Archive for May, 2007

“Infoquake” Nominated for John W. Campbell Award!

May 31st, 2007

Holy auspicious awards, Batman! My debut novel Infoquake has been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best Novel!

'Infoquake' Book CoverI’m very, very pleased to be in such august company. Other nominees include Charles Stross, Vernor Vinge, Karl Schroeder, Ben Bova, M. John Harrison, James Morrow, Peter Watts, Justina Robson, and Jo Walton. Which means my chances of winning are probably about as high as my chances of being picked by New Line Cinema to direct The Hobbit, but what the heck, a nomination is a big honor.

This is indeed my first nomination for any major publishing award (although Infoquake was awarded Top SF Novel of 2006 by Barnes & Noble Explorations). And I believe it’s the first Campbell Award nomination for my publisher Pyr as well.

For those who are just hearing about Infoquake for the first time and want to know more about it, check out the website. You can read the first seven chapters online there, or listen to the first four chapters on audio.

I should also mention that I’ve just signed the contract for MultiReal, the sequel to Infoquake, so it’s an especially good day over here in Edelmanville.

A tip o’ the hat to John Scalzi as well, from whose blog I learned the news about 20 minutes ago.

Robots and Music

May 29th, 2007

If you have an interest in robots, an interest in music, and live in the NY metropolitan region, this event might be for you!  In interests of full disclosure, George Lewis, a McArthur Grant recipient, is an old, old friend.



LEMUR: League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots


Robosonic Eclectic: Live Music by Robots and Humans

May 31 – June 2nd

3-Legged Dog Art and Technology Center

80 Greenwich Street, NYC

May 31, June 1st & June 2nd, 8:00 pm


Performing Live:

George Lewis: Robots +  trombone

Morton Subotnick: Robots + live percussion

They Might Be Giants: Robots + John and John

JG Thirlwell (Foetus): Robots + string quartet


Plus Solo Robot Works by

R. Luke DuBois and J. Brendan Adamson


Tickets: $20, available from

Love, C.

Cannes preview for His Dark Materials Adaptation

May 27th, 2007

Plus and interview with director and screenwriters, Chris Weitz.

[Referring to the Magisterium – the all-powerful religious body that wields total political power in the world of Lyra, the heroine – he said: “In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic church gone wildly astray from its roots. If that’s what you want in the film, you’ll be disappointed. We have expanded the range of meanings that the Magisterium represents.”

 He added that there would be no specific marketing to neutralise any potential religious backlash in the US. “We’re going to let the film talk for itself,” he said.

Speaking from his home in Oxford, Pullman told the Guardian: “The Magisterium as I conceived it always did stand for a range of things, including organised religion and secular authority.

“The outline of the story is faithful to what I wrote, given my knowledge of what they’ve done – and given they have compressed a story that takes 11 hours to read out into two hours or so.” ]

Pullman criticizes children’s and young adult television programing in another part of the Guardian Review issue. 

[ Pullman went on to say that fiction loses its value unless it ‘tackles the great moral dilemmas of our time’. ‘Fantasy, and fiction in general, is failing to do what it might be doing,’ he said. ‘It has unlimited potential to explore all sorts of metaphysical and moral questions, but it is not doing that.

‘You can’t leave morality out unless your work is so stupid and trivial and so worthless that nobody would want to read it anyway.

‘Taking children’s needs seriously is not different from taking every human need seriously,’ he said. ‘It is absolutely central to a true and humane vision of the whole of life. If we need to challenge the prevailing neo-liberal, market-based religion in order to do it, then we should do so proudly.’ ]

Love, C.

Question: Direct thoughts in third-person

May 24th, 2007

William wrote:

Question from a young writer:
I have recently noticed that while I write in the third person, I tend to insert a characters thoughts directly into the text (as if it was the narrator speaking), and generally model the narrator voice after whichever character’s POV it is at the moment.

