Boskone trip report: Doctorow rips IP a new a-hole, Cramer is the Eye in the Sky

It's always a pleasure to hear Cory Doctorow testify, and he was in great form this weekend for his special guest speech. He excels at expressing intellectual property issues with an sf-writer's eye for the telling moment. Discussing the corporate desire to plug the problem of analog to digital conversion (or, as he puts it, the 'a hole') he imagines a future camcorder that respects IP: a parent is videoing their child's first steps. Child walks in front of the TV, and the image goes black. Yes, the proposals are that dire, and without folks like the EFF out there fighting, this is the future we may well end up with.

Also wonderful was a panel on blogging with Cory, Kathryn Cramer, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Teresa warned that as the military-industrial complex increasingly takes blogging seriously, we can expect to see more "astroturf," or faux-grassroots sentiment being seeded into the blogosphere. And Kathryn provided a case in point of why blogging is worrisome to powers that be: she's increasingly using tools like Google Earth and Flickr to monitor hotspots, and finding that people gravitate to the site and feed her info not seen in the mainstream media. (She also just made the cover of Nature in a piece on mapping for the masses.)

The art show and program featured work by World Fantasy Award winner Tom Kidd. I hadn't seen Tom in years, and it's awesome to re-connect with someone you knew a long time ago. Tom and I were part of the same sf gang at Syracuse University back...well...a while ago. He's got a new retrospective book out, Kiddography, which is just stunning. (Jack, our 6-year-old, was most impressed by the early sketches for Treasure Planet. Ah, the reach of the Mouse...)

Cool link to calculate historical buying power of US/UK currencies

How much was 100K worth in 1958 US dollars? What was the price of gold in 1945? How much labor could you hire for $1,000 in 1910? If you need economic accuracy for a story,
Economic History Net has databases for the US and UK, some going back hundreds of years.

Thanks, Joan (author of Zulu: An Irish Journey)

Dick Cheney on what constitutes a newspaper of record...

Okay, anybody can accidentally shoot their friend in the face. But we're entitled to more than patent nonsense about why our Vice President dribbled the news out in a local paper. From the Brit Hume "interview"...

"The Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times"
            — Via the Corpus Christi Caller-Times
             [requires registration]

Yeah, right. Could it be because their website is literally red, white, and blue?

Boskone schedule

For anyone coming to Boskone next week, I'll be on the following panels.

Friday 8:00 pm Hampton: Scotty, I Need More Bandwidth: Managing Information Streams
Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink?! Many of us are already drowning in a sea of information (and misinformation) when we really just want the good stuff.... Does having more bandwidth help or hinder? How do you keep tabs on the information industry's output? What if you had a direct neural connection? — Would it help you to manage all those online information streams before your brain explodes?
John McDaid, Naomi Novik, Sheila M. Perry (m), John Scalzi

Saturday 12:00 noon Republic B: Net News: If It's On the Net It Must Be True
Can you trust the next blog better than the next barstool? Is the net quickly (surely?!) self-correcting? Or, does a lie that's interesting (or in somebody's interest) get to screens around the world before truth gets its modem on? Which stories has the net broken wide (and which were true)? How do you evaluate the material?
Kathryn Cramer, Daniel P. Dern, Daniel Hatch (m), John McDaid, Sheila M. Perry

Sunday 11:00 am Gardner: The Conventional Tropes of SF
A "trope" now signifies an accepted SF/F/H theme: hyperdrives, cyborging, immortality, time travel, wizards, ghosts.....what do they say about out field? Ourselves? What are the important tropes of the field? The new ones? The ones with the most juice left? When's the last time we added a new one?
Don D'Ammassa, John R. Douglas (m), Walter H. Hunt, John McDaid, Allen Steele

Learn to write pro sf -- or help others find out how

Clarion_Banner_150_x_58If you've ever thought about writing science fiction professionally, you've probably considered Clarion. And for good reason. It is a life-changing six-week immersion in the craft unequaled anywhere else on this planet, full stop. It might not always be fun -- trying to write a story a week never is -- and it might challenge your fantasy of being an author with the tough reality of the writing life, but it will shape your work for the rest of your career. If you're thinking about it, you're ready. Click on the banner, and apply.

If you're not the writerly type, you might consider donating some ad space on your site or blog to the Clarion Foundation. Like many independent educational efforts, the workshop has faced some precarious times in the past years, and it almost looked like it might die. But a group of really dedicated sf folks have managed to put together nonprofit status, and are looking for help getting the word out. If you have a few pixels to spare, and you love sf, please think about lending a hand.

See Cory Doctorow's post on BoingBoing for details on the ad campaign.

Outtakes from the SciFi interview...

John Joseph Adams, who did a great job making me sound good, has posted the rest of the interview on his blog, The Slush God Speaketh. Arigato gozaimashita, John.

Interviewed on W00t.

Check it out: 'Keyboard' Channels Bach.

John Joseph Adams, The Slush God, did a wonderful job with the interview.

Bush claims to have invented the iPod

Ok, so he just gave the government credit for the enabling technology. But if Rove's scummy spinmeisters can turn one of Al Gore's verbal indiscretions into political hay, by god, 43 deserves no less:

"The iPod -- I'm a bike guy and I like to plug in music on my iPod when I'm riding along to hopefully help me forget how old I am. (Laughter.) But it was built -- when it was launched, it was built on years of government-funded research and microdrive storage, or electrochemistry, or single compression -- signal compression. See, the nanotechnology research that the government is helping sponsor is going to change the way people live."— Via Presswire

And I no longer believe in the slightest that these slips of the tongue are genuine. This is all about signalling to creationist knuckle-draggers that he is just folks. Me not really understand science; me just simple cave man who fell in some ice. Not so much parapraxis as massive craft.

Thanks to RimJob post on Daily Kos

"Keyboard Practice" makes Locus list; now available in mp3

Another wonderful bit of news this week, with my story being listed in among the best of 2005 in the Locus Online recommended reading list.

It's taken a while to crank out the mp3 version of the story, but you can now download it here. (It's a novelette, so even with good encoding, this two-hour clip is still about 60mb.)

Mostly just straight narration, but the two parts of the story which seemed to warrant more sophisticated treatment (the canon and the NTSB voice recorder tape) have been done up multitrack style. And yes, it is kind of hard to hear the voices on the CVR – that's just the way those things are....)

"Keyboard Practice" makes preliminary Nebula ballot

Read "Keyboard Practice" for free online at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The Nebula Awards ® recognize works selected by professional science fiction writers as representing excellence in the field. While this is only the preliminary ballot, I am totally awed and honored to be in this kind of company. (I mean, among other stellar entries, head-to-head with Cory Doctorow's awesome novelette "Anda's Game."

Watch this space — I'm working on a podcast version & some "DVD extras" I'll post soon.

All I have ever wanted to be in my life is an sf writer. There just aren't words for what I'm feeling now, other than humble thanks for all the folks who read the story, and liked it. And, as I said in the story, profound thanks to the crew from the Gibraltar Point writing workshop, especially the late Pat York.

See the full list of nominees at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA®) site. If you're a SFWA member, you can also read it here.