Notes from Balticon 51

Assorted notes from a great convention categorized.

SCIENCE

  • All stargates are time machines
  • Krestakov’s tube
  • Earth rotates and drags spacetime behind it
  • We can measure the gravity radiation of two blackholes colliding
  • We use general relativity to search for oil
  • Ships with stargates on them
  • Time slows down when you get near a gravity well
  • Novikov self-consistency postulate
  • If you create a paradox, the universe won’t let you – “paradox noise”
  • Wormholes grow when you feed them with exotic energy (negative energy)
  • Feed wormholes normal matter to reduce its size
  • You don’t hack the NYTIMES, you hack the ad service to embed bad stuff in the cookies
  • Americans who code are not aware of Unicode which the rest of the world uses. Leaves vulnerabilities in the code
  • Sociopaths can make pipe bombs today. In the future, what destructive tech will they have access to? Black hole makers?

THINGS TO CHECK OUT

  • BOOK – MAKING STARSHIPS AND STARGATES: THE SCIENCE OF INTERSTELLAR TRANSPORT ANDABSURDLY BENIGN WORMHOLES
  • BOOK – THE TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND
  • BOOK – ON FAIRY STORIES
  • BOOK – NINE PRINCES IN AMBER
  • BOOK – PRINCIPLES OF FIELD CROP PRODUCTION
  • BOOK – INFOMOCRACY
  • SHORT STORY – “Think Like a Dinosaur”
  • SHORT STORY – “Burning Chrome”
  • POEM – “My God, It’s Full of Stars”
  • Space & Time Magazine
  • “Year’s Best Anthologies”
  • Eating the Fantastic, podcast

WRITING

  • Avoid clichés
  • Go for something beyond the obvious
  • Stories that build up to the obvious and then stop are no good. Throw that away and start the sequel
  • If you are telling a cliché and are trying to subvert it, you need to telegraph it early or people will stop reading
  • Gotta be good on page one. Tear out your pages until your story starts
  • A short story is about the most important moment in someone’s life
  • “Who hurts?” in a short story
  • You can build a world by putting characters in a culturally rich setting. A meal for instance. Who cooks, where people are seated, what types of food, how much food, etc. is very revealing
  • Short stories begin when your character makes a choice
  • Characters need to want, need, risk, hurt
  • Don’t say the sun is shining, say how the shining sun made the character feel
  • ASK: are things going too well for your characters? Are you being mean enough?
  • A scene must advance the plot, reveal characterization, or reveal detail about world. Your scenes must do at least do of those.
  • Do characters consider the long term risk of what they are doing?
  • What is it in the character’s mind that makes the outcome worth doing bad things for?
  • Violence is not a simple thing. Should not be treated simply or lightly in fiction
  • If you face trauma in everyday life, it’s hard to keep living that life. For example, liquor store owners who are robbed still have to go back to that same life every day and wonder what the next customer will do
  • When you need a character to get info, you can do a prophecy or oracle or vision but it’s good to make those incomplete or misleading to create conflict or tension
  • When editing, are there scenes where nothing is happening?

PUBLISHING

  • Self-publishing: Have a backlist of 3 – 5 books before you start advertising
  • Gain popularity of Wattpad, tell your audience you have a book on Amazon, tell bloggers about it
  • Find an established author who can mentor you. Easiest way is to be a fan first
  • Participate in author spaces
  • If you write a train SF mystery, go to a model train convention. You’ll be the only SF writer there
  • Reader luncheons are great for meeting fans. Signing and eating with author
  • On social media: what parts of your personality are interesting and what are you willing to share
  • If you have knitting in your book, join a knitting forum
  • Booktube
  • Publishers:
    • Del Ray – Huge, cinematic space
    • TOR – editor driven
    • Orbit – want to expand
    • Harper Voyager – on the rise
    • SAGA – cheaper debut, not great promotions
    • Baen – classic, traditional SF
    • ACE – one protagonist you follow closely
    • Angry Robot – genre blending
  • Facebook is a good place to find open calls for submissions