Am I wrong in doing this? When I’m writing it and reading it, it seems to flow, but if I take a little step back and think about it, it doesn’t make sense for the narrator to be saying something the character is thinking.

At the same time, it seems cumbersome to put in something like:

‘Can’t he figure out that I’m trying to sleep? Honestly, the absolute nerve of him… I should get u- NO! I won’t…(etc.)’ she thought.

especially after describing the scene, setting, and whatnot.


Nothing at all wrong with making the narrative “voice” be the POV character’s voice. This is a very intimate point of view which can be quite satisfying and involving for the reader–very like first person. You are eliminating the middle-man, so to speak. And you are correct that incessant use of “she/he thought” can be jarring. (The same thing with “I thought” when writing first person.)

A few caveats (with all the usual disclaimers about how anything can work if it is done masterfully enough. But you did say this was a beginning writer…):

1. To be true to your intimate POV make sure that you hold to that POV throughout the section and don’t let omniscient observations creep into your narrative. That is, keep focused through your character’s eyes, avoiding things like visual self-details, attribution of unobservable motives and feelings to other characters, and reference to events outside your POV character’s knowledge.

2. I know there are some here who decry the use of italics for direct thoughts, but I think this is a great example of where they can be useful. Otherwise, if you are writing in third person, simple past tense, and the character’s thoughts are in first person, present tense without such delineation, the text can seem a jumble. You say your words read smoothly, then likely you’re doing a good job of this already. Try reading the section aloud, as well.

There are lots of ways to give the reader a sense of immediacy and intimacy. One way is by avoiding prediction, such as “that was the last time he ever made that mistake” or “it was to be many years until she understood how she had hurt him.” These kinds of phrases come to us easily, and, depending on the style of the narrative, can flow beautifully. But they do remind the reader of the distance from the events. Another way is through a slight deviation from correctness. Though I write in simple past, I will occasionally sprinkle in some “immediate” references such as “last night” instead of “the previous night” and such like through my narrative, as if my narrator were reliving the events even as he or she was relating them.

I’m sure others have suggestions as to how to make third-person narratives more immediate.

Have fun.


Exit, pursued by singing orcs

May 20th, 2007

[ It’s taken 10 years to produce, and at £12.5m, it’s the costliest musical ever to hit town, so The Lord of the Rings had better be good. And, oddly enough, it just might be. ]

 [ “The harmonies are incredible, and the way the music expresses the different cultures of Middle-earth is really clever.” Tricky to pull together, too, apparently. The Lord of the Rings score began after a meeting in an Indian restaurant in London in 2003, set up by Nightingale, between the top Bollywood tunesmith AR Rahman and a Finnish folk ensemble, Varttina. Whether the results will sell the show to the Mary Poppins/Billy Elliot crowd remains to be seen. But they are undeniably – that word again – different.

This production will probably be remembered more for its sights than its sounds, however. The sheer scale of the beasties – the giant black furry spider; Balrog, the humungous redeyed demon from the underworld; and, tallest of all, the 20ft stilted ents – gives this Rings the feel of a Rio carnival reenacted in Covent Garden.

None of the speaking actors creates as vivid an impression as the snorting, leather-clad orcs, who power-skip and somersault across the stage like warthogs in bondage gear, and nearly steal the show when they cavort among the front rows of the stalls during the break between Acts II and III. Alongside these circus stunts, there are illusions, such as the vanishing of Bilbo Baggins in Act I, and a succession of back-projected images that hover above and behind the action. Warchus’s bid to fashion what he calls “total theatre” is about as total a spectacle as this theatregoer has witnessed.

Now there is another pause, until the critics return their verdict on June 20. As a creature of the world of subsidised art theatre, Warchus is suspicious of what he sees as the crude judgments of the mainstream commercial market. “The day after this opens, we will be disproportionately congratulated or disproportionately abused. That reception does not represent a validation of what we’ve done, I believe.”  ]

There’s also a behind-the-scenes video, which provides some flavor of this production, including the music.  It does rather appear worth getting a ticket.

