Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for November, 2014

The Movie Maleficent

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

I wanted to see the movie Maleficent from my first glimpse of the trailer. Yes, I’m an Angelina Jolie fan, and the trailer looked intriguing and beautiful, but I never did get around to seeing the movie in theaters. Then on my flight to New Zealand, after the battery on my netbook ran out, I started looking at the list of in-flight movies, and there it was. So I watched it — on a tiny screen on the back of the seat in front of me — and I loved it!

I didn’t know much about Maleficent going in. I generally won’t read reviews before trying a book or a movie myself. Once I’ve decided I want to experience either one, I want to do so with as few preconceived notions as possible, so that I can form my own opinion and gauge my own reaction. So with Maleficent, I’d seen the trailer and noticed a few positive comments on Twitter, but that was it. My impression was that the movie had not been successful — and I still don’t know if that’s the case or not.

Anyway, per usual, I’m not going to discuss the plot, but I will say that I really appreciated the evolution, complexity, and strength of the Maleficent character, and I loved the ending.

And since reviews are for reading after seeing the movie (or reading the book) I’ll say that I was surprised how the critical reception tended toward the negative. I roll my eyes at you, critics! Maleficent is a fairy tale. If you have no intrinsic objection to the fairy-tale format, then I highly recommend this movie.

Now — tell me if you liked it!

A Status Report

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

We took an overnight trip to Honolulu to share Thanksgiving with family there — and that is the last trip currently planned. I’ve really enjoyed our travels this year and I’ve been lucky to be able to go, but traveling while trying to meet writing deadlines is a little stressful. At this point, I’m eager to just settle down and focus on writing for a couple of months — which is convenient, because I have a lot of writing to do. The two big projects are Book 2 of The Red Trilogy, and Book 3 of The Red Trilogy.

* Status of Book 2: The Trials — I just received the editorial notes from Joe Monti at Saga Press. I haven’t even gone over Joe’s comments yet, but this has become the top priority.

* Status of Book 3: For the past few weeks I’ve been working on the second draft. There is much, much, much more to do. This is second priority, but still critical.

When all of this is done, I want to get back to writing shorter fiction for a while, but that won’t be until February at the earliest. I am definitely not going to meet my short fiction goal for the year. Oh well. We do what we can. :-/

Operation Arcana — Table of Contents

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Operation-Arcana-final_250x400It’s getting closer!

Back in July I posted about the anthology Operation Arcana, edited by John Joseph Adams. It’s an all-original anthology of military fantasy forthcoming from Baen Books and due out in March 2015 — and yes, one of the included stories is mine. That story is called “The Way Home” and it was a favorite of mine among the stories I wrote in 2013.

Details are below, but here’s the final cover art. The artist is Dominic Harman, with cover design by Jason Gurley.

Cover Copy

In the realms of fantasy, the battlefield is where heroism comes alive, magic is unleashed, and legends are made and unmade. From the War of the Ring, Tolkien’s epic battle of good versus evil, to The Battle of the Blackwater, George R.R. Martin’s grim portrait of the horror and futility of war, these fantastical conflicts reflect our highest hopes and darkest fears, bringing us mesmerizing visions of silver spears shining in the sun and vast hordes of savage beasts who threaten to destroy all that we hold dear.

Now acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams is sounding the battle cry and sixteen of today’s top authors are reporting for duty, spinning never-before-published, spellbinding tales of military fantasy, including a Black Company story from Glen Cook, a Paksenarrion story from Elizabeth Moon, and a Shadow Ops story by Myke Cole. Within these pages you’ll also find World War I trenches cloaked in poison gas and sorcery, modern day elite special forces battling hosts of the damned, and steampunk soldiers fighting for their lives in a world torn apart by powers that defy imagination.

Featuring both grizzled veterans and fresh young recruits alike, including Tanya Huff, Simon R. Green, Carrie Vaughn, Jonathan Maberry, and Seanan McGuire, Operation Arcana is a must for any military buff or fantasy fan. You’ll never look at war the same way again.

Table of Contents (more…)

Taranaki Lookout

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The walk to Taranaki Lookout was our second New Zealand hike. This one was much, much shorter than the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but very different and fascinating. We did this one the day after Tongariro… well, actually, in the last half of the afternoon. It was only about 6.5 kilometers total, round trip.

This one was a rainforest hike. We walked from the hotel, through the little village of National Park, to a gravel road in a forest reserve. Just walking on the road was fascinating. The tree below is, I believe, a native cypress. Note the epiphytic ferns where the trunk begins to divide.

And this is what the road looks like… on our walk we saw only one other person on the road, a young woman on a bicycle who happened to work at our hotel.

We were following a map that was part of a brochure given to us by the hotel. Here’s the map. Note the distance through the town. Note the distance on the road and then the trail. As it turns out, this was not to scale. I admit I did not actually read the brochure…so before long as we were walking on the road I started to wonder aloud, “Did we miss the trail? We must have missed it. It’s not nearly this far on the map!” As it turns out, the brochure clearly states it’s two kilometers to the beginning of the trail, but the map makes the distance look much, much shorter!

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.

