My, the past two weeks were busy, with writerly stuff – Steve and I recently finished revising the manuscript of The Tears of Eridanus (sent off to our editor last week), and then we worked on the What’s Past galleys. There was some other stuff, too, including website translations for my brother, but now I can relax for a bit.

So, here’s some linkery:

The aforementioned monkey police, consisting of one pig-tailed macaque, on patrol in Thailandvia treehugger.com

The Last Supper portions have gradually become bigger and bigger over the past centuries, as sufficient food became more easily availablevia Mother Jones

Having fun with toy stormtroopersvia Dark Roasted Blend

The Hypothecial Library – actual covers for nonexisting books

I’d originally planned to post something else, but then I found something more important:

Ari Marmell, author of a number of Magic: The Gathering and Ravenloft novels (among others), on the advantages of writing tie-in fiction.

(via Colleen Lindsay)

The biologist Willie Smits explains how he was able to regrow the rainforest in a part of Borneo, saving orangutans and helping the local population. (20 min)

Recently, as I was reading some of the comments regarding the forthcoming The Tears of Eridanus Steve and I received from a group of beta readers, I was reminded of one of Jo Walton’s posts on tor.com. It’s entitled “SF Reading Protocols” and is about how we who have been reading science fiction for years have developed a certain skillset that enables us to enjoy the stories instead of being puzzled or even put off by them.

Things don’t always have to be spelled out to make sense. If they’re important, they’ll be explained. If not, they’re there simply to liven up the background. Walton uses a friend of her ex-husband as an example. He’d read The Forever War (or tried to, at least) and was confused by the reference to a tachyon drive. In the story, the drive is important because it makes FTL travel possible, but its exact workings are not.

This tachyon drive guy, who has stuck in my mind for years and years, got hung up on that detail because he didn’t know how to take in what was and what wasn’t important. How do I know it wasn’t important? The way it was signalled in the story. How did I learn how to recognise that? By reading half a ton of SF. How did I read half a ton of SF before I knew how to do it? I was twelve years old and used to a lot of stuff going over my head, I picked it up as I went along. That’s how we all did it. Why couldn’t this guy do that? He could have, but it would have been work, not fun.

This brings me back to tToE. Some of the beta readers haven’t read much (or any) SF before, and so their reaction to the story is naturally going to be different to that of people who are intimately familiar with it. We now have the difficult task of deciding when to address their complaints about unexplained things and when to leave the references in question as they are.

I don’t have a problem with not immediately understanding some of the references in a new story. But then, I started reading SF and fantasy at almost the same age as Jo Walton: thirteen. I’ve had seventeen years to build up a vast dictionary/encyclopedia in my head, and sometimes it is difficult to remember that other people might not share that experience.

On the other hand, it’s unlikely that there will be many people unfamiliar with both SF in general and Star Trek in particular who’ll be reading the third volume of Myriad Universes come December. Somehow it doesn’t strike me as the most newcomer-friendly material available. But what do I know? I only write the darned things, I don’t sell them.

About a week ago, I mentioned that I had an idea for a multi-novel series and that I’d found many good and informative sites. Now it’s progressed to the stage where I ordered books about the subject I want the first novel to be about.

Subjects, actually. The more I think about the setting and the timeframe, the more interrelated topics I discover. The story will be based on Earth in the middle of this century, and so I’ll have to think about how Earth will look like then. This means I’ll have to consider everything, from climate to politics to society to technology … the list is endless.

I have the feeling I’ll have a hard time deciding when to stop the research and actually write the darned thing, hopefully with Steve (unless he’s busy … or not interested).

Last night I dreamt the entire first episode of the upcoming series of Doctor Who.

It was a good episode. The details are a bit fuzzy now, but I remember the main things: Amy Pond wasn’t in it, nor was the TARDIS. There was a lot of running around in rooms and corridors. Matt Smith was acting the heck out of everything. And he had a hammer, for some reason. There were two Doctors, actually – or at least one Doctor and one person who thought he was the Doctor, similar to The Next Doctor and Minuet in Hell.

There were monsters. Great monsters, at that. Monsters with a spider’s lower body and legs and an upper body like an angel. This sounds like I was mixing up two Christmas specials, but the effect in the dream was much better than just a cross between the Racnoss and the Heavenly Host.

And then there was the new theme. My goodness, it was a great theme! Not as bombastic as the latest versions, but more subdued like Delia Derbyshire’s, with an underlying line of ticking clocks. I want to hear this theme again!

Oh boy. That Asimov’s article by Norman Spinrad provoked quite a reaction from the blogosphere (gosh, what a silly word that is).

In cases like this, Ian McDonald’s right: it’s more interesting to listen than to opine.

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