Tuesday, December 2, 2008


1. One of the things that I love best about the fact that I recently upgraded from a decade-old computer to a brand new MacBook is that I can easily capture all of my favorite radio shows as podcasts and listen to them at my leisure. People who know me personally probably regard me as a walking, talking advertisement for National Public Radio and will be thinking "Oh jeeezus, here he goes again," but I think that everyone who likes good stories and has wide-ranging curiosity ought to check out programs such as This American Life (from Chicago Public Radio) and New York public radio's excellent Radio Lab. Of particular interest to sf readers should be an episode of the recent season about story-telling and the power of narrative which focuses on the infamous Orson Wells radio production of HG Wells' The War of the Worlds. Go to the WNYC site (link way down in the links list) and look it up. 

2. While I have imposed no word limits (either upper or lower) on writers for the M-Brane mag, I am seriously considering imposing a lower one. I am tempted to say that I actually hate "flash fiction," that still-popular short-short story form that lives in the under-one-thousand- word range and is often confined to the three to seven hundred range depending on the wishes of editors who do like it...and which reminds me of the kind of vapid crap that tends to fill every student-published college lit mag in the world. I have not really been receiving many "flash" submissions so far, but I have received a number of stories just above that length that showed some real promise of being a cool story but seriously suffered from a lack of content and richness, probably due more than anything to their lack of words. On Thanksgiving Day, when I was at work and preparing an ersatz Thanksgiving lunch out of processed foods for the group of Alzheimer's-ravaged elders that I try my best to feed decently, I was listening to The Splendid Table (the food show on NPR). One of the guests--I don't remember who--was talking about how his or her magazine articles used to run much longer than they do now, and then remarked that all magazine content in recent years has been shrunk and compressed and cut to where a full-blown article is now probably about as long as this entry that I have spent about three minutes typing. For M-Brane, however, I am not aiming for the short-attention-span crowd. There's a bunch of flash-fic sites out there for that.

3. I am reading the Mieville novel Perdido Street Station.  As I suspected, it is right on the edge of being too fantastical/magical for my taste, but Mieville's style and the lush texture of the decroded world that he has created has kept me hooked deeply enough into it that I believe I will actually finish it soon and be glad that I did.

4. Hey, it seems like we're getting a real foothold in the web. I just googled "mbrane" and this site actually showed up on the first page of results (near the bottom of it).  A couple weeks ago when I tried that, I couldn't get it before the seventh or eight page unless I also added things like my own name and specific subjects from the blog into the search parameter. It also happens to be the case that none of the other items on page 1 of those google results have any value at all except for the link to Wikipedia's article on "M-Theory."  Go check that out.  It's mind-blowing.

5. A few updates ago, I claimed that my novel (still untitled and known only as Current Project) was in a condition where all important scenes and events were more or less in the manuscript now and it seemed that all that remained was revision and the fleshing out of stuff that's already present in it as it stands. I have since identified (and made a sort of index of) no less than 32 individual scenes that need to be added to make the thing flow as it needs to from beginning to end. So, it is to be more work than I had been thinking as recently as last week.  But I am excited about what the new material will do for the book, so onward I proceed. I had feared at one time that this story would tell itself as a thirty or forty thousand word novella (and hence be forever unpublishable), but I know now that it will reach a sort of normal novel length.

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