Shineanthology’s Weblog

An anthology of optimistic, near future SF

Archive for September, 2009

Another Quick Update on Shine…

…is actually mostly done on SF Signal in their Mind Meld topic about “How the Hottest Science Fiction Anthologies Are Created, Part 2” (there are three parts).

In short:

  • I’ve worked all weekend to get as many replies out as possible, but almost dropped down from exhaustion somewhere late Sunday night (and apologies again to the author who received a reply that was an incomplete mess that I inadvertently sent before it was finished: I sent out the finished one after that, and went to bed, as I was starting to make crazy mistakes);
  • About fifty or so replies still to go out: apologies again but things are very busy on many levels right now. I was home from the day job (which has nothing to do with publishing) very late today, and have important commitments on Thursday and Friday night (again, after the day job). Should get it all wrapped up over the coming weekend, hopefully (no promises: July and August were insane, and September was the same, even when it was supposed to be more quiet);
  • Yes, I will be putting some stories that didn’t make it into the *print* version of Shine online, for which I’ll be setting up another site. First one planned — contrary to what I said on the Mind Meld topic — for Friday October 16 (not October 2: original date got pushed forward as I was [am] swamped in other stuff). However, there is a very good reason for exactly Friday October 16;
  • Also, while the print version of Shine is full, I am still asking some authors are willing to appear online instead (paid professional rates out of my own pocket), all for more promotion, glory and madness for Shine. So not all outstanding replies will be rejections;

As it is, my intention was to wrap a lot of things up before the SF Signal Mind Meld topic with my contribution was posted (which would have made for a perfect break), but life — in various incarnations — intervened. Not that I’m complaining: my day job is extremely busy while the world at large suffers from the effects of the credit crisis, so in that I am lucky. And the day job has priority, as it pays the bills.

Also, I’ve never had such a crazy summer in my whole life (literally everything seemed to happen at the same time in July and August, and — unexpectedly — in September, as well). But I am catching up — even if not as fast as I would like to — and have more crazy ideas lined up for the future.

So thanks for your patience, and stay tuned!

The Week in Tweet, Week 28

I have seen @outshine on the edge of dawn, balancing dreams on the end of thorns…

Monday July 6:

[Quote for the Monday] “I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.”

[Source] Charlotte Brontë / English novelist (1816 – 1855) / from The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.

Tuesday July 7:

Cranked amps, bluesy rock, soaring solos, quiet-loud-quiet; pure summertime grunge pop, like the nineties never ended. Kick back, play loud.

[#SoundBytes] FARM by DINOSAUR JR – http://www.dinosaurjr.com/ Play It Again Sam Recordings – http://www.myspace.com/dinosaurjr .

Wednesday July 8:

So brave, so nervous. Both of them. Hand in hand, no gloves and no special suits. An unlocked hatch, a step outside. Truth: Earth survided.

[Bio] Jacques Barcia is a weird fiction writer from Brazil who’s waiting for the climate to change back to normal. www.verbeat.org/blogs/pwt.

Thursday July 9:

Good vs. Evil? Meh. If the Chosen One doesn’t get you with his magic wand, will Bumblebore you to death? Wil Hermione develop chlamydia?

[#Spitballs] Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince / Directed by David Yates / http://is.gd/1sGmU .

Friday July 10:

[Quote for the Friday] “Never trust the artist. Trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.”

[Source] D. H. Lawrence (1885 – 1930) / British writer / Studies in Classic American Literature.

Saturday July 11:

They called Bill crazy for downloading his consciousness into a video game, but he wanted to spend more time with his kids.

[Bio] If you can catch Matthew Sanborn Smith early enough in the day, he smells rather nice.http://is.gd/ov1z .

Sunday July 12:

A wonderfully retro effort reflecting 30s-50s Sunday newspaper comics, with the first chapters of fifteen features presented tabloid-sized.

[#ShineComics] WEDNESDAY COMICS #1 [of 12] by diverse hands; DC Comics, 2009, $3.99.

