Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Recommended Reading: Sea of Rust

February 15th, 2018

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

I was looking at cover art — and searching out cover artists — when the cover of Sea of Rust, by artist Dominic Harman caught my eye at Tor.com. I hadn’t heard of the novel before that, I hadn’t read any reviews, but when I read the excerpt I knew I wanted to read more. Unfortunately, the ebook was priced at $14.99 which is far outside the range I am willing to pay so I moved on to something else. Then not to long ago I found the ebook on sale and happily picked it up.

Sea of Rust is a robot novel, meaning it’s about sentient robots with agency. So much agency that robots deliberately hunted down the human species and drove us to extinction thirty years prior to the start of the novel. Since then, robots have pretty much fucked over the world even worse than their human progenitors did before them. The “Sea of Rust” is a vast area of industrial ruins in Ohio and neighboring areas. When robots reach the end of their functional lives they are cast out of settlements and wander off to spend their last days in the Sea. Enter Brittle, our first-person protagonist, who gets by through hunting these nearly gone “404s” and harvesting whatever parts they have that might still be used.

The author does a terrific job with characterizations although I feel I have to add a caveat — the robots are essentially human personalities in mechanical bodies. This worked for me because it made the story very relatable.

Per usual, I’m not going to go any further into the plot. Suffice to say that Sea of Rust starts out as a sort of robot-cyberpunk-dystopian story, indulges in some impressive action sequences as the stakes rise, and ultimately grapples with philosophical issues about life and the meaning of existence. I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly.

Here’s a link to Amazon.

Here’s a universal link that will get you to alternate vendors.

Recommended Reading:
Gunpowder Moon

February 13th, 2018

Gunpowder Moon
by David Pedreira

It’s been almost thirty-one years since my first published story, and Gunpowder Moon is the first novel I’ve blurbed. 🙂

It’s customary in publishing to send out pre-release copies of upcoming novels to other writers who might be willing to take a look at the work and offer supporting testimony if the novel works for them. I send out copies of my own work of course, and I’m very grateful to those who have taken the time to read my work and compose a blurb on it.

The more successful and well known you are as a writer, the more of these requests you can expect to receive. I don’t receive many and oddly, most are not in my genres. Also, I always have a long list of novels and stories that I’m already trying to read or that I’ve been asked to read, so — like most writers do — I promise to try, but with the caveat that I might not get to the book in time. All right, I admit. I’m not well organized and I’m a notoriously slow reader.

Happily, Gunpowder Moon was exactly the sort of novel I was looking for — near-future, hard science fiction, with excellent writing in the opening chapter that hooked me right away — and it arrived at just the right time so that I was able to read it.

Gunpowder Moon takes place after the “Thermal Max,” the peak point of global warming which has delivered a body blow to civilization from which the Earth is struggling to recover. Helium-3 has become the most important source of energy. It’s being mined on the Moon and used to power fusion reactors on Earth, but competition for lunar resources is heating up. When a miner is murdered, the fallout looks likely to lead to war, unless former Marine Caden Dechert, now commanding a lunar mining station, can find a way to avert hostilities.

Here’s my quote:
“In Gunpowder Moon, David Pedreira has crafted an excellent near-future thriller. This one’s got it all — realistic technology, an all-too-believable political conflict, and characters to care about — in a fast-paced story set amid the moon’s austere beauty.”

David Pedreira’s Gunpowder Moon is out today. The ebook is a reasonable $9.99. Check it out!

Here’s a link to Amazon.

Here’s a universal link that will get you a selection of vendors.

Progress Report

February 7th, 2018

I’ve been focused on finishing the revision of my newest novel. Nearly there! I’ve revised from beginning to end, and am now going over notes, dumping what I don’t need anymore, and adding in the bits that I’d still like to include.

Adding in small sections — sometimes just a line or two — sounds easy. Sometimes it actually is! But other times, no way! It requires finding exactly the right spot to fit the idea/phrase/description into the flow of the story which can be challenging all on its own, and then presenting it in a way that feels natural to the story.

Some concepts and some terms need to appear throughout the story so as to give the impression that these are really and truly elements of the story world. For example, I might introduce an idea very early in a novel, and I might need it again at the climax. But if I don’t mention it again between beginning and end, readers like you are going to go “Huh? Where’d that come from?” because, you know, it’s hard to remember all the details from a hundred thousand words earlier.

So for me anyway, there is always a lot of detail work. This is why I am so perplexed when writers say they produce four, five, six, novels a year. I guess they just get all the details down the first time through.