What I Read in 2016

  1. THE SANDMAN, VOL. 5: A GAME OF YOU – Neil Gaiman
  2. THE SANDMAN, VOL. 6: FABLES AND REFLECTIONS – Neil Gaiman
  3. THE SANDMAN, VOL. 7: BRIEF LIVES – Neil Gaiman
  4. THE SANDMAN, VOL. 8: WORLDS’ END – Neil Gaiman
  5. THE SANDMAN, VOL. 9: THE KINDLY ONES – Neil Gaiman
  6. THE SANDMAN, VOL. 10: THE WAKE – Neil Gaiman
  7. CANNERY ROW – John Steinbeck
  8. MY FRIEND IS SAD – Mo Willems
  9. ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD – Avery Monsen
  10. GOODNIGHT ALREADY! – Jory John
  11. GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP – Adam Mansbach
  12. 2312 – Kim Stanley Robinson
  13. THE REFERRAL ENGINE: TEACHING YOUR BUSINESS TO MARKET ITSELF – John Jantsch
  14. ASK – THE COUNTERINTUITIVE ONLINE FORMULA TO DISCOVER EXACTLY WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT TO BUY…CREATE A MASS OF RAVING FANS… AND TAKE ANY BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL – Ryan Levesque
  15. ACCEPTANCE – Jeff VanderMeer
  16. TREES, VOL. 1: IN SHADOW – Warren Ellis
  17. THE FOREVER WAR – Joe Haldeman
  18. HOOKED: HOW TO BUILD HABIT-FORMING PRODUCTS – Nir Eyal
  19. LISTEN, LIBERAL: OR, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE PARTY OF THE PEOPLE – Thomas Frank
  20. THE SHADOW RISING – Robert Jordan
  21. THE INEVITABLE: UNDERSTANDING THE 12 TECHNOLOGICAL FORCES THAT WILL SHAPE OUR FUTURE – Kevin Kelly
  22. LOST CAT – Jason
  23. HELL HOUSE – Richard Matheson
  24. ORYX AND CRAKE – Margaret Atwood
  25. FOUNDATION – Isaac Asimov
  26. FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE – Isaac Asimov
  27. INDEPENDENT PEOPLE – Halldór Laxness
  28. THE GIVER – Lois Lowry
  29. THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION – Samuel R. Delany
  30. DARK MONEY: THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE BILLIONAIRS BEHIND THE RISE OF THE RADICAL RIGHT – Jane Mayer
  31. SECOND FOUNDATION – Isaac Asimov
  32. JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC: DIRECTOR’S CUT – Jhonen Vásquez
  33. HOW TO WRITE COPY THAT SELLS: THE STEP-BY-STEP SYSTEM FOR MORE SALES, TO MORE CUSTOMERS, MORE OFTEN – Ray Edwards
  34. A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA – Ursula K. Le Guin
  35. THE TOMBS OF ATUAN – Ursula K. Le Guin
  36. THE 1-PAGE MARKETING PLAN: GET NEW CUSTOMERS, MAKE MORE MONEY, AND STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD – Allan Dib

Back from Iceland

I don’t have any words to describe the beauty of Iceland. Beautiful, amazing, spectacular, awesome and all their synonyms don’t quite cut it. “Otherworldly” is the closest I can get, I think.

10 days wasn’t enough to take it all in, not when you need to pull the car over every five minutes to look at something incredible that’s completely different from what you pulled over to look at the last time. The variety of landscapes on that tiny island is staggering.

With its volcanoes and glaciers, it’s truly the land of ice and fire and it’s no wonder that Icelanders have so many sagas and that so many fantasy authors and filmmakers have drawn inspiration from this place.

Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien’s “nanny” was Icelandic and told the young man all about Iceland and its sagas? Did you know that Gandalf is a dwarf in Norse mythology?