Links to Chew On: Publishing, Dialog, Language, Culture, DRM, and Weirdness

It’s time for another helping of the various links I’ve accumulated over several weeks on both diverse and literary topics, and with occassional added commentary.  Enjoy:

  • Jeff VanderMeer is Dreaming Well of the Future of Publishing…  and Jeff VanderMeer knows whereof he speaks – a man who has traditionally published and self-published both; my experience of Mr. VanderMeer (very limited though it is) is one that leaves me the impression of a very intelligent and thoughtful man, and I find this essay thoughtful as well; It matches pretty well to things I’ve been saying on this blog before: here, here, here, here, and here… oh, also here and herehere, too, and of course, here.  Hmm… you think this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while?
  • Jay Lake has a great little primer on dialog tags and the progression of style from said-bookisms all the way up to tagless dialog – it was really useful to see this laid out with some clear examples.  I don’t strive for purely tagless dialog, or even for the elimination of all said-bookisms (I believe they have their place in fiction writing), but I do try to be sparing and economical in their use.
  • Aliette de Bodard discusses character names, and different cultural approaches to naming conventions… a topic I ought to spend more time thinking about when I do my culture worldbuilding.
  • Another common Fantasy trope goes under the microscope: this time, it’s the axe-wielding Dwarf in an essay by Jim Hines; Steve Bucheit has a writing prompt based on Jim’s short essay: Story Bone
  • National Geographic has a Photo-essay on endangered languages: those in threat of extinction when the last few living speakers pass away
  • How much more pleasant would my afternoon commute be with a self-driving carSwoon… Let’s just say that I, for one, bow to our new robot overlords (if it means I don’t have to put up with crazy drivers and traffic jams)…
  • Tor Books decided to drop DRM, so UK publisher Hachette decides to double-down on DRM 
  • Author Cory Doctorow responds to Hachette’s draconian letters warning authors against publishing their titles in other markets without DRM; let’s just say Cory Doctorow doesn’t find Hachette’s position credible, or lawful… (I don’t know the relevant contract law, but I’m skeptical that a contract can dictate the terms of other contracts one party may have with a third party – that seems like a real stretch at best.)
  • So some author self-publishes a book filled with racist stereotypes and other derogatory things. Mostly, the world doesn’t notice or care, because poorly-written openly racist claptrap isn’t a big market these days.  More’s the pity.  (This is called sarcasm.)  Then a venerable and respected magazine of weird and speculative fiction decides to publish and promote said racist claptrap after forcing out the former, respected editor of said magazine, and against the editorial advice of said former editor. Get the whole sordid story here (background on said racist claptrap), here (author N.K. Jemisin reacts to the news), here (author Jim C. Hines reacts) and here (author Jeff VanderMeer and husband of said former editor dishes with the insider information on how it went down).  Finally, of course, said now-fallen-from-grace magazine retracts after the internet falls on its head, as the internet is wont to do when egregiously stupid collides with highly visible. I toyed with linking to the book in question, or to the “publisher’s” website, but decided not to push any traffic in that direction. 
  • In response to the above, a sub-pro short story market has decided to go pro. That’s pretty awesome.  Here’s Mary Robinette Kowal with some of the details.
  • A father and writer looks at violence in his books: this is one I’ve been trying to think more about, but just don’t have anything at this time to add.  I’ve talked about what I call the “Dark Matter” of fiction before, and fictional violence is a part of that.  No easy answers, but lots of questions.