Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Christmas Gift Suggestions

December 1st, 2016

Because if I don’t suggest it, who will?

Books make great Christmas gifts, don’t you think? If you’re considering giving books this year, I hope you’ll consider giving some of mine.

The Red Trilogy is available in beautiful hardcover editions from Saga Press/Simon & Schuster. Or for a more budget-friendly gift, look for the paperback editions.

The Red Trilogy by Linda Nagata

Memory by Linda NagataMemory is available in a lovely, matte-finish trade-paperback edition, with cover illustration by Emily Irwin and interior design by yours truly.

This trade paperback, as well as the Nanotech books, are 5.5″ x 8.5″, so they’re not “pocket books.” Instead they’re a size typical of many hardcover editions.

All four books of The Nanotech Succession are available in gloss-finish trade paperback editions, with cover art by the amazing Bruce Jensen.

The Nanotech Succession by Linda Nagata

I’m pretty sure you won’t find Memory or the Nanotech books in your neighborhood bookstore, but all of these titles should be available online.

Light And Shadow: eight short stories

November 30th, 2016

Light And Shadow by Linda NagataBack in January, I posted a list of writing goals for 2016. One of those goals was to publish a second short story collection — and here it is: Light And Shadow: eight short stories.

The collection includes all my short fiction published since 2012, with the exception of the two “Zeke Choy” stories from the Nanotech Succession story world.

Here’s the list of included stories:

Through Your Eyes (Asimov’s 2013)
Halfway Home (Nightmare Magazine 2013)
Codename: Delphi (Lightspeed Magazine 2014)
Attitude (Reach For Infinity 2014)
A Moment Before It Struck (Lightspeed Magazine 2012)
Light and Shadow (War Stories 2014)
Nightside On Callisto (Lightspeed Magazine 2012)
The Way Home (Operation Arcana 2015)

It’s likely that those of you who regularly visit this blog have already read most of these stories, and if you haven’t, I want to let you know that most of them are available to read online. If you’d rather approach them that way, visit my website for links.

On the other hand, an ebook is vastly more convenient, this one contains short introductory notes with each story, and sales of this ebook could give a small but meaningful boost to my rather paltry career.

Further persuasion: I’ll add that half of these stories have appeared in various best-of-the-year anthologies.

So…buy an ebook! And tell your friends! I don’t expect this collection to be a big seller, but I’m hoping it can serve as an introduction to my work, for those vast numbers of readers who have never encountered my stories or novels before.

Here are some vendor links. The first link is to my webstore, which uses PayPal to checkout:

Mythic Island Press LLC
Amazon.com USA
Amazon.com UK
Kobo Books (International)
Barnes & Noble

Okay, back to writing.

Xena-Rose

November 15th, 2016

I finally got a new dog. I was a dog owner for most of my life, but I’ve gone without since my last one died at least six years ago. I’ve been casually looking around for a new dog for a couple of years, and this past weekend I finally took the plunge — even though I wasn’t entirely sure it was the right decision. Wow, was I nervous! It seems that the older I get, the more problems I have with commitment. But on Sunday I brought home a Pomeranian puppy. This will be the smallest dog I’ve ever owned, by far.

Her name is Xena-Rose. She earned the name of a warrior princess after dragging her carrier across the floor.

The settling-in process has been chaotic, but I think we’re starting to figure each other out. I even got some work done today!

xena-rose_day1

Worse & Worse

November 15th, 2016

I’ve been reading a lot of election analysis over the past week and, incredibly, much of it seeks to point fingers of blame for the Republican victory at the Democratic party, or at “social justice warriors,” or at very generalized groups. Today’s guilty party was straight middle-class white women, of which I am one. Blame me if you want to, but it’s bullshit.

The Republican candidate won either because the election was hacked (and no one is talking about it), or because enough people rejected a fully qualified candidate in favor of one who lacks good judgment according to 74% of exit poll respondents.

Granted, we now know that polls are utterly worthless. But it appears that people knew what they were buying, and they bought it anyway. This is mind boggling to me. Honesty, humility, knowledge, and a propensity for public service used to be valued traits in this country. Apparently, no longer.

The Day After

November 9th, 2016

Just a brief post, as a coda to my pessimistic thoughts from a few days ago:

I didn’t sleep much last night and I’m sure many others didn’t either. My feelings on the result of the election are shock, and a real fear for the future. We are embarked on a great experiment and no one can say where it will go. It’s my hope that the Republican administration, when they gain control of all three branches of the federal government in January, will remember to respect the rights of individuals, our personal freedoms, and our shared environment. This is my hope, though I fear for those on the margins, and those who will soon lose their healthcare insurance. I hope my pessimism is misplaced. May it all turn out better than expected.

