Monthly Archives: October 2014

Vectors: Weapon of Choice

Novelocity goes on the offensive with today’s topic:
“What is your fictional weapon of choice? Defense or attack?”

ken_liuKen Liu
I’d have to go with the Holtzman shield from Dune — a forcefield personal shield that lets slow-moving objects in but keeps fast-moving objects out … I always thought this was one of the coolest scifi reimaginings ever of standard hand-to-hand combat tactics.

Lawrence SchoenLawrence M. Schoen
Way back in 1982, the late, great Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. wrote a book entitled WAR OF OMMISION that contained a device/weapon that, if memory serves, projected a beam outward that sliced through reality and cut out anything it touched.

Imagine standing in front of your neighbor’s house and aiming the weapon so that it completely encompassed his home. Click click, and the house is gone. But so is all the space it occupied. The edges on either side are now contiguous (that’s right, your new next door neighbor was your old neighbor’s next door neighbor).

Better still, no one remembers it was every otherwise! Reality has been rewritten.

Each use of the weapon is stored in the weapon’s memory, but they’re nested, so if you want to get that missing house (and its residents) back, you have to undo anything that may have been done since that might touch on that part.

I really like the SFnal idea of being able to remove knowledge and awareness from both organic and inorganic memories with the flick of a switch.

It’s a disturbingly philosophical weapon in that, arguably it does no harm to anyone because the person you use it against never existed when you’re done. In fact, you don’t even remember who/what you aimed it at.

Steve BeinSteve Bein
Lightsaber, hands down.

I’ve been wanting one of these ever since I started my martial arts career 22 years ago. Well, okay, I’ve been wanting one ever since I was four years old, when I first saw Star Wars. But you get what I mean.

I’m a pacifist by nature, so it’s all defense for me. But I figure if a lightsaber can deflect blaster bolts, it can deflect bullets pretty easily. I’d be the only guy who would win if he brought a knife to a gunfight, since my knife would be three or four feet long and made out of pure whup-ass.

Fran2014Fran Wilde
For sci-fi emergencies: Raygun. Specifically one of these.

For fantasy: Cephalopod.

I lean defensive, but am willing to consider proactive defense if necessary.

I’m chuckling at Steve’s joke.

BethCato-steampunk-headshotBeth Cato
I answered this question in regards to fantasy weaponry as part of a SF Signal Mind Meld on fantasy items a while back, but my answer holds true if science fiction is figured in as well. I want a magical long bow, ideally the Artemis bow from Final Fantasy IV.finalfantasyiv_character_rosa_joanna_farrell_2_by_yoshitaka_amano

I wouldn’t want to be on the front edge of battle. Ideally, I’d have some magic healing powers of my own, so I could play defense, fire arrows as necessary, focus on keeping my side alive.

MK HutchinsM.K. Hutchins
I was the person who was deeply disappointed — and perhaps vocal about it — that while my college listed both a Martial Arts and a Self-Dense class, they were actually the same class, taught as one. My teacher had absolute zip interest in the forms of martial arts. Yes, I wanted to know how to protect myself, but I’d hoped our foundation would be in those beautiful, almost dance-like set of movements.

And so I’d have to go with the bat’leth. It’s a highly aesthetic weapon, steeped in a culture that values practicing forms with the bat’leth for mental discipline, self-control, athleticism, and kicking butt.

Offense if needed to protect myself or my family. Defense, too. But really, I love the idea of standing somewhere beautiful on Kronos, soaking in the morning light, and moving through time-honored bat’leth forms.

Michael R. UnderwoodMichael R. Underwood
I’m going to diverge a bit and go for the Iron Man armor from Marvel comics and/or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a weapon for both attack and defense, it allows long-distance flight, it can be used for disaster response and for fighting off aliens. Iron Man Poster

And, if I get the right set of armor, it comes with the voice of Paul Bettany as JARVIS to be my in-flight butler/sysop for the suit, making the suit three times cooler all by itself.

Vectors: Traditional Publishing over Self-Publishing

We resume our topics on a biweekly basis, beginning with a rather controversial topic among writers:
“Why did you choose to go with a traditional publisher instead of self-publishing?”

Seat of MagicJ. Kathleen Cheney
Now, admittedly, I’ve done both. Not only have I self-published my backlist of short fiction (primarily to make it available in e-reader format) but I’ve also self-pubbed some stories because they’re the sort that would have a great deal of difficulty finding a market fit.

But my novels? From the beginning, I’ve wanted to go with traditional publishing there. I simply don’t have a strong enough following (yet) to make as much money off them through the self publishing route. Plus, my wonderful publisher gives me hard copies, makes AWESOME covers, and a sales staff that I simply cannot equal on my own. A friend recently sent me a photo of my first book for sale in a bookstore in Sweden. Sweden! I simply could not have achieved that on my own.

