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[links] Link salad for a wake weekend

There’s little relief, give us reprieve — More from Lisa Costello on current cancer developments.

Jay Lake Pre-Mortem Read-a-thon, Review the Fifth: Trial of Flowers — Cool review.

Booted Off the Plane: How Normal Is That? — Air travel is an unusual social and legal space where many of the rights and norms of society do not apply.

The “Human Fly” atop a DC-8 at the Mojave 1000 (1970) — Whoa!

Let There Be Night — Escaping light pollution. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

NASA: Space centaurs are likely comets — My favorite headline today.

Gibraltar might be the beginning of the end for the Atlantic OceanThe small tectonic subduction zone there may grow and spread.

How Height Is Connected to Cancer

Fake memory implanted in mice with a beam of lightMice taught to fear a location after they were no longer in it.

Wearing Privilege — Does a hoodie make you a threat?

Anthony Weiner and Liberal MoralityThe New York mayoral candidate’s two big failures: terrible political sense and a lack of compassion. Ta-Nehisi Coates is interesting.

Obama: Rest of my presidency is for working-class America — Given what a total corporatist and centrist he’s been thus far, essentially a Rockefeller Republican, I will be surprised if this is more than empty words.

QotD?: Got morbid?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.25 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 248.6
Number of FEMA troops on my block conducting Department of Justice investigations of white patriots: 0
Currently reading: Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program by Sharon Salzberg

[links] Link salad says it’s time to celebrate a birthday

Jay Lake – Próba kwiatów — An (apparently) largely positive review of the Polish edition of Trial of Flowers.

How we feel can change how we taste fatContent people can detect changes in fat content, unhappy people do not.

Australian squid eat sperm for better bodies and babies — Presented without further comment. (Via David Goldman.)

Leprosy’s disappearing act came from public health improvements

Japanese eyeball-licking craze carries blindness risk

The Invention: 1928 — Flat panel display?

How Google Will Use High-Flying Balloons to Deliver Internet to the Hinterlands — I do love Google, except for the banal evil that is the Google Books Settlement.

Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere — Both funny and sobering. (Via David Goldman.)

Feds to comply with NY morning-after pill ruling — Conservative sexual paranoia really isn’t a good basis for national policy. I’m glad to see sanity prevailing once in a rare while.

The Tragic Fall of the White Race in America — Yup. Too bad for the Republican angry white man freakshow.

QotD?: Going to be at JayCon today?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (too many errands, not enough time)
Hours slept: 5.5 hours (fitful)
Body movement: 0.0 hours (exercise room was occupied)
Weight: 246.6
Number of FEMA troops on my block leaking intelligence secrets: 0
Currently reading: Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program by Sharon Salzberg; Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

[writing] What I have been doing just lately

Continuing to work as I can. Currently dividing my time between two projects. One is editing duties for METAtropolis: Green Space, which I am interchanging with the mighty [info]kenscholes. That is fun and interesting, as editing almost always is. Because METAtropolis is a shared world, there are continuity issues to be dealt with. Because it is a loosely shared world (the only stories with tight overlap are mine and Ken’s), those continuity issues are subtle and fine-grained. It’s a joy to work with that writing crew.

I am also doing some audio annotation for the edition of Trial of Flowers. My egregiously idiosyncratic vocabulary is jumping out and biting me in the butt on this one. In effect, I’m about halfway to a Lexicon Flora, should anyone ever feel the need for such. I am also filled with admiration for the poor narrator who has to take this ornate little beast on. Revisiting this work from some years ago has been fascinating in its own right. Perhaps its an exercise we authors should engage in more often.

[links] Link salad for another Omaha Wednesday

A reader reacts to my psychosexual New Weird novel Trial of Flowers

Required Summer Reading — Hahaha. (Via [info]goulo

Physicists say Batman’s cape would actually end up killing him — Hahaha. (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

“Frankenstein” Bog Mummies Discovered in ScotlandTwo ancient bodies made from six people, new study reveals. Whoa. Weird. (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

Scientists name blood-sucking parasite after Bob Marley

U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren’t there — (Thanks to David Goldman.)

Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet Away — Hmmm. (Via KF.)

Satellite study of Asian mountains show that glaciers are NOT melting – and some are actually gaining new ice — As [info]ericjamesstone said on sending this to me, “Apparently Asian glaciers have a conservative bias”. Of course, there’s a reason they now call it “climate change” instead of “global warming”.

Why George Will Is Wrong About Weather And Climate — Speaking of the above question…

Extreme weather: Get ready to see more of it, scientists say

Economic Creationists[info]daveon on conservative economic thought.

States with Highest Religiosity most Opposed to Obamacare — Because Jesus was never about helping the poor or healing the sick. I’m pretty sure the Bible mostly talks about guns and gays and abortion.

