Writers Beware!


BoingBoing recently broke this story, which is something anyone who is interested in genre fiction needs to take interest in. A University of Florida graduate student wrote a horror story on his LiveJournal which got the interest of the university police. They have been harassing him for his fingerprints and DNA so they can try to match him to other murders. The unstoppable force that is Cory Doctorow got involved, calling and investigating, with the police quite unwilling to discuss the situation, although they chose to use Doctorow’s interest in the situation as more ammo with which to threaten the student. There is no case. There are no charges. And yet they won’t lay off this guy.

Writing is not a crime. Writing about bad things is not a crime. Being an unpublished writer, writing about bad things, is not a crime. (Notice no one going after big time authors.)

**

In other news. SciFi Wire reports that Dabel Brothers Productions will start adapting some popular SFF novels to graphic novels. If they do it half as well as Mike Carey and Glenn Fabry are depicting Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, look to see some good stuff. The first three titles up will be Orson Scott Card’s Red Prophet and Wyrms and Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake book, Guilty Pleasures.

[EDIT- these are not the first titles, these are the first of a new batch. They’ve been doing this with other titles already. Thanks for the comment, John!]

Tiptree Longlist Controversy


Sorry for the radio silence lately.

The blogosphere was on fire yesterday with the news that apparently a piece of fanfiction (“Arcana” by Emily Brunson – the work has since been removed from the web) was on the long list for this year’s Tiptree Award (1). There are, of course, strong opinions on either side. Fanfic has been looked down upon for years – it’s a copyright violation (which is true), it’s not “real writing” (not quite so true), it takes no skill (untrue) and there’s a lot of crap out there (true of any art). The other side, well, they just argue the opposite. I (2) realized that there’s a fine line – if someone hires you to write, it’s no longer fanfic. But what’s the difference between a Star Wars fanfic and a Star Wars novel? Money, licensing, permission, and perhaps skill. I write professional fanfic when I write in established RPG worlds. I’ve written World of Warcraft fanfic and Exalted fanfic, technically.

However, the sticky situation comes up when you realize if the piece had won, then the author would have received things such as chocolate, a trip to the award ceremony at WisCon, and… money. That’s right. The author would have received money, making the “homage” copyright violation (something that’s usually accepted online) into a definite illegal commercial copyright violation.

People are questioning the credibility of the judges, as fanfic isn’t even considered “published”, was the piece good enough, should it be judged on writing or just gender exploration, etc. It’s an interesting situation. I have to admit that my opinion of fanfic has changed in the past years, but I’m still firmly in the camp that it should be seen as a hobby that hones writing skill and is fun to do, not something you can publish, no matter how good it is.

[EDIT- response from Debbie Notkin, chair of the Tiptree motherboard in the comments.]

(1) James Tiptree Jr. Award celebrates scifi that explores gender issues. The 2005 winner was “Air: Or, Have Not Have” by Geoff Ryman

(2)This was written by Mur, not Steve.

EP054: Tk’tk’tk

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains scatology and crimes against pronunciation.

Referenced sites:
2006 Hugo Nominees
Shelley the Republican
CAP Alert System
Bento Fanzine
National PTA
Rescuing Recess


Tk’tk’tk

By David D. Levine

Shkthh pth kstphst, the shopkeeper said, and Walker’s hypno-implanted vocabulary provided a translation: “What a delightful object.” Chitinous fingers picked up the recorder, scrabbling against the aluminum case with a sound that Walker found deeply disturbing. “What does it do?”

It took him a moment to formulate a reply. Even with hypno, Thfshpfth was a formidably complex language. “It listens and repeats,” he said. “You talk all day, it remembers all. Earth technology. Nothing like it for light-years.” The word for “light-year” was hkshkhthskht, difficult to pronounce. He hoped he’d gotten it right.

EP053: Seventy-Five Years

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains politics and reference to moral issues. (Your kids may not get it, but it shouldn’t offend.)

Referenced sites:
2006 Hugo Nominees
Wikipedia on the Hugo Award
Hugo History at a Glance
Novel Nominees – Electronic Editions
Rock ‘N’ Roll Monster Bash 2006


Seventy-Five Years

By Michael A. Burstein

Isabel turned the handheld on and read to herself briefly. “According to this, your bill would push the date of release of the individual Census forms from seventy-two to seventy- five years.”

