Happy Eclipse Day!

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:35 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Eclipsed work

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:12 pm
eimarra: (Default)
[personal profile] eimarra

(Which is probably at least the three hundredth eclipse pun headline you’ve seen today, I know.)

I have to confess that I haven’t been writing much. The last week was focused on getting Siren Circle up for sale. Today, while waiting in line for eclipse viewing glasses, I started outlining another novella — this one to be a prequel novella, before Ghost Garages, and thus hopefully a good hook for people to start the series. I will get back to work on the third Boston Technowitch book, though.

So pictures today:
eclipse without filter

eclipse through filters

Originally published at . You can comment here or there.

jpskewedthrone: (Default)
[personal profile] jpskewedthrone
I'm happy to announce that Walter H. Hunt's story "Radio Silence" in the Zombies Need Brains anthology ALIEN ARTIFACTS is a finalist for the WSFA Small Press Award! Congrats, Walter! And congrats to all of the other finalists. The award winner will be announced at Capclave and Zombies Need Brains will be there with a table in the dealer's room! Fingers crossed for Walter! Here's the official press release from WSFA with all of the other nominees:

***************


The WSFA Small Press Award Committee Announces Finalists for 2017 Award 
for stories published in 2016.

The Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) is pleased to announce the
finalists for the 2017 WSFA Small Press Award:

“Foxfire, Foxfire,” by Yoon Ha Lee, published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed. by Scott H. Andrews, (March 2016);

"Jupiter or Bust," by Brad R. Torgersen, published in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, ed. by Scott Roberts,  (March/ April 2016);

"The Mytilenian Delay," by Neil James Hudson, in Hyperpowers, ed. by Bascombe James, published by Third Flatiron Publishing (May 2016);

"Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left," by Fran Wilde, published in Shimmer Magazine, ed. by E. Catherine Tobler, (September 2016);

"Radio Silence," by Walter H. Hunt in Alien Artifacts, ed. by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, published by Zombies Need Brains, (2016);

"A Salvaging of Ghosts," by Aliette de Bodard, published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed. by Scott H. Andrews, (March 2016);

"The Tomato Thief," by Ursula Vernon, published in Apex Magazine, ed. by Jason Sizemore, (January 2016);

"Vengence Sewn With A Fey Cord," by Christine Lucas, published in The Future Fire, ed. by Djibril al-Ayad, (April 2016);

"The Witch's Knives," by Margaret Ronald, published in Strange Horizons, ed. by Niall Harrison, Jane Crowley, Kate Dollarhyde, Lila Garrott, Catherine Krahe, An Owomoyela, and Vajra Chandrasekera, (October 2016).

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.  The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small  presses in the previous year (2016). An unusual feature of the selection  process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction
Association (www.wsfa.org) and will be presented at their annual
convention, Capclave (www.capclave.org), held this year on October 6-8, 2017 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

************



truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

I am very disturbed by your reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-12. You made a statement condemning "hate and violence" initially, but since then, you seem determined to make everyone forget that the rally ever happened, that white men carrying Nazi flags, making Nazi salutes, and chanting Nazi slogans marched through an American city--and that a woman is dead because one of them thought he could get away with ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in broad daylight.

What's even worse is your reaction to President Trump's appalling speech. You have said you "don't think" Trump is a racist, although you can't offer any reasons for that belief, and the most negative thing you have yet said about his speech is that "it didn't move us closer. It certainly didn't put the issue behind us."

Senator, it's not clear to me what you think the "issue" is.

You have not spoken out against the racism of the rally. You have not condemned the white nationalist principles of its organizers. You haven't even gone so far as to say that you are anti-fascist. This isn't hard, Senator. "Nazis are evil" is not a complicated or difficult concept. And yet it's one you don't seem to grasp.

You want us to "put the divisive issues off to the side" and "accentuate the positive." By which you mean, you want there to be no consequences of this Nazi terrorist action. You want those of us who are not white men to, once again, swallow the insult and injury offered to us because we are being "divisive" by pointing out that these alt-right Nazis want us dead and are demonstrably ready and willing to kill us themselves.

