Thursday, July 21, 2011

quote from Slate: 3 Golden Rules for Book Review

from How Not To Write a Book Review, By Robert Pinsky, on Slate:

1. The review must tell what the book is about.
2. The review must tell what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.
3. The review must tell what the reviewer thinks about what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

readercon links

quick summary:

still waiting for my food pills, transcript posted by the author.  I wasn't impressed by the spheres in apple juice.  The caramel stuff was O.K. Very interesting introduction to Post-Modern Cuisine.  I was hoping for something on how compact foodstuff can be created for space travel etc.

Youtube link of Howard Waldrop reading near midnight Saturday, after Poland.  He was having trouble with his eyes.  Read part of a scary Hansel & Gretl en route to what seemed like an Auschwitz analog.  Then read complete "The Bravest Girl I Ever Knew" a fake Hollywood memoir about King Kong actress. (I was very sleepy, but I'd heard such raves about HW, I stuck it out... I kept thinking 1) it was almost over 2) it would have a point.)

Another youtube link of Samuel R. Delany Interviews Katherine MacLean.  Watch Spencer fix the microphones because I forgot to.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Joan Slonczewski's syllabus for course on Biology and Science Fiction

  1. Evolution
    1. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    2. Galápagos, by Kurt Vonnegut
  2. Ecology 
    1. Dune, by Frank Herbert
    2. A Door into Ocean, by Joan Slonczewski
  3. Genetics and Molecular Biology
    1. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
    2. Brain Plague, by Joan Slonczewski
(From Saturday evening Readercon panel on Science Fiction for Today's Undergraduate)

Random quotes from Readercon panels

At Saturday morning panel on Book Inflation:
Unlike other people, when I get to the end of a book, I quit writing.  (Howard Waldrop)

At Saturday evening panel on Science Fiction for Today's Undergraduate:
Paradoxically, Science Fiction is very much a dialog with its time.

At Saturday evening panel on The One Right Form of a Story:
I always think a lot about serious literary stuff, but I know that no one will ever know that I'm thinking about it.  (Judith Berman)

You can't write the story until you know the thang. 
(Judith Berman, quoting Howard Waldrop)

No two people have the same process. Learn what your process is.  (Judith Berman, possibly quoting Delaney's On Writing.)

At Sunday afternoon panel, Effing the Ineffable: Writers Who Think Cinematically:
I have lots of things to say that are ill-informed. (Maria Dahvana Headley, introducing herself.)

notes from Readercon talk/demo: Walking Through Mayhem, led by Madeleine Robins

Two lists of questions:

  1. Who is fighting?
  2. Where are they? What is the terrain?
  3. What is the desired outcome?
  1. What is the reason for the fight?
  2. How serious is it? (e.g. Laertes & Hamlet vs Catherine & Petruchio)
In stage combat, the fight is divided into phases (x hits y on left shoulder, y parries,..), and there are 5 basic targets, numbered (left hip, right hip, left shoulder, right shoulder, head..)

  • Balance the panic factor ("I could die!!") with pain ("Ow!")
  • Think about where someone winds up--reels back, turns.
  • If your character is afraid of dying, he will fight dirty
  • Write out all the actions, then edit it down, replacing actions with sensory observations (e.g. bad breath, sweat, pain, cold..) and interior monologue.
  • Be realistic about effects of violence
    • concussion->vomiting, then can't think straight for days
    • after a muscle bruise, fencer won't be able to lift sword
    • it's hard to pull a knife out of a muscle
    • Only the young have the energy and stupidity to not notice how uncomfortable they are.