Sean M

Sean M

  • Commented on Editorial Entanglements
    Its not just SF. Compression of events in time is a standard feature of the last hundred years of English-language fiction. Romance novels often move from meet-cute to sex in a few days or weeks, mysteries give their characters a...
  • Commented on Editorial Entanglements
    For what it's worth, I love short stories too, but I understand that since about 1970 they have not been a smart use of writing time for writers who want to live from writing. And "Asimov's" and "Analog" are the...
  • Commented on Introducing a new guest blogger: Sheila Williams
    The problem is the series of hurdles ... when you need a combination of skill and business sense and life circumstances and luck to make a living writing, you have to pass each of those hurdles, and the first, second,...
  • Commented on Introducing a new guest blogger: Sheila Williams
    I'm not sure about the first, I thought that there was a change in the economics after WW II that made long fiction in book form better paying than short fiction in magazines. The histories I have read sure look...
  • Commented on Introducing a new guest blogger: Sheila Williams
    Could be, I gathered the numbers a few years ago. But the general trend is so overwhelming, and lasted so many decades, that worrying about differences of a year or three is just a distraction. I would love (love!) systematic...
  • Commented on Introducing a new guest blogger: Sheila Williams
    In Canada, the current head of the company which published Farley Mowat looked at the business, asked his children if they wanted to take over, and then gave it to the University of Toronto which after a decent interval sold...
  • Commented on Introducing a new guest blogger: Sheila Williams
    Yes. For writers, nominal (cents not PPP) pay per word has been roughly static since the 1870s. The SFWA treats 6 US cents a word as a professional rate, in 1940 1 cent a word was a good rate but...
  • Commented on Introducing a new guest blogger: Sheila Williams
    So paying the rent with writing is getting harder and harder these days ... but my late father kept up with Asimov's and Analog because when he was an abused child in a small town the 1960s his sci-fi magazines...
  • Commented on Dead plots
    There is a pretty good overview of the history of US division names and numbers by the Angry Staff Officer https://angrystaffofficer.com/2020/01/12/army-unit-numerical-designations-where-do-they-come-from/ Lots of compromises with earlier organizations and assigning old units a new duty!...
  • Commented on Dead plots
    Niven comes from Anglo-California Old Money (an ancestor was involved in Teapot Dome) and while I'm not sure he was fascinated by politics like Jerry Pournelle was, he was willing to go along with Pournelle's program. The gender politics in...
  • Commented on The Inevitable Brexit Thread (2)
    It looks to me that after the United States shut down all the sources of funding to Wikileaks which it could, they became mouthpieces for Russian government positions (or the positions Russian propaganda supports). I suspect that after the...
  • Commented on Crawling from the wreckage
    The coalition government in BC (where the junior partner, the Green party, is lead by a distinguished professor of atmospheric science) looks like it will hold https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Weaver Ditto for resistance to more oil pipelines, even if the Canadian federal government...
  • Commented on Peak Brexit
    Thane: I would check out Gwynne Dyer's syndicate column ... he is a Canadian based in London and every few months he writes a 'big picture' column on the Brexit negotiations. I don't bother trying to follow news hour to...
  • Commented on "I doubt me an it be commercial."
    Writing does not have to be a full-time living, though. It just has to pay enough to justify spending one evening a week/every Saturday/two days a week/... in front of a keyboard typing. The people who self-publish four or more...
  • Commented on "I doubt me an it be commercial."
    "All of these things create the engaged fan base that results in sales volume, and you absolutely need sales volume if you're trying to make money." Have you looked up Guy Windsor? He writes and talks a lot about the...
  • Commented on Sitrep
    Searching for "robo-signing" brings up plenty of results for me: many of the companies in the USA which ended up holding hundreds of thousands of mortgages discovered that they did not have the necessary paperwork, so they paid someone to...
  • Commented on Houston: what are the long-term consequences?
    SFReader #166: Yes, one thing that I have noticed is that trying to follow international news or join a side in foreign politics steals energy that I could use to be involved in local politics and help people in my...
  • Commented on Houston: what are the long-term consequences?
    I think to myself "is something happening in Houston?" I think about the analysis of how the media works to addict us and make us nervous which you and other people have written. I feel glad that I no longer...
  • Commented on The sudden eruption of news
    Considering what has happened in Anglo politics ever since Jim Prentice tried to nail down the lid of the Wild Rose's coffin by calling a snap election, I wouldn't be stunned if Uther Pendragon won this election! The last three...
  • Commented on Suspense is the key
    However, the Odyssey begins with Odysseus stranded on a remote island. Later, when he is with the Phaiatians, he tells them how he got into that mess and lost his entire crew, starting with the fall of Troy- and I...
  • Commented on Defining space opera
    The traditional name for stories like Burroughs' Barsoom stories or de Camp's Planet Krishna stories is "planetary romance." They differ from space opera in some fundamental ways, such as not taking place in space; if there is space travel, is...
  • Commented on Defining space opera
    Yes, I agree that there is plenty of fiction published today which uses tropes which conservative, science-oriented writers were merrily deconstructing in the 1950s. I could not get through one Culture novel. Like Douglas Adams, it just was not my...
  • Commented on Defining space opera
    The Culture novels feel completely different from the kind of American fiction that your list of tropes seemed to draw on: Star Wars, the Terro-Human Future History, the Lensman novels, Retief's world, Flandry's world, the Traveller RPG, ... Like Asimov's...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    Although back in the 1950s, many authors were perfectly well aware that many of the genre conventions of space opera were impossible, and others were contrived or unlikely. They wrote stories deconstructing them, or essays like "Language for Time Travellers"...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    Excellent point. Psychic powers are a staple of space opera (and other genres of Silver Age SF). Even L. Sprague de Camp, who did not enjoy playing with fringe ideas as much as Niven or Heinlein did, toyed with aliens...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    And that is your privilege as host ... just keep in mind that if they can't tell what you want and are not convinced you are interested in fact-based criticism, people who know more than you about a given point...
  • Commented on Tanks! Why tank stories make great tech myths
    Although that one also gets richer when you look at it closely. There is an old narrative which builds on Plan 1919, the handful of "tank advocates" in the UK in the 1930s, and the German conquests of 1939-1941 to...
  • Commented on Tanks! Why tank stories make great tech myths
    On the other hand, von Braun pushed for the rockets to be built underground by slave labour, and those underground factories became so horrible that there is a SS report questioning whether they are killing skilled inmates too quickly. Its...
  • Commented on They Took Our Myths
    Yes, but again, that is only an issue if you want to =make money= off someone else's setting. Thousands of gamers and fan-ficcers and fan-filmers tell collaborative stories set in other people's intellectual property, and as long as no money...
  • Commented on They Took Our Myths
    While the problems with long copyright terms have been gone over on this blog before, there is a fundamental difference between "not being able to access a myth" and "not being able to tell or film your own version for...
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