Spontaneous Derivation and Science Fiction/Fantasy

Every once in a while I do this nutty thing where I shake up my blog. So far it appears to be in three-month cycles.

One thing I use my blog for is as research inspiration—nothing really gets me up and going to dig into something as the chance to get to write about it afterwards. For the first three months of its life, Sd was your standard writing-about-my-writing blog. The next three months after that, I switched to writing about blogging, with a focus on writing good content.

In the next three months after that, somewhere I ran head-first into the Hugo Awards.

And then for some reason I wanted to vote in the Hugos, which you can only do via getting a paid membership—and this was fine with me. Except that obviously I should have some clue who I’d be voting for. I’m very new to science fiction, and my fantasy is mostly Gaiman and Wolfe, so this required some reading up. As it turns out, hundreds of thousands of words-worth of reading up, and that isn’t just the big five novels. As well as many hours of movies/TV episodes to watch, and figuring out what books/anthologies were edited by which editors.

Needing to cover all that ground is the reason why I wrote up a series with information about the Hugo Award nominees despite it throwing off the main focus of Spontaneous Derivation for over a month (not something I suggest sane focused bloggers to do).

And you know what? That was fun. I got to learn a lot, both from digging up more about the nominees and from experiencing the nominated works (or at least as large a number of them as I could manage without falling over. I still had to leave some areas of my Hugo ballot blank). It was so much fun, in fact, that I seriously contemplated switching over to covering SFF, at least for a while (another three months perhaps).

From a hits-pragmatic perspective, though, switching is stupid. Over 90% of my hits come from Stumbles of my blogging articles. A sane blogger would probably open yet another blog (sigh) and start doing coverage there. Still, my time is squeezed enough that I can only really deal with major updates to one blog, much less three. Another blog would just lead to less juice for the new venture.

Instead, I’m grabbing Spontaneous Derivation and turning it into the strong headwind directly. Do not do this at home.

So, the new bent: what are we covering in the near future?

The Five 2008-Hugo Best Novel Nominees
As I was finishing up The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, I realized that each of the five nominees headed one column (or, in one case, two) of what may be considered some of the sub-genres for science fiction. (Fantasy was left out this year, unless Brasyl counts somewhat.) They’re all so good that they actually redefine their “sub-genre”, and I would expect nothing less from them.

Currently I classify them as

  • Brasyl – Alternate-reality- and time-bending
  • Halting State – Post-cyberpunk thriller
  • The Last Colony – “The New Space Opera”
  • Rollback – First-contact and immortality
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – Alternative history (pure; no aliens here)

I’ll be reviewing each in the light of that.

Everything About Science Fiction I Learned From Heinlein
Back in 2007, I ran across the name of Heinlein for the second time in my life. The first time was as a slur in the mouth of my father. The second time (many years later) was from John Scalzi, who in praising Scott Westerfield also talked about Heinlein’s juvenile/YA work, which I then began to read.

From reading some of these books, I learned (even from the very journeyman effort of Rocket Ship Galileo) where some of the undercurrents of science fiction came from. Well, perhaps “from” is not the right word; think of it more like looking into the depths of the universe, and seeing the distant galaxies that are close but not quite to the origin point of the Big Bang.

Covering that will be awesome.

Why Writers Need to Read An Evil Guest
An Evil Guest, by Gene Wolfe, is not out until September 2008. I managed to get an ARC (no, not on eBay) and enjoyed the heck out of it. I’ll be buying the Kindle edition.
Why the Kindle [Rocks|Sucks] for Devoted SFF Readers
I’m getting a Kindle. It’s nice to be able to read electronic paper (LCDs gave me horrible headaches for the Hugo novels, so much so that I just went ahead and bought them anyways), carry more than one book around without needing an entire bag, and take notes. And yes, the instant gratification will be sweet. No more of this “wait 2 days to see if it was not worth the wait or should have been in my hands the moment I ordered it” stuff.

I’ve played with a couple versions of the Kindle (I have cool friends, I do) so, in spite of Charles Stross’s vehement hatred of the Kindle, I’m getting one next week.

I’ll let you know a few weeks after that if I regret it. Many people seem happy enough. Well. Except for Charlie.

In the meantime, I’m also trying to write fiction. Funny thing is, it’s not science fiction/fantasy. Well. The big work isn’t. Some small works, which I have been hesitant to try at all, are.

My trifecta: whatever’s running on Spontaneous Derivation, Sherlock Holmes screeds, and a fiction blog.

It’s rather Sd.