House GOP set for health care law repeal vote, but offering no alternatives — That would be the Republicans in a nutshell. The party of no. No progress, no compromise, no ideas.

What’s eating Appalachia? Many Democrats in the region seem to hate their presidentMike Teets, the only Republican on the Hardy County Commission, denies that race has anything to do with local antipathy towards Mr Obama. But he is concerned that the president may be a Muslim, secretly in cahoots with Osama bin Laden, whose killing he could have faked. He also wonders whether the president might be gay. Uh huh. Nope, no racism here among real Americans of either party.

?otD: Hump day for you, too?

Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (1.25 hours on Going to Extremes outline, 0.75 hours on workshop crit)
Body movement: 60 minute suburban walk
Hours slept: 6.5 (fitful)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

[writing] Seeing your own tropes up close and personal

I’ve been doing a close line read and light revision pass of Other Me, my short YA science fiction novel with bonus identity paranoia. It’s been an interesting experience for a couple of reasons.

For one, I wrote this quite a few years ago, before the cancer with its surgeries and chemotherapies. Yet I find I remember a great deal about this book. Color me mildly surprised. Its interesting how deep some things run.

Second, I am very amused to see how my tropes repeat themselves. I already know about this. We all do it. In my case, I write about lost boys, mechanical men, hidden underground tunnels, layered truths, self-discovery, and oddball animals. There are elements of Other Me that to my eye clearly tie back to Mainspring, to Green, to Trial of Flowers.

I don’t think I’m plagiarizing myself. I do wonder a bit if I am repeating myself. On the other hand, should I be writing de novo every time I launch into a story? I find myself wondering where the balance lies between repetition and novelty.

Got no answers, but got more questions. Ah, the writing life.

Your thoughts?

[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 | 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?

[links] Link salad wonders where the week is going

Westward Weird came out yesterday — I have a story therein, “The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen”, first in the doc, which is a nice position. Various of my co-authors have commented on the anthology and their stories, including Seanan McGuire, Dean Wesley Smith, and Steven Saus.

Próba Kwiatów – Jay Lake — A mixed review, in Polish, of the Polish edition of my novel Trial of Flowers.

SF in SF — Just a reminder that this coming Saturday, 2/11, I will be at SF in SF with K.W. Jeter and Rudy Rucker. If you’re in the Bay Area, come on down.

10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy — He’s talking about ad copy, not fiction, but this is still interesting and worthwhile stuff. (Via Curiosity Counts.)

Kill the Local News — Writer Jeremy Tolbert on sensationalism.

Mindful Eating as Food for Thought

Scale of the Universe — Another fun take on the “powers of 10” meme. (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

What did people do: in a Medieval City? — (Via [info]danjite.)

Self-Cloning Seagrass May Be World’s Oldest Living Thing

Mars-bound NASA rover carries coin for camera checkup — This is cool and kind of poetic.

Mapping the Road Ahead for Autonomous Cars

Turing’s Enduring ImportanceThe path computing has taken wasn’t inevitable. Even today’s machines rely on a seminal insight from the scientist who cracked Nazi Germany’s codes. An interesting article, although I wish in mentioning his suicide it had acknowledged the disgusting way Turing was treated by his own people.

The State of Gay Marriage — Being a handy map to show you where bigotry has triumphed, and where respect for basic human rights is gaining ground.

The Single Most Powerful Quote From California’s Prop 8 Ruling“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.” Like opposition to interracial marriage forty years ago, Prop 8 is bigotry, pure and simple, a combination of narrow-minded religious privilege and typically unfounded conservative alarmism. Like opposition to interracial marriage today, forty years from now people will be ashamed to admit in public what they once voted and for and believed.

The Business Case Against Karen Handel — John Scalzi with a very sensible take on the (surprising to me) resignation of Karen Handel from the Susan G. Komen foundation. For my own part, I’ll observe that as usual when the Right tries strong-arm tactics, they only see unfairness when they get caught out.

Planned Parenthood’s Deep Bench — Ta-Nehisi Coates with some interesting thoughts on the fight that Komen picked when they decided to show their true conservative colors.

Why the Energy-Industrial Elite Has It In for the Planet — Social and political commentary on the funding impetus behind the intellectual fraud of climate change denial.

Jesus versus the GOPThe man from Nazareth would have been appalled by the “Christian” Republican candidates. The only thing I have to say to political Christianists is “Matthew 6:6“.

‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World — The declining influence of the US Constitution overseas.

