Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for the 'General' Category

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.

Ordinary Citizens

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

Curious about the process behind American elections? Click this tweet and then read the whole series:

And a big thank you to the ordinary citizens who participate in this process by serving as election officials.

Strange Days

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

“Nonlinear war” is a concept I used in Going Dark. This weekend seems like the perfect time to revisit Peter Pomerantsev’s 2014 Foreign Policy article discussing the idea. In “How Putin Is Reinventing Warfare” he says:

“…look closer at the Kremlin’s actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances […] This is a world where the old geo-political paradigms no longer hold. As the Kremlin faces down the West, it is indeed gambling that old alliances like the EU and NATO mean less in the 21st century than the new commercial ties it has established with nominally ‘Western’ companies.”

Read it in full here.

Links and Recommendations

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

As if you don’t already have enough distractions…

I failed to post here at my blog for almost the entire month of February, so I’m making up for it with a flurry of posts in early March. (If posting regularly is the key to building a blog readership, well, that explains a lot.)

Recommended Audiobooks

Hyperion by Dan SimmonsHyperion and The Fall of Hyperion
by Dan Simmons:
These are science fiction classics that I loved back when they were originally published, and they are just as amazing today. Instead of re-reading, I listened to the audiobooks and was extremely impressed by the production. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for only about nine months, and early on I got into the habit of listening at a slightly faster than normal speed, usually 1.25x, unless I really wasn’t enjoying a book and then I would shift to 1.5x. But with these books I downshifted to 1.0x because every word is worth hearing. Truly amazing writing, characters, and world building. I’ll be moving on to the next book in the set, Endymion, before too long.

Annihilation by Jeff VandermeerThe Southern Reach Trilogy
by Jeff Vandermeer:
Audible had all three volumes of the Southern Reach trilogy — Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance — in an omnibus edition, available for a ridiculously low one credit, so I decided it was high time I familiarized myself with these much-acclaimed novels. I’m not entirely sure what I expected of the Southern Reach, but I was surprised at what I found. These are “literary” novels. They engage with fine language and description and, especially in the first two books, there is much time spent exploring the odd and troubled pasts of the main characters. At times I found it slow going, and early on I tweeted this:

What kept me going was the truly amazing writing, and a wonderful cast of narrators. As above, I slowed this one down to 1.0x speed, to catch every word, and as the story proceeded, I began to feel I was drawn into a spell of words and insight. I also felt that the quality of my own writing was improving as I continued to listen — a very nice side effect!

Of the three volumes, the third was my favorite. I found it the most engrossing, as some of the mysteries are being worked out. Some reader reviews complained that the ending was too abrupt, but I didn’t find it so. Highly recommended.

Links

• In midFebruary SF Signal published a piece by James Wallace Harris called Staying on the Cutting Edge of Science Fiction. I found it to be an interesting look at how the idea of what constitutes “cutting edge” technology shifts over time and how technologically based science fiction responds to that, especially since this is a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. James suggests that writers wanting to “extrapolate about the impact of real scientific knowledge … can’t let older science fiction cloud their vision.” I think this is a very important point. The post was surrounded by controversy though, because none of the books cited as examples were written by women. I wish it had been different and that the post had included a more varied list of examples. Nevertheless, I thought it was an interesting perspective.

• Yesterday Charles Stross published a very entertaining and thought-provoking piece called Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera, in which are listed several hundred “already seen it” tropes from science fiction. To my mind, this list is asking a similar question to that above: what’s new? and what’s left to explore in a literary sense?

• And finally, just for fun… this was making the rounds a few weeks ago, but if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out, and know that we are doomed:

Links & News

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Just a few odds and ends…

* For those who write, Baen Books is holding a short story contest. They’re looking for near-future, humans-in-space themes. Find the details here. Deadline is February 1!

* The New Yorker takes a look at STX Entertainment in their article “The Mogul of the Middle.” It’s a long read, but a fascinating look at how thumbs-up/down decisions get made in the movie business.

* A photo essay on “The Internet” by Peter Garritano, with some background explanation over at The Atlantic.

* It was a nice end-of-the-year for The Red Trilogy. io9.com included it on their list The Very Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Of 2015. Bookworm Blues included The Red on her “The Epic Best Books of 2015 List.” Rob Bedford, who reviews for SFF World, put The Red at the top of his “Favorite 2015 Science Fiction Novels.” And Annalee Newitz included the trilogy in her Ars Technica list “All the science fiction books you’ll want to binge read over the holidays.” 🙂

* It’s been many years since I’ve read Dan Simmons Hyperion. I’m revisiting it now in audiobook format, and so far this edition is EXCELLENT. I’ll probably have more to say on it when I’m done, but at this point I’m hugely impressed both by Dan’s story and the production.

