I wake up at 5:30 when my alarm goes off. I allow myself to just lie there a few minutes.
When I next wake up, it's 6:50, which means I'll be late for work.
But when I go into the living room, I see a clock that shows it's 4:40, which means I woke up early and only imagined it was time to get up (which has happened before). Different clocks show either the 6:50 or 4:40 time.
I realize the two clocks that show 4:40 are both quartz -- I actually see the motion of the second hand on one of them as it ticks off each second. Since these would be the more accurate clocks, I go back to bed.
Then I wake up. That whole bit of looking at different clocks had been a dream when I dozed off for a few minutes after waking up at 5:30. The dream is over. Or is it?
When I was much younger, a novella by the name of Transit appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and it blew my mind. To go faster than light, a spaceship has to enter transit, and normal humans cannot survive that. Pilots need to have their hearts removed to prevent them from feeling any sense of time, then they can live and control the ship. The rest of the crew stays in a drugged sleep. But along comes a fellow named Radu who has this uncanny ability to know what time it is, no matter what planet he’s on, no matter when he wakes up. What would happen if he stayed awake during transit? If he survived, how would the pilots react to this possible threat to their livelihood?
Radu has no intention of having such radical effects on space travel. It’s just that during his enforced sleep in transit, he dreams that a pilot friend of his is in trouble. Such tragic dreams of his have come true before, with his friends dying in real life. His only ally is Orca, a woman genetically modified to be a swimmer—far stronger than a normal human, she can actually swim in Earth’s oceans unaided. But will the pilots listen to his concern for his pilot friend?
The novella Transit is now chapters 4 - 10 of the novel Superluminal. The first three chapters were originally a novella named Aztecs that had also been previously published. A few chapters have been added to the end to round out the novel. Either read the whole novel, or read only the middle chapters, but you can order it from Vonda M. McIntyre’s website, either as a hardback or an e-book.
I strongly recommend Nene Thomas’ fantasy calendar. She renders lovely fairy images with great depth and color.
Below is the back of my current (2011) calendar.
She has limited quantities of her 2012 calendar, so you might want to go to her site and order one, the way I did yesterday. Current price is $20.00. They ship by UPS, which might make it seem pricey, but it’s something truly different from what you can pick up at a mall.
Those of you who follow this blog know that I have been defending paperback books. To recap, a major publisher said e-books would replace mass-market paperbacks in five years, a major editor said it would be three to four years, and a major agent said it would happen “eventually.” (I liked that last answer much better.)
Last Saturday, I had to admit to one of my proofreaders that things are looking bad. The figures are in from the latest (September) issue of Locus -- the major trade journal for science fiction and fantasy publishing. As of June for all genres, year-to-date (YTD) sales for adult hardcovers were up, which is good during a recession. YTD trade paperback were up. YTD mass-market paperbacks were down 7.3%. E-books were up 207.4%.
I made some notes on things to correct as I reread my vampire parody. Here’s a glimpse. Most involve just adding a sentence here or modifying a paragraph there. I’ve hidden the last one, to prevent it becoming a spoiler.
Today I finished my vampire parody. I had projected it to be 400 pages. It turned out to be 395.
When this sort of full-paged, double-spaced manuscript is turned into a typical paperback novel, it has about 25% less pages. So a manuscript like this may have about 300 pages as a paperback.
Much of the tone is light-hearted as I poke fun at some of tropes you see in typical urban fantasies. At one point, Dee (the main character) and her sister make fun of all the bare midriffs you can see on the covers in that sub-genre, saying “Yeah, I’m sure I’ll dress that way when I go get in a knife fight with some creature with fangs and claws.”
Another difference is that Dee is married and has children. I don’t know of any other heroine who starts out that way in these sorts of stories. This is my way of challenging the unwritten conventions that have developed already, though this newer, darker kind of urban fantasy has only dominated for a comparatively short amount of years. Dee does not lead an unattached, single life. She does not have any unusual strength or speed. But she gets a full head of steam on when she sees something threatening the kids. Wouldn’t you?
Of course, there are scenes of suspense and action. I posted one of them on this entry. You might notice there’s still time for a funny exchange in the face of danger.
None of this is meant to denigrate the sub-genre. Suburban fantasy authors are some of the most cutting-edge writers out there. But when you think about it, aren’t some parts of it kind of funny?