Digest 2

The second digest in my aggregating/anthologizing experiment. Basically, what I find especially interesting in my day’s Internet reading. Here’s the digests category of my blog. Without further ado — oh, wait. The “What I’m reading and listening to” bit: Today I’ve been reading more of Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress and listening to Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love,” Metallica’s “Fixxxer,” and REM’s “Shiny Happy People.”

  • At ReaderCon 2010, Eric Rosenfield and JF Quackenbush of Wet Asphalt conducted quick video interviews with several big names mostly asking variations of the same questions: What’s the future of publishing? and What’s the future of genre?. In his interview, Peter Straub said: Although “people will continue to write books” — of course! — publishing is becoming “less centralized, more electronic” and publishers are “infinitely less willing to take gambles.” Also: “blogging’s going to become an essential element of a brand” and “that’s just the way things are going, you know? Adapt or die.”

    The interviewer asks Straub about publishing his latest novel The Skylark through a small press to preserve an artistic vision not chosen by the major press editors of the book’s incarnation as A Dark Matter (unfortunately I’ve yet to read either, though I own ’em!); the interviewer specifically asks, “Do you think small presses are going to be much more important in the future in taking up the reins of preserving the artistic vision of writers, and that major presses are just going to advocate anything that — lowest common denominators?” Straub answers — it’s hard to hear given the crowd noise — that he thinks “megabooks are going to antiquate[?] the concept of catering to writers of unproven earning capacity; that means small presses are going to reap an enormous benefit […] and become more commercial.”

    Ted Chiang takes the studied-neutrality view on publishing’s future: “There will be publishing […] I expect that there’ll probably be something that no one right now can predict” and says that though genre’s boundaries “aren’t going to go away,” they’re “fading.”

    John Kessel, asked about the future of genre (particularly with recognition of his efforts toward pushing the academy into accepting genre fiction), comments: “I think there always will be something that presents[?] as science fiction written. […] As a separate genre, [science fiction] will probably persist still. […] But also more and more writers seem to be dealing with [*inaudible*] science fiction concepts without being part of the subculture.”

  • Writer and editor Scott Edelman captured and/or published footage of a recent panel, also at ReaderCon 2010, that focused on Theodore Sturgeon, perhaps my favorite writer. Scott Edelman’s YouTube page offers Part 1 and Part 2 of the footage, and I hope more parts were recorded and will be published. From the YouTube descriptions:

    On Sunday, July 11, 2010, Samuel R. Delany, Paul Di Filippo, Barry Malzberg, Noël Sturgeon, and Diane Weinstein appeared on the panel “From Microcosmic God to Slow Sculpture: The Short Fiction of Theodore Sturgeon.”

  • At DailyKos, Meteor Blades (whose handle sounds like a Final Fantasy spell) writes a worthwhile post on economic inequality in the States, employing statistics and charts impressively.

  • In time for this coming Tuesday’s 41st anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Ryan Brown at Salon.com interviews Stephen Pyne about his recent book Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds in the Third Great Age of Discovery which starts with “the first sputterings of Sputnik and reach[es] all the way to our recent space shuttle disasters.” Although Pyne is inclined away from manned space exploration, he says:

    Science fiction actually preceded [space exploration], and many people involved in the program had grown up reading these books and took the ideas within them very seriously. I think that what made the literary side so potent was that it gave space exploration a sense of story. It helped us answer those big-picture questions: What does this all mean? How can we understand what is unfolding?


    [The Voyager spacecrafts] are each equipped with a gold-plated phonograph record and instructions (if anyone is able to decode them) on how to play it. They’re filled with sounds and greetings in most of the earth’s languages.

    You can hear the global music recorded on the Golden Record; it includes the best performance of Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto, 1st Movement — by Karl Richter’s Munich Bach Orchestra — that I’ve ever heard. It’s at a very fast tempo, yay!

  • NPR reports on the high number of job seekers hoping for jobs with the federal government. Excerpt:

    With a 9.5 percent unemployment rate reported in June, there aren’t a lot of job opportunities for recent graduates. But the federal government is looking to fill an estimated 50,000 entry-level positions in the next year, according to the Partnership for Public Service, and public sector work is looking better and better to some people as private sector job growth remains anemic.

  • The NYT wonders about the French government and digital piracy since

    “President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed what was to have been the world’s toughest crackdown on illegal file-sharing [… yet] not a single warning has been sent out; not a single broadband connection has been cut.”

    Like many, my thoughts on digital copyright are mixed and currently not very useful, so here’s some copyleft stuff to read — Cory Doctorow’s nonfiction collection Content — and some far copyright stuff to read — Abjectivist Greg Perkins on intellectual property. Further, there’s the studied, tumultuous-change-is-inevitable neutrality (if I’m not mistaken) of William Gibson and Clay Shirky. Learn more than I have and make up your own mind! I will say, however, that some writers (such as myself) who loudly specify that they don’t write for profit also overly fret about digital copyright, and that seems contradictory to me, unless they’re worrying about publishers/presses affording their costs of production, or about making sure authentic versions of their texts are reliably available to readers as opposed to tampered versions — presumably there’s tech for the latter problem?

  • Letters to the NYT Editor debate the value of Teach for America.

  • This one will probably anger some of my readers especially. The United Farm Workers union has issued a job-offer call to unemployed American citizens as rhetorical defense for immigrants. In response, the NYT opines on immigration:

    It is safe to conclude that few if any Americans will take up the [UFW] offer, no matter how hungry they are. The campaign is a sly attempt to draw attention to the push for immigration reform, particularly an effort to legalize undocumented farm workers. With anti-immigrant resentment running hot, many accuse immigrants of stealing American jobs. The union replies: How can immigrants steal jobs nobody else wants?

  • My Clarion West ’08 classmate Kristin Janz praises a Realms of Fantasy short story about zombies. I hope Kristin keeps on blogging! (Also, here’s her brave post attacking annoying habits some fiction editors have). Hope you don’t mind the liberal excerpting, Kristin:

    The [Realms of Fantasy story] also hinted at a parallel with the way western culture often attempts to experience other cultures, stealing bits of the other cultures and incorporating them into their own in a misguided attempt to understand them, perhaps ruining or at least diminishing the original culture as part of the process. “… that was the zombie way. Forever to yearn for new things. Forever to absorb them and turn them into the same old McHuman.”

    Of course, this tendency is hardly unique to American, Canadian and modern European culture. I think of the ancient Romans borrowing from Greek culture. Or the Mughal conquerers of northern India (especially Akbar) borrowing from Hindu culture. And I’d also question whether it’s entirely bad.

  • Tim Shorrock posts about the Corporate Intelligence Community

That’s a wrap, folks! I hope readers are enjoying these digests.


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