In addition, my advance on my first book was approximately three times what my best-selling self-pubbed novella has made me in two years or so. I do realize that there are writers out there who are making good money on self-pubbed books, but I don’t think I could have done half the marketing job that the sales force at Ace/Roc has done (and I have a Marketing degree!) Plus I absolutely know I can’t equal the covers that the Art department and my editor put together. I’m happy to leave that in thier hands.

I will probably continue to self-pub novellas in the future, but I will happily leave my novels in my agent’s and publisher’s capable hands!

Clockwork DaggerBeth Cato
One thing that’s surprised me lately is that some people expect me to antagonistic to self-publishing because I chose the traditional route. Um, no. I read self-published books; I want good books, I don’t care who the publisher is. I have friends who are incredibly successful with Kindle and POD books–including friends with agents and traditional deals. We live in exciting times. It’s awesome that we have so many options.

That said, I always looked at traditional publishing as my primary goal. I’m really wanted the validation that comes with surviving the agent hunt, the editor hunt, and everything that comes after. I wanted to find my books in physical stores around the world. It really does feel like an Achievement: Unlocked scenario. But hey, I may very well self-publish other works in the future. I’m open to it.

E. C. Ambrose
One word: hardcover.

I’ll echo what others have said about the great cover, the editorial assistance to make the books even better, and the marketing boost (simply having a book in physical stores is a boost). But here’s the heart of the matter: when I dreamed years ago of becoming an author, of having my words available to others, and set out to work for that dream–I dreamed in hardcover.

Now that book, with its excellent cover, improved content and reviews from major venues is on my shelf and the shelves of thousands of others, and the feel of it in my hand is the fulfillment of that early dream. What will I dream next? who knows. And will self-publishing be the key to that future dream? perhaps. . . but the hardcover release will stand as a symbol of what I can achieve when I work toward my dreams.

Daughter of the SwordSteve Bein
I went the traditional route for three reasons. Like Beth, I wanted the validation. Also, I’m a technophobe, and I really don’t want to learn how to self-publish. But the main reason was that it seems like the safer bet.

Penguin casts a world-wide net and gives me a small percentage of the catch. Self-pubbing casts as big a net as I know how to make, and I get almost all of the catch. So if my small percentage of Penguin’s really big net is still bigger than the net I can cast, I’m still ahead.

I know authors who think this is screwy. Their logic makes a lot of sense to me: they do almost all of the work, so they should get almost all of the profit. But I don’t find anything rewarding in formatting a manuscript or marketing my work. I like writing; I’d rather leave the other aspects of the business to people who understand it and enjoy it.

October News

BethCato-steampunk-headshotBeth Cato
The Clockwork Dagger is out! Complete with mentions in Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, and NPR.org.
– The second book in the duology, The Clockwork Crown, is now set to come out June 9th.
– I’m attending the MPIBA Fall Discovery Show in Denver, Colorado on October 10th and 11th.
– My story “Post-Apocalyptic Conversations with a Sidewalk” was just published in Nature.

Michael R. UnderwoodMichael R. Underwood
Supernatural Thriller The Younger Gods launches on October 13th.
– attending New York Comic Con October 9-12th, including a signing at the 47North booth Saturday at 4pm.

Steve BeinSteve Bein
– I’ll be at New York Comic Con, speaking on a Dr. Who panel called “Trust Me, I’m the Doctor” (Sunday, October 12, 12:00-12:45 pm, room 1A18).
DISCIPLE OF THE WIND is done! My editor approved the final edits, and we’re on pace for a spring pub date. I’ll announce more details as soon as I have them.

KenLiuHiResKen Liu
– I’ll be at New York Comic Con, speaking on a panel for SAGA PRESS, Simon & Schuster’s new SFF imprint and my publisher, on October 9 from 5-6 PM.
– And I’ll be heading out to Beijing on October 28 to attend the Chinese Nebula Awards as a special guest.
THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM, the hit Chinese hard scifi novel by Cixin Liu and translated by me, will be released on November 11. I’ll share more details as I get them, but for now, you can find out everything about the book here.

tina_connolly-300x450Tina Connolly
The biggest news is that SILVERBLIND comes out on October 7th! Half-fey Dorie just wants to hunt wyverns and basilisks, but when they won’t hire a girl for field work, she shapeshifts to disguise herself as a boy . . . .

Silverblind has been getting some very lovely reviews–a recent one from Booklist includes “Dorie’s character is beautifully described…No understanding of the previous books is required, as this story stands alone.” Which is excellent, since it is meant to be both a series closer, AND, a standalone! Everyone can read it!