Rocket Science: anthology open to submissions

Paul Raven @ 01-08-2011

Heads up, writers – I bring news from ian Sales. The Rocket Science anthology reading period is now open, so get yer subs in! Take it away, Ian:

Rocket Science, the anthology of authentic and realistic hard science fiction, opens its doors today to submissions. I’m looking for stories which realistically depict space travel and its hazards. But not exclusively: stories covering other areas of science and technology are welcome. Just as long as they are authentic and realistic.

Both fiction and non-fiction are wanted – between 1,000 and 6,000 words. Payment is GBP 10.00 per 1,000 words. See the guidelines page at Mutation Press and the antho’s own news blog for further information.

Well, you heard the man – get to it! I’ve got a couple of pieces in mind of my own, but – as usual – they have yet to be written. Better get a move on, hadn’t I?


#50cyborgs postmortem

Paul Raven @ 13-10-2010

I hope you’ll indulge me as I link to this postmortem interview with Tim Maly about his #50cyborgs project; yes, both Maly and interviewer Matthew Battles say nice things about my own contribution to it, but it’s also an interesting discussion for anyone curious about the future of “positioning for niche intelligentsia eyeballs in the modern post-blogosphere”, as Bruce Sterling puts it… or, to put it another way, content creation targeting select narrow verticals of the geek market.

MB: A striking aspect of the reaction to 50 Cyborgs was its seriousness. I mean, often when mainstream media outlets cover Internet culture, they talk about how wacky or geeky it is. And yet here was a project wholly of the Internet, which could be treated in venues like the Atlantic or on Nora Young’s CBC show as a serious project full-stop.

TM: It’s interesting that you find this striking. It never occurred to me that it was anything other than a good idea that they should cover it. The Atlantic comes out of me knowing Alexis through Twitter. When I first started talking about the 50th anniversary, he was at Wired and we’d talked about how it might be structured. When he moved over to The Atlantic, the idea moved with him.

As for CBC, I just sent them an email. Spark has always been very open to and about taking the Internet seriously. Right there on the homepage, it says, “Spark is a blog, radio show, podcast and an ongoing conversation about technology and culture. Spark is an online collaboration. Leave your thoughts, stories, and ideas here, and together we’ll make a radio show.” How could I not get in touch?

There is a power in boldness, it seems… though connections sure are helpful, too. But #50cyborgs spread as wide as it did in a fairly organic way:

MB: Beyond the handcrafted mediasphere of rss and podcast, though, an Internet culture project that isn’t about privacy, piracy, or kittens can be hard to find on the mainstream radar screen. How did you court the attention of the wider media?

TM: I didn’t. I reached out to sites that I thought would be interested in the project. The thing about mainstream media is that a lot of it moves too slowly. The gap between me being some weirdo with a Tumblr account and a good idea and the successful completion of the project is shorter than the lead time of most magazines.

I thought about approaching the New York Times about it as they are the first mention of the word (cyborg), as far as I can tell. I ended up not finding the time. The coverage in the Guardian came off of the author, Caspar Llewellyn Smith, hearing the Spark podcast.

I was more interested in hitting the big aggregators. I didn’t have as much success there as I’d hoped, though hitting Slashdot, Reddit and io9 felt pretty good. io9 was especially thrilling because I was in the midst of trying to work out how best to pitch to them and Annalee contacted me asking if there was room for one more contributor. And then she pitched “cyborgs in love”, which was on my unclaimed coverage wishlist. I hadn’t yet sent anything in and here’s the editor in chief getting in touch with me!

Lots of food for thought in there… and, for me, memories of a proud moment and a fun project. 🙂


More awesome free fiction to read elsewhere

Paul Raven @ 02-09-2010

Have you read Lavie Tidhar’s “In Pacmandu” yet? Well, why the hell not? It was published yesterday, and it is short, sharp and awesome, not to mention packed with computer game culture references – geek crack, in other words. So go smoke a rock, right now.

If you have read Lavie’s story, then perhaps you’re hungry for more brainfood… and the fictional pickings are particularly rich right now. Not only is the latest issue of Clarkesworld waiting for your attention (complete with gorgeous cover art), but everyone’s favourite mad professor Rudy Rucker has just released another issue of peripatetic weird sci-fi zine Flurb, which includes such luminaries as Madeline Ashby, Annalee “io9” Newitz, Chairman Bruce Sterling, ubercharming eccentric Ian Watson, John Shirley and (naturellement!) Rucker himself. There’s now ten issues of Flurb, all archived up and freely available to read, so tuck in. That should keep you busy for a week or two.

Now, if you like a little non-fiction on the side (and who doesn’t, right?) then you should check out Salon Futura, Cheryl Morgan’s new webzine devoted to the discussion and dissection of speculative fiction in all its guises. We can expect some excellent critical work to emerge there in months to come, but right now you can watch video interviews with the charming China Mieville and the lovely Lauren Beukes (two very Zeitgeisty novelists, and well worth your time).

(Like Futurismic, Salon Futura and Clarkesworld are free to read, but they pay their contributors… so if you enjoy what you find there, please consider dropping ’em a donation.)

And finally, a non-free fiction offering: the Neal Stephenson-piloted Mongoliad project (which we mentioned a while back) is now up and running, waiting for you to subscribe… and even caped copyleft crusader Cory Doctorow reckons it’s an impressive offer for the price:

It’s an epic fantasy novel about the Mongol conquest, told in installment form, with lots of supplementary material (video, stills, short fiction, etc), and a strong audience participation component in the form of a Wikipedia-style concordance, fanfic, etc. You can read the free samples without registration, but you need an account to edit the “Pedia.”

For $5.99 you get a six-month subscription to the main body of fiction; $9.99 gets you a year (you retain access to the fiction after your subscription expires, but don’t get any new material until you renew, which is a major plus in my view — much fairer than most online “subscriptions” that lock you out once you let your sub lapse).

The first (paid) chapter went up yesterday, and I’ve just read it. The word here is epic, a swashbuckling swordplay novel with the sweep, charm and verve of the major Stephenson epics, such as System of the World. A very strong start and well worth the price of admission. This is a great experiment in new fiction business-models that welcome audience participation and work in a way that is native to the net.

I doubt I’ll be the only person (webzine editor or otherwise) who’ll be watching closely to see how that business model pans out.

So get yourself along and do some reading! But do pop back here for more near-future archaeology and speculative ruminations of the random kind, won’t you? 🙂