Sunday, March 26, 2017

Choosing Fonts and Wordprocessing Software

Light-up computer keyboard

A couple of weeks ago, I was about to format the print version of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” but ran into a software compatibility problem. When I tried transferring the text of my manuscript to the Word-based formatting template, offered for free by Kindle Direct Publishing, my word processing software, Libre Writer, by default used a sans serif font in place of the template's serif font. Sans serif is a font-type that does not have the elaborate design, such as extra curves and “tails”, that serif font has. It is strongly recommended to use serif for formatting a fiction book. I had to open the template file with Libre since my laptop doesn’t have Microsoft Word. At the time, my desktop, which had Word, was not working.

Libre Writer offers plenty of serif fonts but I wanted a  style most fitting for fiction. I looked at some articles about fonts. One of the articles recommended as a source for free fonts. So I looked at the various serif styles there, and found one that one of the other articles recommended, Crimson (which is simply the name of the style, not the color), and downloaded it.

It was only last Sunday that I picked up my desktop from the computer repair service, but it no longer had Office on it. The repair technician had to remove Office in order to fix the computer. There's a more logical explanation to why he had to do that, but it's a story for another time. Earlier today, I was debating whether to download a copy of Libre Writer to my desktop or to use the text editing software, WordPad, that came with the Windows 7 OS that the computer repair tech installed.

Even though WordPad is a more advanced alternative to Notepad, and so is a text editor and not word processor, it has many of the same functions that word processing software has. Unlike Notepad, it has many of the same standard fonts, such as Times New Roman, as most word processing software. So I thought I would try it as an alternative to Word and see how it worked out. However, I just now found out that it may not be as compatible as I thought, at least not for using Word-based templates. One of the problems is that it does not divide the document up into pages like word processing software does. So I guess I'll be downloading a copy of Libre Writer after all. 

I hope to have the print edition of "Circa Sixty Years Dead" available on Amazon by the next post. 

Until next time . . . 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trump Supporters Angry With 'High Castle'’s Fictional Radio Program announced Friday that Tweets about a fictional pirate radio show based on the Amazon streaming TV series, The Man In The High Castle, angered several Republicans and Trump supporters. No, the radio show is not a high seas scallywag geek program. Instead it refers to a type of underground radio. The conservative Twitter users thought the show was a real one produced by anti-Trump protesters and so reacted to its title’s hashtag of #ResistanceRadio by lashing out criticism. This was likened to the radio broadcast of H.G. Well’s War ofthe Worlds of which many listeners who tuned in late flew into panic thinking the Martians really were coming. However, in the case of Resistance Radio the reaction is one that says “the rebels are coming”.  

The Man In The High Castle is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name. I can’t say a whole lot about the novel or TV show since I haven’t read the former or watched the latter, as much as I’m a big fan of Dick’s work. But I can say that, as with most science fiction, the TV series and its brainchild audio show mirror current events, particularly through the subgenre of alternative history. High Castle is set in a 1960s period after Nazi Germany and Japan have won the second world war and taken over the U.S. Anyway, the conservative Twitter users’ reaction to the hashtag shows that science fiction reflects the issues of the day regardless of the time period it is set in.

Science fiction is social commentary in many senses and this is particularly so with alternative history fiction, since history is a direct reference to past society. Certain periods of history have been used in literature and film to symbolise contemporary issues and this is definitely the case with alternative history (also referred to as alt-history). Like steampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk (which High Castle can be said to fall under this third one) and the many other -punk subgenres of sci fi, alt-history comments on modern day issues through a historical scope--comparing those issues with ones of the past--basically showing that history does repeat itself. An example is, though this may not be the intention of the TV series, equating an ultra conservative presidential administration like Trump’s to a fascist regime of the past like Nazi-ism.

 As far as conservatives’ lashing out at #ResistanceRadio goes, a similar situation occurred with the third Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith, in 2005 with the Bush Administration. Conservatives and Bush supporters saw the movies as bad-mouthing the president of that time and accused them of comparing him with the villainous Emperor Palpatine. Whether such social commentary was intended or not, only the producers would know. But even if it was, and even if the same is true for High Castle and its Resistance Radio, is it a crime? After all, art is often a commentary to the issues of the time it’s made in, and that includes pop art such as film and TV. Not to mention radio. The First Amendment especially allows for this.
Until next time . . .   

A pirate's skull backed by crossed swords.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Machine is Robbing the Book Cover Artist

A cartoon robot is holding and pointing to a pencil.

It looks like I’m going to have to outsource for the photographic version to the cover of “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. I tried getting together a digital cover during the week and I just couldn’t do it in the little time that I have. It’s a hell of a lot tougher than one would at first think, but a lot of the problem isn’t that it’s tough. A lot of the problem is that I’m just not a digital artist. I am a freehand artist. Yet I know the majority of the book market today does not call for freehand illustrated book covers which is a damn, sad thing because it is a result of the total reliance on computer technology that is robbing the freehand artist of what he/she does best and puts their heart and soul into.

So while I don’t embrace the digital trend in book cover illustration, I need to sell my books and so I am willing to have a digital cover edition of my book made. I won’t go into the details of this circumstance here because I’ve already done that in several past posts. Here are the titles and links to them:

When I make my book cover illustrations from my own hands, I do so knowing I’m not going to make big sales on the books that I apply them too. So, in a way, I’m sacrificing a bigger bundle of money I would get in order to help keep freehand art alive and serve the needs and desires of the minority readership. But to make sufficient money from the books, I’ll have to give into that capitalistic notion that says the machine makes the product “better”. And so I have to offer, as an option, a digitally produced cover illustration edition of the book.

If given the choice, would you purchase an edition of a book with a hand produced cover illustration over one with a digitally produced one? In doing so, do you believe you would be contributing to preserving freehand art?

Until next time . . .