A Copyright Exception for Continuing the Conversation?

copyrightAt ApolloCon last weekend I moderated a panel on copyright issues. We discussed the current U.S. copyright law – agreeing that it was important but that some of the recent changes have gone too far – and the problem of people who do not seem to understand that by selling copies of an artist or author’s work, they are ripping the creator off.

We also spent a little time on the Creative Commons concept, which I like but find difficult to understand (and I have a law degree), and got sidetracked into a lot of discussion on DRM blocks on downloads, CDs, and DVDs. (Note to con organizers: think about doing separate panels on copyright and DRM. There’s just too much material there for one panel and people are passionately interested in both.)

At the end of the panel, I threw out a question that I’ve been pondering for some time, using the current controversy over a new book that is apparently about Holden Caulfield sixty years later. (Holden Caulfield is the protagonist of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.) Do you think, I asked the panel, that when a character has become a cultural icon – as Holden Caulfield has – that other writers should be allowed to use that character as a way of commenting on the culture? Continue reading

Share

The Last Great American Small Town: Fillmore, CA

I’m anything but a Fillmore expert, so forgive me if I get some details wrong.  Ever since I was teaching in Moorpark and hiking around the Sespe, I had an interest in a small town in eastern Ventura county called Fillmore.

I believe that Fillmore, population about 13,000, advertises itself as “the last, best small town.”  It is the home of the unique Fillmore & Western Railway, which is a recreational, tourist railway that uses well-preserved trains of the past to provide many different types of dinner, dancing, murder mystery and other festive day and weekend trips.  I haven’t taken any of these trips – yet!  Now that I know they’re available, they are definitely on my list.
Continue reading

Share

Me, My Horse, and I

(c) Lynne Glazer

(c) Lynne Glazer

Last week I talked about how horses are not dogs, and using dogs as a template for horse behavior is not the best strategy. The good news there is, a half-ton dog would be one scary beast, but a horse is relatively gentle, relatively cooperative, and highly trainable. Smart, too–much smarter than myth and lore would make him.

So, your protagonist has insisted loudly and at length that she is by damn going to be a horse girl, and your novel or story persistently sets itself among the horse tribes. You’ve researched the basics of behavior, biology, and management. You have a local barn you can visit to get the dirt-under-the-fingernails effect, and a beta reader who can catch whatever slippage still gets through. You’re good, right?

Not necessarily. There’s a further element to all this: the interface between human and horse. Continue reading

Share

Enemies & Allies: A Very Short Review

For a change this is a novel, not a comic book.  However it is a novel about Batman meeting Superman.  This is a popular subject, handled many many times in the various Superman and Batman titles — the most dynamic and exciting one was in the ’50’s-style Justice League: The New Frontier #1 special which came out last spring, well worth looking for.

eanda1

I should say right away that I have never yet read a successful novel based upon a comic book.  (Recommendations, anybody?)   Novelizations of existing comic books or graphic novels are sometimes done — I have the Kingdom Come novel which was based on the famous Alex Ross/Mark Waid graphic novel.  The print version completely failed to capture the charm and excitement of the graphic original.  To have a little more explication of some of the more cloudy points in the graphic novel was no compensation.

Continue reading

Share

Ich Bin Eine Content Provider

Artists (writers, painters, musicians, sculptors, graffitists, indie film makers, etc.) are no longer artists. They are now content providers.

Gone are the days when these tortured souls brooded in their lonely garrets contemplating suicide. Nowadays artists are all connected and their every thought is celebrated throughout the land. There are no more snubs from the public. The artist has no cause to complain about the people just not getting it. The art is out there for comment and a follow-up explanation ensures correct perception of it.

Further, artists need not suffer the rejections of the gatekeepers—the editors, publishers, gallery owners, producers, or patrons–anymore. There is so much demand for new material on the Internet, no one gets rejected. And if they are in any way witty, the artist will soon enjoy an overpopulated tribe. Who has time to mull when the tribal maw is so hungry?
Continue reading

Share

Pitfalls of Writing SF & Fantasy #2: It’s Almost Writing, or, Half-Baked Weasels

Vonda's Favorite Mug

Read This First!

McIntyre’s First Law:

Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you could be wrong.

Pitfall #2: It’s Almost Writing, or, Half Baked Weasels

Almost and half (half-smile, &c.) are weasel words that allow you to evade the responsibility of being precise. Their use will drain the life from your prose. “Some kind of” has recently joined the infamous company of weasel words. If you’re tempted to use this phrase, ask yourself what meaning it conveys. That the writer has no idea what’s going on? That the writer knows but isn’t going to bother to tell the reader? It carries no information. Why use it? Some writers litter their pages with these words and phrases to no purpose. Beware!

— Vonda


I blog here every Sunday, and irregularly otherwise as the spirit takes me.

My novel Dreamsnake is now available at Book View Cafe, serialized by the chapter on Sundays. You may buy the complete ebook for $4.99. (Current formats: Mobipocket/Palm, html, PDF).

You can also find The Moon and the Sun at Book View Cafe, where a new chapter is featured each week. For print copies of The Moon and the Sun and my other SF novels, visit my website’s Basement Full of Books.

Share

Relationship Advice for the Nerdy

romanticI was intending this weeks blog to be more about the process of writing FOOL’S WAR (<Shameless plug on> available now for online reading and download on the main Book View Cafe site.  <Shameless plug off> ), but I got a bit distracted.

Last week, I largely talked about the effect of my writing FOOL’S WAR on my relationship with my then-boyfriend, now-husband.  This week, he found a terrific post on dating within the geek world.

Gotta say, it’s pretty much spot on.  So, in the interests of furthering romance in the community, I offer How to Successfully Meet and Court the Nerdy Girl.

Share

Fake Poop and Other Cat Deceptions

So here I am, late again. I plead Way Too Much to do this week. But I digress:

I am a cat person. I don’t have a dog because I work, and a dog needs a ton of attention. But cats – there is this illusion that cats are easier as roommates.

Not so. A cat may have a walnut-sized brain, but it remembers everything that effects it: food, injuries, and repetitive human patterns. I have a cat over 13 years old, only he’s one of my Dorian Gray kitties – he acts like a year-old cat – and when he is going to get his toenails clipped, memory kicks into gear. When I get to the left front paw, he always pulls it back and looks at me as if saying: “You do know how to do this one now, right?” We’d made the mistake of allowing my 20/20 zillion-visioned Ex to trim the kitten toenails – and he hit the tip of the nerve on that foot.

Little brother remembers, and just wants to be sure that I remember, too.

Continue reading

Share

review: AN OFF YEAR, by Claire Zulkey

Just got Claire Zulkey’s first novel, AN OFF YEAR, a young-adult story from Dutton.  Really sweet story about a kid who chickens out on her freshman year of college at the dorm room door.  She just turns around and makes her dad take her home.  No stated reason.  She spends the next year working out whatever, very carefully never identifying anything specific that somebody could then force her to fix.  My favorite parts are the shrink sessions.  I have a weakness for fictional and cinematic shrinks.

Zulkey’s heroine is way true to life.  I want to slap her and yet I know I have been her, so I side with her anyway.

Share

The WisCon Chronicles – WisCon 33

Every year Aqueduct Press produces a volume covering the WisCon for the previous year. Timmi Duchamp has asked me to edit the 4th WisCon Chronicles, covering WisCon 33. It’s an honour, if also a very large responsibility!

I will be blogging about the progress of Chronicles 4, which will concern me in my other hat, as the editor, formal or informal, up to and including academic volumes, like the one I recently edited for the academic journal Paradoxa on the work of Ursula K. Le Guin.

For now, here’s a call for materials for WisCon Chronicles 4.
In this volume we’re looking to include

Some academic papers,
Some extracts from work by people who read at the conference, including flash fiction, excerpts from longer fiction and poetry, and

We’re also looking to include some panel reports.
Panels are the core of WisCon, where the important, the sensitive and the new issues for the SF and F and feminist scenes and increasingly, fandom in or out of the Blogosphere, come to light.
And we are looking from input from everyone who attended WisCon 33.
Continue reading

Share