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My nominations for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Related Work

God, I wish I didn’t find this stuff so fascinating.

My last post way back in January went something like this: “hey, you know, I had a couple stories published last year, how’s about y’all nominate them jokers for an award”.

Obviously no one did so, because no one cared. I didn’t care enough to nominate anybody for anything, either.

Flash forward to April, when the 2014 Hugo nominees are announced. Kerfuffle ensues. Rampant point-missing and reading-comprehension fails overtake various comments sections across the internet (but then, what else is new).

For various reasons that I won’t go into here, I won’t go into the subject of this year’s awards.

I would, however, like to go ahead and make some recommendations for next year’s awards. (And for anyone reading this who might be suffering from the aforementioned issues of point-missing and reading-comp fails, I should probably spell out that no, this is not a ‘voting slate’.)

To wit, my nominations for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Related Work are:

“A Detailed Explanation” by Matthew David Surridge in Black Gate

http://blog.sadpuppies.org/ by ‘Noah Ward’ (get it…? eh…?)

Granted, the second of these is a piss-take that flirts dangerously with Poe’s Law (i.e., that “without a clear indicator of an author’s intention, it is often impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of such extremism”).

The first, however, is a thorough and well-reasoned dissection of ideology and notions of literary quality in ‘genre’ fiction, awards, and popularity in general. Indeed, the most thorough and well-reasoned piece of writing you’re likely to see on those topics this year, methinks.

I will now returned to my regularly scheduled rubbernecking. This trainwreck isn’t going to gawk at itself, you know. Or is it.

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fiction, news

2014 in review

Hello there, and welcome to what’s become one of the cherished classics of blogging genre writers, the thinly-veiled “hey, go nominate me for a Hugo” post. Make of it what you will.

Last year I completed six new short stories, two of which are currently on submission. Not the most prolific output. Or maybe it is. I don’t know, leave me alone.

Of those six stories, exactly one has been published: “Chatarra”, Ideomancer Speculative Fiction 13.3 (Sept., 2014).

A few months earlier (June to be exact), another story of mine “Hacking ‘Wilkes-Barre PA, July 2001′” appeared in the anthology Master Minds (Third Flatiron Publishing, available from Amazon (print or Kindle) or Smashwords (other ebook formats)).

Sooo, on the off-chance that anyone out there reading this is or was a voting member of the 2014, 2015, or 2016 Worldcons by the end of the day (Pacific Time/GMT -8) on January 31, 2015–it’s a longshot, I know–why not take a minute and nominate one or both of the above-mentioned stories for a Hugo Award? Honestly, what could it hurt? Huh?

Not that I actually expect anyone to do so. Really it’s just another opportunity for me to post links to these two humble li’l pieces of genre fiction, in hopes that you might ‘Like’, comment, or even ‘purchase’ and publish a favorable review of either. So, y’know, you’ve got options.

Stay tuned for more in 2015.

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Uncategorized

Hey, check out this review of my story in Tangent Online

So, here’s a first for me. An opinion about a story of mine in Tangent Online, self-proclaimed as “the genre’s premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993.”

Reviewer Martha Burns writes:

“It’s a surprise that no story in the collection addresses the effect gaming has had on humanity, especially considering that right now, people spend billions of hours each week in those virtual worlds. The story that comes closest to addressing our interaction with gaming is “Hacking ‘Wilkes-Barre PA, May 2001′” by NM Whitley. In this story, it isn’t humans who play a game, it is a computer system that engages in a form of the 1990s favorite, The Sims. The computer chooses a real town to start its simulation, but the realities of that time period keep intruding and ruining the fun. The story is enjoyable, sometimes grin-inducing, and does a good job demonstrating how, to borrow the title of Jane McGonigal’s famous book on the positive insights to be learned from gaming culture, reality is broken.”

Not bad, right? And lest you think this is some feel-good, I’m-OK-You’re OK puff piece (it’s not), I’d encourage you check out the rest of the review at Tangent Online.

Ah, did I mention that the aforementioned story and anthology are available in dead-tree format? Photographic evidence below:

DSCF0848

Dead-tree format available from Amazon; for e-books etc try Smashwords, and I’ll see you at the movies…

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current events, news

More September 11th Fun Facts!!!

It’s about 10 minutes to 10 o’clock, and those of you who are dreading or are already sick of the media coverage and loud-mouthed punditry–whether it’s concerning the anniversary of the WTC attacks in the US, or the big nationalist rally taking place in honor of ‘la Diada’ here in Catalunya–all know exactly what time it is.

