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Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Time Event
11:00a
The Awful Truth About Publishing
A glimpse of the writing trade from the inside for your enjoyment and edification: http://arhyalon.livejournal.com/76311.html

Here is the second in a series depicting the odyssey of my patient, beautiful and talented wife, Mrs. John Wright, her travails in finding an editor. Her first meeting with Jim Frenkel is mentioned, as well as the mystery of the Manuscript in the Carved Wooden Box. I make a guest appearance as someone who refuses to sleep any more on the floor forever.

My comment: the mystery of the Manuscript in the Carved Wooden Box always amuses me, because it confirms something I have always said about would-be writers. The serious ones find a current copy of Writer's Market, read the editor's guidelines and follow them.

The ones who are not serious had better be friends with the elfs, because if they are published, it will be due to the grace of your fairy godmother, and not the sweat and tears that mingle in the inkwell of a hard-working wordsmith.

Mrs. Wright writes under her maiden name L. Jagi Lamplighter. Her first book is out in stores now, called PROSPERO LOST, sort of a Roger Zelazny meets Shakespeare's TEMPEST at Santa's Castle kind of tale, with evil magical dogs and gumshoes in fedoras.


11:16a
New Mind Meld at SFSignal!
The fine fellows over at SFSignal, which I read every day, have made the classic blunder of asking my opinion on something, and, inevitably, I wrote an essay rather than a paragraph. But they asked me about my two favorite topics: Books, and Me. What are my memories surrounding the books I hold dear? What book or books hold special memories for me?

Here is the beginning of my answer:

I am not sure how to answer this question, since the actual act of reading the books I best remember is not itself any act that involves adventure, romance, intrigue, peril, or anything worthy of memory. I neither had to climb a glass mountain, nor solve a cryptic riddle posed by a smiling and cold-eyed monster, nor labor for Laban twice seven years to check out a paperback from the local library.

But of the books themselves, that I can speak. In the life of every bookish person, there are a few favored books, read in the golden time of youth, that come to dwell in the imagination forever. The vividness of images, the strangeness and wonder of the settings, are burned into the heart: every other tale read after is compared to these golden tales.

The difference between a bookish person and a non-bookish person (often called "Philistines") is that our formative thoughts, memories, and ideas, the things that shaped our character, come largely from books rather than from real-life experiences. The difference between a science fiction bookish person (often called "Slans") and a non-science-fiction bookish person (often called "Muggles"), is that our formative ideas come largely from science fiction books, rather than books about real things. The difference between a science fiction bookish person (Slans) and a dork who dresses up in a Star Trek uniform when called to jury duty, or who puts down "Jedi" as his religion on a government census form (often called "Freakatrons") is a matter of degree only.

I am sure there is some sort of Darwinian evolutionary advantage to living a life utterly disconnected from reality (often called "Psychotic"), but scholars have yet to identify it.

Read the whole thing, and the answers of other science fictional people (Slans) as well, including Kij Johnson Mike Flynn and James P. Hogan here: 

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2009/08/mind-meld-books-that-hold-special-places-in-our-hearts-and-on-our-shelves/

The anecdote by James P. Hogan I thought particularly interesting. Let me quote it in part: 

Although there was much that I enjoyed about the movie 2001, I never understood the ending. I listened to all kinds of ingenious interpretations from various people, but they were all mutually contradictory and left me with the feeling that they were highly subjective [...] The punch line came years later, after I had moved to the U.S. and was living in Massachusetts, I had dinner with Judy Lynn Del Rey and Arthur C. Clarke in Boston one night and was finally able to ask him--the ultimate source--"What did the ending to that movie mean?" And I can quote Arthur's answer word for word...

Ah, but to find out Sir Arthur's answer, you will have to read Mr. Hogan's entry.
2:30p
Overlap
Combining the last two post topics, I noticed over at Sf Signal a familiar book cover. See if you can spot it.

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2009/08/books-received-august-10-2009/

Yes, indeed, there is PROSPERO LOST by the Mrs.

Meanwhile, over at Amazon.com three friends of mine and Harriet Klausner have already reviewed it. My friends gave it (on average) four and a half stars, and Harriet Klausner gave it five. This was a generous if odd ranking, because Harriet did not take the trouble to read even the blurb on the dustjacket this time, but merely made up something based on the title. Statisticians calculate that Harriet Klausner, in order to read every book she reviews, must have a reading speed in excess of 9.5 zillion words per minute!

Perhaps she could be hired by Congressmen to read their bills to them before they vote.



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