August 3, 2009

I almost typed “messellaneous,” which is about where my brain is this morning.  I went horseback riding this weekend — medieval equestrian games at an SCA event.  And while my skills are mostly still there, my stamina and riding fitness most certainly are not.  In my heyday I rode a few times a week, and now I only ride a few times a year.  It takes me a week to recover.  And I got a splinter in my hand from the lance.  Sigh.

Some links:  on Genreality this week I talk some more about covers, and feature the “before” and “after” version of the cover to Kitty and The Midnight Hour, which went through some minor revisions between the ARC and the final book.  It’s fairly instructive, I think.

The online magazine Strange Horizons is having their online fund drive this week.  Donate and get entered for a chance to win a prize.  It’s not up on the prize list yet, but I’m offering a couple of Kitty books and playlist CD’s as a prize.

I caught most of the first couple hours of Defying Gravity, a new prime-time network near-future space-based SF series.  I had all the same problems with it that I had with the film Sunshine, in that the characters are all characters from a prime-time network soap opera and I can’t believe for a white hot second that they’re actual scientists and astronauts.  There’s absolutely no credibility there.  And they’ve had two EVA accident-related climactic moments in the first two hours.  Come on, guys, you’re going to have to come up with something better than that.  And space craft in orbit just don’t work like that. . .  and. . .  and. . .  Sigh.

UPDATE:  And, one more link:  the anthology By Blood We Live has its own website!

22 Responses to “miscellaneous”

  1. Shara Says:

    I can’t remember, but did you catch VIRTUALITY? That was a flaming pile of poo.

  2. carriev Says:

    I did watch Virtuality (online rather than TV) and actually liked it quite a bit better than Defying Gravity. It had a well defined (if incredibly cheesy) mystery pulling me through the whole thing, and it had much stronger SF feel to it. I believed the characters a little more than I did in Defying Gravity. And the obligatory EVA accident in Virtuality was gripping, realistic, and the guy actually died. (Well, that’s up for debate…we won’t get to see any more of the show but my guess was the whole thing was going to end up being a VR exercise.)

    Defying Gravity was full of people we’re supposed to believe are astronauts not acting like astronauts. The crying baby just killed it for me.

  3. Shara Says:


    The crying baby I initially took to be a kind of EVENT HORIZON thing, but given this entity called “Beta” that we don’t know what it is and what it’s doing, that’s all I need for the baby. 🙂

    I had a lot of believability issues with VIRTUALITY. I didn’t believe FOR A MOMENT that the powers-that-be would let that crew fly all the way to the slingshot point and GIVE THEM THE OPTION of going home. The expense of that kind of mission is just too much to allow the astronauts to get cold feet and say “no” unless there’s a real emergency. Also, I found the scene where the captain made his decision to “go” and the crew balked, saying “You’re really not going to give us a vote?” completely ridiculous because all of them, save for one, said they wanted to go with little to no prompting. And they were HAPPY about it.

    The of course, the captain himself — I didn’t care when he died because I wasn’t invested in his fate or what he “knew” that no one else did. Though I think I like your theory about where the story might have gone.

    The failed pilot had some good elements (some of the character relationships and snatches of dialogue) , but I think it took too long to do what it needed. Despite your problems with DEFYING GRAVITY, the pace was pretty good and held the viewers’ attention, whereas with VIRTUALITY, I kept wanting to stop watching. The mystery was absolutely nothing to me.

    But to each her own! I do think though, that given your regular critiques of space-faring shows and movies, you should sit down and do it your way for a book (if you haven’t done it already). I’d love to see an SF by Carrie Vaughn!

  4. carriev Says:

    That was another problem I had — I missed the first half hour, so I had trouble following the whole Beta thing. It made no sense to me, why everyone is putting their trust in this thing that the show didn’t see fit to define.

  5. carriev Says:

    Oh, and I hated Event Horizon, too. At least, the second half of it.

    And I’d love to write longer space SF someday. I’ve got some short stories out there already.

  6. Cat Says:

    Hrm. You seem to miss something that was learned by Robert Heinlein back when he helped write Destination Moon. It was one of the first (if not the first) real attempt to portray a realistic space story about the first trip to the moon. It got panned by critics, didn’t really do well at the box office, and drove him out of movies until after his death. (Don’t get me started on Starship Troopers, the movie. Or even The Puppetmasters.)
    The simple thing is… movies can’t portray space in a realistic fashion and be successful. Not in Sci-Fi, anyways. Apollo 13 was an exception, and more historical drama. I can’t think of a movie I’ve seen that showed spaceships moving realistically, or had a realistic portrayal, of what life in space may be. Lots of books do this well, but movies and TV… get Shatner-ed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bill, but Star Trek has both what makes sci-fi on TV good and bad.

    Four words for you: “Kitty Goes to Orbit!” =)

  7. Ann Says:

    Puns are so much fun. I often read your titles twice to make sure I don’t miss a joke.

    First werewolf in space! What a cool concept. Kitty’s enemies could attempt to sabotage the trip, meant as a publicity stunt and experiment. (Is the wolf harder to control closer to the moon?) The launch is delayed a few times, once to avoid a full moon. Ben doesn’t want her to go. Ooh, drama.

  8. carriev Says:

    “2001” and “2010” are my benchmarks. Yeah, okay, space drama can’t be “realistic” but it doesn’t have to be bombastic, either.

