The best far-looking SF is always rooted in the conflicts of the moment -- especially the things we think we will someday outgrow.
The best bad-sounding record you'll ever hear.
Great writing and great cuisine, compared.
On why both giving and interpreting good criticism are dying arts.
Do you own thing, but don't let it fence you in.
Is franchise-driven storytelling the default mode of storytelling from now on?
You have to take yourself seriously enough to know when not to take yourself seriously at all.
We need dystopia to know how things can fall apart.
Man of Steel understands Superman well enough to know he should be taken seriously, even if it doesn't always quite know how to make that understanding real.
The mysticism of the future by way of technology is no improvement over the mysticisms of the past.
The cruel cost of the samurai code, across the generations.
On "I don't want to have to follow an artist that I have to lead."
A new site opens up under my provenance; video games make a comeback in my life; and I ponder the future of my publishing system.
On appreciating the new without wearing the blinders of the old.
Another case of yesterday's tomorrow, today.
E.W. Dijkstra Archive: On the cruelty of really teaching computing science (EWD 1036) The usual way in which we plan today for tomorrow is in yesterday's vocabulary. We do so, because we try to get away with the concepts we...
On the merits of talking critical smack.
Me and my MT. (Is it "blog" or "bleargh"?)
Why I may not participate in another NaNoWriMo from now on.
Look upon my future works, ye Audience, and rejoice.
The next writing project is a go. Some thoughts before the button is pushed.
How you know when you've "arrived" as a writer.
I used to never write story outlines. Here's why.
On the kinds of reading and research I do -- and don't do -- as a prepwork for a project.
A political struggle by itself wouldn't be the meat of a good story; it has to be something personal inside the political.
Why am I, the atheist, reading a book of religious philosophy? Homework, but some other things too.
A punch bowl full of glitter and treacle.
On culture being a tasteless affair (puns intended).
There better be something new under the sun, or else!
On writing about a kind of man that no longer exists.
On improving the world: start at home, inside your own skin.
Why artists and thinkers shouldn't consider themselves mutually exclusive entities.
On how the world ended a long time ago. (And how that fits into my new book.)
On (not) taking refuge in one's art.
Look at all the stuff going into the new book!
Seems that expanding one's frame of reference isn't always about aiming "higher".
Goodbye, About.com; hello, something new.
On the use and abuse of escapism.
It's nice to be well-reviewed.
Do creative people "have a core of fierce insecurity inside of them that's so profound that they see any legitimate praise as a form of sycophancy"?
On the spiritual junk food of cult consciousness (and how it's one of the many topics of the new book-in-progress).
Bill Watterson: "No upside for me" in adapting Calvin & Hobbes to animation. I agreed.
More on organizing creativity (isn't that an oxymoron)?
When your only marketing system is for marketing blockbusters, what happens to everything that's not a blockbuster?
How I learned to stop worrying and love creating a proper wiki for my writing projects.
With all the things that make demands on what little spare time we have, is it a surprise that sitting still and looking at words on a page gets pushed down and down?
On the concept of the wasted (artistic) opportunity.
If the right thing was intuitive, everyone would already be doing it.
Where I've been and where I'm going, especially with my next book.
A fistful of "lost grooves from the land of the Rising Sun."
Mr. T-isms aside, know who you are and where you're going. If you don't, the consequences to your creativity can be dire.
An early '80s PC flashback: me and my ZX-81.
Why technology doesn't promote creative diversity in the ways we like to believe it does.
How my "is" is not everyone else's "ought".
The more kinds of art you try, the better your art becomes.
Why the "market" can't fix problems with creative work.
Is writing "competing" with TV, movies, video games, etc.?
Book publishers should model themselves as Berry Gordy, not Lee Iacocca.
On the art of the hatchet job, and on negative criticism generally.
It might be better to think of more things as being art, even the things we wouldn't be inclined to call art.
Why ''Grand Theft Auto'' isn't likely to be a movie anytime soon: integrity. What? Yes.
Why Kurt Vonnegut didn't think much of SF.
More on not repeating yourself creatively.
On the ways violence becomes an aesthetic unto itself in our entertainments.
The folks at the webcomic Claude & Monet -- one of them being my Muse Hack cohort Rob Barba -- have published an interview with yours truly. Subject: Flight of the Vajra, of course.
"Vajra" spreads its wings at last.
On hard sci-fi being more than just techno-porn interlarded with politics.
"Flight of the Vajra" is almost out. Almost.
On why creative people must learn to say no.
On things being their own reward.
