Short Story Sale: Fragmented, to Galaxy's Edge Magazine

I'm pleased to say that I've just made my first pro fiction sale! My story 'Fragmented' will appear in the new magazine Galaxy's Edge, which has featured authors such as Nancy Kress, Robert J. Sawyer, Kij Johnson, Jack McDevitt, James Patrick Kelly, Mercedes Lackey, Ken Liu, and quite a few others.

Fragmented has garnered the usual round of rejections, and I'm happy that this one is my first. Anyone who attended the Geek Mountain State / Renegade Writer's Collective Reading in September heard me read it, and that reading was a crucial element in getting the story properly edited and into the right shape. It's short: around 2700 words, and is about a soldier deployed on a devastating campaign.

Galaxy's Edge Magazine is published on a bi-monthly schedule. Stories from the current issue are displayed online, while print and digital copies can be purchased from various online retailers. I'll post links and a bit of background on the story when it's available - I don't know when that is just yet.

In the meantime, back to work. Hopefully, this will be a repeatable experiment.

Historical Science Fiction

Contracts have been signed, the post has been scheduled, and I can announce this now: I've been brought on board Kirkus Reviews as a columnist, where John DeNardo of SF Signal has been writing for the last couple of months. I'm pretty excited about this, because it's an opportunity where I can blend two of my long-standing interests together: History, and Science Fiction.

Starting in June, I'll be heading up a bi-weekly column that will examine (in small bites) the history of the science fiction genre by looking at the authors, books, trends and notable events that impacted the speculative fiction genre.

Science Fiction history is something that I've picked away at little by little over the years, and I can trace my interests back to a book that I bought in the fall of 2002: Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones, which expertly traces the history of the comic book industry from before its inception, all the way to the 1980s. Since then, I've picked up books over the years, various biographies of some of the greats, scholarly books on the history of the genre, light reading, and things that typically revolve around the inner workings of Science Fiction and Fantasy. To be able to start putting it together, a couple of times a month, is something that I've long wanted to do, but never really had the outlet to do so.

Studying the history of anything is important. The present day is a product of the past, and everything that has come before has left its fingerprints in everything that we do. To view anything in a vacuum is to strip it of meaning, and I hope that I'll be able to put together a resource that will inform and enlighten.

The first post will be up May 3rd, focusing on Mary Shelley and Geneva. Stay tuned!

This Blog Protests SOPA

I'm unable to black out this site, but in following with a number of other websites around the web today, please considering contacting your Representatives and Senators in Congress about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its counterpart, PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act)

Here's the text for SOPA. Here's the text for PIPA.

The main arguments behind the two bills are that they are overly broad, written without the proper knowledge and input from technical experts, and that as a result, they would hamper much of the innovation from the web.

I make my living with the internet: in my day job with an online graduate school, and in my off hours, with sites such as io9, Tor.com, Blastr, Lightspeed Magazine and others. My job exists because of innovation with the internet, and I rather like it.

I take no issue with the idea that copyright holders have a stake in this fight: their property should be protected. However, burning the forest down to stop someone lighting matches doesn't make the holders winners: it makes everybody lose out.

Contact Congress.

Editorial Assistant

There's been a bit of news today surrounding Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazines earlier today: originally owned by Prime Books, they've both been sold to current editor John Joseph Adams, who'll continue to manage them from here on out.  Along with that bit of news, I've been promoted to Editorial Assistant, which I'm terribly excited about.

Earlier this year, I joined Lightspeed as a slush reader, reading submissions as they come in. It's been an eye-opening and educational experience, so far. I've read several hundred short science fiction stories over the course of the year, and have learned quite a bit about what makes a good story and what makes a story great. I'm looking forward to the next adventure with the magazine. If you haven't read it yet, you should make the jump.

No Submissions

I've been receiving an increasing number of e-mails and pleas from people asking me to review their book / website or something that they've created. Sorry, but no. No, no, no.

There's a couple of reasons behind this:

I have a finite amount of time on my hands, which is currently going to books that I really want to read. My current reading list has 94 books. So far this year? I've read a grant total of fifty-one, mostly things that I've bought over the course of the year. I'm not wanting for reading material, and the time that I do have is typically split between reviewing books for a couple of places that have submission guidelines, such as the Functional Nerds or SF Signal, which takes up quite a bit of reading time already.

This site isn't for you: it's for me. This is my little spot on the web, and it's for my own gratification, pontification and the things that generally interest me. There's a bunch of book reviews here because I read a lot. I'm actively trying to shift my focus away from reviews and more towards commentary, which in and of itself takes a lot of work. Plus, it makes me feel used, which I'm not a big fan of.

Personally, I'm trying to avoid shilling about products that I like. I'm working to make a conscious effort to write more on critical analysis, historical research and current events. Continual reviewing is tiring, and it ultimately dilutes what I really like talking about.

