I couldn't point to Minneapolis on a map, and I've never been there before.
Going there in April.
What is there to do and see there? And what are the goth/alternative, microbrew, and SF scenes like?
Just a quick note that the fastest way you can get me to unfriend you is to cross-post anything in this LJ on Facebook.
I haven't cross-connected my FB identity to my LJ. There is a reason for this.
Just so you know -- the Hugo nominations are closing this weekend -- my 2009 eligible publications are:
Novel: The Revolution Business, Tor, 2009 (hah bloody hah)
Novella: Palimpsest (collected in Wireless, Ace, 2009)
Novelette: Overtime (Tor.com, Dec. 2009)
Semiprozine: Charlie's Diary
(Next year will hopefully have a bit more stuff ...)
A reminder, folks:
I don't use Facebook.
I just logged in to tighten up the privacy settings on my account -- because they mass-emailed everyone who hadn't logged in in the past few months -- and found 65 people had tried to friend me. Well, I just bounced them all. Because I don't use Facebook, have no intention of using Facebook, and don't have time for Facebook. If you were one of them, it's not personal -- it's a blanket refusal on my part to be sucked in to a system that has an invasive and insidious attitude to its users' privacy.
The only reason I have a Facebook account is to make it difficult for an impersonator to open an account in my name.
As of this morning, www.antipope.org (and www.prattle.net) is down. (I discovered this on getting home from Nottingham.) The machine is kernel panicking on boot before it gets as far as showing a login, with what smells suspiciously like filesystem corruption.
I'm making this post public in case anyone needs to contact me. Mail to @antipope.org will not get through (my gmail back door is, however, fine).
Tech support is poking at it ...
From bad to worse: $SYSADMIN booted it off a networked rescue filesystem and tried to run fsck on one or other of the partitions in the (mirroring) RAID set. After barfing up a few errors while running fsck the kernel panics.
This may mean memory/motherboard/cpu issues. So $SYSADMIN is first building a newer (latest) kernel to try again; if that fails he's going to stick the drives in a new machine tomorrow morning and see if things work any better. But one way or the other, we're probably down (no web or email service) until tomorrow morning. Worst case, we have to rebuild from scratch.
(Memo to self: try to remember that RAID is not a backup strategy, m'kay?)
It never rains but it pours: Frigg just barfed copiously in my office -- I had no idea a cat's stomach could hold so much stuff -- then went into the living room and pissed on one of feorag's shirts. On interrogation, $CAT-SITTER couldn't recall seeing more than one pile of Frigg-turds in the litter tray over the five-day period of our absence. Chore #1 for tomorrow is therefore to take Frigg to the vet in the morning (or to the 24 hour emergency clinic if things take a turn for the worse overnight): I strongly suspect constipation, and while it's not immediately life-threatening (like urinary retention) it needs treatment.
NB: I seem to be surrounded by malfunctioning instances of classes beginning with 'c'. Just hope the Volvo starts in the morning ...
(Unlocked for wider circulation. If you're new here, note: my LJ is almost always friends-locked.)
In case you were wondering why I haven't commented on the shit-storm stirred up by John C. Wright's bizarre effusions, it's not for lack of an opinion on the matter. I've run across him on the net before, and -- bluntly -- this is nothing new. So I've learned to tune him out.
But I note that a lot of folks are now standing on the seats and shouting. And I have a feeling that they don't quite understand what they're shouting at, or why the strange man has shat his pants on stage and is whirling them around his head at the audience.
John C. Wright is a fifty-something novelist who, a couple of years ago, had a heart attack.
Prior to the heart attack, he was an Objectivist. In the wake of his heart attack, which (not unreasonably) he perceived as a life-changing moment, he Got Religion, of a particularly doctrinaire fundamentalist variety.
Note the progression: Objectivism -> heart attack/warning of impending mortality -> Born-Again Christianity.
Objectivism goes beyond mere politicial philosophy towards -- in its incarnation as a movement -- the trappings of a religious cult. Heart attacks, once survived, tend to remind us of our mortality (a trait which the explicitly atheist Objectivist philosophy doesn't address). And so one rapidly proceeds from one memetic infection to another.
Those who argue with Mr Wright are making the fundamental mistake of assuming there's something to be argued with here. Rather, what we're seeing is the rather sad sight of an insecure authoritarian personality -- who can't function without the crutch of a prescriptive ideology or religion -- trying to adapt as the shadows of old age and death close in around him. Because the new ideological life-belt he's found and is clinging to expands by requiring its carriers to spread it around, he's doing his level best to obey its prime directive -- but because he doesn't understand how other people think about belief -- or function in its absence -- he's not terribly effective. (In fact, he's doing a bloody awful job of it. Given the level of background homophobia and sexism in western society today, anyone who identifies as genderqueer has had to square the circle of their own feelings and the authoritarian default settings, and will consequently not be terribly receptive to Wright's message, to say the least, because he's pitching it in a tone that speaks to the authoritarian mindset: OBEY MY INVISIBLE SKY DADDY'S ORDERS, OR ELSE.)
You're not going to change his mind about anything because there's nothing there to change -- unless you can offer him a complete meme transplant in the shape of a belief system that will let him come to terms with his mortality without getting up other peoples' noses. And I'm afraid the particularly virulent strain of Christianity that's infected him is probably too deeply set to excise.
Why, oh why, can't somebody invent a memetic equivalent of antibiotics?
This time it's not my fault; the UPS for the floor of the colo centre where it's hosted has died, cutting off several hundred servers. Electricians are on site, etcetera.
This wouldn't even be annoying except that the 'pope's cumulative uptime was nudging 300 days, and, er, I don't have a backup. (On the other hand, it's using a journaling filesystem so unless the UPS whoopsie blew the hard drive up we shouldn't have lost anything.)
I think the blog/website rebuild has just climbed my priority tree for stuff to do when we get home. That, and set up nightly offsite backups via rsync.
I borked my DNS yesterday (uploaded the wrong -- obsolete -- version of a config file, pointing to the IP address of a server that's gone away).
A new set of DNS settings with the correct IP address has been uploaded but is taking time to propagate from my colo provider's server. Normal service should be resumed within 24 hours.
Off today to visit the Spruce Goose ...
This is a posting to my Dreamwidth account, crossposted to autopope on Livejournal.
And this line is an edit to the DW posting, to see if it propagates correctly to LJ.
Your displeasure at the indefinite closure of your preferred urinal (behind the back of the TV/video stack) is noted. Nevertheless, this closure is now deemed permanent for health and safety reasons (danger of electrocution).
Note: the doorway to the male food ape's office is not deemed an acceptable replacement site -- especially the laminate floor, which when thusly lubricated becomes a frictionless surface upon which the food ape's footwear fails to obtain traction, resulting in loud falling noises and much swearing.
Further use of this venue may result in a trip to the V-E-T.
Over on my Real blog I have decided, in the interests of running a civilized web salon, to Clean House. For too long, my blog's had a slight surfeit of right-wing trolls, and I'm not happy about this. So I'm working out a moderation policy ...
So far, the rules of thumb I'm looking at are:
* I, Charlie Stross, pay for this server out of my own pocket. I don't accept advertising from third parties -- insofar as there is any advertising content at all on this blog, it is advertising me. (And my writing.)
* This is my soap box. You're welcome to say anything you want -- on your own soap box. If you post here, you do so only by my consent.
* This blog is hosted on a server in London. If you post anything that may be actionable under English libel law the moderators will delete it as soon as they notice it.
* There is a line in the sand drawn between polite contradiction and ad-hominem attack. Observe it. Or else.
* The management will censor or delete anything they damn well feel like if they think it's inappropriate, trolling, or otherwise liable to drag a discussion off-topic.
* If you assert that global climate change isn't happening, that peak oil is a chimera, that the invasion of Iraq has been good for the Iraqi people, that George Bush is doing a great job, or that you don't see why abortion should be legal because surely any woman who's already pregnant can cope with it for a few more weeks[*], don't be surprised if your deathless prose is deleted. Because? We have a problem with trolls.
* There are two kinds of people in this world; those who see in black and white, and those who can cope with shades of gray. Note that black and white are also shades of grey. This blog is for the grey scale folks. We tend to take a dim view of people who deny the existence of the middle ground.
Anyone got any additional suggestions?
[*] Yes, one poster really did say that.
UPDATE: Unlocked so that james_nicoll can link to it in a good cause.
matociquala linked to Richard Morgan's call for peace and amity within SF, and thus invited the usual ideological flame war to come roost in her LJ for a while.
Me, I read the Mundane Manifesto and felt called to write a Mundane SF novel.
(So for an encore, I had to do a Space Opera, in late Heinlein mode.)
I am sick of all these soi-disant Movements in SF. So I am hereby considering establishing my own.
My Movement is to be called the New Eclecticism, but you're very welcome to paste your own label on it and claim responsibility. (Schismatic sects welcome; the more, the merrier!) Our key tenet is to embrace and extend: "exclusivity is futile, your movement's tropes will be assimilated and remixed with gay abandon".
You, too, can be a New Eclectic! All you have to do is write something obeying the conventions of an SF movement you wouldn't normally be seen dead with. It feels weird and kind of icky at first, but as your sense of postmodern irony develops you will learn that trangressing boundaries of genre and taste can be both fun and creative! Cyberpunks? Try writing a 1960s psychedelic New Wave story, or an urban fantasy! (Better still, turn your hand to a 1960s psychedelic urban fantasy New Wave story!) Mundane SF folks? Let your hair down, strap on your, er, strap-on whatever, and indulge your filthy and ideologically impure appetite for flesh-penetrating luscious technophiliacal cyberpunk! (Fans self.) Paranormal romance folks? Just for once, how about a story where everybody is human?
We welcome splittists, schismatics, and fundamentalists of every stripe. You, too, can be part of our Official Opposition! All you have to do is denounce us as an impure, mongrel, non-serious, revisionist, or insert-other-derogatory-term-here bunch of no-hopers and you can contribute to the success of the New Eclectics by attracting attention to us! You can enjoy the self-righteous glow of puritanical zeal while knowing that secretly you're helping out!
Innovators are welcome too! If you can think of a new, strange, and hitherto inconceivable, indigestible or just plain immoral twist on SF, please contribute it! Metaphors happily mixed here! The iron jackboot may absolutely be cast into the melting pot while the fascist octopus sings its swan-song (words © and ™ by the Weasel)!
So, to reiterate: everybody is welcome to join the New Eclectics. The only rule is: Embrace and Extend. Opposition is, by definition, internal. You're one of us: live with it!
CAN HAS CHEEZBURGR NAOW?
((POSTING UNLOCKED FOR FEEDBACK AT james_nicoll's SUGGESTION))
Let us postulate a very long-lived civilization, not equipped with magic wand technologies, resident on this planet from, oh, a couple of centuries hence until the planet ceases to be inhabitable.
How long until the planet ceases to be inhabitable?
Note: this is a trick question; I am assuming that this civilization will take a very (gigayears!) long view and play astronomical billiards using repeated asteroid fly-bys to keep Earth habitable for as long as possible. Notably:
It is assumed that plate tectonics will cease at some point in the next 2Gy unless steps are taken to bring the Moon back close enough to churn things up again via tidal drag. (Otherwise Luna's going to go wandering off into solar orbit eventually.)
It is assumed that some mechanism will be needed to drag Earth out from its current 1AU orbit when the Sun enters its helium burning phase, and another planet (Mars?) will have to be expended to drop Earth back close to the Sun when it departs from the red giant phase of its life cycle.
