“I’m gonna visit Dad.” Matt is curled in the passenger seat of their antique minivan, scowling as offworlders tromp and slither past their front bumper. Shooting a glance at Ruthie through long, pretty eyelashes, he flips down the visor to check the mirror.
“Dad’s dead, Matt. He can’t see your haircut.”
This July Lightspeed Magazine ran my latest squid story, a novelette “The Sweet Spot.” I was a little preoccupied at the time, so though I mentioned it quite a few times, here and on Twitter and elsewhere, I never got around to writing the introduction I promised for it.
This story is set earlier in the Proxy War than any of the other published squid stories. In “The Town on Blighted Sea,” for example, Ruthless Gerrickle is in her late fifties. Here, she’s just a teenager and just Ruth. She likes to think she’s tough as nails, but really she’s an orphan in a war zone, and is more vulnerable than she’d like to admit.
In writing these stories, I often started out with U.S. geography. (Actually, I’ve just realized the topic of geography and my writing is a whole post in itself, and I’ll try not to keep you waiting for it for long.) “Five Good Things about Meghan Sheedy” is about the Siege of Seattle and “Time of the Snake” is set during an occupation of Los Angeles. I have a half-written squid story set in Las Vegas and one out to the markets now that’s about the Fiend push into Texas from Mexico.
The idea, you see, is that in this global civil war there’s one side, called the Fiends, who have a good hold on all of the world except the Americas. Now they’re working their way upward from South to North: the U.S. is the last real holdout against them. So it’s just a march up the map: Seattle, naturally, happens later than Texas. In “The Sweet Spot,” the Fiends haven’t even begun their land invasion of the U.S. yet; they’re just reaching out to pick off Hawaii. And it’s Ruth’s bad luck to be there, along with her little brother.
Today my story “The Sweet Spot” is live at Lightspeed Magazine. I hope you enjoy it, and the rest of the issue, too.
I am also the featured My Favorite Bit author at Mary Robinette Kowal‘s blog today. What does that mean? Basically, it means I talk a little about my love for the much-beleaguered Juanita Corazon of Blue Magic.
The Buffy rewatch this week covers “Bad Girls” and “Consequences.” It’s called: Want. Take. Have. Pay. Pay. Pay.
New Fiction! My story “The Sweet Spot,” is available now in the e-book version of Lightspeed magazine, and can be downloaded along with the rest of the issue, here. The story’s release date on the site is July 17th, and I’ll definitely be doing one of my short story intros about it between now and then.
For now I’ll tell you that the story is about the childhood of Ruthless Gerrickle, from “The Town on Blighted Sea,” and, in case you’re following this universe of mine at all, it’s about the beginning of the Battle of Oahu.
This week’s Buffy rewatch on Tor.com covers the S3 episode “Helpless.”
I am happy to announce that my story “The Sweet Spot” will appear online at Lightspeed Magazine in the not too distant. This is the fourth of my Proxy War series (the squid stories, in other words) to see print, and the second featuring the character of Ruthless from “The Town on Blighted Sea.”
In the meantime, if you’d rather talk Buffyverse, Love is a Path Marked by Bloody Footprints is up at Tordotcom.
And Mrissa’s short review of Blue Magic on LJ points out, quite rightly, that it’s a better read if you’ve read Indigo Springs. My favorite bit:
I was pleased with the fact that the characters in this modern fantasy acted like modern people: they read detective novels and tried to figure out the atomic weight of magical substance and generally were not interchangeable with the 13th century.
A few years ago I decided to try out dictation software for composing things like e-mails.
I had a couple of goals: one was simply to reduce the amount of time spent typing draft, especially for small stuff, the quick messages that keep my life organized. I type a lot, and fast: the wear and tear on my hands is considerable.
Another was to see what kind of stories I would get out of it. I find that my longhand scribbles have a a slightly different writing style, you see, than the fiction I compose directly on the keyboard. I’d played with a dictaphone for awhile, and that yielded some interesting results, notably “The Town on Blighted Sea.” The idea of accessing different parts of my writerbrain through different mechanical processes is alluring and cool.
But, you see, I’m not so keen on transcription.
I didn’t end up liking the software that much. I tried two versions, both of them Sir Clunky Crashalots. The hardware wasn’t much better: I splashed out on a good headset and mic combo and it wasn’t comfortable. And even after I had learned a fair amount, the process of correcting typos was mind-blowingly awkward.
What I wanted, of course, was the Star Trek thing where you talk to the computer and it renders perfectly transcribed, beautifully punctuated prose, preferably of Pulitzer quality. Which was too much to hope for, and I knew it, but I wasn’t ready for how it would substitute wild things for the numerous made-up words that tend to pop up in my fantasy and SF. It also didn’t much care for the fact that every twentieth word out my mouth is fuck.
Perhaps Captains Archer, Kirk and Picard would have encountered the same problem if they shared my fondness for profanity. Maybe there’s a cut scene in Enterprise where Scott Bakula’s going, “I fucking said T’Pol!” and the screen reads “Paul. The Paul. I boxing said the poll. Dude, what do you want from me?”
I am now having a second go at occasionally dictating things, for no better reason than that the Dragon app on the iPod is free, free, free! I had low expectations: I couldn’t figure out how the thing would work, given that the original Dragon was such a enormous memory vampire. What I’ve discovered is that the bulk of the processing happens online. You just dictate little passages and it uploads them to the Internet. Huge dragon servers transcribe them while you sip tea and contemplate your next Grate Thought, then shoot back the results.
This version of Dragon can’t be taught weird ecofantasy words like vitagua (I eventually convinced its predecessor to do this, for the sake of Indigo Springs) and OMG, it’s so cute, it puts a * in the middle of f*cking. What it does do, and what I really enjoy, is it lets me indulge in the verbal equivalent of a freewrite, babbling on in short sentences whenever I have privacy and a Wi-Fi connection
Of course, one has to ask: given that there isn’t word-perfect transcription, is it worth the hassle of correcting the text once you’ve e-mailed it to your hard drive? Sometimes it’s pretty garbled. Here’s a phrase from this particular passage of dictation:
is it worth the Thompson house of correction once you have the text a random Ms. Gilbert Fray
Answer: Maybe. I’m still data-gathering. This might just be another flirtation with a technology I don’t end up using. You gotta kiss a lot of toads, and all that.
Datapoint: when I took a look today at some gibberish I’d recorded for an upcoming guest blog entry, I noticed that it wasn’t that hard to correct the sentences: I remembered whatever it was I had said.
Datapoint: There was also a pretty decent idea wrapped up in all of the out of order paragraphs and peculiar word substitutions. Once I had done little organizing and fixed the most egregious typos, I had the very beginning of what looked like a seriously cool draft.
Will it work for fiction? I don’t know. I do most of my fiction writing well away from anything resembling a Wi-Fi hot spot; I make rather a point of it. And things are going pretty well right now on that front, anyway. I also suspect I’d have to evolve some kind of verbal shorthand to increase comprehension: all my main characters might need to be John Smith or Joan Addams just so I had some faint chance of knowing who the hell was talking at any given time. But I’ve I’ve written a couple good blog posts, and some letters to my grandmother. We’ll see where it goes from there.
Watch the birdie!