Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Work-In-Progress Report & Reminders

June 25th, 2016

It's been a steep climb to the finish on this novel.To review: In mid-March I finished a “partial draft” of the novel-in-progress, meaning that most of the structure was there, but a lot was left to do. That draft was 72,000 words long — a short novel.

In my last work-in-progress report, I explained that I’d been revising that partial draft, but I was about to begin writing new material, specifically, the end of the novel, which I hadn’t tackled before. So how did that go? Well… I HAVEN’T WRITTEN THE END OF THIS NOVEL YET, OKAY?

I think what happened (I haven’t reviewed my detailed notes and it all tends to run together in my memory) is that I first wrote a synopsis for a new ending. Then I went back in the manuscript and built up the necessary plot lines that would lead to that ending while making other revisions and adding additional chapters from the points of view of neglected characters. I have now — once again — gotten to the end of the partial draft that I had in mid-March … only I’ve added about 48,000 words to the manuscript. So that first partial draft is, by far, the most underwritten first draft I’ve ever done.

And once again, I’m ready to move forward and write the last five to ten-thousand words.

Wish me luck.

REMINDERS:

* Sign up for my newsletter before the end of June for a chance to win the audiobook edition of The Red trilogy on CD.

* Kobo’s 50%-off ebook sale is ongoing through June 27 (available in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand).

Kobo Ebook Sale

June 23rd, 2016

Just a quick note for those who buy ebooks from Kobo:

Kobo says they’re offering customers in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand a discount of 50% off indie titles, through June 27. This should include all my older ebooks, listed below:

Science Fiction Novels
Tech-Heaven
The Bohr Maker
Deception Well
Vast
Limit of Vision
Memory

Short Fiction Collections
Goddesses & Other Stories
Two Stories: “Nahiku West” and “Nightside On Callisto”

Fantasy Novels
The Dread Hammer
Hepen the Watcher

Middle Grade/Young Adult
Skye Object 3270a (set in the Nanotech story world)

Click here to find my titles in the US store. Otherwise, search by my name or the title of the book.

Be aware that Kobo ebooks are in EPUB format, and require an EPUB e-reader. The books cannot be read on your Kindle.

Audio Giveaway for Newsletter Subscribers

June 17th, 2016

Earlier this week I was very surprised to receive in the mail a box with CDs of the audio edition of The Red trilogy, as narrated by Kevin T. Collins. Audiobooks of the trilogy have been available as downloads at Audible, but there was no CD edition and I wasn’t really expecting one. I’d been told it might happen, but don’t hold out hope. So it happened! Cool! And now that I’ve received my author copies, I want to do a giveaway of two sets.

If you’re a current subscriber to my newsletter, then check your email (and your spam folder) because you’ve just received an announcement about the giveaway. If you’re interested in participating, reply to that email telling me you want to be entered in the giveaway, and I’ll add your name to the list. One current subscriber will be randomly chosen from those who respond, to win a set of audiobook CDs.

If you’re not a current subscriber, sign up! The second set of CDs will go to a randomly chosen new subscriber. To sign up for my newsletter, fill out that little form in the right-hand column of this blog. You’ll get a verification email from Mail Chimp, which you will need to respond to before you’re actually signed up.

I’ll leave the contest open for entries until the end of June.

If you’re worried that I’ll fill up your inbox with weekly spam, DON’T WORRY. The contest announcement is the first newsletter I’ve sent since Going Dark came out last November. The newsletter is my way of letting you know when I have new stories or novels out, when I’m doing special promotions like this one, or when I have some kind of big news. Five or six newsletters a year would be a lot of newsletters for me. And if you decide you don’t want to read anymore of my work, you can always unsubscribe. 🙂 😀

So sign up!

The Red trilogy - audio CDs

Going Dark–a Campbell Award finalist

June 16th, 2016

GoingDark_200x358The list of finalists for this year’s John W. Campbell Memorial Award was just released, and I’m very pleased to report that Going Dark was included.

Back in 2014, The Red: First Light also made the list.

The Campbell Memorial award honors the best English-language science fiction novel published in the prior year.

For the full list of finalists, and information about the award, visit the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction.

Online Q&A About The Red

June 16th, 2016

The Red - Saga EditionThis Saturday!

Waaaay back in early May, io9.com put up a post restarting their online book club, and their book of choice was The Red. There hasn’t been any promotion or reminders on it since then, but the promised Q&A session is going to take place on Saturday, putting it a couple of weeks behind the original schedule.

