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[awards] Sturgeon Award nomination, also, “When shall we three meet again?”

I am quite pleased to note that my Sunspin novella, The Weight of History, the Lightness of the Future“, originally published at Subterranean Online, is a finalist for the 2013 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.

I am quite amused to note that of the four major awards I have been nominated for this year, all in the novella category, I share the nomination in all four cases with Aliette de Bodard and Nancy Kress. Clearly we three shall need to meet at dawn upon a field of honor. Perhaps fountain pen nibs at ten paces. Nancy and I have been teasing one another about it since the Hugo nominations came out.

Aliette, we’re coming for you.

The lists, which make for interesting consideration:

Nebula Award finalists, Best Novella [ source ]

  • On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
  • “The Stars Do Not Lie,” Jay Lake (Asimov’s 10-11/12)
  • “All the Flavors,” Ken Liu (GigaNotoSaurus 2/1/12)
  • “Katabasis,” Robert Reed (F&SF 11-12/12)
  • “Barry’s Tale,” Lawrence M. Schoen (Buffalito Buffet)

Hugo Award finalists, Best Novella [ source ]

  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
  • The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
  • On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
  • San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)

Locus Award finalists, Best Novella [ source ]

  • “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s 1/12)
  • On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion)
  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
  • “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s 10-11/12)
  • The Boolean Gate, Walter Jon Williams (Subterranean)

Sturgeon Award finalists[ source ]

  • “Things Greater Than Love”, Kate Bachus (Strange Horizons 3/19/12)
  • “Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)
  • “Scattered Along the River of Heaven”, Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 1/12)
  • “The Grinnell Method”, Molly Gloss (Strange Horizons 9/3/12 & 9/10/12)
  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Taychon)
  • “The Weight of History, the Lightness of the Future”, Jay Lake (Subterranean Spring 2012)
  • “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species”, Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/12)
  • “Mono No Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future Is Japanese)
  • “Nahiiku West”, Linda Nagata (Analog 10/12)
  • Eater of Bone, Robert Reed (PS Publishing)
  • “The Peak of Eternal Light”, Bruce Sterling (Edge of Infinity)
  • “(To See the Other) Whole Against the Sky”, E. Catherine Tobler (Clarkesworld 11/12)

You can read my two nominated novellas online:

The Stars Do Not Lie
The Weight of History, the Lightness of the Future

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[links] Link salad would like to be the King of all Londinium and wear a shiny hat

Jay Lake – The Weight of History, the Lightness of the Future — A rather lengthy and apparently thoughtfully positive review in Romanian of my Sunspin cycle of short stories, leading into the novels. Google translation here.

Keep Calm and Gangnam Style — Hahahah.

Space shuttle Endeavour on the move through Los Angeles — at 2 mphHundreds of trees were removed from the route — angering some residents. Really? Did that have to happen?

iPhone 5 Map Flap Doesn’t Stop ConsumersPotential buyers considering Apple’s iPhone 5 don’t see the Maps app as a showstopper problem, new research says. Actually, it does. Lisa Costello just bought a new Droid instead of an iPhone because of the Google Maps issue.

Will an iPad Mini be worth buying?More on device sizes.

Unexploded bombs lurk off US coast Disposed World War II explosives and munitions in the Gulf of Mexico pose a threat to offshore oil drilling, according to Texas oceanographers.

‘Warmest year’ looking more likely for 2012 across continental US — More liberal mythmaking using so-called “data” and “facts”.

Insurer: Hey, these climate-related disasters are getting expensive — Apparently the liberal conspiracy over climate change extends to somehow quadrupling insurance losses due to increased adverse weather events. Amazing how badly reality is biased against the conservative position.

Maryland’s Marriage Moment“I would’t want someone denying my rights based on their religious views, so why should I deny others based upon mine? It’s about fairness.” I simply do not understand why millions of Republicans cannot understand this very basic principle which in turn protects their own freedoms. To put it in a religious framework, Leviticus 19:18 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Michele Bachmann Makes Surprise Visit To Synagogue, Congregants Storm Out And Donate To Her Opponent — Hahaha. (Via David Goldman.)

The 6 Studies Paul Ryan Cited Prove Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan Is Impossible — If you call blog posts studies. Which, given the widely demonstrated conservative distrust of “facts” and “data”, may be perfectly reasonable from Ryan’s perspective.

Romney Rising (Still) — Good for him, very bad for the country. Did we learn nothing from the presidency of George W. Bush?

?otD: Did you get some passengers?


