I don’t care if it’s Tuesday! Linear time bends to my whim, and we have a NeuroThursday on the ubiquitous “motion aftereffect” illusion, and the cellular properties that cause it!
This weekend is the Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis, and I’m delighted to be a panelist there once again!
You can find the full schedule here, but I’ll be on the following panel:
Saturday, June 23, 8:00 PM: Who Put This $#@!! Balrog Lair in the Middle of a Sewer Line? (Alternate Title: Life in the Temporary Topmost Layer)
Elizabeth Bear, Benjamin C. Kinney, Arkady Martine(M), Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Vivian Shaw
The Balrog, of course, would say “Who tried to drive a &^%#!! sewer line through the middle of my lair?” First principle: We’re not all that excellent at shunning risk even when we manage to identify it. Some of our cities are literally sinking, while others are precariously perched next to volcanoes, and yet we keep buying new furniture anyway, c’est la vie.
Second principle: We’re all living on top of stacked and flattened layers of history. Our nations spread over the bones and borders of the nations they replaced by fair means or foul. Our neighborhoods are named for trades or functions that vanished decades ago, our streets were built for the vehicles of ages past, and they were built atop still older streets and neighborhoods.
Combine these two principles and you begin to construct a fascinating, disquieting picture of how our lives are shaped by the compacted strata of legacy infrastructure, detritus, and danger beneath our very feet. All the layers of history in a place act upon the living. How and when has this been accurately reflected in fantasy fiction? How do you present the secrets and dangers of a fantasy landscape as a vivid influence on its inhabitants rather than a meaningless detail on a map or list? Also, how do we grapple with the notion that we must some day become just another thin line in someone else’s deeply-layered history?
NeuroThursday reappeared this week in a flash of numbers and sound, to tell us about synesthesia! The condition, and its implications for how we think about human evolution.
Thread Reader page:
Earlier this year, I wrote about my Fairy Gentrification Story: how it sold to PerVisions right before the magazine folded. But joy be upon us, “The Gentry” has now sold to Kaleidotrope!
The diner with the portal between worlds closed down years ago, but our last stranded fairy chevalier will make it home in 2020.
This makes 5.5 short story acceptance letters in 2018 (the half is WotF), but the first one that has led to a contract.
NeuroThursday this week is on auditory illusions, as inspired by Yanni/Laurel!
NeuroThursday took some unexpected (to me) twists and turns this week, as a piece about that silly “two spaces are better!” article turned into an object lesson on the challenges of scientific analysis!
NeuroThursday is stumbling on through with a second piece on balance: this time, the “proprioceptive” senses your body uses to keep track of its own position.
Earlier this week, I received a phone call informing me that my final submission to the Writers of the Future contest (first quarter 2018) had been selected as a finalist. However, after contemplating the information that past winners have shared about the contest in recent weeks, I have withdrawn my finalist story from consideration.
I would not judge anyone for their past (or future) decisions to be involved in the contest, whether or not they act(ed) out of ignorance. After all, many writers – myself included – have long treated this contest as a normal fixture of our community. I hope my choice will help encourage others to reexamine that assumption.
For myself, no award is worth supporting an organization that has hurt and misused so many friends, fellow authors, illustrators, and human beings.
[Updated August 12 with more links in the footnote.]
This past weekend I attended the 2018 Social & Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology conference, an academic gathering for the discussion of social, ethical, and theoretical ramifications of humankind’s interactions with space.
Only about a hundred people could attend, but I’ve gathered my livetweet notes here so you can read up on all these amazing topics! I covered ~40% of the conference, so you should be able to find more notes across the internet via the #SoCIA18 hashtag.
All notes are in Thread Reader form. To read/comment in the original twitter, just click through. For a quick tour, * indicates my personal favorites.
- A few SoCIA members slipped away from the conference to go on NPR’s Science Friday and talk about communication with extraterrestrials
- “Logic, Ethics, and History: The Mistake is Thinking It’s a Mistake,” by Daniel Wueste
- “On aliens and robots: moral status, epistemological and (meta-)ethical considerations,” by Keith Abney
- “Things you didn’t see because you were looking: Blind aliens, science and inter- species miscommunication,” by Sheri Wells-Jensen*
- “Body Snatchers: What whole body hijacking reveals about our definitions of life,” by Lucas Mix
- “Life & Life Only: a radical solution to life determinism,” by Carlos Mariscal*
- “SETI & Christianity” by Greg Anderson, read by Kelly Smith
- “The Spiritual Quest in SETI Research,” by José Funes
- “Are We Ready for Space Colonization?” by Lori Marino
- “Ethics for Planetary-Scale Interventions on Earth and Beyond,” by Brian Green*
- “A Path to the Stars vs The Space Frontier: National Space Mythology in Soviet and American Newspapers,” by Christina K. Roberts
- “What Lives? Life, Consciousness, and the Eco-Systemic Multiversity,” by Kala Perkins
- “METI or REGRETTI: Scientific Paternalism, Informed Consent, and Alien Contact,” by Kelly Smith*
- “What Do We Owe The Galaxy? Ethical Considerations of Practical Astrobiological Research,” keynote by Elizabeth Bear*
- “A Selfish Case for a Non-Interference Principle,” by me. I couldn’t livetweet my own talk, but here’s the summary: “Alien cultures are valuable in to us in part because of their difference. As a result, we should try to avoid erasing inter-cultural differences. And if we don’t find aliens, we may want to create them.”
- “The Importance of Answering the Major Questions of Astrobiology,” by Jim Schwartz
- “The Time of Life,” by Jason Howard
- “Modeling Life on Mars,” by Erica Dietlein
- “Thinking like a Red: A Consideration of the Ethics of Terraforming in light of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars,” by Roberta Millstein
- “The Value of Astrobiology with or without Specimens,” by Gonzalo Munevar
- “Being Here: The Significance of Human Place in the Light of Astrobiology,” by Sarah Reynolds
- “Cops on Mars: Policing & Weaponization of Space – In the Imagination & Beyond,” by Lucianne Walkowicz
- “Neo-Liberal Space Ethics,” with Linda Billings
- Roundtable discussion on space settlement*
- “Is there a sensible way to say Life is alive?” keynote by Ford Doolittle of Dalhousie University
As of today, I’ve made a small change to how we at Escape Pod choose our rejection letters.
In short, rejection letter type now reflects where the story got in our editorial pipeline. The criteria for Tiers 1&2 have been updated, so that now:
- Tier 1: Rejected by Associate Editor (first reader)
- Tier 2: Rejected by Assistant Editor (me)
- Tier 3: Rejected during Assistant Editor Second Pass
- Tier 4: Rejected by Co-Editors
Note that, as a result, we will be sending more Tier 1’s than in the past. We have tweaked its text accordingly.
Now more than ever, tier is not an estimate of story quality. “Who detected that the story wouldn’t be a fit for Escape Pod” is not highly correlated with the (subjective) question of “how close the story came to fitting.”
If you miss having some subjective opinion in your rejection letter, fear not! We continue to provide personalized rejections whenever possible for original story submissions.
If you want to learn more, including how to identify which tier you received, check out my full Submissions and Rejetomany post.