Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Heit or Hype?

Some time back, after I made a reference to Fahrenheit 9/11, blog reader Tim challenged me to watch the conservative answer to Michael Moore's film, FahrenHYPE 9/11. I said I'd put it on my Netflix list to view, which I did. I just finished watching it.

It was worth seeing, as a comparison piece. It does call Moore on some apparently dishonest representations he made, and his unauthorized use of out-of-context footage of people who did not want to be seen as supporting his position. At the same time, the film is awash in the same kind of propagandistic representation that it's slamming Moore for using. (Tim made no bones about this; he merely said, if you're going to watch one piece of propaganda, you ought to watch the opposing propaganda, too.)

My original reference to Fahrenheit 9/11 concerned the footage of President Bush in the school classroom immediately after receiving word of the 911 attacks. I said he looked like a deer caught in headlights. I still say that, despite the supposed rebuttal. HYPE makes clear that Bush was silent because he was following the off-camera instructions of his press secretary. Okayyy. The commander in chief, upon receiving word of an attack on his country, is taking instructions from his press secretary. Sorry—if that's decisiveness, I'm Stephen King. He should have excused himself quickly, and gotten himself the hell to the nearest command center. Instead, we had the VP issuing commands as to whether F-15s were authorized to fire on civilian planes.

Most of HYPE is devoted to trying to convince the audience that there is a real terrorist threat in the world—something that hardly needs proving—and to creating the impression that Moore is somehow on the side of the enemy, and that he was dishonoring our troops. That part was bilge, and a deliberate misdirection of Moore's statements. (However, it did contain genuinely moving testimony from families about the sacrifices their family members had made.)

To my mind, the most telling moment of the film came at the very end, with the tag line: "[America] is the only consistent force for good in the world today." And if that isn't a perfect demonstration of the conceit and arrogance of the conservative right, I don't know what is. Nobody else is out there doing good, just us? Okay, sure.

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Stephen King...


Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Few Thousand Science Fiction Covers

Okay, now this is really cool. If you love science fiction cover art, as I do, you must look at this web site: A Few Thousand Science Fiction Covers. Move your mouse slowly over the page, and click on the little images as they come up.

Go do it now.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Publishers Sue Google

I heard through the Authors Guild today that a number of major publishers have sued Google, through the Association of American Publishers, following the Authors Guild in its lawsuit against Google for its Library project. This makes one wonder about the Google claim that copyrighted material was being used only with the permission of the publishers.

As I may have mentioned before, Yahoo has joined in a coalition with several other companies and libraries to begin a similar book-scanning project. However, they say they're only scanning material for which they have copyright-holder's permission, or which is in the public domain.

This is going to become very interesting before it's over.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dark Matter, Don't Go!

A new study reported on suggests that dark matter, that mysterious stuff that astronomers believe helps hold the galaxies together, might not exist, after all. Researchers Fred Cooperstock of Northeastern University and Steven Tieu at the University of Victoria invoke general relativity to explain the cohesiveness of galaxies.

To which I say, No no no no no—don't do it! The plot of Sunborn depends on dark matter to hold things together (so to speak), and if you pesky, upstart physicists go explaining away dark matter by other means, what does that leave me holding in the bag? Nothing, that's what. Quantum vacuum, at best. And what good does that do me?

Maybe this will turn out to be wrong. But maybe not. I get very annoyed with the ephemeral nature of knowledge, sometimes.

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Odds & Ends

A reader asked me to provide an update on Sunborn. I oblige, with a sigh. Progress: slow. Excruciatingly slow. I see many problems in the first draft, and I think I understand the problems pretty well. What I don't understand (yet) is how to fix them. I'm working on it. If you think you're frustrated as a reader, imagine what it's like to be the author who'd hoped to have this book in print five years ago!

SciFi Wire just ran a very nice piece on In the day and a half since that story appeared, there have been over a thousand hits on the main page! And I received a nice note from someone who said he managed to avoid work for an entire day by going through the course from beginning to end! All right!! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I Take That Back

Yesterday's post, that is. You cannot read my comments at Ragnar Anchorage without registering there. So it goes. At some point, I may get around to copying the more substantial comments here.

But right now, I have to work on Sunborn. Stop distracting me, willya?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Galactica Questions

I was asked to come online at a place called Galactica Station/Ragnar Anchorage and answer questions from BSG fans about the miniseries novel. I've gone into somewhat greater depth about the novel there than I have here, so if you'd like to read my comments, you can view them at Ragnar Anchorage.

You don't have to be registered to read the posts, as far as I know.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

World Wide Blogosphere

I have a little web meter thingy attached to this blog, and also to my regular web site and my online SF writing guide, which counts visitors. It can do other things, as well. One of the coolest things it does is show me a world map with little dots on it, telling me where people have come to visit from. I absolutely love this feature, and I check it nearly every night. (Don't worry—it doesn't identify you, or lead me back to your computer, or anything like that. But it does show me the city and country that someone connected from.)

Of course, the largest proportion of visitors are from the U.S. and Canada—no surprise. But outside America, I see I'm having conversations (okay, mostly one-sided conversations) with people from Singapore, Iran, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, England, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Lithuania, and Mauritius. Probably some others I missed. I can even click to see a map of the country, and read a little about it.

I love this connection with people from around the world. I know that some of you are from countries that are not on particularly good terms with my own—and that almost makes it more gratifying, to be able to reach across boundaries in a small way like that.

You know what would be cool? If more of you left messages to say hello. Then we could a multi-sided conversation. What do you think?


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rocket Races!

Some time ago, I wrote a novel called Roger Zelazny's Alien Speedway: Clypsis. (It was a share-crop effort, based on work by the late Roger Zelazny and put together by the late Byron Preiss.) It was about a kid named Mike Murray, who travels to a future star system, Clypsis, which is dedicated solely to the sport of spaceship racing. It was great fun to write, and from the feedback I got from readers, fun to read as well.

Well...Fast Rewind to the present. This story on reports a planned annual event under the aegis of the "Rocket Racing League," featuring actual races of piloted "X-Racer stock rocket planes." The first races are planned for October of 2006, in the skies of New Mexico. This is so cool, I can't wait. Spaceman's luck, everyone!

But in the meantime, they're planning an exhibition of X-Prize competitors in Las Cruces, New Mexico for this weekend, Oct. 9. (Wish I could go.) And the X-Prize winner, Spaceship One, is about to go on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Wish I had my own private rocket plane to go to all these events!


Sunday, October 02, 2005

My Career in the Movies

(Pops hits the streets.)

Well, I had my debut screen-acting job this morning, playing the part of "Pops the bum" in the short indie film, Children of the Streets, currently in production. It was great fun. (Though perhaps not quite as much fun as the part of "Joey," who got to have two cute young hookers cozying up to him repeatedly as they did takes from different angles.)

I had about five lines, and I only blew them once. The producer called for an Academy Award for me, and I would be a fool to disagree. Especially since I'll never hear those words again.

I thought this was going to be it, but they asked me to appear in one more scene, where a street kid gets shot. There was some talk that I might get shot, too, in a bit of collateral damage. But I think they were joking. (I think.)

Guess I need to let my beard continue to grow out scruffily.