Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Little Musing, and then News 2 Use

A Little Musing...

Over at Romancing The Blog, there's a discussion of the Fear of Being Derivative. Which prompted me to ponder the difference between ripping off, and paying homage to, favorite works. Which led to me making a list of the books that most influence my writing style.

For an aspiring romance author, they're pretty weird. Weird enough to make me wonder what genre I really do fit in.

The two novels that have most influenced my style and goals as an author are

  • Imagica by Clive Barker

  • Hannibal by Thomas Harris
  • .

    Which cheered me up, because how many romance readers are also Clive Barker readers? Man, I can derive from him all day long and no one will notice. Mwah ha ha.

    I'm interested in finding out who influences you, and whether those influence fall in the genre you write.

    NEWS 2 USE!

    What's Our Response to Take Me To Your Leader?

    Exopoliticians create strategies for how to deal with potential extraterrestrial contact. The discipline of exopolitics is maligned in the UFO researcher community -- unfairly maligned, according to UFOlogist R. Lee.

    Without a plan to meet ETs, our reaction might be chaotic, disjointed and dangerously uncoordinated. "Which will either cause them [ETs] to be disappointed in us, and we’ll lose out on technology and other wondrous things, or at least, experiencing the thrill of interacting with aliens from outer space. Either that, or it will make it easier for them to eat us for lunch."

    Oh boy, something else I'd like to be, if I ever grow up!

    Potential Exopoliticians Take Note of This!

    The Astrophysics and Space Science Journal has published research purporting to show that the "blood rain" experienced by provinces in Southern India during 2001 contain living microbes from outer space. The microbes reproduce without DNA and in conditions known to be hostile to life on Earth.

    If further research confirms the early hypothesis, the theory of panspermia may get a boost as extraterrestrial life is at last confirmed.

    Neat and all, but might the consequences be? Read on…

    Take Over the World for A Half Million and Care/Feeding of Grad Student

    Current official assessments suggest that bioterrorism would only be possible with the backing of state-level entities. Technology writer Paul Boutin headed into the lab to see just how expensive and difficult it would be to synthesize and spread a deadly virus.

    His findings: "Every hands-on gene hacker I polled during my project estimated they could synthesize smallpox in a month or two. I remember that game from my engineering days, so I mentally scale their estimates using the old software manager's formula: Double the length, then move up to the next increment of time. That gives us two to four years—assuming no one has already started working."

    And think what they might be able to do with alien microbes? Or are the alien microbes the first salvo from an unfriendly ET?

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    READ THIS: Real Love Edition

    Read This: GODDESS, by Jon Hansen

    Abyss and Apex has a lovely speculative romance, in flash form, up in their latest issue.

    Goddess, by Jon Hansen manages to beautifully illustrate the complexity of fantasy love versus real love in the space of about 1000 words.

    Read This: THE MOUNTIANS OF KEY WEST, by Sandra McDonald

    Lone Star Stories features an exploration into desperation, temptation and, finally, contentment.

    The Mountains of Key West, by Sandra McDonald is another cautionary tale: do you want the illusion or the real thing?

    Read This: JUDY AND NORMAN, by Darby Harn

    Reflection's Edge offers a selection that fits the Real Love theme, but isn't romantic love. Still, it's a moving and provocative read.

    Judy and Norman, by Darby Harn, makes the point that love isn't about who you find it with, but about finding it when you need it most.

    Read them, and share what you think.

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    News 2 Use: The Where the Hell Have You Been Edition

    Did you miss me? I'm an inconstant and fickle sort of woman, c'est vrai.

    Put Down That Antibacterial Soap!

    Electrically conductive microbes may hold the key to nanotechnology advances. Researchers have reported success in manipulating certain bacteria into producing nanowires that "will literally reach out and connect cells from one to another to form an electrically integrated community."

    I didn't even know there were electrically conductive bacteria, let alone the potential to harness them to produce teeny tiny electrical systems. What are some of the consequences of that? Positive: self-replicating, self-repairing electrical systems? Negative: clouds of squirming microbes filming electrical wires and disrupting power? I'm not sure I get the science involved with this one, so corrections and clarifications are welcome! Leave a comment and set me straight.

    Amazons Take Note

    Sperm created from mouse embryo stem cells successfully fertilized a female mouse, resulting in a litter of seven. Six offspring survived to adulthood, showing developmental, respiratory and other problems. Nevertheless, researchers believe this is an important first step in aiding infertile couples.

    Don't you just shudder to imagine the potential denigration and marginalization of future humans created with lab sperm? Still, I can also imagine a nice colony of fed-up women populating the stars from sperm engineered from their own stem-cells, making men redundant in the reproductive process. I can also think about a pretty gross future where something like the Tleilaxu axolotl tanks from Dune matched with artificial sperm create factories for manufacturing humans. Puts a whole other spin on "animal farm."

    Civilization Linked to Pressures from Climate Change

    Researchers in England hypothesize that what we call "civilization" organized in response to pressure from a changing climate in ancient times. As available water resources dwindled, people converged and developed the order and power hierarchies we call civilization.

    Considering the predictions of massive climate change in this century, how will modern humanity re-organize to survive such environmental pressures? How did your alien or fantasy culture do it?

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    News 2 Use!!!!!

    Just a Spoonful of Neurochemical Drugs Makes the Medicine Go Down

    Psychiatrists and their patients increasingly turn to pharmacological answers to new classifications of mood and anxiety disorders which once were just considered unhappiness and shyness. And while experts haggle over issues like whether the symptoms of what is now called social phobia are just a "disadvantageous personality trait" and whether we are slipping into "cosmetic pharmacology," the fact remains that of those Americans suffering with severe mental illness, only half of them receive adequate treatment.

    I think this is a trend that invades our entire medical culture: as the good folks at Mind Hacks put it, we're no longer considering health issues as much as we are treating "those without previously recognizable medical problems in an attempt to improve quality of life." Now I'm all for high quality of life, but not for just the few with the means to afford it. I see a disturbing future with those endowed with means altered in any way science can to "improve quality of life," with the rest of us poor joes schlepping along as best we can and the ones who really need medical and psychiatric intervention lurking below, like a shark ready to strike…

    Are We What We Google?

    Researchers have labeled the analysis of our collective internet searches as a "database of intentions," capable of predicting social trends and changes and even perhaps your future moves as a consumer.

    From the New York Times: "The 20th century brought public opinion polls that showed what those customers were thinking. This century's great technology can give companies, and anyone else, a window into what people are actually doing, in real time or even ahead of time."

    I'm sure you all either laughing or shuddering along with me, because I know what kind of Googling I do when I'm researching a story. I once found this website for cannibals. They gave deboning instructions and a marinade recipe.

    G.R.I.N. and write about it, baby!

    The threats of the 20th century were called NBC: nuclear, biological and chemical. In the 21st century we'll be menaced by the G.R.I.N.: genetic, robotic, information, and nano threats, according to Joel Garreau, author of Radical Evolution. And the G.R.I.N won't be in the hands of rogue governments, like NBCs. According to Garreau, we may find ourselves at the mercy of any "disgruntled grad student with a reasonably well-equipped lab with a good chance of creating something that could wipe out the human race."

    Furthermore, Garreau envisions social upheaval in response to technological leaps, much like the advances of the 50s fueled the changes of the 60s. And as that technology begins to change the form, function and definition of what it means to be human, we can expect tension between all the different post-humans and trans-humans.

    "We know historically that … when humans compete for an ecological niche --- and they did 50,000 years ago when Homo Sapiens and Cro-Magnons co-existed --- it usually ends badly for one."

    Oh man what a story idea treasure trove this article at CNN is. Mutant wars! Mad scientists! Social upheaval! Clearly though Garreau isn't paying attention to our friend Ray Kurzweil. Ray thinks that with advances in the melding of neuroscience and brain science we'll all be able to download the education we need to be that disgruntled grad student. The future. Gotta love it.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    The Big Bang Post-o-Rama: Market News, Member News and New Reviews

    Market News for your holiday:

  • Moxie Press wants your cross-genre speculative romances

  • Wild Rose Press wants you to lead them down the garden path for their new antho contest

  • Apsen Mountian Press is looking for cross-genre speculative romance…and they have a horror romance line

  • Unical Press wants fantasy/paranormal romance

  • The Heart and Soul imprint of Saltwater Press wants new age romances

  • Check out the full listings at Speculative Romance Online.

    Member News 7/3/2006

    Paige Cuccaro releases QUEEN OF HEARTS.

    Garden District princess Samantha Vines, is all about propriety, etiquette, and responsibility. Cross-dressing Vic Cabarini has wrong-move written all over him but Sam will learn one wrong can lead to a whole lot of rights.

    Rowena Cherry is happy to announce the formation of a group blog at www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com.

    Editor's note: I've visited. Thoughtful posts about the challenges of hybridizing science fiction and romance.

    Rowena Cherry is pleased to announce that the July and August issue of her newsletter will be up at www.rowenacherry.com/newsletter as of July 10th.

    As your beloved but freaky editor, I fought the good fight in my Campaign for Romantic Horror with this guest post at Dark, But Shining, a grand and thoughtful blog about darker speculative genres, and stirred a little discussion at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

    Of course, I'm always up for talk about the marriage of horror and romance. Leave a comment. Send an email. Join the Campaign for Romantic Horror!

    I think we need a theme song. Every good campaign needs a theme song. What do you think?

    New Reviews Posted on SpecRom 7/3/2006

  • Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip

  • Writing The Other by Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward

  • In the Werewolf's Den by Rob Preece

  • The Hunters: Declan & Tori by Shiloh Walker

  • Read the reviews at Speculative Romance Online -- The Website.