That's what the fuss is about, Senator. That's why some of us are so unreasonable as to not yet be ready to "put the issue behind us."

Moreover, your call for unity is alarming. I'm willing to extend you the benefit of the doubt--perhaps you genuinely don't know this--but the root of the word fascism, and the concept at the movement's core, is the fasces, the bundle of sticks that is stronger together than any one stick would be by itself. Fascists are all about unity, and when you call for "unity" in the wake of a fascist attack, and when it is clear that by "unity" what you mean is that non-whites and non-males need to sit down, shut up, and stop rocking the boat, I think a person is justified in wondering what you, yourself, think about fascism.

So that's my question to you, Senator. Are you pro- or anti-fascist? It's a very simple question, requiring only a one sentence answer.

I eagerly await your public response.



[ETA: I have emailed this letter to Senator Johnson, and will send a hard copy tomorrow. Plus I have sent a shortened version of this letter both to my tiny local paper and to the Capital Times.]

UBC: Schiff, The Witches [audio]

Aug. 20th, 2017 08:53 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
The Witches: Salem, 1692The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


[library]

To get it out of the way, I hated the audio book reader. HATED. She sounded like a local TV news reporter doing a "human interest" story (smugly supercilious, like she finds it all too precious for words), and she had this way of pronouncing sixteen ninety-two that drove me UP THE WALL ("Sixteen ninedy-twoo" is the best rendering I can give; it made me understand why non-Americans can find American accents grating.) When quoting anyone's testimony, she over-emphasized and poured sincerity over the words like maple syrup over pancakes, making everyone sound like Gertrude, who doth protest too much. And The Witches is a VERY LONG book, so I was trapped with this woman's voice for a VERY LONG TIME. (I would have stopped, except that I sincerely wanted to hear the book, moreso than I wanted to get away from ther reader's voice, but it was sometimes a very close call.)

Okay. Aside from that.

This is really an excellent book on the Salem witchcraft-crisis. I don't agree with Schiff at all points (e.g., she's clearly following Breslaw in her assessment of Tituba's testimony, and I don't agree that that's the tipping point of the crisis), but she has done something that no one else writing on Salem has done, and it's something that needed doing. Schiff traces the relationships between the participants and she traces the history of those relationships back from the 1690s to the 1680s to the 1670s. Boyer and Nussbaum made a start at this sort of analysis in Salem:Possessed, but Schiff demonstrates how limited their analysis was, as she examines the web of relationships between afflicted persons, accused witches, judges, ministers, all the way up and down the social ladder from the indigent Sarah Good to the governor of the colony, Sir William Phips. This is a researcher's tour de force, and Schiff is a good, clear writer whose explanations are easy to follow, even when heard instead of read.

My biggest quibble with her is the same quibble I have with almost all scholars who write about Salem. She ends up making it sound like the entire thing was a series of nested frauds rather than the result of anyone's genuine belief in witches and witchcraft. I've talked about this in other reviews, how to a modern reader, it seems almost impossible that it could be anything but fraud and how hard-bordering-on-impossible it is for us to understand, much less enter into, the Puritan worldview, their sincere belief that they were at the center of the cosmic struggle between Go(o)d and (D)evil (sorry, can't resist the wordplay) and their sincere belief that the Devil was real and walking in New England. Puritanism was a culture that enshrined delusions of persecution/grandeur and in that culture witchcraft made sense in a literal way it doesn't in ours. And some of it was fraud. Some of the afflicted persons confessed as much. But fraud alone did not kill twenty-five people (19 were hanged, 1 pressed to death, 5 died in prison, 2 of them infants), and that's the weak spot in Schiff's otherwise excellent book.