I think the Q&A is going to work something like a Reddit AMA. A post will go up at io9.com, probably around noon EDT. In theory, people who have read the book will pop in to post questions, and I’ll stop by a little bit later to try to answer them.

The problem with this set up of course is that it’s very hit-or-miss about who happens to notice the Q&A, and of those, who’s actually read the book. It’s also on a Saturday when, weirdly enough, a lot of people are not online.

So it’s basically fallen to me to generate my own audience (and that never goes well!). So if you’ve read The Red, if you’re up for an online Q&A/discussion, if you’ve got the time, please come on over to io9.com this Saturday! I’d love to have your company there.

I’ll post a link here on the blog when I have one.

Update: Follow this link to io9.com!

Book Cover Critique II

June 8th, 2016

…original post is here

Update: added a third version, as suggested by Sharon in the comments.

Madness has struck and I am messing around with cover layouts. Generally, this is a profoundly time-wasting practice, but since I’ve come this far, let me know what you think of these concepts…

Layout 1:
The first one is a mockup. It’s an attempt to position elements to suggest the final cover layout, which would have to be completely re-done by someone with actual art/graphics skills. The small scene at the bottom would need to be repainted. It could be either a very similar painterly scene which fades into flat color, or else an entirely graphics sort of scene. The tumbling debris is meant to link the spider to the dissolving castle structure — and of course the color scheme would need to be adjusted to make a better match between the two elements.

If this was to be principally a print book viewed on a shelf, I would go for even smaller title fonts to suggest that “limit of the visible” idea, but it will be viewed almost exclusively online, so… maybe the font is too small?

layout1_500x771

Layout 2:
The second one is even simpler, and I don’t think requires further comment from me except to say that it would be handed off to a graphics artist for final font selection, placement, and rendering. Please let me know what you think!

layout2_500x771

Layout 3:
Suggested by Sharon in the comments…

layout3_500x771

Book Cover Critique

June 7th, 2016

Limit of Vision by Linda NagataBack in 2011 I set out to develop a new cover for my stand-alone novel, Limit of Vision. I put together a rather laughable mockup of a cover concept. Artist Sarah Adams went on to turn it into a beautiful digital painting. I then added some clumsy title graphics, and the result is the cover you see at right.

There is so much that I really love about this cover art: the rendition of the landscape, the color scheme, the plummeting space debris, the foreground artifacts, and the spidery entity which is rendered so much better here than in the original Tor Books cover. And yet — though this layout is exactly what I asked for — I’ve never been really comfortable with it. Now I’m starting to think of doing a print or audio edition of this book, so I’m reconsidering the cover.

If you’re not familiar with Limit of Vision, this is a near-future, high-tech story set mostly in Vietnam. The two primary characters are an American scientist who instigates an incident of runaway biotechnology, and a Southeast Asian journalist who finds her life overtaken by that. It’s an adult novel, meaning that it’s not young adult.

We all like to think that the right cover will sell a book, and sometimes it’s true. So a general question for those willing to offer an opinion: is this the right cover? My own concerns go to the foreground figure. The portrait is meticulously painted, but is it too large? too dominating? Is it too suggestive of a young-adult novel?

Here’s a look at the cover painting without my amateur graphics:

Limit of Vision cover art

And here’s what it looks like without the foreground figure:

Limit of Vision cover art

Here are some options I’m looking at:

(1) Have a graphics designer fix up the fonts and it’ll be fine

(2) Eliminate the foreground figure, but keep the background — and get a graphics designer to fix the fonts.

(3) Start over.

I’d appreciate opinions — and opinions need not be limited to these options. Thank you!

Crabby Movie Reviews

June 6th, 2016

I used to come down with nasty head colds fairly often, but for the past many years it’s been rare. I’d like to credit an improved immune system for that, but logically, it’s mostly because I no longer have small children in the house.

Alas, I’ve finally been struck low again. I was supposed to spend the past three nights in the backcountry cabins of Haleakala Crater, but I bowed out when I felt a cold coming on. Neither brain nor body wanted to work on the novel, so instead I did some reading and watched two popular movies that I’d never seen before. Here are some brief, spoiler-filled thoughts on the latter:

Ex Machina
Given that I write science fiction about artificial intelligence, you’d think I would have been one of the first to watch this movie, but from the trailer it was pretty clear that Ex Machina was a bulls-eye hit on one of my pet peeves: men building pretty sex dolls. This goes back to the first Stepford Wives movie. I remember very little about the specifics of it, beyond the basic idea that actual women just aren’t good enough, or are too challenging, or not compliant enough, or something. It’s irritating.

