Friday, January 30, 2015

Colleen McCullough Passes Away

I'm sad to read today that one of my all-time favorite authors has passed away. Her Rome series is hands-down the best historical fiction series ever (though my stand-alone favorite is Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield). Anyone who loves ancient Rome or simply loves good historical fiction owes it to themselves to read these.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Writing Sci-Fi

I've read a couple of things recently that suggested that science fiction writers can never be truly accurate about the future because our minds simply cannot fathom the changes that will come. While I'm not suggesting this is completely off base, I do think it misses an important point.

I'm currently working on a story set very far in the future. The truth is that when I imagine how the future will be at that point, you wouldn't believe just how bizarre that future would seem to the average person today. So will I write the story the way that I envision it? Of course not!

When we write a story, we are writing it for an audience of today. If I wrote about some of the crazy things I think are likely to be true in the far future, very few people would read my book, because they wouldn't be able to relate on any level. I have to scale back the changes and force the story to be relatable to today's audiences. That doesn't mean there won't be any strange elements in the story--of course there will be--but it is restrained in a way to allow a modern audience to still relate to the characters and to their surroundings.

I see it as being similar to the issue of portraying sci-fi in movies. Directors cannot be accurate in presenting the future, because our audiences wouldn't 'get' it. For example, I see future cyborgs or robots evolving technologically to a point where you couldn't tell the difference between them and a true human, at least not unless we build in something to purposely make them stand out. Yet in movies they always have to depict cyborgs or robots as being very obviously different from humans.

And if they wish to depict futuristic mind-data interfaces (such as I use in my first novel), they do so in films only with obvious mechanical items like goggles or other visible tech melded with the human body, when the reality is that such technology would most likely evolve to not be visible in any way. (That doesn't mean that humans of the future will look just like us. Evolution never stops, so humans will look quite different in the future, and even break into differing species at some point, should we begin to colonize different areas of space)

I'm not complaining about these differences between portrayal and the probable realities of the future. I understand why stories must be tailored for their intended audiences. But I do disagree with the idea that I am unable to comprehend the possible future. Of course no one can actually get all details of the future correct, but some of us have pretty wicked imaginations. If only you could see some of the things I think up!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Rating Systems -- Amazon vs Goodreads

Having now been a published author for two months, I've noticed something for the first time that I hadn't noticed before on two sites that I have used for many years. Amazon and Goodreads both use a five-star system for customers to give ratings to books (or other items in Amazon's case), but the levels are different. And this is really depressing for me!

If someone wants to rate a book as 'it was okay', on Amazon it gets three stars while on Goodreads only two. If you want to rate a book as 'I liked it', it's four stars on Amazon and only three on Goodreads. Thus on average books get a whole star less on Goodreads than on Amazon. This may seem petty, but it honestly gets a tad bit depressing to keep seeing three star reviews on Goodreads when you only get better ratings on Amazon. Considering that Amazon owns Goodreads now, I wish they would align their rating systems to make them consistent!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Suggestions for Hugo Award 2015 Nominations

The famous writer John Scalzi did a nice post to allow writers and artists to submit their work in order for Hugo Award voters to scope them out and potentially nominate the ones they think are best. Oddly enough, for an award that is so prestigious, there is no site that gathers contenders together to allow voters to easily check everything out and pick out what they'd like to read. Seems a no-brainer to me. Anyhow, I thought I'd chime in on the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist category, since I feel Stephan Martiniere had his best year ever. Check out these two pieces of art done as covers in 2014 and tell me they don't deserve a nomination!
The gorgeous piece above is Martiniere's work for the novel Shield and Crocus by Michael Underwood.

And this is his work for my novel The Immortality Game. Hugo voters, you can click to enlarge these to see more detail. They are exquisite and I hope you will feel they are deserving of your nominating vote.