Kindred Spirits, part 7

Via a Shine contributor (I’m not saying who. I’m not giving the ToC just yet. There will be a competition about this) I was attended to GreenPunk. I see their blog started last August 19, so it’s still early days. FWIW, my first impressions:

  • Their manifesto (or ‘statement of purpose’) is a bit too formal (and occasional over-the-top: see point C) for my taste. Caveat: I’m not a fan of manifestos. When Jason Stoddard wrote a manifesto about optimistic SF, I immediately asked him to change it to an open forum; that is, open to questioning and change. Where everybody can contribute and discuss, and is clearly and openly invited to do so. Hence the Optimistic SF Open Platform on the top of this very site.
  • I agree with several of the commenters on the io9 topic about GreenPunk: why punk? I’m so tired of -punk added to a movement. Worked with cyberpunk. Got repetitive with steampunk. Got boring with clockpunk. Got completely superfluous with every whateverpunk after that.
  • A flog to make sure the horse stays dead: the original punk movement got tired of itself by the early eighties already. Punk is dead, it’s become a product, and proclaiming your movement as ‘GreenPunk’ is about as realistic as the mohawk of the guy pictured below:GreenPunk
  • (Yes, you can buy it — for $7.89 to look cool at the next Halloween)
  • Finally — this punkhorse resurrects more often than vampires and zombies combined, unfortunately — punk is what beginning musicians produce because they can’t really play their instruments. The moment they do acquire a certain level of musicianship they start to play different music like gothic rock, hardcore and maybe eventually even metal.

Anyway, as mentioned, it’s still very early days for GreenPunk (they’re live less than a month), so time will tell if they are here to stay and produce something interesting (says the guy whose Shine blog is still a month away from its first anniversary. Life on the web is short and fast…;-). As long as they don’t go the way of the SFFEthics-that-became-the-SFFEnthusiasts, whose blog hasn’t posted anything since June 30 (says the guy who hardly posted anything last August. My excuses are a total solar eclipse in China, a WorldCon in Canada, a hacker conference in my home country, preparing for an important new project on the day job and the fact that I had to deliver the Shine MS on August 31. To say that I was extremely busy in August is an understatement: it was totally insane).

BSFA‘s Matrix Online (good to see that it’s running again after a short hiatus) has — among many other things — posted an article about Shine by Sissy Pantelis. Check it out, and thanks, Sissy!

To follow up on the “Blueprint for a Better World” post: New Scientist has posted 8 SF stories — edited by Kim Stanlay Robinson — online, calling them sci-fi: the fiction of now.

Sci-Fi SpecialIt’s typical: while I was busy writing up my piece about how the Shine anthology is coming together for SF Signal, I also thought about these 8 flash fiction pieces. I can’t help but think that most of these stories go against the spirit of what New Scientist is trying to do with the “Blueprint for a Better World” series: only Ian McDonald’s “A Little School” is somewhat, very cautiously optimistic, but the rest varies from pessimistic satires to outright apocalyptic (Geoff Ryman’s “2019: The Reality?”, Nicolla Groffith’s “Acid Rain“, Paul McAuley’s “Penance” and Stephen Baxter’s “Kelvin 2.0“). As mentioned, even the satirical pieces (Ian Watson’s “A Virtual Population Crisis“, Justina Robson’s “One Shot” and Ken McLeod’s “Reflective Surfaces” [what's in a name...;-)]) are downbeat in tone.

While I agree that it, more or less, indeed represents a proportional cut-through of the state of current written SF (overwhelmingly downbeat), I can’t help but think that it goes against the spirit of the “Blueprint for a Better World” series.

Which is, I suspect — as I am still catching up with everything, so just read today — summed up New Scientist‘s own editorial of the August 22 issue, which I would love to quote ad verbatim, but will have to refrain, and take out the tastiest morsels:

Positive thinking for a cooler world

[...] Show people this video and they will find little motivation not to carry on generating trah and burning oil like there’s no tomorrow. But tell them about the steps their peers are taking to make things better, and they may just follow suit. [...]

[...] Over at the Earth Day Network site, it gets worse. There you can find how many Earths it would take to support your lifestyle if everyone on Earth lived the same way. It’s hard to find any positive messages: a vegan who doesn’t own a car, never flies, takes public transport to work and shares a tiny appartment in a US city would still be told their lifestyle requires 3.3 Earths. It is hard to see what this is going to achieve, other than disillusioning people who are already doing their bit and telling everyone else that it isn’t worth the bother [...]

