Sunday, August 31, 2014

Galaxis 4 ... Is not the Last One

I've decided not to end my digital science/science fiction magazine Galaxis with the current issue, #4. I'm working up plans to have a fifth issue after all, and this one should appear in digital and in limited print editions.

So while I put the finishing touches on the first Galaxis Reader book and start pulling together the fifth edition of Galaxis magazine, it's a good time to remind everyone that Galaxis #4 is still available for you to read, free, online.

Read the magazine:

Everything I Know about Cats I Learned from Krazy Kat

Whenever Charlie does something particularly wild or stupid, I tell him he’s a crazy cat. Except in my mind, I’m spelling it “Krazy Kat,” even though I know he and perhaps most of you don’t get the reference.

My late stepfather was a political cartoonist. Like most such artists, he would use characters out of the day’s news to populate his graphic editorial commentary, but he also ...

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From the September 2014 issue of the Marina Times

Friday, June 27, 2014

George Takei Introduces David Boies, Ted Olson, & Gavin Newsom

Last night, actor/director/activist George Takei gave the introduction to a Commonwealth Club of California program with bipartisan legal team David Boies and Ted Olson; it was moderated by the state's lt. governor, Gavin Newsom.

The sound isn't the best; my apologies, but I recorded it on my phone. And I'm afraid I wasn't quick enough turning it on to catch his opening trademark "Oh, myyyyyyy," which is what the laughter is for at the beginning of this clip.

This program took place on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions overturning DOMA and California's Prop 8.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Gregory Benford & Larry Niven's Bowl of Heaven

An hour ago, I finished reading Bowl of Heaven, a 2013 science-fiction collaboration between Larry Niven and Gregory Benford. I am left feeling refreshed — it has been a very long time since I read a hard-science, deep-space SF novel — and stunned. Stunned because the book reads at times as if it went right from the writers' computers to the printer, without going through an editor. I'm sure that isn't true, but how else to explain mistakes that had me wondering if I had missed a couple pages or was losing my mind?

It started early in the book where one character is injured; a metal shard had been embedded in his leg during an accident. He is tended to by a teammate, who removes the shard and applies medication. A few paragraphs later, however, a different teammate is removing the shard and medicating him.

It continued throughout the book. People who are described as being in a room are suddenly in a different room. An alien who is on the bridge of an airship descends a stairway and goes to ... the bridge. People who left a room are suddenly back in the room. The amount of time that has passed since the launch of the humans' spaceship is stated, but then it's given as a different amount of time later.

On and on.

I have read Benford's books before, but I'm surprised to say that I don't believe I have ever read anything by Niven, which is an admission not to my credit. Niven is a science-fiction legend with numerous big books to his credit. But, for whatever reason, I had never read his work. That was part of what made me select this book to read next after I finished reading a couple history books (Anne Applebaum's post-World War II history book Iron Curtain — a book that was stunning in a good way, though telling a very sad tale — and Robert Graves' historical novel Count Belisarius). This was my chance to read Larry Niven.

I actually enjoyed the grand-premise tale of Bowl of Heaven. The characterizations and relationships are a bit out of date (sorry guys, but having interpersonal relationships be key to the characters and their organization but not even mentioning a gay character — and then in the most oblique way — until the book is nearly finished suggests being a bit out of touch), but I'm willing to overlook that. However, I was astounded at the poor editing. It's old news that even big publishers don't do proper editing any more, but these mistakes (repeated incidences, actions described twice — just a few paragraphs apart — but differently, and more) are incredibly unprofessional. If it was a mind-bending game of fluid reality with the readers, that would be something, but of course the story would make use of that. No, that just was not the case. Bowl of Heaven was a normal hard-science SF novel, and publishers Tor did themselves, their authors, and their readers a major disservice — publishing malpractice, really — by releasing a hardcover book with this many major, obvious errors in it.

The writers should have caught some of this in the various drafts they would have proofed. But writers are often focused on making sure other aspects are correct; that is compounded by working with a collaborator. We'll give Niven and Benford a small slice of the blame, but the majority of the blame cake has to be served up to Tor.

The sequel to what apparently is the first of a series has been published. Called Shipstar, it was published by Tor in April 2014. Think they had an editor do a good line-by-line on this one?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fangoria Announces the Return of Starlog

Five years after ending the 374-issue run of legendary science fiction media magazine Starlog, parent company Fangoria Entertainment today announced the impending return. Starlog, according to Fango, will return first as a website this summer and then later in the year as a digital magazine. There is no word yet if a print edition is being considered an eventual possibility or if the digital edition is the intended main product.

It sounds as if the mag will be reimagined for a new age — as it should be — and will try to make the most of an electronic platform. Congrats to all involved. You'll be facing high expectations from Starlog's legion of former readers, as you no doubt already expect.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Affordable Housing: "We've written it off"

Also from the current (May 2014) issue of the Marina Times, I interviewed Andre Shashaty, an expert and advocate for affordable housing and sustainable communities (and my former boss).

Andre Shashaty
‘We’ve written it off’
Affordable housing expert Andre Shashaty on the state of housing policy and sustainable communities

(May 2014)

As San Francisco residents and their political, business and social leaders try to get a handle on housing affordability in the city, they must do so at a time when governments large and small in this country have largely tried to wash their hands of involvement with the housing problem. Long gone are the days when the federal government partnered with cities to build and manage homes for middle- and low-income citizens. Today, federal monies have gone elsewhere, as has federal interest in even dealing with the challenges. The key federal tool for helping develop affordable housing is the three-decades-old tax credit set up to help private developers — for-profit and nonprofit — do what the government used to do.

This all happens at a time when there are still many people who need affordable housing — rental or ownership. To learn more about the issues involved, we spoke with affordable housing expert and advocate Andre Shashaty. The former editor and publisher of...

San Francisco's "Growing Pains"

In the latest (May 2014) issue of the Marina Times, I begin a four-part series looking at San Francisco's ongoing population growth, which is projected to take the residential count above 1 million in the future.

As San Francisco’s population continues to expand, some people are worrying about the changes that are being wrought (photo: darkwind / flickr)
Growing pains: How much San Francisco is too much San Francisco?

(May 2014)

This is the first of a four-part series exploring the growth of San Francisco.

The downtown-bound BART train was particularly full one recent morning, when yet another group of commuters boarded at a station. Among them was a man in his early 40s, who immediately began complaining loudly about all of the “[bleeping] tech workers filling up my city.” As surrounding commuters tried to look away, one office-bound commuter began arguing with the newcomer, demanding to know what his problem was. There ensued a diatribe by the 40-something, who complained about San Francisco being ruined by new residents. There were lots of bleeps, as well as a threat to fight the man who dared to question him.

Across San Francisco, conversations in much nicer tones have been taking place for months and even years, with longtime residents wondering about the changes occurring...

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Artemis Eternal – The New Indie Filmmaking

Filmmaker Jessica Mae Stover started out doing celebrity genre interviews on AOL, but she has since moved from Big Media to Indie Groundbreaker. With Artemis Eternal, she is seeking to make a science fiction film outside of the studio system, and even outside of the traditional independent film system.

A challenge? That would be an understatement. Will SF fans help her crowdfunding project? Will film viewers appreciate the final story?

Check out my interview with Stover in the current issue of Galaxis. Click on the image below to read.

To 4,000 and Beyond – in a Flash

The latest (and last) issue of Galaxis, my free digital magazine of science and science fiction, was only released two weeks ago, but it has already been seen by more than 4,000 people. By way of comparison, it took many months for each of the previous three issues of Galaxis to hit those numbers.

So as an individualist, as much as it pains me to suggest you join the crowd: Join the crowd — because I think you'll find that this personal journey through the worlds of science and SF is thought-provoking, fun, and inspiring. And in a few months when I release the first book-form Galaxis Reader, I hope you'll come along for that evolutionary form of my Galaxis project.