That’s right, kids! It’s that time of the year again! September 11th fun facts, whoo!!! (courtesy Wikipedia, of course)

I’m sure everyone reading this also read last year’s installment. But did you know that on this day in history lots of other important stuff that you should celebrate or commemorate happened, such as…

1609 – Expulsion order announced against the Moriscos of Valencia; beginning of the expulsion of all Spain’s Moriscos.

1609 – Henry Hudson discovers Manhattan Island and the indigenous people living there.

1776 – British-American peace conference on Staten Island fails to stop nascent American Revolutionary War.

1802 – France annexes the Kingdom of Piedmont.

1851Christiana Resistance: Escaped slaves stand against their former owner in armed resistance in Christiana, Pennsylvania, creating a rallying cry for the abolitionist movement.

1897 – After months of pursuit, generals of Menelik II of Ethiopia capture Gaki Sherocho, the last king of Kaffa, bringing an end to that ancient kingdom.

1921Nahalal, the first moshav in Palestine, is settled as part of a Zionist plan to colonize Palestine and creating a Jewish state, later to be Israel.

1941 – Charles Lindbergh’s Des Moines Speech accusing the British, Jews and the Roosevelt administration of pressing for war with Germany.

1972 – The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system has its opening day of passenger service.

1986 – Chiliboy Ralepelle, South African rugby player, born

1987 – death of Peter Tosh, Jamaican singer-songwriter and guitarist (Bob Marley & The Wailers) (b. 1944)

1997NASA‘s Mars Global Surveyor reaches Mars.

1998 – Opening ceremony for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia is the first Asian country to host the games.

Also, it’s the feast day of St. Paphnutius of Thebes!

Happy Sept. 11th, everybody!!!

 

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fiction, news

Wow, that was quick: “Chatarra” now up at Ideomancer

What better way to return from a long and pleasant summer vacation than with an announcement like this:

My short story “Chatarra” has just been published over at Ideomancer. Go check it out, it’s me in ‘sombre’ mode.

Kind of a funny story about this one getting accepted, I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.

In the meantime, thanks to Leah and everyone else at Ideomancer. Cheers!

 

 

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Uncategorized

Welp, now I’m almost certainly being spied on, closely perhaps, by the NSA

So we’ve known for a while now that government spooks were snooping through all of our internet communication, or as I like to put it, they were all up in your business like K-Solo’s girlfriend’s mom. Supposedly, they were just ‘collecting’ it and not ‘targeting’ it. ‘Targeting’ was only for the bad guys.

Now it’s come out this week that the NSA has some very interesting criteria that it uses to narrow down who the ‘bad guys’ are.

Cory Doctorow published an article this week entitled “If you read Boing Boing, the NSA considers you a target for deep surveillance.”  In it, he linked to a article on the German news site Tagesschau written in which journalists gained access to the “deep packet inspection” rules used to determine who is considered to be a legitimate target for deep surveillance.

Apparently, the NSA knows when, where, and whether or not you’ve ever searched for online articles about Tails or Tor, perhaps the two most well-known tools used to preserve Internet privacy and anonymity. Now let’s say neither of those names sound familiar and you want to learn more. Before you run off to Google, hear me out first: If you do search for either of those terms, there’s a strong chance you’ll be put on their bad guy list. That’s what I did.

Basically, the NSA thinks it has a right to know if you’re interested (even if only in a casual, ‘here-lemme-click-on-this-link-for-a-second-oh-never-mind-this-shit’s-boring’ sort of way) in the subject of Internet privacy tools, because that interest might translate to you actually using such a tool, which could possibly mean that you’re using it to do ill of some sort (terrorism, cybercrime, piracy, etc.).

That’s some ol’ Tom Cruise Minority Report pre-crime shit if I ever heard of it.

Also–as you’d imagine–anyone who they determine is actually using Tor is also targeted for long-term surveillance and retention. Doctorow writes: “One expert suggested that the NSA’s intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats — to split the entire population of the Internet into ‘people who have the technical know-how to be private’ and ‘people who don’t’ and then capture all the communications from the first group.”

Sad thing is, I’m not even really in the first group and they may already be treating me as such–like, I tried downloading and setting up Tor once, and no matter how many times I tried to key in the command lines, Linux wasn’t havin’ it. I mean, that’s how little I have in the way of ‘technical know-how’. So I was like, fuck it. Doesn’t matter–they’re prolly still gonna read this, and all my email, and all that. And in lieu of coded message about terrorist attacks, they will find boring email back and forth between me and my bosses, banal Facebook posts, and little else I imagine.

I don’t have any illusions about anything I do being at all secure, really. I know basically any jerkass who had a mind to could jack my whole computer up and wreck shop on my hard drive and what not. I’m not naive in that sense. But it makes you think. The government (probably) really is in my business. Damn.

