A Few Updates

Hello everyone!

I have a few updates to pass along and thy all revolve around one event:

Pregnancy

If you read the blog regularly, you know that my wife is pregnant. Well it’ coming up on her due date so I’m officially on baby watch. That means I have to be ready to go at the drop of a hat. Which means a couple of things.

1. No blogs for awhile

I might post something new if I’m up late and get the chance, but as of right now I’m going to go on hiatus for a few weeks. I’ll still put up older posts so you won’t forget about me, and if you want to guest post, by all means email me and we’ll talk about getting you set up.

2. My writing is sort of on hold

I have some stories out to editors and I’ve had some beta readers helping me through another one, so I’m taking a little break. I know that goes against a whole lot of rules I have, but this is a very busy time in my life.

3. You shouldn’t stop writing

Unless you have some sort of valid excuse, like mine, don’t stop writing! We need every ounce of Science Fiction that can be brought into this world. It moves stuff forward.

It’s also a very special time here at Silly Robots:

One Year Anniversary!

That’s right, it’s been a whole year of writing Sci Fi the fun way. I hope to have many more years of this, and that all of you will stay with me for it.

Thanks for reading!

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My Biggest Problem

As writers, specifically sci fi writers, we face many challenges. They range anywhere from ‘what to write’ to ‘how to write’. I find that sometimes I have so many ideas that I can’t choose one and I end up writing nothing at all. Other times I have one specific idea, but I can’t turn it into a story.

When these things happen, I often shut down and i don’t write for a long time. The problem is, I don’t come back rearing to go. In fact it takes me several weeks to get back into a writing mode.

This is not a good thing.

If you don’t know – and you really should by now, unless this is your first read of this blog – I am a HUGE baseball fan. I liken these writing problems to a slump for a hitter in baseball. It’s not that they’ve lost their talent or all of a sudden forgotten how to take a ball or swing at a strike. They’re just not able to connect well. They aren’t able to perform to their level of talent. So what do they have to do?

Beat the Slump

How do you beat a slump?

You hit through it.

Hitting a writing slump means you have to write to get out of it. You have to write crappy things. Awful things. Terribly horrible things. Things with adverbs modifying verbs that mean essentially the same thing as the aforementioned adverb. For example, I wrote a story about a human space commander running away with an alien princess. It’s funny, but hardly a winner. Email me and I’ll send it to you if you wanna read it. If nothing else you’ll get a good laugh.

But if I hadn’t written that piece of garbage, I never would have written some of the stories my readers really enjoy. I had to hit a few line drives right at fielders before I hit one in a gap and got a few RBI.

Roll With the Hot Streak

When you have a good thing going, keep it going.

If you wrote a good story, write another good story. Maybe it isn’t as good as the first one, but it’s still good. Keep it rolling until you write a bad one. Or go into another slump. Either way, it’s always good to keep writing. And writing. And writing. Because if we stop writing in a slump, we get to the mega slump I mentioned earlier.

Beating the Mega Slump

Don’t take this as gospel, but here’s how I tend to get out of the mega slump:

I watch and read a whole stinkin’ bunch of science fiction. I get on Netflix and flip through the scifi/fantasy genre and just pick one. I go to a comic book store and grab a bunch of singles or a graphic novel. I hit up the bookstore or the Kindle store and grab a novel or a short story anthology. I go through my program guide and watch hours of Star Trek TNG on BBCA. I grab my Star Trek TOS DVD’s and go to town watching that junk. I grab any one of the movies on my shelf and watch it.

I saturate myself.

Do you know what happens when you saturate something?

It begins to leak.

It creates runoff.

And eventually, something comes out that’s as good as anything else.

And then I’m back.

 

 

What Moves You?

infograph 6

I’m having somewhat of a weird week.

I was supposed to go to New Mexico and hang out with my bros for a week. But I gave in to my wife’s begging and stayed home. (In her defense, and possibly my demise, she’s real pregnant. Not due for over a month, but still.)

So I’m stuck at home doing yard work and various other chores that are lame. I’ve also been doing some rewrites and lots of other personal things over the past few weeks.

But I really wanted to go on this trip.

Let me tell you why:

I Love Mountains

high road 3

Mountains speak to me. I don’t know why, they just give me a sense of awe and wonder. I always feel refreshed after visiting mountains. It’s probably because I live in a desert with no mountains that’s also so close to the ocean that the humidity is awful. Worse than that run on sentence.

But I digress.

