

A reader reacts to Endurance — I think they liked it.

Gianmaria Franchi on sliding book advances — (Via a mailing list I am on.)

Getting It Wrong[info]sandratayler on the value of getting it wrong,

How the craziest f#@!ing “theory of everything” got published and promoted

Psychics Say Apollo 16 Astronauts Found Alien Ship — Also, there is an alien base in the trunk of my car. Don’t tell anyone.

New drone has no pilot anywhere, so who’s accountable?The Navy is testing an autonomous plane that will land on an aircraft carrier. The prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many. What could possibly go wrong?

US plans Mid-East ‘mothership’

Jobs, Jobs and Cars — Krugman on economic geography and Republican idiocy.

GOP Hates Citizens United, Too — Tough cookies, GOP. You wanted this as tool to bash Democrats, you celebrated the SCOTUS decision. Like many of the beds conservatives make, they don’t want to lie in it.

How Newt Gingrich Gets Away with ‘Class Warfare’ and ‘Race Baiting’

The Great Right HopeThe conservatives who hate Mitt Romney the most have it wrong. Why they’d love him in the White House.

What would Mitt Romney’s offshore account filings show? — It’s called ‘tax avoidance’, and just about everyone with Big Money does it. Also, millionaires avoiding paying taxes is completely consistent with Republican principles, so why is anyone complaining?

?otd: Is that you there in the corner?


1/28/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.5 hours (Sunspin revisions)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.75 (solid)
Weight: 226.8
Currently reading: Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

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[conventions] I will be reading at SF in SF, February 11th, 2012

Ok, not really a convention, but I don’t have a tag for ‘events’ or ‘readings’. I probably should, huh?

At any rate, I’ll be reading at SF in SF on Saturday, February 11th, 2012, along with K.W. Jeter, hosted by Terry Bisson — two of the more interesting people I know. My appearance there is being sponsored by my publisher, Tor Books, as part of a tour for the recent release of my second Green novel, EndurancePowells | BN ].

We’ll be appearing at The Variety Preview Room at 582 Market St. @ Montgomery, 1st floor of The Hobart Bldg. [ Google Maps ] Doors open at 6:00 pm and the event starts at 7:00 pm. I believe I’ll be reading something connected to Sunspin. If you’re in the Bay Area, come on down for an evening of live science fiction reading and discussion.

Hope to see you there!

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