A Roundup of Recent Events

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

This past week I’d been hoping to finally get back to work on the new novel, but we were also having all the windows on our house replaced, and I somehow miscalculated just how much time that project would consume. Yes, we have a contractor doing the work, but we needed to clear everything in front of the windows and remove the blinds, and of course once that was done, I needed to clean all those places that only get cleaned when a room is painted, or re-carpeted, or when the windows get replaced….

Anyway, with luck, I’ll get back to work on the novel this weekend.

In the meantime, two bits of news… I’m on the latest Coode Street Podcast, along with Eleanor Arnason. With hosts Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, we talk about women in science fiction, as well as our own careers.

And over at io9.com, Annalee Newitz has posted a column called Two Science Fiction Novels You Must Read to Deal with Election Season:

The US presidential debates are eroding our souls, and the partisan mudslinging has only just begun. That’s why it’s time to escape into the world of the future, or alternate history, to see how truly twisted politics can get. Two new novels will take you there.

One of those two novels is Crooked, by Austin Grossman. The other is The Red. Visit io9.com to read Annalee’s review.

The Trials is now out!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

The Trials - Saga Press edition I’m on the road heading to Worldcon, but I can’t let today pass without posting that The TRIALS is now out! It’s available in hardcover, mass market paperback, eBook, and audio book editions.

Click here for links to online vendors.

Here’s a link to the audio book at Amazon.

Storybundle:
Women In Science Fiction

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Women in Science Fiction Storybundle

Storybundles are themed collections of ebooks, sold together at discount, and available only for a very short period of time. They’ve been popular with readers, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to participate in one. The newest bundle — Women in Science Fiction — was put together by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Why do a bundle of women science fiction writers? Here’s what Kris had to say:

I received a huge shock late last year when some younger writers told me that women didn’t write science fiction. “Present company excepted,” they said to me.

“But…but…what about…” and I listed wonderful writer after wonderful writer, whom these young writers had never heard of. I did some research and realized that even though women have written sf since the beginning of sf (in fact, you could argue that a woman started the genre. Hats off to you and your Frankenstein monster, Mary Shelley!), women and their fiction never received the press that their male counterparts did. That’s why those young writers had no idea women have always written science fiction.

So I decided to do a bunch of projects to rectify the publicity problem, including this StoryBundle.

So here we are!

(more…)

Some Thoughts On Quitting

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

It was Virgil’s private theory that in a world of six and a half billion people, only the hopelessly driven obsessive could out-hustle the masses of the sane—those who insisted on rounded lives, filled out with steady lovers, concerts, vacations, hobbies, pets, and even children. Sane people could not begin to compete with the crazies who lived and breathed their work, who fell asleep long after midnight with their farsights still on, only to waken at dawn and check results before coffee.

Limit of Vision (Tor, 2001)

I’m not a “hopelessly driven obsessive” as described above. I think that’s a good thing. But there is a tendency among writers to admire the “do or die” philosophy. On Twitter I’ll often see writers admonishing one another to “never quit!” — on the theory that your next project could be the successful one.

And it’s true that you never know when things will start to turn around, when rejections will start to become acceptances, and success will become noticed and… Well, who knows how far it could go?

A friend of mine used to describe each new novel as a lottery ticket, and I think that’s accurate.

The thing is, very very few people ever win the lottery. You could bankrupt yourself trying. Same thing with writing: You could bankrupt your health, your life, and your relationships with a single-minded devotion to “making it” as a writer. That’s why I feel very uncomfortable when I hear writers insisting that we should never quit!

Quit if you need to. That’s my advice. And I can say that without hypocrisy, because I did it. I quit. Not utterly, and certainly not irrevocably, but I basically walked away from the game for ten years. (more…)

Living Without Social Media

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

ranunculusInternet connectivity in New Zealand seemed to be a precious and limited resource. In the hotel we stayed at in Auckland, wifi came with the room, but I was limited to 200MB of data transfer per day before they started charging. In the hotel we stayed at in National Park I was able to purchase slow but unlimited wifi for $4/day. And of course the rate that Verizon would have charged was so absurdly high I turned off mobile data for the entire trip and kept my phone off except when using wifi to check email.

The result? I spent ten days without Twitter and Facebook and all the other, lesser variants of social media — and it was kind of nice. I got a lot more reading done than I usually manage. I was less worried about what people were saying, or if it was a conversation I should be involved in, or if anyone was talking about me or to me… The experience was relaxing, and it left me feeling less anxious and less scattered.

I’ve been online a lot since I got back, but that’s in large part because I’ve been writing blog posts like this one. Going forward, I want to spend far less time online, and more time writing, reading, and just living. I’ve got no intention of abandoning an online presence — there’s a lot to be learned and gained and given in online relationships — but there are also many other ways to make better use of my time. Hopefully, I won’t be hanging out quite so much on Twitter.