Setting: Modern day UK
Searches: "months in bed," "muscle mass loss in two months," "regaining strength after being bedridden," "physical therapy after being bedridden," etc.
I have a previously-healthy (but not overly active; she was a secretary and not at all a fitness junkie) 27-year-old female character who was unexpectedly bedridden for two months. (I don't want to go into why—SciFi diseases.) In this time, she's not really going to be using any of her muscles at all. After two months, she gets the Magical SciFi Antidote and completely recovers from the illness that had her bedridden in the first place.
How weak is she going to be when she wakes up, and what kind of recovery time/process is she looking at, in terms of rebuilding her muscle strength?
Again, the disease didn't affect her muscle mass at all; I'm just concerned about the fact that she hasn't used a single muscle in two months. Some of what I was reading was saying that she'd lose 1% of her muscle strength for every day that she was sedentary, so if that's true then that's 60% of her strength gone, right there, but I don't know what that would actually translate to in terms of her mobility, or how long it would take and what methods she could use to get back to her previous strength. She does have a doctor working with her on this.
Thanks in advance for all help!
Searched: taser recovery time
getting knocked out by stun gun
electric shock faint
wiki pages on tasers, stun guns, and electroconvulsive therapy
This page (most of which I did not understand. Electricity is not a branch of science I know the language of very well).
civil war field amputation (found data on how it would be done)
amputation recovery time
arm amputation recovery time (because I kept getting leg amputation stuff)
Setting: AU Middle Earth in the Third Age.
( Shocking an ElfCollapse )
( Field AmputationCollapse )
I hope I included the right tags.
Searches: rural mail pickup 1940s
rural mail pickup arizona 1940s
RFD arizona 1940s
OK, so Character A is a scientist on a fictional WWII-era military research project, and he wants to send a message to Character B without his superiors knowing. He knows his own mail is opened and read, but security is otherwise pretty lax -- he's previously been able to leave and come back without being caught. Can he simply slip away, walk to the nearest farm and put his letter in their mailbox for pickup with the rest of the mail, or is there some reason this would be implausible? He'd have to leave off the return address, but I don't think they were required in those days, just recommended.
(First, I must apologize in advance for my poor English. It's not my mother tongue.)
My question is:
Could paper documents survive* a fire if they were inside a steel box? Not inside a modern safe (fireproof and all), but a much more antique type, like XV century. The fire is normal, not magic or anything alike.
Thanks for your input!
* The papers must be still readable, by the way.
Belated thanks to everyone who responded to my question about hairstyles for long wet hair.
Something completely different - in England in the early 1980s, a man is holding a kite and gets struck by lightning. (He was flying the kite and didn't get away from the storm in time.) I don't specify where in England, but I can if it makes a difference. The internet has helped answer many questions but the ones I'm still having trouble with are:
1 - The man has bought the kite to give to a twelve-year-old boy as a birthday present. What would it be made out of? Any particular styles that were popular then? (I've emailed a few kite collectors but have had no responses yet.)
2 - Would there be any physical effect from the lightning strike on the kite itself? I know that clothing can be burned or shredded, but would this be true of something in his hands? Also, as I don't know what the kite is made out of yet, this might affect what actually happens. (Obviously, if there are metal rods involved....)
3 - What would it look like if you were observing a person being struck by lightning from a short distance away? (I can find a lot of pictures of survivors, but nothing to say what it looks like at the time.)
4 - What sort of birthday cake would the boy be likely to have? Preferably baked by his mother.
Searches conducted: variants on
lightning strike effects on clothing/fabric
lightning strike person observations
birthday cake 1980s
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
Small presses still embrace the anthology format, however, as do genre readers--at least, judging by the number of small press or one-off genre anthology projects on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. While most of these campaigns are completely above-board, some are less so, and their growing popularity makes it vital for writers to be aware of several areas of concern. (Donors, too. Do you really want to give money to an anthology that doesn't treat its writers fairly?)
Donating backer prizes.
Many crowdfunded anthologies ask or expect their authors to donate prizes for campaign backers--a story critique, a Tuckerization, an illustration, an item of the author's choice.
From the perspective of the anthology's publisher or organizer, the benefits are obvious: more (and more tempting) backer incentives increase the chances of a successful campaign. For authors, though, things are not so clear-cut, and I've seen quite a bit of discussion of the ethics of being asked or expected to donate freebies. Some writers don't mind, especially where there's no pressure, but others worry about what seems to be a growing assumption that authors owe extra support to crowdfunded anthologies that include their work.
Small press publisher Steven Saus, who has conducted a number of Kickstarter campaigns, addresses this issue in an interesting post on how to manage backer rewards in an ethical fashion. This includes providing a written document or contract specifically addressing rewards.