Everyone has someplace that they love to be. Many people live where they love to be, others like to visit those places to keep the magic. As a writer, we often talk about muses. I don’t know if we actually have things that spark our creative juices, but I definitely feel more relaxed after a trip to the mountains. I took a trip last year to Colorado Springs to see this guy, and had a blast. This is me at the Garden of the Gods park:

2012-07-31 11.38.01

I spent a week bumming around Colorado with my wife, and it was really fun. When we got home, I wrote quite a few stories because I was refreshed and ready to get back to reality. Not quite a muse, but definitely a relaxing vacation. Kind of like going fishing.

I Like Trips With Nerdy Stuff

Have you ever seen the movie ‘Contact‘ with Jodie Foster? If you haven’t you should. There’s lots of science talk and giant radio telescope dishes. LIKE THESE:

VLA

This is the Very Large Array near Socorro, NM. It is a radio telescope used by NASA and other research groups. If you look closely at the base of the structure, you can see my wife with her arms stretched wide. Those things are big. They’re also full of technical components and have a visitor’s center that explains a lot of their technology and achievements. Lots of fodder for stories. On this particular trip we also visited Roswell, which is ripe with aliens of all kinds. We also visited the Space Museum in Alamogordo. Every one of those places was really fun to visit, and jam packed with material.

Have You Been On A Sci Fi Inspired Trip Yet?

The mountains and valleys of New Mexico are where I like to go to get my sci fi trip on. But there are many more places to visit. Why don’t you find one near you and take a trip? A little inspiration can go a long way.

But anyway, that’s me sulking about not getting to go on my trip…

How weird can it get? Pretty weird

I just finished reading Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Sci Fi epic The Mote in God’s Eye.

I don’t necessarily agree, but Robert Heinlein said:

“Possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read”.

It was alright.

Actually, the story had a bit of a cycle. It was three pages of absolute garbage, and then a page or two of sheer genius. I seriously had to fight to get through the beginning. There’s a lot of background information to get through, and it takes forever to get through it.

The end result is actually pretty good though, as I said before, so I wanted to cover some things that make this novel a worthy read and some things we can pull from it as Science Fiction writers.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

 

Absolute Weirdness

If nothing else, the ideas in this book are absolute gold. In most ‘first contact’ type books, the aliens come to Earth and are warlike or way more advanced than humans. Not really so in this one. For one thing, the humans go out to find the aliens in this one because the aliens went crazy and tried to go find the humans…you have to read it to get that.

Aside from the unusual meeting, the aliens are SUPER weird! I was honestly blown away by how original the aliens were. They are asymmetrical, breeding dependent, and live in a ridiculous caste system that they genetically engineered. Yeah, go check this junk out. On top of that, there are leftovers from all of their genetic experiments, which reveal the true nature of their species to the humans.

Plot. When it finally got there…

For all of its shortcomings in execution, the plot was actually pretty good. The Moties (the aliens) are actually aware of the humans existence, but have no way to leave their system. They actually try to hide their breeding problems from the humans in order to leave their planet! The humans discover all of the deception however and set up a military blockade. The unfolding of the plot is somewhat slow and labored (at one point, you the reader get told all of the Motie secrets but have to wait for the rest of the characters to catch up) but it really is very clever.

Accessible Hard Sci Fi

This book is definitely nestled in the hard sci fi genre. They accelerate in gravities, the military is very prominent in space, and explanations are given for everything from Motie physiology to how the airlocks work on multiple ships. And yet there’s enough action off of the ships to give it a little lighter feel. One of the things that gets buried under the Moties’ weirdness is the humans own societal systems at work. There is a somewhat complicated love story and all kinds of resentment on both sides.

The characters get a little hard to sort at times, mainly because there are so many of them, but they are generally accessible. I felt sympathy and empathy with a lot of them, along with anger and astonishment at some of their decisions. All in all it was way more enjoyable than this garbage I tried to read.

Interesting Futurism

If you don’t know, I’m a Christian. More specifically I’m a pastor. So the thing that stood out to me the most in this book was the religion. There was talk of the Motie religions, and a few offshoots within human religions, but there are definite human traditions at work. The Christian Church is still going strong and one of the characters is a sort of Muslim. I say sort of because he fights his upbringing in his head the whole time. I simply found it interesting that the authors projected these two religions forward. Most authors don’t bother with that. Something to think about.

 

If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry I didn’t spoil too much. In fact, the first half will make you forget everything I’ve told you, so go pick up a copy! It’s definitely an interesting read.

It’s summer time, and I have two things going: reading list and baby watch. My wife is due in July, so I will be reading a lot of books while I wait for the baby. On top of several non fiction books I have lined up, i will be reading Ender’s Game and Rama II this summer. Join me? Or send some suggestions? Whatever you do, keep writing!