  9. Jenn Says:

    I read up your brief bit on covers and compared the Arc to the final draft.

    I, too, like the second cover better. Barring difficulties with the upload, here’s the reasons: The moon got moved over, giving a more definite edge on a side that was blurry. As one of your commentators mentioned on that page, the red letters are better than the pink. Kitty has a cool looking silver glow in the moonlight that she doesn’t have in the ARC, which makes her better defined against the background. And the corset, not because it’s a corset but because it’s more visually interesting than a black tank top.

    Which led me to a final thought on the covers which might be useful to you. People dressed in blocks of color (they rarely seem to be in printed cloth for covers, probably due to the techniques used) viewed from the back are really uninteresting. Pull out a black tank and black jeans and you’re not going to be terribly striking front or back, but at least with the front you get a face to add interest. Cropping the jeans lower, showing skin, adding a tattoo, and adding the corset lacings made the human Kitty figure more visually interesting.

    By going with a monochromatic color scheme as the standard for your books, it’s been made necessary to use whatever tricks the artist can develop to draw attention to what is essentially and ink and pen drawing when many other artists/authors are using the full color spectrum.

  10. Adam. Says:

    I’m apparently in less of a minority now than I was at the time but I always liked “Star Cops” for a near orbit show.


    They were trying, but they inherited the set wobble from 80’s Dr Who.

  11. Shara Says:

    What a fascinating discussion!

    Carrie, I saw 2001 for the first time last year, and to be honest, I didn’t care for it by time it hit the end. I really appreciated the setting and the detail that went into it, but I felt every one of those minutes, and the end, well. I just won’t go there. 🙂

    My next question to you is this: did you catch the two-hour movie/pilot for CAPRICA? I haven’t allowed myself to watch it because I don’t want to spend money (me and the hubby are both watching, otherwise I’d watch it online), and because I’m hoping they’ll show it when they premiere the show. But I was curious if you watched it or if BSG left such a bad taste you couldn’t stand to touch a prequel?

    And I’m all for KITTY GOES TO ORBIT. 🙂

  12. Sabrina Says:

    The crying baby! Ugh. I was channel surfing and ended up watching this show. It just seems like an obvious approach that in the flashbacks, she’s pregnant and worried about having an abortion, then in space, she hears a baby crying. I didn’t care for that at all.

    The beta thing really didn’t get a lot of mentions in the first hour, definitely not the first half-hour, unless I missed something. But the VO talked about people who believed in fate versus controlling your own life, and clearly the guy in charge (with the mustache) was going with fate. I did feel bad for that one guy, Ajay. And since I sympathized with him, I think it sucks that they won’t let him work “on the floor” (as viewers we may not see him again at all), because I don’t care enough about any of the other people.

    On an unrant-y note (sorry for that): medieval equestrian games. ~sigh~ Sounds like fun, splinter aside.

  13. I’ve been calling it “Lost” in Space. Crying babies, fatalistic talk, I mean, c’mon–Chosen Ones? Obnoxious.

  14. carriev Says:

    Oh, I had great fun with the games, but I’m paying for it now.

    Yeah. Crying baby. There’s an anti-abortion subtext through the whole thing that I didn’t care for at all. And the bit with Ajay was downright offensive. I don’t believe an astronaut would ever, ever do what they had him doing.

    And I want real problems in my SF, not “Oh, there’s a reason all this is happening, blah blah.”

    I have no plans to watch Caprica. I may give Stargate: Universe a chance.

  15. Dad Says:

    I put in my vote for more space stories! Before I get too old and decrepit to appreciate them.

  16. carriev Says:

    Awe, then maybe I’ll just have to write that epic space travel thingy I’ve been plotting for ages for the hell of it…

  17. Robert Z Says:

    The big networks like ABC, NBC, CBS etc. are afraid to do it right and just play safe. Playing it safe and just doing a soap opera in space isn’t right. It will back fire on them. Cable TV does a slightly better job, but they too don’t do the right thing by not giving the show enough time to find their audience.

  18. David Bowles Says:

    Call me a nerd, but I have a tendency to break scifi into two large groups. There are those that acknowledge the existence and effectiveness of nuclear weapons and those that don’t.

    My favorite scifi show of all time, Babylon 5, makes good and realistic use of nuclear weapons throughout the series. Other franchises, such as Star Wars, just sweep them under the rug.

    It is somewhat complicated to write scifi that is both entertaining and believable, but the author needsd to make sure that future weapons systems are at least as good as the ones we have today.

  19. I love House of Horror’s cover (although the model has the traditional, “I’ve never seen Kitty wear something like that before” outfit, the color contrast is awesome). And well, the wolf is fitting with the title.

    Overall, I’m half and half on the covers. There are several things I like about the second cover you showed on Genreality that I liked better than the first. Text placement being one of them (for your name). The traditional tramp stamp could be lost and I’m not sure too many people would miss it. :p

  20. Mom Says:

    It should have been Mom not Dad – I forgot to change the header.

  21. Robert Says:

    Speaking of Robert Heinlein. I would so love to see a decent movie version of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

    Joss Whedon directing FTW!

  22. Adam. Says:

    Just to put the splinter in the hand in perspective, a guy I know took a 6 inch splinter when jousting and had call to use the phrase:

    “fortunately it didn’t penetrate the contact lens”

    He was training again inside of 2 weeks.



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