Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Almost done…

February 15th, 2017

A few days ago, for the first time, I printed out a copy of The Last Good Man. It’s 499 manuscript pages.

I used to always keep an up-to-date printed copy of a novel as I worked on it, but that habit faded away and these days I don’t print anything out until the end. Then, as the last step in the process**, I read straight through the printed copy from beginning to end, ALOUD. I listen for clumsy bits and look for errors, fixing them (by hand) along the way.

It’s amazing how many little problem spots I still find. But simply viewing the novel in a different context — in this case printed, instead of on-screen — causes the brain to see/hear issues that were invisible before. Reading aloud means it’s going to be slow, but for me it’s an essential step. And the end is in sight!

Today I reached page 422 of 499. I should finish tomorrow. Then I get to enter all the handwritten fixes into the master file. After that the manuscript will be ready to go off to reviewers.

If you’re a book reviewer and you’d like a copy please send me an email at linda at mythicisland dot com, letting me know who you are, where you review, and whether you prefer an epub or mobi (Kindle) ebook file.

I’m planning to publish The Last Good Man in June.

I HOPE YOU LIKE IT!

** more accurately, the last step before sending the manuscript out to reviewers and to the copyeditor. Once I get it back from the copyeditor, I’ll have one more round of edits.

The Red — now in German

February 10th, 2017

Look what showed up in the mail today!

This is the German-language edition of The Red, translated by Helga Parmiter and published by Amigo Grafik. Translations of The Trials and Going Dark will follow.

The Red is also available in Polish and Italian editions.

Excerpt from The Trials

February 9th, 2017

It seemed timely, so I posted this snippet from THE TRIALS, book 2 of The Red trilogy on Twitter a couple of days ago, and now I’ll repost it here:

Recommended: Summit by Harry Farthing

February 8th, 2017

I loved this novel.

Summit is what I like to call a literary thriller — adventure, conflict, brave deeds, beautifully written, filled with philosophy and politics, and not formulaic. It’s the debut effort of Harry Farthing who, from his website, is a British businessman, world traveler, and adventurer. I listened to the audio edition, which was read by the author. He has an excellent voice and I greatly enjoyed his performance.

The summit referred to in the title is Mount Everest, highest peak on Earth. The mountain is central to the dual stories of two European mountaineers — one modern, one pre-World War II. In both settings, Farthing pays respectful attention to the Sherpa, who are well-rounded characters with stories of their own. The author is in no hurry to bring the two principle story threads together, but that’s all right, because both plot lines are fascinating and well told.

There is also a timeliness to Summit as it explores the politics and atrocities of Nazi Germany alongside the dangerous modern-day resurgence of European fascism.

If you love tales of adventure and mountaineering, backed with historic detail, and featuring believable, sympathetic characters, then give Summit a try — and let me know what you think!

On Self-Rejection

February 8th, 2017

Two or three years ago I wrote a short story called “The Martian Obelisk.” I finished it, but I didn’t feel happy with the result. It was grim, and I didn’t want to write grim. I was further discouraged by well-meant critique comments. Nevertheless, I worked on the story for a few more days. But my doubts persisted, and in the end I self-rejected the story. I stopped working on it, and never sent it to any market.

This past December I decided to take another look at “The Martian Obelisk” and much to my surprise, the story was far better than I remembered. It still had issues, but enough time had passed that I could see them with fresh eyes. So I devoted more hours to revising it. Then I emailed Ellen Datlow, who acquires stories for Tor.com, to ask if she would like to see it. I explained its history and mentioned that it felt more appropriate now, in the context of our grim present times, than when I had first drafted it.

Much to my surprise and delight, Ellen accepted the story. “The Martian Obelisk” is scheduled for publication on July 19.

I’ve often lectured others on not self-rejecting. It’s good advice. 😉

Launch Pad 2017 – Apply Now

February 4th, 2017

In the summer of 2012 I was lucky enough to attend Launch Pad, a week-long, wide-ranging crash course on current astronomy put on by Mike Brotherton, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Wyoming. Launch Pad was created for writers, editors, and people in film and other media, with the goal of improving the scientific accuracy of our stories and promoting a culture of science.

The sessions are a lot of fun! And the time is now to get your application in for this year’s session.

Find more information here at Launchpad’s website.

Check out the list of past attendees!

Silence Is Consent

January 29th, 2017

For a long time, I didn’t discuss political issues here or on Twitter but I ended that policy last fall. Failing to object, to protest, the actions of the new administration constitutes failure as a citizen of the United States. Silence is consent — and I don’t concede to any of this.

Here is my understanding of the latest transgression undertaken by this administration:

Yesterday, the president signed an illegal executive order that effectively bans immigration from certain countries on the basis of religion. The executive order affects countries that are predominantly Muslim, but does not include those Muslim countries in which the president does business, for example, Saudi Arabia, source of most of the 9/11 terrorists. The order affected not only refugees, but also green-card holders including those presently serving in the United States military. Immigrants just arrived in our country, with legal paperwork that took years to obtain, were stopped at customs.

The ACLU, along with other organizations, immediately called on the courts to intervene, and they were successful in part, getting an order to release those being illegally held at airports. Some were released. Then reports surfaced that some Customs/Homeland Security staff refused to obey the court orders — an illegal act — saying they would only obey the president. This is how government works in a dictatorship, not here in the United States of America.

All of this seems to have been done with two purposes in mind:

(1) to further split the American public between those who want a law-abiding government loyal to the Constitution, with checks and balances to limit the power of each branch so that our freedoms are not compromised and we do not wind up living under a dictatorship, and those who, in the words of the president himself, would continue to support him even if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot someone.

