Forward to March, 2003...
Comments: SFF Net newsgroup | Rumor Mill Topic | Night Shade Books Topic |
Got the nicest personal rejection ever from Gardner yesterday, so I really should kick my ass in gear and write something new and destined for Asimov's soon -- but after I finish my novella that I started a week or two ago. This novella is for a certain project that I was asked to contribute to and I am very excited, but I don't want to say anything yet until it is finalized -- the usual "don't jinx it" kind of thing. Anyway, this Asimov's rejection is my first for the year.
And yesterday I also wrote a 4,600 word non-fiction article based on my recent "interesting" experiences with dealing with Amazon.com as an author, and mailed it off last night to a potential market. It would be a real kick if this one sells here. *grin* And that makes it my first submission for the year too. Both rejection and submission in one day. Gotta maintain the universal balance.
I think I also forgot to mention that DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE got reviewed in the January 2003 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction. In a very long and thoughtful writeup, reviewer Eugene Reynolds says, among other things:
"Vera Nazarian is faithful, in her own way, to the storyteller tradition. Her stories have the same sense of mysteries being revealed, and often producing more mysteries, that myth and folk tales do. Her prose tends toward the peculiar combination of exotic and generic detailing found in fairy tales. She keeps her vocabulary and her setting pre-industrial. Her world is filled with timeless lands, endless deserts, unfathomable abysses. Slaves, kings, nomads, warlords, mages, sea captains, and gods all tangle in quests of conquest and journeys of discovery."
Here is a neat opinion piece I found, linked to by Luís Rodrigues which is the best explanation ever of "Why Nerds Are Unpopular."
Got my Fictionwise royalties on Friday and forgot to post about it, so busy with other stuff. Not a super-large check but enough for a couple of dinners out. *grin*
Thanks to Jeff VanderMeer and the good folks at Night Shade Books, I now have my own forum there. I followed an enticing link down the rabbit hole from James Hartley (Jay Caselberg)'s NAW journal website when I first ran into that forum, and found a whole wonderland of neat writer-type people! Will be posting and reading there on a regular basis.
First, welcome back to Diana Rowland who has some huge personal news to relate! And welcome back to Steven desJardins who now has a new blog. Congratulations to Mary Soon Lee who has received her thousandth rejection! *boggled awe* And huge congratulations to Tim Pratt who made the Nebula Final ballot with his lovely story "Little Gods" that I actually recommended fror the Nebula way back when it first came out. More congratulations to Heather Shaw on an equally lovely first pro story "Famishing."
There has been a lot of conversation going around the NAW and WebRats (welcome all new Rats, by the way!) about movements and waves and new wavelets and currents in the genre. Here are some things that Trey and Paul Melko and Mike Jasper summarize. And here are a couple of interesting things in rebuttal by M. Lynn Booker that bring up a completely contrary perspective here and here.
I tend to look at it this way. I am not a part of any wave and if or when I and my peers first "broke" on the scene about 7 years ago (I was writing decades longer, but I think 1996 was when I first got a web presence and really mini-blipped the radar as a Published Small Fry), at that point any and all waves passed me by.
I mentioned in Jenn Reese's comments section that if anything I am "an Island in the Stream" and the rest of us "Islands in the Stream"-ers sort of write and do our own thing regardless of genre and social trends.
"So," I said to Jenn, "be a ROCK, hon, be your own rock, and you don't need no steeenkin' waves!"
Okay. Maybe it's because we are somewhat "lame" and "uncool," and our work does not reach as far and speak for the most modern current audience's tastes. Maybe not. But whatever it is, that's how it is. :-) For example, I wrote an antiquated totally non-cool novel in a stodgy old-fashioned language, and that is DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE, of which I am rather proud. And I continue to write stuff that does not really fall to any movement or click at any slickness level, just whatever the heck strikes me -- uncool sword and sorcery and high fantasy, traditional fantasy and sf, stuff that inspires me.
Instead of being envious of the new "movement," I am rather bemused. Now, don't get me wrong -- I appreciate and enjoy all the younger new wavers, and I think that in a sense they really are hot and their work is slick and highly admirable. But I do think that in the long run, it is best not to associate yourself too tightly with any particular movement or wave if you want to really write only what comes from the heart and what is not hinged on particular expectations. Just a bit of long-term advice, to prevent stagnation, that's all. Meanwhile, enjoy your movement, folks, and I will look on with much appreciation.