So: what kind of radius is the water zone around the eventual white dwarf resulting from our sun going to be, and where should the Earth end up? (And, come to think about it, what kind of orbit do we need to boost it into for safety during the red giant phase?) If we stick the Earth in close orbit around a white dwarf, do I have to worry about tidal effects slowing the Earth's rotation, or radiation effects? (Pulsars are Bad Things to orbit close to, due to their magnetic fields and polar radiation jets. What's the current state of knowledge for white dwarfs?)
How long is a white dwarf likely to continue emitting heat for (at least at wavelengths suitable for terrestrial life)? Are we talking 50Gy? 100Gy? Longer? Is a 1Ty span conceivable, and if so, what sort of weird effects would we expect? (Cosmological smoothing erasing evidence of the big bang; isotope depletion in the crust -- the U238 will have decayed; that sort of thing.)
Just a public note in case you're reading this: my colocated server, home of www.antipope.org and various other domains (including www.writers-bloc.org.uk, stross.org.uk, and so on) is down right now.
It's been rebooting intermittently since before Newtonmass, at ever-decreasing intervals. UK2.net support have replaced the RAM, SCSI RAID controller, and one of the hard disks ... nothing fixes it. It's now rebooting at roughly five minute intervals and saying up for less than one minute, so it's effectively DoA until UK2 can provision me a new server and transplant the old one's hard disks (so I can recover the data on them -- most recent backup is about four or five days old, but recovering from backup is a pain and I think we missed out the mailman setup). Then it's going to take me anything up to a week to get everything nailed down and working again. (Hopefully more like 24 hours, but you never know.)
In the meantime, mail to my main address (and feorag's), and DNS service for our domains, and our web sites, and the mailing lists, are all down.
(lrc, any chance you can forward this to the peevers list?)
This is mizkit's fault; she posted on her LJ about how Harlequin deal with author input on book covers, and I felt the need to respond. Go read what she said, it's enlightening: Harlequin have a formal Art Fact Sheet that authors have to fill in for each book, which goes into the pipeline to the art director who presumably does the usual shuffling of commissioning cover artwork, graphic design for the text overlays, getting the blurb writer to supply copy, and so on.
No two publishers work the same way, and Harlequin are quite different from those publishers I've dealt with in the SF/F fields. In particular, I'd like to say that no author is responsible for what ends up on the cover of their book (unless they publish it themselves) but the degree to which they're consulted by the publisher varies wildly.
Here are my experiences:
1. Ace. $editor says, "do you have any preferences?" (Preferences can be vague -- "make this book visually different from the last, so readers don't mistake it for a sequel" [or vice versa] or explicit, but basically all that happens is $editor mentions the author's preferences to the art director, who rules with a whim of iron. (No disasters so far.)
Interestingly, Ace bought THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES after Golden Gryphon had put it out in hardback -- and it looks like the artist actually read the whole thing, cover to cover (and Got It). I've rarely seen a cover that worked so well or reflected the contents of the book so accurately. (I can't wait to see what they do with THE JENNIFER MORGUE!)
2. Tor. "Here's the cover for your next book -- do you like it?" Art director briefs external artist to prepare painting; no advance input solicited from author. On the other hand, feedback works: "if that's the heroine, you got her hair colour wrong" resulted in a subtle re-work on the final DJ. (I'll give them credit for being extremely busy but not large-corporate enough to implement something systematic like an AFS, and move on.)
3. Orbit. See Tor, above. My first two covers were great, my third cover sucked mildly (but not enough to scream and stamp and hold my breath over -- they were trying to go for a mainstream/crossover effect, and it didn't work in my opinion, but it wasn't a gouge-your-eyes-out mess that would justify risking pissing off my hard-working editor: it was merely low-side-of-average).
