Friday, January 18, 2013

Off to Arisia

I'm heading off shortly to Boston's Westin Hotel on the waterfront to spend some time at Arisia, currently New England's largest regional SF/F convention. I'll be on a bunch of panels related to writing and ebook publishing. Tonight at 10, the subject is "Self-editing your SF/F Novel" —self-editing being the first step in rewriting a manuscript, to be combined (preferably) with critique from trusted readers, followed by more revision as needed. I happen to have a self-edit checklist just for the purpose! (If you don't catch the panel, you can always read my checklist at—click the link for Rewriting.)

Tomorrow, I'll be talking about "Punching Up the Action," "Self-publishing" (particularly, from my point of view, as it relates to self-publishing one's backlist), and "Plot and Structure." If you're in the area, come on down!

I'm also eagerly looking forward to seeing the art show. The artist Guest of Honor is Roger Dean, creator of all those wonderful Yes album covers (which were in fact one inspiration for my novel Panglor)!

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

R'ha — an SF Short Film

A young, German filmmaker named Kaleb Lechowski, 22, has released an all-CGI short film called R'ha that's pretty impressive, especially for an amateur effort. Okay, the story's nothing new, but the visual (and audio) representation are startlingly good. Reportedly, he spent seven months on the computer creating this film with a running time of 6:26. If you're not at work or in a house with people sleeping, turn up the sound a little.

Apparently the display of film-making talent is generating quite a lot of buzz. More on the story here and here.

Labels: , , ,

Who Says Wonks Can't Have a Sense of Humor?

Think they can't have a little fun at the White House? How about this Official White House Response to a citizens petition "to Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016"?

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
The rest of it is pretty good, too. Why not give it a read?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Hobbit: the Movie (Part 1)

It was just like the Lord of the Rings movies, only more so. Allysen and I went to see it in 3D for New Year's Day evening, and came away agreeing: "The parts that were good were great, and the parts that were bad were really bad." Basically, it was about an hour too long for the story it told, and if you edited out some of the endless battle scenes and Indiana Jones-like theatrics, you'd have a really good movie.

Here's my bullet list of the good points:
  • Martin Freeman as Bilbo (he was great)
  • Ian McKellan as Gandalf (of course)
  • Cate Blanchett as Galadriel (better than in LOTR, I thought)
  • New Zealand as Middle Earth (gorgeous)
  • Surprisingly, the added material relating to the evil stirrings in Dol Goldur (I say surprising, because basically Peter Jackson does well when he sticks to Tolkien's storyline, and generally does badly when he changes it.)
  • The meeting of Bilbo and Gollum (beautifully done)
Here's my list of where it went wrong:
  • The pacing (way too slow in the setup, where the dwarves show up at Bag End), and simultaneously headlong and tedious in the overlong action/battle scenes
  • Clownish characterization of some of the dwarves, but especially of Radagast the wizard
  • Dwarves that looked like men
  • Dialogue that occasionally slipped out of Middle Earth and into Jaba the Hutt's den ("Those dwarf scum are my kind of scum!")
  • Frenetic fight scenes in place of story development
  • Did I mention too many fight scenes?
The 3D experience was less successful for me than it's been in other movies. It has its moments, but for the first hour or so, I actually felt that it intruded more than it helped, giving a sort of cartoonish quality to some of the characters, especially the dwarves as they appeared in Bilbo's house. I think I might actually have preferred seeing it in 2D.

All in all, a very mixed bag. Great stuff marred by clumsiness and self-indulgence. On a scale of 1-4 elvish swords, I'd give it two swords and a dagger.


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy Circuit Around the Sun, 2013!

Yes, we've made another turn around Sol, and congratulations to all of us! I hope you have all had a terrific holiday season, and are in good form for the start of another circle. Here in the Carver household, we had a great Christmas with my brother and his wife visiting from Florida, and several other good friends on hand. My sister-in-law Youngmee didn't exactly get her wish for snow while visiting, though. Oh, we had a little dusting, but the real snow waited until a day after they'd left. Next year!

As I look back on 2012, I see a time of transitions for the family. Allysen, ever looking for adventure, started rowing with a local community boat club last May, and turned overnight into a crew enthusiast (despite having to get up at 4 a.m.). My sister Nancy got married, out in Ohio, and we all traveled out for that happy event. My daughter Lexi went from a Masters program in mechanical engineering to a PhD program, and back to Masters (due partly to will o' the wisp promises of funding from the university). Her sister Julia finished her homeschooling with a GED, spent some time in the summer as an editorial intern, and pondered her future direction. And I...well, I made good progress on the new book. 2012 was a good year for ebooks, and saw exciting growth in my audience to the UK. When sales in the U.S. slumped a bit, my friends in Britain came through and turned it around for me! 2012 also saw four of my books become audiobooks, with more on the way.

I look ahead to the new year with excitement and more than a little apprehension. Last year was just a warmup. In the coming months, we're helping Allysen's mother move from her longtime home in Puerto Rico to a really good continuing care community in a town near us. That's a huge undertaking that will involve all of us. We also have to gear up for work on our house. It needs a new roof, and we'd like to add a modest dormer for more room while we're at it. Once that's all done, we're having a solar-electric array installed on the roof (more on that later). Among other things, this means moving everything out of our attic, and probably out of my office. All while I'm trying to finish The Reefs of Time! Pray for me.

All that said, life is good. And I hope it is for you, too. Happy New Year!

Labels: ,