The important features of such a contract will be:Short of that (and I don't know for sure, but I'll bet there aren't may Kickstarter anthologists who are as scrupulous as Steven), you can protect yourself by clarifying upfront with the anthology's editor what, if anything, will be expected of you in addition to your story.
Rights and payment.
by Caren Gussoff
Note: Part One appears here: Lit Fic Mags for Spec Fic Writers 101
This may seem totally obvious, but is actually worth a deeper dive: if you want to market your speculative fiction to literary markets, it has to be significantly literary. Literary markets, though they may protest that they do not like/accept/read speculative fiction, actually do publish fiction with fantastic and futuristically elements all the time. But these stories are also, usually, highly literary. So, before you start packing up stories and entering them into the slush waiting room, you should really discern whether a literary audience is the appropriate audience for your piece…since this is the single most important thing editors will be subconsciously reading for.
Defining “literary” is slippery. If you search around, writers, teachers, and critics have written countless — often contradictory — descriptions of what makes something literary (verses mainstream or for a general readership/”popular”). They discuss everything from what the fiction looks like on the page to the authorial intent behind the piece as “qualifiers” (there’s also the derogatory saws about lit fic: that it is, by nature, self-indulgent, elitist in language and subject matter, or the cookie-cutter end-result of too many writer’s workshops and MFA programs).
In terms of speculative fiction, the shorthand has often been that anything far on either side of the continuum (sword and sorcery on one side, hard sci fi on the other) is usually not literary, while those in the muddy middle — such as urban fantasy, magical realism and soft sci fi, for instance — can be literary.
In June, the SFWA Board announced the suspension of the SFWA Bulletin, allowing time to update our official publication’s distribution, content, and process. Over the past months, we have surveyed the membership, asking them what they see as the future of the Bulletin. We’ve also held Board and Task Force discussions and reviewed similar newsletters. We believe these things has helped us to understand the needs and wants of our members and given us direction for making change. One thing is unambiguously clear from our members’ responses: the Bulletin is an important service and must continue.
Using the survey results as a guide, we have written a job description for the editorial position which will be open to qualified applicants both inside and outside SFWA. When the position is filled, the new editor will begin work on a revamped Bulletin.
However, in the interim, we will publish a special edition of the Bulletin. This special issue will not represent either the Bulletin as it existed in the past, nor will it represent the future Bulletin that will be created by the new editor. Instead, this one-time, stand-alone edition will focus on describing SFWA and capturing its past, present and future. It will provide information about SFWA’s services and capacities, address questions about how SFWA can help members in their careers, and include articles on the state of the industry and of various SFWA projects. In addition to providing useful information for our current members, this issue will also be used in future to promote the organization at tradeshows, conferences, and other events.
This edition will be edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts with assistance from Jaym Gates, on behalf of the president and the Bulletin task force. The issue will be available in mid-Winter (Jan/Feb) 2014.
We thank you for your patience, and look forward to a long and bright future for the Bulletin. More announcements about its new editor and structure will be forthcoming.
Like SFWA, the Bulletin will draw on past and future alike.
Asian American Literature Fans – Megareview for December 8, 2013.
In this post, reviews of Jane Mai’s Sunday in the Park with Boys (Koyama Press, 2012); Sita Brahmachari’s Mira in the Present Tense (Albert & Whitman, 2013); Nikita Lalwani’s The Village (Random House, 2013); Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians (Doubleday, 2013); Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing about Luck (illustrated by Julia Kuo) (Atheneum, 2013); M. Evelina Galang’s Angel de La Luna and the Fifth Glorious Mystery (Coffee House Press, 2013); Andrew Fukuda’s The Trap (St. Martin’s, 2013); Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (Vintage Reprint Paperback, 1993, originally published in 1989).
A Review of Jane Mai’s Sunday in the Park with Boys (Koyama Press, 2012)
I’m not sure what to call Jane Mai’s Sunday in the Park with Boys: a serialized comic in bound form? A graphic novel? For the first time I read a graphic novel in e-reader form (PDF) and I definitely will not do this again; there is something about physically turning a page that I enjoy, then also the reading experience felt different. I felt hurried for whatever reason. In any case, fortunately: Mai’s work is exceptionally illustrated (thus distracting me often from the fact of e-readerness) and is a particularly complex look at depression. The main character is subsisting in an unfulfilled post-undergraduate life, working an office job that is at once desultory and imprisoning. There is a sense that she is descending into mental illness and depression, but there is no one there to really offer her much support. Further still, she begins to actively isolate herself from others, thereby exacerbating her existential despair. Mai makes frequent use of metaphor and appropriate images for depression: drowning becomes a common motif, as does dark circles and panels that sweep across the page. There is a black whole from which the protagonist cannot seem to claw here wave out of and there is a tidal wave of melancholy. It’s unclear exactly how the main character exits depression, but there is a bifurcated self that emerges late in the comic serials that suggests that the main character is more willing to look introspectively in order to diagnose the problem. Therein lies the terrain of possibility and potential for a tomorrow worth waking up for.