Republicans Finally Realize They’re Helping ObamaLike their counterparts from 16 years before, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives last year filled with revolutionary zeal, assuming that they could leverage their hold over one branch of Congress into sweeping changes in the national agenda. And like their predecessors, they blundered into high-profile confrontations with a Democratic president and suffered prolonged and deep damage in their public standing, with each new defeat slowly leeching the fanatical determination out of them.

Santorum Upsets G.O.P. Race With Three Victories — I really can’t decide who would be the bigger disaster for this country, Senator Frothy Mix or Governor 1%. Our last Republican president set an extremely low bar for destructive incompetence, something the GOP electorate seems to have very conveniently forgotten.

?otd: How was your Tuesday?

Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (Sunspin revisions)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.25 (solid)
Weight: 230.8
Currently reading: n/a (between books)

[links] Link salad is even more ragged

Próba obrzydliwości — A rather negative Polish review of the translated edition of Trial of Flowers, from a reviewer who also disliked Mainspring.

It Must Follow, as the Night the Day — Madeleine Robins on writers who don’t read. Huh?

Don’t Waste TransportationNew in our gallery and store: From WWII, “War Traffic Must Come First.” Mmm, steam locomotive. Trains. Mmm.

Uh oh! Netflix doesn’t own the @Qwikster Twitter account — Glad to see they’re on top of Marketing 101.

Capitalism, Animals, and the Ownership of Icons — This may be perfectly well within the law, but it’s also nuts.

Is the World Running Out of Oil? — Poo pooing the Peak Oil hypothesis. Again.

Harvesting ‘limitless’ hydrogen from self-powered cellsUS researchers say they have demonstrated how cells fuelled by bacteria can be “self-powered” and produce a limitless supply of hydrogen.

Circumbinary Orbits and Stellar Radii — “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!”

Fighting back against creationism — Hooray for scientists in the UK for having the temerity to fight back against the religious charlatanism of evolution denial.

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ formally endsOpenly gay people will now be able to serve in the US military after repeal of controversial 18-year-old DADT law. One manifest conservative injustice finally ends, at least. (Yes, I know DADT was a Clinton-era “compromise”, but but it was a concession to rank GOP bigotry.) Watch now for all the alarmist rhetoric from the Right to completely fail to come true. As always.

Study Links Medical Costs and Personal BankruptcyHarvard researchers say 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems—and 78% of those filers had insurance. Unpossible! Everyone knows Rush said HCR was a socialist plot! Like I’ve said, in general, the people who oppose HCR are people who’ve never had to deal with the real consequences of serious illness. The conservative failure of empathy and imagination is firmly in play, along with some good old fashioned Calvinist/Christianist vindictiveness. (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

Through The Looking Glass: Bachmann’s Long History Of Strange StatementsThe national media is now starting to figure something out: Michele Bachmann says a lot of things that aren’t just kind of crazy, but manifestly false. No wonder the GOP base has been so enthralled with Bachmann. She fits right in with FOX News’ twisted version of America.

Boehner’s ‘Tea Party Challenger’ Really a Randall Terry Plant? — Golly. Imagine that. The Tea Party being used for conservative political ends. No one could have possibly foreseen this.

?otD: I still got nothing.

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (ill from chemo side effects)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.0 hours (severely interrupted, plus napping)
Weight: 218.0
Currently reading: Matter by Iain M. Banks

[books|writing] Keeping score on my novels

Not that anybody was asking, but in an attempt to corral my own thoughts, here’s a list of all the novels I’ve ever written/co-written or am committed to writing, time and my health permitting. I make this seventeen completed manuscripts, two in-progress manuscripts, and six on the table to be written. In addition to all of the below, [info]kenscholes and I have discussed doing a YA gonzo SF trilogy together, once he’s done with the Psalms of Isaac.

Who has time for cancer?

Written but unpublished

The January Machine (time travel/millenial SF, project abandoned)
Rocket Science (zero draft)
Death of a Starship (zero draft)
The Murasaki Doctrine (space opera/military SF, could not sell)
The Heart of the Beast (with Jeff VanderMeer, project abandoned)
Our Lady of the Islands (with Shannon Page, at my agent)
Other Me (YA lost colony/identity paranoia SF, awaiting rewrite)

Written, in progress or planned

Rocket Science

Death of a Starship


Endurance (forthcoming)
Kalimpura (forthcoming)

Trial of Flowers
Madness of Flowers
Reign of Flowers (not a committed project)

Calamity of So Long a Life (in progress)
The Whips and Scorns of Time (to be drafted in 2012)
Be All Our Sins Remembered (to be drafted in 2012)

Original Destiny, Manifest Sin (American Old West fantasy/AH, to be drafted in 2012 or 2013)

Black Tulip (Dutch historial thriller/mystery, to be drafted in 2013)

The Rockefeller Plot (1970s diplomatic thriller with Ambassador Joseph Lake, in progress)
[untitled Biafran war novel] (1960s diplomatic thriller with Ambassador Joseph Lake)

[links] Link salad for a quiet Saturday

A negative review of the Polish edition of Trial of Flowers

Review: Hail, Caesar! ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ delivers

Man with Breast Cancer Denied Medicaid — Because he’s not a woman.

