Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Galapagos Backup

I told Nina, my 11-year-old, how important it is to backup your work. She put hours and hours into her Galapagos report and saved it once, to her flash drive. I could see all her paths to disaster, because I’d been down them.

Several (many) years ago I wrote a screenplay reworking Sleeping Beauty in a post-apocalyptic world. Pretty much done, it sat on my hard drive as a storm struck. Boom. Lighting. Surge. All those things somebody warned you might happen if you didn’t unplug your electronics – those things that are so foreign they couldn’t possibly, actually happen - happened to me. Lost the whole drive, project and all.

Nina agreed that I should back everything up. So I slid the desktop file to the flash. Yep. Exactly backwards. Vaporized four hours of her work. While it was nice outside. While kids rode bikes and swam. Four hours of 11-year-old homework, which is like 40 hour to you and me. Gone. Along with any tone of authority I might have had, any sense that I was helpful in anyway. Lessons, respect, confidence – erased in 21-first-century manner, leaving no rub marks, impressions or little black rolls of goo to be blown off the page with a gentle puff.


I am such a blue-footed booby.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review: Adrift on the Sea of Rains

I don’t do a lot of reviews. But, well, Ian Sales’ first book of his promised quartet, Adrift on the Sea of Rains, is a dream. Not a dream, like teenyboppers called, with futility, Rock Hudson. Not a dream as in completely inconsequential. The book feels real even when you know it’s not. Reaching the end is like waking, with the sensation that you’ve somehow lived through something you haven’t. Adrift on the Sea of Rains is the exceedingly rare form of science fiction that tries to hewn very, very close to our current understanding of plausibility. Even the book’s farthest stretch – the torsion generator – is anchored in actual Nazi lore. The story follows a group of astronauts marooned on our moon. The technology at their disposal is, for the most part, stuff we could have been making for the last 30 years, had we not been more interested in credit default swaps and death. Ian’s technical acumen is compelling. ‘Adrift’ gives one a glimpse of world that perpetuated its space program, in a completely plausible manner. What sets this work apart is the not ‘what’ of space ventures, but the ‘why’. I don’t want to give too much away, but the plot wrestles as much with the reactive propellants and it does with political and personal ones. In the end, it portrays not just a space program that could’ve been, it grapples with why things couldn’t be. Lovely. And I’m now screaming for the next one. Like a teenybopper with a crush on Rock Hudson. If we can’t live the dream of manned space exploration, I’d like to read more about it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Synch, Kiss Me, Drop

I became a fan of Susan Church in a writer’s least favorite way. I met her first (most writers want you to love them for their work). She’s such a delightful person I had to see if any of her charm came through her fiction. This is not a given. I’ve met some wonderful people who couldn’t write a check and some troglodytes with word skills beyond their social abilities. I am a total jackass, but my fiction is pretty engaging. Susan is one of the lucky bunch whose personality comes through the page (screen, more and more). Her newest story is here, and free, and great way to get started. She has a trippy way of getting across her trippy plot, puts you on the side of questionable characters and basically takes you to a world that doesn’t yet exist but you’re pretty sure probably could at any moment. And she makes you smile. An often overlooked, but damn good reason, to read.