10/14/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hour (chemo fatigue)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bicycling)
Hours slept: 9.0 (solid)
Weight: n/a (forgot)
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

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[process] My copy editor comments in response

Kalimpura‘s copy editor and I have had a very nice email exchange arising in response to my recent post about copy edits and manuals of style. [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] With their kind permission, I am reprinting excerpts from that email exchange here, as I found it pretty interesting.

On eccentric spelling issues:

I thought I’d share a little bit about how British/Canadian spellings can come across to a copy editor.

Basically, the first time I see words like “storey” and “colour,” I’m on alert wondering if the author just went English for a second or what else might be going on. It gets harder again, when later “flavor” and “harbor” might go by as is. (And I’m not even sure why, or if the author has a strong reason why “colour” and “neighbor” might inhabit the same sentence.) Textually, it can read like the narrative has mysteriously decided to affect a brief accent that is just as quickly dropped again. At this point, I am noting what the prevailing style is and if there perhaps might be some narrative logic to a quick switch in voice/dialect/geography—yet only for certain words.

I don’t greatly prefer American over British spelling, and have had no problem when enough of the latter crops up, then going back and reconciling grey, kerb, spiralling, harbour, draught, neighbour, til, and so forth–all in. Before the tipover point, I’m writing down hundreds of words and instances in my notes, work that’s often needless when it turns out the author just quickly tried out a dialect and backed off from it. Those hours never feel wasted, just part of the job.

I am thinking that where many, many readers (and editors) see/hear an inconsistent regionalism in what an author spells, the author might just be trying to encode a quick flavor of nostalgia, sprinkled where they most prefer it with a spelling device. That’s the point at which the author’s stet is so stylistically priceless.

In my case, when I do this, I am trying to convey a flavor with certain spellings. So, “storey”, “despatch” and “draught”, for example. It looks right for what I’m wanting to do in the book. I’m not deliberately being Anglophilic or otherwise, just working within a certain context that feels right to me.

They go on to say:

I’m glad you’re keen on preserving your intentions when they might be invisible to someone farther along in the process. With 900 books behind me, I’ve witnessed that most often textual quirk is not the result of care or deliberation, but accident and inattention, and now and then forgotten indecision. You do your best as a CE to come across as an aide-de-camp rather than an adversary, giving the author more YES/NO choices than they might first have had in mind. Maybe 1 percent of authors are as good about process and design as you are (no lie), which makes the mighty stet such a blessing for everyone involved in the making of the best book possible.

I appreciated the kind words, but that’s also an important point. The copy editor has to distinguish between auctorial intention and textual errors, generally with very little context to work from. In my response to them, I mentioned that I had developed a stylesheet for the Sunspin books, to address certain items of usage and so forth. My copy editor replied:

A style sheet specific to each title could be helpful for you and for the other hands and eyes involved in the next books, sure.

Noting points of usage and style is valuable, as is delineating the reason and pattern behind, say, the narrative “speaking” in “storey” and “draught” but not “dialled” and “programme,” for example. Sharing your overarching scheme helps immensely and aids the CE with the gist of your spelling gimmicks and similar storytelling choices.

On the other hand, if it’s just as much of a time sink to create a comprehensive style sheet as it is to click “reject change” later on, then I’d say put the time in at whatever point in the process you can best spare it: front or back.

I’m increasingly coming to believe that an author-generated stylesheet can be critical. Of course, I only know what a stylesheet is from experience with prior copy edits. I don’t believe I’m free to share those here, as they are Tor’s work product, but at the bottom of this post, I’ll append part of my Sunspin style sheet as an example, since at this point that’s still my own work product.

A bit later, I received a third email from my copy editor, adding another interesting comment.

[S]omething else that might be valuable if you’re continuing to write in genres that use sometimes exalted, formal, studious, or ceremonial speech between characters is to let the CE know that despite the tone, you’re purposely leaving out the “whom” or similar constructions in either the dialogue or running text. A careful CE is generally trying to extrapolate and fill in from a mosaic of other hints–if you have an issue that contrasts rather than coheres, that’s the sort of thing to flag.

I want to thank my copy editor for their frankness, and their willingness to be quoted herein. And also for the terrific copy edit.


Sunspin stylesheet notes follow. In addition to these explications of usage, I have lists of people and place names, as well as a list of starship names. I still need to create a list of nonstandard words in deliberate use.