And on that note, here are some more awesome NAWticisms -- you guys have been outdoing yourselves lately!
Okay, what is it with all this addle-brained mentality that's out there?
I am talking about the inability of so many otherwise reasonable people to follow and engage in a logical argument for the reason that once a bias sets in they refuse to read and fairly consider all of the points their verbal opponent brings up. A kind of all or nothing mentality that just absolutely sucks, in my opinion.
This is the mentality that, if you take one wrong turn, results in lack of communication and unnecessary human conflict. It shuts down our natural ability to perceive. It breeds vagueness, confusion, tangential wandering and meandering, and empty rhetoric that does everything but address the questions at hand. It breeds "apples and oranges communication." (If I believed in the devil, this would be what I'd call the Illusion that he casts upon us and takes us from the clarity of what is truth with a capital T, what is simple fact. He messes with our minds and has a field day watching us argue over nothing, over that illusion.)
As an example, here is this response I made earlier to the PETA-condemning article. Now, the response to my statement that some people had -- such as my good friend Linda J. Dunn (not that she is addle-brained!) -- had nothing to do with the actual message or points of argument that were presented, but went on to talk about something vaguely tangential such as "spin" and that they refuse to be affected by advocacy groups that engage in such, and for that reason do not listen to anything that such groups might say.
Can you say, huh?
The original point here was simple: Please keep the animals out of the human war.
Is there anything seriously arguable in this simple statement? Can anyone reasonably say that it is wrong to want to keep animals out of the war? How does it deny or negate or lessen any other moral stance that anyone else has (such as spare the lives of human beings, etc). How can highlighting one element of compassion diminish or negate others?
Let’s stop for a moment and separate those logic elements! Human compassion, politics, whatever - take it one at a time.
The logic fallacy creeps in when simple clear arguments are obscured by tangential things that are not directly relevant to the argument at hand.
Now, I am seriously not harping on Linda here, but since she brought it up, I must say something on the subject of "spin." Spin is a fact of life, and is simply the expression of our own personal opinion. We engage in subtle or blatant spin every time we make the most innocent statement about any subject. Why? Because it is our human nature to present our own perspective, that's why! In the long run, one way or another, we always communicate what we believe in. It's just that some of us are more upfront about it and less subtle than others.
And with advocacy groups, spin is their job. It damn well should be, otherwise, how can they advocate anything? And if such groups did not exist, then so many mechanisms for social change would grind to a halt. Without advocacy groups overextending the bounds of social status quo sometimes by radical methods, and arguing for loony ideas that often appear insane at the time, there would be no human progress, no growth, no progressive change in thought.
Advocacy groups present facts grouped in such a manner as to support their stance. So, what exactly is so wrong about that? Is it that we don’t like to be shaken out of our complacency?
Bless all advocacy groups, I say. Even if they are nuts, they are some of the best and bravest in our society. Without them we would still have human slavery, and women and many minorities would have no right to vote.
Now, spin happens at all levels. It happens, as we all know, in the media, and in politics, in the family (yes your mom engages in spin when she complains about you not coming home to see her), and as a part of the status quo. In fact, status quo is maintained by constant spin generated by the powers that be, like my favorite example of the red queen running just to stay in place.
Spin can be insidious or blatant propaganda, and it can cloak good solid fact. But its presence does not all of a sudden invalidate the fact that it accompanies.
For example, just because I may not like something Bush says, does not mean that I refuse to listen to anything else he says that may be a valid point. Yes, believe it or not, Bush occasionally makes valid points! Just as Democrats can and do say stupid idiotic things. (Heck, I say stupid idiotic things!) It is a fact of our existence that all statements -- all human communication in fact -- is a mixture of fact and spin, and to refuse to consider it in a case-by-case, incident-by-incident, detail-by-detail basis is what causes problems with communication.
