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Why there are no Aliens

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Over the years, Earth has been visited by a variety of intelligent extra-terrestrial species. Many scientists refute this, of course, since there's been no actual proof of contact. However, a new study (*) now shows that the problem hasn't been the lack of contact on the part of the aliens. Rather, the way earthlings have managed first contact has been remarkably clumsy, not to say lacking in etiquette.

The scientists behind the study sum up five examples of what they think could have gone wrong during these first contact events, and why we haven't hear from the aliens since.

1) "Of course it can swim. Look, it's got fins and tentacles. Throw it back in."
2) "Yuck, that's gross! Joss, I'll give you five bucks if you eat it."
3) "No, honey, of course I won't give you any STDs."
4) "How about we send that Saint George guy over to talk to their scaly ambassador?"
5) "You address him as 'Mr. President', you goddamn exobiologist piece of shit."
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(*) Better than the old studies, trust me.

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A Round of Reviews

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In the last couple of days I've found two reviews of the Far Orbit anthology (ed. Bascomb James) which contains my story 'The Vringla/Racket Incident'. Both reviewers liked the anthology a lot and praised it for the many different kinds of stories that Bascomb James had selected.

The first review is in The Future Fire  and 'Vringla/Racket' is singled out as a fun read. In the review at Good Choice Reading, 'Vringla/Racket' makes the reviewer's list of favorite stories. Go me!

The first review of Unidentified Funny Objects 3 (ed. Alex Shvartsman) is also up on Tangent Online. A lot of the stories in the anthology are to the reviewer's liking. My story, Master of Business Apocalypse, is judged 'A fun diversion and little bit better than average' – which is of course just the kind of wholehearted praise that every author dreams of hearing :-)

On a personal note: I read some of the other stories in an advance reader's version, and in my own biased opinion there's a lot of fun to be found in this anthology.

It's London for me

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I'm pleased that London got selected to host WorldCon, as it means I get to go to my first large con since EuroCon in Stockholm in 2012. The kids are big enough to handle four days without their dad, which would have been a bit too short a time for a trip to the US. So London, I'll see you on Thursday.

My programme for LonCon3: I'm not on it ;-)

Instead I plan to visit a lot of panels, especially with writers I've met online. That includes all you LJ'ers, so if any of you are doing a panel, I'd love to come by and applaud your writerly wisdom. So feel free to plug your amazing panel in the comments. I hope to see you there.

Short Film News (and it's Great!)

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'Monsters Big and Small' was a flash story that originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction. Last year I was contacted by director Alex Grybauskas, who wanted to make it into a short film. Giving permission was one of the easiest things I've ever done.
Alex has been working on it over the past year, and I got to read the script and comment on it, an entirely new experience for me. After shooting and editing it's now ready for the big screen.
Even better, Alex just mailed me to say that it was named an official selection to the HollyShorts film festival, where it will make its world premiere at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in L.A.

I just watched it with my wife, and I thought it was great, especially the acting. I also think they did an outstanding job turning a story that has a lot of internal dialogue into a visual experience. The movie won't be online for some time, but there's a teaser trailer here.

New Release, New Sale

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FAR ORBIT speculative space adventures
I'm happy to announce the release of Far Orbit - Speculative Space Adventures, an anthology edited by Bascomb James. It has a lineup of new writers (including yours truly) and well known authors. Tangent had a nice review of it as well. Mine's a short story called 'The Vringla/Racket Incidence'. Alien babysitters, oh my.

And while we're at the good news, I've sold 'Master of Business Apocalypse' to Unidentified Funny Objects, the humorous fantasy and science fiction anthology edited by Alex Shvartsman. I've really enjoyed the first two anthos, and I think there's room for far more humor in SF and fantasy, that makes having a story in UFO3 is extra, extra special.

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The Resubmission Blues

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It's been a while since I last sold a story. As of today it's 75 rejections, to be exact, and all of the short stories I wrote in 2013 are among them. I'm not quitting, not by a long shot, but I do have the resubmission blues... Play it!