Artists don't need to be damaged to be profound.
Sorry, no AnimeFest this year. "Flight of the Vajra" will come out, though.
On criticism vs. reviewing.
Music for the inner cinema, and all that.
On why too much advice to writers is mere marketing advice.
I'd rather have a scrupulous intellectual opponent than an ally with dodgy thinking.
On the fallacies of attention-getting in the "going viral" age.
''We have to take human behavior the way it is, not the way we would wish it to be.''
A car is not just for sitting in, and SF&F aren't just chewing gum for the mind.
What we call "the market" reflects more the behaviors of a few, not many.
Why DC and Marvel are stuck in a taste trap of their own making.
My space opera "... Vajra" has been finally put to bed, and some things have been learned in the process.
Why, as a fan, sometimes it's best not to get just what you want.
More on the general avoidance of discussions about spirituality in futurism.
What happened to the cool future we all imagined? Maybe it wasn't all of us that imagined it, or wanted it.
On the ongoing publishpocalypse.
How to be out standing (sic) in your field.
A culture of free cannot be sustained by an economy of free.
Why citing "data" as your justification can be no less arbitrary than "Because I said so."
How something classifies as "original" for us may be just as arbitrary as whether or not we like it in the first place.
Why I liked "Wolverine", but had to be careful why.
What was it about last year's superhero blockbuster that turned out to be so ... average?
How number crunching -- the tool of the good -- too easily becomes the enemy of the great.
Spike Lee turning to Kickstarter may be the new normal.
Isn't it tiresome how so much SF looks like it rolled off the same assembly line?
Check out my "Vajra" ad cards.
Why evolutionary forces are not your company cop.
SF ought to be about people building things. Emphasis on all three of those ingredients.
A quirky and wholly original fantasy that's akin to an Isaac Bashevis Singer story mixed with an issue of Heavy Metal.
How this summer's big-budget movie carpet-bombing has bombed bigtime.
More on why art doesn't sit on the rungs of a ladder.
"Too Much Explanation Disease" as it applies to SF and the movies.
How "story beats" have killed storytelling, especially in Hollywood.
Why del Toro's Cthuluzillavengelion project didn't quite break wide.
The rise (we hope) of the non-fiction drama.
What constitutes an adult audience in this day and age?
"... then this movie will seem like every other one. Do you read me?"
Maybe we've grown weary of manufactured excitement, emphasis on that first word: manufactured.
The power of imagination requires grounding.
On how we love a movie with our guts and hate it with our heads.
If we don't know what's possible creatively, we might never try to look beyond what we have.
Everything is in and nothing is out. Right?
Why WordPress and I can't get along.
My failure to connect with "Game of Thrones."
Be your own dang "focus group".
On the video game of the TV series of the movie inspired by the book.
SF&F fandom shouldn't be a monolith, from either the outside or the inside.
Expect dummies and that's what you'll get -- but I sense there's more on that score.
What happens to the movies after they all become tentpoles.
More on the mistaken idea that a given work of SF/fantasy can "convert" the non-fandom masses.
Why things are popular may be more about dumb luck than anything else. But don't despair too much.
"Write the book you want to read." What if you don't know how?
More on why and how SF bottles itself in, unthinkingly.
Or maybe burning Java, who knows. More adventures in the jungle of bad software.
On the bad rep of SF&F fans.
More about escapism.
Why the longing for "escapism" is problematic.
Living forever without actually growing up first seems like a non-starter.
There's always going to be something you can't do. The hard part is knowing what.
My Muse Hack¹ cohort Scott Delahunt posted over at his site about his character creation process, so I thought I'd use that as the excuse I needed to say a few things in that vein. When I was a kid,...
The fine folks of StandoutBooks have published an interview with yours truly about Flight of the Vajra.
Ugliness is not a total synonym for "truth".
Read the first chapter of my forthcoming space-opera epic "Flight of the Vajra".
The most fantastic things work best when they are rooted in the most familiar.
The first ("male") half of Front 242's crowning moment.
How the death of DVD killed Hollywood.
Why "Man of Steel"'s Superman is a little more interesting, and problematic, than you might expect. (Warning: spoilers.)
On the canard of "Reality is just so interesting, why would you want to escape it?"
The movies are their own worst (financial) enemy.
Israel's best-known contribution to "post-punk" takes the bad taste out of my mouth left by the term.
Why I'm trying not to repeat myself by not writing sequels, possibly at your expense.
Godhood without humanity: the gains hardly seem worth the degeneracy.
