It occurred to me as i read this list that a lot of these simply don't occur to some of the writers who submit stuff to me, or sadly to one or two of the things I've seen in print. Some of the high points of the list:

2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammunition is cheap - life is expensive. If you shoot inside, buckshot is your friend. A new wall is cheap - funerals are expensive

This one translates well into: Never believe something, know it. In other words: Overkill is just right. An enemy that has been sawn in half by your; gun fire, laser fire, magic, animal tusks or sword is probably not going to come after you again.

4. If your shooting stance is good, you're probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.

This one has two major forks to its point for writers, and those unfamiliar with guns:

  1. If your enemy is moving at your slowly enough, and without any ranged weapons, that you can get into the picture perfect stance seen in target competitions and bad movies, it is either a) not very dangerous or b) it's confident enough that you should be taking the time to run away.
  2. Standing in that wonderful range posture makes you a delightful target for anyone (the enemy you see or the one(s) you don't.
10. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.

While blowing away all your ammo in the first five seconds isn't great tactics either, waiting for the perfect shot you have to be realistic and think of the possibility of losing your gun. This is most important if you or your character is small, weak, hurt, or your enemy is that strong.

16. Don't drop your guard.

This seems to be what makes the plot in horror movies (what little there is) work, but you can rarely get away with it in good books.

20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

Obviously this applies to all weapons, and magic, and hand to hand as well.

24. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with anything smaller than "4".

While the "caliber wars" will rage eternal, you'll note that many police departments carry .40 or .45, some will go with a 9mm simply because it moves faster and in theory has both takedown power and leaves the chance of survival for the person hit.

27. Regardless of whether justified of not, you will feel sad about killing another human being. It is better to be sad than to be room temperature.

The second sentence of this one is rather more important than the first. I hope I never have to kill anyone, but if the choice is me and mine or some schmuck that has actually made me want to kill them, it'd be unwise to bet on me feeling too bad about surviving.

While Science Fiction and Fantasy have helped lead the way to some extraordinary things in our world, there are some things that just shouldn't be. Hopefully a few people will take this topic and run with it as I shall quite lazily point out only the simplest and most obvious things being the shiftless and not to bright person that i am.

Perhaps the greatest evil for which the world has Science Fiction, one author and a nearly invisible editor to thank is "cyber bullying". Long before most people could even hazard a guess at what "cyber" meant. Before people had screennames, and instant messengers, and email. Before the world wide web was all that wide, or a world of its own a man created a way of reaching out and hurting ones enemies in a way that few would realize the would be the new wedgie, His proxy a boy called Ender (a use name) humiliated his opponent in a way that let him cause trouble and get away with it. Today we write new laws to deal with the technology that enables this crime, and continue to handwring at the crime itself. Orson Scott Card has much to answer for.

Death Shouldn't Find Me!

This is a trope that abounds in both Science Fiction and Fantasy. I can't blame either genre for creating it, just for perpetuating it. Raymond E Feist should shoulder his share of this simply for the early Midkemia books. Not only is the book littered with glamorous, graceful and ageless Elves two of the main characters from Magician become effectively immortal. Pug and Thomas go from keep rascals to not just towering heros, but unaging towering heros. Truly unfair.

Science fiction can't leave not dying alone either. In science fiction not only have anti-aging techniques like Weber's attempts to drive the entire future of mankind nuts by extending both puberty and menopause with his prolong treatment. Honestly, this one should really be considered cruel and unusual punishment. I can't honestly imagine people developing healthily mentally when they spend from eleven to thirty-nine looking unfinished, gangling and wondering when people are gonna stop calling them the Honorverse equivalent of "pizza face".

Lois Bujold is not without blame for perpetuating this bit of cultural denial. She's invented two totally different ways of not aging like a normal human. Her Betans (almost all of whom seem to be like 'the good kids" in A Brave New World) simply don't age. They don't age because they just live right, and their doctors have a pill for that. Simply disgusting. Not to out do this she has tweaked an entire twelve planet society with the use of trickle down genetics. They are smart, beautiful, healthy, resistant to poisons and yup, long lived. Utterly vulgar.