Titles or ranks are capitalized when they are part of names or used in direct address in lieu of a name. They are uncapitalized when being referenced without the name or otherwise in indirect use. These include father, father superior, sergeant, lieutenant, lieutenant-commander, commander, captain, admiral, baron, count, earl, duke, prince and princess. The only exceptions are Before, Library, Interlocutrix, Patriarch and Imperator, which are always capitalized, even in their adjectival forms. (“Before” does not have an adjectival form.)

The prefix “go” when applied to an officer’s rank (i.e., Go-Captain Alvarez) is specific to the Navisparliamentary service, and is reserved for those officers trained and certified for starship command. Note that some starship captains do not have a “go” prefix. These are either captains from outside the Navisparliamentary service (i.e., Captain Kinman), or more rarely, Navisparliamentary officers in a command role without the formal certification. The “go” prefix may be omitted in casual address, much as lieutenant colonels are often referred to simply as “colonel”.

The suffix “praetor” when applied to an officer’s rank (i.e., Lieutenant-Praetor Shinka) is specific to the Imperatorial Guards (also sometimes referred to as the Household Guards — the two terms are interchangeable). “Praetor” is reserved for those officers permitted to carry weapons in the Imperator’s presence, or to command troops carrying weapons in the Imperator’s presence. The “praetor” prefix may be omitted in casual address, much as lieutenant colonels are often referred to simply as “colonel”.

Starships are always formally referred to with their pair count, so “Third Rectification {58 pairs}” in narrative or written references, but “Third Rectification, fifty-eight pairs” in dialog. This formal reference should be used the first time a starship’s name is introduced in narrative or dialog, but can be omitted in immediately subsequent uses. If the starship is not referred to for a while, the reintroduction of the name should again be with the formal reference on initial occurrence.

Note that both Third Rectification and Joyous Strength have varying pair counts within the manuscript of Calamity of So Long a Life. This is because of the new pair master built at NSN.411-e. AA. Characters unaware of the return of the two starships will refer to them by their previous pair counts, Third Rectification {58 pairs} and Joyous Strength {21 pairs}. Characters who have become aware of their returns will refer to them as Third Rectification {59 pairs} and Joyous Strength {22 pairs}. This creates an apparent inconsistency in the text, as for much of the book, not everyone is aware of their return, so both references are being used. However, any given character will be consistent according to their knowledge of the situation.

Polite address for persons without title or rank is “Ser” or “Sera”. This corresponds to “Sir” or “Ma’am”, and also to “Mr.” or “Mrs./Ms./Miss”. However, in a very few cases the older, archaic forms of address are used, exclusively by Befores, and usually under stress or in a moment of thoughtlessness. Likewise, a common expletive is “hells”, except for the Befores who will often use the older, singular form. (I.e., “what the hells?” vs “what the hell?”)

This culture does not make a strong distinction between the name of a star and the name of the primary inhabited planet in any given solar system. Hence “Salton” for both the star and the planet. Often the star will have a different name or survey number for technical or scientific use, but in Calamity of So Long a Life this rarely occurs explicitly in the text.

In starship operations, generally speaking a “cruise” is a voyage between destinations which or may not include multiple distinct transits between pair masters. A “transit” is more specifically the process of traveling between any two pair masters. This language is not used with precision, and so there may be occasional inconsistencies depending on the speaker, dialect or stylistic concerns of the text.

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[process] Do we need Sauron and Voldemort?

A day or two ago, I asked the question on this blog, “Do we need Sauron and Voldemort”? By which I meant, do we as writers need strong antagonists to make a story compelling?

Obviously, that’s a storytelling modality that works very well. One can hardly argue with the commercial success of either Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Either of those series probably moves more books in any given month than I’ll sell in my entire publishing life.

Humans, or at least humans living in the storytelling and cultural traditions of the West, have a strong affinity for dualism. Perhaps we’re all birthright Manichaeans. The simplicity of moral contrast, of a binary choice, appeals strongly to us. Many people distrust nuance in ethics, in morality, in politics, in law. There’s something very comforting about a simplistic good-vs-evil dynamic. You know who the “us” are, and you know who the “them” are. And certainly in both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, that is unambiguous on the page.

Yet there’s a gentleman down in New Mexico who’s shifted more than a few million books writing about a world where the good guys aren’t very good, and most of the bad guys have mixed or even noble motives. Kind of like real life, where everyone is a protagonist, a hero of their own story. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has proven in a big, big way that you don’t need stark moral dualism to sell well. Damned near everything in those books is ambiguous. There is still a decidedly strong moral dimension. It’s just ambiguous and complex to the point of being non-Euclidean.