Buy the Book Here:
A Review of Sita Brahmachari’s Mira in the Present Tense (Albert & Whitman, 2013).
Though Sita Brahmachari’s Mira in the Present Tense is targeted at readers nine to thirteen years of age, its main narrative is a particularly complicated one related to death and mourning. Our main character and narrator is Mira Levenson, a mixed race British youth who is of Jewish and South Asian backgrounds. Her grandmother, Nana Josie, is suffering from metastatic breast cancer and the bulk of the narrative revolves around Mira and her family’s (there are her parents, her younger brother Krish, and her infant sister Laila) preparation for Nana Josie’s impending death. For her part, Nana Josie, an artist and painter, has a rather direct response to her condition: she buys her own casket and enlists Mira to help her paint it. The rather matter-of-fact nature of Nana Josie’s inevitable death is tackled head on and readers will see Nana Josie’s eventual progression from living at home, to moving to a hospice, and finally to the dying room. The other subplot involves Mira’s development as a writer under the tutelage of Pat Print, who holds a kind of creative writing workshop for young teens. It is in this group that Mira finds herself attracted to Jide, her classmate and a victim of the violence that occurred in Rwanda and who is later adopted by a British family. As the title implies, the novel proceeds in the present tense and this conceit works very well in this case precisely because there is a sense of urgency that slowly emerges as it is clear that Nana Josie will not have much time. Brahmachari’s narrator is one who must mature quite quickly and it is no accident that Mira also experiences the challenges of menstruation at the beginning of the novel, the signal then that she is—however ambivalently—growing up. I appreciate Brahmachari’s deft depiction of these difficult topics, especially as they are focalized through the eyes of an adolescent.
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A Review of Nikita Lalwani’s The Village (Random House, 2013).
Nikita Lalwani’s follow-up to Gifted is a dark, social critique concerning the documentary representation of wayward communities. Told in the third person perspective, the novel mainly follows the misadventures of Ray Bhullar, a documentary filmmaker affiliated with the British media company BBC who travels to a prison community to depict life there and to create the “real life” story. The prison community, Ashwer, is located in India and it is well-known for its rather lax security: the prisoners can move about on the compound and can even occasionally leave its confines, knowing full well that they can never be free of that location until they have served out their sentence. This rather utopian approach to detention serves as the canvas that Ray hopes to employ for documentary inspiration. She is aided by two others: Serena, a veteran of the television and film industry but who exists in a rather caustic relationship with Ray, and then Nathan, a bawdy cameraman and general associate of the production. Ray realizes that much is at stake in this production and looks to some of the prisoners as the opportunity to tell compelling stories and generate narratives that can be routed into the documentary. In particular, she develops a strong relationship with Nandini, one of the female prisoners, who offers her support to other inmates. Nandini’s personal story becomes a narrative that Ray attempts to mold, so too, does Serena and Nathan encourage Ray to exploit another set of inmates (in which the husband is soon to be diagnosed as HIV positive; they are looking to capture the moment on camera). Thus, Lalwani employs this narrative to explore how media and production teams can negatively impact the very communities whose authenticity they had hoped to depict. At stake of course is the artifice underlying such authentic narratives; Ray, Serena, and Nathan are especially flawed characters that Lalwani painstakingly draws out, but the plot itself does not generate much momentum. In this case, Lalwani’s social critique is far more impactful than the development of this particular story.
