Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for November, 2013

Maveric: the bird-like drone

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

I’m just going to leave this here. Let me know what you think about it. The raptors in a war zone are probably not going to last long…

And here’s the source article over at Wired: Army Scores a Super-Stealthy Drone That Looks Like a Bird

The Wild: Chapter 47

Friday, November 29th, 2013

The Wild is my one and only attempt at high fantasy. It’s written in an old-fashioned, formal tone, with old-fashioned heroes, and is quite different from anything else I’ve done. Except for a handful of printed advance-reader-copies (ARCs) created in 2011 to test the market, it’s never been published—until now. I’m serializing it on my blog, one chapter every Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Go to: beginning | prior chapter

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Mountains w/tree; Artist Sarah Adams
Chapter 47

They hurried back through the labyrinth, returning to the mouth of the fissure they had climbed. Kina saw them from below and yelped in joy, but it proved a slow, hard descent, slipping and stumbling on the icy stone. Bennek was the only one who wasn’t weary. The vigor of the storm infused him. He used the strength it gave him to help the others in their retreat.

The sun had long-since retired behind the mountains and twilight was hard on them when they finally reached the bottom of the cliff. They spared only a moment to greet Kina before hurrying on across the plateau. “It’s as cold as the night we found the Snow Chanter,” Pantheren grumbled.

“No,” Lanyon decided with a wan smile. “It was colder then.”

(more…)

Guest Post:
Doug Farren on Thermodynamics

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

I met Doug Farren in the summer of 2012 at the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop in Laramie, Wyoming. Doug is a popular and successful indie writer of science fiction and fantasy. Check out his Amazon page here. Doug does an occasional column on “The BS in SF.” I really liked his post on thermodynamics and asked if I could re-post it here. Enjoy!

Translight-by-Doug-FarrenThermodynamics: I consider it the bane of science fiction. Nothing is 100% efficient and most of the loss in efficiency shows up as heat. A perfect example is something I deal with every day—power production. Nearly every large power plant has a cooling tower and all that vapor pouring out the top is waste heat. How much? About 65% of the energy generated in the reactor or boiler! This waste heat creates a MAJOR problem for science fiction. In order to understand why, let’s take a step back and talk about heat transfer for a moment.

Heat can be transferred in three ways: convection, conduction, and radiation. Convection and conduction require the heat source to be in physical contact with the transfer medium. A spacecraft is isolated from everything else by the vacuum of space which rules out both of these as a means of dumping waste heat. That leaves radiation, which is the transfer of heat through the emission of electromagnetic radiation. This means that if you want to keep your ship cool you need large radiators to dump the excess heat.

If you look at a picture of the International Space Station (ISS), the first thing you will most likely notice are the huge panels extending away from the primary truss. The largest of these are the solar panels that provide the station with electricity. The others are the heat radiators. Damage enough of these and the station will quickly become uninhabitable. Ever wonder why the space shuttle kept its cargo doors open the entire time it was in space? Because the inside of the doors served as heat radiators to keep the shuttle cool. If you’re building a nuclear powered warship equipped with directed energy weapons, you’re going to have to get rid of a tremendous amount of waste heat. To do that, you’ll need a heat radiator with a very large surface area. Now you have a problem. (more…)

The “Vast” Method

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

So…I just finished a very rough draft of The Red: Trials, the follow up to The Red: First Light. There is A LOT of fixing up, figuring out, and filling in to do — and maybe there will be fatal flaws, I don’t know — but this was a very difficult book for me, so getting to this point is a triumph.

For those of you who are writers, I thought I’d share my experience of how I finally got those last pages done, in case you might find it helpful someday.

With many writers it’s common to write faster as you approach the end. That’s usually the case for me, but it didn’t happen this time. I was still slogging through it, even though I really didn’t have that far to go.

This has happened to me before. Long ago, when I was writing the first draft of my novel Vast, I was stuck. I was maybe 80% through and I couldn’t write anymore. I had a decision to make about how the end would work, and the uncertainty of what that decision would be worked to hold me back. I’m a very linear writer. I write chapter 1, then chapter 2, and so on, through to the end. I don’t jump around — until I got stuck writing Vast, that is. Eventually, out of desperation or despair, I jumped ahead and wrote the climactic end of the novel–and after that, writing the rest of the draft was relatively easy.

Every novel is different. With Trials I wasn’t facing a decision about the end. I knew how it would end — the generalities anyway, if not the details — but as with Vast, it turns out I needed to write the climactic ending scene before I could write all the scenes leading up to it. After a terrible writing day, I sat down on the evening of November 21, and skipped to the end. 1500 words later I felt far, far better about things. Over the next five days I added another 8500 words to create the missing scenes. I won’t say the writing was painless, but it was much less of a struggle than almost all the rest of the novel.

So this is the Vast method: when you’ve struggled close to the end but the story still isn’t writing itself, try writing the climactic scene first, and then drop back and fill in the rest.

Sometimes it works.

The Wild: Chapter 46

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

The Wild is my one and only attempt at high fantasy. It’s written in an old-fashioned, formal tone, with old-fashioned heroes, and is quite different from anything else I’ve done. Except for a handful of printed advance-reader-copies (ARCs) created in 2011 to test the market, it’s never been published—until now. I’m serializing it on my blog, one chapter every Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Go to: beginning | prior chapter | next chapter

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River & slope. Artist: Sarah Adams
Chapter 46

“It was a good tactic,” Lanyon insisted as she held Lehe in her arms, trying to quiet her, to stop her shaking. They crouched together a few steps off the pavilion, where the footings of the arches helped to break the wind, if only a little. “Put no blame on yourself. If I’d been there I would have helped you. Now let’s make ready. It’s not over yet.”
“But what can we do?” Lehe moaned. “We can’t stop him. We can’t.”

