September 30th, 2015
News and Views from Fritz Freiheit
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Liberty IV Newsletter (LIVN). I was prompted to start this newsletter by the upcoming publication of my fourth novel, but it won’t focus on fiction and publishing efforts. Rather, its content will be driven by what interests me and what I think may interest you. (I look forward to feedback on this point in particular.)
As some of you are probably aware, the vast majority of my online presence is through my wiki. The plan is to use LIVN as a “booster”, launching wiki-based content into my blog and beyond. Perhaps I will even visit Facebook more than once a day.
An Augmented Reality Reading List
It may be not be a surprise to you that I explore stories related to the sort of stuff I write. A Brief Overview of Superhero Fiction being a prime example. The following augmented reality reading list is another.
It turns out that augmented reality science fiction is rather sparse, which is a bit of a surprise. You would think that viewing an annotated overlay of the world would be found in SF. (Virtual reality—a completely artificial world projected onto the viewer’s senses—is much more common in SF.)
AR in SF ranges from the now-common tech of glasses that annotate the view to the more radical immersive overlay found in Lady of Mazes (2005) by Karl Schroeder.
This is a partial list. One of the reasons is that I’ve only recently started looking for AR as a plot device or simply an aspect of the setting.
Of these, I’m currently reading The Golden Age, while I haven't read Accelerando, A Good Old-Fashioned Future, and Virtual Light.
See: Augmented reality reading list
To date, I’ve only done a handful of reviews (most recently driven by my need to
rant express myself, as can be found in my my review of Ancillary Justice). With one exception, the following works were consumed recently. I've already recommended them to a few friends, and so it seemed like they would be worth reviewing here.
I recently finished Pushing Ice (2005) by Alastair Reynolds. I have to admit I had been avoiding it, as it seemed to focus on mining comets. Not that mining comets is bad, but rather, I’ve read more than enough stories about that sort of thing. I was wrong. The story starts with a ship being called away from a comet to rendezvous with the moon Janus after it has suddenly and inexplicably left the orbit of Saturn and headed off into deep space. Pushing Ice quickly and relentlessly becomes a (new) space opera that explores an alien megastructure (or two) as it plunges into the unknown.
The Merchant Princes series by Charles Stross is SF that is about as far as you can get from Pushing Ice. The series starts with The Family Trade and follows the discovery by Miriam Beckstein that she can travel to a parallel universe by staring at a complex knot pattern (and yes, this is a deliberate nod to Nine Princes in Amber). From there, Miriam becomes entangled with her previously unknown and unimagined extended family of cross-world traders. I did feel that the story was slow to start, but it picks up steam, ending with a cliffhanger. (Which may or may not be your cup of tea.) I’ve ripped through four of the six books of the series, and will start the fifth when it comes out in audio.
In August, Netflix suggested Come Drink with Me (1966) with the intriguing description of “When bandits kidnap his son, the governor sends his daughter to the rescue.” This film turns out to be an early and influential wuxia movie by the Shaw Brothers. It starts off with the kidnapping of the governor’s son, but quickly moves on to the arrival of his sister at an inn frequented by the bandits. A series of escalating challenges to the mysterious visitor culminates in ballet-like fight at the inn. It moves on from there, including several musical numbers, and mystical kung-fu.
I’ve decided that there is a kind of science fiction that can only be described as “stealth SF”. The TV series Person of Interest is one of the best examples of this. Orphan Black is another. I binge watched the fourth season of Person of Interest this month (as well as the third season of Orphan Black, but I’ll leave commenting on that excellent show for a later time). Person of Interest, among other things, falls into the Post-911 genre. It starts out with a computer nerd (Finch) and an ex-military special forces guy (Reese) being fed social security numbers by a secret government computer system (that Finch built, of course). The people attached to the social security numbers are in danger. Or they are the source of danger. No one but the computer system knows which. In any case, action ensues. So what is the SF ele1ment? The computer system, called The Machine, is an AI. And as things progress, you find out that there is another AI out there trying to kill off all the other AIs. Complicated, no? Sure, the dialogue is a bit stilted, but the SF of battling AIs is well worth it.
Finally, I’ll turn to one of my favorite films of all time. Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), which is also an example of the Post-911 SF genre. Like other Post-911 genre works, it’s a wake up call. Using superheroes, Captain America, Black Widow, and introducing the Falcon to the big screen, Winter Soldier gives us a nuanced look at what our government can do for us and how individuals should do the right thing. On the other hand, you can just watch it for some of the best action scenes you will find to date. I'll add that this Winter Soldier could just as easily been Black Widow's movie with some minor editing and minimal viewpoint shifting. I have one last thing to say about Winter Soldier: “On your left.”
Tech Watch (Reinventing the Now)
I’ve been watching the advance of science and technology for decades now. Sometimes a week or two go by and I don’t see much of interest. But more often, cools things roll in and remind me that science fiction really does predict the future. Just not the future you are expecting.
Links and Comments
I’ll be including occasional news from the Ann Arbor Area Writers Group (AAAWG) that meets on Tuesday evenings at Barnes and Noble. I’m aware of a number of people who used to attend, but have now moved elsewhere; Stephanie Feldstein being the most recent to do so.
Several of AAAWG writers are publishing in October, including Bobby Fox.
Writers interested in trying out the AAAWG are welcome drop by on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. See Ann Arbor Area Writers Group for meeting locations and times.
Wordsmithy and Publishing Toolbox
My primary tool for writing is the LiberOffice suite (open source with Windows, Apple and Linux versions), which has recently released version 5 (see LibreOffice 5.0 stands out from the office suite crowd (link) ). LiberOffice is a good alternative to Microsoft Office suite.
See: Authoring Novels with LibreOffice
A Brief Introduction to Inkscape
I’m not an artist, rather I’m a competent draftsperson. Which is to say, I can draw lines using a tool. My tool of choice is Inkscape, an open source vector graphics program. I don’t want to downplay the difficulty (too much) of learning Inkscape, but with a little effort, anyone can design a logo or layout a book cover. (Whether you should do so is another question.)
Inkscape has a number of advantages over Photoshop and GIMP (both being bitmap tools), with the primary one being lossless scalability (except for imported bitmap files, such as JPEG and PNG, of course). Inkscape comes with many filters and extensions, including various bevel, shadow, and embossing effects, as well as path and envelope fitting.
For more examples of what I've produced using Inkscape, see the Writing Rule Memes and Liberty IV Publishing Covers sections below.
A Question for You
Does anyone know of authors with wikis? As a wiki enthusiast, I'm very much interested in what other authors are doing with wikis. Drop me a link or two if you know of any.
A Writing Rule Meme
Standing tall against the outrage of plot theft.
See more "writing memes" here.
Correspondence and Comments
This being the inaugural issue of the newsletter, there is no correspondence. I want to hear what your reading and watching, what engages you and what makes you throw the book across the room. You can leave a comment here or email me at email@example.com
Liberty IV Publishing Covers
See: Liberty IV Publishing cover gallery
And that about does it for the inaugural issue of Liberty IV Newsletter. The second issue will be wending its way to you in a month or so.
I look forward to any and all comments and suggestions.
I’m off to continue my polishing of Parallel Visions: City of Angels City of Demons. If you’re interested in being a beta reader, please contact me. (If you’ve been a beta reader in the past, I'll be in touch.)
Thanks for subscribing,
September 30th, 2015