So I think about my own work in this context. Most of my books don’t have clear-cut, central antagonists. (Well, maybe none of them do.) My plots tend toward one of two models — the hero(es) opposed by a shifting collage of shadowy forces; or a set of interlocking protagonists with conflicting goals. I like what I write. Bluntly, if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t write it. But I don’t write like Tolkien or Rowling. Or Martin, for that matter.

I write like Jay Lake. And Jay Lake is a guy who sees the world as complex and nuanced, and largely filled with people who think they’re trying to do the right thing, even if too many of us cannot see the consequences of our own actions and beliefs for what they really are. (Yes, that’s a not-very-veiled reference to contemporary American politics, but it also really is how I see the world in general.) So I write fiction where the world is complex and nuanced. I don’t think I could write a Sauron or a Voldemort. I just don’t believe in pure evil for evil’s sake, any more than I believe in pure good for good’s sake.

So, no towering antagonists for me. Which makes me wonder about Sunspin, which is decidedly in the vein of interlocking protagonists. Much as the precursor novel Death of a Starship was. It also makes me wonder about my sales figures. Am I really writing stories people want to read? Or am I doing it wrong?

What do you think? Do we need Sauron and Voldemort? Or does George R.R. Martin have the right of it? Where do you fall as a reader? Where do you fall as a writer?

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[writing] Their Currents Turn Awry is complete in first draft

Yesterday I finished the first draft of Sunspin book two, Their Currents Turn Awry. This wrapped at 149,100 words, which represents 82,500 new words since April 1st, working from an existing stub of 66,600 words.

I wrote those 82,500 words over 37 elapsed days, with 10 of those days off from writing, mostly due to cancer stress. That’s an average of 2,200 words per elapsed day, 3,100 words per writing day. Given that my minimum target for myself on novel production is 2,500 words per writing day, five days per week, I met my productivity goals in that sense.

The book has a couple of problems I’m aware of, mostly around the way the scenes are structured. Writing a dozen POV characters is kind of different for me. Not to mention the whole interlocking-protagonist-so-there-is-no-antagonist thing. No Evil Overlords here, sorry. Just people with conflicting agendas working toward differing ends. Kind of like real life, except I worry that there won’t be a sufficiently satisfying moral dimension for reader cookies.

(And therein lies another essay, about whether or not we need Voldemort and Sauron, but that’s not in the scope of this blog post.)

So I’m pretty happy. I gave myself to the end of May to get this done. I’m going to take a few days, possibly this entire week, for a brain break, then I’m on to the copy edits of Kalimpura, which in a fit of nearly stunning irony arrived in my inbox a few hours after I finished Their Currents Turn Awry. After that, I’ll be working some more on the book proposal for Going to Extremes.

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[personal] Updatery of various kinds

In no particular order…

I’m off to Seattle shortly this morning for a Day Jobbe trade show. Somewhat unusually for me, I’ll be taking the train from Portland northward. Thursday I fly from SEA to Columbus, OH, for a day of meetings on Friday. Back home Saturday morning. So three travel days this week, and what look to be two twelve-hour work days as well as one more (hopefully) normal work day. Oh, the glamor. There is, however, the Open Dinner in Columbus, OH Friday night. [ LiveJournal ] Watch this space, though. If my meetings run short, I might try to catch a late flight home Friday and cancel dinner accordingly.

On the plus side, I’m (probably) one writing session away from finishing the first draft of Their Currents Turn Awry, Sunspin volume two. At that point, it will go into the drawer for a while, likely until the fall.

My next effort in sequence is to process agent feedback on the book proposal for Going to Extremes, though I’ll take a few days off for a brain break, not to mention dealing with the forthcoming crazy week, before picking that up. I’m ahead of schedule in terms of my production calendar. This is nice. June is set aside for short fiction and miscellaneous projects, so if you’re looking for something from me, now would be a nice time to remind me. I do track that stuff, but sometimes projects slip through the cracks.

Yesterday, [info]the_child and I (and a friend of hers) went to see The Avengersimdb ]. As my (step)mother commented, “But no Emma Peel!”

For reals, it was an awesome movie. So awesome I don’t really have a review. The film bypassed my critical brain and inserted raw entertainment. Not a lot of books or movies can do that to me anymore. If you’re any kind of a fan of action movies, this one is a real winner.

I think I was most impressed by the dialog, which was often extremely apropos, rather witty and sometimes inducing of swoon in my otherwise silent-at-that-point writer brain. Which given this was co-written and directed by Joss Whedon should be unsurprising. I will also comment that you don’t have to be particularly familiar with Marvel comics or the recent spate of Marvel-based superhero movies that serve as prequels to this film, though it would help if you were. I’m sure I missed a bunch of in-jokes, but the ones I caught were enough.