Recommended Reading: Darktown

November 4th, 2016

darktown_by_thomas_mullenThomas Mullen is the author of Darktown, a novel set in Atlanta shortly after World War II, in a time when black police officers were first allowed to work in the Atlanta Police Department.

Darktown succeeds on multiple levels. First, it’s very well written, with gorgeous detail in both setting and characters, without ever going overboard.

It also works as a straight-up crime novel as police officers attempt to unravel the mystery behind the murder of a young woman.

But the most powerful aspect of the novel for me was the immersion into the violently segregated culture of the deep south during this period of history. The oppression and brutalization of black communities is rendered in detail, but what’s also made clear is how difficult it is to change the status quo when ordinary citizens, including law enforcement, fully support the authoritarian culture and are thoroughly trained to crush any dissent. Yes, this novel is a well-timed reminder of what authoritarianism and bigotry mean for a society.

Despite this, Darktown is not a “downer.” It’s a fascinating, well-told tale of courage.

I listened to the audio edition. I really enjoyed the narrator’s voice, finding it both pleasant to listen to and easy to understand, with the drawback that the voices of the different characters tended to sound the same, and at several points I wasn’t sure who was speaking.

In my own writing, I’ve begun using more speech tags – he said / she said – since I started listening to audiobooks. Speech tags aren’t always necessary if you’re reading text. If two characters are in conversation, a paragraph break indicates when a different character is speaking. But a listener can’t see this, so additional speech tags can be necessary for clarity. Something to keep in mind, for those of you who write.

One Year Anniversary

November 3rd, 2016

It’s been exactly one year since the publication of Going Dark, which completed the Red Trilogy.

the_red_trilogy_500-no_caption

Saga Press engaged in some creative experimentation in the release of the trilogy. First, all three books came out within a very short span of time, with just six months between book 1 and book 3. More revolutionary, the books were released simultaneously in hardcover, mass-market paperback, and ebook editions. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time this happened in traditional publishing, but I’d never heard of it being done before.

The usual tactic is to first release the hardcover along with an expensive ebook edition, and then to follow with lower ebook prices and a less expensive paperback a year later. I was thrilled when I learned that Saga planned to do hardcover and mass market at the same time, with the added benefit of putting a reasonable price on the ebook. This allowed libraries and collectors to acquire the expensive hardcover edition, while regular readers who’d heard of the book through reviews and recommendations could grab a copy at a good price.

Of course there is a downside to this strategy: A year later I don’t get a second shot at publicity when the paperback comes out. Ah, well! I can reminisce on my blog instead.

This was an important series for me on many levels. It marked my return to writing science fiction after a hiatus of many years. It persuaded me that the near future was fertile ground in which to grow stories that felt relevant to me, in our rapidly evolving world. And it allowed me to write the sort of story I love to read: one that includes high-energy adventure with extrapolations of real-world science and technology, and (I hope!) engaging characters who give a damn about one another and the world.

So one year out it seems appropriate to say THANK YOU! to the readers and reviewers who’ve supported the books. It’s easy for a work to get lost in the vast sea of novels that reach publication each year. It’s your interest and support and word-of-mouth recommendations that have kept the Red trilogy visible — and that is truly appreciated. I hope you’ll continue to recommend the trilogy to friends who might enjoy it. The last big publicity push was over long ago, so it’s up to you now!

If you read this blog regularly than you know I’ve got a new novel on the way. I look forward to telling you more about that in the coming months. If you haven’t done so already, do use the form in the righthand column to sign up for my newsletter. It’s another way to get in touch, and to let you know when the new novel is available.

Thank you!

Pessimism

November 2nd, 2016

A couple of years ago I answered some interview questions posed by former SFWA publicist Jaym Gates. I’ve been thinking back on one of those questions lately, reflecting that I would answer it differently now. Here’s the original question and answer:

There’s an element of hope in your work, even in the military SF. What are your thoughts on the future, and what can we do to make it brighter?

My dad once told me that during the Cuban missile crisis (I was not quite two years old at the time) he was expecting nuclear Armageddon and was regretting that he’d ever brought children into the world. But what are you going to do? Every age has its terrors. I grew up in front of a TV that showed me the Vietnam War, assassinations, riots. There was Silent Spring, and the Doomsday Clock just minutes from midnight. For a time I was convinced I would die in a nuclear war before I was twenty. But it didn’t happen. We go on—and I learned to be more optimistic. There are classic novels in which everything ends very badly. They are warning novels, but that’s not what I want to write. I don’t have any formula for making the world a better place, but from the perspective of a former pessimist, it’s much better to hope, to imagine that we really do go on, and to do what we can to see that it happens.

