The scary fallibility of algorithms:
Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention, will be held in Chicago from September 1 to 5, 2022.
I’ll be there. In fact, I’m already doing a little volunteer work for the convention, helping edit the Progress Reports. Progress Report 3 is just out (PDF here), and I have an article in it about Chicon 8’s logo, the rocket that will “take it to the stars.” The logo is based on the Chicago city flag.
Progress Report 3 also includes a report about the first Worldcon in 1939, an article about fandom, a report from the convention chair, and news about the Art Show, Dealers’ Room, Exhibits, Hospitality, Member Services, and Programming. If you’re not sure if you want to attend, this might tempt you. Exciting things are in the works!
As Convention Chair Helen Montgomery puts it: “We really cannot wait to bring you all to Chicago, to show off our city and our fandoms, and to share our love of science fiction and fantasy together. Help us make our dreams, and yours, reality.”
I also have an article in Progress Report 2 (PDF here) about the Chicago city flag. Each of the four stars on the flag represents an important event in the city’s history.
As I said, I’ll be at Chicon 8. I plan to hop on a bus in front of my house, hop off the bus twenty minutes later, and be ready for five days of fun and inspiration with thousands of fellow writers and fans.
The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you want to write a novel, The First Five Pages should be helpful, although with a couple of minor caveats.
The book starts at the sentence level and carefully considers individual word choices, offering both basic and sophisticated advice. For example, comparisons slow down a text — which can be good or bad, depending on the pacing the author needs.
The second half of the book looks at “big picture” concerns like pacing, setting, and characterization. These can raise a novel from good to great. Some of Lukeman’s lessons might be familiar but reminders won’t hurt, and other lessons might be new and necessary.
Two caveats: First, the opening chapter, Presentation, is laughably out of date. Submissions are electronic these days, via email or website, and would-be authors need advice for how to handle those formats, not warnings about dot-matrix printers. Second, the examples of what not to do are so over-the-top bad that they rarely teach the would-be writer very much.
Beyond that, which are small problems, I think the book is worth the investment of money and time. Noah Lukeman knows that writing is hard, and he offers not just good advice but consistent encouragement.
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Steve Bellinger takes the time travel paradox seriously. Time Waits for No One is the sequel to The Chronocar, which won several awards. In The Chronocar, a young black man in Chicago, Tony Carpenter, builds a time-travel machine and goes back to 1919, where things go deadly wrong. That was the year of the “Red Summer” riots by white supremacists.
In the sequel, Tony is time traveling again, a different Tony in a different timeline, and things go wrong in a different and even more deadly way.
The story moves fast, with both serious and funny moments, but eventually Tony has to take responsibility for catastrophes that he might not be able to solve. As with The Chronocar, I especially recommend this book to YA readers.
Oh, and about halfway through the book, the Earth is destroyed. I always enjoy it when that happens in a story. But this is time travel, so maybe the Earth can be rescued…
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“The motherhood statement,” according to the Turkey City Lexicon, “affirms the conventional social and humanistic pieties, i.e. apple pie and motherhood. Greg Egan once stated that the secret of truly effective SF was to ‘deliberately burn the motherhood statement.’”
This is my attempt to burn the motherhood statement. It was originally published in Thema, Paper Tigers anthology, Vol. 15, No. 1, Spring 2003.
The mosquito landed on the woman’s arm, she slapped it, and it fell dead. But nothing happens so easily.
She had watched it hover, tiger-striped. It landed on insubstantial legs, delicate as a fairy queen. Only females sought blood, and after a blood meal it could lay eggs. The woman considered granting its wish. Even tiny lives mattered.
But she couldn’t. The mosquito might carry a disease — not that it would care, even if it could understand. Its eggs mattered more to it than any human life. Mercy did not fit into the equation for either of them. The woman was pregnant. She had a life to protect, too. She slapped, and the mosquito fell, its long striped legs crushed and tangled.
And yet, she knew that with trillions of mosquitos and billions of humans in the world, this single killing accomplished almost nothing. It proved nothing, not even who loved their babies more. She had the brute advantage this time and she took it, that was all. Next time, who knew?
She eyed the tiny corpse on the ground. Only fools believed that motherhood meant tenderness. Motherhood meant menace. Motherhood made enemies. Mothers would stop at nothing. And she hadn’t even given birth yet.
© Sue Burke 2003