View all my reviews
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS JeannetteIn the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


[library]

This was extremely entertaining, and taught me a great deal about the WACKED-OUT science of the late 19th century, with its paleocrystic seas and thermal gateways. It also provides excellent competence porn, as George De Long, his chief engineer George Melville, and the ship's doctor James Ambler were all insanely good at their jobs, and had plenty of opportunities to show it in the two years the U.S.S. Jeannette was trapped in the Arctic pack ice. (There's a fabulous piece of CSI: Jeannette as Dr. Ambler tracked down the cause of the lead poisoning that was slowly killing the crew.) 20 of the 33 members of the crew, including De Long, died in Siberia after exhibiting more epic heroism than should have been allowed to end in failure (but history, unlike fiction, does not care about your heroism), and the Jeannette's voyage remains eclipsed by the Erebus and the Terror

Trigger warning: aside from the ghastly deaths of De Long, Ambler, and most of the crew, horrible and cruel things happen to sled dogs, polar bears, and innumerable Arctic birds.

The audio book reader was competent and mostly a pleasure to listen to, except for his habit of raising the pitch of his voice when quoting women's writing and lowering the pitch of his voice when quoting men. This makes all the men sound excessively MANLY, and makes Emma De Long sound like a simpering idiot, when it's clear she was anything but.



View all my reviews

UBC: Reis, Damned Women

Aug. 20th, 2017 07:51 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New EnglandDamned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England by Elizabeth Reis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I hate starting a review with "this book was meh," but . . . this book was meh.

Reis' thesis is that in seventeenth-century Puritan New England, when everyone was obsessed with scrutinizing their souls for signs of damnation or salvation, and when a central event in a person's life was likely to be their conversion testimony (you stand up in front of the church you want to join and tell the church members how you came to realize that (a) you were a sinful crawling worm and (b) God had chosen you to be among the Elect regardless), while men tended to say that their sinful actions corrupted their souls, women were much more likely to say that their corrupted souls led them to sinful actions. She talks about how this led (or might have led) to women's confessions of witchcraft--if you view sin as a continuum, and if your corrupted soul means you cannot deny that you are sinful at heart, then how can you be certain that you aren't a witch?

Reis proves her thesis, and it's a subject I'm quite interested in, but the book itself just . . . meh. It was a book. I read it. If you're researching the subject either of Puritan witchcraft or the experience of Puritan women, it's definitely worth reading. Otherwise, not so much.



View all my reviews

Cool Stuff Friday

Aug. 18th, 2017 10:31 am

Free Speech and Nazis

Aug. 17th, 2017 08:42 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Like many of us, I’ve been struggling to process what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, and what’s been happening in this country for a while now. The racism and hatred and violence didn’t magically appear out of nowhere. It’s been building up for a long time…in fact, much of it has always been there. It’s just boiling over into the open right now, making it harder (but obviously not impossible) to look away and pretend it’s not happening.

Part of the argument I’ve seen centers around free speech and the First Amendment. Free speech is a right, an important one, and rights apply to everyone. Even people you dislike and disagree with.

But freedom of speech in this country is not and has never been limitless. From the U.S. Federal Courts, here are a few examples of actions not legally protected by freedom of speech:

  • Students making an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
  • Making/distributing obscene materials.
  • Inciting actions that would harm others (e.g., Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.)

Now, here are some of the “alt-right” protesters who gathered in Charlottesville.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

So a while back I looked at my short stories and realized, huh — they kind of fall into these nice little groupings. Not enough in any one grouping to fill a whole print collection, but very nicely sized to make a set of tidy little ebooks.

The first of those is now available for pre-order! The title is Maps to Nowhere, in homage to Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Fire and Hemlock and the “NOWHERE” vases that are a recurring motif in it. (The same novel that inspired me to become a writer, and in a roundabout fashion sparked another story of mine.) It contains ten short stories, all set in secondary worlds. To whet your appetite, here’s the table of contents:

Maps to Nowhere


cover art for MAPS TO NOWHERE by Marie Brennan

Maps to Nowhere will be out on September 5th!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Sunspots

Aug. 16th, 2017 05:05 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

I was testing the solar filter for the camera, in preparation for Monday’s eclipse. We won’t be seeing the total eclipse, but I’m hoping to get some good shots of the partial.

As I was processing the results, I realized I’d captured sunspots!  (Those dark spots in the upper left.)

Sun with sunspots

Click to embiggen.

For those who wonder about such things, this was taken on the 100-400mm lens, fully zoomed to 400mm. ISO 640, f/10, with a 1/3200 shutter speed. I had to set everything manually, because the camera overexposed the shot if left to its own devices.

I think next time I’ll try to reduce the ISO down to about 100 and see if that gets rid of the minor graininess.

Processing involved cropping the shot, noise reduction, and an orange overlay.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Last Theme Reveal! SECOND ROUND

Aug. 16th, 2017 01:06 pm
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
[personal profile] jpskewedthrone
And the final theme for Zombies Need Brains' new kickstarter is ... SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR! That's right, Patricia Bray and I are going back to where it all started and are doing a sequel to our very first anthology, AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR. Same setup as for the other anthologies though, with anchor authors and an open call. Here's the formal description. If you're going to write a story for this one, just make certain you pick a time period that wasn't used in AFTER HOURS and hasn't been claimed by one of our anchor authors.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR:

In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir!

Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each. The anthology will include short stories by:

Jacey Bedford (June 30th, 1916, France, Battle of Somme, WWI)
Gini Koch (Old West)
Juliet E McKenna
C.E. Murphy
Kristine Smith (Present day-ish, New York City)
Kari Sperring

All other slots aside from the named authors will be filled by the open call for submissions following the successful completion of the Kickstarter.

So put on your thinking caps and get writing!



And done again (mostly)

Aug. 15th, 2017 09:24 pm
eimarra: (Default)
[personal profile] eimarra

Still have to do a couple tweaks on the last chapter, plus argue with Word on some formatting issues. (Sometimes unchecking “Same as previous” for header works; sometimes it doesn’t.) Yes, it really is like this, one thing and then one more thing, when you already think you’re done.

In more fun news, I’m getting ready to dive into the results from SFWA’s membership survey! Can’t wait to see what everyone had to say.

And then more words on book 3 …

What are you up to?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

Mushrooms!

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:32 pm
eimarra: (Default)
[personal profile] eimarra

In our yard. Which is not fantastic, but not exactly surprising, either. And gives an indication of just how much rain we’ve been getting.

Anyway, not a lot on the new word front today, and what there was, I didn’t count, as I was working through edits on Siren Circle and hence, both adding and deleting as I went. I may add some words later on book 3, Troll Tunnels.

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures.large mushroom

smaller mushroom

mushroom gills

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

Magic ex Libris: The Next Chapter

Aug. 14th, 2017 09:30 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Some of you might remember me talking about a 15,000-word novelette I was working on between wrapping up Terminal Alliance and starting on Terminal Uprising.

That novelette is called “Imprinted,” and it’s the next Magic ex Libris story.

It’s about Jeneta Aboderin, and it’s set roughly eight months after the events of Revisionary.

I haven’t set a publication date yet. There’s a bit of work left to get everything ready, and with Terminal Alliance coming out in November, I’m guessing it will be available in January or February.

I also haven’t set a price. $2.99 would be ideal, because that’s where ebook royalty rates jump from 35% to 70%. What do you think? Does $2.99 seem fair for a 15,000-word story, or should I bump it down to $1.99 and take the royalties hit?

Finally, as long as you’re here, what do you think of the not-quite-finalized cover?

Imprinted Cover: Draft

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Back to school!

Aug. 13th, 2017 04:15 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
[personal profile] feuervogel
The semester starts tomorrow. I'm prepared, but I'm not ready at all. I have my first week's lesson plans made, with the option of shifting things as I need to. I have all my books, and I am going to have many shit-tons of reading on top of my grading (of which there is more, because the language program coordinator got rid of most of the auto-graded (multiple choice etc) assignments and replaced them with free response, which takes 3x as long to grade.)

I'm not quite sure when I'm going to sleep.

My new apartment is nice so far. The property managers are very helpful and are going through and fixing everything the previous property managers never bothered fixing (or fixed badly). The central a/c is a huge plus over my old apartment.

And I joined my local roller derby team. Partly because my friend said I should try it during new skater boot camp, partly because describing a sport as "roller skating with violence" is fun, and partly because the logo is super bad ass.

I'm going to review my plans for tomorrow and the next day then try to finish one of the books for one of my classes (it's really short, and I'm already halfway through).

Cool Stuff Friday

Aug. 11th, 2017 10:42 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Friday thinks this next scene needs more elephants.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Today was a perfect ten

Aug. 10th, 2017 10:40 pm
eimarra: (Default)
[personal profile] eimarra

(On the calendar, at least.)

In actual fact, it wasn’t a bad day. I got some normal adulting tasks done, knocked a couple freelance tasks off my to-do list, poked at the writing (yeah, not a lot there — only 59 words), and cooked dinner. But I’m going to try to get to bed before 11 and hope sleep will make tomorrow more productive.

Words written today: 59
Words written this month: 7,563
Words written 2017: 154,072
Average words/day 2017: 694
Books completed 2017: 2 (plus 1 novella)
Pages read today: 5
Books read 2017: ?
Days until school starts: 18

The month’s good start is rapidly falling away. Have to see if I can get back on track next week.

skillet dinner

Tonight’s dinner

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

jpskewedthrone: (Default)
[personal profile] jpskewedthrone
On August 29th, Zombies Need Brains will launch their 2017 Kickstarter! This time, we're again trying for three new anthologies and $20,000. As usual, we'll have an open call for each of the anthologies, so anyone who has a story or wants to write a story that fits the theme of that anthology can submit it for possible inclusion in the anthology. We have anchor authors, whose names you'll likely recognize, filling up about half of the anthology, but the rest of the slots will come from the open call! To give everyone a chance to write the best story possible, we're going to announce the themes of the anthologies early. Here's the second one. So put on your thinking caps, come up with a unique story that fits this theme, and write it! The submission deadline (if the Kickstarter is funded, of course) is December 31st, 2017. Details about how to submit the story and where to submit it will come once the Kickstarter reaches its $20,000 goal.

NOTE: Zombies Need Brains is now a SFWA Qualifying Market!

So, without further ado, here's the first theme for this year's Kickstarter!

GUILDS & GLAIVES:

Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community, from Fritz Leiber’s “Lankhmar” novels and Moorcock’s “Elric” saga, to Violette Malan’s more recent “Dhulyn and Parno” series. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic with some of today’s hottest authors!

Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain approximately 14 brand-new stories with an average length of 6000 words each. It will include short stories by:

David B. Coe
James Enge
Esther Friesner
Howard Andrew Jones
Gini Koch
Violette Malan
Seanan McGuire

All other slots aside from the named authors will be filled by the open call for submissions following the successful completion of the Kickstarter.



truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

I am writing to ask you to persuade your Republican colleagues to abandon efforts to repeal the ACA. While I whole-heartedly believe that the American healthcare system needs to be reformed, repealing the ACA is not the way to begin. The ACA is not failing, is not in a death spiral, and would in fact be more and more successful if President Trump and Republican legislators would stop sabotaging it.

I am writing to ask you to reach out to your Democratic colleagues. I am writing to ask you to work on a reform process for the ACA that is built on bipartisan cooperation and includes committee work, public hearings, and the full, correct parliamentary procedure for Senate legislation.

There are so many other issues I am angry and/or frightened about, like President Trump's ban on transgender service people, the utter disgrace Jeff Sessions is making of the office of Attorney General, and this new and horrible attack on the rights of people in nursing homes, but I feel defeated by my prior knowledge that you are not interested in my concerns. I am writing anyway because it is something I can do in defense of my ideals and my country, unlike all the many things I can't.

August 2017

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