June 16th, 2007

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Howard Hughes and the Case of the Purloined Placodont

Yesterday, I got word via Ellen Datlow that "Bainbridge," the closing story in Alabaster, has been nominated for an International Horror Guild award, in the category of Best Mid-Length Fiction, which happens to be the same category "La Peau Verte" won in 2006. So, that was a good way to begin a Friday. If you wish to see a complete list of this year's IHG nominees, just follow this link.

Somehow, I missed the fact that there was a pretty good review of The Dry Salvages (written by Bill Sheehan) published in The Washington Post way back in December 2004. I have no idea how I missed it. These things happen, I suppose.

Yesterday earned a W in the day planner, but I almost feel as though it should have earned a D, for dithering. I looked back at the "editor's preface" for The Dinosaurs of Mars I wrote on Thursday and found it wanting. But I also didn't quite see how to fix it. So, I fucked off to Emory for a bit, because I needed to track down a number of books on speleology and caving and karst topography, and since I need these references for The Dinosaurs of Mars, it was easy to justify the library trip as "work." My thanks to everyone who commented yesterday. There were some especially helpful remarks and suggestions from stsisyphus and corucia, which have actually had some impact on how the book will be written. Feedback can be very useful. Oh, and this question from jtglover:

In re: Dinosaurs, I can't remember if you've said, but will this be Mars á la Bradbury or Burroughs? Something else? Not trying to snoop too much, just curious.

Though the subject of Burrough's Barsoom may come up somewhere in the book, this particular Mars won't seem much like Barsoom or Bradbury's haunted red planet. It's not even going to be the colonized Mars I wrote of in "Bradbury Weather." This will be a very naturalistic Mars, Mars as early Martian explorers will likely find it — cold, hostile, barren, deadly, beautiful, and filled with secrets.

And this comment from stsisyphus, which I found particularly salient:

What I mean to say here is that I think that it doesn't make sense in comparison to her other works to construct a scientific artifice simply to justify how or why the characters managed to trod the Martian soil. The point isn't to demonstrate how it could be that a human could be exploring caverns of Mars, but rather what happens to them once they are there. I don't need to have a long infodump of exposition explaining the bioengineering of "Faces in Revolving Souls" and "A Season of Broken Dolls" to enjoy the stories. In fact, it would been distracting.

A great deal of Ms. Kiernan's fiction has dealt with the effect of otherness upon a humanity which is mostly organic in nature and composition. These are characters that cry, pump blood, puke bile, and occasionally piss themselves (probably one of my favorite details of the kill scenes in
tFoC). Kiernan doesn't shy away from making her characters palpable and sensually whole. Her androids, monsters, and such have on the whole been deceptively humanish. Admittedly, there are a handful of stories that have been in Sirenia Digest & Frog Toes & Tentacles which ran counter to this. Even then, however, there is often an organic logic to many of Kiernan's "alien antagonists." While they may not be human in form or consciousness, they are often project the efficient cruelty and instinct of nature. While one could portray the explicit subversion/destruction of rational, technological mastery by nature-chaos or ex-conscious forces - I don't know if it would normally be a CRK kind of story.

There will be many unanswered questions in The Dinosaurs of Mars, and a lot of them will present themselves at the opening of the story. For example, I am intentionally constructing the book in such a way that the reader never learns much at all about Babette Flanagan's trip from the Earth to the moon to Mars or the technology that makes this trip possible. I do have a lot of ideas about that tech. For example, I've been thinking about the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), utilizing ion cyclotron resonance heating, which NASA first started talking about back in 2000, as a means of paring an Earth-to-Mars travel time down to only four months or so. Of course, I could just cut to the chase and envision a fusion engine for the Ascendency. But stsisyphus is correct in his supposition that what's important here is what the explorers find on Mars (and its effect upon them), not the tech that gets there. And yes, I also detest infodumps. At any rate, no new words were written yesterday. And they may not be today, as I have not taken a day off in nine days, and I think I might be due one. Maybe.

Things are going well with my Second Life, though I did relapse and do the stripping thing last night. At least the crowd was small and well behaved and there were decent tips. Spooky says she's become a "Second Life widow."

Oh, and Happy Bloomsday!

Yesterday, I reached the 1,000 mark with MySpace "friends." Does this mean I get a cookie or a gold star or something? I didn't think so.