“It makes sense, Isabel.”

“It does?”

He pointed to her handheld. “You say you have my argument in there.”

“I do. And I find it specious.”

EP ETA: PM


Hi all,

Just a quick heads-up that due to a last minute technical issue (that I’m too annoyed at myself to describe), today’s Escape Pod will be posted sometime this afternoon.

Our official release schedule is “Sometime Thursday,” so strictly speaking this doesn’t make us late. However, I know that many of you are used to getting the files in the morning, and for those of you who’ll miss having it for these few hours, I apologize.

If all goes well it’ll be the first of our Hugo nominees, so hopefully it’ll be worth the wait. And my new job schedule should mean this is the last time I stay up this late to get things done.

Thanks for your understanding!

The Dragon Page Expands the Reach of Podcasting


Summer Brooks, Producer of The Dragon Page podcasts, reports that this Saturday they will be doing something new with Cover to Cover.

We will be recording the next “Cover to Cover” feature on Saturday, May 13th, beginning at 10:30am Pacific Time.

What makes this different is that we’ll be talking with 3 authors from Edge Publications, and you’ll be able to call in with questions and comments during and after their roundtable discussion.

Rebecca Rowe (“Forbidden Cargo”), Lynda Williams (“Courtesan Prince”, “Throne Prince”, “Righteous Anger”), and Australian author and Borealis winner K.A. Bedford (“Orbital”, “Eclipse”, “Hydrogen Steel”) will be talking about their books, all of which have something to do with genetic modification and the use of nanotechnology in humans.

Listeners will be able to hear the feed here:
http://haven.homelinux.net:12346/listen.pls

Australian listeners can catch a feed closer to home:
http://stream.froosh.net:8000/wingin_it.m3u

We are in the process of adding another server, so keep an eye out here, and in the new IRC channel #dragonpage for more news.

Both IRC channels #dragonpage and #wingin_it are available at irc.freenode.net

Leave it to Michael and Evo and the Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas to fiddle with the possibilities of the awesomeness of podcasting. If you’ve got some time Saturday, check it out.

EP Metacast #2


The second “state of the podcast” address, in which we discuss:

  • Why it’s been too long
  • Steve’s new day job
  • EP publicity and audience growth
  • Current finances
  • Future goals for 2007
  • Marketing plans & conventions
  • Why EP is not going non-profit
  • New company name: Escape Artists, Inc.
  • Different ways to raise funds in the future
  • Why we’ve turned down advertising (and what we might accept)
  • No pay-for-content models, ever
  • Please tell us what you think!

And our bonus flash story:

EPn+1
By Rob Graber.
(Read by Stephen Eley.)

Thanks for a great year, everyone! This coming year will be bigger and better. Nothing can stop us now!

(Well, okay. Giant monsters could. That’s why we got them on our side.)

Free Hugo Nominated Works


Limited to Hugo voters (members of LACon IV, this year’s WorldCon), free electronic copies of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin and Charlie Stross’s Accelerando are available! More information on how to get your copies are on Scalzi’s blog. (Stross’s Accelerando is also available to non-voters through his site.)

And for those of you (us) who are unable to make it to WorldCon, instead of gnashing your teeth and beating your breast, why not snuggle down with the free e-book of James Patrick Kelly’s nominated work, Burn? If you missed the podcast (shame on you, it was fantastic) then you can still get it for free through e-book (you can still download all the chapters through podcast, if you want to hear Jim’s voice telling the story in his compelling way.) All information on his site.

And then, of course, you have at least four of the five nominated short stories available here on Escape Pod starting this week!

Congratulations to the Nebula Winners!


Last night the Nebula Awards, presented by the SFWA, were awarded in Tempe, Ariz.

The winners were:

NOVEL
Camouflage, Joe Haldeman

NOVELLA
“Magic for Beginners”, Kelly Link

NOVELETTE
“The Faery Handbag”, Kelly Link

SHORT STORY
“I Live With You”, Carol Emshwiller

SCRIPT
Serenity, Joss Whedon

ANDRE NORTON AWARD
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie, Holly Black

Harlan Ellison was honored by becoming Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for his lifetime achievement in science fiction and fantasy. William F. Nolan was honored as Author Emeritus.

Congrats to all the winners!