Friday, February 27, 2015

Do Not Grieve, Admiral...

...and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human...
Science fiction is at its best not about space rockets firing lasers at each other or furry creatures threatening to invade planets, but about the human condition, of who we are and where we are going.

Star Trek at its best was about the possibilities of life, of life on other worlds, of other perspectives and philosophies.  The show's producers came up with a Vulcan concept of "infinite diversity in infinite combinations," of which Spock - its truest representative - was a perfect example.

Spock, half-Vulcan and half-Human, trapped between the philosophies and yet the most ardent defender of the Vulcan way, even when by the time his character aged into a wisdom that realized his Human traits had value as well, meshing them into an iconic figure that outgrew science fiction into one of legend.  There are few fictional characters who grow to such a stature - Sherlock Holmes, Superman, Robin Hood, Hamlet, perhaps today Doctor Who - but Spock stands there as more Human than Human, more Vulcan than Vulcan...

The actor Leonard Nimoy was basically appearing in this thing Star Trek back in the 1960s as a paying gig, but it was one that quickly grew into a phenomenon with his character one of the major draws.  For a time there he railed against the expectations that he had to play Spock as a person, but later on he settled down, and came to terms with him.  Spock was, after a fashion, himself: Nimoy threw in a few things from his own life - the Vulcan salute is from his Orthodox Hebrew upbringing, and he put into play character quirks he felt were appropriate to what a logical Vulcan would do - to where he could never really leave the character.  Not every actor gets to play a character for the first time, and have that character become as important, as iconic as to how that actor fit into that role.

Nimoy passed away today.  He lived long enough to see other actors take on the role of Spock.  There will be others long past us who will play the role, add to the legend perhaps.  But they will be building on the archetype that Nimoy forged.  A great legacy... boldy go...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Looking For Science Fiction That Book Clubs Enjoy Reading

Bartow Public Library is starting up our local book discussion program.  We're starting off in March with Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, considering that a nice draw as Flynn's popularity for Gone Girl is high right now.

But one of the things I'd like for the book discussion group to look at for the future round of titles to read is to look at the books out there that aren't all the same type of fiction works.

If you look at the various organizations/services that help promote book discussions - like Reading Group Choices - nearly every book they encourage are the same.  Personal narratives, coming-of-age, family secrets, romance stories among the fiction titles.  Memoirs, biographies for the non-fiction titles.

I'm talking books like Empire Falls or Water for Elephants or Kite Runner or Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Very few crime Thrillers/Mysteries or Westerns or Fantasy/Science Fiction.  I type in a search for Agatha Christie, I get zilch.  Ray Bradbury, nada.  At least Neil Gaiman's listed, but in terms of finding writers or works that are "out of the ordinary" this is a bit frustrating.

While I can probably promote a few authors or titles of recent vintage - Scalzi's Redshirts for example, or Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice - for any modern Science Fiction to encourage for the reading group, I'm not entirely certain that I can objectively recommend those reads.  I know I have a bias: while reviews are nice, actual input from actual readers would help here.

This is a multi-layered problem.  There's a reason why reading groups go for the "traditional" fiction of books like Kite Runner - your "human spirit" themes, the love stories, the mundane world made tragic or endearing - is because the readers who show up for discussion groups prefer those types of books.  The problem is that such reads get dull or repetitive: it does not draw in a niche readership that might like dragons and aliens and smoky noir and speculative thoughts.

It'd be nice to mix it up a little.

So I'm sending a message out to the seven people who follow this blog: any suggestions along the lines of a Fantasy or Science Fiction novel published the last three or four years that would appeal to a public library discussion group?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Things About ePublishing February 2015 Notes

1) There's a lot of work to put in to keep up with your Author's pages on and Goodreads.

1a) Does Barnes and Noble carry an Author's page like Amazon does?

2) Wondering if I can submit my self-published stories to the Florida Writers' Association awards for this year.

2a) Tempted to write a story for the FWA's annual anthology.  This year's theme is Revisions.

3) Keeping an eye out for when local authors' events might happen so I can try and shill some of my work.

Still working on my Ocean Dancers rough draft for NaNoWriMo.