The Science Fiction Writers of America inducts William Gibson as its next Grand Master

What an excellent choice! Dr William Gibson, Grand Master of Science Fiction has such a nice ring to it. Go Bill! You can watch him get his award at the next Nebula Awards weekend, May 16-19, at the Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills in southern California. I have been to a Nebula weekend in at least a decade, but I'm putting this one in my calendar. (Image: Frederic Poirot, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

Blame authors' fortunes on monopolism, not university professors, booksellers and librarians

The New York Times weighs in on an Authors Guild survey that shows a "drastic 42% decline in authors' earnings over the past decade. John Scalzi offers some important perspective. Read the rest

Improve your handwriting with this simple daily practice

Despite taking pages of handwritten notes each day, my handwriting is hot garbage. After deciding that I wanted to improve the look of my penmanship, I set out to find a few ways to do it that wouldn't eat up a lot of my day. This video, featuring Nan Jay Barchowsky, is one of my favorites. Her suggestion to practice the up down motion we use to create most of the letters in our alphabet might seem kind of goofy at first, but it totally works. After a few days of practice, my writing is showing signs of improvement. Read the rest

Put an inexpensive gel refill in your fancy Fisher Space Pen

I've used the same fountain pen and Fisher Space Pen for years: I used to constantly lose disposable pens, costing me scads of money every year. The two refillable pens I own now cost enough that I'm always a little paranoid about their whereabouts, so I've yet to lose them. Filling the fountain pen costs pennies. To snag a refill for my Space Pen up in Canada, I can expect to spend around eight bucks, plus shipping. That's 12 different kinds of BS.

Earlier today, I ran across this video. After watching it, I picked up the Zebra refills at Office Depot. It worked!

With my ink budget sorted out, I can spend more money on fancy paper. Read the rest

reMarkable tablet: A software update makes this forgotten gadget incredibly useful

A couple of years ago, I was asked if I'd like to review the reMarkable tablet. If you're unfamiliar with it, the reMarkable is an E Ink slate and pen solution that provides a digital note taking and sketching solution that feels eerily close to writing on paper. I was excited to take it for a spin: despite the fact that I type for a living, my note taking and a good chunk of my writing is decidedly old school.

So far, I've had no luck in finding any hardware solution that serves me better than a piece of paper and a fountain pen can. Unfortunately, at its release, the reMarkable wasn't all that remarkable. While the latency of the tablet's E Ink display and pen were close to non-existent, the rest of its software felt under baked. The UI was far from intuitive. It functioned as an e-reader, but only barely. While you could export what you'd written to a smartphone or computer, there was no way to edit the text once it was there. It felt like a slog to use. I asked a colleague in Canada if he'd like to give it a try. I mailed it out to him and, a few weeks later, it came back to me, marked not "deliverable." I didn't have time to ship it out again as I was preparing to spend several months on the road. I threw it into the back of my workspace's storage cupboard. It lurked there until today. Read the rest

The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy writing workshop is open to applications for the 2019 session

The Clarion Workshop, hosted at the University of California San Diego at La Jolla, is an annual, six-week, intensive writing workshop for aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers (I'm a graduate of Clarion, a frequent instructor, and a member of the board of the Clarion Foundation, a nonprofit that administers the election); the 2019 workshop runs June 23 - Aug 3, with instructors Carmen Maria Machado, Maurice Broaddus, Karen Lord, Andy Duncan, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer. Apply here. Scholarships available. (Image: Locus) Read the rest

The winners in a massive roundup of the 100 Best Pens are surprisingly affordable

The writers of New York Magazine's Strategist tested "dozens upon dozens of gels, rollerballs, felt-tips, ballpoints, and fountain pens" and published a ranked list of the top 100 pens in existence. Read the rest

On the role of truth and philosophy in fantastic fiction

Fantasy and science fiction author and political activist Steven Brust (previously) was this year's Guest of Honor at Philcon, an excellent Philadelphia-area science fiction (I have also had the privilege to be Philcon's GoH, and it's a great con); his guest of honor speech is entitled Truth as a Vehicle for Enhancing Fiction, Fiction as a Vehicle for Discovering Truth, and he's posted a transcript to his blog. Read the rest

Robin "Sourdough" Sloan is using a machine-learning autocomplete system to write his next novel

Robin Sloan is a programmer and novelist whose books like Sourdough and Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore are rich and evocative blends of self-aware nerdy playfulness and magical speculation. Read the rest

Stet, a gorgeous, intricate, tiny story of sociopathic automotive vehicles

Sarah Gailey's micro-short-story STET is a beautiful piece of innovative storytelling that perfectly blends the three ingredients for a perfect piece of science fiction: sharply observed technological speculation that reflects on our present moment; a narrative arc for characters we sympathize with; and a sting in the tail that will stay with you long after the story's been read. Read the rest

Congrats to this year's MacArthur "geniuses," including the amazing Kelly Link!

