I wasn’t too chuffed about the weird changes I saw in my favorite start-up guy. Crawferd was a techie I knew from my circuit: GE Industrial Internet, IBM Smart Cities, the Internet-of-Things in Hackney hackathons. The kind of guy I thought I understood.
I relied on Crawferd to deliver an out-there networked-matter pitch to my potential investors. He was great at this, since he was imaginative, inventive, fearless, tireless, and he had no formal education. Crawferd wore unlaced Converse shoes and a lot of Armani. He had all the bumbling sincerity of a Twitter Arab Spring.
I want my own office,” Lena said. “My own space to work from.”
Social Services paused for a while to think. Lena knew that it was thinking, because the woman in the magic mirror kept animating her eyes this way and that behind cat-eye horn-rims. She did so in perfect meter, making her look like one of those old clocks where the cat wagged its tail and looked to and fro, to and fro, all day and all night, forever and ever. Lena had only ever seen those clocks in media, so she had no idea if they really ticked. But she imagined they ticked terribly. The real function of clocks, it seemed to her, was not to tell time but to mark its passage. Ticktickticktick. Byebyebyebye.
Pravic is a new science fiction zine edited by David "Total Dick-Head" Gill and Nathaniel K. Miller. The copy machine just spit out the second issue, featuring fiction by Rudy Rucker, Robert Onopa, Cal Godot, and Gill. Also, a special bonus rumination: "Are The Melvins sci-fi?" Single print copies are $3 to your door or $1 for a PDF digital download to your desktop. Pravic: A New Grammar for Science Fiction
All round e-publishing genius Pablo Defendini sez,
Fireside Magazine is a multigenre fiction magazine. Our goal is twofold: to publish great storytelling and offer fair pay for writers and artists. We published three issues last year, each funded by its own Kickstarter. That wasn’t really a sustainable way to make a magazine, and we want to create more certainty for our readers and for the magazine.
So we came up with a new plan for Year Two: a monthly subscription website and ebook (epub and mobi). Each issue in Year Two will have two pieces of flash fiction (1,000 words or less), one short story, and one of 12 episodes of a serial fiction experiment by Chuck Wendig. Each issue will also have artwork by Galen Dara. The website is being rethought and is being designed responsively, which means it will adjust to display an optimum reading experience on screens of any size. We are aiming to provide a clean, simple way to read our stories without any clutter or distractions, just the words and the artwork. But in order to do all this work up front and pay the creators their fair share, we need to raise the money ahead of time, so it's back to Kickstarter!
My latest Locus column is "Where Characters Come From," and it advances a neurological theory for why fiction works, and where writers find their characters.
As a writer, I know that there’s a point in the writing when the engine of the story really seems to roar to life, and at that moment, the characters start feeling like real people. When you start working on a story, the characters are like finger-puppets, and putting words into their mouths is a bit embarrassing, like you’re sitting at your desk waggling your hands at one another and making them speak in funny, squeaky voices. But once those characters ‘‘catch,’’ they become people, and writing them feels more like you’re recounting something that happened than something you’re making up. This reality also extends to your autonomic nervous system, which will set your heart racing when your characters face danger, make you weepy at their tragedies, has you grinning foolishly at their victories.
In some ways, this is even weirder. For a writer to trick himself into feeling emotional rapport for the imaginary people he himself invented seems dangerous, akin to a dealer who starts dipping into the product. Where does this sense of reality – this physical, limbic reaction to inconsequential non-events – spring from?
The Lord of the Rings Project collects and analyzes data on all the characters inhabiting Middle Earth, to produce statistical comparisons of life expectancy, age distribution, population, and more. — Maggie
He opened his wallet and took out his business card. It said “CEO.” He realized that was another lie, that he was never really the boss. Math was the boss, the math of a shrinking bank account. The math of expenses bigger than revenue. Math was always in charge. Whatever his business card said was meaningless. He picked up a pen and crossed out “CEO” scribbling over it “unemployed.”
The New York Times Magazine's 6th Floor Blog interviewed me about the books I'm reading now (including a climate scientist's account of dealing with evidence and uncertainty in the treatment of cancer), the science books I love (where you'll learn why it's impossible to remove the risk from risky technologies), and the books I generally recommend to everybody (try my favorite boozy novel of jazz-age New York). Overall, it's definitely a list I think the Happy Mutants will dig. — Maggie
Rudy Rucker has put every goddamned one of his mind-bendingly awesome short stories on his website for free. This includes collaborations with some of the best names in the field ("This huge collection includes collaborations with Bruce Sterling, Paul Di Filippo, Marc Laidlaw, John Shirley, Rudy Rucker Jr., Terry Bisson, and Eileen Gunn."). It's a good day on the Internet.
Scientific advising for science-fiction films is a really fascinating topic for me. It's a weird, weird world, where the goal is not necessarily extreme accuracy, but extreme believability. That can be a stress point for science, a field that is, generally, all about striving for accuracy. The scientists that help directors create believable worlds have to balance the goal of educating the public with the goal of entertaining same. That can be tough, and it leads some creative solutions—and little educational Easter Eggs buried in the background of blockbusters.
Take the work University of Minnesota physicist Jim Kakalios recently did for the new Spider-Man reboot. The film's creators asked him to invent a complicated-looking equation that, in the context of the story, would relate to cell regeneration and human mortality.
How do you invent a fictional equation? Start with a real one.
In this video, Kakalios explains where his imaginary equation came from, starting with the Gompertz Equation, a very real function that describes mortality rates and can be used to model tumor growth.