Love, C.

Come One Come All – Discuss Word Processing Software

May 17th, 2007

In “Writing My First Novel” R. asks:

What is the consensus on software for drafting novels?
Who’s using what software, and how do you love/hate it?

I think it’s safe to start by saying there is no consensus.

Gloom and Doom, review-style

May 11th, 2007

Why do authors torment themselves by obsessing over negative reviews and ignoring the good ones? I do this, I know other authors who do it. We can get ten great reviews and one nasty comment by some wet git on its own, little-read web page — and be sure we’ve failed.

Yesterday I fell prey to this syndrome in a particularly stupid way. THE SPIRIT STONE was reviewed in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, and yes, I know that many authors would kill for a PW review, just to begin with. The review of TSS was very positive, but — ah, it’s that “but” that’ll get you every time. It started with “After the disappointment of THE GOLD FALCON . . . ”

Now, have I been gloating over getting a good review of STONE in PW? Are you kidding? No, I’ve been obsessing over the fact that an unnamed reviewer made a gratuituous slap at its predecessor, which has been out and selling okay for a year. Apparently said reviewer thought FALCON was too simple and straightfoward, after my editors had bludgeoned me into making it that way, so perhaps that’s why I’m so brought down? No, I’d obsess on it even if the person had made some totally off-the-wall comment.

Anyone else here have this twist in their psychology?

And, as a side note, isn’t it cowardly of reviewers not to sign their reviews?

Free Comic Book Day

May 4th, 2007

A lot of you probably know about this, but this is the first time I’ve heard of it.

Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow (Saturday, May 5 — which is also the Kentucky Derby, and this year the Queen of England shall be in attendence, as well as my Lexington native pal, T.R. Johnson).  The link is to the NY Times, which requires free registration ….

[ There is no better day to visit your neighborhood comic store than tomorrow: Free Comic Book Day, the annual industry promotion in which participating retailers nationwide will give away titles ranging from “Little Archie” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” to “The Lone Ranger” and “Transformers,” a spectrum as wide as the stores that sell them.  ]

 The article also provides a survey of the best comic retailer in each of the 5 boroughs of NYC.

Love, C.

Loss of Print Media Book Reviews

May 2nd, 2007

As so many of us have noticed, over the least few years there has been a contraction and elimination of book reviews in the traditional print media.  Recently the pace of this has speeded up, as this article speaks to.

Is this going to be an opportunity for those who have been traditionally shut out of the reviewing / critiquing media, or is this going to ultimately further hurt published writers?

Certainly within the genre communities, online reviewers have proliferated like kudzu in Georgia.  There are so many really good ones, and interesting ones, that I personally have bookmarked, that I cannot keep up with them.   And these don’t include the other review and critique sites for books that are not necessarily genre or even fiction.

Since the publishing industry-book review in newspapers and magazines industry have been so thoroughly entwined  and inter-dependent for so long, and with both industries changing so much, what do you think the future of this will be?

Love, C.

A Mayday birthing

May 1st, 2007

In the fall of 2003 I heard a story on National Public Radio called “The Last Lighthouse.” It was about the last manned lighthouse in the US. But it wasn’t the story that interested me so much as the title. I got thinking about lighthouses and how they both warned people away from danger and welcomed people to safe harbor. And that got me thinking about history and who knows what all…and somehow I began to wonder if there was anyone back in the fifth century who had the vision to foresee what would become of Britain once the Roman legions withdrew. Which led to a story idea about a place that wasn’t Britain, and to this cheeky fellow named Valen who had ended up in a very unlikely place, when all he wanted to do was stay anonymous. Which led to a sale and two-and-a-half years of writing and a book that grew too big and had to be split into two…

…and today the first of the twins, Flesh and Spirit, has been released. Whew!

You can check out the “Our Books” section for more or see my website for more info.

Now back to our regularly scheduled…


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