So, yeah, things go boom with witty banter. Though for my money the best line in the whole movie is Harry Dean Stanton’s cameo security guard talking to Incredible Hulk Bruce Banner. “You got a condition, son.”

Ok, maybe that was a review.

Off to be busy. Posting may be more irregular than usual for a travel week due to the odd schedule.

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[writing] A bit of WIP from Their Currents Turn Awry

Just because. From the 3,500 words I laid down yesterday. Usual disclaimers about first draft apply.

Read the rest of this entry »

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[writing] Back on Their Currents Turn Awry

I managed to bang out 4,600 words on Their Currents Turn Awry yesterday. I was feeling a little uneasy about my days-long hiatus from working on the book, though I recognize logically enough that the combination of the port removal surgery and the fourth anniversary of my cancer was deeply distracting.

It’s good to slip back into the headspace of the characters. My sense of muddling has receded from where it was a week or two ago, and I am definitely on the downhill run toward wrapping this first draft of Sunspin‘s second volume. I’m also definitely at the stage of thinking, “This is stupid, no one’s going to want to read this tripe.” In other words, situation normal for this author.

I started reading Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself a couple of days ago. Man, is he hard on his characters. Everything is fast and difficult from page one. Sunspin isn’t like that. I’m moving a different kind of pace, more deliberate. So at the moment, Joe is making me feel inadequate. Like I want to say to myself, “Quick, kill somebody!” Except this is a different book.

It’s funny how we look to others. I believe I’m a perfectly good writer who sometimes can trend towards great. (I have to believe that, otherwise I’d never sit down at a keyboard.) Yet there are so many ways to go about this. “There are nine and sixty ways / Of constructing tribal lays / And every single one of them is right.” And when I’ve chosen one path, all those other paths look so much more attractive.

Sort of like when you order the chicken parmigiana and then salivate over every other dish that comes out of the restaurant kitchen.

Ah, writing. Insecurity must really be part of the process.

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[cancer] Having the port taken out today

I’m off in a couple of hours to the clinic to have my chest port removed, for the second time. It’s a very minor outpatient procedure lasting less than an hour under local anaesthetic only. Which involves a doctor and a nurse digging about in my chest for most of that time, via an entry wound just close enough to my right clavicle that I can’t actually see what they’re doing. Fairly twitchy about that, even though I’ve had this exact procedure before. The last time, I was so nervous that I took two Lorazepam before I went in. By the time I got to the clinic, I could barely walk, I was so looped.

I think I’ll stick to one Lorazepam this time.

Of course, after mentioning last night to [info]mlerules how well I sleep and how consistently I sleep well, I had a terrible night’s sleep. Though I wasn’t consciously worrying about the procedure today, I rather assume that medical stress played its part.

I’ve lunch with a friend from high school today, and I’m due at the Ooligan Press social tonight with [info]lizzyshannon and [info]the_child, otherwise I’d be tempted to pop two Lorazepam, call in a sick day, and sleep off the stress post-procedure.

So, yeah. Yesterday’s no writing was due to schedule whackiness (of the good kind, a nice potluck dinner, among other things) and me wanting a day of brain break between sections of Their Currents Turn Awry. It’s quite possible today will be no writing as well due to me being in a drug-induced haze and medically stressed out. Or not. We shall see.

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[writing] Another small milestone on Their Currents Turn Awry

Yesterday I finished the latest chunk of Their Currents Turn Awry, Sunspin volume 2. The manuscript now stands at 119,200 words, and I figure on adding about 30,000 more words with the last chunk. I’m definitely wrestling with some plot timing and sequencing issues, but that’s absolutely a problem for revision. I am also emerging from the natural self-doubt of the eternal muddle in the middle, at least for this book.

It’s nice to see it flowing. I expect 10-12 more days of writing time before I’m done with this draft altogether. It’s a first draft, of course, so this won’t be going out to first readers or anyone else (unless someone really insists, I suppose). Rather, it will be going into the drawer until about August. I have other fish to fry in the mean time, including working on the Going to Extremes proposal and possibly first draft, Kalimpura copy edits, a rewrite on Little Dog: Son of a Bitch once [info]bravado111 has drafted it, some short fiction projects including at least one novella, and maybe a run at the first part of The Whips and Scorns of Time, Sunspin volume 3.

Plus some other cool stuff in the works which I can’t quite talk about yet. But trust me, it’s cool.

Busy, busy.

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