“I have the talisman,” Lanyon reminded her. “It has brought him down before. Let it taste him again, if he dares to come after us.”

Kit stood over them, his braid streaming in the gale while his wary gaze shifted continuously between the labyrinth of the Storm Lair and the dark clouds swirling beyond the pavilion. “He will use the fire spell.”

“We will do what we can.”

No one mentioned Bennek’s or Pantheren’s names.

(more…)

The Wild: Chapter 45

Friday, November 15th, 2013

The Wild is my one and only attempt at high fantasy. It’s written in an old-fashioned, formal tone, with old-fashioned heroes, and is quite different from anything else I’ve done. Except for a handful of printed advance-reader-copies (ARCs) created in 2011 to test the market, it’s never been published—until now. I’m serializing it on my blog, one chapter every Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Go to: beginning | prior chapter | next chapter

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Snowy Mountains. Artist: Sarah Adams
Chapter 45

Lanyon’s breath burned as she climbed after Kit; behind her she heard Lehe’s harsh breathing. There was not air enough at these heights! They had climbed far above the region of stunted trees. Even the hardy shrubs were left behind. Now they faced slopes of bare stone and teetering rubble. They stopped to rest every few minutes—there was no choice in it—though they never lingered long for it was cold. Bitterly cold. Summer was forgotten in this high place. Ice sheeted the puddles, and in the lee of the boulders there huddled tattered cloaks of snow. “I think Siddél does not live here alone,” Lehe whispered as they made ready to climb again. “Surely the spirit of winter is awake in this place.” Only by moving could they keep warm.
They struggled up a long talus slope. At its top they were met by a low face of sheer stone. They traversed its base and after a few minutes they were in the open again. A faint wind roiled the mist. Kina was still on her leash but she stopped abruptly, her ears pricked, listening. Lanyon swept off her hood. At once she heard from above a distant, deep rushing roar. It had the sound of a great cataract, but she knew it was a gale wind pouring around the high slopes and scouring the summit. Riding above its throaty voice was a weird keening. Lanyon held her breath to hear it better: a remote chorus of haunting wails that rolled down from the upper slopes, a discordant sound, lost a moment later behind a rumble of far-away thunder.

Kit looked at her. “That was not the howling of arowl.”

(more…)

So you don’t like hard science fiction…?

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Over the past year or so I’ve read several disparaging comments about my favorite kind of science fiction — the hard stuff. So I thought I’d address some common misconceptions about the sub-genre in a post that published today at io9.com. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

War Stories AnthologyI’m pleased to report that the War Stories Kickstarter successfully funded yesterday, two days before the deadline! This means the anthology, edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak, will move forward, and see publication in 2014. It will include my story “Light and Shadow.”

So a big thank you to everyone who supported the project and who helped to spread the word!

The Wild: Chapter 44

Friday, November 8th, 2013

The Wild is my one and only attempt at high fantasy. It’s written in an old-fashioned, formal tone, with old-fashioned heroes, and is quite different from anything else I’ve done. Except for a handful of printed advance-reader-copies (ARCs) created in 2011 to test the market, it’s never been published—until now. I’m serializing it on my blog, one chapter every Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Go to: beginning | prior chapter | next chapter

* * *

Owl on branch. Artist: Sarah Adams
Chapter 44

Bennek stared dumbfounded at Kit. His heart was racing and despite the fog his throat was dry. “Kit! You thought I was Édan? But I made the same mistake with you. How is it you are here? How is it I could not see you with my spirit sight?”
Kit looked beyond Bennek with an affectionate smile. “Lehe is a powerful witch. She has cast a glamour on my presence in the Mere.” Then he turned to Lanyon and hugged her with one arm around her shoulder. “Lanyon, greetings! I knew you would find your way back.”

“Kit!” With tentative fingers she stroked his hideously scarred cheek where the arowl had ravaged him. “I have heard somewhat of this story.”

Kit answered with a cocksure smile, his arm still wrapped around her shoulder. “We will tell a better tale this time.”

Bennek stepped forward, feeling more annoyance than joy now that his fear had passed. “Lanyon is my wife now.”

Kit looked at Lanyon with an affected sympathy. “I foresaw it long ago. It is a hard fate, but I wish you joy.”

(more…)

Highly Distractible

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Today is my birthday. I’m fifty-three years old. I’m sure that sounds ancient if you’re in your twenties or thirties, and terrifying if you’re in your forties, but honestly, it’s not bad. My advice to anyone of any age is to get in shape and stay in shape. The journey’s a lot more pleasant when you take care of yourself. Go check out this book: Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. Very inspirational.

So what did I get for my birthday? An `ōhi`a tree, because we’re weird like that. 🙂
birthday_ohia

This is a tree native to Hawaii and very common in the mountains where native forest lingers. The new tree has yellow flowers. It will complement our much older `ōhi`a tree, shown below, which has vermilion flowers:

vermilion_ohia

After I took the photo above, I noticed an odd green color right in the center. This required investigation, so I took another photo with increased telephoto:

ohia_resident

Yes, just as suspected, a Jackson chameleon photobombed my `ōhi`a pic!

Here’s a closer shot, taken from underneath the tree:

female_chameleon

I’m happy to report that the mature tree was absolutely buzzing with honeybees. We still have a healthy bee population in this neighborhood.

But — as this little photo-excursion demonstrates — I am easily distracted from the real business. I need to finish both an essay and a novel — so back to work!