Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for July, 2012

A Lot Going On

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I’m just back from a two-and-a-half week trip to the mainland. I’ll post more on that soon, but right now I’m in catch-up mode, so I just wanted to make a few announcements.

First, Laura Anne Gilman is giving away a print book every week through the end of August. This week the book is my own The Dread Hammer. You can enter to win by posting a comment on Laura Anne’s blog. Go visit! Comment! Make me look popular! 😉

Next, there’s a Dog Days of Summer Sale at Book View Café, running from August 1 – 15. Why not stop by? You might discover an author new to you.

Third, for those who prefer print books, my collection, Goddesses & Other Stories is now available in a print edition. Creating this book was an experiment. All my other hardcopy books are printed by a company called Lightning Source, but I wanted to try Amazon’s print-on-demand service, which has far-less-expensive set up charges. The experiment has turned out well. My proof copy looks as good as the Lightning Source books. There is one drawback though–at least for now, the print version is available only through Amazon. Find it here.

Reports of a Story Sighting

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

I’ve heard reports that my story “Nahiku West” is now out and in the hands of subscribers to Analog Science Fiction & Fact. It’s the October issue, and I think it’s not generally available just yet — not surprising, given that it’s still July.

I’ll post more here as I learn more, but if you’ve seen the issue, please let me know.

Launchpad Astronomy Workshop

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

This week I’m at the Launchpad astronomy workshop, put on each summer by Mike Brotherton. It’s a week-long, wide-ranging crash course on current astronomy, created for writers, editors, and people in film and other media. The lectures, presented by Mike, Christian Ready, Geoffrey A. Landis, and Jim D. Verley are fascinating–and they’re keeping us busy, which is one reason I haven’t written much here. But there will be more to come!

SF Signal Reviews The Dread Hammer

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a detailed review of The Dread Hammer, written by Paul Weimer, and just up at SF Signal.

If you’re on twitter, be sure to follow Paul. You can find him here: @PrinceJvstin

Lincoln City

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

It’s 8:30 AM and I’m sitting in my antique-filled room at a quaint little hotel in Lincoln City, Oregon. I’ve spent the weekend attending a workshop put on by Dean Wesley Smith. This morning will be the last session and then I’ll head north for the next leg of my trip. This is the first chance I’ve had to write something other than assignments for the workshop.

It’s been a great weekend. The subject of study was “Pitches & Blurbs”—basically, how to describe a book in a way that will encourage browsing book-buyers to give it serious consideration. Was it worthwhile coming all this way just to learn how to describe a book? Yes, indeed! Not only have I picked up ideas entirely new to me and had a chance to practice them, with feedback, but there is an invigorating pleasure in meeting with other writers who are enthusiastic about their craft and their business.

Because writing is a business. My fiction is what produces my income—not anywhere near enough to live on at present, but I’m hoping for better, because I’d like to stay in this business for a long, long time.

For most of my career I have not treated writing as a business. That changed when I got into indie publishing, but despite the forward progress, I still have a lot to learn. Learning is fun though. Challenging myself to do new things keeps it all fresh.

And yes, I hope to come back to Lincoln City before too long, to try out another workshop.

Beach Week

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I grew up on Oahu’s north shore, living in a rented house that was right on the beach. I know it sounds idyllic, though someday I should tell you about all the disadvantages of living on the beach. Anyway, I did spend a lot of time in the water as a kid, snorkeling and swimming for hours on end.

These days, the only time I go to the beach is when my nephews come to visit. On past visits they’ve scoped out the main options for beach-going and the one beach they love best is Oneloa at Makena. Here’s a photo from last year:

I think this is one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere, but my nephews like it because most of the time it has waves of size, even in the summer. The problem with Oneloa is that the underwater landscape drops off suddenly and steeply. I can be wading in chest-deep water and, with one more step, I suddenly can’t touch bottom. This creates waves that break suddenly, with crests that slam hard onto the sand. The warning sign does not exaggerate. Even when the waves are only a few feet high, the force is thunderous. Being the cheerful sort, I call these waves “back breakers.”

The first day we went to Oneloa, the waves were big enough to be worrisome, but the guys were smart enough to wait out the big sets in deeper water and no one got hurt. The second day the waves were smaller and a lot of fun. The third day the waves were tiny — hardly worth bothering with!

But now beach week is over for another year. My nephews are heading home and I’ve got a list of tasks to complete before getting on a plane myself. At the end of the week I’m heading off to a couple of workshops, both of them writing related, and I hope to be blogging as I travel.

More soon…

Amazing Stories Roundtable Links

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Amazing Stories, July 2012A few days ago I posted about the new Amazing Stories, featuring a roundtable discussion by members of Book View Café. More questions and answers have gone up on the website. Find the questions below, with links to the individual pages…

Part 1 – Is Science Fiction Definable?

Part 2 – Is Science Fiction Dying?

Part 3 – Is There A Divide Between Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction?

Part 4 – Is Fantasy Eclipsing Science Fiction?

Part 5 – What’s All This Talk About Squids In Space?

Running Around In Circles

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Goddesses & Other Stories by Linda NagataYou’ve all been there…that point when you really begin to believe that computers were invented to drive us all mad.

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently upgraded to a blazing fast and entirely delightful new Mac. I worried that my old version of Creative Suite (CS3) wouldn’t be compatible, but lo, it works fine on the new operating system — or almost fine.

Yesterday I put together a print version of my story collection Goddesses & Other Stories using Adobe InDesign. I had one strange issue with fonts — Times New Roman, the most common human-developed font in the Universe, was not compatible between my old InDesign files and my new computer. I had to substitute Times New Roman for Times New Roman. I don’t know enough about fonts to explain why that was the case, but I forged on and put the new book together.

Toward the end of the process I decided to print out a couple of sample pages to make sure I liked the look. That’s when I stumbled on a critical bug. The moment I clicked “print,” InDesign “closed unexpectedly.” The first time it happened, I thought it was a fluke. After the third time I turned to the Great Google for advice and found this very useful post. I removed the files according to the instructions, and had no problem printing the sample pages. “Victory!” I cheered. Or so I thought.

Lightning Source is my usual print-on-demand company and they have a very specific procedure for creating the PDF file from which a book is printed. The first step is to convert the InDesign file to a postscript file. To do this, you “print” to postscript — and Lightning Source provides a four-page document detailing every setting that must be used to do this correctly. All well and good, except one of those settings requires the use of the files which I deleted to fix the initial print problem. So what looked like a fix just pushed the problem off into a different sphere.

“Don’t panic!” I told myself. I still have my old Mac. I’ll just fire that up and use it to create the postscript file.

Except the new version of Times New Roman doesn’t exist on the old Mac.

So I copied the font from New Mac and put it on Old Mac. But Old Mac still insists I’m missing Times New Roman. (The other fonts are cross-compatible. It’s just TNR that has issues.)

So I went through the InDesign files and substituted the old TNR font, hoping that nothing would change in the layout–and I finally made my postscript file, and then I used the postscript file to create a PDF via Adobe Distiller. This is how Lightning Source wants it done, so this is how I do it. Now I have to go through the PDF file and if I find mistakes I have to correct them…in both versions? Old Mac and New Mac?

The ultimate solution of course is to upgrade Creative Suite to a newer version, but that’s a big investment and not one that I want to make right now. And besides, why can’t it just all work?

Oh — the final punchline. I’m not actually preparing this book for Lightning Source. I want to use this book to experiment with Amazon’s Create Space print-on-demand service — and Amazon is not nearly as fussy about files as Lightning Source. But at this point, Lightning Source has me well trained.

Amazing Stories Returns

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Amazing Stories, July 2012Those of you who’ve been around for a while will remember Amazing Stories as one of the primary digest magazines publishing science fiction and fantasy short stories. Launched in 1926, Amazing passed through various owners, continuing to publish until 2005.

I never sold a story to Amazing when it was a regular magazine, though I did try a lot in the early years, and I think I got close a time or two. I did finally place my shortest published fiction ever in an Amazing Stories anthology edited by Kim Mohan.

So…in case you haven’t already heard, Amazing Stories is on it’s way back! Steve Davidson has taken over the helm and the “Relaunch Prelaunch Issue” is going up online throughout the month of July.

Book View Café has the honor of participating in the first new issue, in the form of a roundtable discussion on questions relating to science fiction and the new world of publishing. You can find the first issue here, along with links to the questions and responses. See “Chain Mail: Amazing Stories Interviews 13 Authors From the Book View Cafe.”

To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here are the first questions in the Chain Mail interview:

Part 1 – Is Science Fiction Definable?

Part 2 – Is Science Fiction Dying?

Part 3 – Is There A Divide Between Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction?

Part 4 – Is Fantasy Eclipsing Science Fiction?

Check it out and please let me know what you think!

Musings on Tech-Heaven

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Tech-Heaven by Linda Nagata; cover by Bruce JensenPowerful women populate my novel, Tech-Heaven, in a story that explores the impact of cryonics, the slow development of nanotechnology, and political issues surrounding both.

But is Tech-Heaven a feminist novel? What is a feminist novel anyway?

The protagonist of this story is a woman, Katie Kishida. The two primary antagonists are women as well — Senator Ilene Carson and Roxanne Scott — who are both complex characters in their own right, though they also serve as the face of broad-based social forces.

But here’s the catch: at the center of the conflict between these three women is a man, Tom Kishida. He’s Katie’s husband, Ilene’s brother, and Roxanne’s friend. He’s also the dead man the story revolves around, his body preserved in liquid nitrogen while those who love him wrestle over his fate. Katie wants to rescue Tom, to see him through to a time when advancing technology can repair his body and restore his life. Ilene and Roxanne see things differently.

As several reviewers noted, at its core, Tech-Heaven is a romance, but be warned: it’s a grimly determined one.

What I like most about the character of Katie Kishida is that she’s not remotely a superhero. She’s starts the story as a nearly ordinary wife, mother, and businesswoman, but after her husband’s death her obsessive determination to make cryonics real and workable changes everything: her life, her relationships, and the world around her.

Out of all my novels, I think Tech-Heaven is written closest to a “mainstream” style, with scenes of daily life and reflection included in what becomes from time to time, a bizarre narrative.

The story is a very American one, set primarily in California and reflecting many aspects of American culture.

It’s not directly concerned with the role or status of women, assuming instead that women are capable players — or more accurately, that people in general are as capable as they choose to be. Alliances between characters are not made across gender lines, but are founded on shared beliefs and shared goals.

The story also includes mixed-race marriages while paying hardly any attention to them, because in my experience, when you’re living inside one, that’s how it is. But the story does pay attention to love, family, obligation, ethics, politics, and the determination to see a task through to the end.

Tech-Heaven is not a book aimed particularly at men or women, but at readers interested in exploring different sides of controversial ideas and the fallout of advancing technology.

Is it a feminist novel? If it’s not, then the meaning of “feminism” is uselessly narrow. Is it a humanist novel? I like to think so. From a marketing perspective, I consider it a near-future thriller. We’re already into the early years of that future and it seems to me the story still holds up disturbingly well.


Where to sample/purchase the ebook:
Book View Café (worldwide) USA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble (USA)

Where to order the print version:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Booktopia (Australia)
Barnes & Noble (USA)
Powell’s Books (USA)