I'm simply not interested in the plethora of self-published ebooks that the popularity e-book readers have given rise to. That's a broad, sweeping generalization, I realize, but I've found it's far better to put one's trust in publishers rather than someone paying a couple of bucks to go through Amazon.com.

So: e-mails that get for people asking me to review their book have a couple of options: go to any of the sites that I've reviewed for before, and take a look at their submissions guidelines, and talk to them. They've got bigger audiences anyway.

Changing the Skies

So. A year of waiting, several weeks of research and writing, and it's finally here: the November 2011 issue of Armchair General. On page 36, and running for 8 pages (including some awesome pictures and captions), is my first print article titled Changing the Skies: Curtis LeMay and the Cold War Transition of U.S. Strategic Airpower from Planes to Missiles. It's a bit of a long-realized dream, and on Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, I opened the mail to find a thick package with several copies: my advance copies of the entire magazine, in glossy print, with my name right below the article title.

In March of 2010, Norwich University held the annual Colby Symposium, a two day event dedicated to military history and writing, typically on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least since I've been there. I've missed a single year since 2002, and ever year, I come away from the talks with a better understanding of how War works. Almost two years ago, while at the Meet the Authors Dinner, I met Col. (RET) Jerry Morelock, the editor in chief of Armchair General, which sponsors a student scholarship, and we began to talk. He gave me his card, and within a couple of days, I'd e-mailed him back with a couple of article ideas. The one that stuck was a transition from the Second World War to the Cold War, particularly when it came to how the United States transitioned from aircraft to missiles.

The article came out of a couple of projects that I'd been working on prior to that. In 2009, I'd finished my Master's in Military History through Norwich, and I'd presented at two conferences, one of which, I presented my capstone paper on Spaceflight and the Military influences, particularly the strategic arms race that raged between the US and USSR. After finishing that work, I came across some additional sources that shed more light on the broader subject, and I wanted to explore more about it.

After gaining approval for the article and signing the contracts, I began research, looking to tie together a better story than the scattered ideas that I had, eventually discovering that much of the history went through General Curtis LeMay, who had implimented many of the lessons that the US put to the skies post-WWII.

The article was turned in, then it came back for a couple of rounds of revisions, and by May, it was complete, a nice feeling. I moved on to a couple of other projects, and soon, the magazines appeared at home. (Another issue, July 2011's, also features a classmate, David Armstrong, with another piece that I've got on the to-read pile.) It's something to know that they'll be coming out, with all the work completed, but it's quite another to see the finished product, from the cutaways, the pictures (and the absolutely gorgeous front page spread), and my name under it all. The people at the magazine seemed to really like it, and the various family members and co-workers who've taken my advance copies have also been quite positive with their reactions, something I barely dared to hope for.

It's been a very, very cool opportunity, one that I'm following up with another project through Armchair General, this time on the late General Ernest Harmon, who commanded the 2nd Armored Division during the Second World War. The research is exciting, and I'm looking forward to getting this one written and turned in.

Changing the Skies appears in the November 2011 issue of the magazine, but subscribers should be receiving it now (I've gotten an additional copy through work in the mail). You can subscribe to the magazine here and get more information about the magazine at their website.

Lightspeed Magazine

I'm happy to report that I've been asked to join the Lightspeed Magazine team as a submissions reader. Lightspeed, a relatively new magazine focusing on Science Fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams, who's edited Brave New Worlds and Wastelands.

I'll be working to help sort out the so-called 'slush-pile' that magazines get from writers hoping to be published, sorting out what should be included, and what shouldn't be. It's something that I'm interested in, and I'm hopeful that this will be a good look at how the industry functions, especially as someone who enjoys writing and putting together stories. It's an exciting opportunity, I think, one that could potentially open doors or at least show me which way to the door, down the road.

In the meantime, it's a magazine that I'd recommend anyway: the stories that I have read have all been fantastic, high-calibre pieces of fiction, and a lot of these stories have gone on to other anthologies or have been nominated for some awards in the field. The magazine's website is: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/, with the ability to read online, or via various ebook formats.

The Battle of the Bulge

In 2007, I went overseas to France, shortly after I finished college, to help provide the Norwich University side of things for the battlefield staff ride that we took. The D-Day study (which is partially documented here in the archives) was the final paper that I had written for my undergraduate coursework. Back in May of 2007, I had realized that this was something that I found interesting, and noted that I could easily expand this sort of research to encompass other elements of the European Theater of Operations.

I've largely kept things under my hat lately, but now that I've started, it's something that I can talk more freely about. While I'm not expanding my D-Day paper, I've been asked by Norwich to write another one, and to consult on an upcoming Staff Ride. This time around, I'll be focusing on the Norwich University Students who fought at the Battle of the Bulge at the end of 1944.

The battle, largely regarded as the last credible push on the part of the Germans during the Allied advance towards Germany, was a massive coordinated pushback that trapped U.S. forces behind enemy lines, and slowed Allied efforts in their push towards ending the war. Like in Normandy, Norwich students fought and died there, and occupied a number of positions within the U.S military.

