Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Award Eligible Work — 2017

November 15th, 2017

(This post is from November, but I’m pinning it to the top of my blog for a bit since we are now in AWARD SEASON, and I long ago gave up being shy about this sort of thing. 🙂 )

For those of you who like to nominate for the annual science fiction and fantasy awards, including the Nebula and Hugo awards, here’s a roundup of my 2017 award-eligible work.

In the novel category…
The Last Good Man
A high-tech, near-future thriller

Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost. (June 2017)

In the short story category…
Diamond and the World Breaker” is short story in the anthology Cosmic Powers, edited by John Joseph Adams (April 2017).

The Martian Obelisk” is short story available to read online at Tor.com, editor: Ellen Datlow (July 2017).

Region Five” is a military science fiction short story set in the story world of the Red. Find it in the anthology Infinite Stars, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (October 2017).

➛ SFWA members: an ebook edition of The Last Good Man is available for download in the SFWA Forum. Once you’re logged in, you can find it by following this link.

That’s it! Thanks for stopping by.

This Is Not A Drill

January 13th, 2018

This morning I was sitting in my office, working on the novel, when my phone bleated an emergency alert. We get alerts now and then. They’ve always been flash-flood warnings…but it was a sunny morning and hadn’t rained in days so a flash flood didn’t seem likely.

I picked up the phone and read this message: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. That’s the sort of thing that will get your attention.

The family gathered, phones in hand:
“Did you get it?”
“Is it real?”
“Do you think the system was hacked?”
“Turn on the TV.”

I checked Twitter, because that’s where you get breaking news these days. I tweeted the event, simultaneously with several others. There was no emergency bulletin on TV. I found that reassuring, an indication that the mobile alert was a glitch. Then the TV started issuing the same emergency notification.

Not much to do at this point but wait and watch Twitter. By the way, it was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning here on Maui.

There was nothing from civil defense, Maui County, Pacific Command… but around twelve minutes after the initial alert, our Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, was on Twitter announcing that she’d talked to officials and the missile alert was a false alarm.

A sigh of relief, hugs all around. Of course we always knew it was a mistake! Sort of.

Really, it was one of those Schrödinger’s Cat moments. You just don’t know until the box is open, and what can you do anyway?

That said, I’ll leave you with this tweet:

Recommended Reading: Two Political Memoirs

January 11th, 2018

I listened to two audiobooks over the busy days of December and early January. Both were political memoirs.

For much of my reading life I’ve found it difficult to focus on memoirs or biographies. I would start eagerly but rarely did I manage to read them all the way through, perhaps because I’d get distracted by the latest novel. This problem doesn’t exist when I listen to audiobooks. Having someone read to me a fascinating narrative while I’m doing dull tasks like kitchen work or gardening is such a privilege, and I have no problem at all paying attention through to the end.

What Happened by Hillary ClintonThe first of the memoirs I listened to was Hillary Clinton’s What Happened. Written and also narrated by Hillary, it’s an excellent review of both the high points and the travesties of the 2016 election, from the perspective of an extremely intelligent, competent candidate with an amazing resume and record of doing good in the world. It’s also the voice of a woman who is ready to call out misogyny in the electoral process. If you’re a fan of Hillary Clinton you might want to read this book, although there’s a risk you’ll be plunged into despair all over again when you consider what exists in the White House now. If you’re not a fan of Hillary than I highly recommend that you read or listen to this book. Perhaps you will begin to change your mind.

Promise Me, Dad by Joe BidenThe second memoir is Joe Biden’s Promise Me, Dad, and it’s also narrated by its author.

In 2013, Beau Biden — Iraq War veteran, attorney general of Delaware, and son of Vice President Joe Biden – was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died of his cancer less than two years later. Promise Me, Dad tells the story of those years, from the point of view of a very active and effective United States Vice President, who — at his son’s request — helped to keep Beau’s illness a secret until very late in the course of his disease. It’s a touching story of the Biden family, and also of Joe’s view of his role in government and the tasks that he worked hard to accomplish even as his beloved son was fighting for his life. It was the grief of Beau’s loss that kept Joe Biden from running for president in 2016.

Since the election – and since we’ve had to endure the venality and incompetence on full display in this administration and in the GOP Congress that continuously supports it – I’ve often found myself reflecting on Beau Biden, and thinking, “If Beau hadn’t died, there’s a good chance that Joe Biden might be the president right now, and how much better off we’d be if that were so.”