One of free music's cornerstones, an album of heedless challenges and curious pleasures.
On reissued e-books and copyediting. Or the lack thereof.
"I want to live forever." Yes, but which I?
Art's not about what's sold (again).
More on imagination not just being about making stuff up.
Some SF books I'd love to see filmed, even if I know the odds are slender.
Why do we make gods out of men?
On Amazon's flash sales creating breakout bestsellers:
Know thyself, especially why you create in the first place.
Should SF be "nuked back to year zero?"
Let's not confuse the process of describing something with the process of creating it.
Why Guillermo del Toro's Cthulu-zilla-vangelion film will tank with mainstream audiences.
Creators have to cultivate a sense of history.
Gadgetry is not futurism.
Template-driven storytelling strikes again (and again, and again).
On love being the highest law.
Is formula storytelling "better" just because it's more commercially successful?
Amazon helps fanfic goes "legit" -- or is it about fanfic?
Why the pipeline that deliver us the culture we have to live with is failing us.
If SF is "the literature of the future", shouldn't we be using the media of the future to deliver it?
Abhorring a Vacuum | New Republic it is an urgent task of contemporary American fiction, whose characteristic products are books of great self-consciousness with no selves in them; curiously arrested books that know a thousand different things—the recipe for the...
Why checklist-driven, beat-structure construction works in the short run but is ruinous in the long run.
Just having an audience doesn't mean you have something to say to it.
How economics supplants culture: a failure of marketing, and of imagination.
SF&F's problems with character development are cyclical; we teach ourselves bad habits.
Creativity, once again: it's at least as much about observing as it is "making stuff up."
What self-publishers need most: big data?
More on how SF should be about a new kind of person, not a new kind of gadget.
Ralph Bakshi is alive, well, and angry in a good way.
A new venue for one-to-one curation: gaming.
The number-crunchers have arrived in the screenwriting department. Pray.
Why do we let the business of creativity pass into the hands of the most uncreative people around?
The little guys in creative fields are being just as lockstep and predictable as the big guys.
Just "being a writer" isn't enough anymore -- and maybe it never was.
Once we've bonded through our mutual fandoms, then what?
No, I actually like tech -- with caveats.
SF has hit its limit because we have hit ours.
Every movie, every book, is time in a bottle, if only you let yourself see it.
A book is not just a wad of paper.
Can't please. Shouldn't try. But don't confuse that with blowing your toes off.
Why functional competence is no place for an artist to rest on one's laurels.
Suspension of disbelief: exercise for the brain.
On self-publishing, self-promotion, and self-delusion.
Knowing more than others is not a form of oppression.
Spike Lee, remaking "Oldboy": I'm excited, and nervous.
On being the embodiment of your moment in time.
One of the best films of 2013 appears to have been made in 1954, and has now been lovingly restored for the ages.
On using SF as an examination of the clashes of spiritual opposites.
A little SF masterpiece that proves a small scale doesn't have to mean small ambitions.
What makes a work great isn't an objective truth.
Please suspend your disbelief. It'll do us both a world of good.
On the word "unmarketable".
Why I still love me some physical media, even when downloads are that much more convenient.
On the hazards of being someone else's product via social networking.
When we live in a world where nothing we create ever really goes away, what should we create and why?
The sheer impulse to write can't by itself be used to avoid self-criticism.
On rewriting Lucas from his own notes: a nifty idea.
Change your mind, early and often.
Hijacking the power of peer pressure.
How to fix publishing? Fix publishers, readers, books, all of the above?
On a shelved "alternative present" project that never bloomed, because the idea alone wasn't enough.
Life's bigger than one-upsmanship.
Which will it be: to leave artifacts or to create experiences?
An intriguing SF concept is soon plundered for a mere neo-noir plotline, but save the pieces anyway.
Future projects I see when I look at my creative to-do list.
An electronic pearl, an album for every home and every pair of ears.
I play over my own head, even when it hurts.
The cover art for "Flight of the Vajra" approaches completion.
Crowdfunding's best when the crowd has some idea what you're doing.
They were complaining about the movies being scorched earth in 1937.
Those who say "art form X is dead" really mean to add "except for my works of it."
Another quote from Nile Rodgers spurs some thought.
Publishers, who needs 'em?
It wasn't a golden age when we were in it.
On why limits are good things. (Part one of many.)
The full version of Keith Jarrett's highly experimental organ album, finally restored to life on CD.
The last installment gives us the Batman we deserve rather than the Batman we want. Not a bad thing, actually.
