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The Dizzy Pace of Change

Captive Dreams
Siris notes that the difficulties of authors with publishers is nothing new:


This little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for immediate publication. It was disposed of to a bookseller, it was even advertised, and why the business proceeded no farther, the author has never been able to learn. That any bookseller should think it worth-while to purchase what he did not think it worth-while to publish seems extraordinary. But with this, neither the author nor the public have any other concern than as some observation is necessary upon those parts of the work which thirteen years have made comparatively obsolete. The public are entreated to bear in mind that thirteen years have passed since it was finished, many more since it was begun, and that during that period, places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes.



-- Jane Austen, in the Advertisement to Northanger Abbey. She was only able actually to publish the book because the publisher sold it back to her in 1816.

TOF notes another intriguing detail: the dizzying pace of change in the years between 1803 and 1816! Miss Austen felt it necessary to caution her readers because "during that period, places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes."  This is much like cautioning readers today of the many changed since a text was written in 2001. It seems that such is not such a new thing after all.

Comments here

Battle of the Books

Captive Dreams
The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (or GLVWG, pron. "glivwig") proposes to put on a Battle of the Books, for which we will practice this coming Thursday. In this battle, three contestant authors will read portions of a book of their own exemplifying elements of the writerly art; to wit:


  1. First Impressions: The book’s cover, with title and blurb, are the author’s first chance to make a good impression. Each author will be given a chance to read the blurb and show the cover (if available) before reading the opening page of his or her book.

  2. Enter the Hero: There is a place in every book where we meet the protagonist (another first impression), and each author will read the paragraph in which the hero is revealed to the reader.

  3. Meet the Bad Guy: Ditto for the antagonist.

  4. Look Who’s Talking: Dialogue is perhaps the most enjoyable part of reading as the characters interact and move the story forward. The authors will read a short exchange of dialogue without explanation.

  5. Let’s Go Places: Every scene has to take place somewhere. Each author will read a paragraph that sets a scene for a chapter or segment.

  6. Random Read: The authors will be required to read from a random page and paragraph selected by the audience.

  7. Closing Lines: Every book has a conclusion, and each author will share the closing line of his or her book to conclude the program.


TOF will be one of the three contestants vying for the coveted jelly beans to be awarded by the audience.

He appeals here to his Faithful Reader: Which of the TOFian novels shall bear pride of place in this noble contest? Nominations are hereby solicited. Vote early and often.
Captive Dreams
Over on the story preview page we have another Blast from the Past, a novelette entitled "Timothy Leary, Batu Khan, and the Palimpsest of Universal Reality," which appeared in F&SF in April, 1993. Only Part I is up. Part II will follow in a week.

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Mission: Tomorrow

Captive Dreams

TOF Spot, here

Hot off the press!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Bryan Thomas Schmidt presents the (tentative) Table of Contents for Mission: Tomorrow, coming from Baen Books in 2015.
18 stories, 100,938 words of great science fiction! All original except for Silverberg and Gunn.
Concept: Science Fiction writers imagine the future of space exploration in a world no longer dominated by NASA. What might it look like? Private or public? Stories of space exploration, travel and adventure.
“Tombaugh Station” by Robin Wayne Bailey
“Excalibur” by Jack McDevitt
“The Race For Arcadia” by Alex Shvartsman
“A Walkabout Among The Stars” by Lezli Robyn
“Sunrise On Mercury” by Robert Silverberg
“Tribute” by Jack Skillingstead
“The Ultimate Space Race” by Jaleta Clegg
“Orpheus Engines” by Chris McKitterick
“Around The NEO in 80 Days” by Jay Werkheiser
“On Edge” by @Sarah A. Hoyt
“Airtight” by Michael Capobianco
“Ten Days Up” by Curtis C. Chen
“Windshear” by Angus McIntyre
“Malf” by David D. Levine
“Panic Town” by Michael Flynn
“The Rabbit Hole” by James Gunn
“Rare (Off Earth) Elements” by Ben Bova
“Tartaros” by Mike Resnick

TOF notices his title has been shortened from "In Panic Town, On the Backward Moon" to simply "Panic Town".  Not complaining.

"To Deepen into Art..."

Razor's Edge

The Despair of Thomas Disch


Thomas M. Disch, the late SF writer (poet/critic/...), once told Jody Bottum that part of the reason he quit writing science fiction was that, to deepen it into real art, "I would have to be like Gene Wolfe and return to the Catholicism that I barely got away from when I was young -- and I can't do that, of course."

That "of course" is heartbreaking. Bottum commented that Disch "never escaped his escape from Catholicism." And there is something to that. It's a sort of intaglio, defining oneself by what one is not; and one cannot help but be reminded of holes and gaps left unfilled. His suicide was a tragedy and a loss to literature in general and SF in particular. He was once called "the most respected ... and least read of all modern first-rank SF writers." He ought not have been.

Gallimaufry

Razor's Edge
Mr. Snow prevented TOF from going to Boskone this year, pretty much at the last minute.  If it hadn't snowed last night...  But alas and alack (both of them) the Laurentide Ice Sheet is even now accumulating in TOF's front yard.  Then, of course, the storm proceeded up I-95, much as the pillar of fire preceded the Hebrews out of Egypt, though in a more frigid and slippery manner.  Disinclined to follow in the wake of the storm all the way up (or down) to Boston, TOF and the Incomparable Marge elected to remain among the fleshpots of Castle Flynn.

TOF had planned to present America's Next Top Model at Boskone.  Now he must content himself with translating it into a blog post.  A portion went up already as Part I.  Part II is in the works.
+ + +

The Oxonian TOF

Razor's Edge
TOF's essay, "Discovering Eifelheim" has been accepted into the anthology Medieval Science Fiction to be published by Oxford University Press.

This collection of essays will aim to read the Middle Ages through the lens of modern Science Fiction, and vice versa. We ask whether ongoing contemporary discussions about medieval literature and culture on the one hand, and about the SF genre, its history and its future, on the other, can be brought into explosive contact. Contributors will consider where, how and why ‘science’ and ‘fiction’ intersect in the medieval period; explore the ways in which works of modern SF illuminate medieval counterparts; but also identify both the presence and absence of the medieval past in key SF texts. As such, the collection will be divided into two parts: ‘Science and Fiction in the Middle Ages’ and ‘the Middle Ages in Science Fiction’. We believe that Medieval Science Fiction will appeal to anyone interested in the history of premodern science, medievalism, genre studies or, more broadly, finding new and innovative ways of reading early texts.

TOF is a little concerned about that "explosive contact" business and hopes that readers will not be injured in the process.

Who is the Best SF Writer?

Razor's Edge
TOF's devoted son sent him this screen cap from Cracked-dot-com:
It's nice to see my Fan hard at work spreading the word. 

Return of the Shipwrecks!

Razor's Edge
After several months in which the sciatica was too distracting for serious writing, TOF has returned to the WIP; viz., The Shipwrecks of Time. Presently, plans are underway by the Youth Council to picket at Judge Cannon's house in Wauwatosa, and Frank has written a letter of apology to Sorgensson for lying to him during his visit.

But for our excerpt, we are dipping back into the narrative to late February 1966, when Frank asks Carol to go to a movie with him.  It introduces a background note to the narrative.  Two earlier scenes I may also post later on: the premiere of Batman on TV, and the parade honoring native son Jim Lovell, who had spent more time in space (with Frank Borman) than anyone else.

Contra exteros crustulum circumdatos

Razor's Edge

Sure and 'tis all in the hermeneutics.

The Never-Ending War Between Science and Humanism...

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Captive Dreams
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