That optimism I regained after the Cold War is mostly gone now, destroyed over the past few months as the Republican candidate continues to hold onto the support and adulation of a large percentage of the American people, regardless of how many times he says or does things that would have led to his rejection as a candidate in years past.

In an essay from last month, Ezra Klein references history by asking At long last, have we no decency?.

If we elect him, there will be no excusing our actions to future generations, no pleading ignorance in the face of threat. It was all here. It was all obvious. It will all be visible to our children, and to historians.

Read the piece in full here. It captures my feelings nicely.

What will also be visible to future generations, assuming we are still here to discuss it, is the utter lack of interest in the issue of climate change throughout this election. As if by ignoring the issue, everything will be all right. I don’t think so, and neither does astrophysicist Dr Katherine J Mack, who recently tweeted:

And while not directly related to the election, there is the travesty that took place at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge – an armed takeover for which no one is responsible. That legal result threatens the future of all federal lands in this country, as well as the federal employees who care for those lands. This is an issue personal to me, that I’ll write about more in coming days.

In the meantime, PLEASE VOTE.

For those interested, here’s an earlier post I wrote on this election.

Persistent Technologies

October 30th, 2016

I’ve been catching up on my reading, and chanced to find — almost simultaneously — two articles looking at the potential advantages of old, seemingly outdated technologies.

The first, “What An NFL Coach, The Pentagon And Election Systems Have In Common” starts off with a discussion of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, angrily rejecting the use of tablets during football games, calling the technology “undependable.” It goes on to talk about the inherent security of the paper trail generated by America’s old-fashioned and decentralized voting system, and the potential security in the antiquated software behind some weapons systems. As someone who is still using an ancient version of Windows on my writing computer, I am in total sympathy with the latter. 🙂

The second article, Why the US Military Still Flies Cold-War Era Planes looks at old, “persistent” technology from a different angle. The U2 was first built in 1955. It’s still flying today. Why? Because it still does the job:

“With its interchangeable nose cones and sophisticated surveillance equipment, there’s no reason not to think of the U-2S as a cutting-edge, contemporary technology

Like all technologies, planes are flexible. They change both through use and through the actions of their users. They undergo maintenance and updates…

I like this term, “persistent technology.” It’s a good concept to keep in mind when writing near-future fiction. Not everything has to be shiny and new.

Recommended Reading: How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything

October 29th, 2016

rosa_brooks_tales_from_the_pentagonHow Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon, by Rosa Brooks, is a wide-ranging overview of the present state of the American military, how we got to this point, the effect of recent changes on both our system of government and on the world at large, the implications for the future, and thoughts on how we can do better.

Rosa Brooks is a law professor, who worked at the Pentagon for two years, and is a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy.

She writes that post-9/11 the role of the American military has expanded beyond traditionally “military” functions, taking over territory that once belonged to civilian departments, in particular the Department of State. This happened gradually, as cost-cutting measures reduced the size and effectiveness of civilian departments, leaving the military as the only branch with a budget that allowed it to rise to the task — and as the military took on more tasks, civilian departments were further trimmed. It’s this process that Brooks captures with the book’s title, but she pursues many other subjects.

There are interesting discussions of the way we’ve chosen to see war and peace as polar opposites, as two easily distinguished states — our view being heavily biased by the world wars. “What is war?” is an important question because our laws change depending on whether or not we are “at war.” A state of war allows many actions (killing, indeterminate imprisonment) that are not allowed during peacetime. But a closer look at history offers the idea that there is a continuum between war and peace — the “space between” — that is not all-out war, but is also not peace. And if we accept that we are now — and likely will be for the foreseeable future — caught in this “space between” then we need to develop a legal framework to deal with it.

Brooks also looks at the precedents America has set by asserting “a unilateral right to use force in secret and with little accountability outside the executive branch…”

Her description of the international community is especially disturbing:

“…the international community” struggles to respond effectively to the challenges posed by “failed” states. From the perspective of an alien observer from another planet, the “international community” of the planet earth would surely appear like a failed state writ large; it has proven consistently unable to control the violence of powerful actors (whether states or nonstate entities such as terrorist organizations), control environmental catastrophes such as climate change; remedy astronomically large economic inequities between individuals and societies, constrain the devastating scramble to exploit the earth’s dwindling natural resources, or address crises such as global epidemics.”

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything offers a lot to learn and ponder. It’s well researched and well argued. Recommended.