In any case, both Hillary and Joe would have made fine presidents. Both had the experience, competence, and work ethic that the job requires, as well as a devotion to national service. Yes, let’s remember that politicians are supposed to be serving their country.

As the saying goes, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” Maybe we do deserve this, but I desperately hope we can manage to throw the bums out before they succeed in burning the country down. Let’s strive to keep this democracy tottering on long enough to install actual competent, knowledgeable people in both Congress and the White House.

Writing Goals For 2018

January 1st, 2018

Happy New Year, everyone!

For the past several years I’ve been posting my annual writing goals on the first day of the year. To continue that tradition, here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2017:

1. Finish the NOVEL IN PROGRESS and get it published. The first draft of this one is done and I’m presently revising, but the publication date depends on my progress with goal #2 on this list…

2. WRITE THE SEQUEL to the novel in #1. Bonus: Publish it by the end of the year. I’d really love to get both novels out with just a brief delay between them. We’ll see…

3. RETURN TO MILITARY FICTION by getting started on a novella or novel. I don’t expect to have this one finished at year’s end, just well started.

4. Finish a NOVELETTE I’ve already started. I’m 9,000 words into this one, so I ought to be able to finish it. If it wants to grow into a novella, that’s fine.

5. Write a hard SF short story, 7,000 words or less.

6. Write another short story, science fiction or fantasy, in an existing story world or not.

For me, that’s a lot! I’m trying to be more ambitious this year than I was in 2017.

What are YOUR writing goals for 2018? What are your reading goals? Share them here!

Writing Goals for 2017: The Assessment

December 28th, 2017

Since 2011, I’ve been publishing a list of my writing goals for the year, and at the end of the year I take a look at that list and assess how I did at meeting those goals. So it’s time to assess 2017. What follows is a list of the goals I posted on January 1 2017, and how I did on each one.

1. Write a NEW NOVEL. It may or may not be the one I’ve already started, but I want to have a new novel, either in my agent’s hands or ready to publish myself, by the end of the year.

I partly succeeded in this. I DID write a new novel. It WASN’T the novel I had already started when I wrote my list of goals last year.

I didn’t start making real progress on this newest novel until the second half of the year, and I finished the first draft just a couple of weeks ago, which means I’m still revising. So it’s not ready for publication yet!

2. Write a SHORT STORY. I’m only going to require one. Science fiction or fantasy, but unrelated to any existing work. If any additional short fiction happens, that will be a bonus.

In recent years I’ve had trouble with short stories and for the first nine months of this year I didn’t manage any. But since my October workshop I’ve written two short stories and have 9000+ words that will become a novelette or maybe even a novella some day soon. I know this was an easy goal, but I’m grateful I pulled it off in the end!

3. Write a NOVELLA set in an existing story world. This is an unmet goal carried over into a fourth year. I still want to write it. There is a chance it will turn into a novel. So it goes.

NOPE! Year after year I post this same goal, but I still have not succeeded in writing that novella.

4. PUBLISH the novel I finished writing in 2016. It’s going to be a complex process, but I’m looking forward to it.

DONE. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably familiar with this novel. 😉 The Last Good Man was published in June. Thank you to everyone who bought a copy. Thank you to everyone who’s helped to spread the word. It hasn’t been a rousing market success and I haven’t quite met my year-end sales goals, but it’s done well enough that I’m encouraged to keep going for another year.

Last year’s list of goals was short, in large part because I wasn’t feeling confident about my writing, or what direction I should go with my work. I’ll be posting my 2018 goals next week. It will be a more ambitious list.

Did you have writing goals for 2017? How did you do?

Back to Work

December 26th, 2017

For the past several days we’ve enjoyed having family members over to visit, but today it was back to work. I spent the morning continuing my revision of the newest novel. This afternoon I hope to read through a completed short story, before sending it off to the requesting editor. Fingers crossed. I’m also hoping to find time to exercise and do yardwork. We’ll see!

I’m going to have to visit my eye doctor in the new year. My contacts are no longer working well for me when it comes to focusing on a computer screen, which is fairly awkward in my line of work as you can imagine.

Both Jonathan Strahan and Gardner Dozois have posted tables-of-contents for their respective best-of-the-year short story anthologies, and guess what? My story “The Martian Obelisk” is included in both. Click here to see Jonathan’s selections and click here to see Gardner’s.

Best wishes to all during this holiday season!

Merry Christmas!