And of course this is exactly what Ex Machina is about. It’s not about artificial intelligence. It’s about misogyny. It’s about women being possessed and controlled and refined towards some sort of ideal, compliant doll … until “womanly wiles” are used to deliver a comeuppance.

That said, I thought the movie was extremely well done – well written, gorgeously filmed, and well acted. I would just much rather see a film where the women start from a baseline of equal standing and go forth to do awesome things. For example, Ripley in Alien, Sarah Connor in Terminator, Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Debauchery, addiction, vast fortunes, exploitation, and very accomplished film making—these are some parallels with Ex Machina, although this is a very different movie. With The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s the dark comedic voice that makes the movie so entertaining. Knowing that it’s based on a true story makes it appalling, but there you go. I’m glad I saw it, but I won’t be watching it a second time.

Recommended Reading

May 28th, 2016

Three recent articles on diverse topics that you might find interesting:

Shared Responsibility
In “The Citizen-Soldier: Moral Risk and the Modern Military” Phil Klay looks at the history of American soldiery, the perception of our soldiers today, the relationship between soldiers and civilians, and our collective responsibilities. Klay says, “A decade after I joined the Marines, I’m left wondering what obligations I incurred as a result of that choice, and what obligations I share with the rest of my country toward our wars and to the men and women who fight them.”
Read it here.

Micropayments
In my 2001 novel, Limit of Vision, the income of a freelance journalist is in part dependent on micropayments. Looking back, it’s startling to realize that despite all the advances in our wired world, micropayments are still mostly theoretical. In a two-part series, David Brin takes a look at micropayments and how they may eventually save us from the horror of an ad-based Internet.
Read part 1 here. (I’ve only read part 1 so far)
Read part 2 here.

Purposeful Practice
In their article “Not All Practice Makes Perfect” Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool make a case that “practice” and “purposeful practice” are not the same things. The article is overlong with historical examples before the authors really get into the meat of their point, but the idea is that, over the past century, people have gotten much better at doing various things. Examples include top-flight pianists, gymnasts, divers, etc, who have gone far beyond the achievements of their predecessors. The article focuses on an experiment in which a subject was trained to memorize random strings of digits. He felt he couldn’t get beyond a string eight or nine digits long–until his method of practice changed. Eventually he was able to memorize, and then repeat back, a string of 82 digits. “Purposeful practice” is an idea that generalizes across mental and physical activities.
Read the article here.

Book Rave: Too Like The Lightning

May 26th, 2016

An amazing novel — likely the best I’ll read this year.

Too Like The Lightning by Ada PalmerThe title is a little awkward and the cover makes it look like generic space fantasy, but there is nothing generic about Ada Palmer’s Too Like The Lightning.

I first looked at this novel out of duty. It’s a science fiction novel by a woman, and that’s something I want to support. So I read the first few pages, posted at Tor.com — and I was hooked. I needed a new audiobook, so I downloaded it in that format. I wasn’t far into it when I began mentally comparing it to Dan Simmons Hyperion. Like that novel, Too Like The Lightning is complex, fascinating, with unique characters drawn in exquisite detail, it’s deeply concerned with political structures, and in many ways it grasps aspects of the genre and reworks them, raising them to a new level.

When I recommend a book here on my blog, I usually say little or nothing about the plot, and I’m going to hold to that this time as well, because working out the plot is part of the intrigue of this book. Suffice to say that it takes place on Earth, a few hundred years in the future, in a diverse and intricately worked-out culture. It focuses on the workings of an aristocracy, treats gender in interesting ways, and offers abundant asides exploring history and philosophy. It is the most erudite work I can remember reading in the science fiction genre. It is very obviously science fiction, and yet it’s one of those novels that could have been published outside the genre — and maybe it should have been. It deserves a large audience.

I listened to Too Like The Lightning as an audiobook. The narrator, Jefferson Mays, is excellent. But as a measure of how much I admired the story, I ordered the hardcover for my shelf when I was only halfway through. The second book in the series is scheduled for a December 2016 release. The publisher is Tor Books.