Archive for December, 2008

Vital stats

Monday, December 8th, 2008

This has been making the rounds on the SF blogosphere, and as you guys know, I’m all about bandwagons.

Age when I decided I wanted to be a writer: 29
Age when I wrote my first short story: 31
Age when I first got my hands on a good word processor: 28
Age when I first submitted a short story to a magazine: 31
Rejections prior to first short story sale: Never made a short story sale.
Age when I sold my first short story:  See above. You trying to rub it in?
Age when I killed my first market:  Can someone tell me what this means?
Approximate number of short stories sold:  Approximately zero.
Age when I first sold a poem: A what?
Poems sold: If I admitted to anything here, I’d destroy myself with my ultratough battle-crazy constituency.
Age when I wrote my first novel: 29-35
Age when I first sold a novel: 36
Novels written between age 23 and age 37: 2
Age when I wrote the first novel I sold: 29-35
Number of novels written before that: 0
Age when that novel was published: 36
Total number of novels written: 2
Books sold:  3
Books published or delivered and in the pipeline: 2
Number of titles in print: 1
Age when I was a Writers of the Future winner:  I met one once.
Age when I became a full-time novelist: 36 (courtesy of these guys)
Age now:  37

Pix from the forgotten war

Friday, December 5th, 2008

At least, that’s what they called the war in Afghanistan up until this year, when it started to become brutally apparent that the situation has turned to shit while we were focused on Iraq.

At any rate, here’s two incredible sets of photos. One is of U.S. soldiers in the Korengal Valley, right up alongside the Pakistani border.  Looking at the terrain (which is so hostile, supplies get flown in), you can see why empires throughout history have found Afghanistan to be a graveyard.

And speaking of . . . here’s photos of Soviet soldiers during their attempt to tame the place. Makes me think of the ending to The Living Daylights, when Timothy Dalton teamed up with the mujahideen to kick some Red Army ass. Now *there’s* a movie that failed to age gracefully. . .

Last chance

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I’m currently going through the copy-edits of the sequel to THE MIRRORED HEAVENS. Turns out the editor(s) had a problem with the Remixed Ending I wrote up in the last stage of the edits. They like virtually all of it, but there’s just. One. Thing. They. Aren’t. Sure.  About.

So now I have to decide whether or not I agree with them. This is always the weirdest part of the process—years in the planning, months in the writing, and now whatever I choose, I’m stuck with.  My desk is littered with manuscript pages; my cat has been banished from the study because of his fascination with them, as well as with that Awesome Blue Pencil I’m using to mark up the text. He doesn’t give a fuck what I decide to do with the text, just as long as he gets the chicken/turkey combo that keeps appearing in his bowl like magic. Maybe he’s got the right perspective.

Death, taxes. . . and spam

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

The Washington Post recently published a story on the McColo spam network—McColo was the San Jose-based company that was unceremoniously booted offline after the Post told internet providers all about the fun customers the company was hosting. But what’s particularly cool is the map of all those customers (many of whom are presumably backed by the same folks).  Check out the botnets in the upper right: apparently spam on the web took a nosedive right after the shutdown, but now most of them are back at it. The world’s most profitable numbers-game is nothing if not resilient.

Fire in the sky

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Boeing has fired its airborne laser in the first comprehensive end-to-end test of the world’s most pimped-up 747. Next year’s follow-up test will feature an attempt to shoot down a real missile; after that, the ABL will be cleared for operational status, assuming Obama doesn’t scrap the whole thing. The new president will have to decide fairly early on how he intends to play the missile defense card; particularly now that he’s picked Gates, he’ll be under enormous pressure from the Pentagon to keep (if not accelerate) BMD.

The logical culmination of all this, of course, is weaponry in space. It’s doubtful that’ll occur or reach maturity on Obama’s watch, but space-based lasers capable of hitting missiles in their booster phase would constitute the crown jewel of any missile defense architecture that’s worth the name.  But the public is skittish about weapons sailing over their heads several times a day, so for now all the focus has been on surface- and air-based hardware. The advocates of the current generation of missile defense learned their lesson well from SDI:  don’t propose everything at once, and don’t talk about space until you have to.  That’s why they’ve made far more progress than SDI ever did. The fact that the technology has come a long way doesn’t hurt either.

The attacks in Mumbai

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The Mumbai attacks demonstrate just how much damage can be done by striking high-profile civilian targets even if you don’t have heavy weapons. Last year, U.S. intel warned of potential Al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. shopping malls; even a single gunman could do some pretty nasty damage. Attacks don’t have to be imaginative or sophisticated to get results: watching that get proved in India has increased the likelihood it will happen elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the international repercussions of Mumbai are only just beginning. It seems almost certain now that the attacks emanated from inside Pakistan, and that they had some kind of government backing (even if that just means that someone in govt turned a blind eye); the problem is that “government” in Pakistan is a very amorphous term, as the country’s split into a myriad factions—which doesn’t bode well for crisis decision-making if India start rattling its nuclear saber. Pakistan is already under enormous pressure from the Americans on its Afghan border; now it’s going to be caught in the proverbial nutcracker. Already halfway to a failed state, the Islamic Republic may complete the rest of the journey all too quickly.