Although slightly silly and inconsequential, the issue in this post points to a more important (philosophical even!) question about the human mind and its relation to speech and language: why do people speak (and write) the way they do? Are we rational agents who, as if homunculi living inside our own skulls, have an idea, and then have to rationally choose the best way to express it? Or are we more like Skinnerian rats who use the words and expressions we use because these have been socioally reinforced and happen to be more effective to achieve a goal we might not even be completely aware of? My experience doing posts about writing and language, as well as observing how people write in what are heavily Skinnerian domains (social media,) makes me think truth points towards the latter. After all, who has never noticed a new expression that everybody seems to be using all of a sudden?Continue reading “Nounfall Adverbborn, or The only type of naming convention in fantasy and nerdom”
Reading the Hugos (2020) And Now His Lordship is Laughing
For this short story, you can play a little game. Thanks to the benevolence and foresight of the people at Strange Horizons, this story is preceded by a long list of Content Warnings. You can ignore those, of course, but who could resist the temptation of clicking on that button to see what awful sins it hides. It’s like a flashing red button saying DON’T TOUCH ME.
The game is this: Try to deduce the plot of this story just from those trigger warnings. So what sort of Gomorrah-style type of story do we have here for it to include all that stuff? A surprisingly meh one. Yes, a child dies, and that sets in motion this story of racial revenge, but I don’t even remember half of the things from the list.Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020) And Now His Lordship is Laughing”
Reading the Hugos (2020) Do Not Look Back, My Lion
I wasn’t sure if this year I would bother writing these analyses of the Hugo short story finalists. Although my experience has usually been that close to 90% of them are bad, at least they are bad in an interesting way. This year they are mostly bad and boring. Besides, to be honest, I don’t care that much about writing anymore. But these reviews of mine are sort of a blog tradition, so here they are once more. I think, however, that this may be the last year I do these. It’s neither worth it nor funny.
If you have stumbled upon this without knowing what I’m talking about: The Hugo Awards is one of the most prestigious literary awards in science fiction and fantasy. Also, they nominate a lot of crap, but it’s from that fact that the hilarity ensues.Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020) Do Not Look Back, My Lion”
The three or four types of indie fantasy covers
Looking at the Amazon best sellers is always a good way to
waste spend the time, and it proves that thing about everything having to change for everything to stay the same. If you blink even for a moment, books, authors, or even entire new genres that once seemed ready to become the new hot thing are suddenly gone, yet, at the same time, the new thing looks surprisingly similar to what they replaced.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more strightforward example of creative unoriginality and lack of imagination than today’s book covers, although the same could be said concerning their titles and perhaps even their themes and style of writing. But covers are easier to analyze—and funnier.Continue reading “The three or four types of indie fantasy covers”
Book review and recommendation: Rogues of Merth
Sword & Sorcery is not as popular as once was, but the few who still write in that ancient genre are usually above average writers. Robert Zoltan (a name that would fit in a fantasy setting,) the writer of Rogues of Merth, is no exception.Continue reading “Book review and recommendation: Rogues of Merth”
How fiction starts: an analysis of 1200+ sff books
When I make my writing analysis posts, I usually pick random sentences but beginnings may be an even better choice. They are probably the most edited, if not overthought, parts of a book, and it’s also where writers show off their skill or (if they fail at it) their weaknesses. And if you want to see how writing changes through time, the first sentence may actually be all you need to read. And for those who have huge submission piles to plow through, the first two sentences is all you need to read for the first culling.
If you have followed me for some time, you already know my dislike of contemporary writing fads and techniques and my belief that you can see its decline in quality just in the formal aspect of writing. Strange syntax, (too) deep POVs, -ing participles galore, unnecessary descriptions, showing where telling would be perfectly fine and, finally, no personal style and no distinctive narrator—just piles and piles of descriptions, one after the other, like a transcription of a video recording. And, sure, it’s fine and all to talk about these things in the abstract and using a few examples from time to time, but it’s better to have some solid evidence to back you up. So here it is.
Continue reading “How fiction starts: an analysis of 1200+ sff books”
Indie self-publishing experiments, or “I’d rather eat my own gallbladder.”
I ran a little experiment a few days ago, although you can consider other of my publishing attempts in the previous years a long experiment, and I’m a strong believer in the principle of publishing negative results, not just your successes.
I knew the results wouldn’t be great, and as I began reading up on the subject my gnawing feeling got worse, but really, never for I moment I thought it would be that bad.
Continue reading “Indie self-publishing experiments, or “I’d rather eat my own gallbladder.””
The Butcher of Greystone – A Short Story now available.
My short story is live on Amazon for the awesome price of $1 (or something quite close to that,) a price so low you’d think I’ve suffered brain damage!
It’s a horror story, but following the epistolary genre of Gothic novels, mixing a bit of dark fantasy and weirdness in there. Most of the text is a single “letter” (a confession actually) written by Martin Goddard, a man dubbed by the populace as The Butcher of Greystone for his mass-killing of everybody in said castle. He’s on death row, in the final hours before his execution, and he writes this confession/short autobiography to set the record straight and explain his side of the story. However, there’s maybe more at play than even he knows. Click on the link and read the sample available to see if you like it.
My goal is to see if it’s viable to self-publish short stories. It may not be very profitable, and the royalties for that price range are awful, but let’s see where the whole thing leads. I have more short stories ready, so I’ll probably upload more in the coming weeks.
If you are curious about the awesome cover art, it’s from an old XIX century Spanish book, and the picture was uploaded under a Creative Commons license. I simply turned up the contrast and made a few changes to make it darker and more brooding.
As always, comments, reviews, and the like are appreciated. And if someone wants a copy review, ask away.
Game of Scoliosis*, manly posture, suits, and other stuff.
*Kyphosis, actually, but that doesn’t sound that funny.
I saw this image yesterday, and I chuckled immediately. It was a reflexive laughter, and it took me awhile to understand what exactly had triggered my reaction.
As I said, I laughed when I saw this, even before I had consciously processed what I had seen. A few minutes of heavy thunkin’ later, I realized what was wrong: they look ridiculous while trying to look cool, which is the worst kind of ridiculousness that exists.
Continue reading “Game of Scoliosis*, manly posture, suits, and other stuff.”
Reading the Hugos (2018) Carnival Nine
I regret to inform you, dear reader, that after reading the first Short Story nominee for this year’s Hugo Awards, I have come to the conclusion that Carnival Nine, for that is its name, is Not Awful. That may seem an uninformative score, but… not really, at least for me, as it is quite significant since what I usually expect is Awful.