Anyway, I’m hoping to fully finish this draft by the end of the week, and then dive into the sequel, which I would love to have drafted by summer.

More soon!

Oh, February

February 7th, 2018

Book sales have been terrible so far this month. Maybe it’s a February thing, but it’s a bit discouraging.

On the positive side, the Locus Recommended Reading list came out on the first of the month and includes The Last Good Man and my short story “The Martian Obelisk.” Unfortunately this hasn’t helped book sales! But you can see the whole list here.

Oh, and you — yes, you — can vote for the Locus awards! You don’t have to be a subscriber. Anyone can vote. Here’s the voting link. Go vote for whatever you feel is worthy.

More good news: “The Martian Obelisk” (much to my delighted surprise) will appear in FIVE best-of-the-year anthologies. So that’s kind of cool. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so online right here at Tor.com. Oh and if you are eligible to vote for the Hugo or Nebula awards, “The Martian Obelisk” is eligible in the short story category. Just sayin’.

Why do awards matter? I wrote a whole post on that at one point. It’s here if you want to read it, but basically, awards help to sell books. Some writers sell a lot of books regardless of awards, but some of us don’t. And selling books is one of those KEY factors that helps writers stay in business. So hey, we list our eligible work and ask readers to consider it. That’s about it.

This Is Not A Drill

January 13th, 2018

This morning I was sitting in my office, working on the novel, when my phone bleated an emergency alert. We get alerts now and then. They’ve always been flash-flood warnings…but it was a sunny morning and hadn’t rained in days so a flash flood didn’t seem likely.

I picked up the phone and read this message: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. That’s the sort of thing that will get your attention.

The family gathered, phones in hand:
“Did you get it?”
“Is it real?”
“Do you think the system was hacked?”
“Turn on the TV.”

I checked Twitter, because that’s where you get breaking news these days. I tweeted the event, simultaneously with several others. There was no emergency bulletin on TV. I found that reassuring, an indication that the mobile alert was a glitch. Then the TV started issuing the same emergency notification.

Not much to do at this point but wait and watch Twitter. By the way, it was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning here on Maui.

There was nothing from civil defense, Maui County, Pacific Command… but around twelve minutes after the initial alert, our Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, was on Twitter announcing that she’d talked to officials and the missile alert was a false alarm.

A sigh of relief, hugs all around. Of course we always knew it was a mistake! Sort of.

Really, it was one of those Schrödinger’s Cat moments. You just don’t know until the box is open, and what can you do anyway?

That said, I’ll leave you with this tweet:

Recommended Reading: Two Political Memoirs

January 11th, 2018

I listened to two audiobooks over the busy days of December and early January. Both were political memoirs.

For much of my reading life I’ve found it difficult to focus on memoirs or biographies. I would start eagerly but rarely did I manage to read them all the way through, perhaps because I’d get distracted by the latest novel. This problem doesn’t exist when I listen to audiobooks. Having someone read to me a fascinating narrative while I’m doing dull tasks like kitchen work or gardening is such a privilege, and I have no problem at all paying attention through to the end.

What Happened by Hillary ClintonThe first of the memoirs I listened to was Hillary Clinton’s What Happened. Written and also narrated by Hillary, it’s an excellent review of both the high points and the travesties of the 2016 election, from the perspective of an extremely intelligent, competent candidate with an amazing resume and record of doing good in the world. It’s also the voice of a woman who is ready to call out misogyny in the electoral process. If you’re a fan of Hillary Clinton you might want to read this book, although there’s a risk you’ll be plunged into despair all over again when you consider what exists in the White House now. If you’re not a fan of Hillary than I highly recommend that you read or listen to this book. Perhaps you will begin to change your mind.

Promise Me, Dad by Joe BidenThe second memoir is Joe Biden’s Promise Me, Dad, and it’s also narrated by its author.

In 2013, Beau Biden — Iraq War veteran, attorney general of Delaware, and son of Vice President Joe Biden – was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died of his cancer less than two years later. Promise Me, Dad tells the story of those years, from the point of view of a very active and effective United States Vice President, who — at his son’s request — helped to keep Beau’s illness a secret until very late in the course of his disease. It’s a touching story of the Biden family, and also of Joe’s view of his role in government and the tasks that he worked hard to accomplish even as his beloved son was fighting for his life. It was the grief of Beau’s loss that kept Joe Biden from running for president in 2016.

Since the election – and since we’ve had to endure the venality and incompetence on full display in this administration and in the GOP Congress that continuously supports it – I’ve often found myself reflecting on Beau Biden, and thinking, “If Beau hadn’t died, there’s a good chance that Joe Biden might be the president right now, and how much better off we’d be if that were so.”

