Classic Science Fiction Podcast – April 2021 – James Blish’s “Mission to the Heart Stars”

As I wrote in last month’s Classic Science Fiction Podcast – March 2021 – Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team”, I’m honored and thrilled to be part of an ongoing tribute to classic, Golden Age science fiction.

Mission to the Heart Stars is a favorite of mine for reasons detailed in My Sister Got Me Started.

James Blish
From Wikipedia: James Benjamin Blish (May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is best known for his Cities in Flight novels, and his series of Star Trek novelizations written with his wife, J. A. Lawrence. He is credited with creating the term “gas giant” to refer to large planetary bodies.

You can download a zipped file containing both PDF and TXT versions from my site (not sure where I found them. Please let me know if I’m violating any laws and I’ll remove it).

Enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think.

 

Classic Science Fiction Podcast – March 2021 – Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team”

I’m honored and thrilled to be part of an ongoing tribute to classic, Golden Age science fiction. Yifeng You advertised for interested folks and I regularly read Golden Age stories to learn storycrafting, so it seemed like a good match. Next we asked Robin Baskerville, a fellow scifi enthusiast and well-known editor, if she’d like to take part.

The rest is future history (this is scifi, after all).

Murray Leinster
From Wikipedia: Murray Leinster (June 16, 1896 – June 8, 1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an American writer of science fiction. He wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.

You can read Wikipedia’s overview of Exploration Team here. My suggestion is you read the actual story. It’s amazing. You can download a PDF copy from my site (not sure where I found it. Please let me know if I’m violating any laws and I’ll remove it).

Enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think.

 

Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Feb 2021’s Great Opening Lines)

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

It’s been almost a year since I posted some great opening lines. I’ve read some fine books during Covid, none of them with remarkable opening lines, though.

This month, I read three. One’s a reread of a book originally read as a child and recently reread, one’s a book that’s been on my shelf for too many years unread, the third is from a SouthernLit author new to me.
Continue reading “Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Feb 2021’s Great Opening Lines)”

Kit Reed’s “Revision”

I first read Kit Reed’s Revision (probably) four years ago. It was one of the first books I read when I decided to spend the rest of my life writing. I dogeared two pages.

I finished my second read about a week ago (as I write this). The book is a mess of dogeared pages.

It’s amazing how much more Kit Reed put into this book in four years, don’t you think?

Extra Effort Closes the Distance between You and Your Audience.

 
The entirety of the book comes down to Reed’s Rule Six: Extra Effort Closes the Distance between You and Your Audience.

Whenever you come to a moment of hesitation, unsurety, confusion, skimming, general off-ness, stop, figure out what’s not working, and fix it.

 
And Reed also provides a caution; Recognize when it’s done and let it go. There’s lots of examples of recognizing when something’s let-goable and when something isn’t. The one that hit me smack between the eyes is “Whenever you come to a moment of hesitation, unsurety, confusion, skimming, general off-ness, stop, figure out what’s not working, and fix it.”

I am training myself to do that. Too many times I’d read something and need to reread it, figure it out on the second take and decide it was okay.

NO, IT WASN’T!

Reed also offers several question lists to help you in your own revising. Early in the book Reed poses twelve questions so you can learn if you’re open to revision. Don’t know about others, I found it revealing (especially when invoking Reed’s suggestion to be strict (unforgiving) with your answers).

Another duh! list early in the book (pg 39) deals with determining if your work (and others, too, if you’re in a critique group) is ready to go out. Reed suggests writers/authors/writer-wannabes read for:

  1. Truth in action
  2. Accessibility
  3. Completeness
  4. Time scheme
  5. Point of view
  6. Length (with an eye to possible cutting)
  7. Organization
  8. And, once again, balance of showing versus telling. (Reed’s words, this, not mine)

Unsure what some of those mean? Read the book.


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I Can Crack My Knuckles Therefore I Must Be a Chiropractor! (Musings on Expertise)

[[This post originally appeared on my Stating the Obvious blog back in 2011. I’m resurrecting it because I’m currently taking a series of classes from people who are…interesting. Why interesting? Well, as an example, if you can’t remember the terms for what you’re teaching, perhaps you shouldn’t be teaching it. Or how about, if every student’s answer is correct – even when they contradict each other – perhaps the first part of the class should be “We’re going to be sharing opinions. There’s no right or wrong.” Or how about…

And this has more to do with me and my expectations than those teaching.

And I have definitely learned from them.

And here, for your enjoyment,

I Can Crack My Knuckles Therefore I Must Be a Chiropractor! (Musings on Expertise) Enjoy!

This post is about lowering the bar. In a world where everyone is a guru, maven, jedi, rock star, queen, genius, leader and last but not least, expert, how do we recognize real ability from self-defined hype and bling? There have been two LinkedIn discussions that I know of, one in social media, the other in analytics, one from Apr 2011, the other from earlier in 2011 and both themed “What is expertise?” I wrote The Unfulfilled Promise of Online Analytics series (I’ll resurrect those, too, if you’d like) a while ago and one of its subthemes is “What is expertise?”

The level of “expertise” required to hang out a shingle has gone beyond touching the ground, it’s gone subterranean in many disciplines. And it’s pointless to create governance groups that offer accreditation because once such groups gain popularity they are usurped by vendors and HIPPOs to serve purposes different than governance and accreditation.

Let me offer some suggestions for marketers and consumers of expertise. Note: especially those marketing their teaching/editing/proofing skills.

Truth in Self-Marketing Rule #1: Never Believe Your Own Hype
Continue reading “I Can Crack My Knuckles Therefore I Must Be a Chiropractor! (Musings on Expertise)”