4. Golden Gryphon. Here, in small press land, the artist is as much of a major draw as the author, and gets his name on the DJ too: Steve Montiglio. And in both the books they published, we went through an exhaustive process whereby Steve would knock out some roughs covering a range of visual themes, and $editor and I would play "hotter", "no, colder" until we zeroed in on a final design. This was very much a case of the artist imposing their style on the concept (but having an MS to work from), rather than being given a brief by an art director, and while I can see this process being too time-consuming for a publisher with a busy schedule, it worked well. (The cover of THE ATROCITY ARCHIVE then had a horrible font dumped on it by the typesetter, but I whinged about this and THE JENNIFER MORGUE's DJ looks a whole lot better -- while still saying "I am a sequel to that other book".)
5. Subterranean Press: again, as with Golden Gryphon, the artist is a big draw; in the case of MISSILE GAP I got J. K. Potter, who read the novella then decided what he was going to do thematically. Again, there was some to-ing and fro-ing while $editor and I worked out what we wanted. I'm fairly happy with what we got.
General conclusion: if you demand input, the small presses will let you have it -- but they'll pick the artist, and they'll be demanding input, too. Larger publishers are less likely to give you much input, but if you express preferences they'll listen, and if you spot a big mistake, they'll often try to fix it.
If you're a published author, feel free to add your own experiences!
This isn't my official blog. It's a watering hole for self plus friends, rather than somewhere you'll find public announcements and ex cathedra statements.
A while ago I discovered some people were directing strangers to it as if it was my official blog. At that point, I took it friends-only, to reduce the risk of misunderstandings.
If you want to read it, AND CAN'T SEE ANY ENTRIES ABOVE THIS ONE[*] feel free to post a comment here and tell me who you are. (Note that by doing so you are agreeing that this is not my -- Charlie Stross's -- official public blog, and that you won't describe it as such or treat it as some kind of authoritative news source. You should also note that stuff discussed here may be either less interesting or more controversial than stuff I discuss in public.)
([*] Or indeed, any other entries since June. Because, y'know, if you can already read my LJ there's no need to ask me to add you to the list of readers, right?)
After thinking about it, and after taking into consideration the fact that the whole breastfeeding/nipple thing was started by a troll ... I've decided to join the protest and delete my LJ on June 6th.
The final straw was discovering the LJ policy on breastfeeding and userpics extends to works of fine art. That's just plain bone-headed, folks. Six Apart are incorporated in a state where the law that specifically permits breastfeeding in public; and if a user icon is hanging in the Louvre the chance of them being prosecuted as purveyors of pornography is ... slim. It suggests a philistine lack of respect for our shared cultural values and a craven willingness to bow the knee to even the most remote, imagined, threat of censorship. Worse: it suggests that, in the boardroom at Six Apart, a decision has been made that keeping their paying advertiser customers happy (and mainstream advertisers don't like to pay for placement in content that blue-noses find distasteful) is more important than preserving their users' freedom of expression.
I'm a paid account holder, not a captive pair of eyeballs. But my scribbling on LJ must be generating some advertising click-throughs for Six Apart, judging from the number of people who've friended me. And I'm not happy with the prospect of my freedom of expression being restricted so that somebody else can make money off the sweat of my brow.
There now exists an LJ community, charlesstross, for talking about me in public. I'll hang around there and answer questions; this LJ will remain somewhat more private (i.e. friends-only).
This LJ is going friends-only as of now. If you want to read my main blog, go here. (Or here, but don't blame me if/when it breaks. RSS sucks, and LJ syndication sucks worse.)
Use this discussion to talk to me if you want to be on my flist and read subsequent postings.
(Anyone who had friended me as of this morning is already on the flist. No need to ask.)
Someone who should know better posted about this LJ, describing it as my blog, in public, on usenet.
Please do not do that.
This originally started as an anonymized way for me to interact with personal friends on LJ. Then one of them (who should also have known better) blew my identity. But it's still not my official blog, which is http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-sta
If you keep spreading word of it around in public -- meaning: to strangers, in magazines, on usenet, on websites or other blogs -- I'll eventually have to delete all postings and discontinue my use of LJ completely.
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