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A Review of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians (Doubleday, 2013)
For something a little bit on the lighter side, you might try out Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, which follows the (mis)adventures of one “crazy rich” Asian /American extended family that hails from the Malaysian-Singaporean region of the world. There are a multitude of characters in Kwan’s novel, but the central romance plot is really concerning Nicholas Young, the heir apparent to the Young family fortune. He is not yet married and there is concern from most in his family about what kind of girl he will eventually settle with. Enter Rachel Chu, assistant professor of economics at NYU and a colleague of Young’s (who is also an assistant professor at NYU); Rachel is friendly, charming, and most of all, entirely unaware of Nick’s fortune. At the beginning of the novel, they have been dating about two years and Nick convinces Rachel to travel to Asia for the wedding of Colin Khoo, a close friend. Of course, Nick also plans to unveil Rachel to his family. Though Rachel is certainly educated enough and hails from a reasonable background (her mother is a successful realtor), she is nothing like the billionaire socialites that populate Nick’s extended family’s lives. Fortunately, Rachel is very grounded, has an amazing friend (Peik Lin), and does not cower easily in the face of the Singaporean elite class version of the “game of thrones.” Thus, the novel stages a kind of satirical take on Rachel’s experiences while in Singapore, Malaysia and other countries (such as Indonesia, where Colin Khoo’s bride-to-be stages her bachelorette party on a secluded island). Nick’s mother Eleanor is entirely against the marriage and hires a private investigator to dig up dirt on Rachel’s past. At first, there seems nothing of note, but the investigator does discover a family secret which will become an issue in the novel’s concluding arc. The other major romance plot is given to Nick’s cousin Astrid Leong, who is dealing with a potential crisis in her marriage to Michael Teo. It seems as though he might be engaging in an affair and thus Astrid continues to do her own unofficial investigation into Michael’s dalliances and later confronts him for his alleged infidelities. Kwan’s comedic novel shines most when he pokes fun at his characters. For those involved in transnational studies, Kwan’s novel certainly calls attention to the elites that Aihwa Ong has called the “flexible citizen.” Characters like Astrid can take yearly trips to Paris to catch up on the latest fashions, while others are horrified to learn that Rachel Chu has no “blood” connection to the larger Chu dynasty that own a successful plastics company in Taiwan. With such focus on money and upward mobility, can there be a genuine romance? Nick’s no Darcy (though there are references here to Jane Austen), but you’ll still be rooting for Rachel by the novel’s conclusion, the one character that actually seems to see through the ridiculousness of the transnational Asian “crazy rich” elite.
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A Review of Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing about Luck (illustrated by Julia Kuo) (Atheneum, 2013).
Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck was recently awarded the National Book Award for children’s literature. The novel is told from the first person perspective of a 12 year-old Japanese American girl named Summer, who grows up in Kansas. The year has turned out pretty bad for her: her parents have traveled to Japan to take care of ailing relatives; she still suffers from bad memories of her bout with malaria. As the harvest season approaches, Summer and the rest of her family members work with the Parkers, as part of their combine driving team. Summer helps Obaachan (her grandmother) with the cooking, while her grandfather Jiichan drives one of the combines that will help harvest wheat. Summer’s little brother, Jaz, who also happens to be dealing with some sort of disorder (OCD seems likely), accompanies them. They must travel through various Midwestern states and work around storms and other weather phenomena in order to make sure they are able to make the most of the farmers’ harvests. Things start to get tricky when Jiichan gets sick and the Parkers realize that Summer’s family may not be holding up their end of the labor bargain. Thus, Summer must consider stepping up to the plate. Kadohata is always so wonderfully in tune with her youthful narrators: here, there is the sense that there may be some retrospective storytelling going on. There are particularly important moments where Kadohata must use Summer as a kind of figural mouthpiece to discuss the more technical aspects of harvesting; thus, the novel does serve a didactic purpose. As with many of her previous works, Kadohata places a dog figure as an important element in the narrative, as Summer has a very close relationship to her canine, Thunder. On a personal note, I have always had an interest in regionalist literatures and The Thing about Luck is especially beautifully rendered on the level of Midwestern imagery. Finally, there is a fledgling friendship that develops between Summer and an adult laborer named Mick that is especially poignant and entirely unsentimental.
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A Review of M. Evelina Galang’s Angel de La Luna and the Fifth Glorious Mystery (Coffee House Press, 2013).
With YA fiction titles being so strongly tilted toward the paranormal and the speculative, M. Evelina Galang’s Angel de La Luna and the Fifth Glorious Mystery (after Her Wild American Self and One Tribe) provides a refreshing change of pace in the field with its focus on its young, rebellious, and spirited titular protagonist. The novel begins with a mystery: Angel’s father cannot be located; her family spends much time trying to find him, and eventually it is discovered that he has been killed in a tragic road accident, his body only being recovered in a remote area in the Philippines. Soon after Angel’s mother identifies his body, she goes into a period of melancholic depression. In this time, Angel must fend for herself and her family members; she begins to develop a strong progressive impulse that comes primarily from her desire to root out social inequalities (especially as connected to the World War II atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese on Filipino women who were sexually conscripted as comfort women). Angel’s family happens to hail from a modest background, and Angel’s mother soon immigrates to the United States, with the intent of securing some financial stability for her children. Once she is able to settle down with a new husband in the U.S., she sends for Angel, who comes to the United States without fully understanding the reason. She especially feels betrayed that her mother has remarried and finds her home situation to be less than optimal. She attempts to assert some control in her life by developing some artistic hobbies and continuing with her activist interests, but much of her exploits grate against her parents and she must find a happy medium if she is to be able to build a new life in the United States. Though targeted at the young adult reading audience, Galang’s novel is certainly one that is not necessarily tied to that specific group. Indeed, as the novel draws closer to its conclusion, we see not only how much trauma that Angel has suffered personally, but that the family members and people she cares so much about have their own scars and historical injuries to address. In this sense, Galang’s novel complicates the ethnoracial bildungsroman, revealing the tortuous trajectory of young and older migrants and the hauntings that come with transnational movements.