If a person we know says that the color of the sky appears to be blue, rain is coming down as polka-dotted elephants, and flowers smell like barbecued cowpie, this does not negate that one out of three statements here is valid. We may be a bit taken aback by the other two statements, and consider the person a bit loony (or stark raving mad), but to be honest, it is our own shortcoming if in the course of refusing to listen we miss the one true statement the person makes. (And I am not even going to get into the fact that one person's perception may be different enough that to them flowers do indeed smell like barbecued cowpie.)
It is our damn job to separate the wheat from the chaff of sensory data that surrounds us! That's why we have the logic engine in our heads, people. So let us not shut it off automatically at the least sign of ambiguity. "Use it or lose it" applies to our reasoning abilities too!
Now, back to my rebuttal of the PETA-condemning article. I was making a single point, and so was PETA. The point that PETA made was: "Please do not use donkeys in your human war, Mr. Arafat, keep the animals out of it."
That is it.
Now, immediately a gazillion of people came on enraged that PETA dared use polite neutral language (instead of emotionally charged obscenities?) and focused on one simple element instead of going into a mass moral-ethical analysis of the whole socio-political stance. And by going ballistic, people missed the simple logical true message that PETA made.
Why, oh why, oh WHYYYYY must people be so easily swayed by their personal bias? Just because you don't like what PETA says in general and maybe you are a confirmed meat-eater who refuses to consider any other option -- or maybe you are unable to, for whatever valid reason including health and allergies -- (fine with me, I say, it is your choice, and that is not the point here, nor should it be) - just because of this, why do you close your ears to the simple elements of valid fact that PETA (or anyone else) is making? (and no, “you” in this case does not refer to Linda, but to everyone and anyone who holds this stance.)
Believe it or not, sometimes, bad people say good positive valid things. Sometimes people you think are crazy say sane things. Sometimes people and organizations you completely disagree with in general say things that you cannot argue with.
Accept it, already! Open your mind and be fair.
And no, for the thousandth time, I do not mean to be picking on Linda here, because she is a wonderful person (Hugs, Linda!), and in this analysis she is one of millions. All of them wonderful loving people, who somehow or other end up in a logical quagmire of sorts.
The rules of logic are very simple, binary in fact. Everything is a linear progression. And the moment you skip a tiny step and start jumping around under the influence of emotional personal bias, and going off into your own favorite tangents, you miss the logical facts that are right before your nose.
My plea to everyone here is, be dispassionate and make the effort to use your logic engine. Slow down. Keep your receptivity set to high, and your mind open. Process the sensory chaff-and-fact river in an orderly patient manner.
Sure, life's too short to waste on everything, too short for endless universal analysis. And that's why there is editorial process, that's why there are digests and concentrated newsfeeds and a selection process.
But if all we ever do is limit ourselves to our tiny perfectly processed regular doze of pure-filtered homogenized information from so-called trusted sources (in other words, sources who share our bias) and never make the effort to go directly to the great raw dirty seething neutral river-source that is real life, then we miss out on gems among the trash.
And sometimes finding such gems of fact and revelation is the best part of living.
So, roll up your sleeves, friends, get your feet dirty, and open your mind. My spin just might have a couple of bright shiny things in it.
A Reader Rebuttal to Kerry Dougherty's Opinion Column in The Virginian-Pilot
This is in regard to your February 6, 2003, opinion column in The Virginian-Pilot in regard to the PETA's communication with Arafat on behalf of animals, "Arafat gets asinine plea from PETA on intefadeh:"
Rather than perceiving it as the ludicrous thing that you seem to see, I support PETA's action wholeheartedly.
Let me make it very simple. PETA is an advocacy group with a specific agenda. And that agenda is animal rights -- to be specific, the rights of non-human animals, the voiceless "lesser" animals populating this planet alongside us homo sapiens.
As an advocacy organization for such, it has no moral, financial, or logical obligation to step outside its narrow agenda and "make a plea for human beings" in any context other than the fact that the species homo sapiens does indeed fall within the greater umbrella of the animal kingdom.
PETA is doing its job. Animal suffering is indeed overlooked in the human wars and other disasters of human making, and their suffering is lessened and denigrated when we stop and compare who is more worthy of our compassion, humans or other animals.
By making an attempt to point out these atrocities against animals, PETA is widening our own moral and compassionate stance, not negating the compassion we should already feel for our fellow human beings.