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current events

More bad news (El Jueves, etc.)

Yes, I’m afraid I have more bad news. This time, it’s not football-related.

For those of you living outside the ‘Kingdom of Spain’ who haven’t been paying attention to the news over here, the King of Spain announced this past Monday that he was abdicating the throne. (I suppose the New York Times’ article will bring you more or less up to speed if you’re interested.)

And no, this is not the bad news I was referring to. The bad news came yesterday, and is only indirectly related to the king’s decision to step down.

Albert Monteys and Manel Fontdevila are leaving El jueves.

El jueves, for those unfamiliar with the publication, is a satirical humor magazine dealing chiefly in comic strips that run the gamut from the political to the scatalogical, from surreal to vaguely smutty.

The magazine’s tagline is “El jueves, la revista que sale los miércoles” (Thursday: the magazine that comes out on Wednesday.) This week it came out on Thursday.

RBA, the company that publishes the magazine alleged some sort of technical problem. Other sources, however, have alleged that the problem stemmed from the question of what to put on the cover. Of the two covers below, which one do you think they went with–the one lampooning the meteoric rise of Pablo Iglesias, or the one featuring Juan Carlos I handing over a crown covered in doo-doo to his son Felipe?

RBA initially claimed that the Iglesias cover which was finally published was the one originally slated before the King’s announcement, and that with news of the abdication coming on Monday there was no time to get a joke to the presses before Wednesday. Then eldiario.es published a story saying that 60,000 copies of the King/Prince cover were printed (and subsequently mulched, one assumes), giving the lie to RBA’s claims vis-a-vis timeframes…

But I don’t want to talk about the alleged political pressure from the Royal Family, or the ‘chilling effect’ of self-censorship in the echoes of the 2007 controversy (which not coincidentally also involved the Royal Family), etc., etc. No, I want to get sentimental and talk about what the work of Monteys and Manel F. means to me.

Flash back to early 2006. I’m still finding my way around Barcelona and the ex-pat life in general. One bored afternoon in Fnac I come across a book of cheaply printed comics entitled Para ti, que eres joven: Sexo, drogas, y otras cosas que les pasan a los demás (‘For you who are young: Sex, drugs, and other things that happen to other people’), which was a collection of strips about a variety of topics: ‘Family’, ‘rock ‘n roll’, ‘looking for work’, ‘sharing a flat’, ‘the future’. At this point, I didn’t know what El jueves was, I just knew I liked the style of art and humor, and that there was a lot of jokes that I didn’t get and would have to look up or ask someone about.

The truth is, discovering the work of Monteys and Manel F formed a huge part of my language learning process here: first, as motivation to learn more about the language. And then later, as a sort of informal corpus for later study.

Yeah, that’s right, I brought up corpus linguistics in a blogpost about comics. My other main interest at the time being language pedagogy, I decided I would try to apply some of the concepts I’d been reading about (Michael Lewis’s ‘The Lexical Approach’, for instance) to my own language learning. (Yes, I did have a whole lot of free time and very little social life at that point in my life, why do you ask?)

For example, I made concordances–which is basically to say that I isolated individual words and tried to locate them in as many different contexts as possible to see its semantic and grammatical characteristics–especially verbs that confused me or that seemed especially versatile or important (i.e., pillar: “Oye, te pillo el boli un momento”, “El futuro puede llegar en culaquier momento y no quiero que me pille en la calle”, “Coño…me parece que ya lo pillo…”, “Lo habitual es pillarse un buen cebollón antes de la sesión perforatorio”, or  enterarse: “Es muy peligroso ser un manitas–sobre todo si los demás se enteran“, “Para que te enteres: yo en mi vida solo he dicho una mentira…”, “–‘Muere en en nombre de Dios! –‘¡Si no existe te vas a enterar, mamón!'”

And in case you were wondering, why yes, I am a huge nerd.

But apart from all these two maestros of the comic arts taught me about the idiosyncrasies of the greater Iberian culture and language, more importantly they made me laugh. It’s true that in recent months I stopped buying the magazine regularly, but when I did pick up a copy I always knew Para ti que eres joven was good for at least a chuckle. (Of course, I also enjoyed their other work in the magazine (Tato, La parejita S.A., etc.), but I always went straight for the pink pages.)

As you can imagine, a world without Para ti, que eres joven in the magazine that comes out on Wednesday is, for me at least, a slightly sadder, more melancholy world than the one I used to know.

I can only hope that Monteys and Manel F continue working, drawing and writing jokes, and wish them the best of luck.

 

 

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