Award Eligible Work — 2014

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

This list is posted for those of you who like to nominate for the annual science fiction and fantasy awards, including the Nebula and Hugo awards. At the start of this year I expected to have a novel, two novelettes, and two short stories on my 2014 list of award-eligible work. As it turns out, I have only two (very short) novelettes and one short story.

What happened to the novel?
I had originally intended to publish the sequel to my Nebula and Campbell nominated novel The Red: First Light on my own, but plans change and The Trials will now be published in 2015 by Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The third short story will also see publication in 2015.

So what’s up for 2014?

In the short story category…
“Codename: Delphi” is my personal favorite of the year. If you have time to read only one of my stories, I hope you’ll make it this one. Besides, it’s easy to read because it’s available online. Find it in the April issue of Lightspeed Magazine.

In the novelette category…
A novelette is defined as a story of at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words, which makes my story “Attitude” a very short novelette. It’s only 7,900 words. Find it in the anthology Reach For Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan.

Update: the anthology Reach For Infinity was nominated for the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award.

And at 7,700 words, my story “Light and Shadow” is an even shorter novelette. Find it in the anthology War Stories, edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak.

Update: for SFWA members, the entire War Stories anthology is now available in the forum.

All three stories are hard science fiction. Thanks for considering them!

Locus Subscribers

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Locus is “The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field” with news, interviews, and reviews of work in the SFF field. This month’s issue has an interview with me — including an impressive interior photo by Francesca Myman.

This is my second Locus interview. The first was way back in the year 2000 — toward the end of my “first career” as I like to call it.

There’s also an interview with Joe Monti, my editor at Saga Press.

If you subscribe to Locus, check it out. The issue is available in print, PDF, and ebook versions.

Update: November 28
Excerpts from the interview are now available online.


Monday, November 17th, 2014

Rain was falling on our last afternoon in Auckland and our flight home didn’t leave until past midnight, so to pass the time while staying warm and dry, Ron and I visited a movie theater to watch Interstellar.

My basic assessment? I enjoyed this movie! — despite squirming in my seat at some of the foundational assumptions. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to do so.

The part that bothered me the most? The idea that we could or should just throw away the Earth. The rest of this very short post might qualify as a spoiler so I’m putting it behind the front page and several lines down…. (more…)

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Background: Ron and I arrived in Auckland on a cold spring day, when the sun was dueling with rain squalls that swept across the city at frequent intervals. I had a bad feeling about our upcoming hike. We were planning to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 12-mile day hike in Tongariro National Park. It’s one of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand, and described as “among the top ten single-day treks in the world.” But it wasn’t going to be a lot of fun if it involved constant rain, wind, or even snow. And in fact, snow fell the day before we arrived. But in an immense stroke of luck, the weather turned in our favor and we had an absolutely perfect day for hiking.

Logistics: we did not rent a car in New Zealand, for which, I believe, most Kiwis were grateful: American tourists unaccustomed to driving on the left side of the road evidently cause a lot of serious accidents. So we took a train — Kiwi Rail’s Northern Explorer — from Auckland to a little village called National Park, that’s just outside Tongariro National Park. We stayed at The Park Hotel at Ruapehu, which offered a hiking package. They picked us up at the train station and dropped us off at the trailhead early the next morning, along with a packed lunch. At the end of the day, they picked us up at the opposite end of the trail.

Geography: There are three active volcanoes in the center of Tongariro National Park. They are Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro. The Crossing passes between Ngauruhoe and Tongariro over mostly volcanic terrain. The highest elevation is just over 6,000-feet. Here’s a map of the track.

Here’s Mount Ngauruhoe on the day we arrived. How’s that for a classic volcano profile? Summit elevation is 7,516 feet. I call this shot “The Road to Mount Doom” since Ngauruhoe served as Mount Doom in the LOTR movies.

And this is Mount Ruapehu on the same day, a much larger and taller mountain, standing at 9,177 feet.


How Not To Plan A Trip

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Ngauruhoe_early_morning_500pxRon and I returned from a ten-day trip to New Zealand today — our first visit to Aotearoa. The trip was a little ironic for me because I’ve been wanting to visit New Zealand for thirty years — but despite all that potential prep time this was a very last-minute affair.

Here’s the guilty admission: we’ve found that the only way we ever get it together to plan a trip is to buy the airline tickets first. Since the tickets are nonrefundable, we are then forced to sit down and plan things to do, or all the money spent on the tickets will go to waste. So several months ago we decided that we were going to fly to Auckland. Hawaiian Airlines has good rates and the flight from Honolulu only takes eight to eight and a half hours. The other advantage for us is that Hawaii and New Zealand time zones differ by only one hour — oh, and one day! Kiwis are nearly the first to greet a new day, and here in Hawaii we are nearly the last.

So we purchased our tickets and then…did no planning, nothing at all, for weeks. And weeks.

What can I say? We both get caught up in our day-to-day work, and we’ve both been extremely busy, but suddenly we had only about three weeks left before the trip. It was time to get serious. So we patched together a fairly simple itinerary, staying on North Island and splitting our time between Auckland and Tongariro National Park.

As those of you who visit my blog regularly know, I love to hike, and we did three truly amazing hikes while in NZ. I want to write about those over the next few days. We are thinking of visiting South Island next year, so if you have great hikes to recommend in that region please let me know!

More soon…