(Emphasis mine.) This almost exactly echoes the points I made on the “Why I Can’t Write a Near-Future, Optimistic SF Story: the Excuses”  post, especially the Sixth Excuse:

Furthermore, with the amount of cautionary tales going around in SF today, we should be well on our way to paradise, as we’re being told ad nauseam what not to do. Imagining things going wrong is easy; imagining things improving is hard. It’s easier to destroy than create. I’m sick and tired of writers demonstrating five thousand different ways of destroying a house: I long for the rare few that show me how to repair it, or build a better one.

Oh well: New Scientist tries to lead by example. Will SF follow suit? Let a thousand Shines rise…

The Week in Tweet, Week 27

Degrees of sanityall alone, lost unknow@outshine whispers in your sighs…

Monday June 29:

[Quote for the Monday] “Development requires democracy, the genuine empowerment of the people.”

[Source] Aung San Suu Kyi (1945 ) / Burmese political leader and human rights activist / The Times (London).

Tuesday June 30:

A strong dark midnight trip at a smoked-out squat party on the Haight; moody modern post-psychedleica at its fuzzed-up languid apex.

[#SoundBytes] THE MIRROR EXPLODES by THE WARLOCKS http://www.thewarlocks.com/ / TeePee Records http://www.teepeerecords.com/ .

Wednesday July 1:

Victory: I did it. The vaccine that will prevent AIDS. No one will ever have to watch someone die like that. Like Marie. My Marie. Like me.

[Bio] Mark Best has had short fiction published in various genres. Complete list at http://is.gd/1kQji .

Thursday July 2:

Vampire hottie carries a cool katana, but two cool fight scenes do not a good movie make. In this instance, blood is thinner than water.

[#Spitballs] Blood: The Last Vampire / Directed by Chris Nahon / http://is.gd/1lHsU .

Friday July 3:

[Quote for the Friday] “I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.”

[Source] Alice Lee Longworth (1884 1980) / U.S. society figure.

Saturday July 4:

“How far does it go?” she asked as we fell through the subspace burrow. I shrugged apologetically: “Theoretically, forever.”

[Bio] Gareth’s stories have appeared in 20 mags and 10 languages. He drinks lots of tea.  http://www.garethdjones.co.uk/ .

Sunday July 5:

It’s all about time, it’s all about space, it’s all about Captain America not being dead but temporally adrift. Familiar, but interesting.

[#ShineComics] CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN #1 (of 5) by Ed Brubaker (script), Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice (art); Marvel, 2009, $3.99 .

[Ed] Because of the general sluggishness I blame the heat, not the Hoegaarden…;-) an extra ShineComics, courtesy of David A. McDonald:

The Atom pulls a Jack Bauer and Green Lantern gets dominant (and Green Arrow submissive) as the JLA goes all 24. Art’s good, script’s not.

[#ShineComics Extra] JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #1 (of 7) by James Robinson (story), Mauro Cascioli (art); DC, 2009, $3.99 .

Blueprint for a Better World

Which is literally what New Scientist is saying in their weekly newletter to me (and I’m a longtime subscriber), here.

Blueprint for a better worldI know I’ve said this before (a lot of times, maybe to the point of ad nauseam), but I’m afraid it needs to be repeated, especially for a lot of thick-headed people in SF: people around the world want more than just the next doomsday scenario telling them what happens of we carry on doing the *stupid* things: what they really want (and need) is a pointer to solutions.

I really need to refrain from quoting the whole piece (“Blueprint for a Better World“) verbatim. But it’s what I’ve been saying on this very blog from the get-go. Like:

We live in an imperfect world. Poverty, disease, lack of education, environmental destruction – the problems are all too obvious. Many people don’t have clean water, let alone enough food, and the unsustainable lifestyle of the wealthy few is storing up catastrophic climate change.

Can we do anything about it? You bet we can. Technology is a double-edged sword, but science and reason have made our lives immeasurably better overall – and only through science and reason can we hope to make a real difference in the future. So here and over the next three weeks, New Scientist will explore diverse ideas for making the world a better place, and the evidence backing them.

Almost exactly as in some stories in Shine, [in part 1 this week] “we look at some radical ideas for transforming society and changing the way countries are run”.

