Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for the 'General' Category

Earth Day / March For Science

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

“…there is nothing for me to do as we circle the world except to admire the overwhelming beauty of this place that we have threatened and corrupted with our wars and our poisons. Lotus passes from daylight into a night lit by electric lights that outline the continents and surround the oceans, and in time it is day again, and we are bathed in the bright-blue reflected glow of the Pacific, and I can’t stop looking at it all, taking it all in. Astronomers speak of finding Earthlike worlds around other stars, but they are speaking in hyperbole, in meaningless generalities. There is only one Earthlike world. There will only ever be one and it is fragile, and if it takes the cold manipulations of a fathomless AI to bring balance and to protect this precious place from the madness of those who would set it on fire, so be it. I, for one, am proud to serve as a soldier in that war.”

–excerpt from The Trials, Book 2 of the Red trilogy

CLICK TO SEE A LARGER VERSION OF THIS IMAGE

Image courtesy of NASA.
Image caption: “NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a unique view of Earth from the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit around the moon.”
Follow this link for more information on this image.

My O’Reilly Anecdote

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

My dad had a lot of health challenges in his last years which mostly defeated his love of tinkering and technology. Still, he knew how to make the best of things and he was comfortable in an assisted-living apartment here on Maui where I was able to visit him frequently.

I stopped in to see him one afternoon. He would have been around eighty at the time, an “old white guy” by any definition. I found his TV on, as usual, though I was a bit annoyed to see that it was on the Fox “News” station, with Bill O’Reilly engaged in some rant.

I paused to watch.

My dad paused to watch. After about thirty seconds he said, “I can’t stand that Bill O’Reilly.”

I grinned and said, “I can’t stand him either.”

We headed out and had a nice afternoon.

Cover Reveal: The Last Good Man

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

When I first contacted artist Philippe McNally about creating the cover art for my forthcoming novel The Last Good Man, I told him I was leaning toward a minimalist design rather than a full-cover painting, and that I wanted an illustration rather than photo manipulation because the cover needed the suggestion of a machine element to place it in genre.

And what genre is that? The Last Good Man is a crossover. It’s science fiction because it’s set a few years into the future and deals with technology that is just over the horizon. But it’s close enough to the present time that it works as a thriller too.

I am so pleased with the cover Philippe created!
Click the image to see it in a larger version:

Philippe was very patient during the design process. We traded several emails. I talked more about what I was after, and showed him book covers that I liked. He found more book covers that suggested different design options. We weren’t looking at explicit details of those covers, but at the use of space and the different styles they employed. We gradually converged on the symbolic rendition you see above. Not an explicit scene, but suggestive of the novel’s theme.

I have an advance copy of the print edition and the cover looks fantastic with its matte finish. It also looks great at small size in my e-reader’s library.

The Last Good Man will be published on June 20. It will be available in ebook, trade paperback, and audio editions.

So what’s it about? Here’s the back cover copy:

Scarred by war. In pursuit of truth.

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.

The Last Good Man is a powerful, complex, and very human tale.

And here’s what Steven Gould says about it:

I asked to see an advanced copy of The Last Good Man: with the caveat that I was very busy and might not get to it. I was just going to glance at the first few pages but looked up to find myself halfway through the book in the wee hours of the morning. Only an early morning appointment kept me from reading on but I finished it the following evening.

Welcome to the future of war. Soldiers on the ground depend more on their augmented reality visors, net connections, and hosts of robotic allies, than their rifles, but as long as they tread in harm’s way, certain things do not change, including collateral damage, ethical challenges, and the grief of a mother, a warrior herself, when her son dies in action.

Set where war’s bleeding edge of technology slams into people’s lives, this is a very human story, brilliantly told.

And from Vonda N. McIntyre:

The Last Good Man is a compelling and subversive novel, told by unique characters, especially True Brighton: sympathetic, prickly, determined, all too human. Linda Nagata has impressive insights into technological advances and their potential effects. Not to mention some very cool invented AI critters…. It was a privilege to read TLGM before its publication.”

If you haven’t done so already, please

[* * cue flashing lights * *]

SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER.

Through the newsletter I can let you know when The Last Good Man is available for preorder, and I’ll send you a reminder when it’s available to buy.

To see more of Philippe’s work and to view his resume, follow this link.

Launch Pad 2017 – Apply Now

Saturday, 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

Sunday, 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

Friday, 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.

Xena-Rose

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Wednesday, 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.

Pessimism

Wednesday, 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.