Monday, July 22, 2013

Starships! — Best Music Video Since Large Hadron Rap*

I love this celebration of over 50 years of starships and their pilots, by bironic, to the tune of Starships Were Meant to Fly, by Nicki Minaj. For better viewing, pop it up to full screen and wear headphones. For best viewing, download it, copy to a USB thumb drive, and play it on a widescreen TV from your Blu-ray player. You'll be glad you did. It encapsulates a lifetime of vividly realized star travel, from Forbidden Planet all the way up to the Star Trek reboot. See how many scenes you can recognize. I got most of them, but a few were from shows that escaped me.

Starships! from bironic on Vimeo.

My daughter Julia put me onto this one. I'd never find this sort of thing on my own. Lucky thing I've got her to keep me current.

(Here's the rather different music video apparently created by the singer. I like the one above better.)

Starships rock!

*If you missed the Large Hadron Rap, check it out, too.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Get into the Group Photo: Wave to Saturn and the Cassini Spacecraft!

Friday the Nineteenth is the day the Cassini spacecraft, circling Saturn, will turn its cameras back toward Earth, and NASA and JPL want us to go outside and wave. What a photo op! If you're in America and standing outside at around 5:30 p.m. EDT, you'll be in the photo. Look to the east and wave to the open sky!

Here's the official word on the timing of the shot:
"The Cassini portrait session of Earth will last about 15 minutes from 2:27 to 2:42 p.m. PDT (21:27 to 21:42 UTC)." The Americas will be facing Saturn during that time. Other parts of the world, I'm sorry. Next time.

This is approximately what the view will look like from Cassini when it clicks the shutter. 

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kinda' Cool Response to Something I Said

I said it about fifteen years ago (maybe more), on my web page Advice to Aspiring Writers: “Write from the soul, not from some notion about what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal.”

Yesterday, someone quoted those words on a Facebook page called The Writers Circle. I wouldn't have known about it, except someone emailed me to ask if that was me, and to express agreement. I went to take a look. Yep, that's my face. (If it's scrolled off the main page, the entry is here.) There I am, sandwiched between Isaac Asimov and Graham Greene, offering sound bites of alleged wisdom about writing.

Still—I meant what I said back then, and I mean it today.

If someone pushed by asking, "Is that why you wrote a Battlestar Galactica novel?" I might respond this way: First of all, I wrote the BSG novel because I thought it would be fun. Secondly, I would distinguish between guidance offered to a writer struggling to find his or her own voice, and an assignment taken on by a working professional (whether the assignment was just for the bucks, or for fun, or some other reason). Thirdly, if I did take on the BSG book because of what I thought the market wanted, the laugh was on me. It didn't sell worth beans, despite the large audience for the TV show. (Which led to some interesting speculations among my friends and me about the future of media tie-in books.)

It seems the quote struck a chord, because last time I looked, it had over 3400 "likes" and 777 "shares"! I don't really "do" Facebook, but I think that's pretty good.

I read some of the comments, which ranged from "Yes!" to "That's what I've always said," to "He's kind of cute," to "There's no eternal soul, you idiot." To which I say, Thank you, thank you, thank you, and yes, I believe there is.

Gotta love the internet.

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Monday, July 08, 2013

Help the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop

Speaking of great causes, if you like science fiction that actually gets the science right, there's nothing better than the annual Launchpad Astronomy Workshop, which since 2007 has been training writers in the basics, as well as some of the finer points, of astronomy. In the early years, when I attended, Launchpad was paid for by grants from NASA and NSF. Now, funding is scarce, and the workshop needs a helping hand from people who care. Science fiction, after all, provides inspiration for future generations of scientists, as well writers, artists, and readers of all kinds. 

If you'd like to help, there's just one more day left to make a donation to the crowd-funding of this important program. There are all kinds of free books available to reward donations—all donated by author or publisher-alums of the program (like me!) Check out the donations page and get a free book while helping a great cause!

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Pen-Ultimate Anthology!

A bunch of my workshop graduates have gotten together to do a very cool thing. They've published an anthology of some of their best short stories—and on top of that, all the earnings are going straight to a great cause: the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund.

Here's how it happened:

The Earth formed, and the rocks cooled. Shortly afterward, Craig Gardner and I got started in our writing careers. Fast forward to a few years ago, when we ran a series of workshops called the Ultimate SF Writing Workshop. A bunch of talented new writers attended, and we all became friends, and many of them are now becoming established as published writers in their own right. We stay in touch through an online group, and get together at local conventions. At last year's Readercon, one of them—I think it was Lisa (LJ) Cohen—said over dinner with the group, "Why don't we get together and publish a collection of our best stories?" The crowd rumbled approval, and with that, the project was born.

Pen-Ultimate: A Speculative Fiction Anthology has just been published, a year later. The workshoppers (my workshoppers!) did all the writing, selecting, editing, cover art, book design, and ebook formatting. Craig and I wrote the intro and outro, but other than that, it's all the work of these fine new writers.

Check it out!  The stories are great, and it's only $2.99 in ebook. It's also available in print for $8.50. Every penny earned is going to a medical fund that helps SF/F writers who have fallen on hard times medically and financially. What could be a better cause than that? 

I feel like a proud father, all over again!

Here's where you can get it:



Barnes and Noble

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