This is a project that I'm very eager to return to, and the research phase has me very excited. This project will be coming in a couple of phases. The first, which I've started, is the research element, and I'm going to be specifically targeting several achieves and sources here at Norwich, starting with the yearbooks (a memorial edition from 1947 was what I tackled today, with very good results), and the Norwich University Record, the alumni paper, two sources that provided an incredible amount of information, along with two archives up on campus, which should provide some additional detailed information and allow me to draw up a roster of possible participants in the battle. From there, cross-checking each soldier's unit based on the historical record and actions of said unit will help to weed out the people who wouldn't have possibly been there. Student X was in Unit Y, but Unit Y didn't arrive into the area until day Z, which was after the battle, for example.

Running parallel to this will be research into the battle itself, looking for specific dates, people, unit actions and the story to which Norwich personnel will be placed. Here, the people I am looking at will be a small and unique look into how the battle went.

Once the research phase is over, the writing will begin, which I'm planning on starting around November, and finishing up by December. January through March/April is a little more fluid, but I'm guessing that I will be editing, fine-tuning and researching small details for the paper, while preparing presentations for the actual staff ride, which will take place in May of next year. Needless to say, I'm flattered and excited for this entire project.

This style of research makes a lot of sense to me, because I can work to connect the actions of the soldiers in the field to an institution that is steeped in history, and link said actions to the overall mission of the school, and provide a historical context and concrete examples of where graduates have changed the world through their actions. (And, some of these soldiers have accomplished incredible things, helping to see through the successes of various operations and actions throughout Norwich’s history.)

For Dan and Kate

 

I think most people will agree with me that this is a celebration that is well overdue and long anticipated by our respective families.
Dan, Kate, you pocess something that has long been sought, but rarely known or experienced amonst those who strive for true love.
In the eight years that I have wittnessed the two of you together, I've watched your love grow and mature with age. Love is not a singular collision of emotion and chemistry; it is a journey, one that must be taken with care and exploration together.
Your marriage tonight is not the top of the mountain, but yet another starting point, a great milestone in your lives.
Dan, Kate, you are facing a future of uncertain surroundings. With the love that you have for one another, you are the steady footing on which you march forward. It will help you through the best of times, and those that are most trying; it is the bright point that has brought you, and your families here together tonight, and may it shine brightly far, far into the future.

Changing The Name

Last night, I clicked a button, and transfered Worlds In A Grain of Sand to a new address, where you're reading now. I did this for a couple of reasons, and while it will likely take a little while to get the traffic that I enjoyed on the prior site to get back to normal, I think this change will be a positive one. A little while ago, I wrote an article/commentary for io9, which generated a number of e-mail and comments. While I was thrilled at the response, good and bad, what bothered me the most was two people, one who wrote to me directly and another on another website who made a couple of judgements of my argument simply on the basis of my email alone, with the screen name JediTrilobite.

JediTrilobite is a screen name that I've used for over a decade at this point: it started off in 1999 on the TheForce.net forums, combining a couple of my favorite interests. As I got more into Star Wars fandom and other places in the Internet, I continued the usage- I started up a blog and generally used it as a sort of online persona. That worked fine within the massive Star Wars community on the Internet, but over the past year, I've begun far more serious work online, writing for io9 and SF Signal, where my real name is far more important. Plus, my interest in Star Wars has largely waned from my fanboy days back in high school. I still like it, but not unadbashably so. These days, I'm far more interested in history and popular culture, and when writing about these things, I found that it'll be harder for people to take my arguments seriously if they can't get past a silly email/ online handle.

Only two people really commented on it. But, out of the 35,000 or so people who read that article, I can't help but wonder what others might have thought, either other fans or other people who might have otherwise looked at my article differently. Plus, I always operated under the assumption that in some circles, JediTrilobite generally was associated with Andrew Liptak. I don't know if that's as much of a healthy association professionally, and I've begun to take a bit more of a professional stance with how I appear online.

Thus, Worlds In A Grain of Sand now has the slightly less fun handle, but that's not necessarily a bad thing either. As I begin to write more and more, and hopefully more professionally, it's essential to tie my writing to me, as a sort of brand (god, that sounds horribly pretentious), rather than some random online persona.

Worlds in A Grain of Sand's New Home

For the past couple of years, I've hosted this blog on blogger.com. Recently, I've been wanting to do more with my blogging, and a couple friends of mine, notably Noel Green, recommended that I try Word Press. Looking over the platform over the past couple of weeks, I've found that I can transfer all my posts over here, and that the interface is a lot easier to use, which I like, plus, it looks better. While all of the original posts (900 +) are on here, some of the links might not work, or might lead back to the original blog site, which I'll be keeping around.

Currently, the tags only go through last summer. I'm planning on updating them over time, but at this point, it's not a priority. I'm going to be updating the links over the next couple of days. Wordpress has a feature to convert all the catagories into tags. I love this engine.