Why do the Hugos matter? Because sci-fi is more than boobs in space

sci fi, sexy, hugo, By now, if you follow science fiction, you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards. If not I would highly suggest reading this Wired piece, which spells it out pretty well.

But to sum up, there seems to be a faction of sci-fi writers/readers who are uncomfortable with minority voices winning awards. These voices are worried too much about the message and not enough about work that people actually want to read. So they made a concerted effort to nominate books they deem more worthy based on their popularity and that they’re fun to read.

I could only drop my jaw at the notion that someone would complain about a sci-fi book having a message. That’s always been the POINT of sci-fi. Science Fiction has always been about using the future to make statements about our present society.

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Robot Awareness now free on Kindle Unlimited

kindle unlimited, sci fi, ebook, robot awarenessHey Kindle readers – I’m super happy to say that Robot Awareness Part I is now available on Kindle Unlimited!

Kindle Unlimited is a service that allows readers to pay so much per month to read books on Amazon. I had to eliminate RA from other platforms to enroll it on KU, and that will allow me to host other promotions as well!

Now’s a good time to start reading – I just got back Part III from my editor, The Timster and will be releasing that shortly. I also got back my latest short story, The Sandrunner, and will be releasing that shortly as well. As soon as I figure out a cover for it.

So if you’re signed up for Kindle Unlimited, then you can go ahead and read Robot Awareness for free! If not, hey, it’s only a buck!

The most insane book I’ve ever read

House of leaves, post modern, lit crit, danielewskiI would be doing literature a disservice if I didn’t first qualify what I’m going to say with the fact that I have never read Finnegan’s Wake. When I talk about insane books, it would be hard to leave it out, but I’ve not tried, so I have no basis of comparison.

With that out of the way, I have to say that House of Leaves is perhaps one of the most insane books I’ve ever read.

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Author on a budget

Working on my novelI’ve renewed one of my favorite interests: frugality. It occurred to me recently that I’ve become complacent in my spending, blowing through a lot of money that I probably don’t need to. Instead of eating lunch every day at work, I’m bringing it from home. Drinking tea at work and home is saving me money, not only from the price of coffee, but also by eliminating the temptations that go along with them: Scones, cookies, etc. I’ve looked for fun (free) outdoor activities to occupy my time, like riding my bike or playing disc golf. I’m saving going out for limited occasions.

So in examining all my spending, I couldn’t help but look at my writing. After all, right now it’s a money-losing enterprise. Not a big money sink. I pay my editor, a copy editor I used to work with and fellow sci-fi dork, a friend price to edit my work when it’s finished. I’ve paid for the first four covers of Robot Awareness, so that expense is largely gone. (My short story will need one, so I guess I have one coming up.)

But that being said, should I still continue to sink money into it?

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A run of good books II: Hunter S. Thompson’s The Hell’s Angels

hunter s thompson, hell's anges, reading recommendationsMy run of good books, which extended through my trip to Thailand, continued with Hunter S. Thompson. I’d long wanted to read this book, and added it to my kindle after reading an article that referenced it. I’m always curious about how I come across books, because I think it’s valuable when I think about how people might come across mine.
It’s safe to say that Thomoson’s book Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga didn’t disappoint. Thompson has a reputation as a druggie scofflaw, and miscreant known for more for his eccentricities than his writing. That, no doubt, thanks to his portrayal in movies such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the lesser known Where the Buffalo Roam.

And that rep isn’t necessarily unearned. Thompson was as much a part of counter culture as he was a reporter of it. But that only makes Thompson’s book about the Hell’s Angels that much more real. Because throughout the work he combines extensive research with plenty of firsthand experience. He spent an enormous amount of time with a Hell’s Angels chapter, and went on several now infamous runs with them. But he was, of course, never one of them, as he found out the hard way.

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A run of great books, starting with Nick Cole’s The Wasteland Saga

the wasteland saga, nick cole, ebook, indie pubI’ve been on a run of great books lately. So I thought I’d share (and will likely post individual reviews afterward).

It really started with Nick Cole. I read the first book of his The Wasteland Saga, The Old Man and the Wasteland. The book focuses on the Old Man (his series tends to use generic names for its protagonist) and his journey through post-apocalyptic America. In the wasteland world, most of America’s major cities were destroyed in a war that we only learn bits and pieces about. In that way, we see the war through someone who doesn’t remember what pre-war America was like.

In his second book, we get that perspective in our main character, boy. Boy, who latched on to Sergeant Presley, a mentor and later disembodied voice he’s not entirely sure he’s imagining, navigates this new wasteland, attempting to see the cities the good sergeant told him tales of.

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Inherent Vice: A review

inherent vice, novels, ebooks, movie, reviewThe Atlantic posted a pretty interesting look at Thomas Pynchon, in light of his movie coming out in December. Pynchon has an unusual style that turns some off but draws a pretty good swath of converts.

I’m not sure if I became one of them, but I will say I enjoyed Inherent Vice, if even at the end I wasn’t sure what the point was. As The Atlantic later put it in its review of the film, “It’s about a pothead bumbling about L.A.”

That pretty much sums up this story about stoner private detective Doc as he works to solve the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her millionaire new lover in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Along the way he nearly gets killed, gets high a lot, ends up on frantic car chases with a mentally ill woman behind the wheel (the subject of his first-ever investigation, it turns out) and plays a cat and mouse game with his police “friend” Bigfoot.

He solves the case, sort of (it might be better to say that the case sort of solves itself, or maybe turns out to not need solving). Perhaps that’s the point of Inherent Vice, that crime and sin are a natural part of the culture in which Doc exists, and have a way of passively sorting themselves out. As a PI, Doc is the antithesis of the hard-boiled detective of crime noir novels. He’s a hippy bumbling his way through investigations, getting high and having a lot of sex. But like Columbo, the bumbling is at least something of a ruse; he’s more competent than he let’s on (both to us as readers and to other characters). People underestimate him, and that’s both his charm and his schtick.

Did anyone else who read this book think of the Big Lebowski when reading Doc’s exploits?