The artist isn't a guru, a god, or sometimes even a good guy.
Where'd the site archives go? Oh, they were right here all along.
Our art isn't just "content", but that's what it's being turned into.
Why masculinity in SF&F most often manifests as chest-thumping meatheadedness.
A genre-transcending romance reaches its conclusion and ennobles itself in the process.
I was wrong about the bottom falling out of e-book pricing, thank goodness.
The exploitation of effects houses by Hollywood is only one of many signs of the system's ill health.
"I demand two things from a composer: invention, and that he astonish me." What did Stockhausen mean by this?
The first step away from earthly vanity is cosmic humility.
What can you do when someone you trust tells you about your work, "Sorry, it's terrible"?
Should creative types even bother to monetize their work?
Meet my first, and very tiny, Amazon Kindle royalty check.
In a conversation with a friend about remakes, said friend noted that there are three things you need to do with a remake: Retell the old story, and not only do it justice but pay proper homage to it. Update...
A winner. A work so "modern" and bracing it's hard to believe it was penned in 1880.
Hey, Ma, I'm on the air!
Let's not fence ourselves in.
Why machine recommendations are by, and for, machines.
Daniel H. Wilson's io9 essay about having his books optioned but not filmed was a wasted opportunity.
Why the current pop-culture Geek Movie Paradise orgy leaves me cold (again).
On loving the art in yourself, not yourself in the art -- and not letting your art do your living for you.
Takashi Miike's remake of this austere '60s samurai classic is well-made and watchable, but why remake perfection?
The neurotic escapism and spectators' world of masscult.
Why J.G. Ballard didn't write just "SF" or "litfic", but stories for and about our age.
"Half the scores are the reviewers reviewing the game, and half are reviewing their expectations."
The greatest moment from one of prog-rock's most maverick acts.
Not great drama or great filmmaking, but it might well be darn good cinema.
We will always find a new way to be naive, and that's a good thing.
Is crowdsourcing a substitute for curation?
How many soundtracks are needed for the end of the world? One ought to suffice.
On the whole alternate universe of unfilmed movies that exists only as scripts in a vault somewhere.
Why there will be no "this generation's Star Wars", not even from Star Wars itself.
One thing you can't blame fans for doing: they always have their eyes open to possibilities the rest of us shrug off.
J.J. Abrams can have his Star Trek Wars, but include me out.
On describing my new SF novel "Flight of the Vajra" in ten short questions.
The first full flowering of Ministry's foul ferocity, and possibly its best.
Fandom can be expressed in immature ways, but at its core it's far from immature.
Ridley Scott's pre-side-quel to the "Alien" mythos has elements of great insight and wisdom coexisting with utter boneheadedness.
I recently picked up an iPad Mini, mostly for the sake of having an iOS device of some variety. It's next to impossible to work in the field I'm in(information technology journalism) without knowing at least something about the Apple...
Let's not take this business of being serious about our art so ... well, seriously.
Sure, it's a "textually enriching experience" or what have you ... but is it any *good*?
On my first and pivotal encounter with a crucial if terribly-named band.
Criterion: Gate of Hell, Repo Man, and Naked Lunch.
Nagisa Oshima (most notorious for In the Realm of the Senses) has died at the age of 80. I wonder whether or not someone of his cage-rattling importance will be able to step up to the plate in his absence....
It's hard to write what you know when you don't let yourself know things.
Lucas honors Kurosawa yet again, by remaking him.
Yasutaka Tsutsui's Paprika is now out domestically
If we can't let artists make mistakes with their own work, then they won't be free to make happy discoveries either.
Why are people valued more for their "consistency" than for their ability to learn and adapt?
Is a bad guy always a requirement in fiction?
Disqus 1, Movable Type 0.
On the notion that at its worst the filmed version of a book can become the cultural version of littering.
Comment subscriptions should be working again.
Another stab at a "Flight of the Vajra" viral-marketing image. (Revised/corrected)
On developing a viral-marketing scheme (or a few of them) for "Flight of the Vajra".
"It would be so weird if we knew just as much as we needed to know to answer all the questions of the universe. Wouldn’t that be freaky?"
Writing what you would most want to read may be the best way to find an audience.
For some, The Dark Knight was the moment when the “comic book movie” finally became cinema. For others, it was the moment when the bottom fell out.
This one-of-a-kind jazz composition, originally in incredibly limited release, is now back on CD.
Bringing "Vajra" in for its final approach.
This page contains an archive of posts for the year 2013.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind