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the year we made contact

I wasn’t going to do a 2010 review of my accomplishments because it’s a lot of work to recap everything and I’d rather spend my limited free time building toward an even better year. (If I had a New Year’s Resolution, it would be to blog more frequently.) But a lot of people are doing it, so I figured I can at least post some highlights you may have missed, in brief. In no particular order, the things I am happiest and proudest of:

  • I proposed to my wonderful girlfriend of six years in a fairly geeky way, and she said yes! (No surprise that the impending wedding will preoccupy us for much of the first half of 2011.)
  • One of my favorite and best short stories, “My Father’s Eyes,” was published in Sybil’s Garage No. 7. Even better, this story has been getting favorable comments both online and offline. If you have the opportunity to read it, I’d appreciate it if you considered nominating it for the Nebula or Hugo Awards. I read part of it on Jim Freund’s original Hour of the Wolf radio show on WBAI 99.5 FM with editors and writers from Sybil’s Garage, and it may be dramatized in part in a short promo film for the magazine.
  • I sold my short story “All the Lonely People” to Shimmer, a magazine I have wanted to be published in since I saw the first issue. It should appear in the next issue, lucky number 13. I read “All the Lonely People” at a New York Review of Science Fiction Reading featuring other members of my writing group, Altered Fluid: Mercurio D. Rivera ( who co-hosted with Jim Freund), N.K. Jemisin, and Devin Poore. I look forward to more people getting to see this one.
  • My writing group also participated in a round-table interview at Clarkesworld Magazine.
  • I finished the first draft of a contemporary YA novel, tentatively titled Untwinned (formerly known as Birthright), which I hope to revise sometime this year, after I finish the current revision of Who We Used to Be.
  • I read 55+ published books, mostly YA, which is far less than I would like. I read and critiqued 6 or 7 unpublished and soon-to-be-published novels too, but I suppose those don’t count, though they certainly had an impact on the time available for other reading.
  • I helped Ellen Datlow read for the next Year’s Best Horror for Night Shade Books, right up to the wire. Unfortunately I won’t be able to continue reading for future volumes, but I enjoyed working with her a lot over the last few years and I think my writing improved from exposure to such a wide range of short fiction.
  • Torie Atkinson and I moved our celebrated Star Trek Re-Watch from Tor.com to our own dedicated website, The Viewscreen. This endeavor represents a significant amount of time and effort from both of us, but I enjoy the challenge of maintaining a weekly blog and we’ve built a fantastic community there. I also think our reviews are consistently thoughtful and well written, though I will be honest and admit that I can’t wait for the third season to be over. I know I frequently post about my reviews here, which may not interest everyone, but we’re rather proud of the site and it deserves as much attention as we can attract. We have big plans for it in 2011 too. Some recent reviews: “Wink of An Eye,” “The Empath” (this episode to be avoided at all cost!), and “Elaan of Troyius.”

I may have missed some things, but I’m officially done with 2010 and ready to move on to bigger and better things. Happy New Year!

ETA: I did forget two important things!

  1. I fully completed New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
  2. I began editing book trailers for a few different clients, but my best is the one I made for Alaya Dawn Johnson’s book Moonshine. Check it out–it’s only 30 seconds long!

duck under glass

Something had been nagging at the back of my mind since I learned about Gorilla Glass, the durable, scratch-resistant material that provides the screens for iPhones, Android phones, and similar products with touch interfaces. It was only when I just read David Pogue’s article “Gorilla Glass, the Smartphone’s Unsung Hero” that it came to me–I’d seen something like it before, a long time ago.

Remember that episode of DuckTales when Gyro Gearloose invents “ProtectoGlass” to encase Scrooge’s Money Bin in the episode “The Unbreakable Bin”?

That episode aired on February 18, 1990, but it was based on a Carl Barks story (as many episodes were) about an unbreakable glass called “The Unsafe Safe,” which dates back to October of 1961. According to Pogue’s article, Corning released Chemcor, the forbear of Gorilla Glass, in 1962. So which came first, the duck or the egg? Or was it all just an amazing coincidence?

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Apple builds one of their stores out of the stuff. Of course, neither ProtectoGlass and Gorilla Glass are indestructible. I’ve seen some shattered iPhone screens, which amazingly still work, but I have no idea what could cause such damage, and I still flinch whenever I drop my Droid.

(And just because it’s fun, here’s “Ian McKellan” reciting the DuckTales theme. It cracks me up every time.)

a horse of a different color

We’ve suffered through some bad Star Trek episodes, but “Plato’s Stepchildren” takes the cake. Then it drops the cake, steps all over it, grinds it into the carpet, scrapes it all onto a plate, and serves it with a scoop of store brand vanilla ice cream–which doesn’t make it any more palatable, but only mocks you with the potential of a delicious treat and makes it all somehow sadder.

I cannot recommend that you watch this episode, ever. No links for you! If you’ve seen it before, you have my sympathies. One of the chapter titles on my DVD is “Psychokinetic Delirium,” which is a pretty good description of the entire travesty. Here’s the briefest assessment possible:

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spreading some holiday cheer

Stephanie Burgis and Patrick Samphire have come up with something really special for anyone who likes fiction, especially cheerful and uplifting stories: The December Lights Project, an online collection of free short stories “to light up the winter season.” They’re publishing two or three a week through the end of this month, and are already sharing work by many fantastic authors, including Sarah Prineas, Karen HealeyMaurissa Guibord, Sherwood Smith, and of course Steph and Patrick themselves. Check out what they have up so far and keep coming back for a regular fix of warmth and joy, and a reminder of what holidays should really be about.

But wait! There’s more good news for fiction lovers: Senses Five Press has a 50% discount on everything in their store this month, which includes every issue of Sybil’s Garage and the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities, which are available in paper and/or various digital editions. Just use coupon code HOLIDAZE2010 when checking out. Might I suggest you pick up a copy of Sybil’s Garage No. 7?

(Image courtesy of Comics N Things)

spins a web, any size, catches ships like Enterprise

Tholians' Web

It seems fitting that we cover “The Tholian Web” in the Star Trek Re-Watch in the same week that the Spider-Man musical, Turn off the Dark, premiered on Broadway. If early reviews of the show’s disastrous opening night are any indication, you’re much better off getting your web fix with this Star Trek episode, likely the best of the third season–besides, you can watch it for free at the CBS website [original | remastered]. Even more than usual, my recommendation is to stick with (heh) the original version, especially since it garnered an Emmy Award for Best Special Effects, and the visual effects are still impressive even today.

I really love this story too, which has an excellent balance of humor, tension, and sciencey-fiction conceits with a lot of great lines and character moments. My enthusiasm for it even spills over to an appreciation of the prequel series Enterprise, which linked two of my favorite TOS episodes (this and “Mirror, Mirror”) in its fourth season two-parter “In a Mirror, Darkly”–voted the best of that show by fans. (The bar wasn’t very high, of course.) Torie was less enchanted with “The Tholian Web” in her review though, so after you watch or re-watch it, pop on over to The Viewscreen and join the debate.

This episode is a real gem.