Are Smart People Getting Smarter?

Antiproton ring found around Earth — Cool stuff, Maynard. (Via Chris W. Johnson.)

Google’s self-driving wreck: Really human error?

Texas State University researcher discovers pirate shipwreck — Mmm, Captain Morgan.

Boeing pilots to make space trip — Commercial space.

Should the DMV Be Allowed to Censor Vanity Plates?

Police officers convicted over Katrina bridge shootings — I am very glad to see some justice in this awful case.

The Right Wing’s Thin Skin — They sure do love to dish out the abusive labeling, but they sure do hate to take it.

Will the Debt Deal Force Higher Taxes on the Rich? — (Thanks to Dad.)

Downgraded US Credit Rating: What comes of Coddling the Super-Rich — I understand why Republican politicos and donors go along with their tax policy. I have never understood why rank and file Republican voters do, when it is so profoundly against both their personal interests and against the national interest.

?otD: What?

Writing time yesterday: 1.75 hours (WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minutes stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (solid)
Weight: 227.4
Currently reading: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

[links] Link salad wakes up in its own bed for a change

Another favorable Polish review of Trial of Flowers, a/k/a Próba kwiatów

Urban fantasy author J.A. Pitts is featured in the Seattle Times

Book Marketing 101: Getting Into the Right Shelf Category — Andrew Wheeler is educational.

New Yorker‘s unfinished cover contest

Calling America: Phone Zones as Alternate States — Interesting, and also impinging slightly on my Day Jobbe.

How Seawater Can Power the World — Mmm, fusion.

Argentus on the completion of the first Neptunian year since the planet’s discovery — (Via [info]shsilver.)

Chemists discover freezing point of supercooled water — Vitrified water? What? Huh?

New for Aspiring Doctors, the People Skills Test — For the most part, the doctors on my multiple rounds of cancer care have been excellent in this regard.

The Science of Beauty — Weird. (Thanks to [info]e_bourne.)

How did the hamsters even *get* jet lag? — The Bloggess on hamsters and Viagra. (Via AH.)

Hidden Beneficiaries of Federal Programs — A look at how people don’t recognize that they benefit from Federal programs, especially middle and upper class people. (And there’s an implicit issue of privilege in why food stamp receipients have to be closely supervised by program administrators but mortgage interest deduction recipients do not, but that’s a topic for another time.) The article ties this to class rather than political leanings, but I’d be shocked if this didn’t bias far to the Right. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare” indeed. Also, see this old post of mine on the topic of benefiting from government: [ | LiveJournal ]

Moral leper Senator Orrin Hatch digs himself in deeper explaining his remarks about the poor taking their fair share — You, sir, confirm my every belief about the ethical untenability of conservative positions.

Bachmann Responds To Slavery Controversy With Another Slavery Analogy — Speaking of conservative ethical untenability.

Qualifications — Conservative commentator Daniel Larison on Michele Bachmann’s absurdly thin political resume, with comparisons to Obama.

Is Sarah Palin sending mixed messages in her Newsweek article? — Isn’t she always?

Tea Party groups to target lawmakers on debt ceilingTea Party activists will be going after 21 Democrats — mostly moderate-to-conservative members in swing districts, organizers say. They also said they would go after Republicans but did not name them. Ah, yes, the politically independent Tea Party once again demonstrates how it is not part and parcel of the GOP machine.

?otD: If this Tuesday, this must be where?

Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (short fiction, Sunspin)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.5 hours (badly interrupted)
Weight: 227.4
Currently reading: Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

[links] Link salad dozes into Saturday

A Polish reader reacts to the translation of Trial of Flowers — Not so much with the liking.

A reader reacts to Green — Somewhat tepidly so, in a footnote to a different review.

Of Bestsellers, and Their Lists — Andrew Wheeler is grumpy.

Abandoned Tupolev Tu-22M “Backfire” bombers at Vozdvizhenka Air Base, Ussuriysk

De Nieuwe Batavia: Reduce — Abi Sutherland on consumer goods in space.

We have a wheelbarrowSlacktivist Fred Clark on unemployment.

?otD: Ever bought pork belly futures?

Writing time yesterday: n/a (chemo)
Body movement: n/a (chemo)
Hours slept: 14.5 hours (over past 18 hours)
Weight: 230.2
Currently (re)reading: A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin