Thursday, January 30, 2020

Science in SF

A LOCUS article by Kelly Lagor discusses how accurate the science in science fiction needs to be:

Putting the Science in Science Fiction

She distinguishes two aspects of the use of science in stories, "how science plays a role in a story’s message" and "how it is portrayed within the story itself." She quotes numerous SF writers on the issues of factual accuracy of the science in fiction, the author's responsibility to the reader, and how the reader's trust can be won and kept. Elizabeth Bear, for instance, "distinguishes between how different types of stories require different types of accuracy."

Personally, I lean strongly toward the "accuracy required" end of the opinion spectrum. If, as one author quoted mentions, the science in the story is based on present-day facts and theories, it's particularly important not to violate that present-day knowledge, because some readers will certainly notice and object. In a more speculative, futuristic story, the writer has more scope for imaginative variation. And then there are the familiar tropes with no solid basis in contemporary science, such as FTL drives and time travel, which can be accepted as fictional premises for the sake of setting up the background for the plot.

In works that use science fiction tropes for purposes of allegory or satire rather than quasi-realistic extrapolation from real-world facts and theories, I concede that accuracy doesn't hold the highest priority.

The only science fiction I've written consists of stories in the Darkover anthologies. Hard-SF people might not consider Darkover true science fiction because of the unproven status of psychic powers in real life. Although my vampire fiction features naturally evolved, not supernatural, vampires, I don't venture to call it SF because the biology of my vampire species isn't worked out in depth. I include just enough of a biological rationale for their traits to (I hope) suspend the reader's disbelief. So it's more like "science fantasy."

Regardless of faithfulness to current factual knowledge, the writers surveyed in Lagor's article agree that authors must consistently follow the established rules of their fictional worlds. This precept applies to both science fiction and fantasy (not to mention all kinds of "realism" as well). That's one reason I prefer to write fantasy; one can invent one's own rules as long as they make internally consistent sense.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Reviews 52 - The New Improved Sorceress, Book Two of Wayward Mages

Reviews 52
The New Improved Sorceress
Book Two
Wayward Mages

Reviews posts have not been indexed.

The previous book by Sara Hanover, The Late Great Wizard,

was discussed related to Soul Mates in this post:

Now we will look at the second book in the Wayward Mages series, The New Improved Sorceress.

2020 as a year will be one replete with headlines to be sliced, diced analyzed, and re-purposed for your own worldbuilding.

The themes, the drumbeat of civilization, is shifting tempo.  New styles and new artistic statements will be emerging -- well, not "new" new ones, just the very oldest from pre-history onward, repeating in an ever progressing spiral.

Finding the deepest, most invisible issues readers are wrestling with sends authors to the top of the charts.

Sarah Hanover has amalgamated the themes and symbols that have electrified readers for about ten years now.  Hanover might be finishing off the discussion of these topics using these symbols -- Phoenix rebirth in fire, ordinary girl thrust into world of magic, magical politics (various mythical creatures organized and opposing each other, trying to stay unnoticed by our world), and many other symbols.

Hanover's new series, Wayward Mages, is Urban Fantasy illustrating the secret world under/beside our "real" world.  Because the readership for this kind of World has "read it all before,"  she has created a number of characters just being introduced to the magic side of the world who shrug and accept it.

This late in the cycle of Harry Potter Urban Fantasy, the Characters have to behave this way so the story can just get on with it.  Readers of this genre are no longer fighting their way into believing there is more to reality than they see.  So the Characters don't fight that battle, and just get on with conquering Evil and saving the world.

This is a series you should pick up and follow because it may be one of the last of its kind.

Hanover uses the whole pantheon of magical creatures -- Phoenix, Harpies, Elves, inter-dimensional ghost, etc, etc -- and brings those odd species to life for us. She doesn't portray the magical creatures as "Aliens" -- (as science fiction aliens from outer space) -- but simply makes them plain American type ordinary people with magic-imperative agendas.

You could identify with any of these "people."

And they do intermarry among themselves (which causes trouble) and with humans (more trouble).

You can now see a budding Romance between the main Character, Tessa, possessed by a magical object that has embedded itself in her hand, and the Professor (a Phoenix in process of regenerating).  But something sizzles between Tessa and the local, magic-user Cop.  It is definitely the plot-driving Relationship of the series, so far.

As more books come out, we might find the overall theme is, "What exactly makes Souls Mate?"

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Damned If You Do...

Social media is a minefield.

Anyone can make an accusation, anyone can repeat terminological inexactitudes, and although a reasonable person might think that it would be safe to set the record right, it's not. It might cost you.  You might give others the impression that the first person is... a liar.

And that is actionable.

John C. Greiner, writing for the law firm Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP discusses an emerging trend of using defamation lawsuits to resurrect untimely complaints of sexual assault (after the statute of limitations deadline.)

There's more this month on the topic of defamation in social media.

Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, writing on Law & Government for the AZ Mirror writes about a discussion taking place in Arizona about removing the current statute of limitations, which rules that a defamed person can only sue for defamation  within the first year that a libelous comment is published online.

Given that "the internet is forever", perhaps the current law is inadequate. Unless one obsessively "googles" oneself (which may not be a reasonable expectation), it is possible that one might not discover an untruthful and scurrilous assertion within a year of it being published.  Many authors, for instance, deliberately do not read their books' reviews.

Authors are discouraged from responding to published reviews, and if a reviewer could sue an author for defamation if an author were to suggest in writing that that reviewer was veridically challenged, there's all the more reason to stay away!

For any Scottish readers, Marianne Griffin, writing for Brodies LLP and the Enlightened Thinking blog explains the Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill.

It's worth reading, especially for those who re-Tweet others' social media comments without great mindfulness.

Happy reading!

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Anticipating Androids

In Mary Shelley's novel, Victor Frankenstein apparently constructed his creature by stitching together parts of cadavers. (His first-person narrative stays vague on the details.) Considering the rapid decay of dead flesh as well as the problem of reanimating such a construct, if we ever get organic androids or, as they're called in Dungeons and Dragons, flesh golems, they're more likely to be created by a method similar to this: Robotics experts at the University of Vermont have designed living robots made from frog cells, which were constructed and tested by biologists at Tufts University:


They're made of living cells derived from frog embryos. Joshua Bongard, one of the researchers on this project, describes the xenobots as "a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism." The frog cells "can be coaxed to make interesting living forms that are completely different from what their default anatomy would be." Only a millimeter wide, they potentially "can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient)—and heal themselves after being cut." They might also be able to perform such tasks as cleaning up radioactive materials and other contaminants or scraping plaque out of arteries. While this process doesn't amount to creating life, because it works with already living cells, it does reconfigure living organisms into novel forms. Although there's no hint of plans to build larger, more complicated artificial organisms, the article doesn't say that's impossible, either.

If an android constructed by this method could be made as complex as a human being, could it ever have intelligence? In an experiment I think I've blogged about in the past, scientists at the University of California, San Diego have grown cerebral "organoids"—miniature brains—from stem cells:

Lab-Grown Mini-Brains

These mini-brains, about the size of a pea, can "mimic the neural activity" of a pre-term fetus. Researchers hope these organoids can be used to study brain disorders and perhaps to replace lost or damaged areas of living human brains. At present, they can't think or feel. But suppose they're eventually grown large and complex enough to—maybe—develop sentience or even consciousness? In that case, it could be reasonably argued that they should have individual rights. The "disembodied brain in a jar" that's a familiar trope of SF and horror, is, according to the article, a highly unlikely outcome of this research. If these miniaturized brains ever became complex enough to transplant into a more highly developed version of the frog-cell "xenobots," however, the question of personhood would surely arise.

Margaret L. Carter

Margaret L. Carter

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Reviews 51 - Shield of the People, a novel of the Maradaine Elite by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Reviews 51
Shield of the People
a novel of the Maradaine Elite
Marshall Ryan Maresca

This is the second in the Maradaine sub-series, Maradaine Elite.

The first was The Way of the Shield.

The set of Maradaine series (there are several already) from DAW FANTASY have become some of my favorite reading matter.  Each series focuses on a different level of society - the constabulary, the university students and faculty, the business people, the criminals, the territorial gangs who "run" their sections of town.

If the plots had more outright Romance, it would be even better, but it has relationship driven plots, family issues, and plenty of budding love stories.

Even with the author walking right by grand Romances as if blind to them, these novels are just fascinating.

They are Fantasy, in that Magic and Magic Technology are featured as part of the worldbuilding.  The Characters take this dimension of human power for granted -- it isn't remarkable, but just another element of the world that causes complications.  But science also works, and may be in hot pursuit of the mechanism behind Magic.

I'd say the Maradaine novels are Sociological Fantasy.  The world where Maradaine exists is a well built fantasy world, but the Characters are all embroiled in the push-shove jockeying for place, power, position, titles, authority, to function within the order of their society.

The Maradaine Elite title might refer to many things within the novel. There is a Cabal of landed, titled, rich and influential people called The Ten, who consider themselves Elite.  There is an Order of Martial Artists with aspirational idealism who are Elite fighters.  And there's a Political Elite who think highly of themselves.

Structurally, this novel is a thematic work of art, which could be why I like it so much.

It is about the pre-industrial society's method of counting ballots in a free democratic election.  The ballots are pieces of paper, and though counted in the out-lying cities where they were cast, they are put in lockboxes and transported by horse-drawn wagons over difficult mountain passes, to be officially certified in Maradaine, the capital.

Why this process is not accomplished Magically is not explained in this novel.

The Main Characters involved in rescuing the ballot lockboxes from those who would overthrow the will of the people belong to the martial order, priding itself on being a Shield of the People, never an aggressor, but are only trainees.

So the ostensible plot is focused on keeping an election from being falsified, but seething underneath that action-story is the conspiracy plot left from the previous Maradaine Elite novel.

There are those who respect and revere democracy (with no explanation of why, or where they got that idea), and there are those who think democracy is wrong, way too dangerous, and so they must rule.

Complex but very realistic political factions take shape, with no explanation of why these people (who are apparently human, but that is not established either) think exactly as the people of Earth in the 1700's.

There is no explanation of why Magic has not been harassed to create an industrial revolution.

In other words, these novels of various segments of the population of Maradaine, are hugely inspirational to the Romance Writer with a science fictional bent. Everything that is in the Maradaine novels is just fine -- it's what's MISSING that inspires.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Best of Good Faith, Worst of Bad Faith

Good Faith (or bona fides, or Fair Dealing) is the concept of sincerely intending to deal fairly with others without malice or the intention to trick or defraud or take advantage of someone else.

The internet makes it very easy and profitable to act with a lot less than good faith, especially with respect (or lack thereof) of the moral and legal rights of creative people... authors, writers, artists, musicians, song writers, composers, tattoo-artists, photographers, game developers, comedians, conjurers, stage hands and all the persons behind (as well as in front of) the movie camera.

The best guide this writer has seen to Bad Faith, especially with regard to Trademark law was written for the European consumer by Louise van de Mortel and can be enjoyed on the Novagraaf site.

Romance writers have endured a series of outrages since various actors or their assistants have attempted to trademark words we all use: cocky, dark, royal...  It is quite annoying to not be able to use the mot juste, or the ancient word that scores the most points!

To this day, there is an internet word game that consists of a grid of  five Scrabble- like tiles by six Scrabble-like tiles, that cascade as the player creates words out of contiguous tiles.... it will not allow COCK as a legitimate word.  HEN is perfectly fine. All manner of names for male wildlife seems fine, but not for male poultry.

Nicholas J. Krob, writing for McKee, Voorhees & Sease. PLC discusses the bad faith of concert goers using their smart phones to film concerts with the intention of publishing, distributing, and profiting either tangibly or intangibly from the performance.

As Krob suggests, it is remarkable how ignorant of copyright most social media "users" are.

In this writer's opinion, back before Y2K, would-be smartphone purchasers should have been treated like motorists. Just as it is a privilege, not a right, to drive, so it should be a privilege, not a right, to access the world wide web. There should have been basic instruction into copyright law and fair use/fair dealing, and an easy examination at the point of sale, and a limited term license that could be revoked for bad behavior and would have to be renewed periodically contingent on unremarkable behavior and passing an updated test.

In this article about copyright protections for creators, Music Tech Policy offers a fascinating, esoteric, detailed and disturbing look at --arguably-- the worst of bad faith in the highest of places:

Double dipping Music Tech Policy, because they have been particularly illuminating this last week this article compares user generated "content" on smartphones to nicotine and ammonia in cigarettes.

Wishing you all the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Freedom of Speech Online

Cory Doctorow's latest LOCUS column explores the distinction between freedom of speech in the legal sense and the pragmatic limitations encountered on the Internet:

Inaction Is a Form of Action

He focuses on the effects of the dominance exerted by tech giants such as Facebook and Google. The Constitution forbids government interference with freedom of speech, but it doesn't prevent private businesses from setting their own rules. Constructing a parable of two restaurants, one that forbids political conversation on its premises and another with no such prohibition, he acknowledges that customers who don't like the restrictions of No Politics Diner can eat at Anything Goes Bistro. But suppose No Politics Diner not only buys up all its competitors but branches out to own a variety of other kinds of businesses as well? It's theoretically possible that soon there won't be any privately owned public spaces in town where customers can discuss politics. Without any interference by government, freedom of speech has effectively been limited.

With the pithy comment that Facebook "has hostages, not users," he applies this analogy to online services. When the giants have swallowed up so many of their competitors that (in an exaggerated but still chilling quote) the Internet has become “five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four,” policies set by these companies can restrict online speech even though no state censorship is involved. Services such as Facebook make rules, followed by exceptions to the rules, then additional layers of regulations to close the loopholes created by the exceptions. The resulting incomprehensibly complex tangle of exceptions and loopholes, according to Doctorow, "will always yield up exploitable vulnerabilities to people who systematically probe it." While the trolls run rampant, the rest of us may have no means of defending ourselves against them.

He has a list of suggestions for "fixing" the Internet to transform it into an environment "that values pluralism (power diffused into many hands) and self-determination (you get choose which tech you use and how you use it)." One thing he urges is breaking up the Big Tech monopolies. I have reservations about whether this course of action is practical (or, under current law, legal, but that's an area I don't know much of anything about). It's hard to argue with his summary of the problem, however: "When the state allows the online world to become the near-exclusive domain of a small coterie of tech execs, with the power to decide on matters of speech – to say nothing of all the other ways in which our rights are impacted by the policies on their platforms, everything from employment to education to romance to (obviously) privacy – for all the rest of us, they are making policy."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Headlines to Rip Stories From - Part 1

Headlines to Rip Stories From
Part 1 

OK, from which to rip stories! But who says that?

Since my house has been undergoing renovations, at the same time as I've had pneumonia, I have fallen behind creating these posts.

I do have plenty to say, and a number of topics to explore, but meanwhile, here are some articles that have captured my attention.

Here is a headline to "rip" if you need to make a Character mysteriously sick, or perhaps contrive a murder method.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, January 12, 2020

B.Y.O.B. (On Acronyms and Metonymy)

With acronyms, one has a choice.

B.Y.O. or B.Y.O.B. traditionally suggests Bring (you own....) and the optional, final "B" could refer to Booze, Beer, or a Bottle.

And "Bottle" could mean a container of strong liquor, which is also known as Dutch Courage (or Irish Courage), or in some parts of the word "bottle" is slang for courage itself.

Metonymy is a particularly useful literary device for alien romance world building, if one would like one's aliens to have their own slang.

This is an excellent starting point:

B.Y.O.B. could also stand for BUY your own BOOK.  Apparently, it is an established practice, especially among politicians.... and among writers with bread to cast on the waters.

Sarah Nicholas of Book Riot has an interesting History of Buying Books onto the Bestseller list, from how it all started up to the present day and what those little dagger signs signify on the N.Y.T. bestseller lists.

The article may not be quite even handed. One can be fairly confident that the counterparts of the cheating authors who were cited probably did the same thing, and may even have used taxpayer funds instead of mere campaign donations.

One might also find that Amazon will delete bad reviews for very well connected friends of Amazon, but for most authors, even bad reviews of books that have not been published, let alone sold, will stay up in all their miserable glory.

Amazon is also in the writing world news for (another) instance of rather poor quality control. "Waffle" is hardly literature, but one follows ones stream of consciousness, if only for the joy of the pun!

A Canadian over Christmas showed a little too much bottle (as in "willingness to take risks") when he took to social media to lambaste his American corporate employer over their seasonal gift to him of barbecue sauce. We are not told if it is the type of sauce that comes in a bottle.

His sauciness was not appreciated, and he lost his employment.

The American First Amendment protects one's right to speak one's mind, but does not guarantee freedom from the consequences of ill-advised speech... as CNN also discovered, and as is an object lesson to any humble participant in social media discussions of current events.

While DuckDuckGo-ing "B.Y.O.B.", one notices many references to a music group by that name. This blog is not about them, but they may deserve attribution for turning the acronym to "Bring Your Own Bomb".

But, on the topic of bombs, Colin R. Jennings, Ann J. LaFrance, Garon Anthony and Ericka Johnson blogging for the law firms Squire Patton Boggs, give timely advice for all internet users on preparing for the possibility of a well-coordinated cyber attack.

Lexology link:

Original link:

While an international cyber offensive would not be directed at alien romance writers, it might sweep us up in collateral damage if we could not back up our files to our preferred cloud, use credit cards, access our banks, etc.

Write safe!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Adaptation Weirdness

Has anyone else here watched the new DRACULA miniseries streaming on Netflix? This post includes spoilers on the assumption that by now anyone interested in the show will have either seen it or read reviews. Like most DRACULA adaptations, the program begins with a more-or-less (sometimes less) faithful rendition of Jonathan Harker's stay at Castle Dracula, but with the clever addition of framing scenes in which Jonathan narrates his ordeal to a nun in the nursing convent where he was taken after his escape from the castle. After the Castle Dracula sequences, like many other film treatments, the story, shall we say, veers. Sister Agatha reveals herself as Agatha Van Helsing, a Dutch nun residing at the Hungarian convent and a scholar of superstitions such as vampirism. Jonathan himself has been more radically changed by his experience than his book counterpart. The final scenes of the episode portray Dracula's attack on the convent while Sister Agatha strives to hold him at bay. The second installment of the three follows the voyage of the doomed ship Demeter to England. Unlike in the novel, where the Demeter is a cargo ship and Dracula remains hidden except from his victims, in this program the Demeter is a passenger vessel on which the Count travels openly. This change allows fascinating interactions between Dracula and his mostly unsuspecting fellow passengers. I admire the way this series restores the visceral horror of Dracula as a powerful, demonic vampire. (And I speak as a devoted fan of "good guy vampires" and a champion of Fred Saberhagen's THE DRACULA TAPE, with the Count as narrator and hero, as one of the best vampire novels ever published.) It's also interesting that Dracula can absorb memories and skills from the victims whose blood he drinks, a gift he uses with planning and discretion. The final episode, however, departs completely from the novel to skip from 1897 to the present. Count Dracula comes ashore at Whitby having remained dormant underwater, after the wreck of the Demeter, for 123 years. He's met by an armed security force led by the modern Dr. Van Helsing, a woman scientist who heads the Jonathan Harker Foundation for study of arcane medical conditions, including vampirism. I enjoyed the "fish out of water" dimension of Dracula's adjustment to the twenty-first century, while he remains both charismatic and terrifying. Aside from several familiar characters with the same names and similar narrative functions as those in Stoker's original, though, this third episode has no connection to the novel and, as some reviewers have noted, might as well be an entirely different story.

Since I'm more familiar with DRACULA than any other novel, I take intense interest in the various, often strange ways it has been filmed. Granted, the original is a long, complicated story that only a miniseries, not a standard-length feature film, could hope to render with any degree of fidelity. The 1977 BBC miniseries starring Louis Jourdan comes closest. Aside from combining Quincey Morris and Arthur Holmwood into one character and making Mina and Lucy sisters (a change I like because it reduces the element of wild coincidence in Dracula's first English victim just happening to be a friend of his solicitor's fiancee), this version follows the novel pretty faithfully. The classic Bela Lugosi movie, however, is derived not from the novel but from the stage play (in which Lugosi also starred), which takes place entirely in England. The Lugosi film restores the opening scenes set in Transylvania but otherwise limits itself to the general outline of the play. This version, oddly, has Renfield rather than Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvania to finalize the Count's real estate purchase.

One of my favorite movies, although it follows the play and the Lugosi version more than the book, is the 1979 film starring Frank Langella, mainly because Langella makes such an alluring, sensual Dracula. A major weirdness of this adaptation comprises the reversal of names between Lucy and Mina. "Lucy," for all practical purposes, is actually Mina. The Lucy character, now called Mina, has also become the daughter of Van Helsing. A TV adaptation that starts by following the novel but eventually veers, the 1973 Dan Curtis production starring Jack Palance (in my opinion, one of the least suitable Draculas ever cast), draws upon the history of Vlad the Impaler, a cinematic innovation at that time. In addition, it introduces the trope of Dracula's obsession with a woman whom he considers the reincarnation of his wife, in this case Lucy. Coppola's not quite accurately titled BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1992) adopts this motif, with Mina as Dracula's long-lost beloved, an element detested by many fans. This one also identifies the Count with the historical Impaler. Otherwise, this production does fulfill its claim to incorporate all the major characters and the general plotline of the novel, including the heroes' pursuit of the Count back to his Transylvanian lair.

The 2013 DRACULA TV series, while set in England in the 1890s and featuring several characters from the novel, otherwise strays so far from the original that I gave up on it after a couple of episodes. In this re-imagining, Count Dracula poses as an American entrepreneur who invests in scientific and technological innovation. His true agenda, however, is revenge on his nemesis, the Order of the Dragon—??!!—the medieval knightly order of which the real-life Vlad Dracula and his father were proud members. This character impressed me as so unlike any Dracula I could recognize that I quickly lost interest in him.

How far can a film adaptation of a book depart from its source before it becomes effectively a different story? Mostly, I have a low tolerance for movies and TV programs that claim to translate books to films but have little resemblance to their alleged originals. Other readers and viewers may happily accept more radical transformations.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Sime~Gen Book 15 Now in Kindle, iBooks, and Paper

Sime~Gen Book 15
Now in Kindle, iBooks, and Paper 

Here we are now in 2020, and just at the end of 2019, the 15th volume of my Sime~Gen Series appeared on Amazon, Apple iBooks, and probably places I've never heard of.  It is in e-book and paper formats.

We have talked about Star Trek, and the impact a mere TV Show has had on the world.  Teens and college students were (and still are) inspired to create the devices and capabilities Gene Roddenberry built deep into the background of Star Trek.

And those tantalizing possibilities still lure young people into the sciences.  New Series set in the Star Trek Universe are now Streaming hits.

How did that happen? Why? Could someone do this on purpose?

The first non-fiction book I wrote, STAR TREK LIVES!

 is all about why young people were so inspired, driven to develop skills to manifest their creativity.

To demonstrate the validity of my theory, I wrote my first novel, HOUSE OF ZEOR, appeal to the Spock fans among Star Trek fans.  I sold the (at that time very expensive) hardcover with a money back guarantee - if you don't like it, mail it back to me and I'll refund your money.  I sold 60, and never had one returned. 

I targeted a readership.  A very small subset of a huge readership.

The first novel in the series drew heaps of fan mail with questions about the worldbuilding.  I answered by letter -- and the created the fanzine Ambrov Zeor to publish my answers as I kept getting the same ones over and over.

STAR TREK LIVES! blew the lid on Star Trek fan fiction.  For years, fans had been publishing their own original fiction (with original characters not seen on screen), in fanzines.  That explosion of creative fiction was replicated by HOUSE OF ZEOR and subsequent Sime~Gen Novels.

As soon as I established Ambrov Zeor as a fanzine, I began to get fiction submissions even from people I didn't know.  I handed editorship of the fanzine over to a fan so I could go on writing books. 

At a Star Trek Convention, Karen MacCloud and Katie Filipowicz (two I didn't know at the time, since become best friends for life), approached me to ask to found other Sime~Gen fanzines.  They did exactly that and never had too few submissions of fiction and articles to get an issue out for another Star Trek con. 

By the time the second Sime~Gen novel was in hardcover print from Doubleday, one fan who was already a professional writer, Jean Lorrah, had written for the Sime~Gen fanzines just as she had written Star Trek fanfic.  Then she submitted to me a novel about the first channel to discover how to channel selyn.  We sold her novel to Doubleday and went on to do more Sime~Gen together -- then she wrote independently in Sime~Gen and I went on to develop the story line. 

So just like Star Trek, Sime~Gen captured reader interest and jolted creativity into motion. At one point there were 5 Sime~Gen fanzines - replicating the phenomenon in microcosm.

Star Trek, meanwhile, went on to generate Animated TV Series, and then new Prime Time drama series (most of which we love). 

Years later, Sime~Gen fanfic writers, some of whom had meanwhile become professional writers, made new, original, contributions to main-line Sime~Gen, first with a professionally published anthology

.. and now Mary Lou Mendum has transformed some of her Sime~Gen fanfic into professionally published novels, the Clear Springs Chronicles - a series within a series.

Her second Clear Springs novel is now out, and she's well into drafting the 4rd.

Plot and story lines had to be added to blend the fanfic onto the timeline, and she has been tasked with inventing some scientific advancements that change the direction of Sime~Gen history.

In the Clear Springs Chronicles, we follow the spread of Sime Centers deeply into Gen Territory.  As the interface between Sime and Gen deepens, creativity sparked and NEW science emerges.

Mary Lou is a Ph.D. in plant genetics, so we tasked her with identifying the plant source of a staple drink, adding to the Worldbuilding both a new kind of organic battery, inventing heavier than air flight, and a new disease.

Jean Lorrah is working on more novels covering the industrial spread of the organic battery via the Entertainment Industry -- and in the process, incorporating Mary Lou's new disease, showing how the death of one person from this disease motivates a descendant to transform the world yet again.

These fans are working, and re-working, the Worldbuilding behind the novels I have written. 

It is up to readers to decide what there is about Sime~Gen that seems to echo the effect on fans that Star Trek has had.

Mary Lou first drafted these new novels, then I made changes, Mary Lou re-drafted, and Jean Lorrah did a final polish edit -- then I did a polish draft, and Karen MacCleod did a copyedit, then it was sent in to the publisher, and we got back the usual final-final-final check this again, draft.

So here is Sime~Gen Book 15:

E-book for Kindle


You can find it on iBooks by searching Sime~Gen.

Books 16, 17 and 18 are in the works, detailing the way human personalities blend and clash to produce the structure of science and technology which transforms humanity's lifestyles around the globe, and eventually into space.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, January 04, 2020

One New Piracy Host, One Old Pirates' Friend

Linked In owns Slide Share.
It looks like Slide Share makes available a lot more than slides.

Linked In is protected by safe harbor under the DMCA as long as it removes infringing links, and also removes repeat infringers.

Here is Linked In's page to report infringement.

Some commentators feel that it is a waste of time to bother trying to take down piracy links because they are usually re-uploaded in a short period of time, however, there is a glimmer of justice on the horizon.

As Adi Shoval reports for Pearl Cohen, Cox Communications was recently fined a billion dollars for not removing repeat infringers (in this case, music infringers) from its platform.

The jury awarded $100,000 for the piracy of over 10,000 individual music works.

Meanwhile, just one senator is holding up the #CASEAct. For anyone active on Twitter, the CopyrightAlliance is asking creators and their friends to use the hashtag #AskWydenWhy and to tweet @RonWyden.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

SF Seasons

Happy New Year! The days begin to lengthen, even if imperceptibly at first, but nevertheless I have to brace myself for over two months more of early darkness and damp cold. We temperate-zone residents are used to a year divided into the conventional four seasons, recurring in a predictable annual rhythm. My family had a funny encounter many years ago at King's Dominion (an amusement park) in northern Virginia, while standing in line to check out of the hotel adjacent to the park. This happened on a day at the height of summer, and the weather was as expected in a Virginia summer, high humidity with temperatures in the eighties or low nineties. An apparently British couple in line with us asked whether "it was always this hot" all year around. Mentally (not aloud, of course) I collapsed with laughter. In this area we have four seasons just like most other locations in North America, with pleasant springs and falls and miserably cold winters. If our family's experience of living in Hawaii in the 1970s was typical, tropical regions have two basic seasons, rainy and dry, with little variation in temperature or length of daylight.

Science fiction and fantasy often feature imaginary worlds with seasons different from those familiar to us Earth dwellers, but the stories don't always take full advantage of the possibilities. The setting of the Game of Thrones saga famously suffers winters that last for years, whose timing and duration vary. Yet I don't remember noticing in either the novels or the TV series an explanation of how human civilization in Westeros survives those ordeals. How could enough food possibly be stored to sustain entire nations over a multi-year winter, especially with no way of knowing when the cold season will descend upon them? Maybe the southern regions of the inhabited world escape mainly unscathed and supply provisions for the affected areas? The economic effects would be calamitous, though, even if most people managed to scrape by. Isaac Asimov's classic story "Nightfall" takes place on a planet in the middle of a cluster of stars, so that it experiences full darkness only once in several centuries. Although a short story can't cover every aspect of worldbuilding, admittedly, even in the story's later novel-length expansion I don't recall any consideration of how different a culture that develops in perpetual light would be from ours. Agriculture alone would evolve in ways strange to us, wouldn't it? Recently I read SHADOW AND LIGHT and SHADOW RISING, the first two books in an excellent fantasy series by Peter Sartucci. They're set on a planet that revolves around a double star. No results of having two suns, in terms of either circadian rhythms or climate, are developed. As in "Nightfall" with its planet of multiple suns, not only weather but seismic phenomena would surely be affected. With more books to come, however, maybe this aspect of the setting will be elaborated later.

One novel I've read within the past year takes full advantage of its setting's weird seasons, as the title indicates: THE FIFTH SEASON, first book in the Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin, offers a devastating, in-depth portrayal of a world periodically ravaged by geological disasters of apocalyptic scope. Fifth Seasons appear at unpredictable intervals and can last from a few months or years to an entire century. At those times, worldwide tectonic cataclysms cause earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis, with side effects such as climate change, crop failures, poisonous fungal growths, etc. Appropriately, this world's cultures are crucially shaped by the Fifth Season phenomenon, which includes the ambiguous role of the few people with the gift of controlling seismic events.

Here's a page that lists eight SF novels about climate change:

Sci-Fi Books That Highlight Climate Change

And here's a different list of fourteen novels focusing on climate catastrophes (including some overlap with the previous one, naturally):

Sci-Fi Books for Earth Day

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt