Worlds & Time

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dead Fantasies

I'm the geekiest, gayest person alive. I love these:

Dead Fantasy I
Dead Fantasy II

And there are more on the way!!!

The choreography is simply amazing. Too bad he can't do a few with shirtless Final Fantasy Guys fighting.

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200th post

I can't think of anything lofty and meaningful enough to say for a 200th post.

Arg. Well, I have to think of something. How about a personal introspection?


Darn it.

I'm really bad at these double zero posts.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Loose Ends to Old Posts

Because I referenced it in a recent post I was thinking about something that I'd written and I decided that there was something else I wanted to say about it. So I went back through some of my old posts and just checked to see if there was anything else that I wanted to say about them.

Divine Right of Kings (again): So, I would say that calling someone African-American rather than saying that they're black is actually less PC than the other way around. When someone says "black" they're at least acknowledging the physical trait that the people were oppressed for.

Graduation: I'm not the sort of person that tries to define my life by ceremonies. I enjoyed high school graduation, but not because of the graduation, rather because it was fun to see all my friends of that year gathered together and having fun before we were all split up.

I am really glad that I went to college graduation though. It's one of the few ceremonies that I look to as a change between one part of my life and another part of my life.

Also, it provides me with a great excuse about why I left my job with Marriott.

Catcher in the Rye: I hated Catcher in the Rye, if that wasn't already clear by my post, but I can't deny that it was a moving and powerful book. I just didn't like it and wouldn't choose to read it again.

I don't feel that this is a hypocritical stance, either. I don't think something has to be necessarily well crafted to be good, nor do I feel that everything well crafted is necessarily good.

Science Fiction Psychiatry: See, the books that I should have been mentioning all along were The Foundation Trilogy. I reread them for that 10 Intellectual Sci-Fi books list, and it suddenly occurred to me that the Foundation books are the absolute perfect example of optimistic psychology and sociology in science fiction.

Not only can Seldon predict hundreds of years into the future with his mathematically precise version of sociology and psychology, but normal human interactions are accounted for. So in each case the actions of a few are expected by the social factors around them.

Sociology just doesn't work like that. No one can mathematically model a social system, even taking into account a quadrillion people spread across the galaxy. I don't even think it will be possible 12,000+ years from now, around when the books take place.

The most optimistic prediction that Asimov makes in his books has to do with the Second Foundation citizens. In their councils and communications, Asimov specifically points out that they barely use language any more. Instead, they each understand the human condition so well that they only have to twitch and mutter to convey complex lines of reasoning.

Er, no. Poker players, our current equivalent of people that study the reactions of others, still require the use of words. Granted, they can probably tell when someone is lying and when someone is telling the truth, as well as probably being able to tell when someone needs to go to the bathroom, but they can't take from the twitches of another person a complex dialog about the social patterns of a society. It is impossible to convey the amounts of information without a complex system of semantics.

That doesn't mean that the Foundation Trilogy aren't great books; they are, but I still think that we're never going to reach the point where the actions of thousands are predictable for a hundred years into the future.

Morality on Sale
: My point is that morality isn't determined by market conditions, and it never can be. Morality is about doing things that are not efficient, just because they're still the morally righteous things to do.

Frustration: I did find my compass, eventually. It was on the floor behind my bed, and apparently it's invisible in the dust, being clear plastic and all. This was after I'd ordered a replacement from the art store, of course, just like Stross' Accelerando turned up after I bought a new copy.

Recent Thoughts From Online Chats: As far as I can tell, from a female perspective Objectification is the worst thing ever. If you aren't appreciative of the person as a whole, then you must be completely dismissive of a person as a whole.

I don't think that this is an accurate way to parse the situation. Just because someone places more emphasis on certain features, that doesn't mean that they're dismissive of the whole. Yet, commonly I see people treat any partial dismissal as a full dismissal.

Of course, eventually this destroys debate. It's not a binary comparison, it's a incremental axis along which there are numerous shades of gray. As soon as you say that any movement toward the negative end of the axis is a complete loss, it becomes impossible to debate.

It's like the fundamentalist Christianity version of feminism.

Don't get me wrong, treating a person as an object is wrong, and the darker shades of gray can be emotionally damaging, but sometimes limited sexual objectification can be used to exploit a kink or actually enhance sex. Just because a guy is into breasts, that doesn't necessarily mean that any enjoyment of breasts by him is going to automatically be abusive to his partner. Perhaps she likes the attention, and understands that even though the attention is given to a certain part of her that this act doesn't devalue her as a whole.


Sunday, March 23, 2008


Don't get me wrong, The Hidden City, first book of the House War was amazingly brilliant, but I wish it hadn't been a prequel.

I want to know what happens next, and while the fleshing out of Rath was amazing, as well as really getting to know the creepy Duster and Carver, I shiver to know what happens next to Jay and her den.

Because I know who grows up and who dies. I know who is important later and who isn't.

And the final battle is coming. The epic moment toward which Evayne plays is slowly drawing near.

Still, this book doesn't annoy me nearly as much as "A New Spring" did. Or, at least it won't unless she dies before finishing the House War series.

That would be unendingly upsetting to me.

I have found that the next one is going to finish the Pre-badassness that is Jewel, and go on to the conclusion of the House War after that.

I'm totally looking forward to that.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Strangest Dream

Okay, I had the weirdest dream last night.

I was in this house, and it wasn't my house or any of the houses that I've ever lived in. It was a traditional wood frame house, probably more like the house that Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbs) grew up in than the one that I grew up in. There were slanted roofs with shingles and big windows.

I don't remember how I ended up there, but I certainly remember that it felt like home to me.

And then the Tyrannosaurus Rex appeared.

I'm not kidding, there was a Tyrannosaurus Rex in my dream, and it was relatively friendly. True, it was a little chatty and I couldn't get it to shut up, but not unfriendly.

At least, until it got ticked at me. I think it was because I told it that it couldn't come inside. It seemed to think that this was an intentional slight, and so it got angry.

I ran into the house and it started attacking the house to get at me. I remember at one point it was in the backyard and it smashed through the large window to get at me. Throughout all of this though, I couldn't help but to remember that this wasn't some random and mindless dinosaur attack but a personal vendetta against me.

If only I hadn't ticked off that carnivorous thunder lizard.

The funny thing was that eventually I got tired of running around the house trying to avoid the Tyrannosaurus head smashing through the walls, gave up and let him catch me.

So he pulls me out through the wall, chews on me, but I don't get hurt. I expected it, but the sharp teeth simply don't connect with me for some inexplicable reason. Or perhaps, as it crushed my bones, I simply didn't feel what's going on with my body.

Finally he gets annoyed and one of my faceless compatriots uses a shrink ray to shrink the Tyrannosaurus down to the size of a large mouse. The Tyrannosaurus is shocked by this outcome for a bit, but then realizes that now he can come in the house and that everything's okay.

I opened the door for him, and the little dinosaur wanders into the sun room.

And that's about the point that I woke up.

To me, the oddest point of the whole dream was that the Tyrannosaurus Rex was never just destroying things mindlessly, like the one from Jurassic Park. He was personally upset with me. It isn't like I cavort with Tyrannosaurs Rexes on a regular basis, so I have no idea why my mind decided to make up a dinosaur with a personal grudge.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Royal Blood

Two things that I've read recently coalesced in my head, and I'd like to talk about them for a moment.

More than a year ago I had a post called Divine Right of Kings about the term African-American, and how I use the term "black" instead because I think that former term "others" the person and also about the way that our plural culture gives me a plural background. The content of that post doesn't have much to do with what I was thinking about, but the title does.

While reading a thread on Whateveresque about the Iraq war, someone mentioned the massive amount of wealth that has poured into the middle east due to their oil reserves. He pointed out that people there should be living in relative ease, but they aren't. Only a few, the richest of the rich, the Sultans and Emirs, are living in palaces and driving Lamborghinis and Ferraris. They are essentially dictators that have made themselves immensely wealthy while holding their people in poverty.

He went on to say that this presents a problem for the dictators: If people are allowed to draw those conclusions about their poverty and oppression, they might be overthrown. Thus, they look for suitable targets for popular hatred. Currently, the target of much of that popular hate is the U.S., and this is encouraged by the dictators because it allows them to continue their super-rich lifestyles without interruption.

My mind began to wander, and I thought of something that many children dream of: discovering that they are really a prince or a princess and getting swept off to a castle to live in absolute luxury for the rest of their lives. That's the lifestyle that these sheiks are living, the dream of growing up in a palace with servants.

I don't believe that the blood of the Windsors in different than mine in any way. In point of fact, it's their name that makes them special. True, name and blood usually correlates, but it isn't an absolute correlation.

As books like S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire series have pointed out royal lines are usually based on an ancestor that does something heroic or takes charge and then the line is passed down from there.

Now, granted, I have a crush on William Windsor, but it's not because he's a prince. It's because he's wealthy, cultured, blond, tall, and fairly attractive. And British accents are sexy.

Those despots in the Mideast are no different than their subjects. They have no blood right to rule; no one does.

This sort of spoils the whole long lost prince/princess fairy tale which is so common. I understand why such a romantic notion is attractive to people, but to me it's worse than silly. It's propagating the idea that certain bloodlines have an inherent authority. The Divine Right of Kings, as it were.

I was just thinking to myself that I'd like to see a subversion of this popular fairytale, but the truth is that there already two examples out there. The first is Mark Twain's The Prince and Pauper, although at the end the prince resumes his rightful role and becomes the King of England. The second example is Tatja Grimm's World by Vernor Vinge, which I dislike for reasons other than Tatja's eventual rise to royal status.

Since Twain eventually plays the Trope straight and Tatja's rise is not at all fairytale-like, I'd still like to see a more conventional subversion where the glass shoe actually checks to make sure that the person is a competent leader before it allows them to slip their foot in.

After all, one of the things about America is that we're supposed to be about the best person to do a job (discounting the two recent disastrous presidencies of the cowboy-in-chief). From the European fairy tales what could be a more American adaptation than removing the necessity of blood from rule?

I might try to write such a subversion myself, but I suspect that I'm simply too dark of a writer to do a good job. I never feel happy at the end of my own stories, and I haven't figured out how to change that yet.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

50 Most Influential Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels

Yeah, as I mentioned back in the 50 Recent Hugo nominations thread, there's another 50 list, so I might as well do that one too. Idea is still from Bruce B.

Bold are the ones I've read, strike-out are the ones I hated, italics indicates those I started but never finished and I put an asterisk beside the ones I loved.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin*
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke*
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett*
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card*
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman*
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling*
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams*
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin*
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny*
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven*
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson*
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner*
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

29 our of 50 on this one, not including the ones that I haven't finished, yet.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Interview With Michelle Sagara

Michelle Sagara (who also writes under the pen names Michelle West and Michelle Sagara West) is Canadian fantasy writer. Her latest book is The Hidden City, the first volume of the House War series, and some of her previous works include Cast in Shadow, Hunter's Oath, Hunter's Death, and The Broken Crown.

Spherical Time: First, can you describe your typical work environment and your preferred method of writing? Do you have an office or do you prefer to write in a coffee shop? Do you listen to music while you write? Do you type directly into a computer word processor or do you prefer to hand write your works prior to typing them up?

MS: My typical work environment: I have an office, of sorts. It's actually the computer room, in which all computers we have ever bought go to rest. I do some of my work there when the kids are not home and using the computers. I do work, while they're there, in my dining room because it has the most table space, and sometimes I spread things out all over it. I can't listen to music while I write. I get distracted by the lyrics, or by my emotional reactions to the music itself; I don't have the ability to background it.

For the most part, I type directly into the computer word processor; if I am really stuck, I'll write longhand because there's something about the physical act of writing -- not the words -- that can sometimes pull me along, and if I'm having trouble anyway, I'm not madly stumbling over the keyboard in a desperate attempt to write it all down before it goes away (this also happens).

Spherical Time: Do you have a method or process that you commonly use when researching and plotting novels? Is so, can you please describe it?

MS: I really don't have a set method. Before I started writing Hunter's Death, I sat down and made up the bible of the world as I conceived it. I wanted to know that information because it was information that many of the characters in the Empire would know, and I also didn't want to trip myself up on things like names (which, I admit, happens anyway =/).

But looking at those documents, which were written in 1994/95, so much has changed; the names are often the same, but very little else is.

Spherical Time: Your extensive bibliography includes both novels (The Sacred Hunt, Sun Sword, Sundered, and Chronicles of Elantra series) and short stories (for collections such as Familiars, Assassin Fantastic, Women of War and Battle Magic). Are there differences between writing a novel and a shorter work? If so, can you describe what they are?

I wrote novels first. I tried the short story approach, but all of the short stories I tried just didn't end up being short. My first 4 novels were started because I was trying to write (yet another) short story. I always see the end clearly, but approaching the end is something that is not as clear, and the characters and their arcs are all -- for me -- largely emotional in structure. But things that are emotional, if they work, aren't things that you can easily set up and write through in 2 pages. Well, I can't.

I did eventually write short stories. But many of the first attempts were basically front-end heavy; they have just enough emotional weight to work, but I didn't understand the structure of the shorter form to start, and I don't think I really figured it out until much later. But even so, my natural short length is still the novella =/.

The difference? Viewpoints (how many), character interactions, and where those interactions take the characters; the shorter form, for me, has to be more direct, less oblique. Other writers, let me hasten to add, do not have this problem; it's -my- problem. But when writing a short piece, I have to see the end clearly, and I have to make a running start at it. If I overthink it, it's never, ever short.

But if I had had to break into the short fiction market before I sold novels, I'm not sure I would have sold novels.

Spherical Time: Your books contain dozens and dozens of brilliant, fully realized characters, all with unique backgrounds and convincing voices. How do you create and build characters such as Jewel ATerafin, Avandar, Kallandras, Teresa, Evanye, Diora, et cetera? Are the characters based on people that you know or are they created in other ways?

MS: Created in other ways. In as much as anything is created in a vacuum. What you understand of people in general, and what you know of how a variety of different people and different personalities have reacted to different tragedies or triumphs, will always be part of the way you perceive any world. This one, or a created one.

Spherical Time: Do you have any favorite characters or situations, and why are they your favorite?

MS: I don't really have a favorite character.

Spherical Time: Three of your series (The Sacred Hunt, The Sun Sword, and the upcoming House War) as well as several of your published short stories take place in the shared universe of the Empire of Essalieyan and the Dominion of Annagar. Do you have any advice for new writers on how to create such a fully realized setting in which dozens of stories can be told?

MS: I wrote a world-bible before I started writing Hunter's Death. It made me work out things like economics -- although my understanding of that was not so steady when I started -- and political structures. I don't actually enjoy worldbuilding for its own sake; I know authors who start new worlds by drawing maps first, which I can't even imagine doing for fun (I'm not very good with geography. This is an understatement).

I try to read a lot. I try to understand as much as I can of general history. I try to apply that understanding to what I write. But I don't have a lot of advice in that regard; I think that people who have run D&D campaigns with incredibly clever players have a leg up, because they know how to integrate a world with an unfolding narrative that is not quite under their control. I don't think this is necessary, but I do think it helps; the Erikson books, for example, are based on a campaign he and a friend played/designed. Playing in a world makes it real in a way that world-building alone doesn't.

That said, I've never run a D&D campaign.

Spherical Time: Religion plays a large role in books mentioned above and also in The Sundered series. Can you please talk a little about how to write about fictional religions believably? Do you bring personal experience into your characters' religious experience?

MS: I actually don't think I write convincing religion, for what it's worth. I think Kate Elliott has written the best religious conviction in fantasy, in her Crown of Stars series, and I also think it's the best extrapolation of what a society founded on primogeniture would actually feel like, from the inside of the various different characters & social levels she portrays.

But I am not terribly religious. My convictions, such as they are, are sort of science geek. If I have to stand behind something, I want it to be solid, rational, and practical. So my universe has gods that can interact with their human followers in some minimal way; faith is not a matter of will, or of intense belief -- it's a matter of fact. You may not choose to make offerings or sacrifices to the gods -- but everyone knows they're real.

More or less.

In the South, in the Dominion of Annagar, the religion is faith-based, but it is still a religion in which the gods are distant and essentially cannot be counted on to care. They believe what they believe, but they also acknowledge that their beliefs don't really matter to their gods.

Spherical Time: Your first book, Into the Dark Lands, was published in 1991. Could you please describe your first experience with publishing a novel? Also, did you use an agent or did you submit directly to a publishing company? Did you have any short stories sold prior to selling Into the Dark Lands?

MS: In order to publish a novel, I had to write one, and Into the Dark Lands was the direct result, over a number of years, at my third attempt to write a short story for publication. I had, in university, published a number of poems in the UC Review, but those weren't written with publication in mind; a friend read them and he wanted them to go to the UC editorial board, and I allowed this after some hesitation; poetry, at least mine, is in the terrain of the personal.

But when I was almost finished University, I realized that I had to have something to do. I was working full-time at a bookstore, and I really, really loved that job, but if I wanted to be able to support myself, I needed to do something else.

So I decided that I would try to write, with an eye to publication.

There's a school of thought that says an author should try to write short fiction first, because (at least in the genre) it will help you to get a grip on plot, characterization, and story arc, in a shorter chunk. It's also a good way to smooth out the micro tools of your trade -- the word-for-word choices, the grammar. I had already been in various creative writing classes in both high school and university, so I had done some work in those trenches.

So I set out to write short stories. I wrote two. The third ended up being 4 novels. But the first novel? I thought of it as a short story because I could clearly see the end. At one hundred pages, I thought it was a novella; at 200, I thought it would be a novel. When I hit the end of the novel, I realized it would probably be 2 or 3 books. This is the long way of saying: No, I didn't have any short sales before I sold the novel. I did have one short published two weeks before the novel was published, but it was sold after.

I submitted the first novel to Del Rey books in 1987. It was rejected, but with a phone call, and in the end I revised the manuscript and sent it back. The revision was passed on to Lester del Rey, who was alive at the time. He rejected it with a 4 page single space letter which had all the trademark curmudgeonliness for which he was famed. But buried in that 4 page letter was a very definite "This flashback of 94 pages needs to be its own damn book, and it should be book one."

So... I wrote that novel, and I submitted that novel, and that's the novel they bought. In between the long process of revising and writing, I started to look for an agent, and I found my first agent from research and sitting in on agent panels at Worldcons. So the submission was a slush submission to start; my agent came on board before they made the offer but after they'd showed interest.

It took them a while to schedule the book after they bought it, and it was published at the end of 1991. It didn't have a great cover. I did see the copy-edited/line-edited manuscript, and Veronica Chapman was a fabulous line-editor. I also got the page proofs (all of these things are part of the normal process of novel publication), and corrected them and sent them back. And waited.

Spherical Time: I understand that you work in a bookstore as well as being a writer. Do you have any advice for new writers based on your retail experience rather than your own publishing experience?

MS: My advice to writers: Get a job in a bookstore. Seriously. In any capacity. Work in a bookstore for a couple of years. It takes some of the mystery out of publishing, but it also takes some of the heartache out of it as well, because you cannot work in a bookstore without gaining an understanding of how the industry works. You see the returns. You pull the returns. You see how long books stay on the shelves. You see brilliant books die. You see garbage die. You see brilliant books sell, and you see garbage sell. Some of that brilliance that sells gets heavily promoted; some doesn't. Some of the garbage gets heavily promoted; some doesn't. You begin to realize that promotion does not, in fact, guarantee sales.

You begin to realize that there's no strict rhyme or reason, and it really helps you not to take things personally if they don't work out.

Spherical Time: Are there any writers that have had a significant impact on your work, or are there any books or authors you would like to recommend even if they don't influence you?

MS: In as much as I've always been a reader, the books I love are important to me -- but I can't think of specific influences that I'm aware of, although no writer writes in a vacuum. I adore Terry Pratchett, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Megan Whalen Turner, Guy Gavriel Kay.

Spherical Time: What is your favorite word or phrase?

MS: Ummm, I don't have one that I'm aware of.

Spherical Time: Do you have any additional advice for aspiring writers?

MS: Never give up. Write what you care about. Write what you care deeply about. Write. Revise. Write more. Revise more. And never give up.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

National Security Disgust

My local hometown paper is running a series of articles from the AP about contamination of the water supply of major metropolitan areas by various pharmaceuticals. The only source that has been tested as clean without caveat is Albuquerque, so far. (Sorry, no link to the local paper, as it's been overwhelmed by other sources in a google news search, and the local news websites suck.)

However, that isn't what really ticks me off. After all, I currently live in one of the places where the air and the water are clean. What really ticks me off is that several water providers have declined to release the test results that their drinking water is contaminated citing National Security.

Uh . . . no. I'm sorry, but that's the absolute antithesis of protecting national security. They are making the United States less secure by lying to the American people about what their water contains. If we don't know that there is a problem, we can't work to fix it.

Besides, does the horrible irony of claiming that less knowledge will protect us strike anyone else as absolutely insane!?! I mean, if a way to hijack ships or planes is discovered, then someone needs to be informed that there is a problem immediately so that we can figure out a solution to that flaw in security.

What possible aid to our enemies could be construed from the fact that we are drinking pharmaceutically contaminated water? That they need to ship themselves bottled water before carrying out terrorist attacks here in the United States? It only hurts us, the long term residents and citizens, the people that National Security is supposed to protect!

That is mind numbingly idiotic and I don't know what else to say. Anyone who claims that not releasing these test results is a matter of national security should be tried as a traitor. There is absolutely no logical reason to cite national security when talking about the safety of utility provided drinking water.

An imperfect analogy: This is like finding out that your son has bad grades in school, but the school administration has neglected to inform you of this fact, and cites national security as the reason that they didn't tell you. That's how moronic that this appears to be to me.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Cory Doctorow's Extraordinary Rendition!

(I love how that title sound remarkably like the title to a children's book.)

What if Cory Doctorow is arrested for Little Brother?

See, I was reading about some of the plots which the Bush Administration has been claiming to have prevented since taking office. This is in response to the recent fires in the Seattle region which can be attributed to domestic terrorism by the group ELF, the bombing of the recruiting station in NYC, and various episodes of school violence that have occurred all over the country. If they're going to keep claiming that only Republicans make you safe, they need to promote the fiction that they are keeping you safe, and this latest up tick of violence is spoiling their slogans.

Some of the plots on that list weren't really stopped by the Bush Administration though. Richard Reid, at least, was stopped by damp matches and a nearby flier. The Fort Dix plot was more about trying to get money and food than about terror.

Some of the entries on that list are even more vague. I'm sure "Supporting al Quaeda" is considered a serious crime, but we've gone from a country that forbids us to provide material aid and comfort to the enemy to one that has very nearly made the consideration of terrorism a crime.

Cory's book is not particularly subversive, but at the very least it portrays civil disobedience in a positive light (Fight the system and you too can get laid!) and the government as the enemy. Considering that the fictional terrorist attack that occurs in the book could be considered to be a suggestion for a successful method of terrorist attack, I could easily see some government censor picking up the book and decrying it as both un-American propaganda and an aid to the enemy.

That's a stupid charge, but this administration doesn't seem to really care about realistic charges or due process. I can imagine Cory stepping off a trans-Atlantic flight on his way to a Con and being picked up by the FBI, and then shipped to Guantanamo, or whatever offshore island they're using as Guantanamo since the press got wind of what was going on at Camp X-Ray.

I can't remember if he's currently got Canadian citizenship or British citizenship, but that might not protect him considering what happened to Mahar Arar. Of course, I don't think they'd send him to Syria. Maybe Iran or North Korea, if we ended up invading there, to use their preeminent torture facilities.

We'd all protest, of course. BoingBoing would run countless stories about him. However, if the government didn't want him to have a lawyer, he wouldn't get one. They could hold him indefinitely, link him to any wiretapping containing the word "bombing" and then convict him with "secret evidence." After all, if he sees it, he might be able to rebut the charges and prove his innocence.

Of course, now that we've determined that Cory is a terrorist, anyone supporting him would be considered to be supporting terrorism and would also face the wrath of the government. Mark, David, and Xeni would probably continue to publish with the EFF backing them up, but I bet that lots of people running personal "Free Cory" blogs would be shut down or harassed with FBI surveillance. Soon, there would be an anti-Cory backlash from the right.

"If they didn't support a terrorist-lover, they wouldn't get harassed!" people like Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and the National Review would announce. People that kept supporting Cory as the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years would be regarded as crazy. "After all, we'd never hold someone for five years if they were innocent, would we?" they'd say. He'd be a sort of Leonard Peltier for the 21st century, without actually having killed someone.

Cory's daughter Poesy would grow up something of a cause célèbre. She'd be a living symbol of American hypocrisy and oppression, but she'd be well known and loved among the English language science fiction community. After all, out of all Americans, we in the science fiction community seem to have among the longest memories. She would probably spend her life talking about growing up without her father's presence and at the same time quoting and promoting Cory's work. We've seen that before with Christopher Tolkien and Brian Herbert. She might become something of a science fiction writer/blogger herself, to continue her father's legacy and focus on the issues for which he eventually was arrested.

In the meantime, Cory would spend his days in a six foot by ten foot concrete cell (or about 2 meters by 3.2 meters for him, since as a non-American he's used to metric). He'd still write on nearly anything that he could get his hands on, but the regular cleanings and searches of his cell would often destroy his fragile stacks of handwritten work. The guards would be warned not to let the writings of a subversive and terrorist out, so occasionally they would "accidentally" destroy a pile or two. If someone could read his work though, they'd learn that his writing had become darker. There would be an edge to it, from his long years of imprisonment, and many of the whimsical bits would be lost. Disneyland would slowly morph into Mordor.

His lawyers would occasionally manage to get letters and short stories out, but only things reviewed and approved the military. Of course, his lawyers would be forbidden from talking freely about his situation directly with him. As an enemy combatant, giving him too much information about the charges against him could result in similar charges against his lawyers.

Occasionally, after his visitors left and the lights were off, Cory would sometimes wrap himself up in the sheets off of his bed and pretend that he was wearing his red cape and goggles, flying high above the American oppression of ideas in his wi-fi enabled high altitude balloon.

Then, twenty some years from now, when the political climate changed and the government thought that he was no longer a threat, he'd be released. The charges against him, never actually tried by a jury, would be dropped and pardoned by the conservative administration who would be desperate to show that they were on the cutting edge of technological progress without actually doing anything to support technological progress.

He'd go home, finally.

It would be a while before he would be seen in public, but he'd be back. From his home in London he would become an even more powerful and convincing speaker for freedom of speech, especially the new frontiers of electronic speech being developed in the mid 21st century, like Vroggling and Sitchcasting and especially hyperGOEing.

Eventually, in his efforts to allow free speech everywhere in the globe, he'd be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but he'd unfortunately lose to Ashley Simpson, whose selfless charity work in the name of her long deceased sister will have made her the most recognizable person on the planet, comparable to Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, and Lurz the intelligent dolphin.

Nobel nomination and all, I think I'd rather not see him arrested in the first place. Oh, right, and go preorder his book. It comes out next week!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Political Crazyiness

So yesterday's primaries were bizarre, with Hilary Clinton's three wins in RI, TX and OH keeping her in the race. Personally, that upsets me, because I would really like to get down to the business of starting to rub away the shiny war hero veneer of McCain instead of having Hilary and Barrack go at each other.

Of course, this wouldn't be America if there weren't bizarre non-story news stories up on the media. Hilary won those three states, but I wish that some station had made it clear that this isn't the landslide victory that they are implying. She's still about 80 delegates behind, according to several news agencies, and she's likely to remain there.

Anyway, here are three of the strangest stories I saw today:

If gender or race mattered to primary voters, it helped Clinton.
Clinton and Obama to share the ticket?
Satire: Bush doesn't like to be ignored, plays with legos.

Update: Pardon, but Barack Obama won TX. "Win" in this sense meaning "got the most delegates."

Really, I don't think there should be another definition.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Buying Books

Okay, I just splurged on Amazon a little bit. It isn't like I don't have 40 books to read from scrounging in Book Mountain (my local paperback exchange) for Hugo nominees and other notable works of science fiction.

The books that I bought today fall into two main categories: Pre-orders by my favorite authors and anthologies containing short stories by Michelle West.

If you've read this blog, you probably have guessed that one of the books is Little Brother. The other two are Jhegaala by Steven Brust and The Hidden City by Michelle West. I just want to pimp them momentarily cause I really love them.

I'm also looking forward to the short story anthologies, although I won't bother to list them here. Michelle West wrote one of my favorite short stories "Legacy," and the thing that all of the anthologies that I just purchased have in common is her work, so I'm looking forward to those as well.

I'm also really ticked off at the moment because I went out and actually bought a brand new copy of Accelerando by Charlie Stross at Borders. It was supposed to sneak up to the top of my reading list, but uh . . . I can't find it. I took it to Albuquerque with me on Valentine's Day, but I haven't seen it since then. I'm not imagining buying it because I've got the receipt but just not the book.

(Note: I later bought another copy at Book Mountain, and then found the original copy. If you want to read it, I returned the Book Mountain copy.)

I think one of the hardest things about buying books right now is that I know that I'm not going to get to them right away. With such a massive backlog of books I'm always in the middle of something, so it's hard to really buy a book in anticipation of reading it right away.

I think I'm done for a while though. No more books for a bit.

Well . . . I should check Book Mountain tomorrow anyway.

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