Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Miscellaneous News

This is a round-up of various miscellany:

Potlatch, a small Seattle con, was rumored to be great fun. Friday night was, when I attended, but after that I came down with some sort of flu-ey thing and missed the entire rest of the con. No fun.

The best news I got while sick is that TECH REVIEW, out of MIT, is taking my story "Pathways." Last year TECH REVIEW did an all-fiction issue that was such a success that they decided to repeat it, asking if I would write a story "centered on some emerging technology." I chose optogenetics, a combination of genetics and optics that involves injected genetically modified, light-sensitive cells into the brain and then controlling their expression via laser light sent down a fiber optic cable implanted in the brain. A new science, founded in 2005, this has been called by one MIT researcher "God's gift to neurology." So far it has (1) allowed neural pathways to be mapped in mice with far greater precision than previously, and (2) some mice motorways to be controlled, including Parkinson's staggers in afflicted mice. Human trials are decades away -- except in my story.

My interview with Mike Duran is live at his site: http://mikeduran.com/2012/02/interview-w-nancy-kress/

There are still a few places available at Taos Toolbox this year, taught by Walter Jon Williams and me (www.taostoolbox.com). Come work on your fiction in the gorgeous mountains of New Mexico for two weeks! Or, if the open sea is your thing, sign up for a four-day working cruise in the Bahamas, taught by Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson, super-agent Eleanor Wood, me, and others: http://www.SailSuccess.com

What else? Oh -- don't get the flu. And I had a flu shot! The universe is not fair.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stories and Amazon

It has been a very long time since I blogged; I'd be surprised if any of you are still checking this site. The reason is and is not a good one: I was slammed with work. This is my own fault, having agreed to too many anthology, teaching, and blurbing invitations. Must learn to say no!

At any rate, two pieces of story news, one good and one not. The good news: The story I posted about in the last few blogs is finished, and accepted (more details when the editor says I may). It includes two kinds of plausible, near-future science, space travel and neurology. The first was not hard for me since I read about it all the time; the second was more difficult. It involved a lot of rewriting. But I'm pleased with the result.

I am not, however, pleased with Amazon. And I have been such a faithful customer! Even use a Kindle! Buy a lot of books from them! But despite all this touching loyalty, Amazon has made another grab for market control, fighting with the distributor IPG. Amazon asked for a larger share of the price of books that IPG distributes. IPG said no. Amazon has thus pulled from its shelves the books IPG distributes. This may or may not end up being temporary, but among the affected publishers is Tachyon, which next month will bring out my stand-alone novella AFTER THE FALL, BEFORE THE FALL, DURING THE FALL. I am very fond of this story, and very disappointed in Amazon.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Moving On With the Story

My hard-SF story now has characters and a plot. It also has a voice, although not a particularly distinctive one.

Voice is the way the story is written: diction and sentence construction as much as content. It may be the voice of the character, especially in first person. It may be the habitual style of an author. I can always recognize work by Ursula LeGuin or Karen Fowler from just one paragraph -- sometimes one sentence. And I think I have sometimes achieved and sustained an individual voice, as in "Fountain of Age" or "Beggars in Spain."

But I find it hard to do in hard SF. There is so much technical information to be conveyed, and somehow I can't seem to do it except in straight-forward, serviceable prose. Clear, but neither individual nor lyrical. Furthermore, I think very few writers can. NEUROMANCER has a distinctive, jazzy, unmistakable style -- but Gibson's computer world is mostly fanciful, not realistic. Bruce Sterling, a lesser stylist, is a surer guide to what the future might actually look like.

So my story moves along in a useful but not captivating voice, and I hope that other fictional elements will make up for the lack.