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A Review of Andrew Fukuda’s The Trap (St. Martin’s, 2013).
spoilers in this review
Andrew Fukuda’s conclusion to The Hunt series is The Trap, which is—to put it mildly—a brutalizing read. The first two in the series were already fairly dark, but the third, in my mind, is relentlessly violent, so much so that my reaction to this novel is highly polarized. On the one hand, I completed the book in one sitting, tensely turning one page after another. On the other hand, I wondered about the nature of death as it is configured in horror fictions (such as this one) and how we are to regard to such a high body count. Within the first fifty pages, an untold number of young women are slaughtered, as Gene, Sissy, Epap, David, and Cassie are the only ones who are able to exit the train and enter a facility where they are being housed as a kind of human cattle, waiting to be chosen as the next meal. From here, the novel gets into high conspiracy mode, as it becomes evident that everything is not as it as it seems. Gene and Sissy, in particular, being two halves of the Origin, presumably hold the key to reversing the effects of vampire-turning. Thus, their blood might be used to secure the survival of humanity. These plans go awry when Gene and Sissy are summoned by the Ruler, who is looking to use Gene as a pawn to kill an upstart vampire living in the faraway metropolis. Indeed, this upstart vampire is none other than Ashley June, Gene’s once paramour-turned-fanged monster. Ashley June holds information about the presence of hepers at the facility Gene and Sissy are in and her information, when disseminated in the metropolis, could lead to all-out pandemonium. Gene is forced by the ruler to try to assassinate Ashley June; he is allowed to take one captive with him and he chooses Sissy, believing that he might be able to sacrifice Sissy in order to turn Ashley June back into a human. By this point, Epap has already been dispatched to try to off Ashley June, but when the Ruler cannot establish contact, it is assumed Epap has failed and thus they send Gene (and Sissy). David remains as a food source for the Ruler and his survival is dependent upon their collective success. From here, Gene and Sissy are about to engage their assassination plot, when Epap is able to contact them and lets them know that they are have walked into a trap. Thus, begins the quest to survive as humans in the metropolis, to try to find Epap, and then to make their way out of the city and somehow to find David. If all of these various activities sound close to impossible, it is because it is and as the novel turns closer and closer to its final pages, there is something of a naturalistic impulse that emerges, making you wonder if there is no other choice but for Gene and Sissy to give up and to kill themselves AND/OR become vampire fodder. On the level of tension and high anxiety, Fukuda no doubt succeeds and the surprise conclusion is sure to be of great interest to reading audiences (recalling the narrative of works like I am Legend). At the same time, there was a point where I did find the terror emanating from every chapter to be almost overwhelming and suffocating, so this book is certainly not for the faint of heart, nor would I necessarily recommend it to any teens I know!
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A Review of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (Vintage Reprint Paperback, 1993, originally published in 1989).
Most have heard of The Remains of the Day; it is probably Kazuo Ishiguro’s most critically acclaimed novel and was also adapted into a Merchant Ivory film (garnering 8 Academy Award nominations, but winning none). I’m thinking of adding an Ishiguro work to my Narrative and Narrative Theory course and it has been about ten years since I last read this novel. I didn’t remember much, but it’s interesting how a work becomes so different after you have aged and have had different life experiences. The narrative is rather meditative, told from the viewpoint of Mr. Stevens, a butler who has worked for many years at Darlington Hall. At the start of the novel, he is traveling to see an old co-worker, once known as Miss Kenton. He aims to request that Miss Kenton return to her work at Darlington Hall, especially as it seems evident that her marriage is over. From there, the novel proceeds through various flashbacks, which are then intercut by Mr. Stevens’s travels closer and closer to his destination. The novel stages not only the complications of memory and narration, but also the nature of functionality and politics. Mr. Stevens upholds a particular philosophy as a butler, one that precludes workplace romance or opinions on political goings-on in the world at large. He remains supremely dedicated to his service. Yet, the novel also begins to question this die-hard philosophy, as it becomes increasingly evident that much romantic tension exists between Miss Kenton and Mr. Stevens, while both were working at Darlington Hall. Mr. Stevens thus travels not only with the intent to visit an old friend, but to see whatever there may be of this once complicated connection. The other major backdrop is the pre-WWII period, which sees Darlington Hall transformed into an important political nexus point, where debates concerning British involvement in European diplomacy is debated. Lord Darlington, as we come to discover, casts his support with the rising German political party, thus in part leading to his eventual downfall. Mr. Stevens, with his unflagging loyalty to his job and to his employer, thus must question his occupational
faith.” When leveraged against the love he never actively pursued, his faith seems more questionable, but the novel ends with the possibility of a kind of tentative rebirth even in his older age. Ishiguro always does wonders with first person narration and this book strikes me as particularly deft nuanced in its depiction of character, which commands our attention over and above any plot details.