(2) to distract from the ascension of alt-right icon and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, while removing both the the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as regular members.

Here is a statute defining who can be on the NSC. Note that the Chief Strategist is not included, and that those who are need to be vetted by the Senate. A question I would like answered: Does Bannon have a security clearance?

This is but a small part of the damage the president has done in his first week in office.

American democracy will only survive if the American people want it to. We are rapidly sliding toward dictatorship. Everyone of us who fails to object is, by their silence, consenting to this dictatorship.

An excellent essay by Eliot A. Cohen calls this “a clarifying moment in American history.”

For the community of conservative thinkers and experts, and more importantly, conservative politicians, this is a testing time. Either you stand up for your principles and for what you know is decent behavior, or you go down, if not now, then years from now, as a coward or opportunist. Your reputation will never recover, nor should it.

Make no mistake: What you are witnessing now will comprise a major chapter in history classes in the future.

What can you do? Call your Congressional representative and your senator. Talk to their staff about specific issues. Let them know you will not stand for the corruption of the American system of checks and balances. Demand that they take specific action to protect our Republic. Demand that they begin impeachment proceedings to remove this vile and dangerous man from the highest office in the land.

Be vigilant. Be persistent. Stand up for your country.

This is the symbol of the resistance:

What is an executive order?

For more information and links, see my Twitter account.

Recommended Audiobook:
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

January 13th, 2017

The full title of Trevor Noah’s childhood memoir is Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. I picked this audiobook because it had been named a best book of the year by several publications, and because the sample I listened to hooked me immediately.

I can’t say I was a fan of Trevor Noah before this. Really, I knew almost nothing about him except that he was the new host of The Daily Show. But I’m a fan now.

Trevor Noah reads the audiobook himself. He has a wonderful voice and is multilingual, speaking not just the various accents of the characters in the story, but also speaking brief sentences in native languages as he narrates incidents.

The title, Born a Crime, refers to Trevor himself. He was born under apartheid, the son of a black woman and a white man — his very existence evidence of an illegal act — and for the first several years of his life his parents hid him from officials and nosy neighbors.

The quality of the storytelling in this book is amazing. Trevor relates many experiences, beginning in his childhood and progressing through the start of his career as a comedian. Throughout, he reflects with great insight, intelligence, and empathy on what he’s seen and what he’s done. He speaks truths without outrage, but rather in a “let’s talk, let’s get real” style that is easy to listen to, but still powerfully communicates the hardships and the challenges faced by those who endure bigotry, poverty, and destructive cultures. He delves into issues of misogyny and the rights of women, and the incredible strength, independence and stubbornness of his own mother. He discusses racism, skin color, apartheid, poverty, education, the police, life in an abusive home, and making a living when your options are few.

Despite all that, this book is in no sense a downer. Quite the opposite: The strength of spirit and determination that exists in every story that Trevor tells is both inspiring and uplifting.

Highly recommended.

Recommended Reading: Ninefox Gambit

January 7th, 2017

I started, and failed to finish, three or four novels before picking up Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit. If you’re looking for something different, something challenging and endlessly interesting — a puzzle to be figured out — try this one.

I’m still not sure what it’s about.

Usually I say very little about the plot or even the background of the books that I recommend here, because I think a book is best appreciated without preconceptions. But I’m making an exception this time. So if you’re already intrigued, go off and read Ninefox Gambit. Otherwise, read on for just a bit of discussion about the book.

Read the rest of this entry »

Recommended Links

January 5th, 2017

Two recent articles you might find interesting:

At The Atlantic Joe Fassler has gathered what for him is “The Best Writing Advice of 2016.” These are quotes from literary writers talking about writing. I was particularly interested in Lydia Millet’s thoughts on writing fiction that’s based around current conflicts and politics:

In approaching these ideas in a fictional vein I’ve had to wrestle, on the technical side, with the trickiness of balancing the aesthetics of contemporary writing (grounded in the subjective and averse to the didactic, committed to the personal and hostile to the general) with what might unfashionably be called a moral vision
[…]
In fiction, philosophical, political, or religious ideas tend to be most convincing when they arise organically out of a character.

And in the same article, some cold truth from Mark Haddon:

I’ve come to accept that I’m going to be bored and frustrated for long periods. I’ve come to accept that I’ll be regularly dissatisfied […] I have to be patient and slog onward and trust that something better will come along.

…for me, the job of writing is pretty uphill most of the time. It’s like climbing a mountain — you get some fantastic views when you pause or when you get to the top, but the actual process can be tough. I’m sure there are people out there who enjoy writing, and I wish them all the best, but I’m not like that.

This describes my own process with eerie accuracy. I know there are people who think writing is fun. Wish I were one of them!

At the New York Times, Gideon Lewis-Kraus writes about “The Great A.I. Awakening.” This is a fascinating article on “how Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself.” Read the whole thing if you have time. If you don’t, at least read the epilogue. Here are a few excerpts:

We’re not only talking about three and a half million truck drivers who may soon lack careers. We’re talking about inventory managers, economists, financial advisers, real estate agents. What Brain did over nine months is just one example of how quickly a small group at a large company can automate a task nobody ever would have associated with machines.
[…]
The most important thing happening in Silicon Valley right now is not disruption. Rather, it’s institution-building — and the consolidation of power — on a scale and at a pace that are both probably unprecedented in human history.
[…]
…once machines can learn from human speech, even the comfortable job of the programmer is threatened.

I wonder how long until computers get good at writing near-future science fiction…?

Hey, maybe the Red is already here.