Then of course there are the weapons of play war where people almost play for keeps. Stunner, cryo-revival, shock nets, knockout gas, and virtual reality combat. What type of sissyness is this? This doesn't provide any reason for the other side to stop being your enemy. And how the hell do you establish discipline in a war where the greatest danger is ripping and dirtying your uniform when the enemy reasonable-wonderful-valuable-unique-beautiful-caring-person-who-we-have-yet-to-reach-a
-reasonable-accord-with-through-no-fault-of-anyone stuns you. Oh no! What if their pain killers don't work as fast as our or they don't taste as good! Heaven Whatevereachreaderbelievesornotbelivesinwithoutpreferenceorjudgementwithfullsupportandornonsupportas itbestvalidatesthatreaderatthisoranyothermomentinwhatwenowcalltime forfend! 

Kill Something Bitches! Really, it's one of the few things that humans are actually good at finding new ways to do. Death and sex. These are the two things that most people wonder about first when contemplating a new technologies possible applications.
Since the last ASR I've read a lot of slush, some client work, way to many traffic signs and license plates. I've also managed
to read, or in one case reread three things with cover art that I liked.

First up is a reread of Mercedes Lackey's Magic's Pawn. I haven't had the time to reread this is a few years. Partly because my last copy died after several rereads, and spilled drinks, and partly because I've been busy. This is truly one of her best works, and one of the better pieces of fantasy of the last quarter century. Very few people have the skill to take a whiny, self centered, and rather well damaged individual and make him carry a story. I think I respect this story more now than I did the first dozen times I read it.

Second up is Caitlin Kitterdge's Night Life. My only real hesitancy about this book is my inability to call it either an urban fantasy or paranormal romance, fortunately it's not that important in a story that's done well. I've decided to call it a mystery with dark fantastic setting and romantic elements instead. Sure it'd make the buyers and marketing critters at the major chains a bit loopy if they ever saw a slew of books get sent to them labeled that way, but it fits. Night Life is well told, and gently sidesteps the peril of being a generic fantasy female who kicks ass story. Very nice.

And last, Joshua Palmatier. In The Skewed Throne half a dozen rules of good writing are broken along the way. I like this story for the unwavering fidelity to the character and the matrix of things that made the character. A great many writers decide to take their diamond in the rough character, pull them out of the hard scrabble ways that created them and a few turns of the page later we have a perfect member of the upper class. A perfect member of the upper class, only harder, sharper and more cunning. In general, those stories make me want to gag.

For those who haven't read these books yet, it's probably past time you did.

onyxhawke: (Default)
( Feb. 11th, 2008 09:50 pm)
I was talking to a writer friend tonight about him doing a new character. I asked him what he knew about his character? This ties in really well with some of the points that Laura Gilman, myself and others made at Arisia about building characters because the more you know about your characters, the better you can write them. I asked a the people in the audience who were curious to imagine their character standing in the corner. And then picture them: Are they standing on one foot, if so, which foot? Are they standing with their arms crossed? Leaning against a wall?
Here are some of the questions I asked my friend that are probably applicable to more than just the UF we were discussing:

so how did said character become a werewolf? (insert vampire, cavalryman, mage, space mercenary)
what's his favorite weapon?
Is he a loner or part of a pack?
Is he a loaner thats been forced into or out of a pack?
Where's he from?
Age?
What makes him laugh?
What does he regret?
What does he do on his day off?

Other questions that might be useful:
What do they do for work?
What if any faith do they have?
What's their family like?
What's their relationship with their family like?
What do they like most and or least about themselves?

While you may never put all of this information into the story, knowing that your main character is an avid hockey fan mean you know they're likely to get or make jokes about tripping over the blueline, or make a sports analogy to explain something instead of a political one or a car one.
First, I must apologize. I lied. Others lied and i abetted them. There really is a secret hand shake. Pay attention, take notes, post it above your computer, on you fridge, get it laminated and post it in your shower too. This is the most valuable thing you will ever hear about this or any other business.

onyxhawke: (Default)
( Dec. 1st, 2007 11:07 pm)
Interesting article on the brain, autism, and Asperger's.

How the grey and white wrinkly lump works.

Trippy brains.

What do you mean brain dead?

Brain repair!