In any case, both Hillary and Joe would have made fine presidents. Both had the experience, competence, and work ethic that the job requires, as well as a devotion to national service. Yes, let’s remember that politicians are supposed to be serving their country.

As the saying goes, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” Maybe we do deserve this, but I desperately hope we can manage to throw the bums out before they succeed in burning the country down. Let’s strive to keep this democracy tottering on long enough to install actual competent, knowledgeable people in both Congress and the White House.

Writing Goals For 2018

January 1st, 2018

Happy New Year, everyone!

For the past several years I’ve been posting my annual writing goals on the first day of the year. To continue that tradition, here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2017:

1. Finish the NOVEL IN PROGRESS and get it published. The first draft of this one is done and I’m presently revising, but the publication date depends on my progress with goal #2 on this list…

2. WRITE THE SEQUEL to the novel in #1. Bonus: Publish it by the end of the year. I’d really love to get both novels out with just a brief delay between them. We’ll see…

3. RETURN TO MILITARY FICTION by getting started on a novella or novel. I don’t expect to have this one finished at year’s end, just well started.

4. Finish a NOVELETTE I’ve already started. I’m 9,000 words into this one, so I ought to be able to finish it. If it wants to grow into a novella, that’s fine.

5. Write a hard SF short story, 7,000 words or less.

6. Write another short story, science fiction or fantasy, in an existing story world or not.

For me, that’s a lot! I’m trying to be more ambitious this year than I was in 2017.

What are YOUR writing goals for 2018? What are your reading goals? Share them here!

Writing Goals for 2017: The Assessment

December 28th, 2017

Since 2011, I’ve been publishing a list of my writing goals for the year, and at the end of the year I take a look at that list and assess how I did at meeting those goals. So it’s time to assess 2017. What follows is a list of the goals I posted on January 1 2017, and how I did on each one.

1. Write a NEW NOVEL. It may or may not be the one I’ve already started, but I want to have a new novel, either in my agent’s hands or ready to publish myself, by the end of the year.

I partly succeeded in this. I DID write a new novel. It WASN’T the novel I had already started when I wrote my list of goals last year.

I didn’t start making real progress on this newest novel until the second half of the year, and I finished the first draft just a couple of weeks ago, which means I’m still revising. So it’s not ready for publication yet!

2. Write a SHORT STORY. I’m only going to require one. Science fiction or fantasy, but unrelated to any existing work. If any additional short fiction happens, that will be a bonus.

In recent years I’ve had trouble with short stories and for the first nine months of this year I didn’t manage any. But since my October workshop I’ve written two short stories and have 9000+ words that will become a novelette or maybe even a novella some day soon. I know this was an easy goal, but I’m grateful I pulled it off in the end!

3. Write a NOVELLA set in an existing story world. This is an unmet goal carried over into a fourth year. I still want to write it. There is a chance it will turn into a novel. So it goes.

NOPE! Year after year I post this same goal, but I still have not succeeded in writing that novella.

4. PUBLISH the novel I finished writing in 2016. It’s going to be a complex process, but I’m looking forward to it.

DONE. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably familiar with this novel. 😉 The Last Good Man was published in June. Thank you to everyone who bought a copy. Thank you to everyone who’s helped to spread the word. It hasn’t been a rousing market success and I haven’t quite met my year-end sales goals, but it’s done well enough that I’m encouraged to keep going for another year.

Last year’s list of goals was short, in large part because I wasn’t feeling confident about my writing, or what direction I should go with my work. I’ll be posting my 2018 goals next week. It will be a more ambitious list.

Did you have writing goals for 2017? How did you do?

Back to Work

December 26th, 2017

For the past several days we’ve enjoyed having family members over to visit, but today it was back to work. I spent the morning continuing my revision of the newest novel. This afternoon I hope to read through a completed short story, before sending it off to the requesting editor. Fingers crossed. I’m also hoping to find time to exercise and do yardwork. We’ll see!

I’m going to have to visit my eye doctor in the new year. My contacts are no longer working well for me when it comes to focusing on a computer screen, which is fairly awkward in my line of work as you can imagine.

Both Jonathan Strahan and Gardner Dozois have posted tables-of-contents for their respective best-of-the-year short story anthologies, and guess what? My story “The Martian Obelisk” is included in both. Click here to see Jonathan’s selections and click here to see Gardner’s.

Best wishes to all during this holiday season!

Merry Christmas!

December 24th, 2017

Xena was not too thrilled about looking into the sun. 🙂