Monday, January 28, 2013

Secrets of New York #5

The 92nd Street Y has some impressive guest speakers - Paul Krugman, Al Gore, Charlie Rose, Sonia Sotomayor, Brian Williams, Vera Wang, Jaron Lanier...


I don't often go all fanboy for comics. (It makes me feel old, oh so old.) Still, this is frikkin' adorable. Plus it violates every IP law you can think of. Read it before DC sics a team of ninja lawyer assassins on Yale Stewart's ass.

Angry Nerds

I suppose it had to happen.
I'm not sure why.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Jolt of the Weird

Some real SF in this one
A spaceship doesn't make it science fiction.
"What if?" makes it science fiction.

If a story doesn't ask "What if?" it isn't science fiction, no matter how many hyperspace jumps it takes or alien telepaths it includes. Instead, it is science fiction's prettier, somewhat dimmer cousin - space opera. (Or something with "punk" in its name. Don't get me started about that.) People associate space opera with blazing blasters, robots galore, fifty-eight different alien species on any given planet, and vast galactic empires. But really, space opera is mostly just science fiction with the extrapolation removed.

Does this difference even matter? After all, genre classification is a tricky beast, and subgenre classification is a super-evolved chameleo-mutant. It's the stuff of endless, tedious late Saturday night nerd-offs. The eyes glaze over, the head droops, and before you know it, you're in an alcoholic torpor as two sophomores with skin problems thrash out the subject until they close the Loscon hospitality suite.

I Succumbed to Peer Pressure

Yep, there is now a GoodReads widget on the blog - there it is, on the right, just above the e-mail widget.

Check out the GoodReads reviews of TWS...or write your own.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

History Is KERR- RRAZY!

This is definitely going in TWS II or III. I don't know where, but it's in there.

It's a frikkin' CAT JET PACK, fer Heavenssake.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Secrets of New York #4

The Stage Deli, the Carnegie Deli, and the Second Ave Deli aren't that great.
For authentic deli, go to Ben's Best Deli in Rego Park, Queens.

Get the pastrami.

Monday, January 21, 2013

That Beautiful First Person Vibe

Being the charitable, patient and well-beloved writer that I am, I've been to at least one writers group recently, spreading the fruits of my wisdom and just all around giving back...or showing up for the free Diet Coke and Goldfish Crackers. Six of one...

Anyway, here's something I've seen pop up more than once:

A story with beautiful, technically polished narration: flowing phrases and subclauses, apt metaphors, telling details that glow with vivid imagery, told from a first-person POV.

All well and good...unless that first person is a sixteen-year old child soldier who's been training relentlessly since she was seven, or a twelve-year old tagger who plays hooky from school and whose mom works twelve-hour days.

It's a natural mistake. Writers love language, and there's a sensual pleasure in pulling out all the stops on your metaphor engine and cranking up the elegance function to ramming speed. And younger characters in violent situations are often the source of more extreme and dramatic stories than, say, settled, well-spoken characters in their 40s.

But you can't believe that that character is speaking those words. Let it go.

Suzanne Collins didn't make that mistake. She wrote The Hunger Games, and the POV narration there is truly in the voice of the main character, and it works. Collins deserves her success.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Secrets of New York #3

The Metropolitan Museum of Art asks for $25 a ticket, but that's a suggested price.

Plus their medieval collection in a rebuilt monastery (the Cloisters) is beyond cool.

I love the place, I truly do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Breaking News!

This is what it would really look like to travel near the speed of light. The light of visible stars has dopplered up into the X-ray spectrum (break out the lead panty-shields) and that light is literally the light of creation - the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, blue-shifted into visible light.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Early Warning for Flash Fiction

The Brooklyn Science Fiction Writers Workshop Presents:
Flash Fiction with Broad Universe @ Singularity & Company

Thursday, February 7, 2013
7:00 PM To 9:00 PM

18 Bridge Street, Brooklyn, NY (map)

Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers present flash fiction from the new 2012 Broad Universe Sampler. We'll be reading at the Singularity & Company, the new science fiction, fantasy, and pulp fiction mecca of Brooklyn.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

JOY! RAPTURE! THIS Is Why SciFi Loves New York!

Singularity & Co.

A bookstore devoted to classic F/SF, including the cover art.
If you know me, you know why this is SO...FREAKIN'...COOL.
And it's in Brooklyn, of course.


Secrets of New York #2

If you want really authentic halal for your street meat, follow the taxis. Choose the food carts the drivers do.

You're welcome.

Extremely Geeky, Incredibly Nerdy

Anyone involved in the sciences, post-doc research or lab work must read the #overlyhonestmethods thread on Twitter.

Do it now.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Why's That So Good? - Neuromancer

The first five paragraphs of William Gibson's cyberpunk classic Neuromancer may be the most famous in science fiction:


The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

"It's not like I'm using," Case heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of the Chat. "It's like my body's developed this massive drug deficiency." It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke. The Chatsubo was a bar for professional expatriates; you could drink there for a week and never hear two words in Japanese. 

Ratz was tending bar, his prosthetic arm jerking monotonously as he filled a tray of glasses with draft Kirin. He saw Case and smiled, his teeth a webwork of East European steel and brown decay. Case found a place at the bar, between the unlikely tan on one of Lonny Zone's whores and the crisp naval uniform of a tall African whose cheekbones were ridged with precise rows of tribal scars. "Wage was in here early, with two joeboys," Ratz said, shoving a draft across the bar with his good hand. "Maybe some business with you, Case?"

Case shrugged. The girl to his right giggled and nudged him. 

The bartender's smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it. The antique arm whined as he reached for another mug. It was a Russian military prosthesis, a seven-function force-feedback manipulator, cased in grubby pink plastic. "You are too much the artiste, Herr Case." Ratz grunted; the sound served him as laughter. He scratched his overhang of white-shirted belly with the pink claw. "You are the artiste of the slightly funny deal."

That first line is more than an apt description for the color of an industrial overcast; it's a perfect use of metaphor. The TV comparison is technological, and the novel is all about tech. The channel is dead, like Case's decaying world.

The rest of the excerpt plays off our knowledge of hard-boiled detective fiction. The sleazy bar, the laconic bartender, the cynical barflies: The genre tropes are there, but transfigured by Gibson's technology. The tough guys have scars, but they're African tribal scars. Instead of an eyepatch and a baseball bat under the table, the bartender has a seven-function prosthetic arm and decaying metal dental work. Gibson has taken each stock character and changed out the hardware. The tension between what we expect from the genre and Gibson's descriptions highlight the new details. The detail that's just one or two steps different from what we expect is one of the most powerful techniques for creating "otherness" in science the "dilating" doors in so much of Robert Heinlein's Past Through Tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Secrets of New York #1

John's Coal-Fired Brick Oven Pizza is strictly for tourists.

There. I said it, don't regret it.

More terrifying Secrets of New York tk!

ETA: I have some good friends, foodies all, who swear by it. If there were no disagreements, we'd have no horse races.

The Most Useless Machine - EVAH!

If it isn't, it's in the top (bottom) ten.

I particularly like the timing of the push-finger....