Monthly Archive for February, 2013

alternate wednesday: my favorite time machine

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“Might solve a mystery / Or rewrite history…”

Most people would probably guess that my favorite time machine in fiction is the DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. That’s a pretty good guess, and I would definitely like to own one someday! Preferably one that runs on a garbage-fueled fusion reactor and can fly. But the time machine I like the most is the Millennium Shortcut.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-19h07m56s104Never heard of it? The Millennium Shortcut, likely a riff on Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, was the time machine used in the five-part DuckTales miniseries, “Time is Money.” I loved the simple yet elegant design, clearly inspired by old-style alarm clocks—a giant leap forward from the first time machine Gyro Gearloose invented, the time-tub.

If you never saw it or no longer remember the premise of the story, which first aired as a TV movie in 1988, Scrooge McDuck tries to claim prior ownership of a cave of diamonds—before Flintheart Glomgold can steal it from him—by traveling back in time and scrawling his symbol, $, all over its walls with a laser. Through a series of mishaps (after all, Launchpad McQuack is piloting the Shortcut), they accidentally go much farther back, to prehistoric times, where they pick up two stowaways: cave duck Bubba and his pet triceratops, Tootsie. Hijinks ensue, and in the end, Bubba Duck joins the main cast for a season, and Duck Tales jumps the megalodon.

Okay, so the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, even for a time travel story. But it’s so unabashedly nonsensical, with plenty of sappy moments, I couldn’t help loving it. And I always enjoyed multi-part episodes of my childhood cartoons because stories spread out over two, four, or five episodes were so much bigger in scope than your usual 22-minute episode.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-19h11m59s33But my favorite thing about the Millenium Shortcut (other than its name) was the unique power source that enabled it to travel in time: bombastium. It was a rainbowy element that took the form of a popsicle, and it had to remain frozen in order to work. You didn’t even need a time machine to use it, but without a computer to control it, licking it would take you to a random time period, with no reliable way home. I had thought Gyro somehow invented bombastium, but when I just researched it, I learned it isn’t even original to DuckTales.

Like many stories and plot elements in the series, bombastium was borrowed from a Carl Barks comic. (I really need to read all of those.) According to Wikipedia:

Source: http://www.cbarks.dk/

Source: http://www.cbarks.dk/

Bombastium is stated to be the rarest element in the world. Even though it is very coveted, its usage potential is not entirely known. One characteristic is that it tastes different every time you try it, and scientists eventually discovered that one atom of bombastium dropped into a barrel of water becomes one barrel of ice cream: a different flavor of ice cream each time. To avoid evaporation, bombastium must be kept frozen.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-12h59m03s242On Duck Tales, bombastium just melts, which adds a kind of ticking clock (ha ha) to the climax of the story where Bubba is running out of time (sorry!) to get back to Duckburg. Fortunately, the computer is smart enough to locate the correct time just by fixing on his crudely drawn sketch of Uncle Scrooge and the directive, “Find Scooge!” Nonsense maybe, but the Shortcut was designed specifically for Launchpad to operate, after all.

There were some other great time machines to come out of the Disney Afternoon, which I will probably mention in later posts. But now it’s your turn: In the comments below, tell me about your favorite method of time travel in fiction.

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andre norton award nom!

Am I the only one who likes the shortened form of “nomination” because it reminds me of food? Nom nom nom.

Anyway.

I’ve been sitting on this news for a while, but now that it’s public and I can talk about it, it’s finally sinking in, and I’m even more excited: Fair Coin was nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Deep breaths.

nebulaawardlogoJust like the Nebula Awards, the Norton Award is voted on by members of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It is more than an honor to have my first novel recognized by writers — it’s freaking awesome is what it is. I have wanted to be a member of SFWA since I started writing, and Fair Coin is the fiction sale that finally made me eligible. And ever since I found out that there was an award for middle grade and young adult SFF (which by the way, is a great thing and very progressive, are you paying attention, Hugo Award committee?), I’ve wondered what it might be like to be nominated for it. Now I know! Freaking awesome.

I’ll admit though, I didn’t really think it would happen this year. As you know, Bob, I was on the committee that added three titles to this somewhat longish shortlist of nominees, and of course, mine couldn’t be one of them. And so many wonderful books for children and teens were published in 2012, which is good for everyone who loves fiction… even the author hoping someone will notice his little novel. After all, I’m not just a writer, I’m a reader, and I’m thrilled that so many of my favorite books made it onto the ballot this year:

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

Iron Hearted Violet, Kelly Barnhill (Little, Brown)
Black Heart, Holly Black (S&S/McElderry; Gollancz)
Above, Leah Bobet (Levine)
The Diviners, Libba Bray (Little, Brown; Atom)
Vessel, Sarah Beth Durst (S&S/McElderry)
Seraphina, Rachel Hartman (Random House; Doubleday UK)
Enchanted, Alethea Kontis (Harcourt)
Every Day, David Levithan (Alice A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Summer of the Mariposas, Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books)
Railsea, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Fair Coin, E.C. Myers (Pyr)
Above World, Jenn Reese (Candlewick)

If you’ve read even a few of those novels already, you’ll know how amazing it is for me to see Fair Coin listed anywhere near them. If you haven’t read some of these yet, don’t just take my word that they’re great—a lot of other writers think so too. I love reading and writing YA so much, and this ballot is a solid representation of the best that the genre can offer both kids and adults. *blushes*

I’m bouncing around a bit about all the other nominees for the Nebula Awards, many of whom are personal friends and/or writers I admire and also just swell people. (Don’t worry, I’m not gonna name-drop.) Congratulations to everyone, especially my fellow Norton nominees. I, for one, am going to go practice my knot-tying skills and archery to prepare for the arena. There are twelve of us, after all.

Meanwhile, even though I’ve read all the novels on the Norton ballot already (did I mention how great they are?), I still have a lot of reading to catch up on.

In other news…

I just joined the League of Extraordinary Writers! Here’s today’s introductory post in which I have annotated my author bio.

And speaking of reading and things being freaking awesome, if you have the March issue of F&SF, check out the book review section. I’ll blog more about that news later…

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helping fans of color attend SFF cons

2b-Green-dino-only-smaller-whiteIt’s Con or Bust time again! This auction raises funds to help fans of color attend science fiction and fantasy conventions. Naturally, I think this is a terrific cause, and I’m happy to support it and the Carl Brandon Society, the non-profit that runs it with the mission “to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.” Good mission, right?

Last year, I was thrilled to contribute a signed ARC of my first novel, Fair Coin, which raised $25 for the fund. This year, I get to offer a signed first edition of the hardcover!

Fair Coin is in its second printing, so this is your chance to get the first edition, first printing for your collection. Shipping is international-ish (read the item description for more details), and even though it isn’t on the auction page, I’ll even throw in some signed bookmarks, postcards and a rare Fair Coin promotional coin case for the winner–I only have a handful of these left.

The auction ends on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 11:59 p.m. EST. There are tons of other great items and services being auctioned, so bid early and bid often!

Please bid on Fair Coin here. The bid is up to $20 so far, but I think we can do better…

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for your consideration

Source: http://english.turkcebilgi.com/Darkwing+DuckI’m comfortable enough with the fact that authors have to promote themselves, but I like some aspects of that reality better than others. I don’t like doing the “hard sell,” and I don’t like awards season. But I would also feel remiss if I didn’t mention my award-eligible works, because hey, I’m proud of them, and this is the first time I have an actual novel as a contender.

So I humbly submit my first novel, FAIR COIN (Pyr, 2012), for your 2012 awards consideration. There is plenty of information about it right here on this site, with links to most of the reviews the book has received, including this outstanding one from io9.

FairCoinBookcuthttp://ecmyers.net/novels/faircoinbookcut-4/If you are a SFWA member, I would be honored if you would include FAIR COIN among your nominations for the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book on your Nebula Award ballot. Ballots are due tomorrow, Feb. 15 by midnight PST!

If you are a voting member of the 2013 Hugo Awards, to be presented at the 2013 Worldcon, please consider adding FAIR COIN to your ballot under the Best Novel category.

As it happens, I am also eligible this year for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Voting ends March 10 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Thank you for your consideration!

Best,

Signature_Eugene

 

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alternate wednesday: an alternate groundhog day

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The U.S. celebrated Groundhog Day a couple of weeks ago (is there an international, or even fictional equivalent, I wonder?), and as usual, it was an opportunity for geeks everywhere to show our appreciation for one of the greatest time travel films ever made: Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andy MacDowell. Like I need an excuse to re-watch it! But this year the occasion reminded me of another film that is not nearly as well known…

1201PMBefore the Syfy Channel (née Sci-Fi Channel) built its reputation on making so-bad-they’re-good genre films, Fox was the champion of low-budget SF movies-of-the-week. The nostalgic and sometimes faulty part of my brain fondly remembers the 90s as the heyday of  TV movies, and Fox gave us instant classics such as Generation X, W.E.I.R.D. World, and Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (starring David Hasselhoff in the titular role). Many of them were obviously backdoor pilots for new TV shows or cheap knockoffs of Hollywood blockbusters, but my favorite of the era was 12:01.

Starring Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s), Helen Slater (Supergirl), Jeremy Piven, and Martin Landau, on the surface it looks like a rehash of Groundhog Day. Whereas the latter film doesn’t really try to explain the cause of the 24-hour time loop, 12:01 attributes it to a science experiment that threatens to trap the entire world in the same day. Silverman is not quite as talented or entertaining as Bill Murray, but he got the job done. I remember liking him and Slater and in general appreciating the film on its own merits. And it turns out it may not be a ripoff of Groundhog Day at all–in fact, the creators maintained that Groundhog Day stole from them.

groundhogCould be. 12:01 was based on a 1990 short film directed by Jonathan Heap called 12:01 PM, which was in turn adapted from a short story of the same title by Richard Lupoff, published in the December 1973 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. (Lupoff followed up with “12:02 PM” and “12:03 PM” in issues from 2012 and 2013–I’ve gotta track these down.) In the short film, which aired on Showtime’s 30-Minute Movie series, Myron Castleman (played by Kurtwood Smith) repeats the same hour over and over again, from 12:01 to 1:00 p.m. At least it’s his lunch break.

Director Jack Sholder expanded on this premise for 12:01, which aired on Fox on July 5, 1993. Groundhog Day was released on Feb. 12, 1993. Suspiciously close timing, but I can understand the skepticism–at least as far as the film versions go. Whichever came first, it’s a shame because there’s no avoiding the similarities, and 12:01 actually compares pretty favorably. Good enough that even though I haven’t seen it in a while, I may just grab it on DVD instead of digging out my old VHS tape from storage.

If you’re curious about this time loopy alternative to a beloved film, here’s the trailer for the Fox film, 12:01:

And here is the rarely seen short film version, which I hadn’t even heard of until researching this post.

So here’s my question of the week: If you could re-do anything from the last 24 hours, what would it be?

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