28 February 2007

Final Nebula Awards Ballot 2007

Since I announced the preliminary Nebula Awards Ballot was out, I thought I better give an update. The Final Nebula Awards® Ballot is out as of 2/27/07. Some of the finalists can be read online. I think I spy some slightly unusual things, namely second-person pov and present-tense. Interesting.

Frankly, I think Electric Spec has many (all?) stories better than these.

What was your favorite story of 2006?

27 February 2007

Re. Philip K. Dick

I think writers need to be voracious readers.
I have been reading a bizarre book this week: What If Our World Is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations Of Philip K. Dick. It consists of transcribed conversations with Dick shortly before his death. From these conversations I can only deduce he was a deeply disturbed individual. He believed he had precognitive abilities (Minority Report anyone?) among other things. I'm not sure what to make of it all, since I've read MANY of his amazing stories and books including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, and they are all excellent and throught-provoking. Frankly, I'm somewhat flummoxed.

What are you reading these days?

20 February 2007

A Challenge!

Did you know we are accepting submissions for our spring 2007 Electric Spec issue? Well, we are! Very tentatively this will be published around May 31st, 2007. Thus, I issue a challenge to all you writers out there: can you write a speculative fiction story that has something to do with that time of year? It could be related to a holiday in May/June or something about springtime or whatever your imagination can come up with. Good luck!

13 February 2007

A born writer

I recently judged a writing contest for an elemtary school, and I found a writer... a real writer. A million people are born with talent; this one already has turned it to skill.

His story is called The Oak Cupboard, and it was an urban fantasy. No, it's not perfect, but the problems were minor, and of the sort I'd be willing to fix if the story was a stand-out. He touched on the required themes and included the two lines required by the contest--not as an afterthought but as an integral part of the story. It had humor, speculative elements, believable characters, a good hook, forshadowing, and decent world-building. It showed rather than told. The use of effective characterization even made it about more than one thing. Most of all, I hated to see it end.

All of this from a fifth-grade kid's 600 word story.

We all could learn a thing or two.

08 February 2007

Stories should be about more than one thing.

Hi gang,
I've been wading into the huge pile of new stories we have. Thank you very much for submitting! There are some real gems in there! :) However I also saw some overused plots. I apologize if we've blogged about this before, but we're still getting them. Here's some plots you may want to avoid UNLESS YOU CAN PUT A FRESH SPIN ON THEM:
  • Alien abductions, complete with cattle mutilations
  • Time travel in which the good guy goes back in time to stop a crime but ends up committing it
  • Post-cataclysmic rag-tag armies struggle to kick the aliens/mutants/cyberpunks out of the US
  • A virtual reality program is activated,and the distinction between program and reality becomes confused
  • Android/Robot love: A human falls for a android/robot, or a android/robot falls for a human, or both
  • Space battle! Humans fight whatever in outspace, complete with explosions, etc.

I could go on and on, but I won't. I think one piece of wisdom I've gleaned in years of writing and editting is: Stories should be about more than one thing. It's tough to come up with something fresh when we've seen the story dozens of times, but making sure the story is about more than one thing can do this. And I don't mean use two overused speculative fiction plots; I mean add a dramatic human component.

I look forward to reading more of your stories!

05 February 2007

IPCC says we're warming

One of the big news stories Friday was the release of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessement Report from Working Group 1 "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis". The IPCC consists of scientists from all around the world.

Highlights include the statements:

  • "Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years.... The global increases in carbon dioxide concentrations are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture...."
  • "The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the Third Assessment Report (TAR), leading to very high confidence that the globally averaged net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming...."
  • "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level...."
  • "At continental, regional, and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity,wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones...."

I could go on and on, but I won't. What this means is according to scientific data global warming is real and it is caused by humans. What this means for writers is you better take it into account if you're writing about the future.

01 February 2007

Song of Ice and Fire on the Little Screen

It made my day today when I discovered George R.R. Martin's fantasy series, Song of Ice and Fire, will become an HBO series. Martin is one of my favorite authors, and it will be exciting to see a quality epic fantasy brought to television. Martin's books would not be good material for movies because they are longer, with more complex plots, than LOTR. The plan for now is to make each book in the series one season. Hey—I wonder if HBO needs an extra screenwriter for the project?