Resubmission Blues
What do you do when a story comes back?
Your high-flying hopes got shredded by flak.
You'll send it back out; it's not chaff, it's pure grist!
But you've exhausted the 'zines on your pro-market list

Refrain:
When you had a dream like Martin L. King
But your story sales fly like a buffalo wing
You'll contemplate sacrifice in a fairy ring
Just to find out where to send the damn thing

Readers said, "Golden, not twenty-four carats."
"It has too many pirates and not enough parrots."
"Lacking in cardsharps and the plot is a shuffle."
"Gryffindor's good, but cut back on Huffle…"

It's a sell; no tale ever saw such a twist
But you've exhausted the 'zines on your pro-market list

Refrain
When you had a dream like Martin L. King
But your story got knocked out of the boxing ring
You'll tie your soul to the devil with unbreakable string
But you still won't know where to send the damn thing

Birthday

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Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. - Mark Twain.

I want to say thank you to all of you who sent me birthday wishes :-) I had a great day with my family; we celebrated by going out to dinner at an Italian restaurant, and by having cake in the afternoon. Mmmm, cake! My daughter gave me a homemade painting that she'd spent several days making, and that made me very happy. She tells me she wants to be an artist when she grows up, which I'm supporting, of course. Anyone who can make people happy with a painting ought to call themselves an artist :-)

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Halloween Baking

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Mrs. D. loves to bake, and Halloween presents a good opportunity for her to put her skills to good use :-)

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Happy Halloween to all of you!

A Sojourn to Rome

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Monday, Mrs. D. and I took a flight to Rome for a rare no-kids-allowed holiday. We'd both been to Rome before we met each other, but we wanted to see it again, together. The Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Sistine Chapel, the lovely piazzas and fountains and the narrow streets between houses and palaces that date back five centuries... I mean, they practically built this city for couples like me and Mrs. D., who met each other when we studied history :-)

We had the best three days in a very long time. Tuesday we took a long stroll through the city, just looking at what we found, and consulting our guidebook whenever the sights alone weren't enough. We stopped for juice, lunch and coffee, but otherwise it was all walking and taking in the city.
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Your's truly in front of the central fountain on Piazza Navona.

Wednesday was taken up by a visit to the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel, which was an overwhelming experience (in a good way). Both the Chapel and the collections of Roman and renaissance art are filled with masterpieces, and we could easily have spent the entire week there. We also wanted to check out the nearby Basilica (St. Peter's), but it had been closed off earlier that day due to some kind of religious ceremony (seriously--don't they care about the tourists?!?) and the lines to get in were killers. Instead we saw Castel Saint'Angelo, and had an evening in a marvelous restaurant.

Thursday: The Dome of St. Peter's (551 steps climbed), the Basilica itself, a quick lunch and then a metro train for the Colosseum. That was a pretty solid afternoon, which we topped off with a visit to Piazza di Spagna and the Trevi Fountain.

We were about ready to go back to the hotel and hunt for a restaurant when I had a text from the airline stating that our flight home on Friday had been cancelled due to a general strike in the transportation sector. As in, trains, planes and ferries will not go anywhere... After a bit of panic (you all know that gif of Kermit shaking all over the place) we went back to the hotel, hooked up to wi-fi and decided to find a plane home right away. We missed the kids, and they were missing us, so finding a plane on Saturday really wasn't an option. So five hours after the Trevi Fountain, we were on a plane to Copenhagen... almost the last one out of Italy in 24 hours.

We got back home to Aarhus by night train and arrived tired and short one car, since the flight to Rome had been out of Hamburg, and our car was still parked there. I spent fourteen hours fetching it yesterday, which was a less-than-great ending to a fantastic mini holiday in Rome. We'll be back!

Piazza Navona
The market on Campo di Fiori.

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Revision Update

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That revision I started? Doing better. Much better, in fact. I've mostly finished revising the first three chapters (or about 50 pages), and according to my readers that was the part that needed the most intensive rewrite.

It did. Once I got the comments under my skin and got the problems lined up, I started seeing the things that needed to be shown in a different way.

The most pressing problem was that I had so much information I wanted to include that it was more of a wiki than a novel. Well, that's slightly exaggerated, so let me rephrase: The reader would need a wiki to parse all the information.

The solution has been to rearrange the information in longer scenes and make some hard decisions. The result is that: 1) I've cut a lot of background information and setting - places, names, non-human races, etc. The places etc that I kept now play a more integral part of the story and setting. 2) I narrowed the number of enemies down in the beginning and made notes for introducing them later along the way. 3) I changed the point of view character in one scene to give my outlandish magician the time and space to introduce herself coherently. 4) It should now be much clearer what problems the characters are facing, and what they're keeping from each other.

There's still a ton of work to be done (about 300 pages to go, for instance). But the story is off to a better start, and if my readers are right, the story flows better after the first four chapters. 

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jakobdrud
jakobdrud

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