April 24th, 2007


Link salad

Been a busy day thus far around these parts, what with real estate inspections, attorney meetings, family issues, discussions of landscape gardening and whatnot, all mixed in with a full day's work at the day job. In lieu of the usual fare of wit and erudition, here's some links which have crossed my desk.

American La France Roadster — a car that never quite was. Perhaps what Toad of Toad Hall drove. Check out the engine stats.

What religion are you? — a quiz from Beliefnet. (It scored me as 100% Secular Humanist, with a runner up of 93% Unitarian Universalism.)

Jews and Chinese Food — while I'm not one of the People (a rosbif, my own self), I've heard the jokes.

Man arrested for naked Hitler birthday event — Godwin's Law meets, um, the Naked Rambler?

Quantum physics says goodbye to reality — solipsism proven by experimental evidence. If an observer falls in the forest, will she hit a tree?

Blood, Bullets, Bombs, and Bandwidth — cyberpunks in Baghdad.

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps — an English take on our democratic experience.

(Thanks to danjite, the_flea_king and others.)

Clockpunk Voting Poll

This is the voting poll for entries in the recent Mainspring Powell's | Amazon ] ARC contest. As usual, I'll hold this open for a few days, probably into the weekend. The winner will receive a Mainspring ARC, runner up prizes at my discretion. Ties to be settled by the_child. All decisions of the judges are both arbitrary and capricious, as well as final.

Poll #972704 Definition of clockpunk

Which of the following is your favorite definition of clockpunk?

princejvstin: Clockpunk is the science fiction subgenre that depicts a world where the wildest dreams and visions of Da Vinci leap from paper and folios to vivid reality.
hundakleptisis: Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Smash!
juliabk: Jack hadn't realized a Tok'ra could perspire
amysisson: Rolex with a mohawk.
goulo: That's a damn surreal definition of clockpunk! But then so is this.
goulo: Clockpunk is just like steampunk, but with less steam and more clock.
seanmmurphy: It isn't that we can't do what the automata won't allow, but that time is always running down for those who do.
eddvick: Clockpunk is to sf as an escapement is to 9,192,631,770 regular intervals of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the stationary state of the caesium-133 atom.
scarypudding: "Anything that can be done to a clock can be done to a human being, and we can do most anything to clocks: this is clockpunk."
pauljessup: Clockpunk is an automaton of Patti Smith.
deangc: I don't know what clockpunk is, but then I don't know what 'is' is, and it's all so pomo and deconstructivist that it doesn't matter anyway; ....
jetse: "Repent Wordsmith!", Said the Ticktockman, but it was too late...
etcet: "The sky was the color of dead hands stuck between seconds."
coolmajaka: A literary work that shows up on time but calls you wanker.
tacithydra: One is a charmingly archaic technology given new life through literature, the other an aggressive counterculture movement based on social alienation and the rejection of conformity - they fight crime!
floatingtide: Will the sprung and windable aid or hinder our dapper hero/plucky heroine in surviving the inevitable tick-tock tick-tick of the cog-slipped future?
thecrimsony: Grinding Gears, Bodacious Babes, Ticks, Tocks, and a whole lotta Zeppelin!
abennettstrong: Clockpunk is fiction featuring characters that take a licking and keep on ticking.
frankwu: Scary angry clocks with bits of metal in their faces.
woodrunner: Tick tock tick tock BOOM
astrobolism: Nearly any modern technology can be proleptically simulated with mechanisms of clockwork...allows the author to set the future in the past, while mak[ing] it easier than ever to put robots and cannibals in the same story.
snickelish: Clockpunk is a hymn to determinism, an aria to all that is mechanistic, a chant spoken to the rhythm of the clockwork processes of the universe.
deangc: Jules Verne on steroids.
deangc: The lovechild of A. Conan Doyle and William Gibson, but inflated with a lot of gas.
deangc: Clockpunk is what everybody is tocking about.

"Keep on living in competition"

Tuesday Night Writers was a bit of a bust. Due to a variety of circumstances only davidlevine and I were there for any length of time, and there was a raucous Wiccan moot going on around us. However, it meant that he and I got to talk a bit, which is a somewhat rare pleasure. David is thoughtful, witty and erudite, in addition to being a hell of a writer. (And I did get a fair amount of work done on a number of disparate projects.)

One of the things we touched on was the sense of competition which writers seem to be overtaken by. I pointed out something that I've said before -- this is not a direct competition, such as a footrace, where there can be only one winner, and that person's victory by definition sets other runners behind. Rather, the field of writing and publishing is an indirect competition, like shopping for a hard-to-find product. Just because I am able to buy a Wii doesn't mean you can't. (Well, as if I would ever buy a Wii...)

What this means is a practical matter is that jealousy or envy over someone else's sale or a good review is deeply pointless. Not only for the obvious psychological reasons, but simply because it is misplaced. At the same time, we're all monkeys here (unless you're a product of Intelligent Design or Young Earth Creation, in which case you should be complaining about manufacturer's defects in your knees, spine and reproductive system), and monkeys compete. All the time.

I believe that one of the great virtues of our particular genre is the workshop system that supports it. One of the important, albeit secondary, functions of the workshop system is to facilitiate a sense of cooperation and mutuality, while providing an outlet for that competitive impulse.

At the bottom, we're all in this together. No one fails simply because someone else succeeds.