July 31st, 2012


Short and Bleak

It's fun living in the future. I was talking to the guy who's going to fix that hole in the bathroom wall, and instead of him having to come out to look at it to determine the scope of the job, he just had me snap a photo with my cell phone and send it to him. Now we just need to set up a time for him to fix it. And then I need to decide on what color to repaint that room. I never did like the color I used when I did it about eleven years ago. The blue that looked perfect on a small sample was too intense and bright for an entire wall. I'm learning that with paint, it's going to be darker than you think, so go a shade or two lighter than you think you want. The last time I was at Home Depot, I picked up some sample chips of colors that I thought would work, and then one paint company had a brochure with tiny swatches of every color they do. I'd thought I was picking out the light blues, but it turned out that they were on the slightly darker end and I need to go a few shades lighter. The "light" blue items in my bedroom that I was trying to match are darker than I realized. I grew up in houses with white walls (military quarters), so color was a big switch for me and I've only done it in that one room. I think it needs color, just a different one than I have. The painting will have to come after I finish the book, though. It will be a good between-drafts break.

Over the last week or so, I've read my way through all the Hugo nominees for short story, novella and novelette, and now I think I want to slit my wrists. Most of those stories were so very depressing. I can see why fantasy is eclipsing science fiction in the publishing world because most of these finalists were science fiction, and they were incredibly bleak. I suppose it's also possible that the idea that dark=good and "serious" is what merits awards kicked in, so maybe the whole field of short science fiction isn't quite that depressing, but I think the Hugos are pretty much a popularity contest. The same familiar names seem to end up on the ballot every year, and while some of them definitely have merit, with some of them I had to wonder if this really was the best of the best for the year or merely the most familiar names. The number of nominations for these categories was low enough that it wouldn't take much for someone with a good fan base to rally enough people to get them on the ballot. There were a few stories that were really engrossing and moving and that are haunting me, and those will get my votes. There were a few that I stopped reading midway through because I knew I wouldn't vote for them and I didn't want any more of that in my head. Even some of the ones with hopeful endings still took place in a really bleak world. Apparently, there's not a lot of optimism about the future.

Then again, fantasy isn't all that different. I would think that having magical powers would be cool, but it seems to mostly land people in the gritty underbelly of life. I shouldn't be surprised that the future is more bleak dystopia than adventures on spaceships. I'm so glad the FenCon theme this year is "The Future's So Bright" as an attempt to fend off the dystopia depression.

I keep saying I need to try to write short stories, since that seems to be the route to credibility in the fantasy/science fiction field, but I'm not sure how well the kinds of things I might write would be accepted. And then there's that problem that everything I write turns into a novel.

But for now, novels it is. I didn't quite pull a marathon yesterday because I had to adjust some things in the previous chapters before I could move forward. I surpassed my word count goal, but not by as much as I would have liked. Today, though, I get to dive into the fun part of the story, the part I've been looking forward to writing since I first came up with this idea. It's a little weird and experimental, so we'll see if I can pull it off, but I think it'll be a blast to write. Stay tuned to see if I still think that way after starting it.