[Next week in part 2] “We’ll report on what you as an individual can do to make a difference.” I can point to a few other stories in Shine.

[In part 3]  “We’ll explore what many see as the fundamental problem: overpopulation.” Kill me, shoot me and throw me to the wolves, but please check out The Elephant in the Room: a Foreshadowing (from December 1, last year) first.

[In part 4] “We’ll ponder the profound and long-lasting changes we are making to our home planet.” Again, I can point to several Shine stories.

Yes, I’ve delivered the final MS (manuscript) to Solaris Books. The people at Solaris are now very busy with the owner transition I mentioned in the previous post. So while I’m awaiting more info from them (release date, for one), I am confident that they will publish Shine (as per contract, and—more importantly—per intent). Apologies for the lack of replies in the past week, as I am working on several other things, which will become clear as they happen.

And no apologies as I need to ram home the really important thing: the majority of SF, and the majority of written SF in particular, sees no need in portraying a future ‘where people might actually like to live in’ (as Gardner Dozois has it in the July 2009 Locus). On the other hand, the most popular weekly scientific journal in the world DEDICATES FOUR ISSUES TO DEPICT “A BLUEPRINT FOR A BETTER WORLD”.

20090912Now who is out of touch here?

I’m very, very happy with what New Scientist is doing right now. I would be completely ecstatic if Shine would appear right after that, but it seems it’ll be early 2010. Compared by how fast written SF moves, though, it’ll still be bleeding edge.

Good News for SHINE!

It’s official: Rebellion acquires Solaris imprint from Games Workshop.

rebellionsolaris

Christian Dunn (Solaris Books‘ acquisition editor) broke the news to me (and many others) yesterday. The press release has gone out this morning, and I’ve already seen the first mention on the Falcata Times blog.

Solaris Banner

This is fantastic news: when it was announced — earlier this year — that the Games Workshop were putting Solaris Books up for sale, I was far from happy. While I was assures that, with regards to the Shine anthology, things were ‘business as usual’, it would also have meant that Shine would be one of the very last releases of Solaris if they didn’t find a buyer.

Now, however, the future for Solaris Books looks assured (at least for the foreseeable future), the distribution deal with Simon & Schuster remains intact (good distribution is of immense importancy), meaning things look up for the Shine anthology, as well.

So many congratulations to all the Solaris people!

Here’s the official press release:

REBELLION ACQUIRES SOLARIS IMPRINT FROM GAMES WORKSHOP

This week, Rebellion, Europe’s leading independent games developer and owner of the iconic comic 2000 AD and sci-fi and fantasy imprint Abaddon Books, completed the acquisition of the Solaris book publishing imprint from Games Workshop for an undisclosed sum.

This well-known and highly successful brand offers a mixture of new and traditional science fiction, fantasy and horror books and has many bestselling titles from both upcoming and established names such as Brian Lumley, Gail Z. Martin, Eric Brown and Simon R. Green, amongst others.

Solaris will sit alongside, and be run in parallel with, Rebellion’s own Abaddon Books.

Jason Kingsley, CEO of Rebellion said, “We’ve been aware of the Solaris imprint for some years now and have admired its success with fantastic stories and great writers.  Acquiring Solaris will allow us to continue to push our publishing trajectory upwards and expand the quantity, whilst maintaining the quality, of all our titles.”

George Mann, Games Workshop’s Head of Publishing said, “We’re delighted that Solaris has found a new home with Rebellion. After a period of fantastic growth with our Games Workshop related titles, we decided the time was right for us to focus all of our attention on our Black Library imprint. We’re sure Rebellion will now take Solaris forward to even greater heights.”

Rebellion has also entered into a sales and distribution agreement with Simon and Schuster. Under the agreement, Simon & Schuster will continue to handle sales, distribution and fulfilment of all Solaris titles for all new and backlist titles to trade and specialty accounts. The agreement is effective August 31st, 2009.

Simon & Schuster, a part of CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

For more information, visit our website www.simonandschuster.com 

Distribution for Solaris will continue to be represented by Simon and Schuster. 

www.solarisbooks.com

I’ve been waiting for this news ever since the sale of Solaris was announced. More news on the Shine anthology itself over the weekend, as I am still extremely busy.

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