Male brain, female brain, your brain my brain, wow brain (pdf), [Bad username or unknown identity: defending the brain, no brain.]
I hope everyone has a safe, boring uneventful trip to and from wherever you get together for Thanksgiving. Have a great meal, and a better time with those you care about.
I shall post three links.

These links are not safe for work.

I repeat NSFW!

The first is a link to something every  writer, editor, and agent should be required to read yearly.
http://ww3.telerama.com/~joseph/cooper/cooper.html
The second is a review and critical analysis of a history on American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.
http://iwt.blogspot.com/2007/09/gigo.html
The third is a video that is just plain funny.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3xuZeFABdI

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I enjoy studing human nature. I also greatly enjoy discussing it.  The title article will probably kick off a touch of an arguement. 

It should be noted that people who are not arguing with logic and facts but with venom and emotion will have their comments deleted.

Teasers here, whole article here.


 1) Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)

Long before TV—in 15th- and 16th- century Italy, and possibly two millennia ago—women were dying their hair blond. A recent study shows that in Iran, where exposure to Western media and culture is limited, women are actually more concerned with their body image, and want to lose more weight, than their American counterparts. It is difficult to ascribe the preferences and desires of women in 15th-century Italy and 21st-century Iran to socialization by media.

2) Humans are naturally polygamous

The history of western civilization aside, humans are naturally polygamous. Polyandry (a marriage of one woman to many men) is very rare, but polygyny (the marriage of one man to many women) is widely practiced in human societies, even though Judeo-Christian traditions hold that monogamy is the only natural form of marriage. We know that humans have been polygynous throughout most of history because men are taller than women.

3) Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

When there is resource inequality among men—the case in every human society—most women benefit from polygyny: women can share a wealthy man. Under monogamy, they are stuck with marrying a poorer man.

4) Most suicide bombers are Muslim

According to the Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, a comprehensive history of this troubling yet topical phenomenon, while suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Muslim. Why is this? Why is Islam the only religion that motivates its followers to commit suicide missions?

5) Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce

Sociologists and demographers have discovered that couples who have at least one son face significantly less risk of divorce than couples who have only daughters. Why is this?

6) Beautiful people have more daughters

It is commonly believed that whether parents conceive a boy or a girl is up to random chance. Close, but not quite; it is largely up to chance. The normal sex ratio at birth is 105 boys for every 100 girls. But the sex ratio varies slightly in different circumstances and for different families. There are factors that subtly influence the sex of an offspring.

7) What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals

For nearly a quarter of a century, criminologists have known about the "age-crime curve." In every society at all historical times, the tendency to commit crimes and other risk-taking behavior rapidly increases in early adolescence, peaks in late adolescence and early adulthood, rapidly decreases throughout the 20s and 30s, and levels off in middle age.

8) The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of

Many believe that men go through a midlife crisis when they are in middle age. Not quite. Many middle-aged men do go through midlife crises, but it's not because they are middle-aged. It's because their wives are. From the evolutionary psychological perspective, a man's midlife crisis is precipitated by his wife's imminent menopause and end of her reproductive career, and thus his renewed need to attract younger women. Accordingly, a 50-year-old man married to a 25-year-old woman would not go through a midlife crisis, while a 25-year-old man married to a 50-year-old woman would, just like a more typical 50-year-old man married to a 50-year-old woman. It's not his midlife that matters; it's hers. When he buys a shiny-red sports car, he's not trying to regain his youth; he's trying to attract young women to replace his menopausal wife by trumpeting his flash and cash.

9) It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they're male)

On the morning of January 21, 1998, as Americans woke up to the stunning allegation that President Bill Clinton had had an affair with a 24-year-old White House intern, Darwinian historian Laura L. Betzig thought, "I told you so." Betzig points out that while powerful men throughout Western history have married monogamously (only one legal wife at a time), they have always mated polygynously (they had lovers, concubines, and female slaves). With their wives, they produced legitimate heirs; with the others, they produced bastards. Genes make no distinction between the two categories of children.

10) Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An unfortunate consequence of the ever-growing number of women joining the labor force and working side by side with men is the increasing number of sexual harassment cases. Why must sexual harassment be a necessary consequence of the sexual integration of the workplace?
***

Thoughts?

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