Saturday, January 28, 2017

Authors At Pop Culture Expo

Last Saturday’s Toy Game and Pop Culture Expo held at Sacramento’s Great Escape Games wasn’t quite all fun and games. It was fun, games, books and their authors. Local authors Nicholas Grabowsky (who wrote the novel adaptation of Halloween IV) and Angelique Anderson (writer of YA sci fi and fantasy) were displaying their books for sale. I had a great time talking with both of them.

Nick talked about his plans to present at more cons after having taken a hiatus. I talked to him about my current projects: my most recently published ebook, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”, and the print and photo-real cover editions in progress. The great thing about talking with authors such as he and Angelique is that when you’re sliding down the hill, like I’ve been ever since I started my day job as library technician back in September, you get motivated and more focused on your own writing. That’s among other great things like the generous offers Nick gave me such as a free copy, signed by himself, of the comic book adaptation of his short story, “It Looks Like a Rat to Me,” adapted from his collection Red Wet Dirt. It’s a neat story of psychological and surreal terror, though the art work gets really graphic. It was a delight that Nick gave me that comic just for talking with him! Thanks again, Nick!

Speaking about “Circa” and hiatuses, I’m taking a small break from working on the print edition of my single short story book. Lately, I’ve come to believe that there is more of a demand for the photo-real cover illustration and so I decided to work with that first (as much as I hate photo realism on book covers).

Check back here for more on my and other authors’ work.

Until next time . . .  

A woman sitting at a pop culture convention table.
Friend Stephanie Rector, "Queen of Geeks", at her booth at the Toy, Game and Pop Culture Expo
Photo Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Charles Stross’s Article On Near-Future Science Fiction

Charles Stross just came out with a new novel titled Empire Games. Although I haven’t read it myself yet, (I’m just barely getting through his Atrocity Archives of his Laundry Files series) the way he explains it in his article at io9 makes the novel seem to do for global politics what many of Kim Stanley Robinson’s later novels have been doing for environmental issues: taking the realist approach. Because of this, it sounds like it’s a little more down to earth than his Laundry Files novels.

Stross explains in the article the difference between far-future science fiction and near-future science fiction using his novel as an example of the latter. He refers to far-future sci fi as mostly escapist fiction and near-future as more realistic. That may be so on a social level, but I’ve read a lot of far-future hard science fiction that gives the best of both worlds. If there’s ever a time we need the serious sci fi Stross talks about, it’s now in this dawn of an elitist presidency. Do you think such science fiction can help us through a difficult presidential administration?

Until next time . . .

Two cartoon robots.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Asimov’s “Laws of Robotics” Applied in European Parliament Report

If you saw my latest posts on my Facebook page earlier this evening you may be a little surprised why I’m writing here. Well, I just wanted to share with you an article from the online magazine, Futurism-- which covers the outlook of future science, technology and the two’s impact on society. The article, entitled “Europe Looking to Make AIKill Switch Mandatory”, by June Javelosa is the next step in today’s rapid process of science fiction becoming science fact, in this case robots. European Parliament just drafted a plan for regulations on artificial intelligence and so Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics is seems to be getting applied more than ever. Check out the article and then check out the European Parliament’s official report that it links to. Then come back here and tell me if you can find the Three Laws of Robotics applied anywhere in the report.

Until next time . . .  

A robot's head.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Writing Accomplishments and 2017 Goals

Glowing 2017 logo on a digital grid that stretches into the horizon line.

Somewhere between Christmas Day and the New Year’s Day, I get that dark feeling as if nothing will be on the other side of the threshold between the old year and the new. It’s almost as if all hell will break loose once we step through that threshold. In fact, this concern caused me to write a short story the day after Christmas for my writers’ critique group’s holiday party, a kind of time travel story you can say. I’ve only written the rough draft though, and because it’s holiday themed, particularly New Year’s, you probably won’t see it until the end of the year. But even though for some of us the other side of the portal to 2017 maybe seemed like a black nothingness, here we are; we are alive and that’s all that counts.

I thought I would look at my writing accomplishments from last year and my goals (or resolutions) for this new year of 2017. But first let me talk about how Christmas went. It went by great. Nothing that spectacularly different from other years, just spent it with the family. However, one of my gifts was my first card game since the last 5-plus years. It’s called Arkham Horror (not to be mistaken with the board game of the same name), a game that lives up to its name: it’s a damn horror trying to figure out how to play it. But it’s still fun and because it’s so complicated it’s intellectually challenging, and, perhaps best of all, it’s based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder Mythos. So during the first week of the new year I had the card game laid out on my kitchen table trying to learn the game as I went but it takes me longer since I work a day job and, of course, I work my freelance writing.

Games with storylines such as Arkham Horror are a lot like writing as well as acting since they’re role playing games (RPGs). You make choices as one of the characters and that influences the game’s story. Kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book which I can’t believe I used to read those thinking of myself as literarily sophisticated, but hey, it’s what started many of us on avid reading and even as writers of fiction and so reading them is still a great way to introduce young people to reading fiction and, better yet, writing it. I did a blog post with a link to an article about gaming and writing fiction. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you check it out; it’s really insightful. 

Well, here are . . .

2016’s Accomplishments:

  • Making an attempt to write a novel: So far it’s entitled Invasion of the Avatars, which I’m currently writing.

And . . .

Goals for 2017:

  • Submit short fiction to magazines and anthologies: I’m going to return to doing this and put self-publishing on a small hiatus.Set up a table for my books at a con or two.

  • Relaunch The Super Freek: I had put it on hiatus not long after launching it, but since my hours at my day job will be changing soon and I have a lot of blogging plans that won’t fit the agenda here at the Fantastic Site I’m going to start posting at The Super Freek again. I don’t know exactly when yet, but I’ll definitely let you know.

  • Give a new look to The Fantastic Site: It’s been at least two years since the last re-designing.

  • Start posting at The Fantastic Site by Saturday of each week again: I’ve been spilling into Mondays too much as you may have noticed, and that includes this evening. My apologies.

The following have already been in the plan and are more short term, so I really can’t call them resolutions like the above: I’m going to publish the print version of “Circa Sixty Years” and the photorealistic cover for both print version and e version.

So what are your accomplishments from last year and/or goals or resolutions for this new year? Did you get any interesting holiday gifts?

Happy New Year! And Until next time . . .