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Setting: Standard fantasy (i.e. pre-industrial) although that can be modified; I wouldn't mind them having (for instance) more modern smelting techniques, but would prefer to keep that general level of technology.
I'd like one of the major trade methods in the story I'm writing to be, essentially, blimps/balloons. I'm willing to handwave some of the details of it -- for instance, there's "ports" and trade routs generated by air currents because I said so and it's narratively convenient -- but I'm trying to figure out how they get their gases for the balloons.
Hot air is an option, I suppose, although it seems like that would get cumbersome for long voyages (how would they transport enough fuel?) So the obvious options seem like hydrogen and helium (the former having the fun bonus of potential dramatic explosions/fires).
But I'm not sure how a pre-industrial/medieval society could produce either of those. What I could find seemed to indicate means of production I'd rather not have to deal with (e.g., doing stuff with uranium). It seems like hydrogen could possibly be made from coal? How complicated would that be? What about gathering methane from swamps?
Again, the level of technology is somewhat flexible, and I can use magic if necessary, but in general I'm trying to avoid that. Any thoughts on how a pre-industrial society might produce lighter-than-air gases? Or is this a crazy idea I should just abandon?
Thanks so much!
Searches: producing hydrogen, producing helium, discovery of hydrogen, discovery of helium, swamp gases, lighter than air gases, history of ballooning
Kristiana Kahakauwila's debut short story collection This Is Paradise: Stories (Hogarth, 2013) contains six stories all set in Hawai'i and featuring a multiethnic cast of characters as well as both local and mainland figures.
I think this collection would lend itself well to studies in critical multiculturalism. Kahakauwila's sensibility is very much about looking beyond the narrative of celebratory multiculturalism to understand the dynamics of Native Hawaiian communities and their diasporas within the context of the United States. I'll touch on just a few of the stories in this review....
The opening story, "This Is Paradise," reminded me of Julie Otsuka's latest novel, The Buddha in the Attic, with its collective first person point of view. The "we" of the story traces the perspectives of a few groups of Native Hawaiian women across class divides, occupations, and experiences living on and off the islands. The plot charts these women's encounters over the course of a day with a haole woman from the mainland, who while seemingly friendly and in some ways more sympathetic to the working lives of Native women than other tourists, ultimately still romanticizes the islands and people to her own detriment. Although this tension between haole and Native is at the heart of the story, the exploration of Native women with different class and educational backgrounds is perhaps the most interesting and complex aspect of the story. The women's different jobs, such as maids in tourist hotels, police on the island, or lawyers with degrees from mainland universities, mark their different mobility and economic opportunities. The resultant collective "we" is thus both remarkably refracted as well as unified in seeing the paradise of the island as Native Hawaiian women.
The second story, "Wanle," centers on the title character, a woman whose father named her "Wanle," meaning "It is gone" in Chinese. The story centers on the underground culture of cockfighting, with Wanle's father as a central figure in that culture prior to this death and Wanle's narrative trajectory focused on obtaining some kind of revenge for his untimely death. Interestingly, the story also concerns Wanle's relationship with "the Indian," a man from a South Dakota reservation (from which he fled to escape a certain kind of violence, never quite fully explained in the story) who embodies a different perspective on cockfighting, aggressiveness, and trust in relationships.
The last story, "The Old Paniolo Way," concerns Pili, a gay man returning to the islands and his father's horse farm as his father is on his deathbed. The story considers Pili's closeted life on the islands in contrast to how he lives his sexuality openly in California. The story is thoughtfully not just about the silence of homosexuality, though, but very much about Pili's relationship with his sister Maile, who has remained on the islands and has worked on the farm with their father in the last few years. Into this trio of father, son, and daughter comes the presence of a hospice nurse, Albert, whose care for the father spurs both Pili and Maile to reconsider how they relate to one another and others.
I don't know if we've reviewed any Native Hawaiian writers on this community yet though Pacific Islander writers are often studied alongside or in tension with Asian American writers (especially Asian Hawaiian writers). I've been reading around more standard Asian American texts lately, so I'll be posting more brief reviews of a few of these books in the coming weeks. For more reviews of Hawaiian writing, see stephenhongsohn's omnibus reviews of books from three Hawaiian publishers, Hawaii Calling, Part 1 and Hawaii Calling, Part 2. For a brief review of other Pacific Islander writing (Guamanian), see my review of Chamorro writer Craig Santos Perez's from unincorporated territory.