More compassion, a greater perspective that includes all living things in the panorama of suffering, is what comes about as a result. Why should you begrudge the notion that animal suffering need not be ignored regardless of any other suffering?
In addition, "we" already all know that the destruction of human lives is an atrocity. There are a number of human advocacy groups in existence, and frankly, I don't hear them make any statements to Arafat to cease wasting the precious commodity that is human life. Why? Maybe because in our so-called First World society it is a given, and the assumption is that such common knowledge does not need to be reiterated.
But just maybe, this is not common knowledge? Because it seems that "the other side" does not value human lives as we do. Pointing out animal suffering can only add to the understanding. It would certainly do no harm.
So instead of laughing at PETA's "asinine plea," consider it a different approach in a myriad of approaches that any one of us can take to spread compassion.
Which reminds me, I need to renew my PETA membership.
Author, Animal Rights Proponent, Humanist
THIS IS INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION
PSST!! Pass this on!!!
Subject: Support Space Exploration!
SFWA Statement of Support for Space Exploration
To offer condolences to the family and friends of the Columbia's crew and to encourage carrying on their spirit of exploration, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. and its members have released the following statement of support.
Please forward this message to everyone you know who is interested in continued space exploration and have them visit http://www.nyx.net/columbia to express their support.
"I pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave me birth;
Let me rest my eyes on the fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth."
Robert A. Heinlein
"The Green Hills of Earth"
(Used by permission)
On the morning of Saturday, February 1st, 2003, seven astronauts aboard
the NASA space shuttle Columbia lost their lives as they were returning to
Earth from a sixteen-day mission dedicated to the quest for scientific
knowledge. They represented not only the United States of America,
Israel, and India, but indeed all of humanity -- our greatest dreams,
our most noble aspirations.
The loss of the Columbia and its crew touches the lives of not just
Americans, Israelis, and Indians, but in fact everyone on Earth. The
exploration of space is one of the human race's oldest ambitions,
one that has been reflected in our literature long before we developed
the technological capability to venture forth into the cosmos. We must
not allow this tragedy to bring an end to this magnificent journey,
but instead let their courageous example lead us upward and outward.
We the undersigned, members of the professional community of science
fiction and fantasy writers, express our most heartfelt sympathy to the
families and friends of the crew of the Columbia, and our support to
the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
and the many contributing organizations worldwide, for their continuing
efforts to establish humankind as a spacefaring people.
Written 2/2/2003 by Allen Steele & Friends
The President and the Board of Directors of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., and several hundred professional authors (as listed on the web site).
To Add Your Name in Support or View All Supporters and Their Comments, Visit:
Please forward this message to everyone you know who is
interested in continued space exploration and have them visit
http://www.nyx.net/columbia to express their support.
SFWA is a professional writers' organization; general information is available at www.sfwa.org.
Members of the press with questions may contact Dr. Andrew Burt for more information.
Life goes on in a turbulent way. Another "singular" event is now behind us, but the resonance spreads out, unfurling into the future. With the Columbia tragedy, it is possible that there will now be more of an initiative to advance and explore space. More instead of less. Because we homo sapiens are stubborn bastards.
In the more mundane publishing news, my second novel LORDS OF RAINBOW has just received its first major review, a three-star from the March 2003 Issue (Issue 229) of Romantic Times. Three stars is not a big deal, but is not bad either (*** is "Enjoyable," according to the Review Key). This is a fair review, quite respectable, as an established romance writer friend just told me today -- the fact that they may have reviewed it in the Mainstream section as a straight romance (not as a fantasy in the SF/fantasy section) may be the reason. But I am satisfied, because there are some very nice things the reviewer says:
"Nazarian creates a unique civilization and populates it with heroic archetypes who stand on their own. Extravagant language reminiscent of Dunsany and even Tolkien adds to the legendary feel.... an innovative premise, consistent world-building, and appealing heroes mark this as the work of an emerging talent."
Jen Exum, Romantic Times
In other news, DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE is now available for sale as a complete e-book up on Fictionwise. Of course the extended free excerpt is still there too.
Space Shuttle Columbia
Today a new star blazed in the heavens.
Rest in peace.