December 24th, 2017

Xena was not too thrilled about looking into the sun. 🙂

The Subtle Art

December 20th, 2017

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

You’ve probably seen this book around. It’s classified as a self-help book. I read an excerpt from it sometime ago and liked what the author had to say, but I felt like I’d already applied a lot of his principles in my life, so I didn’t pick it up.

Recently though, the subject of the book came up again so I decided to listen to the audiobook — and I really enjoyed it! It’s profane but humorous, it tells engaging stories to illustrate its points, and the narrator is excellent.

“Not Giving a F*ck” in this context is about seizing the power to choose what you “give a fuck” about. In other words, making the choice only to care about the things that really matter in life and “Not Giving a F*ck” about the rest of it, or about what others think of your choices. Of course there’s a lot more to it, including an interesting discussion of entitlement and a chapter on the effect of social media on our psyches. If you’re looking for a relatively short, smart, and humorous listen, check it out.

99 Reasons

December 15th, 2017

I saw the new Star Wars this afternoon. Measured against the rest of the franchise, I thought it was fine. But on to the subject of this post…

“99 Reasons 2017 Was A Great Year” is the title of a post authored by Angus Hervey, for Future Crunch. Anyone with a bit of curiosity will find something of interest in this list of mostly science and environment-oriented markers of progress.

For example, #17, “Chile set aside 11 million acres of land for national parks in Patagonia, following the largest ever private land donation from a private entity to a country.”

Or #29 “In November, Mexico’s government created a new 148,000 square kilometer ocean reserve, ‘the Galapagos of North America’ for the conservation of hundreds of species, including rays, humpback whales, sea turtles, lizards and migratory birds.”

What a contrast to the American regime, whose officials have no interest in doing their mandated jobs but instead are trying to take away America’s protected lands!

There’s also positive news on the technology front. Item #52: “The cost of solar and wind plummeted by more than 25% in 2017, shifting the global clean energy industry on its axis.”

Of course there is stuff to argue about in the list, and there are items guaranteed to inspire cynical comment. Number eighty-four is an example of the latter: “Heckler & Koch, the world’s deadliest arms manufacturer, announced it would end gun sales to countries falling short of corruption and democracy standards.” So no more sales to the USA, eh?

Each item includes a handy link to a source article. So click through and check it out. If you happen to be a science fiction writer, you’ll probably find a lot of inspiration.

The Days Are Flashing Past So Quickly

December 13th, 2017

Recent Work
My recent workdays have mostly gone toward that short story I need to write — mentioned in my last post — and an early start on revising the novel-in-progress.

Happily, I’ve now got a solid draft of the short story. Sadly, it’s a thousand words longer than I wanted it to be. Brevity is an asset in a short story, right? I mean, it’s part of the definition. I’ll go over it another time or two, but at this point it’s unlikely I’ll manage to chop out 20% of it. Oh well.

As for the novel, I finally put together a detailed timeline for the story world. Yay, me!

What’s that? Well, yes, it would be more logical to create a timeline before writing the story, but when I’m starting something new, I find it’s usually best just to plunge right in before fear has time to freeze my forward progress.

The State of the Union
In political news, I was relieved to see Alabama reject their loathsome Republican senate candidate. It feels like a step back from the abyss. On the other hand, almost half of Alabama voters found this wretch to be worthy of representing them, so I see this as only a reprieve. No telling just yet if the tide will really turn.

Here’s a post from last year on pessimism.

Year-End Lists
Lots of publications, as well as individual reviewers, like to put together lists of their favorite books at the end of each year. My work hasn’t made any of the big lists (NYT, NPR, etc.). We can assume this is because they never read my work. 🙂 But here are a couple of lists you might enjoy.

“Featured Futures” has a list of favorite online short science fiction. Yes, my Tor.com story is included, but there are links to lots of other stories too. Check it out! I’m going to.

Reviewer Paul Weimer, who writes for both Tor.com and Barnes & Noble, among others, has put together a post on some of his favorite novels from 2017. What I really like about this (besides that he included The Last Good Man!) is the uniquely descriptive categories he’s using. Check it out here.

Progress

December 5th, 2017

Today I declared the current novel-in-progress to be a complete first draft. There will be lots of cleanup and revision to follow, but for now, Huzzah!

I’m also over 9,000 words into a no-longer-short story. This one was intended for an anthology, but it’s way past the word limit for that and it’s only going to get longer. So I’ve put it aside for now, though I hope to finish it sometime in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, I still owe a story for that anthology, so that project will now be priority one.

After that, it will be revisions on the novel I just finished, and then on to a planned sequel. I’m making an effort to worry less and write more. So far, so good.