The MacArthur Foundation has announced its 2018 Fellows (AKA the "MacArthur Genius Prize winners"), a list of 25 remarkable people from all disciplines, including the incomparable Kelly Link (previously), who joins other science fiction writers who won the prize, including Octavia Butler and Jonathan Lethem. Congrats, Kelly! Read the rest

Astrohaus' Freewrite Traveler might not be ideal for every writer, but maybe you'll dig it

Our Jason Weisberger isn't a huge fan of the Freewrite that he bought a few years back. Others feel differently about the pricey mechanical keyboard and E Ink display-equipped focused writing slab. From the looks of things, enough people dig it that the device's parent company, Astrohaus, felt that it was time to release a more portable version. Enter the Freewrite Traveler.

Weighing in at just under 30 ounces, the Freewrite Traveler is a lightweight E Ink writing machine with a folding display, which'll take up a whole lot less room in a Scrivener's bag than Astrohaus' original typing slab did.

From The Verge:

The Traveler weighs 1.8 pounds compared the original’s four pounds, which can partially be attributed to a change in keyboards. The Freewrite features a full-size mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown keyswitches. The Traveler includes a thinner scissor-switch keyboard, which might be less enticing to some die-hard mechanical keyboard users, but it also had to be swapped out to make the Traveler lighter and thinner. The new device keeps the original 6-inch E Ink display, and it still charges over USB-C. Astrohaus says the Traveler battery should last for around 30 hours. It’ll cost $269 with early bird discounts on Indiegogo, and it will eventually retail for around $599. It comes in one colorway: a white interior and black exterior.

Unfortunately, while the hardware might be a great step forward from a portability standpoint, the Freewrite Traveler still suffers from some of the same needless bullshit that users of its older sibling have been forced to suffer. Read the rest

The classic BIC 4 color pen

Not particularly wonderful to write with, but awesome none-the-less, I had to have a BIC 4 color pen. Read the rest

Why Edgar Allan Poe's work is still so damn good and creepy

Edgar Allan Poe scholar Scott Peeples explains the black magic of Poe's work nearly 170 years after he died. From TED-Ed:

The prisoner strapped under a descending pendulum blade. A raven who refuses to leave the narrator’s chamber. A beating heart buried under the floorboards. Poe’s macabre and innovative stories of gothic horror have left a timeless mark on literature. But just what is it that makes Edgar Allan Poe one of the greatest American authors? Scott Peeples investigates.

Read the rest

Lynda Barry's 'Writing the Unthinkable' lesson

TIL: the fabulous Lynda Barry teaches at the University of Wisconsin! In this lesson, called "Writing the Unthinkable," she shares a neat method to get started on a new piece. It begins by drawing a tight spiral as a meditation.

"Once I start to draw this spiral, I'm starting to get in the mood to write some kind of story."

(Wertzeen) Read the rest

Richard Kadrey talks about his latest book and what comes next after Sandman Slim

I’ve known Richard Kadrey for a number of years. We generally mouth off at each other about technology, injuries we acquired while we were young/dumb, barbecue, tiki drinks and movies. There’s not much jibba-jabba, however, about what either of us does for a living. He writes constantly. So do I. It’s nice to talk about anything but your gig, from time to time.

That said, the rent must be paid, so here we go.

On August 28th, the tenth book in Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, Hollywood Dead, will be available in the United States. Last last week, after reading an advanced copy that was sent out to me, I got on the horn for a chat with him about the new book, his plans for Sandman Slim and what he’s got cooking beyond the massively popular urban fantasy series.

SB: I read Hollywood Dead over the weekend. I think one of the things I enjoyed the most about the new book is how the tension ramps up as Stark came to understand how screwed he really was.

RK: I really wanted him off-balance. He felt off-balanced in The Kill Society—Stark was basically hiding who he was. But I wanted him to be genuinely fucked up in this book. He thinks everything’s going to be fine now and nothing is fine. Everything is fucked up. There’s no problem he can solve by punching it. Yeah, there’s bad guys, but his overall situation can’t be solved with violence. In the book, a lot of the truth of what[Stark]is comes out of Kasabian’s mouth, the way it always has. Read the rest

Trademark troll who claims to own "Dragon Slayer" now wants exclusive rights to book covers where someone is holding a weapon

Austin's Michael-Scott Earle, last seen around these parts when he filed a trademark on the phrase "Dragon Slayer" for use in fantasy novel trademarks, has found a new depth to plumb: he's filed a trademark on book covers "one or more human or partially human figures underneath, at least one of the figures holding a weapon; and an author's name underneath the figures; wherein the title/series and author's name are depicted in the same or similar coloring." Read the rest

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