Today, NeuroThursday picked up on an offhand remark from last week, and dove from there into an explanation of human vision – especially color vision and peripheral vision.
If you’ve been enjoying all my work to bring neuroscience to the SFF author and fan community, consider: all this stuff makes me eligible for the Best Fan Writer Hugo award!
Here’s all of my public-audience neuroscience writing1 published in 2017:
1. The Evolved Brain in Clarkesworld
2. Tools and Problems of Human Neuroscience at the File 770 blog
3. Right Hand, Human Brain: The Mysteries of Handedness at Baen.com
4-34. Thirty-one neuroscience essays via my #NeuroThursday Twitter feature.2 A few highlights:
- Left vs. Right Brained
- Maps in the Brain
- Fluidity of Memory
- Harry Potter and the Principles of Neural Science (aka Novelty in the Brain)
- Harry Potter and the Theory of Neural Science (aka Philosophy of Neuroscience)
[Edit: #1 and #3 appeared in professional magazines, and therefore technically do not create eligibility for Best Fan Writer. So, focus on NeuroThursday – but you can still be aware of my whole body of work!]
I hope these pieces have contributed to your knowledge, entertainment, and awesomeness! If it has, consider nominating me for Best Fan Writer. But make sure you also nominate more deserving people like Alasdair Stewart and Sarah Gailey.
On the fiction side I’m in my second year of eligibility for the John. W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, with 7 original short stories and a lot of editorial work in 2016-2017. Check out the summary here!
I hit a writer milestone yesterday, though a sad one it is. You see, about a month ago, I had another short story accepted at a professional SFF magazine! I was just waiting on the contract to make it official, and then tell you all about my delightful Fairy Gentrification story. The eldritch diner with the portal between worlds was torn down for condos years ago – but there’s one last fairy chevalier stranded in this world, seeking out the owners’ son.
But, alas, it is not to be. Because the magazine has died, with my story in its casket.
It’s a unique frustration, especially since this story has tried so far and long to find a home. On what may be its last shot at professional publication, it succeeded – only to get rug, floor, and foundations pulled out from under it. From failure, to victory, to failure again after so long. Rejection never feels good, which makes this a brand new kind of unpleasantness because it wasn’t a rejection. And yet: no story.
At least with a rejection, I know some part of the failure was mine. I can take responsibility, determine causality, try to learn from it and do better next time. But there’s not much I can do to prevent a magazine from folding under me.
Alas. I’ll sell other stories, though maybe never this one. Perhaps the right anthology will open up someday. Until then, the portal shall remain buried beneath the condominiums of the Lower East Side.
NeuroThursday has been scarce lately, but I haven’t lost the rhythm: this week we look at what happens when you “choke,” and how you can fail so badly at precisely the thing you normally do best!
February is upon us, and with it, the publication of my short story Where the Anchor Lies at Beneath Ceaseless Skies! The long anticipated Sentient Battleship Graveyard Propagandist Love Story.
This is a piece of science fantasy, right on the strange and fuzzy borderline between genres. It’s a secondary world, and all of the mechanisms are fantastic/magical, but their implementation and culture feels quite modern. It’s definitely a “sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology” situation.
A few more thoughts and discussion below. No major spoilers, but let’s be careful anyways, yes?
As part of Storify’s shutdown, I now want to use my website to archive important Twitter threads. So here are some awesome threads from the first Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (SoCIA) conference. These are incomplete, and sometimes abbreviated, but there’s still a lot of fascinating science, philosophy, and theory in here!
If you think these topics look awesome, keep an eye out for SoCIA 2018 this coming April!
“Is talking to aliens like talking to your cats?”, Sara Waller
“Cosmic complexity,” Kelly Smith
“Impossible Friendships: human-alien relationships,” Jonathan Trerise
“The role of worldview in predicting societal impact of discovering ET life,” Connie Bertka
“Anthropocentrism, exoplanets, and the cosmic perspective,” Neil Manson
“The life bias in planetary protection,” Jim Schwartz
Keynote: “Homo Astronauticus: cultural implications of space colonization,” Sheyna Gifford
“Astrobiology research & policy dilemmas in public decision making,” Margaret Race
“Astrobiology education via interactive alien construction,” Randall Hayes
“Astrobiology, ET, and ETI: science & speculation,” Linda Billings
“Replicator Theory: testing evolutionary theories of life,” Lucas Mix
“Toward a Family Resemblance definition of life,” Erik Persson
“Extending the Idea of Wilderness Beyond Earth,” Alan Johnson.
“Human life and ethics in outer space,” Koji Tachibana
“Astrobiology and the precautionary principle,” Mark Lupisella
“Convergences in the ethics of space exploration,” Brian Green
“Ethical obligations between us and extraterrestrial life,” Adam Potthast
So, technically the Sentient Battleship Graveyard Romance Propaganda story comes out next month… but if you want early access, you can read it right now by ordering the Beneath Ceaseless Skies Science-Fantasy Double Issue! You get a weird and hopefully-wonderful story from me, full of propagandist-generals and the grandeur of the past – and stories by the inestimable Yoon Ha Lee and Maurice Broadus, all for $1.99!
If your cashflow is weak, be not afraid – stay tuned here for announcements & story notes in mid-February when the online free version comes out!
Here’s my panel schedule at ConFusion in Novi Michigan, the weekend of January 28-21!
Saturday 11am, Isle Royale
Reading: Benjamin C. Kinney, Angus Watson, Marie Bilodeau
Come hear me read an excerpt from one of my short stories coming out in 2018! I haven’t yet decided which – could be “Spies and Border-Magic,” maybe “Dead Battleship Romance Politics,” or else perhaps “Fairies Gentrify Manhattan.”
Saturday 1pm, Saugatuck
SF and Philosophy: Exploring the Connections
Benjamin C. Kinney, Andrea J, Dyrk Ashton, Ken Schrader, Nathan Rockwood
SF has been called the literature of ideas, and the ideas explored in SF have become increasingly philosophical throughout the history of the genre. What are the most illuminating thought experiments in recent and classic SF? Which philosophical questions do they raise? And how are philosophers in today’s universities employing SF in their teaching and research?
Saturday 5pm, St. Clair
Autograph Session (5pm)
I don’t have any books to autograph, but I will have something to sign, if anyone wants to stop by and say hello! I won’t be too busy, so this could be a great place to find me and chat, about Escape Pod or anything else. Consider this my “office hours” – you’ll know where to find me for sure!
Sunday 2pm, Charlevoix
A Novel Look at the Short Story
Lucy A. Snyder, Jessi Cole Jackson, A. T. Greenblatt, Benjamin C. Kinney, Scott H. Andrews, Amal El-Mohtar
Short stories require a different approach to pacing , character , world-building , exposition , and plot than longer works. Let’s explore the tools we use to convey important information to the reader when we have a lot fewer words to do it with.
Unfortunately, I will probably miss this panel due to travel timing. But you should go anyways, it’s a great topic and an amazing set of panelist!
Just letting you all know that NeuroThursday will be on break until at least January 25 due to work deadlines and travel. In the meantime, you can always find the archives here!
A special solstice edition of NeuroThursday this week: the eye’s special mechanism to detect the slow light changes of day and night, winter and spring.
Since Storify is closing, I’m going to have to find new ways to present Twitter threads here. For now, here’s the thread start!