My name is Michael Capobianco. Some of you may know who I am. I was President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for thee terms, 1996, 1997, and 2007. I’ve also served SFWA in a number of other capacities, including VP, Treasurer, and, currently, as one of SFWA’s representatives to the Authors Coalition of America.
In addition, I’ve worked with other SFWAns to oppose the Google Books Settlement, write SFWA’s Orphan Works white papers, and worked on various other copyright and contract related matters. I was married to Ann Crispin, and, while there’s no way I could replace her, with Victoria’s kind encouragement, I’ve decided to officially join Writer Beware.
I’ve already written a few blog posts for WB, mostly about legal copyright matters, but I’ve also helped with the April 1st posts from time to time. The Google Broccoli Kitten Settlement was my idea, for example.
My interests are somewhat more policy-oriented than WB tends to be, but WB has a very broad agenda, and I don’t believe I’ll be changing it much, if at all. My perspective is that of a non-lawyer author who is surrounded by technological and legal changes that call into question many of the ideas about copyright and authors’ rights that seemed to be fixed and immutable just a decade or two ago.
This is a time of tremendous upheaval, but it is only the beginning of a transition to a place we can only dimly perceive. Some of the changes over the last years are very good for authors, but others are eroding the underlying principles of copyright, and, in my opinion, that does not bode well for the future. I remember attending the “Electronic Book ’99: The Next Chapter,” sponsored the National Institute of Standards and Technology in September 1999. (Interestingly, Harlan Ellison was the keynote speaker, and I don’t remember much of his speech except that it didn’t have much to do with the topic of the conference.) Back then, a majority of the players were most interested in selling their new DRM schemes to publishers, because publishers were extremely fearful of the prospect of books that anyone could copy and “share.” Many publishers still feel that way, but I don’t think anyone at that conference could have predicted what the Internet has become, how the ebook marketplace functions, and the enormous changes created by a single corporation, Amazon. I don’t believe we can accurately predict what these things will look like in another fourteen years. But I think that, as in any chaotic system, a push in the right direction at the right time can affect the outcome in profound ways.
Topics I want to cover in future blog posts include the recent verdict in the Google Books case, why orphan works legislation needs to be tailored to the needs of authors, what to do in case your (small or medium-sized) publisher violates your contract, and some stuff about writers’ organization such as SFWA.
I’d like to beef up Writer Beware’s sections that are directed at what is currently being called “hybrid authors” – authors who had some success in the world of traditional publishing, but whose books are now mostly out of print and who have not been able to figure out how to self-publish, or have self-published but gotten nowhere. Since I am an explorer in that realm myself, I hope to bring some specificity to the discussion.
And finally, I hope to act to some degree as one of WB’s faces, appearing at conventions and conferences to help spread the word about literary scammers of all stripes.
I do understand that there are scammers and trolls out there who actively oppose Writer Beware, and I suspect I’m due for my share of the libel and innuendo. While I in no way want to engage in useless public diatribes with these people, I do intend to do something about them.
So, Victoria and Rich, thanks for letting me come aboard, and I hope I can help fulfill the mission of Writer Beware. I look forward to hitting the ground running.
Flawed redemption still a happy anniversary
It was 1978 or 1979. I was in grade 8 and quite liked my home-room teacher. Mr. Pritchard also liked me, the bright, nerdly kid who had made the school's "newspaper" his own, contributing articles, editorials, cartoons — and (yes) even reviews.
One afternoon after class, as I watched over the Gestetner machine chunking out its blue mimeo pages and Mr. Pritchard watched over me, I mentioned I was looking forward to Saturday, when another episode of Doctor Who, this British television program I'd recently discovered, was going to be broadcast, right before the hockey game.
Mr. Pritchard looked up and laughed, his moustache bristling his delight. "Really!" he said, "Is that still on the air? I used to watch it when I was your age!" He was probably about 30 then, meaning I had barely been born when he was my age!
Learning of that long continuity delighted me as much as — and maybe more than — it did Mr. Pritchard. And now that 15 years of the program's history has become 50, and my personal continuity with it is twice what my teacher's was, the fact that Doctor Who is still on the air delights me even more.
All of which makes me doubly-pleased that the program's 50th anniversary episode, "The Day of the Doctor", exceeded my (admittedly, low) expectations by a wide margin. While not without some significant flaws, Steven Moffat's long-awaited 2013 series finale (of sorts; the upcoming Christmas special will probably mark the real series end, as well as the transition to the next) was a well-crafted entertainment, that balanced humour, drama and nostalgia and, even, pathos, without getting bogged down by the Enormous Anniversariness of it all.
Though some nonsensical elements demonstrated yet again Moffat's tendency to confuse plot with story and maguffin with plot, structurally, "The Day of the Doctor" was a happy anniversary present for this jaded and weary viewer.
Certainly it was the most entertaining multi-Doctor special to come down the pike since, well, forever. I really did laugh and I really did cry, on both first and second viewings — and it's been quite a while since a Moffat-scripted episode of Doctor Who hit me like that.
As usual, my full review is liberal with spoilers. And yes, I spend quite a lot of time exploring those "significant flaws". If you don't want your pleasure challenged, I recommend staying away; if you want in read on click here for The Day of the Doctor: The Bad, the Good, and the Meta.
Setting: [Alternate universe version of] present-day northeastern United States
A character in my WIP is a sixty-something-year-old woman who gets a right-hemisphere stroke leading to the Capgras delusion (she believes that her loved ones have been replaced by impostors). Her relatives want to believe that after a year or so of rehab, this woman will not just get over that specific delusion, but be able to resume the work and family responsibilities she had before the stroke. Her nephew, a neurologist, could spin a plausible-to-a-layman story about how this might happen, but in his heart he knows that his aunt’s mental disability is permanent; she might recover enough to feed and dress herself and so forth, but never enough that, for example, she could be trusted to manage someone else’s investments.
I know that brain damage is not tidy enough to give someone one particular picturesque syndrome and leave everything else alone, so I would like to know what other physical/mental/emotional changes someone with this level of dysfunction might have, and how much they would be alleviated after a few weeks or a few months of treatment. Also, I would like to know roughly what the “yes she can recover” and “no this is permanent” arguments would look like. (Imagine a court hearing with duelling expert witnesses.)
I have Googled terms like “Capgras syndrome prognosis” and “right hemisphere stroke prognosis” and the main things that I learned were (a) lots of things can cause the Capgras delusion, and (b) the effects and prognoses for strokes can be all over the map. I found the NIH Stroke Scale and similar metrics, but it looks like when people talk about how those metrics correlate with prognosis, they are talking about prognosis over a term of a few months rather than years.
Thanks in advance.
SFWA has named Samuel R. Delany, Jr. (1942– ) as the 2013 DAMON KNIGHT MEMORIAL GRAND MASTER for his contributions to the literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Samuel R. Delany is the author of numerous books of science fiction, including Nova, Dhalgren, Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand, and most recently Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. Two of his classic works of science fiction criticism, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw and Starboard Wine, have just been brought back into print by Wesleyan University Press, who will reissue a third, The American Shore, in the summer of 2014.
After winning four Nebula awards and two Hugo awards over the course of his career, Delany was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2002. Since 2001 he has been a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, where for three years he was Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program. In 2010 he won the third J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Fiction from the academic Eaton Science Fiction Conference at UCR Libraries. He is also a recipient of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime’s contribution to lesbian and gay literature.
SFWA PRESIDENT, STEVEN GOULD:
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
The DAMON KNIGHT MEMORIAL GRAND MASTER is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.’ Delany joins the Grand Master ranks alongside such legends as Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Connie Willis, and Gene Wolfe. The award will be presented at the 49th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, CA, May 16-18, 2014.
More information on the award’s history and the Nebula Award Weekend can be found at: http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/nebula-w
To request interviews, or for questions concerning SFWA, the award’s history or the Nebula Award Weekend, please contact publicist Jaym Gates at email@example.com.
Seattle writer Laurie Frankel won the fifteenth Endeavour Award for her novel Goodbye For Now (Doubleday.) The Award, by Florida artist Ashley Harper, comes with an honorarium of $1,000.00. The other finalists were: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Seattle writer Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications); Amped by Portland writer Daniel H. Wilson, Doubleday); The Blinding Knife by Sherwood, Oregon writer Brent Weeks (Orbit US); and Costume Not Included by British Columbia Matthew Hughes (Angry Robot). The judges for the 2013 Award were Noreen Doyle, Susan Forest, and John Scalzi.
The Endeavour Award honors a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book, either a novel or a single-author collection, created by a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. All entries are read and scored by seven readers randomly selected from a panel of preliminary readers. The five highest scoring books then go to three judges, who are all professional writers or editors from outside of the Pacific Northwest.
To be eligible for 2014 Endeavour Award, a book — either a novel or a single-author collection — must have been published for the first time in English during 2013. The majority of the book must have been written, and the book accepted for publication, while the author was living in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia, or the Yukon.) Deadline to enter books published during 2012 is February 15, 2014. Full information on entering the Award is available on the Endeavour Web site: www.osfci.org/endeavour. The Endeavour Award is sponsored by Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (OSFCI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
Double whammy: 1-day rejects from Clarkesworld and The Dark.